The pale blue liquid bubbled merrily in the cauldron, emitting colourful fumes that filled the faintly lit room. Draco's vision blurred, and he cast another Impervius Charm on his protective goggles and then carefully scooped the reddish powder from the silver scale to a small bowl. Wand out and ready, he poured the powder into the cauldron. The liquid exploded, flames bouncing harmlessly against Draco's Shield. After a moment, Draco Vanished the smoke and the cauldron's contents except for a small piece of fabric at the bottom. Touching the tip of his wand to the fabric, Draco picked it up and inspected it carefully. It was completely unharmed, and Draco smiled, pleased with himself. He took a clipboard from his desk and checked a tiny box.
"Twenty down, three hundred and fifty to go," he murmured and then sighed, going through the list of ingredients required for the next test.
"Heens?" a voice asked.
Draco nearly jumped out of his skin, the sudden appearance of a person beside him startling him senseless. By some miracle, he managed to remain perfectly still. He took a few calming breaths before turning his head.
"Weasley," he said, curling his lips in distaste. A cheerful looking Ron Weasley stood beside him, waving a half-full bag of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans in front of Draco's nose, his face distorted by a mouthful of sweets. Draco purposely avoided looking at the offered bag.
"Pardon?" he asked.
Weasley chewed and chewed, and Draco prayed the git would choke on the bloody beans; however, Weasley managed to swallow them all with an audible and slightly terrifying gulp.
"Beans?" Weasley repeated, still waving the bag as though that would make it more tempting.
"No, thank you," Draco said as politely and as dismissively as he could before he turned his attention back to the clipboard in his hand. Honestly, did Weasley think he was an idiot? Accepting sweets from the Auror who spent his nights developing horrendous and hazardous products with his brother was positively insane. Draco might have fallen for it once — or twice — but he had learned his lesson. Who knew what ghastly effects the beans would have once consumed?
As patiently as he could, Draco waited for Weasley to leave, but that proved to be a futile effort.
"Ooooh, is that the new Auror protective gear you're working on?" Weasley asked with ridiculous enthusiasm, leaning closer and rudely invading Draco's personal space. Draco made a noncommittal sound, hoping to avoid any type of conversation, but Weasley nonetheless continued his prattling. "George and I are working on a new product for Aurors ourselves. I think it'll be brilliant. And very helpful. It's already in the testing stages." Weasley smiled at Draco beatifically. "Bean?"
Draco gave Weasley a disbelieving look.
Weasley's blue eyes widened. He looked at the bag in his hand and gasped. "Oh no! You think there's something wrong with them! There isn't, I swear. I wouldn't test this product on you. Obviously. This is for Aurors, I said. The test subject should be someone with more..." Weasley gave Draco a contemplative onceover. "Stamina," he concluded at last.
Draco sneered, trying not to feel insulted, and determinedly looked at his clipboard again.
He heard Weasley stuff another handful of beans in his mouth. "Hee? Hey're hine."
"Mmm." Draco made a random note on his clipboard.
Weasley swallowed audibly again. "If I were to test this new product on someone, it would be Harry. Now there's a man with impressive stamina."
Draco grit his teeth.
"Harry could take it," Ron continued. "Harry can take a lot."
Draco struggled not to react in any way, but his face was heating up, all the way to his ears.
"Is it hot in here or what?" Weasley asked airily.
Bloody Weasley. Draco didn't dare look at him. He ticked another random box. He'd have to delete it later. "Why are you here?" he asked through clenched teeth.
"Oh!" Weasley exclaimed, and Draco's ears detected faint rustling noises. "I broke my Foe-Glass. I need you to fix it." Weasley shoved a small broken mirror in front of Draco's nose.
"It can't be fixed," Draco said firmly.
"You haven't even looked at it!"
"I can't fix a broken Foe-Glass."
"You fixed Auror Jenkins Foe-Glass just last week," Weasley all but whined.
Damn it. Draco took another calming breath. "She offered compensation."
"Last I checked, Malfoy, you're being compensated for fixing our broken equipment. It's called getting a paycheque."
Draco pursed his lips. "Last I checked, Weasley, Aurors should take better care of their equipment. It's called not being a buffoon."
Weasley fell silent, undoubtedly insulted, but Draco knew better than to believe he had given up. Sure enough, Weasley tried again. "What if I offer you compensation?" He paused, then added, "Bean?"
Ignoring the offending bag of sweets, Draco smiled. "Trust me, Weasley. The compensation offered to me by Auror Jenkins is not something I'd ever want from you."
Weasley remained silent for a merciful moment, but then, quite unexpectedly, he burst out laughing.
"Oh, I get it," he breathed through his laughter. "You're trying to convince me that she offered you sex! And as a completely straight man, you just couldn’t refuse." Weasley pretended to wipe tears of laughter from his eyes. "Right."
Draco clutched the quill in his hands. "It's nice to see you make a logical conclusion for once. It's a historical moment. I'll make a note of it."
"That was sarcasm."
"Well, then, you should stay away from it because you don't know how to use it properly."
"I bet she did offer you sex," Weasley mused. "And you fixed her Foe-Glass just to make her go away."
Draco kept silent, trying not to growl because Weasley was completely right. That woman had practically assaulted him. Apparently, she had a thing for his protective goggles. Insane creature. Draco barely managed to get rid of her.
"Poor girl." Weasley sighed loudly. "Thought she had a chance. She had no idea you like 'em stronger and with a little more cock. And, you know, with dark hair, green eyes and glasses."
"Stop pretending you know something you don't!" Draco snapped. "It's all in your head, weasel."
"Did you know that sometimes you actually drool when Harry walks into a room in full Auror regalia?"
"Did you know there are potions that can help you with your hallucinations?" Draco fumed, cursing Weasley for existing. He had hidden his irrational and pointless feelings for Potter so well, and as far as he knew, no one suspected anything. Except Weasley, of all people. How was that possible? "Shall I brew them for you?"
Weasley ignored him. He rubbed his chin. "I think I actually have photographic evidence."
Draco contemplated stabbing Weasley in the eye with his quill.
"Oh, Malfoy." Weasley snorted. "You're such a coward. If you want Harry, just tell him. He's a nice bloke; he'll turn you down gently."
Draco promptly set his clipboard on the table and turned around, wand pointing straight at Weasley's crotch.
Weasley took a hasty step back. "Okay, okay, that was mean," he said, looking guilty. "I'm sorry. Really. Let me make it up to you, okay? Bean?"
"My thoughts exactly." Weasley eyed Draco's wand. "I'll just... leave this here." He carefully set the Foe-Glass and the bag of beans on the table, as though worried that a sudden movement would make Draco snap and hex his balls off. He wasn't wrong.
Weasley grinned and hurried backwards to the door, as Draco yelled, "I'm not fixing your Foe-Glass! And I hate beans. They're Gryffindor sweets."
His hand on the doorknob, Weasley paused and cocked his head at Draco. "Gryffindor sweets?" he repeated and adopted a thoughtful look that simply didn't become him. "I suppose it is," he decided. "It takes guts to eat them."
"It has nothing to do with bravery, you single-minded idiot. Why buy a bag full of sweets if you know in advance that half of them are rotten? That's sheer lunacy."
"To see how lucky you are," Weasley answered promptly. His eyes narrowed, and he gave Draco an uncharacteristically shrewd look. "What's the matter, Malfoy? Afraid that if you do something daring, you'll be left with a bad aftertaste? You'll miss all the good stuff that way, too."
"I can simply buy the good stuff and not worry about the bad," Draco shot back.
Weasley snorted. "Suit yourself. But I don't think the truly good stuff is for sale, mate." Exiting, he pointed his finger at Draco. "You'll fix the Foe-Glass, just so you know."
"I will not."
"Yes, yes, you will," Weasley said confidently. "Because if you don't, I'll come back tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that..." Weasley closed the door, but Draco could still hear him chanting, "And the day after that..."
Growling in frustration, Draco took off his protective goggles and pointed his wand at the broken Foe-Glass. The sooner he fixed it, the sooner he'd be free of Weasley. A single spell hit the glass, and it mended itself in an instant. Scowling, Draco shoved it aside and redirected his glare at the bag of beans.
Honestly, he wasn't afraid of them; they were simply a dumb invention. Why eat them?
To see how lucky you are.
Draco bit his lip. He wasn't lucky. He knew that without eating dreadful sweets. Annoyed, Draco grabbed the bag and stared at the colourful selection. They could be poisonous, but Weasley did eat them, so it was unlikely. However, they could still taste like vomit. It would be ridiculous and unnecessary to eat a single one. Except Draco was curious now — was he lucky? Was one rewarded for doing something daring?
Draco picked a small pink bean — pink stuff rarely tasted bad — and carefully put it in his mouth.
It tasted like strawberries.
Of course, just because Draco could acknowledge that it was his own fault he ate the damn bean, it didn't mean Weasley would live to see another day.
Draco burst into Weasley's office. The doors were open, and Weasley didn't even notice anyone had come in. He was bent over his desk, reading a long spreadsheet. Seething, Draco raised his hand and, with mad satisfaction, smacked Weasley against the back of his stupid head.
Weasley screamed — like a girl, in Draco's opinion — and spun around with his wand in hand.
"Who's there?" he yelled, frantically scanning his office.
"Guess, why don't you?" Draco spat.
Weasley's eyes widened impossibly, and he looked straight at Draco's chest.
"I'm taller than that!" Draco all but growled.
"Malfoy?" Weasley's face was as pale as the white walls of his office. "Malfoy, are you... a ghost? Merlin! Please tell me you didn't choke on the bean."
"Funny, Weasley. Really hilarious. Look, I'm smiling." Draco bared his teeth. "Oh, wait. You can't see it. BECAUSE I'M INVISIBLE!"
Weasley blinked, still clutching his wand and looking a little to Draco's left.
"Are you... haunting me?" he whispered.
"I'm not dead, Weasley. And stop pretending to be surprised. You did this to me!"
Draco moved behind Weasley and smacked his head again.
"Ow! Stop that!" Weasley jumped away, turning his head left and right, looking like a madman. "I didn't do anything!"
Malfoy clenched his fist. "You know what the advantage of invisibility is? I could kill you right now, and you wouldn't see it coming."
Weasley carefully manoeuvred around Draco, pointing his wand in the direction of Draco's voice. He stood between a tall office cabinet and his desk, probably in a futile attempt to avoid further attacks.
"Malfoy, I swear, I didn't turn you invisible. Are you sure one of your experiments didn't backfire?"
"Oh, please. It happened right after I ate one of those bloody pink beans!" Draco said, unable to hide the distress in his voice. It had been horrible. His whole body had suddenly disappeared, as though he had been wiped from the face of the earth. He could no longer see his own limbs or his clothes. Even his wand had turned invisible, and foolishly Draco had dropped it in the moment of transformation. It rolled off somewhere, and he couldn't find it anymore, which just added to his distress.
"You ate the bean?" Weasley asked, looking surprised for a moment before he burst out laughing. "I knew it! I knew you'd pick the pink one. You ponce!"
Draco grabbed a random object from the desk — a paperweight, he noted — and threw it at Weasley's head.
Weasley yelped but unfortunately ducked in time.
"Honestly, Malfoy! I don't know how this happened. It wasn't supposed to make you invisible."
"Right. A new product for Aurors? It couldn’t have been this, obviously. How could invisibility help Aurors?" Draco sneered, trying to quell the tiny voice in his head that wanted to acknowledge how very impressive such an invention was. Wizards had tried to become invisible for ages, but they had never quite managed, except for a handful of truly powerful ones. Disillusionment Charms and Invisibility Cloaks — rare, those, bloody Potter — were all they had. To think Ron Weasley succeeded where everyone else had failed.
Weasley, apparently, shared Draco's doubts. "You really think I invented some sort of Invisibility Potion?" he asked, his expression twisted into a disbelieving grimace.
"I didn't do this to myself, and you all but confessed you tampered with the beans!"
"But this isn't what they do." Weasley seemed bemused. "It's just a substance that gives a person a bit of courage." He cleared his throat. "I already tested it on myself as well as George and Harry. And a number of Aurors. It never had this effect. Are you sure you didn't do something —"
"Yes, I'm bloody sure! If your stupid product had an unforeseen effect, we might as well call this a poisoning attempt!"
Weasley looked stricken. "Nasty stuff, poisoning attempts, aren't they?"
Shocked, Draco froze, lost for words. No one ever mentioned Draco's actions in sixth year, ever since his mother, in her obsessive desire to ensure a better future for Draco, had written ridiculous apology letters to everyone she could think of and had signed them with Draco's name. Draco was cross with her for weeks. But it helped. He only realised it when he started working at the Ministry. "So this is revenge?" he asked quietly.
Weasley rolled his eyes. "No, it's not revenge, you git. You brought it up. I just thought it was funny that you're accusing me of poisoning."
"This isn't funny," Draco said, trying to steer Weasley away from the sore subject.
"Yeah, well, neither was —"
"You're lying!" Draco said quickly, and Weasley gave him an indulgent sort of look. "This is a curse of some sort," he insisted.
Weasley sighed. "It's not. Ask George. Ask Harry. It's just a harmless potion."
"Of course. I should ask your friends and family. Because they wouldn't lie to protect your freckled arse."
"You've seen my arse?"
Draco ignored him. "You have ten seconds to convince me not to murder you right now," he snarled. Weasley looked unimpressed, so Draco added, "And by murder I mean I'll go to Robards and tell him what you've done."
That had Weasley looking worried. "It will wear off," he promised. "In a couple of hours or so. I'm positive about that. And this isn't so bad, is it? You could go and spy on girls in the showers. See, I said girls. Because I acknowledge the fact that you're straight." Weasley nodded vigorously.
"If it doesn't wear off..." Draco threatened, glaring menacingly until he realised that his glare couldn't have any effect on Weasley.
"It will," Weasley assured. "If it happened because of the bean, I mean. Though, I still don't understand it. We had some strange side effects. Like, Auror Parker gained quite a bit of muscle and George grew a huge pair of..." Weasley fell silent and then an enormous grin nearly split his face in half. "Oh, wait. I get it. You can only be brave if no one sees you. What's the matter, Malfoy, scared it'll ruin your carefully built reputation?" Weasley yelped as a picture frame flew right at him and smacked his shoulder. "Aw, come on, Malfoy. You're invisible. Think of all the fun things you could do!"
Draco searched for something else to throw at Weasley, deciding that was fun, but his gaze fell on a picture on Weasley's desk. It was shot at Weasley and Granger's wedding. The newlyweds were grinning and waving while their dark-haired groom stood a little aside, watching them with a smile.
Weasley was right about one thing. He could go and do something fun. Like scare people he didn't like and perhaps discover something nasty about them, something he could later use as blackmail material. Or he could do something else.
Draco stared at the wedding picture. Potter had a day off. Not that Draco kept track, but Potter rarely took a day off, so those occasions were memorable.
"Right. I'm leaving," he said.
Weasley tensed. "What? Where?"
"That's none of your business." Draco headed for the exit.
"Wait!" Weasley ran after him. "You can't actually spy on anyone in the showers! I was kidding! You get that, right? Malfoy?"
Draco considered throwing Weasley out the window, but he forced himself to calm down — he had much more important things to do. He paused and turned. "I can't see my limbs, Weasley. I'm going to St Mungo's."
Weasley's features relaxed. "Good choice. You're a clever one. I always thought so."
Draco shook his head and put Weasley out of his mind, turning his attention to more pleasurable thoughts. What seemed like a curse mere seconds ago, now looked like a blessing. He was invisible. Completely invisible, which was so much better than having a wretched Invisibility Cloak tossed over you. Draco grinned, thinking back to all those times Potter had followed him around, hidden beneath that stupid cloak. It was time to return the favour.
If anyone at the Three Broomsticks noticed the green fire roaring even though no one stepped out of the fireplace, they didn't show it. The place was packed. It was likely too many people used the Floo for anyone to pay close attention. Draco pushed through the crowd — people noticed that, probably, but only blamed each other — and walked out.
A sudden nostalgia hit him at the first glimpse of Hogsmeade in a long time, even though he never really missed Hogwarts or his teenage years. It was as picturesque as ever, with snow covering the rooftops and lanterns casting golden light everywhere. He grinned to himself as he walked the narrow streets, thinking of a ridiculous blond boy scoffing at everything in sight. He used to think Hogsmeade was stupid and uninteresting, but now that he saw it again, he rather enjoyed the peaceful, untouched feel of it.
Potter lived in a small house at the very end of the village. Draco remembered the day Potter bought it — it was all over the newspapers. The house was old and practically a ruin, but Potter's friends and admirers helped him decorate and furnish the place. It was a handsome house now, still small but almost charming with its narrow windows and a spacious terrace. It even had a little garden, not overly full of flowers and not overly tidy but obviously kept and expertly protected from the cold and snow by magic.
The house seemed quiet and Draco checked his wristwatch. It was nearing 7 p.m., and if one added up the fact that it was Friday, it could have meant Potter wasn't even at home but out somewhere in a pub with a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend, since as far as Draco knew, Potter wasn't picky about gender. Though that particular suspicion had never been officially confirmed and no proof existed, so it could have all been nothing more than mere gossip. Draco almost asked Weasley about it once, but that would have been idiotic. Weasley knew too much as it was; if Draco started to question him about Potter's private life, it would merely confirm Weasley's suspicions about Draco's crush on Potter.
Draco sighed. Right, his crush on Potter. He wished he could deny it all, but he had stopped struggling against it quite some time ago. He accepted it. It was some sort of strange cosmic punishment he simply had to endure.
Draco used to blame it on the fact that Potter had shown up out of nowhere all those years ago to pull Draco out of the fire. And then he stood tall and victorious when faced with a man who had Draco's blood running cold with his mere presence. He used to think it wasn't even a crush, that he just wanted to be Potter, the one who stood up to evil the way Draco had tried and failed to do when Greyback had shown up in the manor with the only person who could supposedly save them all captured and defeated.
Somewhere along the line, Potter became the one bright thing forever uncorrupted by the Dark Lord.
But it was more than that. It became clear when Draco started his job at the Ministry. He should have known Potter would be the one looking for the most dangerous assignments, which resulted in shocking amounts of broken equipment and charms. Draco had spent more time in Potter's company than he could have ever anticipated. Potter would show up with broken things, giving explanations like, "I broke my Probity Probe. Might have shoved it in a wrong place." Draco would tell him off for being so incompetent, and then later he'd find out Potter broke the probe himself and used it to stop two mentally unstable trolls from killing Muggle hikers — by shoving the halves into the trolls' nostrils. One time he heard Potter had stopped a Reductor Curse with his hand while struggling with a man trying to curse his wife. The healers barely managed to regrow it, and Potter wore a bandage for days. When Draco asked him what happened, Potter waved his bandaged hand and said, "Oh, it's nothing. I just wanked too much."
It quickly turned into Draco's favourite game. He never tired of finding out what lay behind Potter's ridiculous explanations. It was hard to recognise truth among the multitude of exaggerations and understatements.
Either way, Potter had become his inspiration. Draco had invented a potion that incapacitated trolls. And protective gloves that repelled most standard curses. His crush on Potter had a certain usefulness, at least. It was always a comfort.
Draco stared at Potter's door, not sure what he was trying to achieve by spying on Potter. Perhaps it was a just a part of the game Draco was now addicted to. He had yet to find out how Potter spent his free time. His private life was a bigger mystery than his Auror escapades.
Draco's toes had nearly frozen by the time green light flared in the windows, signalling Potter's arrival by Floo. There was no point in getting excited, though. Potter being home didn't actually mean much since thick curtains only allowed Draco to see that Potter had turned on the lights, first downstairs then upstairs. To think he came here just to stand around like an idiot. If only he could get inside, but he had no idea how.
The usual way of entering one's house seemed like his only option. Draco shrugged to himself and rang the doorbell. He felt like a naughty schoolboy teasing the neighbours. His half-formed plan was to sneak past Potter as the door opened. It didn't really seem like a viable possibility, but he had to try something. Or else he'd have come here for nothing.
It took Potter forever to open the door, but it was worth the wait. Potter wore a bathrobe and a frown and apparently nothing else. His hair was damp; Draco must have dragged him out of the shower. Potter peeked outside, looked left and right, shook his head and closed the door.
It was Hogsmeade, after all. Hogwarts students must have done this to Potter more than once. A horde of girls likely stood giggling beneath his window enough times to drive him batty.
Perhaps batty enough for him to chase them when they crossed the line. Draco rang the bell again, and this time he didn't stop ringing for as long as he dared.
He stepped back just in time. Potter burst out, wand in hand. He glared around and then flicked his wrist. Draco closed his eyes as magic whooshed past him. He expected to find Potter glowering at him once he opened them, convinced Potter had somehow figured out that an invisible person had shown up to annoy him. But Potter wasn't looking at Draco. He was inspecting the thin, golden net that had formed around the house. Draco was so distracted by his relief, he nearly missed his chance. The door was free.
As quickly and quietly as he could, not even daring to breathe, Draco snuck inside the house. Potter followed soon after.
Draco hurried down the narrow hallway, cursing the fact that he had forgotten to take off his shoes. Fortunately, Potter didn't have squeaky floors. Thick, dark red carpets were everywhere, whether because Potter was forever trying to be the ultimate Gryffindor or he just loved to walk around barefoot, Draco did not know; he was merely grateful they were there to soften his footsteps.
Draco crossed the living room and stepped into the first empty corner he could find, having no idea where Potter would go next. Potter didn't even come near him. He turned left and dashed upstairs. He still had his bathrobe on. He must have planned to finish his shower or get dressed. Either way, that bathrobe was coming off, and Draco was more than tempted to follow him up, but the stairs were wooden and had creaked under Potter's bare feet, and Draco did not dare to go near them. He hoped Potter wouldn't go to bed this early.
The faint sound of running water reached Draco's ears, and he concluded it was safe to look around. First, he took off his shoes and shoved them in the corner, hoping to remember where he'd left them; they, like the rest of him, were invisible.
Potter's living room looked exactly how Draco had imagined it. A huge fireplace, squishy comfortable armchairs and a sofa; everything was dark red and brown, warm and comfortable, feeling like home even though it bore no resemblance to Draco's flat or the manor. Maybe it just felt so welcoming because it was Potter's home and Draco was a soppy fool.
Draco ran his hand over the back of one of the armchairs and was tempted to curl up on it and sleep. Knowing his luck, Potter would probably sit on him.
He tiptoed to the kitchen, instead. It was not what he expected. It was fairly large, and the two outer walls looked like they were made of glass, but Draco knew they weren't because he had seen the house from the outside, and it was all brick and small windows.
The golden net Potter had conjured was pretty much all Draco could see, but when he squinted he glimpsed lanterns burning bright in the village streets, and out there in the distance torches shimmered like tiny stars, lighting the turrets and towers of the Hogwarts castle.
Draco wondered if Potter spent a lot of time in the kitchen and whether seeing his youth in the window, every single day, made him happy or sad. Sometimes it seemed like Potter forgot everything that had happened, or else he would never talk to Draco and joke, but of course that couldn't have been true. It looked like Potter thought about it every day, just like Draco.
Lights flared and Potter burst into the kitchen, nearly running Draco over. He missed by several inches. Draco stepped back and tried to become one with the wall. Why Potter was in such a hurry, Draco didn't know; he must have been quite hungry. He went about his business and didn't seem to notice anything was amiss. So much for keen Auror senses.
Potter was still barefoot, but he had put on loose Muggle-looking trousers and an obnoxiously orange t-shirt. It must have been a gift from Weasley. It looked like something one got from a dear friend but was too damn ghastly to wear somewhere others could see it. He had dried his hair, too, with hastily cast spells most likely, making an even bigger mess of it; several dark strands stuck out at odd angles, others flopped around his face. Draco's hands itched to touch it. Potter's hair was one of the accursed things that set off Draco's fantasies and had him imagining his fingers in the dark curls as Potter kissed him, sucked him, fucked him.
Potter moved around the kitchen a lot, opening strange cabinets, unwrapping packages and stuffing them in a different cabinet. Somehow this resulted in a full, hot meal placed on the table after one of the cabinets announced, "Ding!" It wasn't the first time Draco suspected Muggles were lying about not having magic.
Potter poured himself a glass of red wine and left the bottle on the table. He ate with his back to Draco, facing the see-through wall.
The longer Draco stood there and watched, the worse he felt. A stab of shame made him edge slowly towards the kitchen door. He imagined he'd catch Potter doing something embarrassing and ridiculous. That would have been fun. But staring at Potter quietly eating his solitary dinner felt like the worst intrusion. He regretted coming here. It would make everything even harder, he could tell. He could already imagine himself fantasising he was the cure for Potter's loneliness. Fooling himself into believing Potter needed him for such a thing. He knew it wasn't true. Potter had more friends than he could count; Draco was merely projecting.
He reached the living room without making a sound. He almost stepped towards the door, fully intending to leave, but then he realised — he couldn't leave. Potter had locked them inside. Draco knew the spell Potter had used. No one could approach the house, not by magic and certainly not on foot. And it worked both ways: no one could leave, either. Not before Potter took down the protection, which Potter was unlikely to do before morning.
Draco cursed Ron Weasley. And cursed the moment he was goaded into eating the stupid bean. Not only was he stuck here, it was also probable the charm would wear off just like Weasley had promised, and Potter would find Draco here in the morning. Or Draco would have to spend the night in some ghastly, old cupboard. The squishy armchairs looked much more comfortable.
Draco shrugged to himself. Weasley would tell Potter all about Draco turning invisible, and Potter would put two and two together whether he found Draco here tomorrow or not. Draco would say his plan was to take embarrassing pictures, so he could sell them to the Prophet. Potter would be angry and he'd throw him out. Draco would tell him to go fuck himself and he'd threaten to tell everyone Weasley was conducting illegal experiments on Ministry officials. A week later things would be as they always were — Weasley being a pain and Potter not remembering Draco existed, unless he needed something fixed.
So. Whatever. The best Draco could do was pick an armchair farthest from the fire. If Potter decided to lounge in the living room, that one was likely to be his last choice.
Draco didn't have to wait long to find out he was right. Potter strolled into the living room with a full wineglass and went straight for the sofa. It was placed right across Draco, far too close for comfort, but Potter didn't sit on him, so Draco counted his lucky stars.
Potter settled in, with his feet up and his back propped against a pillow, and picked up his wand. He flicked his wrist and a noise on Draco's right nearly had Draco yelping in fright. He realised on time it was just one of those tellees that had Muggles staring at them like Inferi. It must have been Charmed or else it wouldn't work. Not here in Hogsmeade. Draco's blackmail material was growing thick; bewitching Muggle objects was illegal.
The image on the tellee showed a man standing in front of a large map of Britain, enthusiastically promising even more snow. Potter waved his wand again and the image changed. Now Muggles were running around on a grass field, chasing an odd-looking Quaffle. Potter changed the image again; it went on and on like that. Draco didn't understand the point of it. Perhaps it was a Muggle game of some sorts, and one had to guess what the image showed before it changed. It was beginning to frustrate him to no end. Occasionally, Potter would pause long enough for things to get interesting and then he'd switch again. Draco was gritting his teeth when the image showed a bald man and a blond woman bidding for a pile of rubbish, and just when they bought it and were about to find out whether rubbish concealed actual treasure, Potter turned off the tellee.
Draco glared at him, pointlessly. Potter downed the glass of wine, set it aside and sank more deeply into the sofa, as though intending to sleep.
Which was just brilliant. Now Potter would fall asleep here and Draco would fall asleep here, and Draco would be the first thing Potter saw in the morning.
Draco would have to look for a cupboard after all. Or maybe he could go upstairs and sleep in Potter's bed. This was a catastrophe one way or the other. The least he could do was avoid back pain.
Potter was not yet ready to sleep, however. He was restless, kicking his legs and squirming, as though trying to find a more comfortable position. At last he settled in. His eyes were still open, staring at the ceiling. His hand moved downwards to the waistband of his Muggle trousers and then sneaked inside.
Oh Merlin. Draco should have realised. That was what one did on a lazy day off. He looked around in panic, but there was nowhere to run. Sitting there was risky enough — if Potter just looked his way, he could have easily seen the dent Draco's body had made in the armchair. Moving now would surely attract attention.
Draco scowled at his own mental excuses. As though he needed an excuse to stay put and see Potter wank. And Potter was definitely wanking. His hand was in his pants, moving in an unmistakable way; his eyes were closed, his lips were parted, his breathing turned shallow. Draco's body reacted predictably to the sight. He was beginning to fear the thundering of his heart was too loud, and Potter would surely hear it, and then —
Potter lifted up and yanked his trousers down to his thighs, and then all the way off. He lay back on the pillows, naked from waist down, his cock fully hard, leaking precome on his stomach. Draco's fingers dug into the armrests, gaze fixed on Potter's cock. He should have known it would be perfect. He used to pretend Potter had a small prick and that was why he was running around obsessed with trying to be larger than life.
He heard others claim it was enormous. But it was neither. It looked thick enough to feel good but not as huge as to promise discomfort.
It occurred to Draco that he had thought about Potter's cock excessively. Weasley noticing Draco's crush didn't seem so strange now. Everyone must have noticed it. Even Potter.
What would Potter do if he knew he was stroking his cock with soft moans for Draco to see and hear? And, more importantly, would he mind if an invisible entity showed up to do it for him? Draco suspected he'd rather not know the answers to those questions.
Potter stopped what he was doing as though to punish Draco for his thoughts. He picked up his wand, and Draco sucked in a breath, but Potter merely summoned something that came flying to his hand from upstairs. One thing was a phial Draco easily recognised as lube and the other...
Draco definitely recognised the shape, but he didn't dare to believe such a thing existed or that Potter would actually use it.
Sure enough, Potter coated the thing with lube and then lifted his leg, bending it at the knee, so he could press the tip of the toy between his arse cheeks.
Draco's whole body seized up. He was torn between joy at the sudden confirmation that Potter would take pleasure in such a thing, possibly with a man, and a kind of horror because the toy seemed much too large, and Potter surely wouldn't just push it in. But that was what Potter did. Draco could guess the exact moment it breached him. Potter moaned, baring his neck, his eyes firmly shut. His moans grew louder as his hand worked to slide the toy deeper inside. Draco couldn't tear his gaze away. All his fantasies never came close to this.
Potter was a vision. His strong thighs were shaking, sweat gathering on his skin to shimmer in the firelight. Potter's cock lay neglected on his stomach, as one hand held his long leg up and the other moved the toy in and out. His face was flushed, his eyes screwed shut.
At one point he grabbed his wand and shot a spell at the toy. It made it move on its own. Potter set his arms to the side, hands clenched into fists, and let the toy fuck him with wet, deep thrusts that had Draco reaching down to palm his crotch. Potter's moans turned louder. The toy was persistent, its speed and the depth of its thrust inhuman.
"So," Potter breathed, his voice scarily deep. "Are you just going to sit there and watch?"
Potter wasn't talking to him. Potter wasn't talking at all. Draco had imagined it. Surely. The toy was steadily sliding in and out of Potter, his skin pulled taut over muscles, his whole body shivering as it must have taken quite some effort not to move and give the unyielding toy room for error. Potter seemed completely focused on his pleasure. Any words Draco might have heard must have been a figment of his imagination.
Draco stood up anyway, as though hypnotised. No, he wasn't crazy. He had heard Potter speak. It would have been even crazier to ignore an invitation like that. And it was an invitation. A challenge, to be more precise. Draco had yet to refuse a challenge set by Potter; it went against everything he was.
Draco’s feet hit the sofa; he was so close, Potter’s thigh rubbed against his cloak. Potter’s shivering intensified. He spread his legs a little more, even closer to Draco’s cloak. He must have felt it; he must have rubbed against it on purpose.
Slowly, hand unsteady, Draco leaned in and placed his palm on the back of Potter’s thigh. Potter’s breath hitched. Draco slid his hand down over slick, hot skin, all the way to Potter’s arse. He could hardly believe he was doing it. Potter felt so real and alive under his touch. And so vulnerable with his shivers and moans. Draco's hand reached the place where the toy stretched Potter, insistently pushing in. He caressed the red, wrinkled skin of Potter’s entrance, dragging his fingertip around it, pretending he'd push it in, alongside the toy. Potter’s gasps sounded almost pained.
Draco licked his lips; his cock throbbed. He was in a sudden hurry to do something. To do it before Potter changed his mind and hexed him. He had never been faced with so many beautiful choices. He wanted it all. He wanted to take out the toy and replace it with his cock; he wanted to take Potter’s cock in his mouth. He wanted to come on Potter's face and smear his full lips.
He wanted to lick every scar on Potter's body. And there were quite a few. A long one on his thigh, a pale wide one on his stomach, a few tiny ones scattered all over. Some on his chest probably, too, but Draco couldn't see those thanks to the orange shirt Potter still wore. Was that why Potter didn't take it off? To hide even uglier scars? Draco had scars on his chest, too, the ones that Potter had made. He didn't like people looking at them, either, but he didn't earn them fighting evil. He earned them doing evil's bidding.
Draco shook off his thoughts and stared at Potter's cock. It turned out it wasn't such a hard choice after all. He hurried to take off his clothes. Potter's gaze followed Draco's cloak as it fell down to the floor. Draco frowned at it, expecting not to see it the way he couldn't see any part of his body or anything he had on him when he had turned invisible. But he saw what Potter was staring at. There was soot on his cloak. He didn't think of that; he had arrived at Three Broomsticks by Floo — the messiest way to travel. Potter must have seen it outline Draco's shoulders and back; he must have known exactly where Draco was at every moment.
Which meant Potter did all this on purpose. Put on a show. This turn of events required careful analysis of Potter's true motives and everything they implied.
But that would have to wait.
Draco was naked in seconds. Slowly, he reached for Potter's wand that lay on the sofa beside him. Potter froze, all pleasure apparently forgotten, his whole body on obvious full alert; his gaze was fixed on the wand that moved through the air.
Potter's wand was warm in Draco's hand; it didn't feel quite right, but it was good enough. Holding it felt wonderful, with Potter lying helpless before him. In that moment Draco was back in Hogwarts, back when defeating Potter was the only thought on his mind. It was tempting even now, after all these years, to cast a hex, take Potter's wand and leave him humiliated. Draco was so sure he had moved past that. That he knew himself better these days.
Potter's face was flushed, his eyes half-closed, his breathing shallow, lips full and parted. He wasn't afraid, Draco realised. And even if he was, it only served to arouse him further. That should have angered Draco. The fact that even now, standing there with Potter's own wand pointed at his face, he wasn't considered a threat. But all it did was make him feel safe. To think that somehow he had earned Potter's trust. All he could focus on now was never losing it.
Draco pointed the wand at himself and cast a few spells. They were stupid, uncomfortable spells, but he was in a hurry. They made him ready for Potter, loose and wet. They made him feel empty, eager to have Potter fill him up.
He grabbed Potter's ankle and forced him to lower his leg. Then he climbed onto the sofa to straddle Potter's waist.
Potter's body was rocking beneath him, the toy still working its magic. Potter's hands flew to Draco’s thighs, caressing them, squeezing; he looked fascinated. It must have been so strange for him — not seeing the person he was touching. Draco set the wand on Potter's stomach and reached behind to grip Potter’s cock. He slid the hot tip over the crease of his arse, giving himself time to calm and relax.
Potter's hands gripped Draco's thighs as Draco sank down. He did it too fast, too eagerly; the burn of being stretched made him close his eyes and clench. He heard himself moan, a long desperate sound interrupted by Potter's sudden upward twitch. Draco had no idea how he retained enough presence of mind to grab the wobbling wand before it rolled off to the floor. He still needed it. Potter's gaze followed the wand as Draco directed it in a random direction, concentrating hard on the thing he wanted charmed. Potter gasped, body jerking, knees bending, jolting Draco and making him jump. With another moan, Potter thrust upwards, slamming into Draco; the toy had sped up, controlled by Draco's charm, pushing deeper and setting their rhythm. Potter seemed enslaved by it, his cries speeding up with sharp jolts of his hips. Draco let the wand slide from his hand, let his body accept Potter's thrusts without resistance, let the force behind them sweep him away.
Warm fingers wrapped around his cock and tugged. Draco shuddered and came, his body seized in pleasurable spasms that had specks of light dancing in front of his eyes. Too dizzy to stay upright, he collapsed on top of Potter. He clenched hard around Potter's cock, involuntary at first, then deliberately after Potter moaned. He grabbed Potter's shoulders and lifted his head to stare at Potter's unfocused eyes. Potter's hips were still jerking beneath Draco. With praiseworthy effort, Draco yanked Potter's head closer by his hair and kissed him. It was rough, all tongue, with Draco mimicking the movements of the toy tirelessly pushing inside Potter. Potter's arms wrapped tight around Draco's back, holding him in an iron grip as he finally came, shuddering and moaning into Draco's mouth.
The kiss turned slow and lazy with Potter's tongue sliding against Draco's, making his head spin.
It was perfection. But then Potter wrenched away with a distressed whimper. His body was still squirming beneath Draco.
Draco couldn't help grinning. "You look like a man in urgent need for a charm to end," he said. He barely recognised his voice; it was deep and scratchy.
Potter's reply was caught between a laugh and a whimper. He was staring straight at Draco's eyes. Draco looked down and saw his hand on Potter's shoulder.
Right. Visible again.
For several horrifying seconds, Draco honestly expected Potter to throw him off with a cry of "Malfoy?" But Potter whimpered again, his eyes screwed shut, his hand on the floor, patting the carpet in a desperate search. "My wand," he gasped.
"Oh!" Draco quickly located the wand and picked it up. With a wave, he cancelled the charm that still had the toy thrusting mercilessly into Potter.
Potter gave a huge sigh. Then he cracked one eye open. "So," he said, smiling. "Hello?"
Draco had to laugh, even though a sudden nervousness had his stomach clenching. "Hello." He nodded. He had no idea what to say beyond that. But well, when in doubt... "It's a nice weather we're having, isn't it?"
"Marvellous," Potter said without missing a beat. "And more snow to come."
"Yes." Potter snorted. "Yes, you did."
Draco squirmed, stretching his legs and finding a more comfortable position. And avoiding eye contact for a few blessed moments; it helped him collect his thoughts. "So... you do this sort of thing with all your visitors?"
"Yes, it's pretty standard. Invisible men just pop out of cupboards and armchairs. Very convenient." Potter's hands were sliding over Draco's body, his arms, his back, his thighs, his arse. One of them stayed there, palm resting on Draco's arse cheek, warm and pleasant and promising. Potter only just saw him naked, Draco realised. "But they're usually harder to spot, I must say."
Draco scowled at Potter's grinning face. "I knew I hated the Floo network for a reason." It wasn't just that, though, obviously. "Weasley told you," he stated because that was the only logical explanation.
"He did, yes. He said there was an accident that turned you invisible, and he expected you to show up here to molest me."
Draco should have realised Weasley ran to alert Potter. He shook his head. "An accident, was it? That's what he said? He did this to me, you know. With his stupid beans."
Potter cocked his head; there was something softer in his gaze. "The courage beans?"
Oh shit. Why did he mention the beans? All it did was give Potter a humiliating look into Draco's head.
All good things must come to an end. He should have realised that, too. "I just remembered I have to go." Draco pushed away, intending to rise — and dress and then run really fast — but Potter moved so quickly he had no time to react. He found himself on his back with Potter staring down at him and his weight trapping him with no hope of escaping. Though, it felt too good for Draco to put much effort into struggling.
And Potter didn't look like someone who was about to mock him. "Personally, I found that wine works just as well for courage," Potter said.
It took Draco a minute to process that information. To imagine Potter devising a plan, calming himself through routine, shower and dinner, then drinking wine to make himself bold enough to strip and push a toy in his arse for Draco to see.
"Well —" Draco voice broke, and he had to try again. "I'm glad you finally did something about this crush of yours. Really, Potter, it was much too obvious. It was getting embarrassing."
Potter laughed, burying his head into Draco's neck, and Draco decided to forever pretend he was unaware of the fact that Weasley must have been filling Potter’s ears with tales of Draco's crush for months.
Potter ended his laugh with a kiss to Draco's throat. He raised his head and studied Draco's face.
"Why did the courage beans make you invisible?"
"According to Weasley, I can only be brave when no one sees me."
"That makes no sense."
"I'm actually brave, but no one sees it?" Draco suggested with a laugh, but the moment he said it he realised — it wasn't just that others couldn't see him; he couldn't see himself, either.
"I saw you," Potter said smugly.
"You only saw glimpse of me, and I looked like soot."
"Well, there's a philosophical question to ponder."
"No pondering," Draco said firmly. This was nothing he wanted to discuss in detail. "I'd rather know more about your Muggle toys."
"Now there's a brave statement if I ever heard one."
Draco frowned at Potter's wicked expression. "You just own the one, don't you?"
Potter nodded sadly. "Yeah, sorry."
"Well, luckily for you..." Draco rose up, forcing Potter to kneel up on the sofa. He found Potter's wand, pointed it at Potter's shirt and whispered a spell. "I happen to be an inventor." Potter looked curious and excited as his shirt split in two, slowly rising up, shrinking, crawling up Potter’s chest then down his arms to wrap around his wrists like two fancy orange shackles. With another whispered spell, Potter’s wrists slammed together, effectively trapped. "And you seem to be my inspiration." Draco tugged him closer by his tied wrists and erased Potter's grin with a kiss.
Considering he had done no work over the weekend, he was doing rather well. It was an inspiring weekend after all.
Draco didn't even go home; Potter didn't even remove the golden net surrounding his house. To say they spent the weekend shagging would be a needless exaggeration. They did plenty of other things. They watched tellee, and Potter prepared those strange Muggle meals, which tasted horrible but Draco ate them anyway.
They did most of these things naked, though.
They talked a lot, too. Or rather Draco asked a lot of questions, demanding the true story behind every scar. Potter was serious and truthful for once. Draco learned that Potter didn't earn his hand injury by trying to stop a Reductor curse with his hand. He was simply caught in the crossfire between a woman and her husband. He did manage to confiscate their wands one-armed before passing out from blood loss and pain. He was rescued by Weasley, who took him to St Mungo’s and arrested the quarrelling couple. “So in a way I did stop a Reductor curse with my hand. Just not on purpose,” he said.
He did shove the Probity Probe into trolls’ nostrils on purpose, though. “It's the only way I know how to stop a troll,” he assured.
Potter asked about Draco's scars, too. His lips trailing down Draco's chest, he said, "Tell me how you got those," as though he didn't know.
Draco had to think about his answer. “A snake threatened to kill my family," he had said. "I had to fight a lion to save them. The damn thing scratched me.”
“You didn't have to fight him," Potter said mildly. "And he didn’t scratch you on purpose. And I bet he’s really sorry he didn’t go for the Stunning hex.”
“I don’t think lions are interested in Stunning.”
“Are you sure it was a lion? Maybe it was a kitten." Potter blinked at him in an overly cute way. "One that didn’t even know which hex it was using.”
Draco considered this and nodded. “I was innocent, and you were a kitten. Sounds about right to me.”
“Agreed,” Potter had said, and they sealed the deal with a kiss and a shag.
Draco had been in a good mood ever since.
Draco dropped his quill. Ron Weasley stood beside him, grinning, a package of Cauldron Cakes in his hand. Draco had to give him points for stealth.
"It's just a peace offering," Weasley said. "They're safe, I promise. I mean, really, I wouldn't —"
Draco snatched a cake and ate it with two large bites. "Thank you, Weasley. That's very kind of you." He took the package from Weasley and set it on the table. "Leave it here. Oh and —" He handed Weasley the Foe-Glass. "All fixed." He grinned with as much smugness as he could possibly fit in his expression. And that was quite a lot, he'd been told.
Weasley stared at him. "You had sex. You actually had sex, didn't you?"
"Yes, yes, we did. Many times. You were right. Potter can take a lot. And oh my, the things he can do with his tongue." Draco gasped a little.
"And his stamina. Yes, right again."
Weasley stuffed the mirror in his pocket with a grimace.
"You should bring me sweets every day, I think," Draco concluded.
"You do realise this was my plan, right?" Weasley scratched the back of his head. "To get you two pining idiots together."
Draco snorted. "No, no, it wasn't. That's what Potter thinks. But I know your plan was to embarrass me in front of him."
"When did you ever need help with that?" Weasley looked genuinely confused.
"Oh, come off it. You're not convincing me. You hate me. I almost poisoned you."
"Yeah, but then you wrote those pretty letters, with curvy t's and a fancy seal, smelling of lilac." Weasley made a sad grimace. "I cried."
"My mother wrote those letters."
Weasley laughed. "Malfoy, everyone knows your mother wrote those letters." He rubbed his temples with an exaggerated sigh. "This is Hermione's fault. Being with her every day makes everyone else seem so slow."
"Weasley, stop trying. You're not convincing me —"
"Malfoy, you devised a potion that stuns trolls after Harry's run-in with them. You invented protective gloves after Harry injured his arm. You've been working on Auror protective gear every since Robards told Harry that if he keeps collecting scars, he'll end up looking like Mad-Eye Moody. So no, I don't hate you." The corners of Weasley's mouth turned downwards. He rubbed his eyes and sniffed. "I love you, mate." He threw himself on Draco and crushed him in a bear hug.
"Goddammit." Draco pushed him off in horror.
Weasley was laughing so hard it looked like he might choke. "I swear, you're the funniest person I've ever met," he said, fighting for breath.
"Go away!" Draco yelled, unsettled, not because of Weasley's ridiculous antics, but the frighteningly accurate things he had said about Draco's inventions. Draco was beginning to suspect Legilimency.
"Okay, okay, I'm leaving!" Weasley held his hands up in surrender. "Don't eat those, though." He pointed at the cakes. "They'll turn your hair pink." With that, he hurried outside. "Careful with that tongue, mate," Draco heard him say in the corridor. "It does strange things to his brain."
Seconds later, Potter walked in. Draco was pleased to see his cheeks were pink. Weasley embarrassed everyone, apparently.
"You need new friends," Draco told Potter.
"Nah, I'll keep him." Potter walked over. "I think I'm keeping you, too. I get attached easily, you see." His green eyes were twinkling. Draco looked away, afraid he'd end up smiling stupidly at Potter.
"What are you doing?" Potter asked. "Is that the new protective gear? To go with the gloves?"
Draco gave a jerky nod. "It's harder. The gloves were small. For this, I had to charm a number of smaller pieces and then sew them together."
"You can sew? Can you cook? Can you clean?"
Draco turned to glare at Potter, but it was difficult. Potter was close, leaning in with his full, smiling lips, as though he might kiss Draco at any moment.
"Are you looking for a housemaid?" Draco asked.
"Do you have a housemaid outfit? If yes, I'm definitely looking for a housemaid. It would go so well with your pink hair."
"Oh, for the love of —" Draco checked his hair, and sure enough it was pink.
"I think it's rather fetching," Potter said, then after Draco's glare, added, "It'll wear off in an hour. I swear. Personal experience."
That didn't make Draco feel much better.
"Here," Potter said, took one of the Cauldron Cakes from the table and ate it. "We'll be pink together."
Draco had to smile at that. They would look like a pair of idiots. He shook his head. "Sorry. I think I lost my sense of humour somewhere along the line."
"I think you're pretty funny." Potter pulled him closer. His mouth twitched. "Especially with pink hair." He leaned in, in obvious attempt to kiss him.
Draco placed two fingers on his lips and held him back. "Before we get funny again, there's something I need you to promise," he said because all his secrets were out in the open anyway.
"Er, all right."
"When I finish this gear, you'll be my test subject, and you'll wear it every day."
Potter smiled, kissing Draco's fingertips. "Promise."
"Because I don't want you to look like Mad-Eye Moody."
"It would kill my sense of humour completely."
"And we don't want that."
"No, we don't."
Potter nodded. "Can I shag you now?"
Draco swung Potter around, slammed him against the wall and kissed him.