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Do We Look Like Lovers, or Partners in Crime?

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A year ago; a graceless night.

 

‘I forbid you to regret this,’ Malfoy whispers, breath hot, lips brushing Harry’s neck.

Harry shivers, closing his eyes, and presses his face against the bed. He clenches his fists around the silky bedspread—more luxurious than anything he has ever touched in his life. This is bedding for princes, not commoners like him.

Fingers dig into his hips, a man’s body pinning him down, all hard planes and muscles. He groans, desire coiling tight in his belly, and he raises his hips, rolling his arse against the bulge he feels. Malfoy moans, his voice reverberating through his chest, dropping his head against Harry’s neck. Harry hums, tilting his head to give the other man more access.

‘Did you hear me, you filthy tart?’ the prince hisses. ‘Remember that you came to me first.’

Harry huffs, twisting around to look up at the blond. The other man glares down at him, hands on either side of Harry’s head. Harry sees his beauty painted by moonlight: pale skin, eyes silver as daggers, flushed cheeks, kiss-swollen lips—and desire crashes through him, destroying all other thoughts. Oh, this is easy, far easier than he could ever have imagined with this man he once loathed.

He meets his gaze unflinchingly.

‘As you command, your highness,’ he replies, and raises his head to kiss Malfoy.

 

Now; open hand or closed fist would be fine.

 

When Harry sees Malfoy sitting in the Head Auror’s office, the blond turning and their eyes meeting, he is surprised to find himself rather calm. He hasn’t met the prince since that night last summer. He reckons that it is inevitable his mistake would come back to haunt him; it always is with Draco Malfoy.

The Head Auror tells him the Crown Prince is here to learn more about Auror work; it’s part of his stint with the Ministry, part of his training to be King. Harry nods when he is assigned to be Malfoy’s guide for the month. He is the only Auror without an active case, and really, what better publicity is there for the Ministry than to have the Golden Boy—as the older Aurors like to refer to him, sometimes derisively—seen with their future ruler?

Ron and Hermione exchange resigned looks when he tells them. ‘Well, we have been prepared for this from the time in first year when Malfoy landed himself in detention so that he could get a night-time stroll in the Forest alone with you,’ Ron says. ‘Bloke’s bloody obsessed, and frankly, I don’t see the appeal, mate. Sorry.’

‘Be careful. Use contraception. He’s an omega,’ Hermione reminds Harry primly.

Ron makes a face. ‘Well, thank you, love, for that image.’

Harry doesn’t tell them that it’s the other way round for Malfoy and him, because well, they don’t know about the night of last year’s Anniversary Ball at the palace. He doesn't think about the night much really—except when he happens to read the gossip rags that like to carry news on the Crown Prince’s dating exploits every other day. He doesn’t tell his best mates too, that they needn’t worry about his sleeping with Malfoy; Malfoy seems to like his men tall, elegant and of noble blood.

It’s a lucky thing Harry is short and dresses terribly; one of Malfoy’s favourite greetings in the morning is to disparage the jeans Harry wears. It’s clear I must relook the remuneration package they offer our Aurors, if you cannot afford to dress any better than a tramp, Malfoy sniffed, looking personally offended at Harry’s clothes. Harry snorted, amused, and told him to bring him something better to wear then, if he thought his clothes were so bad, and Malfoy did: tailored deep green robes that fit him perfectly.

Harry’s duties as Malfoy’s guide mostly involve bringing the prince around the office, explaining investigation techniques, attending this or that briefing. The worst of it is pretending to be Malfoy’s boyfriend to scare off the unhealthy number of obsessed stalkers; worst, because Harry gets to hold Malfoy’s hand, but can go no further.

‘Do you think I encourage them, Potter?’ the prince snarls, running a hand through his long blonde hair as he does when he is distressed. ‘Salazar, I ignore their letters and Floo calls, and I tell the house elves to return their gifts, but the whole ruddy world seems to think I’m some sort of hedonistic flirt, because of what the rags write!’

He is pacing the length of the kitchen at Number 13 Grimmauld Place. Harry watches him, feeling a little guilty, because he used to think what the gossip magazines write is quite true. He thought that Malfoy was releasing his omega pheromones around him on purpose too, because the tosser smells inviting to Harry all the time, of warm treacle pudding and baking bread and fresh linen. He smells like home, and Harry is disconcerted to know that Neville, who is also alpha, smells nothing around Malfoy.

The prince spins around in front of the fireplace, his fantastically orange robes flaring out dramatically. He runs both his hands through his hair, detangling his braid. ‘It’s because I’m omega. I must want attention, mustn’t I? I must seek out a mate, so that I can bear him a hundred fucking babies. That is what I’m good for, that is what I’m made for. I am not meant to be king! Do you think I am blind and deaf to the criticisms and whispers?’

Malfoy is flying with the thunderstorm of his rage, and Harry knows by now that there is only waiting for the storm to dissipate.

‘Well, I am going to prove all of you wrong, do you see? Father has been training me for kingship since I was five. I will be a bloody great king! I do not make these sacrifices for nothing. You will wipe that fucking smirk off your face, Potter.’

‘I’m not smirking,’ Harry replies mildly, pursing his lips; he must have smiled unconsciously, thinking that Malfoy looks rather lovely really, with his eyes sparking with anger and his cheeks flushed. For Merlin’s sake, Potter, you sap.

‘I know you think I’m a slag,’ Malfoy sneers, his hair flowing wildly around his face. ‘Terribly sorry, Potter, that you must take on the unfortunate task of pretending to be my fucking lover. This must be such a shitty part of your job. Do you know what the irony is? I am already bonded!’

His harsh laughter echoes through the kitchen. Harry straightens up slowly. He stares at Malfoy, cold stealing into his chest. ‘What?’

The prince tosses his hair over his shoulder, tilting his chin up. His expression is defiant. ‘Are you surprised? I am the Crown Prince after all. Matters like my precious mate must be decided for me, whatever is good for the kingdom. Isn’t it bloody hilarious then, society thinking I’m such a slut just because I’m omega?’

Harry could only stare at him, his fists clenched. Were you already bonded when we fucked? Why did you say yes? He wonders, knowing these will be yet more questions he will never have answers for. It makes it worse—far, far worse—being Malfoy’s pretend boyfriend now: to stand next to him and feel his warmth; to breathe in his tempting scent, only to remember that Malfoy will always belong to someone else.

His mate. Malfoy has a fucking mate, some bloke he will go home to, who will hold Malfoy in their arms, who will know the prince in a way Harry can only dream of. Harry realises that he must have been lost to Malfoy from the night they met at the ball, and he saw Malfoy’s pale serious face streaked with tears and thought, I want to kiss this man; that it must have started even before that, when they were in school, and Malfoy was everywhere he turned.

His utter surrender to the prince is a forgone conclusion.

He cannot be calm knowing that Malfoy has a mate, and the other man, sharp-eyed and perceptive, knows something is wrong. He almost asks Harry what has changed. Harry sees the question in a twist in his expression, in his narrowed grey eyes, but the prince stops short, as if like Harry, he doesn’t want to see what form the Bogart will take.

Harry is counting down the days to the end of Malfoy’s month with the Aurors, when the prince is kidnapped.

 

Now; grey areas and expectations.

 

It is Harry’s fault, because he is distracted by Malfoy, drunk and flushed, leaning against him, a warm hand wrapped around Harry’s wrist. They are standing outside the pub, the prince whinging that he is not done drinking not even drunk you barely touched your pint Potter are you a lightweight you need to drink more, and Malfoy’s friends Parkinson and Zabini are abetting him with wicked delight.

Harry is exasperated, regretting having agreed to come out, when he catches movement from the corner of his eye. He wraps his arms around Malfoy at the same moment the Portkey hits them. Malfoy gasps, eyes wide and startled, as he feels the familiar tug of the Portkey. Harry holds on tighter, leaning into the weave and waft of Malfoy’s magical signature—something he knows as intimately as Malfoy’s scent—and the Portkey takes them both.

There are three cloaked figures waiting for them in the cold windowless room smelling of rotting trees, and they are dismayed to see Harry Potter, the famed Boy Who Lived and Dark Lord killer. It is not hard to realise whom they are: the anti-royalist terrorist group, who call themselves Martyrs. Malfoy has been receiving threats from these fuckers since he was a child.

Harry shoves Malfoy behind him, stupefy already forming in his mouth, but there are three of them after all, and he and Malfoy are easily disarmed. He swears, tightening his grip around Malfoy’s arm, his heart thudding in his chest. The prince clings to the back of his robes, his breathing shuddery. The kidnappers are pointing their lighted wands at them.

The man in the middle is irate. ‘That blithering idiot MacAllister! How did he send us Potter too? The Portkey is tuned to Malfoy’s magical signature, I know I did it accurately! Fucking MacAllister.’

Harry grins savagely. The person who made the Portkey to transport only Malfoy would have been hanging around the prince—and by extension, Harry—for weeks to capture his magical signature. He knows that voice: Johnson, a junior officer in the Administrative Registration Department. The Martyrs are going to be so fucked once Harry gets Malfoy somewhere safe.

‘What are you smiling about, Potter?’ a woman growls, voice husky like a smoker’s, taking a threatening step forward. ‘Think you will be getting out of this, are you? If you’re as good an Auror as they say you are, how did we get the prince, eh? Deprimo!

Harry leaps aside in time, yanking Malfoy, dust and bits of plaster flying through the air. The curse has blasted a hole in the wall, revealing another pitch-dark airless room. Johnson screams at the woman that the prince cannot be harmed yet.

‘Are you fucking daft? If the prince is dead now, we won’t be getting the ransom! And we can’t kill Potter.’

‘Why not?’ the last man grunts. ‘He’s going to hunt us down, if he’s alive. We need to kill him first—he’s killed the Dark Lord! We don’t know what he can do.’

Malfoy makes a noise, pulling hard on the back of Harry’s robes. ‘I hope you have a fucking plan,’ he hisses.

Harry ignores him, sweat rolling down his face. They are underground, and there aren’t any doors, so the Martyrs would have to Apparate or Disapparate to get around. They think Harry and Malfoy are trapped without their wands. They think they would be able to hurt Malfoy. Harry sneers. He has faced Voldemort several times and survived; he is not about to die by the hands of these fucking morons.

He has Apparated without a wand once as a child, to escape Dudley and his friends. He can do it again; he only needs to concentrate, and once these fuckers are distracted somehow, once there is an opening … He grits his teeth, blinking the sweat away from behind his glasses, eyes fixed on their attackers.

‘Then we have to kill him now,’ the woman is suggesting. ‘Potter is a liability. We don’t need him to ransom the prince.’

‘Potter could be valuable,’ the other man points out. ‘We could ransom him too. He’s Malfoy’s boyfriend—could be worth something.’

‘No, they’re only pretending,’ Johnson says impatiently. ‘It’s an open secret in the department. Our little prince here has a stalker problem. Pathetic. Can you imagine this omega is meant to rule over us?’

The woman laughs, high-pitched and grating. ‘Merlin, is that what we’re paying our Aurors to do? Pretend to be silly little princes’ big alpha protectors! Are you sure they are pretending? Look at the way Potter’s holding him, he must be fucking the ponce.’

‘There is a bet going around the office that they might be.’

‘Come on, let’s decide what to do with them,’ the last man snaps. ‘We’ll discuss this with Jack. You,’ —he gestures to the woman— ‘keep them busy.’

The air cracks, and the men Disapparate in a swirl of dust. Harry tenses, watching the woman who grins at them wolfishly, twirling her wand around. The bitch seems almost to be aping an infamous dead woman, Bellatrix Lestrange. Malfoy’s grip is tight enough to the point of hurting, his fingers grinding against Harry’s wrist bones.

‘Do you wish you are fucking the prince, Potter? I think I shall grant your wish.’

She flings out her wand faster than Harry expects, and Harry twists, shoving Malfoy to the ground. The curse hits him in his chest like a Bludger, with a blinding flash that whites out everything else. He is thrown backwards. He hears his breath escape him in a huff of pain, and his heartbeat thudding heavily. A single thought crystallises, sharp with his relief: it didn’t get him.

Then he collapses against the wall, and the world returns with a scream. ‘HARRY!’

Malfoy scrambles to his side, face starkly pale, as the woman screeches in dismay. Harry clings to the pain and to consciousness; he still needs to get Malfoy out. The woman is striding towards them. He grabs Malfoy’s hand, and nearly drops it, a scream ripping his throat raw; touching Malfoy feels like he is holding his palm to a boiling-hot kettle. Malfoy jolts, mouth open, but Harry tightens his grip, squeezing his eyes shut, shoving aside the roar that rises in his mind at Malfoy’s touch. MINE.

He focusses. The darkness swoops over them, and takes them away in its breathless grip.

 

Now; in the dark.

 

The Martyrs are rounded and chucked into Azkaban, and Harry gets his wand back, but he isn’t in any state to hex the living hell out of those fuckers, because he is cooped up at home, sweaty and trembling, waiting for the curse to run its course. It is a heat-inducement curse, meant to make an omega horny as hell and desperate to mate. Used on an unwilling party, and it is sexual assault.

The crazy bitch meant to humiliate Malfoy, to reduce him to his base instincts and make him prisoner to his innate urges. Harry is glad he caught the spell in time, even if he now has to suffer through a false heat, waking up at four A.M. in the morning for another cold shower. The Healers are puzzled that Harry, an alpha, should be so affected; alpha physiology is so different from omegas.

Harry reckons his preference to bottom—which goes completely contrary to expected alpha behaviour—might have something to do with it. Little wonder Malfoy finds him as appalling as he does. His mate would of course, be some fine noble specimen of an alpha—a far cry from the sad lump Harry has been reduced to, quivering with longing for a man he cannot have.

The only good thing to have come out of this is that Harry no longer has to see the Crown Prince. His stint with the Aurors ended yesterday, while Harry has been ordered to stay at home, because a horny alpha is a danger to all omegas in the office. Funny how a good thing can feel like utter shit.

Harry steps out of the shower, shivering, as he wraps a towel around him. The doorbell rings, yanking him from his thoughts. He frowns, picking up his wand from the bedside table, and casts a surveillance spell. A wizard; a persistent one who jabs at the doorbell, holding on until the pealing becomes a long, constant whine.

He groans. There is, of course, only one person enough of a wanker to do that. What in the name of Merlin’s balls is he doing here? He briefly considers ignoring him, but the doorbell is now joined by a hard, rhythmic pounding on the door. The Muggles, oblivious as they are, are bound to notice.

‘Fuck,’ he mutters. ‘You prick.’

He hastily yanks on sweatpants, and hurries out. Malfoy stands on the doorstep, meticulously dressed in well-cut navy-blue robes, swathed in a dark cloak. He appears far too pale in contrast with his dark clothes, his braid white-blonde draped over a shoulder. He raises his head, brows tightly furrowed. Harry opens his mouth, and his knees nearly buckle from the strength of desire that suffuses him.

Fuck, he can taste Malfoy now: honeyed caramel melting on his tongue. His heart beats faster, stirring heat within his chest the cold shower was supposed to douse. He thinks again of the images his dreams, hot and sticky, conjured. Malfoy—Malfoy was in all of them. He digs his fingernails into his palms, stepping back.

‘What the fuck do you want?’ he snaps, embarrassment sharpening his tone.

Malfoy glares. ‘You forget your place, Potter. Is this how you speak to your Crown Prince? It’s nice to see you too. Let me in.’

Harry does not move. ‘What are you doing here? It isn’t safe for you to be around me.’

The other man considers him with careful grey eyes, his pretty face fixed into a severe scowl. Harry forces himself to stay still, to hold his gaze, clenching his fists tighter against the awareness that is now prickling him. His body is recognising the presence of an omega, his crotch stirring in interest. It won’t be long before he succumbs to the craving trembling beneath his heated skin.

‘I know very well how best to get through a heat, and I've come to offer help, considering that you saved me,’ Malfoy says coolly. ‘In case you forget, I’m an omega.’

Harry gapes. ‘Help?’

‘Yes, heroes need help too—even from people they hate,’ Malfoy retorts, stepping towards Harry.

He presses a hand against Harry’s bare chest, and Harry is moving before the thought even completes in his mind: MINE. He lunges, taking Malfoy’s face in his hands and pushing him up against the opposite wall. The front door slams shut, the chandelier above them tinkling with its force, shadows shuddering across the entrance hall, as Harry presses his lips to Malfoy’s.

It feels familiar, it feels like home. The warmth of Malfoy’s skin, the softness of his lips, the pressure of Malfoy’s arms twining around his neck. His chest is tight with delight, his stomach clenching. He drinks in the taste of Malfoy in his mouth, dizziness overwhelming his mind. He sinks into Malfoy’s touch, melting with the other man’s warmth. He wants to stay here forever.

He has barely presence of mind to wrench himself away, falling against the other wall, bringing his hands to his face. He groans in dismay. He cannot do this. Not again. It is far worse now than last year. Last year he didn’t know Malfoy has a mate. Last year he didn’t keep a tin of Malfoy’s favourite tea at home, because the prince came over that often. Last year he hasn’t heard Malfoy screaming his name in despair, Harry!

‘You can’t do this to me,’ he mumbles, voice muffled by his palms. ‘Not even if you are the prince. Please—just go.’

‘You always have a way of making me sound like the villain, Potter,’ Malfoy’s voice is acerbic. ‘I’m only trying to help you. Don’t worry, I will certainly leave you alone after I have seen through my duty to you. I should have known how repulsive you find me.’

‘What?’ Harry raises his head.

Malfoy looks paler than ever, his face reddened where Harry held him. He raises his chin, his gaze grey and flinty as steel. ‘I’m sorry you had to suffer through sleeping with me last year.’

Harry stares at him, dumbfounded. ‘What? Do you mean after the anniversary ball? Suffer? What the fuck do you mean? I fucking enjoyed it, you twat. And you said it earlier—people you hate—what does that mean? I don’t hate you. How could I hate you?

‘You just told me to leave!’

‘You have a mate!’ Harry snarls. ‘I’m not going to be another one-night-stand, your fucking highness! I’m not desperate enough, even with a curse on me.’

‘This is ridiculous! How are you making it sound like it’s my fault?’ Malfoy gives a bark of disbelieving laughter, ripping off his cloak and dropping it to the ground. He strides down the hallway, making for the stairs.

Harry follows him, his hands balled into fists. ‘Where are you going?’

‘Your bedroom. It’s inevitable, don’t you reckon?’

‘Bedroom—Malfoy, stop!’

Malfoy doesn’t stop, taking the stairs two at a time and kicking the bedroom door open.

He paces the length of Harry’s bedroom, in front of the antique claw-footed bed. He is biting his thumbnail, a harsh frown cleaving his forehead. Harry stands in the doorway, arms crossed tightly, fists shoved into his armpits. Perspiration is now beading his forehead from the effort to keep himself from leaping across the room at the blond.

This is inconceivable, the sight of Malfoy in his bedroom, lips kiss-bruised, looking as if he likes nothing better than to hit Harry with a confringo. He’s trying to decide something—Malfoy paces when he’s thinking—and he comes to a conclusion, because he stops, and looks at Harry with a hard, fatalistic expression that does not bode well.

‘Malfoy—’ Harry starts to say, not sure what he wants to say, but knows that the other man is about to do something he doesn’t want to, and fuck if Harry lets that happen on his account.

‘If you don’t hate me, you are going to hate me anyway,’ Malfoy spits out, and he is running towards Harry.

Harry instinctively reaches out to catch the other man, and they are touching, and Harry’s defences shatters.

 

Now; you look like mine.

 

Harry reckons it is inevitable that they have come to this: Malfoy pinned beneath him, breathing rapid and harsh, Harry sweaty and trembling, rutting his hard cock against Malfoy’s thigh. They are naked, and Malfoy’s elegant braid has come undone, his blonde hair pooling beneath his head. Harry leans in, tugging on a fistful of that lovely blonde hair, and presses his throbbing lips against Malfoy’s collarbone.

The Crown Prince is gasping, his fingernails digging into Harry’s back. The pain prickles through the haze that has overtaken Harry’s mind, and he rears up, swearing profusely. The other man is sprawled across his bed, eyes glazed with desire. He reaches up for Harry, mewling, but Harry grabs Malfoy’s wrists, pushing it above the other man’s head with one hand. He bites down hard on his other hand, breath rasping as the pain dissipates a bit more of the fog.

‘You blithering idiot!’ he growls, shaking his head. ‘Why the fuck are you doing this?’

‘I’m not going to get you any other way,’ Malfoy hisses, wrenching his hands from Harry’s grip. ‘So, I will settle for having you like this. You detest me, but you cannot deny that your body wants me. Take me, Potter, you know you want to, and I will let you this time.’

Harry shoves Malfoy’s hands aside, rolling across the bed. The chill of his horror cuts through the burning of his lust. He rises onto his knees, gathering a blanket around him.

‘No, no, stop! Stop. Wait, wait, you’re misunderstanding something. You keep saying I hate you, but I don’t. I don’t. I never have, Malfoy. I’ve—Merlin, we’ve come this, I didn’t think I could say it: I’ve wanted you for years. I told you, I enjoyed the night we spent together last year—I thought you did too, but you disappeared, you wanker. You didn’t write me back! I’ve sent you so many owls.’

Malfoy pushes himself up on his elbows. ‘Don’t exaggerate,’ he says irritably. ‘You sent three. You only slept with me out of pity. You don’t sleep with men, or omegas, and Harry Potter certainly doesn’t fucking bottom. You only slept with me, because I’m the prince, and you pitied me, because you’re just so bloody good,’ he spits the word out like a curse. ‘You don’t want to be with me.’

‘What the fuck?’ Harry’s mouth falls open. ‘Are you listening to yourself, you stupid little shit? If I am all of that, what do you think it says that I chose to break all these things I supposedly don’t do for you? I’m fucking crazy for you, Malfoy! Do you know how gutted I feel knowing that you have a mate?’

‘It’s you!’ Malfoy shouts, sitting up, spots of bright red on his cheeks. ‘Well, do you hate me now? We bonded the night we slept together. You don’t realise it, do you? Why do you think you find me so fucking enticing? Because you are my mate, and you can only find me attractive.’

He moans, as if in pain, and bends over, lowering his face into his hands. ‘In my defence, Potter,’ he says, voice muffled, ‘I didn’t know my heat would be early that month—and I certainly didn’t know that it made no difference that I was the one fucking you. One night was all it took. I’m … sorry.’

Harry is frozen for a heartbeat. The room is silent, and Harry hears birds calling outside his window, as the world is slowly rousing from the night’s sleep. He stares at Malfoy, hunched over on himself, long hair spilling over his shoulders in a shining sheet. This man he has wanted and wanted and wanted for years, whom he tasted for a night, believing it was only for the once. The man he has been trying to resist wanting again.

They are mates.

He throws his head back and bursts into laughter. Malfoy’s head snaps up, the other man’s face screwed up with outrage and frustration.

‘I assure you I am not lying. I feel it, our connection, and it pulls at me—’

Harry drops the blanket from around him, and surges across the bed. Malfoy’s eyes widen, as he falls back, Harry taking him by his shoulders.

‘Do you mean I could have been doing this all along?’ Harry sputters in disbelief.

He pulls Malfoy in, and kisses him.

It doesn’t take long for the fire to reignite within him, within them. Harry presses Malfoy into the bed, trailing his lips down the blond’s chest and reducing him to wordless gasps, until the other man swears, he believes that Harry wants him. Harry grins wickedly, and rolls them over, so that Malfoy is on top of him. Placing a hand on the back of his mate’s head, he says, ‘Didn’t you say you are going to help me with this curse, Draco?’

And Draco falls upon Harry, and really, they are inevitable, aren’t they?