Title: A Day in the Life of Draco Malfoy, Image Manager
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, past Harry/Ginny, past Draco/Astoria
Summary: As the solicitor for the Potter family, Draco Malfoy usually doesn't ask for Harry Potter's permission to clean up his offspring's messes. Usually.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Epilogue-compliant, bratty offspring, sexual situations.
Epilogue compliant? Yes.
Word Count: ~5690
Author's Notes: Author's Note: hereticalvision, thank you so much for introducing me to Dirty, Sexy Money! I'm not sure I quite captured that series (the boys do what they will, after all), but what fun it is! I hope you enjoy the story. Many thanks to R, who did an amazing job betaing and Brit-picking this. And thanks to the mods, who were more generous with me than I deserved, You're not just rock stars, but angels as well. Major thanks to R for the beta and Brit-pick. Any remaining errors are mine.
The Screech Owl was grooming itself, occupying the desk as if it were his nest, when Draco entered his office. There was a rather thick packet in front of it, and no pouch on its leg, which suggested the standard hush payment wasn't being requested.
This didn't bode well. Then again, any day that started with a packet from Rita Skeeter was likely to end with a migraine.
Draco closed his eyes and pursed his lips, bracing himself against the bad news, whatever it was. At least the note was on regular parchment; Draco didn't think he could handle the shrill tones of a Skeeter Howler this morning. Not before another cup of tea.
It has come to my attention that James Sirius Potter has been seen cavorting around London, Dublin, and several other cities with Aidan Lynch. Their relationship seems to have passed what is considered typical for a young man and his mother's long-term suitor.
I'm enclosing the evidence. Since it was sent to me by one of my fans, it is difficult to justify not running a story about it; it's poor manners just to ignore such a gift. Not to mention that I will have to do some of that clean-up—the kind you are so good at—myself if I don't want to be scooped by another journalist who lacks our special arrangement. I have arranged for the photographer to meet me for lunch at The Hungry Phoenix to discuss the story and how we will proceed with verification and publication.
Won't you join us? I'm certain we can find an agreeable solution to this dilemma.
Please use Artemis for your reply. I look forward to seeing you at noon.
Draco scrawled an affirmative response on a bit of parchment and gave an Owl Treat to Artemis before sending her off. Then he looked at the photos.
He could see why Skeeter would demand more than her usual sum of Galleons to keep quiet about these, especially since an amateur photographer was involved. And the photos were certainly compelling. James had made quite a splash when he posed on the cover of Witch Weekly with a tattoo of a snake wrapped around the Gryffindor crest. Being similarly shirtless (and glistening with sweat) in this photo, the ink was a clear identifying marker. The young man in the photo was writhing, auburn head tossed back. He ground his hips backward into a dancer behind him, who embraced his torso with one arm and used his other hand to cup the younger man's crotch.
The groper looked up, stared at the camera, and licked his lips. Though the pupils were dilated and the expression a little dopey, there was no doubt that Skeeter had correctly identified James Potter's companion.
Draco opened a desk drawer and pulled out a phial of pale blue liquid. A combination Headache and Calming Draught. It was bitter, as usual, as he swallowed it down.
It suited his mood. He tapped his wand against the intercom.
"Yes, Mr Malfoy?" a smooth feminine voice intoned.
"Cassandra , please cancel all my appointments for the day, and schedule me for a noon meeting with Rita Skeeter. The Potter account needs my full attention."
"Certainly, Mr Malfoy," Cassandra said. "Do you need anything else?"
Draco paused. "I'll likely be sending an owl from the restaurant. Whatever it says, make it happen, alright?"
Cassandra was Draco's assistant and guardian angel. The woman could work miracles when it came to influence and scheduling. She was the first Slytherin in decades to have been appointed Head Girl at Hogwarts, and while most thought she was working a job far below her potential, Draco made sure she was too happy to leave.
He had a feeling he'd be sweetening her compensation even more before the day was through.
"Whatever you say, Mr Malfoy," Cassandra said, her voice deliberate. Of course she was calculating her potential advantage already. Draco would expect nothing less.
Draco sighed and began working through the other reports that had arrived over the weekend. Surely there would be something Rita Skeeter would consider worth the trade.
When Draco arrived at his office after lunch, the first thing he did was reach for another phial of the blue potion.
The second thing he did was summon Cassandra to his office.
"I need you to schedule an emergency meeting with Minister Potter as soon as possible. Today, if he can. I can go to him, but it's probably less attention-provoking and more secure if he Floos here."
Cassandra's eyes widened. "What should I tell his staff this is regarding?" she asked.
Draco pinched the bridge of his nose. How can I put the idea of the media getting wind of his son's being buggered by his ex-wife's boyfriend delicately? He chose his words carefully for maximum impact to both Potter's staff and the Minister himself. "Information has come to light that could undermine both his political career and his family's happiness," he said. Political career would worry Potter's handlers; family's happiness was the phrase that would concern Potter himself.
Draco knew how to get a person's attention, how to manipulate a person into doing whatever he wanted. There were many reasons he was the most-feared libel solicitor in Wizarding Britain.
Manipulating Potter with the same knowledge of rhetoric was just pragmatic. Especially when it came to publicity, about which Potter had always claimed distaste.
"Yes, Mr Malfoy." Cassandra's voice trailed after her; she knew that the courtesy of remaining in the room to finish her sentence was less important to Draco than expediting this sort of request.
Draco sighed, leaning back in his seat to review the situation again.
James Potter had been seen—and photographed—running around town with his mum's boyfriend. The photos were explicit. The boyfriend (James's? Ginevra's? Did Draco care?) was a high-enough profile athlete to garner tabloid attention on his own.
And the art was neither deniable nor ugly. Draco's fingers itched to pull the photos from their sleeve.
He resisted, however; his interest in the image was prurient, and it would be poor judgement indeed to allow himself to be aroused when the young man's father came to call.
Merlin. Thinking of James Potter's father, and how he might react to Draco's proposals, was enough to make Draco want to AK himself. Or AK Potter, though Draco thought he'd probably prefer his own death to the harsh prison sentence he'd receive should he murder the Minister for Magic.
It was parsing, he knew, but Draco couldn't bring himself to think of killing Potter as something so political as assassination. Assassinations had political goals.
Draco's only goal would be to make the git shut up.
In fact, he was astonished at Potter's continued popularity in the Ministry. Sure, the hero-worship of the masses could get him re-elected every few years, but governing took a diplomatic touch, or all the workings of Magical Britain would come apart like a carpet with disintegrating weft. Yet Draco knew of no evidence that Potter had learned impulse control or tact since leaving Hogwarts; it therefore boggled him that the Ministry hadn't fallen apart. The man had an easy-going charm to him, sure, but lacked any sense of finesse most of the time.
Despite the Draught, Draco felt the tension in his body and his temples rise. He took a deep breath, deciding to busy himself in arcane contracts until the Minister arrived.
Draco was always surprised that Minister Potter would wait for Cassandra to announce him, but he invariably did. Draco appreciated that; the Man-Who-Lived-Again had learned some niceties along the way.
"Minister Potter," he greeted his client, whose mien seemed troubled.
"Malfoy." Potter nodded, then helped himself to a seat as Cassandra left the room. Draco sat as well. "What is this news that is so earth-shattering it needed my immediate attention?"
Fuck. Potter was already peevish. This did not bode well. Still, Draco was confident of his ability to steer the conversation. It was easier than riding a broomstick, most days. "Skeeter owled me this morning. She had a tip regarding James cavorting with Aidan Lynch."
Potter merely looked confused. "So? I mean, it's a nasty rumour, but I'm certain it's nothing you can't handle."
Draco closed his eyes. He pinched the bridge of his nose. He took a deep breath. "There's art."
Surely Potter wasn't as naive as he sounded. "Art. Photographic evidence. Incriminating images." Draco paused. "Do you need me to explain more?"
"No." Potter was glaring at him now. Great. "There's a photo?"
"Several. I can show you, if you like," —Draco pointed his wand at the locked file drawer— "but I don't know whether I'd want to view them if they were of my son."
Potter winced. "No, thank you. I take it, then, that you believe these not to be counterfeit?"
Draco supposed the man had reasons to be paranoid about such things, but still. "They appear authentic. Besides, who would benefit from such photographs?"
Potter chuckled. The sound was hollow, half-hearted. "That's a serious question? There's some serious blackmail that could be arranged, isn't there? And we both know that Skeeter and The Prophet, hell, any second-rate tabloid, would earn a nice Knut selling papers with such images."
Draco nodded. "Well, the salacious parts of the photos are inappropriate for print."
Potter's jaw dropped, just a little. He closed his eyes and blew his breath out.
"And," Draco continued, "the photographs were submitted to Ms Skeeter by one of her," Draco affected a cough, "fans." He paused again. "Skeeter was kind enough to contact me and arrange for me to meet the young man who took the pictures. He's no longer our concern, unless one of your children falls afoul of his camera again. Rita Skeeter, on the other hand..."
"Wants her pound of flesh?"
Draco took a moment to look at Potter. His shoulders were slightly slumped, and as Draco watched, he tipped his head back to look at the ceiling.
"What form does she want her pound of flesh to take?"
"An exclusive, unrestricted interview."
Draco took a deep breath. "Potter, have you thought about what happens if you don't give her anything?"
"Why can't we threaten her with libel?"
Draco counted to ten. Then he took another deep breath and counted to twenty. Finally he spoke. "She has pictures," he hissed. "All she needs to do is publish those and let them speak for themselves. And report that when you were contacted for an interview, you refused."
"She's fucking blackmailing me."
"No, Potter." Draco was beyond annoyed; they'd had this conversation a thousand times if they'd had it once. In fact, given Potter's disgust at anything resembling a quid pro quo with regards to information about him and his family, Draco was surprised he'd even considered retaining a solicitor of Draco's specialisation. "What she's doing is negotiating a transaction. She knows the havoc this can wreak, and is willing to go the distance to prevent it—if you are willing to work with her."
"My administration has made it a policy not to negotiate with terrorists, Draco. What do you think the public consequences will be if people see me capitulating in my personal life?"
"This isn't capitulation; it's controlling the message." Seeing Potter's mutinous look, Draco decided to try another tack. "Do you want this mess to be public? Because I'm telling you, that's the consequence of refusing this interview."
"Can't we just stick her in a jar for a while?" Potter was whinging. He might have thought it plaintive, but Draco wouldn't call the tone anything but petulant.
"Potter. Harry." Draco felt the Crucio-like pulses in his temple that indicated a migraine was skipping the fun aura part and just making itself at home. "You're the Minister for Magic. You can't deal with these problems the way you did when you were fourteen years old."
Potter didn't even have the decency to look ashamed at his naïveté. "Pity," he said. "I suppose James is going to have to suffer the consequences of his actions, then." He paused. "Look, Draco. I do appreciate what you're trying to do here. But you and I both know that it would take a huge conspiracy to keep this under wraps. And if James and Aidan are idiots enough to be seen—how did you put it—cavorting in public, then Skeeter's going to be the least of our problems."
Draco nodded. This was the most sensible he'd ever heard Potter sound about the subject. Funny, that. The man is mellowing in his old age. "How do you want me to proceed, then?"
Potter drummed his fingers on the wooden arm of his chair. "Contact her in the morning and explain that I do not see the point of doing an interview in exchange for a level of privacy nobody can guarantee. She is free to publish, and also to attempt to remove the Obliviate I'm sure one of you put on the poor photographer." Harry sighed. "You realise, Malfoy, that I cannot be seen to be condoning unauthorised use of Obliviation?"
"Indeed, Potter." Of course, what Potter didn't know wouldn't hurt him. Especially if he could plausibly deny knowledge and approval.
"And I want you to talk to James with me," Potter added.
Draco could feel his blood pressure take off like a one of those Weasleys' Wildfire Whiz-Bangs. His mouth went dry. He shook his head, licked his lips, and spoke. "You want me to what?"
"All the kids, in fact. Clearly they won't listen to me; maybe seeing the evidence of what can happen when they're not careful will knock some sense into them."
Draco wanted to walk out. He wanted to stand up, walk out, escape this madness.
"When?" he asked, voice tight.
"This evening. That is, if you're free, of course." Potter looked up, made eye contact, and smirked. He knew Draco would always make time if he insisted. "Al asked me to come home for dinner, said Jamie and Lily would be in, too, and it'd be nice to eat together before they went out for the evening."
He's an idiot. "Potter, you're an idiot. Your son obviously has a family discussion of some sort in mind." Draco paid less professional attention to Albus Severus Potter than his ne'er-do-well siblings, but he knew how late adolescents acted, and a request for a family meal did not typically include someone with the relationship he had to the young Potters.
Well, not under most circumstances. He could imagine himself asking for a dinner with his parents and several solicitors back when his father was first released from Azkaban.
Potter snorted. "Well, I want to have a family discussion as well, and I think it will be more meaningful if you are there."
"Because I've been able to influence them so much in the past," muttered Draco.
"What was that?"
"Er, nothing." Potter didn't know about Draco's rather frequent meetings-over-tea with his eldest and youngest children. The recalcitrant ones, the ones who, respectively, were into recreational sex and recreational potions.
He only knew about the family meetings he had invited Draco to.
Potter rolled his eyes. "Right," he said. "Perhaps you ought to come at about half-eight? We'd be done with the evening meal by then, but the kids will still be home."
He'd rather be doing a different sort of coming at half-eight, but it seemed that couldn't be helped.
Draco grimaced and nodded. He'd be working late tonight, then.
The Potter Pride was assembled in the dark basement kitchen when Draco arrived at Grimmauld Place at precisely half-eight. The expressions on the young Potters' faces ranged from mutinous (James) to worried (Albus) to amused (Lily).
Harry Potter himself looked grumpy.
"Good evening, Potter, Lily, Albus, James." Draco nodded to each of them in turn, attempting calm affability.
"What's going on?" James said, sneering. "You look like you've been hitting the Calming Draught all day."
Draco closed his eyes and took a deep breath as Potter snapped at his son. "You can't even wait for the man to take a seat? He's here as a favour to me!"
"Because Dad never could handle a confrontation without at least one sidekick," James muttered, slouching in his seat.
"James!" Albus wore an expression combining horror and disappointment that, Draco was certain, was intended to impress upon the 'adults' in the room that he was on their side. Draco noted this; it was always good to know who one's allies were in such a situation. Still, the expression was more a cloying reminder of Albus' youth than an indication of his usefulness.
Lily, so far as Draco could tell, was suppressing a giggle.
Merlin, if the most mature person in the family is the teenage daughter, they're all doomed.
Potter finally offered him a seat.
Draco sat. And winced. One would think, with the Potter and Black fortunes, and the income from his investment in the Wheezes—not to mention the salary afforded to the Minister for Magic—all at his disposal, Potter might have replaced these ancient, knotty benches.
"Thank you, Potter," Draco said, remembering his manners. Lily offered him tea, which he took with a splash of milk.
He waited. Potter was looking at him expectantly.
James had been correct.
"I suppose you want me to start, then?" Draco said, making eye contact with Potter père. He took the slight relaxation of Potter's brow and jaw to mean that yes, Potter did want him to start the proceedings.
Wondering how Potter could possibly function in any public capacity when he couldn't even confront his offspring, Draco spoke. "You might be wondering why I'm here—"
"We know why you're here," Albus interrupted.
"You only see us for one reason," Lily added. "One of us has done something that could embarrass Dad."
As Draco nodded, he saw the two younger siblings turn to glare at James—who pushed back from the table, dragging the bench and Albus with him. He didn't stand, though.
Draco thought that was rather a promising sign.
"Did you have something to say, James?"
Draco was surprised that Potter had voiced the question.
"No." James glared at the table. Then he glared at each of his siblings in turn. "Only I don't know why you lot always assume I've fucked up."
It was odd to hear Potter sound so parental.
"Oh, bugger off, Dad. I've been there when you're reading the morning paper."
Draco almost chuckled, but caught himself. "Indeed," he said instead. "And there are times when I have to address things involving your siblings or one of your uncles. But I think everyone at this table knows that you're the person at risk of public exposure today."
"You make it sound like something dirty," James retorted.
Draco pulled out the envelope and missive he had received that morning and passed it across the table. James read the letter first, and paled; then he pulled out the photographs.
Lily left her seat, and leaned over James's shoulder. "Shit," she said.
"Fuck off," James fairly snarled at her.
His sister sniffed. "I'm just glad it's you and not me. Mum's going to castrate you, Jamie."
"I know..." James groaned. "Okay, Draco, what's Skeeter's price, then?"
"Mr Malfoy," Draco corrected, just as Potter was saying, "You let them call you 'Draco'?"
Draco squeezed his eyes shut. "No, Potter. Your children seem to believe that respect is old-fashioned; this can't be a surprise to you."
"Children, please address Mr Malfoy respectfully. He's done a lot for this family."
"Hasn't answered the question, though," Albus piped up. "And Astoria said that since I'm Scorpius' friend, we should call them by their given names."
This time, Draco massaged his temples and the area under his eyes as he closed them against the chaos. Merlin, he hadn't been married to Scorpius' mother for a good fifteen years, and she was still influencing how others saw him. He shook his head, set his jaw, and spoke again.
"Right. Would you please call me Mr Malfoy when we're doing business, young Misters and Miss Potter? I'll accord you the same respect."
"That's too many Mr Potters," complained Lily. No, she wasn't the most mature Potter. Though Merlin could say who was. "Just call them by their given names, and we'll try to remember that you like things formal."
"Fine. Whatever." Draco winced at the sound of such vulgar, imprecise terms from his own lips.
Potter finally spoke. His voice was low, his speech meticulous. "I think," he said, "that you ought to tell James exactly what it was Rita Skeeter expected in exchange for her assistance in covering up his indiscretions."
Oh. Draco finally understood. It wasn't that Potter didn't want to confront the children himself; it was that, as he didn't know just how frequently Draco had needed to warn them to lay off their antics—be they James's sexual conquests, Lily's recreational potions use, or Albus Severus' general insufferableness when it came to polite society—he thought bringing in the family solicitor would impress on James the gravity of the situation.
"Ms Skeeter has requested an unrestricted interview with the Minister for Magic as her due for not publishing, destroying the evidence, and Obliviating the fan who owled her the scoop."
"I assure you, James, this is not an unreasonable bargain, since it requires she break the law as well as forfeit the potential earnings from such a salacious item."
Draco was surprised that Potter had said it rather than requiring him to spell it out for his children.
"But of course you'll do it, Dad, won't you?" Lily had sat beside her oldest brother, wrapping a protective arm around his shoulder.
Harry Potter, the UK's Minister for Magic, winner of Witch Weekly Most-Charming-Smile Award for twenty-four years running (and wasn't that a bitter potion for Draco to swallow?), former Head Auror, and all-around Powerful Wizard, blinked in the face of his daughter's plea.
"I—" But Draco cut him off.
"Potter, a word, if you please," he said, rising and beckoning to the Minister as he made his way from the kitchen. When Potter followed him out, he cast Silencing and Imperturbable Charms on the door, then rounded on the other man. "Take a deep breath, and then please tell me you are not planning to acquiesce."
Potter's face reddened and he averted his gaze. "Look, Draco—"
"No, you look, Potter." Draco reached out and took Potter's chin in his hand, pulling the other man's face up.
Faced with the choice of looking Draco in the eye or closing his own, Potter finally met his gaze. His face was still pink, and the skin was warm under Draco's fingers.
"Now," Draco's voice softened a bit at the look of humiliation in Potter's eyes, "what do you plan to say to your children when you return to them?"
Potter bit his lip as if he were still eleven years old. He reached up and ran a hand through his hair, as if he were fourteen. Then he squared his shoulders like the forty-four-year-old man he was and said, in a voice even older, "That I will not bow to Rita Skeeter's demands, and that the three of them need to start acting less...hooligan-ish."
"Good man," Draco said, and patted the other man on his shoulder. "Ready to face the wolves once more?"
Potter cracked a lopsided smile, brow still wrinkled in chagrin. "Never ready, but needs must."
Draco snorted in response as he cancelled the charms.
"Right, then," Potter said before he'd even re-seated himself. Draco's hand was still on the doorknob, not that there was anyone at Grimmauld Place to close the kitchen door against. Draco rolled his eyes at the Minister's lack of ceremony. Courtesy, Draco would have called it, but Potter never thought of it as such; he'd more than once berated Draco for 'expecting me to stand on ceremony in my own house.' "James. What do you think I ought to do, given this situation. What would maximise the good for our family?"
James looked at the place on the table where his dish had rested.
"Dad, clearly—" Lily Luna's speech was intercepted by Potter's glare.
"Is your name James?" Lily shook her head. "Then I suggest you hold your tongue for the moment."
Draco, seated as he was beside Albus Severus during Lily's return volley, thought he was the only one who heard the young man mutter, "Christ, he even sounds like Malfoy now." So he turned his head to catch Albus' eye.
"Hardly," Draco murmured. "By now I'd have told her to shut up."
He could feel Albus chuckling beside him.
"James?" Potter was finally done castigating his youngest and had returned his attention to the primary delinquent in the room.
By this point, James had paled and was shaking slightly. He took a deep breath, but there was still a waver to his voice when he spoke. "An unrestricted interview with Rita Skeeter would be unacceptable, both for your career and for the family's happiness."
Potter nodded sharply. "And what do you think will happen for you, James, if I refuse the interview?"
James looked at the ceiling as he replied. "Mum'll scream at me, and break up with Aidan, and he won't speak to me anymore, either. Also, I'll have to expect more paparazzi following me about. And to have every bloody reporter in the country hounding me for comments."
Albus snorted. "Try every reporter in the UK and on the Continent, Jamie."
Draco decided Albus Severus Potter was his favourite. The boy possessed a lovely and appropriate sense of humour. Just being friends with Scorpius hadn't been enough to win Draco's regard, though it had been the reason Potter had thought to call on Draco in the first place. Despite the hassles of the day, Draco reminded himself to thank his son again for dispensing with the paternal instruction to ignore all Potter offspring.
James held his head in his hands, massaging his temples. Lily glared at her father, but said nothing. Potter looked at them grimly for a moment, then spoke again. "Do you think you can survive that?"
There was desperation in James's eyes as he raised them to meet his father's. "Are you giving me another option, Dad?" The slight whine in his voice was more that of a wounded animal than of an over-indulged teenager. Though Draco supposed both terms could apply to the young man.
"No." Potter shook his head. "Just..." He ran a hand through his hair. "You know I hate to see you hurting, Jamie. And I worry. You won't do anything stupid, will you?"
Draco thought that an inauspicious sign. Far be it for him, however, to interfere in father-son dynamics by saying so.
At least for the minute.
"Okay. Draco?" Potter turned toward him. "Can you send a letter to Skeeter letting her know what we've decided?"
"Certainly. Would either of you," Draco looked from Potter to James, "care to include an official statement?"
Potter looked at his eldest spawn. "Jamie, that's up to you."
"Fuck," James said again. "I know, I know, language... Okay, my statement is that I, like many my age, enjoy a night out every so often, and hope that the press can grow enough sense to cover events that are actually newsworthy."
"Elegant," Lily said.
"And it sends a clear message that the Potter family will not be blackmailed," Draco said thoughtfully. "Though I do wish you lot would at least try to do respectable things every once in awhile."
"We do respectable things!" Lily protested. "Albus is a right swot, and Jamie played Keeper, and I've even been watching Teddy and Victoire's baby!" She pouted. "The normal, respectable stuff just doesn't get as much attention as..."
Potter raised an eyebrow at his youngest. "As what, exactly?"
Lily Luna Potter at least had the sense to blush. "Clubbing. Or doing things that are...a little less mainstream... Daddy, do you really want to know?"
Potter was eyeing him. Draco swallowed. "I don't think you do, Potter." The gaze started to harden. "You hired me to keep your children out of the papers, Potter, not to tell you every little thing the rags want to print." Because, generally speaking, it was both more efficient and easier on the blood pressure to leave the paterfamilias in the dark.
The colour in Potter's cheeks continued to rise. "You know things that I don't know?"
Draco's face heated just a bit. A deniable bit, and he would deny it if anyone asked. He pulled the side of his mouth into a sneer he knew would infuriate Potter. "That is, I believe, exactly what I just implied."
Baiting the man had always been delicious, after all. Draco could feel the old tension begin to crackle between them.
"Er, Dad?" It was Albus who spoke, though all three adolescents were blushing and looking like unicorns ready to bolt.
Potter's attention snapped back to his children. "Yeah, go. And for Merlin's sake, be responsible tonight. No more getting into the papers."
"Right, Dad!" Lily had grabbed each of her brothers by the hand and managed to haul them through the doorway more quickly than ought to have been possible, given its width.
With a negligent hand, Potter waved his wand at the door. "Draco. What. The. Actual. Fuck. Is. Going. On?" Each word had come with a punctuating tap of said wand on Draco's chest. A chest which had, by the way, begun to rise and fall with somewhat more rapid breaths. Potter's voice had a dangerous edge to it, and his lip curled in a near-snarl.
Draco felt the nipples in that same chest react to the excitement of being threatened by the Man Who Lived Again. Yet he kept his voice cool, much cooler than the blood coursing immediately under his skin. "You employed me to intervene with the media so as to, and I quote, protect your family's happiness. You did it knowing that you were raising adolescents who had never known a life away from their parents' celebrity, and to whom you denied no pleasures, no gifts they desired. What did you think you were asking me to distract the press from?"
Potter stood, so Draco stood as well. It was clearly a strategic error, as Potter kept stabbing at Draco with his wand. Draco, who always had known himself to be a bit of a coward, backed up until he hit the stone wall opposite the cooker.
He kept talking as Potter moved even closer. "And seriously, Potter, how naive are you? Do you really believe that telling you all the things Skeeter and her ilk are prepared to print about your offspring would contribute to your family's happiness?"
At that, Potter dropped his head backwards and laughed. "Touché, Draco." He lifted one arm to brace himself against the wall as he moved forward.
Draco suppressed a moan, intent on keeping up his charade a moment or two longer. "Glad you can see reason—nay, reality—on this one, Potter."
"Still," Potter murmured, feigning thoughtfulness as he brushed lips against Draco's jawline, "it really is...deviant of you to withhold such information from your paramour. Doesn't lead to much in the way of increased trust." Potter captured Draco's hands as he closed the space between their hips. Draco felt the press of Potter's cock through their robes.
"You," Draco said, rolling his eyes, "make the worst puns ever."
"What, this?" Potter thrust his pelvis forward again, and Draco gasped as his own cock responded.
"Precisely that." Draco finally gasped, his lips therefore already open when Potter's mouth descended on his. "I don't know why I allow someone with such pedestrian command of the English language molest me with such frequency," he said when he came up for air, the taste of Potter's pudding and milky tea strong in his mouth. He made a face. "Especially one who doesn't bother with Breath-Freshening Charms after equally pedestrian desserts."
Potter flushed a tad darker. "Mm. Sorry about that." He pointed his wand at his mouth, twisted it, and then kissed Draco again. "Better?"
"Much." Draco reached around, cupped Potter's arse, and engaged in some thrusting of his own. He smiled into Potter's mouth when the other man groaned. "Like that, do you?" He tilted his hips up and rotated them a bit, eliciting another strangled sound.
"Fuck, yeah," Potter said, slipping into the sort of language for which he had reprimanded his children.
Draco hoped the profanity was reserved for him, rather than merely being withheld from the offspring. Being the only person the Minister for Magic would swear at boosted his ego, his sense of importance a little.
"Was thinking," Potter said, moving his mouth to Draco's neck.
Draco moaned. "Always a dangerous prospect," he said.
"Shut up. Was thinking I might want to taste something a bit less pedestrian, as you put it, in a minute."
"Yes," Draco hissed.
Not long after, as Draco laid several layers of Silencing and Security Wards on the door to the master bedroom at Grimmauld Place, he considered his place in Potter's life.
"Rather surprising, isn't it, that we've managed to keep our hands so close to our chests." Potter's breath was hot on Draco's ear as he embraced the blond man from behind.
"Astonishing, really," Draco said, turning to lean against Potter's bare chest.
Potter kissed his forehead. "Thanks so much for coming over, even if we are still keeping this," he gestured between them, "quiet. I needed the support more than you know."
Pulling back to look at his lover, Draco raised an eyebrow. "I think I might know, a bit."
Potter chuckled. "Yeah," he said. He turned, taking Draco's hand. "Bed?"
Draco nodded, smiling and calm.
Days that began with an owl from Rita Skeeter usually ended with a migraine. Occasionally, however, they ended with orgasms and sleepy kisses.
On balance, Draco would consider the arrangement he had with Potter profitable.