Actions

Work Header

No Other Superstar

Work Text:


Title: No Other Superstar
To: [personal profile] curiouslyfic
Author: [personal profile] lettered
Pairing/Threesome: Harry/Draco
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: None
Story notes: title Lady Gaga 4 the lulz * fingering, anal sex, a blow job, dirty talk *
Word count: 20,000
Summary: Draco is sort of fucked up. Harry is sort of fucked up and really really famous. Together they fight crime! Not in this fic, though. In this fic they have sex.
Disclaimer: Characters are the property of JK Rowling, et al. This was created for fun, not for profit.
Author's Note: I really wanted to do that crack meta wing fic, but failed.


January

It all started when Annie Attleby cast a curse on Harry Potter.

Actually, it started before that: someone was terrorizing Slytherins from Harry’s year. Pansy Parkinson received death threats; Gregory Goyle was petrified and left for dead under a bridge. Nothing happened to Draco, but Narcissa Malfoy went missing for three days. That’s when Harry tracked down Annie Attleby, and he and Draco Malfoy held her at wand point.

“I’ve been fighting your enemies, Harry,” Annie Attleby told him. She was in her mid-thirties—strawberry blonde hair, sweet brown eyes. Harry would have said she was lovely, had he not despised her quite so thoroughly.

“Don’t trouble yourself,” he said.

“Potter likes to do his own fighting. He lives for it, really.” Malfoy looked bored. His mother lay unconscious under Mrs. Attleby’s wand.

“It’s no trouble at all,” Mrs. Attleby said.

Harry’s knuckles were white around his wand. “You’re under arrest.”

“Who?” said Mrs. Attleby, confused. “Me?”

Expelliarmus.” Harry pointed his wand, but the spell bounced right off Mrs. Attleby’s powerful shield.

She bit her lip. “I don’t understand.”

“It’s his favourite spell,” Malfoy said. “You mustn’t blame him. Just because he defeated the Dark Lord with it, he thinks it works on everyone.”

Mrs. Attleby ignored Malfoy completely. “Why would you want to arrest me?

Stupefy,” said Harry.

The stun spell also bounced off. Mrs. Attleby’s brow was furrowed; she seemed very upset, now. “I’ve been fighting your enemies! All those Death Eaters! Everyone who made fun of you in school.”

Malfoy stifled a yawn. “Try me on, for size.”

“Malfoy,” said Harry. When Malfoy got like this, he got dangerous. When Malfoy was dangerous, he put himself in danger. He just didn’t think, the git.

“You’ve had such a hard life.” Mrs. Attleby looked at Harry with big eyes. “Maybe you’ve forgotten all the rotten eggs that made your life so hard, but I haven’t. I know you, Harry.”

This was getting very bad, because Malfoy began to examine his nails. “Malfoy,” Harry said again, “don’t.”

“What?” said Malfoy, idly. “Sounds like we’ve got your biggest fan.”

“I’m not a fan,” said Mrs. Attleby. “I’m just a friend, Harry.”

The more apathetic Malfoy looked, the whiter Harry’s knuckles went. The problem was, Annie Attleby wasn’t his biggest fan. There had been Nancy, Sylvia, Jamuna, Rob, and Crystal. There had been Angeni, who still sent Harry creepy mail from Azkaban, and Drew, who decided to commit suicide on Harry’s birthday because Harry hadn’t wanted to be his boyfriend.

“I didn’t even know who you were ten minutes ago,” Harry said.

“But I know you,” Mrs. Attleby said again. “I know you so well. I know that we could be very best friends.”

“See?” said Malfoy. “Nothing to worry about.”

“I could never be friends with you.” Harry was looking for a weakness in Mrs. Attleby’s shield, refusing to look at Malfoy.

“But Harry,” said Mrs. Attleby, “we already are friends. Just look at all I’ve done for you. Don’t tell me you think he—”

Mrs. Attleby started to turn toward Malfoy, and Harry at last found the chink in the shield. As she turned, he leveled his wand, shouting, “Incarcerous!

Mrs. Attleby, however, whirled and countered.

Malfoy sometimes turned into a blur in which Harry mostly saw his hair. Even though his wand work was never near as strong as Harry’s, he was quick and extremely agile, which was the other half of the battle, really.

Malfoy was by Narcissa’s side in the space it took Mrs. Attleby to counter. In the space it took Harry to let fly an Impedimenta and another stunning spell, and Mrs. Attleby to counter with a shield charm and a hex in the Malfoys’ general direction, Malfoy had got Narcissa up and to the other side of the room.

Malfoy did not pause outside the apparition ward. He just left, Disapparating with his mother, a gust of dry air, and a pop!

His Disapparation—without a look back, a hesitation or a word—made something well up hard and fast within Harry, something that caught at his throat and made his eyes burn, even as it made his wand work that much quicker—cleaner, more precise, more efficient — and he slapped and then slid spell after spell against Annie Attleby’s strange and new shield.

“I don’t understand,” she said again. “I’ve fought so many of your enemies!”

“You’re my only enemy right now,” said Harry.

“Harry,” said Mrs. Attleby, “No. You think it’s different now, that it’s all changed. Nothing’s changed.”

“I have.”

“You think that Slytherin coward is your friend? That little worm who ran off at the first sign of danger?” She gestured in the direction Malfoy had taken.

Harry slid in another spell to weaken her shield. “If you’re such a great friend of mine, why should there be any sign of danger?”

“Because those people you think are your friends are not your friends.”

“I’m pretty sure my friends are who I say they are.”

Mrs. Attleby looked pained. “That’s your problem. You’re too trusting.”

“That was never my problem.”

“You’re an innocent.”

Harry found another hole in her armor. “That was never my problem either.”

“Do you really need to arrest me?” Mrs. Attleby bit her lip.

“Yes.”

Tears might actually be coming to her eyes. “Do you really think I’m your enemy?”

“Pretty much,” said Harry. Spells flew hot and heavy, and then the air went dry and popped again with a sound like static. Draco Malfoy walked back inside the anti-Apparition ward, and many things happened in quick succession.

“You better choose,” said Mrs. Attleby, and began to glow gold.

“Fuck,” Harry said, and cast the strongest shield he could at Malfoy.

Malfoy’s eyes widened as he turned slightly toward Harry, raising his wand.

Then there were words in another language that Harry didn’t know. They hit him in the chest, right against his heart, knocking him out cold.

*

When Harry came to, he was in St Mungo’s. Malfoy was on the other side of the room, half sitting on the window sill which was never made for sitting in the first place—thigh up and knee against the casement, flipping through a book. The light shone through the thin curtains he hadn’t bothered to draw all the way open, catching in his hair and sliding across his sharp face. A little frown was between his brows.

Harry licked his lips and swallowed. His mouth tasted like ashes, and the spot the curse had hit ached. “How’s your mum?”

Malfoy glanced up. “Better than you.”

“Is that saying very much?”

“She’s fine.” Malfoy went back to leafing through the book. He still wore the little frown.

Harry took stock. Other than the ache on his chest and the taste in his mouth, he felt fine. “What happened?”

Malfoy turned a page. “You were stupid.”

Harry rubbed his scar. It didn’t hurt. “Besides that?”

“That’s all, Potter.” Malfoy snapped the book shut, looked out of the window. “You can’t do that. You can’t—protect me.”

“I can shield who I want.”

“I can take care of myself.”

“I know—I just—”

Malfoy looked at him then, his voice cool. “You can take care of yourself as well.”

Harry knew it. It was not because it was his mother, who was so important to him—all he had left, really—that Malfoy had left Harry alone with Annie Attleby; it was because it was Harry he was leaving behind.

Another person—Parkinson, Goyle, Hermione and even one or two other Aurors—Malfoy might have felt an instinct to protect. Another person he would have hesitated to leave alone with Attleby. Another person he would not trust to ensure his eventual revenge. Another person Malfoy would resent more, because another person would have caused him to lose a single moment in seeing to his mother’s safety, and Harry had cost him none.

Harry, Malfoy trusted. Harry, Malfoy did not protect because Malfoy knew that Harry could do what needed to be done.

“Come off it,” said Harry. “You’d shield me if I needed it.” He was so tired of people trying to choose his friends for him.

“Harry,” Malfoy began, and stopped. He slid off the sill, putting down the book. He came over to the bed. “Let me see.”

“What?” said Harry, and looked down. For the first time he noticed the bandage on his chest.

Then he noticed Malfoy’s deft hand untaping the enchanted gauze, Malfoy’s fingers tracing the strange symbol that had been burned underneath. So it really was a curse; the words Harry had heard before he lost consciousness had left yet another mark on him. Malfoy’s fingers were cool and gentle and light.

“Where are the Healers?” Harry asked, to distract himself.

“They’re due again soon.” Malfoy’s voice was cool and gentle and light, too.

“How long was I out?”

“Seven hours.”

It didn’t feel like that long. It didn’t feel like any time at all. “How long have you been sitting at that window?”

“It’s gone black,” said Malfoy, and pressed the tape back.

“What’s gone black?” Harry said, less because he was interested and more because Malfoy wasn’t touching him any more, so there wasn’t much to do besides pay attention.

“That mark. It was gold before.”

Harry frowned down at his chest. “What do you suppose it is?”

Malfoy hitched a shoulder. “I’ve no idea. Doubtless you need further decorating.” He started to move away.

Harry caught his wrist. “Hey.”

“Scars are very attractive.” In a twist Harry didn’t quite understand, Malfoy managed to extricate his arm from Harry’s grasp. “Maybe girls will want you, now you’re scuffed up.”

“I don’t want girls,” said Harry, because he often fell into Malfoy’s traps.

Malfoy flashed a smile, and that was distracting too—less because it was attractive like scars, and more because it was pretty and sweet and white. Malfoy only smiled pretty to make people comfortable, and if he was trying to make anyone comfortable, he was lying or hiding something. If he was lying or hiding something, Harry had to tell himself it was not attractive, even though he was attracted.

“I know,” said Malfoy. “You never knew what to do with power.”

Harry didn’t say what he did want, instead of girls. Instead he said, “It wasn’t your fault, Malfoy.”

Malfoy turned away, only giving Harry his face in profile. “I don’t know what she did to you.”

“It’s just another scar,” said Harry, because it was true: he did have a lot.

“No.” Malfoy’s jaw clenched. “She did something to you.”

Harry put his hand on his chest. It still hurt, but everything else felt fine. “How do you know?”

Malfoy’s jaw ticked again. “You saw her glow. That was a lot of power—more than just a seven hour Stupefy. I didn’t understand the words she said. And I can’t interpret the symbol on your chest.”

“There’s a symbol?” Harry peered down with interest.

“You might as well be parchment.” The wry amusement in his tone counted for fondness; Harry knew that, even though Malfoy wasn’t happy about him getting written on.

Beneath his bandage, the black mark over Harry’s chest was three strokes. The one in the middle was longest; the ones on either side were of an even size. Combined they licked up, rounded and untethered at the bottom. The mark was less like a burn scar, and more like a tattoo very carefully drawn against his skin. “It’s like a flame,” said Harry.

“Trust you to read pictures.” That was also fond.

Harry shrugged. “Went to school for something.”

“I thought that was for breaking rules.”

Harry shrugged again. “Couldn’t let Slytherin win that House Cup.”

Malfoy smiled, not because that was all over now and he didn’t care, but because it was a hit, a palpable hit, and Malfoy was always surprised and vaguely pleased when someone could match him barb for barb in conversation. “Put your shirt on, Potter. You don’t want to get mobbed now, do you?”

Harry winced. “Is it . . . very bad?”

He didn’t have to tell Malfoy what he was talking about. “No more than last time.”

“Last time there was a candle-lit vigil outside the hospital,” Harry pointed out. “There were banners and flowers and I got sent fifty-six Howlers begging me to quit my job, and sixteen different flavours of pie.”

Malfoy hitched a shoulder. “Maybe you should stop getting hurt, if you dislike pie so much.”

“Maybe I should get a private Healer.”

“I won’t fix you up, if that’s what you’re asking.” Malfoy tilted his head. “I did try to vet the staff, this time. They should be Healers who are very over how famous you are. I’m sorry if a crazy nurse or two still slips through.”

“Thanks.”

“I am president of the anti-Potter club. Deconstructing your fans is really part of my job description.”

“There’s an anti-Potter club?” Harry said. “And what do you mean, ‘deconstructing’?”

“I didn’t kill them all. That would violate Rule Eighteen.” At Harry’s raised brow, Malfoy gave him a crooked grin. “’Never do anything Potter would thank you for’,” he said.

“And it sounded like such a nice club, in the beginning.” Harry sighed, reaching for his shirt. Putting it on would require some effort, considering the pain on his chest, but Malfoy made no move to help. After a little struggle, Harry got it on. “I’m impressed you kept them off this long.”

Malfoy quirked a brow. “Are you?”

Harry gave him a considering look, eyes roaming all over. “Yeah,” he said. “I am.”

Malfoy moved closer—there was definitely a swagger in his step. “You don’t think I’m capable of—” Abruptly, he paused.

They both heard it.

Harry smirked. “See what I mean?”

Malfoy cocked his head. “That’s got to be an entire fleet of nurses.”

“What makes you so sure it’s nurses?”

“Way their shoes squeak.” Malfoy blinked. “Don’t tell me you never check out nurse shoes. Besides, they’re not going to let the fans in to St Mungo’s. Not after the threats I made.”

“What threats did you—?” Harry began, but then the door opened, and Malfoy was right: it was a fleet of nurses, in pristine white with their square white hats, and very smart white shoes.

“Mister Potter, you’re awake!” declared a nurse, who might as well have clasped his hands and fluttered his eyelashes.

“My, my, that’s my cue,” said Malfoy.

Harry panicked. “Don’t leave me.”

“I’m so glad you’re okay,” said another nurse.

“I hear love is very healing, Harry.” Malfoy’s warm, amused voice washed over him and then he was gone, only noticed by two of the nurses, who gave him wide berth.

“What would the world do without you?” asked another nurse, who was tearfully dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief.

Harry resigned himself to being healed by love. He really would have rather it had been by Draco Malfoy.

*

Malfoy only reappeared three hours later, when Harry was officially released. “Now that you’re completely healed,” Malfoy said.

There was no hint of sarcasm in his tone, but Harry knew him too well. For one thing, he got bitchy when he got tired, and Malfoy must have been up for at least twenty hours straight. There were smudges under his eyes, and his mouth was starting to look pinched. “I feel fine,” Harry said.

“Then obviously you deserve a clean bill of health.”

“The Healers said nothing is wrong.”

Malfoy didn’t say anything for a while, as all the nurses wanted autographs, and most of the hospital staff got in line to pump Harry’s hand vigorously, and they dealt with a crazy fan from the mob outside who’d broken ranks and actually made it past reception. Once they were able to get away to the stretch of corridor before exiting into the sea of Harry’s well-wishers awaiting outside the door, Malfoy said, “They still don’t know what that woman did to you.”

Harry shrugged. “Maybe she didn’t do anything.”

“Please stop being stubborn.”

Harry thought about asking who the stubborn person was, but Malfoy sounded neither sarcastic nor pleading. He still wasn’t looking at Harry. “Okay,” he finally said. “I’ll look into it.”

“Let me know if anything changes,” said Malfoy, which meant it didn’t matter if Harry was looking into it or not—Malfoy was looking into it, and Malfoy was infinitely more thorough than Harry when it came to research.

Then they had to go outside and make a swift get-away before everyone got so glad to see Harry was well that they did enough damage to put Harry back into hospital.

*

February

Nothing changed, except that Narcissa Malfoy suffered no lasting injury, Harry got half as many Howlers but twice as many get-well cards—numbering in the hundreds—and Smyth Clemens got a little fresh. The Valentines were about the same as ever. Hermione had once calculated that the number of them was roughly equivalent to number of Valentines delivered in the entire American state of Texas.

Smyth had had a crush ever since he started with the Aurors. Lots of people had crushes on Harry, but the ones who’d had them in the Auror office had mostly got over it. Smyth was still relatively new. After the incident with Annie Attleby maybe he decided he was next in line for biggest fan.

“It must be difficult, having so many people worship you,” Smyth said, sidling up beside Harry in the lounge.

Harry didn’t really know what to say, so he just went on pouring coffee.

“Doing terrible things in your name,” Smyth went on, “all because they think they know you? Think they love you? As if you even knew Annie Attleby existed.”

Harry reached for cream. Smyth moved smoothly in closer. “It’s okay, Harry. We know who your real friends are.”

“It’s a good thing he has a partner,” came a lazy voice, drifting from the doorway.

Harry could never decide when he was more grateful to hear Malfoy’s voice, whether it was right at that moment when everything had gone pear-shaped and Malfoy said, “I have a plan,” or whether it was when Malfoy saved him from an awkward situation. Harry poured the cream into his coffee.

Smyth was either too young to hold a grudge against Malfoy for being Malfoy, or too canny to ruin his chances with the Boy Who Lived by insulting someone Harry so obviously liked. “Yeah,” said Smyth. “We’re all behind Harry, aren’t we?”

Or maybe Smyth was just ridiculously earnest and really did have Harry’s best interests at heart. Sometimes those kinds of fans were the worst.

“Of course we are,” said Malfoy.

The silence went on for long enough that Harry knew Malfoy was doing something awful, so he finally turned around.

Malfoy was doing something awful: he was smiling that sweet, wonderful smile that was such a perfect lie, the one that made him briefly look beautiful, and Smyth was catching his breath, momentarily surprised. Harry sipped his coffee.

“Isn’t that what Aurors are for?” Malfoy went on. “To protect people we care about?”

“Well,” said Smyth. “And other people.”

“Oh, them.” Malfoy’s smile grew crooked, but it was all so wink-wink and warm that no doubt Smyth thought it was some good joke. Malfoy hitched a shoulder. “If you say so.”

Smyth laughed; Malfoy brightened; Harry made good his exit.

He didn’t bother to thank Malfoy. Even if Malfoy didn’t like how Harry had tried to save him from Annie Attleby, the two of them saved each other’s arses so often that the back-and-forth was second nature by now. Harry almost forgot about it, except for the way Smyth gradually moved away from the traditional litany of, “I understand you like no one else understands you” and “No, really, we have so much in common,” and into, “What’s Malfoy’s favourite pub?” and, “Is Draco a poof?”

“No,” said Harry. “He’s not.”

“But you’re gay,” said Smyth.

“Yes,” said Harry. “I am.”

“And he’s not.”

“No.”

“But he’s your partner.”

Harry really didn’t know how to get the guy to shut up. “Yes.”

Smyth apparently had to think about that for a while. “Have you ever got a hint that he might—”

“No,” said Harry.

“Why not?”

“He doesn’t with anyone.”

Smyth frowned. “What do you mean he—”

“He doesn’t,” said Harry emphatically, then added, “Don’t touch him.”

“That’s so interesting.” Smyth looked dreamy.

Later that day, while he was reviewing a case with Malfoy, Harry nodded over at Smyth, who was sitting with his chin in his hands, staring at Malfoy. “That’s becoming a problem,” Harry said.

Malfoy craned his neck, giving Harry a long view of his throat, from which Harry looked away. “What? Smyth?”

“Yes.”

Malfoy glanced at Harry. “I thought it was over with.”

“I don’t mean a problem for me,” said Harry.

Malfoy’s brow furrowed. “What do you mean?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Him following you around like a little dog on a leash.”

“Are you jealous?” Malfoy seemed amused. He wasn’t asking if Harry wanted him; he was asking if he wanted Smyth.

Harry didn’t want Smyth. “There might as well be drool on you right now.”

For a moment Malfoy seemed nonplussed; then he smiled, at the same time shaking his head. “He’s not in love with me, if that’s what you’re saying.”

“I’m not saying he’s in love with you. I’m saying he wants you.”

Still smiling incredulously, Malfoy shook his head again. “I’m charming, but I’m not that charming.”

Harry wanted to punch him in the face. That he could so consciously woo Smyth that day in the lounge, and yet remain so utterly unconscious that he had succeeded, seemed impossible. That Malfoy wasn’t aware of the effect he could have, that he did have, made everything that much more difficult. It would help for Harry to be able to blame Malfoy for the way he felt.

Instead of punching Malfoy’s face, though, Harry scowled and suffered through the werewolf cult reports, and suffered through Smyth making doe eyes at Malfoy. He suffered through going to the pub with Malfoy, which was something they often did these days after work.

It wasn’t Malfoy’s favourite pub, because Malfoy’s favourite pub wasn’t Malfoy’s favourite pub any more. Harry couldn’t go there without getting mobbed, and Malfoy had stopped liking it around the time he found that out. Instead they went to a Muggle pub, where Malfoy bitched about the service and the atmosphere and the other customers, and Harry suffered through this bitching, and also suffered through Malfoy being clever and witty and brilliant and completely emotionally and physically inaccessible.

It wasn’t that Harry had never told Malfoy how he felt. They’d only been partners six months before Harry realized it was beginning to be a problem—how the fuck that had happened, when it was Draco fucking Malfoy, who was never supposed to be an Auror anyway, remained a mystery. Harry had finally told him, by way of clumsily asking Malfoy out.

Malfoy had seemed amused. “You want drinks,” he had said, not really seeming to believe it.

“With you,” Harry clarified.

“I,” said Malfoy. “Why?”

Harry had wanted to punch him then, too. “I want,” his hands were sweaty, “I want to date you.

“Oh,” said Malfoy. “I’m not gay.”

Harry’s hands were even sweatier. “Is that no?”

Malfoy wore a curious expression. “Yes, that’s a no.”

Harry just looked at him, feeling stupid. Malfoy wasn’t going away and he didn’t seem distressed or in the least bit sorry. Harry couldn’t really remember the last time someone hadn’t given him exactly what he wanted; it made him want Malfoy that much more. “I like you.”

“I like you too, Harry.” Malfoy smiled wryly. “I admit, I didn’t expect it.”

“No,” said Harry. “I meant . . .” He realized he’d already said what he meant: that he liked him; he wanted to date him; what was he supposed to tell him—that he wanted to fuck him? Malfoy could be so obtuse. “I meant I want you.”

Malfoy looked curious again. “Is it going to be a problem?”

Harry hadn’t really thought about what would happen if Malfoy said no. “You mean, because of work?”

Looking at him strangely, Malfoy said somewhat hesitantly, “Yes—will it be a problem for you to work with me, is what I mean.”

Harry wanted to wipe his hands somewhere. Instead, he clenched them into fists. “I still want to be partners.” Momentarily, Harry felt horror-struck. “Is it going to be a problem for—”

Malfoy spoke over him, obviously wanting this awkward conversation to be over with as quickly as possible. “I’m alright with it.”

“Even though I—”

“If it isn’t a problem for you, it isn’t for me.” For a moment Malfoy seemed as though he was going to say more, but then he didn’t.

“Okay,” said Harry.

“I’m glad. I like working with you, Harry,” Malfoy had said, and then he’d gone away, leaving Harry to wonder whether that was some kind of lie, because it sounded like the most genuine thing Malfoy had ever said.

That wasn’t the end, either. Maybe it should’ve been, but when more than a year had gone by working with Malfoy, it started to feel wrong to Harry not to say something about feeling this way. Maybe Malfoy thought he’d forgot it, or got over it, or something like that, when if anything, it had got worse.

Harry thought he should let Malfoy know that it wasn’t going away, at any rate. He wasn’t the type to flirt really, or casually let things drop—which was why one day after they’d bagged a dark wizard, and Malfoy had a bruise blossoming on one cheek and meanwhile was looking eminently pleased with himself, Harry said, “I haven’t stopped wanting you.”

“I—what?” Malfoy stopped looking so pleased, but Harry didn’t really care.

“Last year, when I asked you out. I haven’t stopped wanting to.”

Malfoy turned so he was only giving Harry his profile, the unbruised side. “Are you asking me again?”

Harry thought about that. “I would if I thought you would say yes.”

Malfoy’s jaw tightened. “I wouldn’t.”

“Is it,” Harry said, “because you’re not gay?”

“That would be a good reason, wouldn’t it?”

“Is it?”

Malfoy glanced down; his blond lashes glinted. Harry remembered that day well; they had been standing in the sun, and the other Aurors were dealing with taking the wizard into custody. He and Malfoy were supposed to be Obliviating by-standers, but instead Harry had got distracted by that shade of violet on Malfoy’s face, and he just couldn’t keep his damn mouth shut.

“My family disapproves, of course,” Malfoy said finally.

Harry sucked in a breath. “Malfoy, are you—”

Meeting Harry’s eyes, Malfoy cut him off. “I’m not gay.”

Trying to find some sort of explanation on his features, Harry couldn’t read anything. Malfoy was just a blank, empty and cool and rather beautiful in ways he shouldn’t be, because Harry had never noticed it before and he was sure that other people didn’t, either. “You never go out with other people,” Harry said finally.

“Harry, do you think because I won’t date you I refuse to date other people?” Malfoy smiled then, a pretty thing. “Aren’t we a trifle arrogant?”

Harry remained stubborn. “I’ve never seen you date other people.”

“Been watching me, Potter?” Malfoy’s voice was lazy.

Yes.”

“Hmm,” Malfoy murmured. “Don’t.”

Harry looked at him again, and for the first time it occurred to him that he might be willing to beg. That’d be new for all of them—Harry Potter begging Draco Malfoy—but the worst part was, even if it did get him a date, it wouldn’t get him what he really wanted.

So he wasn’t going to beg. But Harry had got into this mess because he thought Malfoy should know how he felt, because he didn’t feel comfortable around Malfoy with Malfoy just not knowing, so Harry was going to damn well say what he felt. “Malfoy,” he said, his voice going rough. “Draco. I can’t stop. I’ve tried—and I can’t; I—”

Malfoy’s hand circled his wrist, suddenly light and cool. “Let’s not say anything we’ll regret.”

Heat rushed up Harry’s arm where Malfoy touched him; Harry could feel it in his heart, pounding hard. His eyes felt hot. “I’m not going to regret it.”

Malfoy seemed surprised. “Oh. Well—then do go on.” He took his hand away.

“I can’t stop wanting to be with you. I might not ever stop.”

Malfoy angled his face away so that mostly Harry could see the tilt of his jaw and his bright hair, which looked whiter in the sunlight. Light filtered through Malfoy’s white shirt and Harry could see the outline of his body, and for a moment, he almost did regret it. Now that Malfoy knew, he would always have that hand above Harry; he could use it against him and didn’t that make Harry just pathetic.

Malfoy looked back, and said, “Harry.” The small, uncontrolled movement of his hand by his thigh revealed far more than his words ever could. “Thank you. That means a lot to me.”

“Yeah,” said Harry.

“No one has ever said anything like that to me before,” said Malfoy.

Maybe because you’re a cold fucking bastard, was Harry’s first, wild thought, and then he saw that Malfoy’s hand was still twitching.

“I have a feeling you’re going to take what I’m about to say in the absolute worst way possible,” Malfoy said. He paused thoughtfully. “I haven’t wanted anyone since sixth year.”

Harry’s eyes slid down Malfoy’s body.

After a moment, Malfoy said, “That would be taking it in the most predictable way possible.” His voice was warm, and sounded amused. “Eyes up, Harry.”

Startled, Harry met his eyes.

“What you’re thinking would be easier, in some ways,” Malfoy said gesturing vaguely, “but it’s not so . . . clean-cut. I never really thought about boys in a sexual way before.” Malfoy gave a fluid shrug. “But I haven’t thought of girls that way either in six years, so maybe that makes me . . . neither.”

Harry couldn’t really process that. “Not at all? Since sixth year?”

Malfoy still looked amused. “Not so I would notice.”

“Malfoy.” Harry’s voice scratched his throat, and he didn’t know what else to say. “What . . . ?”

“You mustn’t think—you mustn’t think anything wild, Harry. No one touched me. Nothing like that happened.”

“But the other Death Eaters,” Harry began.

“No,” said Malfoy. “No. I’m just like this, and I wonder if you’ll—” He cut himself off suddenly, shaking his head.

“If I’ll what?” Harry asked.

Malfoy swallowed hard, and his hand twitched. “If we can just be friends.” Into the ensuing silence, he said, “I always wanted one like you.”

Fuck you, Harry wanted to say, because somehow hearing that Malfoy wasn’t attracted to anyone at all just made Harry want him more.

As he watched, Malfoy’s jaw set more firmly, his brow smoothed, his eyes seeming to clear. They were little things, but Harry saw them, and knew they meant Malfoy was drawing away. Malfoy had learned so much control since Hogwarts; it was part of what made Harry want him, because he knew what that control was and what it contained.

This was the way you put yourself together again after the things they’d been through; this was the way that Hermione threw herself into everything so hard—because she could, and because if she didn’t, she’d be left to nightmares. This was the way that Ron was just so easy-going, because if he wasn’t he’d care too goddamn much and not be able to stop himself from fight or flight. This was the way Harry was so damn good at his fucking job because he didn’t want to think about anything else besides making all the bad things stop, making them stop and stop and stop.

“Don’t,” said Harry roughly. He grabbed Malfoy’s wrist, his grip neither light nor cool at all. “I’ll do what the hell ever. Just don’t.”

Malfoy grimaced, trying and failing to free his wrist. “A ringing declaration of friendship, if ever there was one,” he said, but his voice lacked the bitchy malice to which Harry was so accustomed.

“Good,” said Harry, and then for some reason lost all control. “Let me kiss you. Just once, and I won’t ask again.”

“That’s a dirty lie,” Malfoy said lightly, because it was. He looked away, and it was so warm there in the sunlight, and the pulse in Malfoy’s throat was visible, like the flutter of something trapped and delicate, there just under skin. Malfoy swallowed. “I would really rather you didn’t, Harry.”

“Yeah.” Harry let go and gave him space.

Absently, Malfoy rubbed his wrist. “I understand if you would like to put in a request for a new partner.”

That really would be better, Harry knew, but all he said was, “Do you want me to?”

“No,” said Malfoy.

“Then I won’t.”

A tension Harry hadn’t seen was there suddenly released in Malfoy, as though a switched had been flipped. “Thank you.” Malfoy let out a breath. “God, thank you.”

Everything was so confusing and disappointing and completely cockblocking that Harry didn’t know where he even found it in himself to smirk, but he did, because Draco Malfoy was thanking God he was his partner. “Like me, do you?”

“Heaven forbid.” Malfoy had earned back his equilibrium. “I merely wish to preserve the other Aurors from my own fate.”

Harry was politely curious. “You care about the other Aurors?”

“I am the righteous one of this partnership.” Malfoy put his nose up.

Harry snorted. “Must have slipped my mind.”

Malfoy smiled at him, his crooked, fond smile that Harry was beginning to think just might be real. There were times when he also thought it could mean that Malfoy shared his feelings, but that wasn’t it at all. It meant that he was Malfoy’s friend, and sometimes he thought that that might be somehow even more awesome.

Most of the time it sucked, though, thought Harry. He sipped his beer at the Muggle pub, thinking vaguely angry thoughts about Smyth, and how if he couldn’t put his hands on Malfoy that meant no one else damn well better, and about how those weren’t thoughts a nice caring friend should think. Those were things you thought if you were really only nicely caring about getting into your best friend’s pants.

Maybe Malfoy wouldn’t mind Harry thinking as much about it as he really did, except that Harry minded. He minded a lot, because he thought that it wasn’t what Malfoy needed, and he liked being what Malfoy needed. He liked helping Malfoy put himself together, without that cool, expressionless mask slipping into place, without that hard, tight control that kept everything in check. He liked helping Malfoy recover from what they’d been through by laughing and kicking arse, mainly.

It wasn’t really what Harry needed, but he’d never done what he needed anyway. He was supposed to save the world, wasn’t he? And anyway, this was the best way to be close to Malfoy and the way Malfoy moved and the things Malfoy said and the way Malfoy laughed, so Harry sipped his beer, and suffered through it.

*

March

Over the next several weeks, Harry noticed Malfoy beginning to wear thin. His hair seemed somehow less shiny, and there were circles under his eyes. He used charms to hide them, but Harry could tell. He wondered whether Malfoy had finally noticed Smyth and whether being stalked was taking its toll.

Harry probably should have been grateful—one less crazy fan, the better, but if the loss came at the expense of pretty much one of the only friends Harry had who treated him like a normal person, he guessed it wasn’t worth it.

Most people did not pity Harry, being loved and wanted by everyone. Ron and Hermione pitied him, which was as hard sometimes as all the rest. Only Malfoy pitied him and rarely showed it, because it was yet another emotion Harry had never earned himself, only gained on merit of being so very fucking famous.

While Harry had pretty much been a mainstay in The Daily Prophet from the age of eleven, and in the public wizarding mind even before that, the flash mobs hadn’t really started until after the war. There had been difficulties in sixth year—Romilda Vane came to mind—but during seventh Harry had been in hiding, so it’d been a little difficult for people to stalk him demanding his autograph.

After the war there had been the trials, and of course reporters followed him, snapping photos, but that was nothing Colin Creevy hadn’t done; few of them were really as insidious as Rita Skeeter. But then Harry had begun Auror training, and the reporting and flashing photos hadn’t stopped. At first, there were just some people lingering outside the training facility in the morning, waiting to ask for an autograph or photograph or some sort of sound bite. But then he’d come out in the evening and there were more of them—some of them the same people who had waited all day just to see him again.

When Malfoy started basic training one year after Harry had begun it, it made quite a splash in the wizarding press, not because everyone was so interested in Malfoy, but because everyone was interested in Harry’s reaction to it. “How does it feel to be training with your enemy?”

“How does it feel that your arch enemy wants to be an Auror?”

“Harry Potter. Death Eaters killed your parents. How does it feel to be working with one?”

“Harry Potter, when Draco Malfoy becomes an Auror, will dark wizards still be Enemy Number One? How do you feel?”

“Harry Potter, how do you feel?”

“You might have felt something about it if everyone hadn’t made such a big deal about it,” Hermione told him, when Harry admitted to feeling mostly nothing.

Maybe she was right. Talking to Ron, Harry could vaguely imagine resenting it. He could imagine stalking up to Malfoy and demanding to know what the fuck he was thinking, becoming an Auror to hunt down dark wizards, when he had been one himself. He could imagine demanding to see Malfoy’s arm, to find out whether he had been a Death Eater after all. He could imagine kicking up such a fuss that Gawain Robards and whoever else had decided it was a good idea to let Draco Malfoy be an Auror recanted their decision, and made it so that the best job any of the Malfoys could ever get was collecting rubbish and sweeping streets.

However, pretty much being assaulted every day by people’s horror that Draco Malfoy had been let into the Aurors sort of cooled most of Harry’s resentment. He got pretty tired of people asking, actually. Malfoy had never been his arch enemy. Malfoy had never been his rival. He was just some little snot who got in the way a lot, and really, everyone making such a big deal out of it gave him more attention than he deserved.

Harry watched Malfoy at training sometimes, and he didn’t even look like the little self-righteous prick he had been. He just looked like a bloke—sort of scrawny, actually, though he was tall. He sucked at all the strength bouts, but he was the best at all the agility tests. Scrappy, actually, that was the word, and why so many reporters and crazy people and fans getting their shorts so much in a twist over this pasty whip of a man—who usually went down on the second spell, but came back up and stuck to it more like a rat terrier than anything else—why people were in such a bother over him was a mystery.

Harry kept on watching him, the way that Malfoy was a sneaky little fuck, the way that Malfoy wasn’t afraid to cast to someone’s back. He watched the way Malfoy built his control, going blank in the face of the reporters and letting loose on every training; he watched the way Malfoy toned up, getting sleeker and sharper—less weasely and more starving wolfish, somehow. He’d make a good Auror, Harry thought. People should just shut the fuck up about it.

Eventually they sort of did, but the damage had been done. Now that the wizarding world had got its taste of Harry Potter drama, first time since the war, it just wanted more. From there, the next infamous scandal was Harry’s secret romance with Hermione along with his jealous best friend Ron, and then Harry came out and there was Harry’s secret romance with Ron, along with his jealous best friend Hermione.

Harry made the Aurors, which was nearly cause for a public Gringotts holiday, except the goblins didn’t see what the big fuss was; then Harry saved a Muggleborn child from a former Death Eater and the press went wild. After that there were many cover stories in Witch Weekly about Harry Potter and his job, including the fact that he might be a secret spy, a story which surfaced when Harry saved a Pureblood from a Muggleborn wizard who had lost his family during the war.

There was also press about Ginny Weasley’s broken heart, and Harry’s broken heart when she married Dean Thomas, because he was either secretly-not-gay and desperately in love with Ginny, or desperately-still-gay but secretly in love with Dean, depending on which publications you favoured.

Going anywhere got fairly difficult for Harry, and being followed around by reporters and photographers and whoever else made it hard to do his job. He spent a lot of time Polyjuiced and under Disillusionments, and the few places he frequented were either Muggle or places like the Auror office, where everyone had pretty much got over it—except for Smyth.

Smyth, however, had recently switched to Draco Malfoy, and Harry didn’t like it. For one thing, Smyth was grabby. He wasn’t overt about it, just brushed up against Malfoy in the corridors, brushed Malfoy’s hand when they both reached for something. He purposely put himself in the places Malfoy would be and purposely engineered situations in which their touches could be accidental.

Another thing Harry didn’t like was that Smyth didn’t know about Malfoy. If he had known about Malfoy, he wouldn’t be touching him so much. It wasn’t that Malfoy hated casual touching, or anything like that; Malfoy didn’t like sexual touching.

Harry didn’t know if it was because Malfoy didn’t have sex. Harry didn’t care, actually. He just knew that once a wizard they were hunting had flirted with him, thrusting his hips toward Malfoy and squeezing his arse, and Malfoy had gone white and furious and cast a spell he shouldn’t have. Harry knew that a woman had tried to pick Malfoy up in a bar once and laid her hand on his thigh, and Malfoy had jerked violently away, his hand on the woman’s wrist, for a moment looking as though he might break it, before he dropped it and walked away.

And Harry knew that though Parkinson hugged him and touched Malfoy all the time, once she had got a distant, dreamy look in her eyes, said something about a “might have been,” and brushed her thumb over his lips. Malfoy’s whole face had gone stark and forbidding. He’d left the party and Harry had come after him, and the drawn, tight line of his narrow shoulders had made Harry want to touch him too. “Don’t,” Malfoy had said.

“I’m not doing anything,” Harry had said, even though this had happened just three weeks after the second time he’d told Malfoy how much he wanted him.

“Good,” said Malfoy. “Don’t.”

“I won’t,” said Harry.

Malfoy nodded. “I’m going to get a Snitch, and some brooms.” He had turned to him then, and his eyes had been silver-bright in the deeply violet night. “Will you fly with me?”

Harry caught his breath. “Yes.”

“Good,” Malfoy said again. “I need to—I just need to.”

“Okay,” Harry had said, and they did, darting across that darkness with that flash of gold always between them. Harry flew for it as though there was something more than pure adrenalin riding on it, chasing it, reaching for it. When he caught it, something still seemed beyond his grasp.

Malfoy had been red-cheeked and exhausted; out of breath, he looked like sex. Harry had met his eyes. Malfoy had just quirked a weary smile at him, said, “Again?”

And they had gone again.

Smyth, Harry thought, didn’t know that Malfoy didn’t like to be touched, and Malfoy didn’t know that Smyth liked touching him. Somehow, that was the worst part of it. If Harry mentioned the problem of Smyth at all to Malfoy, he gave him a disbelieving little smile and shrugged. Harry was fine with Malfoy not being attracted to anyone. Honestly, he was fine. But that Malfoy didn’t realize that he was attractive, that people were attracted to him—for some reason it drove Harry up the wall.

Maybe that was why Harry followed Smyth down into the Records Hall, where only thousands of musty scrolls could hear them, and the light was dim.

“Hello, Harry,” Smyth said, sounding surprised and delighted. “I didn’t know you needed something down here. We could have come together.”

“I don’t need something,” Harry said. “Malfoy’s not into you.”

Smyth had been drawing a scroll out of the stack on the shelf beside him; now he faltered. “What?”

“You should give it up,” Harry said. “He’s not into you.”

Smyth just looked at Harry in shock. “I don’t know what you—”

“I’ve seen you looking.”

“I’m just looking,” said Smyth.

“Well,” said Harry, “don’t.”

Smyth swallowed, his Adam’s apple jerking hard. “Have you ever tried to stop wanting someone?”

The dim light flickered. “Yes,” was all Harry said.

Smyth tilted his head. He was well-built, honey-coloured hair, gold-coloured freckles. With his pretty hazel eyes and his shapely pink mouth, he really should have had his pick of anyone, if everything had merely come down to beauty. He licked his lips. “Who was it?”

“It doesn’t matter,” said Harry. “I just think you shouldn’t—well, you shouldn’t. He’s not ever going to want you, and you should—you should be with other people.”

Smyth blinked his pretty lashes, his gaze drifting down. “Such as who?”

“Other people,” Harry said stoically.

“You say that Draco doesn’t—” in the pause, Smyth didn’t say what Malfoy did or didn’t do—“with anyone. Do you?”

The light flickered again, and Harry looked at Smyth, his broad shoulders, narrow hips, and pretty fucking mouth. He thought of Malfoy, who had thin lips, who looked rather worn these days and frayed about the edges. He thought of Malfoy and the cool, gentle way he sometimes spoke; the way that Malfoy was sometimes simply quiet, which made Harry think they understood each other. Their pasts collided violently, and yet for all the screaming mobs and fighting crime, there was a sort of peace in their present.

Sometimes Malfoy didn’t even need to say anything to make a point, share a joke, convey his disdain or joy or ironic amusement; sometimes he simply slid Harry a smile, raised his brow, hitched a shoulder. Harry thought of the way Malfoy’s eyes could go so warm and soft, and of the way he could be so hard and cold. He thought of Malfoy’s voice when it was short and sharp, of Malfoy’s throat, pale and gold and tilted back; he thought of how Malfoy must look in the throes of orgasm, and said, “Yes.”

“I never get what I want,” said Smyth, and Harry had never noticed until then that Smyth could be as bitchy as Malfoy, if he wanted.

Harry’s voice was harsh. “Neither do I.”

Smyth looked at him disbelievingly. “Are you kidding? You could have anything you wanted. Honestly. You don’t even have to lift a finger and people will—”

Harry never found out what people would do for him if he lifted a finger. He was kissing Smyth, and Smyth was making a muffled sound as he was slammed up against the shelves in the records room. Harry pulled away, and Smyth kissed him back.

“Wasn’t that what you wanted?” Harry asked.

Smyth looked dazed. “I used to.”

Harry moved his hips, a long lazy roll that had Smyth’s sweet fucking mouth sagging open. “Don’t you still?”

“I,” Smyth caught his breath, “yes.”

A noise came from what sounded like several aisles down, and Harry and Smyth both froze. The light flickered, and Harry whispered in the shell of Smyth’s ear, “Tonight.” Smyth nodded, touched his puffy, full mouth, and looked at Harry. “Go on,” said Harry, and Smyth went.

Then Harry walked down the aisle, somehow already knowing what he would find.

Three aisles down Malfoy was poring over scrolls spread out all around him. One of them was a large one with brass handles—it looked heavy; that was what must have made the sound. “What are you doing?” said Harry.

Malfoy looked up in surprise. “I didn’t know you were down here.” He frowned. “Aren’t you allergic to the smell of so much scholarship?”

“I cope,” said Harry. “What are you doing?”

The frown knit between Malfoy’s brows didn’t go away. “I’m working on a case.”

Harry leaned up against the shelves, watching Malfoy faff about on the floor for a little while. The little lines in Malfoy’s forehead and the slight pucker to his lips as he concentrated made Harry shove his hands in his pockets. He couldn’t figure out whether he wished Smyth was still here instead of Malfoy, or whether he wished Smyth had never been here, so he stopped thinking of Smyth altogether. “You may remember we’re partners,” Harry said at last.

Malfoy looked up, seeming a little surprised he was still there. Maybe he was just impressed Harry could be that quiet. “Is that why my life’s a misery?” Malfoy said, quirking a brow.

“What case?” said Harry.

Malfoy frowned again, looking back down at the scroll spread out on his lap. “It’s an old one. I’m just checking up.”

“Which one?” Harry thought he was being very patient.

Sighing, Malfoy started rolling up the scroll. “I guess it’s just as well you’re here,” he said, and stood up. “Lift up your shirt.”

“I could have found a better place for you to molest me,” Harry pointed out.

“Pull it up,” said Malfoy.

Harry might have made another joke about shirt-lifting, but Malfoy was wearing his little frown and looking intently at Harry’s chest, and Harry didn’t know what it was about, but it was Malfoy so he lifted his shirt. Malfoy’s eyes fixated on the scar Annie Attleby had given him.

“It’s healed completely,” Harry said, because it was smooth and flat and didn’t hurt any more. When Malfoy just kept looking, Harry said, “Malfoy, that was two months ago.” He was more annoyed by the way Malfoy’s gaze felt on him than that Malfoy was still worrying about a case that was long over, but Malfoy didn’t have to know that.

“We never found out what she did.” Brow still furrowed, Malfoy opened up the scroll in his hands to reveal an inch or two. “Keep your shirt up.”

Harry heaved a sigh. “Don’t you think if she did something we’d have known by now?”

“Not necessarily.” Looking back at the mark, Malfoy began to trace the scar with one finger, a long, slow gentle line.

Harry jerked away, pulling down his shirt.

Malfoy looked at him in surprise. “I’m sorry,” he said quickly. “I just . . .”

“What?” Harry demanded.

Malfoy looked back at the scroll, and his face was very apologetic indeed. “I just wanted to make sure I remembered the shape correctly.”

“Yeah. That’s great.”

“It could be very dangerous, Harry.”

“Thanks, Malfoy. I’ll keep that in mind.”

Malfoy bit his lip. Harry thought of Smyth, and then left as quickly as he could.

*

Harry kept seeing that look on Malfoy’s face while he was fucking Smyth, that worried and very sorry look.

Fucking Smyth, meanwhile, was something he should not have done. Harry was angry and frustrated and so less careful than he was usually.

After the war, he’d tried dating. The more he dated, the more he learned to be discreet, so that he could actually date instead of just talk to wizarding media. After that first time asking Malfoy out, Harry had dated less and less. By the second time, he wasn’t really doing it at all any more, and found he didn’t really miss it.

He did miss shagging though, and so when he found someone he wanted to shag—someone who only sometimes reminded him of Malfoy—he kept it quiet, and usually they were able to keep quiet themselves. These days Harry didn’t really fancy fucking anyone who didn’t understand the concept of a one night stand.

That was all Smyth seemed to want from him, really, though there was a worrying moment in the morning when Smyth was looking at Harry’s shorts somewhat wistfully. He remembered how Smyth had been after Annie Attleby, touching him and telling him he was the only one who understood him, until Malfoy swept in and turned his head. This could get very bad.

Then Smyth caught Harry looking, gave a rueful smile and said, “I was wondering how much I could get for them on Knockturn Alley.” He waved a hand vaguely at Harry’s pants, which lay in a wad on the floor.

“Fifty or sixty Galleons, at the very least.” Harry’s voice held no inflection.

Smyth shivered. “I’m not going to. It just occurred to me, that’s all.” He lifted his eyes to where Harry stood, lounging in the doorway. Smyth was still on the bed, sheets pooled all around him. He looked as pretty as a picture, and Harry wanted him out of there as soon as possible. “Look,” said Smyth, hesitating. “This was very nice. But I really don’t think it’s going to work out.”

Harry relaxed immediately. “How could you tell?”

Smyth relaxed as well, responding to something in Harry’s tone. “Well—you’re very interesting. Very flexible.” Smyth absently rubbed a bruise on his throat. “But you’re kind of intense.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah.” Smyth gave a big cat yawn. “But you fuck like an animal.” He stood up and pulled his pants on.

“I guess the papers are right,” Harry said, watching him.

Smyth laughed. “The papers have no idea.” He looked around for his t-shirt, and Harry saw how both Smyth’s back and front were littered with scratches and various kinds of bruises. Harry’s nails weren’t even that long. He must have fucked him pretty hard—he hadn’t really been thinking much about Smyth, while doing it. Smyth’s mouth wasn’t going to go back to looking unfucked for quite some time. “Are you ever going to tell him?” Smyth said.

“What?”

“Come on. Tell Draco.”

Harry’s voice was hard. “Tell him what?”

Smyth shrugged. “If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay.”

Harry’s eyes narrowed as he watched Smyth put on his shirt. “Are you in love with him?”

Smyth ran a hand through messy hair. “I don’t know. I guess I thought I was but—maybe it was just the surprise, after wanting you for so long.”

Harry raised his brows. “And now that you’ve had me?”

Smyth laughed again. “Come on, Harry. Let’s not kid ourselves.” He came up close and kissed Harry on the lips, and Harry didn’t move. “I had about as much of you as you had of me.”

“I’ve told him,” Harry said.

Smyth blinked. “What?” Harry didn’t repeat himself as Smyth’s eyes scanned his face. “And he still doesn’t . . .” Smyth shook his head, as if in disbelief. “I guess he’s really straight. I mean, really really straight. He’d have to be.”

“I told you,” Harry said. “He doesn’t with anyone.”

Smyth made a whooshing sound with his soft bruised lips, disbelief and amusement. “I guess if I was in love with him, I’d be shit out of luck.” Then he looked at Harry with his gorgeous fucking eyes that recklessly, Harry couldn’t care less about, and said, “I’m sorry, man.”

Smyth was not the reason fucking Smyth was a mistake. Smyth was a good bloke, and a good sport about it, and for another thing, a really good fuck. He hadn’t been “intense,” but he was pretty flexible himself. The reason it was a mistake was the crowd of twenty reporters and about fifty on-lookers camped outside Harry’s flat, which Smyth saw when he walked into Harry’s kitchen, wearing only that stupid t-shirt and his shorts.

“Holy shit,” said Smyth. “You’ve got to come see this.”

“If it’s reporters,” Harry called from the other room, “I don’t want to.”

“What, are you saying you knew they were there?” Smyth said, coming back into the bedroom.

“No. But they do tend to show up.” Harry paused. “I’m sorry. Usually I try to—I didn’t mean to get you into this.”

“Are you kidding?” said Smyth. “I slept with Harry Potter. I’m going to be famous.”

*

When Harry got to the office that day, Smyth was already there. Everyone had heard about Harry’s indiscretion on the wireless, if not from Smyth himself. Draco Malfoy looked like shit. At least that made two of them.

Harry got some coffee and wondered what Malfoy would say to him, which turned out to be nothing at all. Harry guessed he should have expected it—Malfoy knew he slept around, and only rarely commented. Once, after saving a wizard from a break-in, the man had demanded Auror protection and Harry had offered to take him back to his flat. The next morning Malfoy had given him a warm little smile and asked if he had had a nice evening.

Malfoy didn’t hint and nudge the way so many others did, but he did seem mildly encouraging, as if Harry being interested in other people made things easier on him. Maybe it did, but Malfoy never forced anyone on him either, and protected him the times people Harry slept with turned into crazy stalkers.

Today was different, though, since Harry had made more of a muck of it than he usually did, and the press had found out, which they usually didn’t. By the end of the day, Smyth was booked for interviews with five different wizarding publications and two news stations, and Harry was in the middle of either a tragic love affair or the love story of the millennium, or maybe both, he forgot which. He wanted to talk to Malfoy about it, but Malfoy spent the whole day bent over the scroll at his desk, frowning.

Smyth spent most of the day showing people the bruises on his neck. Harry definitely heard the phrase, “like an animal” more than once, which made him start to rethink the idea that Smyth was mostly okay.

Harry stuck around after five mainly because he didn’t want to face waiting hordes at the Ministry, but also because Malfoy was still there with his scroll, and he was still frowning. After a while of lingering uselessly around Malfoy’s desk without Malfoy talking to him, Harry shoved his hands in his pockets. “I’ll be going then,” he said. “Have a good night.”

Malfoy’s arm shot out. “Wait.”

“Huh?” Harry turned around.

Malfoy was scribbling something on a parchment he had laid next to the scroll. “Just a moment, Harry. I’m almost done.”

So Harry lingered there some more, and almost hated how Malfoy’s hair looked in the light of his single desk lamp, hated how the quill looked between Malfoy’s long, skilful fingers, hated the way Malfoy looked when he concentrated. Instead Harry tried to think of last night, because it should have at least taken the edge off. He tried to remember the way Smyth had looked when he had come, and honestly could not remember.

Malfoy flung the quill down and stood up. Harry thought they would be going then—maybe to the Muggle pub, except even that would be risky, considering the crowds no doubt amassed outside. Everyone from the Auror office was already gone.

But Malfoy made no move to leave. Instead, he started pacing.

For a single, short moment, Harry thought this might be about Smyth. Maybe Malfoy was going to lecture him about having one night stands. Maybe Malfoy was going to reprimand him about being more careful with the press. Or maybe Malfoy was jealous, and he’d finally come around to—

Harry stopped the thought right there. Hooking a chair with his ankle, he slid down into it and crossed his arms, watching Malfoy pace. “Are you going to tell me what’s on your mind?” Harry said, his voice mild.

Malfoy stopped in front of his desk, frowning down at his parchment. “I’ve been researching that mark Annie Attleby put on you.”

Harry started guiltily. He’d forgotten Malfoy was looking into that—Malfoy really had been thinking about him, even if it wasn’t in the way Harry actually wanted. Malfoy worried too much. “Yeah?” he asked.

Malfoy didn’t answer, pursing his lips as he kept on looking down at that parchment.

Something cold slid over Harry. He had a mark on his chest and didn’t know what it meant or quite how he had got it. A witch with an immense store of power had given it to him, and she had been crazy enough to think she could force someone into loving her. Malfoy had been researching it, and now he was upset. He was very upset. “You found out what it was,” Harry said.

Malfoy looked at him briefly, then nodded—a single, short sharp jerk.

“Well,” said Harry. “Let’s have it.”

“It’s Gaelic,” said Malfoy. “Old magic.”

“Good. I love history lessons.”

Malfoy didn’t even roll his eyes. “It’s about Beltane.”

The cold thing that had slid over Harry settled hard at the bottom of his belly, like a ball of ice. His voice was flat. “Then it’s about sex.”

“Beltane isn’t just about sex.”

“But this is,” Harry guessed, because of the way Malfoy was looking away.

“Yes.”

Harry looked at him for a while, that one twitching hand. “This was why you’ve been so stressed out,” Harry said finally. “You’ve been researching the curse, and you didn’t like what you found.”

The hand went still; Malfoy’s jaw went tight. “I haven’t been stressed.”

Harry lifted his brows.

Malfoy frowned back down at the parchment.

“I have to have sex with Annie Attleby,” Harry said.

“It’s not quite that simple.”

“Good. Because I was about to ask what the big deal was, and go light the Beltane fires in her cell right now.”

“The words she used for the spell were archaic. Instead of binding her specifically to you, she bound you to—” he put a finger on the parchment—“the nearest translation is ‘enemy’.”

“What?”

Malfoy licked his lips. “The word appears to have complex origins—some of which are a little . . . obscure. There isn’t exactly a Hogwarts Gaelic Dictionary. The language behind spells can sometimes be taken in different ways.”

“Tell me about it.”

For the first time since yesterday, a ghost of a smile passed Malfoy’s lips. “I doubt that you would want me to.”

Harry’s gaze was trapped by the corner of Malfoy’s lips. “No. I suppose you’re right about that.” Sighing again, he rubbed his scar—a bad habit. Malfoy looked away. “Isn’t she, like, married?”

Malfoy nodded again. “I spoke with Mr. Attleby after we apprehended her.” Off Harry’s look, he explained, “I was trying to find out what language she had spoken, when she cursed you. He said Annie had always been a fan—cut out pictures of you, collected memorabilia. He didn’t think much of it.”

Of course he hadn’t thought much of it, Harry thought bitterly. Cutting his head out of magazines was perfectly normal behaviour. When he thought about it, Ron had sort of been like that about Viktor Krum, for a while. The problem was that when it was your head it all took on a much more sinister tone.

“So,” Harry said finally, “sleeping with the enemy. She wanted to punish me?” He paused. “Can I choose any random fan?”

Malfoy stared at him. “Harry, fans aren’t your enemies.”

“Except for Annie Attleby,” Harry pointed out, and Malfoy frowned. “Do you think it’s enough I slept with Smyth?”

Malfoy looked away again. “Do you think Clemens is your enemy?” he asked quietly.

“No.” Harry’s hand dropped. “It may be meaningless, but it isn’t . . .” Somehow, he thought it was important that Malfoy know this. “It isn’t ugly.” Harry thought of the bruises and scratches down Smyth’s back. You fuck like an animal, Smyth had said, and it was sort of ugly after all. Smyth hadn’t been who he’d wanted, and it’d been more about letting off steam than it had been about being with another person. Still, Smyth had enjoyed it—and that was okay, as long as they both agreed on what they meant.

“Harry,” said Malfoy. Harry was so braced for, I don’t want the details, that he wasn’t even sure why he wasn’t surprised when Malfoy didn’t say it. “I don’t think Clemens counts as an enemy.”

“How do I know?”

Malfoy’s mouth tightened, his gaze dropping. “The way I’ve deciphered it, if you don’t have sexual intercourse with ‘an enemy’ by the evening of Beltane, you will die.”

There was a noise at the other end of the office, a soft, shifting sound like breath or the swish of fabric.

Harry was fast but Malfoy had always been faster, and on top of that he was pale with fury as he drew his wand and pointed it towards Smyth, who was standing by the door. Smyth was already Apparating, but Malfoy cast a full three spells as he disappeared.

Harry blinked, his own wand still half drawn. “At least you’ve splinched him,” he said finally.

After a long moment, Malfoy lowered his wand with what looked like effort. His whole body was tense.

“Hey,” said Harry, and put a hand on Malfoy’s arm.

Malfoy flinched. “He heard.”

“It was going to get out somehow.” Harry gave a tight little shrug.

Malfoy whirled on him. “Because you don’t deserve any privacy?”

Harry just looked at him, his pinched, angry face, his eyes seeming vaguely luminous in their rage—or maybe that was just how Harry saw him—and just felt very tired. “It’s never really been about what I deserve, has it?”

If anything, Malfoy just wound tighter. “You’re not going to have sex with Annie Attleby.”

“Of course not.”

“I’m going to fix this.”

“Sure you are.”

“I—” Malfoy’s eyes narrowed. “Are you patronizing me?”

Harry almost laughed. “No. I actually don’t want to sleep with Mrs. Attleby at all.”

“I know.”

“And you’re pretty good at fixing things.”

Malfoy angled his face away. “What are you going to do about the press?”

“What I always do.” Harry shrugged.

Malfoy made a soft little annoyed sound. “Pretend they don’t exist?”

“What should I do? Walk them into a vat full of liquid fire? Believe me, I would do it.” Harry put one fist over another and his face on top of that. He still felt tired. He felt like he could sleep right here at Malfoy’s desk, Malfoy’s perfect quills and perfect handwriting and Malfoy’s stash of chocolate all spread out on the desk. Maybe he should do it; getting in the Ministry tomorrow morning was going to be hell. “I’d strangle Smyth, too, if I didn’t think it was just going to get out another way.”

“I’ll strangle him anyway.”

Malfoy looked stark from this angle, half of him in shadow. Harry looked at his pale, unhappy face and wanted him just about as much as he ever had, considering he was going to die if he didn’t sleep with someone else. “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you,” Harry said finally. “About Mrs. Attleby, I mean.”

Another weak smile hovered across Malfoy’s lips. “You wouldn’t have deciphered it anyway.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Go ahead and gloat.”

“You’re shite at translation.”

“Fine. It’s just my life we’re talking about here.”

The smile went away, and Malfoy came over. His hand touched Harry’s back lightly, then settled, flattening out. “You haven’t got the patience to sort through the musty scrolls I sorted through, either.” His voice was cool, his hand warm.

Their case load had been busy this past month. Somehow in between everything, Malfoy had found the curse—which of course was obscure, because Harry had never heard of it, and neither had Malfoy until now. He must have spent a long time looking for it, which meant Malfoy must have been coming in after hours, worried about Harry and not telling him, because he was a git.

Harry wasn’t fooling himself—much as Malfoy cared, he also just couldn’t stop until he got what he wanted. If he had convinced himself Annie Attleby had done something, he wouldn’t have been able to sleep right until he found out what it was. Instead of Malfoy’s tenacity making Harry feel less indebted to him or somehow less attracted, it was probably the sexiest thing in the history of ever.

Closing his eyes, Harry said, “I think I’m doomed.”

Malfoy’s hand moved up and squeezed Harry’s shoulder. “I said I would fix it.”

“This isn’t your fault.” Malfoy’s hand slid away. Harry brought his head up, twisting back to look at him. “You know that, right?”

Malfoy stepped away. “Certainly.”

That one word was cold enough that Harry almost wished he hadn’t said anything about it, except that it needed to be said. He added, “Well then, thanks. For everything. It would have been a shame for me to die on Beltane and for the media not to have even had a fanfare leading up to it.”

Inclining his head, Malfoy said, “It was the least I could do—I worry sometimes that you don’t get enough attention.”

“Or that people don’t know enough about me. What did I eat for dinner last night? The world will never know.”

“I imagine it was olives.”

Harry leaned back, put his hands behind his head. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

“I am aching to, Harry.”

“Really, they give me too much privacy.”

The amusement faded on Malfoy’s face. “I better get home. I’ve reading to do.”

“Me too.” Harry stood up. “I’ve mortal enemies to find.”

Malfoy snorted. “Isn’t that just like you. Always dashing off against some arch nemesis or other.”

“Tonight I really would prefer a Muggle film or Quidditch. Or even just some olives.”

Malfoy opened his mouth, then closed it, and for one wild moment Harry was desperate to know what he had been about to say. Then Malfoy said, “Better put on a Disillusionment, Harry.”

It wasn’t a good idea to talk under a Disillusionment. Even if it turned out no one else was around, you never knew. People with cameras and Extendable Ears turned up in the strangest places. Sort of like Smyth. “Yeah,” said Harry, getting out his wand. “I guess—goodnight.”

That was when Harry saw it, and he didn’t want to but he did: pity clouded Draco Malfoy’s eyes, just for a moment, and then it was gone.

Harry cast the Disillusionment spell because he didn’t have anything more to say.

*

April

Things got bad before they got worse, but bad and then worse happened in quick succession.

Once Smyth leaked word of Harry’s predicament to the press—which he must have done the very night he overheard Malfoy—the owls began. Harry was used to letters by now, used to media attention, and used to mobs of people chasing him down the street. After all, these things happened every time he was in hospital, every time he bagged a criminal, and every time one got away.

This time was different, because people were not flinging themselves on him in the street, saying, “I’m your biggest fan!” “No one understands you like I do,” and, “You have no idea how much we have in common!” Instead, people were flinging themselves on him in the street saying, “I think you’re entirely overrated!” “You’re superficial and so shallow,” and “I’ve always hated you!” Then they energetically, as his sworn enemies, tried to snog him.

“Their words are strangely belied by their actions,” Hermione said.

“You go on as if these people had any logic,” Malfoy said.

“It’s mob mentality, basically,” said Ron. “You remember when—”

Malfoy hissed at him. Like, an actual hiss.

“When everyone was so gah-gah for Viktor Krum?” Ron went on, completely ignoring Malfoy’s little serpentine conniption. Ron probably hadn’t been going to mention Voldemort at all; Malfoy was just tetchy. “He wasn’t even that great.”

“Remember when everyone was so gah-gah over the Chudley Cannons?” Malfoy said politely.

Harry rolled his eyes. “Ron, the only reason you stopped being a fan of Krum was because he and Hermione—”

“Were engaged in a completely platonic relationship,” Hermione said quickly.

“Too much information, Granger,” Malfoy said.

Ron answered Harry. “Just following the crowd, man.”

“Was the crowd engaged in a completely platonic relationship with you as well, Granger?” Malfoy was still being polite. It wasn’t as dangerous as him getting bored when a criminal witch had his unconscious mother at his feet, but with Ron in the room it was close.

“Everyone was crushing on Hermione,” Ron said. “Didn’t you notice? She was totally hot.”

Hermione had this habit of arching her brow. “Was?”

“Yeah, well.” Ron shrugged. “You had this little uniform . . .”

No one said, everyone had that little uniform, because Ron really wasn’t as funny as he thought he was, and Hermione was looking like she was wisely refraining from saying, I still have that uniform, and Harry was busy wondering whether Malfoy still had his.

Harry hadn’t thought it could get much worse, but it was so much worse—the entire wizarding world knowing you had to have sex in order to survive, and Harry really only wanting to have sex with the only person alive who apparently didn’t want him. True, Ron and Hermione weren’t saying they hated him in order to get into his pants, which Harry really appreciated. The problem was the way they kept having these inane conversations in order to avoid the fact that they had to secretly Apparate half-way to nowhere to even have a decent lunch together, and it didn’t matter that the conversations were just as inane when things were normal.

Harry couldn’t forget the fact that when he tried to get back to his flat, there would be a mob of witches and wizards waiting for him. Some would be holding, “I hate Harry Potter!” banners that they had painted themselves, and some would have wizarding photos with his face crossed out, and some would have boxes of chocolates. The latter sort of fan was the sort who really had only heard the, “he needed to have sex” part, or else they thought true love conquered all, even sex curses cast on you by crazy evil fans. And then there were a large portion of fans who didn’t want to have sex with him at all, but because Harry needed to to live, were completely willing to make the sacrifice.

There were a lot of those. Harry was used to people generally wishing him well, though they were slightly scarier when they thought well-wishing meant having sex. Harry was presently unwillingly in possession of far more women’s panties than he could possibly use to scrub the floor. What he wasn’t used to were fans purposely trying to persuade him he was their enemy—usually they did that entirely by accident. And usually being persuaded someone was his enemy sort of put Harry off that person, at least for a while. Now it was supposed to mean he should fuck them silly.

Then there were the enterprising folks who really actually might hate him, or at least were somewhat confused about their feelings, seeing as how the death wishes hadn’t come out until Harry needed to sleep with his worst enemy. One woman actually tried to Avada Kedavra him in the street—Harry easily dodged, but someone could have been hurt. It really wasn’t funny any more.

“It was funny at some point?” Malfoy asked distractedly. “I missed that.”

“It’s sort of funny,” Harry said. “When you consider Annie Attleby is just a sad, lonely person, who wants someone to love her.”

“Hmm,” said Malfoy.

“I mean, she thought we could be friends. At the same time, she knew I hated her. She must have known, or she wouldn’t have cast that.”

“If you did have sex with her, it would only confirm you hated her.”

“Exactly,” said Harry.

Malfoy flicked a hand at him. “Go away, Harry. I’m busy,” and that was the other worst thing about having to have sex with an enemy or die—Malfoy was too busy trying to find the counter-curse to really spend any time at all with him.

Harry looked for a counter-curse too. Malfoy was right; he wasn’t patient with the scrolls, but he had powerful magic and his own methods of research. He did get pretty frustrated, though, to the point where he started making a mental list of all the people he loathed. Most of them were dark wizards. The idea of sleeping with them sort of made him want to vomit. But one of them was Annie Attleby, and one of them was Angeni in Azkaban sending him creepy owls, and there was Smyth, right near the top of the list.

Smyth had been suspended, but it really looked like he might quit the Aurors altogether. Harry had begun to suspect Smyth maybe joined the Aurors just to get close to him, even if he had fallen for Malfoy instead. Very possibly, Smyth had fancied less Harry as a person, and more so Harry’s fame, which explained why he had gone and got distracted by Malfoy. It also explained why Smyth was taking twice as many interviews a day as he had right after shagging Harry, why he was always on the wireless, and why he was writing a tell-all book about his torrid affair with Harry Potter, Hero of the Wizarding World. Either it was the fame he was a whore for, or he was doing his best to do the things a worst enemy might do because he wanted another go of it with Harry.

At the office, it really wasn’t that bad, although many more people had begun to see the pitfalls of being the most famous person in the entire wizarding world. Harry didn’t really want to deal with their newfound pity on top of everything else, and even if they hadn’t been sympathetic, there were crowds Disillusioning themselves outside the Ministry, now, so they could wait to pounce on him once he got out of work. Getting through the Ministry itself was sort of a nightmare, even though security was on lockdown, in light of recent events.

Harry had moved temporarily. Ron was his secret keeper, but even if it gave Harry peace at home, it didn’t give him much peace overall. He still couldn’t do anything after work or go out to any pubs or go out anywhere really; and going out in the field for work was impossible, now. That was fine until going to work at all proved to be a bad idea.

Harry was cleaning up some old case files, a week before May first. He had never liked paperwork, but he would rather do his job than have to sit at home, wondering about the curse and what Malfoy was doing and who his fans were stalking. He’d stopped writing for a while to watch Malfoy.

In the last three weeks, Malfoy had found out precious little about the curse. Apparently it had been used in ancient times to bind tribes and later villages. Along with the fertility of the Beltane rites, the forced consummation of enemies would bring harmony. Friendships made in spring would bear fruit in fall, or so the saying went. A child born of two villages or tribes would unite them and make them stronger.

Historical background wasn’t very useful for actually breaking the curse, though, and Malfoy was determined to find the counterspell. He and Harry had gone to Ireland and spoken to native Gaelic speakers; Malfoy had gone to Trinity College to look in their magic section; Malfoy had contacted almost every major library in the world; Harry had ransacked Mrs. Attleby’s home, and Malfoy might have tortured Mrs. Attleby a little. Under Veritaserum, she revealed that she didn’t know any cure.

Malfoy looked even worse this month than he had last month. There were circles under his eyes, and he wasn’t bothering to charm them away. Harry kept imagining a knife getting sharpened over and over. He knew it was his fault Malfoy wasn’t sleeping, but it wasn’t as though there was much he could do. The one time Harry had tried to tell him not to kill himself over it Malfoy had got very cold and snide.

Sighing, Harry went back to looking up the case files. He reached to pick up his quill again, and that’s when the hex hit him.

“I’m your worst enemy, Harry Potter!” a voice cried.

Harry picked up his wand instead of the quill. “Stupefy,” he said, and the strange man on the other side of the room froze and fell over.

For a moment, everyone else froze too.

Then Malfoy was moving, and he was punching Stuart the receptionist, who really wasn’t such a bad guy.

Harry put down his wand. Everyone was looking at him—everyone was always looking at him—and he went to go save Stuart from Malfoy, who was hitting him again. “Malfoy,” Harry said. “Hey, Malfoy. What are you doing? It wasn’t Stuart; it was just some crazy—”

“He let him in,” said Malfoy, breathing hard.

“Hey,” said Harry, and caught the fist Malfoy was pulling back for another blow.

“He let that bastard in.”

“He didn’t know,” said Harry.

“True, that’s right, absolutely true—listen to Harry Potter—absolutely true,” wheezed Stuart.

“Come on, Malfoy,” said Harry.

Malfoy had been pulling up on Stuart’s shirt with his other hand. Now Malfoy dropped it, and Stuart dropped the several inches Malfoy had been lifting him back to the ground. Malfoy stood. “Are you stupid, Harry? Why would he let a stranger in here?” Malfoy’s eyes shot over to the man Harry had stupefied, then flicked over the other Aurors, who were still staring. “What are you doing?” he demanded. “Someone take that man into custody.”

There was something so wintry in Malfoy’s tone that no one really questioned the idea that he was giving orders. Someone cuffed the man and Savage held a wand on him as they took him down to booking.

Malfoy turned back to Harry. His eyes were bloodshot and his mouth was very tight. “The little shit was bribed,” he said shortly.

Harry’s eyes slid down to Stuart’s, which were full of terror. It was not just terror that Malfoy would start beating on him again. Harry sighed. “Well, okay. But you can’t just go—”

“I’m too busy to be distracted by your fucking celebrity,” Malfoy snapped.

“Oh, sorry about that.” Harry’s tone was flat.

Malfoy’s eyes momentarily flickered. “I’ve got to get back to work.”

“Mr. Potter. Mr. Malfoy. In my office. Now,” said Robards from the corner office.

Harry rolled his eyes, while Malfoy’s expression wiped completely clean. “Take him to booking, too,” Malfoy snapped, gesturing at Stuart as they walked to the Head Auror’s office.

“Mr. Malfoy,” said Robards, when they were all seated. “Are you aware that Mr. Potter’s case isn’t the only concern of this office?”

Malfoy seemed politely surprised. “No one told me.”

“I shouldn’t have to tell you.”

“Of course not, sir.” Now Malfoy looked concerned. “Have you considered telling the others? They don’t seem aware of it either.”

Robards frowned. “What others?”

Malfoy waved vaguely. “Oh, everyone. They twitch every time Harry gets a paper cut. This is making for a difficult working environment.”

“The only work you’re doing is poring over those scrolls.”

“I understand why you wouldn’t want to preserve the life of one of your most effective and powerful Aurors,” Malfoy said. “Honestly, I do.”

“Malfoy,” Harry said in a low voice. Malfoy being sweetly sincere with Robards was just as dangerous as Malfoy being polite with Ron and bored with hardened criminals.

“No, Harry, nothing to worry about,” Malfoy soothed. “I’ll just work on this project in my spare time from now on. There’s no reason this office would want to preserve your life; Robards is right.”

“That’s enough, Mr. Malfoy,” said Robards, sounding merely weary. He was used to dealing with Malfoy. He was used to dealing with Harry and Malfoy both, for while they made a very good team, they did not do bureaucracy proud in the scheme of things. “Harry, of course I want you to live.”

“Really, let’s just shelve it,” said Malfoy. “There’s no reason to keep him alive.”

“I said that’s enough,” said Robards. “You’re our best at research; I would have assigned it to you anyway, if you hadn’t taken it on yourself. But you’ve got to stop acting like it’s the only thing going on in this office.”

“I’ll just work on it once we have time,” Malfoy went on. “Harry and I will solve those missing persons, that break-in from last week. Maybe by July, I can get back to breaking the curse. I’m sorry, Harry.” He turned to Harry. “I’ll be working on it without you, but you understand. There’s an order to these things.”

Robards stood up. “Shut it, and that’s an order, Mr. Malfoy.”

Malfoy stood up too, a single fluid movement. His voice could have chilled a boiling point. “I will not ‘shut it’.”

Belatedly, Harry stood up too. “I’m taking a leave of absence.”

Robards sighed, running a hand through his thinning hair. “I think that would be best, Mr. Potter.”

Malfoy whirled on Harry, and suddenly he seemed so fragile, as though he really were made of ice. He seemed like he could fly apart at any moment; his face was so pale, his eyes too-bright. “No,” he said.

Harry’s voice was quiet. “Do you really think I can do anything here?”

Malfoy swallowed jerkily, and turned away. “I need to get back to work.”

“You’re on notice,” said Robards.

Malfoy stood there for a moment, not looking at either one of them. Then he turned on his heel and left.

Robards sank back into his chair, rubbing his face. “If you liked that one less, he could solve your problem,” he said. Harry’s jaw went hard. Looking up, Robards saw it, and said, “I’m sorry. That was entirely inappropriate of me.”

“Yeah,” said Harry.

“Look,” said Robards. “What he said—it’s not true. We care. This office cares. We’re all trying. It’s just that—”

“I understand.”

Robards sighed again. “Of course you do. Go on home. Get some sleep. We’ll solve this, and then you can come back to work in May.”

“Okay,” said Harry, and just kept thinking that: only until May first. By then, Malfoy would have fixed it.

“Harry Potter, how do you feel about what’s happening?” the reporters asked him as Harry tried to leave the Ministry. “What about all the people so willing to be your enemy? What about all the people willing to sleep with you?

“How do you feel about your worst enemy? Would you be willing to sleep with him?”

“Harry Potter, how does it feel knowing the wizarding world might not make it without you?”

“Harry Potter, how does it feel knowing you are going to die?”

“Harry Potter, is this different than walking into the Forbidden Forest to sacrifice yourself? If so, why?”

“Harry Potter, how do you feel?”

Only until May first.

*

Harry hadn’t bothered to leave the grounds of his Fidelius charm in a week, and hadn’t left the cabin all day. It was cold and rainy, more like winter than the thirtieth of April.

When Malfoy showed up at the door that night, he didn’t seem to have noticed the weather. Of course he hadn’t—he was always reminding Harry that they were wizards, after all. But other than being perfectly, immaculately dry, Malfoy looked like shit.

“Come in,” said Harry.

Malfoy shivered and came in. The cabin was warm. Harry had a fire going, heat licking across the wood floor and wood walls. There were a lot of soft, red things in there, and gold too. He never really got over thinking that home looked just like the Gryffindor Common Room. Even if it was just a hide-out, if it was where he was going to die, Harry figured he might as well be comfortable.

Somewhere along the line Malfoy had grown out of using the same old insults over and over. Instead of commenting on the colouring, he took off his jacket and went to go stand by the fire.

“Do you want something to drink?” Harry said. It was what you were supposed to say, whether someone had come to save your life, or whether it was the night before you were going to die.

“I got a translation I was looking for,” said Malfoy.

“You can feel free to tell me I’m not going to die tomorrow,” Harry said. “Really, any time that works for you.”

Malfoy looked away. “You’re not going to die tomorrow.”

The firelight licked its way up Malfoy’s throat, and Harry almost sighed aloud. “What’s the catch?”

“Just the translation.” Malfoy lifted his eyes. “Remember when we found out the curse was for binding villages? We thought it was weird that the curse was so . . . extended.”

“Why it doesn’t just make any two people the caster wants have sex instantly,” Harry said.

Malfoy nodded. “The idea isn’t just to bind the warring factions by means of a child.”

“There’s also the sex.”

“Sex doesn’t make people like each other, Harry.”

“Oh, right. Smyth. I forgot.”

Malfoy smiled a little, the way Harry meant him to. “Harry,” he said, and hesitated. “What does make people like each other?”

The firelight was still glowing on Malfoy, making interesting flickering patterns of shadow and bright gold on his skin. His long slender fingers were smudged and stained with ink. Harry thought of the times he knew he loved him. He couldn’t recall them all; there were too many, but just now he thought specifically of one time when they had been partners for three months.

Harry had been yelling as he used to do; it was about something stupid, and Malfoy had just started laughing in his face. Everyone else was looking cowed and vaguely ashamed, while Malfoy just kept laughing and laughing. Harry immediately went from enraged to annoyed, and that was easier, somehow. “What are you laughing at?” he demanded.

“You,” said Malfoy, and smiled brilliantly.

It was the first time Harry had really noticed that smile, that particularly sweet, gorgeous smile that really meant, “Suck my dick, you colossal twat.” Right then Harry had wanted to punch it off Malfoy’s face, which was a lot better than feeling sorry for himself, actually. “Yeah?” said Harry, darkly.

Malfoy nodded, still smiling. “You and the Dark Lord.”

Harry mouth worked. Nothing came out.

He hadn’t thought about loving Malfoy just then. He hadn’t thought it in the next several weeks, either. Instead, whenever he’d been angry, he thought of Malfoy laughing, and then about Malfoy comparing him to the Dark Lord. He thought about how maybe all those reporters and rags and crazy Potter fans had been right, when they’d been so concerned about Malfoy starting Auror training. Harry watched Malfoy fire off defense spells in quick succession, research cases, solve crime, and protect his arse, and thought about punching Malfoy’s face in more.

Then a month later, on the day Drew Clarke killed himself because Harry wouldn’t be his boyfriend, Harry got angry, and thought about what Malfoy had said about the Dark Lord, and didn’t watch to punch Malfoy’s face. Instead he pictured that face, and wanted to snog it. He really didn’t know why or how it happened.

That day, Hermione and Ron had been so sympathetic, and Harry couldn’t stand to be around it. “Cry me a river,” Malfoy had told him, and then stuck to him like glue, and wouldn’t let another person tell him it hadn’t been his fault, Drew was just crazy, why did he care anyway, it had nothing to do with him. That day Malfoy had put that warm, lovely, lying smile to work like mad, over and over again until half the Auror office was eating out of his hand. Harry was half-hating him because even if it was a lie, he wanted Malfoy to lie to him.

It was then that he knew he was completely in love with Malfoy, and he didn’t even know how it had happened.

So when Malfoy asked how people came to like each other, and he stood there in the firelight looking gold and eyes flashing and just like home, Harry shrugged and said, “I don’t know.”

Malfoy nodded as though he had been expecting that answer. “In the old days, when this curse was cast, it was cast on two parties.”

“Good to know.” Harry watched the way the light played on the skin under Malfoy’s ear. “If Grindelwald and Dumbledore had just had sex, everything might have turned out differently.”

“No,” said Malfoy slowly. “If they had come to love each other, it might have been enough.”

Harry forced his eyes away from Malfoy’s throat and looked him in the eyes. “I think they might have.”

“The curse is meant to bind people,” Malfoy said, “not just through sex, but through desperation. They both know they’re going to die unless they sleep with someone they loathe.”

“So now I’ve got to find someone desperate,” said Harry. “I think I can do that.”

Malfoy shook his head. “Desperation can bring people closer together.”

Harry tried to reason it out. “You’re saying people cursed with this become friends.”

“Or lovers,” Malfoy said. “It can be a stronger binding than just sex, or even a child.”

“Okay,” said Harry, “but where does this leave me? The curse wasn’t cast on anyone else.”

“No,” said Malfoy. “It did cause me to do some digging, though. If desperation brings you close enough to befriend your enemy—is he still your enemy? And if not, will sleeping with him still break the curse?”

Harry frowned. “Well, it should. Shouldn’t it?”

“Yes,” Malfoy said quietly. “Annie Attleby hoped you would learn to love her. The word ‘enemy’ in this context can mean enemy, but it can also mean, ‘he who was once an enemy’.”

A log broke on the fire. The thud of its fall and the crack of the fire were the only sound.

“I have the Dark Mark, Harry,” Malfoy said.

Harry said, “No.”

Malfoy’s lips curved into a faint smile. He came toward Harry. “It’s alright.”

“No,” said Harry, and stepped away.

Malfoy stopped, a brow quirking. “Noble and self-sacrificing to the end?”

Harry felt like snarling. “You don’t want me.”

Malfoy looked at him for a long time. “Sometimes I feel like if I wanted anyone, it would be you.”

There were a million things going through Harry’s mind, and he could sort none of them out other than here, here was Malfoy, offering himself up, and the only problem was—the problem was—Harry couldn’t remember what the problem was. “Don’t do this.”

“I’m doing this,” Malfoy said, and reached for him.

Harry’s hand locked around his wrist, stopping him. He had been going to say something, but now he couldn’t remember what. He stared at his own fingers wrapped around Malfoy’s skin, and thought about how different things would be if he didn’t want Malfoy very much right now.

“I was jealous of Smyth,” Malfoy said, suddenly conversational.

“Were you.” It was not a question.

“Yes,” said Malfoy, “I was. It was irrational. I didn’t want from you what he so obviously got from you. I didn’t think I did. But I was still jealous.”

Harry didn’t loosen his grip. “That’s not a reason to fuck.”

Malfoy smiled, the light dancing over his features. “Okay, here’s a reason. You’re going to die if you don’t. Really, Harry, I think I make an excellent candidate.”

“This isn’t fair.”

“Oh, Harry.” Malfoy’s eyes softened. “Did you expect it to be?”

“No. I want—I want—”

“I know what you want,” Malfoy said quietly, and kissed him.

Malfoy was a clumsy kisser. It seemed like something he hadn’t ever done before, and since he hadn’t in the last—it was seven years now, Harry guessed it made sense. He didn’t quite know where to put his lips or how to turn his head, so Harry had to show him, his hand on Malfoy’s neck to tilt his head, his lips moving in response to Malfoy’s.

Malfoy flinched in response, and Harry pulled away. “I can’t,” said Harry.

“I can. I’m going to,” Malfoy said again. “Let me be what you need, for once.” He stepped in again and kissed him, and didn’t flinch this time when Harry’s hand came up to touch his neck.

Malfoy’s breath was coming short and sharp and quick; Harry didn’t know whether he could control himself, because Malfoy didn’t like touching, but he felt and tasted sweet. “Kiss me, Harry.”

Harry shuddered at the words, murmured straight into his mouth, and then Malfoy was pushing him up against the wall. Malfoy looked surprised to have him there, and in his pause Harry flipped them, so Malfoy was the one against the wall, and Harry was kissing him, open-mouthed and hot.

He pulled Malfoy’s lower lip into his mouth, tugging it with teeth. He pushed the side of Malfoy’s face into the wall so that he could taste his jaw, little nips and sucking that Harry finally took down the side of Malfoy’s throat. He tasted so humid and human that Harry wanted to bite deeper; he wanted to lock his mouth on the side of Malfoy’s neck until the bruise was black.

Malfoy just held him there, murmuring things, until Harry remembered Malfoy had said he wasn’t attracted to anyone, and he had to find out. He reached for the button of Malfoy’s trousers.

“Not yet,” said Malfoy breathlessly. He pulled away and pushed, turning, and then Harry was against the wall all over again, and this time Malfoy wasn’t surprised. He may not have been an expert at kissing, but he certainly learned quickly, and he was strong, and lean, and hard, pressing Harry into the wall. Sometimes he forgot how strong Malfoy really was, how Harry had seen him spar and win against someone half again his size—not so much out of brute strength, but sheer determination.

Malfoy’s kisses were like that, determined and commanding in a way Harry hadn’t expected them to be, though he hadn’t expected them at all. It was then he realized that he was going to have sex with Malfoy, real sex with real Malfoy, not the thousand and one fantasies Harry had lived alone or worked through with other people. Malfoy, meanwhile, was making strange little sounds—something like a frightened animal, which was very different from his kisses. Harry had to fight to pull Malfoy away. “Bedroom,” he said, and then got a good look.

Malfoy’s mouth was bruised and red; his gray eyes were very dark, and Harry wanted him so badly that somehow he couldn’t move. Leaning in, Malfoy bit Harry’s earlobe, and then whispered, “Take me there.”

For a couple seconds, Harry lost it; he was kissing Malfoy again and his hips rolled hard, tucked up tight against Malfoy’s, where Harry held him close. When he pulled away, Malfoy was laughing. No one had ever laughed at Harry when he kissed them like that before, and it made Harry crazy all over again.

“Easily distracted,” Malfoy teased, and tugged Harry’s hand.

Malfoy pulled Harry along until they were down the corridor, at which point Malfoy turned to him with a lifted brow. “Which way?”

Malfoy hadn’t been to the cabin before, which made Harry remember why he was here in the first place. It made him remember that Malfoy didn’t want him, that Malfoy was doing this to save his life, and that he was taking shameless advantage. Mouth tight, Harry went to the door on the left and turned the knob.

Malfoy pulled him in, slammed the door, and pushed Harry up against it. When Malfoy started kissing him, it didn’t feel like he didn’t want it, but Harry knew that Malfoy was exceedingly good at lying. His hand went for the button of Malfoy’s trousers again.

This time Malfoy let him. As Harry’s hand slithered down into Malfoy’s pants, Malfoy gripped his arm. “It works,” he said, still seeming vaguely amused, “just so you know. I’m just—I’m like this.”

It was the note of uncertainty that got to Harry. He licked his lips. “Then let me try,” he said. “Let me,” and sank to his knees.

When he opened Malfoy’s trousers and pulled down his pants, Malfoy’s cock was still soft. Harry really just couldn’t believe it was Malfoy’s cock, and couldn’t stop himself from touching it, holding it, wanting to kiss it. So he kissed it, licked it, found himself nuzzling it and couldn’t bring himself to care that that might be weird.

Malfoy’s hand settled hesitantly in Harry’s hair, and when the first signs that blood was beginning to fill his cock began to show, that hand tightened, and Malfoy made a breathless little sound. Harry was already hard; he felt like he had been hard for ages, but he didn’t care about that either, not with Malfoy’s cock growing harder and pinker in his hands, not with Malfoy making sounds like that.

He had wondered before about Malfoy, about why he said he wasn’t attracted to other people. At one point, he even wondered whether Malfoy was lying to him, or lying to himself. He wondered whether Malfoy lied about nothing sinister having happened to cripple his desire; he wondered whether something could have happened that hadn’t been physical, but still had the same psychological effect.

Most of the time, Harry thought that a great deal must have happened to Malfoy, but that it had been no more—and certainly no less—than the things Harry had suffered during the war. That fear and that sorrow seemed excuse enough for a man to change. Harry, after all, was most comfortable when he fucked around with men and then forgot their names, and that was something he did not think he would have become without a war behind him, without his friends dying, without all the things that made him who he was.

But when Harry took Malfoy’s half-hard cock into his mouth, he wasn’t thinking any of these things. He was thinking that he wanted it wet, and messy; he wanted to hear the slick sticky sounds of him sucking Malfoy off; he wanted Malfoy to moan and fuck his mouth until he lost all reason. He wanted Malfoy to forget completely that he didn’t want him, and only remember the feel of Harry’s lips wrapped around his cock.

Harry’s tongue swirled around the head and he squeezed Malfoy’s balls; he could feel them growing tighter as Malfoy grew harder. Harry pulled his mouth away and rubbed his cheek on Malfoy’s cock, looking up. “I want to take you all the way down, Malfoy.”

Then Harry started taking him down, looking up at Malfoy, who was slowly smiling in an amused, gentle way. “If you’re going to fill your throat up with my prick, Harry, can you at least call me Draco?”

His hands were still threading in Harry’s hair, and he was still smiling, until Harry at last worked him all the way down. The smile went away then, Malfoy’s mouth falling open, his head tipping back, and Malfoy’s cock was completely hard. Harry just looked up at him, mouth stretched wide and gag reflex utterly suppressed, breathing hard through his nose. Malfoy’s hand jerked spasmodically in Harry’s hair. “Please.”

Harry came all the way back off, licking the head again before freeing his mouth completely. “Please what?”

Malfoy jerked him up, and Harry stood. Malfoy kissed him again, clever kisses, his tongue sweeping the insides of Harry’s mouth as though he longed to taste his own cock on Harry’s tongue. “I want,” Malfoy said, pulling away, “I want to be the one—” he arched his hips, naked cock pressing up against Harry’s jeans, “I want to be inside of you.”

Harry groaned. “Do it. Jesus. Do it.”

“You don’t want to—”

“Fuck me. Oh god, you’re going to fuck me.”

Malfoy glanced down at Harry’s jeans, then back at Harry’s face. His hand slid up so that he touched Harry’s cheek. “Okay,” he said, and started pushing Harry back.

Harry backed up until the bed hit the backs of his knees, and he sat down. He had imagined sex with Malfoy in every configuration, such that whatever Malfoy suggested seemed absolutely the best one. Through the haze of wanting and desire, the dizzy thoughts of oh my god, Malfoy’s going to fuck me, Harry realized what Malfoy had said: I want to.

Malfoy pushed him back some more, then climbed on top of him, lifting Harry’s shirt up. By the time Harry was struggling to get his shirt over his head, Malfoy was kneeling over him, nibbling on his hipbones.

Then he was kissing up Harry’s chest, his mouth moving to one of Harry’s nipples. Harry put his hand in Malfoy’s hair. “You don’t have to.”

“Let me.” Malfoy lifted his face up, eyes bright and mouth still swollen. “This used to be my favourite part.”

Harry wondered how many years ago and how often, and then remembered it had always been with girls, which perhaps explained what Malfoy was doing with his nipples. Then Malfoy’s hand came up and flattened on the flame, the scar that Annie Attleby had given him, the whole reason they were here. For the first time, Harry realized it was burning.

He tugged on the back of Malfoy’s neck, and Malfoy, obliging, moved his mouth to the centre of Harry’s chest, the black mark. It half covered where the Horcrux had hung around his neck, and not knowing what it was, Malfoy kissed that too. He was all teeth and tongue, and Harry cried out, arching under him.

“I’m going to fuck this mark out of you,” Malfoy said in a low voice. “I’m going to fuck you until it goes away.”

Harry struggled to breathe. “Will it go away?”

“I don’t care. I don’t even fucking care.” Harry had never heard Malfoy sound so savage, saying pointless, mindless things. “She’s not going to take you away from me.”

Harry laughed, a strange gulping sound. “It makes you really angry.”

Malfoy lifted his head, his hand covering the scar instead. His nails sunk down into the black marks, hard, his whole hand like a claw. “You have no idea. You have no idea how much I need you.”

Harry arched up under the pain. “I have an idea.”

Malfoy’s voice was still brutal. “If I thought you were the sort to desert me, I would have fucked you just to keep you. I would do anything.”

Harry was having trouble breathing, Malfoy’s nails dug in so hard. “I wouldn’t leave you.”

“Good.” Then Malfoy slid down and opened Harry’s jeans, his hand going in to wrap around Harry’s cock.

Harry almost arched up off the bed. “Oh God.”

“I know, Harry.”

Harry thrashed. “You haven’t even taken off your shirt.”

Malfoy grinned in the same soft lazy way he was stroking Harry’s cock. “Well, I will if you want me to.”

Harry groaned and said, “I want you to.”

Malfoy took his hands away, which Harry hadn’t wanted him to do, then proceeded to make a production of it. Unbuttoning one button at a time, he slowly revealed that clear skin and light blond hair, and Harry had seen it all before in Auror training, sparring, that one time when Malfoy got injured and Harry had had to rip it off him. But Harry wanted Malfoy naked now; he wanted it all at once, because this time it was all his; Malfoy was finally his.

Getting up, Harry flipped them around, so Malfoy was flat on his back and Harry was ripping the clothes off of him as quickly as he could. Malfoy had slim hips and long, long legs, strong thighs which had featured in too many of Harry’s fantasies. He was too pale and his knees were knobbly, there were actually quite a few sun-freckles spread across his shoulders, and Harry thought he was so beautiful that he would look better covered in red marks and blue-black bruises.

A scar snaked across Malfoy’s belly, and the first time he had seen it, Harry had suddenly remembered Sectumsempra. That time Harry had given Malfoy the field dressing with his shirt, they had been waiting for the Healers to arrive. Harry just kept looking at Malfoy’s shoulder, where the ragged shirt was not stemming the flow of blood. Then his eyes had dropped down to the scar, and he had felt even more guilty. “It wasn’t you,” Malfoy had said, cracking an eye open.

Harry had jerked his head up. “What?” He had thought Malfoy had already lost consciousness.

“The scar.” Malfoy’s breath was coming shallow. “It wasn’t you. Snape got there in time.”

“Then what—”

Malfoy wheezed in laughter. “You’re not the only one with scars, Harry,” he’d said, and slid into the black.

Harry remembered that now, looking at Malfoy’s pale body, silver scars, and his cock, which was no longer fully hard. Harry didn’t know if it was because Malfoy was just slow to get aroused, or whether it was something else. Malfoy had never told him how he’d got his scars—all of them—and Harry wondered whether he ever would.

“Just going to stare?” came Malfoy’s lazy voice.

“No,” said Harry, and kissed him. He dragged his teeth down Malfoy’s body, and Malfoy’s nails scratched hard enough down his back that Harry thought he might have drawn blood.

When Malfoy rolled him over, Harry dazedly realized that they were fighting, that there were more teeth and nails involved than lips and kissing. He’d never imagined Malfoy would be like this; when he’d tried to picture it for real, things were gentle and somewhat shy.

But apparently the way that Malfoy dealt with whatever problems he had with sex or touching was to make it into a battle, because battles were something they both knew, and something Harry knew that Malfoy liked. Harry bit back when Malfoy scratched him, and Malfoy was smiling, laughing in between scratches and hisses and bruises.

Harry didn’t know what had happened to him or what it meant, that Malfoy was like this, but even if Harry had wanted to, now he couldn’t stop.

Accio lube,” he said, and stretched out a hand. A drawer rattled and the lubricant snapped into Harry’s hand. He held it out.

Malfoy shook his head. “I want you to do it.”

So Harry took off his jeans and got back on the bed. He squeezed the lube out and spread some on his fingers, then reached between his own legs.

Silent now, Malfoy watched. Hot with Malfoy’s eyes on him, Harry pulled his legs up and open farther, so Malfoy could see one finger and then two disappearing into his hole. Malfoy did see it, gaze intent, eyes narrowed, and Harry thought he could come from just that, Malfoy watching him fingering himself.

“Alright, Harry,” Malfoy said, and his voice was unexpectedly soft. All the biting and fighting gone, he gently took Harry’s fingers away, and replaced them with his own.

“Oh, god,” Harry said.

Malfoy moved closer, his knees settling up against Harry’s arse, pushing his fingers deeper inside. “You are very tight,” he murmured.

“Oh god,” Harry said again.

Malfoy leaned closer to whisper, his fingers pushing insistently. “Where is it?”

“It’s—”

“Shh.” Malfoy pulled his fingers almost all the way out, then slid them in hard, jamming them up inside Harry. “I want to find it.”

Malfoy’s fingers were not very far away from his prostate, and Harry couldn’t help crying out, because other men had fingered him before and other men had whispered to him, but none of them had been Malfoy. Malfoy was flushed and pink above him, his hair very bright, his mouth so perfect and everything Harry wanted that Harry thought he just might come. “You like it, don’t you,” Malfoy said.

“Fuck me,” Harry said. “Please, just fuck me.”

“No,” said Malfoy. “You’re too tight. I’m going to get you really loose and wet before I fuck you. I want you to drip and squelch like a girl, Harry.”

In his haze of lust, Harry could feel Malfoy’s cock brush against his thigh, and wondered whether Malfoy was really just delaying so that he could get all the way hard again. “I’ll do anything you want,” Harry said.

“I know you will.” Malfoy’s voice was rough. “You’ll do anything. You’ll just do anything, won’t you.”

“Yes,” Harry said, and squirmed on Malfoy’s fingers.

“You’ll get all wet for it, and beg me, and pant just like a little girl.”

Harry thought his cock couldn’t have got any harder, but it did, and ached. “Yes.”

“Good. You’re so good, Harry. Just like a tight and perfect little slut, made just for fucking.”

“You’ve got a fucking dirty mouth,” said Harry.

“You make me filthy,” said Malfoy, and a tremor of lust moved so hard through Harry that he didn’t have time to wonder what Malfoy meant or feel guilty about it before Malfoy was kissing him again.

Malfoy took his fingers out and Harry groaned, but then Malfoy was putting even more lube on them and forcing them back in. Harry’s hole had squeezed back tight without Malfoy’s fingers, but now the burn was easy, and the over-abundance of lube made everything wet and slippery.

“Do you like it, Harry?”

Harry pushed in on a bruise he’d left on Malfoy’s neck. “I love it.”

“Good,” said Malfoy. “I’m going to fuck you.” Then Malfoy removed his fingers and replaced them with his cock, much larger and pushing slowly in.

Harry moaned and spread his legs. “Good,” Malfoy said, “like that. Hold yourself open for me. God. You’re really hot; do you know that?”

“Yes,” Harry said, and draped his legs over Malfoy’s shoulders.

“Oh, good,” Malfoy said, and moved in until his knees were almost under Harry’s arse, lifting him up so Malfoy’s cock could aim down. “That’s good, sweetheart, just like that.”

Harry wondered if that’s the way Malfoy used to talk to girls—was it Parkinson?—and then he thought it had been so long for Malfoy that he wouldn’t just fall into that, would he, except maybe he really did think of Harry as his sweetheart, in which case Harry was going to come. He wrapped his hand around his cock to that effect, and Malfoy pulled out slightly, then pushed in deeper.

“Come on, that’s it,” Malfoy said. “Go on and come. This is for you, Harry.” He thrust again and Harry fisted his cock, he thrust and Harry fisted, thrust and fist, and then Harry came.

“Good,” Malfoy said again, as his chest was splattered with come. “That’s perfect; that’s what I wanted,” and he kept saying things like that, soft gentle things, as though Harry coming was the best, most important thing, and somehow he had made Malfoy extremely satisfied and proud.

Then Harry was wet and limp and exhausted, strung out just like a noodle, and Malfoy was still hard inside him. “Now you,” Harry said.

“I,” began Malfoy.

Harry remembered how he’d thought more than once that Malfoy was a cold hard bastard, and said the only thing he thought might get Malfoy going. “It might not work if you don’t.”

“I want to. I just,” Malfoy said. “Can you get on your knees?”

“I don’t think they’ll hold me.” Harry pulled away anyway, slid his legs down, sat up and turned over. Then he lifted up, and knowing his arms certainly wouldn’t hold even if his knees did, crossed them and put his head down, leaving his arse in the air.

Malfoy’s hand settled somewhat hesitantly on Harry’s flank. “You really are a slut.”

“You like that word.”

There was a long pause. “Tell me you need it.”

Harry didn’t even hesitate. “I need it. I want it so bad, Malfoy. I want you filling me up. I want your big thick cock inside me; I need it.” He didn’t say, I’m going to die without it, but he felt that way, and it had nothing to do with the curse. “I want you so much; fill me up with your come; just fuck me all the way; fuck me hard, Malfoy, I need to feel it.”

Then Malfoy pushed in behind him, and said, “Just keep talking, Harry,” and Harry did.

“I’ll do anything,” he said. “Anything you say, just fuck me; please, just fuck me.”

“You like it,” Malfoy said, thrusting into him hard now. He seemed very insistent on it, “You like it, Harry.”

“I need it, your hard cock, oh god, I need it, Malfoy.”

Malfoy took a while, and Harry was really too wild to think about whether it was because Malfoy had to force himself to do it. He was getting hard again by the time Malfoy’s thrusts sped up and became erratic, and when Malfoy came, Harry was coming again.

At last, Malfoy slid out. He sat on the edge of the bed, and Harry collapsed. It was probably a full five minutes before guilt washed over him, and Harry realized what he had done.

Malfoy stood up and walked to the window. It was still dark out, but the moon was up, and shone down. Malfoy was still naked, and looked silver now in the light. As if sensing Harry watching him, he turned back. “I don’t want you to sleep with anyone else.”

“What?” Harry half sat up.

“I don’t like it when you’re with them.” Malfoy looked out the window again. “And—I can have sex too, so you should sleep with me. Not with them.”

“Are we going out now?”

Malfoy hitched a shoulder. “If you like.”

Harry looked at Malfoy a long time. “I don’t understand.”

Malfoy was quiet for a while, too. “In sixth year, I was too distracted to think about sex. There wasn’t much opportunity, and seventh year was—well. The Dark Lord was living at my house. Afterwards, I didn’t want to. It just made me feel . . . soiled, somehow.”

“You said I made you feel filthy.”

Malfoy just kept looking out the window. “When I come, I don’t think of men or women. I think of—rocks and trees and mountains, lakes and reeds, bowing in the wind. But it wasn’t like that with you. I just—I just can’t stop thinking about how I don’t want anyone else to have you. Smyth or Annie Attleby or any of those stupid people who think they know who you are.”

“Oh.” Harry thought about that some more. “That’s kind of brilliant, actually.”

Malfoy looked up at the stars. “You’re the first person who makes me feel like feeling filthy is okay.”

Harry came over to him. He reached out, and Malfoy moved away, turning toward him. Swallowing hard, Malfoy said, “Do you understand how this still isn’t what you want? I want you because I don’t want anyone else having you. I can come because I’m so—I’m so angry at everyone else who wants you that I—”

Harry touched his arm. “How do you feel otherwise?”

“What?”

“Not about the sex,” said Harry. “How do you feel about me otherwise?”

Malfoy stared. “Don’t be stupid,” he said finally. “You’re my best friend.”

“Then it’s what I want.”

“Harry—”

Harry’s grip tightened on his arm. “Best friends, and fucking. That’s what I want.”

Malfoy frowned. “For a Gryffindor, that’s very unromantic.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Have you ever met Ron and Hermione? Malfoy, I want you to stay with me and to fuck me and for you not to want anyone else. If you don’t want to fuck me as much as I want to fuck you—then I’m still a lot better off than I was.”

Malfoy’s eyes dropped down to Harry’s chest. “It’s still there.”

Bringing up his hand to rub the mark, Harry said, “You said you didn’t know if it would go away.”

Tentatively, Malfoy lifted his hand. Harry drew it close, over his heart. “Maybe you need to come inside me,” Malfoy said.

Harry’s breathing stuttered. He tried to figure out what on earth Malfoy was talking about. “I suppose,” he said, after a long moment. “If I’d fulfilled the curse the way Annie Attleby would have wanted, I certainly would have been on top.”

“There are strap-ons,” Malfoy pointed out.

“You really have a dirty mouth.”

Malfoy was smiling. “Really, there are all sorts of things we haven’t tried.”

“So, basically I have to get threatened or make you jealous for you to get randy,” Harry said.

“I think if I think enough about your stupid fan clubs, you’ll be getting enough sex.”

Harry grinned. “I love my fan clubs.”

“Come on and fuck me,” said Malfoy. “I’ll lie back and think of torturing Annie Attleby slowly.”

“That’s very kinky, you know,” said Harry, but didn’t really mind.

*

May

On the evening of May first, Harry Potter didn’t die. The mark on his chest gleamed gold while he was coming under his new boyfriend, and then it went away.

Over the next few weeks, things weren’t really different. Well, the news media found out about Harry and Malfoy, and printed up in all the papers that Malfoy had cured Harry’s curse. They had a field day with that. Even though people were no longer trying to convince Harry they were his enemy, they still felt sort of like enemies with the way they kept following him around and hounding him.

“Harry Potter! How did it feel to sleep with your worst enemy?”

“Harry Potter, how do you feel that Draco Malfoy was a former Death Eater?”

“How does it feel to know you’re disappointing thousands of witches (and wizards!) all over the globe?”

“How does it feel to go out with the most hated man in half the wizarding world?”

“How does it feel to kiss someone you loathe?”

“It feels fantastic,” Harry said, and for the first time smiled at all the reporters.

Things weren’t really different with Malfoy, though. He was still somewhat distant and cool, sarcastic and amusing, brilliant and witty. He didn’t touch Harry more or less, and he didn’t look at him any different, but for years now Malfoy had been looking at him in a way that made Harry’s heart jump in his throat, and made him hope.

When Angeni, Harry’s creepy letter-writer, escaped from Azkaban and jumped Harry outside Malfoy’s flat, Malfoy defended him just as he always would have done. Just as they always would have done, they contacted the other Aurors and brought in a team to have Angeni cuffed and taken back to Azkaban. Just as they always would have done, they bitched about the paper work.

But the paperwork was some time after Malfoy’s hand clamped around Harry’s wrist, and Malfoy dragged him back into his flat. Then Malfoy had Harry up against the door, and was saying, “They can’t have you. No one can have you. No one can have you but me.”

“Yes, Malfoy,” Harry was saying. “No one can have me but you. Only you. Only—”

“You better fuck me, Harry. Just so we can be certain.”

“Yes,” said Harry, because the paperwork could wait. “Oh god, yes. I’ll die if I don’t.”

“Good,” said Malfoy. “Then I’m going to keep you alive.”

It was what he was good at.

Harry loved his fans.