Title: Plans Gone Awry
Summary: Sometimes old plots crop up at the worst times. Sometimes those same plots can lead to the most enjoyable of situations.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings: Post-war, Auror Training, Angst sprinkled with fluff (or fluff sprinkled with angst), Plot, Mention of character death (non-major).
Word Count: 10,300
Author's Notes: For silentauror. I really hope you enjoy this, SA! Many thanks to R. for the super quick and very helpful beta, the much needed encouragement, and for being my sounding board every step of the way.
Potter was such an easy target. He was Draco's favourite target.
Draco really wanted to curse Potter. It was Wednesday and Draco always wanted to curse Potter on Wednesdays. It was a day in which he had to actually see Potter, after all.
There was going to be fighting soon. Of this, Draco was certain. If Shacklebolt didn't stop talking in the next few minutes, then Draco would be forced to pull his wand from his pocket. If he angled it sharply to the left, he could catch Potter with it.
He considered the spell that would be most effective. Potter was sitting in his chair like a good little Auror, back hunched over, jaw clenched, glaring at Shacklebolt. Draco looked again. He wondered what could make the golden boy glare but wasn't willing to put too much thought into it. Draco considered this for a moment, but didn't let it stop him.
Potter deserved to be cursed. It was always fun to watch him stand up, blood rushing to his face, fury in his eyes.
Draco slid his wand slowly out of his pocket, his hand curling around the tip.
"All right," said Shacklebolt. "Pair up." He added, with a particularly sharp glance at Potter and Draco, "Let's keep this clean."
As though Draco would ever fight dirty. Except when he did fight dirty, and that was only when people really deserved it. Like Potter.
He turned towards Terry Boot, who for a Ravenclaw wasn't all bad.
"Be my partner, Boot," he commanded.
Boot gave him an apologetic look and turned his back on Draco to work with Neville Longbottom of all people.
"After all I've done for you?" Draco asked to Boot's back. It didn't respond. Choosing a Gryffindor over Draco and then ignoring him in order to actually speak to the Gryffindor, now that was something he really couldn't tolerate.
Potter and Draco were the only two left standing alone. Potter was giving Neville a tortured look that Draco could relate with all too well. Neville shrugged slightly and rubbed at his shoulder as though that would explain things.
From the way Potter gripped his wand more tightly and looked down, Draco could guess that it did. Potter seemed to lose partners faster than Draco, and they were only in Auror training.
Draco had heard the rumours. Potter wasn't violent; he was just powerful. Draco could still recall the slice of a curse tearing his skin to bits as he fell to the floor, and he had to disagree. Potter was as violent as they came.
And now, Draco was stuck working with him. He sighed loudly, making sure to let Potter hear him. If he had to work with Potter, at least it would only be for the day. Surely he could get through one measly day. Nothing torturous about that, except for having to stare at Potter's messy head for another two hours.
"Are you done wallowing, Malfoy?" Potter's voice sounded from just in front of him and Draco looked up to find him far too close for comfort.
"I wasn't wallowing," said Draco. "I was merely trying to remember why I was in here again."
"You and me both," Potter muttered, casting another wounded look at Longbottom.
"Oh, don't play that game with me, Potter. We both know why you're here."
Potter gave Draco a strange look. "Why's that then, Malfoy, if you know me so well?"
"Fighting evil," Draco said slowly. "You know that thing you do, where you go off and kill a bunch of innocent people simply because they've become a bit of a bother to you."
"A bit like you, then?" Potter asked, and Draco stared.
"Yeah," he said. "A bit like me then."
He shook his head. Potter was a very strange creature, he decided, even for a heroic Gryffindor who everybody said had saved the world. Draco doubted it. What could Potter have done, really, to deserve all that attention? Draco would have appreciated it much more.
"Shall we do this?" he asked instead, giving Potter an annoyed look.
They were wasting time here, time that Draco could be spending casting curse after curse at Potter. He had a sudden image of Potter sprawled across the floor, bleeding from wounds on his chest and felt a moment of triumph.
When he looked up, Potter said, "You don't have to look so gleeful about it."
"Oh I do," said Draco. "I really do."
And then he cast the first curse. Potter was completely unprepared for it, of course, because he expected Draco to play by the rules or something. That was a very unreasonable expectation for him to have, Draco thought, and one he would quickly ensure that he would never think again.
"Come on, Potter," he called out. "It's not any fun when you don't fight back."
Potter climbed to his feet snarling. "Weak, Malfoy," he said. "Can't you do better than that?"
Draco scowled, bouncing backwards on the heels of his feet. "Don't be silly," he said, attempting to sound dismissive. He had put a lot of power into that curse and Potter had merely shrugged it off. "I could spend all day cursing you, and it would still just be a warm up for tonight."
"Do you ever pay attention?" Draco asked, idly flicking his wand again and sending Potter into the wall. "We're patrolling. Finally."
As Potter stood up again, he actually looked angry. Perhaps he should have listened when all the other trainees were gossiping about how to best avoid riling Potter up. Draco couldn't accept that; an unriled Potter wasn't any fun at all.
"Patrolling?" Potter repeated, and Draco rolled his eyes.
"Is there something wrong with your hearing or are you really just that daft?"
Draco was pleased to see a low flush rise in Potter's cheeks, but he wasn't so pleased to find his back slamming into a desk.
He wished Pansy was there so that she could witness Potter's unnecessary cruelty. Throwing him into a desk, of all things. Potter could not be any more animalistic if he tried.
"I guess I'm just that daft," said Potter, firing several spells in a row at Draco. Draco dropped underneath the desk and fell into a roll before climbing carefully to his feet, a curse already forming on his lips.
"Reducto," Potter said, and Draco felt another rush of pleasure that Potter was still rubbish at silent spells.
He immediately shot up a shield spell, but it didn't matter. The desk the curse hit, that Draco had been sheltered beneath only moments before, shattered into pieces, the majority of which slammed straight through his shield and attacked him. Draco batted away pieces of metal, unable to believe that he was actually having a fight with an inanimate object, but he was already starting to hurt all over. It was settled; he was going to be covered in bruises in the morning.
Potter was going to pay. He climbed carefully to his feet, glaring at Potter, who actually had the nerve to chuckle. At him! Draco couldn't believe that he dared to do that.
He raised his wand, fire in his eyes, wondering if one unforgivable curse shot at Potter would do too much harm to his chances of actually completing the Auror program. He sighed, sneering at Potter because this was all his fault.
"Need some help there, Malfoy?" said Potter, still chuckling. "All that brilliance you spout off about finally dry up? Not a curse left to use?"
"I can think of plenty of curses to use, Potter. I'm merely determining which one will cause the most damage to you and the least trouble to me."
It was true. If only the Ministry hadn't outlawed sectumsempra after the war; Draco would love to have a chance to get back at Potter for that little moment that would forever be engraved on his memory, and on his chest.
"Don't let me interrupt then," Potter continued. Draco could hardly believe that he was still talking. Maybe silencio would be the best course of action; at least then he wouldn't have to hear him any longer.
There was only one thing for it, Draco decided, watching as Potter began to yell out another spell. He was so predictable, really.
Draco stepped forward and punched Potter right in the face. The impact of his fist hitting Potter's jaw was absolutely brilliant. Or at least it was, right up until the moment that his hand pulled back, feeling as though it had been trampled.
And then Potter lunged. "Potter," Draco cried out, pushing his hands fruitlessly upwards in effort to remove the large body from on top of him. "Have you no shame? No decency? Fighting like a common Muggle?"
Potter sat up, sitting on top of him. He really did have no decency, Draco decided, alarmed at the way he had to tell his body not to react to the man straddling him. Potter is not attractive, he told himself. He has messy hair and he's far too skinny, and he can't even dress himself.
So maybe his body felt good on top of his. He had to steer himself away from that train of thought at once. This was Potter, and it didn't matter if he was the first man who had been this close to Draco in months. It was still Potter, and Draco would, under no circumstances, find him attractive. Really.
"You threw the first punch!" Potter was shouting, and Draco wished he would just quiet down. He was much more attractive when he wasn't talking. First his body was betraying him, and now his mind. This just wouldn't do.
And then there were hands, thankfully pulling Potter off of him and reaching underneath his arms to drag him to his feet.
"Malfoy. Potter." Shacklebolt was saying, and of course he would get in trouble for this because the Ministry would never reprimand their precious Potter.
"Oh sure," he said. "Blame me. Potter wasn't doing anything."
Shacklebolt shot him a very strange look, and Draco suddenly realised he had actually said that to his boss.
"This has gone on long enough," said Shacklebolt, with the air of someone whose patience has been tried one too many times and then several times on top of that. "We must all get along in order to be an effective unit."
Draco tuned him out. It was the same speech every time; he had it memorised by now. He wondered what Pansy was doing tonight. Perhaps she would be available to heal his wounds, covered in them as he was. Potter was the worst sort of Wizard, too Muggle by half.
Pansy would understand. She might even bake him some of her delicious scones and pet his hair a little. Ever since she had become engaged to Theodore, she had ceased her usual ministrations.
"It's just not proper," she had said, but Draco had known the truth. Those were Theodore's words, not his Pansy's. She cared far too much about him to ever devise such a painfully ridiculous solution.
"Mr. Malfoy," said Shacklebolt sharply. "Are you listening?"
"Of course, sir," said Draco at once. "You were talking about how we must maintain cooperation within the Aurors in order to win in battle. Without cooperation amongst ourselves, we will be doomed to failure."
"I was talking about that five minutes ago," Shacklebolt agreed. "Had you been paying attention, you would have heard me inform you and Mr. Potter that you would be removed from patrol duty tonight. We can't have you in the field if you're going to reflect poorly on the rest of the team."
"You're taking us off patrol?" Potter said. "You can't do that!"
For once, Draco absolutely agreed with Potter. He nodded his head vigorously at Shacklebolt, wishing he was a female. Draco's pouts were far more effective on women, he had found.
"You will find," said Shacklebolt, sounding unacceptably amused. "That I have just done exactly that."
Oh well, Draco thought miserably. So what if he missed the first patrol. There would be plenty of others, and besides it would mean a night off. He was in desperate need of a night off, after all.
"What will we do instead?" Potter asked, and Draco shot him a look. Every time Draco thought Potter might have some ounce of intelligence, he ruined it by opening his mouth.
"You will remain behind, obviously." A nasty smile curled around Shacklebolt's lips, and Draco felt his mouth go dry. This did not bode well for his evening plans. "There's several months worth of paperwork in need of filing."
Years was more like, Draco thought at once. He had never seen any one doing any sort of filing in this office, and every Auror's desk was constantly covered in papers, both from closed and open cases. They were doomed.
And then Shacklebolt continued. "Until the filing is up to date, the two of you are off the patrol team."
Potter's face fell, but it wasn't any consolation. This was all Potter's fault. Bloody Potter and his bloody violent streak.
"I hope you know that this is all your fault," said Potter, turning on Draco at once as Shacklebolt walked away.
"Do tell me how you've arrived at that conclusion," said Draco, unmoved by Potter's expected whining. "As I'm quite sure that this is your fault."
"My fault?" Potter said, and Draco was amused to hear a note of a screech in his voice. "You hit me."
"Don't be ridiculous," said Draco. "If you hadn't thrown that desk at me like a common Muggle, none of this would have happened."
"Thrown? Thrown? Malfoy, what are you talking about? It was a reducto spell or are you too daft to understand that?" Potter asked, spitting Draco's words back out at him and practically spitting on Draco at the same time.
"Close your mouth," said Draco. "That is a minor detail in a course of events set off by you that has led us to this upsetting point. Take the blame like a man, Potter." He patted him on the shoulder, hard, and walked away, smirking.
Draco made his way over to his desk, watching sadly as the other trainees ceased fighting and prepared to leave for patrol. Which would actually be fun, unlike spending an indeterminable amount of time with Potter, of all people, who probably didn't have an ounce of excitement in his magic.
There was nothing for it, Draco thought, his head falling into his hands as he sat down. Someone truly hated him to saddle him with Potter for what looked to be a very long time.
Draco couldn't think of a thing he had done to deserve this. A curse here and there cast upon an unsuspecting person certainly did not warrant this kind of imprisonment. No, someone simply wanted him tortured.
He glanced over at Potter who was watching the other trainees depart with a wistful look on his face.
Torture. It was absolutely torture.
"I'm not sure I want to be an Auror any more," Draco announced, tossing a sheaf of parchment at Potter. "Look at that. What do these people do?"
Potter frowned and appeared to read the papers that Draco had thrown at him. He looked at Draco in confusion. "They apprehended two criminals," he said, very slowly as though Draco was the daft one.
"Yes, of course," said Draco. "But they weren't even criminals. Bole and Nickerson – they just set a couple of charmed weights in the Muggle rooms – you know, the ones they train in. Probably did the Muggles a lot of good actually, if they couldn't stop once they started."
"They're called gyms, Malfoy," said Potter, running a hand through his hair. "And they could have done serious damage with those hexes. I'd like to see you start lifting weights and not be able to stop."
Draco looked at Potter as though he were mad, which of course, he was. "I don't lift weights," he explained. "That's such a Muggle thing to do."
Potter sighed, and Draco really didn't appreciate what that implied. Draco was excellent company and he made perfect sense, and Potter should be thrilled to be spending time with him.
Except Draco didn't really want that either so maybe that wasn't the best plan.
"Forget it," he said finally. "I can see that you will never understand the finer things in life, Potter." Like cursing Muggles, he thought, but he rather expected Potter would curse him if he said it aloud.
"Like cursing Muggles?" Potter asked, and Draco stared at him askance.
"Did you just read my mind?" he asked, horrified.
Potter had the audacity to laugh. "No," he said, smiling at Draco. "It was kind of obvious."
Draco really didn't appreciate being called obvious, but he supposed Potter had a point. He did talk about cursing Muggles a lot, but they always deserved it. Just like Potter did. Maybe if he put Potter in a crowd of Muggles and claimed they were attacking him, he could get away with hexing both at once.
He picked up another piece of parchment and began skimming it. His mouth dropped open as he read the words scrawled across the page.
"What is it?" he heard Potter ask, and Draco knew that this was one time where he definitely shouldn't answer.
"Nothing," he said quickly, hiding the parchment beneath several others. "Just an open case. No need to file it."
Potter frowned at him, disbelief clearly written on his face. "I don't believe you," he said flatly. "Hand it over."
"No," Draco said sharply. "It's nothing you need to see."
Potter stood up and reached across Draco's chest. Frantically, Draco attempted to shift the papers away because if Potter saw what was written on that, bad things were going to happen. Very bad things, and Draco wasn't even sure which one of them would be worse off by the outcome.
He was going to find out because Potter was grasping the hidden parchment triumphantly in his hand. Draco watched as the triumphant grin slid straight off Potter's face as he took in the words.
Potter dropped down in his seat, staring blankly down at his hands.
"Potter?" Draco asked, alarmed that he almost felt concern.
Potter looked up, and Draco was taken aback at the fire in Potter's green eyes. He looked ready to kill, and suddenly Draco understood what made Potter able to save the world, if he had saved it after all.
"We're going to Malfoy Manor," he announced, and Draco swallowed hard. Potter could be quite frightening when he tried to be.
"Are we?" he asked. "That's my house, you know."
"Obviously," said Potter. "So you'll be able to get us in."
"I don't know," Draco admitted, honestly. "I haven't been back since the Ministry took it over to search. And that was months ago. Of course they aren't going to find anything, and I would really like my house back."
"Malfoy," said Potter harshly. "I'd say this makes it pretty clear that the Ministry isn't the reason you don't have your house back. Someone else has been using it as their own."
"What?" Draco had no idea where Potter came up with these ideas. "What are you talking about, Potter? Do you need to go to St. Mungo's… I hear there's a room reserved especially for you."
Potter glared at Draco, and Draco inched his chair backwards. "It's right here," he said, in a low growl. "Read this."
"I already read it," Draco reminded Potter.
"Not well enough, apparently. Read it again."
Draco sighed loudly but took the parchment out of Potter's hands, trying not to skim it this time.
Words stood out to him, but it all became very clear as he read down the page.
He looked up at Potter. "My father's dead," he said. "I saw him killed."
Potter looked at Draco with pity in his expression, and Draco was quite sure he had never wanted to punch him more than he did in that moment.
"Maybe not," he murmured. "He might be at your house. With Avery," he added in a snarl, his hands clenching tightly into fists.
Of course Potter would want to kill Avery. Draco had heard the rumours just like everybody else. Avery had tortured, and later killed, Hermione Granger in front of Harry, and it was said that Harry had gone mad trying to kill him.
Avery had escaped, and Draco was sure that the Aurors hadn't mentioned this lead to Potter. Because they knew, just like Draco did, that Potter was going to try to kill him now.
Horrified, Draco realised something else. Potter expected Draco to go with him.
"You know," said Draco in what he hoped was his most conversational voice, "we could just turn around and head back to the Ministry. Let someone else deal with the Death Eaters."
Potter glared at him. "This is your house, Malfoy," he said. Well, Potter always was one for stating the obvious. "We won't have any problem getting inside."
"That was rather my point," Draco said, scowling at Potter. He had so many better things to do than be dragged along, unwillingly, into one of Potter's schemes. He was likely to be killed, and really, death would so not suit him.
"Just get me inside," said Potter. "Then go wherever the fuck you want. I don't have time for this."
"So much for gratitude," Draco muttered, waving an arm out in a grandiose gesture of chivalry, as he moved so Potter could step inside the wards first. "After you."
Well, if his father truly was alive and had set up new wards, it was only fair that Potter become trapped inside of them. It was his fault that they were there.
Looking upwards, he was forced to see his home once more. He swallowed hard. It was supposed to be his again – it should be his already. There was only so much checking for Dark items that the Ministry could do before they would eventually have to give it back.
Unless Potter was right which just didn't sit well with Draco at all. Potter couldn't be right. That would mean that the Ministry knew there was continued Death Eater activity going on inside the Manor, and they hadn't bothered to tell Draco. Or to stop it – they could have stopped it. He hoped.
"The lights are on upstairs," Potter whispered, and Draco swivelled around to glare at him again. The last thing he needed right now was Potter talking on top of everything else.
"I can see that," said Draco, casting Potter a scornful look. "Don't say another word," he added, thinking this might work to his advantage. "The walls have ears."
Potter scoffed. "We're not even inside yet."
Draco growled at Potter, and he was rewarded with Potter finally closing his mouth, after sending yet another scowl Draco's way.
One day, Potter was going to regret treating Draco so poorly. On that day, he would get down on his knees and beg Draco's forgiveness. And then Draco could hex him and walk away.
It was a perfect solution, really.
So maybe he could be generous with information now, he decided, looking forward to the scene that would be sure to come. It would benefit him within the Ministry as well. Having Potter's favour would give him a bit of an edge over the rest of the Aurors.
Although… it didn't seem to be doing much good for Potter himself yet. That was because he didn't know how to use his power. Draco had no such compunctions; he would teach Potter himself if he had to. It was all about skill, and Potter could learn. Power was everything, even to scrawny little boys with scars on their foreheads.
"It's the upstairs study," he said softly. "My father's study… or it was when he was alive."
"You read the papers," Potter hissed, "he might still be alive."
Draco wondered if he would ever get to stop glaring before the night was out. "Thanks for reminding me, Potter. I'd rather not get my hopes up if it's all the same to you."
"Your hopes?" Potter was staring at him in utter bewilderment. "Your father – "
"Exactly," said Draco harshly. "He was my father, so stay out of what you can't understand."
"Malfoy," Potter began, but Draco cut him off again.
"I don't want to talk about this, not with you. I brought you here just like you asked, so let's just move inside, find Avery, and get the fuck out before you manage to kill us both."
"We're not going to die," said Potter calmly. Draco wanted to hit him.
"Yes, well," said Draco, "glad you're so sure of that. I can't say I share your confidence, but perhaps I'll have them write it on my gravestone. Now move."
Potter muttered something incomprehensible behind his back which Draco was pretty sure was another malignment of his character, but he chose to ignore it. Just this once.
He was only letting it go because they were rapidly approaching the door, and it wouldn't do to make any noise in case there actually was someone inside.
Which Draco doubted. Or at least, which he did doubt until he saw the shadow fall in the upstairs window.
"Get down," he whispered, grabbing Potter by the shoulder and pulling them both into the hydrangea bushes. "There's someone up there."
Potter gave him a funny look. "I thought we had already established that, Malfoy."
"They're at the bloody window, Potter. They'll see us if we stand up. Just wait a minute before we give ourselves away, all right?"
"I didn't see them at the window."
"Yes, well, we all know that if you don't see something that it must not be true." Draco cuffed Potter on the back of his head, hard, and was pleased when Potter rubbed it and mouthed a silent oath. "Believe me, there's someone at the window."
"Avery," Potter breathed, his mind clearly focused on task once more. He started to stand, but Draco pulled him back down again.
"Stop proving me right, Potter. Don't be an idiot. They were looking outside for something. Give it five minutes and then let me check. At least I can say I was coming to reclaim my house. Your presence is hardly explainable. You'll only get yourself killed, and me by proxy."
"I thought you wanted me killed," Potter muttered, and Draco sighed, trying not to make the noise too loud.
"We don't always get what we want, unfortunately. If you die, then I'm sure to be kicked out of the Aurors."
"Well," said Potter, the sarcasm clear in his voice. "We can't have that."
Wiping the dirt from his once clean trousers, Draco stood slowly. "It's clear," he whispered, reaching a hand down to pull Potter up.
Potter grasped his hand, and Draco couldn't help but notice how soft Potter's hand felt in his. It didn't look soft – it was large and rough… and Draco was decidedly not thinking about what Potter's hand could possibly do to him.
He shook his head. This was getting too distracting. Potter wasn't even that attractive. Unless you liked really skinny boys with dark hair, messy hair, he reminded himself, and really green eyes. But Draco didn't like that.
Or at least, he wasn't going to admit that he did.
They made their way slowly inside, and Draco kept halting Potter's chest with his hand. Finally he whipped around, his wand out. "Silencio," he whispered, amused that Potter jumped.
Luckily, when Potter's feet hit the floor this time, they did so silently. Draco shot Potter a triumphant look and kept walking. At least he thought to wear shoes that didn't make clunking noises every time they hit the hardwood floor.
The stairs creaked as Draco stepped onto the lowest one, and he grabbed Potter and ducked behind the wall. No noise could be heard from upstairs, and he sighed in relief.
The house did tend to make a lot of funny noises when it was empty, so whoever was attempting to take over his home was likely used to it. Not that his house usually made creepy creaking sounds, but it was a lively house.
It liked people to live in it, and whoever was currently upstairs was clearly not living in it at all. There were cobwebs covering the banister, and he was really going to need to have a word with the Minister when they made their way out of this mess.
If this was the way they treated his home, well, then he was going to demand return of it into his ownership whether they liked it or not.
And they would like it. Because as much as he thought Potter daft to go on this half-cocked mission, Potter's schemes did generally have a way of working out.
If they brought in Avery, one of the last of the at large Death Eaters… well, Draco was certain that there would be a very shiny medal with his name on it.
He sighed happily. Draco Lucius Malfoy. Order of Merlin, First Class. It really did have a nice ring to it.
"Malfoy," Potter snapped, in a harsh whisper, "Are we going or what?"
Draco tore his mind away from the lovely daydream he had been experiencing where the Minister presented him with the medal and gave Potter a baleful look.
"It's better to wait," said Draco sharply, pretending he was focused on their destination. "Give them a minute or two to examine the noise."
Potter stared at him like he was the daft one. "Malfoy. It's been ten minutes."
"Surely not," Draco disagreed, but he had to admit that he did tend to lose himself in his daydreams. It was possible that it could have been, not that he would ever tell Potter that.
He stuck his head around the wall and was pleased to see that the stairs were empty. "Let's go," he said, and he did not miss Potter rolling his eyes. He just chose not to comment on it.
When they reached the top of the stairs, Draco dragged Potter into the room directly beside the study.
"This is the wrong room," Potter growled. "And why are there chains on the wall?"
"Hmmm?" Draco asked, glancing around. Metal shackles hung from the wall. He shrugged lightly. "Oh, those. This was the prisoner's room. The study has a secret passageway to this room, so father always found it most convenient. Only high security prisoners stayed in here though. The ones the Dark Lord wanted for himself," Draco added, at Potter's look of disbelief.
"I got that, actually," said Potter looking around the room in what appeared to be disgust, but Draco knew must be awe. It was really set up very well as a holding cell.
"It was meant for you at one point," Draco offered, conversationally. "The Dark Lord was most thrilled with the idea."
"I bet he was," Potter muttered. "Look, I don't know why you brought me into this cell, but I'm going to go catch Avery now. Are you coming?"
Draco didn't particularly want to go get in a fight with a Death Eater, but he knew Potter would go alone if he didn't join him. And then Shacklebolt would have his soul handed straight to the Dementors, whether they belonged to the Ministry any more or not.
"Yes, all right," he said, his disdain clear in every word. "If we must."
"We must," said Potter, actually looking amused. "We really must."
They walked towards the door, and Potter reached out and turned the handle. It didn't open. He turned towards Draco, anger starting to cloud his face.
"Tell me you didn't lock it," Potter said.
Draco gulped. Potter really did mange to look both mad and frightening when he was angry. "I didn't lock it," he said. "I swear."
"Open it then," Potter growled, and Draco reached his hand out to turn the doorknob.
Nothing happened. He was so fucked. Potter was absolutely going to kill him.
"It's not opening," said Draco.
"Obviously," Potter growled. "Think, Malfoy. Cell for prisoners – a cell made explicitly for me… why do you think we can't get out?"
Draco swallowed hard. Potter had a pretty good point, and Draco really didn't appreciate admitting that.
"Father," he said softly, "would have set wards so that if you ever made it into this room, you couldn't get out."
Potter laughed harshly. "Well, he never managed to get me in here while he was alive. So he works his magic from beyond the grave. What a surprise."
Draco stepped away from Potter. He was starting to sound delirious now, and more than half-mad. Draco really didn't want to be standing next to him when he lost it completely.
"I'm sure you would have figured out a way to escape," Draco tried, "You always did."
"Usually before they stuck me in the rooms that had no escape," Potter muttered, glowering. He seemed to think for a moment before adding, "What about the passage from the study into here?"
"It only opens one way," Draco said at once.
"Yes, I realise that," Potter said, and Draco was really starting to tire of Potter's I'm so much better than you tone. "Can we go through it once it opens?"
"I doubt it," said Draco. "Father would have thought of that."
"In my experience," Potter said, a malicious grin on his face. "Your father wasn't all that bright."
"Insulting a dead man, Potter?" Draco asked, trying to sound calm even as fury thrummed through him. He knew that Potter was just trying to rile him up, but it was working. "You really do lack class."
"You have more than enough class for both of us," said Potter, looking Draco up and down as though to make fun of the trousers and shirt Draco was wearing. Draco glanced down at himself. There was so nothing wrong with his clothes.
"There's nothing wrong with what I'm wearing," he said, scowling.
"No, nothing at all," Potter agreed, and Draco smiled. "If you were on your way to a fancy restaurant. For fighting with Death Eaters? Maybe not the best choice."
"Sod off," Draco muttered, and returned to contemplating the door. "I just happen to enjoy dressing nice."
Potter murmured something under his breath that had Draco turning around at once. "Did you just say – "
"No," said Potter, a light flush rising in his cheeks. "I didn't say anything."
"Yes, you did," Draco said fiercely. "I heard you. You said you enjoy it when I dress nice."
"I did not," Potter disagreed, attempting to glare but the flush on his cheeks was truth enough.
Draco grinned. Potter unsettled was his favourite type of Potter.
"It doesn't matter," Potter way saying, but Draco was hardly listening. He was still stuck on the way that Potter thought he dressed nice, and maybe Draco wasn't completely mental for constantly daydreaming about Potter's hands.
Not that he thought about them all that often, he reminded himself. Oh, he was so ruined.
"We need to focus on getting out of here," Potter added. "I was just kidding – and anyway, what does it matter?"
"Oh, it doesn't matter at all," said Draco, trying to decide on the best way to handle this. Throwing Potter off with kindness and then using it to torment him later could be fun. "You may continue to admire my arse while I come up with a plan to free us both."
"I'm not admiring your arse," Potter exclaimed. "That's so not even funny, Malfoy. All I said – which was nothing, by the way – was that you dressed nice. Not even in the same vicinity as admiring your," Potter said, gesturing with his hands toward Draco's arse.
"I know you like it, Potter," said Draco. "But do try and keep your hands to yourself."
Potter seemed to struggle for words, but unluckily for Draco, it was too good to last. The flush slowly left his cheeks, and he was smirking at Draco instead.
"If you want me to touch your arse so badly, Malfoy," he was saying. "All you have to do is ask."
"Oh and you'd what?" Draco asked, scoffing.
Potter shrugged. "Probably laugh at you and then report you to Kingsley to try and get a new partner."
Draco grinned. "My thoughts exactly. So keep your head, Potter, or else you'll be the one reported."
It was shaky ground, but Draco preferred it to the strange conversation. He was pretty sure now that Potter was gay which explained the rift between Potter and his beloved Weasleys. He hadn't seen the red-headed girl on his arm in several years, and even when the Weasel was following Potter around, she didn't seem to show up.
It said a lot about his current mental state that he was actually considering the fact that Potter was gay a good thing. He just needed a good shag, and he needed to get out of this cell. Preferably not in that order.
Not even when Potter was staring at him with a calculating expression on his face that made him look entirely too good.
"What?" he snapped, angry all of a sudden. At himself, at Potter, at Avery, at his father for starting this whole bloody mess.
"Just trying to think of a way out of here," Potter said, and he started bringing his hands up to make his way around the walls.
"What are you doing?" Draco asked, now completely convinced Potter was raving. And he was quite sure he had been convinced of that ever since they were eleven and Potter had turned down his friendship.
Anyone with a bit of sense would have known better than to do that. He was Draco Malfoy, for fuck's sake, and Potter should have appreciated that. Everyone else did, or at least they were good at pretending that they did.
"Testing for wards," Potter muttered, more to himself than to Draco. He didn't even turn around to look at Draco when he spoke to him. It was unacceptable.
Draco hated Potter, of course he did. That was what he was supposed to do – hate Potter, make a lot of money, gain power. It was all written down in his list of things to do on a daily basis.
It was just that he hated Potter even more when he ignored Draco. As if he wasn't worth his time which was so not the case.
Potter should grovel at his feet. And then Draco remembered his plan – he was going to catch Avery, the man who killed Potter's best friend, and then Potter would be forever in his debt.
He would have preferred this plan were it not likely to result in his own death rather than Potter's eternal gratitude. Perhaps he should rethink it. Or figure out a way to let Potter catch Avery all the while believing that it had been Draco's doing.
Yes, now that was the way to do it. He just needed to figure out how exactly he could make that happen.
Well, he hadn't been a Slytherin for nothing.
"It's no use," Potter said glumly, sitting down on the floor and hunching over with his back against the wall – where Draco knew the bookshelf in the adjoining room happened to rest.
"I wouldn't sit there," said Draco. "That's where the door opens – if someone's actually in the study, and they open it… well, you'll be a little too exposed."
Potter stared at him in clear amusement. "Where exactly were you thinking that we would hide, Malfoy? It's a bit of an open space. I suppose I could chain myself to the wall, and paint a target on my forehead. Then they might not notice me."
Draco laughed, taking both of them by surprise. "Don't be an idiot, Potter. You don't need to paint a target on your forehead – you already have one, or did you forget?"
Potter rolled his eyes, but he was smiling so Draco let it pass. "How could I forget?" he asked, and Draco was somewhat startled to hear how bitter Potter sounded. "It's only been haunting me for years."
"Ever try hiding it?" Draco asked. He couldn't help it; he had always been curious about why Potter went around with such a distinguishing mark on his forehead if he hated the attention as much as he claimed to.
"Of course," said Potter. "Nothing works. Glamour charms slide right off it. Muggle make-up – Hermione's suggestion, not mine – just manages to make it even brighter."
Draco felt unexpectedly apologetic for even asking. "Sorry," he said, before he could stop himself. Malfoy's did not apologise – it was one of the rules.
"Don't be," said Potter, shrugging it off. "It's a curse, what else could I expect?" He smiled tightly, and Draco knew that he was attempting to make light of something that really bothered him.
He didn't know why he was so surprised, but somehow this made Potter seem like a real person.
Draco wasn't entirely sure how to deal with that.
"There has to be a way out," he said instead. "You always find a way out."
"You keep saying that," Potter said, sounding entirely too amused. "And yet, all evidence suggests that I have just as much an idea how to get out of here as you do."
"Seeing as I have no idea..." Draco began, and Potter laughed.
Draco sighed and rested his head against the wall. "What are we going to do?"
"Wait until someone realises we're in here?" Potter suggested.
"What if we were wrong?" Draco asked, feeling a sense of urgency overtake him. "What if the parchment was old, or the light was left on by some worker. What if there's no one here, and we're never found?"
"There's someone here," Potter said softly. "I'm sure of that. Whether or not they know we're here… well, that I don't know."
"How do you know someone is here?" Draco asked, his brow furrowing as he looked at Potter in confusion.
"I just do," Potter said, unwilling to elaborate. At Draco's glare, he finally relented and continued. "I can tell when there's a Death Eater nearby. I've been able to since Voldemort died – I don't know what it was, maybe a backlash in the curse we sent at each other. Whatever it was, anything really dark makes my scar sting. It hasn't stopped stinging since we came inside."
Draco flushed lightly, unsure as to whether or not he should speak. "You know – I mean, I know you know," he stopped and pulled himself together, speaking again all in a rush. "You know I have the Dark Mark, Potter."
"Oh, yes, of course you do," said Potter, looking vaguely confused. "Funny," he said. "It doesn't seem to affect me." He seemed to be reconsidering his entire theory. "I suppose it could be based on intention, or maybe it’s only Dark items, and not the Dark Mark."
"If it's only Dark items," said Malfoy, "I expect your scar would be ringing. The Manor is full of them."
Potter bit his lip in consternation. "I don't know," he said. "I've never given it too much thought. I just assumed it was the Death Eaters that set it off. I forgot you were one."
Draco glared at him. "Glad one of us could," he said.
"I didn't mean," Potter began, but Draco stood suddenly, and Potter didn't continue.
"It doesn't matter what you meant," said Draco. "I heard what you were saying."
Potter looked uncomfortable but rose to his feet as well. "We're going to get out of here," he said quietly, coming to stand beside Draco, and setting his hand on his shoulder.
"And if we don't?" Draco asked. "Are we going to die in my own house because no one ever finds us?"
"We could conjure food," Potter suggested, like the daft idiot that he was.
"Oh by all means," he said, "Conjure away. Let me know when you begin to realise that it does you all of no good in the way of nutrition."
Potter smiled lightly. "At least it will taste good."
"All right," Draco agreed. "Make us a feast."
Potter shrugged. "I was thinking more along the lines of this," he said, and conjured a bottle and two glasses.
At Draco's surprised look, he added, "I saw Dumbledore do this once – it's Rosmerta's mead."
"If you can conjure actual items, which is stealing by the way, then we could survive in here, I suppose. Though I can't say it seems like a good idea."
He lifted his glass in toast and they clinked their glasses together. "Well," said Potter, "maybe after a few of these it will start to look more appealing."
"I doubt it," said Draco, "but it's worth a try."
Two bottles later, they were sprawled out on the floor, and it really didn't seem as bad as they were making it out to be.
"I mean," Potter was saying, "It's a bigger room than I lived in when I was a kid."
"What did you live in?" Draco asked, "A cupboard?"
Potter laughed harder. "Actually, yes," he said. "It sounds funnier now – it didn't seem so funny then."
Draco felt like he should be horrified, appalled, angry even, but all he could do was laugh. "What a strange place to live," he commented, rolling onto his back and staring up at the ceiling.
"It really was," said Potter. "It made me appreciate spiders," he added, which Draco thought was a bit odd until Potter continued, "which is probably a good thing since there's one above your head."
Draco screamed, and Potter kept laughing, not doing anything to help him. "Potter," Draco said, "Get it away from me."
"It's just a spider," Potter said, reaching up and plucking the spider off the floor between his thumb and index finger. "Hello, spider," he said.
"You're mad," Draco breathed.
"You're only now figuring this out?" Potter asked, half-laughing as he moved the spider towards the door where it crawled underneath it.
"No," said Draco at once. "I've known that for ages."
"Malfoy," Potter was saying slowly, "the spider just left the room."
Draco turned towards the door and looked at where Potter was pointing. "If you turn me into a spider," he was saying, "could I get out and open the door?"
"Maybe," said Draco slowly, "Except how would you turn yourself back into… yourself?"
Potter seemed to shrink back into himself. Draco really preferred him when he was laughing. "I didn't think of that," he said, looking anxious and frustrated.
"Don't be upset," Draco whispered, falling back and pulling Potter with him. "I told you I'd get you out of here, and I will."
"Did you?" Potter asked, looking confused. Draco supposed he probably hadn't promised to get Potter out of there, but he had promised himself. It was all the same, really.
"Yes," Draco answered after a moment, but when he looked over at Potter, he was fast asleep. It was too bad, Draco reflected, that he didn't even get the chance to turn him into a spider.
He looked peaceful and calm, and Draco realised how tense Potter generally looked during the day. He hadn't ever given it much thought but seeing him so at ease was rather disconcerting, after the day they had just shared.
Draco didn't dwell on it for long because the day caught up with him, and he barely managed to conjure a pillow before he followed Potter into sleep.
Draco awoke feeling like he had been run over by the Hogwarts Express. Potter was up and pacing, and Draco glared at him through half-shut eyes.
"What time is it?" he asked.
Potter shrugged. "I don't have a watch."
"Why doesn't that surprise me?" Draco asked, all good will from the previous day forgotten in the onset of what was looking to be a terrible hangover. "The world's precious saviour doesn't need a watch. Everyone else waits on him, is that it?"
Potter looked furious when he turned around, and Draco had a belated thought that riling him up while they were trapped wasn't necessarily the best way to go about escaping with Potter in his debt.
"Yeah," said Potter roughly. "That must be it. I'm the only one who matters, isn't that right?"
"In your world, at least," Draco muttered, sitting up and rubbing his eyes.
To his shock, Potter was hauling him upwards and glaring at him.
"What the fuck is your problem?" Draco asked, uncomfortably aware of how close Potter was to him.
"You," Potter breathed, and his lips were nearly touching Draco's. "It's your fault we're in this mess. Don't you even know what goes on in your own home?"
"Obviously not," said Draco, starting to grow angry as well. "You're the one who wanted to come here, Potter, or did you forget? This wasn't my idea."
"It was your idea to bring us into a room that you knew to be a fucking cell, Malfoy."
"Well, you didn't have to drag me along with you, now did you? If you weren't so obsessed with catching Avery – "
He didn't get a chance to finish his sentence because Potter's fist collided with his jaw, and they were suddenly rolling around on the ground, throwing punches at each other.
Potter could hit, but Draco's training had done him well so far. He could finally hit back, and well, he thought when he landed a particularly good punch to Potter's stomach.
Draco couldn't explain what happened next. Potter was pushing him against the door, his hands uselessly pounding against Draco's chest, in what seemed to be despair.
Then Potter leaned down, and kissed him. Draco didn't stop to think about it; he kissed him back. Their lips pressed together, a little bloody from the fight, but it didn't stop them.
Potter tasted like last night's Mead, even though it was clear he had used a freshening charm. Draco didn't dwell on it; he had wanted this for so long, never willing to admit it to himself.
He kissed Potter hard, running his tongue along Potter's lower lip, seeking entrance. Potter's lips parted and their tongues tangled together. He ran his hand through Potter's hair, for once thinking it looked sexy as it grew even messier.
Potter's hands were frantically running along Draco's chest, and all the ideas Draco had dreamed of what Potter could do with those hands didn't even begin to live up to what they actually felt like, his fingers sliding around Draco's nipple and pulling on it.
Whispering something that Draco couldn't quite make out, Potter's left hand slipped down Draco's stomach, muttering something that caused the buttons on his trousers to come undone.
"What?" Draco murmured, but Potter hushed him with another kiss, and then Potter's fingers were curling around his cock, and all thought left Draco in a rush.
He brought his hand up to undo the buttons on Potter's trousers as well, freeing his cock so that their cocks brushed against each other. Friction like he could not believe seemed to slide between them and Potter pushed him even harder into the door.
Their mouths met again, their cocks sliding together as they each reached down and rubbed, sliding their hands up and down and oh…
Draco came in a rush all over Potter's shirt, and a moment later, Potter was coming as well.
He opened his eyes and stared at Potter – it was awkward and uncomfortable and everything Draco wanted.
Potter grabbed his wand, and their clothes were suddenly clean. He cast around for something to say, but he came up completely blank.
Until… "the door's open," he exclaimed, and Potter leapt around.
"How?" he said, and Draco stared at it in confusion.
"I have no idea," he said, and then trailed off. Looking closely at the door, he noticed several spots of blood lining it. "Of course."
"Of course what?" Potter asked, giving him a wary look.
"Father set the wards to only open by his blood… by my blood."
"It's so simple and yet it always works," Potter muttered. He seemed completely unsurprised but as though he rather wanted to hit himself for not realizing it.
"What?" Draco asked, looking at Potter, and trying not to let a flush rise in his cheeks. Potter still looked completely dishevelled.
"I should be used to wards that open to blood by now," he said. "That's all – it was a favourite way of Voldemort's to guard things. Dumbledore called it crude, and I have to say I agree."
"Well, it doesn't matter now," said Draco. "We're out of here."
"Right," said Potter, casting a look around the room. "We're not forgetting anything, are we?"
Draco laughed. "We didn't bring anything. You have your wand, and I have mine. You might want to button your trousers, or you'll give Avery a real shock."
Potter flushed, and Draco grinned. The situation wasn't going to get any less awkward, so at least he could enjoy it while it lasted. He knew Potter would regret it soon enough.
He waited while Potter actually did button his trousers and then they slipped quietly out of the room. Wands out, Potter led the way to the study, which was only a few feet away.
The door was shut, and Potter very carefully turned the handle until it swung open.
Potter stopped still in the doorway, but Draco didn't know why. He came around and looked over Potter's shoulder. It was Avery as they expected, and Draco felt a sudden rush of relief that his father wasn't with him.
Then Potter was raising his wand, and Draco was useless to stop him. Avery was looking around in shock, and Draco quickly summoned his wand before he could grab it to fling a curse back at Potter.
Draco stepped into the room, took one look at Potter and knew he had to figure out a way to stop this.
"Potter," he said quietly. "What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to kill him," he said, in a soft but very deadly voice. Draco could hardly reconcile this man with the one who he had just been practically shagging only moments earlier.
Avery laughed, which Draco thought was exactly the wrong thing to do. "Kill me?" he said, and Draco shut his eyes. "You don't have it in you, boy."
"I killed your Master," said Potter calmly. "I doubt killing you will take half the effort it took to off him."
Avery jumped to his feet angrily. "The Dark Lord – "
"Is dead," said Potter coldly. "Like you're about to be."
"Potter," said Draco. "Let's think about this rationally."
"He killed Hermione," said Potter, his voice rising as it shook on Granger's name. "He tortured her and then he killed her, and I had to watch because I couldn't stop him."
"Just like you won't be able to stop me now," said Avery, who clearly had a death wish.
"Look," said Draco. "Let's stun him and call the Aurors. Let the Dementors have him."
"The last time I did that," said Potter, rage in every word. "The bastard managed to get away. I can't risk it."
"I can," said Draco, stunning Avery and tying him up with a quick Stupefy and Incarcerous before Potter could stop him.
"Him being stunned doesn't mean I can't kill him," said Potter angrily, rounding on Draco.
"No, it doesn't," Draco agreed. "But it does mean you'll listen to me. Because I know you'll want to wake him before you kill him. Make him suffer before he dies? Like he did to Granger?"
Potter was shaking, but Draco pulled him close to his chest, and held him there even as Potter struggled to get away.
"Killing him won't bring Granger back," said Draco softly. He had realised this a long time ago, not that he had ever been able to kill anyone in the first place.
But Potter had killed the Dark Lord, and his father was still dead. It was clear to him now that one death didn't make up for the loss of another.
"It will make me feel better," Potter said, finally looking up into Draco's eyes. The anguish that was clear on Potter's face almost made Draco want to let him kill Avery, and really, shouldn't Draco be advocating the killing in the first place.
"If you kill him," Draco said, knowing that as much as Potter wanted to, that it would ruin him, "you'll hate yourself."
"I killed Voldemort," Potter repeated, "and I don't hate myself."
"Don't you?" Draco asked, and Potter opened his mouth and then immediately snapped it shut. "Let's take Avery and go."
Potter stepped out of Draco's tight grip and stared at Avery for several long moments. His wand was still out and pointing, and Draco was afraid he was going to use it after all.
Finally, Potter lowered his arm, and Draco let out a sigh of relief. Potter sent a patronus out with his wand, and settled down in a chair to wait. Draco watched the stag disappear and wished that they had been able to use the message spell in their room the night before. Although, he really did think things had turned out quite nicely, considering how badly it could have gone.
They didn't speak while the Aurors came; Draco hardly listened to Shacklebolt's congratulatory reprimand.
It wasn't until everyone had cleared out and they stood alone once more that Potter spoke.
"Thank you," he said very quietly, and he leaned up and brushed his lips against Draco's.
Before Draco could respond, Potter was gone, slipping quietly out of his house. Which Draco considered, was probably truly his again.
"Congratulations," Shacklebolt was saying, but Draco was hardly listening. He was trying to catch Potter's eye. He might have to curse him if the daft git didn't turn around to look at him at least once.
Draco needed to know what Potter was going to do. They hadn't spoken of it last night, as their mouths had found other uses, but this was important.
Potter resolutely did not look his way. Draco slid his wand out of his pocket. A quick stinging hex would cause Potter to turn around, and it wasn't like Draco had ever let off cursing Potter simply because they had taken to shagging on a regular basis.
No, Potter still needed a good hexing now and again, and Draco was exactly the person to make sure he received it.
"Now," Shacklebolt was saying, and Draco cast a last, hopeless glance at Potter. "It's time to assign partners. We'll assign them for you, naturally, but we will take your personal preferences into consideration. If we agree that it is a suitable match, you will receive your chosen partner. When I call your name, please come tell me your chosen trainee. If you have no preference, simply say that. Keep in mind, Aurors," he said, and Draco felt a shiver run down his spine at the word. He really was an Auror now. "There is no guarantee that you will receive a particular assignment."
Draco knew that if Potter didn't choose him, Shacklebolt wouldn't allow them to be partners simply because Draco wanted it. No, being the saviour still counted for something in the Ministry, and Potter would get first pick.
Even if the majority of the other Aurors dreaded being paired with him for even the simplest of fights.
"Draco Malfoy," Shacklebolt called, and Draco walked towards him, a bit shaky on his feet. "Preference?"
"Potter," said Draco at once, and didn't look up for Shacklebolt's reaction. He simply returned to his seat, this time taking care not to look Potter in the eye.
"Teams will be posted tomorrow morning," Shacklebolt said. "Aurors report for duty at eight o'clock, and you'll receive your first assignment."
Potter made his way over to Draco as the newly titled Aurors made their way out of the training room. "Want to go for a drink?"
"Of course," said Draco, smiling at Potter. "Where do you want to go?"
Potter grinned mischievously. "I was thinking we could go to my place. I have a bottle of Rosmerta's Finest Oak-Matured Mead, if you're interested."
Draco laughed, thinking of that night nearly a year ago. Sometimes it still seemed like it had never happened. But as Potter slipped his hand inside of his and squeezed it tightly, he knew that it had.
He also knew that the notice board would read Malfoy and Potter when he reported for duty in the morning.
There was no reason to ask.