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We Take Care of Each Other

Chapter Text

It wasn’t the first time it happened.

Draco sat trembling on his hard tiled kitchen floor, shards of whitebone china scattered at his feet. The porcelain pieces were all jagged, small, impossible to Reparo. He hadn’t even been thinking at the time, his mind focused instead on plastering a smile across his face. It wasn’t until the burning smell furled out of his oven that he realised something was wrong.

He had burned the roast. Again. This time only ten minutes before his mother and father were set to arrive for their monthly Sunday night dinner. Draco had failed once again, and upon that realisation, everything shattered.

He hurried all the pieces of expensive heirloom china into the bin and Flooed Pansy in a panic. Pans didn’t hesitate to cast over different place settings from her own lineage, and grittingly agreed to accompany him to the horrid dinner that was soon to occur. She even brought her own casserole, saint that she was. Molly always made enough food for everyone anyway; her contribution would not be missed at the Weasley household, and Ginny, mercifully and patiently, was quick with an excuse for Pansy’s absence.

Only minutes later, his mother was none the wiser that the seat she was currently sitting in was covered in shards of porcelain only moments before. His father, on the other hand, made some rude remark about how Parkinson china was inferior to the Malfoy heritage. Draco gritted his teeth and Pansy reached under the table to grip Draco’s hand before the window panes could crack.

“You have got to get your magic under control,” Pansy lectured as soon as his parents were safely through the fireplace and out of sight. “Your excuse about having your china magically cleaned might have passed this time, although don’t think for a second your mother actually believed you. And according to your dipshit father, my Aubergine Parm was dry.”

Draco fell into his favourite leather chair and buried his head in his hands. “I thought this was over when I set my ottomon on fire.”

Pansy sat on the armrest and wrapped her arm around Draco’s shoulder. She leaned close and pressed the corner of her forehead against Draco’s. “When your father asked when you’d be producing an heir?”

Draco slumped further forward. “No, that was when I shot that errant Reducio and turned my bedroom into doll furniture.”

“Right.” Pansy rubbed soothing circles into Draco’s back. “Do you think maybe you should-”

“Not an option, you know that.” Draco shook his head. “They’re my parents. I’m not cutting them off. Besides, they mean well. I just need to learn to channel my magic.” He clenched his hands into fists, angry that his own magical core was betraying him and behaving like some ridiculous child. 

The truth was, he hadn’t been able to harness his magic in a very long time. Not since his wand was harnessed by someone else. 

Potter . When he took his wand, or rather, Draco handed it to him in the heat of war, he let go of the one piece that helped him command his gift. Even though it was back in his hands in all of it’s Hawthorn glory, he wasn’t able to manipulate it as well as he had before. 

It didn’t happen all the time; not usually at Slug & Jiggers, where Draco was an apprentice, nor when he was playing two-aside Quidditch. His ‘events’ occurred in times of extreme stress, more often than not when his parents were around. Something about their presence made Draco feel off-kilter, panicked. Unsure, and unprepared. 

Still, they were his family, and he couldn’t stop being their child. No matter how cold his father was about his lifestyle. No matter how much his mother whined every Christmas that went by without a grandchild to spoil.

Draco rubbed his eyes, trying to steady his breaths as the stress of the evening passed. He had another thirty days before he had to deal with them again, and he tried to push the impending dread to the back of his mind. 

“You know,” Pansy said, her voice soft and calm and comforting, “I do have an idea.”

“What’s that?” Draco attempted to not sound rude, but he doubted Pansy had any suggestion that wasn’t ‘burn Lucius at the stake’.

Pansy paused her circles along his spine, and when he looked up at her, she winked.

“There’s someone I want you to meet.”

---------

Draco stood nervously outside of Alice’s Holistic Maladies. He hadn’t been into this establishment, considering it was a direct competitor for his current proprietor, and he wasn’t sure how some non-potioned plants and herbs were supposed to solve his panic attacks. Still, Pansy had suggested it and he trusted her. With that in mind, Draco opened the solid wooden door and stepped inside.

The soft chime of a bell informed the shop of his arrival. 

“Hello, Draco!” a masculine voice welcomed him from the back.

Draco squinted through the dim light at the greeter. At first glance he looked tall, broad. His arms were exposed, a tank top stretched across his chest. As Draco ventured closer into the shop, he was able to see the man’s shaggy blond hair, his soft eyes, his charming smile.  “Longbottom?” Draco walked to the counter in disbelief. “You work here?” 

Neville shrugged, and Draco couldn’t help but watch his shoulders rise and fall. “I own here. Pansy said you’d be stopping by.”

He continued to stare, his eyes wandering downward to read the writing across Neville’s tight shirt. ‘Plant Daddy’ was written in green flowing letters, and tiny daffodils were blooming at the end of each word, their golden yellow petals lengthening and contracting in a steady rhythm. 

Draco hadn’t seen Neville since the war, although that was only in a blur of fear and ash. The last time he had actually noticed Neville was weeks before, a glimpse down a hallway, Neville’s arms tucked around a second year, leading them to the Room of Requirement.

At the time, he knew he should have reported the spotting, the Room itself to the Carrows. But Draco had stopped reporting anything after that night at the Manor. When he lied to his mother for the first time and gave Potter his wand. When he knew for the first time what it felt like to be helpless under power.

Neville had...grown up since then. At Hogwarts he was clumsy, a bit cowardly. He never really made eye contact with Draco or his friends, and they had written him off as just another Potter supporter, not close enough to be a threat but not far enough to disregard completely.

Now, as Draco evaluated Longbottom for the first time in years, he could be more appreciative. He had certainly grown, or maybe his height was due to not cowering in fear. He certainly filled out a shirt better; Draco could practically see every outline of muscle under thin white fabric. 

He definitely seemed more confident, and whether it was because he was in his own shop, surrounded by his familiar plants, or because he just exuded that kind of energy in his late twenties, Draco wasn’t sure. He licked his lips as he pondered this fact, and it wasn’t until he heard a cough that he realised how long he’d been staring at the daffodils painted across Neville’s pectorals, one petal barely dusting a peaked nub of fabric.

“See something you like?” Neville said, and Draco instantly averted his eyes to a plant directly over Neville’s right shoulder. It was spouting red-hued berries, and Draco felt his cheeks flush in a similar fashion. 

“Didn’t know you owned such a horrid shop,” Draco hurried to criticize. Neville’s shop or not, it was still a direct threat to his own industry, and surely offered an inferior product. 

“Horrid indeed,” Neville chuckled, grabbing a bottle from the counter and giving the berry bush a spritz. “So horrid I’ve managed to stay open for five years now.”

Five years. Draco had been sitting behind a desk five years ago, and Neville had started a now-successful business. Typical Gryffindor. Harry was the same, already Head Auror at the ripe age of twenty-nine, while Draco was just starting his career. Not that Draco wasn’t ambitious; he had spent an additional eight years learning the ins and outs of potionwork. It was hard and strenuous, but it had prepared him for his line of work. He hadn’t had the time to keep up with most of his classmates, except for Pansy and Blaise of course. And he heard about Potter through Ginny, who he saw occasionally when he visited Pans. But Neville hadn’t come up. 

“Who’s Alice, then?” Draco itched for a change of subject, making a point to turn his body from Neville as he admired all the other plants and vines in the shop. One side was covered in dirt, housing a large number of trees with intertwining branches, several bearing fruit. Against the wall were several wooden shelves, all storing tiny succulents and colourful flowers and miniature cacti. It was quite stunning to see so much green inside, packed and blooming and bright. 

“Alice is my mother. That plant over there,” Neville pointed to a vine crawling up and jutting under a half-cracked window, “brought back her memory. As did Bellatrix dying, breaking some of her curses. Sorry about your aunt.”

“Congratulations for your mother.” Draco turned back and gave him a nod, careful not to venture past his neck.

“Well, now that the pleasantries are over, how can I help?” Neville stared at Draco, his hazelnut eyes strong and inquisitive.

Draco swallowed. He tried to meet Neville’s gaze, but Draco wasn’t used to asking for things. He was used to demanding, to throwing around his name and his perfect complexion to get what he wanted. He held eye contact as long as possible, but ultimately glancing at the floor when he finally gained the courage to speak. “Pansy is under the impression you can help me with a little issue I’m having.” 

“I think setting your furniture on fire is more than a little issue.”

“Well if you already knew, then why did you ask?” Draco snapped his head, setting Neville with a glare. 

“To see if you could say it out loud.” Neville chuckled. “Admitting our faults is hard, admitting our needs is even harder.” Neville walked around the counter until he was standing directly in front of Draco. 

His commanding presence made Draco unwillingly nervous, and he let his eyes drop back to the floor until Neville placed a firm hand under his chin. “Tell me what you need, Draco,” he said, his brown eyes boring into Draco’s. 

Draco exhaled a breath he hadn’t even realised he was holding. He wasn’t quite sure what he needed, more so what he needed to stop his magic’s erratic behaviour. This was ridiculous. In school, Longbottom could barely control his own magic. There’s no way he’d be able to help Draco control his own. 

“This was a mistake,” Draco shook his chin out of Neville’s grip and turned toward the door. “I should have never listened to Pansy.”

He was almost at the door when Neville shouted out behind him. “Come back here tonight. 9:30. I’ve got a remedy I think will help you.”

---

“Merlin, Pansy, what the fuck did you have me walk into?” Draco called over the Floo.

“I can’t talk about this here, Ron and the kids are over. Just...move, I’m coming through.”

Draco shifted out of his squat in front of the fireplace and got comfortable in his leather chair. When Pansy arrived, she quickly accioed two whiskeys from Draco’s cabinet, and thrust one into Draco’s hand.

“The kids are cute and all, but this is more of an adult conversation.” Pansy sat on the sofa, cradling her glass in her hands. “Ginny would be mortified if Ron knew what was going on.”

“And what, exactly, is going on?”

Pansy shot back her whiskey in one gulp. “Ginny agreed that I could discuss this with you. She’s actually talked about it with...someone else close to her, and felt that you might benefit from the same conversation.”

“She told one of her friends about holistic maladies? Not quite a secret conversation.” Draco rolled his eyes as Pansy accioed another glass. “Although I am offended you would shop there instead of S&Js.”

“No, Alice’s is just what Neville works on during the day. At night, he’s quite a different person.”

“Different as in,” Draco was starting to get a headache, and he didn’t fancy stirring a potion on his day off for a remedy.

“He trades his gardening gloves in for leather.”

“What do his gloves have to do with anything?” 

“Everything, darling.” Pansy’s gaze went a little foggy, and Draco had to snap his fingers to get her attention again. She coughed, and continued. “Right. He’s a Dominant.”

Draco raised his eyebrows. “A Dominant? I know he’s technically part of the Sacred Twenty-Eight, but there’s no way he’s more dominant than a Malfoy.”

Pansy shook her head. “Oh, my sweet summer child. This is not something that is passed down from generations. I doubt his grandmother knows how Neville spends his nights.”

“What does night have to do with it?”

“Merlin, Draco, you just hate not knowing something, don’t you?”

“Not sure,” Draco spat back. “Hasn’t happened yet.”

Pansy rolled her eyes. “When two adults love each other very, very much, they give each other a special hug. And sometimes if they're feeling naughty, a spanking.” She winked, sending Draco a sultry smile.

Draco could feel the colour rushing to his cheeks. “I know how sex works, thankyouverymuch.”

“This isn’t sex. Well, sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn’t.”

“Okay, so Longbottom sometimes has sex, but sometimes doesn’t, and spanking someone like a petulant child is involved?”

“And leather. Again, just sometimes.”

“Okay, so Neville Longbottom is a Dominant, with leather chaps and a whip and everything, which I find very hard to believe. How would you know this, Pans? He put Ginny in a ball gag in that Room they hid out in during Seventh?”

Pansy shook her head. “More like he showed Ginny how to put a ball gag in my mouth. And showed me how to take it.”

Draco pressed his finger to his temple. His headache was growing stronger by the second. “I don’t think you’re explaining this correctly.”

“Just come with me tonight, Draco. Neville invited you, and I think it’d be good.”

“To put a ball gag in my mouth? No thanks.”

“At least it would shut you up. Now be a doll and go get ready. We’re going to the club tonight.”

Chapter Text

Draco paced nervously outside of Alice’s at precisely 9:30pm. Pansy said she had an errand to run beforehand, leaving him alone in the dark, waiting for a bloody Gryffindor.

And he thought the cabinet had been a low point.

Longbottom finally appeared, magicking the door to his shop closed, and changing the glowing green sign from ‘Aloe!’ to ‘Sorry we had to Leaf!’ He stepped out into the cold London night, his cardigan buttoned tightly across his chest. Draco could still make out the petals on his shirt enlarging and contracting around the hunter green threads of his jumper.

Draco squinted, trying to see the Dominant behind the knit, but no matter how much he tried, he couldn’t imagine his former classmate in any amount of leather, let alone with any of the toys Pansy had been discussing. 

Not that Draco was sure exactly what Pansy was going on about. Draco had never been in that type of sexual situation. Or any situation for that matter. However, inexperience was not a valid excuse for a Malfoy, so Draco squared his shoulders and walked as confidently as possible in Longbottom’s direction.

“You showed!” Neville grinned as he held out his hand.

“Indeed,” Draco tried to give a firm handshake, but found himself grasped hard by Longbottom’s hand. Shit. He was strong. Probably from lifting pots and bags of dirt all day. Frankly disgusting. No matter. He shook his hand slightly when Longbottom released his grip. “So, Pansy tells me we’re going to a BMDS club.” 

Neville nodded, and pointed down the road. “BDSM, actually.” He side-glanced at Draco, who was sneering into the dark. “Stands for—”

“I know what it stands for.” Draco shoved his hands in his pockets. “The club I went to, we called it something else, that’s all.”

Draco thought he heard a chuckle, but chose to ignore it. 

“The clubs called Sugarquill ,” Neville continued. “It’s a little different from the one I trained at in Berlin, but it has some really great qualities.” Neville began walking into the darkness, leaving Draco no choice but to follow. “Quite a variety of options, and the added Magical elements really keep things interesting.”

Draco hummed in response, hoping he sounded like he was fully aware of what Longbottom was talking about. They were passing Stowe & Packers Magical Bags when Neville suddenly stopped short. 

Draco curiously watched as Neville pulled out his wand and tapped a series of rhythms against what seemed to be an ordinary lamp post. With a whoosh of wind and magic, the post began to lower into the earth, revealing stone steps heading toward a bead of light underground.

“You want me to go there?” Draco asked, horrified. “It looks filthy.”

Longbottom cocked his head. “Don’t like being dirty, Draco? This might not be the place for you after all.”

He felt cornered and dared, by a lion no less. “No, no, I—I was more worried about you and that fancy jumper. Wouldn’t want you to mess it any more than you already have.”

“That’s what cleaning spells are for,” Longbottom turned toward him and winked, drawing his lips into a sultry smile. “Follow me. Or don’t, it’s up to you.”

With that, he headed down the stairs, and once again, Draco followed.

The door at the bottom opened, flooding the staircase, and Draco squinted at the sudden onslaught of light. Throwing an arm up to shade the brightness, Draco dutifully followed Longbottom through what almost looked like the lobby of a fancy hotel. The wixen behind the counter smiled as they approached, and offered out a clipboard.

“Right. So, before we can go in, I need you to sign a waiver,” Neville explained as he handed Draco the parchment. 

Draco took his time reviewing the forms.  The words ‘Vow of Privacy’ was scrawled across the top, and throughout the entirety of the document. He raised an eyebrow, scanning the cleanly printed words for context.

“It’s pretty standard, similar to what you had at your old club, I’m sure.” Longbottom smiled softly before continuing. “But just in case there’s anything different, the major points are anonymity and safety.” He paused, and once Draco finished scanning the script, he continued.

“You may recognise some people here. Old classmates, friends. Glamours and Polyjuice are not allowed, which is why the club’s walls are sacred. We do not discuss the club outside of these walls, unless both parties consent. Is that clear?”

Draco nodded. He thought he might see Pansy Ginny, but Draco wondered who else might be hiding inside the club walls. “Do you need me to make an Unbreakable?”

Neville shook his head. “You’ll find that trust is vital in this space. That’s why you needed two representatives to confirm your application before you were allowed an invite.”

“You and Pansy,” Draco concluded, signing the document with a flourish of his quill.

“Actually, Pansy and Gin.” Neville took the signed clipboard from his hand. “She was quite demanding that the club offerings be extended to you.”

“Ginny vouched for me?”

“Trust, Draco.” Neville smiled softly. “Gin trusts this club and the results it’s had for her. And she thinks you’ll be happy here.”

Draco hadn’t really thought Gin cared for him much, only put up with him for her partner’s sake. So the fact that she advocated for anything that might benefit him was quite surprising. However, he still wasn’t quite sure what he was getting into exactly.

“Okay, anonymity,” Draco said. “What was the second one?”

“Safety.” Neville cracked his fingers and shook out his hands before dropping them to his sides. “Everyone has consented to be here, and if they are in certain rooms, they have consented to being watched or interacting with others. However, we have safe words on the wards. If at any time, anyone speaks their safeword, everything stops.” Longbottom looked pointedly at Draco. “We need to log your word into the wards.”

“And by safeword, you mean…”

“A word you would say if you’re ever feeling uncomfortable, in pain, or if you don’t want to play anymore. It should be something you won’t forget, and one that wouldn’t come up in the heat of the moment.” Longbottom wrinkled his nose. “For example, my word is Petrificus.”

A red glow lit up around Neville as he said the word, and it took Neville stating an incantation while snapping his wand for the glow to dissipate.

Draco grimaced. “Does it have to be something you hate?”

“It helps. Especially if you’re trying to exit the mindset you’re in. And you won’t accidentally say it otherwise.”

“Right.” Draco nodded in understanding. He tried to think of something he hated so much it would make his cock shrivel up. He shivered, his mind instantly filling of the Vanishing cabinet, the tiny innocent bird crumpled at the bottom, never able to chirp again. Yes. that word would do. “Canary,” he responded blandly. 

“Perfect!” The wixen behind the counter cheered, and raising their wand, added Draco’s choice to the wards. “Now, Mr. Longbottom here will escort you to the play area!”

“Ready for the grand tour?” Longbottom grinned before turning and leading Draco to a door that had just materialized on their right. 

Draco nodded, rolled his shoulders back, and followed Longbottom over the threshold.

---

Draco dutifully followed Neville down a long narrow hallway, walls bland and beige, that eventually spread into an open room. “The spaces we just passed are private, for those who want to play without Voyeurs peeking in,” Longbottom explained. “If you want to utilize a room, a door would appear for you. But out here, we’re welcome to observe anyone we want.” 

Draco surveyed the large room. A bed-like stage sat in the middle, while the walls were lined with various apparati that he couldn’t quite identify, as well as clear windows into variously sized rooms. A large wooden cross stood stoic against one wall, with what appeared to be handcuffs on either side. He also couldn’t stop staring at the shelves. They were much like the ones in Neville’s store, except instead of tiny harmless plants, they were filled with leather straps and sticks, cock-like dildos and teardrop-shaped toys.

“Anal plugs,” Longbottom nodded toward the wall. “And right next to them, we have crops, paddles, floggers and those on the end are canes.”

“Of course,” Draco nodded.

“Of course.” A small smile played across Longbottom’s face before he turned to Draco. “You know, it’s okay if this isn’t familiar. I didn’t know what any of this was the first time I stepped into a club.”

“This isn’t—”

“I’m not saying it’s your first time. I’m simply sharing my experiences. And I found it much easier to embrace this lifestyle when I was being honest with myself and those around me.”

Honesty. That was rich. Leave it to a Gryffindor to put all of his cards on the table.

Still, Draco did have...concerns. Maybe asking a few questions wouldn’t hurt. 

“Why don’t you tell me about how you got started, and I can...see if it’s similar to mine?”

Chapter Text

“You want to hear how I became a dominant?” Neville grinned, and something about that smile made Draco feel warm inside. Like he could relax, even just the slightest bit. 

He didn’t, but it was a nice feeling all the same. 

Neville walked over to the wall and picked up a long, black switch with a tiny square of leather knotted to the end. “As I’m sure you can understand, I wasn’t too...experienced when I left the hallowed halls of Hogwarts.”

Draco involuntarily nodded. He hadn’t really considered how much action everyone else was getting between the castle walls, only how little he himself was getting. There had been a brief time when he and Pansy were canoodling in the darkened corners of the dungeon, but they both realised quickly enough that any spark they thought should have existed between lifelong friends had long since fizzled out. Pansy had quickly moved on to snogging Blaise, and then after the war she had bumped into -

“Ginny liked to tell me what to do, where to put my hands, how to hold her and touch her.”

Draco snapped back into the conversation. “You slept with Ginny? Ginny Weasley?”

Neville released the tip of the leather from his hand before rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly, staring at a dimly lit corner of the room. “I thought she was the one, for a while. First love and all that. But we were kids, and there was the war.”

“And Potter.”

Neville’s eyes snapped back to Draco, and his fingers wrapped once again around the whip, his other elbow flexing so the toy thrummed against his palm. “And Potter,” he said as his lips stretched into a smile. “But really, it was Pansy that freed Ginny.” 

“Funny.” Draco pursed his lips as he watched the bit of leather sting Neville’s skin. “I thought it was the other way around.”

“You’ll find these relationships aren’t about one person’s needs over another.” Neville stopped bouncing the whip against his palm and instead gripped it in his fist. “There has to be an equal exchange for any relationship to work.” 

Neville stepped over to the wall, and placed the whip back on the shelf. He picked up a feather in its place, threading the soft fibers in between his fingers as he walked back to the center of the room. 

“I didn’t understand that at first. That it wasn’t just about punishment and submission and following commands. I liked hearing what my partner wanted, and providing that. So when my ex said he wanted to dominate me, it made sense.”

“He?” Draco coughed awkwardly. 

“He,” Longbottom nodded in confirmation. “We went to the club. He tied me up, commanded me to do things. I had felt weak for so long, during school, during the war, that pleasing him made me feel strong.”

Draco thought back to Longbottom, hanging from the chandelier while Cornish Pixies nibbled at gnawed on his ears. Then, when he fainted in the Greenhouses after the Mandrakes cried. The way he held his Monster Book of Monsters in Third Year like he was terrified it’d eat him alive. 

But then Draco thought of Neville, wielding the sword from the Sorting Hat, slicing the head straight off of the snake that slithered horrifyingly through Draco’s dreams. 

He’d been wondering that all afternoon; If he’d be the one in the ball-gag, or the one holding the crop. Honestly, he wasn’t sure. Sometimes he had felt so small, so useless during the war. And since, carrying the Dark Mark, a perfect symbol of why he should be feared and hated. A part of Draco felt like he should be punished, whipped and chained, spit on and ridiculed. That’s what he deserved. Not pleasure, but torture.

“But I thought you were a dom. At least from what Pansy said. Trading your gloves out for leather and all that.”

Neville chuckled. “That’s what I learned at the club.” He ran the feather up one of his arms, and then back down the other. Draco couldn’t help but follow the path, as the white dipped into the crevices between his muscles, as it danced along his collarbone, as it rippled down his forearm into his other hand. 

It looked so soft, so soothing, so different from what Draco had been expecting when he walked into the club. Although, he hadn’t known what to expect on any account.

“We learned, well, I learned that being a Submissive doesn’t mean you’re weak. And being a Dominant doesn’t mean you’re strong. It’s the balance of the two that’s important.”

Neville tilted his head back towards the hallway. “Walk with me. I’ll show you what I mean.”

They headed toward one of the glass windows, where Neville took out his wand and pressed against a tiny indentation in the facade. To Draco’s surprise, what he thought was a clear window showcasing an empty room suddenly filled with shapes. People. 

“This is one of our dungeon rooms,” Neville began to explain. “And when someone is watching, that little candle in the corner turns green.”

Draco followed the path of Neville’s finger, and sure enough a candle towards the back of the room was glowing, an emerald light that flickered across the harsh metal.

As his eyes trailed downwards, he noticed more. A set of hooks curling out of the wall; a flat table, covering nearly the length of the room; a man, naked, spread over a bench.

He inhaled sharply. Draco could see everything. The welts across his lower back, the purple bruises across his arse; the way his cock hung, hard and dripping. His red hair curled around his face, stuck to the base of his neck with sweat. His mouth hung open, and Draco could hear the cries escaping his throat every time the thin black cane made contact with his skin.

“He’s enjoying that?” Draco asked, aghast, as the man across the bench gasped out “Eight!” after the cane crashed down against his thighs.

Neville tilted his head. “You’ll find there’s a very thin line between pain and pleasure.”

The man screamed out “Nine,” as Draco gasped again, hearing the crash of cane against skin. 

“Sometimes we crave things we can’t explain. Taking or relinquishing control over our bodies can be a complicated need.”

“I can’t imagine needing that.”

“The taking, or the letting go?”

Draco pursed his lips, but didn’t answer.

“I thought I wanted to let go, to rely on orders and commands.”

One more crack, the man whimpering “Ten” into the bench, before his restraints were unlocked, before he was pulled to the other man’s chest.

“But what I actually craved was control,” Neville continued, as he watched the man in leather soothe the broken man, wipe his tears from his eyelids, his cheeks, his chin. “During the war, I had to hold it all together. Keep the First Years safe, keep everyone protected. And then when Harry came back,” Longbottom paused, inhaling a deep breath. “When he died, I couldn’t give up. I took control, I stood up. And at the time I thought it was something anyone would have done. But now I know better.”

Neville stepped back, closing the window from view. Draco couldn’t help but continue to stare at the now blank wall, imagining the couple behind it, holding each other as they cried.

“I knew that the Prophecy could have easily been for me.” Draco turned just in time to watch Neville return the soft feather and Accio a crop from the wall..  “I knew I could have been laying in Hagrid’s arms just as quickly as Harry. But I wasn’t. I still had a voice. I still had control.”

It reminded him of fixing the cabinet. How he wished he could have done anything else. How the weight of what he was working towards, the invasion, Dumbledore’s death, all felt like it was happening to him. Not by him. 

How much he had itched to stop the entire plan, to destroy the cabinet and go to the Headmaster, to throw the necklace into the Great Lake and never look back. But he couldn’t. Not when his parents, his Godfather were all depending on him. Not when they were all at risk.

Draco would do anything for the people he loved. Taking the Mark, if it meant keeping his family safe. Even looking back, he’d do it again. 

“The club, this outlet, offers a space to alleviate the stresses of the outside world. We’re safe here, cared about.” Draco could feel Longbottom studying him carefully, but his face was set in a passive stare. “You don’t have to decide tonight, if you want the control or want to let go. And if you want both, that’s alright too. Or if this is all too much, we never have to talk about it again.”

He paused, and Draco took the time to gather his thoughts. There was so much to process, the toys, the room. The club itself, with potential patrons he might know, with people having sex and who knows what else behind each wall. As much as Draco didn’t want to admit his inexperience, the waves of information were crashing all around him, drowning him. He pulled at the collar of his robes, suddenly unable to catch his breath.

“I-,” he started to say, but instead of finishing his statement, Draco turned his back on the room and fled from the club.

---

Neville found him up the stairs and back on the pavement, hunched over with his head between his thighs. The cold night air whipped around him, and Draco focused on his breaths, in-two-three, out-two-three. He heard Neville approach, his boots crunching in the fallen leaves, but Draco didn’t stand. 

He knew he should have. That he should wipe his eyes and straighten his spine and pretend that it didn’t feel like a boulder was crushing his windpipe, and that everything was close, too close and that he couldn’t breathe. 

But he couldn’t force himself to stand. Instead, he remained tucked, bent at the hip. He worried for a moment that Neville was going to try and touch him, put a hand around his shoulders and he’d have to shrug it off, or worse, he’d get violent and push him away. 

When he got like this, when the world was crushing around him, the last thing Draco could handle was being touched. Or being stared at, or being asked if he was alright. Of course he wasn’t. He hadn’t been truly alright in at least a decade, and he certainly wasn’t alright in the middle of the street, outside of a lamppost that secretly hid rooms full of whips and chains and ball gags and plugs and who else knows what.

But Neville didn’t try to touch him. Instead, he spoke, loud and clear and steady.

“Hermione gave me my safe word. She, of course, will never know that. But in First Year, she used that spell on me. Petrificus Totalis. Stunned me with a spell we wouldn’t learn for two more years, and left me rock solid on the common room floor, while they went off to chase some fluffy dog. I mean, sure, they saved the world that night, but they left me all bound and essentially gagged.” Neville let out a small chuckle. “I wet myself within the first ten minutes. That spell freezes your body but not your faculties, did you know?”

Draco shook his head, but kept it downward, between his legs, where it was safe.

“Seamus actually found me. He had a tendency to run out for late night snacks, and he rushed out to get Pomfrey. Had me unfrozen in minutes, and then helped walk me to the showers.”

“You do realise you just told a Slytherin you pissed your pants.” Draco mumbled, finally lifting himself by the hips, rolling his shoulders as he stood back up.

“Actually, I just confessed to a friend that I trust where my safe word comes from.”

Draco locked eyes with Neville. His gaze was soft, kind, wide open in the pale strips of light from the lamppost. 

“I’m going to ask that you trust me as well, Draco. Can you do that?”

He wanted to. He wanted the panic to stop, he wanted the attacks to disappear. It was against everything he had been taught, everything that ran through his bones and his blood, but his upbringing had led him to nothing but strife. Maybe trying something new, as radical as honesty and trust, would help. It could be a disaster, but it could also be exactly what he needed.

“Yes,” Draco answered, his heart pounding in his chest. “I think I can.”

A wide smile crossed Neville’s face, and it was as if Draco was suddenly covered with the warmth of a blazing sun, cutting through the dark dreary night. 

“Great!” Neville paused, his smile still large and inviting. “I’m going to ask you a question, then. And it’s very personal, but if we’re going to do this I need to know.”

He stepped closer to Draco, put his hand under his chin, and lifted it like he had earlier in the shop. “What do you need?”

For the first time in his life, Draco felt himself answer honestly.

“I don’t know.”

Chapter Text

“I don’t know.”

Draco couldn’t imagine three words could be so painful to say. He had never felt more vulnerable as he did standing in almost pitch-black by a lamppost that was secretly stairs leading to a sex dungeon, in front of a bloody Gryffindor who asked him to bare his soul.

But instead of laughing, or mocking, or giving him a weird look, Neville simply smiled even more than he had, nodded his head once, and said, “Let’s get a drink then.”

“Now?”

“It’ll be easier. You’ve got a bedtime?” Neville quirked his eyebrow.

“Not in the least.” Draco smirked, and he could feel his mask molding back over his face, filling in the cracks he had just made. It was probably better that they have this discussion right away, now that he thought about it. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to feel this vulnerable again, especially not so soon. However, his chest constricted when he thought about the closest options for late night establishments. “Somewhere muggle though,” he added. If he were to see someone he recognized, or have to worry about being overheard, he wouldn’t have a choice.

“Muggle, of course. I know the perfect place.”

----

“Wetherspoons?” Draco stood in front of the white building, bustling with waitresses holding trays full of stouts and twisted, salted bread and hamburgers piled high with pickled onions and sauce.

“It’s muggle.” Neville shrugged.

“It’s horrid.”

“No one will recognize you here.”

“I should hope not,” Draco shook his head. His mother had once told him that pubs were where whores and miscreants gathered, and he should never set foot in such an establishment. She had also told him that acquiring the death mark would bring his family honour, when it only brought him shame. 

He followed Neville in, and they settled into a corner booth, Draco making sure his back was to the wall and his eyes could track every patron that ventured in. Force of habit, he knew, but it made him feel calmer. So did a whisky, which he acquired with a wave of his hand. 

Neville ordered a beer, light, frothy, and when he took the first sip, a bit of it stuck to his upper lip. Draco’s mind wandered for a moment, wondering what it would be like to lean over the table and lick it off, kiss those lips, feel that body pressed against him.

Even though he hadn’t ever experienced a man’s touch, he had definitely spent more than an adequate amount of time fantasizing about it. Birds were all soft, curves and flowing hair and Glamours coating their eyes and their noses and their mouths. And while he enjoyed the softness, the lankiness and the jut of hip bone, he didn’t love the falsities. The prim smiles, the seductive gaze under false lashes. As much as he liked to front his own personality, he craved to be with someone who was real. Honest. Open. 

He turned back to Neville, who was still wearing a solid grin with no signs of stopping.

“Now that we’re settled, tell me about the last time you were intimate with someone,” Neville asked, his face so innocent over the top of his glass.

Draco practically spit out the brown whisky he had just downed. “Just jumping right in, are we Longbottom?”

“No time like the present,” Neville shrugged. “Would it help if I cast a Silencing charm?”

“It would help if I vanished completely.”

“Does it make you uncomfortable to talk about your dalliances?” Neville’s voice didn’t sound pestering, or even judgemental, more curious. “I do have some Veritaserum. Might loosen you up?”

Draco knocked back his whisky in one stinging gulp. “Another one of these would help.”

Neville flagged over the bartender, and acquired a full glass of amber liquid to replace Draco’s empty glass. He took another sip of his own beer as Draco wasted no time in emptying the bitter whisky again in one heady swallow.

It was now or never. He thought about taking Neville’s offer, giving over to the sweet release of Verita, but he knew he needed to do this on his own, if he was ever going to accomplish what he wanted. If he was going to pursue this, he needed to do it on his own.

“My last relationship was with Pansy.”

“Parkinson?” 

“The same.”

“She’s been with Ginny for-”

“Five years at least, although I’d say she was pining after her before Potter even knew she had tits.”

“I don’t think Harry cared much about her tits, to be honest.”

“What?”

“Nevermind. So five years ago?”

“fiffffnn,” Draco mumbled into his fresh glass of whisky, forcing himself not to down it in one gulp.

“What was that?”

Fuck it. Whisky down the hatch.

“Fifteen, okay? It’s been fifteen years.”

Bless Neville, he only raised his eyebrows in surprise.

Draco, on the other hand, rolled his eyes and threw his hands against the tiny metal table.

“We were thirteen. I didn’t know what I was doing, but whatever I did, it was wrong.”

“Sexually?” Neville asked innocently.

“No, no, we never got that far. I wouldn’t hold her hand at the right time, or I would partner with someone else in potions, or, oh, this is rich, one time she said I didn’t pat her head properly. As if there’s a proper way to pat one’s head.”

“Oh.” Neville grinned again, just as wide as before. “There’s a proper way. Took Ginny weeks to learn it.”

“I don’t want to know.”

Neville shrugged. “So you haven’t been with anyone since Hogwarts.”

Draco’s glass was empty, and while he was feeling the slightest bit fuzzy, it still wasn’t enough. “Want to hear about my sex life, Longbottom? Give me another whisky and a shot of that serum you seem to be carrying around for no reason.”

Another wave to the bartender brought Draco a fresh glass, but he turned his head as it approached. It wasn’t until Neville coughed that he turned back, knowing that the veritaserum was now mixing through the sweet liquid. He downed half the glass in his first sip, and then placed it back on the table with an audible thump.

He was silent, waiting for the serum to seep into his veins, and after taking another sip, Neville began to speak.

“So you were with Pansy when you were younger. Are you sexually or emotionally attracted to anyone now?”

“Not Pansy, that’s for sure.”

“And why is that?”

“She’s so demanding. Honestly, when she told me she was the one on her knees I didn’t believe her.”

Neville simply shrugged. “Who we are during the day isn’t always what we crave at night. Pansy and Ginny both consented I share this with you, so I will.” He picked up his beer, and took another sip, but didn’t put it down. Instead he cradled it in his hand as he spoke.

“Pansy grew up, I would assume, very similar to yourself. Overbearing parents, wanting what they thought was best for their children. The weight of their expectations fell heavily on Pansy’s shoulders, where she felt like she was holding everything together. Her parent’s marriage, her pureblood status, the fact that she was sexually attractive to both her classmates and her father’s friends. It came to a point where she couldn’t get out of bed.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“Pansy is very good at putting on a mask.”

Draco knew that better than anyone. They had both grown up learning how to hide their feelings, not shed a tear, not blush, not even laugh in public. Still to this day, Draco wasn’t sure he’d ever seen his father truly smile. He’d only heard his mother cry behind closed doors, and while he fought with every fibre of his being, he did not go to comfort her. It was not the Malfoy way. 

“Other than Pansy,” Neville continued, pulling Draco out of his memories, “have you fancied anyone since school? As an adult?”

“Yes,” Draco answered automatically, thankful for the serum that was by now running through his veins. 

It’s not like he hadn’t thought about it, over the years. Sex, that is. Or, who he would pursue if he wasn’t who he was, if he hadn’t done what he had done. Pansy was gorgeous, of course, and had been a close friend as well as a pureblood. Dating her, marrying her, would have made his mother happy. 

He wished he didn’t care what made her happy anymore, in the same way he wished he didn’t notice his father’s turned-up nose each time he entered his flat. But they were his family, and no matter how much he tried, that still meant something to him. 

Still, Draco’s fantasies had wandered outside of the sacred list on more than one occasion, and had even flitted to a more masculine frame opposed to all dips and curves. It was more than a physical response he craved, however. He really had to know who he was getting into bed with. Metaphorically, of course. Draco had never slept in anyone else’s bed but his own. 

“So what’s been holding you back?” Neville pried the slightest bit.

Draco blew out a breath, and relied on the veritaserum to answer. “I’m a Death Eater.”

“Former.”

“There’s no former. A murderer is always a murderer. You can’t just pretend that part didn’t happen, that I haven’t done what I’ve done.”

“You never killed anyone.”

“I killed a bird. I almost killed Bell and Weasley. I tried to kill Dumbledore for fuck’s sake.” Draco wished he could bottle this anger, stopper it and hide it on the darkest shelf in the dankest basement. Instead, he let his anger flare, until the cups on their table began to vibrate, until the entirety of the restaurant was filled with the tinkling of glass as they shook across the metal tables. 

Neville placed his hand over Draco’s and stared directly into his eyes.

“You didn’t though, Draco. That’s not who you were, and it’s not who you are”

Draco shook his head, took a deep breath, and felt the magic recoil. Around him, the glasses stilled and the clinking dissipated. Still, he could feel the anger buried, coal hot in the pit of his stomach. He twisted his wrist out of Neville’s grasp, and with a screech of his barstool, Draco stood and pointed his chin high in the air. 

“My aunt practically killed your parents, Longbottom. What kind of person would be sick enough to date me?”

Chapter Text

Draco spent the night tossing and turning, images of Neville’s shop filled with flowers, of the club, shelves filled with toys, of the man, spread and pink-cheeked and moaning.

He woke up hard and shaking. At some point during the night, he must have shucked his joggers, choosing instead to passively pull his cock out from their cotton confines and into the silk of his palm. His hand was already tugging along his length, and, dropping his head back into the safety of his pillows, Draco muttered a spell to lubricate the path of pleasure.

Already vibrating with need, it only took a few more pulls and one final twist of his wrist before he was coming, hot and hard. With a loud whine, Draco spilled all over his palm as he crested into his orgasm. 

Draco couldn’t remember the last time he woke up with such a need to come, his body working on instinct to bring him the pleasure he seemingly craved. But now that he had, he felt like he could breathe just a bit better, like he was lighter somehow.

Quickly Vanishing the evidence, Draco was about to drag himself into a much needed shower when an owl began to peck at his toes.

Floocall me when you wake up. I want to hear all about it. Also, it’s noon, what the fuck are you still doing asleep? 

- Pansy

Draco scoffed. He could sleep as long as he craved, thankyouverymuch.

Taking his time in the shower, Draco tried to wash the previous night off of his skin. The dirt of the club, but also what he saw, the filth, the depravity. He scrubbed his scalp harder than he ever remembered before, filling the bathroom with smells of lavender and orange, but even his favourite scents didn’t calm his nerves.

He used a Close Shave spell and a hair emulsifying charm and all the other bits of magic that would possibly delay the inevitable conversation. Begrudgingly, he settled in front of his Floo and called for his closest friend, who he was learning more about every day.

“It’s 2pm.”

“You can tell time, mummy must be so proud of you,” Draco smirked. 

“And you can tell me about your night with dear dommy,” Pansy chided. “Come over, I have wine.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Fine, but pull out the good stuff.”

“Well we certainly can’t drink Italian plonk before dinner.”

His hand was instantly filled with a glass of merlot as soon as he walked through the Floo. He settled at the end of Pansy’s lemon-coloured sofa, crossing his ankles below him as he took the first calming sip of wine. It went down easily, way easier than whisky. 

“So how was the club?” Pansy asked, settling herself on the other end of the couch. The chair next to her was covered in layers of cloth, several sewing needles weaving in and out as they combined different colours of silk to tulle.

“I thought you were going to be there.”

“We were!” Pansy grinned. “Got there about 10, after Gin’s Quidditch practice. She had quite a bit of energy left, surprisingly.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “I don’t want to know.”

“Oh, honey,” Pansy smirked, “everyone wants to know what we get up to. We had quite an audience. I’m surprised you didn’t see the group.”

“I didn’t see much of anyone, ‘cept Longbottom.”

Pansy nodded in understanding. “He must have taken you to the training room. First time we went, he took us straight back there, had me on my knees in minutes.” Her gaze went a bit glossy as they drifted to a blank spot on her back wall. 

“Woman,” Draco said before clearing his throat. “Do stay focused.”

Her eyes went wide as she redirected her attention to Draco. “Right. So you didn’t see anyone?”

Draco thought back to the night before, to the room through the looking glass. “I wouldn’t call a fully strapped Dominant beating the shit out of some redhead no one.”

“Ah, that’ll be John. Not his real name, I don’t think, but he tends to like the redheads. He’s always asking Gin about Ronnykins.”

“No.”

“Yep. Not that he’d stray from Hermione, but he’s a bit wound up. Could use a good paddling, Ron could.”

“I don’t want to think about it.”

“No one does, darling. Except maybe Granger.”

Draco shuddered.

“So what did you think? Want to spank a ginger yourself?” Pansy asked, raising one of her perfectly drawn eyebrows. “Or want a ginger to spank you? I’m not lending Ginny out, mind, but next time Charlie’s in town…”

“I don’t want any Weasleys, Merlin’s beard.”

Pansy threw up her hands. “No Weasleys, got it! Because of their lack of vagina? Gin excluded, of course, but her snatch is well tended to.”

“Gross.” Draco frowned. 

He’d never actually admitted out loud, or even to himself that his glances had favoured one gender over another. But Pansy was his best friend, and bisexual to boot. If anyone could understand, it would be her.

“It’s not the lack of fanny.”

“Noted,” she continued without a pause. “So a Gryffindor thing?”

“It’s not the Gryffindor thing.”

This time she raised an eyebrow. 

“Interesting,” Pansy smirked. “So, Longbottom-”

“He’s my instructor.”

“Wood.”

“Pants at Quidditch, did you see that fumble last week? Cost the Arrows the game.”

“McLaggen.”

“Absolute failure on a broom.”

“Potter.”

Draco paused. “He’s...acceptable at Quidditch.”

“He handles a broom well, I’d say.”

“But his sense of style is preposterous.”

“I think he’s easy on the eyes,” Pansy shrugged.

Draco tried to think of the last time he even saw Potter. It wasn’t at school, but it wasn’t long after. A glance down an alley after attending some ridiculous soiree his mother had dragged him to, a last minute effort to salvage the Malfoy name. That glance had provided more of Potter than he had even seen before Seventh, his throat tilted upward, exposed in the pale moonlight. That same luminescence had tricked down Potter’s chest, revealing the piece of Potter even the paper hadn’t uncovered.

That small glimpse of Potter’s cock, ridged in another man's hand as he trailed bites down Potter’s bared throat had been enough to completely fuck up Draco’s world.

Yes, Potter was easy enough on the eyes to elicit weeks of wanking material. He had tried to push it to the back of his mind, the thought of the Chosen One against the wall, or on his blessed knees, his mouth gasping, his throat arched, his cock hard and wanton. 

Not that Draco mentioned any of this to anyone, including Pansy. Especially how much Potter being queer had awoken something deep inside him. Something, after weeks of wanking, he couldn’t quite admit, but he couldn’t quite ignore. 

Fuck Potter.

“I don’t want your girlfriend’s seconds,” was the best Draco could come up with amidst the turmoil of thoughts tumbling through his mind. 

Pansy’s laugh surprised Draco. “Seconds? Potter’s more into cock than he’s into twats. Didn’t you know?”

“But surely-”

“They snogged, sure. A long, long time ago. Potter felt like he had something to prove.”

“And what was that?”

Pansy cocked her head. “Same thing as you, darling. That he could live up to everyone’s expectations.”

Wasn’t that the rub. Doing everything you could to please others, and still falling short. Still finding, at the end of the day, that you’re a failure.

Potter hadn’t failed though. He did what he was supposed to do, and unlike cowering Draco, he succeeded.

“And now?” Draco asked, curiosity overruling a snarky response.

“He’s a treasured hero,” Pansy shrugged. “During the day, at least.”

“What does that mean?”

Pansy simply smiled, mostly to herself as she had another sip of wine. “Ask Longbottom.”

Draco bit his lip. “He invited me back. To the club.” 

Longbottom’s owl had appeared only moments after he left the shower, flying in the open window gracefully, it’s talons gripping to the mahogany footboard at the end of Draco’s bed.

Class begins tonight. Small group, we’re just covering basics. Would love to see you there. 9pm. Password: Kismet.

Draco had quickly folded the letter and tucked it deep in his pocket. Even though he lived alone, he cringed at the idea that anyone was to see the scroll. It seemed dirty still, the whole idea of the club, the whole idea of needing something to fix him and his errant magic.

“Are you going to go?”

“I dunno,” Draco shook his head. “It’s all a bit crass.”

“Hey!”

“You’re a pureblood. A Parkinson. And you more than casually visit a sex dungeon.” He didn't want to sound judgemental, but he was having trouble wrapping his head around the whole thing. Taking control, giving control, possibly having sex, it was all too confusing. Draco lived in a world of certainty. The exact ingredients, the perfect temperature, always lead to the same results. No power play, only facts.

Luckily, Pansy didn’t seem offended. “My pure blood, as you like to describe it, has only brought me pain. Suffering, stress and guilt. You can’t tell me you don’t feel the crippling pressure that being in our families brings us? My mother expected me to be beautiful, thin, perfect. Marry rich, whether I was in love or not. That’s what I was reduced to, a size and a proposal.

“When I came out, she asked me to do what every other Parkinson before me had done; keep my bitch out of my marital bed. She still expected me to marry, to breed, to produce more purebloods, to deny my truth.”

Draco wanted to reach out, hug his friend and hold her tight and tell her that it was all going to be okay. But it wasn’t. Her parents barely spoke to her, in the same clipped tones his own parents used. He didn’t know how to comfort her, in the same way he didn’t know how to comfort himself. Instead, he usually lashed out, panicking, letting his magic running rampant out his veins.

Pansy wiped a tear away from her eye and took a deep breath. “When we’re at the club though, when I’m with Ginny, she takes all that pressure from me. She takes it off my shoulders. All of it.”

“What do you mean?” 

“It’s like a weight, resting right between my shoulder-blades. And, when we play, Ginny lifts it. I...can’t describe it any other way. I can only focus on her, not on all the other distractions.” She smiled, her eyes drifting off to that blank space on the wall again. “It’s freeing.”

Free. 

That was a concept he was unfamiliar with.

“I - I think I better head out, Pans.” Draco muttered, climbing out of the comfy couch. “Things to do.”

“Clubs to attend?” Pansy raised her eyebrows.

Draco coughed awkwardly.

“Send Neville my love, will you?” She said with a smile, before Draco drifted through the Floo and back to his own flat. 

----

 

If you had asked Draco that morning if he’d be visiting that lamppost again, with confidence he would have spat a hearty ‘No’.

And yet, he found himself, trembling hands, whispering Kismet to a dirty post in the middle of Diagon Alley. When he walked through reception, the same kind wixen directed him ‘down the hall, first door on the left, love’.”

He knew he’d see Longbottom, his calming smile and his strong exterior, but who he wasn’t ready to see was- 

“Potter?”

Chapter Text

Draco blinked, thinking the dim lights in the dungeon were playing tricks on him. No way was Scarhead in a seedy club. He was a fucking Auror, Head Auror at that. Surely Sugarquill was literally underground because it wasn’t the most legal establishment. And yet -

“Malfoy?” Harry sputtered. “Neville, you didn’t say anything about—”

“Great to see you!” Longbottom clapped and walked over to Draco, “I’m so glad you made it!” He pulled Draco’s hand into his own, rough and calloused from days spent in the dirt.

Or nights working with a crop, Draco reminded himself. He was still having a bit of trouble wrapping his head around cardigan-wearing, plant loving Neville Longbottom in leather chaps.

Maybe he’d soon find out what that looked like.

But there were more pressing issues at hand.

Like what the fuck precious, perfect Potter was doing in a kink establishment. 

“Great! Now that we’re all here, we can get started.” Neville clapped his hands again. 

It was then that Draco realised the room was not just filled with Potter. There were three other people gathered in an awkward semi-circle around Longbottom. He didn’t know the other gentleman - he was older, with bits of grey sprinkled into his dark beard - but Draco vaguely recognized one of the women to his left. Abbott, he thought, although he couldn’t quite place her first name. Anna or Helen or something like that. He had no idea who the last student was, nor did he care, because he definitely recognized the new person that just walked in.

“Oh, perfect timing, love.” Neville grinned widely. “Everyone, this is my partner, Theodore Nott. He’s going to be helping me with today’s lesson.”

Theo was one of the few Slytherins Draco thought he’d keep in touch with. They gave it a real shot for a bit, meeting at taverns and the occasional party they would be dragged to attend. However, when Draco began his apprenticeship, they lost touch. His time was stretched thin between classes and practicums and required dinners with his parents that Draco just hadn’t had time for much else. Perhaps that was how he also missed Pansy’s breakdown. He really needed to thank Ginny one day for helping her through that.

He’d worry about that tomorrow, drawing his attention instead to his old friend, who was currently nestled on the floor, knees pressed into the tips of Longbottom’s sturdy black boots. His chest was bare, his breathing ragged and his head bowed, his hands already clasped tight behind his back.

“Nervous, baby boy?” Longbottom asked, peering down at the man at his feet. 

“Yes, Sir,” Theo answered automatically. Neville let out a little groan at that, his smile broad and confident as it stretched across his face.

“But you know that I’m here to take care of you.” 

Theo nodded, his head still hooked to the floor.

“Words, bear,” Neville said, and Draco heard the difference; Neville was commanding him, his voice stern and direct as it filled the room.

Draco watched in awe as Theo visibly shuddered, eyes focused laser-sharp on the floor, a smile curling his lips.

“Yes, Sir,” he responded after a beat, and Draco couldn’t help but draw in a breath. Seeing the reaction, hearing the tone, how different it sounded from the Theo he’d seen so many years ago. This Theo, even though he was grovelling on the floor, sounded stronger. He sounded happy. At the feet of a Gryffindor, no less.

“Good boy,” Neville said, and Draco watched with anticipation as once again Theo shuddered at those words. “Now, Theo is my Submissive. He is also my boyfriend, my partner, and has graciously volunteered to show the class how good of a Submissive he can be.”

Instead of nodding again in agreement, Theo remained still, his eyes never leaving the concrete.

“So,” Neville continued, “there are three types of play we’re going to discuss in a power exchange like a Dominant to a Submissive.” He motioned toward Theo. “The first, being demonstrated here, is a glance at preference training.” Neville paused, licked his lips, and commanded. “Position two, please.”

Theo nodded once, and then sat back on his heels, his hands unclasping behind his back until his palms rested flat on his thighs. His stare remained focused on the floor throughout, and Draco cocked his head, wondering if that was a requirement of a Submissive.

“Now, these positions vary from Dom to Dom. My preference is that Theodore keeps his eyes trained to the floor. This helps in twofold. The first is that he is more focused on my commands, therefore falling a bit easier into his role during play. The second is that his eyes are too captivating for me to stare at for too long, and keep my composure. You have the most gorgeous eyes, don’t you, love?”

“Yes, Daddy,”

Daddy. Well, that was something he was absolutely positive he’d never heard Theo say, especially out loud. They both referred to their parents as father , properly. Never dad, and certainly not daddy. Yet, when he uttered the word, instead of tightening as Draco surely would have done, Theo seemed to relax further into the floor, his fingers splayed across his skin in an easy fashion. 

“And there’s another preference,” Neville chuckled. “I’ve instructed Theo to call me Sir, instead of Master or Neville, and he confessed his urge to call me Daddy quickly into our relationship. So we added it to the list of preferred pronouns.” Neville looked down and ruffled a hand through Theo’s dark hair, tugging slightly on the ends when he released the strands. 

“Now, every Dom is different. Some might want their Subs to stand, others might want a combination where they knot their wrists above their head. Whatever it is, basic positions can be varied and helpful.”

“Why are they helpful?” the girl in the middle asked, her voice high-pitched and a bit jarring on Draco’s ears.

“Great question, Melody. And, class, feel free to ask questions as we go,” Neville nodded towards the girl and gave her a warm smile. “Positions, names, collars or even wardrobe can be important to set the scene. Not everyone wants to be a Submissive at all times. So getting into the mindset can be imperative. Simple commands that are practiced and structured can provide an easy path toward entering the right headspace.”

Neville nodded at Theo. “My teddy bear here can find structure in knowing his place. It is on his knees, waiting for his next instruction. This allows him to relax, to let go, to focus on me as opposed to what could be happening outside that door, out in the real world.

“Training your Submissive can be a play in itself.” Neville added. “Just make sure that you’re clear with your objectives. Otherwise, you could end up having to inflict a punishment where you may or may not have wanted to.”

“You mean a good wallop?” the older man interjected with a laugh. Draco’s mind wandered to earlier, when Pansy suggested Ron could use a strong paddling.

“Possibly.” Neville shrugged with ease. “We’ll delve into the second form of play a bit later, how funishment and punishment work in this type of relationship.

“Which leads us into the final element of power play. I will admit, this is going to be a large focus of our sessions here.”

Neville looked down at Theo, before placing his hand on his shoulder. He gave his boy a squeeze, rubbing into his shoulders with the tips of his fingers. “Do you mind if I tell our new friends a bit about your past, baby boy?”

Even though he was still positioned, his back straight and his arse resting on his heels, Draco could see the slightest tilt of Theo’s body as he leaned into Neville’s touch.

“No, Sir.” Theo let out, more breathy than Draco was expecting. 

“Thank you.” Neville squeezed his shoulder one more time, and then relocated his hand to the base of Theo’s neck. Draco watched as he rubbed tiny circles into his nape as he continued to address the room. 

“The third practice is all about insight. Knowing your partner in play. Where they come from, what they want to achieve.

“For instance, Theo here wants to be good.” Neville leaned down and planted a kiss on the top of Theo’s head, his hand still rubbing into his skin. “His father was not a good man, and his mother died too young to truly look after him.”

Draco knew his story already, of course. Theo’s father gave his own a run for his Galleons. He’d find Mr. Nott in the study with his own Aunt Bellatrix, plotting and targeting their efforts on pleasing the Dark Lord. They didn’t go as far as actually housing the no-nose git, for Mr. Nott was thrown in Azkaban during their Fifth year, but he probably would have volunteered right along with Lucius. Idiots , the lot of them .

Theo had collected some smarts from his lineage, however, and last Draco heard he was offering his services to the remaining twin Weasel and that silly joke shop. He’d been meaning to go in and see if he could find his old friend along with the Puking Pastilles, but after work at S&Js he generally wanted to head home. Or, he supposed, to a magical sex dungeon.

“Knowing my Theo Bear’s background allows me to understand him better,” Neville continued, giving Theo’s shoulder another squeeze. “For instance, I do not punish my boy in the traditional BDSM sense. Instead, we talk about his naughty behaviour, which leads to better communication between the two of us.”

Understanding intentions and motivation was something Draco knew he was skilled at. As a Slytherin, he knew how to be cunning, how to poke, and prod, and manipulate someone's weakness to get what he wanted.  

“Communication is important, of course, but having some insight into both your partner and yourself will help make your play even more impactful.” Neville glanced across the five students crowded around him. “Let’s try an example, shall we? Consider it a warm up.”

Chapter Text

Draco felt his body tense. He had taken a chance on this whole thing, thinking that some semblance of this would somehow help his outbursts, but Draco wasn’t sure he was ready for an example. Especially considering the submissive was in fact his childhood friend. 

“If I want to comfort my bear here, knowing how much he’s eager to please, I might say something like ‘My darling bear, you’ve been such a good boy’.” Neville paused, and gave Theo a quick kiss on his cheek after his praise. “Most submissives will crave this type of compliment in some form or another, so let’s delve into that for a moment, shall we?”

Neville moved one hand back to Theo’s shoulders, the other one resting securely on his belt as he surveyed the room.

“Harry,” Neville called out suddenly. Draco’s heart skipped a beat. Now Potter on his knees was something he was eager to imagine. He could feel his cock fattening with even the thought of it. 

“Neville,” Harry answered gruffly.

“Now, now, no need to cringe. I told you I’d be calling you out, and I know you can handle this.” Neville smiled softly, his eyes locked on Potter while his hand shifted to grip Theo’s neck. “Keep in mind, class, this is a safe space. I don’t need to remind you that what we discuss here doesn’t leave the club unless both parties consent.”

Harry coughed awkwardly while the rest of the class nodded. 

“Great.” Neville gestured encouragingly. “So, Harry, what would you say to praise your Submissive?”

“I dunno.” Harry shrugged, his cheeks darkening into a deep garnet. “Something like...I want to fuck you so hard.”

The laugh erupted from Draco’s throat before he could stop it. 

He could feel the class turn on him, all eyes focused like he had just been scratched by a Hippogriff. Ignoring Longbottom’s death glare, Draco sneered towards the other end of the line.

“Really, Potter? That’s the best you can do?”

“Oh, like you’ve got anything better, Malfoy,” Harry snapped, his green eyes piercing into Draco’s own. 

A challenge. Draco rolled back his shoulders and walked steadily across the room, passing Abbott, and annoying Melody, and the other guy until he stood directly in front of the Chosen One himself.

“I do actually,” he started, cocking his head slightly to the left. He was surprised no one had stopped him yet, especially Longbottom who was surely brooding right over his shoulder.

Instead, he pressed his chest into Potter’s own. He knew Potter wouldn’t move, wouldn’t back down from a threat, not when it was Draco Malfoy trying to force him into a corner. He wasn’t scared, no. Potter was never scared. 

Draco stared into green, letting his mind fill with the memory of the last time he saw those eyes, fluttering with pleasure in the back of a darkened alley, desperate and longing and raw.

“Prim, proper little Potter,” Draco started with a bite, still surprised that no one had stopped him, especially their cardigan-loving instructor. “The whole world thinks they know you, don’t they? Perfect Potter and his perfect scar.” Draco paused, and on instinct, lifted his thumb to rub along the raised skin on Harry’s forehead. 

It felt softer than he had expected. The skin surrounding the lightning bolt felt so soft instead of calloused, like the edges of his own scars inflicted by Sectumsempra. It made something in him snap; a bitterness that he hadn’t expected, knowing that Potter’s branding was even better than Draco’s own. 

“They don’t know you, do they? That their perfect little saviour is a slut for dirty cock.”

He heard a gasp from his left, Melody or Abbott, he wasn’t sure. Either way, no one was stopping him. Not now.

“What would the Wizarding World think if they knew, hmm Potter? That you were filthy, spending your nights in a kinky, kinky club.” He stared into the soft glint of Potter’s eyes, noting the same far-away expression he had seen in Pansy just that afternoon. 

Draco decided to take a chance. “If they all knew how eager you were to get on your knees.”

He felt the hitch of Potter’s breath before he even felt the puff of hot air across his cheek. Draco grinned, viciously, knowing he’d won. Feeling a way he hadn’t in quite some time. 

His cock was hard. He knew it, just as easily as he knew Potter was hard, breathing hard as well, even as he continued to stand stock still in Draco’s snarl. He didn’t want to stop, didn’t want this feeling to go away. He heard Longbottom’s growl over his shoulder, a warning surely, but he wouldn’t quit.

“I bet your mouth would look so pretty wrapped around my cock, Potter,” Draco continued, ignoring Neville’s now audible warnings from across the room. “You talk all day, but you never get to use that throat of yours, do you? Every word you say is for them, but every noise you make is for me, isn’t it?”

He thought he saw the slightest tilt, the almost nod of Harry’s head, his hair frazzled as if he had already been fucked, as if it had already been gripped and twisted and tugged . It made something in Draco pulse with need, the urge to push Potter to the ground throbbing beneath his skin. 

“Your throat is so warm, and wet , as wet as you were the first time I noticed you. When you breached the black lake during the second task. Gasping for air and so fucking triumphant. I couldn’t stop staring at you, Potter.”

“Draco,” a voice called in warning from behind him, clipped and short. He immediately ignored it. He wouldn’t let go of this power, this control, not of his own volition. He continued.

“Your fucking gorgeous chest,” Draco murmured as he let his hands grip the sides of Potter, the sharp angles right above his trousers. His shirt was made of cotton, and Draco relished the texture, softness against the heat radiating beneath the thin cloth. Harry just stared back, hands at his sides, his breath uneven, his eyes glassy, licking his lips uncontrollably.

“I’d feed you my cock, Potter, until you wouldn’t even be able to make any noise, until the only thing you could do was grunt, or pant, or gag, and you’d love it, wouldn’t you? You’d love to swallow my cock like it was sweet Treacle Tart, like it was the best thing you’d ever had pulsing down your throat.”

“Petrificus,” Neville yells, his voice bounding around the room. The safe word instantly made the walls glow red, and Draco blinked rapidly into the light. 

“That’s it. Class is over.” Neville closed his eyes and cleared his throat. “Draco, my office. Harry, please sit down and wait for me. As for the rest of you, class is dismissed. I’ll owl you with your individual schedules tomorrow.”

Draco narrowed his eyes once more at Potter, before lifting his chin and marching out the door. 

“What the fuck was that?” Neville gasped as soon as he led Draco into his office. He slammed the door the second Draco stepped over the threshold, blocking out the bland hallway and locking them into the cedar-walled room.

“You tell me, teach,” Draco snarled. His hands were shaking, and his cock was hard, harder than it had been in his previous memories. Harder than he thought he had ever been in his entire life.

He felt charged . Like he was buzzing. It was similar and yet so different to how it was when his magic spilled wild, when he broke the china, or ruined the furniture. Instead, it was as if he buzzed under his skin, contained, controlled.

It felt like the first time he held a wand, his wand. 

But that feeling was dissipating fast, too fast. Every rise and fall of his chest seemed to release that feeling, and Draco wished he could hold his breath, hold it in forever. 

He had no choice but to exhale harshly when Neville grabbed his wrist, holding it upward, his thumb pressed tightly to the base.

“Your magic is pulsing faster than your heart, Draco.”

“Yes,” was all Draco could muster, his eyes cast downward to avoid Neville’s angry glare.

“And yet my desk is still intact. As is the glass in my picture frames.”

Draco nodded. “Yes.”

“Do you know why I stopped you?”

“Yes.”

“Why, Draco. Why did I safeword in there?”

“Because I was being disruptive.”

Neville shook his head. “That’s true, but you were also sending Harry into subspace in the middle of a crowded classroom.”

“Sub what?” 

“Frankly, I’m a bit impressed. I wasn’t sure Harry was capable of letting himself fall, but it seems you don’t give him much of a choice.”

“I don’t - “

“Class tomorrow, same time. You can make it, yes?”

“I’m not - “

“Great,” Neville nodded with confidence. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to tend to Harry for a bit. See you tomorrow.”

Draco couldn’t say much else before Neville was shoving him out the door, emptying him once again into the bland hallway. The door disappeared in a blink, and in another moment Neville was gone as well, turning in a flourish and heading back down to the training classroom. 

“Tomorrow,” Draco nodded into the empty hallway before turning on his heels and walking back into the dark London air.

Chapter Text

The second Draco entered his flat, he withdrew his needy cock from his trousers. He’d barely shut the door for Merlin’s sake, before he was tugging, twisting and spilling his seed over his palm. 

Draco leaned against the closed mahogany, allowing gravity to drag him to the floor, panting and shaking, his trousers still caught around his hips. He sat there, in his hallway, shaking in the aftermath of his powerful orgasm. 

Yes. The usual tightness in his chest had unwound, leaving Draco feeling like a Third Year again., Back then,  the biggest things he had to worry about were fighting a Hippogriff and knotting his tie properly. 

He felt free.

With that wave of joy, Draco stumbled into the bedroom, falling instantly into a deep and dreamless sleep.

---

It happened again the next morning. 

In the previous night’s pleasure, Draco had forgotten to set a Tempus and woke up only ten minutes before he needed to Apparate to work. With no time to shower, he tugged his dirty robes around his body, did a quick spell on his hair and rushed off to Slug & Jiggers.

Draco hated being late; it was one of the most disrespectful things that one could do, especially to their boss and place of employment. But being three minutes tardy was nowhere near the worst thing that happened to him. 

When he finally got to work and approached his potions, he found that the stirring spell, he was confident he’d cast, had stopped working. The black potion had burned a hole through his two-inch thick cauldron, and was currently eating through the stained wood floors. With an angry flick of his wrist, Draco Vanished the potion and two wasted weeks. He’d have to start over, and while this wasn’t the first mistake an Apprentice had ever made, the replacement ingredients were bound to be expensive when ordered on rush.  S&Js would be at least a week behind on replacement serum.

What really toppled the scales, though, was when he burned the edges of his turkey on rye with an easy reheating charm he’d performed at least a thousand times. Chucking his sandwich in the bin, Draco could feel himself start to unravel. 

He ran out of the shop, ignoring the calls from his boss as he fled. His feet carried him on their own intuition, until Draco was panting, out of breath and gripping onto a lamppost. 

The very same lamppost he had whispered to last night.

Once again, he found himself tucking his head between his legs, heaving in air like he would never catch his breath. His robes felt tight, circling his throat like a noose, his anxiety attack choking him from the inside out.

“I want you to focus on my voice,” he heard in between his gasps. “I’m also tapping my foot, can you hear it?”

Draco closed his eyes, letting Longbottom’s voice fill his ears. Of course the git would follow him here; he had probably run right past his shop during his blind escape. 

“Draco, do you hear my foot? Tap, tap, tap, tap.”

He could hear it; a boot pressing down over and over in quick syncopation, tap, tap as it hit the pavement. His voice wasn’t cooperating, his breath still too ragged., So instead, Draco nodded — a small movement of his head.

“Good. Now, I want you to breathe in. Focus on a smell, any smell.”

Draco squinted, forcing himself to breathe through his nose instead of gasping through his mouth. He could smell something, earthy, pine. It had to be Neville, his boots or robes or his hands covered in dirt until it clung to the beds of his fingernails. It reminded him of Quidditch pitches, of early morning runs and late night sprints, of Hogwarts and brooms. 

He could feel his chest loosening, breath coming easier as he inhaled.

“You’re doing great, Draco. Now, I want you to hold onto something. The sleeve of your robe, your wand, whatever. Focus,” Neville said calmingly, “focus on the texture. How does it feel beneath your fingertips?”

Draco didn’t reach for his wand. His magic was betraying him now, had betrayed him in the past. Instead, he reached for his throat, for the Malfoy crest that was emblazoned on each of his gold buttons. Undoing the brass cinching his throat, Draco was able to breathe, his fingers pressing tightly around the cold metal. 

He focused on that, the continuous tapping, the solid baritone of Neville’s voice, the button between his fingers. Every breath left him smelling trees,  grass and warm sunlight, and soon, he could feel his chest unclench. With a final big inhale, Draco opened his eyes, straightened his spine and looked at the warm brown eyes of Neville Longbottom.

“I’m fine, I just—”

“No need to explain, Draco. I’m actually glad I ran into you.”

“More like I ran into you.”

Neville chuckled. “What I mean to say is, as crappy as that attack was, I’m glad I got to see it. Gives me some insight on what we’re dealing with.”

“And what is that?” Draco tried to resist the urge to snap, but some behaviours were so ingrained in him, he found them difficult to ignore.

“Your triggers.” Neville pulled his wand out of his back pocket, thrumming it on his open palm. “If I had to guess, that wave of magic that cracked three of my pots was from you.”

“Three?” 

“Nothing a quick Reparo couldn’t fix,” Neville replied. “But it felt like you. Like your magic is out of control.” He clasped the black wand in his hand before continuing. “But it wasn’t last night.”

“No, it wasn’t.”

“You took control last night. And tonight, I’ll show you how to do it again, alright?” 

Draco closed his eyes again. He had felt so much better not even twenty-four hours ago. How quickly it had disappeared. 

He felt himself nod in response to Neville’s question, and exhaled through his nose.

“When you’re not at the club, and you feel that tightness, that out-of-controlness coming about, I want you to remember 3-2-1.”

“Counting’s never helped me before.” Merlin, Neville was only trying to help, and he couldn’t stop being a dick. 

“Not counting.” Neville’s voice remained steady and calm as he continued. “Three things you can hear, like my voice and my boots. Then two things you can smell, and one thing you can touch.”

Like the dirt, like the buttons on his robes. Three, two, one.

“You’re doing great, Draco. We’ll figure this all out, okay?” 

Draco sniffled, and attempted a cough to cover it up. He wouldn’t cry in front of a Gryffindor, no matter how harrowing he felt.

“Can you head back to work?”

“I need to.”

“But do you feel up to it?”

No. But he also couldn’t just leave it, not if he expected to have a job another day.

“Yes,” he lied. 

“Okay.” Neville looked at him skeptically. “Want me to come with you?”

“I can handle my boss myself, Longbottom.”

Neville nodded in response. “See you tonight then.”

“Tonight.” Draco turned to head back, and paused. “Thanks, Longbottom,” he said, over his shoulder. 

“Anytime, Draco.”

Chapter Text

Draco returned to the shop as quickly as he could, dreading the discussion he would surely have with his director. Not only had he ruined an entire batch of serum, he had also run out in the middle of his workday with his entire burnt sandwich tossed in the bin. 

His boss, normally surly and a bit intimidating, was surprisingly very understanding with Draco’s sudden disappearance. “We were just worried,” he said, looking curiously at Draco over half-moon spectacles. “Didn’t seem like you to run off, but when I saw the cauldron,” he paused once more and took a soft breath, “we’ve all been there before.”

Draco exhaled, and offered his most heartfelt apologies. It wasn’t in his nature to admit fault, but the sense of relief overcame him. and he let it out before he could even consider biting it back.

“Things happen, Draco. We’ve all mis-spliced, or mixed too hard. Part of learning.” His boss looked to his notebook laid out on the table. “The new potions should be here in a few days, but in the meantime, I’d love for you to take a crack at this one.” He slid a piece of parchment with complicated instructions over to Draco.

Draco studied the intricate measurements and ingredients for a moment. “You trust me with this?” he said, more to himself than to his employer. He hadn’t even realised he’d said it out loud until his boss answered.

“Of course. It’s one of our best-sellers and if you’re going to be joining us next year, you’ll need to perfect it.” 

Draco thanked the gods in the stars that his boss didn’t look up from his notes to see what was surely an embarrassingly large grin stretched across his face. He nodded, then added a verbal, “Will get started right away!” before whisking himself back to his cauldrons and potion knife. 

He spent the day sorting out ingredients, and when the Tempus chimed six he was a bit surprised it was already so late in the day. Draco situated his ingredients under a Stasis, checking three times to make sure he had placed it properly and his charmwork wouldn’t fail like it had before. Then he headed out the door.

But he didn’t want to head home. He was buzzing, excited and happy and wanted to talk to someone about his day. He knew Pansy was with Ginny, another night at the Burrow surrounded by family, and while he knew she would want to share in his enthusiasm, he didn’t want to interrupt. 

Instead, Draco headed to Alice’s . He found Neville on his knees, a tiny bud in one hand and a spade in the other. Draco watched from the threshold as Neville tenderly placed the little flower into a clay pot, pressing the soft dirt around the edges before returning it to the shelf. 

“What’s that one do?” Draco asked curiously, eyeing the beautiful purple bell-shaped flower.

“It looks pretty.” Neville paused, spritzing the flower with a gust of water from his wand. “Some things are there just to make us happy.”

“That’s a bit useless.”

Neville turned, setting the flower down on the floor in front of him. “Nothing’s useless, Draco. Not if it’s intentional.”

He stroked the tiny purple buds, and they flourished under his touch, growing and turning into almost a shade of mauve wherever his finger impressed upon its petals. 

“Each and every one of us is like a flower, Draco.” Neville spoke from his place on the floor, as he grabbed another pot from the shelf. “Take Pansy, for instance. Her namesake, the pansy, would lead us to believe she is cheerful and basic, but in fact she is a secret. More like a rose acacia. Most might see her as a weed, a threat, but when she’s nurtured, she can fully bloom.”

Draco thought about Pansy, how on the outside she could seem cold, distant. Like she was all shell, the heart hiding beneath. How, over the past few days, he had learned about his closest and oldest friend’s struggle with her mental health. How she had hidden it even from her best friend. Or maybe he just hadn’t noticed, hadn’t been paying enough attention. Hadn’t nurtured her.

“Ginny is clearly a peony. The way she carries herself—, resilient, but also cautious. A fire brewing in her belly. She’s ambitious, but she’s also careful. And when the heat finally lets loose, all bets are off.”

The face of the girl Weasel popped into his head. Peonies looked so delicate, so different from the Ginny he’d come to know, but she was feisty, and fiery, and fiercely protective of her family, her friends, her lover, Pansy.  It didn’t match in his head, but Draco could easily see the resilience the plant had.

“You, on the other hand, are very much like a snapdragon.”

Draco jerked his head towards Longbottom as Neville picked another pot off the ground. The plant growing in it stood tall, budding pink flowers crawling up it’s stalk.

“At first it appears beautiful, strong and confident.” Neville stroked the tip of the seedling’s buds gingerly. “Underneath, however, it’s concealing something. A truth. A desire.” He stared pointedly at Draco until he stood, placing the plant on a higher shelf. 

He considered the flower for a moment. Draco was raised to protect himself, to wear a mask. He thought he had worn it so well, but over the past few days he had felt the crack, the glue stretching as his world opened up. Could it be that his desires lay within those chips and gaps? 

Before he could delve into that thought, Neville gestured towards the creeping vine escaping out his back window. 

“Some plants need to be left alone.” He said, with a smile. “They need space to breathe, to explore. It takes them a long time to establish their roots, but once they take hold, they’re moored.” 

He then took a plant off the shelf, its branches overflowing. He whisked his wand in an arc, pruning it into a simple oval shape. “Others require the boundaries. They yearn for it, reach for it. They cling to it.”

He tucked his wand back into his pocket and then pulled another pot off his shelf. This one held a single daisy, the brightest yellow Draco had ever seen. It reminded him of springtime at the Manor, the sun warming his skin as he wandered through the gardens and fed the peacocks.

“Some need to be coaxed, need to be watched and tended and loved in order to grow.” Neville said, more to the beautiful flower than to Draco himself. “It’s my job, our job, to discover what makes something, someone grow.”

Draco nodded. He was starting to understand. Ingredients didn’t just come in plastic packages like he was used to at S&Js. They were grown somewhere, pulled from stalks, from creatures and the earth itself. Nothing was just made. It was cultivated.

“Coming to the club, yes?” Neville asked as he pierced a bag of mulch with his shovel and started divvying it between a row of plants. “I have a few things I want to show you.”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Draco responded. And he meant it.

---

He went home, and changed out of his robes. He wouldn’t admit to it out loud, but Draco knew he was spending more than his usual allotted grooming time doing what one could only consider ‘primping’. He showered, using all the potions he could utilise, before standing in front of his fog-cloaked mirror, using drying charms and styling spells until his hair lay flat, only the tiniest of curls at his neck. He tugged on his dark green jumper over a pair of dark denim jeans, bringing the whole thing together with black loafers, shined so brightly he could practically see his reflection in them.

Not that he was going anywhere special; just to the club, to Longbottom and the rest of his classmates. Potter included, of course, but none of this was for him. He just felt more confident when he looked his best. 

Finally, he ventured to the club at quarter to nine. Didn’t want to be late, that was all. The walk was familiar now, after his visits, and his unconscious run to the very lamppost that was guarding the entrance. He padded down the steps, the usual nervousness settling into his stomach. This time, however, it wasn’t as strong, less palpable in Draco’s fingers as he turned the final knob and entered the club.

The wixen at the front nodded at him as they would an old friend. He nodded in reply, before venturing down the hallway to the same training room they were in the night before. 

Draco didn’t hesitate opening the door, knowing what he would expect inside.

At least he thought. 

Four sets of eyes stared back at him as soon as he entered.

“Great! Class is all here!” Longbottom grinned widely at Draco walking through the door.

“All here?” Draco said abruptly. He saw Abbott, her hair up in a bun, and the older man with his beard in a grey curl around his chin. His eyes scanned the room, searching for the rest of the group, searching for-

“Yes!” Neville exclaimed. “Melody has decided to drop out, I have to admit, but I do think that’s for the best. And-”

“Potter.” Draco said, more question than statement. He wished he could bite back the word, so bitter on his tongue, but he couldn’t. “Where the fuck is Potter?”