hd_hols (hd_hols) wrote in hd_holidays,
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Happy H/D Holidays, naadi! 2 of 3

Author: rurounihime
Recipient: naadi
Title: The Business of Saving Souls – Part 2/3

Part One

The Business of Saving Souls
Part Two


Of course, he’d heard the rumours, that Potter was a poofter. It was fitting. Harry Potter had never much adhered to societal ‘norms’; it made perfect sense that he would find one more way to be at odds with the Ministry of Magic. And Draco wasn’t about to blame him for that at all. He didn’t practice hypocrisy anymore; he hadn’t the energy.

He didn’t have energy for much at all lately outside of work.

But somehow he never seemed to have a problem summoning the proper reserves when Harry decided it was time to grace another Muggle bar with their collective presences. It might have had something to do with the fact that he was with a person to whom he could speak freely about wraiths and magic and messy wars, and not have to worry about the accusing stares or the whispered epithets. Harry did drink a lot, but Draco was beginning to think he would never really see a drunk Harry Potter.

That might have been a defense mechanism. A drunk Harry Potter would certainly double the attendant rumours associated with his person, a feat that was doubtlessly not difficult to accomplish as it was. Rumours often began with nothing substantial to light the fire underneath them. Harry’s sexuality was so twisted up in myth that there was no telling where the end met the beginning.

There was nothing particular about those bars, or the clubs or pubs or restaurants, that might have tipped Draco off either way. He wasn’t entirely sure when or why the idea even slithered into his mind at all. Some oddity of mental associations, or being around Harry more often than he was alone anymore.

And maybe it was the way Harry’s eyes lingered after the barman in the ritzy little club on Monday night, or something in the way he opened the pub’s door and stepped aside for Draco on Wednesday that solidified the inkling in his head. Draco made small talk over his water without fully allowing it rein, or knowing that it might demand his attention so fully over an hour later when they were preparing to depart. It was very sudden, just as Harry swept his coat off the back of his chair and handed it to him, downing the last of his pint with a smooth swallow that rippled his throat, before following him to the door. Once outside, Harry swung his own coat on with riveting ease, shoulders rolling backward, and the question was just there, unasked, surprisingly demanding. Draco frowned and tugged his collar up around his throat against the light drizzle, and internally pushed everything down for as long as it took to put a block’s distance between them and the pub. But the idea only roiled harder, leapt higher, and pressed more tightly against his throat and ears and lips, until he felt something might slide out of him.

“Potter, are you gay?” he asked at last, abruptly and right in the middle of their jaunt off the curb into a particularly deep specimen of gutter puddle. Harry didn’t even look at him, just stared straight ahead with a blank face that looked older, more reserved than usual.

“Would that be a problem?” was all Harry said.

And Draco really thought about it. It felt odd to have such a focus again, on one specific idea. His brain turned the situation over sluggishly, unused to the finesse being demanded of it.

“No,” he said at last. Shrugged and tucked his hands into his pockets, as Harry’s were in his. The only sign of response he got to his answer was a slight flush to Harry’s cheeks. It could have been the wind.

Draco nodded, hunched his shoulders once, and walked down the night street, the large park to their right and hurried traffic to their left. Harry walked silently beside him, eyes fixed on where they were headed, and people hustled and laughed and meandered around them.

Draco knew the question he’d uttered aloud wasn’t the question he’d really been asking. He wondered several times that night, and as many the next, whether his answer to Harry’s response would have been any different, had the real question been uttered.

* * *

“I think he’s asked me out on a date.”

His therapist’s lips quirked and her eyes brightened. “Has he now?”

Draco glowered. “Well, you needn’t look as if your worst enemy just contracted spattergroit.”

She merely smiled at him. “Can’t a person be happy for you?”

“I’d question that person’s motives,” he stated, and sat back.

“Hmm.” She leaned over and picked up her glass of water from the table, taking an unhurried sip. “Does that mean you’re questioning his motives?”

Draco studied his fingers. “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t. One sensible reason,” he corrected, eyeing her pointedly.

She tilted her head, admonishing even before she began to speak. “Name one way that he has hurt you in the last three years.”

Draco delayed for as long as he could. Finally, “I can’t.”

“Well, then.” She wiggled her eyebrows at him playfully. “He’s already one up on the rest of the world, isn’t he?”

* * *

Draco was halfway into the first set of banishing incantations when the wraith vanished entirely in a sudden thud of air against his chest and temples. It wasn’t the right sort of disappearance. Draco staggered on the landing just below the attic, barely catching himself on the wall with one hand.

He blew out a breath. “Fucking shite! Where did you go?”

The stairwell only answered him with silence. Dust motes floated down through the light of his wand, but the chill air was gone, and all that was left was the ominous hole eaten into the floorboards. Draco shut his eyes briefly and massaged the bridge of his nose. Strong wraith, this one. He’d set those wards carefully; it should not have been able to jump the barrier between this world and… well, wherever beleaguered spirits went when they fled exorcism.

He’d have to call it back. It would most likely take another day just to find it, another after that to coax it into the open, and he still had no idea how it had managed to sidestep his wards anyway. The only explanation was that he’d missed a spot, or gotten his herb measurements incorrect.

The third option stole over him so gradually, like the creep of cold water around his ankles, that it was fully formed in his head before he even recognised it.

Draco jerked upright and felt a horrible shiver skate right between his shoulder blades. He couldn’t turn fast enough, and he knew, so certainly, that—

The final stairway marched up into the gloom of the darkened attic. Draco trained his wand on the darkness, feeling his palm begin to sweat. He licked his lips. “Where are you?” His voice croaked. “I know you’re there.”

Something groaned, deep in the house, the heavy creak of weathered wood. Draco could hear the wind flapping about the eaves outside, eerily like a human voice. He couldn’t quite swallow; his throat had gone dryer than bones in the sand. The attic door, once closed, was now slightly ajar. He stared up into the shadows.

It moved. There, on the topmost step, just where the light arced away, it leaned out slowly and back in again, just out of clear sight. The scrape of an unformed foot bit into the stillness. Something dropped down to the next step. The board creaked under its weight.

Draco could make out the shape of a head. The haphazard fall of a loose and dirty shirt. The thing swayed aimlessly, and dropped to the next step with a thud. The glitter of eyes shone from the darkness.

Draco stumbled back and felt the wall behind him. The thing dropped another step. It had a mess of dark hair atop its head, tangled and sticking out strangely. A hand crept into the light, and the fingers were gnarled, too long, too many joints. They twitched, stretched toward him. A low growl filled the stairwell. Another shuffling step, and a deformed, bare foot slid into view.

It looked enough like Harry to be recognisable. But it was unfinished, malformed. The head was too long, the face still in darkness, by the grace of the Founders. It whined, a drifting, keening sound, and wavered toward Draco. He gripped his wand, pointing it at the thing.

Gods. How long had this creature been here? The wraith had done the near impossible just to get away from it. Had it come into the rest of the house? Had it been in Harry’s room while he… while he slept…?

Draco saw its mouth fall open, a black, huge hole darker than the shadows. A raw moaning sound came out, half-human, half something else. It fell down the fourth step, and Draco pressed himself into the wall. “Go back,” he hissed. He waved his wand in an arc, whispering a spell. The Doppelgänger shook visibly on the stairs, and then let out a ravaged cry, full of fury. It shuffled toward him again.

There was a crash from somewhere below. Draco heard Harry shout something. The thing on the stairs before him leaned forward, shoulders cranking around impossibly. Stretching what passed for its hands down through the gloom. Draco threw up a shield and felt the thing’s touch skitter across it, cold and sharp. It lurched down yet another step.

“Draco?” The door on the level below banged open. Footsteps came up the stairs at a run. Draco saw the thing falter, crane its elongated neck toward the sound. An almost-word moaned from its mouth. Mmmmmmeeeeee eeeerrrrrrrrr…

Holy gods.

Draco snapped his wand up, biting out a second spell through clacking teeth. Angry orange sparks stabbed through the shield, disintegrating it, and pummelled into the thing on the stairs. For one horrible moment, the Doppelgänger was lit in golden light in all its grotesque glory. It made a horrid sound. Something bumped hard over the wooden boards and the stairway was plunged back into darkness. Draco heard it thunking upward, and then the creak-click of the attic door closing.

He stood there, breathing hard, staring up after it, and Harry turned the last corner of the flight below him and stopped halfway up, hand braced on the rickety railing.

“Draco,” he panted. “You alright?”

Draco focussed down at him. “I… what?”

“I felt it,” Harry said. “The wraith. It was suddenly downstairs, right in front of me, and I— I didn’t know if…”

Draco nodded. Took a shuddering breath and glanced back up at the attic. The door was still closed. “The wraith is downstairs?”

“No, it’s gone. It… vanished. I don’t— Draco. What’s wrong?”

“Your Doppelgänger decided to pay me a visit,” he muttered, appalled at the waver in his voice. He rubbed one hand over his face. “Salazar.”

Harry vaulted up the final few stairs in two steps and was there beside him, one hand clasping his arm. “Where is it?”

“Up there.” It suddenly felt funny, so ridiculously funny. Draco fought against the laughter. “It’s doing a rather poor impression of you.”

Harry frowned at him. He took his shoulders in both hands. “Malfoy.”

“I’m fine, Potter,” he said, and pulled himself free gradually. He brushed down the front of his shirt. Harry was standing very close, not touching him, and that was almost worse. “I’m fine.”

Harry stared up at the closed attic door, then down at the ragged hole in the floorboards. His lips thinned. Draco saw his tongue dart out to moisten them.

“I’m fine, Harry,” Draco said irritably. Gods. He hated being scared on the job. He thought he’d gotten used to— but there were always worse spirits, uglier, more warped forms of the dead. The futility of his entire job loomed for an instant in front of him. Any one of these ghosts could kill him, kill the inhabitants of the houses they inhabited.

He hated Voldemort. He hated the Ministry even more.

He became aware of Harry’s closeness a split second too late. Draco lifted his head, and caught the glance of soft lips over his ear. He froze, staring at Harry, whose cheeks had gone a touch red.

“Aiming for your hair.” Harry lifted one shoulder in an awkward shrug.

Draco swallowed. Harry was watching him, the focus of his eyes unsettlingly intense. Yet again, Draco found himself wondering what exactly Harry was seeing.

He felt unbalanced there in the stairwell, Harry standing so close. If he moved he might fall one way or the other, and he wasn’t sure which way he was supposed to fall. He couldn’t recall ever having such a fear before, not on the job like this.

Harry looked away, gaze alighting on the closed attic door again. “Is it safe to stay here tonight?” he asked quietly. His voice held the urgency of business, and the change stuttered something somewhere inside Draco.

He took a breath to gather himself. “I’ll set up wards,” he muttered.

He felt Harry’s nod. “I’ll… just go find something for us to eat.” But Harry didn’t step backward toward the stairs. His feet moved forward in Draco’s view, toward him, the hems of his trousers shadowing the elegant slope of his feet.

Before Draco knew it, he was reaching out with one hand. Harry was closer than he’d anticipated, and his fingers bumped the other man’s bare arm. Harry’s skin was warm, the hair on his forearm soft.

“You want company?” Harry murmured, and Draco shook his head and lifted his face up, and made the conscious decision to lean forward. Harry’s mouth was right there, slightly opened. Draco pressed his lips against Harry’s, unmoving. He could feel when Harry’s breathing halted, and just barely tasted the other man’s mouth on his lips. He began to pull away and Harry tilted his chin up, caught his mouth and deepened the kiss, urging Draco’s lips apart, trailing his tongue softly just on the underside of his upper lip. Draco let out a breath and felt Harry answer it with one of his own.

He raised his hands, unwilling to think about it just then, unwilling to give anything about it the proper voice, and pushed lightly against Harry’s chest. “Go away, Harry,” he ordered softly.

He could see Harry’s mouth curve. The tiniest of smiles. But he couldn’t look into those eyes yet. Draco turned and summoned his thoughts for the proper wards, and Harry’s footsteps retreated back down into the house. Draco licked his lips, savouring the lingering taste on them.

* * *

He stared at the vial in his hand. The open cork was a shapeless lump in his other fist, and the potion smelled vile. Tantalising, and very familiar.

One Apparition away into the drizzly afternoon, a prim three-story white house with red trim and several ghostly residents waited. Draco studied the glass bottle in his hand. Nearly lifted it to his lips.

The homeowner was a wizard. A father with two small sons and a pretty wife, Draco was sure. He wondered how many of them would be home to watch the banishment.

For just a moment’s time, he wondered if they would like the mousy brown-haired man that the bottle promised instead.

He set the un-drunk vial down on the tiny kitchen table before he could change his mind, turned on his heel, and Apparated.

* * *

A week later, Draco put one shaking hand against the wall of Harry’s attic stairwell and levered himself to his feet. The narrow, winding space was cool and airy, the oppressiveness gone like fog in a breeze. Ahead of him, the stairs were blackened and turning to ash, dripping away and leaving the final steps up to the attic door treacherous or nonexistent. The door itself swung gently on its hinge, drifting on a draught that curled merrily down the stairs, ruffling Draco’s hair.

The Doppelgänger was gone. And Draco was worn through.

He ran his hand through his hair repeatedly, gaining some comfort from the soft slide of it between his fingers. Shook himself.

Harry stood several steps below him on the stairs, wand still out and trained on the place where the entity had only just been. Draco heard him suck in a slow breath and let it out. “I can feel it.”

Draco craned his neck around to look at the other man. Harry met his eyes and shrugged. “I mean, I can feel that it’s gone. The air just tastes… cleaner.”

“Are you feeling better?” Draco asked, shoulders twitching with his hunch. Harry nodded. Draco curled his lip and raised an eyebrow. “Sucking on you. Not as much as it could have, but… All the same.”

“Is that why it looked like me?”

“Potter,” Draco said with a snort. “If you think that’s what you look like—”

Harry waved dismissively. And then got a funny look on his face. He peered up at Draco, a mischievous little smile across his mouth. “How do I look then?”

If Harry thought he was the blushing sort, he was in for a sore surprise. Draco smirked down at him. “Well, I certainly wouldn’t kiss the Doppelgänger.” And then he got embarrassed anyway.

Harry’s cheeks flushed. He did look healthier, even mere minutes after his vampiric spiritual other had departed.

Kissing was still new. Not… Draco turned back to the attic door to hide his reactions to his own thoughts. It wasn’t new. He’d been kissing Harry Potter for over a week now. Not every day, of course. But not just those two awkward kisses in almost this very spot either.

There’d been others. He could still count them on one hand.

“Well,” Harry said at last, drawing Draco’s attention back. “You’d better get into the shower.”

Draco frowned. But Harry just met it with that same child-like smile. “Not going to dinner like this.”

“What is it with you and dinner, Potter?”

Harry was already heading down the stairs. “Go home. Get something nice on. I’ve a mind to go to Amaryllis’.”

Draco stopped there on the stairs, but Harry was already gone.

* * *

The Ankh of Amaryllis gleamed like a bright Sickle in the dusk, shoved neatly between a Muggle pawn shop and a dingy travel agency. Draco thrust his chin out, flicking the hair off his forehead, and straightened his cloak. Harry stood next to him, counting out notes for the cab fare. The cabby was still looking at them strangely; both of the Muggle venues were long closed for the night, and there was no one else in sight in the little cul-de-sac.

Draco rolled his eyes and huffed, exasperated. Bloody blind Muggles. He’d no patience for them sometimes.

“Potter.” Draco jerked his head toward the trim little restaurant, its golden fairy lights shimmering in the twilit street. “For Godric’s sake, hurry up or he’ll call the Muggle excuse for a police system on us.”

“He can’t see it, Draco,” Harry murmured absently, handing over the money. The cab rolled away, and Harry pulled his cloak tighter, stepping up beside him. Draco let it pass and studied the Wizarding bistro before them. Tiny on the outside, but he knew from past experience that it was quite a bit larger once one got through the impressively decorated front doors.

“Only you would barter a Muggle cab to a Wizarding restaurant, Potter,” he said blandly. Harry was smirking.

“You live close enough. And I like cabs.”

Draco let him lead the way through the golden doors, and the inlaid gems sparkled green and red and blue over his hands as they passed inside. The sounds of the streets cut off abruptly once the doors swung shut, and gentle, cheerful music floated to Draco’s ears from further within. Harry swept his cloak from his shoulders and Draco followed suit. They made their way through the small, brightly lit foyer into the main restaurant, spilling into a much larger room filled with quaintly spaced tables and candlelight.

A waitress caught sight of them and hurried over. Her eyes skirted up and down unobtrusively, and Draco saw recognition in her eyes for Harry before she masked it with a smile. “Welcome to the Ankh of Amaryllis. Will that be for two, then?”

Harry nodded, and the waitress waved her hand with a flourish, snapping twice at the end of it. Two glittering menus appeared in the air in a shower of gold that vanished before it hit the lush cranberry carpet. She plucked them down and turned on her heel, leading them to a table near the far end of the room. She indicated their chairs with a smile, clapped her hands once softly and set two goblets of ice water on the table. “Please feel free to take your time deciding on your entrée. We’re serving basted Honeysuckle Phloxfeather with a Trindleberry Root garnish as our special tonight.”

Harry nodded at her and she departed with a bounce to her step, long black hair swinging against her back as she went. Harry draped his cloak over the back of his chair, and Draco took the moment to seat himself, folding his own cloak neatly behind him.

“I need to use the loo.” Harry grinned crookedly from across the table, and it was the lopsided tilt of it that drew Draco’s eye, and attention, fully. Godric almighty. Had he always just been blind to the expressiveness of that smile, or was it a skill Harry had developed once he was given a break from saving the universe?

Never mind that mouth. Draco liked thin lips. They made a smile that much sharper.

“See if they’ve got a good Cabernet,” Harry said. “I feel like steak tonight.”

“Well, fancy that,” Draco said dryly in the direction of the ceiling, “he’s got at least some sense of culinary finesse.”

Harry’s grin widened, but he said nothing, only turned and headed for the other side of the restaurant, weaving easily between tables.

Draco stared after him, then hunched his shoulders and let them relax. He fingered his menu, opened it to the first page, and gazed at all the fancy spidery writing. Was it a bad idea to feel so earnest about what Harry didn’t say aloud? There was an odd sort of yearning in his chest, to hear what Harry was thinking behind that smile of his, a youthful, clean feeling. He wasn’t used to it, not at all.

Should have felt strange. But it was nice to feel anything that wasn’t dreary.

He glanced up and raised his fingers at a deadpanned waiter lingering nearby with a glistening pitcher full of ice water. “I’d like a wine menu, please.”

He turned back to his meal selection, only belatedly reminding himself to look at the price. Damn it all, it was usually second nature to him. It seemed a lot of things were managing to slip away lately: remembering his cloak, or locking up his office when he left it on the days he went in. His mind was on too many other things, for once. Or one particular thing, he thought, smirking to himself. Salazar. If Granger could see him now, the way he was just barely troubling himself with his finances, she’d likely slap him with two more years probation, just to spite them both. He had no doubt that the woman would stoop to spiting herself if the payback was good enough. She seemed to have a perpetual grimace on her face these days. He wasn’t stupid; he knew it had to do with the company her dear friend Harry was keeping.

There was a slight slap across the table, and Draco looked up, startled. A wine menu rested just beside his right hand. He took it up and opened it, feeling the presence of the waiter standing behind him. It only took him a few seconds.

“I’d like a bottle of Nereid Cabernet 1432, and two wine flutes.”

The waiter leaned forward to look and then settled back again. “We’re out,” he said shortly.

Draco looked up and found a middle aged man gazing down at him. Rather… down his nose at him. Draco frowned. “Napa Moon Valley Pinot, then.”

“Sorry,” the man said, and this time his lip twisted the slightest bit. If Draco hadn’t been staring right at him, he might have missed it. Something shifted sideways in his stomach. He straightened in his chair.

“Perhaps you might suggest something,” he said deliberately.

The waiter just looked at him. There was a sharp clink of silverware to Draco’s left. He turned his head on instinct and found a pair of piercing blue eyes in a strange feminine face glaring back. The woman was not the only one looking at him; her dinner partner stared blatantly over the top of his glass of wine, swirling the flute in light, slow turns with one hand.

It was the wands in the center of that table that clicked in Draco’s mind, nestled there amongst the decorative sprigs of ivy between the candles. It could only have been an instant’s glance, but it felt much longer. Wands.

Wizards.

Draco resisted the urge to swallow. He sat back in his chair slowly, smoothing a hand down the front of his shirt. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t known. It was a Wizarding establishment, after all, a well-known one. Famous for its food and ambience. And yet it hadn’t even registered as more than a slight flutter in his nerves when Harry had selected the place. Now, he couldn’t begin to figure out why.

Draco gazed coolly at the waiter, lifting his chin. “If you’ve something to say, you may as well speak up.”

The waiter’s stone face cracked into an elegant sneer. “I’ve nothing to say, sir.”

Draco narrowed his eyes. A snicker sounded at a table further off, barely contained. How had the restaurant gone so quiet so quickly? There’d been music, but now there was none. “Wine, then, if you please.” Draco managed to keep his voice steady and indifferent, matching the waiter glare for glare. The man’s lip curled further, but his eyes looked skittish.

Until a voice behind Draco made itself known.

“We have no wine that you would care to drink, I assure you.”

Draco turned slowly in his seat and came face to face with the restaurant’s host. Tall, young, and obviously more than comfortable with himself and his surroundings. The man couldn’t have been more than a few years older than Draco, and he looked every bit the rich, tasteful nobleman. His nose was long and perfectly shaped for the cold smile his face sported. “Draco Malfoy,” he said in a low but very audible tone that carried across the room. “In my establishment. What a fortuitous evening for me.”

“Your parents’ establishment,” Draco retorted smoothly, gaining fire from the flicker in his antagonist’s eyes. “You are hardly old enough to take the credit for this.”

“You must know all about the hardships of one’s parentage,” the man responded after a tense moment. “You’ve certainly lived up to yours.”

Draco’s throat filled quite suddenly with a lump. He swallowed, but it only took a firmer hold. Grew larger. No. Gods, no, not now. He busied his hands with his napkin, buying time to gain back his self-control. But it was already happening: that tight, cowering feeling he just could no longer seem to shake, the one that told him to stay indoors, to mingle with Muggles instead of his own fellows. It was so much easier to avoid it than to beat it down. He’d forgotten how.

“Death Eater,” said a voice from somewhere in the room. Draco snapped his head up, but everyone was staring now. It was impossible to tell who had spoken. Smirks on some faces, plain disgust on others. He dragged his eyes away before he had a chance to register the hatred.

“My Galleons,” he intoned in a low voice, “are of the same worth as everyone else’s. You would be wise not to burn any bridges.”

“Perhaps if you had any standing in society, I would care.” The host’s face was impassive, unfazed. The people sitting behind him looked positively poisonous, derisive, and enjoying it utterly.

“I’d prefer not to eat my dinner in the company of that man,” an elderly woman said imperiously a few tables in front of him. “Perhaps you might do something about it,” she continued, looking snootily at the host.

“I certainly intend to, madam,” he returned with a gracious smile. When he looked back at Draco, however, his face was the same cold, triumphant mask it had been. Maybe a little more triumphant than before. “I’m afraid I must ask you to leave.”

Draco’s heartbeat quickened, rising half in indignation, half in… Salazar, he didn’t panic. It wasn’t panic. But it was close. The unfairness of the situation meant little nowadays. He’d ceased feeling sorry for himself over that. It was the presence of ire that got him, dug deep into his bones as it never failed to do. Draco inhaled. Summoned whatever retort he might find.

“Draco.”

All eyes shot across the room at the sound of his name. Muttering. Harry stood in the archway, tall and narrow-eyed. Draco heard a few gasps as people recognised him and began to whisper excitedly. The host’s face went blank, but not before flashing into interest. He stepped slightly away from the table as Harry approached. Every eye followed his passage through the room, and Draco saw formerly sneering faces go a bit slack. Edging into shock.

It was no wonder. Draco could feel the air in the room vibrating, very slightly.

“What’s going on?” Harry said tightly, coming to a stop at the table. He looked the waiter right in the eye and the older man dropped his gaze immediately, face colouring. Harry stared at him until it was clear the man wouldn’t be looking back up, and then turned his glare on the host. The man gazed back, but Harry was taller. Larger. And by the feel of things, much angrier.

“Well?” Harry bit out.

“Mr Potter. Sir. My apologies. There is a slight issue here, which I will have dealt with in a moment. Is there anything I can get you? It will, of course, be on the house.”

Harry’s gaze was made of two lurid emerald shards. His hand cut through the air sharply, silencing the man. “What… is going… on?”

“Mr Potter,” the host said a bit weakly, trying visibly to draw himself up. “We’ve certain standards to uphold. We don’t serve people like him here.”

Harry’s eyes went so dark so quickly that the host stepped backward, his mouth dropping open. Something tactile sparked across the air like a skipping stone. Harry’s jaw clenched, and he spoke through it. “Then you don’t serve people like me here, either.”

Draco swallowed hard. Heat swept up over his shoulders, along his throat like a heavy circlet, and flooded his face. He could feel the pressure of all those eyes, and the unbearable tang of being rescued. It stuck in his throat. Draco gritted his teeth. He stood, wrenched his cloak from the back of his chair, and headed for the exit. Couldn’t— wouldn’t— look at Harry.

For fuck’s sake, why did the insufferable man feel the need to—

He didn’t remember entering or exiting the foyer, or what shoving through the doors felt like. Suddenly he was on the street, being buffeted by bitingly cold air… and unable to breathe. Speak. Collect himself. Draco forced two deep breaths and heard the door open behind him. He didn’t look, only began to walk quickly down the street in the direction of home.

But outside, his feet felt heavier than they had, like giant stones dragging beneath him. Exhaustion reared abruptly and frighteningly, and there was something ominous and new in it this time. Dead weight.

He half expected Harry to call out after him. But Harry never did. He only fell into quick step just behind, out of sight.

Draco walked on, seeing only the pavement in front of him, the clacking shoes of Muggles as they passed. Three whole blocks went by in silence before Harry reached out and grabbed his arm. “Draco, stop.”

He was so tired. So tired of moving. And yet— Draco shook his arm free of the grasping fingers and kept going. Got six steps further and… wasn’t sure any longer of where he was headed.

He had time to think of his father’s sealed liquor cabinet, to picture it standing silent and alone in his darkened flat, before Harry’s voice cut in again. “Fucking won’t go back there again,” he muttered. It sounded sharp in Draco’s ears, the last living thing in a dull, quiet world. “Prick deserves to be shut down.”

“Don’t bother,” Draco muttered.

Harry’s step faltered. Then quickened again. Draco could feel Harry trying not to speak. But it no longer felt urgent to him that he silence those words, that he keep Harry from prying. It felt dull, faded. Large and swollen and slowly crushing down upon him. He was watching Harry’s attempt not to speak from a distance, and he just couldn’t fathom how any of Harry’s words could touch him, even if they did make it out into the open.

Was this…? Oh, but he had his answer. He’d had it, over and over again, and he’d ignored it like some poor fool in the dark, ever plodding forward in a futile effort to get past it. This was what it would be like. For the rest of his life. He was so young, so young.

So many years in front of him. Of this, again and again.

His thoughts circled slowly as he walked, swirling further and further down, but always the same words. Fate… and inescapable. As long as there were people to recognise who he was, there would always be the stares and the jibes, the threats. The disgust. Draco’s throat was a patch of heat, dry and sore, and he could feel each breath coming and going. He’d never felt his mortality so distinctly.

Harry caught his arm again. “Draco, where are you going?” The words had the edge of distress in them, and his hand gripped tighter than before. Still, Draco shook him off. Continued to walk, picking up speed.

“Do you hate yourself, Potter?” he mumbled. “Do you ever just look in and not see anything worth looking at?”

Harry’s hand came around his wrist so quickly the friction of his fingers burned. “Stop. Stop walking. I mean it.”

“Oh. You mean it.” Draco didn’t stop, and surprisingly, Harry did not pull him back, and he could have. It was his neighborhood now; Draco recognised the apartment building on the corner down the street from his. When he came to it, he turned right and kept going. Harry followed.

“You can’t believe what they say,” the other man said at last, faintly incredulous. “Draco, you’ve never—” He stopped speaking, and Draco looked his way with a slow turn of his head. Harry was staring at him, brow deeply creased. “They’re arseholes. They all are!”

Draco came upon his building without answering, opened the lobby door and headed for the stairs. It was hard to keep up his speed. Hard to get himself to walk at all. He just wanted to sit down, lean his head back against the nearest wall, and shut his eyes.

He wanted alcohol. He wanted nicotine. He wanted silence, and most of all, he wanted to be alone so he could—

—could—

The image hovered, but did not fully materialise. He felt it looming, having chased and chased him, and finally catching up here in the stairwell, in the hallway outside his flat. Waiting for him to find the proper silence.

“Go home, Potter.”

Harry scowled. “Not a fucking chance.”

Draco jerked his key from his pocket, strode the final few steps to the door of his flat, and shoved the key into the lock. It grated as the bolt clicked. He pushed the door open, and Harry finally lunged forward and grabbed him a third time.

“You’re bigger than this,” Harry hissed.

Draco spun, threw out his arms. Felt such shame at the way his voice shook. “What does it matter, Potter? I’m going home, to my second-rate flat to engage in all those self-destructive behaviours that my therapist warned me against!”

A damp thread ran down his cheek, dripping salt into his mouth. The rest of his words choked in his throat. Oh, why, why had he even bothered fighting it all off?

Potter pushed through the door behind him into the flat, and Draco turned and shoved him back against the door’s edge, closing it with a sharp slam. “Oh, go on, be the hero then. Such a void in the demand for that nowadays!”

Harry’s green eyes hollowed in such a way that Draco felt cut by it, and responsible. Harry blinked; his head dropped to the side.

The only thing left to do was let the anger take hold. Draco wasn’t quite ready to go down the other, darker road yet.

But he was close.

“Don’t you get it? I don’t want you to save me, Potter.” Draco felt his lip split under his teeth and tasted iron. “You save everyone! Make me feel unique for once in my bloody life, Harry, and just— don’t— bother.”

Harry’s eyes snapped up, but there was nothing of the small, chastised look that Draco had been expecting in them. Harry’s eyes looked hunted, burning deep, slightly angry and slightly more desperate. Draco blinked.

“And what do you want me to do, Malfoy?” Harry ground out. He grabbed Draco’s shoulders with both hands and shook forcefully enough to make him stumble back into the living room. “Agree with you? Tell you you’re worthless like everyone else does?”

Draco shoved him away again, hard. “I fucking know what I am, Potter! I know, and look what I’ve done with my life. I’ve a job, to fill all those wasting moments I could spend dwelling on everything. I’ve hexed my father’s liquor cabinet impenetrable to keep myself from drinking! I’ve been proud of the potions I refuse to indulge in because I thought— I thought it—” Draco could barely see Harry through the blur in his eyes. Just an indistinct fog of running colours. So like the rest of his life. “I thought keeping them around meant I was strong. The truth is, it only means I’m an idiot. I’ve had my way out all along!”

“Malfoy,” Harry snapped, advancing out of the tiny hallway, long coat sweeping about his knees. “You arse, shut your mouth.”

“Why?” he rasped, and the quiet pounced on the word like a massive beast. “It’s the truth.”

Harry grabbed him by the coat collar, snapping him upright with one jerk. “Not the truth. They’ve all convinced you of it.” Harry’s other hand darted over his other shoulder, as if searching for purpose. “And I helped.” Spoken in a cracked voice, but the fervour in Harry’s eyes was still strong and hard and— Draco’s breath stuck in his throat.

Harry was pushing him back with his whole body, and Draco could feel every line of him, every taut pull and shift of muscle. Somewhere down deep, Draco’s own body gave one solid, yearning heave, and sorrow filled him because he— he wanted— for the first time, he was sure about something and—

He met Harry’s eyes and found them glimmering at the edges. “—Harry.”

Harry’s face shuddered. He tucked Draco close, right up against him, and covered his mouth with his own. It was a harsh kiss, forcing Draco’s lips apart, and he gasped, pressed forward. Harry’s tongue was all of him, strength and salt and speed. A hand locked around the nape of his neck and the kiss deepened achingly for one endless, spiralling second. Harry made a broken sound and pulled away, leaving him breathless and tender.

Harry wove both hands under Draco’s coat and shoved it off of his shoulders, tracking down over his knit jumper, clasping hard at his hips. Draco felt the wall at his back. He pressed himself to Harry, not knowing how to get what his body was craving— contact, contact with this person. Harry kissed his neck with an open mouth. His body was all movement and heat against Draco’s.

Draco thunked his head back on the wall and felt his belt slip free. His cheeks were wet, his throat raw and aching. “I don’t want your pity, Harry,” he whispered, lying through his teeth because— oh gods, he wouldn’t give up anything Harry was willing to give him, even insignificant shadows of something that he could fool himself into believing was something else.

“Draco—” Harry’s hands worried his fly, snapped buttons open with determined, barely contained motions. “If this were a pity fuck, I would be on my knees giving you a blow job.” His breath hissed between his teeth, and Draco arched back against the wall as Harry’s hand finally found what he sought.

How… How to put it into words? Draco couldn’t find them, could find only gasps and phrases broken in half, and deep, desperate writhing movements within himself. Harry was pulling them out one by one with each firm stroke, and Draco gripped the other man’s upper arm hard and thrust again, again, gods, couldn’t stop. Harry’s free hand found his face and skirted over it, brushing with his thumb just over Draco’s eyelashes.

“They’re so stupid,” he rasped.

Draco sucked in air and pushed against Harry’s hand, his groin, his body. “They’re winning,” he whispered on a breath.

“Fuck you, stop it. I don’t want you to be beaten. Merlin, why can’t you just—” Harry swallowed the rest of it and pulled Draco away from the wall. “Not doing this here.”

Draco’s whole lower body was on fire. He snatched at Harry’s hand, needing— He couldn’t see anything through it. “No.”

Harry turned back, much too far away. Draco grabbed onto him and pulled them together again, plunging his hand down into Harry’s trousers, feeling heaving, shuddering muscle and sweaty skin and soft hair.

“Do it here, Harry,” he gritted out. “Just—”

By the time he felt them falling, it was too late to correct it. Draco hit the tumbling softness of the living room couch with vague surprise, clutched on, and felt Harry’s firm weight upon him, the quick arch as the other man gained his knees. Harry fumbled Draco’s jumper off of him, yanked his own shirt buttons free and flung both garments away. His chest was smooth in the darkness of the flat, hills and troughs of muscle and shadow. Draco ran his hands up over Harry’s stomach, needing to feel it, unable to breathe when he felt the stutter in the other man’s breath. Harry knelt there above him, bent and sucked at his throat, kissed his chest, and worked his trousers halfway down his hips with both hands.

“You alright?” Harry said breathlessly.

“Gods, Harry, what a question.”

Harry kissed his face, smoothing a tear into a smear of wetness, and Draco’s throat locked shut. He shook his head and covered his eyes with one hand. Harry lifted it immediately and pressed a lingering kiss into his palm. Tugged his trousers down with one final pull.

Draco’s flesh felt cold, suddenly bared, and he shivered. He worked his fingertips beneath Harry’s pants-line and pushed until he felt— saw— mirror-heat and taut skin. Harry kicked his trousers free and pressed down on top of Draco, and thrust once, and gods, it felt…

Draco took Harry’s face in his hands and kissed his brow, his cheek, his chin. Merlin, he couldn’t breathe, and it felt so good. He struggled to get his legs up around Harry’s hips and finally it happened and they clicked into place, and Draco’s remaining oxygen left him in a whoosh.

Harry stilled. Draco hardly noticed for his own quivering. When he forced his eyes open, Harry was staring at him. Draco nodded, much too fast. “Potter, yes.”

“Alright.” One simple word. Draco felt a spell’s shudder and then Harry’s fingers where in him and he was that much closer to the end of it all. He bit his lip and shoved it back, down.

When Harry really entered him, Draco let out a weak moan. His lower back curved, stretched, and he squeezed his thighs and felt Harry’s sides expand as he panted. Sweat dripped across Harry’s throat, glistening. Draco smoothed it away with one palm. Slid the same hand up over Harry’s neck, down his back. He needed to touch Harry, more than anything right in that moment.

Such a far cry from the veil of animosity, the dark stares. They all touched him as well, and he felt them as he felt this, but this… this was new and frightening and glorious. And it was stinging the sides of the void he carried around inside him so much it was hurting.

Harry arced his hips slowly, painstakingly, deeply. Oh— gods— he needed this, needed… the thrust… again… Draco’s hiss turned into another moan and Harry’s pace quickened just enough. There was something tightly contained within it, within Harry’s body, within the skin that Draco clutched under his fingers and the muscles locked between his thighs. Barely controlled. Draco gripped Harry’s hair, lifted his face, and found his mouth open and panting. He kissed Harry messily and gasped at the tremulous, sudden release of Harry’s control, and the new speed.

Harry grasped Draco’s wrists and pressed them back into the couch cushions. His fingers were tight bands of heat. His breaths became sounds, almost words, and then Harry slowed once, deep and long. The gaze he locked on Draco was shockingly aware.

“You are so perfect, Draco, and none of them see it—” He wrapped his arms around Draco’s shoulders and hugged him close to his own body, and thrust again, and buried his face in the curve of Draco’s throat.

Draco couldn’t stop himself from moving, his body meeting Harry’s, more and more frantic each time. There was no way to quiet the raggedness of his breathing; Draco had long since given up. He clenched Harry to him and pressed teeth into his shoulder, squeezed his eyes shut, felt it thrum through him, quaking the muscles of his thighs and back and stomach, and slamming down into his pelvis so hard he cried out.

Arched.

Harry caught him.

Draco bit through his lip again, shaking uncontrollably, hips still moving weakly. Harry cupped his face and then slipped into the same spasms, tiny, helpless sounds streaming from his lips. Draco slumped back onto the couch, feeling Harry thrusting into him erratically, and couldn’t make himself move. He was so tired, so… gutted. His skin hurt, every nerve was dancing. He hadn’t felt so alive in months.

When Harry collapsed at last, the silence was deafening.

Draco blinked wearily up at the ceiling. There was salt on his tongue. Sweat? Tears. His own, he was sure. Harry’s body was so warm, cloaking him from the cooler air he could feel against his forehead. It was his ceiling he was looking up at, but it didn’t look like it. Perhaps because he’d never seen it flat on his couch like this, another person sweaty and naked against—

Draco swallowed, and Harry pushed up with a soft sound. Cupped one hand over Draco’s hip and withdrew slowly. Draco shut his eyes at the stretch, the strange tug deep inside his body, and then… Emptiness. He exhaled.

He hadn’t expected to feel it so deeply.

He should look at Harry, he thought vaguely. Just… look, look at him, see what was in his face. But his eyes wouldn’t move from the ceiling. He wasn’t sure why.

Then Harry solved the problem for him. A hand brushed his chin, turning his face the slightest little bit, and Draco’s mouth opened at the sight of dark eyes, unfathomable, looking down at him. Harry was still breathing hard, his body was still pressed very intimately against him. Draco swallowed again, feeling heat climb toward his cheeks. He was glad of the darkness. Gods, why should he be embarrassed of his nakedness now, now after they’d— after he’d let Harry—

He cleared his throat and looked down, rubbing one hand over the nape of his neck. He felt sticky and tired, bone-tired as he hadn’t felt in some time. The couch pressed uncomfortably into his shoulders and hips, but he still knew that if he closed his eyes, he would most likely fall into sleep.

His heart hammered. Thudding, thudding, and it had little to do with his exertions of moments ago.

Harry pushed up slowly, drawing his knees under him. His weight and body heat left Draco feeling barren, open and unveiled on the couch. He couldn’t think what to do next, or even if he was supposed to do anything next. It had been too long, and everything was all twisted up inside his head in dense, immovable knots. The couch bounced as Harry got off of it. Draco sat up, unsteady on shaking arms, but then fingers gathered his hand up and drew him to his feet.

“Come on,” Harry said, not much more than a whisper. Draco wondered if he should feel embarrassed again, walking naked through his flat, led by another man who should never have been there like this, all skin and silence and soft, climbing heat. His bedroom was full of shadows and slashes of light through his drapes. Harry said nothing else, but fell onto the bed as if it were his own.

There was a glimmer in his eyes, however, that looked like hesitancy. Could have been the light.

Draco drew back his duvet feeling loosened and not quite himself. A single side of his bed where he usually took the middle. There wasn’t as much space as he thought. He stretched out on his back, felt Harry do the same, and made himself breathe. Speaking may have been necessary, but he didn’t know what to say or how to say it.

The tick of several minutes went by, without a clock. Without sleep. Draco looked up at his ceiling and tried not to think.

And when Harry rolled toward him with a soft murmur, in the deep night silence of the room, and gathered him to his body again, all steady movements and tensing limbs and quickening gasps repeated… Draco let him.

In the back of his mind, Draco was relieved.

* * *

“May I be perfectly frank?”

She nodded, face passive and mildly interested.

Draco looked down at his hands. “He was good. Very… very good. No rush, no fuss. Except…”

“Except he did fuss,” she inserted neatly.

Draco raised an eyebrow at her. “You’ve seen him, have you?”

“I’ve seen him.”

Draco nodded and looked away. “It was like there was nothing else in that room—” Might as well throw it all down. “—in that bed, but me.” He sought the correct words. “Of course there wasn’t, but— He throws himself into everything. I mean, he’s bloody impossible that way. I used to hate… But that’s neither here nor there. It felt damned good last night.”

She nodded, gazing at him thoughtfully. “It feels good to have that level of energy focussed solely on you, doesn’t it?”

Draco snorted. Sat back. “Feels good all over, if you really want to know. In places I forgot about. I haven’t— Well.” He shook his head.

“Draco, do you recall what we discussed about holding back? Censoring yourself?”

He rolled his eyes. “Yes, yes. Sorry. I just…” He found that perfectly asymmetrical spot on the rug and stared at it. “I haven’t felt this… sore, if you will. Stretched. Loosened. In years.” Bollocks, she had to be a woman, didn’t she, and he had to be telling her about it. “This will sound like absolute sap but it was like he read my mind, and knew exactly how to touch me. What to… do with my body.”

He let out a deprecating laugh and ran a hand through his hair. But she merely stared at him.

“Have you considered that he simply could have needed you exactly the way you needed him, and that is why it felt like he was reading your mind?”

Draco inhaled and exhaled three full times. “No. I hadn’t thought of it like that.”

She nodded. Pressed her lips together for an instant. “Draco, do you think you’re in love with him?”

Draco snorted again and waved his hand. “That’s preposterous.” When she said nothing, he frowned at her. “It’s too soon.”

She leaned forward very gently. “Is it?”

Draco did not answer.

* * *

He awoke in deep blue darkness that was not of his flat, but of a much larger bedroom. The space to his left was cold, the covers thrown back and the pillow still bearing the indent of Harry’s head. Draco turned onto his side slowly and stared at it, then past it to the unfamiliar play of early morning shadows over Harry’s walls. He slid a hand out and fingered the sheet. Shifted a leg and pondered the smooth, thick slide the duvet made over his bare flesh.

He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d woken in another person’s bed, naked and sleepy, and knowing he’d been utterly satisfied some unknown number of hours before. His body felt tender, fondled by hands he could still feel. Draco curled his knees up, hunching under the duvet away from the colder air. Harry’s mattress squeaked softly, and the sound rushed a fresh memory back to Draco: more steady squeaking, the faint heat of his own skin sliding back and forth across the sheets beneath it, and the distant soreness of his legs pressing into his chest and Harry’s weight heavy atop them. Atop him.

Draco exhaled and blinked, wondering if some sort of epiphany had already hit him, or if he’d missed it on its way past. He became aware that he wasn’t exactly thinking, and a second later, aware of the sound of running water. Draco sat up, pushing the duvet back, and listened to the pattering in Harry’s shower. He thought about looking at the time, figuring out how long he had until Harry disappeared for the morning. He let it go.

Got to his feet, still without thinking much at all, and padded across the room to the door and down the hall, listening as the beat of the shower got louder, listening to the uneven sounds of someone moving around under the water. Steam was just beginning to roll out from beneath the closed bathroom door when he reached it, and the moisture tickled his toes and fogged the light that streamed an evanescent arc onto the hallway rug.

Draco opened the door quietly and stepped inside, and the steam filled his lungs with a heady, settling heat, curling around him. Enfolding him.

He could see Harry through the fogged shower curtain, a tall, tanned, nude body standing under the stream of water, hands raised to scrub through darker hair. Harry sucked in a breath and lolled his head back until his face was under the water, and droplets flew over the top of the curtain to splash lightly on Draco’s arms and face. He knew that Harry’s eyes were squeezed tightly shut. He could almost picture it, lips opening and dripping with water that sluiced down and away over skin and chest and thighs and off his toes toward the drain. Draco reached out and grasped the edge of the curtain, inhaled, and drew it aside gently until he could fit through.

Harry heard him belatedly and turned out of the water, blinking rapidly and reaching to steady himself against the tile wall. His eyes were dark and framed by wet lashes. Harry stared at him, breathing through parted lips, and Draco decided he didn’t want to hear him speak, because the quiet was so deep and muffled and cloistered in the small space of the bathroom, the even smaller space of the shower itself. He stepped closer until the water danced off of Harry’s shoulders and flushed down his own skin, leaving the dry expanse of his back susceptible to the cooler air. Draco shivered and pressed close, right up against Harry’s body, gathering the heat and moisture from him, and it was then that he thought he knew what he’d come for. What he wanted from Harry here.

Harry’s hand closed around his elbow, a soft, damp grip, fingers rubbing gently there. Draco could feel the length of the other man’s body, the softer swell further down against his pelvis, and the smooth, wet slide of Harry’s thighs along his as they turned. Harry moved them around, letting Draco into the shower’s stream, and heat flooded over him.

“Draco,” Harry said, before Draco could stop him. Instead of shattering the silence, it only enriched it somehow, made it deeper when it fell again. More final. Draco leaned in, tilted his head and fitted his mouth to Harry’s. It was sloppy, more of a miss than a kiss, but Harry inhaled with a hiss, and Draco kissed him again, harder this time, more purposefully. He lifted one hand to thread through Harry’s hair, wondering at the familiar taste in his mouth, wondering that it was already familiar, and slid the other hand down Harry’s back, pressing the slick skin until Harry gave into it and let him pull closer, down over the concavity of his back and over his bottom. Draco caressed Harry’s hip. Gripped it.

Turned him out of the kiss.

He could hear Harry breathing rapidly over the sound of the beating water, and feel Harry’s back expanding against his chest with each inhalation. Harry’s right hand splayed against the tiles, bracing, and Draco reached down in front of the other man, took hold of him and snugged him back until he was pressed all along Harry’s back. Harry lifted his head and let out a huff of air. Nodded. He was hardening under Draco’s fingers.

Draco pressed his free hand to Harry’s back, bending him forward just a little bit and whispering a spell. He slipped his hand around Harry’s side and up to touch his chest, rub the hard protrusion of one nipple. Harry jerked minutely and bowed his head, and Draco could see his hair sliding over his ears and across his nape until it hung, streaming with water, to hide his face. He pressed his lips to Harry’s back, manoeuvered himself carefully, and then thrust into Harry’s body with one simple roll of his hips.

Harry grunted. His arm quivered where it braced on the wall, and Draco stopped, letting Harry go and hugging both arms around the man’s trim, heaving middle. Harry gripped his wrist and nodded, a little jerkily, breaths hushing in and out in short pants. Still, Draco counted to five, seeing the numbers clearly in his mind, before moving again, and Harry’s air left him in a huff, and his supporting arm gave out completely, and Draco pressed him bodily to the wall and thrust tightly, slicking a hand up and down Harry’s side. He felt cold tile against his knuckles, and the extreme, contained heat of Harry’s body, the even sharper heat of the water raining down on his head and back. Harry’s face was turned, cheek pressed to the wall, and the eye Draco could see squeezed tightly shut, mouth open and panting and dripping water in full droplets. Harry’s hips moved frenziedly against Draco’s thrusts, pushing into the wall with abandon. Draco insinuated one hand between Harry and the tiles, took him in the curl of his fingers, and heard Harry groan.

It was the spike of a moment, the one perfect instant when Harry voiced a broken “ah!” and went rigid, tightening around him almost unbearably, pressed flush to the wall and held quivering there by his own tension. Draco’s body welled with a curious energy at the sound, the feeling of muscles jerking beneath his palms and against his thighs. He arced his hips forward unrelentingly, heard Harry moan low and hard, gasping in his next breath.

The helpless thrusting did him in very suddenly, Harry’s body going utterly uncontrolled and quick and desperate. Draco hissed and pressed his open mouth to Harry’s shoulder, breathing harder than ever. Clenched his eyes shut so tightly the blackness wound into purple, and came, shoving Harry even further into the wall. It was all fog and shudders, pleasure winding like merciless snakes around and through his muscles, coiling tightly in his belly, bursting outward to the very edge of his skin.

He felt his own shuddering almost as if he were standing next to himself there in the shower, feeling water quake from his shoulders only to be immediately replaced by more water. Harry’s hand skated aimlessly over what skin he could reach, touching at his side, squeezing at his hip and thigh, and slipping down. Shaking. Draco felt their connection in slick, damp, sticky heat, already changing. He leaned back without thinking and parted their bodies. Harry let out a sharp hiss and curled his fingers against the wall. Draco stared at Harry’s muscular, bare back under the sheen of water now falling between them. Before he realised it, he was reaching, touching his fingertips to the smooth, shivering skin.

Harry turned, one hand straining on the wall. His hair clung slickly to his forehead, streaming water that slid down his cheeks and over his lips. He collapsed bodily against the tiles, chest heaving under Draco’s hands. There was something in his eyes, in the parting of his lips. In the tiny, almost insignificant lift of his chin, as if he were seeking—

Draco leaned forward and covered Harry’s mouth with his, and felt rather than heard the soft, yearning sigh as their lips met. Harry’s hands found his hips and squeezed, as if they couldn’t remember what they’d set out to do there. Draco tasted clean, warm water, felt the splash of it over his scalp and shoulders like gentle fingers, and the soft, wondering stroke of Harry’s tongue against the inside of his mouth. His body tingled, the warm pool in his groin reminding him of how Harry’s body had felt around him. Against him.

He pushed Harry back to the wall and kissed him harder. One of Harry’s hands threaded into his hair and held there, thumb stroking tentatively at his temple. The other slid over his body like the shower water, down his back and lower, rising up again.

* * *

Draco stroked his chin absently. Her room was filled with lazy light. He glanced at her out of the corner of one eye. “Is it bad that I spent all day yesterday in his bed?”

“Does it feel bad?”

“Not… particularly.” He craned his neck and felt the kinks begin to stretch out of it. “To tell the truth, I don’t really know how it feels.”

She crossed her hands in her lap. “Describe it in a single sentence.”

Draco blinked at the shift and inhaled. “Only one?”

She nodded.

“I’ve never felt so…” The word tasted strange. “Cherished.”

She nodded. “And why did you pick that word over all the others?”

Draco frowned. Then said, “All the others fell short.”

~tbc~


Part Three
Tags: [fic], [long/chaptered fic], rated: nc-17, round: summer 2007
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