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The Charm Conundrum

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THE CHARM CONUNDRUM

Draco was tired. He knew he should head for the Slytherin dorm and go to bed, but Potter had not left yet, and Draco was damned if he would admit defeat and quit studying before the Gryffindor Wonder Boy, even though Potter did not look all that awake. His head nodded forward until his forehead touched the open book on the table before him, and then he jerked back and stared at the pages with a quizzical expression.

Granger was a tyrannical dictator, Draco decided. Could she not see that Potter was tired and Weasley was… well, who cared what Weasley was? Draco only had eyes for Potter. Not obviously, but surreptitiously, beneath the edge of his robe hood, which he had pulled down for the purpose of appearing to be asleep. The deception had worked well on Pansy, who had fallen asleep on his shoulder and proceeded to drool on his arm.

Draco didn't care. He was watching Potter. The black-haired boy pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose and glanced at Granger with a pitiful expression that almost made Draco's heart ache. Honestly, was the woman made of granite?

She slammed her book shut with a sigh. "All right, Harry, it's obvious you two are going to fall asleep at any moment and won't get another bit of reading done tonight, despite the fact that you should have been finished a half-hour ago. Come on, Ron." She poked the ginger boy, who stood up with a speed that belied his previous near-comatose state. The three of them grabbed up books and parchment and quills, stuffing them into their bags haphazardly (in the case of Potter and Weasley), or methodically and with some sort of predetermined organization (in the case of Granger). During the rush of activity, a slender book fell from the table and landed on the floor. As Potter stood up, he jostled the book with his foot and it slid under the table to rest below the decorative crosspieces, nearly invisible in the shadows.

Potter frowned and peered beneath the table.

"Come on, Harry, let's go before she thinks of something else we need to study! I'm knackered," Weasley said.

"Thought I dropped something," Potter replied, but he apparently missed seeing the book in its resting place. He shouldered his bag and hurried after the other two Gryffindors.

As soon as the door shut behind them, Draco pushed Pansy away and got to his feet. He knelt down and reached beneath the table to snag the book.

"Are we going?" Pansy asked sleepily behind him.

Draco stuffed the volume into a robe pocket and turned to nod at her. "Let's go."

Once safely in his bed, ensconced behind his heavy curtains and a Silencing Charm, Draco cast a dim Lumos and pulled out the book. His brows nearly shot into his hair when he viewed the title, but the real surprise was inside.

He cracked the cover of Potter's copy of Twelve Fail-safe Ways to Charm Witches by Aphrodite Pimpernel and almost gasped aloud when he saw that the title on the first page had been crossed out and rewritten to read, Twelve Fail-safe Ways to Charm Witches Wizards.

Draco sat up and brightened the light before turning to Chapter One – Compliments.

Witches can be vain about their appearance. They usually dress to be noticed, but even the ones that seem unconcerned and barely speak or hang near the doorway or hug walls love to be complimented. They will light up like a brilliant Lumos when you compliment their hair or eyes, but be sincere! A fake compliment will be seen as deception!

Draco snorted. Everyone knew that. Girls were attention-seekers. Draco skimmed the list of possible items on which to compliment a witch. He cared nothing for that—what he sought was written at the bottom in Potter's barely-legible print.

Doesn't work on blokes. They either look at you like you've gone mental or they sidle away and drape themselves over a girl. Or both.

Draco dropped the book. Potter liked blokes. Harry bloody Potter, the world's Saviour and icon for all that was Good and Pure… liked blokes.

**O**

Draco was in the library the next morning when Potter rushed in and then stopped short when his eyes fixed on Draco. Potter stared at him defensively for a moment, as if waiting for Draco to insult him, but Draco said nothing.

Potter walked to the seat he had occupied the night before and sat down. He sat there for a moment and then pretended to drop something and pushed his chair out to fall to his knees. He searched carefully beneath the table and chairs.

"Looking for something?" Draco asked mildly, leaning over him. He grinned when Potter banged his head on the table. The Gryffindor glared at him as he manoeuvred his way out from beneath the furnishing and stood up.

"No," he said simply and then narrowed his eyes at Draco suspiciously. "Why?"

Draco smirked. "You look nice today, Potter," he said.

Potter's green eyes grew impossibly wide for only a moment and a blush crept across his cheeks. Draco's breath caught at the fascinating sight, but it was gone almost instantaneously.

Potter's shoulder caught him as he shoved past Draco on his way to the door. "Sod off, Malfoy," he growled.

Draco frowned and nodded. Potter had been right. Compliments didn't work on blokes.

**O**

Chapter Two – The Name Game

Once the compliments have started to take effect and your chosen lady begins to sit up and take notice, be sure to use her name frequently. Witches love to know that you have their full attention and are speaking directly to them. They feel connected to you when you use their name.

Draco snickered and felt validated when Potter's scrawl read, What a load of tripe. I use his name fifty times a day and it only makes him want to connect his fist to my face.

Draco frowned when he read the words again. Who was he? It was the first time he had noticed reference to a specific person in Potter's notes. Draco let the book fall to his lap and combed through a number of possibilities. Who would reject Potter? And whose name would he use fifty times a day? Weasley? The thought made Draco recoil in horror. Surely not. Granger would have noticed by now, wouldn't she?

Draco made a mental note to keep a closer eye on Potter and Weasel.

**O**

Bubotubers were still disgusting, but not quite as repulsive when planting as when harvesting. The process still required wearing dragonhide gloves, lest the caustic sap burn through skin. Draco though they looked quite stylish on him and flexed his hands before wrenching a bubotuber from the dirt.

He glanced at Potter, who had been lucky enough to find Draco as his partner. "So, Potter," he said conversationally. "How is that bump on your head? Did it knock any sense into you?" Draco winced. He had been trying to compliment Potter, not insult him again, but it was damned difficult to retrain several years of conditioning. "Um… Potter," he added somewhat lamely.

The Gryffindor sneered at him and then gave him a two fingered salute, which actually looked sort of hot when Potter was wearing the gloves.

He wasn't sure "excessive use of name" worked on blokes, either.

**O**

Draco rolled his eyes at the advice contained in Chapter Three – Laughter, the Best Medicine.

Witches love to be thought of as witty and amusing, so laugh when she says something funny! Laugh often and well and she will think you adore her for her droll humour.

He skimmed his finger past the fascinating tips on how to fake amusement when the object of your affection had the sense of humour of a block of stone, seeking Potter's telltale notes.

Has he ever said anything funny? Apparently, judging by the laughter of his underlings, but everything he says to me is definitely not amusing.

Underlings? That was perplexing. Draco felt a moment of relief at the confirmation that it was not, in fact, Weasley, who would never have underlings even if he won some sort of contest and suddenly found himself the means to purchase them. The very idea was laughable. But it also made the identity of Potter's crush more puzzling.

Draco snatched a piece of parchment and started to make a list of possible subjects for Potter's affection. Underlings, underlings… how many Gryffindors had underlings…?

**O**

Draco did not have a chance to try out the advice in Chapter Three until late afternoon the next day. Finally, he jostled his way behind Potter as the group of assorted 8th years made their way down the stairs from the Astronomy Tower. He got lucky enough to hear Weasley's comment to Potter.

"Don't you think it's odd that we keep having Astronomy class in the daytime?"

Draco rolled his eyes. If Weasley had paid attention at all, he would know it was because complex spells and potions that required stellar influences could be cast or brewed in the daytime as long as one knew where the constellations resided in the sky. Half a day of brewing time would be lost if one had to wait for evening in order to utilize the correct astronomical calculations. He nearly said as much, but Potter beat him to it.

"Perhaps Professor Sinistra is afraid of the dark, now?" Potter suggested with a snicker.

Draco almost snorted before he recognized his opportunity. He laughed, instead, and nudged Potter lightly with his elbow as they reached a landing and rounded the corner to take the next flight down. "Good one, Potter," Draco said.

Potter's steps faltered and he stared at Draco, who smiled widely and chuckled again to reinforce his amusement. Weasley gaped at Draco like a fish out of water, but Draco ignored him to bask in the wonder of Potter's eyes going wide and then his brow wrinkling as though perplexed.

Draco did not give him time to comment, instead bypassing him and Weasley and nearly skipping down the stairs in glee. Finally, a bit of success. Draco planned to add his own note to Potter's book. Laugh when he says something funny, even if it barely qualifies. It seems to work!

**O**

Draco lay his stomach on the grass beneath the cherry tree and idly kicked his feet. His Transfiguration book was open before him, but Potter's book rested atop that, open to Chapter Four – Conversation Is Key.

Everyone loves to talk about themselves and their interests, but try to talk about something she enjoys. You might think Quidditch is fascinating, but unless she's on the team or wearing team colours, you should consider a different topic.

Draco rolled over onto his back to look up at the leaves of the tree. Potter loved Quidditch as much as Draco, but they would never be able to discuss it, because they had never had a "conversation" and it seemed highly unlikely they ever would.

A shadow fell over him and Draco shaded his hand to see who stood over him. He stared in surprise for a moment when he beheld Potter.

"Salazar!" he burst out and bolted upright. He turned and slammed his Transfiguration book shut with an oath, hoping Potter hadn't noticed the stolen—well, technically, found—book nestled within.

"Wait!" Potter said. "Don't leave, I just wanted to um… talk to you."

Draco twisted back to face him warily. Potter was clad in his ever-present Muggle jeans and a simple white t-shirt with Quidditch emblazoned on it in gleaming gold letters. Potter's school robe was slung over one arm. Draco raised a brow. "Talk. As in… conversation?"

Potter's lips moved into something that was almost a smile. "That is the general definition of talking, yeah."

"But we never talk."

Potter nodded and then dropped down onto the edge of the blanket near Draco's feet. "I know. I think we should change that. You seem to be making an effort lately and I've been… Well, I've been a prat and I want to apologize." Potter's speech was delivered in a rush and he did not look at Draco at all, but instead toyed with the laces on his shoes.

When Draco said nothing, Potter finally lifted his head and shot him an indecipherable look before his lips thinned. "Anyway, that's all I wanted to say." Potter made a motion as though he planned to leave and the thought jolted Draco out of his stasis.

"I am not certain I heard you correctly," Draco admitted. "Did the Saviour of the World just apologize? To me?"

Potter's expression morphed into familiar annoyance. "This will never work if you insist on behaving like a prat."

Draco smiled, although he had no idea what this entailed. Still, if Potter was willing to make conversation, Draco was more than willing to indulge him, strange though it was. "Very well, Potter," he said, making sure to stress the name slightly, so that Potter would pick up on the fact that he was using it frequently. "What would you like to talk about? And, by the way, your hair looks…" Draco trailed off. He had intended to compliment the boy, but he couldn't very well admit that Potter's hair looked like he had just climbed out of bed after a night of being heartily banged into the headboard, a vision that suddenly made it impossible for Draco to form words.

Potter's hand rose to try and flatten down the tousled locks. "Like a nest for sparrows," Potter finished. "Yeah, I know. Um, we can talk about Quidditch, maybe?"

Draco frowned, still distracted by the image of Potter lying back on white pillows with a well-shagged smile on his face. He nodded dumbly. "Quidditch. Potter. Yes, Quidditch, brilliant idea. And brooms. We can converse about brooms." Draco's face flamed as he realized what he had said and he wondered what the fuck was wrong with him.

Potter grimaced and got to his feet. "Maybe this was a bad idea," he mumbled. "See you around, Malfoy."

For a fleeting moment, Draco thought about calling him back, but his eyes fell on Potter's backside and the remaining moisture in his mouth seemed to depart. He thought it criminally unfair that Potter had the nicest arse in all of Hogwarts and how had he not noticed that before now?

**O**

Draco sat in a secluded corner of the Quidditch stands, watching the Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw game and mulling over the words he had read earlier. He supposed they made sense if you were planning to woo a girl. It had only recently occurred to Draco that he might not want to woo a girl ever again. It belatedly became obvious to him that what he'd been doing while following the advice in Potter's silly book was wooing Potter. And once dragged into the light, the idea had taken root and grown less mortifying by the moment.

Keep it Clean! Most wizards, especially when young, have their minds on one thing only. Carnal pleasure! While witches have desires, too, it is not a good idea to discuss them when trying to charm your chosen witch. In fact, it can be very detrimental! Stick with safer topics and keep thoughts of the bedchamber to yourself, at least until you get to know her much, much better.

Draco was beginning to think the advice in the book was a load of tripe. Apparently, Potter agreed, because he had written quite a missive in the border of the page.

Keep thoughts of the bedchamber to yourself? Who wrote this? Obviously someone who has never seen him, because all I can think about is the bedchamber. Or the bed. With him in it. Merlin, it's driving me crazy! I'll bet his blond hair is softer than silk and

Draco had nearly snarled in frustration. Potter had stopped mid-sentence. What sort of idiot did that? And right after mentioning blond hair. Who did he fancy? It couldn't be Zacharias Smith. Draco had already crossed him off the list, since only the stupidest of minions would be desperate enough to follow him. There were not many more blonds with underlings. A Ravenclaw boy named Robin Fieldstone was Draco's primary candidate. He was fit, if a bit of a stuffed shirt, and was always surrounded by a group of first and second year students that hung on his every word.

Draco had begun to give Fieldstone the evil eye, just in case.

The sound of shuffling feet caused Draco to sit up as his prey came into sight. Potter stopped short and stared at Draco in evident surprise.

"Malfoy," he said in a tone that seemed casual enough, but a blush tinted Potter's cheeks. Was he embarrassed by their previous aborted attempt at "conversation", or was he simply upset because Draco had discovered his hiding place?

"Nice, secluded spot you have here," Draco commented and patted the empty spot on the bench beside him.

Potter shrugged, hesitated a moment longer, and then moved forward and sat down. "I was trying to get out of the sun one day and found this place."

It gave them a slightly skewed view of the field, but an overhang of planks sheltered it from both sun and rain. It was haphazardly put together, as though an industrious student had built it for that very purpose. The sun was the culprit today, happily beating down on the heads of students as they squinted to watch the action on the field, although the air was still cool enough to give them a chill in the shade.

Draco studied Potter's profile and decided that Potter had very nice cheekbones and a lovely, straight nose, despite the fact that Draco had broken it in their sixth year. He was glad it had healed properly and felt a moment of chagrin for the base act, even though Potter had deserved it for spying on him.

"So, who do you fancy?" Potter asked without taking his eyes from the field.

Draco's eyes widened and his mind scrambled for an answer. Who did he fancy? What sort of question was that? The reply sprang to his lips and he choked it back, because admitting to Potter that he fancied him—and wasn't that a startling revelation that hadn't occurred to him until this very moment—would be the height of stupidity, since they had barely managed a single, awkward conversation that had not ended in the urge to hex one another, although Draco supposed that was progress, in itself.

"Fancy?" he managed.

Potter turned his brilliant green eyes on Draco and cocked a grin that made Draco's heart jump, just a bit. "To win," he said and jerked a thumb toward the field.

Oh. Quidditch! Draco nearly laughed aloud in relief. "Well, as much as I hate to admit it, I think Hufflepuff will slaughter them. Ravenclaw has a shite team this year, especially after they lost Elkins."

Potter nodded. "As much as I hate to agree with you," Potter said with a chuckle, "I think you're right. And Taylor is improving as a Seeker. He has nice form on a broom, don't you think?"

Draco's eyes narrowed as he sought out the Hufflepuff Seeker. Ross Taylor was fit, he supposed, and almost blond, although his hair was a dark enough shade to be called brown by most people's standards. He had nice legs, but Potter's arse put Taylor's to shame… The thought of Potter's arse was distracting, particularly when aforethought arse was sitting mere inches away.

Keep it clean, Draco reminded himself and bit back a comment about Taylor's lack of padding in the rear quarters.

"Too bad he has no arse," Potter said with a smirk. "I'll bet his bum hurts after every match."

Draco stared at him and then laughed, surprised to hear Potter utter the very words Draco had held back. "How does yours feel after a match?" he asked and then thought about Stunning himself for breaking the Keep it Clean rule, but Potter surprised him again.

"I don't know. No one's ever felt it after a match." He winked at Draco and then laughed and bumped him with an elbow.

Draco felt his cheeks fill with heat as the image of feeling Potter's arse exploded through his imagination. Merlin, his palms fairly itched with the urge to touch and squeeze and…

"That's a pity," Draco said, although it came out sounding rather hoarse due to a distinct lack of moisture in his throat. "Want me to give it a grope after the next game and give you a report?"

Potter's eyes went almost impossibly wide and Draco's mouth sagged open as he wondered what the fuck had happened to his ability to self-censor, but then Potter threw back his head and laughed. It was possibly the best sound Draco had ever heard, because it was directed at him, and not in a mean, derisive manner, but in genuine amusement.

"I'd pay you," Potter said, still snickering. "It would be worth it just to see the faces of your teammates."

"And Weasley's," Draco added with a smile.

Potter groaned, but broke out in chuckles again. "Merlin, yes. He might die on the spot."

"Even better. So, then," Draco murmured. "It's a date."

Potter's eyes sparkled with amusement and a strange, almost electric tension seemed to radiate between them. Draco had difficulty breathing for a moment and then Potter said, "If Davies didn't spend half his time trying to look down Amber Earnhardt's shirt he might have better luck scoring a goal."

The tension eased and Draco seized the new topic eagerly. They spent the rest of the game verbally abusing the members of both teams, much to Draco's delight. He did not even have to remind himself to laugh at Potter's jokes, because the boy was surprisingly funny. When the Hufflepuff Seeker finally caught the Snitch and ended the slaughter, Potter gently tapped Draco's knee with a hand and rose to his feet.

"It's actually been nice chatting with you, Malfoy."

"Likewise, Potter," Draco said truthfully. "I'll see you after our next game."

Potter's gaze was warm and—dared Draco think it?—almost flirtatious. "I look forward to it."

Draco watched Potter's arse until he turned a corner and was gone.

Keep it Clean, he thought and snorted. Not bloody likely.

**O**

Chapter Six – Be Unique!

Most witches have heard all the old lines and while compliments are very nice and will help her to look favourably upon you, it will take something special to help you stand out from the crowd. This does not mean you should dress up in a unicorn suit and recite her love sonnets in a public place. Think carefully before doing something to embarrass her! Use your creativity in a positive way so that she will remember you.

Draco lay on his bed with the book on his chest, thinking. His encounter with Potter had gone better than he would have dreamed, but it was beginning to take on the ethereal quality of a dream. Had Draco actually offered to grope Potter's arse? And had Potter really met the suggestion with amused acceptance? It seemed unreal. As far as acts of originality went, Draco supposed he had covered that one quite nicely.

He grinned and lifted the book once more, skimming the ideas with a sneer of disdain that turned into a genuine smile when he realized Potter had evaluated them, also.

Send her personalized chocolates, one for each letter of her name. Boring, although he seems to like sweets and he is fond of himself.

Give her an unusual gift, such as charmed butterflies for her hair. That would go over well. He's far too vain about his hair to let something as mundane as a butterfly rest in it. Might look fetching, though.

If you are in school together, meet her before and after class to carry her books. Gentlemanly behaviour is always appreciated. The first time I made a move for his books, he and his minions would hex me seven ways from Sunday. I'd like to keep my bits, thanks.

Draco frowned. Potter's crush did not seem very nice. In fact, he sounded rather like an egocentric, self-absorbed twit. If not for the continued references to underlings, Draco would have revisited Zac Smith as a candidate.

Find out about her favourite things! Ask her friends for a list of her favourites. Is she fond of the colour blue? Change your wardrobe to accommodate her tastes. I already know his favourite colour and my own house would hex me if I started wearing Slytherin green. And I hardly think Parkinson would be forthcoming with useful information.

Draco sat up with a gasp. He reread the words several times to make sure he was not seeing things. Blond. Underlings. Slytherin. Parkinson. Bloody hell, he was Potter's crush! How could he have been so blind? He clutched the book in both hands, heart beating wildly. He flipped back through the pages, searching for Potter's notes. As he read them again, the evidence became irrefutable. Potter wanted him.

His eyes fixed on a previous passage, one that had filled him with envy before, but now took on an entirely new definition. …because all I can think about is the bedchamber. Or the bed. With him in it. Merlin, it's driving me crazy!

Potter thought about him. In bed. Often, apparently. It was exhilarating. Draco wanted to shout with laughter. He had been close to wallowing in depression, thinking that he would never have a chance, and now, to find out that Potter was interested… Salazar. But what was he to do about it? Draco couldn't very well march up to him and say, "Potter, I know you fancy me. Let's shag." Potter would think he had gone mental. No, he had to think like a Gryffindor.

**O**

Draco nervously waited for Potter outside Transfigurations the next day. When the Gryffindor emerged with his own minions, Draco signalled to him. Potter's eyes widened, but he made some excuse to Granger and the Weasel and hurried over. Draco walked to a brightly lit window alcove and glanced at him. He bit his lip for a moment, not at all certain of this course of action, but Gryffindors seemed to prize honesty over all else, so Draco planned to come clean.

He took a deep breath and pulled out the copy of Twelve Fail-safe Ways to Charm Witches and handed it to Potter. "I found your book."

Potter took it and then the colour slowly drained from his face. "Oh, Merlin," Potter whispered. "Oh no." He backed away a step, eyes going wide as he stared at the book in what seemed to be growing horror. "Fuck, this is why you've been acting so strangely. You've… oh, Godric, you must think…" The colour returned to Potter's face in a rush and then his eyes snapped to Draco's and flared with green fire. "You bastard! I hope you had a good laugh from this."

Draco's eyes widened and he held out a hand. "Wait, Potter, it's not what you think—"

Potter glared at him with an expression Draco had hoped never to see again, a too-familiar combination of hatred and disgust. "I'm sure you and Zabini will have a great time spreading the tale. And your good friend Rita Skeeter still works at the Daily Prophet. She'll be over the moon."

Potter's chest heaved and his eyes were wild. Draco took a step forward, alarmed at the raw pain he read there. "No, Potter, I didn't—"

"Fuck you, Malfoy," Potter whispered. "Just stay the hell away from me."

Before Draco could stop him, Potter bolted and ran, leaving Draco to stare after him in shock, hand still upraised and hanging in midair.

"That went well," he whispered to himself, but did not find it even remotely amusing. It seemed his astoundingly bad luck was still in force. He had just discovered that he wanted Potter, only to have the possibility snatched from his grip. "That will teach me to act like a fucking Gryffindor."

**O**

Draco left Potter alone for the next three days, watching as Potter's glares slowly morphed from purest hatred to wary perplexity. He was, no doubt, wondering why Draco had not gone to the papers, and why none of the other Slytherins had made him the butt of cruel jokes.

For Draco's part, he knew it wasn't wise to prod a wounded lion so soon after injury, unless he wanted a face full of claws. If there was one thing he had learned during his horrifying sixth year, it was patience.

By the end of the third day, he suspected Potter's curiosity was at its peak, so he made sure his dorm mates were all asleep, bundled a thick black cloak over his green silk pyjamas, and left the Slytherin dungeon.

As he slipped through the Front Hall and made his way out the front doors, he wondered why the school was seldom locked at night. Not that he was complaining, because it made sneaking out quite a lot easier, something the staff had to have known was a common event for those in Slytherin house. Perhaps that was why the doors were left open—to prevent injury or damage to school property by students determined to exit.

Draco shook his head as he crossed the neatly trimmed lawn and headed for the greenhouses. Professor Sprout had taken advantage of the rebuilding frenzy over the summer and had added two large greenhouses, one of which contained nothing but fresh flowers that were used to add fragrant adornment to the castle. Draco would never admit it aloud, but he thought they added a much needed air of brightness to help dispel the gloom of painful memories. They had all lost friends and acquaintances in the war. It was hard to forget his part in it.

As he opened the door to the floral greenhouse, Draco wondered if Potter would even bother to follow. It would be smarter for the hero to forget his crush and find someone better suited—if he hadn't already.

The room was delightfully warm and fragrant. Draco draped his cloak over a high-backed stool and wandered the rows of flowers, leaning down to smell his favourites and allowing the leaves of a friendly clinging trumpet vine to wrap around his fingers for a moment. He smiled wryly when he realized it was the most affection he had received in a long while. Despite the depressing thought, he considered taking a cutting back to his room, thinking botanical love would be better than no love at all.

He pulled his hand away from the plant when he heard the whisper of the door opening. A glance showed nothing and he nearly sighed with relief. It was Potter, then, wearing his invisibility cloak. Draco's mouth went dry with anticipation, and possibly a hint of fear. Given their history, there was no guarantee that Potter had anything in mind other than hexing him.

"I thought you might have given up that habit," Draco said conversationally as he walked back toward the door and then stopped to cup the petals of a yellow rose. It felt as soft as kitten fur.

The air shimmered a few feet away and then Potter appeared, wearing black pyjama bottoms, trainers, and a white t-shirt he had obviously dragged on in a hurry, since the tag was visible near his Adam's apple. "What habit?" Potter asked.

"Following me," Draco said with a half-smile as he met Potter's gaze.

His smile was not returned. "What do you want, Malfoy? Do you plan to blackmail me? I don't like to play Slytherin guessing games, so just tell me what you want."

Draco's eyes widened in faux surprise. "You mean for me to blurt it out? Just like that?"

Potter's jaw worked and his eyes narrowed. "Yes. Just like that."

Draco turned back to the rose and traced the edge of a petal with one finger as he seemed to consider Potter's suggestion. "I don't know. It's not very Slytherin-like."

"No, stealing my book was Slytherin-like," Potter snapped.

"I did not steal it. You dropped it in the library and I picked it up. I even returned it to you, so you tell me what I did wrong," Draco said, turning to confront him.

Potter opened his mouth, shut it, and then turned and stalked over to a blood rose as if snared by the dark petals. "I don't… Fuck, I don't know. I guess I'm mostly angry at myself for allowing it out of my sight, and even angrier for ever writing in it. How much did you…? How much did you read?"

Draco heard the frustration in his voice. He moved as silently as possible and stood behind Potter, not quite touching him, but close enough that Potter stiffened. Potter's hand froze partway to the rose and he made a soft gasp when Draco lifted a hand to touch the black curls at his nape.

Potter's hair felt even softer than the yellow rose, if such a thing were possible. It needed a trim, as it was nearly touching his collar. Draco pushed his fingers deeper into the thickness until he felt skin, and then he trailed his fingers down Potter's neck. The soft hair clung to his fingers for a moment and then fell away.

Draco traced the ridges of Potter's neck bones, one bump at a time, until he reached the collar of Potter's wrong-side-round t-shirt, and then he slid his fingertips along the edge, not losing contact with Potter's skin, until he felt the gentle rise of Potter's collarbone. He followed it to the hollow of Potter's throat and dipped his index finger into the dent to draw a single circle.

"Funny you should ask what I want, Potter," Draco murmured, not realizing he had stepped even closer until Potter's soft hair brushed against his lips as he spoke. "I had to read half the damned book to figure it out, but I was thinking about you long before I got there."

Potter's breath hitched. "Thinking?" he asked, barely audible.

"Yes. Thinking about this," Draco said and moved forward until his chest touched Potter's back. He slid his cheek over Potter's hair and brushed his lips down the shell of Potter's ear, breathing lightly therein and then nibbling the lobe in passing before pressing his lips to Potter's neck in an open-mouthed kiss.

Potter seemed to have stopped breathing. Draco pushed his hand gently into Potter's shirt and splayed his fingers over his chest to feel for movement. The motion seemed to jumpstart Potter's nervous system and he hitched a ragged breath. Draco kissed him again, feeling Potter's pulse leap against his lips as he tasted the flesh there. Draco's other hand slid around Potter's waist and drew him back, plastering them together.

Potter's head fell back, touching Draco's shoulder. His left hand covered Draco's, almost, but not quite, linking their fingers and holding Draco's hand against the taut muscles of his abdomen. "Malfoy, if this is a terrible joke…"

"Shush," Draco said and captured Potter's lips.

The angle was awkward and Potter's lips were dry and it should have been all wrong, but it was simply brilliant, especially when a gentle pressure and answering suction meant Potter was kissing him back.

Potter turned suddenly and fit himself against Draco's front, moving so quickly that it almost seemed the kiss hadn't broken at all when Potter's lips found his, fitting together perfectly this time. Potter's hands went into Draco's hair and Draco's hands wrapped around Potter's waist, holding him in place, even though it seemed he didn't plan to go anywhere, which was very good.

They kissed for long minutes, pressing and tasting each other's lips, neither seeming quite willing to take the next step. Potter's teeth sank into Draco's lower lip, gently, tugging lightly, evoking a response from Draco's body that would only be obvious to Potter. Draco drew in a breath and then pushed his tongue out to trace Potter's upper lip. As if waiting for that signal, Potter put his tongue into action and the kiss became a glorious battle of who could taste the other more completely.

Draco wasn't sure who was winning, but his fingers were tangled in Potter's shirt and he was afraid his knees might buckle. Potter's grip on his hair was almost painful.

Potter pulled away suddenly, looking amazing with his glasses askew and his cheeks flushed, eyes glittering and lips wet with Draco's saliva. Merlin. Draco leaned in for another kiss, but Potter yanked at his hair, keeping them apart.

"Wait," Potter said. "This can't be you. Who are you and where did you get the Polyjuice?"

Draco rolled his eyes. "Of course it's me. Don't be silly."

Potter shook his head. "No, Draco Malfoy would never willingly kiss me. He hates me."

"I don't hate you, Potter." To his surprise, Draco realized it was true, especially if Potter planned to go back to kissing him. "But if you insist, we can wait around until an hour has passed."

Potter looked relieved. "That's actually a good idea. Um… what should we do for an hour?"

Draco grinned. "Always with the stupid questions, yeah?" Ignoring the hands in his hair, Draco leaned forward and fastened his mouth to Potter's luscious lips again.

Twenty minutes later, Draco was burning up. They had shifted until Draco sat on a stool and Potter half straddled him, one foot on the rungs of the stool and the other on the floor. His hands had found their way under Draco's pyjama shirt—hence the burning—and Draco's hands kneaded Potter's amazing arse. His fingers moved closer and closer to the dip between his arse cheeks with every pass and he wanted nothing more than to remove the pesky barriers of clothing between them.

"I can't…" Potter panted against his lips and his hands drew down over Draco's ribs, sending a shivering tingle all the way to Draco's rock-hard cock. Potter shifted his hips forward a bit and Draco felt an answering hardness push against his erection. His hands tightened on Potter's arse and dragged him even closer, needing more contact there. Potter moaned. "I'm not going to make it the full hour."

"Can't you just accept that it's really me and we can move on to other things?" Draco asked. He debated moving his hands around to the front and sliding one into Potter's pyjama bottoms, but he was afraid to let go lest Potter back away and escape. He rocked his hips forward, but misjudged his position on the stool and slipped off the edge. He had time for only a gasp before they both sprawled on the wooden floor. Draco's arse took the brunt of the fall, but Potter's hands cushioned Draco's back, although his knuckles would probably disclose nasty bruises tomorrow.

However, Potter was now atop him, which was a very good thing, indeed. Draco gripped Potter's arse even tighter and drove his hips upward, sending sparks of bliss along the length of his painfully hard cock as Potter's erection moved against his.

"No," Potter said, but his hands moved from Draco's back around to the front. His fingers found Draco's nipples and he tweaked at them. Draco moaned aloud and bucked forward again, surprised at how sensitive his nipples had become, or perhaps it was just the fact that it was Potter touching them that made them so.

"For fuck's sake, ask me something only I would know!" Draco burst out. He pushed his fingers lower, caressing the soft area that marked the curve of Potter's testicles. Potter groaned and opened his legs wider, giving Draco better access and spreading Draco's thighs in the process.

"Good idea, Malfoy, if that's who you are. Mmmmm. Merlin, I can't think. Oh, you should probably stop… fuck, what am I saying? Don't stop…" Potter shivered and he arched his back, obviously seeking more attention for his testicles. Draco stretched his arm to its limit and cupped them with one hand before squeezing lightly. Potter whimpered and Draco did it again. "Okay, damn it, um… When I walked in on you in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, before we fought and I used Sectumsempra on you, what were you doing?"

Draco froze and glared at Potter, whose eyes looked smaller without his glasses—lost somewhere during their activities—but no less earnest. "Way to dredge up a mood killer, Potter," he said dryly. "Why that particular memory?"

"It's the only thing you wouldn't have mentioned to your friends. Or anyone else, I'll wager."

Potter was right. Draco had never revealed his moment of weakness to anyone. He had told them only that he and Potter had duelled in the bathroom because Potter had been following him again. He had not told anyone, not even Snape, that he had been—

"I was crying," he whispered.

Potter's eyes widened and his jaw dropped open. It would have been comical if he wasn't so damned attractive. "It is you."

Draco sighed explosively. "That's what I've been telling you all along. Now, do you plan to get naked soon, or shall I lea—?" His tirade was muffled by Potter's exuberant kiss and then Potter's hand moved between them to touch Draco's erection.

"Naked. Good idea," Potter mumbled between searing kisses.

It occurred to Draco that the floor of the greenhouse was probably not the best place for this sort of encounter, but when Potter's hand pressed like so he simply didn't care. Potter's other hand left off stroking Draco's chest and tugged at Draco's shirt. Draco lifted his torso so that Potter could yank it over his head, much faster than unbuttoning the damned thing, although one of the buttons snagged in his hair and tore out a few strands.

"You, too," Draco said and let go of Potter to pluck at his t-shirt. Potter tore it off with impressive speed and flung it upward. It hit a rosebush overhead and sent a shower of pink petals raining down around them. One caught in Potter's hair and Draco smiled at the stupidly romantic image. Potter grinned back and then leaned down to kiss him again, sliding his erection over Draco's as he did so.

Draco pushed at Potter's black pyjama bottoms, working them until his hands could grab Potter's arse again, this time with nothing between his hands and Potter's bare flesh. "Don't worry, I still plan to grope you after Quidditch, as promised," Draco commented. "But, so far, I like what I'm feeling."

Potter snorted a laugh, but his hands were busy with Draco's bottoms and then there was nothing between them. The first brush of cock against cock was blissful.

"We should have done this ages ago," Draco said with a moan.

"Not my fault you play hard to get," Potter replied, rocking his hips forward and back to slide his delicious length along Draco's.

"Not fair. I didn't even know you were interested until I found your silly book."

"Glad you did."

"You did not seem very glad the past few days," Draco said petulantly.

"I thought you were having me on." Potter's hand wrapped around both cocks and stroked. Draco was in real danger of coming, especially when Potter palmed the head. "Merlin, you feel good. I want—"

Draco knew what Potter wanted and it suddenly seemed like a very good idea. "Okay," he said and lifted his hips.

Potter gasped, but a brief pause was his only hesitation. He reached back and fumbled in his discarded clothing for his wand. "Are you sure?" he asked.

"Potter, just fuck me already, before I change my mind."

Potter conjured a handful of lubricant and tentatively touched Draco's arsehole with cool, slick fingers. Draco made a guttural sound and relaxed in anticipation. He had used his own fingers on himself for the past three days, thinking about Potter whilst wanking, but this was so much better. Potter was gentle at first, moving almost too slowly and carefully, but once three fingers were buried deep, he began to twist and thrust his hand in time with Draco's needy movements.

"Merlin, Potter, now. I want you inside me."

"Draco," Potter said, almost as if the sound was being torn from him. Draco gasped, amazed that hearing his own name could provoke such an erotic thrill. He wondered if it would have the same effect on Potter.

"Harry," he murmured and Potter froze to stare down at him. Draco grinned. Apparently so. "Fuck me, Harry."

Potter's fingers slid out and then his cock took their place, stretching and filling him with a burn that was far more pleasant than painful.

"Draco. You feel better than anything, anywhere, ever." Potter's voice was a whisper.

Draco felt a rush of emotion and answered Potter's words with a thrust of his hips, driving himself onto Potter's cock. "Like that, Harry," he said in an instructional tone.

"You like giving orders, don't you, Draco?" Potter asked and then followed them by pulling nearly out and slamming into Draco, who thought he might pass out from the sensation. The floor was hard and dirty and grit dug into his shoulder blades with every frantic thrust, but Draco did not care at all, because Potter was amazing. His hair caught on his eyelashes and his fingers dug into Draco's hips and the look of fiery intensity on his face was something Draco would never forget.

When Potter's lube-wet hand found Draco's hard cock and began to stroke in time with his thrusts, Draco knew he wouldn't last much longer. He let the feeling build, climbing to a peak he had never attained alone, and then he was coming with a shout. His vision went white and every muscle in his body seemed to tighten and shudder, including those surrounding Potter, who gave a breathless cry and buried his face in Draco's neck as he thrust a few more times, shivering against Draco's skin.

Draco's arms were wrapped around Potter and his black hair was damp against Draco's cheek. Hot, panting breaths wafted over his neck and Potter's full weight lay atop him, sticky and covered in sweat, dust, and rose petals.

Draco could not have been happier.

"I'm crushing you," Potter mumbled after long moments.

"You're a master at stating the obvious, Potter," Draco said dryly, but his arms tightened in case the Gryffindor intended to do something stupid, such as move. He pulled against Draco's embrace for a moment and then relaxed.

"You're not letting go."

Draco chuckled and nipped at Potter's shoulder. "Again with the obvious."

Potter's hands roamed along Draco's sides, lightly touching him with little purpose. It felt lovely. Draco reciprocated by writing his name on Potter's back.

"What are you doing?" Potter asked. His voice was tinged with amusement.

"Didn't you read Chapter Twelve?" Draco asked. "Mark Your Territory."

Potter snorted. "There's no such chapter." He paused and drew a surprised breath. "You are?"

"Of course, Potter. Don't you know anything about purebloods? Any person granted the gift of a pureblood's virginity automatically becomes the property of that pureblood. You should stop reading tawdry pick-up manuals and study something more worthy."

"Property?" Potter said, raising his head to stare down at Draco in lovely bewilderment. "Pureblood… virginity?" His black lashes fluttered over his green eyes and a goofy smile curved his lips. "Does the, um… property… get to mark his territory, also?"

"I think you already did, Harry," Draco said suggestively.

Potter blushed. "Oh."

Merlin, when had Potter become utterly adorable, anyway? Draco threaded a hand into his hair and pulled him down for a kiss. It was just as intense as those that had come before; Draco felt like Potter was marking his territory in earnest. He was also starting to get turned on again.

Potter broke away, breathing hard. "Come on, we've got to get off this hard floor. It can't be good for your back." He sat back, slipping out of Draco with a gasp and another blush, and then caught Draco's wrists and pulled him to his feet as he rose.

Dressing was only slightly awkward and they tugged on their clothing in silence after casting a variety of Cleaning Charms. "I feel like dirt. Care to join me in the Prefect's bath, Potter?"

The green eyes were warm and inviting. "Absolutely, Malfoy."

Potter slung on his cloak and disappeared. Draco slipped into his black cloak and headed for the door, sparing a moment of envy for Potter's miraculous cape. He paused with the door partially open and felt Potter bump into him.

"Potter? I was only joking. About the property thing, I mean. Not about the… first time."

Potter's hand splayed over his back. "Good. And I don't mind being your property."

Draco froze and glanced back to where he knew Potter stood, even though there was nothing to see. "You don't?"

"No. As long as it's… mutually exclusive?"

Draco let out a breath. "Good. That's good, then."

"It's very good," Potter's voice agreed. A hand caught Draco's and linked their fingers together before tugging slightly. Draco smiled and allowed himself to be led back toward the castle.

Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches, Draco thought derisively. I only needed six to charm the best wizard of all. Potter's fingers tightened on his, eliciting a pleased smile. Or perhaps it had been the other way around.

~END~

Note: This fic was pure love to write! I had a blast with the prompt, written for HD Smoochfest and the awesome "fireflavored" there. *adores her* I know it's longish for a oneshot, but I hate breaking it up.