Life was going very well for Harry Potter, Junior Auror, age 23.
He loved his friends, saw his godson and the Weasley clan every Sunday, and enjoyed his job at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, where he was aiming for a promotion to Senior Auror within the year. He was seeing a specialized Mind Healer for the outbursts of uncontrolled magic which had manifested after the war, and Will said he was getting better each visit.
He was in a particularly good mood this day because the Office of Potions and Substance Analysis was moving into the lab across the hall. And with the exception of their pleasant secretary Yvette, Harry sat closest to the Auror office door. If he tilted his chair back to read a file in his lap like he usually did, he could peer around the low divider wall to get a glimpse of a certain blond Potioneer.
Draco Malfoy had been in and out of the lab all morning, floating baskets of flasks, bottles of ingredients, hefty cauldrons, and all sorts of arcane lab equipment into the new space. The years of teenage fascination-slash-rivalry-slash-ill-advised-secret-pash had attuned Harry’s senses to Malfoy, or at least his sight and hearing. (The other three senses were, unfortunately, lacking in opportunity.) Over the clinks and shuffles of unpacking sounds, Harry could hear Malfoy’s voice directing his lab assistants, Susan Bones and Toad Tozer. Malfoy had grown his hair out; it was long on top and cropped at the bottom and sides, and he kept having to toss his head to get it out of his face. It must have been irritating for Malfoy, but Harry found that he enjoyed the sight.
The years after Hogwarts hadn’t been easy for Malfoy, but he had been tempered by the pressure of his career path rather than breaking under it. He’d filled out in the shoulders, stretched a few inches taller, and grown rather well into the facial features that Harry had always dismissed as pointy. He was still plenty angular, but Harry’s gaze traced the sculpted cut of Malfoy’s face with appreciation rather than annoyance.
All in all, he looked… extremely fit. At the moment, Malfoy was lifting equipment off a cart and carefully carrying it into the lab by hand. The potions staff wore close-fitting powder blue uniforms with a short cape, as the long draping material of traditional wizarding robes were always falling into cauldrons and getting splashed by hazardous liquids.
Thus, for the eighth time, Harry got to watch Malfoy bend over in a pair of flawlessly fitted trousers. Merlin. He straightened slowly and Harry’s eyes roamed hungrily over the lean muscles in his long legs, and the way his figure tapered in at the waist. The short cape fluttered tantalizingly over his hips as he stood, walked into the lab, and began shouting at Tozer.
“Tozer, you cloud-brained flobberworm larva, do not leave our best Klein bottle in my walking path or I’ll have you peeling tentacles for the next millennium!”
Harry bit back a smile at that familiar biting, posh voice. Malfoy was just as arrogant, condescending, and infuriating as he’d ever been, but his potionwork and eye for irregularities had made him an indispensable colleague to the entire Auror force. And just because he was arrogant and condescending and infuriating didn’t make him any less pleasant to look at. The steady labor and ire at his colleague gave his cheeks a fetching pink glow, which--
“Oi!” came Ron’s voice, as a balled-up piece of parchment smacked Harry in the forehead.
Harry startled, nearly flipping his chair backwards. “What?” He recovered his balance and turned to Ron, who was sitting at the opposite desk with a look of exasperation.
“I’ve only been talking to you for the past ten minutes. Have you not heard a single word about the Nestburn case? The raid we’re supposed to take the lead on? Friday?”
“Er, sorry.” Harry rubbed absently at the spot where Ron’s parchment had struck. “Haven’t had my tea yet this morning.”
“Wish you would, mate. I’m taking a second look at these plans and it looks to me like we ought to have twice as many people on the ground as we do now.” Ron’s chess-like strategic analysis was second to none among the Junior Aurors, and Harry would have gladly agreed to whatever he proposed. Except this was their first major raid without a Senior Auror directly supervising, and would certainly reflect on their promotion applications later, and he really should look at the maps.
After one last peek at the back of Malfoy’s head through the wide glass windows across the hall, Harry sighed, lowered the front legs of his chair to the ground, and took the parchment in hand.
Harry began to learn things about Malfoy. During the five years of working at separate Ministry departments, he had only exchanged the odd word with him, but snooping on Malfoy was just like riding a broom: you never really forgot how.
For example, Malfoy went to the Ministry canteen for lunch every day at 12:30, and to the tea cart at 3:00 or 3:15 at the latest. That shock of feathery hair and dignified gait were just too distinctive for Harry not to notice him passing out of the corner of his eye. He’d had eight years of practice at trailing Malfoy, after all.
Another thing was that Malfoy liked to stretch his legs whenever possible, and so would walk reports over to Yvette rather than sending them across the hall in the form of a purple paper airplane memo. Malfoy must have said something disgustingly charming to Yvette when they first met, because she now welcomed him with a warm smile and conversation every time he came across the hall into the Aurors’ office. Harry wasn’t always at his desk to hear them, but when he was, he could hear every word they exchanged.
One day as he was filling out paperwork, there came the clipped step of expensive boots followed by a smooth, “Good morning, Yvette. I’ve got an Analysis Report here for Auror Clearwater.”
“Thank you, Draco dear.” There was a soft shuffling noise -- Yvette liked to rearrange the folds of her shimmery magenta cape to display her plunging neckline to those she deemed worthy. “I’ll get this to Penelope right away. Not working too hard over there, love? You look a bit tired.”
“Oh, I didn’t sleep much. Nicolas, you know.”
Harry paused in the middle of writing. Nicolas?
Yvette gave an amused giggle. “That villain! I’ll bet he kept you up late.” Her tone was teasing, knowing.
“He just couldn’t get to sleep! That happens often during thunderstorms, but I took care of him, and in the end he drifted off while we cuddled.”
Yvette gasped. “Merlin’s stars. That is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Harry made a face and forced his attention back to his form, upon which he had written his name as HARRY J. MALFOY MALFOY MALFOY. He blinked, Vanished the form with a wave of his wand, then reached for a new one. Who wanted to hear about stupid Malfoy and his stupid boyfriend who was afraid of thunderstorms and their tender late-night shags and snuggles? Certainly not Harry. He had a very important Form 106C (Request of Reallocation of Funds for Jurisdictional Subcommittee and/or Assembly) to be submitted by the end of the day, and it certainly wasn’t going to fill itself out.
Whether he intended to or not, Harry began heading to the canteen at 12:32 and for a cup of tea at about 3:02 (or 3:17 at the latest). This meant that he was usually a few spots behind Malfoy while they stood in the lunch line or waiting for the milk and sugar and things. (Harry liked his tea with three sugars, or four for a bad day; Malfoy took his with the loathsome combination of a splash of milk and squeeze of lemon.)
Ron usually went for food whenever Harry did, and on this particular day they were discussing the outcome of the Nestburn raid. It had gone flawlessly thanks to Ron’s implementation of their forces and Harry’s instincts for tracking trouble. The smugglers were awaiting trial, the Dark objects had been delivered to the Curse-Breakers, and Harry had only sustained a small Burn Hex to his knuckles. He had to wear bandages on his right hand for a few days, but as this meant he was excused from paperwork, he couldn’t complain too much.
Harry carried his injured hand gingerly as he and Ron walked down the corridor and down to the canteen, recounting the aftermath of the raid. “O’Malley’s Protego was so quick, I almost couldn’t believe it,” Ron was saying. “I think she saved both Cavendish and Yang from a nasty Entrail-Expelling Curse.”
Harry felt a burst of pride. “Yeah, I saw. She was easily the fastest one in their training group, and her accuracy has improved too.” Several early morning training sessions with Harry had corrected O’Malley’s tendency to release her spells before her wand was fully pointed, like a fisherman getting the hook caught on a tree while casting.
While they continued to chat in line, Harry flicked his gaze forward and saw Malfoy two spots in front of them, talking with the flirty lunch-wizard with the lip piercing. Harry automatically offered up his tray for chicken milanese while straining one ear towards Malfoy’s conversation.
“Wotcher, Draco,” the lunch-wizard was saying with a little smile. “You had a chance to listen to the new Merton Graves album yet?”
“I did, as a matter of fact. Nicolas and I put it on last night. So amazing.” Malfoy returned the smile as the wizard handed him a small bowl of spicy tomato soup. Their fingers brushed and a streak of annoyance lanced up Harry’s spine.
The lunch-wizard was always batting his eyelashes at Malfoy, giving him the freshest soup and extra croutons on his salads and so forth. Surely he would be put off by Malfoy bringing up his boyfriend?
But to Harry’s surprise, the wizard looked pleased. “Incredible, right? He’s doing a solo show down the Three Broomsticks next month. Maybe I’ll see you and Nicolas there.”
“Perhaps you will.” With the barest hint of a wink, Malfoy raised the soup bowl in a mock toast and the lunch-wizard wiggled his fingers in farewell.
Something sharp and hot flared in Harry’s brain at the sight. Then he smelled something burning and looked instinctively towards the canteen kitchens. An exclamation from Ron drew his attention down to his own hand, where the bandages on his barely-healed burn had caught fire. For some reason.
“Shit!” He dropped his tray with a clatter and batted stupidly at the flaming bandage before the Medi-Witch in front of him in line doused the fire with a simple spell. His cheeks aflame (though his hand mercifully not), Harry mumbled his thanks and hurried away to the healing ward for a fresh bandage.
At the end of the canteen line, Malfoy watched him go with a curious look on his face.
The following Thursday afternoon, Harry found himself packing up alone. Ron had blushed to the tips of his ears when he confessed he had to leave early for a date with Hermione.
(“You’re married, Ron. Time with Hermione is the plan for the rest of your life.”
“I know that. But when Hermione says ‘a date’, what she really means is -- er -- that is --”
As if that weren’t enough, Susan came from the Potions Lab across the hall to pick up Padma from the Aurors’ Office, kissing her on the cheek. They chatted amicably with Harry until Malfoy came through the door with a flowery scarf in his hand.
“Left this at your desk, Bones.”
“Cheers, Malfoy. Got any big plans for tonight?” Susan wound the scarf around her neck and Padma tugged at the corners until they were even.
Harry glanced at Malfoy in time to see his face soften tenderly. “Just going home to make dinner for Nicolas.” Padma and Susan simpered.
This time, Harry couldn’t help himself. Before he could hold his tongue, he cut in: “Again? It sounds like you make dinner for him every night!”
Malfoy, Padma, and Susan turned to look at him. Belatedly he wondered if it had just become abundantly clear how often he listened to Malfoy’s tales of Nicolas this and Nicolas that. But he willed himself not to blush and continued packing up his things as nonchalantly as possible.
“Obviously, Potter. It’s part of our routine.” Malfoy lifted the corner of his mouth in an almost-smile.
Padma cooed and Harry scowled into his bag. The matter-of-factness of Malfoy’s reply was just so… endearing, and lovely, and sweet, and it did terrible things to Harry’s insides. He continued to shove notebooks and quills into his bag. After a long day at the lab, the last thing Malfoy needed was to stand over a hot stove for this useless Nicolas bloke. Malfoy should put his feet up with a glass of wine while someone prepared him a plate of spag bol and asked about his day. That was certainly what Harry wanted. The sitting with a glass of wine part, that was; not the pampering Malfoy. Not the part where Harry -- er, someone -- welcomed Malfoy home with a gentle hand on the small of his back as he shrugged off his coat, a lingering kiss...
A door closed and Harry glanced up to find himself alone. Apparently, while he had been daydreaming (and packing the entirety of the contents of his desktop, including an alarm clock and four framed pictures, into his overflowing bag), Padma and Susan had headed out to the pub and Malfoy to his stupid adoring Nicolas.
Harry cursed under his breath and unpacked the clock with enough violence to set its bells ringing.
Sunday was gray and cold, and a steady drizzle began as soon as their ragtag teams assembled at the Quidditch pitch. Well, it wasn’t so much a real pitch as a nice big field in Ottery St. Catchpole where Arthur had built a couple of wooden benches a few summers ago, but Harry loved it.
They had cobbled together two teams over the years: Harry, Ron, and George were pretty evenly matched against Ginny, Angelina, and Charlie (now apprenticing under Hagrid to take up the Magical Creatures post in a few years’ time). The other members consisted of Ginny’s coworkers at the Department of Magical Games and Sports, plus Charlie’s boyfriend Constantin. Hermione had been appointed Unofficial Warming Charm Captain; Hannah and Neville and Andromeda and Teddy always came to watch; and a tray of Molly’s sandwiches and a case of Butterbeer always vanished by the end of the afternoon.
Harry zipped around the edge of the field with a huge grin, even though a well-aimed Bludger from Constantin had just made him skim across the muddy ground to avoid a broken nose. This was usually the high point of his weekend. No paperwork to fill out, no battle injuries to tend to. Just a friendly game of Quidditch with his friends, and work was the last thing on his mind.
So, of course, the owls from Robards came for him and Ron just as their teams tied at 90 points apiece. Ginny hooted that this constituted victory by forfeit, and Harry couldn’t think of anything to say so he stuck his tongue out and zoomed down towards the ground.
“Bad luck,” Hermione said sympathetically from beneath her umbrella charm. “Will you still come to the Burrow for supper later?”
“If Robards doesn’t keep us there forever,” Harry replied, thinking wistfully of shepherd’s pie as Ginny and Angelina continued to zoom around overhead. “If I don’t make it, save me a plate, would you?”
“Don’t worry, Mum’ll be sending us a picnic basket in a few hours once she’s done storming ‘round the kitchen,” Ron assured him. He bent down to give Hermione a wet kiss on the cheek. “C’mon, let’s get this over with.”
Harry handed his five-year-old godson his Firebolt with strict instructions to keep it safe and not even think about trying to fly it, with a grin at Andromeda before Apparating away. After the disorienting slide down the Ministry toilet tubes, he and Ron hurried to the locker rooms, where the other Auror team were already getting changed.
“‘Lo, Potter, Weasley,” said Pembroke. “Make sure you grab your goggles and gas mask. Gonna be a nasty one. Dark activity at a warehouse in Knockturn, and we think they’re importing illegal potions.”
“Oh, joy,” sighed Ron, but Harry was cheered. Robards always summoned someone from Potions and Substance to assist on cases like these, and Susan Bones was on call Sundays.
Getting called in on a day off was bad enough, but what made it worse was listening to what everybody had been up to when they got the owls. Harry undid the buckles on his Quidditch leathers while Ron recapped the game for the other Aurors.
“I had to put down a book two pages away from the end,” said Pembroke, slamming his locker door shut. “Do you have any idea how infuriating that is?” (“Ravenclaw,” Ron muttered under his breath.)
“I was almost done mixing the batter for a sponge cake,” Fawley said mournfully. “I put the ingredients under a Stasis Spell but it’s never quite the same.”
Harry half-shimmied out of his damp jeans and was pulling his sweat- and mud-covered shirt over his head when the door banged open. Through the muffle of fabric, he heard Pembroke call out, “Malfoy, thought you weren’t going to show up. Owl catch you and Nicolas at a bad time?”
Harry jumped as if shocked, and promptly tangled his arms and glasses in the sleeves of his own shirt. With a shiver of dread, he remembered Padma telling Yvette how she was taking Susan out for her birthday on Sunday, which was… today.
He extricated himself from the filthy garment as Malfoy rounded the corner, looking deliciously casual in charcoal robes, crisp gray trousers, and a pale pink shirt. His haughty gaze swept the other Aurors, ending with Harry, before he turned away quickly to his locker. “Weekend owls always come at a bad time,” he replied, his voice tight and strained. “We were out for a walk in the park, as it happens, but now we’ll have to reschedule his haircut.”
Harry was too late to stifle an undignified snort. Beside him, Ron’s shoulders were shaking with suppressed laughter. “Something funny?” Malfoy asked.
“Nothing at all,” Harry responded, smirking while he pulled on his uniform. Merlin, Malfoy’s boyfriend sounded like a piece of work. Scared of thunderstorms, too lazy to cook dinner, and now he needed Malfoy to book his hair appointments for him? Harry almost felt sorry for the git.
That was before he turned around to sneak a glance at Malfoy, who was in the process of removing his unbuttoned shirt. The crisp cloth slithered down his shoulders but came to rest at his bent elbows while Malfoy fiddled with his trouser button. Somehow the sight of the shirt half-on, half-off was worse than anything Harry’s fevered imagination could have come up with. The muscles in Malfoy’s back shifted beneath his pale skin, and Harry couldn’t think of anything but what it would feel like to come up behind Malfoy, bury his nose in that fall of blond hair, and run his arms down Malfoy’s until the shirt hit the floor. The trousers would have to go too...
Fighting down his burgeoning and badly-timed arousal, he whirled back around and was about to put on his gloves, but the pair he was holding was not the standard Auror dragonhide he’d been holding a moment ago.
They were bright green. And HP & DM was embroidered on the back of each hand in gold cursive. What the fuck! Harry bit back a startled cry and stuffed them into his locker before Ron could see.
“Do let me know if you need me to schedule you a grooming session too, Potter,” Malfoy drawled from behind him, presumably as he slipped into his delicious powder blue uniform. “Seems like you could use one more than usual, and that’s saying something.”
Instinctively, Harry ran a hand through his unruly black hair, and succeeded in crumbling a handful of dried mud onto the clean Auror uniform he’d just put on.
The warehouse raid went without a hitch, and Pembroke and Fawley were interviewing the couple who owned the property. Robards reassigned Harry and Ron to Diagon Alley to check out a possible explosive artifact in a Gringotts vault. Harry still wasn’t sure how he stood with the goblins after the dragon incident, but Ron played chess with one of the tellers so he felt a little safer going in to chat while Harry guarded the entrance.
After fifteen minutes of waiting and still no appearance or Patronus from Ron, Harry grew bored of reading the plaques outside the bank entrance and began to people watch. Almost immediately, his eyes caught a head of blond hair in the crowd. Malfoy was walking alongside Pansy Parkinson, and they were both holding cones from Fortescue’s newly reopened ice cream parlor, run by his niece Felicity. Like a magnet, Malfoy’s gray eyes locked on Harry’s, and he said something to Pansy that made her grin. Before Harry knew it, the two of them were weaving their way over to the front steps of the bank.
“Working hard, Potter?” Malfoy said by way of greeting before mouthing daintily at his ice cream cone. Whatever Harry had been going to say in response was lost at the sight of Malfoy’s pointed pink tongue darting out to lick at his raspberry sherbet.
“I -- um -- what?”
Parkinson snorted, “Eloquent, as always.” Malfoy grinned and licked his lips while gazing at Harry from under golden eyelashes, and Harry’s brain dropped down to settle beneath his lungs.
“What are you doing here, Malfoy? Shouldn’t you and your lab rats be working the warehouse case?” he demanded, to give himself a moment to recover.
“Potioneers Bones and Tozer are perfectly capable in the lab without me, and I had requested this day off two weeks ago, Potter. Not that it’s any of your concern, but Pansy and I are doing some shopping. I had some errands to run and she’s throwing a baby shower for Daphne Greengrass this weekend.” Parkinson lifted the flowers in one arm and raised her eyebrows at Harry as if he was particularly dim. And it turned out, when Malfoy was consuming ice cream in the most erotic ways possible while maintaining eye contact with Harry, he did feel as if his mental functions were greatly reduced. Suddenly he was grateful for both the post he was leaning against, and the thick wool of his Auror robes.
He cleared his throat. “Well, don’t let me stop you. I--”
Something rumbled behind Harry and his Auror instincts kicked in at once. “GET DOWN!” he cried, throwing a Protego around them as he dove at Malfoy and Parkinson. Parkinson shrieked and stepped back, but Malfoy had tripped over a cobblestone and was now completely crushed under Harry’s own body. Several passers-by shouted in surprise.
Harry whipped his head around to look at the damage, but… there was none. Where he had expected to see the entrance to Gringotts overflowing with acrid smoke and flame, there was just Ron standing in the doorway behind Harry’s Shield Charm, looking very confused.
“Er, everything all right, Harry?”
“Ron! I heard a noise; I was sure it was that vault. Are you…?”
And then Harry’s eyes slid down several buildings to the far end of Diagon Alley, where a cluster of children and families were gathered around Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. And where -- Harry now remembered -- the giant jack-in-the-box popped out of the top of the building with a resounding bang every hour, showering the street corner in confetti and sparks. That had been the source of the rumbling, it appeared. Not a bank vault exploding. He groaned.
“If you’ve quite finished, Potter,” came a strained voice from beneath him.
Harry couldn’t read the expression on Malfoy’s face, but he looked totally rumpled and debauched where Harry had him pinned on the ground between his arms. His eyes were darkened as they met Harry’s, the irises so wide that only a thin halo of gray remained around the outside. His fair hair was splayed out on the cobblestones and some stuck to his forehead where Harry’s flying tackle had smeared some raspberry sherbet. The rest of it was rapidly melting against Malfoy’s chest, which was rising and falling against Harry’s in a way that made him dizzy. Up close, Malfoy smelled so good, like the sharp, fresh sweetness of a spruce or a pine tree, and Harry fervently hoped that this knowledge wouldn’t do weird things to his head come Christmastime.
With a muttered apology, Harry clambered to his feet and offered the other man a hand up. Malfoy pointedly ignored him as he stood (git) and took out his wand to cast a cursory Scourgify over both of them, though that did nothing to help the rosy flush that covered his cheeks and neck, as well as Harry’s own (not to mention the warmth in his, er, trouser region). Ron dispelled the Shield Charm and trotted down the steps towards them, while Pansy was watching the scene with an expression of cat-like glee. The transfixed pedestrian crowd had moved on from mild alarm to the “oh my goodness isn’t that Harry Potter” routine.
“Sorry ‘bout that, Malfoy,” Ron declared breezily. “We got word there might be a booby trap inside Gringotts. Reckon Harry was just saving your life again.” He thumped Harry across the shoulderblades.
Malfoy snorted and flicked a speck of dust from the sleeve of his robes. “I know you can’t go one day without reminding us all that you’re the Savior of the Wizarding World, Potter, but I was rather enjoying that sherbet.” Then he knelt to pick up the shopping bags that he had been carrying, and that was when Harry saw it.
Sticking out of a brown paper bag was a tangle of dark leather. At first it looked like a belt. But Malfoy tried to stuff it hurriedly back into the bag, which only drew more of it out and into Harry’s field of vision.
It was... a harness. A leather harness made of thin black straps, shiny studs, and delicate silver buckles. And an engraved charm attached along a smaller loop at the top which bore a cursive letter N. Before he could get a closer look, Malfoy wrestled the harness back into the paper bag and picked it up by its handles.
Harry’s head spun. This was all too much. He really, really didn’t know what to do with the sudden knowledge that Malfoy and his darling boyfriend practiced BDSM. Was there even a sex shop in Diagon Alley? Bloody fucking hell. You probably had to know a secret password to get in there, and the staff all wore corsets and thigh-high boots. And Malfoy with his terrible, fit, muscular body had bought Nicolas a --
He didn’t think it was possible to turn any redder, but judging by the concerned look on Ron’s face, he had. “We’ll just pop back to headquarters and tell them it was a false alarm. Eh, Harry?”
“R-Right. Sorry about your, uh, ice cream,” Harry said to a nonplussed Malfoy. A split second before he and Ron Apparated away, Parkinson let out a delighted cackle that startled all of the birds perched atop Gringotts into flight.
Life was absolute barking madness for Harry Potter, Junior Auror, age 23.
As soon as the Gringotts report for Robards was filed, Harry walked as quickly as he could to the rarely-used single-occupancy loo on the sixth floor, locked the door with trembling fingers, and threw a shaky Silencing Charm around him. He had been sporting the world’s most unwavering hard-on ever since he’d tackled Malfoy and glimpsed him clutching that leather harness in his pale, thin fingers, and it was seriously affecting his ability to think about anything else.
Squeezing his eyes shut, Harry unbuttoned his robes in record speed and unzipped his trousers while the Malfoy in his mind tugged at a leather collar around Harry’s neck. Or maybe it was Nicolas’. Working hard, Potter? His face was a hair’s breadth away; he could smell the raspberry sherbet on his lips.
Harry mentally dressed Nicolas in black hair and green eyes and glasses and a lightning bolt scar, and Malfoy was behind him, against him, inside him, murmuring, Making such a fuss. He gasped as mind-Malfoy dragged a finger down Nicolas-Harry’s torso, catching on the tight leather buckles that ran across his bare torso and waist, down to his hips, where the straps slipped around his thighs to show that he was hard, achingly hard for Malfoy’s touch.
Mind-Malfoy reached for him and Harry’s hips bucked helplessly. He tipped his head back, thrusting and sighing and wanting. So amazing. And suddenly Harry was spilling helplessly, endlessly into his own fist, his satisfied cry echoing around the tiled walls despite his Silencing Charm.
He dragged out the last of his pleasure as mind-Malfoy whispered, If you’ve quite finished, Potter…
Harry threw his head back against the door and swore violently.
He dropped into the cushy sofa across from Will and accepted a biscuit from the plate his Mind Healer was holding out. After the usual pleasantries, Will steepled his fingers together and looked across at Harry.
“How has your magic been since our last meeting? Any unintended incidents since last month?”
Harry mumbled something into his teacup.
”Two! Oh, Harry.” Will took his quill and wrote something in his notebook. “Tell me about what happened.”
Harry sighed. “The first time, I set my bandaged hand on fire. The second time, I, er… turned a pair of gloves green, without meaning to.” He left out the part about the embroidered initials. Somehow it was just too much to say aloud.
Will’s eyebrows rose into his hairline but he continued writing in silence, nodding to himself. “I see. And where did these incidents take place? At work?” Harry nodded. “Very well. What was going on at the time of the first one?”
The fit lunch-wizard with the lip piercing was caressing Malfoy’s hand over a bowl of tomato soup. While they talked about Nicolas. “I was holding my tray, in line for lunch in the canteen.”
“Mm. And the second?”
I was thinking about what it would be like to smell Malfoy’s hair while tearing all of his clothes off. “Changing into uniform.”
“Interesting.” Will tapped the end of his quill on his chin. “It seems to me, Harry, that both of these outbursts took place while you were focused on tactile activities. I know we’ve discussed your issues with touch since the end of the war.”
They had, and at great length. It was the lack of touch, really. Harry had spent most of eighth year as close to Ron and Hermione as public decency would allow. They would scoot closer together in the Great Hall so that their elbows bumped, and Hermione would squeeze his hand during their unit on Animagi, and Ron would place a hand on his shoulder whenever they had to pass through the hall with the Room of Requirement. After the first week waking up gasping from nightmares, a room had appeared at the top of Gryffindor Tower with a cozy bed big enough for three. It ended up being the only way any of them could sleep through the night that year, with the other two within reach. Harry still woke up shaking in Grimmauld Place these days, straining his ears for Ron’s heavy breathing or Hermione’s comforting whispers. They never came.
Will was gazing at Harry sympathetically. “I’m going to give you a new set of mental exercises to do before bed, Harry. They should focus your thoughts on calm, tranquil feelings rather than your anxieties over touch. And whatever else may be bothering you on a subconscious level.”
Like the thought of Malfoy fucking his boyfriend but also me in nothing but a leather harness?
“I also want you to be aware of what triggers these reactions at work, and to avoid those stimuli if at all possible.”
Harry managed a shaky nod and took a sip of his tea.
He got through a week before it happened.
By switching desks with Ron, he eliminated the sightline into the Potions Lab. He dragged Ron to lunch at 11 or sometimes as late as 1:30, when the chips got soggy and there were only egg salad sandwiches left. He changed in a toilet stall on the far side of the locker rooms, and made excuses to duck away to another part of the office whenever he heard Malfoy’s distinctive steps approach Yvette at her station.
And he managed to not set anything on fire or transfigure his clothing or make a fool of himself.
Until that Thursday.
Thursday was becoming a regular date night for Ron and Hermione, so Harry figured he’d work late to wrap up some case files, and then grab takeaway on the way home. He was so absorbed in his files, in fact, that he didn’t hear the click of expensive boots until a trim set of legs in powder blue had already sidled up to his desk.
“You’ve switched places with Weasley,” Malfoy remarked.
Harry jumped and swore as he knocked an inkpot over his paperwork. He patted at three pockets before he found his wand, and Vanished the spilled ink with a shaky flick. “Yeah, I, er. Concentrate better when I’m facing north.”
“You’re facing southeast.” Malfoy gave him a look of exasperated amusement that made Harry’s stomach flip over. “Look, do you have a moment? I need a second opinion on one of the potions from that Knockturn raid a few weeks ago, and I already sent Bones and Tozer home.”
Harry didn’t have to look around to know that Pembroke and Fawley were long gone, and Ron had abandoned him ages ago. Unable to think of an excuse, he stood and followed Malfoy across the hall to the Potions Lab, and tried to look at anything except the alluring sway of his hips and the tantalizingly soft hair on the back of his head.
The lab was clean and brightly lit. Instead of the dank, earthy smell that Harry had come to associate with potions in the Hogwarts dungeon, the space was fresh and tidy. Again, Harry caught a whiff of Malfoy’s distinctive Christmas tree scent and wrestled down a dizzying wave of desire.
Malfoy led him over to a cauldron where a dark purple potion was bubbling mildly. “This was one of the delightful little surprises we found in the very back of the warehouse. I’ve already sent most of the really illicit mixtures to the evidence lockup, but this one is rather interesting. See, Bones thought it was meant for internal consumption to aid spellcasting, but I think it’s more based on...”
However, Harry really couldn’t concentrate on what Malfoy was saying when he was standing so close. As he went on and on about the potion, Harry catalogued the lines of his cheekbones, his jaw, his slender neck. The way he gestured with his hands when he was talking, sending his short blue cloak flapping in waves. The way those cool gray eyes locked onto Harry’s, first with professional excitement and then with increasing irritation…
And even the way he said Harry’s name after all these years, like it was a goddamned oath, a gauntlet being thrown down, those two syllables pursed between his pouty pink lips--
Harry blinked as Malfoy snapped his fingers two inches away from his face. “What, what?”
“Merlin.” Malfoy rolled his lovely eyes and drew his wand from his sleeve while muttering, “Killed the Dark Lord twice and he’s still got the attention span of a Pygmy Puff. Right. Listen.” He indicated a wide silver bowl on the countertop. “I’d like to test my theory about the thermal reactions based on volume, but I can’t do two things at once. So I’ll ladle the potion into the bowl while you cast a mild Cooling Charm on it. Think you can manage that?”
“Sure.” Harry focused on the bowl and not the hypnotizing movements of Malfoy’s slender fingers on his wand.
He murmured the incantation for the Cooling Charm and held it steady as Malfoy carefully ladled a few drops of the purple potion into the bowl. The consistency immediately changed from a thin liquid to a more viscous sort of gel.
“Fascinating.” As Malfoy picked up the bowl and swished it around with a curious smile, Harry couldn’t help but think how lovely he was when he wasn’t sneering or insulting Harry’s friends, which he really hadn’t done since sixth year. If Harry had been a little less consumed by grief in eighth year, would he have noticed Malfoy’s curiosity and devotion to his potions studies? The way he examined his experiment with a keen, bright look in his eyes, his whole body held at attention?
Malfoy added another ladle of potion to the bowl and bent over to examine it closely, giving Harry an exceptional view of the graceful little curve of his backside. It was so pretty, just like the rest of him, and Harry was struck with a sudden urge to see how it felt under his hands, to drag Malfoy’s hips backward until they collided against his own.
And then to keep Malfoy bowed over the counter while he dragged his fingers through that fine hair, pulling his head back to expose the long lines of his throat, all while stroking and pushing and teasing and--
There was a BANG! and something white-hot splashed Harry’s face and chest. He squeezed his eyes shut instinctively as his flesh began to burn. “Ow! What the--!” He yelped in pain but could barely hear himself over Malfoy’s shouting.
“Circe fucking wept! Argh, that stings! Merlin almighty, I’m going to disembowel you, Potter--”
Harry’s eyes were still shut tight, but he felt Malfoy grab him by the arm and drag him away several stumbling steps. There was the squeak of a lever and a sudden rush of cool water began to rain down from above. He shouted in surprise but gratefully turned his face upward towards the water, hands pressed to his stinging cheeks.
His glasses were plucked unceremoniously from his face and he heard Malfoy call over the deluge: “Kit off!”
“Suit yourself, but let me know how it feels when the concentrated Flesh-Eating Slug extract eats through your torso!” There followed the sound of wet cloth hitting the tiled floor.
Harry swallowed hard and wondered feverishly how he could still be so unbearably turned on at a time like this. He began to unbutton the heavy fabric of his woolen robes with unsteady hands. It was difficult when his cheeks, neck, and chest still felt like they were on fire and he was trying not to imagine Malfoy disrobing mere inches away. Beneath the sound of falling water he heard a low, dirty mutter about “bloody Gryffindors” and “my kingdom for a Chosen One with more wand competence than a Blibbering Humdinger”.
The soaked Auror robes dropped to the floor, hissing slightly. Harry toed off his boots and wrestled with his clinging shirt and waistcoat until he was bare from the waist up. The water pressure had softened a bit and he opened his eyes tentatively.
They appeared to be in a utilitarian shower stall at one end of the lab, where a lever on Malfoy’s side read EMERGENCIES ONLY. The floor sloped to one side and was draining away vast quantities of vaguely purple water.
Blurrily, he registered Malfoy pressing at a fixture on the wall until his hands filled with fragrant orange liquid. He was clad only in a pair of black boxer briefs. His boots and uniform had been kicked to one side, somehow both drenched wet and still emitting tendrils of smoke.
Harry watched, mouth slightly ajar, as Malfoy lathered the soap and then began to run his hands all over his body, tipping his head back to let the water hit him. A fine dusting of light blond hair covered his chest, darkening and thickening near his navel before disappearing into the waistline of his underpants. The air took on a pleasant citrusy scent.
A jolt of pain from his burned chest and an unrelated sensation lower down spurred Harry into action. He mirrored Malfoy, pressing at the soap pump to fill his hands with the orange liquid. “Er, what happened back there?” he asked. It was a little easier to hear himself speak now that the water pressure had lifted from torrential to merely steady.
Malfoy barked a laugh, running soapy hands over his hips. “You tell me, genius! All I asked was for you to keep a Cooling Charm on the bowl. I picked it up to check the potion’s viscosity and it felt like sticking my hands in Fiendfyre! You want to tell me what that was about?”
Harry felt a twist of guilt. Hadn’t Will just told him to avoid the “external stimuli” that sent Harry’s magic haywire? And here he was, boiling Malfoy’s stupid potion bowl because his arse looked like candy in tight trousers.
“It was an accident, Malfoy,” he said in a low voice, which was true.
“Accident, my arse. Any snot-nosed third year could handle a simple Cooling Charm,” Malfoy retorted, as he soaped vigorously at a purple spot under his ear. “I forget that some people passed their classes thanks to favoritism and dumb luck.”
Harry would have argued, but recalled that his third year Cooling Charm had in fact sent Ron to the hospital wing with a mild case of frostbite. “Fuck you, Malfoy,” he grumbled, for lack of anything better to say. The blond snorted. “Anyway, why couldn’t this experiment wait? I don’t see why you had to drag me in to help at the end of the day when you have two perfectly capable lab assistants. Plus, you know I’ve always been pants at potions.”
He waited for the sharp rejoinder, but it never came. Harry bit his lip as he soaped his shoulders thoroughly, then did a second wash of his face. Then there was a small mumble from behind him.
“What’d you say?”
Malfoy’s voice was barely audible over the fall of water. “I said, I wanted to spend time with you.”
Harry turned around, incredulous. Malfoy’s drenched hair had turned the color of spun gold, and it was plastered to his forehead and cheeks. Even without his glasses, Harry could see how Malfoy’s gray eyes were fixed unwaveringly on his.
“Don’t make me say it a third time, Potter. Make yourself useful and get my back, would you?” Malfoy handed him a sudsy flannel with a plop and twisted around before Harry could fully absorb how pink his cheeks had become.
Speechless, Harry rubbed the cloth over Malfoy’s shoulderblades, down his spine, and all across his back. His mind was reeling.
“You know, I was rather disappointed when you switched desks. It meant I couldn’t get a good peek at you whenever I delivered papers to Yvette.” Malfoy’s voice echoed softly off the tile.
“And lunch and teatime have been extremely dull without you telling Weasley inane stories, or complaining about something, or setting your own hand on fire in my peripheral vision.”
“And,” Malfoy continued as if he hadn’t heard. Harry’s hands had stopped moving and he rested them on Malfoy’s slender waist. “I have had to endure the unbearable sight of you half-dressed in filthy Muggle clothes recently. Worse still is that I now know what it feels like to have you throw your entire body weight at me, pinning me to the ground so I can’t move, looming above me while our breath mingles and you give me those bedroom eyes…”
“Bedroom--!!” Harry spluttered. Who said shit like that out loud? Malfoy, apparently.
Malfoy turned around slowly in his arms, face still flushed but smirking now. He rested both hands on Harry’s wet chest, just over his pounding heart.
“So yes, Potter, you’ve been on my mind a lot recently. Almost, I daresay, as much as I’ve been on yours.”
And he tilted his head and kissed Harry.
In a billion years, Harry would never have guessed that the emergency rinse in a potions lab could be considered anything close to sexy. But with a dripping wet, mostly naked Malfoy in his arms, kissing and licking and sighing and pressing their bodies together, Harry had to admit it was pretty brilliant. Malfoy tasted of lemony tea and his tongue was hotter than an overheated potion. Harry dropped the soapy cloth to run both his hands down Malfoy’s sides and over the irresistible curve of his arse. It felt even better than it looked, which was saying something.
As they snogged, Malfoy’s fingertips skated smoothly down Harry’s slick front until they were fussing with his belt buckle. He murmured against Harry’s lips, “Better get these off so we can wash you thoroughly, Potter. And then we can pop back to mine for a more detailed examination.”
Harry shivered under the water and pressed his hips forward eagerly, but a sudden thought made his good mood burst like a citrusy soap bubble. He broke apart from their kiss with a frown. “Hey. What about Nicolas?”
Malfoy gazed dreamily down at Harry’s crotch while he continued to undo the belt and trouser button. “What about him?”
“Won’t he be at your flat?” If Malfoy made dinner for the bloke every night, not to mention haircuts and listening to records and all the rest, surely they lived together.
“Most certainly.” Malfoy bent to administer a gentle bite to the spot where Harry’s shoulder met his neck.
“Mmmnnn… Hey! Malfoy, listen.” Harry stepped back reluctantly with a splash and held Malfoy at arm’s length, his loose belt buckle jangling. It almost physically pained him to push Malfoy away, but he had to make his opinions known before they did something they’d both regret. “I don’t do one-night stands. I don’t do threesomes. And I definitely don’t want to be the reason you split up with your boyfriend. I mean, if you break up with him before this happens with us, that’s fine. But you can’t cheat on Nicolas with me. It’s just wrong.”
Malfoy focused on him finally, tearing his eyes away from Harry’s waistline to stare into his face.
Then he burst out laughing.
The action and the sound were so unexpected that Harry didn’t know what to do. He stood under the shower head for what seemed like ages as rich, mirthful laughter bubbled out of Malfoy. It went on for so long that Malfoy bent almost double to rest his hands on his knees, gasping for air, and Harry grew tired of the water and pulled at the lever with a clang. The water shut off abruptly, though both of them were still dripping profusely. At least his skin no longer felt like it was about to break out in blisters.
“I don’t see what’s so funny,” Harry said. He crossed his arms and glared at Malfoy, but it was hard to look imposing when he was dripping wet with his trousers half undone.
Malfoy giggled and wiped at the corners of his eyes with one hand. “You-- You think Nicolas and I--” And he was overcome by a fresh wave of laughter, turning to lean against the tiled wall while he clutched at his midsection.
Harry pursed his lips as Malfoy’s laughter grew contagious. Maybe this had all been some big misunderstanding. Maybe Nicolas was… a family member? A visiting cousin? Perhaps someone that Malfoy was acting as caretaker for -- hence the making dinner and spending every night together? It still didn’t explain the wretched sex harness, but Harry’s brain was too fried to put the pieces together right now.
Instead, he finished unzipping his trousers and let the heavy, soaked garment fall to the tiled floor. That got Malfoy’s attention. He bit his very pink bottom lip as his eyes roamed hungrily over Harry, who stepped out of the wet fabric to crowd Malfoy against the wall. Somehow, he managed to look cool and appraising even with Harry’s broad arms pinning him in place.
“Tell me truly,” Harry growled with a huskiness he didn’t have to fake, “that there is nothing going on between you and Nicolas.”
Malfoy released his plump lip from his teeth with an arrogance that should have been illegal, then leaned forward into Harry’s space so that he breathed the words directly against Harry’s mouth.
“Very well, Potter. I have absolutely no desire to do anything even remotely romantic or sexual with Nicolas. When you meet him, you’ll see why. God, you’re thick.” (This last in an aside murmured fondly while Malfoy nibbled at his earlobe. Harry shivered.)
Malfoy continued, “Now. You and I are going to Apparate to my bedroom, where I will demonstrate a proper physical once-over following a mild potions mishap as we have just experienced. We will make full use of my extensive home-brewed collection of salves...” he bent to administer a kiss to one brown nipple, “...ointments…” then the other nipple (Harry groaned), “...and personal lubricants.”
“Oh my god,” Harry gasped, willing his arms to stop shaking.
Malfoy straightened to plant a sharp nibble upon Harry’s quivering lower lip. “We will then test our recovery from the mishap with a variety of strenuous physical exercises best performed in a pair, until we are both satisfied with the results.” He raised one pale eyebrow and finally met Harry’s eyes again, smirking. “Does that sound amenable, Junior Auror Potter?”
Harry surged forward and kissed Malfoy so hard the back of his head bounced off the tile. He felt Malfoy’s lips part in a low laugh, which Harry easily silenced by rocking their hips together. Malfoy tossed his head back with a whispered oath and Harry gnawed at a spot under his jawbone.
“Okay, Potioneer Malfoy,” he growled against the tender, trembling flesh, “if you don’t get your wand and stabilize that potion or whatever in the next ten seconds--”
“’Or whatever!’” Malfoy huffed indignantly, squirming against him.
“--I reserve the right to commence our mutual physical examination right here, and you should know--” Harry paused to suckle at a waterdrop in the hollow of Malfoy’s collarbone, “--that tiled floor is absolute hell on the knees.”
“Ohhhhhh Merlin. Oh fuck. Okay.” Their mouths sought each other desperately for one, two, three more desperate kisses before a mad, slippery scramble for wands, glasses, and wet clothing. Malfoy flung their still-smoking cloaks and boots into a bag marked HAZARD and reached for Harry’s hand with a heated look. Harry grinned, slipped his hands around Malfoy’s waist, and felt a pull below his stomach that was half Side-Along Apparition, half something else entirely.
Hours later, following several repetitions of Draco’s strenuous physical exercises, testing out some fascinating peppermint-based lubricating ointments, two huge portions of owled-in takeaway noodles, and another very long shower, Harry collapsed next to Draco on the bed and squirmed into a comfortable position on his stomach. Muscles that he didn’t even know he had were achy and sore, but gazing at Draco’s easy, soft, satisfied expression on the pillow next to his, Harry concluded that it was one hundred percent worth it.
Draco turned to him with a calculating look, narrowing his eyes in an attempt to look scornful. It was rather ruined by the smattering of lovebites all along his neck and shoulders, and the stubble burn along his chin.
Instead of answering Harry, he twisted around and reached for a little silver bell on his bedside table. He rang it with a little flick of his bony wrist while calling in a soft voice, “Niiiiiiiiicolas!”
“Wait! Shit!” Harry scrambled around to pull the sheets up to his waist, then flung them over Draco too. “For Merlin’s sake, I’m not wearing any--!”
The heavy door to Draco’s lavishly-furnished bedroom opened a crack due to some invisible force, and Harry heard a rhythmic little tap-tap-tap on the parquet floor. Furrowing his brow, and fully aware that Draco was watching him with a shit-eating grin, Harry fumbled for his glasses and shoved them onto his nose, just in time to see a brown and white ball of fluff leap elegantly onto the bed.
“Yip!” declared the fluff ball.
Harry’s jaw worked soundlessly as he found himself staring at an adolescent, immaculately groomed, and heartbreakingly adorable Crup. It stared back, tongue peeking out of the corner of its mouth.
“Harry Potter,” announced Draco, tucking his hands behind his head with insufferable smugness, “it is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to Nicolas Flamel Junior, named after the greatest alchemist of all time. Nicolas, sweetheart, this is Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived Twice and couldn’t figure out you were a Cruppy puppy after weeks of extremely obvious prevarication.”
“Oh my god, don’t say ‘Cruppy puppy’ ever again. Do you mean--?” Harry scratched Nicolas’ chin absently and the Crup’s split tail wagged even faster. It looked ecstatic to be included in their conversation.
“I have honestly meant every single word I’ve uttered at the Ministry since darling Nicolas came into my life,” grinned Draco, drawing a giant X over his heart with one finger. “He sleeps better after a homecooked venison liver dinner and a bit of music, he’s frightened to death of thunderstorms, and he adores long walks in the park. He’s growing up so fast and he got too big for his first leashed harness recently, didn’t he?” Draco sat up to make obscene kissing noises at Nicolas, who licked his master’s pointy nose affectionately.
Harry blinked as he processed this information against the confusion, jealousy, and horny frustration which had dominated the past several weeks. “You utter bastard, you did it on purpose! All those times I heard you talking about Nicolas going for haircuts and cuddling and the rest. You deliberately made it seem like he was--!”
“Yip!” Nicolas answered.
Draco’s eyes twinkled devilishly as he gave Harry a fond pat on the cheek.
“Harry,” he declared, “it’s a good thing you’re brave. You would have made a godawful Slytherin.”
With that proclamation, he kissed Nicolas on the nose and summoned a bouncy ball with his wand to send the Crup skittering out of the room and down the hall. Then he proceeded to slip under the sheets in order to distract Harry in an extremely thorough way.