Harry pushes Draco against the wall, his arm a bar across Draco's throat.
"What do you think you're doing?" he asks through gritted teeth. "Who sent you here?"
"No one." Draco's words come out as a croak, and though he wants to tear at the painful press of Potter's arm, he keeps his hands loose by his sides. "Honestly, Potter. I wasn't looking for you in a bloody Muggle bar."
Growling, Potter takes a step back. Draco wants to cough, wants to press at the delicate skin of his throat and check it for injury. Instead, he straightens his shoulders and smirks.
There's a shout from the dance floor, and Potter glances towards it like someone hunted. When the crowd starts singing along with the indistinct pop song, the tension radiating through his body eases. "Why are you here, then?"
"Would you believe me if I said to get a drink?"
Another glare. "No."
"I'm here to get fucked, Potter. Nothing nefarious about that."
"You're…" Potter's eyes flash with a mix of disgust and desire. "Of course. I don't know why I thought…"
There's another shout, and when Potter turns this time, Draco's got his wand out and pressed into the small of Potter's back before he can turn back around.
"You've really got to stop believing your own assumptions, Potter." He steps close enough to whisper in Potter's ear. "Now, I don't want any trouble from you. You're going to let me leave, you're not going to tell anyone you saw me here, and you're going to let Robards know that he should keep his hounds off of me if he doesn't want this all to go to shit. You understand?"
Potter hisses something in reply, but Draco can't make out the words. It sounds like a curse, though, so Draco sends a light Stinging Hex into Harry's back. His body arches away, eyes shut and teeth gritted against the pain.
"Tell him," Draco says again before stepping back and Apparating away.
Potter finds him three months later. This time, Draco's in the middle of a raid gone wrong. There are spells flashing around the room, and though he's safely hidden behind a heavy shipping crate, he knows he's got to get the hell out of there if he's going to keep his cover.
That is, of course, when Potter comes sliding across the floor to crash into Draco's legs.
"Fuck!" Draco grabs at Potter's robes and drags him all the way behind the box. "Damn it, Potter. What the hell are you doing here?"
"Malfoy?" His green eyes are unfocused, and his glasses have a jagged crack down the middle of one lens. "What're you doing here? Am I dreaming?"
There's blood leaking from one of Potter's ears, and as Draco tries to think of a response, his green eyes roll back into his head and he passes out.
"Shit." Draco peers around the edge of the box, then ducks back as quickly as he can. The thugs who run the place aren't paying any attention to where their spells are landing, and Draco can't afford to get injured, not with Potter passed out against his legs.
He tests the Anti-Apparation wards. They're not the strongest he's ever encountered, but breaking through the damn things always gives him a headache. He looks down at Potter, unconscious and bleeding, and then considers the Dark Wizards who control this wharf, who definitely won't let Draco walk out with a prize like this. Cursing, he grabs Potter under his arms and drags his limp body so it's leaning back against Draco's chest, cradled between Draco's legs.
"You owe me," he hisses in Potter's bloody ear. "And don't think I won't fucking collect."
And though it feels like he's flaying his skin open with slate knives dipped in salt water, Draco Apparates away with Potter encased in his arms.
His safehouse nearly throws him back into the blank nothingness of Apparition when Draco hits the wards. They grab at Potter's limp body and try to tear it from Draco's arms. Cursing, he moves his fingers in the quick motions necessary to add another person to the binding. When the inexorable pull on Potter's body stops, Draco falls back onto the floor, panting.
After a moment, Draco pushes Potter's body off of his to roll onto the floor with a heavy thump.
"Bloody Gryffindors," he mutters as he stumbles to his feet. "Always getting themselves into places they shouldn't bloody well be."
It's been awhile since Draco's had to use this house. He makes a cursory check of his supplies, confirms the water is still running, and then gets his first aid supplies from the bathroom cupboard.
His magical scan of Potter reveals that the man has a concussion and a broken ear drum. Draco's training in healing magic is fairly minimal, just what he needs to know in order to patch himself up while on a mission and certainly not up to healing a traumatic brain injury. Still, he does his best. Bright, golden light streams from his wand in lazy swirls, and Draco watches as it settles around Potter's head like a crown.
It'd be pretty if Draco weren't terrified of irreparably damaging Potter's brain.
As the light fades, Potter groans. It's the first noise he's made since they crashed through Draco's wards, which Draco takes to mean he hasn't scrambled Potter's brains any worse than they already were. He grabs a blanket off of the nearby couch and throws it over Potter's body.
That's that problem solved.
Draco gets some water boiling and digs out what is likely to be horribly stale tea. His preservation charm, which should have been keeping it fresh, is gone. It's hard to keep those long-running spells up without regular maintenance, and Draco makes a mental note to have one of his subordinates adjust the rotation so that they don't have any more failures.
When the kettle starts whistling, there's a groan from the other room.
"Do you take your tea with milk?" Draco shouts, though he knows they don't have any and Potter's probably still too out of it to respond.
He doesn't even bother to pour a second cup.
As Draco settles into a chair, Potter groans again and finishes rolling onto his front. The blanket tangles a bit around his shoulders, and he pushes it away groggily. It's a losing fight for Potter, who ends up thrashing against the fabric to no avail.
"Merlin, Potter. If I hadn't seen you kill Voldemort myself, I'd start thinking it was a rumor with the way you're carrying on. Here."
He sets his tea down, then helps Potter get loose of the blanket. He bats at Draco's hands, cursing and hissing as he gets to his knees.
"Get t'fuck away from me," he slurs before falling back onto his side. "What'd you do to me, Malfoy?"
"Hm, let me see. I got you out of a firefight, patched up your broken head, and then graciously offered you comfort and safety. A bit of gratitude would be much appreciated."
"Fuck you." Potter presses his forehead against the floor and groans again. "I think I'm going to be sick."
"That'd be the concussion." Draco sits again and cradles his tea, blowing across its steaming surface before taking a tentative sip. "If you're going to be sick, do try to avoid the rug. I can Vanish the mess, but I'd rather not lose the decor."
Potter starts to speak, but his words come out garbled, a mix of clear syllables and cascading hisses. He curses, then gags.
"Maybe I didn't fix that head of yours enough," Draco says as real concern starts pooling in his gut. "You feeling okay, Potter? What year is it?"
"2004. Blair's the Muggle Prime Minister. I'm pretty sure you Apparated us wherever we are now. I was born on the thirty-first of July, 1980, and you're a bastard."
Draco scowls. "Well, I'm ever so pleased you're fine. Why the fuck do you keep sounding like a punctured tire?"
"It's Parseltongue." Potter pushes himself up and sits back on his heels. "It slips out sometimes. When I'm hurt or stressed. Or pissed off."
Draco laughs and takes another sip of tea. "Well, I'm afraid what I'm going to tell you next is going to do very little to help with that, then."
"What are you talking about, Malfoy?"
"You're stuck here, with me, for three weeks."
Harry Potter off-balance and screaming at Draco should not be attractive. But as he drinks his tea and takes in the unsteady but righteous fury of Potter in a full strop, Draco has to admit there's something alluring about it. It might be the flush high on Potter's cheeks, or the bit of blood still clinging to his neck. Perhaps the way his muscles tense and relax as he paces, or the narrowed, unfocused glares he keeps tossing at Draco.
"Occulus Reparo," Draco says lazily, waving his wand at Potter until the fractured glass knits back together. Potter's glare, slightly more focused now, locks onto Draco.
"Explain to me," he says, probably not for the first time, but Draco hasn't been paying attention, "why we're stuck here."
"Because that's how this series of safe houses work, Potter. When an operative uses one, they are confined to it for a period of anywhere from three weeks to four months, depending on the secrecy required by their mission. We're lucky that I wasn't working a deep cover this time."
"And that's another thing." Potter points at him, his hand shaking. "What do you mean by operative? I know every member of the Auror Corp, and you're not in it."
Draco smirks. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Harold, than are dreamt of in your vacuum of a skull."
"Why are you misquoting Shakespeare?" Potter whips his glasses off, then starts hissing quietly to himself. "What the fuck is going on?"
"Oh, sit down, Potter. You're still slightly concussed, and I don't have the skills to fix you twice." As Potter falls, defeated, onto the couch, Draco makes his way into the kitchen to start the kettle again. "How do you take your tea?"
"No milk, bit of sugar."
"You're in luck, then." Draco readies another cup, then stands in silence as the kettle warms on the hob. It rattles when the water starts boiling.
Potter's got his feet up on the couch, his shoes on the floor next to it. There's something painfully vulnerable about the great Harry Potter in slightly tattered socks, his eyes closed and one arm thrown over his head. Draco coughs quietly, and Potter startles.
"No sleeping yet," he says before passing Potter his cup. "I know you think I'm taking the piss, but I do know a bit about Healing, and you shouldn't sleep right after a head injury."
Potter chooses to take a tentative sip of his tea rather than reply.
Draco figures it's for the best.
Their conversations stay limited after that.
Draco checks on Potter's head and offers him tea, and Potter sits still for both. The rest of the time, though, Potter paces and talks quietly to himself in Parseltongue. Quiet, smooth hisses that are nearly hypnotic in tone.
Draco falls asleep listening to Potter's unending monologue on more than one occasion. As he drifts into unconsciousness, he imagines what Potter's saying.
I hate him. I hate that I'm here. Whenever I get out, I'll be happy to never see him again.
Draco doesn't blame him.
The safe house is small. There's one bathroom with a shower, toilet, and corner sink. There's only one bedroom — these hidey-holes are only expected to be used by one operative at a time — so Draco does the gallant thing and lets Potter have it. He's got a head injury, after all, and Draco wants to be able to watch the front door, the fireplace, and the wards. That's best done from the front room and its couch, and when night falls and Potter disappears behind his door, Draco lays awake, staring at the ceiling and wondering if he can speed up time and have this over and done with.
He tries his best to not listen to Potter's nightmares through the wall.
"So," Potter asks after six and a half days, "what, exactly, are you?"
Draco raises an eyebrow. "Well, last I checked, I'm a 24-year-old Wizard. A Gemini, if you're interested in Muggle astrology. Oh, yes, and your childhood nemesis."
"That's not what I meant." Potter hisses beneath his breath. "What do you do?"
"Men, primarily, but women when the urge strikes."
Potter glares at him, his mouth a thin, unhappy line.
"Oh, get the wand out of your arse, Potter." Draco waves at the couch. "Sit. This is going to take awhile to explain in such a way as to not force your security clearance up a few levels."
Draco waits for Potter to get comfortable, and then he waits for Potter to get uncomfortable.
"Malfoy," Potter growls. "Before we're old."
Draco flips him two fingers. "After the war ended," he starts, "the Ministry had a bit of a problem. They'd literally been the victim of a violent insurrection, and wouldn't you know it, but many of the people involved in said insurrection were on the loose. A great number of unknown wizards and witches, all doing their best to stay hidden and anonymous. So while you and your lot rounded up the high-profile idiots that didn't know how to go to ground, the Ministry needed something a bit less flashy for the rest."
"And that's you?" Potter laughs. "I've never thought of you as unobtrusive."
"I'm going to take that as a compliment, Potter, and you can't stop me." Draco slides a bit deeper into his chair, letting memory sweep over him. "I wasn't surprised when they arrested me, not really. I'd been expecting it after they came for my father. Something about their eyes as they took him away… The magical cuffs burn, did you know that? I thought my hands were going to fall off, it hurt so badly. But then they took them off, and they told me what they needed me to do, and that, somehow, hurt more. No one had ever asked me to be a hero before, and here was the Ministry and the Head Auror, begging me to help them.
"I had the connections and information they needed, and they had my freedom. It seemed an easy choice at the time."
"So you're, what? A double-agent? A spy?"
"Undercover operative." Draco sighs. "I can't tell you much about the specifics. You don't have the security clearances for it, and all jokes aside, if I give anything away, they'll have my hide and yours, and I rather like where ours skins are currently. You happened to stumble into one of my operations, rather unfortunately, and now," he gestures around the safe house, "we're here."
"It's rather a lot, isn't it?" Sighing, Draco got to his feet. "I can understand it being a bit overwhelming, my outranking you, but don't let it distract you from me also being incredibly wealthy and attractive."
Potter glares, then rubs at his eyes. "Okay."
"Okay?" Draco's surprised. "Just… okay?"
"I believe you."
"It's a bit hard to think you're lying when we're in a bloody safe house that we can't leave, and you're quoting Muggle literature and making me tea without magic."
"And the attractive bit?"
When Harry says, "Piss off, Malfoy," it's tinged with laughter.
They've got four days left in the safe house when Draco falls asleep on the couch in the middle of the day. It's not that he's tired, but there's very little to do, and he's read the one subpar novel in the house twice already. Laying back on the couch and lazing seems the easiest thing, and Draco is surprised to realize that being vulnerable in Potter's presence doesn't make him feel vulnerable at all.
Draco's dragged out of sleep by Potter's voice. It's quiet, just barely there, but Draco's spent years living with danger and he never sleeps deeply.
Potter's talking to himself in Parseltongue again. He normally does it under his breath, but with Draco seemingly fast asleep, he's louder than usual.
Now, Draco can hear him clearly.
"I never thought I'd be fascinated by you. I thought hating you would be easy, but you keep making it difficult. I wish I didn't like you so damned much. I wish I could pretend that being here with you was torture. I wish I wasn't dreading when this all ends."
"Potter," Draco hisses, his pronunciation a bit slurred from sleep, "all you have to do is ask."
And then he turns over and goes back to sleep.
When Draco first joined the Ministry, he did it out of spite. He did it because he hated the Death Eaters. He did it because he wanted to destroy them the way they destroyed his family. His mother was insane, and his father was in prison, and all Draco had left was his hatred.
His hatred, and the never-ending question of why Potter had bothered to save him from the blazing ruin of the Room of Requirement instead of letting Draco burn.
If Potter thought Draco was worth saving then, he was going to do whatever he could to live up to that expectation.
He spent months in Budapest cracking an illegal potions ring that specialized in Amortentia. He was deep undercover for almost a year investigating a trafficking ring that specialized in half-blooded Veela and Werewolves. There were three excruciating weeks in Russia as he and another operative smoked out the beginnings of a Neo-Death Eater cult. Draco put his heart and soul — or what little remained of both — into undoing as much of the evil Voldemort had put into the world as he could.
And through it all, he wanted to know what Potter would think of Draco now. Would he take his hand, if he knew the things it had done? Would he look at Draco with disdain, with disgust, or would he — maybe — look at Draco with respect?
He got used to the fantasy, of pretending that his hand was Harry's, that the groans he sometimes couldn't help but let escape weren't his.
Draco imagined and knew himself a fool for it.
And then Potter had put his arm across Draco's throat in a dark and smokey club, and Draco had seen it.
An instant, a blip of time that might've otherwise gone unnoticed. But not by Draco. Not after years of spycraft, of learning to read the hidden emotions that his marks weren't even aware of themselves. Draco Malfoy was damned good at his job, and his job was, at least partially, reading people.
Potter wanted Draco, and he hated that he did.
The most important thing, though, was that Potter wanted.
Because Draco wanted, too.
When Draco wakes up the next morning, Potter's waiting with two cups of tea and a somber expression.
"Did you spit in it?" Draco asks suspiciously as Potter offers one of the cups to him.
"How long, Malfoy?"
Draco sniffs the tea. "How long what?"
"How long have you been able to speak Parseltongue?"
He drinks his tea rather than answering. Not because he doesn't want to answer Potter, but because Draco deeply appreciates the flush that colors Potter's cheeks when he's angry.
"I learned it three years ago," Draco says. "It was required as part of an op."
Potter's voice is hard as stone. "And this whole time I've been speaking in it, you've understood."
"No." Draco sets his tea down and meets Potter's eyes. "You were clearly speaking to yourself. I've enough manners to know better than to listen into a person's private conversations."
"Except for last night."
Draco looks away. "You weren't speaking to yourself then. You were speaking to me."
Potter laughs, though it sounds tired, and Draco's gut twists.
He's on his feet before he realizes it, his tea cup spilled on the floor next to his feet. "Last night, did you mean it?"
"Does it matter?" Potter asks as he rises to his own feet. Where Draco's all tense anger, Potter looks like he's resigned to whatever is going to happen next. His eyes are tired when he meets Draco's gaze. "Just forget you heard anything, Malfoy. It doesn't matter anyway. I'll be gone in three days."
"I don't want to forget." Draco wishes he could stride up to Potter, but there's a table in the way, and he has to edge around it carefully. Draco's awkward half-steps make Potter furrow his brow, and Draco prays that he'll have a chance to be suave about this at a later date. Right now, though, all he wants to do is make Harry understand.
"I'm going to do something," he says as he squares up with Harry, "and I want you to promise me you won't punch me."
"I'm not going to promise that."
"Then promise me you'll punch me gently."
"Malfoy, what are you do—"
Draco kisses Potter, though it's a just-there brush of lips against lips. He still isn't sure if he'll be able to dodge a fist if one gets thrown his way, so he's not as fully committed to the kiss as he'd like to be. When Potter's hand raises, Draco flinches, but Potter only rests it gently on Draco's jaw, holding him still as Potter deepens the kiss.
It's lovely. It's bright like freshly fallen snow in sunlight, soft like the winter coat of his family's Clydesdales. The touch of Potter's lips on Draco's whips through him like a winter storm, so cold it burns.
Draco is frozen still and on fire.
"Draco," Harry asks against Draco's mouth, "I'm getting mixed signals here."
"I don't… Is this really happening? Did that really just happen?"
Potter laughs and kisses Draco again. "I can stop if you'd like?"
"No." He tangles his fingers in Potter's shirt and pulls him close. "No, I'd prefer you not."
"Good. We're on the same page, then."
Potter cradles Draco's jaw and kisses him again and again. He trails his lips over Draco's jaw and down his neck. When he bites at the bulge of Draco's throat, Draco hisses in a breath.
"You just said pinecone," Potter says with a laugh. "I wonder what other random nouns I can trick out of that clever mouth of yours."
"Bus stop," Draco hisses as Potter nips at his collarbone. "Herbivore," slips out when he undoes Draco's trousers. When Potter puts his mouth on Draco's cock, Draco buries his fingers in Potter's hair and breathes out "rectangle."
He gives up on being quiet after that, especially with how long it takes Harry to stop laughing into Draco's hip.
Rather than holding back, Draco fills the small safe house with moans and panted curses. His fingers rests gently on the top of Harry's head, and he can't stop the praise from pouring out of his mouth.
"So good," he says as Potter's throat closes around the head of Draco's cock. "Fuck, your mouth was made for me, wasn't it? It's so good, Potter. You're so good."
Potter's hands clench on Draco's arse, pulling Draco's cock deep into Potter's mouth. His throat flutters around the head, and as Draco sees stars, he feels Potter's fingers play at the crease of Draco's arse.
"Ah, shit. Potter, if you don't stop, I'm going to — "
Potter slides the pad of his finger across Draco's hole, then presses against it. Not hard enough to penetrate, but enough to tease at it. It makes Draco's knees lock, makes his head go fuzzy, and then he's coming down Potter's throat without any warning like it's the first time Draco's ever had his dick sucked.
His knees give out, and he stumbles to the floor, grabbing at Potter's face and pulling him into another kiss. It's sloppy, and he can taste himself on Potter's lips, but Draco doesn't care. He pushes Potter back until he falls onto the floor, and then Draco's got Potter's trousers open and Potter's cock in his mouth, and he doesn't really care about anything but ruining Potter's life with his tongue.
It doesn't take long. Draco is, if nothing else, a perfectionist. Potter's back bows off the floor, his hands scrabbling for purchase against the wood, and Draco can't help but feel a bit smug when he realizes that Potter's knocked one of his shoes off in the process.
Draco leans back on his heels, though it's a bit odd to feel the soles of his shoes digging into his bare arse as he does it. Carefully, he removes Potter's other shoe, then pulls his own trousers up over his arse.
"That was…" Potter throws an arm across his eyes and exhales. "Christ, we could've been doing that for three weeks."
"I don't think you would've liked it as much at the beginning," Draco says as he gets more comfortable on the floor. "Hate fucking has its perks, but I do prefer it when my partners like me at least a little."
"I didn't hate you."
"That's not what you said last night."
Potter sighs. "I said I wanted to hate you. I never said I actually succeeded at it."
"Ah. Well then."
Potter peeks out from under his arm, sighs, then grabs Draco's arm. "Come over here, you idiot."
Though there's barely enough space between the table and the side chair, Draco lays down next to Potter, who pulls Draco's head to his shoulder and starts threading his fingers through Draco's hair.
It feels nice, which is why it takes Draco a long time to ask, "What are we doing?"
Potter's fingers still in Draco's hair. "I can stop if you don't like it?"
"Don't you dare."
The fingers start their rhythmic motion again.
"Potter," Draco asks after a long moment, "why were you speaking Parseltongue?"
Potter laughs self-consciously. "It's how I tell my secrets. No one knows what I'm saying — usually — and voicing them makes me feel… lighter."
"Can I tell you a secret, then?" Draco asks as he snuggles in closer.
"Yeah, if you want."
"You've got a nice arse," Draco says.
Potter laughs, then kisses Draco's temple. "Not much of a secret, that."
"You make me want to be a better person. I think anything good I've done in the last six years is because of you."
"Well." Potter rolls slightly until he's looking into Draco's terrified eyes. "I don't think I'd mind being stuck in this place with you for a few more weeks. Maybe longer." He smiles softly. "I don't want to say goodbye."
"What're you doing next week?"
"Probably catching up on paperwork," he says with a wince. "If you wanted to keep me company, though…"
"You want me to help you with paperwork. For our first date."
"I'd think this might count for our first date."
"The only food in this house is dehydrated, Potter. This barely counts as living."
Potter laughs. "Fine. How about a very nice, very expensive dinner, and then paperwork?" He brushes his lips against Draco's. "At my place. Where there's a very nice bed, which is much softer than this floor."
"Fine." Draco kisses Potter to stop him from laughing. "Consider it a date."
When he's falling asleep in the single bedroom that night, Potter's arm thrown across his waist, he feels Potter speaking against the nape of his neck.
"I think I could love you," he says softly. "And I think you could love me."
It's a secret that Draco already does.
At least, for now.