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‘Royal flush,’ says Mrs Li with a triumphant smile, and Draco throws his cards down and groans. Mrs Li gathers the pile of Galleons and jewellery towards her, and with a flick of her wand it vanishes out of sight, probably sent to her one of her numerous vaults. The room is dark, smoky and full of shadows cast by the flickering light of gas lamps. The tension around the table during the last few minutes of the game dissolves as it ends with Draco’s defeat. At twenty-three, Draco’s not the youngest person there, but it’s close. He’s definitely the poorest. The other witches and wizards — their faces glamoured, their fingers and ears empty of the diamonds they’d lost in the game — stand from the table with varying expressions of disappointment, anger and regret. Mrs Li has fleeced them all and she’s now smirking at Draco as he leans back in his chair and scowls.

‘That makes it a round fifty grand you owe us, right?’

‘I’ll pay it back. Put me down for tomorrow’s game. I’ll win it.’

The guttering light deepens the wrinkles around her eyes when she laughs. ‘You won’t win it. But you will pay it back. In a week.’

‘I can’t raise that money in a week,’ Draco says. He can’t raise it in a decade, which she knows, but his objections don’t affect her beatific smile.

Two heavy-set wizards flank her as she leaves the table and walks to the door that leads to the rest of the club. ‘A week from today, Mora. Or should I say, Mr Draco Malfoy?’ She seems to find his shocked expression amusing. ‘Did you think we’d let someone in the club without knowing who they really were? A week, Mr Malfoy. You know what the consequences will be if you fail to pay us.’ She pauses with her hand on the handle. ‘Oh, and don’t think you can escape us in the Muggle world. We know all about the studio and Mr Miyagi.’

Draco’s blood freezes. His fists clench on his thighs in the empty, smoky room, with the discarded cards on the round table winking insolently at him. Desperation has driven him to this illicit gambling club in Knockturn Alley, desperation and poverty, and his father had always said that despair is like having an extra set of balls: it’s something people can grab and use to hurt you.

His father is now dead, and Draco’s fucked. There’s no question about it. He’s seen what happens to the people who don’t pay their debts — they become examples, warnings to the rest of the clients. Mrs Li’s club has tolerated his losses all this time, let his debt pile up, exploited his urgent need… but perhaps they’ve run out of patience. He rises heavily from his chair and retreats to the main room, where people gathered around tables wear solemn, intent faces as they wait for a throw of the dice to change their fate. Red dominates the decoration and an engraved dragon at the back wall breathes smoke at the lacquered ceiling.

‘Mora!’ Draco turns to see Sue, an old classmate and Mrs Li’s daughter. ‘A word?’

He follows her into what is probably her office, spacious and elegant, with gleaming surfaces, vases of peonies and dark rosewood sofas. A jade chandelier hangs from the ceiling, bright with candles.

‘Sit, Draco — you don’t mind if I call you Draco, right?’

Draco sits, removing his apparently useless glamour with a word. Sue’s chatty, friendly, and prattles on about the classes they’d shared and the friends they had in common. Draco doesn’t let his guard down one inch.

‘You didn’t call me in here to reminisce,’ he says.

‘No, I didn’t.’ Her gaze is calculating even as her manner remains friendly. ‘I’d like to make you a proposition. A little job you can do for us in exchange for clearing your debt.’

The timing of her mother’s ultimatum starts making sense.

‘What kind of job?’

‘It’ll be nothing really. Not for a man of your… talents.’

Draco swallows, says nothing.

‘We know what you are, Draco.’

What you are. They can’t know about it, can they?

She seems to read his thoughts. ‘It’s all over Knockturn Alley. At the creature clubs and the potion dens; at the brothels and the betting rooms; at the dark corners of clubs, people whisper that an Incubus walks among us, promising pure pleasure in exchange for a little… sustenance. He looks different every time, but they all agree he’s the same man.’

Draco finds he can’t breathe. He’s protected this secret with his life, and the only people who knew — a warden in Azkaban and his mother — are both dead.

‘People make up all sorts of rumours,’ he says, managing to keep his face neutral.

‘I’m sure they do, Mora.’

Mora is the Muggle name for his kind. The Shadow. Draco hadn’t expected anyone to recognise the reference, but he’s clearly underestimated the Lis.

Sue’s expression loses her mirth. ‘Let’s cut the dragonshit, shall we? We know everything, Draco — including the illness of your Muggle employer, which drove you to seek quick funds. We know you have no way in hell of raising the money you owe us, which means in a week’s time we’ll have to make an example of you, and your precious Mr Miyagi, alone and uncared for, will most likely die. Surely you don’t want all that to happen because of some misguided notion of honour?’

Honour. As if it’s honour that’s making Draco obstinate rather than his reluctance to accept orders. He’d thought, after Voldemort and after Azkaban, that he was free, but here he is, beholden again to someone whose purposes he can’t fathom.

‘What do you want?’

Her smile reminds him of her mother’s; the same triumph shines in her eyes. ‘I knew you’d be reasonable. What we want you to do is simple: seduce Harry Potter.’

A clock ticks on the wall; outside the door, the casino noise is muffled.

‘Excuse me?’

She enunciates clearly, a touch of frost in her voice. ‘I need you to get close to Harry Potter. Court him, seduce him, become his best friend — I don’t care how you do it. What I want is for you to get close enough to him to retrieve a certain something from where he works at the Department of Mysteries. A black jade figurine. It belonged to my family; it has sentimental value.’

Sentimental value, my arse. ‘You do realise that Harry Potter hates me?’

‘In school he did. I remember you glaring at each other from across the Hall. But we’re grown-ups now, Draco. Harry Potter’s a forgiving man. He also bats for both teams. He’ll definitely be open to your… talents.’

‘Let me put it differently: I hate Harry Potter.’

‘He testified at your trial.’

‘Ineffectually.’

‘You can’t blame him because the Wizengamot wanted to make an example of you.’

‘Seems to be a lot of people want to do that.’

Sue shrugs, accepts the jab. ‘We’re not asking you to murder him, or harm him in any way,’ she says, glossing over the part where Draco’s “talents” can harm people, even in small, unseen ways. ‘He’ll enjoy it. By all accounts, a night with you is phenomenal. And it’ll keep you fed. The debt will be cleared… You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain by doing this.’

Draco stands and walks to the fireplace. His head is spinning, he needs some time to think. He runs his hand over the carved slithering dragons on the mantelpiece to stall.

‘Look,’ Sue says, ‘if you really don’t want to have sex with him, then don’t. But find a way to make him trust you enough to let you have access to the figurine.’

He snorts. Potter trusting Draco — what a joke. Sue isn’t laughing, though; she’s looking at him intently. She’s been trying very hard to convince him, and Draco’s suddenly sure that he’s not the first person they approached. They must have had people try to sneak into the Ministry and steal the figurine, or even thrown other, more likely candidates for Potter’s affections into his path. They must be desperate. The realisation makes him breathe a little easier. It’s like a card game; the moment you read your opponent and can sense you’ve got the better hand.

‘I want three things,’ he says.

‘Go on.’

‘The debt to be cleared.’

‘Done.’

‘An Unbreakable Oath that you’ll never reveal what I am.’

‘No problem.’

‘And fifty thousand Galleons in Muggle money.’ It’s enough money to escape the NHS waiting lists and find the transplant Nariyoshi needs.

She gazes at him and Draco doesn’t take his eyes away. They need him; they’ll accept. In the end, she nods. ‘You give us the figurine, we’ll give you the money. But we need this to happen soon. Before the Crow Moon.’

Six weeks.

‘Tick tock, Draco.’

~~~

Harry has had the dream before. He’s in the forest. It’s dark and eerily quiet. He sees no one but feels watched. He’s searching for something but can’t remember what. He thinks he glimpses a familiar face, he runs towards it, but he’s mistaken. It’s only a shadow, a trick of the frosty moonlight that makes everything look lifeless. Harry trudges on, his footsteps making no sound. He wants to speak, to call out, but he’s suddenly afraid to break the silence. Something terrible will happen if he does, he’s sure of it. He shudders with cold dread. Branches snag at his clothing; he’s getting in deeper and it’s getting colder. He stumbles over something. He looks down. Two legs protrude from a bush — a dead body. No, no, no... He takes a step to see the person’s face, to see who it is, his heart frantic with terror…

But tonight, before he jerks awake, drenched in sweat like always, the dream changes. It’s as if a window has opened in a stuffy room, letting in a breeze that dispels the forest like mist.

Harry finds himself in his bed, naked and aroused. Someone is kissing his stomach. A man. Blond. Talented. His long fingers dig into Harry’s thighs, his tongue circles Harry’s navel with unhurried swipes. The tension from the earlier dream shifts into a different kind and Harry threads his finger through the almost-silver hair of the bloke licking his way down Harry’s body. He’s reached his groin now, his mouth warm on Harry’s skin. Harry’s fucked countless faceless blonds in his dreams, but this one — this dream and this man — feels vivid and solid, unlike any other.

‘Is this real?’ he murmurs, and the man hears him and lifts his head. His smirk is as familiar as it is unexpected.

‘Do you want it to be?’ Malfoy asks.

Harry’s almost startled awake by the shock. He hasn’t seen Malfoy since he was sent to Azkaban, skinny and pointy and in despair, clutching his parents’ hands as the verdict was read, furious tears running down his face. This man is nothing like that boy. He’s relaxed, confident and devastatingly handsome. His sly gaze sparks a fire in Harry’s stomach and his voice sends shivers down Harry’s spine.

‘Do you want this, Harry? You’ve got to say yes if you want it.’

It must be a dream, it must. ‘Yes.’

‘I might be a little rough with you,’ the dream-Malfoy warns.

He probably doesn’t know what that promise does to Harry, or maybe he does, because Harry’s cock twitches and the movement draws Malfoy’s eyes, his face taking on a ravenous expression. He sinks down and takes all of Harry in his mouth. Harry gasps and arches his back. Malfoy’s tongue swipes around the head, laps at the slit and licks the underside of Harry’s cock. For good measure Malfoy looks up at Harry with a wicked smile and runs his teeth gently along Harry’s cock before he sucks him once more. More, Harry wants to gasp. Give me more. Dream-Malfoy seems to read his mind. A finger snakes in under Harry, burrows inside his arse and finds the spot that makes him see stars.

Harry doesn’t date much. After his divorce from Ginny, he went out with Anthony, but the relationship fizzled fast. It’s been a while since someone has blown him – and Malfoy’s doing it so exquisitely, his fingers fucking him so sweetly, that Harry’s toes are curling with unbearable delight.

Malfoy removes his obscene mouth from Harry’s cock and crawls over him, bringing his face close to Harry’s. ‘I’m going to fuck you, Harry,’ he says, his whisper like a midnight breeze. ‘I’m going to take so much pleasure from you you’ll be unable to get out of bed tomorrow.’

‘Do it,’ Harry says, vibrating with desire. There’s a kernel of fear in his arousal. Harry has no idea why, but it makes it all the more thrilling.

Dream-Malfoy grabs Harry and turns him over. He opens Harry’s legs and positions himself behind him. Everything happens too fast, but it’s a dream and dreams don’t need preparations or explanations as to how Malfoy could have ended in Harry’s bed. No, what they need, Harry thinks, his cheeks pressed on his pillow as Malfoy enters him, is a good fucking.

And Malfoy gives him a good fucking. He buries himself inside Harry to the hilt, and thrusts and thrusts. It’s relentless, unstoppable, and Harry gasps and moans as Malfoy fucks him hard. Harry’s cock slides hot against the bed and he bites his lips and fists the sheets. Saliva drips down his mouth as Malfoy bunches his arse cheeks and spreads them wider.

‘Who knew you’d take it so well,’ Malfoy murmurs with a hint of wonder. ‘Who knew you’d be such a good boy for me.’

‘Fuck me harder,’ Harry says, and he hears Malfoy growl. He leans close to Harry and pants in his ear, and something sharp digs in Harry’s ribs, drawing blood. Harry’s skin burns with the desire that’s pulled from him. Malfoy grunts, and he just keeps going, and going. Harry loses track of time; it could be minutes he’s being fucked, or hours, or years. Nothing matters more than the pleasure building under his feverish skin. Malfoy’s cock is hard and slick, and he’s pumping, again and again, deeper and deeper until he lifts Harry, sets him on all fours and thrusts inside him so deep that Harry shuts his eyes and comes.

Sweat cools on his skin. Harry opens his eyes and takes in the dark room. He’s alone in sticky pyjamas, and Grimmauld Place is as quiet and empty as it’s been these past couple of years since the divorce. He exhales. He’s as relieved as he is disappointed to realise that he hadn’t got blind drunk, pulled Malfoy in a pub and brought him home. It was simply a wet dream. A very realistic, very wet dream, he thinks as he trudges to the shower, the gleaming eyes and sharp nails of Malfoy dancing in his consciousness until the hot water soaks them away.

~~~

Draco whistles as he takes the pieces of Mrs Hollingbray’s vase and places them on his worktable. Alone in the workshop, he takes his wand out; it saves time. He casts a spell to maintain the gold-dusted lacquer at the right consistency and another that holds the shards in the right shape, so he can see where the seams meet before he glues them together. It’s a methodical, meditative task, and his mind strays to last night’s dream.

He’s shaken, he can’t deny it. He hadn’t expected to like it so much. He wasn’t even supposed to touch Potter.

One of the advantages of being part-Incubus is the ability to enter and influence the subconscious of others at will, feeding from the sexual energy released in erotic dreams. It doesn’t provide the same nourishment as real sex does, not even close, but nor does it affect his… (‘prey,’ his mind supplies) lover too badly. No fear of draining someone’s energy to death while lost in pleasure; the thing that keeps his stomach in knots, the one fear Draco can’t shake loose, no matter how much control he’s learned.

He’s spent the last three days considering how to approach Potter. He’s read back issues of the Prophet and even the Quibbler, and got up to date with the lurid details of Potter’s life. The early marriage and the swift divorce; his ex-wife’s relationship with Cho Chang of all people; the few dates Potter’s been out with. Mostly women, but also Goldstein from school. Three days later and Draco was none the wiser as to a way into Potter’s life. Visiting Potter in sleep was a last resort.

Potter was having a nightmare, which Draco dispelled with a careless wave of his hand before gazing at the man he’d resented for so long. Potter looked better than he did five years ago, taller, though still wiry and inky-haired. There was none of his irritating bravado that had grated on Draco in the past. No, Potter stood trembling in his dream, vulnerable and haunted, broken like the ceramics Draco repairs. A flood of conflicting emotions rose inside him: longing and resentment, blame, guilt, gratitude, anger, lust. Before he knew it, he had Potter naked and on the bed. A taste, he’d told himself, all I want is a taste. It was curiosity — who’d say no to the Chosen One? But a taste wasn’t enough, the sight of Potter writhing him below him as addictive as any potion. It had given him a dark and profound pleasure to see his old rival shudder as he plunged his cock inside him; to hear Potter moan in ecstasy, because of Draco.

Draco glues another shard with the gold lacquer. The vase is taking its old shape with gold seams running where the cracks have been. He holds what he’s pieced together so far to wait for the lacquer to dry; he could do it by wand, but touch is a better way to gauge when it’s ready. His master, Nariyoshi Miyagi Sensei, taught him to trust his hands, along with all the secrets of kintsugi, the art of mending broken ceramics with gold. When he’s done, Draco carefully sets the repaired vase on a drying rack, stands and stretches. Remnants of Potter’s sizzling energy linger in his veins, and Draco is hungry for more; the mere idea of what the real thing would feel like is enough to make him drool.

Footsteps echo from the stairs coming down from the flat. Draco hides his wand before Nariyoshi appears at the door.

‘What are you doing up so early?’ Draco asks. ‘The appointment isn’t for another two hours.’

‘Couldn’t sleep.’

‘Let me fix you some tea.’

In the kitchen, Draco puts the kettle to boil. Nariyoshi took him in and gave him a job despite the fact that Draco had no ID or CV or any other initials that Muggle jobs require. Draco had been out of Azkaban for a few months by then. His mother had just died, his property had been seized long before, his vault emptied, and no one in the magical world would hire an ex-con, especially one whose name was Malfoy.

But Nariyoshi took pity on him. He let Draco move in with him in the flat above the studio, he trained him to be a potter – oh the irony! – and he taught him how to repair ceramics with the kintsugi method. A Reparo would fix them perfectly — no cracks or faults, the original unblemished again. But Draco likes kintsugi, because he knows life isn’t like Reparo. No one breaks without the cracks to show for it.

Sometimes magic is a lie.

Returning with the tea, he tells Nariyoshi to go back to bed. ‘We don’t need to call a taxi for another hour.’

‘We don’t need a taxi. I’m well enough for the bus. Long as we set out early, we should make it on time.’

Draco knows Nariyoshi’s only saying it because the hospital is miles away and they can’t afford long taxi rides. ‘I’ll go get ready then.’

Muggle hospitals are depressing. Draco entertained the idea of becoming a Healer when he was young, before his father assured him that once Voldemort took control, Draco would have a prestigious position in government. Draco had embraced the idea with the same determination that he had shown whenever he wanted to please his father. If a Malfoy’s place in a society was to rule it, then rule it he would.

Look at him now. Instead of ruling the magical world, Draco is sharing accommodations with a fifty-eight-year old Muggle. Life has swept him from promised glory to a plastic chair in a foul-smelling corridor surrounded by sick people. Illness has a taste that makes him break out in hives; as Incubus, he doesn’t get sick now, but he can sense disease. It helps him avoid feeding from people with chronic conditions, who’d be severely affected by the draining of their energy.

‘When I’m gone…’ Nariyoshi starts.

‘Don’t.’

‘Listen to me. When I’m gone, the studio is yours. You know the craft. You’re good at it, talented. Keep the business, if you like.’

When Nariyoshi is gone, Draco will have no one.

‘Hush. You’re not going anywhere.’

It’s time to give Potter a real taste of what Draco is like. Tick, tock.

~~~

Harry doesn’t know anything about art, but as he pauses in front of one of Dean’s portraits, he finds himself in the unfortunate position of being required to talk about it.

‘Isn’t it sublime?’ a witch in stylish black robes exclaims. ‘The purity of the lines, together with the remarkable handling of the light, visually and conceptually contextualise emotion in a way we’ve never seen before. What do you think?’

She gazes at Harry in clear expectation of a reply and Harry stalls, nodding and sipping his champagne, furtively glancing around for Hermione in the hopes she’ll swoop in and translate what he’d just heard because he’s not sure it was English. Half of the words sounded made-up. He initially liked the portrait; harrowing eyes in a hollow face, tones of muted grey. Made him think of a face that has seen the depth of human darkness, but now his words sound poor and clumsy.

‘Well, it’s a, er, powerful portrait,’ he starts and with some surprise and considerable relief he finds himself interrupted.

‘You could say this painting is almost anarchic in its ambition and scope,’ a familiar voice drawls as its owner insinuates himself between Harry and the witch. ‘The contextualisation of negative space subverts the juxtapositions of subject and object, of viewer and viewee if you will.’

The witch nods appreciatively at Malfoy’s nonsense, while Harry’s caught by surprise at his sudden appearance in the gallery. A thrill runs in his veins at the sight of Malfoy in the flesh after seeing him naked, lean and glistening in his dream the other night. He feels naughty just recalling those images while standing next to him.

Malfoy’s as handsome as he was in the dream — less dazzling, but perhaps even more desirable for it. Polished and graceful, wearing rather severe midnight blue robes with a high collar, Malfoy would give the impression of a stern judge if it wasn’t for the way his hair — long enough to brush his chin — softens his overall look, creating an aura that’s… the first word that comes to Harry’s mind is conflicting. Malfoy adjusts his collar and Harry wishes he didn’t wear such conservative clothes. He wants to see if Malfoy’s skin is the same as in Harry’s dream, if his muscles are the same as the muscles of dream-Malfoy, if his cock is—

Harry gracelessly gulps some champagne, feeling the heat rising from his skin and sweat pooling at the small of his back. Malfoy sprouts some more nonsense about ‘the substructure of critical thinking’ and the witch finally moves on. He turns to Harry and gives him half a shrug.

‘I hope you don’t mind I commandeered the conversation. I sensed you were having some difficulty.’

‘Not at all. Commandeer anything you want.’ Harry’s voice comes out flirtatious and he coughs to clear it. ‘So, er, do you like art?’

This also sounds like flirting, and Malfoy’s eyes sparkle.

‘Just as much as the next person,’ he says. ‘How about you?’

‘I’m mainly here for Dean.’ Harry points at the artist surrounded by a cluster of people under the infamous The Blindfolded Man, the painting that gave its name to the exhibition. He spots Ron’s red hair next to Seamus, who has an arm around his girlfriend and seems to be in the middle of one of his tales. ‘Where did you learn to talk about art? Can’t remember us being taught anything like that at school.’

‘Maybe you weren’t paying attention.’

Harry flicks a sideways glance at him. ‘Perhaps I missed the masterclass in pretentious art talk that Slytherins gave in their common room.’

Malfoy laughs. ‘Not us. Macmillan could have given us a run for our money.’

‘Excuses.’ Harry smiles. ‘You don’t want to admit you didn’t invite me.’

He’s not sure how this is happening, this easy-going chattiness with someone he hasn’t seen in years, someone who stood on the opposite side of a battlefield not that long ago. Or perhaps five years is a long time. Harry’s not the same as he was back then. It’s not inconceivable that Malfoy might have changed.

‘Well,’ Malfoy says, glancing at Harry and back at the painting. ‘I’d invite you now.’

Warmth spreads in Harry’s stomach. ‘I’m honoured.’

‘It’s simply out of pity. You sorely need the lesson.’ There’s no sting in Malfoy’s words, not like there would’ve been years ago. Malfoy’s voice is light and playful, his smile teasing.

‘Aren’t you kind.’

Malfoy chuckles. ‘That’s a word that’s never been associated with me.’

Harry glances at Malfoy’s face, framed by the halo of his hair, and Malfoy holds his gaze. Memories of their past mingle with the intrigue of their present selves. Desire coils in Harry’s gut, a maddening urge to see what Malfoy’s body looks like under his stupid, prim robes.

Malfoy grabs two champagne flutes from a floating tray and offers one to Harry. His countenance changes from sweet and playful to something darker, but infinitely more exciting. ‘Wanna get out of here?’

Harry’s blood roars. An effort to calm his treacherous body is futile, his brain is supplying him with images of Malfoy sucking his dick, and Harry wants to have sex with him again. Or rather, for the first time. He knows dreams aren’t reliable indicators of sexual prowess, but something in Malfoy’s gaze promises unfathomable ecstasy.

Harry’s friends are scattered around the room. They won’t miss him. Just because they came together, doesn’t mean they need to leave together, right? They’re grown-ups. Also, Harry hasn’t had a proper shag in ages, and it’s very clear by Malfoy’s words and expression that that’s where this evening is headed.

He sets his glass down. ‘There’s a bar down the road that serves Every Flavour Vodka.’

Malfoy downs his champagne in one. ‘I prefer vodka,’ he says and heads to the exit.

They stroll down Wandsworth’s main thoroughfare, lined with bars and fancy restaurants, theatres and artist’s studios, even a circus. The revival of London’s magical entertainment district, which took its name from the wand woods that existed in the area, throbs with smartly-robed people, noise and music, neon lights and floating orbs of glitter. The bar is tucked beside a theatre (“Wandless in Love” read the blinking lights on the marquee) and is already busy with bright young things sipping sparkling cocktails.

Malfoy brings the drinks over, heads turning as he passes through the crowd. Seems it’s not only Harry that finds him irresistible to look at.

‘I got Surprise Flavour for both of us.’ Malfoy sets the glasses on their stand.

‘Adventurous,’ Harry comments. His cheeks warm up at Malfoy’s smirk. Everything Harry says sounds suggestive, as if he’s one minute away from shoving Malfoy on his back.

To be fair, he kinda is.

‘You could even say kinky.’ Malfoy murmurs, eyes on him.

Harry’s never had a conversation like this before — with Anthony they’d politely chatted about work and the Quidditch league before exchanging a sweet goodnight kiss. With Malfoy, every word, every glance, every gesture is charged with electricity.

‘Night-blooming jasmine.’ Malfoy smacks his lips after a sip of his mystery vodka. ‘Want a taste?’

Boy, do I. ‘Er, sure.’ Harry accepts the proffered glass and takes a sip. The vodka is sweet and fragrant, delicate like a starlit night. ‘Er, I’m not sure what mine is — something metallic almost — want to try?’

Malfoy moves up close and wraps his fingers around the glass over Harry’s. He Conjures a straw and sucks, and Harry’s heart stutters. He attempts to get his pulse under control when Malfoy returns to his place, saying Harry’s vodka tastes ‘like the air before a thunderstorm does.’ Malfoy’s hand strays to his collar as if it bothers him, and Harry resists the temptation to tell him to unlace the bloody thing.

Harry’s not sure he’s going to make it in one piece tonight.

‘…left the Aurors,’ Malfoy’s saying. ‘I didn’t see that coming.’

Harry attempts to focus on the conversation. ‘Turns out my skill for running headfirst into danger — although useful for battling Dark Lords and Hogwarts monsters — is actually an impediment in Auroring. Not to mention that the paps harassing me every time I was in public got in the way of my arrests.’

He speaks lightly, making a joke of a frustrating time of his life, and Malfoy chuckles. ‘Who knew vanquishing Dark Lords isn’t an employable skill?’

Harry certainly didn’t. There are a lot of things Harry hadn’t expected from his life: that he’d divorce Ginny, that she’d fall for Cho, that he’d date men.

That the nightmares would never leave.

Malfoy stirs his drink, his eyes on the glass. ‘Aurors are prestigious. Elite. I’d always assumed you’d want your place firmly in the limelight.’

The old misconception rankles Harry. ‘I never wanted the limelight, and if you’re suggesting—’

Malfoy raises open palms. ‘I know you didn’t,’ he says but it sounds like a lie.

Harry busies himself with his drink for something to do. The reality of who he’s with suggests that this idea — Malfoy and Harry together, having a drink, talking their way into bed — will lead to catastrophe, but it’s not enough to make him leave. That wet dream with Malfoy has left its hooks in him, and he’s nothing if not curious.

And horny. Harry’s very horny.

‘What are you doing these days?’ he asks, careful to avoid saying “after prison.”

Malfoy glances at the bar and the other patrons, his voice distant. ‘I work with my hands. Long story.’ He turns and faces Harry, a too-bright smile on his face. ‘But tell me about you. Being an Unspeakable. It must be fascinating.’

It is, and Harry says so. ‘I’m a Curse-Breaker to be precise, in the Department of Mysteries division. Trained with Bill Weasley. I’m good at it.’

Malfoy leans closer over the stand. ‘Can you talk about your research, or is it something you keep…’ he gives Harry a smooth glance from top to bottom, ‘hidden?’

It sounds like a challenge and Harry decides to meet it. He leans in as well, his face close enough to Malfoy’s that his hair tickles Harry’s face. ‘I can reveal that I deal with objects of unknown provenance that might be Dark. Is that revealing enough?’

The air feels like before a storm. Malfoy licks his lips. ‘So intriguing. Can you… reveal more?’

Malfoy’s expression makes Harry think he doesn’t mean the nature of his work. The way his eyes fall on his body definitely suggests so.

Harry says, ‘With the right incentive, I might be persuaded to reveal all.’

Malfoy’s smile is nothing less than predatory. ‘Can I have a go at persuading you then?’ His eyes bore on Harry’s, the insinuation unmistakable.

Harry’s heart is thundering. He sets his glass down and nods at the exit. Malfoy gets the hint.

Outside, Malfoy veers down a twisting alley, and Harry follows him, exultant and impatient. When they’re not in sight of the main road, he pushes Malfoy against the wall, catching him by surprise. A faint growl comes from his lips as Harry presses down on him.

‘Is this what you had in mind?’ Harry asks. This is madness, complete utter madness, but his heart is beating furiously against his ribs, his hands running down Malfoy’s hips. He wants this, oh how he wants it.

‘No,’ Malfoy says. He takes advantage of Harry’s momentary surprise and grabs his wrists. With one fluid movement, he swivels them around and pinions Harry against the bricks. ‘This is more what I had in mind,’ he says, his breath hot on Harry’s skin.

It feels almost like a dream. Malfoy slides his thigh between Harry’s legs and rubs his growing erection with luxurious, unhurried movements. It drives Harry mad and he cants his hips forward, seeking friction.

Malfoy smirks. ‘Patience, Potter. You’ll get what you need in good time.’

‘And you decide when that is?’

‘Exactly.’ Malfoy’s mouth latches onto Harry’s neck, his teeth grazing the sensitive skin.

‘I was never one for patience.’ Wrists still pinned to the wall, Harry glances at Malfoy’s collar. ‘Take that off.’ He tries to free his hands, but the other man doesn’t let go.

‘Hush now. Let me take care of you.’ Malfoy’s robes rustle as he grinds his pelvis against Harry’s throbbing cock. He moans softly as his movements become faster, his own erection digging in Harry’s groin. Keeping both of Harry’s wrists pinned with one hand, Malfoy shoves Harry’s robes out of the way and unzips his trousers. His probing hand wraps around Harry’s prick. ‘Merlin, this feels good.’

It does, it feels phenomenal. Harry’s experiencing the true meaning of boneless; he fears his muscles have turned into liquid, except for his aching cock, hard as rock, which sends electric pleasure from his scalp to his toes. The memory of dream-Malfoy arises from the haze of his desire.

‘I want to touch you,’ Harry breathes, naked need in his voice. ‘I want to see you.’

A wicked smile. ‘Oh, you will. But I’m going to make you beg for it.’ Malfoy accompanies his words with a lick on Harry’s neck that feels incendiary. His thumb circles on the wet tip of Harry’s cock; Harry’s so close, his groin a pool of fire.

‘You were always desperate to have power over me,’ he murmurs. He doesn’t know why he says it, he doesn’t even mean anything by it; he’s aiming to tease more than anything, but Malfoy stiffens.

‘Says the person who never listened to authority.’ If Malfoy was attempting to sound casual, he’d failed.

Harry needs to shut up, so they can get on with what they’re doing.

Harry doesn’t shut up. ‘Only when I had a good reason. Only because I—’

‘—knew better?’

‘I never did anything other than help people.’

‘Says the person who stalked me.’

‘Again, with good reason!’

Malfoy lets go of Harry’s wrists. He’s still close, his body firm against Harry’s, but his words carry an edge. The amorous mood dissipates like smoke. ‘Is that what you tell yourself? That you were playing the noble hero?’

‘How dare you paint me as a self-righteous—’

Malfoy talks over him. ‘Not a hero? Perhaps you fancied me even then. Perhaps you wanted me to drag you into an empty classroom and have my way with you.’

This has all gone so very Hogwarts so fast that Harry’s not sure how they got there, but it doesn’t stop him from saying, ‘You’re confusing reality with your prison fantasies.’

He wishes he could take the words back as soon as he’s said them. Malfoy swallows hard. He’s gone rigid, fists clenched by his side. Any trace of desire is wiped from his face. ‘You always were a fucking bastard, Harry Potter.’

‘A bastard you were frotting against just now.’

‘Well. We all make mistakes.’ Malfoy sends a look of unadulterated fury at Harry and pushes off him, disappearing down the shadows at the end of the alley. A crack echoes and he’s gone, leaving Harry dishevelled and cold, his temper melting away, his cock softening, Malfoy’s saliva on his skin cooling in the night air.

~~~

Draco’s famished. Between a flurry of orders and Nariyoshi’s condition, he’s had no time to go out (he avoids the word hunting). The incident with Potter from a week ago replays in his mind like in an Omniocular. Draco’d guessed correctly that Potter would be at the opening of his friend’s exhibition, and he’d also accurately guessed that a conservative style of dress would intrigue Potter more than a tight-fitting, revealing outfit would. Gryffindors like the chase, and from what Draco had gathered, his choice of attire had worked.

Uncertain of his reception but determined to make the effort, Draco had ambled around the gallery for a while, examining Potter from a distance. Unlike his dream self, there’d been no trace of pain or hesitation on Potter’s face. Draco found it hard to ignore the magnetism of his presence; the charm Potter has always had that makes people gravitate towards him, hungry for a scrap of attention, wishing for a chance to touch him — even if it costs them the world.

Draco hasn’t experienced thirst like that in ages, if ever. Getting his hands on Potter became the night’s goal, one he’d royally fucked up, because Potter’s an arsehole.

The slightest mention of Azkaban rattles Draco. The New Ministry may have appointed human guards, but Dementor magic has imbued the very walls of the prison, making every moment spent in that hellhole a torture. The guards, though mostly unfortunate souls in rotating shifts, include those who’ve angled for the position, eager to yield power over convicted Death Eaters. Like his own warden, who’d liked to shove his hand between Draco’s legs on a regular basis — until the agonising, Dementor-induced nightmares Draco had endured caused the latent Incubus powers to awaken inside him.

Draco never had a nightmare again, and the next time the warden touched him, he ended up in a coma.

The clock strikes six. He steps outside for a smoke, letting the January night cool his thoughts. It’s a cold evening, cloudless, devoid of beauty. His veins stand blue on his skin, his insides are hollow. He’ll need to dig his robes out and go back to Knockturn Alley to find yet another nameless shag in a club or a cheap rentboy. The Muggles, unfortunately, are unsuitable for feeding. They sense he’s other; their terror overwhelms them. They call his kind Mora, the Shadow, the Nightmare.

But he can feed from wizards and witches, and he needs to do so urgently tonight before starvation gnaws his insides raw.

Draco flicks the fag to the pavement and returns to the shop, checking the pots drying on the shelves, when someone clears his throat from the doorway.

Draco turns slowly. ‘How the fuck did you find me?’

‘You forget I trained as an Auror.’

Draco doesn’t invite Potter in. At the sight of him, as always, Draco’s control threatens to slip from his grasp. ‘What do you want?’

‘I came to apologise.’

‘Don’t want to hear it.’

‘Please.’

The simple word has an unexpected effect on him. He stares at Potter, startled that he’d deign to plead with Draco. Potter shoves his hands in his jeans’ pockets. He even dressed like a Muggle to come find him.

Draco lets a long moment pass, hoping Potter will change his mind and leave. He doesn’t.

‘You might as well come in. You’re letting in the cold.’

Potter shuts the door carefully behind him and takes a few steps inside the studio. He examines the colourful glazed bowls and the terracotta pots on the displays, the new pots drying on the shelves in the back. He pauses in front of the kintsugi shelf.

‘These are pretty.’

‘You had something you wanted to say?’ Draco’s vibrating with tension and hunger, a dangerous mix.

Potter meets his eyes. ‘I hate the fact you were sentenced to Azkaban despite—’ He wisely doesn’t mention how altruistic he’d been, Draco’s not sure he’d be able to restrain himself from decking him.

‘I can’t even imagine what it’s like in there. Even with the Dementors gone. I shouldn’t have mentioned prison last time. I was angry and—’ He huffs a low laugh. ‘You’ve always managed to push my buttons, you know? Anyhow, I’m truly sorry for being so callous and upsetting you.’

Draco’s shaken by his visit. The fact that one more person from the magical world knows where he lives is only partly why. The main reason for this unstable feeling comes from having someone like Potter — lauded and celebrated, powerful, famous — come to apologise to someone like him. No, he corrects himself as he lets long minutes of silence pass, a silence Potter doesn’t fill. It’s the fact that it’s Potter who apologises to Draco; the man who’d saved Draco’s life. The man who’d been right in every way Draco had been wrong.

The man Draco is supposed to con.

‘Apology accepted,’ Draco says in the end, and Potter smiles in relief. It seems to mean something to him, to hear these words from Draco. He’s endlessly baffling, this man.

And utterly delectable. Potter projects his emotions on his face, unafraid to show what he feels at any given moment, and it makes Draco bleed. Potter doesn’t leave after his apology but lingers, scuffs a toe on the floor. His expression shifts to awkward. Embarrassed.

Hm. Not just embarrassed. Draco can sense sexual desire; it’s part of his armoury. The air thrums with potency when someone is aroused, a resonance that fans his Incubus hunger but also allows him to find willing prey. The lust emanating now from Potter is as strong as Draco’d felt it back at the art gallery. It tingles his skin. To escape he heads to the back room with the wheel and the kiln. Potter seems to take it as an invitation to follow him.

The fact that Potter’s sought him out — even going as far as finding him in the Muggle world — mystifies Draco. Potter could’ve easily walked away, found a new lover. Someone respectable even.

‘Why are you here? Really?’ He ignores Potter’s rising blush. ‘You could’ve sent a letter.’

‘I wanted to apologise in person. Also…’

‘Also?’

Potter takes a deliberate step closer. Awkward and determined is a combination that only works on Potter — but, boy, does it work. Draco walks backwards until his legs meet his worktable. Holding his breath doesn’t stop Potter’s desire from assaulting his senses.

‘Also, I was wondering if I could see you again.’

‘Because we get on so well?’

‘Maybe I don’t want someone to get on well with.’ He’s so close now that the whole of Draco’s skin burns with barely restrained desire — both his and Potter’s.

‘I see. You’re desperate for a fuck.’ Draco wants Potter to say something to fuck this up and leave; he wants to avoid giving in and having sex with him. Every instinct he has screams at what a disaster it’ll be to get involved with Potter, his con job the least of it; every instinct he has yearns to touch Potter more than anything.

Potter gives him a crooked smile. ‘Desperate? I’d call it willing.’ He lowers his voice to a rasp. ‘Very willing.’

Draco feels lightheaded with desire. His knuckles are white on the table in an effort not to jump on Potter and ravish him. ‘You’ve no idea how much I can hurt you,’ he blurts out.

Potter’s faced Voldemort; Draco should have expected he’d ignore his warning. He grins now, insolently. ‘Maybe I like that. Maybe I want to be “hurt” by—’

‘Shut up.’ Draco hauls Potter close by his jacket and smashes their lips together. Potter returns the kiss, his hands wrapping hungrily around Draco, squeezing him tight.

‘We don’t get on,’ Draco says, pulling his mouth from Potter’s and kissing his jaw. He grabs Potter’s glasses and throws them behind him on the table before he resumes kissing him, so deep it feels like he’s devouring Potter’s face. ‘We’ll fuck this up.’

‘Maybe.’ Potter’s got rid of his jacket and is in the process of divesting Draco of his shirt. ‘This,’ he says, in between kisses. ‘This is good, though.’

‘This is good,’ Draco agrees, unbuttoning his jeans. He wrestles them off, kicking them to the clay-splattered floor along with his pants, and stands nude and aroused in front of Potter, who promptly falls to his knees and swallows Draco’s cock like a starving man.

Merlin.

‘Who knew you’d be so eager to suck my cock, Potter,’ Draco murmurs, his hand on Potter’s cheek. Tendrils of Potter’s energy fill Draco’s veins. Magical people’s sexual energy is tinted by their magic, and Potter’s is sharp and clean, white-hot and sizzling, brighter the closer Potter approaches his climax.

‘Who knew you’d have such a suckable cock,’ Potter returns.

‘Shut up and put that mouth of yours where it belongs.’

Potter sends him an incalcitrant look but obeys. He sucks Draco off like a champ, his tongue swirling around the head, his left hand rolling Draco’s balls with gentle fingers.

Draco fumbles on the table for his wand and locks the door. He threads his fingers through Potter’s hair and tugs. No matter how delectable Potter looks on his knees, it’s not enough. ‘I want to fuck you. Would you want that?’

Potter removes his mouth from his task. ‘I was hoping you’d say that.’ He looks a dream, spit-covered lips and twilight eyes, dark with lust, and unafraid.

‘On the table then,’ Draco says. ‘Like a good boy.’

Potter sheds his clothing and sits on the table, opening his legs to welcome Draco in. His cock juts long and red and proud, and Draco stares at it. Potter likes it, he can tell by the texture in the air; he likes Draco giving him orders or staring at him while gently stroking his own cock. He likes to be made to wait. Potter’s trembling with the force of his desire, and Draco is tempted to draw the anticipation to breaking point.

But he feels merciful. He steps between Potter’s legs, which instantly wrap around him, and kisses him with all the force he can muster. Potter gives as good as he takes. The kiss is positively sinful, deep and messy, while Draco finds Potter’s arsehole and works him open, impatient and ravenous. Potter smells of sweat and sex, his arse is hot and tight, dripping with the lube Draco’s Conjured. Draco swallows each little moan Potter makes with a kiss.

‘I’m ready,’ Potter gasps. ‘Fuck me, Draco.’

Draco lets the use of his first name slide. He pulls Potter to the edge of the table and enters him in one long slide, sucking in a deep breath to calm the onslaught of the magical energy that pours in his veins like a tempest. Potter’s a feast for the senses, and Draco almost whimpers at how delicious it feels, at how tightly Potter’s arse hugs his prick, at the touch of his hands on Draco’s skin, and the softness of his lips on Draco’s mouth. He thrusts inside once more. Potter groans.

‘Painful?’

Potter’s smile is a challenge. ‘I can take it.’

‘Oh, you can, sweetheart, can’t you?’ Draco murmurs, finding an easy rhythm. In and out, he watches his cock disappear in Potter’s arse. He’d fantasised about this when he was in school, but the reality exceeds even his wildest teen dreams — the dream sex he had with Potter not ten days ago pales in significance.

‘I like your arse, Potter,’ he says again, pumping with every word. ‘I’m not sure I like you, but I like your arse.’

‘Are you waiting for an invitation to fuck me deeper?’

Draco chuckles. ‘You fucking greedy boy.’ He pushes himself to the hilt, the tight fit making him gasp. ‘Enough for you or do you want it harder?’

Potter likes his challenges, it seems. ‘If you can manage it.’

‘You dirty little…’

Draco’s delighted despite himself. He digs his fingers in Potter’s hips, bringing him closer. He sets a ruthless pace, and soon Potter moans uncontrollably, his eyes fluttering shut, his face a picture of abandon. Draco hopes Nariyoshi has the TV on.

He spreads Potter on the table, holding his hips as he fucks him. Potter seems to like the rough treatment, writhing under Draco’s hands, which map out his body. The curls around his cock, the hairy chest, the pert nipples, the constellation of moles, the firm arse rising in the air as he tries to meet Draco’s thrusts.

‘Look how much you want my cock,’ Draco rasps.

‘I want it…’ Potter says, his voice hoarse. ‘This is…’

It’s fantastic, is what it is. The slap of skin on skin echoes in the dim room, the moans and gasps and hard breathing become louder, and Draco’s relishing in the lushest arse he’s ever had the pleasure of ploughing. Sweat drips down his back, and he shuts his eyes for fear of the telltale black in them alerting Potter of what he is.

Potter doesn’t notice. He’s laid back, gripping the table with his hands, taking Draco’s cock as if he was born for it. Potter’s cock is leaking, flushed and engorged, and Draco can tell he’s about to come. He grabs the base of it tight, ignoring Potter’s whimper. ‘You’ll be begging me for release.’ Draco’s veins have flooded with so much power he’s intoxicated. ‘Begging me.’

‘Please,’ Potter gasps. ‘Please, I want to…’

‘When I say so. When I’ve had my fill.’

‘Take me, take all of me…’

Potter’s in such ecstasy that the energy pouring from him to feed Draco is sizzling, a live wire. He can’t wait much longer either. With a twist of his hand, a thumb on the wet slit of Potter’s swollen prick, Draco whispers, ‘Come for me, Potter.’ Potter sobs, he literally sobs, as he spills over his stomach.

The force of Potter’s orgasm makes Draco delirious. He bends over him. ‘I’m going to come inside you, Potter. You’re going to have all my come, all my Death Eater, ex-convict come fill your tight little hole, your noble hero’s hole.’ Draco doesn’t know what he’s saying, only that he’s reaching a state of bliss he rarely experiences. ‘I’m going to eat you whole and spit you out hollow.’

‘Yes,’ Potter gasps. ‘Take everything.’

Draco comes so hard his mind goes blank.

 

Fucking hell.

Draco stumbles into the nearest chair, naked and sweaty and reeking of sex, his mind a storm of emotions, his veins full of power, his cock slick. Potter’s lying on the table, legs akimbo, taking shallow breaths.

That was exquisite. Sex for Draco is a way to feed the Incubus inside him, and although he can’t deny it’s fun, he’s never really experienced true pleasure. Trust Potter to differ in this, as in everything else, from the garden variety wizard. Of course, Harry Potter’s always been different; Draco’s willing to accept that.

Potter sits up now, knocking down a pot of brushes that spills on the floor. ‘I’m not sure I can talk.’ He smiles rather goofily at Draco.

Potter has no right to smile like that.

‘I’d rather you didn’t, you always ruin things,’ Draco says, but his heart isn’t in it. Potter can tell; he lights up. Placing his feet on the floor, he tries to stand up.

As soon as he’s up, Draco can see something’s wrong. Potter grabs the table, his knees unsteady. His skin is almost as pale as Draco’s.

Fuckfuckfuck.

‘You OK?’ Draco rushes to him and holds him tight.

‘Yeah, just felt a bit faint. It’ll pass in a minute.’

As Draco is well aware, it won’t pass in a minute or even a day unless he’s properly looked after. ‘Coming down with something, I reckon,’ Draco says, trying to force lightness in his voice. He cleans them up with a spell, grabs his clothing from the floor and dresses in a hurry. ‘Put your clothes on and let’s have some dinner upstairs.’

‘Upstairs…?’ Potter’s having trouble focusing. His breathing is ragged.

‘Is where I live.’ Draco manoeuvres him towards the door at the side, leading to the stairs. ‘With my boss. So you can’t be naked. Wear your jeans at least.’

‘Stop fussing, I can dress myself,’ Potter says because he’s obstinate, but Draco has to grab him tight when he bends to drag his jeans on. Whatever Draco feels about Potter, he’s not willing to let him suffer because of what Draco is. After what happened to the warden, he’d made an oath never to allow himself to be responsible for seriously harming others again, and he’s yet to break it. ‘Hold my hand now.’

‘I’m not a baby,’ Potter complains half-heartedly.

‘Hush.’

Up the staircase and into the flat. Draco detests the idea of the magical world intruding in his life, but he can’t help it now. Potter needs him.

Nariyoshi’s watching TV — a singing talent show, thankfully loudly, although the smile he directs at Draco seems very knowing. Draco, however, has no time to feel embarrassed.

‘Who’s this, Draco?’

‘A… friend. Unwell. Going to get him to bed. Make him some soup.’

‘Anything I can do?’ Nariyoshi starts to rise, but Draco waves him down. ‘I can handle it, you watch the talentless teens on the telly.’

‘Bethany’s not talentless!’ he objects as Draco knew he would. ‘I’m Nariyoshi Miyagi,’ he tells Potter with a small bow.

‘Harry Potter,’ he replies, imitating the bow. ‘I’m sorry for the inconvenience, I think it’s the flu…’

‘I can make some ramen. It’ll help.’

‘I can make it, Nariyoshi. Don’t get up, please.’ Draco opens his bedroom door and ushers Potter in.

Draco has the smaller bedroom of the two, with a view of the tiny square they call a garden. He turns the light on, cringes at the mess, and shoves Potter on the bed. ‘Undress and I’ll get you some food. There’s some T-shirts in that drawer,’ he points to the dresser. Before Draco leaves, he casts a discreet spell over Harry. His vitals are quite low. He adds an extra blanket on the bed.

It takes ten minutes to unfreeze the chicken broth, bring it to boil, add the noodles and the toppings. Ten minutes in which Draco considers the whole upheaval of his life. He’s fucked. He has no idea how he keeps fucking up, but every decision he makes leads him to a fresh disaster. If Potter figures out what has happened to him — what Draco is — he can have him arrested. Creatures who harm humans are sent to Azkaban, no exceptions.

He should’ve expected that Potter would make him lose control like this. It’s no one’s but Draco’s fault. He rubs his face as the broth simmers, the delicious memory of truly spectacular sex tainted by his terror that he’s harmed Potter.

Why should it have been him? Why couldn’t the Lis have asked him to seduce some other person, someone bland, someone whom Draco could shag perfunctorily and extract the figurine from, before walking away unharmed? Draco drops the noodles in the broth, raging with impotent fury at the Lis and Potter and himself and even Nariyoshi’s stupid, ailing kidneys.

The kitchen fills with the aroma of the soup. Knuckles white on the counter, Draco inhales deeply and steels himself. Anxiety doesn’t help. It won’t cure Nariyoshi or Potter; it won’t pay off his debt.

A presenter’s voice drifts in the kitchen from the living room TV; she announces that the voting has started. Nariyoshi’s muttering under his breath about who’s going to get booted. The kitchen timer beeps when the noodles are ready. The familiar sounds of home fortify Draco. He’s led a quiet life these past three years since Azkaban, learning the trade and the Muggle world alongside Nariyoshi, a man who was once a boss and a flatmate and has become a friend and a parental figure. Draco’s not willing to let the life he’s built here go to waste. He’ll fight for it, if he must. Gathering his wild thoughts, a hasty plan takes shape in his mind: look after Potter tonight because he drained him something awful, ask him out, make him fall for Draco somehow, then... have him hand over the figurine? Draco can’t plan that far ahead.

He pours the soup in a bowl and returns to find Potter in his bed, wearing Draco’s clothes. The sight, although expected, is nonetheless shocking. Potter looks very innocent for someone who could destroy Draco so thoroughly, and Draco hates that life has thrown him in the path of Harry Potter again; he hates that he already feels hungry for him, desirous in a way he isn’t used to, stomach clenching as he watches the man thumb through Draco’s bedside table book, clad in a faded Puma T-shirt.

‘Lord of the Rings?’ Potter gestures with the book.

‘They get it so wrong.’ Draco sits beside him and offers the tray. ‘Eat it, it’ll do you good.’ He’s added lots of salt in the soup; it does wonders to alleviate energy draining, a vampire told him that. Heat, touch and salt is the remedy.

Potter leaves the book and reaches for the tray. ‘Thanks. I am starving. What do they get wrong?’

Draco watches in numb horror as Potter’s hand trembles as he lifts the spoon. He’s worse than he’d thought. ‘Let me do that, or you’ll make a mess.’

‘I don’t know what’s wrong.’ Confusion and worry creep in Potter’s voice as he stares at his hands.

‘The flu,’ Draco insists, shoving a spoonful in Potter’s mouth.

‘This is so embarrassing,’ Potter says, mouth full. ‘Especially after…’

‘The elves,’ Draco says to shut him up.

Potter glances at him with curiosity. Draco offers another spoonful. ‘That’s what Tolkien gets wrong. The elves. Tall and gorgeous and warrior-like — nothing could be further from the truth. It’s hilarious.’

Potter speaks around his mouthful. ‘What else?’

‘The Dark Lord is pretty spot on,’ Draco says. ‘And the greedy humans.’

Spoonful by spoonful Draco calms down. This feels oddly right. He’s fed by shagging Potter and now he’s returning the favour. Potter’s relaxed, seemingly unconcerned by this abrupt decline of his health, opening the mouth he’d wrapped around Draco’s cock for the soup. Draco wants to kiss him again.

Instead, he blabbers on about the novel, keeping his voice soft and measured. ‘The orcs — are they meant to be goblins? Goblins aren’t stupid, Tolkien’s off the mark there.’ Nariyoshi has an extensive collection of fantasy novels, and Draco’s devoured them all. ‘Dragons that talk — utterly ludicrous.’

Despite his weariness, Potter gazes at him with a soft smile full of wonder, and Draco flushes under that look. Personal experience reminds him how uncomfortable it feels to have Potter’s attention wholly trained on him, but also how addictive it can be. He’s almost dazzled, feeling feverish himself as Potter’s formidable personality focuses laser-sharp on Draco. He’s rambling so badly that he hardly knows what he’s saying. ‘… and no wizard in their right mind would cut down sentient trees. Those bitches are fierce.’

It’s quiet when they’re done. Nariyoshi must have gone to bed. No sound disturbs the peace in the small bedroom but the wind rustling through bare trees outside. Draco places the tray on his desk and feels Potter’s forehead. His colour is better after eating, but he’s warm.

Draco tucks him in and surrenders to an unwelcome but insistent desire; he kisses Potter softly on the lips. ‘Sleep now.’

‘Will you stay with me?’

There’s no question of Draco sleeping elsewhere, he needs to keep an eye on him. Heat and touch and salt, and he’ll be as right as rain. Changing into his night clothes and slipping under the covers, Draco hugs him, pressing Potter’s back to his chest.

A drowsy murmur: ‘We get on. I knew we would.’ Potter clasps Draco’s hand with his, a gesture that tugs at Draco’s chest in its simplicity and trust.

A shiver runs through Potter’s body and Draco holds him tighter. ‘You’ll be fine.’

He’s not sure he himself will be, though.

~~~

At first, Harry’s not sure where he is. The room is unfamiliar, narrow, painted blue, with a small window at the back letting in some anaemic light. He wonders if it’s a dream, but the arms around his torso and the soft breathing beside him feel too solid to be figments of his imagination. The memories of the night before flood in his mind. Finding Malfoy in Bermondsey. The apology. The sex. Oh, Merlin, the sex. And then that weird fatigue that upset Malfoy so much that he put Harry in his bed, fed him and curled up beside him.

Harry gazes at the sleeping man, stretching a hand to caress his hair. He’s a bit stunned to find himself in Malfoy’s bed, even though he tracked him down hoping for this very thing, so he’s not actually complaining. What makes Malfoy so fascinating is a mystery to Harry, except that he’s the first person since Ginny who makes him feel alive.

Extricating himself from the bed, he pads out to explore the flat. He’d been too dazed last night to remember much about the old Japanese man who’s currently in the kitchen, another surprise factor in Malfoy’s mystery of a life.

‘Want a cup?’ the man asks. ‘Nariyoshi,’ he reminds Harry his name, who’d indeed forgotten.

‘Thanks.’

Nariyoshi has long white hair, tied back at his nape, a beard, and a tattoo of a yellow submarine on his forearm. He moves with difficulty. His puffy face and his wheezing suggest he’s quite ill. ‘Feeling better now?’ he asks Harry as he prepares green tea in a beautiful, glazed pot.

‘I am,’ Harry replies. A trace of fatigue — no, not even that, a memory of it remains in his veins, but his head’s clear and his legs steady. It goes without saying he’ll seek the Healers who work with Unspeakables to inquire about what happened, but he assumes it has something to do with the statue he’s been working on.

Nariyoshi suggests they move to the living room for their tea and biscuits, which they do. Harry takes the opportunity to glance around in rapt fascination at the place Malfoy calls home.

It couldn’t be more different than the Manor. A small flat with mismatched furniture, it feels lived in, in a way that Grimmauld Place doesn’t; welcoming in a way the Manor didn’t. The noise of the street is louder in the living room. Japanese paintings, a bookcase of well-thumbed books, and several pot plants adorn the cosy space. A jumper thrown carelessly over the back of the sofa is probably Malfoy’s, while the Beatles’ vinyl records are definitely Nariyoshi’s, as is the 60s Flower Power poster on the wall.

Nariyoshi is easy to chat with, and Harry engages him in conversation, trying to piece together the puzzle that is Malfoy’s Muggle life. Mysteries fascinate him; it’s what drew him to work with the Unspeakables, and Malfoy’s never been short of intrigue.

Nariyoshi talks of Osaka, of his ceramic workshop, of moving to England.

‘How long ago was that?’

‘Ah almost forty years now. I was a hippie, went to all the festivals. Met an English woman in one of them and moved across the world to be with her. We got married, were happy for maybe twenty years, unhappy for another ten. Divorced eventually. No children. Now I have Draco.’

The old man mentions his illness, the hospital appointments, and the transplant waiting list. ‘Old men with weak hearts are very low priority. But,’ he sighs. ‘I’ve made my peace with it. I know Draco hasn’t.’

‘How did you meet?’

Malfoy stalks out of his bedroom then, eyes narrowed at Harry and Nariyoshi. ‘What are you doing?’

‘We’re talking,’ Harry offers. ‘About you,’ he adds to tease Malfoy.

Malfoy doesn’t disappoint; his eyes widen comically and then narrow in a glare. He points a long finger at Nariyoshi and says, ‘Don’t tell Potter anything about me, he’s a horrid gossip,’ before he disappears in the bathroom.

‘I’d better change.’ Harry stands. ‘Thanks for the tea.’

‘See you soon,’ says Nariyoshi.

Malfoy returns to the bedroom as Harry’s pulling on his jumper. ‘How are you feeling?’ he asks.

‘I’m all right.’ The mortification of collapsing after sex with a new lover and needing to be fed is something Harry’s pushed to the very back of his mind, and he doesn’t want to be reminded. He’s already decided he’ll take the story to the grave and hopes it hasn’t ruined his chances with Malfoy. ‘Thank you for looking after me.’

Malfoy shrugs, evidently uncomfortable, as if he’s unused to gratitude.

Harry takes a step closer. ‘I can’t imagine what came over me, but I promise you I’m not usually like this. I’ve been told I have stamina, and stuff.’

‘You don’t have to advertise yourself, Potter, I’ve had you. I know all about your stuff.’ Perhaps Malfoy likes lovers who collapse after sex, because he’s smiling in a wicked, promising way, which thrills Harry to the core. ‘In fact, I’d love to have you again, if you’re up for it.’

Harry is very up for it. His dick is also up for it, and he’s considering suggesting a morning tumble, but he needs to get to work. ‘We didn’t fight last night.’

Malfoy scoffs. ‘You were too unwell for it.’

‘I bet we can meet and not fight again.’

Malfoy leans on his desk and crosses his arms. ‘You’re on.’

‘Wednesday?’

‘Eight o’ clock. Come pick me up. Dress Muggle.’

~~~

It’s pitch dark. Harry stretches his arm and touches walls. The space is very narrow. It smells musty but familiar.

He’s been there before.

He takes a blind step in a random direction and bumps into something. He fumbles it. It’s a bed. Small.

It’s his bed. He’s in the cupboard.

When he realises that, light seeps in, as if through cracks on the walls, and he can see. With light comes memory: he remembers Uncle Vernon locking him in. Harry hears himself say, ‘I didn’t mean to change the colour of my teacher’s wig!’

The injustice rattles him, but it’s fear that grips him in its jaws. He peers through the cracks and can see the Dursleys. They’re in the living room, but Harry can see them as if they’re outside his door. They’re laughing around a table boasting a huge cake. ‘Open up!’ Harry yells. He knows — it’s a cold, dreadful certainty — that they’ll never let him out. ‘Open up!’ he yells again, but they’re laughing and eating cake.

And then it’s quiet. Peering through the cracks, he sees the house empty. Dust carpets the floor, sheets cover the furniture, and the windows are grimy. They’ve left and abandoned him there. They’ve forgotten him. Now, there’s no one to let him out and he’ll be stuck there, forever. He bangs frantically on the door, shouts until his voice is hoarse. ‘OPEN UP!’ He doesn’t want to die in the cupboard all alone, he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his time in darkness, but they’ve forgotten him, they’ve all forgotten him, even — his dream-brain laughs with glee, even Ginny has left him, for his ex, and Ron and Hermione have forgotten him, they’re having a baby, they’ve all—

‘Easy now,’ a voice speaks behind him.

‘Malfoy?’ Harry turns in wild disbelief, his heart pounding.

‘What is this?’ Malfoy stands in the cupboard with a frown on his face. He mutters something like, ‘The forest makes sense but this…’ but takes a look at Harry, who’s shaking, and stops. Two strides, and he holds Harry. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘They’ve forgotten me, they’ve left me, I can’t get out,’ Harry mumbles against Malfoy’s shirt.

‘I can let you out,’ says Malfoy.

The door clicks behind Harry and creaks open. He stares at the dim corridor. ‘I don’t want to be in this house.’ He hates that he sounds like a baby — why does Malfoy have to see him at his weak moments? — and he hates the tears that fall hot on his cheeks.

‘You’re not in that house,’ Malfoy says, and indeed when Harry looks up he’s in his bedroom. He exhales with relief, his hands covering his face. It’s a dream, just a dream, nothing more.

‘It was so dark,’ he mutters.

Malfoy’s voice falls warm on his neck. ‘I can take your darkness, Potter.’

 

For their first date, Malfoy — the arsehole that he is — takes Harry to a Weatherspoons.

‘How romantic.’

Malfoy shrugs as they wait at the bar for service. ‘Wanted to make you feel at home. It’s the right pub for your class, right?’

Harry flips him two fingers. ‘You buy my cider then, since you’re a toff. I’m going to grab a table.’

Malfoy comes over with a pint and a colourful cocktail, complete with rainbow umbrellas and a glazed cherry. Before Harry has a chance to take the piss about Malfoy’s choice of drink, the bastard slides the concoction to him with a devilish smirk.

‘What’s this?’ Harry stares at it with horror. ‘I said I wanted cider.’

‘Didn’t hear you. You left me to order and this is what I ordered for you.’

Malfoy looks entirely unconcerned as he takes a seat, pulls his perfectly normal pint to himself, and takes a sip. His eyes land on Harry, full of mischief.

Harry wants to be angry — he even suspects Malfoy is deliberately sabotaging this date, although he’s no idea why he’d do that — but instead something else bubbles inside him. He glances at the purple-fuchsia-orange-yellow-turquoise drink, and lets out a peal of laughter.

‘You.’ He punctuates his words with a finger pointing accusingly at Malfoy and a voice still full of mirth. ‘Are. A. Bastard.’

Malfoy takes a mock bow. ‘At your service.’

‘You know,’ Harry says, taking the swirly straw in his mouth. ‘No one would ever dream of doing something like that to me. Most people bend over backwards to please me.’

‘See, that’s where I’m different. I’d rather bend you over backwards to please myself.’

Harry meets Malfoy’s heated gaze. Desire crackles at his veins; he’s tempted to drag Malfoy to the nearest dark corner, but, for now, he savours the anticipation of what’ll come after. Hopefully.

‘Speaking of dreams…’ Malfoy says.

Harry sips his saccharine cocktail to remove the chill in his blood. His last nightmare was one of the worst, but Malfoy appeared to save him from it, like a knight in shining armour.

If knights could wear such filthy expressions on their face watching Harry suck his rainbow drink through a straw.

OK so Harry might have cast a filthy glance himself to Malfoy as he sucked — he’s no angel either.

‘I wondered…’ Malfoy pauses, seeming to gather his thoughts. He taps a finger on his glass. ‘I wondered if the… battle, and… you know. The past. Left you bad dreams. I used to have some.’

‘Not anymore?’ Harry asks.

‘Not anymore.’

Harry’s certain he can detect some forced casualness at Malfoy’s reply. ‘I—I get them sometimes.’ Often. ‘Usually about Voldemort.’

It doesn’t escape his notice that Malfoy suppresses a flinch at the name. Old superstitions die hard.

‘I used to dream—’ This time Malfoy pauses for a long time. Harry doesn’t break the silence. It’s an interrogation technique he’d learned at the Aurors, but he also doesn’t want to pressure Malfoy into divulging anything he’s not ready to, even if Harry’s curious. Whatever this confession is, it’s dredged from somewhere deep.

‘When I was in—’ Malfoy swallows, then speaks in a rush. ‘I used to dream about being chained in a public place. A bright square. People paraded in front of me and laughed. Or spit at me. You were there — you were always there. Laughing. Pointing. Spitting.’

Their drinks are forgotten as Malfoy speaks. ‘Other times I was naked and… and there were men—’ He doesn’t continue that line of thought, but Harry can guess what he means. He shudders.

Malfoy’s hands are trembling and he puts them on his lap. ‘I was always helpless. Sometimes I dreamed of being back at home with Him or at school with the Carrows, but I was always helpless. Powerless.’

When he stops, Harry’s speechless. He’s not sure what he can say, but he’s also confident Malfoy will disembowel him if Harry attempts a platitude like the ones he’s had aimed at him. ‘I’m glad you don’t have them any more.’

Malfoy bites his lip and takes a deep breath. ‘So I wondered if – if you have any bad dreams, ‘sall.’ He picks up his pint with shaky hands, looking vaguely furious, as if he regrets spilling his dark secrets to Harry.

‘I do. I had one last night actually. You were there, too.’

Malfoy asks, ‘Were we at school?’

‘No, I was in my old cupboard. My bedroom.’

Malfoy’s uncomprehending look reminds Harry that he doesn’t know about his Muggle upbringing, so he explains, while Malfoy’s face clouds over. Harry’s voice is casual. It’s easy for him to talk about it in the light of day.

‘You must hate it.’

Harry takes one last sip of the awful cocktail before he pushes it aside. ‘It’s complicated. Now that I’m older, when I realise what it means to put a small child under the stairs… Imagine locking six-year-old Teddy in one! It makes me incensed. But back then—’ A very early memory: being very young and wanting to decorate his cupboard for Christmas. His aunt had grudgingly let him have one bauble, a bright red one with sparkly bits, and he placed it on the shelf next to a Rubik’s Cube he could never solve. He’d spent the rest of the holidays admiring the way the ornament caught the meagre light and shone, casting sparks on the dim walls like distant stars. The stupid bauble had made him so happy.

‘Back then, that was all I knew. I thought it was normal that I had to sleep in a cupboard. It was where they locked me, sure — but it was also the only place I found comfort in that house. It was where I could hide from my cousin, or where I lay down and made up stories in my mind about motorbikes that flew, or where I played with the broken toys I’d inherited from Dudley. I had some good times in there, by myself. So, it’s— complicated.’

The noise of the pub comes back to Harry when he stops, so absorbed in his memories was he. He looks up to see an expression on Malfoy that’s becoming familiar: something between fury, hunger, and lust.

‘Have you ever had sex in ‘Spoons?’ Malfoy asks.

Harry’s never had sex in a public place. ‘I might have,’ he replies.

‘Liar.’ Malfoy’s smirk lights a fire in Harry’s gut.

Harry says it, because he feels it needs to be said: ‘It’s half eight on a Wednesday. We’re in a pub. Full of uni students and old people.’

‘We’re also wizards who can cast Silencing spells, among others.’ Malfoy stands and looks down at Harry, his bright hair falling into his dusky eyes. A devil’s grin splits his face. ‘Come with me, Potter. Let me make you forget your dreams with a good, hard fuck.’

Well, Harry’s only human.

~~~

‘You sure about this?’

‘It’ll be fine, Draco, they’re dying to meet you,’ Potter clearly lies, since each of his friends is wearing an expression that ranges from suspicion to hostility.

The pub is the Leaky and it’s Draco’s sixth date with Potter. Two weeks have passed since the incident in his studio. They’ve been out for drinks (and shagged in the gents’ — Draco likes to pretend his confession about his nightmares never happened), for dinner (played footsie under the table), at the cinema (necked like teenagers), at the Wandless in Love play (left halfway through, scandalising the actors, to Apparate to Draco’s flat and fuck for three hours). Each time Draco’s made sure to not let himself lose control like before, gauging Potter’s arousal and acting accordingly. His kind feeds from the sexual energy of others — orgasming themselves is pleasing but not a prerequisite. It’s a difficult conundrum and one which suggests why his kind is considered cursed in love: the more you please someone, the better you make it for them, the more energy you drain out of them. The easier it is to harm them.

Draco finds it increasingly hard to deny he’s enjoying spending time with Potter. The thrill of seeing the Boy Who Lived on his knees, getting rammed by Draco’s cock, hasn’t faded yet. The memory brings a flush to his face, he can feel it, and he does his best to take his mind off sex and deal with what Potter thinks is an appropriate milestone in their relationship: meeting up with his friends.

At his insistence, Draco buys the first round of drinks. As he spells the tray to float to the table where they all wait, Draco wonders why he cares that much about their opinion. He’s pretty sure he’s never before given a flying fuck about what Granger and Weasley think of him, let alone Longbottom, but he can’t deny he feels nervous. Draco might have pushed the fact that this relationship is doomed to the very back of his mind; he’s even pretended at blissful moments that this affair has a future, that he’s not planning to abuse Potter’s trust and steal something from him, but he hasn’t forgotten. He shouldn’t care about Potter’s friends, and yet he does.

The drinks land on the table without a spill, and Draco takes his seat. ‘Hullo, Gryffindors.’

Three faces stare at him. ‘Malfoy,’ Weasley starts, not precisely friendly. ‘You look—’ He glares at Draco and comes out with ‘…sexy.’ His cheeks swiftly turn as red as his hair and he clasps his mouth while everyone else bursts in laughter. ‘Different. I meant, different. I don’t know why I said that…’

Draco smirks. He knows why, of course; Incubi and Succubi might not be as compelling as Veelas, but their sex appeal isn’t negligible; in fact, the very opposite. Even straight men fall under Draco’s spell occasionally. Slips of the tongue are the brain’s way of suggesting their subconscious caught some of the pheromones Draco’s exuding.

‘You look the same, Weasley,’ Draco drawls, and somehow that has everyone laughing again.

‘Well, you’ll pardon me if I don’t think you’re sexy,’ Longbottom says, and Weasley pipes in, ‘Give it another pint, mate.’

It breaks the ice, at least. The evening progresses smoothly as they catch up with their news. Granger works with Creatures; house-elves in particular. According to Potter, she’s always had a boner for them. Weasley is an Auror, very unlikely in Draco’s opinion, but he’s a potter now, so he’s not one to talk. Longbottom’s an apprentice at a magical plant nursery. Their conversation revolves around work, and they all seem interested when Draco explains about kintsugi.

An hour later, Draco’s relaxed, and that’s when things take a turn for the worse. He comes back from the loo, slipping into the seat beside Potter who immediately clasps his hand, to find that the bar staff, Hannah Something, has joined them and that the conversation has changed from the topic of Zach Smith’s shocking new career (lion tamer in the circus) to…

‘They say they’re myths,’ Hannah says. ‘Demons.’

‘They’re not. There have been documented instances of Incubi or Succubi in the past. It’s just been a while since one of them existed,’ Granger says. Her hand often strays at her tummy — Potter’s told him she’s expecting.

‘So it’s true what the rumours say?’ Hannah asks.

Draco wishes she’d snog her boyfriend and forget about this topic. He glances furtively at Potter, who stares at the middle distance, looking as if his mind is elsewhere.

Weasley says, ‘A lot of the lowlifes we come in contact with at the Aurors’ have come to us with tales of an Incubus prowling the streets. They can’t all be lying.’

‘Rapists the lot of them, aren’t they?’

‘What a fucking lie.’

Draco hasn’t realised he’s spoken until they stop and stare at him, shocked at the vitriol in his tone. He clears his throat, feeling Potter’s eyes on him. ‘I was merely suggesting, dear Longbottom, that it’s species-ist to attribute such negative characteristics to a Creature without proper knowledge of what they are actually like. Am I wrong, Granger?’

‘Draco’s absolutely right,’ she says, using his given name as if they’re friends. ‘We can’t rely on false stereotypes from the past to shape our understanding of such an elusive Creature.’

‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that,’ Longbottom apologises swiftly. ‘It’s just what people say. I’m not really clear on what Incubuses are.’

Granger assumes what must be her lecture tone. ‘Incubi — the males — and Succubi — the females — are offspring of vampires and Veela, two species who have been mortal enemies since time immemorial. Romantic affairs between the two species are illicit and condemned; imagine Romeo and Juliet—’ She notices the uncomprehending expressions of most of the company and waves a hand.

‘Never mind. The point is that both Veelas and vamps see the offspring of these affairs as abominations and want nothing to do with them. Incubi usually hide in wizarding society. An Incubus or Succubus mating with humans will produce children who’ll carry the gene, not fully Creature but possessing most of its powers. They don’t transform into the Incubus form — wings, tail, talons — but retain some small, telltale signs; the eyes, for instance—’

Draco wishes Granger would shut up. He knows his eyes turn black during his climax; he shuts them when he’s with Potter to avoid detection and prefers to take him from behind, but can’t shake the fear that one day Potter might notice.

As if it matters, the voice inside his head whispers. It’s not like this is forever. Not when Draco proves he can’t be trusted. Not when he betrays Potter so thoroughly.

Granger is still talking. ‘We have no way of knowing whether this Creature that people say visits the rentboys and the streetlight prostitutes is—’

‘Anyone want to play darts?’ Potter interrupts.

He stands up, pushes his chair, and nods at Draco.

‘Sure.’ Startled at Potter’s abrupt interruption, Draco follows him to the back of the room, relieved to be away from the conversation. They spell the darts to play at High Stakes (Erratic and Poisonous) and spend a large portion of their evening there until the others join them to watch the game.

No one asks about the prison — Potter must have tutored them. Draco and Potter have trodden carefully around each other these past two weeks, avoiding any reference to the past besides their highly-inappropriate-for-first-date talk, and the theme continues here. It should make Draco happy, but instead it fills him with melancholy. Being completely himself with someone is a pipedream; the idea of discussing his mother’s death and his experiences in prison chokes him with dark emotions he’d rather not face. The idea that someone might love a Dark Creature like him… inconceivable.

Potter steals a quick kiss. ‘You OK?’

‘Just tired.’

‘Harry says there’s a virus going around,’ Granger says, sipping her virgin cocktail. ‘He’s been under the weather on and off these last few weeks.’

‘A virus,’ Draco nods, his insides turning into ice. ‘That must be it.’

‘Want to come back to mine so I can nurse you?’ Potter asks in a low voice.

‘Would that involve you putting on a sexy nurse’s outfit?’

‘No, no, no,’ Longbottom waves his hands. ‘Sexy talk stops now. I don’t want to know your private fantasies.’

‘Shame,’ Draco returns. ‘You’re in some of them.’

Longbottom turns redder than Weasley, a true beetroot red, and Draco laughs. ‘I was kidding, I’m sorry.’ He shrugs. ‘My mind’s all Potter, I’m afraid.’

‘It always has been, hasn’t it?’ Granger mutters, almost to herself.

Draco resents the implication. ‘And vice versa.’

He’s getting his coat, when he overhears a snippet of a conversation between Potter and Weasley.

‘I think we’re in agreement,’ Potter tells his best friend.

‘That he’s sexy?’ Weasley rolls his eyes.

‘That he’s different.’

If only Potter knew how.

 

They Apparate to the stoop of Grimmauld Place and Potter lets Draco in, ushering him to the drawing room. He wraps himself around Draco, kissing his neck, his hands moving under Draco’s robes, but Draco’s attention is drawn by the tapestry on the wall.

‘Could I have a glass of water?’ He’s heard of Potter’s geriatric elf and hopes Potter won’t summon him, but will go fetch the water himself, which he does.

Alone in the cold room, Draco pads to the wall and checks his genealogical tree. Like Granger said, he’s not a full Incubus — the actual son of a Veela and a vampire — but merely a descendant of one. He’s entertained the thought for a while now that the Creature ancestor must have come from the Black side of the family — he likes to think it’s what named them Black. It’s an idle thought, but tracing the gold thread with his finger, he finds what he thinks is confirmation.

The very first couple in the tree, going back several hundred years, was the Earl of Westmorland and his wife. Their son married a lady called Aveline, and their children are the first to have the name Black embroidered beside them.

A shiver runs down Draco’s spine as he gazes at the image of a beautiful lady with dark hair, who is, most likely, the reason for his condition. Aveline gave his ancestor nine children, who all lived. Miraculous, in those days. Not so if they had Creature blood in them.

‘You’re on it, too,’ Potter says behind him.

Draco jumps.

‘I didn’t mean to startle you. Here’s your water.’

Draco takes it and gulps some. When he swallows, he changes the topic. ‘I can’t stay all night. I need to be back at home later, just in case.’

‘Nariyoshi’s getting worse?’ Potter asks.

Draco nods, clutching the glass of water tight.

‘You know, since he’s in your life now, the Statute can be waived. I know magic can’t Conjure a working kidney for him, but it can help alleviate his symptoms,’ Potter suggests. He moves to the sofa, and Draco abandons his water and slips next to him. Potter opens his arms and Draco rests against him. Relief and gratitude overwhelm him. He’s had no one to talk about this before.

‘Potions would help,’ he agrees, his lips muffled on Potter’s shoulder. ‘But I’m not sure how he’d take to learning about magic. And I don’t want to give him something without his knowledge, even if it’s for his health. It feels wrong.’

‘I guess it is.’ Potter huffs a laugh. ‘Don’t hate me for saying this, I mean it in the nicest way, but I am surprised — and delighted, very delighted — that you have turned out to be such a caring human being.’

Draco had to turn Creature to become a decent human being – the irony is killing him. He swallows a touch of hysterics. ‘Don’t jump to conclusions, Potter. You don’t know me that well.’

‘I think I know you enough.’ He leans in and kisses Draco’s temple. ‘I know what I need to know.’

Draco’s drowning — he’s not sure in what. All he knows is he can’t breathe. ‘I want to make love to you tonight,’ he hears himself say.

‘Oh?’

‘Come.’

In Potter’s bed, Draco makes good on his promise. He undresses Potter slowly, he strokes him with feathery, almost-there touches, and he licks him so thoroughly and slowly that Potter’s a quivering mess by the end of it. Then, Draco enters him from behind, holding him tight, pressing their bodies as close as possible, and thrusts deep and slow, whispering praise in Potter’s ear, how lovely and sweet he is, how much he likes to fuck him, until Potter comes with a muffled cry on his sheets. He can’t speak for some time. Draco’s worry that he might have drained him too much turns out to be unfounded. Potter seems in high spirits once he regains his brain function.

Perhaps he’s getting immune. Draco hopes that’s the case. There’s so little lore about his kind. His mind strays to Aveline, his ancestor. The possible Succubus. She remained married to her husband for years; gave him nine children. She must have been able to live with him and not harm him.

‘What’s on your mind?’ Potter whispers, stroking Draco’s hair off his forehead. ‘Nariyoshi? Telling him about magic?’

‘I’ve got a plan,’ Draco murmurs. He’s made inquiries into going private, the cost, the procedure, the dangers; even considered the black market. He just needs the money. ‘Distract me. Tell me about your work,’ he says, burrowing against Potter’s chest.

Potter’s surprisingly forthcoming. For an Unspeakable, he talks too much. ‘I’ve been working with this weird statue,’ Potter says, his hand stroking Draco’s hair. ‘It’s ancient. Eastern probably. We don’t know what it does, and that’s what worries us. We can’t even touch it. Tried all sorts of diagnostics, but it seems to absorb everything you cast at it and reveal nothing.’

Nariyoshi has been vomiting more frequently. They had to get a doctor to visit once — it cost them a fortune. Draco shuts his eyes and does what he has to. ‘Do you ever take it out of the department?’

‘Not allowed. Why do you ask?’

Draco shrugs. ‘Just wondering whether it’d react differently in different spaces or even different times of the day. You’ve only worked on it during office hours.’

‘That’s an idea…’ Potter says.

Guilt burns. Draco’s had occasion of experiencing that feeling before and he hates it — it feels like he stabbed himself in the chest with a burning knife. He hates himself for saying, ‘I’m no expert, but perhaps you should try thinking outside the box — and take the object outside its box, so to speak. Maybe bring it here.’

‘I’ll talk to my supervisor.’ Potter’s words come slow. He’s falling asleep, but Draco can’t. He feels nausea — probably at himself.

‘I have to go.’ He kisses Potter’s eyelids. ‘See you soon.’

He Disapparates before he’s even half-dressed, landing in his bedroom, where he breaks something for the hell of it. In the morning, he goes to Diagon Alley and posts an owl to the Lis. I’m afraid this task is beyond me. The mark won’t trust me. Can’t retrieve object. Find another way.

 

The next day he finds Mrs Li in his living room.

‘Draco!’ Nariyoshi says. ‘Look who’s here!’ He beams, assuming the surprise is a pleasant one to Draco, who freezes on the doorway.

‘Mrs Li?’ Fear and rage sink their claws in him, and he suppresses the instinct to snarl at her. ‘What are you doing here?’

‘I know it’s a surprise, dear. It was quite by chance I visited the studio downstairs. My precious Ming vase broke into pieces, you see.’

‘And you didn’t consider Reparo-ing it?’ Draco hopes Nariyoshi will think the name of the spell is a slip of the tongue.

Mrs Li ignores him. Her hair is elegantly tied back and she wears a dark blue dress that probably cost more than their sofa. Draco’s certain the sapphires on her ears are genuine; spoils of her victories at poker. She’s the picture of understated wealth and power; incongruous next to Nariyoshi in his suede fringed waistcoat and peace-symbol necklace.

She flashes a smile at Nariyoshi, who glows. Damn him and his flirting. ‘I was talking with Mr Miyagi here about his work and he mentioned an apprentice. Imagine our surprise when we realised we both know you!’

‘Imagine.’ Draco’s voice drips with sarcasm.

‘I invited Feng Mian up for some tea,’ Nariyoshi needlessly adds.

Draco glances at the tea service — apparently Nariyoshi’d felt the need to take out the good china. ‘Let us not keep you,’ he says.

‘Draco!’ Nariyoshi chastises, but Mrs Li stands. ‘He’s right. I’ve kept you to myself for too long. Draco, a word?’

He follows her to the hallway where she casts a quick Silencing spell. ‘The answer’s no,’ she tells Draco.

‘No?’

‘No to finding someone else. No to finding another way. You’re the one to do it, and, from what we hear, you’ve had no problem getting close to Potter.’ She smiles at his surprise. ‘We hear a lot.’

‘You could have said that in a letter.’

‘Oh, but then I’d have missed the chance to meet your sweet flatmate. You know you can come to us, Draco. We have Healers at our disposal. Not like the ones at St Mungo’s — good ones. We can help.’ She pauses, eyes sharp on Draco’s. ‘In exchange for the figurine.’

It sounds so tempting. So easy. If Draco accepts her help, Nariyoshi might be saved. But first Draco’ll have to steal the figurine, betraying Potter, who’s shown only kindness to him, and who’ll surely have him arrested. Potter has friends in high places, but Mrs Li has friends in low places, and Draco’s not sure what’s worse.

‘I can tell you where the figurine will be in a few days. A private residence. Powerful wards but they can be broken. You can have someone else sneak in and retrieve it.’

‘It has to be you. You owe us, Draco.’

Obeying Mrs Li will have Draco, the obvious suspect to the theft, sent to Azkaban; Draco would rather Kedavra himself than go back. But defying Mrs Li almost certainly means death as well. Either way, Draco’s fucked. That’s not even taking into consideration the question of what this black jade statue does, and who it’ll harm when the Lis get their hands on it. ‘Why do you want this object?’ he asks her.

‘Does it matter?’

‘It does. I’d like to know what I’m an accessory to.’

‘Then I’ll have to disappoint you. Two weeks, Draco. Don’t forget that you owe us a substantial amount of money, and we know where you — and Mr Miyagi — live.’ She Disapparates with a crack, but the unspoken threats linger long after she’s gone.

~~~

Draco needs time to figure out what to do, but Nariyoshi’s turn for the worse that night precipitates matters. If Draco was a suspicious man, he’d assume Mrs Li had something to do with it.

Draco is a suspicious man, but he has no proof.

Shedding secret tears in the hospital corridor while the only person he has in his life is being seen by doctors, Draco wipes his face, resists the urge to smash everything in sight, and remembers – a flash of lightning in the night – that Nariyoshi isn’t the only person in his life anymore.

He has Potter, and Potter’s a kind man. Draco has resented him for a long time, but that has less to do with the actual man and more to do with one of the darkest times in Draco’s life.

After two years of imprisonment, he’d been released from Azkaban with his mother. Draco’s father had died within the first year – from Dementor-induced insanity or warden-induced cruelty, Draco’ll never know – and his mother had been weakened to the point that she needed constant care and an army of Healers. Draco’d spent the little money they had left on private, experimental treatments, but now he knows that even having their old wealth wouldn’t have helped. His mother’s heart had broken when the world she’d known all her life had collapsed, and Draco hadn’t had the skill to mend it.

Atrociously drunk after the funeral, Draco had raged against the world in general and against Potter in particular. An incandescent hatred consumed him, and what better target than the illustrious, messy-haired hero on the front page of the Prophet with his young bride, his glorious Auror promotion and his masses of friends and fans?

Now he knows Potter’s more than the gilded hero Draco had thought he was. He’s witnessed him terrified and distraught in his night terrors; he’s seen the weight Potter carries. Draco has been privileged to peek inside Potter’s heart and see the cracks that run through him; his broken pieces held together by a thread of gold, Potter’s fiery will. If things were different… Draco’s eyes smart again. If things were different, he’d never have approached Potter, and that would have been the end of it.

But now Potter’s his only solution. Once Nariyoshi becomes stable around dawn, Draco heads into London and the visitor’s entrance to the Ministry.

The receptionist in the Atrium sends a memo to Potter, who emerges from the lift five minutes later. ‘Draco! This is—’ Draco’s expression is probably quite eloquent, because he hurries to Draco’s side. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘I—I need your help.’ Draco wishes he could hide the way his voice wavers. ‘Nariyoshi had to be taken to hospital last night. The…’ Here, his voice cracks. ‘The doctor said he has a couple of months. A few months, and then—’

Get a grip, Draco, he scolds himself, but when Potter wraps his arms around him – to the whispers of passers-by – Draco can’t hold back. He lets out a sob, pressing his wet cheeks on Potter’s robes, while Potter strokes his back.

‘Let’s go to Hermione,’ he says, which must be Potter’s first reaction to any problem. His utter confidence in her capabilities instills some hope in Draco.

Granger’s office is so full of folders Draco’s not sure where to walk or to sit. She spells a stack of parchment to land on top of other stacks of parchment to clear two armchairs for them.

When Draco’s explained the situation, she asks, ‘So you want to waive the Statute in the case of your — boss? Flatmate?’

‘Flatmate. Boss. Friend. Sensei. Cool uncle type. He’s everything,’ Draco mutters.

‘Not everything,’ Potter murmurs beside him, his thumb making soothing circles on Draco’s palm. ‘You also have a boyfriend.’

Potter, blushing and looking at their joined hands, clearly has no idea that his words are a knife twisting in Draco’s chest. The more besotted Potter is, the worse Draco feels.

Granger, eyes widened with surprise, decides to ignore Potter’s ill-timed relationship comment. She addresses Draco. ‘You do realise magic can’t cure him? Transplants are one of the limitations of magical Healing. Organs are complex; quite different to, say, regrowing bones. Still, there are spells that will improve your friend’s quality of life and extend it for years — dialysis is a simple incantation. You’ll need to speak to a Healer about any side effects on Muggle constitutions, but it should make a marked difference on his general well-being.’

‘Thank you.’ Draco feels tiny in front of such generosity. ‘I was truly appalling to you in the past, and you — you’re too kind. Thank you.’

Her eyes soften. ‘It’s OK, Draco.’ After a brief, poignant pause, she assumes her business-like tone. ‘You’ll need to fill in an application, have a short interview with Fausta, Kingsley’s secretary, and then you may legally talk to Nariyoshi about magic.’ Her smile is encouraging.

‘I’ll be at my workshop.’ Harry stands. ‘Come to the Department of Mysteries when you’re done.’

The procedure doesn’t take too long. It feels good to be doing something, or rather something that Draco hasn’t been extorted to do. Fausta asks him for Nariyoshi’s details and hands him a pamphlet with dos and don’ts on how to break the news. Draco browses some of the pages as she speaks. Do answer the Muggle’s questions politely! Don’t bring them in contact with magical animals!

By the time Draco’s done, mid-morning has come and gone. The lift takes him to Level Nine and the gleaming door that hides the world’s mysteries — including that notorious figurine.

Potter’s explained how to alert him, and he lets Draco in a circular space with doors on all sides. ‘Break room,’ he calls, and a door on their right flings open, allowing a glimpse into a large, shabby room.

‘You look calmer,’ Potter comments when he shuts the door behind them. ‘Tea?’

‘Thanks.’

While Harry’s busy with the kettle, Draco takes in the worn armchairs, the collection of unwashed mugs on the sink and a buzzing coffee maker. A note on some biscuits on the counter warns: THIS IS THE PROPERTY OF JACOB FAWLES. DO NOT TOUCH OR I’LL SEND YOU BACK TO THE WITCH-HUNTING DAYS.

P.S. YES, I CAN DO IT. I WORK IN THE TIME ROOM.

Someone else has scribbled below: THE TIME ROOM IS FOR NERDS. I WORK IN THE DEATH ROOM. ELEANOR. The packet is half-empty.

‘Everything sorted?’ Potter offers Draco a mug that says YULE RETREAT 1993, and some biscuits, possibly Jacob’s.

Draco nods. ‘I can’t think of how to tell him. It seems easy, and yet.’ He waves the pamphlet. ‘This gives me no reassurance whatsoever. What if Nariyoshi thinks I should be sent to the madhouse? What if he thinks he belongs to the madhouse?’

‘Want me to come with you?’

‘Would you?’ Draco’s so relieved. He has no idea why this scares him so. What if Nariyoshi decides he hates Draco for not telling him the truth earlier? What if he’s afraid of him?

‘I’ll go tell Susan I’m going out for a bit. Then we can Apparate together.’

Draco gazes at him, overwhelmed by— he doesn’t want to think of the word. For now, he’ll call it gratitude. His voice quavers only slightly. ‘Thank you, Harry.’

 

Nariyoshi stares at them. He stares for rather some time, and Draco frets.

‘Draco, my dear,’ he says finally, ‘did you get in my wardrobe? In that rucksack at the back?’

Draco exchanges a confused glance with Harry. ‘No?’

‘Are you sure? Did you find those little bits of paper with the smiley faces on? Perhaps licked one to see what they were? They’ve been there for ages, they must be strong…’

‘What are you talking about?’ Draco asks. ‘I just said I’m magic!’

‘That’s why I’m asking! One time when I took LSD, I thought I was a god. People think all sorts of—’

Harry snorts. Draco glares at Nariyoshi’s look of patient understanding. ‘I didn’t accidentally consume any drugs you’re hiding — which I’ll bin the second I’m in the flat, by the way. I’m telling the truth. I’m a wizard!’

‘Perhaps a demonstration might help?’ Harry suggests.

They both take out their wands. ‘Any tips in that leaflet of yours?’ Harry asks.

‘Yeah, don’t make the Muggle fly. Super helpful, wouldn’t have thought of it myself.’ Draco flicks his wand, murmuring a spell his mother used to cast for him before bedtime. The spell tints the air with shades of blue that change from violet to turquoise depending on the temperature of the air currents. In high-ceilinged rooms, like his bedroom at the Manor, there were a dozen hues, shimmering and shifting from the slightest draught from the windows or the heat from the fire. Here the effect isn’t as impressive, but it’s pretty. It’s like they’re floating in an iridescent violet sky with veins of blue running into it. Harry adds a Lumos, splits it into three, and spells the luminescent orbs to float through the coloured air. The effect is startlingly similar to a painting Nariyoshi showed Draco once, a starry sky all swirls of blue and purple with bright stars in its midst.

‘What spell is this?’ Harry asks.

‘It’s a night light for children.’ Draco lets the memory of happier times dispel the darkness that’s settled in his heart. A noise draws his attention – Nariyoshi’s in tears.

‘Nariyoshi?’

‘I never imagined—’ Nariyoshi wipes his cheeks, but the tears won’t stop coming. They’re happy tears, Draco realises. Nariyoshi’s happy.

‘This is a miracle,’ Nariyoshi says in a voice full of longing and awe. ‘I’ve always dreamed of magic. To see this, at my age… to learn that there’s so much more to life—’ He wipes his eyes with the sleeve of his tie-dye kimono. ‘I’m not going insane, am I?’

‘No.’

‘What a gift, Draco. What a gift you’ve offered to me.’ He bows low to Draco — the highest honour a master can bestow to their apprentice — which leaves Draco stunned.

Nariyoshi sighs and leans back on his pillow, eyes on the coloured air. ‘Even if I die today, I’ll die happy.’

Draco sits on the bed beside him. ‘Sensei,’ he uses the formal address he hasn’t used in years. ‘You’ve shown me your world when I knew nothing of it. You’ve taught me about kitchen appliances and vinyl records and how to do laundry. You were endlessly kind when I had no one; when I lashed out. I was a feral animal when you found me, and you made me into the man I am today. Now, it’s my turn to show you my world. The world of magic. I think you’ll like it.’

Nariyoshi clasps his hand. ‘My dear boy.’

They remain like this for a brief moment, Harry at the back wall watching them in silence.

‘Well, then.’ Draco stands. ‘Get dressed, chop chop. We’re going.’ Cancelling the night light spell, he leaves Harry to help Nariyoshi get ready, while he goes to argue with the doctors about an early discharge.

~~~

That night Draco’s in high spirits. The exhilaration and relief he’d felt that day, after Nariyoshi was taken to St Mungo’s and received a few vials that made an immediate improvement, still courses through his veins. He’s dancing with joy inside. This is a victory; a change in his fortunes, like picking up a card when the game’s almost lost, and seeing it’s a King.

Regular sex with Harry has kept Draco’s hunger at bay these past couple of weeks, but it’s a desire for celebration that drives him to Grimmauld Place late in the evening, after he’s taken a delighted Nariyoshi around Diagon Alley and then home to rest. Draco bangs on the door and jumps on Harry as soon as he opens it.

‘Hey,’ Harry smiles, his surprise turning into pleasure. ‘You seem happy.’

‘Which is the nearest room?’ Draco nips on Harry’s neck, pushing him backwards into the house.

‘The drawing r—'

‘Too far.’ Draco shoves him against the wall in the hallway under a silver snake candelabra. ‘I can’t wait.’ He kneels, yanks Harry’s jeans down his thighs, and mouths on Harry’s cock through his boxers. ‘I want you right—'

‘STAINS OF DISHONOUR! PERVERTS! FILTH AND MIASMA!’ A voice yanks Draco out of his pleasurable task. Incredulous, he stares at the yelling portrait of Aunt Walburga, who shouts maledictions to them at the top of her voice.

‘She does that,’ Harry says, frowning. ‘Best go upstairs.’

‘The fuck we will. Here,’ Draco drags Harry along the wall in front of the portrait. ‘I want her to see everything.’ He Banishes their clothing upstairs and presses himself on Harry. ‘I was going to suck you, but now I want to give my aunt a better show. Open your legs.’

Harry blushes furiously, but the glint in his eyes betrays mischief. He promptly turns on the wall and arches his back, presenting his delectable arse to Draco. ‘Fuck me till she yells herself hoarse,’ he says, and Draco does.

Afterwards, Harry pads to the kitchen in search of sustenance. Alone, Draco stalks to the fuming woman, who’s by now red in the face, and hisses. ‘If you want to remain in one piece, you’d better shut up, Aunt dearest. Potter might not have ways to get you off the wall, but I—’ here he lets his eyes turn black and his nails grow sharp, the only Incubus features he has ‘—I can get past your silly charms. I can cut through that canvas like it’s butter.’

His aunt freezes, her face scrunched back in disgust. ‘You’re like her,’ she spits. ‘Viola.’ Draco dimly remembers a Great Aunt of his grandfather’s. ‘Cursed,’ the portrait says, her malicious eyes blazing. ‘A demon. A slut.’

One fast swipe, and Draco slashes the portrait near her face. Aunt Walburga yelps in fear. She whimpers when Draco leans close and whispers, ‘A demon who can shred you to pieces. One peep from you from now on, and you’re history. There are no other paintings here for you to hide in.’ He stands. ‘Oh, and another thing. If you breathe a word to Harry about what I am, I’ll make you rue the day you were painted.’

With a last glare at the cowering woman, Draco climbs the stairs to the bedroom and falls on the bed. He rubs his face. Stupid, stupid, stupid. He’s tried so hard to hide the monster he is when he’s near Harry, only to go and reveal himself on purpose in front of one of the most diabolical women in Black history, who shares Harry’s residence and who’d no doubt cut her nose to spite her face.

The door opens and Draco lifts his head, all thoughts of his aunt fleeing his mind. Harry walks in with a tray of sandwiches, shirtless, his jeans unbuttoned and hanging so low on his hips that Draco can see his pubes. Harry’s glistening with sweat, exuding a post-orgasmic glow, loose-limbed and soft. He looks debauched, well-fucked, absolutely pornographic, like a whore that could demand a kingdom’s ransom. Desire drives all thoughts from Draco’s mind, and he sits up.

‘Come here.’

Harry abandons the food. ‘I don’t think I can look Kreacher in the eye,’ he says, his eyes wrinkled in a smile.

He stands in front of Draco, who hauls him close and sinks his head in Harry’s pubes. ‘I’m sure he’s seen worse,’ Draco murmurs. Pulling Harry’s jeans down, he trails kisses and nips at his groin.

‘Again?’ Harry asks.

‘Again.’ Draco lowers his head and takes him soft in his mouth. He savours the taste of Harry’s heavy prick, sucking at the glans until he’s fully hard, and swallows him deep.

Harry’s holding Draco, one hand messing his hair. ‘I’ve no idea what made you approach me that night at the gallery,’ he murmurs, ‘but I’m so grateful you did.’

He might as well have stabbed Draco. ‘Don’t speak.’ He removes his mouth to rest his forehead on Harry’s stomach. ‘Just fuck my mouth. Please.’

Harry’s expression is unfathomable. He cups Draco’s chin, opens his mouth with his thumb and sinks his prick inside. ‘I’m not sure I can keep silent when you look so beautiful with my cock in your mouth.’ He thrusts deep inside Draco, who relaxes his throat, and takes it.

‘I like you, Draco.’ Harry’s eyes are in shadow, his tone careful even if he’s already a little breathless. ‘I like everything about you.’

Draco’s hard. He hasn’t even touched himself, but he’s leaking pre-come, his balls aching. He rubs himself, shutting his eyes as his orgasm crests.

‘Look at me, Draco,’ Harry rasps. His thrusts increase in intensity.

Draco keeps his eyes shut.

‘Draco, open—’

Draco tugs. He doesn’t want to do it, but he fears he’ll surrender to Harry’s commanding tone. So, he pulls at Harry’s pleasure, drawing it out of him faster than normal. He tugs and tugs, and Harry loses himself in ecstasy, his hips erratic, his cock bruising Draco’s throat; a pain Draco welcomes, because he doesn’t dare — he can never dare to show who he is. He’s a Creature, not even fully human; a monster, a demon, a liar, and he doesn’t deserve Harry.

With a cry, Harry splashes hot come at the back of Draco’s throat, and Draco swallows it all.

 

‘I was going to tell you.’ Harry munches on a sandwich, getting crumbs on the bed. ‘But you sidetracked me with that mouth of yours.’

He grins at Draco, who attempts a smile in response. ‘Tell me what?’

‘I’ve got the figurine in the library downstairs.’

‘The figurine?’ Draco speaks with indifference, but inside he’s frozen. He might not necessarily need Mrs Li’s money for Nariyoshi anymore, but he does owe her. And she knows all about him.

Harry picks his wand up and Summons some tissues to wipe his nose. He’s already sniffling, his immune system weakened because of what Draco is.

Everything Draco does to Harry hurts him. He can’t bear it.

‘Want to see it?’ Harry asks, picking up another sandwich.

Draco swallows his bite, and his pain. ‘All right.’

Draco ensures Harry puts some warm clothes on; the house is draughty and he’s already shivering. They descend the stairs, passing the silent, glaring portrait, and Kreacher Scourgifying the evidence of their lovemaking from the wall – Harry goes bright red – and they enter the vast library.

The room was the pride and joy of Uncle Orion, who’d loved books as much as he’d loved decapitating house-elves. It boasts wood-panelled walls, shelves inlaid with spells for book preservation, a glass cabinet with curios beside the leather sofa, and a standing globe with the map of the world as it was in the 1800s.

On a round table in the middle of the room stands a covered object. Harry flicks his wand and the black velvet rises to reveal the notorious figurine.

Draco lets out a soft gasp. He’d assumed it’d be a dragon, like the ones the Lis display everywhere in their illegal casino, but this is the figure of an anthropomorphic creature with wings, a tail, and talons. He approaches it, his thoughts a raging storm, and stands over it. Harry remains speechless by the door.

‘Can I touch it?’ Draco asks. It doesn’t feel unsafe, the way some of his father’s Dark objects did.

Harry nods, his expression unreadable.

Draco picks it up and turns it in his hands. It’s a Succubus alright.

Struck by the silence in the room, Draco glances at Harry, who stares at Draco with a curious frown. ‘What?’

‘You picked it up. I can’t. I Levitated it here.’

Draco slowly sets it down.

Harry steps closer. ‘I can’t get nearer than this—’ he approaches about two feet away ‘—without feeling a vibration that presses right into my brain.’ He glances at Draco. ‘Four of us are working on this. None of us could come as close as you have.’

His eyes ask what his words don’t.

‘I’ve got to go,’ Draco says.

‘Draco…’

‘Nariyoshi might need me. I—I need to leave.’

He storms out of the house, Apparating as soon as he’s past the barrier, but there’s no solace for him there either. A carved red dragon he’s never seen before flies over his bed, chasing a glowing pearl, which drifts towards Draco as soon as he steps in. When he touches it, words sparkle in the air: two weeks, Mora. Tick, tock.

~~~

Harry’s sitting on the tiled floor of a bathroom. It’s bone-achingly cold. Water has flooded the bathroom, rising a good few inches, soaking Harry’s robes. The water is red, swirling with blood coming from a figure lying just on the edge of his sight. Harry doesn’t want to look at it; he wants to leave, but his body doesn’t listen. He turns slowly, shuddering at the sight that greets him.

Draco’s chest is slashed from side to side, rivers of blood seeping in the water. So much blood. It seems impossible such a slim man would have so much blood in him, but everything around them is turning grotesquely red. Draco’s dying, and it’s Harry’s fault. He yells for help. Snape’s nowhere to be seen, but he was there, wasn’t he? Snape was there. But no one’s coming now, not this time, and Harry crawls in the water to reach Draco.

His hands grab freezing cold skin, and terror fills him. Draco’s not dying – he’s dead and Harry’s killed him, and he can’t bear it, he can’t breathe because the huge weight of guilt is crushing him—

The corpse opens milky white eyes, staring into Harry’s.

‘Noooo,’ he says, shaking the corpse as if he can stop what’s happening. ‘No, not an Inferi, who did this, who fouled you like this—’

The Inferi-Draco starts to rise, and Harry knows he’ll have to kill it before it kills him. He must kill Inferi-Draco, but it won’t stop him, so he must do it again, and it won’t stop, this killing of Draco won’t ever—

‘This isn’t me,’ a voice says behind him. Strong hands grab Harry’s shoulders, steadying him. Air fills his lungs and he turns with relief to Draco, who’s alive and breathing.

‘There’s nothing there, hush,’ Draco says.

Harry dares a look, but the corpse has vanished and the blood is gone.

‘You were dead—’

‘It’s a dream. Just a silly dream,’ Draco says, but Harry’s shaking too much.

He wakes up in his bed, in Draco’s arms, his cheeks wet. Draco holds him tight, his familiar smell reassuring Harry that he’s alive; that he’s there and he’s real.

‘I thought I’d killed you. I thought—’ Harry can’t speak; sobs rake his chest.

‘Hush. I’m right here.’

‘Sometimes I can’t bear the pain. It hurts, it hurts so much…’

‘Hush, darling. I’ve got you.’

 

It’s still dark when Harry opens his eyes. Exhaustion pulls at his limbs; he feels he ran a marathon in his sleep. His pulse starts rising at the memory of the dream; he takes deep breaths.

Draco’s beside him, awake. The air is thick with lies and half-truths and secrets.

‘You’d gone home.’ Harry keeps his voice even, ensuring there are no accusing tones. ‘How come you knew I had a nightmare?’

‘I’d forgotten something. Came back to pick it up—’

‘Don’t lie to me,’ Harry says, temper rising. ‘Not anymore.’

Draco swallows. The night’s silver light illuminates his profile, making him look otherworldly. ‘Did she tell you? Did the portrait talk to you?’

It takes Harry some time to figure his question out. ‘Aunt Walburga? She knows?’

Draco nods.

‘No, Draco.’ Harry faces him, but Draco’s staring at the ceiling. ‘I’ve known for some time now.’

What?’ Astonished eyes meet Harry’s.

‘I’ve guessed, more like,’ Harry corrects. ‘But now I know. I know what you are.’

Draco trembles, and Harry grabs his wrist firmly. ‘Don’t run out again. Don’t run out on us. Talk to me.’

Draco’s voice is hoarse. ‘When did you…’

‘I suspected something was up the first time we had sex. I spoke to a Healer the next morning. She said it wasn’t flu. She wanted to check me for vampire bites. Assumed I’d been bitten and Obliviated.’

Draco is breathing hard. Harry shuffles closer, his hand tight on Draco’s arm. ‘I remembered the way you were so terrified after that first time. I wondered why you’d bring me to your flat if I was contagious with flu, when it could seriously endanger Nariyoshi’s health. Then, Ron mentioned the Incubus rumours. I did some reading. The way you reacted at the pub when Neville called Incubi rapists; the dreams; it all added up.’

Harry remembers the blank expression on Draco’s face at the Incubi conversation, his fury at Neville’s careless remark. Hermione’s talk of the prostitutes Draco had to resort to visiting to keep himself healthy had bothered Harry, a ridiculous, flaming spear of jealousy he hadn’t been able to contain.

‘What now?’ Draco says in a too-casual voice.

‘Now, nothing. We sleep. We wake up. We go to work. We make love. Nothing needs to change, Draco.’

‘How can you say that?’ Draco half rises, his face contorted. ‘I can hurt you! I do hurt you, every single time I touch you. I’m of the night, Harry. I don’t belong with your kind.’ He pushes his long hair off his face, his expression rippling with pain and fury. ‘I feed from your kind, Harry. I’m a monster, a Creature, not even human anymore…’

Draco’s blinded by the prejudice he’s grown up steeped in; filled with self-hatred that distorts everything he sees like a cracked mirror. Harry sits up, too, still holding Draco’s forearm, a connection he doesn’t want to break. ‘I decide who belongs with me. I decide who to spend my time with. I make the choices, and I choose you.’

A frustrated laugh. ‘If you knew…’

‘What else is there to know?’

Draco’s eyes are burning in the night. ‘You shouldn’t trust me.’

‘Too late.’

With a sudden snarl, Draco shoves Harry on his back and straddles him. He pins Harry’s wrists on the bed and leans over him. ‘You were always reckless, Harry. Everyone else would run in the opposite direction, but no, not you. You are here, placing your faith in me, knowing full well how badly I can hurt you.’

‘But you won’t.’

Draco ignores him. His hair falls on his face, his voice husky. ‘It’ll feel good, I promise. I can give you the orgasm of a lifetime.’ He accompanies his words with a sinuous roll of his hips, setting Harry’s nerves alight. ‘I can make you writhe, and whimper, and come five times in a row while I suck the life out of you. Is that what you want, sweetheart?’

‘Is that supposed to scare me?’

Draco’s hands tighten on Harry’s wrists. ‘Don’t challenge me.’

Harry’s temper flares. ‘Then stop pushing me away. You’ve been holding back in bed ever since the first time. I could tell. You’ve been actively trying not to cause me any harm.’ Draco glares at him, and Harry glares back. ‘All I see is your fear talking.’

‘You see nothing. I take, Harry. That’s what I am. I take and take, and sometimes — sometimes it’s hard for me to stop. And you make it harder. You make me want to ravage you. I want to put my mouth on you and suck your bones dry. I want to use you up.’ Draco’s gaze is feral, his mouth a snarl. ‘All my instincts scream to take from you.’

Taking advantage of Draco’s distraction, Harry rolls them on bed and pushes Draco on the sheets. He pins him down and leans over his startled face. ‘Well, I have a lot to give.’

He kisses Draco fiercely, mainly to shut him up, and Draco responds with an unholy kiss that would make the devil blush. It’s wet and messy, filthy, deep, hungry and desperate. He kisses like a man condemned, wrapping his legs around Harry and grinding their pricks together. Harry’s stupendously hard already. He shoves Draco back, and asks breathlessly, ‘The books say my arousal feeds you. What about yours?’

‘Mine is inconsequential. It doesn’t feed me or affect you. Bring your mouth back here.’ Draco latches his lips on Harry’s again, sinfully hot, and Harry loses himself in the kiss and his fierce, questing hands. Draco’s bucking against Harry, breathless already, making mewling sounds of need.

He attempts to roll them over, but Harry pulls back, hovering over him on all fours. ‘Do you trust me?’

Draco’s hair is fanned on the pillow, his eyes cautious. Harry’s heart clenches with the desire to say everything he’s wanted to all this time. He wants everything out in the open, he wants to make Draco understand, but he won’t take words – so Harry has to show him.

He digs his fingers deep in Draco’s sides when Draco doesn’t reply immediately. His pelvis presses down on Draco’s; short, intense rolls, the movement punctuating Harry’s words. ‘Do. You. Trust. Me?’

Draco nods.

‘Then lie back and let me show how much I can give you.’

Draco’s wary expression darkens with lust when Harry settles between his legs and tugs his boxers off. He raises his hips to help Harry remove them. ‘I do love your mouth on my cock.’

Harry nips the inside of Draco’s thighs and licks at the soft skin where they meet his scrotum. He takes a mock-apologetic expression. ‘Ah. I fear I’m going to disappoint you.’

Before Draco has the chance to respond, Harry shuffles further down, sucking at Draco’s balls gently, then moving even lower. He pushes Draco’s knees high in the air and licks the cleft of his arse.

Merlin,’ Draco gasps.

Casting a non-verbal cleaning spell, Harry spreads Draco wider and licks his quivering hole, blowing some air on it and watching it flutter. It tastes sweet, in a rich, earthy way, and Harry burrows closer and starts licking him in earnest. Saliva drips down his chin as he laps at Draco’s rim before he jabs his tongue inside Draco’s arse, fast and sharp, then in circles. Draco lets out a litany of gasps and moans, his thighs vibrating with tension over Harry’s head. It’s not enough for Harry; he wants Draco out of his mind, he wants him lost. Shifting on the bed and ignoring his own hard-on, Harry presses Draco’s perineum, light strokes first before he slides his hand firmly all the way to Draco’s balls and back.

‘You’re killing me,’ Draco rasps.

‘I haven’t even started yet.’

Draco lets out a string of expletives, and Harry chuckles before he bends back down to the dusky pink pucker. Lick, swipe, lap, jab. Around the rim, inside. Harry’s almost out of breath and his position is awkward, his cock dying for some attention, his legs cramping. But nothing matters except rimming Draco to the edge of insanity.

He spreads him wider and Draco holds his knees to his chest. Sparks of lust course through Harry at the sight of Draco presenting himself so beautifully open, so wonderfully trusting; bolts of electricity that fry his brain and scorch his skin. His lust feels bottomless, overflowing, infinite, and Harry summons it to give Draco more. He thrusts his tongue insistently inside the snug heat, a growl escaping his mouth as he tries to reach deep inside Draco, as deep as he can. Draco lets out an astonished, wild sound; he bucks his hips, and Harry has to hold him tight.

‘No one’s ever done this to me before.’

‘I can do it to you every day,’ Harry says. ‘If you let me keep you.’

A pause. ‘You fucking arsehole.’

It’s not an insult. The way Draco says it, the quiet ache in his voice, his pinched expression… it sounds almost like he’s hurting.

The moment feels heavy, pregnant with emotion like a gathering storm, and Harry wants to dispel the clouds. ‘No, I’m fucking your arsehole. With my tongue.’

A chuckle. ‘Git.’

Smiling, Harry returns to Draco’s arse and nips gently at his cleft, gratified by the gasp Draco lets out. Draco’s arse is loose and slick with sweat and saliva, and it twitches invitingly. Harry would love to fuck him; he feels dazed with the desire to sink his cock in Draco, but that’s not what tonight is about. He slides a finger in instead, seeking — ah, there it is.

Draco yelps.

‘That’s how great it feels when you fuck me,’ Harry says conversationally, stroking Draco’s prostate.

My god.’

‘Did you say more? OK then.’

Harry sinks another finger, stretching Draco even more. Draco grunts and squirms, and lets go of one thigh to stroke himself furiously.

‘Please, Harry, please…’

Despite his pleading, Draco’s still holding back. Harry can tell, so he adds a third finger, and is none too gentle about it. Draco whimpers — yesyesyes, and then, ohdeargod — and Harry pumps his fingers in faster, harder, deeper. He crawls over Draco, keeping his fingers inside his luscious arse, and stares at the wild, pained expression on Draco’s face as he’s about to come.

‘Let me see you. Open your eyes.’

A desperate growl. Draco’s strokes on his cock are erratic, his hips twitching, his eyes firmly shut.

Look at me,’ Harry says, and Draco does.

His eyes are wide on his flushed face, vulnerable and unguarded and full of longing, their familiar grey colour now a midnight black. It’s a shock, but not an unpleasant one. Draco’s eyes are deep like the night sky, startlingly beautiful, unique like the man himself.

There you are,’ Harry whispers. ‘I see you.’

Draco comes. He gasps, his torso arching like a bow, and spills over his fingers. His arse clenches hot around Harry’s fingers, who keeps them in, stroking Draco gently through the throes of his orgasm, relishing the way his dark eyes brim with emotion, astonishment, absolute ecstasy. They’re dark, Harry thinks, the way certain desires are dark; the ones closest to the heart; the ones buried in his bones.

Draco exhales raggedly on the sweaty sheets. Harry removes his fingers and rises on his knees over him, taking in Draco’s sprawled, liquid body, the come gleaming on Draco’s quivering stomach. His own erection is painfully hard, and he curls his hand around it. A few strokes are enough, and he climaxes over Draco, who’s staring at him, face open like the dawn. Then Harry bends and licks it clean, his come mixed with Draco’s, their tastes mingled, until Draco’s stomach is clean.

He lies beside Draco. ‘There are potions for energy draining. For vamps and the like. They can be adapted for our case.’ He strokes Draco’s face, tracing his cheek, his jaw, the corner of his mouth. Draco’s eyes are grey again. ‘Did my orgasm right now feed you?’

‘No. But you can’t spend—’

‘This can work, you know. Us. I’m up for giving it a go.’

‘Harry… you don’t know everything.’

‘Then tell me.’

~~~

Two weeks later

A cold burst of wind disperses the clouds, allowing the Crow Moon to shine pale light at Knockturn Alley, where people up to no good prowl in the shadows. Draco passes his old hunting grounds: the sleazy clubs; the corners where sex is available for a few Knuts; the alleys where one can rut on someone else and part ways without knowing their name. Every place he made someone come so he could feed the hunger inside him.

His mind is restless. Nariyoshi’s been taken to St Mungo’s a few days ago. A magical virus this time — a hex really — burns through him. His fever won’t go down and the Healers are baffled, but not Draco. The pearl of wisdom of the red dragon on his bedside table flashed its message when he returned from the hospital.

We can save him. Bring the figurine in exchange for the potion.

The Succubus weighs heavy in a deep pocket of his cloak, and in his soul. He wishes there was another way to finish this business, a way that didn’t bring him to his old stomping ground, but there isn’t.

He turns left on the twisting side road, under an arch, and then right. The casino’s wards flash neon-bright as he steps through and knocks on the door. He now knows how useless his glamour was. These wards can see through glamours and Polyjuice, Disillusionment and Invisibility Cloaks. No one can hide from the Lis, while they remain hidden from the sight of everyone, except from their clients and those invited by them.

A man in a dark suit opens the door. ‘Tell Mrs Li that Mora is here. I have something she wants.’

A few minutes later, a slender woman with spiky hair leads him to the office he visited last time. Mrs Li sits at the desk, Sue standing beside her. The spiked-haired woman shuts the door behind him. Draco steps into the room. The game has started.

‘Wonderful to see you, Draco,’ Mrs Li says. ‘Do you have it?’

Draco opens his cloak and retrieves the bundle. He unwraps the velvet cloth from around it.

A sharp, desirous expression flashes on Mrs Li’s face, quickly suppressed. She returns to her customary poise. ‘Please leave it at the back of the room.’ She points next to a vase of peonies.

Instead, Draco steps towards them. ‘Don’t you want to see it up close?’

Sue flinches; her mother’s hands grip the desk, knuckles white. ‘No,’ she says in a tight voice. ‘Please put it where we asked you to.’

Draco takes a few steps back and they relax. ‘First the potion,’ he says.

It’s not like they have a choice. Sue bends to open a cupboard. She rises, tossing her glossy hair back, and sets a vial filled with purple liquid on the desk. ‘I wish we hadn’t had to do this,’ she says. ‘You kept us waiting until the last minute.’

‘We decided you needed a stronger incentive,’ her mother adds.

‘Will it work? The potion?’

‘It will,’ Sue says. ‘Promise.’

‘You’ll excuse me if I don’t take your word for it.’

‘All right then.’ She stalks to a concealed window, flinging it open, and whistles. An owl lands on the sill, blinking slowly. ‘You can use her to send it to the hospital now. It works immediately. Write a note to the Healers to confirm the recovery. Bao will fly back with the note, you can give us the figurine, and this whole sorry affair will be over.’

Draco does as she says. The bird flies through the cold night, and Sue shuts the window and returns to her mother. Draco flops into a seat, his heart racing. He still holds the Succubus. ‘Since we have some time in our hands, can I ask you something?’

‘Go on,’ Mrs Li says.

‘What does this thing do?’

Sue speaks. ‘It’s not Dark, if that’s what you fear. It doesn’t hurt people. It absorbs, that’s all.’ She must notice Draco’s lack of comprehension and continues. ‘It’s the most powerful shield in the world. The right incantation can connect it to a household — any group of people — and it’ll absorb all Dark curses or hexes aimed at the family or tribe. It’s the ultimate protection.’

‘That’s not all, though, is it?’ Draco asks. People wouldn’t go to this trouble for a shield, not matter how powerful.

It’s a guess, but he finds confirmation in the febrile light in Mrs Li’s eyes, which betrays a hunger that rivals his. ‘True. It absorbs wealth as well. Power. It stores it. Its capacity is… limitless.’ Her greed is stark on her elegant face.

‘Is it powerful enough to justify a hundred thousand Galleons?’ Draco adds the promised money to his debt, although he hasn’t seen any sign of the former in the room. He’s not surprised. He didn’t come here thinking the Lis would let him go.

Mrs Li laughs. ‘It’s powerful enough to justify ten million Galleons. You don’t understand how priceless this is, Mr Malfoy. Besides its powers, its historical significance is immense. Its origin is lost in time, made in the valleys of Shaanxi by witches that could bring down the sky. Kingdoms fought over it; kingdoms which have since crumbled to dust, their names forgotten. But this still exists, and it was found in an old crone’s home after her death in Chippenham of all places!’

Draco runs a hand over the smooth surface of the Succubus’ curves, her wings and curled tail, and the little bump at the bottom of her feet. Harry had named her Fifi, a ridiculous name for such a priceless, ancient object; and yet that’s the only way Draco can think of her now. ‘Why Harry?’ he murmurs.

‘Pardon?’

He raises his head. ‘Why Harry Potter? Four Unspeakables have been working on this. Why did Potter have to be the mark?’

The ladies exchange a glance, smiling for the first time since he entered the room. ‘Oh, Mr Malfoy,’ says Mrs Li. ‘Potter wasn’t the mark. You were.’

Draco feels as if he’s back at the round table, holding a hand of cards, certain he’ll win the game, only for Mrs Li to throw down an ace.

‘You knew I’d be able to touch it. Only me.’

Mrs Li shrugs. ‘A vampire could do it, too, but they’d vehemently refuse having anything to do with your kind, and we don’t want their species as an enemy. But an Incubus or Succubus was our best bet. We had no hope of finding who the rumoured Incubus was until you strolled into our club.’

And into their clutches.

A scratching on the window. Sue lets the owl in and removes the note tied in its leg. She throws it to Draco — she can’t come near while he’s still holding the statue — and he tears it open. A sigh of relief escapes him. The Healer assures him the potion worked, and Nariyoshi signed it below, like Draco had asked.

‘I wouldn’t want anything to happen to him,’ Mrs Li says, the stress to the last word not going unnoticed by Draco. ‘He’s quite a dear man. Now the figurine.’ She points at the table with the peonies.

Nariyoshi’s OK. Draco squares his shoulders. Time to do what he came here to do.

He stalks to the back of the room and places the statue on her feet, pressing the little bump. He’d added that one last night, knowing they couldn’t come close enough to check. A tiny signal flashes to the Aurors hidden outside.

Mrs Li might hold the aces, but this time Draco cheated.

‘Now, Mr Malfoy,’ Mrs Li rises, ‘I’m afraid…’

She doesn't finish her sentence. Yells sound from the casino, followed by the bang of offensive and defensive spells. A crash resounds from right outside the door.

‘What’s happening?’ Sue asks.

Mrs Li aims her wand at him. ‘What have you done?’

Draco shrugs. ‘Only what you asked me to: I seduced Harry Potter.’

A deafening blast, and Aurors pour into the room. Sue points her wand at them, but her mother catches her wrist and shakes her head. They both drop their wands and raise open palms. As they’re escorted out of the room, Mrs Li keeps her head high and Sue throws Draco a dirty look.

It’s over.

Draco lingers in the empty room, relief flooding through him. He picks up the figurine, wraps it in the velvet cloth and Levitates it to a Ministry worker waiting at the door. Outside, the casino is a sea of scarlet uniforms, upturned tables, people under Incarcerous. Weasley fires out orders as he co-ordinates the raid he’d planned with Draco.

‘Has it all gone well?’ Draco asks.

‘Smooth as sailing. All good on your end? Your friend?’

‘Safe.’ Draco gives him a salute and stalks outside. He passes the protesting clients, the shouting Aurors and the remonstrating staff, and heads to the quiet shadows where someone leans on the wall.

‘How did it go?’

‘Like you said,’ Draco says. ‘She didn’t see it coming.’

Harry pushes off the stone wall and comes closer. Moonlight glints off his glasses. ‘Hermione sent me a Patronus. She told me Nariyoshi’s out of danger.’

Draco walks the few steps that separate them and buries his head in Harry's neck. ‘You were right. We should’ve moved in with you, where it was safe.’

‘It’s all worked out.’ Harry strokes his back. ‘But you two still should move in. The Lis have ties to the mob. Hell, they are the mob. You won’t be safe in the Muggle world.’

It makes perfect sense. Draco already spends most of his evenings there. But the significance of this move — sharing not just a bed but their lives… He bites his lip. ‘Can I have my own bedroom?’

‘You can have as many bedrooms as you want. The house has about two dozen.’ Harry pulls back to gaze at Draco, his hand on Draco’s hair. ‘I know moving in is a big step. Definitely too soon. But you don’t have to see me as your live-in boyfriend; more like… a housemate.’

Draco smiles. It finally starts to sink in: he’s safe, Nariyoshi’s safe, and Harry knows. He knows everything and still wants Draco. ‘A housemate who begs for my cock every night.’

‘I might even cook for you.’

‘Well, then we don’t need Nariyoshi. He’s out.’

Harry laughs. It’s a sound that Draco has come to love with an intensity that scares him. He’ll do anything to hear the laugh again, to see Harry’s face in a grin, his eyes bright with joy. ‘Did I tell you Nariyoshi’s planning to write a novel featuring “real elves”? He wants to interview your house-elf.’

Harry laughs again. Draco leans in, wanting to catch the laugh with his mouth, and Harry responds, his lips sweet on Draco’s. Draco has no idea how things came to be what they are — he suspects he has to thank Mrs Li for it — but he knows that the man he holds in his arms has saved him, again. And perhaps Draco has saved him back, a little. Perhaps they both found a way to mend each other’s broken pieces.

‘Oy, you two, stop snogging, this is a raid we got here!’ Weasley shouts from behind them.

But Draco holds Harry tighter — and doesn’t let go.