Title: Mr. Brightside
Summary: In which Harry gets drunk and wanders into Knockturn Alley, and boy, what a strange place that is.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Aside from a few dumb jokes, none really.
Epilogue compliant? Epilogue? pffft.
Word Count: 7,770
Author's Notes: This fic was inspired by the 1980s Scorsese flick After Hours. A hearty thank you to my betas: L and SA, the mods for running such a tight ship, and Harry for letting me torture him in oh so many silly ways. Enjoy.
The night started out so innocently.
Harry was going to grab a pint at the Leaky Cauldron after work. He had had one of those days. You know, the kind where you want to slit your throat, and it's not even nine in the morning. And even though Harry was an Auror with a considerable amount of responsibility and sense of public duty, he couldn't see the particular harm in it. Ron and Seamus regularly swilled down copious amounts of alcohol with impunity and yet still managed to keep some semblance of their dignity and regular employment; Harry was just going to have one, single, solitary, lonely beer.
And when he was finished with that beer, he was going to go home. Home to his empty and creepy house on Grimmauld Place where he lived alone, so very alone, except for a demented house-elf for company.
Therefore, it should surprise no one that Harry ordered another.
And then graduated on to a whisky or three.
By the time Harry was swaying on his barstool and trying rather unsuccessfully to stay focused on the pretty barmaid the Leaky Cauldron had hired to over serve its patrons, he had to admit, regrettably, that it was time to go home.
Apparating was out of the question, and normally he would use the Floo, but somewhere inside Harry's whisky-addled brain came the notion that fresh air and its sobering properties might do him a world of good, so he left on foot. Unfortunately, in his haste to do so, Harry blundered out the back door without his wallet.
Details. Harry felt himself fortunate that he had retained enough of his faculties to operate his wand properly. He used it to open the brick passageway to Diagon Alley and took several wobbly steps through to the other side.
A blast of cold air hit him like a slap in the face, making it immediately obvious that detouring through Diagon Alley was going to be very unpleasant. Besides, it was after hours, the shops all closed, and the handful of people who were out appeared to be in a hurry to be elsewhere. A woman dashed past, her eyes glued down to the pavement, and Harry forlornly watched her disappear through the passage he had just opened, the bricks knitting back together afterwards.
So with every intention of returning to the Leaky Cauldron to Floo home, Harry turned around in his tracks…
And walked in the opposite direction.
Harry liked being an Auror. Really. Fighting Dark Wizards was something he was good at (He kind of wrote the book on it, actually). He got to learn some really cool spells when he was in Auror training and the uniforms were pretty spiffing too. Not to mention, he was trying to make the world a better place. What more could he ask for.
So, if the morning had started like it typically did: a cup of bitter coffee and a stale roll from the Ministry canteen, hastily swallowed, so be it. At least Harry wasn't late for that all-important morning staff meeting, because god knows Harry wanted to hear, yet again, the importance of filing his paperwork on time. And later when Hermione got huffy with him for not comprehending simple English ("You do know what the word 'procedure' means, Harry.") it was only because he was so damn tired of following the fucking rules, sorry, procedures that he exploded and made his best friend cry.
And if that all happened before eleven o'clock, well, that was just another day at the office, wasn’t it?
So really, who cared that the hours were shitty, and that Harry had a sneaking suspicion that he spent more time sitting behind his desk, attending to the scrolls of paperwork that multiplied hourly, than actually doing some good in the world. Being an Auror was his life's work. It made him happy.
Yeah, Harry was so fucking happy. He was ecstatic.
Maybe that was why Ginny moved out two months ago.
No matter. Harry was going to forget all about his job and his life and his uptight ex-girlfriend. He was going to have some fun tonight even if it killed him.
Hiccupping and listing dangerously to one side, Harry turned a corner and ventured down a narrow alleyway. He had no idea where he was going. Like he really cared.
Harry didn’t have to walk very far to find some action.
Bright lights were beckoning from a building further down the alley. It appeared to be some kind of dance club. Harry could hear the thuda, thuda, thud of loud music coming out from its open doorway.
Harry wasn’t much of a dancer. In fact, his failed attempt at the lambada at the office Christmas party two years ago was already the stuff of urban legend, but the musical rhythms emanating from inside were as enticing a freshly opened bottle of gin.
Harry smiled at the big, scary-looking man standing guard by the door.
Thus, Harry learned the number one pitfall of being drunk; it tended to lead one to make unwise decisions. Disregarding the sign taped to the front door that read “Voldemort Lives” Harry stuck out his right hand.
"Hi. I’m Harry Potter."
The last thing Harry saw before everything went bright white was the big, scary man's big, scary wand.
Harry's eyes opened to the vision of an angel peering down at him.
Harry smiled. He must be in heaven. It would explain why everything appeared soft and blurry around the edges.
The angel peered closer, his face framed by a halo of feathery blond hair. "Potter?"
Harry's grin wavered. He was fairly sure that angels weren't supposed to sneer.
"Ho! It is you."
"Wait until I tell Pansy about this."
No. No. It couldn't be.
But Harry discovered that it was. He fumbled around on the ground until he found his glasses and when he slipped them on the very unangelic Draco Malfoy swam into focus. He was standing a few feet away, looking like Christmas had come early.
He raised one of his eyebrows. "Had a little bit too much to drink, Potter?"
"You know, you were much prettier when you didn't have that stupid smirk on your face."
Drunken pitfall #2: Drinking tends to lead one to say unwise things.
"Ignore that," Harry whispered, stumbling to his feet and raising a finger to his lips. "That was a secret."
Malfoy chuckled. "Oh, you are drunk."
"No. No," Harry insisted. "I was hexed."
"By a whisky bottle," Malfoy deadpanned. "I can tell."
"No. Really. Malfoy, look." Harry pointed indignantly in the direction of the dance club. "See that man right over there? The big, scary one?"
Malfoy peered in the direction Harry was pointing.
"Okay, he-- he--" Harry dropped his hand. "Wait. Where'd he go?"
Not only had the big, scary man disappeared, but the dance club had vanished too. Only a dreary building stood in its place. There were no lights. No enticing rhythms. No beguiling scent of gin.
But Harry couldn't have imagined it all. He was so confused. And now the ground was tipping precipitously to the left.
Malfoy grasped hold of his arm, his voice sounding like it was coming from far away. "Hey-- Hey, Potter. Are you all right?"
"I think," Harry said, clutching his stomach. "I think I'm going to be sick."
"Ugh, Potter," Malfoy shrieked. "Watch the shoes!"
Okay, maybe it was a little amusing that Harry had vomited all over Draco Malfoy's poncy, shiny shoes (At least he knew Ron would think so), but mostly he was embarrassed. "Sorry," he mumbled, wiping his mouth with the back of his sleeve.
"Next time," Malfoy seethed as he frantically scourgified his shoes, "I find you lying unconscious in the gutter I'm going to pass right by."
Harry bristled. "Why did you stop, Malfoy? It's not like you."
"Not like me?" Malfoy snorted. "How do you know what I'm like? You don't even know me."
"I know you well enough."
"For fuck's sakes, Potter," Malfoy shouted. "You were lying passed out in the middle of Knockturn Alley. How much of an idiot are you? Do you know how many enemies you have here? I damned near saved your life."
Knockturn Alley. That would explain everything. He should have recognized the stench of Dark Magic.
Or maybe that was his vomit.
Harry wrinkled his nose. "Wait, Malfoy."
But Malfoy was already several paces ahead, walking briskly away.
Harry hurried after him. "Have a drink with me."
Malfoy snorted. "Don't you think you've had enough?"
Harry conceded his point. "Okay. Coffee… or… or tea. It's just that we haven't seen…"
Malfoy drew to a halt. "Potter, we're not friends. What would we possibly have to talk about?"
Harry shrugged. "I don't know. When you think about it we've been through a lot of weird shit together."
"No. Not together. At the same time. There's a difference."
"Fine. Whatever. I just thought since you saved my life I'd buy you a drink. You know, to say thanks." Harry began patting down the pockets of his robes. "Fuck. What happened to my wallet?"
Malfoy rolled his eyes. "Potter. Take some advice. Go home. Go to bed. I'm sure you have a nice happy life somewhere else. Leave me out of it."
"Right," Harry said. "What was I thinking?"
Harry was thinking that he was lost.
He hadn't realized Knockturn Alley was so long and confusing. It circled around and doubled back until Harry wasn't sure which way was which. Not that he would have known any better. Knockturn Alley may be a known hotbed for Dark Hooliganism, but as an Auror it didn't fall into his jurisdiction, and as Harry knew the Department of Magical Law Enforcement lived and died by its own stupid, arcane, petty rules.
Whatever. Harry just wanted to go home. He was freezing his arse off, and the streetlamp above his head kept flickering on and off, casting long shadows that were giving him the creeps. Yeah, Harry had outdueled Voldemort and faced down a Basilisk at age twelve, but he would posit that anyone would get unnerved standing in front of shop called Trolls R Us. The blood-curdling screams coming from inside weren't helping.
Perhaps he should have asked Malfoy for directions when he had the chance, but then Malfoy probably would have just yelled at him some more.
Of all the people to run into… He hadn't thought of Malfoy in years, and now he couldn't get him out of his head.
What was Malfoy doing in Knockturn Alley in the first place? Harry wasn't one to jump to conclusions (okay, maybe a little), but he thought it couldn't have been for anything good. Malfoy may have led a quiet life after the war (so quiet that Harry had to strain to remember the last time he had read his name in the paper), but that didn't mean it wasn't a cover-up for something more nefarious.
More importantly, Harry had to find his way home, so he pushed all thoughts of Draco Malfoy out of his mind. There was a row of shops up ahead, lights blazing in their windows. Deciding to heed Malfoy's warning about enemies lurking nearby, he took out his wand and trudged toward them.
But it was only a row of sex shops. He stopped for a moment to gaze at a display in one of the windows. It was of a giant dildo, purple and sparkly, and made Harry immediately think of Gilderoy Lockhart (in the very worst way).
"Do you like what you see?"
Harry jumped as he tried to dash those images of Lockhart out his head. "No. It's a little big and… erm… sparkly."
The boy (or was she a girl?) addressing him looked barely of legal age. He… She had long sleek black hair that reminded Harry of Cho, but had a body that was lean and muscular, and Harry's eyes dropped down to the inseam of his trousers.
A flush crept across Harry's cheeks. Definitely a boy. Wow. Harry had to remind himself he wasn't in Diagon Alley anymore.
Harry glanced up in time to see the boy raise his eyebrow.
"We have smaller ones inside," said the boy. "I could show you."
"I'm sure you do, but I'm not in the market for anything like that … Not that I… would know what to do… I mean I do know what to do… It's just…" Harry paused to adjust his glasses. "Look, I just need to get back to Diagon Alley. Do you know the way?" Harry swallowed and adjusted his glasses again. "Please. "
The boy stepped into Harry's personal space. He was close enough that Harry could see down the collar of his shirt and the snake tattoo that twined down from his collarbone all the way to his navel. "Why would you want to go there?"
Harry swallowed again. Snakes. They were his weakness. It was something Ginny never understood. "Look, I just want to go home." Harry coughed. "Please."
"So polite." The boy pouted as he touched his hand to Harry's cheek, letting it linger there for a moment before pointing it down the dark road. "In that case, second corner, turn left."
Second corner, turn left brought Harry to an abandoned cauldron factory, its windows broken and something ghoulish and green glowing from deep inside, which Harry declined to investigate further.
"Sorry," said the boy, still standing in front of the purple, sparkly dildo. He smiled. "Did I say second corner? I meant third."
Harry's feet thumped against the pavement as he raced down the alleyway, a pack of hell hounds on his heels.
"It wasn't the third left," Harry gasped, out of breath, his robes torn and a bloody gash on his knee. He was back at the sex shop again. "Look, I just need to get back to the Leaky Cauldron. It's been a really long night, and I just want to go home. Could you just tell me the way?"
The boy nodded in a way that gave Harry a very bad feeling. "Did you try going to the right?"
"I'm sorry. I didn't catch your name." Harry said, soaking wet. It had started to rain, and it wasn't the normal kind of rain either, but the giant stinging kind that hurt as it soaked through to the skin.
"Oh," said the boy. He grinned. "Richard Lestrange. But you can call me Dickie. Everyone does."
"Lestrange. Of course."
"So," said the boy brightly. "Are you enjoying your stay in Knockturn Alley?"
Harry nodded. "Immensely."
Maybe he should just Apparate. Splinching himself couldn't put him in a worse state than he was now, and let's face it, being laid up in St. Mungos without an arm or a toe would be a preferable alternative to what he was doing now: huddling under an awning and peeping into the window of Bedbugs, Beetles and Beyond. Dark Wizards sure had the oddest taste in pets.
Then the obvious solution to his predicament came to him. Reflected in the shop window was a billboard advertisement for the Knight Bus. Just raise your right arm, and we'll be there in a jiff, it cheerfully read. It even had Stan Shunpike's smiling face along with the copy Official Transportation of Knockturn Alley -- Dark or Light: We Don't Discriminate.
Harry took out his wand and stepped to the curb. Just raise your right arm. Surely, Harry could handle that.
Harry watched in slow-motion horror as his wand fell out of his outstretched hand. It clattered to the ground and began to roll down the cobblestone street.
He fell to his knees. The curb was wet. He had lost his footing and tumbled off.
No. No. Please. No. Nooooooo!
Harry crawled on his hand and knees after it. But it was too late.
"Fuck me," Harry said.
So, Harry Potter -- Wizarding hero, seasoned Auror, handsome bloke (even soaking wet) -- had just seen his wand fall down a storm drain. He was sure it happened all the time.
"Fuck me," he muttered again.
The sign was painted in blood red.
Abandon hope all ye who enter here, it read, next to a giant arrow pointing toward an arched doorway.
Well, if that didn't wasn't a sound invitation, Harry didn't know what was. He went through the doorway. It wasn't as if his night could get any worse.
The door had led Harry inside a pub. It reeked of alcohol and cheap sex, and Harry had to stop for a moment to inhale because it was kind of scent you could lose yourself in. It was that wonderful.
"You look like you could use a drink."
For the second time that night Harry found himself looking into the eyes of his angel. He was standing behind the bar, drying a glass with a white rag. "You don't look very surprised," said Malfoy.
Harry sat down on one of the barstools as Malfoy slid something fragrant and alcoholic across the bar. Harry took a sip. It tasted fantastic. "Actually, after the night I've just had I wouldn't be surprised to see Severus Snape walk through that door."
"Wouldn't that be interesting."
"No. It wouldn't," retorted Harry.
Malfoy smirked and poured Harry another drink from one of the cauldrons bubbling behind the bar. The pub was nearly empty. A couple sat in the back, foundling each other while a woman cleaned up and stacked chairs.
"Closing soon?" said Harry.
"Don't worry about it," said Malfoy, drying another glass. "You can stay as long as you want."
"How kind of you."
"Don't get used to it."
Harry smiled and drained the rest of his drink.
Malfoy had dried the entire stock of glassware twice over when Harry signaled him to come back over.
"So," he said, one eye peering into his empty glass, "I have to ask."
"If my tending bar is a part of a shrewd cover-up for the next Death Eater revolution?"
Harry blinked, setting the glass down. "Well, yeah. That was actually going to be my second question."
"Yes. And Zabini owns a bakery round the corner."
"Malfoy, seriously. You should be torturing house-elves or something. Attending parties. Lording over the rest of us."
"I thought that was your job now.''
Harry ignored the gibe. "This just seems beneath you," he said quietly, gesturing around the pub, at the row of cauldrons, the couple practically fornicating in the corner.
"Really? Owning my own business and making an honest living is beneath me."
"But you could do almost anything. With your kind of money--"
"Can I? I don’t know where you've been for the last five years, but even if I wanted one I couldn't get a job cleaning the toilets at the Ministry. Not that I ever would." He wrinkled his nose "Ew."
"But why work at all?" Harry persisted.
"Stuff it, Potter. Do you know how many Galleons it cost my father to keep us out of Azkaban?"
"He didn't pay anyone. Your family was given a formal pardon by the Minister himself."
"Please. You insult yourself."
Harry stared down at the empty glass in his hands. The Minister's justification of Lucius' pardon never sat well with him and now he knew why.
"Come on, Potter. The Minister knew what he was doing. He wanted some sort of reparation for what we had done. That was the only way he was going to get it. Some of that money went to rebuilding Hogwarts, so I guess it was win-win for everyone. Besides," Malfoy went on, and Harry thought he heard a tinge of bitterness in his voice, "haven't we all just moved on with our lives?"
"I suppose," Harry said, and he wondered if it wasn't high time for him to go home. The night had been a disaster, just one bad experience after another, and Malfoy had only darkened his mood further.
"My mother supports the family now," Malfoy said.
Harry looked up, interested. He could hear the pride in Malfoy's voice. "Really? Doing what?"
"Writing books." When Harry stared at him he replied, looking smug. "Her penname is N.M. Black."
Harry goggled his eyes. "Wait, your mother writes the Beyond the Night series?"
"Ginny loves those books. That's… fantastic."
"I know." Malfoy laughed.
"I only read the first book," Harry admitted. "I'm not really into vampires."
"Me either. But you should read the second book. It has veelas." Malfoy's eyes sparkled. "There's a love triangle and everything."
"Veelas." Harry smiled. "Duly noted."
Malfoy turned to tend to one of the cauldrons. It belched pink smoke as he stirred. "So, why didn't you go home like I told you to?"
"Tried to. Didn't work. I got lost…" He mumbled the rest into the crook of his elbow. "And… I misplacedmywand."
"Misplaced your wand? Seriously." Malfoy laughed again.
Harry nodded. "In the sewer."
Malfoy snickered. "I'm not even going to ask. Aren't you supposed to be some big shot Auror now?"
"So they say."
"Nice to know we're in good hands." Malfoy was holding a ladle of potion. "Another drink?"
"Please," said Harry.
A pleasant buzz had settled over Harry. Oddly, he didn't feel drunk like he had earlier in the evening, only happy. And amorous. Perhaps Harry should be shocked that he was fostering feelings of lust toward Draco Malfoy of all people, a person who had once poisoned his best friend and was not in possession of a vagina (that he knew of), but Harry was too busy fixating on the shape of his mouth.
"You know," Harry said with grin more sloppy than rakish. "You really are pretty."
It was true! And Harry wasn't going to take it back this time either, especially after seeing the blush rise on Malfoy's cheeks.
"Potter, go home."
But Harry was just getting started. Malfoy was trying not to smile. Harry was sure of it. "I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it."
"Fuck off. You wouldn't say it if you weren't drunk either."
"Maybe. But you're the one mixing my drinks."
A flash of panic flitted across Malfoy's face, which Harry ignored, so taken was he staring into Malfoy's shining silvery orbs.
Harry blinked. Did he just refer to Malfoy's eyes as shining silvery orbs? "Um… Malfoy?"
Malfoy winced. "Potter, I think we have a problem."
"A love potion?" Harry wasn't sure if he should be enraged or turned on. The latter won over and Harry, having jumped over the bar with hitherto unknown speed, was now licking Malfoy's earlobe.
"Not-- Stop doing that." Malfoy batted Harry away. "It was an accident."
But Malfoy had the most adorable ears. Why hadn't he noticed them before? He really had to taste them. Harry lunged again, this time successful in getting his tongue all the way inside Malfoy's ear.
Malfoy let out a startled gasp. "Potter, ah--"
Harry couldn't remember when he had ever wanted someone with such urgency. Maybe when he first started seeing Ginny, when he was still young and flush with his victory over Voldemort, but even then their lovemaking had been tentative, more quiet than passionate. Not so now, need growing inside him, Harry had maneuvered them both so that Malfoy was pressed back against the bar. He had his hands on Malfoy's shoulders, his tongue licking a fevered trail down his neck.
Malfoy squirmed underneath him. "You don't know what you're doing. You don't even like me."
"Yes, I do. Very much."
"Potter, trust me, you don't. You're going to hate yourself for doing this."
But Harry would not be persuaded. "I want to kiss you," he said with utmost certainty. "Right now."
Harry paused to scrutinize Malfoy's face. "Why, is the idea of kissing me so awful?"
"No! I mean--" Malfoy let out a cry of exasperation. "Fine, One kis--"
Harry didn't need a written invitation. He had never kissed a man before and even though a part of his brain was screaming don't do it! A larger, more insistent part had steamrolled over his objections. He wanted Malfoy so, so very much, but that wasn't even the most unsettling part. It wasn't that he was kissing Draco Malfoy. It was that it felt so right.
And once reality hit when Malfoy broke the kiss, Harry felt more than just confusion. He felt anger and betrayal and yes, disappointment.
"What's going on?" Harry wished he had his wand. He stumbled backward, wanting a wider berth in case the urge to molest Malfoy came over him again. "Having a laugh at my expense?"
"It was an accident. I got the cauldrons confused. I meant to serve you something else."
"So you meant to poison me?" Enraged, Harry began making his way toward the front door. His emotions were already riding high, and he knew he could no longer trust himself not to tackle Malfoy and do something he knew they would both regret. He wanted to touch Malfoy in the worst possible way.
"No," shouted Malfoy. "It's not like that."
"Seriously, Malfoy. Do you know who I am?
"Yes, I know who you are. You're Harry fucking Potter. Why do you think I told you that you'd hate yourself for touching me?"
"That--" Harry made a noise of frustration. "That's not the issue. I can have you thrown into Azkaban so fast it'd make your head spin. Don't think I'm not going to either."
Malfoy ran after him. "Wait, Potter. It's not what you think. Just listen to me."
Malfoy had the look of a man who thought he might lose everything. Harry's emotions were at war. He didn't know what to believe. What if Malfoy was telling the truth? He couldn’t think straight, he needed some distance and fresh air, and what he really needed was to go home. He thrust out his hand. "Don't come any closer," he warned.
Malfoy heeded his warning, halting in his tracks. "Potter, don't--"
Harry flew out the door before Malfoy could finish.
Harry made it only a few steps when he heard someone call out his name. He turned around.
"Harry? It is you."
Harry peered into the gloom and saw a figure charging toward him, his red hair and freckles unmistakable as he neared. "Charlie?"
Harry grinned with the relief that the world had gone right again. A familiar face, and he hadn't seen Charlie in ages. He clapped him on the shoulder. "I didn't know you were in England."
"I just got back." Charlie gave him a big hug. "Don't tell my mum. I'm here on business."
"Oh," said Harry, gazing at Charlie, confused. Charlie was wearing a pair of sleeveless leather robes and tight trousers and had a black collar around his neck. Harry couldn't fathom what sort of business he might be doing in Knockturn Alley. It was rather late, and he couldn't remember seeing any dragon shops.
"So what were you doing at Malfoy's?" asked Charlie.
"Malfoy's?" Harry frowned. "You know of it?"
"Been there a few times. He's known for mixing a mean cocktail. The pub's a little on the gloomy side, but isn't that part of the Knockturn Alley's charm?" Charlie laughed.
Yes, because when Harry thought of charm, he thought of Knockturn Alley.
"Don't worry. I won't say anything," Charlie went on. He winked, nudging Harry in the elbow. "I heard how you two were in school."
"Wait. What?" Harry's eyes widened.
"Oh, yeah. I was sorry to hear about you and Ginny. Sad business: breakups, but look at it this way, better she find out now that you're the sort of bloke who spends his nights trolling pubs in Knockturn Alley then later on after you two've been married."
"I don't troll pubs in Knockturn Alley," said Harry, voice rising. "I got lost and wandered into Malfoy's by accident."
"As I said. Better to face facts now than to keep deluding yourself."
"Just what are you are trying to say?"
"Hey," Charlie interrupted. "You want to go dancing?"
Yes, because going dancing was exactly what Harry wanted to do. He was exhausted and already in the first throes of a killer hangover, not to mention a very sick part of his brain was actively trying to lobby for him to go back to Malfoy so he could jump his bones and do other unmentionably vile things to him.
The blond Slytherin twerp. Harry really wanted to
On the other hand, if he stuck by Charlie it might reduce the risk of him getting lost again and having to interact with the locals. Security in numbers so to speak. Gryffindor solidarity. The night had been hellish enough already. Harry didn't think he could take another strange encounter. Besides, the club probably had a public Floo. He could be home in no time and asleep in his soft (and lonely) bed.
"Here we are," said Charlie as they rounded the corner, Harry noting that Charlie seemed awfully familiar with Knockturn Alley's twists and turns.
"Wait a minute, said Harry, stopping. In front of them stood the same dance club he had encountered earlier. The same bright lights flashing. The same big, scary man standing guard.
Harry instinctively stepped behind Charlie. Well, Charlie had a wand and Harry didn't. It was all about taking cover and assessing risk. Auror Defensive Skills 101. Besides, Harry wasn't looking forward to getting hexed a second time in one evening.
"What's wrong?" said Charlie, glancing at Harry.
"That man. He hexed me earlier."
"Harvey? I don't suppose you know him too," said Harry, wondering if he really wanted to know.
Charlie shrugged. "Slept with him once. Bit of a size--"
"Nope. I was right. Don't want to know," Harry cut in.
But Charlie seemed determined to overshare. "It ended badly," he went on, looking rueful.
"I can't imagine why."
According to Charlie, Harry had likely been hexed because he had the misfortune of arriving earlier when the club was hosting their popular Death Eaters Ball. Apparently, it was the rage these days to don masks and fake tattoos and act all edgy and dark. (Harry had to take a moment remind himself why he thought the Wizarding world was worth saving.)
"He probably didn't get the humor of your situation," Charlie explained, as they were whisked past Harvey, who was still swinging his wand around. (It apparently paid to know someone who slept with the doorman.)
"I wasn't trying to be funny. I was just saying hello."
"I'm sure he just got into the spirit of the moment. I wouldn't take it personally. I think you'll find a much friendlier crowd now," said Charlie.
Harry didn't know what Charlie meant until he peered into the dark club and saw two familiar faces huddled around a small table and enough of empty bottles to topple Hagrid. "Ron? Seamus?"
His friends waved Harry over, looking worse for wear. "Don't tell Hermione," said Ron, yelling over the loud music.
"Don't you have to work in the morning?" Harry shouted back.
Seamus pointed to his wristwatch "It's only four o'clock. Plenty of time."
But that wasn't the only familiar face.
"Malfoy?" Harry narrowed his eyes and jumped right into his lap.
"Potter, we have to stop running into each other like this," Malfoy said in a strangled voice as Harry went to work molesting his ear and neck and…shoulder and… Oh god. He had no idea Malfoy had such soft, delectable skin. Harry's hand slid down the front of Malfoy's shirt.
Like a man drowning under water Harry had to strain to hear his best friend call out his name. He supposed the loud music thumping in the background wasn't helping either.
"Harry, why are you humping Malfoy?"
Ron. Oh shit. Harry surfaced to a pair of strong arms pulling him backward and leaving Malfoy sprawled out on the floor, looking wide-eyed and rumbled, his shirt unbuttoned to his navel,
"Sorry," Harry gasped, running a shaking hand through his hair. "I don't know what came over me."
Ron had the same look on his face as when he had first seen Aragog. "I think I may be sick," he whimpered.
"Yeah," muttered Harry, "Malfoy has that effect on people."
Meanwhile, Malfoy had sprung to his feet and was furiously buttoning his shirt. "Get a hold of yourself. We're in public."
"I didn't see you put up much of a fight," Harry snapped back, trying not to cry out in protest as he watched Malfoy's milky skin disappear under his silk shirt.
Malfoy straightened his collar and fixed a sneer onto his face. It wasn't wholly convincing. "It felt good." He paused to smooth back his hair. "What was I supposed to do?"
"I don't know. Stop me?"
"Harry," Ron squeaked. "What's going on?"
"I think what you just saw was Harry getting his groove on," said Charlie.
"Yep," added Seamus, raising his glass, "with style. Shine on, you Gryffindor. Shine on."
"No!" Harry scowled at them both. "Malfoy fed me a love potion."
"It was an accident."
"I don't believe you."
"Why would I ever want to you to touch me?" Malfoy snapped.
"You just said it felt good," retorted Harry.
Oh god. Harry sank down into a vacated chair. He couldn’t believe he was having this conversation in front of Ron and Charlie. What if Ginny found out? Not that she would probably care. She wasn't returning his firecalls. Still, Harry had harbored hopes that they would reconcile.
Ron flopped down in the chair beside him. "I suppose it makes sense in a really perverted and sick way," he muttered. He picked up a glass of whisky and downed it in one gulp. "Not that I approve. Well, it is your life. What am I saying? Do what ever the hell you want. I need another drink."
Harry gaped at Ron. "It's not what you think. It was all an accident. I don't even like Malfoy. All I want to do is suck on his neck and fondle him a little. Oh god," he whimpered into his hands
Ron made a gurgling sound. "Too much information."
"Look, Harry. If you don't mind me saying, you're obviously miserable. Everyone can see it, and I know Ginny would feel better if you moved on. And that's another thing, mate, you've got to stop calling her. It's getting a little creepy. She's back with Dean now. Be happy for her." Ron got to his feet and picked up his empty glass. "So if you want to… you know…" He gestured with his hand. "…with Malfoy just don't tell me the gory details. Please, I don't want to know. Now I really need that drink."
Of course, now that Harry wanted to find Malfoy he was nowhere to be found.
Harry pushed his way through the crowded club and out to the street. He saw Harvey standing by the curb, looking menacing and unapproachable, his wand stuck in his back pocket.
Harry gave Harvey a wide berth before thinking better of it and walking over. "Pardon, sir? I--"
Harvey turned and glared. "You--"
"Yes, it's me. Harry Potter. You hexed me earlier. I'm willing to let that go if--"
"Charlie says you're a good bloke," retorted Harvey gruffly as he turned his attention back to a pair of women cavorting in Death Eater masks.
"Thank you, I--"
"I read about you in the papers. You come off as a prat if you ask me, but what do I know."
"I can assure I am not a prat."
Harvey looked skeptical.
"Fine." Harry forced himself not to raise his voice. "Look, I just want to find Draco Malfoy."
"Yes. Draco Malfoy. Tall. Blond hair. Has a really gorgeous neck." Harry winced. "Did you happen to see where he went?"
Harvey crossed his arms in front of his chest. "No."
"No?" Harry was sure he was being lied to. "You really didn't see him leave even though you're standing right by the front door. Honestly?"
Harvey pulled out his wand.
"I know where he lives."
Harry turned around. "Dickie?" he said, recognizing the tattooed boy from the sex shop.
Dickie smiled. "Turn right, then go left, walk three streets and turn right." He hesitated. "Wait. Turn right, then go left, walk two streets and turn right." His brow furrowed. "Or is it left?"
"You have no idea, do you?"
"No, not really. I just like messing with you."
A wise man once told Harry that it was your choices that made you who you are. So given the option of going back and letting his friends take him home, Harry made the obvious one. He ditched them to search out a man he wasn't sure he even liked.
Now that he had set his mind to actually do something he found the twists and turns of Knockturn Alley surprisingly easy to navigate. Maybe he had finally opened his eyes.
Malfoy let out a gasp of surprise when Harry walked back into the pub, crossed the distance between them and pushed him up against the bar.
Harry had no idea what time it was. It might have been dawn, and in another life he would have just risen from bed to dash into the shower before another frenzied day at work. He was exhausted and yet, so very awake, his hands shaking as he unbuttoned the collar of Malfoy's shirt. Malfoy's clothes were the same he had on the night before. Harry wondered he ever slept.
"You do know," said Malfoy, as conversationally as if they were discussing the weather, "that the love potion you drank earlier should have worn off at least an hour ago."
Harry hesitated, his mouth hovering over a smooth expanse of pale skin, Malfoy's shirt pushed nearly off his shoulders. He traced a fingertip across Malfoy's collarbone and drew him closer. He knew in his heart that what Malfoy said was true. He didn't care. "Yeah? So what."
Malfoy made a tsking sound. "Then why are you doing this?"
Harry raised his head and looked Malfoy in the eyes. "I want to."
"Don't I get a say in this?"
"Tell me to stop."
Malfoy slipped his hand behind Harry's neck and grabbed a tuft of his hair, pulling his head back. It didn't hurt so much as remind Harry that Malfoy was still an unknown quantity. For all the tribulations they had shared in school (and they had shared plenty despite what Malfoy had said earlier) they were strangers now. Harry realized he had even made the blanket assumption that Malfoy was attracted to men. But hadn't he said earlier that Harry's potion-induced affections felt good?
"Second thoughts?" interrupted Malfoy, smirking.
"No," Harry said levelly. "I just realized how little we know each other."
Malfoy rolled his eyes, his fingertips moving to stroke the crook of Harry's neck, Harry relaxing into his touch. "I think we know each other just fine. Let's not make this into something bigger than it is."
"All right." Harry sighed and began to pull away.
Malfoy's hand grabbed hold of his hair again, this time pulling hard.
Harry reacted instantly, crying out. "What the--"
"I didn't mean for you to go away. Don't be such a coward," Malfoy sneered.
"Oh, fuck you," Harry retorted, shoving Malfoy back against the bar. So it was back to being two boys scuffling on the Quidditch pitch, common ground. Trouble was Malfoy still had his hand clutched in his hair and Harry tumbled against him. He gasped as his thigh pressed against the hard budge in Malfoy's trousers.
"You like that, Potter?" Malfoy's other hand slipped down Harry's back, crushing their bodies together.
"I think you do, Malfoy. Ease up on my hair, will you? I'm a trained Auror. I know how to hurt someone without a wand."
Malfoy dropped his hand and smirked. "Duly noted."
"Don't you go away either," growled Harry, grabbing hold of Malfoy's hips and wiggling against them. He was flying blind now. He, who had a grand total of two lovers in his lifetime: Ginny and a one-off with Luna back before he and Ginny were serious. Both had been women, both with considerably less baggage than Draco Malfoy. But what was the fun in that? Yes, Harry may be flying blind, but when was the last time he felt this fervent about anything?
"I want you," he muttered against Malfoy's mouth, and Malfoy snickered in return, the git.
Perhaps, on top of it all, he was a glutton for punishment. Harry moved to cup his hand around the budge in Malfoy's trousers, earning him a startled moan when he squeezed. "You do like that."
"Course I do."
Harry laughed softly and did it again. Moving on adrenaline and with a few sharp commands, he managed to maneuver Malfoy so that he was sitting atop the bar. He spread Malfoy's legs and tore open the fastenings of his trousers and eased them down to his knees.
Malfoy's erect cock presented itself, pink and glistening. Harry licked his lips and touched it tentatively, circling his fingers around the shaft, and Malfoy let out a soft sigh in response as he bent his head down, watching, his eyes hidden under a veil of blond hair, which was probably for the best. Harry wasn't sure he had the nerve to look Malfoy in the face, and without another moment's hesitation, he bent down and sucked Malfoy's cock all the way down to its root.
"Fuck," Malfoy cried out.
It was too much. Harry nearly gagged, and he quickly eased off. How on earth had Ginny made sucking cock look so easy? Was this what it was really like? He felt a stab of panic, which he forced down just as Malfoy's hand fell down to his shoulder and then around to the back of his head, firm but not controlling, and it eventually gave Harry some resolve. He could do this. He wanted to do this. He just needed to take his time.
He tried again, this time only sucking Malfoy's cock halfway into his mouth, using his fist to cover the rest. Malfoy cried out again, causing Harry's own arousal to spike in response. His cock strained against the fabric of the navy trousers Harry had worn to work a day earlier, and he used his free hand to unbutton his fly and grabbed hold of his cock.
He let out a muffled cry of his own. God, he was shameless, working his own cock as he sucked another into his mouth. Was this what he had become? Giving into debauchery after one sleepless night. But he liked it, and he wondered how he must appear. The image that came forth in his mind's eye of him bent over, trousers pooled at his ankles, Malfoy fucking his mouth -- made him shiver with excitement. There was no way he was going to last.
Neither was Malfoy, judging from the urgency of his moans and the tightening grip of his fingers around the back of Harry's head as his movements became more and more erratic.
Harry opened his mouth as wide as he could, taking it all, wanting it, as he thrust wildly into his own fist. He was close, his eyes beginning to flutter, and with a jerk he came into his hand, thick strands of semen coating his fingers. Malfoy let out another cry of "ohgodohfuck" and came too, coating Harry's mouth with the bitter taste of semen. He swallowed some of it down, letting the rest dribble down his chin.
Malfoy threw him a towel off the bar, and Harry used it to cover his face, taking longer than necessary to clean it off. His mind was reeling. What did he just do?
Malfoy snickered. "Don't worry I'm not going to tell anyone what a good cocksucker you are."
Harry uncovered one eye and glared. "What about Pansy? You were so eager to tell her before."
Malfoy finished fastening his trousers and jumped off the bar. "Nah. She wouldn't believe me." He grinned wickedly. "Weasley might though."
Harry threw the towel at him. "Don't you dare."
Malfoy laughed and used his wand to light fires under the cauldrons set up behind the bar. "You should go now," he said, plucking a bottle off a shelf and uncorking its contents into one of the cauldrons. "I've got work to do. Didn't get much done last night." He winked before turning his back again to rummage through a cupboard under the bar.
"Of course," said Harry, watching him, jealous of the ease and familiarity with which he moved around his pub. Harry realized he was in no hurry to go.
But he must. He had a life out there.
He glanced up and caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror behind the bar. Staring back was a man who look like he'd traveled from hell and back, his robes torn and bloodied, his glasses eskew. He straightened up and grinned at his reflection. Now there was the appearance of someone who could look life in the face and kick arse.
He turned and strode toward the door. "See you around, Malfoy," he called, before walking out into daylight.
A regal-looking owl waited for him atop his desk.
"A message," his assistant called as he walked past. "Don't forget, staff meeting in five-- What on earth happened to you--"
Harry shut the door on her.
The owl cocked her head and squawked impatiently. She had already shredded what looked like a half a day's worth of paperwork with her talons.
"Fine. I'll read your bloody message," said Harry, snatching the scroll from her outstretched leg. He opened it up and grinned.
Harry smirked. Oh, he would find a way to pay Malfoy back…