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Happy H/D Holidays emmagrant01!! | A Test of Character - NC17

Title: A Test of Character 2/3
Author: silentauror
Rating: NC-17
Length: 22,165 words
Genre: Romance
Summary: Draco Malfoy is nearly finished his Auror training. However, something comes up in his character testing which may prevent him from qualifying: he is required to befriend an old enemy.
Gift for: emmagrant01
A/N: Happy Holidays, Emma! I hope you like this! Betas, thank you!





The following Friday, Potter picked him up at home in his Muggle car. He’d insisted, once he’d learned that Draco had never been in one. He’d been in magical cars on rare occasion, but they had mostly travelled by Floo and Apparition in his youth. Cars were slow and unnecessary. He approached the navy vehicle with slight apprehension and opened the door.

Potter grinned at him. “It’s okay, it’s not going to throw you out or anything. No magical qualities whatsoever.”

Draco scanned the interior of the car, found the gauges and stared at them. “I suppose your petrol tank isn’t permanently full, by any chance.”

Potter laughed, both looking and sounding guilty. “How did you know? That’s your seat belt there – put it on – and if you want to know about anything, just say the word. So, where are we going?”

“You said you liked Greek,” Draco said.

“I do.”

“Then take us to Fulham Road.” Draco slid his eyes to Potter’s hands on the wheel and watched his every move.

Potter drove the way he flew, edgy and fast and with great skill. He was quick and aggressive, but never out of control. “So, I saw an old man in a store today.”

Many of Potter’s stories started this way: vague references to random people in unspecified places. Draco made a sound to acknowledge that he’d heard, waiting for Potter to carry on.

“A wizard, I mean.” Potter looked at him, ignoring the traffic for the time being, one hand resting lightly on the bottom of the wheel. “I shouldn’t be telling you this.”

“You always say that.”

“I know. Anyway, he was trying to buy fruit at a stand outside this store, and some teenagers came up and tried to mug him.”

“What did he do?”

“Well, he tried to Stun them, but I Obliviated him before he could. They forget sometimes, when they get older, how you’re not allowed to do stuff like that. I was keeping him out of trouble.”

“And you’re allowed to get away with that?” Draco prodded, knowing that Potter wouldn’t confess his actual profession, but enjoying the provocation regardless.

“One of the perks of being the Boy Who Lived,” Potter reminded him, using one of Draco’s own jabs. “Okay, we’re on Fulham. Where to?”

Draco directed him, wincing as Potter swerved sharply to the left and then back to the right to pass a slower-moving car.

“Calm down, I’m not going to kill you. Not today, anyway.” Potter grinned again, obviously in a good mood, and Draco felt his face reflecting it back before he could help himself. It was hard not to catch Potter’s moods – when he was depressed, Draco was angry at everything. When he was happy, everything was radiant. Possibilities were everything. Colours were brighter. It was hopeless.

He knew it was a crush. A stupid, foolish crush that was only happening because there were no other targets around to distract him. But letting Potter find out would not only ruin whatever they had going on, but also any chance Draco still had of qualifying. It would weird Potter out to unspeakable degrees to discover that, just as he was beginning to get over his instinctive distrust and quite probable dislike of him, that Draco had some sort of perverted homosexual attraction for him. No. It absolutely could not happen. Draco clenched his jaw without meaning to and stared fiercely out the window of Potter’s car, trying not to wince as the other cars came disturbingly close on Potter’s side or the kerb on his own.

At the restaurant, Potter was quieter. He read the entire menu from cover to cover, then said that he was having the chicken souvlaki. Draco, who had opened the menu looking for chicken souvlaki in the first place, found this amusing but wouldn’t comment when Potter wanted to know what he was smiling about. He hadn’t known he was smiling.

Potter leaned across the table, elbows sprawled everywhere, which even he should know was bad manners by now. His eyes sparked from the tea light in the clay jar between them. “Fine. Keep your little secrets. You’re probably laughing at me, and I don’t know why, but you know what?”

He had no choice but to say it. “What?”

“I don’t care,” Potter said smugly. “You can go ahead and think whatever you want. But you’re not fooling me.”

Draco fought down his panic. “What do you mean?” He averted his eyes and took a sip of water to put something, some distance, a screen between them.

“Just that. You seem to want to be friends with me all of a sudden, and I haven’t asked why, have I? But here we are, together again, and you don’t seem to hate it enough to stop wanting to do it again every time, so I figure you couldn’t hate it, or you wouldn’t. You never did stuff you didn’t want to do.”

Draco put his water carefully down on the white-napped table. “What makes you think I haven’t changed? You’ve changed.”

“Have I?” Potter didn’t sound surprised. “I guess war will do that.”

“I guess it will,” Draco said evenly.

Potter’s eyebrows quirked up at that. “I take your point.”

“I didn’t particularly want to get involved in a war on either side,” Draco said, watching the tiny candle flame flicker and jump. “But it happens, and you either have to rise to the occasion or find someplace to hide.”

Potter was observing him acutely. “I always pegged Slytherins as the hiding sort. I hope that isn’t offensive, after everything you… yeah. Sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.”

Draco shrugged. “I can’t fault you for thinking that. That’s what half my housemates did.”

“You keep in touch with them?”

His mouth tightened. “Not much. Just Pansy.”

“I heard she went to France.”

“You have good sources.”

“So, how does that work, for you?” Potter asked, still bent as far forward as he could get without actually lying on the table. “How can you be friends with people who ditched you during the war, left you to do the dirty parts and then came back once everything was okay again – thanks to thousands of people’s sacrifices and deaths?”

Draco saw his fingernails, white on the water glass. “You’re ranting,” he said, without emotion.

Potter exhaled. “Sorry. I don’t usually do that much any more. I just think it’s a raw deal for you.”

“What about you?” Draco shifted his gaze upward to meet Potter’s serious face.

“What do you mean? Do I mind that all sorts of people who didn’t bother about the war get to enjoy the peace now? No. Not really.”

“Why not? Why do you get to be special?” Draco felt a twist of the old anger, the old annoyance, and for a moment it dimmed the newer feelings. “Or are you just that noble?”

“Nobility has nothing to do with it,” Potter said, voice hard. “I did what I had to do because I had no choice about it. There was a prophecy. It was me or no one. What was I supposed to do, just sit back and let Voldemort destroy everything that makes life worth living? You chose to fight. I did it by default. It was the only decent thing to do.”

Potter’s hands were gripping the base of his water glass so tightly in turn that he might have broken it, but it didn’t break. Draco dragged his eyes up to Potter’s in the silence that stretched out between them. “I did it because it was the only decent thing to do, too.”

Potter reached out and closed strong fingers around his wrist, wet with the condensation from his glass. His hold was firm and sure, his eyes almost too intense to bear. “Thank you.”

A thousand thoughts ricocheted off each other in Draco’s mind as he attempted to sort through Potter’s words and the fact that he was touching him again as his own, disturbed emotions, eddying about like silt that had been stirred up again. A server came by then, asking something about them ordering, and it startled them both. Potter abruptly released his wrist.

“We’ll both have the chicken souvlaki,” he said. “And some wine, I think. What’s your house red?”

Draco answered the server’s questions and kept his burning face down as he handed over his menu.

__________________


In the car later, Potter was calm again and drove slowly. It seemed to Draco, less familiar with the twists and turns of London’s streets, that he was taking a rather roundabout route back to Draco’s flat. It was late, close to midnight, and the light from the streetlights was reflecting on Potter’s face as they flickered past.

“I’m sorry about before,” Potter said, moving his hands to the bottom of the wheel again, his fingers holding it loosely.

“What are you sorry for?”

“I didn’t mean for things to get so intense, there.” Potter kept his eyes on the road and turned to drive around the northern edge of Hyde Park.

“It’s fine,” Draco said. “I suppose we had to talk about the war sometime.”

“It’s that one topic,” Potter agreed. “It’s something that needs to be acknowledged, at least, if we’re going to be friends. Obviously it was a huge part of our lives. I don’t know what you do and you don’t know what I do, but I think it’s probably safe to say that the war has effected what we do with the rest of our lives.”

Draco agreed silently. It was true, though he couldn’t say so. “It couldn’t really help but do that for most of our generation, I think.”

“And you’d be the first to point out that we’re not most people,” Potter said. “You, the son of a famous Death Eater.”

“You, the Boy Who Lived,” Draco quipped humourlessly.

“Of course.” Potter glanced at him. “Thanks for being willing to actually talk about it properly. So many people don’t want – it scares them, I think. Especially talk to me about it. They seem to think it’s such a sensitive subject that I’ll be angry at them for bringing it up or get mental or something. I mean, it’s not like I really want to talk about it most of the time, but sometimes you do.”

“I suppose you do.”

Potter turned down Draco’s street and stopped a short way from the entrance. “Well, here we are. I promise more cheerful topics next time. If there’s a next time, that is.”

“Any reason there shouldn’t be?” Draco located the release for his seatbelt and pressed it.

“Not to my knowledge. Should I owl you?”

“All right.”

Potter hesitated, then leaned over and hugged him. Draco had been half-expecting it, but even so, nothing could have prepared him adequately. He freed his arms and put them around Potter, feeling a decade younger and far less sure of himself than he needed to be. Potter had all sorts of specialised training during the war. If he had any skill in Legilimency, there was no way he could miss Draco’s attraction and – well, whatever else it was – with the physical contact. He was warm and his magic touched Draco’s tentatively, and it was electric. Draco felt his body respond, his cock tingling with the awareness of Potter’s body, his magic. Potter’s palms were hot against his back and Draco didn’t know how tightly to hold. He’d never felt so out of control where situations involving physical proximity were involved. Potter shifted closer, his chest pressing into Draco’s, and the hug was now officially awkwardly long. Should he end it? He didn’t want to be rude or hurt Potter’s feelings, but neither did Potter need to get any closer and find out just how much Draco was trying not to enjoy the contact. He was at least half-hard, noticeably so, a fact which he would have to find a way of hiding as soon as Potter let go. Potter turned his face and pressed a cheek into Draco’s and it was unbearably intimate. Like a lover, not that he’d ever had one. He’d had people to fuck and little else. Emotion rose up around him like a cloud, and he had to let go now, or else it would choke him and come spilling out and then it would be over with Potter. Draco detached himself, gently but definitely.

“I have to go.” He spoke quickly, avoiding Potter’s eye. “I – sorry. I have to get up early, that’s all, and I – you’ll owl me?” He was babbling, but still wanted Potter’s confirmation.

Potter was blinking and trying too obviously to look casual. Was he upset? “Yes. If you want me to.”

“I – yeah. Owl me.” Draco’s face was hot with embarrassment at his own inability to hide this very simple thing.

“I will, then,” Potter said. He hesitated. “Tomorrow too soon?”

Never might be too soon, at this rate. “Tomorrow would be great,” Draco managed, sounding strangled.

“I’ll see you, then,” Potter said, too quickly. “Good night.”

“Good night.” Where was the door handle? Oh, there – Draco got himself out of the car, closed the door hastily and hurried inside, cursing himself mightily. God, how awkward! He couldn’t have done anything differently, though. If he’d stayed any longer, he would have lost his ability to suppress his urge to kiss Potter, touch him, tangle his fingers in that impossible hair. How ridiculous! But the urge was there nonetheless. Furious with himself, he gave himself a talking to about the qualification, his assignment, and crawled into bed to sleep off his humiliation, his cock hard, the blanket sliding over it like a whisper. He wrapped one hand around it and tried not to think of Potter, but it was far too late for that. He came mouthing Potter’s name into his pillow, rutting against his mattress as though he was a teenager again. After, he lay still and pulled the blanket tight around himself and knew that if it had been that close this last time, it would only get worse from here on in.

__________________


Potter didn’t owl the next day, nor the next. Finally on Friday a short note arrived. All it said was something along the lines of his Saturday evening being open if Draco wanted to do something with him and to owl back if that were the case. Bugger put the ball in my court, Draco thought, staring at the parchment. He turned the scroll over, flattened it, and thought some more. He wanted to see Potter. He found it difficult to believe, but he wanted to see Potter very much. He was twenty-seven years old. Surely he could control his hormones. He picked up his quill and wrote back, instructing Potter to meet him at a café just outside Diagon Alley at eight.

He wasn’t nervous. Being apprehensive was completely different. Draco picked up his coffee and stared disconsolately off into space.

__________________


Potter was there ahead of him, twisting up a paper serviette into unrecognisable forms in his fingers. He saw Draco at once and dropped the serviette. Draco picked his way across the crowded café to Potter’s table.

“Hi,” Potter said, standing up hurriedly. “Let me get you something.”

“I can get my own,” Draco said coolly. Potter knew. It was obvious. He was going to try to be nice about it, let him down gently and then tell Draco why they couldn’t be friends, given the circumstances. He didn’t need Potter’s pity, however, and did not intend to accept it.

“No, let me,” Potter insisted. He shoved his glasses agitatedly up the bridge of his nose. “Please. What do you like?”

The palms of his hands had not gone clammy since he’d been about sixteen, but they were clammy now. He tried to stay calm and spoke over the buzz in his head. “A latte would be fine. Low fat.”

Potter’s eyes skated down over his front and it looked like he was going to say something, but changed his mind. “All right. I’ll be right back.” He bolted, leaving Draco standing by the table.

He sat down and attempted to gather his thoughts. Where had his sarcastic inner monologue gone? The one that was meant to be talking about how he didn’t care what Potter thought of him, how he was just a bespectacled git who’d lucked his way through an entire war, how he was only doing this to satisfy a requirement. All that. It wasn’t working, though. The monologue was playing now, feeding him a steady montage of reasons to discount Potter’s opinion of him, but it wasn’t connecting or something. He cared. He did, and it was problem, because he was he going to get through this ordeal if he was thinking that he cared about Potter for some misguided reason? He was not the type to fuck up his assignments, and he was fucking this one up royally. Draco gritted his teeth together and told himself get it under control, force Potter to believe it was all in his imagination. There hadn’t been any untoward feelings on Draco’s part whatsoever.

Potter came back and held one of the paper cups out to Draco, shifting his weight. “Uh, I got them to go – I was wondering if we could actually maybe go somewhere. I sort of think we should talk, and I don’t really want to do it here.” He cast a look around the café. “Too crowded. Would that be okay?”

That confirmed it. “Whatever you like,” Draco said, his stomach like lead.

“We can go to my flat,” Potter said, shrugging on his Muggle jacket. “I live pretty close by, but we can Apparate.”

Draco followed him silently out of the café, the latte steaming gently through the hole in the lid of the paper cup.

Outside, Potter told him the address, refusing to meet his eyes. Indicating they should Apparate separately, Draco knew. His organs clenched. Potter went first; Draco second. They were in the corridor outside the door to a flat. Potter put a thumb and third finger on the doorknob and a series of locks clicked, wards popping silently against Draco’s eardrums. Potter went in and held the door open for Draco, pulled off the jacket and tossed it on the back of a wooden chair in the narrow front hall. “Come in,” he said, and went into the large room directly ahead.

Draco trailed after him and sipped the latte, glancing around at Potter’s walls. He’d wondered what Potter’s abode looked like. Potter had surprisingly good, if eclectic taste. The furniture was mostly modern, the art a mix of personal curios, something that looked like a scarf or possibly a sari draped across one section of wall. He recognised Dean Thomas’ style in another section, paired with a series of photographs of Italian Renaissance sculptures. Potter sat down at one end of the sofa and sort of waved generally at the other end of the sofa and the armchairs near it.

Draco sat down near the farther end of the sofa. The entire flat was open, the kitchen separated only by the tile flooring distinguishing it from the common area. The bedroom was hidden by folding rattan screens. Draco caught himself and shifted his gaze from the screens, picked something off his trousers and waited for Potter to talk.

“I’m not upset with you or anything like that,” Potter said hastily. “I just – there’s something we should talk about.”

“Get on with it, then,” Draco said, his throat tight.

Potter took a long drink from his cup. Was he stalling? He rested the cup on his knee and swallowed. “Er, I think I’ve made a mistake. I think I’ve been sending messages I shouldn’t have been sending. And, uh – God, I’m really bad at this. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

The cup was hot against Draco’s palm despite the cardboard sleeve. He didn’t know what to say and couldn’t remember when he’d been more embarrassed, though that wasn’t the right word to describe the burning in his belly. “I’m sorry, too,” he mumbled, face growing hot. It sounded rather lame.

“I mean, here we are, getting to be friends,” Potter said. “And I go and fuck it up like that. I probably made you completely uncomfortable and I’m really sorry. I just realised it had gone too far last time and should either explain myself and be up front with you or else stop trying to pretend this is something it isn’t.”

Draco shook his head. “You didn’t make me uncomfortable,” he said quietly.

“Maybe not, but I would have,” Potter said miserably. “It would have gone a little further every time until you were finally so freaked out, I don’t know what would have happened.” He pushed his hand impatiently through his hair and exhaled gustily. “I should have told you how I felt from the start.”

The pressure to respond properly was growing. To confess, much as he didn’t want to. “I suppose I should have, too, but it wasn’t like that at the beginning.”

“That’s exactly what makes it so uncomfortable now,” Potter agreed. “I mean, it was I could do to keep from – well – the other night was weird for me.”

“I’m sure it was,” Draco said, trying to disguise how upset he was. He had been hoping that he had been exaggerating Potter’s discomfort to some extent, but apparently he had not.

“Weren’t you uncomfortable?” Potter pressed.

Draco gave a short laugh. “No. That’s the whole problem.”

Potter went completely still. Then: “What?”

“Obviously, that’s the problem,” Draco repeated. “For some reason I will never understand, I seem to want this to be something it’s not going to be, and since that can’t happen, we have a problem.”

Potter blinked. Then slowly, he said, “I think I missed something. I’m completely confused.”

Draco’s brows came together. “What? What are you confused about?”

Potter spoke slowly and clearly. “I’ve been trying to tell you that I’m – that I’m interested in having more than a friendship with you. I’m attracted to you. I’m sorry, but I am. And you’re probably straight and not at all interested that way. I mean, we’ve barely started being friends, so for me to suddenly – ”

What?” Draco couldn’t believe his ears. “I thought you were trying to tell me you weren’t interested and that you were uncomfortable with the fact that I am.” Oops. He hadn’t meant for it to come out quite that blatantly, but there it was.

Potter just stared at him for a second, then gave a bark of surprised laughter. “Fuck that,” he said succinctly. “I’ve been interested in you for years! I thought – never mind. Never mind what I thought, it doesn’t matter. I want you. I like you. I thought this was going to end our friendship completely.” He moved much closer to Draco, eager. “You’re really interested in me?”

He could hardly speak and muttered something about aberrations on his paternal side and Potter snickered and took his latte away, setting both cups on the floor and his hands on Draco’s thighs. The tension in Draco’s belly shifted down directly into his crotch as all of the blood in his body rushed south. Something fierce flashed hotly through him and he couldn’t even acknowledge to himself how worried he’d actually been. He was dizzy and there was something hot roiling about in his middle in the very best of ways. “You’ve always been an idiot, Potter,” he said, his mouth dry, the relief making him sharp. “Why should I have expected anything else from you?”

Potter just laughed. “I’m the idiot? If I hadn’t brought this up, how long would you have let it go, wanting it and never saying anything?” Draco had no decent answer for this and Potter knew it. “Never mind. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter any more.” His eyes were full of heat and his face came closer. He paused, eyes burning into Draco’s, silently waiting for permission. He must have heard something, because then his mouth coming to touch Draco’s, slow but unhesitating. Draco found himself responding, leaning into Potter, dizzy with some unnameable good feeling that was curling through him like smoke, like a firework in slow motion. His fingers were digging into Potter’s unkempt hair, Potter’s arms wrapped around his back in a strong grip. He heard a sound that sounded something like desperation, and realised with not a little horror that it had come from him. Potter’s mouth opened against his, his breath hot and tasting like coffee. Draco’s own mouth probably tasted like coffee, too, so they were even there. Their tongues touched, then pressed together and Potter’s hands were moving down his back, untucking his shirt and sliding up, warm from the coffee cup and Draco’s arousal became so acute that he could actively feel his self-control slipping from his grasp. He gasped into Potter’s mouth and clutched at his shoulders, his chest, then dropped a hand to Potter’s lap and squeezed. Potter was firming up in his pants and he moaned against Draco’s neck, his hand coming back around the front to grab at Draco’s cock. It was all happening so fast that he scarcely had time to think about it, but it was exactly what he wanted and Potter hardly seemed disinclined.

Potter pulled away after several disgustingly wonderful minutes of this (ten? Twenty? Draco had no idea) and gave him a rather penetrating look. “I can’t believe I got it so wrong.”

Draco would have preferred not to talk at this point, but it seemed rude to say so and the last thing he wanted was to fuck this up. “You thought I was straight?” he said, aware that his hair was dishevelled, his mouth wet with Potter’s saliva. “I thought everyone knew I was gay. I thought you were straight.”

Potter snorted. “Don’t you read the gossip headlines? Sometimes the rumours get it right, you know.”

“How foolish of me,” Draco said, rolling his eyes. “No, I don’t read anything of the sort. You couldn’t have just said something, just to let me know?”

“I was trying not to,” Potter said. “You have no idea how close I was to making a serious pass at you on Tuesday after dinner.”

“You should have,” Draco said.

Potter took him by the back of his head and kissed him again, his mouth strong and sure, the fierce feeling growing unmistakeably stronger. Potter’s hands were scrabbling at his trousers, unzipping them first, then finally getting the button. He pulled Draco’s cock out and curled his hand around it, tight and warm. Assured. Experienced. Draco felt a stab of jealousy, but it was secondary to everything else he was feeling at the moment. When he could breathe again, he got Potter’s trousers out of the way, his fingers pulling Potter’s stiff cock out. It was an angry dark red and jutted out in demanding fashion, all but ordering Draco aloud to touch it. He stroked it, relishing just how hard Potter was, watched it grow subtly even larger in his palm. God. He swallowed and met Potter’s intense gaze. A second later, their mouths came together violently again, and Draco didn’t know when he’d last felt as good. Potter knew exactly what he was doing; that little jerk he gave with his wrist at the end of every pull was sheer genius. Oh, to see him wank! Potter’s teeth dug into his lower lip and Draco bit and licked at his mouth, his tongue, humping Potter’s hand wildly. Potter’s hips snapped forward, his cock pulsing in Draco’s fist. Draco began to jerk Potter’s cock rapidly. It was slippery with precome and Potter made an agonised sound, panting against his neck. One of his arms was clamped around Draco’s shoulders and the other was pumping furiously as Draco’s cock and it was heaven. He was going to come, but he wanted to prolong this for as long as possible. Potter moved the arm holding him down to his thigh, back up to thumb Draco’s protruding nipple, then to his face in a fiercely tender gesture. It was overwhelming. Draco could feel Potter’s orgasm building – even his magic was sparking and prickling, as though something in the room might just explode along with Potter’s cock when the time came.

Potter’s grip on his cock tightened and then he was tugging at Draco’s balls, just hard enough to barely escape being painful, and that did it. Draco’s breath turned to fire in his lungs and for a moment his entire body hung suspended in the heat of his orgasm. The wet rush followed, spattering Potter’s torso in thick globs of white. After a second, he remembered to keep going himself, pulling at Potter’s cock. Potter threw back his head and breathed deeply. There was the telltale spasm in his thighs and then he made a tight sound in his throat and thrust up once, a long, single push into Draco’s encircling fist, and came.

All of the books in the top row of his bookshelf threw themselves spontaneously onto the floor. Draco would have been startled if he wasn’t feeling so satisfied, but Potter, through his half-closed eyes and panting, laughed.

He was out of breath, himself. “What?” Draco demanded, pushing his hair out of his face.

“They’ve never done that before!” Potter’s face was red, as much from embarrassment as from the orgasm.

Draco’s mouth twitched. “Nice,” he said, as dryly as he could manage when what he really wanted to do was, horror of horrors, snuggle. He never snuggled, but there was something about the moment that felt strangely as though curling up against Potter’s chest might be just the ticket.

Potter stopped laughing and kissed him again, a long, slow kiss with a lot of tongue and fingers in his hair, and it was precisely what he wanted. After, Potter opened his eyes. “Dare I ask if you have somewhere to be tomorrow morning?”

Other than a check-in with Shacklebolt and Moody at noon, Draco’s schedule was open. “I don’t. Are you asking me to stay?”

“Do you want to stay?” Potter’s eyes were very clear and open and direct.

Damn him. “Yes,” Draco said honestly, and it felt strange to be so forthright.

“Then please stay.”

__________________


They mixed drinks and made food and after, went around the screen into what there was of Potter’s bedroom. While Potter was fetching their clothes from the other room, Draco got into the bed and shifted over to the far side, leaving room for him. Potter came back and started taking things out of his trouser pockets and lining them up on the dresser. “I see you managed to find the bed,” he joked. There was nothing save the bed, the dresser, a floor lamp or two, and a large potted plant in the sectioned-off area.

“I did.”

“Shall I join you?” Not waiting for an answer, Potter lifted the blankets and moved over to him, stretching out his legs to push between Draco’s. “I can’t believe you’re actually here. In my bed.”

“Willingly,” Draco added.

Potter hit him. “I never would have – if I’d never found out you weren’t straight, or interested in me, I never would have said a word!”

Draco let his eyes be met. “I know,” he said, and Potter kissed him spontaneously.

“I just can’t really believe it. It seems too good to be true or something.”

“Don’t say things like that,” Draco said, suddenly sharp. “It’s not that complicated. We both wanted in each other’s pants, and here we are.”

“That’s not all there is to it.” Potter was very definite. “Not for me, at least. I don’t really know about you, but there it is. I like you. I’ve wanted this for such a long time.”

A knot of something hot and tight returned to the pit of Draco’s belly. It felt good and warm and anxious all at once. As though danger signals should have been flashing, but for whatever reason, weren’t. It shouldn’t be this easy. Potter was right. He very much wanted to suppress that thought, though. And Potter liked him. Genuinely liked him. Surely this was going above and beyond the assignment, not that he’d spared that a passing thought in days. He couldn’t find the right words because he didn’t know what to say. He felt good. Yes. He decided that good was the overriding feeling and went with it. “I wanted this, too.” Maybe it wasn’t true for before, but it was certainly true now.

It was evidently the right thing to say, because Potter’s eyes grew impossibly more intense. He swallowed hard, put a hand on Draco’s ribcage and put his mouth on Draco’s. It was the most leisurely kiss Draco had experienced, and yet there was nothing leisurely about it other than the tempo. Every infinitesimal movement of lip and tongue seemed magnified, intensified, every lingering touch, and Draco was rock hard again within minutes. Potter slid over, leg coming up to curl around Draco’s thigh, gradually shifting until he was lying directly on top of Draco, their cocks rubbing together between their torsos. It occurred to Draco to if Potter fucked like this, this slowly and deliberately, the fact that he was single was astounding, because he could not imagine anyone not wanting that all of the time once they’d experienced it. And he wanted it.

Draco pulled his mouth free. “Fuck me,” he said, directly against Potter’s throat. The words were mangled and half incoherent, and he was burning with embarrassment at having asked – demanded, he mentally rephrased – but also with the sheer, incomprehensible need. For Potter’s cock, in him, claiming him, possessing him.

Potter didn’t stop moving, but the air around them both seemed suddenly sharper, more aware. “What?” His mouth was near Draco’s ear, his breath warm.

He couldn’t repeat it. Except he had to. Draco raised his face, eyes blazing. “Fuck me,” he said, very clearly.

Potter looked at him for a long moment. “Okay.” No argument, no “are-you-sure”-ing, no “did you bring lube, because I don’t have any”, just a simple “okay”. He buried his face in Draco’s neck and his hand slipped between them to cup Draco’s cock, his balls. The fingers travelled back, the long middle finger seeking. His face came up, eyes connected for a second, and then Potter kissed him again. There was more urgency to it now, a little more speed, but it was still slow enough to be deliberate. As though Potter was relishing every molecule of Draco’s skin, tongue, lips with every molecule of his own, storing aside memories of every tiny thing to remember at some later date. Because, Draco realised with a sudden flash of insight, he’s worried it will never happen again. A powerful surge of emotion came over him and left him feeling something he’d never felt before and did not understand.

The finger was pressing against his hole. Potter was massaging it without hesitation of any sort, which was nice. It was a pet peeve of his, fucking blokes who weren’t even sure yet whether or not they were squicked by the thought of arse-fucking and the requisite actions that went with it. Potter seemed not only comfortable, but quite happy playing with his arsehole, gently stretching it, his finger dipping in just an inch or so every so often. His preparation was as thoughtful as his kissing, and when he moved away from Draco to reach for a tube, he gave Draco a serious look but said nothing at all.

His fingers were coated in the slick stuff, cool within Draco but warming quickly. The fingers plunged deeply this time and he groaned, spreading his legs, his reluctance having disappeared after the difficulty of the request. When he couldn’t take Potter’s skilled finger fucking any more, Draco grabbed his arm. “Enough,” he said hoarsely. “Fuck me.” He found the tube and squeezed some lube into his own shaking palm and rubbed it over Potter’s hard cock as Potter pushed himself up on one elbow. He watched Draco’s face as he did it, save for when he closed his eyes to moan softly. Draco watched him just as hungrily, drinking in the expression of wanton need on Potter’s face as he stroked him again, fingers slipping with the lubrication. “You like that?”

Potter’s eyes opened. “I love it,” he said, and his voice was strong, but Draco could hear the need.

“Put it in,” Draco ordered, spreading his legs even wider.

Potter wasted no time obeying. In seconds, he had positioned himself, then gave a long, slow push and was seated as deeply within Draco as he could be. They both moaned and Draco clenched Potter’s hips with all ten fingers. Potter began to move, not quite as slowly as Draco had thought he might, but still – it was agonisingly good. Potter’s cock was thick and filled him satisfyingly, hard and just brushing by the – oh – Draco gasped, red blooming behind his eyes like fire as Potter nudged his prostate. His cock grew harder even before he let go of Potter to clutch at it, pulling hard. Potter pushed impatiently at his hand. “Let me,” he breathed, and Draco allowed Potter’s hand to replace his. Potter matched the rhythm of his hand to the speed of his thrusting and it was already good enough to make the best fuck of his life pale in comparison. For one thing, no one else was as thorough as Potter, as concerned that he get as much out of it as possible. He’d bottomed before, but he had to be damned attracted to whomever it was if he was going to come from it. He had no doubt that Potter would see to it that he did.

Potter grunted softly and the speed increased noticeably. There were no words between them, just the sounds from their throats, of their bodies. Potter was pulling out further with every thrust and fucking him harder, deeper, faster. It was all building to something rather incredible, tendrils of it beginning to shoot out to every nerve ending in his body. Potter said something to him then, a question, and he barely heard it but his cock certainly understood and he nodded frantically, echoing it aloud and then Potter really fucked him. It was hard and at that speed, anyone else would have been desperately out of control, but Potter’s rhythm didn’t even falter. His hand was so tight around Draco’s cock that he was nearly squeezing the life out of it, but no amount of grip would have been too tight just then. Draco heard himself gasping, like a fish out of water, and Potter’s breath caught. His hips drove forward so far that his pelvic bones jammed into the backs of Draco’s thighs and stayed for a long moment as he came. As the wetness spurted into Draco, he began to move again, strictly, Draco knew, for his benefit. Neither the fact nor the effect were lost on him; he was almost there and needed only a little more – Potter’s fist was jerking him again, his cock nudging him from within, and then the heat was spreading through him like a wave, the first drops spattering out onto his stomach. Potter bent to swipe his tongue through it, slipping out of him. His tongue and hand together urged the last of it out.

He was spent, and Potter was still licking him, moving upward, tongue flickering over one nipple, then the other, finally ending up at Draco’s mouth again. He let Potter kiss him. No. That was not entirely correct. He lost himself in the kiss and was glad when Potter pulled him close and held him.

__________________


In the morning, Potter was a little shy, but didn’t seem to have any particular regrets. He was awake and moving quietly around the flat when Draco woke. Draco came around the screens and saw Potter picking up the books scattered over the floor and stowing them back on the shelf. He saw Draco and smiled, cleared his throat. “Morning.”

“Morning,” Draco said. “What time is it?”

Potter glanced at a clock on the wall. “Almost eleven.”

Draco rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. “I didn’t realise it was so late.”

“Well, we were up fairly late,” Potter said, eyes glinting.

“True.” Draco spotted his clothes hanging on a hook on the wall. He certainly hadn’t hung them there himself during the rush to get them off the previous night. Going to them, he found his wand and Charmed it all clean and dressed himself, knowing that Potter was stealing surreptitious looks in his direction. Potter was already dressed and busied himself at the counter in the small kitchen, making coffee. The kettle was steaming on the range as well, and Draco noted Potter’s thoughtfulness again. He admitted to himself that he’d had a mistaken impression of Potter. Then again, they were both a good deal older. Potter hadn’t exactly been at saint at school. Strange how that was now an enticing feature rather than an annoying one.

Dressed, he tossed his coat on the sofa and went to Potter. He’d never done it before, but he put his arms around Potter’s waist and kissed him on the cheek.

Potter’s hand came up to clutch his arms, his face turning toward Draco’s, smiling. “Do you have to go?”

“Not right away, but I do have a meeting at noon.”

“Okay.” Potter’s eyes closed and his head tilted, and Draco kissed him. After a minute, Potter turned around and slid his hands down to Draco’s arse. Not trying to instigate anything, just rubbing gently as they kissed. Their hips were very close together and Draco was half hard by the end of it, but there was no rush. He felt good.

“Are you free tonight?”

Potter shook his head, regretfully. “There’s something I have up. Work related,” he added. “Sorry. Tomorrow night?”

“Could work,” Draco said, face already closing in on Potter’s again. The kiss went on for quite awhile, both of them frotting against each other, but it was far more about the kiss itself, for perhaps the first time in Draco’s life. He knew an urge to babble ridiculously romantic things, but also knew enough not to. Potter’s eyes were hazy when he opened them next, and Draco saw the same urge written there, also unspoken, and that made him feel warm, too.

Their hands massaged through trousers, and when Potter got down on his knees, Draco conveyed his appreciation (albeit silent) by combing rough fingers through Potter’s hair. It was perfect. That elusive thing he’d never known he’d been looking for, under his nose for the past sixteen years. Later, as he returned the favour, he had time to notice that, while he’d enjoyed giving head before, he’d never wanted so much to do something for another person. Strange that that person was Potter, but there it was.

__________________


The next week passed like a strange dream, as though Draco was living someone else’s much happier life. He hadn’t been complaining about the life he had, but he honestly had not known just how good life could be. Not before now. He’d barely noticed Christmas approaching in the past few years, just that the shops got busier. To say nothing of Boxing Day sales. But now it was all around him. Everything smelled of cinnamon and balsam and even the sudden snowfall was a pleasant diversion rather than an inconvenience. How perfectly ridiculous. But there was no escaping the fact that life was simply nicer now. Potter had somewhat insisted he start calling him by his given name, which lent the entire affair a certain unspoken officialdom. Draco was aware of the fact, though nothing had been said about relationships or length of term or anything such thing. They just went on as they had, and it was so unspeakably wonderful that Draco half avoided thinking about it sheerly out of an equally unspoken dread that it was all very temporary, that something was bound to happen to destroy his illusion of how perfect the whole thing seemed to be. Potter wasn’t clingy or demanding of his time. He continued to be an exceedingly generous lover, he didn’t talk during movies except in those rare moments when it was actually acceptable, and he seemed to have an instinct for which moments were the acceptable ones. They ate together frequently, usually out, but occasionally they cooked in Potter’s tiny kitchen. The sex was fantastic. Nobody said anything about meeting friends or public appearances or any such thing, and Draco didn’t know what he thought about that. He’d told Shacklebolt and Moody that the friendship was progressing excellently. He’d said nothing of the parts that were decidedly not platonic, and if they knew somehow, neither one said anything about it.

It transpired that it was Wednesday night. They had gone to see Les Misérables, a first for Potter, then come back to Draco’s flat to kiss and suck and fuck, and now they were lying together, unwinding. Potter had discovered a bottle of Merlot he had all but forgotten, dusted it off and opened it. Draco reached for his glass and sipped. “What are you doing on Friday?” he asked cautiously, having debated asking about it all evening already.

Potter stirred and turned away from him to reach for his own glass. Deliberate evasion? “Friday?” he repeated carefully.

“Yes. This Friday.”

“I have something,” Potter said, rather vaguely.

“What? Is it work-related?” This meant an automatic non-answer, but if it transpired that Potter was also attending the Ministry fundraiser, then awkward questions would surely be asked.

“Yes,” Potter said slowly. “I’ve… been invited to something at the Ministry.”

“The Christmas fundraising dinner?”

“Yes.” Potter looked at him. “Why?”

“I’m going, too.”

Potter stiffened. “Were you invited, or are you going with someone?”

As Potter didn’t know he was an Auror candidate, he wouldn’t know that Draco had been invited. Draco thought quickly. “I ran into someone and got invited,” he fibbed. “If I have a date, it’s – well.” He stopped, still unsure as to what he wanted to say about that. It wasn’t that he wanted to go as Potter’s date. He just didn’t want Potter taking anyone else, sham or not. “I don’t have a date and don’t plan to find one,” he said, choosing his words with care.

Potter relaxed. “Same here.” He hesitated. “I’ll see you there, then.”

Draco felt a touch of annoyance. “How, Harry? Don’t be a prick about this.”

“About what?” Potter got immediately defensive. “I’m not being a prick!”

“You know what I’m asking about,” Draco said pointedly. “What do you mean, ‘you’ll see me there’? How? As a couple? As people who always hated each other now trying to be civil in public? As people who fuck around and whatever else but don’t talk about what it is, what?”

“I’m not the one who doesn’t talk about it!” Potter set down his wine with a bang. “I didn’t realise there was a need. I thought it was obvious.”

“To each other, maybe,” Draco said. “And even then, it’s not exactly spelled out in stone, is it? That’s okay. I just want to know how you plan to be in public.”

“I could ask the same thing,” Potter said, still defensive.

Draco rolled his eyes. “Don’t get like that. That’s precisely why I brought it up. I don’t really like talking about things like this, but I figured you might be there – Boy Who Lived and all – and I thought it might be awkward if we hadn’t talked about it first. Calm down.”

“I am calm.” Potter said, but he relaxed.

“So,” Draco prompted.

“How do you want to be?”

“Let’s go with being friends,” Draco said, making up his mind as he said it. “You can talk to whoever you want, but let’s not avoid each other.” The better for Shacklebolt and Moody to see evidence of the friendship, too.

“Friends,” Potter repeated. He sighed. “All right. I guess that’s what I get for not having a big, splashy, public coming out.”

“What?”

“Not getting to be what we really are in public,” Potter said, shifting closer.

Draco found Potter’s fingers and wove his own into them, reflecting that he had never done any such thing before Potter. “Yeah. That’s how it works. Besides, do you even want that?”

“I don’t know,” Potter said. “I don’t want you coming with some girl just to keep up appearances, though.”

“Pansy is not just ‘some girl’,” Draco said edgily.

“That’s not what I meant. I have nothing against Pansy. I just meant in general.”

“Fine.” Draco sighed. “Let’s not talk about this any more.”

“Okay.” Potter pressed closer and kissed him on the chest. “Busy tomorrow?”

“Unfortunately, yes. Nothing exciting, just a meeting with my solicitor.”

“Can we have breakfast together?” Potter gave him a winning smile.

“Definitely.” Draco smiled back.

Potter clambered onto him, straddling Draco’s waist, and bent to kiss him again. As usual, it got rather quickly more involved and the uncomfortable conversation dissipated into a far more pleasant blend of pleasure and what Draco suspected might be an emotion he had yet acknowledge to himself. They were together. They were what they were, and all was well.

__________________


The grand ballroom was packed with people and media. Important persons were everywhere amidst the holly and fairy lights, talking loudly and self-righteously, and Draco saw the comparison between them and Potter. While Potter had long since stopped being awkward in his public appearances, though he had cultivated a rather smooth façade, he had never become something he wasn’t. There was a wall, but there was also no chasing the spotlight. When he arrived, the cameras went wild. Potter merely adjusted his bow tie and Draco saw his lips forming the words No comment over and over again. He looked bothered. Angry, even. Draco wondered why; Potter surely wasn’t that upset over what must be a routine entrance at such an event. He stood near the fountain across the hall from the main entrance and waited, champagne glass in hand, for Potter to come and find him.

He had a long wait. Potter circled and fulfilled social obligation after social obligation. Granger was there, along with Weasley, but Granger in particular stuck rather close to Potter, to Draco’s annoyance. Had he forgotten that they were supposed to be acting like friends? An hour went by and there had not even been a suggestion of eye contact. Draco’s frustration turned anxious despite himself. He would not act like a clingy, desperate, jealous boyfriend. He wasn’t even officially with Potter. Then he thought, officiality be damned. The kiss Potter had given him, heavy on tongue and arms, after they’d left the breakfast café the day before was not the kiss one gave a casual lover or fling. He knew that Potter cared for him rather seriously. So why this?

It was eleven by the time Draco got tired of waiting and went to find him, vowing to get to the bottom of this first and then give Potter a royal display of temper in private. Potter was as far across the room as he could be, standing near some potted palms with Granger glued firmly to his side. Any hope Draco had entertained that Potter’s foul temper might be unrelated to him evaporated when he saw Potter notice his approach. His face darkened and Granger turned to murmur something to him, her back half turned to Draco. The stab of anxiety grew, equal to the stab of his own anger. Potter said something to Granger that she clearly did not like. She argued, shooting Draco a glare, and Potter spoke again, insistently. Granger sighed deeply and took herself off. Was she that angry that Potter was seeing him? She obviously knew. Draco ignored her and looked at Potter.

“Hi,” he said, rather pointedly.

Potter flushed even darker. “You’ve got a lot of nerve, even coming to talk to me, Malfoy,” he spat.

The anxiety turned into panic. Draco stopped, leaving a good space between them. “What?” he asked, confused and very uncertain.

“I can’t believe you,” Potter said, obviously trying to keep his voice down, but struggling. “I thought you were completely genuine. I thought you were actually as happy as I was about what was happening. I can’t believe you deceived me that convincingly – and for so long! How long would you have let it go, Malfoy? Were you planning to out me publicly? Did someone pay you? What? I don’t understand. Even you. How you could do this?”

The panic almost drowned out his ability to think clearly, to speak. “What? I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Draco said, trying to sound cool at the accusations, but his mind was whirling uncontrollably. He should have known it was too good to last. The little voice in his head was mocking him for his sentimentality, for thinking he was in love and that it could really work. “Harry, what are you – ”

“Don’t call me that!” Potter snapped. “I can understand friends, Malfoy, but why would you do this to me?”

What? What are you talking about?” Draco repeated, staring at him. The Malfoy hurt more than he cared to think about. “I haven’t deceived you and I would never out you like that!”

“Like how, then?” Potter challenged, his eyes darkening. “I can’t believe a word you say. I – I have never been this hurt, ever. I can’t believe you would do this.”

“Potter, if you don’t start backing up your random accusations with something real, I’m going to get really angry soon,” Draco said, his temper coming to his rescue. “What the fuck are you going on about?”

“Your assignment,” Potter hissed, eyes narrowed in fury.

Shock hit like a wave. He had actually almost forgotten the assignment. How the hell did Potter know about that?! His mouth opened, but no words came out.

Through his anger, disappointment shone through Potter’s expression. “So it really is true,” he said flatly. “You can’t even deny it. This was all a ruse so that you could pass your character testing. Well – ” he choked for a second, then spoke bitterly. “At the very least, I’ll have the satisfaction of having outed your tiny, ugly little personality. No person with any sort of moral integrity would get involved with someone like this all for the sake of passing a test. And I’m glad the Aurors know, before you duped them, too.”

Draco gritted his teeth together and found words. “Potter, I haven’t duped anyone. Yes, I had an assignment to get to be friends with you. Genuinely friends.”

“This is genuine, all right – ” Potter cut in.

If you would let me finish,” Draco continued, his voice rising, “I wasn’t allowed to tell you, obviously. Hard to establish a friendship that way, when one person knows it’s just an assignment for the other person. I didn’t fake any of it, though, not after the first day.”

“When we were in this very room,” Potter said dully. “I can’t believe I was stupid enough to think you were for real.”

“Are you even listening to me?” Draco was furious. “It wasn’t part of my assignment to fuck you, you know!”

“I know!” Potter said, eyes flashing. “That’s exactly what makes it so despicable, you creep!”

“Potter, would you shut up and listen to me?” Draco hissed. “It so happens that – ”

Potter interrupted again, before he could say it. “Do you know how I feel – felt – about you? I don’t ever want to see you again. Don’t contact me.” He all but threw his champagne glass on the table and strode swiftly from the room, Granger running after him.

The people watching the argument had at least been too far to hear exactly what was being said. It was little comfort to Draco, who was suffering under the weight of a depression he could already feel descending upon himself. He put his own glass down, glared at the crowd and slipped out a side door and into the sanctuary of his flat.

__________________




CONTINUED IN PART THREE
Tags: [fic], [long/chaptered fic], rated: nc-17
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