Title: With This Ring
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, Ron/Hermione
Summary: Rings stuck on fingers, nightmares, and unsatisfying wank sessions are just a few of Harry’s problems. Oh yes, and he’s also in love with Draco Malfoy.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Bonding fic
Epilogue compliant? No
Word Count: 10,871
Author's Notes: Items with an asterisk are explained at the end of the story. Thanks to my beta, A, and many, many thanks to M for the super speedy read-through of my re-type! The biggest thanks ever goes to NQ, Tara & Co, for being amazing through this whole process! trubbleclef- thank you so much for some really awesome prompts! I hope this was at least a little of what you were looking for!
Harry sighed and looked at the clock on his office wall. He'd missed lunch and was craving something indulgent. He pushed the files on his desk to the side, then laid out a blank piece of parchment and picked up a self-inking quill.
I need to eat something overpriced and preferably bad for my heart. LARGE PORTIONS. If you've got ideas and no other plans after work, let me know.
-Your Secret Admirer
Harry sent the note off and started looking through the files on his desk again. It had been a slow week, the highlight of which was picking up a wizard selling potions without a license. It was the perp's first offense and he got off with a warning and a few hours of community service. Harry had been spending most of the week re-sorting old files for lack of anything better to do. He was distracted by his file sorting when a parchment landed in his in-box.
It is a wonder to me that you don't weigh as much as a hippogriff. I would love nothing more than to aid you in losing your girlish figure. How does Antonio's sound?
P.S. It isn't a secret if everyone knows.
Harry snorted. He knew that he and Draco often joked with each other about Harry's love for Draco, but little did Draco know, it wasn't really all a joke. Over the past three years that he and Draco had been working together, Harry had realized something. Something that made Harry question the way his blood used to pound in his temples when he saw Oliver Wood in the Quidditch locker rooms back at Hogwarts. Love of the game? Harry had begun to doubt it. It was something that made him think about the way he had felt, or rather had not felt, when he had kissed Cho Chang. It was something that made Harry think that, well, that he might be a bit bent.
It happened as many revelations in Harry's life had: a slow, gradual niggling somewhere deep in his mind, then the next thing he knew, he was having lewd dreams and thinking it might be a good idea to do something dangerous.
It wouldn't be so bad, not really, Harry thought. Plenty of blokes were gay. There was Colin and Percy, which while not the best examples, proved he wasn't alone... and maybe he was just a 'halfy' as Seamus liked to refer to himself. Maybe he was only half gay. But that was only if he was at all -- and he wasn't entirely sure that he was. It was just Draco, the same way it used to be just Ginny, and it probably didn't mean anything, not really, not if Draco wasn't gay too. And Harry was pretty sure that he wasn't.
Harry circled the pitch lazily, lost in thought. Usually he would be avidly searching for the Snitch, but today his mind was a million miles away, thinking on more pressing matters--like the maybe- possibly-gay feelings he had for Malfoy. Harry thought that sexuality crises were supposed to be reserved for pubescent teen-lings and middle-aged women, two categories to which he did not belong. He thought that he had that all had been sorted when Ginny had kissed him for the first time all those years ago. He may have noticed a bloke or two since then, but mostly it was just Ginny. But then, he and Ginny didn't really work out the way Harry thought they would, and now she was married to Neville and pregnant with their first child.
It was actually on their wedding day that Harry first thought it; all those times he had dismissed his thoughts about men because there was Ginny, and now, there was no Ginny, and all that was left was this strange longing, coupled with Draco Malfoy in graphite dress robes. Draco Malfoy: Harry's partner and friend, who was laughing and singing along to a song with Seamus Finnigan at Ginny Weasley nee Longbottom's wedding reception. It was strange the way things turned out sometimes.
It was just the longing that was the problem, really. Harry was strong enough not to act on it. He knew where boundaries lay. He knew anything more than a friendly gesture or touch wouldn't go unnoticed, not when they were both highly trained Aurors and experts at reading body language. He knew --but it didn't change the want.
"Potter! Were you planning on actually trying for the Snitch today, or did you just want to buy us all a round now?"
Harry floundered on his broom for a moment before calling back. "Uh, yeah!" He called once he'd gained his balance, "I mean, no! Doesn't look like you've caught it yet either!"
"That's about to change!" Draco yelled then darted towards Harry.
Harry looked wildly around him to see if he could catch sight of the Snitch. Just as he was sure Draco had been taking the piss, he caught a glimmer of gold out of the corner of his eye. Harry turned his broom to head for it, but Draco was already barrelling past with a maniacal laugh.
"You are a complete and utter wanker, I hope you realise," Harry said as they stepped over the threshold to Draco's flat.
"Oh, come off it. At least I'm letting you clean up at mine, and it isn't like I didn't get a bit dirty either."
"The spells work fine, let's just cast a quick Evanesco and be done with it!"
"Ew, Potter," Draco said, making a face, "this is why I insisted you clean up here; you can't be trusted to take care of yourself. Just because you can't see the dirt, or feel it anymore, doesn't mean you are clean."
Harry rolled his eyes and stepped into Draco's living room. For the three years since he and Draco had become Auror partners, and the two years since becoming friends, this was his first time seeing where Draco lived. He always imagined that it would be filled with sturdy wooden furniture and busy brocades. He was pleasantly surprised to see that instead, Draco's flat was a study in monochromatics with a few pieces of dramatic colour here and there.
"Nice place," Harry commented, nodding.
"Sweet Merlin, I'll have to burn everything now!" Draco cried, feigning distress. "And I do so love the chaise," Draco sighed.
"Well, if it makes you feel better, I think chaises are overrated."
Draco's face lit up triumphantly. "Then perhaps it can be salvaged! I'm going to hop in the shower; feel free to grab something to drink, I shouldn't be too long," Draco said over his shoulder as he headed down the hallway.
Harry took Draco's time in the shower as the perfect opportunity to snoop. There wasn't much that really resembled anything that Harry had expected to see. Everything was pretty modern with clean lines and a very masculine undertone. That was, until he entered Draco's bedroom. It was very spacious with dark wood floors, grey walls, and an all white bed big enough to get lost in. The prize, however, was the small ornate chest on Draco's side-table.
Jackpot, Harry thought as he eyed the chest. It was heavily warded, but Harry wasn't one of the top Aurors for nothing. He opened it to find a few old photos of the Malfoys and some odd pieces of jewellery. One piece in particular caught Harry's eye. It was a ring. The same ring, in fact, that Draco wore every day. Harry tried to remember a time that he had seen Draco without the ring on his finger and couldn't recall it. Perhaps he took it off for Quidditch? Harry slipped the ring on his finger and admired it. Harry could never pull off wearing jewellery. It just never looked right on him. This ring was simple enough, just a silver band with a Malfoy crest etched out on the front.
Harry heard the shower stop running and rushed to pull the ring off, but it wouldn't budge. Cursing his luck, he shoved everything else back into the chest and prayed Draco wouldn't think to put his ring back on before they went to the Leaky. He rushed out into the living room to wait for Draco.
Harry thought that resisting the pull to Draco couldn't get any harder... but that was before he saw him wet and in nothing more than a towel slung around his waist.
"I'm all finished in there; I put a change of clothes and a towel out for you, so get in and hurry up! I can't wait to get to the Leaky to tell Tom I bested you yet again!"
Harry tried to think of a witty comeback to present an air of normalcy, but it proved too difficult in the face of trying to fight down his burgeoning erection. Sweet Merlin, did Draco look amazing in a towel. Beads of water were cascading down his neck and pooling in the dip above his collarbone. Harry imagined dipping his tongue into the pool of collecting water and drinking from it as if nectar from the gods. Draco's skin was flawless, save for one silvery line that crossed from just under his right nipple and disappeared somewhere under the towel, near his left hipbone, which was exactly where Harry was staring when Draco interrupted his thoughts.
"Honestly, Potter, I know I'm gorgeous, but must you stare? Hop-to, we haven't time to waste, you've got two teams of thirsty Aurors waiting on your Galleons!"
The reminder of his defeat and the subsequent co-workers awaiting their arrival at the Leaky snapped Harry out of his trance.
"Right, right. I'll just... shower. Now," he said, making his way awkwardly past Draco and down the hall. He sighed with relief when he shut the bathroom door behind him and could stop trying to conceal his hard-on. He took off all of his clothes and decided to just have one off in the shower.
Harry thought it would be strange and wrong to have one off while Draco's ring was still on his finger, so he set to work trying to remove it. He lathered it up with soap; he tried spinning, and pulling, and even biting, but to no avail. The ring would not come off.
Admitting defeat, at least for the moment, he decided to just give in, and take care of his other problem first.
Harry closed his eyes and conjured the image of Malfoy in that towel. Malfoy, wet and standing before him with barely a barrier between them. He imagined Draco reaching out and wrapping his hand around Harry, at the same time that Harry wrapped his hand around himself. He could feel the cool metal of Draco's ring on his flesh and shivered before he began pumping in earnest. The more he stroked himself, the warmer the ring grew, and it was sending delicious sensations through his cock. Harry hummed as he felt heat pooling in his lower abdomen and began stroking harder and faster.
His nipples were peaked and tingling, his breath coming in shallow gasps. Harry brought his other hand down and massaged his balls, encouraging his body to let go. His whole body felt hot and he could never recall a build-up to orgasm quite so intense before in his life. He could barely stand up any longer for the convulsions his body was experiencing; sparks of pure electricity seemed to jolt him. He felt like he would combust if he didn't come soon.
Harry's balls were impossibly tight and he was beginning to feel uncomfortable riding the edge of orgasm for so long. Frustrated, he began pumping his fist harder than he should, too violent in his need to get off. He was literally aching for release and almost on the verge of tears for not being able to get there. He bit his bottom lip and decided to force his orgasm to come. With shaking fingers he massaged around his anus until he could push a finger inside. Not able to stand any longer, Harry lowered himself to his knees and rested his cheek on the cool edge of the tub. Come on! he mentally urged himself. There had to be something wrong. He thought his balls might explode, and it wasn't anything close to a pleasant sensation any longer. He worked a second finger into himself and prodded his prostate, but instead of causing his body to release it just drove him more and more mad.
Harry heard a knock on the door and bit down on his fist to keep from screaming in frustration.
"You all right in there? You haven't fallen or something, have you? I will not stand for you falling to your death in my shower, only to be blamed for it! I've worked too hard, Potter! You best answer before I decide to come in there. Don't think I'm above necromancy, if that's what it comes to!"
Harry released his fist from his death-bite and took a deep breath.
"I'm… fine. I'll be out in a mo’!"
Easing himself into a sitting position in the tub, Harry leaned forward and turned the taps to come as cold as possible. He sat and grit his teeth as his erection abated, but his severe case of blue balls grew even more unpleasant. He felt like he might be sick, but forced himself to hurriedly wash up so he could get out of there.
Harry tried to walk as gingerly as he could to the bar with Draco, all the while trying his best to conceal his hand from view. When he had got dressed after his shower from hell, he tried to cast a localized glamour on his hand to conceal the ring, but it wouldn't work. He tried to pull his sleeve down over his hand, but it was as if there was some sort of force keeping his sleeve from pulling past the ring. Harry wasn't ready to admit to Draco that he had snooped through his things, so he decided just to keep the ring out of sight until he could go home and work on getting it off himself.
"That's another one on the board for me, Tom!" Draco said cheerfully as they reached the bar.
"Two weeks in a row?" Tom questioned turning to Harry. "Losing your touch, are you? The rest of your lads have started without you," he told them, motioning to their rowdy mates in the corner of the pub.
Harry and Draco collected their drinks and headed for the corner.
"What in sweet Merlin's knickers kept you two so long?" Seamus shouted and slid over to make room. Harry eased onto the bench slowly and slid over, barely hiding a grimace.
"Harry took ages to get ready; he was probably sitting in the loo trying to figure out if he had enough Galleons in his vault to support his losing streak!" Draco said, picking up his mug and raising it to toast with one of his teammates.
As Draco's hand passed in front of Harry's face, Harry caught sight of something shining on his finger. Harry watched in confusion as Draco's mug slammed against Conley's and provided the unmistakable view of Draco's ring, on his finger, right where it had always been. Instinctively, Harry clasped his hands under the table and felt for the ring. It was still there, but -- what the hell was going on? Why would Draco have two of the exact same ring? He knew that the Malfoys were nothing if not excessive... but it made no sense. Then again, it did seem to be Draco's favourite ring. Maybe he kept a back up just in case?
"Oh, come off it, Malfoy. Harry won’t be losing to you again any time soon!" Ron yelled, reaching across the table and clasping Harry's shoulder. "Right 'arry?"
Harry relaxed greatly when he realized that the ring on his finger probably wouldn't be noticed missing very soon, if it were only for back up. He could take his time with trying to remove it and Draco would never know that Harry had had it. He let a smile cross his face before turning to look Draco in the eye. "That's right, Ron!" he said merrily and took a swig of his drink.
"... and Simmons is such a pillock that he actually believed me, so now every time he goes to the loo, he wards the door behind him. I'm sure that when Alice catches on I'll have hell to pay, but until then, it's fucking hilarious to see the way Simmons looks at her!"
Everyone at the table was laughing and having a difficult time breathing.
"Merlin, Malfoy, you're gonna get it when she finds out. It won’t matter how many of your mum's biscuits you give her; she'll never type your reports for you again!" Johannes shouted.
"She will too; she might hold off for a while, but she's an addict. She'll come back to me. I have to do what I can to assure her services remain mine alone; if I told Simmons the real reason she types them for me, he'd bring in some of his wife's pumpkin crumble cake, and I can't compete with that!"
Nods of agreement could be seen around the table.
"It's bloody good cake, mate," Ron said looking serious.
"Too right," Draco responded in agreement, "Besides, when I told him she had a penchant for spanking... I would type my own reports for a month to see his face turn that colour again."
"Speaking of faces turning colours, Hermione'll have my head if I'm not home soon," Ron said, finishing off his beer and getting up from the table.
"Can't have that, now can we?" Seamus said as he rose from his seat as well.
Harry was feeling ready to leave himself. His balls were still a bit sore and he just wanted to go home and sleep it off. He could worry about removing the ring in the morning. "That's the night for me too, mates. I'm knackered as hell," he said, tossing his Galleons on the table.
Draco put his hand on Harry's arm and Harry jerked it away, thinking that Draco had seen the ring. Draco looked a bit hurt. "I was going to ask if you needed some help getting home tonight; you put away a few more than usual," he said. "But never mind, you do alright yourself, don't you?"
Harry felt bad, he knew that sometimes Draco was a bit more affectionate when drunk and he'd probably upset him. "I do fine. Did you want me to go with you back to yours?" he asked, trying to reassure Draco that they were still good.
Draco stopped and stared at Harry for a moment like he wasn't sure what to say, then he sort of blinked and shook his head. "No, I'll see you in the office on Monday. Cheers."
Harry shrugged and made his way out of the pub while the few left behind finished their drinks.
It was a routine drill they had done a million times, so Harry thought nothing of it when Draco decided to break away and explore the building on his own. He doubted there was any real Death Eater activity going on anyhow, more likely it was a couple of teens messing about. There was graffiti on the walls with a few hastily drawn Dark Marks mixed in, normal fare for kids who thought it was cool to be dangerous and hadn't been alive long enough to know the real meaning of it. He kicked a few loose bricks around the floor, bored and upset that they had been sent on a rookie mission.
Harry turned around trying to decipher the origin of Draco's yell, but the sound was bouncing off of the concrete walls in every direction.
"PLEASE, OH MERLIN. HARRY! HELP ME, HARRY!"
He tore up the stairs and chased the sound of Draco's voice to every door, every room, but the screams kept coming, sounding more and more desperate.
"Draco!" Harry yelled, panic making his breath come in short gasps. "Where are you? Tell me where you are!"
The hallway seemed to go on for miles. Even though he knew he had checked every door on the way down, it seemed as if Draco's voice was going further and further away.
"Hang on! I'm coming! Fuck... where are you? Fuck!"
"Haaaaarry." The sound of that voice made Harry's skin crawl. Bella. Harry froze as he could feel breath curling across the back of his neck. "Behind you."
He spun around and stumbled backward. There stood Draco, looking like his neck had been slit and an inhuman curve to his mouth. "Avada Ke--"
Harry sat bolt upright in his bed. "Fuck," he said trying to catch his breath. It was only a dream.
That weekend was horrible for Harry. He'd been trying to come up with a way to remove the ring all weekend and nothing had worked. He tried Dislodging Spells and Vanishing Spells. He’d tried to make the ring bigger and his finger smaller. He’d tried breaking, melting, and vaporising it –but the ring would not budge. He considered asking Hermione for help, but he wasn't ready to see that look. The one that she always got when Harry had done something stupid and needed her help to get out of it. He got it often enough already.
He wished that the ring was the only thing he had to worry about, but that wasn't the case. He'd been having horrible dreams every time he fell asleep and had managed little more than a couple of hours’ worth all weekend long. He was having trouble concentrating on anything and he knew he looked like crap. It was just that the dreams were so vivid. He knew that Bellatrix was dead, but it didn't stop Harry from believing that she was torturing and killing Draco while caught up in his dreams. It would feel like he was chasing Draco for hours, hearing his screams, but when he would wake up, only a few minutes would have passed.
Luckily, the weekend was almost over, and Harry was sure that when he got back to work, everything would go back to normal.
Harry dragged himself to his desk and rested his head against the cool mahogany. He had already had three cups of coffee, but they hadn't seemed to have any effect, save for increasing his trips to the loo. He was afraid that he may have scared Alice when she greeted him that morning, but his lack of sleep was leaving him haggard and a bit snappish. It didn't help that he still couldn't get that sodding ring off of his finger. He'd tried gloves, but it was much the same as trying to pull his sleeves down.
"Good morning!" Draco said as he entered the office, sounding far too perky for Harry's liking.
Harry lifted his head to reply, "Grrnnn."
"Circe, Potter. You look like shit. Rough night?"
Looking up at Draco made a few of the more horrific moments of his nightmares come to the forefront of his mind. His feelings must have shown on his face because Draco suddenly looked a bit worried.
"If you throw up in here, I'm going to demand a transfer," he stated, coming forward to grasp Harry's shoulder. "What the fuck happened?"
"Nightmares. All fucking weekend. I barely got two winks."
Draco got that look on his face. The one all wizards and witches who had lived through the war got when nightmares were mentioned, then he squeezed Harry's arm a bit harder before letting go. "Well, why don't we play hooky a bit? I'll grab some of the more urgent files we have to go through. We can grab some take away and go over them at mine. Sure beats the hell out of this place. Besides, I think Alice might have found out about what I told Simmons. She was acting a bit strange when I came in this morning."
The idea of take away was kind of tempting. Harry hadn't realised it, but he'd pretty much foregone eating all weekend, he'd been so disturbed by his dreams. Plus, perhaps spending some time with a non-Inferi Draco would help smother whatever strange part of his brain was causing his dreams.
"Throw in a few of your mum's biscuits and I'm in."
Harry was having a difficult time staying awake. The curry they had eaten filled his stomach with comforting, heavy warmth, and Draco's couch felt like it was pulling him lower and lower into it. Maybe if he just rested his eyes while Draco was away getting drinks...
Harry woke sometime in the early morning from the most peaceful sleep he'd had in ages. There was a soft blanket thrown over him and a glass of water sat next to his wand on the coffee table. Harry reached for his wand and cast a quick Tempus. He had been sleeping for nearly sixteen hours. Stretching, he decided to head back to his own flat and get ready for work.
"Hey, sleeping beauty!" Draco said, coming into the office and placing a mug of coffee on Harry's desk.
"Hey, thanks for letting me crash on your couch last night. I really needed that."
"Don't worry about it. Of course, I'll be billing you for the couch, since I will now have to replace it," Draco replied, smiling.
Merlin, that smile. Harry could feel a blush rising on his cheeks and busied himself shuffling papers to avoid looking at Draco. Harry remembered the ring on his finger a moment too late.
"What's that?" Draco said, leaning closer to Harry's desk.
"Nothing!" Harry said as he sat on his hand.
Draco looked almost hurt for a moment, before he replaced the look with a saucy grin. "My, my, Potter. Are you hiding a relationship? That looked an awful lot like a promise ring."
Harry said the first thing that came to his mind. "No, it, uh... it came in my cereal box!"
"Your cereal box? Please, Potter. Tell me you don't eat children's cereal. I've learned to accept your wardrobe. I have learned to accept your glasses. I have even, Merlin forbid, learned to accept your hair. But I simply cannot accept that the hero of our world as we know it --a twenty six-year-old Auror and holder of an Order of Merlin First Class, eats Wizzy Puffs."
Harry looked down at his clothes and ran a hand through his hair self-consciously. There was nothing wrong with the way he dressed, was there? "Well, if it makes you feel any better... I only eat them for the prizes."
If Harry had thought that his nights filled with nightmares were over, he was sorely mistaken. Thinking that perhaps he was just going to sleep too stressed out, he tried to wank to relax himself, but only ended up with another horrible case of blue balls and the worst nightmare to date. He tried taking Dreamless Sleep, but the potion had absolutely no effect. Harry decided that straight after work today, he was going to Floo to Ron and Hermione's for help.
Malfoy walked into their office with a self-satisfied grin on his face.
"Please don't say anything cheerful, I don't think I can handle cheerful," Harry said, seeing all the signs he was about to hear a triumphant Malfoy speech.
"Well, Conley's twig and berries itch so badly that they might as well be on fire. Maybe that will brighten your day as it has mine."
"He borrowed my stapler last week and never returned it. Too bad for him, I've cursed all of my office supplies so that anyone who takes them will befall a not-so-pleasant ailment until said item is returned."
Oh my God! Harry thought. He must have cursed the ring! It all made sense. Harry's nightmares, and his strange inability to have an orgasm had all started at the same time that he'd got the ring stuck on his finger. That had to be it! Harry made the snap decision to come clean to Draco in the hopes that he would end the charms, and help him get the bloody thing off of his finger.
"Draco --I've got to tell you something. I'm so sorry, but I was just having a look around I didn't think it would be an issue since it was just a back-up, and then the nightmares and the wanking and you'vegottohelpme!" As a closing statement, Harry held out his hand with the ring to Draco.
Draco looked utterly confused until his eyes landed on the ring, and then he visibly paled. "Potter, you fucking idiot! Your nightmares from the weekend... Merlin! How could I be so stupid?" Draco paced around the office looking like he was about to be sick. "It's a commitment ring. I shouldn't have kept it at my flat, I just never thought... Look -- you're going to have to stay at my place for a while until I can figure out how to get it off of you."
"A commitment ring?" Harry asked, lost and more than a little concerned about how worried Draco appeared to be.
"It's an old pureblood tradition. Every heir is given a set. One for me," he said, holding up his hand for emphasis, "and one for my... - well, one for the woman I intend to marry."
"They were sort of for security. It's all a bit archaic, and I don't want to bore you with the details, so let’s just say you'll be bunking up at mine until it's sorted."
"I've been watching you die in increasingly horrible and vivid ways all week, and you don't want to bore me with the details? I need details. I've got to know how to stop this!"
"Alright, let's go back to my flat. I'll tell you everything, but I don't think this is the proper place to discuss this."
Harry couldn't fault the logic in that, and after grabbing their cloaks, the two called an early weekend.
"Commitment rings were designed to ensure that once the recipient--you--puts the ring on, there would be no way for them to back out of the commitment, to get formally bonded and to produce an heir with the keeper--me. The ring won’t come off until those criteria are met."
"Are you telling me, that I can't get this ring off unless we get married and have a baby?"
"What do you mean, maybe?"
"I mean, there might be spells to break the contract, so to speak. I just don't know what they are…yet."
Harry rested his head in his hands. Purebloods sucked. "So what does this have to do with my nightmares and, um... that other problem?"
At this, Draco blushed. "The ring... it has a few conditions built into it. They were made to ensure that the recipient didn't bring dishonour to the keeper's family. You --the recipient, must live under the roof of the keeper, or be plagued by nightmares. Also, you, well... you wont be getting off for a while," he finished hurriedly.
"What?! That doesn't make any sense! Shouldn't I be able to get off if we're supposed to be making babies together?"
Draco winced. "Well, yes, if that was our goal. The specific condition of the ring is that the recipient cannot achieve sexual gratification from anyone but the keeper, not even by themselves," he said. He busied himself looking anywhere but at Harry.
Harry froze. Draco could say it as clinically as he wanted, but it didn't change what he'd said. Harry would only be able to get off if --but Draco said he wouldn't.
The awkward silence stretched out and Harry's exhaustion caught up with him.
"I need to sleep. I can't --I don't want to think... about this, not now. I need to sleep before I can think."
"Alright," Draco said, nodding. "I can transfigure the couch to a bed, and we can get some of your night clothes. I'll just go... "
But Harry didn't hear the rest of what he'd said because he had already fallen asleep.
It would have been a lot easier to live in this situation if it weren't for the fact that Harry wanted Draco. He'd taken to cold showers several times a day, but it was getting unbearable. It was a lot easier to manage the longing when Harry had his own flat to return to, but now that he was bunking with Draco, he was everywhere: across from him at the breakfast table, in his office at work, when he got out of work. The worst part was the longing was different now. It had evolved into something that felt a lot more personal. Something that made him want Draco to smile as often as possible. It was something tangible that made him nervous when Draco entered a room. It was like every nerve in Harry's body was attuned to Draco. He could tell when Draco had been in a room, because of the way it smelled, and the way the air felt. It was something a lot like love -- and it scared Harry shitless. Even when it was Ginny, it was never this. It was never this need, this soul-wrenching sense that things wouldn't be okay if they didn't end up together.
What happened if they never found a way around the ring? Harry would be stuck living in Draco's flat with a perpetual case of blue balls. What would happen if Draco found someone? Sure, he was single now, but what if --and Harry didn't even want to think it, because it hurt.
Harry was interrupted from his thoughts by the flaring of the Floo.
"Hermione, hey! What --"
"Sorry, Harry. I'm here for Draco. Is he around?" Hermione asked. She looked a bit worn, and it made Harry feel guilty. He knew that Hermione had been working really hard on finding a way to break the spell on the ring.
"No, he just stepped out for some take away. I'm sure he'll be back soon. You're sure it isn't something I can help with? Did you want to stay for dinner?"
When the door to the flat opened and Draco stepped over the threshold, Hermione marched over to him and grabbed his arm. "We need to talk. Now," she said, and pulled him back out to the hallway.
"What was that all about?" Harry asked when Draco re-entered the flat.
"Oh, um... Hermione might have found a way out of the spell, but she needed access to the Manor to check on it," Draco said, looking a bit flustered.
Harry could hardly contain himself. If he knew Hermione, she would find out how to undo this, and then everything could go back to normal.
Harry felt as if he were floating in warm water. It reminded him of the prefects’ bath back at school. The soothing smell of lavender filled the air. He knew there was someone else there with him, but he couldn't seem to see clearly. He must have left his glasses somewhere. He felt hands on his shoulders, but instinctively knew that they weren't menacing and decided to just let things go where they would.
He hummed his pleasure when the hands moved slowly from his shoulders, to his chest, rubbing circles into his skin. He struggled to focus his eyes, but everything remained a blur. The hands continued circling lower and lower until they reached Harry's cock. Fingertips teased around the base and down his thighs.
"Please," Harry begged on a sigh, "please."
Harry felt a hand wrap around him and was unable to contain a groan. It had been so long, too long. He needed this.
The warm water continued to lap at his sides while the hands worked his body over. He felt lips on his cheekbone and tried to turn his head to catch them, but they were too fast, travelling down his neck.
Harry was close, so close. His phantom lover seemed to move with the water. Upstroke, down stroke, up, down. He was floating away on a warm sea of pure pleasure.
The lips came back and Harry decided not to chase them this time. Maybe they would give him what he wanted. He moaned loudly as a tongue grazed his ear.
"Please," he begged again.
"Harry," he felt whispered against his flesh. "Harry."
He knew that voice, Gods, did he know it. Harry felt his orgasm rise to the forefront, any second... oh Merlin, fuck, any second.
The hands were back on his shoulders; they seemed more urgent than before.
"No," Harry pleaded, needing them back on his erection. He was so close! "Please!"
"Harry!" The voice said while the hands gripped his shoulders harder and shook. "Harry, wake up!"
Harry woke to several horrible realisations. One: it had all been a beautiful, horrible, dream. Two: Draco was leaning over him looking panicked. And three: he was going to have to take another excruciating, cold shower.
He could feel his cheeks flare red as embarrassment washed over him. Merlin, this was so awful.
"Harry, are you alright? I heard you moaning and I thought you might be having a nightmare--"
Harry shoved his way past Draco and ran into the bathroom. Once the door was closed, he rested his back against it and banged his head. Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck. This was so unfair! Harry looked down at the bulge in his pyjamas desperately. He knew it wouldn't do any good to touch it, but --fuck! It had been so long. He slid down the bathroom door and pulled his legs up to his chest. It would pass; if he just ignored it... it would pass.
"Harry?" Draco said, knocking on the door. "Harry... I'm sorry. I thought you were having a nightmare, I didn't realise... "
Knowing Draco was on the other side of that door didn't help matters. He had been strong the last few weeks, but his resistance was fading at an alarming rate. He banged his head against the door again to clear his mind.
He wanted Draco. He wanted what was on the other side of that door, but not under these conditions. He wanted Draco to come to him of his own free will, not just to be doing a friend a favour.
After taking a few deep breaths to collect himself, Harry got up gingerly and headed for the shower. The ache in his groin was worse than ever and as much as he wished it wouldn't mean anything to him if Draco helped, it would. He turned on the cold tap full blast and stood under the spray.
The door to the bathroom opened and Harry turned his head to see Draco looking miserable and coming toward him. Harry turned his face away. He must look pathetic, standing under the spray with his pyjama pants still on, trembling from the cold and the effort not to touch himself, though he knew it would do no good. The last thing he needed to see was the pity on Draco's face.
He stared at the tiles of the shower wall and steeled himself for Draco to say something wildly inappropriate. Instead, however, Draco stepped under the spray behind him and placed his hands on Harry's shoulders.
His hands were warm, like they'd been in his dream, and the contact sent a shiver down his spine.
"Let me help," Draco said.
Harry shut his eyes, unable to refuse with Draco so close. He knew he should stop this, but he knew he wouldn't. Bracing himself for whatever came next, he nodded.
He felt Draco's hands tug at his waistband, trembling. He's cold, Harry realized, and leaned forward to adjust the taps. He righted himself when the water turned warm.
Harry stepped gingerly out of his pyjamas once Draco had lowered them, kicking them to the side. He tried to keep his breathing steady, but it was difficult to do with Draco's hands running over his back and around his shoulders. He figured that Draco was probably just working up to having to touch him. He wasn't going to complain anyway; the cold water had helped to bring him back from the brink, and he was more than happy to make this, with Draco, as painful a memory as it might end up being later, last.
Draco brought his hands under Harry's arms, and gripping his shoulders, pulled him to his chest. The warmth of Draco seemed to seep into Harry's skin and he could barely hold in a sigh. Merlin, how he'd wanted this. Draco's hands were running up and down his sides, then rubbing his lower abdomen and back up to his chest. Everywhere he touched seemed to come alive under his fingers. Harry's nerves were singing, and he bit his lip in an effort not to voice his extreme appreciation. This was perfect. It was horrible, but absolutely the most wonderful thing he had ever experienced. Draco's fingers grazed over his nipples and he jerked with the electricity that seemed to shoot straight to his cock.
"Sorry," Draco breathed in his ear, his hands going back to Harry's sides.
"No, no... It’s all right. It's good," Harry said, missing the contact already.
Draco's hands made a slow tentative journey back up and ran over Harry's nipples again. Harry couldn't contain the gasp that time.
"Okay... "Draco said, his hands getting braver. He kept one hand positioned over Harry's right nipple, teasing it, brushing it lightly, while the other hand slid slowly down, lower than he had dared before, his fingers reaching Harry's pubic hair.
Harry inhaled his excitement as Draco's fingers wove lazy patterns just above his cock. Gods, he needed it. He needed him to touch him.
"Please," he said on an exhale, not really sure whether it was audible or not.
He felt a slow exhale of breath against his shoulder before Draco's hand wrapped around him. It was a bliss he had never known. A low, guttural groan escaped him and his shoulders sagged back against Draco's chest heavily. Draco's breath came in staccato beats against his neck and Harry wanted nothing more than to turn his head and kiss him, but he knew he wasn't allowed that. He closed his eyes and tried just concentrating on what he could have: Draco's hand moving against him with perfect strokes, slow and assured. He could feel that it was almost over, he was almost there, and as much as he wanted this to last longer, he'd been without for so long that his body was speeding to the finish line. He couldn't control the moans and the breaths that were escaping him now; he also couldn't control the rocking of his hips, chasing Draco's hand on the upstroke. Harry's hips jerked back when Draco curved his hand around the head of his penis, and that's when he felt it. Draco was hard. Almost before Harry's brain had caught up with what he had felt, his vision was filled with bright white light and he was spilling over Draco's hand. Draco continued to stroke Harry until all of his aftershocks had subsided. Harry wanted nothing more than to stand there with Draco, in this perfect post-orgasm bliss forever, but he knew that the fantasy was over.
Remembering what he had felt, Harry half turned to Draco and reached out to him.
"Do you want...?" Harry asked, trailing off as he reached for Draco's waistband.
"No," Draco said, his voice sounding strained, "no, just-- no."
Harry let his hand drop back to his side and closed his eyes. He listened as Draco stepped out of the shower and disappeared into his bedroom.
To say that things were strained after the encounter would be the understatement of a century. Harry couldn't believe his own stupidity and lack of self-control, and Draco avoided him at every turn.
Hermione said that she had found a way to break the spell on the ring, and they were going to attempt it tonight. Harry only hoped that Draco would be able to put this behind him once the spell was over, and that they would be able to be friends once more.
"Alright," Hermione said once everyone was settled, "this is how it works. Draco, take this dagger and say this incantation," she continued while handing him a dagger and a scrap of parchment. "Then, when the blade glows faintly blue, say the incantation again while making a cut across Harry's palm. Then we wait. If the dagger finds you unworthy it will sever the bond and the ring will come off, if not... we'll have to try something else."
"Why would I be unworthy anyway? I mean... what's supposed to be wrong with me, that I'm not good enough?”
"Remember, Potter, this spell was created by purebloods. Your mother was Muggle-born. That's imperfection enough," Draco said, shrugging.
"Merlin, you lot sure are arses," Harry said, subconsciously tugging at the ring.
"Okay, are you both ready to begin?" Hermione asked.
When they both nodded, she stepped back.
Draco took the dagger and looked nervously at Harry, before he began his chant. "Devenir mon juge. Devenir mon jury. Me montrer l'imperfection. Pour faire remarquer l'indigne l'un," he said, and the blade began to glow. *
Harry took a deep breath, and ignored the way Draco's hand felt as it grasped his.
"Devenir mon juge. Devenir mon jury. Me montrer l'imperfection. Pour faire remarquer l'indigne l'un," Draco repeated, dragging the blade across Harry's palm.
Draco sat back and all eyes went to the ring on Harry's finger.
"Well," Draco said, "it probably won't come off itself; give it a go, Potter."
Harry scowled as Draco called him Potter yet again. He'd taken to doing that after the incident in the shower and it annoyed Harry to no end. Taking a deep breath, he grabbed the ring, and pulled. It didn't budge, so he took another breath and tried again, but to no avail.
"Damnit!" he yelled and tugged so hard he nearly dislocated his finger.
"Harry, it's alright. This was something I thought might happen," Hermione said and grabbed the old dusty tome next to her. "Here," she said and began reading from the book, "the recipient may contain one disqualifier if, and only if, the other qualifiers are present in abundance, outweighing said disqualifiers standing."
Harry stared at her blankly. "Not to be rude or anything, but I haven't the foggiest what you just said."
"Well, to put it simply, even though you aren't a pureblood, your other qualities make up for it. You're a very powerful wizard, Harry, and wealthy, and attractive. The ring is almost sentient in its intuition, as is the dagger. It finds no fault in your match."
Harry was stuck between anger that he had to suffer through this until they found another way out, and smug pride that he passed the pureblood test of ‘worthiness’.
"There is one thing we can do that will ensure you fail, but I didn't want to go that route if we could prevent it," Hermione said, looking a little worried.
"What is it?" Harry asked.
"We would have to sap you of your magic --"
"No!" Draco shouted shaking his head. "No way. There has to be something else."
"If you would have let me finish," Hermione said, giving Draco a disapproving look. “It's only temporary. It might take me a week or so to get the supplies needed, but basically, we would use an object that could safely hold your magic during the ceremony, then as soon as the ring is off, we can give it back."
Harry was confused. "Why didn't we just do that the first time around?"
"Well," Hermione started slowly, "it isn't pleasant, even having your magic away from you for a short period of time can leave you extremely physically exhausted, and there is a chance of it being painful, though there aren't extensive records. No wizard has ever sapped his own magic willingly... "
Harry looked over at Draco and thought about the other night in the shower. If he didn't get the ring off, it would always be just pity, there could never be the chance for anything real and that would hurt for far longer and much worse than the spell. "I'll do it. Get what we need, and I'll do it."
Waiting until they could perform the ritual again was unbearable. Ever since the incident in the shower, Draco had been distant. Harry was hoping that things would smooth out once the ring was off, but in the mean time he was suffering. He ached to tell Draco how he felt, but from the reaction Draco had to what had happened, he knew it was almost a guaranteed way to end his friendship forever.
The more he thought on it, though, the more it seemed he should just tell Draco and be done with it. He knew that after what had happened that he wouldn't be able to forget it. Draco had been hard too, hadn't he? What if there was a chance? Harry had to take it.
Harry got up from the couch and padded down the hallway to Draco's door. He stood outside for a few moments, unsure if he should knock. Maybe this was a stupid idea.
"Are you coming in, or were you just planning on admiring the grain of my door all night."
Harry winced then took a deep breath. Now or never. He walked through the door and, unsure of where to sit, decided to stand awkwardly at the foot of Draco's bed.
"Um, I just wanted to talk --about the other night."
Draco seemed to stiffen for a moment, but quickly schooled himself. "What's there to talk about? You needed help, I gave it."
"There's more to it than you think. Draco, I... I can barely stand being around you without touching you. It's been heaven and hell at the same time living here with you. I just --Merlin, this is harder than I thought."
Draco stared at Harry, his face had gone pale and he didn't show any sign of responding, so Harry decided to fill the silence himself.
"I'm sorry if you don't feel the same way, and it's going to make it difficult for you to be my friend once this is all over, but after what happened... I can't forget that. I don't want to forget that. When I was having the nightmares... it was you, every night. After coming here, it just got so much harder, being around you and seeing you all the time. I just, I want you to know, so that if there were a chance, that outside of all of this, we could try to be something... I want to. And if there isn't, a chance, then I'm okay with that, but just don't... don't let what happened ruin us, if you hated it. Don't let it make you hate us."
"Get out, please," Draco said, looking upset.
Harry had been prepared for Draco not to reciprocate his feelings, but not this cold dismissal. He wasn't going to let this go, he knew Draco had at least liked what happened a little bit. It wasn't fair for Draco to treat this like it was his entire fault.
"Would it really be so bad, liking me? Your stupid ring seems to think I'm good enough."
Draco wouldn't even look at him he just stared straight at the wall past Harry's head. Well, he'd had it out, and he had his answer. It wasn't what he wanted to hear... but at least now he knew.
When Hermione called the next day to tell Harry and Draco that she finally had everything they needed to try the ritual again, both Harry and Draco, still smarting from their fight, agreed to do it that night.
"I've already prepared everything," Hermione began, "This," she said holding out what looked to be a small crystal ball, "is an Orb of Thesulah.** It is probably the only thing strong enough to house your magic, even temporarily, and we have to destroy it to return your magic. They are extremely rare, so we've pretty much only got this chance. Harry, hold the orb, and I will recite the incantation to transfer your magic into it. Then, Draco, continue with the ritual just like last time. You'll have to take the ring off of Harry, because I doubt he'll have the energy, then we can destroy the orb, and that should be that."
Harry nodded and took the orb from Hermione.
"Suscipio quod servo. Habitum quod servo tutus. Ut ego attero vos , reverto quis ego have donatus," Hermione recited. ***
As soon as Hermione finished the incantation, a strange wrongness seemed to come over Harry. It was as if his very being was crawling slowly from within him and collecting in his chest. It felt like too much, too much pressure. Suddenly it was as if something broke inside of him and he doubled over with pain. His magic was literally being ripped from him through his chest and he had to fight not to pass out. Almost as soon as it began, the pain was over, but Harry could hardly muster the strength to open his eyes.
After a few moments, he became vaguely aware of voices and a pain in his hand, but it was too much effort to figure out what was going on.
Harry was just about to fall asleep when the pain was back in his chest, but this time it felt like it was clawing his way through him and sending white-hot fire through his veins. When it was all over he sat dizzy and panting for a few moments before the room came back into focus.
"Harry," Hermione said leaning over him, "are you alright? You should probably lay down for a while."
"Yeah," Harry answered, "I'm fine." He looked to Draco, who was looking at him with concern. Harry was still smarting from Draco's refusal to even consider a possible future with him and decided it would be best if he stayed away from Draco for a while and gave him time to himself. "I think I'd like to sleep at my own place," he said, looking away from Draco.
"Harry, I don't think it's a good idea for you to go anywhere right now," Hermione said, sounding worried.
"Leave it, Hermione. I'm fine."
"Let him go," Draco cut in. "Harry does alright himself."
It had been a couple weeks since the ring was off and Harry couldn't get Draco out of his head. They still had to work together, but Draco was painfully professional about everything. They had abstained from their weekly Quidditch games and never saw each other outside the office. Well, that wasn't exactly true. Harry had been dreaming of Draco nightly and was absolutely miserable without him. He missed Draco and he was upset with himself for not just letting things go. He never should have told Draco how he felt because then maybe they could at least be friends. This --seeing him everyday and trying to joke only to be met with Draco's detached facade was eating at him. He could hardly sleep; he'd lost his appetite. Merlin, he wished he could go back in time and just leave that cursed ring where he'd found it.
Harry prepared himself for a lecture.
Hermione had called earlier and told him that she needed to talk to him. He knew she didn't approve of his recent sleeping and eating habits. She had always mothered him, even when he was in school, so it came as no surprise that she felt the need to stage an intervention, he just wasn't in the mood for it.
Ron had been on his case also. He'd tried to get Harry to leave his flat, but he just didn't feel like doing much lately.
Hermione sat across from him at his kitchen table and regarded him with a critical eye. "You haven't been the same since everything happened. I'm worried about you Harry. What happened?"
Thinking that it might help him to move on if he talked about it, he decided to tell Hermione everything. About Ginny's wedding and how he'd felt every time Draco smiled at him since. He told her about his nightmares and how it had nearly driven him insane seeing them every night. He hinted to what had happened in the shower and his subsequent confession to Draco. He told her about how he knew he had no chance and how he had ruined his friendship and how he regretted it all.
"Do you think you love him?" Hermione asked.
"I don't know what else it could be. I feel wretched. It wouldn't feel like this otherwise, would it? I mean, I loved Ginny, I was sure of it... but that felt nothing like this. I can't stand to be around him and not be able to reach out and touch him. The idea that we might never be friends again... I can't... I don't even want to think about it."
Hermione nodded her head in understanding. "Harry, there's something I want you to take a look at. I think you might be interested in it." She pulled a thick old tome from her bag and hefted it onto the table.
"I know that reading normally cheers you up, Hermione, but I'm more of an ice cream and cheesy movie kind of guy."
Hermione got up from her seat. "Page five-thirty-seven. Just read it," she said and Disapparated.
Harry grabbed the book and dragged it across the tabletop to himself. Knowing Hermione, it would probably be a Cheering Charm or potion. He flipped the pages to five-thirty seven and began reading. It seemed to be information about commitment rings. He was just about to close the book when something caught his eye.
...the ring will only activate if the recipient is someone that the keeper desires.
But that would mean... Harry read the sentence a few more times over to make sure he wasn't misunderstanding. Then he ripped the page from the book and Apparated to Draco's flat.
"Draco!" Harry yelled upon entering, "we need to talk!"
Draco came into the living room, looking like he had just come from bed. That's when Harry realised that it was probably too late to be making house calls, but this couldn't wait.
"Potter, have you any idea what time it is?"
"This is important," Harry said, ignoring Draco's question. He shoved the page at Draco and waited for him to take it. "The ring never would have worked if you didn't feel something for me. Something more than friendship."
Draco looked at the page, then back up at Harry. "This doesn't mean anything."
"It doesn't? You're sure? Because I'm sure that I've been in love with you for years. The ring didn't tell me what to feel, Draco. It just made knowing that you would never feel the same way harder to bear. But you did feel the same way, didn't you? At least at some point? What I said before... I meant it, and it wasn't anything new. I just --after what had happened, I didn't want you to think it meant nothing to me, because it did. It does, and it always will. And it killed me to think that the only way you would ever touch me was because you felt some sort of obligation. I knew it would be a bad idea, but damnit Draco, you were just so close and for once, I could have what I wanted."
"Shut up," Draco said, taking a step toward Harry.
Harry had to fight not to take a step away. Draco looked like he was ready to punch him, but Harry wasn't going to let him dismiss his feelings like he had before, not when Harry knew that Draco had to at least feel a little bit of something too. "Draco, I'm not going to --"
But Harry didn't get the chance to finish what he was saying because Draco had pushed him up against the wall. "Shut up," he repeated.
Then Draco's lips where on his.
Harry was stunned for a moment, then began kissing back hungrily. It was a battle of tongues and teeth ,and for the first time in his life, Harry wasn't even sure he wanted to win. He'd never felt like he would absolutely die if a kiss ended, but he couldn't imagine life continuing if Draco's lips left his. He blindly reached for the buttons of Draco's shirt and began unfastening them as fast as he could in his desperate need to touch. Draco seemed to have the same idea and began pulling Harry's shirt from his waistband.
Draco's fingertips on his skin set Harry's flesh on fire. He needed to get closer. He needed to feel Draco. He finished the buttons on Draco's shirt and pulled it over his shoulders, running his hands over the newly exposed skin. Merlin, to touch him, it was like a piece Harry had been missing finally fell into place. Draco broke away from the kiss and Harry's whimper at the loss turned into a moan as Draco began biting his way down Harry's neck, to his chest.
"You have no idea how long I've wanted to do this," Draco said before he stroked Harry's nipple with his tongue.
Harry could do nothing more than moan and run his fingers through Draco's hair as Draco abandoned his nipple and kissed, licked and bit his way to Harry's waistband. Draco worked Harry's fly with amazing speed and before Harry even had a chance to process what was happening he was engulfed in the hot, wet heat of Draco's mouth.
Harry couldn't help the moans and groans spilling over his lips. He'd never felt anything like this in his life. It was as if the entire universe shrank down to just Draco's mouth and Harry's prick. The tell-tale signs that he was nearing orgasm began and Harry wanted to make this last, so he pulled back away from Draco and brought him up for another kiss.
Draco still had on far too many clothes, so Harry went to work on Draco's trousers and pants and when he'd finally gotten them all the way off he paused for a moment to admire what was before him. He could finally see that the silvery line of Draco's Sectumsempra scar curved slightly in before disappearing, which led his eye to the fine golden hairs and the magnificent cock rising out of them. Draco shuttered when Harry wrapped his hand around him, and rested his head against Harry's shoulder, breathing fast. Encouraged, Harry gave Draco and experimental stroke and was rewarded with a low moan. He started a steady rhythm and Draco reached down, matching him stroke for stroke.
"I'm not going to last much longer," Harry admitted between gasps.
"Me neither," Draco said and increased his pace.
Harry barely had time to catch Draco's lips before he was spilling all over Draco's hand. A moment later, Draco followed.
Once they had caught their breath, Draco grabbed Harry's hand and led him to the bedroom.
The next morning Harry woke to the feeling of a very warm and very naked body draped over him. He opened his eyes slowly and was met by Draco's stare.
"Good morning," Draco said, smiling, and placed a haphazard kiss to Harry's chest.
"Mmmm," Harry hummed tiredly, "morning."
"Hey, you left something of yours here when you left," Draco said and stretched his arm over Harry to rummage in his side table. When he found what he was looking for, he propped himself up on one arm and held out the other to Harry. Harry wondered what he could have left behind and held his palm out to accept whatever it was. Draco dropped the item into his hand and Harry held it up for inspection. Hanging from a silver chain was the ring.
"I never would have wanted anyone else to have it anyway," Draco said and burrowed back down onto Harry's chest.