Title: Stung Part 2/2
"Go on," Potter said softly. "What else did you have in mind?"
Draco was distantly aware of his mouth opening, twitching and closing again. After the awkward line it made in his snug trousers, he'd stowed his wand under the beside table: handy, but not handy enough right now.
Potter continued, draping his calves over the side of the bed and leaning back casually. "You never know. I might still be interested."
His unfaltering gaze and insinuating words hit Draco like the lifting of a spell. He looked at Potter hard and saw, for the first time since Potter's sudden re-entry into his life, how little resemblance he bore to his school-age antagonist. He noted the faded brown shirt that stretched over upper arms thick with muscle. The negligently unshaven jaw. The shabby jeans with the loose buttons that brought to mind strong, impatient hands. Even the glasses had flattened into discreet adult ovals. The game between them was no longer buckish adolescent competition, was it? The stakes had changed.
"Come on," Potter eased his knees apart shamelessly. "This punishment of yours, were you planning to leave my clothes on? Of course not. The only question is whether to use a spell and make it quick, or strip me slowly with your hands." An instant too late, Malfoy told himself not to glance at those worn buttons over Potter's crotch. "Slowly then," Potter grinned knowingly. "Would your hands have explored a bit on the way? Stroked my balls, shoved their way into my arse, just to show me you could? I'll give you a hint, Draco. If you really want to make me talk, use your mouth. If you can swallow me whole, I'll say anything you want to hear."
Draco gave a helpless, dry gulp. Until Potter made his intentions clear, he could do nothing except listen and pretend he wasn't picturing every suggestion in appallingly vivid detail.
"What were you going to do with your bag of tricks here?" Potter picked up the chisel and tossed it easily. "Good size. Have you ever slipped one of these inside you?" He licked a grotesque stripe up the side of it. "A bit of grease, a charm against splintering. The handle prising you apart, just far enough to feel the metal blade start to bite. A finger sliding in beside it, stretching you wide and hard." His voice dropped to a whisper. "I'd like to do that to you, Draco."
He had started to stroke himself. Draco's eyes followed the heel of his hand rubbing over the bulging denim and the growing shape of his cock underneath. Potter's cock, that virtually every man in Britain had seen, except him. As he flicked open his belt and started on the buttons, Draco's mouth watered.
He jumped when Potter stood up, jeans barely clinging to his hips and his arousal wet and obvious in his pants.
"Open your mouth, Draco. Tell me what you like. Nothing shocks me." With an irresistible suggestive slither, Potter drew off his belt. "Do you want to hurt me? I think you do. I get off on that too. A bit of pain. Every stroke goes right to my cock."
As Potter held out the belt, Draco's breath deserted him. He could do those things. He could thrash Potter raw. He could let out that wild, uncivilised, closely guarded side of himself. Certainly, he was no stranger to displays of violence. But in this context, he would not be in control. Potter wanted to harness his rage for his own pleasure. Potter wanted something to hold over him. No matter how potent the temptation, he couldn't do that.
"Come on," Potter was murmuring. "You can have me bent over the bed. I won't fight you. So long as you do it like you mean it and don't hold back."
Potter was close enough to touch now. Draco put his hand on the loop of the belt, warm as a living thing with Potter's body heat, tugged it free and threw it on the floor behind him. Sighing, Potter snatched his hand, held it hard and rubbed it over his crotch.
The hot, wet shock of it went right up Draco's arm. A handful of cock was enough to shatter his self-control: he didn't need to fancy Potter's cock in particular. His fingers shoved their way into Potter's pants and wrapped themselves around his shaft, making a ruthless vise. As he jerked quick, sharp strokes, Potter's eyes fluttered closed and his lips parted. No surprise that he liked it rough. He watched the spasms of pleasure and frustration in Potter's face as he leaned in to pant raggedly against Draco's jaw. How many of his lovers got to see him like this, biting his lip ecstatically as he gave up his treasured self-control? Draco tightened his grip and Potter cried out and came instantly, pulsing in his hand.
When Potter opened eyes, his pupils dark, hungry chasms, Draco had to take a step back.
"No!" he said in a strangled voice. "You've got what you came for. Now get out."
Potter smiled at him.
"No!" He raised his voice, flung open the bedroom door and called for a house-elf, who stood in puzzled silence as Potter buttoned himself up unhurriedly.
"I don't mind an audience," Potter said as he stood in the doorway, trailing his fingers over the strip of bare skin above Draco's trousers, cruelly close to his aching cock. "But I can wait until Sunday."
When Potter was gone, Draco ignored the house-elf and slammed the door. He leaned against it with one hand splayed against the wood. The other hand with which he viciously brought himself off was still slippery and pungent with the smell of sex, but Potter would never know that.
The next morning, just like any other, Draco went down to the front door to give another one of Bagman's emissaries its marching orders. This time it was a house-elf carrying a slender bunch of white roses.
"Tell your master," he sneered, "that Mrs Malfoy has so many admirers we've run out of vases. Now get moving before I hex your nose into your arsehole where it belongs."
Only, as the trembling elf turned to leave, the flowers happened to catch the slanted morning light. The ridges in their petals were seamed with faint silver. Draco felt a nauseating, unwelcome sort of hope. They might be too fine, too original to be Bagman's work.
"Wait." Pride battled with the physical compulsion of a beautiful thing almost within reach, and with other, recent memories. "Come here."
The folded parchment was tucked in among the stems. It said "Not lilies then", and that was all. Draco's face warmed.
"Thank you," he said absent-mindedly to the elf's departing back.
When he turned, a scaled marble tail blocked his path. He looked up at the carved dragons on the pediment above the front door. The middle one, the most fearsome, watched him with its spiny tail laid like a hand on his forearm.
"What?" Draco snapped irritably, suppressing the twitch in the corner of his mouth. "Potter? You can't possibly think that's a good idea."
The creature barred him insistently from re-entering the house. Here, on the site of Lucius's last stand, the residual force of his character was strongest. Draco was not in the mood for a struggle. He gave up and turned down the stairs instead.
Halfway down, he stopped. All the estate was spread out before him: to his right, the ground fell away gently toward the lake, glassy smooth under the early light, and to his left, the eastern edges of the apple orchard were swathed in milky mist. It was a view he had seen his whole life, as the seasons transformed the orchard from grey to pink to green. For one topsy-turvy moment, he felt uncomfortably that it was the estate that owned the wizard rather than the other way around. He put aside the disquieting sentiment and made for the back door.
The breakfast table was tainted not only by Percy Weasley but also by Snape. They were poring over the books again.
"Ah. The very man," Snape observed as Draco drew out his usual seat.
Draco glared at him suspiciously. "Let's have it then. What?"
His mother said, "Darling-" and faltered. It was Snape who broke the news.
"We've been inspecting the accounts, Draco. It seems you've already exceeded your allowance threefold this year."
Weasley pronounced, "And so, Draco, your entitlement to income has ceased until the new year on December 22nd. You would be well advised to consider alternative sources of income. Such as taking up gainful employment. Or choosing a path that might bring forward your inheritance."
"Marriage, for instance," Narcissa suggested almost inaudibly.
"Perhaps even to the astonishingly persistent Mr Potter."
"-or someone else," his mother amended.
They all looked at him, braced for violence. He was heartily sick of the lot of them - sick of their presumptions, sick of their dull predictability and sick of their attempts to control him.
"Fine," he said. "Owl Potter. Tell him he can take me to lunch on Wednesday. Twelve noon, not a second after, and I expect the full seven courses at Claude's."
His mother dropped her favourite teacup.
The first of the public duellists' clubs had started up in the weeks following Voldemort's defeat. The Ministry's official explanation was that they showcased the most admirable of magical talents at a time when the whole world needed to be reminded that there was something to be celebrated in the word wizard. The real reason, according to self-proclaimed pragmatists like Severus Snape, was that you could not take young men and women who had fought for their lives under a barrage of illegal, cruel and bloodthirsty spells, of whose existence they had previously been utterly ignorant, and expect them to acquire some sort of therapeutic amnesia as they slipped back into the civilian world.
The duellists' clubs were promoted to exercise the valuable skills they had learned during the war, and to stamp out those tactics that were best left on the battlefield. Happy in the camaraderie of their local club, most wizards respected the distinction. For Harry, the line was not only absurd but invisible. He used everything except the Unforgivables and Sectumsempra and dealt mercilessly with any opponent too courteous to do the same. Long gone were the days when anyone bothered to tell him he had broken the rules.
The roughest club in London was the Machete, an underground haunt in a laneway off Old Street. It was one of the few that Harry didn't need to disguise himself to get into. He was on the main duelling piste, toying with one of those upstarts too young to have seen action in the war but still young enough to fancy that Harry Potter either couldn't or wouldn't hurt him. It was Wednesday afternoon, fourteen minutes past twelve.
"Diffindo!" the boy hurled out - a vicious choice to show he thought he could play at Harry's level. His hand must have wavered as he cast it, though, because Harry only had to lean back to watch it skim over his right shoulder. Harry responded with an automatic Stupefy! to make his opponent concentrate on keeping his guard up.
The boy fired off a few more hexes in textbook combinations. He had the raw skill of a junior champion. Good aim, excellent footwork, mannered diction that detracted from the spells' potency.
"Impedimenta!" the boy tried, but Harry was already moving his legs out of the way with a disappointed lack of haste.
Duelling had long worked for Harry the way dancing was supposed to. His limbs moved without conscious thought and his mind, unengaged, quickly grew bored. It had been more of a challenge in the early days, when wandless magic had been suspended from his repertoire because the strain of it took him back nightmarishly to the two days in the Death Eaters' captivity where he'd had to master it or die.
"Is that the best you've got?" Harry sighed. This one was the type to have a treasured secret weapon, some specially crafted spell that he counted on to hand him victory, and the sooner he used it, the sooner Harry could block it and be done.
"What do you think?" The boy put up his wand and flexed the tension out of his arms. His casual confidence matched his talent and in other circumstances, Harry might have been tempted to buy him a drink and take him home to teach him a lesson or two in humility.
"I think you should get in a few good shots before I finish you off."
There it was. A simple spell, surprising only in that it was aimed with ruthless precision at Harry's heart. With a small, appreciative smile, he blocked it.
The cold-blooded, illegal attack reminded Harry of someone. The clock in the corner ticked over to12.52. With two quick spells, Harry knocked the boy unconscious and Apparated away.
He hurried, because the route to Malfoy's bedroom was familiar and he didn't like to linger in the manor's corridors where the velvet wallpaper and sparse, sluggishly moving portraits reminded him of Grimmauld Place. The whole manor seemed hostile to him. A lot of things about Malfoy made sense, though, in a house where a dresser could stand in the same corner of the same room for a hundred years or more and scarcely hear human footsteps in all that time.
The bedroom was empty when he reached it, but it smelled unmistakably of Malfoy's recent presence: toothpaste and whatever the sweet stuff was that he weighed down his hair with. The bed, ridiculously high like an old lady's, was primly made and undisturbed. In the middle of the room lay a puddle of cloth that until lately had been a deep blue set of dress robes. A pair of shoes had been kicked off nearby. A silvery grey silk cravat hung on the handle of the door that led out to the terrace. When Harry grasped the handle, the silk was still warm.
The terrace was long and narrow, interrupted in the middle by the glass-paned pyramid that let light into Narcissa's indoor garden below. Malfoy was on the far side of it. He envied how Malfoy seemed to be part of this house: the way he leaned on the balustrade looked exactly like a tree that had spent forty years growing over and around it.
"Please don't imagine I'm put out by your absence," Malfoy said coldly without turning around. "It would have hurt to watch your ignorant mouth mangling the finest cuisine in the country. I'd rather go alone."
"If you could afford it," Harry forced a grin. "I heard your allowance has been cut off."
"Yes, I thought you'd be pleased about that. Convenient timing for you. Except it doesn't say much for their confidence in your skills of seduction, does it?"
"I thought I'd already made a pretty good demonstration of those."
"Keep your distance," Malfoy snapped, a little jumpily.
"Have you ever thought of being a kept man? I can pay as much as you can spend."
Malfoy drew his wand. "I said keep your distance. I'm done with your groping."
Pausing in the narrow gap beside the glass pyramid, Harry brushed his fingers over the pocket that held his own wand. The easy badinage was deceptive. Under the thin fabric of his white undershirt and trousers, all of Malfoy's muscles were hostile and tense. He held himself like a cornered alleycat. Harry couldn't help imagining how good that wiry strength would feel pinned under him. Malfoy's trousers fit closely around his hips and then draped loose on their long journey to the ground, and following the slight swell where his cock would be reminded Harry of how many things he still had left to do with Malfoy for the first time. He edged forward.
Quicker than Harry had moved since he was ten years old with Dudley's crowing gang on his heels, Malfoy leapt up onto the balustrade.
"No you don't."
He stood on the corner of the railing, so still in his white clothes that he could have been one of those antique sculptures of a wizard facing off a chimaera or a Nundu. He continued.
"What no one seems to have the backbone to tell you is that you're a has-been, Potter. Your five minutes of fame was over two years ago and you're the only one who hasn't realised it yet. No one likes a wanker, Potter. Your attitude is completely above your station."
"Don't you think that makes us the perfect for each other?"
"Clearly I don't. I'll throw myself over the edge before I let you touch me again."
Harry glanced over the three-storey drop and felt his stomach quiver.
"I won't let you do that."
"You won't let me!" Since it had first come to his attention that Draco Malfoy was now walking around in an adult male body that was physically desirable, Harry had harboured the opinion that he was at his most compelling in the moment when he lost control of his temper. First there would be a shocked pause, as if the extent of his rage took him by surprise, and after that came total abandon. Malfoy raised his voice wildly: "You won't fucking let me, Potter? Who in all seven hells do you think you are? With your one sorry generation of magical history, the lowest of the servants in this house wouldn't take an order from you. My owl wouldn't lower himself to bite your hand. Have you bothered to take a look at my family tree while you've been desperately plotting to start a new branch of it? Two Ministers of Magic. Twenty-one First Class Orders of Merlin. Not a single Squib for twelve generations. That's eleven hundred fucking years of magical history, Potter, and you really think that anything you say could make the slightest difference to me?"
Harry shrugged. "I thought that after Voldemort and your father, you'd be good at doing what you're told."
Might as well go all the way. He swung himself up onto the banister while Malfoy was too furious to stop him. It was a good thing the duel earlier had pricked up his reflexes; the strip of marble beneath him was so narrow he was going to need them at their best.
Malfoy's voice had dropped to a deadly hiss. "You are not worth the dust under one of my father's fingernails, Harry Potter."
Harry danced a little, backwards and then forwards again. It was not much different from standing up on his broom to make a tricky catch.
"So don't you dare talk about him with your filthy half-blood mouth. My fath- expelliarmus!"
The spell tore the wand out of Harry's pocket and sent it sailing away. The impact unbalanced him. He teetered on one foot with his arms flailing desperately as he leaned out over the deadly descent.
"Yeah?" Harry panted as he tried to right himself. "Lucius never could beat me in a fight."
Then Malfoy did the most unexpected thing of all. He dropped his wand and charged at Harry, lunging across the few steps between them. Before Harry could guess his intentions, their bodies had collided and Malfoy's arm around his neck deliberate dragged them both out over the void. It was suicide and murder - and for nothing but temper. As he swayed back and his feet irreversibly lost their connection with the banister, his whole body cramped with horror in the knowledge that the strongest wandless magic would not be enough to catch two plummeting bodies. Not like this, he thought, with his mouth falling open and his limbs unable to do anything at all.
And then there was the descent. It seemed to go on forever, with every muscle in his body screaming. What he noticed with his last moments was Malfoy's fingers twisting in the front of his shirt as he turned his face blindly into Harry's shoulder. And Harry, equally foolishly and equally furiously, clung to Malfoy.
He never knew for sure how they came to be saved. Something caught them - he felt the support of something solid under his back and had the bruises to prove it afterwards - but by the time they had been tumbled onto the ground, all he could see with his glasses missing was the shape of the trellis that ran up the side of the indoor garden. It loomed then retreated, leaving the two of them lying in a hollow in the rose garden, thorny thickets tangling around and over them.
When the breath came back into Harry's lungs, all he could do was laugh. At the unexpectedness of being alive. At the absurdity of finding his would-be murderer draped across him, with his fingers still curled in Harry's shirt. His veins surged with adrenalin and the endorphins of salvation: it was better than any sort of drunkenness and he still had Malfoy uncomplaining in his arms.
Malfoy raised his head, which pressed his lower body more firmly into Harry's hip, and opened his eyes. Harry, still laughing, kissed him. Malfoy's astonishment turned into a sneer, which only made a delicious swell of flesh in the corner of his top lip. Harry kissed that too, and spread out his hand provocatively across the small of Malfoy's back. While Malfoy was still blinking in bewilderment, Harry wrestled him onto his back and kissed him properly.
For a long moment, all the fight went out of Malfoy. His mouth yielded easily to Harry's kiss and, holding down the top of Malfoy's chest, Harry caught the skittering pulse vibrating up into his wristbone. He tilted his head to get the deepest, most intimate angle into Malfoy's mouth. And there it was. Malfoy's force of will came back into him with a jolt. He fisted his hand in Harry's hair to wrest back some rough control and he introduced his teeth into the already messy kiss. His fingers shoved into the back of Harry's trousers, nails scratching, his whole body bucking. Except for the fire, it was like trying to make love to a small dragon. Harry growled into Malfoy's hazardous mouth and ground his hips against the thin fabric protecting his crotch.
Then Malfoy parted his knees and made Harry's legs sink down between them, and after that, Harry was barely aware of whose hands did what, or even whether there was spellwork involved. The button tore off his trousers in the rush to get them open. After a fierce scramble of both their hands, he had the smooth length of Malfoy's cock in his grasp. As Malfoy screwed his eyes shut and panted up into his face, Harry palmed the wet head of it. God knew he'd fucked in more exotic locations and positions, but this clumsy schoolboy fumbling had reduced him to desperation, his arms shaking and his balls swollen up unbearably. He gave Malfoy one more cruel stroke, then brought the hot skin of their cocks together and thrust fiercely. He lasted a matter of seconds before he came, helplessly hard, with his teeth closed around Malfoy's jaw. He was still gasping for breath as he found Malfoy's come-slippery cock again and gave him the last few strokes he needed to pull him down over the edge. Malfoy was silent and still in orgasm, but his fingers gouged yet another wound over Harry's shoulderblade.
Afterwards, watching the faint traces of blue appear and disappear behind the clouds, Harry felt uncommonly satisfied. With the old rose bushes towering up like trees and the rambling roses making a bower around them, escape would be treacherous, later, but it was the easiest thing in the world to stay still. In his time, Harry had heard every conceivable clumsy, swaggering or downright nauseating comment that could be made in the aftermath of sex. Malfoy's silence was comfortable. It was compliment enough that for five solid minutes Malfoy had left off trying to kill, injure or even insult him.
"You were in my room that night, weren't you?" Harry said hazily. Malfoy turned away and started to pull the leaves off a straggling branch.
"Malfoy? That night you changed sides. Why did you leave?"
The branch bit back from a vicious tug and gouged a red line over the back of Malfoy's hand. "I left because I knew you were going to lose."
Harry held his tongue.
"I expected to find an army with a leader. You held off the Dark Lord for so long. It was obvious you had to be spending your time planning. Researching. Practising spells. Like that stupid vigilante group you started. And then I ... Look, Potter, a real leader doesn't spend the night before the most important battle of the entire war fumbling about with his girlfriend trying to improve her oral sex technique."
Harry rolled up against Malfoy's side and looked down at him. "Why did you come into my room at all?"
"A real leader," Malfoy persisted, "doesn't say 'More like a straw, it's not a lollipop'."
Harry burst out laughing. "I did, didn't I?"
"You were pathetic," Malfoy scowled.
And, noting the past tense, Harry trailed his hand into the hair around Malfoy's cock and curled it possessively around his finger. "I did win in the end, you know," he murmured.
"So they say."
"Oh, will you fuck off, Potter!" Malfoy groaned, but made no other move to resist, not then and not as long as the day's light lasted.
Draco didn't make it to breakfast the next morning. The late dawn of early spring saw him sitting on the manor's front steps, wrapped around with his warmest cloak his warmest cloak wrapped around him, as the light travelled over the estate like a brush, one by one revealing the contours and colours he had known all his life.
By nine he was in the library, grim-faced with a pile of books at his elbow. The open one was heavy, with uneven pages and a white hide cover.
Self-preservation had to come first.
Harry rose at midday and sat at his dining table. It was lightly layered with week-old mail he had no intention of reading. There were a handful of British teams with which he hadn't yet burned every one of his bridges, and notwithstanding his increasingly chequered record, there were bound to be letters of invitation from one or two of them; letters mentioning ludicrous sums which, as his silence dragged on, would increase in magnitude in exact proportion to his contempt. Among the letters would be another summons, most likely, and eventually they'd think to put a non-flammability charm on one of them.
At the far end, by the fruit bowl with the two shrivelled apples in it, was the wedding invitation he had written out a week ago. It caught his eye because its text was still flashing lurid red and gold.
"Catch of the year!" it blurted, under a sketch of Harry with his hand around a Snitch bearing Malfoy's snarling features. It had been his intention to send it at the last minute, and it was as much a press release as an invitation.
Frowning, he folded the old draft and put it in the fruit bowl with the apples. Then he cut a scroll of parchment into neat squares and wrote a brief note with little more than a date and a location and the words "Private & Confidential" printed emphatically across the top.
He copied it out eight times by hand, because he had nothing better to do with his morning, and gave the copies to Hedwig.
In the early afternoon, Bagman paid him a visit.
"Well done, Harry!" he barked. "Quite the eligible bachelor you've won yourself there."
He appeared to be wearing a brand new suit. Unusually, it was tailored to fit where the bulges in his body were presently situated, rather than where they had been located twenty years ago.
"Tis the season for wedding bells, Harry. And, if you can keep a secret, I don't mind telling you that you may be hearing more wedding bells in the Malfoy family in the very near future."
When Bagman had exhausted his supply of disingenuous congratulations and mentioned with the subtlety of a crash-landing dragon that the Wasps' Seeker was expecting her first child (which, the way he put it, equated to retiring permanently, post haste, to outer Siberia), Harry showed him the door.
On the front step, Bagman swung around. "You do mean to marry the-" He smiled his inappropriately boyish smile. "You do mean to go through with it, don't you, Harry?"
Harry put his hands in his pockets, slouched against the doorframe, then shrugged and let Bagman sweat it a little.
"Listen, Harry. I heard you've had some trouble with the League," he said vaguely, as if the Minister for Magical Games and Sports heard about the happenings within his own department only by the most distant rumour. "Don't worry about it. I'm sure it will all sort itself out by the time you get back from the honeymoon."
Harry waited until Bagman had put his foot on the pavement. "Couldn't it sort itself out before the wedding? By tomorrow, for instance." Bagman looked uncomfortable. "If Draco found out about it ..."
Bagman made the moderate grimace common to those who'd heard all the accounts of Malfoy's temper but never suffered the extremes of it up close. "Yes. I see." He grinned weakly. "Let's hope the Chairman of the League makes the right decision, shall we?"
"Let's hope," Harry repeated, "that he draws up a signed notice of withdrawal of all charges, adds a modest amount for inconvenience, and puts it personally in my hands by close of business Friday. Shall we?"
Reluctantly, Bagman shook his hand.
After he had gone, Harry fixed himself a long glass of firewhisky. In his stumbling way, Bagman had hit upon a fairly important question.
There was a bottleneck in the doorway. Inside, the guests waited and the celebrant shuffled finger-marked pieces of parchment. The doors of manor's ballroom were wide, but not wide enough to admit three middle-aged men and one woman walking abreast.
"Well, well," said Bagman jovially. "I suppose the duty falls to me as the holder of public office to escort the mother of the groom."
Snape cut in with a voice of honey. "Not at all, Ludo. As the oldest of family friends, I ought to relieve you of that burden.
Shacklebolt, who already possessed the strategic position at Mrs Malfoy's right hand, simply said, "Gentlemen, please."
Narcissa sighed. The three suitors glared at each other with a fierceness that brought to mind antlers.
"Mr Weasley!" At Narcissa's call, many of the male guests whose names were not 'Weasley' looked up in forlorn hope. Percy Weasley, moving efficiently in robes that for once seemed cut to fit his narrow frame, appeared at her side. "Mr Weasley, will you lend me your arm to keep the peace?"
She walked silently into the room with her sullen escort following behind and continuing their redundant argument sotto voce.
"Hush!" Narcissa ordered over her shoulder. "The ceremony will start in a moment."
But it didn't.
Just outside the door, a lone figure waited, the folds of his formal robes perfectly still. Forty minutes later, he was still waiting.
Harry glanced at the empty carriageway onto which he had Apparated, and made for the front door of the manor at a run.
It wasn't cold feet that made him late for his wedding. Those had already assailed him for three days before finally resolving themselves ironically at Charlie and Ron's impromptu stag night. When the strippers - all things considered, not bad for a choice made by two straight blokes - wagged their bronzed bodies about, too vulgar, too thick-necked, too eager and just-not-blond-enough, he knew the choice had been made.
After two wrong turns, he came out onto the passage that led to the open doors of the ballroom. He slowed his pace. He was late for one reason. It had taken half an hour to find an outfit that trod the fine line between disrespectfully casual and a pitiable mimicry of the pureblood aristocrat he had no intention of becoming.
As he reached the doorway, his palms moist, a hand on his arm halted him. Malfoy drew him into the room and leaned in confidentially.
"There's been a complication," he said in a low voice that vibrated with just a little too much concern. Except for that wrong note, Harry would been tempted to drag Malfoy into a private corner and kiss him again. It had been four long days and he knew exactly what Malfoy's body felt like underneath the careful grey robes.
All the guests had turned to watch their conversation, so Harry said in the tone he'd used in the hours before battle, "Tell me. We'll sort it out."
"Good," Malfoy replied. "I've had to make a little alteration to the service. I hope you don't mind."
Harry cast his eye down the parchment Malfoy handed him and said a lot louder than he meant to: "What the hell is this Unbreakable Vow?"
Narcissa gasped while her son turned very carefully so that only Harry could see his expression and sent him a malicious smile. "Old Malfoy family tradition."
"Is it?" Harry asked through clenched teeth.
"I was shocked to come across it in the archives." Malfoy indicated the hide-bound book he'd left on a chair by the door. "The family's patriarchs, of course, have always been meticulous about maintaining control of the bloodline. Their healthy distrust extended to all strangers marrying into the family, but especially to males, and most stringently to males without appropriate lineage. (That would be you, Harry.) Apart from certain rare exceptions, all spouses are required to swear an Unbreakable Vow. Primarily securing your loyalty to the family, but in particular, promising unwavering fidelity to me."
He smiled that cold, victorious smile again.
"What happens if I refuse?" Harry turned to Narcissa. "Did you ..."
She blushed prettily. "Lucius was more of a romantic than people gave him credit for."
"And I'm afraid I'm not," Draco said. "No Vow, no wedding."
Snape strode toward them: "Draco, as you well know, there is no precedent in this family for the bonding of the heir with another male."
"Well, strictly speaking," Percy interrupted, "you can't overlook Archibald Malfoy in the seventeen thirties, who married several times, once to his pet-"
Malfoy said very shrilly over the top of him: "I'll thank you to keep out of my family's-"
"The frequency, Draco, with which you refer to your famous antecedents very much suggests -"
"I'll do it," Harry said.
Malfoy whipped around, apoplectic. "You'll what?"
"I'll do it, Draco. Let's make it fair, though. You have to do it too."
He watched the blood draining out of Malfoy's face, emphasising his round, slightly desperate eyes.
"I'm not ... I won't ..." he stammered and then flung out his hands in disgust. "Well I certainly won't marry anybody dressed like that!"
Before Harry could master some sort of rebuttal, a tingle ran over his skin and when he looked down, his jeans had been replaced by a simply cut set of black robes with austere black velvet trim. Malfoy turned on the guests in cornered outrage, ripping out his wand.
"What?" said Bagman.
"I do not take kindly to your expression, Draco," sniffed Snape.
Shacklebolt, standing behind Narcissa with his hands concealed by the sleeves of his own black, velvet trimmed robes, had nothing to say at all.
"Then if there are no further obstacles." Narcissa laid a placating hand on her son's arm too briefly to allow him to shake it off. "Let's begin."
And so the wedding took place, if a little more grimly than Harry had hoped. The words rolled over him as he stood beside Malfoy, who radiated silent hostility. Then, finally and all too soon, it was over. As their lips met to seal the bond, a sigh seemed to come not from Malfoy but from deep beneath the floorboards, as if the house itself had lungs.
"The formal dinner begins at six," Malfoy observed expressionlessly, without quite meeting his new husband's eyes. "I suppose we are obliged to see one another then."
In a flutter of grey linen, he was gone.
Somewhere along his meandering walk between the ballroom and the front porch, Harry had a series of revelations. The first was that the last day had changed his status, had set him apart from the rest of the world so that he alone had a particular and unique right to be concerned about Malfoy's behaviour. The second was that this was more than just a right, it was an obligation. Malfoy had become his responsibility. The third was that he did not mind being responsible for Malfoy nearly as much as he would have expected, and the fourth was that he should perhaps stop thinking of Malfoy as Malfoy now that he was a sort of Malfoy himself.
All of these suspicions untangling themselves in his head made him tongue-tied when he opened the front door and found his new husband sitting with his legs drawn up on the parapet at the side of the staircase. His chin rested on his knees, making his neck bend at an angle Harry was not used to seeing.
His first instinct was to sit down, close to Draco but not too close. Instead, uncertain, he kept his distance. Having been the recipient of all too many well-meaning man-to-man talks over the last few years, he ought to be more adept than anyone at knowing how to initiate one.
"Listen," he began in a voice that sounded deep and hardly like his own. He left the sort of pause that Remus had been so good at wielding when he wanted to take the edge off someone's anger. "If it turns out to be a complete disaster, we'll just go our own separate ways, yeah? It doesn't have to be forever."
For a long time, Draco acted as if he hadn't heard. Then he turned his bleak eyes to Harry. "You are a chattering idiot, Potter. You always have to go around changing things, just to prove you can. And sometimes it's too late to put everything back the way it was before. Sometimes it's just too fucking late."
This was something new: a contained, private sort of anger that didn't promise to spill over into either physical violence or one of those spectacular bouts of desire, both of which Harry had been prepared to deal with. He stood inside the open door and watched Draco, as he glared up at the unremarkable carved dragons on the wall above Harry's head. For ten minutes, nothing moved.
The air swayed behind him as Narcissa's robes swept past. With a little sigh, she descended to her son. Harry watched as she ran her fingertips over his forehead and down his cheek, and he not only let her but looked up at her with an expression Harry had never imagined on him, somewhere between despair, and entreaty, and trust. When Draco leaned into her shoulder, he did it like a fallen tree catching in the branches of its neighbour.
Harry didn't stay after that.
The dinner, once it began, consumed both of their attention with accepting the guarded good wishes of the guests. Every time Harry turned to speak to him, he found Draco engaged in deep conversation elsewhere. And so, when he noticed that Draco had slipped away, he followed.
Harry caught up with him in the empty hallway.
"Haven't you done enough for one day?" Draco snapped instantly. "What do you want?"
"What have you got?" Harry asked, slipping his hand into the sleeve of Draco's robe to stroke his arm. Draco placed his champagne flute on the hall table and removed the hand unceremoniously.
"Oh, come on!" Harry protested. "Four days ago you were-"
"-out of my mind. I've come to my senses now, a little too late, I know. If I find myself in the mood for your bovine rutting I'll be sure to inform you, but in the meantime, keep your hands to yourself."
Harry immediately closed the gap between them and, backing up against the table, Draco made the pale green lilies tremble in their vase. "I can put you in the mood right now," Harry growled in his ear.
As his hands closed on Draco's hips, there was a violent smash and the torn stem of Draco's glass pressed into his throat. Harry's knees weakened. There was no denying it: Draco's whiplash temper worked on him like the first slow beats of a striptease. With his pulse thumping hard against the jagged edge, Harry wanted him more fiercely than ever. But wielding the glass like a swordpoint, Draco forced some distance between them.
"Everything always falls into your hands so easily, doesn't it Potter?" Draco's bottom lip trembled slightly as he spoke, even though his voice strove for scorn. "Well not me. Marriage or no marriage, you can get down on your knees and beg for the right to touch me."
With that, he strode off, robes trailing like a coronation gown behind him. Harry watched, smitten and covetous and sentimental with drink. The most beautiful thing among the many beautiful things he associated with Draco was that he didn't have the slightest idea whether he'd just been threatened or chastised or flirted with. He wondered whether Draco was any wiser.
The seat next to him had been empty for a good hour before Harry freed himself from the last polite, if somewhat perplexed, guests and left the dining hall. It was a long walk to the suites in the west wing that had been prepared for them, and he spent every step of it pondering the problem of Draco. Specifically, how to take the history and rivalry and clashing pride that lay between them and reduce the whole mess to the simple fact that they fancied each other. The scenarios he played out as he walked started in countless different moods and positions, but finished the same way: Draco's naked body wrapped around him and his name in Draco's mouth.
He got lost four times and took the last set of stairs two at a time. When he reached their bedroom and put his hand on the doorknob, it didn't move. The repelling charms were laid across it so thick it took all his will even to touch it.
"Draco!" he called. No answer came. He shouted pointlessly: "Malfoy! Open the door! Open the fucking door!"
Then, because he'd practically been able to taste Draco's skin under his tongue as he climbed the last flight of stairs, he kicked the door. It took him ten minutes to establish that Draco was especially adept at shielding charms, and another fifteen to staunch his bleeding nose.
When the house-elves came not long before midnight with a plate of almond bread and a bottle of port, they found Harry still leaning against the door. He turned them away. The next morning when they came with platters of sliced fruit and poached eggs on toast, he turned them away again. At lunch time, two of them tried to circumvent his command and Apparate into the room, but Draco's wards prevented them and Harry forbade them to knock. Though he swore he wouldn't, every hour saw him rattling the doorknob again, calling Draco's name.
It was already late afternoon, with the silver ring twenty-four hours old on his finger, when he looked up from where he sat against the wall to see Narcissa standing in front of him. He shrugged uncomfortably in the crumpled robes he hadn't changed since the ceremony.
"You're determined to force him out, are you?"
'If that's what I have to do," he replied between dry lips. He was distantly aware that he hadn't eaten or drunk in the time he'd denied the same luxuries to Draco. The way she looked down at him with Draco's eyes was putting an ache right between his lungs. "I'm not giving up."
She smiled sadly. "Of course not. And neither is he. Eventually you'll starve him out, though. You'll have your moment of victory."
Victory was not what he wanted. Wasn't that obvious?
"I won't give up," he repeated hollowly.
He didn't like the look she gave him as she left.
By the time Harry gave up, the windows had all gone dark. He gave the doorhandle one last forlorn twist.
"Draco?" he called, calmly this time. "Are you going to open the door?"
He laid his palm over the panel, fighting through the repelling spells, and put his ear to the wood. There was nothing to hear, although the back of his neck tingled with the sensation of human proximity.
"Damn it, Draco, say something!" He pulled up his hand an inch from thumping the door and took a deep breath. If Draco was amenable to any persuasive method, he knew from experience it wouldn't be brute force. He tried a different approach, leaning in until his lips brushed the oak. Trying for a light-hearted tone, he murmured, "How can I be your obedient slave if you won't tell me what you want me to do?"
He might have imagined the faint hitch of breath. In any case, no reply came.
"You're not afraid, are you?" he threw out. He waited ten seconds ... twenty. When that ultimate provocation failed to produce a response, he knew it was pointless.
Walking back along the hallway, Harry quickened his pace under the unwelcoming pale eyes of the portraits and all the nooks and corners from which the weak torches were powerless to drive out the shadows.
The light and voices coming from the ballroom gave him little comfort. Inside, Narcissa was entertaining a large number of casual acquaintances. The ones sprawled in the sofas around the fireplace looked very casual indeed, like leftover wedding guests who were not going to leave without an eviction order and a forcefully wielded crowbar. There were a few faces he recognised. Apart from Slughorn, Snape and Percy Weasley, the room was split between holders of high office (Scrimgeour and his wife were wedged up one end of a sofa while Ludo Bagman sprawled at the other) and pillars of the commercial community (the chairwoman of Cleansweep and the Prophet's Barnabus Cuffe among them). Narcissa gave her son-in-law an approving nod as he slipped almost unnoticed into the most isolated corner seat.
There was a palpable tension in the air, which was surprising since Draco was on the other side of the house.
"As it turned out," Snape was drawing to the end of a longer anecdote, waving about his wineglass rather perilously, "I hadn't made the world's strongest truth serum at all. I had, however, become the first wizard to create bubble wrap by magic."
He did something Harry had never known him to do before: he preened.
"Good for you, Severus," Ludo Bagman boomed. "Of course, if I hadn't been away from school so often, what with the nationals, the European Juniors, the Broadmoor Medal Knockout in '67 and '68 - I would have won in '68 of course, if Dunn hadn't got that damaged Bludger in the second round - if it hadn't been for all of that, now, I'd have been a star potions student. I had the knack."
"You are undoubtedly a man of many knacks, Ludo," cut in Kingsley Shacklebolt, who had been loitering by the windows. "If it weren't for the deleterious effect of broomstick polish on the brain, who knows what you might have accomplished."
As Shacklebolt installed himself on the footstool at Narcissa's side, Bagman's mouth made a pantomime tour from smug to suspicious to homicidal.
"Gentlemen!" Narcissa admonished before he could recollect which pocket he'd left his wand in. "Be civil. I have an announcement that perhaps oughtn't to wait."
Only then did Harry remember what Draco's wedding meant for her. Quite clearly, the three men seated around her had not. Bagman sat up eagerly. With invisible precision, Shacklebolt and Snape managed to deepen their nonchalant slouches.
"Gentlemen," she said again, and glanced at the chair by the fireplace where perhaps Lucius would have sat, "I should like to say in this room, surrounded by friends, how grateful I am for your friendship in the years since my - since Lucius passed over. And I ... I have been - oh dear."
"My sweet Narcissa," Bagman beamed. "All we want is to see you happy. You must speak your mind, and anyone who is disappointed," he looked at Snape particularly, "will bear it like a man."
She was blushing prettily and none of the three suitors had taken their eyes off her. "I don't know how to tell you, gentlemen, that-"
In the long silence that followed, the only movement was Percy Weasley coming forward from his seat against the back wall. Improbably, he stood behind Narcissa's sofa and laid his hand on her shoulder. Just when he seemed on the verge of withdrawing it, her manicured fingers settled on top of his and she smiled.
His eyes pinned to the top of her head, Percy said: "I have asked Narcissa to do me the tremendous honour of becoming my wife. And she has, to my delight, accepted me."
No one could master their shock sufficiently to laugh.
"Come and sit by me, Percy," she said, keeping her grip on his hand. "Ludo! Would you be so good as to take Severus outside for some fresh air? He looks a little pale."
As the conversation tentatively resurrected itself, Harry felt Draco's absence. He would have raged gloriously at this turn of events. Foul language and barbaric threats would have dripped from his lips like blood. He might even have humiliated Percy in a duel.
"She certainly knows what she's doing," observed Scrimgeour's wife in a tart undertone.
"A rather odd choice, don't you think?" responded Cuffe.
"Spoken like a true bachelor! An inspired choice, I say. The boy has one quality I'm certain Lucius never displayed, not after the wedding day in any event." She ignored her husband's reproving cough. "Not that, dear. Obedience. The hardest skill a man can learn."
Scrimgeour scoffed. "Any simpleton can do what he's told."
"Really, my dumpling? Fetch me a Firewhisky and ginger ale, will you please. Real ice, not that transfigured stuff."
As the former Minister of Magic left in a middle-aged sulk, Harry missed his disobedient, ungovernable, day-old husband more than ever. He was pushing himself up to return to their bedroom and break down the whole wall if necessary when the door opened. Weakly, he lowered himself back into the chair. He was vaguely aware that his mouth was hanging open but he couldn't seem to do anything about it.
The sound in the room died. Into the silence, Draco stepped, moving unhurriedly. Harry heard rather than felt his own fingers digging into the arm of his chair.
As naturally as drawing a wand or turning his broomstick into a drifting descent, Draco was wearing a dress. It was dark blue and cut simply out of a heavy, fine knitted cloth so that it gave the impression of formality while lingeringly hanging from every available contour on Draco's body, from his shoulders down to the folds which swung an inch off the ground. His hair was bright and touseled. Around his neck, a long strand of pearls was wound three times and any further adornment would have been not only redundant but insulting.
Not once, neither in his dalliances with women nor throughout his ultimately disappointing fascination for ladyboys, had Harry ever imagined that a dress could be wielded so powerfully. Draco made no undignified attempt to conceal his masculinity. In the oval of bare skin around his neck, every flex and curve of his shoulder muscles was visible. It was as if he were using the convenient device of a dress to prove incontrovertibly that the male body had grace and strength and suppleness in equal proportion to a woman's, and if it happened incidentally to prove that Draco's body possessed all three in greater proportion than most others of either gender, Harry hardly needed the lesson. His peripheral vision was blind. All he could see was Draco.
His heart resumed double time when he realised that, once he had located Harry in the corner of the room, Draco had not shown the slightest interest in anybody else. When he walked towards Harry's seat, with careless balance and an unwavering stare, it was as if every step trod directly on Harry's stomach.
Draco stopped a cruel four feet in front of him and the skirt swayed into stillness. With an effort, Harry closed his mouth and swallowed. Draco's eyes impatiently indicated the floor that lay between them.
"Come along, Harry," he said clearly. "Where's your sense of chivalry?"
Harry glanced at the flagstones dumbly. Raising his eyes, he noticed the thin line of kohl that sharpened the rim of Draco's eyelid. There was a smear of pale pink, too, that made his lips look ripe and glassy and inviting. Unthinking, Harry pitched forward onto his knees. From there, he could see that Draco's feet were bare: narrow feet with a bony, slender big toe. Harry ached to put one of them in his mouth. With his gaze captured by the promise of that naked foot, Harry's attention travelled upward as he wondered what other parts of Draco might be naked underneath the dress.
Slowly into his overloaded brain penetrated the realisation that Draco was speaking.
"Thy husband," he pronounced, "is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper."
Harry blinked up at him. From his position at Draco's feet, he couldn't be certain which of them was supposed to be husband and lord. All he knew was that the memory of Draco's bare feet was mingling with the suspense of having no idea what Draco intended to do, and both were going straight to his cock.
"Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
For thy maintenance he commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land."
Draco was lending the words his crispest consonants and roundest vowels, but with no real emotion and even, if you listened carefully, a subtle note of scorn. Harry had the sensation of being toyed with. Was Draco making a point, or just making a scene?
"And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt."
His gaze had slipped into the air over Harry's head when he'd said it, but he'd said the word "love". Harry's stomach knotted. There were enough complications between them already without adding one more impossible thing. He missed a few lines about kneeling for peace, watching the gloss on Draco's lips catch the light and thinking if he could only drag him onto the floor and kiss him, all these unasked-for thoughts would go away.
"... place your hands below your husband's foot:
In token of which duty, if he please,
My hand is ready; may it do him ease."
Draco held out his hand, the same hand with its indolent half-moons of protruding fingernails that two weeks ago had almost broken Harry's jaw. The look in his eyes was pure trouble. Thank Merlin for that. He couldn't picture a dutiful, easy Draco, and he was fairly sure he didn't want one. He snatched Draco's hand and kissed it thoroughly, between each finger and on the tender inside of his wrist.
It must have been the right response, because Draco hooked his fingers under Harry's chin, raised him up, and pushed him back into the armchair. When he perched on Harry's knee, Harry became instantly and uncomfortably certain that he was indeed wearing absolutely nothing except the dress and the pearls.
"If you must remain," Draco announced imperiously to his mother's fascinated guests. "You will need to see to your own entertainment from this point onward." His mother subdued her baffled smile and artfully rekindled the conversation.
As the scrutiny turned away from them, Harry leaned forward and ran his arm around Draco's waist. He could see now how pink Draco's neck and shoulders had become, and from this close he could smell the nervous sweat pricking on his skin, sour with adrenalin.
"You still owe me an apology," Draco snapped.
Harry had no idea what misdemeanours his penance was expected to cover. It was hard to think past the fact that, under the nervous sweat, Draco was wearing a faint floral fragrance on the pulse points of his throat which took Harry back to the rose garden and his first unexpected taste of Draco's mouth.
"If I apologise, can I take you to bed?" he whispered and bit softly at the side of Draco's neck.
Draco jerked away. "The apology comes first. Later, if you're lucky, I let you negotiate. And in the meantime, watch where you put your hands."
Obediently, Harry moved one hand to stroke Draco's thigh and with the other tugged the neck of his dress away to kiss his shoulder.
The growl in Draco's throat was the sort that normally preceded an outbreak of violence. In the blink of an eye, he was all elbows and spite. Harry clutched at the dress and at the contrary flesh beneath it. It was only muscle and bone. Why out of all the human bodies in the world should this one turn out to be essential to his peace of mind?
As Draco's limbs tensed up, ready for what unrestrained response Harry couldn't begin to guess, Harry had one of those moments of telescopic clarity he had barely experienced since the war. He was going to have Draco tonight, no matter what, and in the light of that certainty, he didn't care what it took to bring that about.
He loosened his grip. "All right," he murmured. Into the hair at the nape of Draco's neck he spoke a few more scarcely audible words.
The effect was as sudden as a gate unlocking. Draco twisted acrobatically in Harry's lap, anchored himself with his arms around Harry's neck, and kissed him - hard and full and with none of the polite prelude that anyone else would have begun with. Using their fused mouths as a new centre of gravity, he rearranged the rest of himself, drawing up his knees onto the chair and settling into Harry's arms.
There was wasn't much to Draco, really, but what substance he had was all lean, determined muscle. Writhing in Harry's lap, he kissed with complete, committed selfishness. Like everything he did, he kissed with more effort than was actually necessary, as if it might turn out to be a competition he could not afford to lose. When the lack of oxygen got desperate, he gulped in quick gasps of air without ever really separating his mouth from Harry's.
Harry wound his arm around the back of Draco's neck and held him still while he turned the tables and drove his tongue deep into Draco's mouth. Draco's face was smooth against Harry's jaw, which was coarse with a day and a half of neglect. Rubbing against the stubble, Draco wound his hands into Harry's hair. In a distantly academic sense, Harry recognised that they were both too old for protracted public kissing. But he hadn't got to do this when he was sixteen. Somehow there had never been time for innocence and slow anticipation. He wanted to do it now, with Draco, with his hand sliding over Draco's hip and tracing the curve of his arse through the dress.
Harry's ribs ached, and that was nothing compared to the throbbing in his cock. He had never know such a long wait between desire and satisfaction. When Draco broke away and slipped off his lap, he had to bite back a groan. Draco lifted his skirts as he walked - and god in heaven, Harry even fancied the backs of his calves just then.
At the door, Draco turned, smiled darkly, and beckoned.
The room hushed as conversations slowed down to allow covert observation. Twenty people waited to see how Harry Potter, who bowed before no one and built his reputation upon humiliating public acts of defiance, would answer this summons.
Sometimes, his maverick reputation felt like the most ironic of straightjackets. Harry drew a steadying breath, which did nothing to diminish his state of arousal, and crossed the room to where his husband waited, walking with the same slow steps Draco had shown him. When Harry was close enough to observe the rapid rise and fall of the pearls around his throat, Draco leaned back against the door and pushed it open. Unhesitating, and scarcely hearing the wake of scandalised whispering he left behind, Harry followed him out. The door closed and Draco deftly dropped the bar that bound it and its neighbour together.
By the slenderest thread of self control, Harry held back from throwing Draco against the doors and shoving the dress up around his waist.
"Don't worry," Harry said. "I don't think anybody noticed."
Far from laughing, Draco was keeping a cautious few feet between them. His gaze darted around the hallway they'd emerged into, from the front entrance and up the massive curving staircase.
"I hope you did," he replied distractedly.
Draco's fingers were twitching in the folds of his skirt.
"I did," Harry said with the last of his patience. But when he reached out, Draco was moving out of his grasp already.
The slap of his bare feet on the stairs echoed intimately in the cavernous space. At the top of first flight, just below the landing where the stairway diverged into left and right branches, he paused and turned, looking down on the hallway around him.
He said, "Here."
And then he sat, leaning on the shallow stair behind him and turning the entire staircase into his personal throne, with the slight shadow of the chandelier lying behind him. Harry's arousal surged. As he climbed the stairs, Draco waited, one leg crossed over the other with his foot dangling imperiously. Harry, sinking down on one knee, seized that naked foot. He rubbed his thumb over the rounded bone on the inside of Draco's ankle, and the hollow behind it, then he raised Draco's foot and kissed the same place. There was a trace of perfume coming from under the skirt; Harry imagined Draco standing naked in the bedroom to apply it all over. When Harry bit the muscle at the bottom of his calf, Draco shuddered.
Foot ... calf ... the air between them crackled with the knowledge of where he was heading. Harry lingered momentarily on the soft skin at the back of Draco's left knee, turning his leg outward and up so he could reach it with his lips. Under his hands, Draco's thigh trembled at each touch of the sensitive skin, but Draco still watched regally, leaning back on the stairs with his eyes bright and his lips parted.
As Harry stroked his thigh, the hem of the dress fell back, baring the whole length of his legs. Harry's last calm act was reaching beneath it to run his fingers over Draco's arse. Then he did what he'd been aching to do since he first saw Draco in the dress: he pushed it up around his waist to put his hips and his stomach and his swollen cock on display. Draco drew in a quick gasping breath, magnified by the echoing space, as he watched Harry's mouth descend, and open, and close around his cock.
With all the build-up, it was over much quicker than Harry would have liked. He made it rough, sucking hungrily and grasping hard with his fist around the base of Draco's shaft. Draco's careful poise evaporated: his head thumped as it hit the stair behind him and his hips bucked pleadingly into Harry's mouth. When his own arousal ached distractingly, Harry shifted his hand and without even attempting the button on his trousers, brought himself off in a few astonishingly brief strokes. That left his hand free to brush his thumb over the skin behind Draco's balls and dip into the crevice behind, making Draco shudder violently as he came long and hard under Harry's mouth.
As his breath came back, Harry licked a stray glistening drop from the side of Draco's cock. He rested his cheek scratchily against one of Draco's thighs and stroked the other idly with the pads of his fingertips. Now that he'd got at least the lower half of Draco properly naked, he didn't want to see clothes on him ever again. And yet as the draught on the stairway caught the fine sweat on his skin and made him shiver, Harry reluctantly searched out the hem of the dress and smoothed it down over his legs.
Shrugging the tension out of his shoulders, Harry crawled up a few steps to put them both at the same height. Draco was lying very still. With the kohl smudged around his eyes and his lips swollen, he looked thoroughly debauched and deceptively peaceful.
Harry ran a slow finger around the inside of the neck of Draco's dress. Draco opened his long-lashed eyes and looked up at him. Harry's finger travelled over his cheek and dipped into the soft skin inside his bottom lip.
"No more games then," Harry said.
Lying back on the step, Draco's pupils were big and they danced with the busy light of the chandelier overhead. He bit gently at Harry's fingertip. "Where would be the fun in that?" he smirked.
Harry leaned down and kissed his impossible, smirking mouth. Then, remembering that this was the first night of a negotiation that might last forever, he took the back of Draco's neck securely in his hand and kissed him again, as thoroughly as he knew how.
Later, Draco took everything off except the pearls. Standing in the darkness, back in his bedroom where so much of their history had already been made, he slipped the dress off his shoulders and let it slide away. Naked under the faint clouded moonlight, in surrender, he made Harry gasp with desire.
"Harry?" he asked in soft uncertainty when the silence stretched on too long.
Harry couldn't respond immediately. His chest felt pierced, broken, exposed. He should have known that Draco would have his sting in none of the obvious places: not in his fingers, not in his fists, or even in his tongue.
Unable to think of a single adequate thing to say, Harry gathered Draco into his arms and took him, for the first time, to bed.