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Another Mask Behind You

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Prologue.

“Hello, my dear girl,” said Draco, having just arrived from the Floo. “What mischief have you been brewing?”

“I dislike mischief.” Pansy sat at her desk, but didn’t appear to be working on anything. This was nothing new, as she never appeared to be working on anything. Languidly, she held out a scroll, acting as if she had not called Draco to her office with the express purpose of giving him an assignment.

“You dislike anything that requires effort. And yet,” Draco said, coming over to her desk, “I detected distinct wickedness in your tone when you summoned me.”

He reached for the scroll, but Pansy did not let go. “I’m not sure I should trust you with this.”

Draco dropped his hand, shrugging. “A new client? Perhaps you don’t need my help.”

Pansy’s eyes narrowed. “Do you want it or not?”

“It’s not really a question of want, is it?” Draco said, but took the scroll anyway. Unrolling the parchment, he read the name and request of their newest client. Once he had read the paper twice, he looked back at Pansy.

“Don’t kill the messenger,” she said.

“Is this meant to be amusing?” said Draco.

“Why would I bother?” said Pansy.

Draco gazed at her bored face a moment longer, then back at the parchment. “Harry Potter requires an escort to a Ministry gala.”

“I’m capable of reading,” Pansy said.

“This is a joke. A poor attempt at humour.”

“Whatever.”

“Then you won’t mind.” Draco took out his wand, lighting a small flame at the end of it.

Just as he was about to bring the scroll down to touch the flame, Pansy said, “I wouldn’t do that.”

“Why not?” Draco held the scroll precariously close to the blaze.

“I don’t really care either way.” Pansy examined her nails. “But it could bring in a lot of money.”

“And you care about that.”

Pansy looked up at him. “We both care about that.”

Draco put out his wand, slipping it in his pocket. He looked at the scroll again. “Harry Potter, hero of the wizarding world, darling of the press, beloved by the Ministry, saint to the masses—that Harry Potter—is hiring an escort.”

Pansy lifted a lethargic shoulder. “Maybe he’s bored.”

Draco read the parchment again. It did not read like a cold owl; Potter must have already been in contact with Pansy. Knowing her, she had likely already signed Potter as a client, complete with the secrecy clause. Potter might be hiring an escort as his date, but no one would ever know.

Rolling up the parchment, Draco tapped the scroll against his lips in thought. “He’s not bored,” he said, moving the scroll away. “He’s disappointed.”

“Oh, because he has so much to be disappointed about.”

“He is,” said Draco. “I know him. Saint of the people. Hero of the war. It’s not enough.”

“Are you going to rant?” Pansy pulled a fresh sheet of parchment towards her. “This will be just like old times.”

“It’s not a rant. Don’t you see?” Draco spread his arms. “He longs to become a god.”

“Don’t we all.” Pansy dipped her quill in ink.

“It’s not enough that crowds worship him and hordes follow him,” Draco went on. “He wants a slave—someone who will agree with everything he says, do his every bidding. He wants someone who will hide in his shadow, someone who will only come out to kneel at his feet and lick his hand.”

“Licking costs extra.”

“It’s sick,” Draco said. “The enormity of his ego.”

“You’re saying I should give the job to Theo?”

“Theo?” Draco blinked, pulled from his own thoughts. “No. Theo would muck it all up. No. Theo? Honestly.”

“Well, you certainly can’t take it.”

“I wouldn’t want to.” Draco glanced down at the scroll still in his hand. “Why couldn’t I?”

“You’re too emotional.”

“Emotional? I’m not emotional.”

“Disgust is an emotion,” Pansy said, writing something on the parchment on her desk. “I should know. It’s basically the only one I have left.”

“Potter ruined our lives.”

“No, he didn’t. Voldemort did.”

“You know what I mean.” When Pansy just went on writing, Draco said, “Potter and his lot. But him especially.”

“It’s always him especially.”

“Where did they expect us to go? What did they expect us to do? They took everything from us. Did they still expect us to function as human beings?”

“Maybe they expected us all to resort to prostitution. It’s served us well so far.” Pansy put down her quill, then waved her wand over her parchment to dry the ink. “Are we going to go through this every time we get a Gryffindor client?”

“Have you got others?”

“No.” Pansy began folding the parchment. “We won’t have others, if we botch this one. This is the highest profile client we are likely to have, and if it goes well, we’ll make gobs of money. If it goes poorly, then the company will fail and so will we. We need our best on this, Draco, and the last time I checked, that was still you. So tell me, are you able to behave like a man and serve your arse to Potter? Or shall I find someone with larger bollocks?”

Pansy went back to folding her parchment. “I always forget how eloquent you are,” Draco told her.

She didn’t look up.

The settlements and reparations had stripped Draco, Pansy, Theodore Nott, and several others of both fortunes and lands. By the time the trials were over, Father and Gregory Goyle were in Azkaban and the Malfoys only had enough money left to pay for a flat for Mother. Draco needed a job, but shortly after the reparations, the Ministry passed the Articles of Reconstruction.

Article three-seven-nine of the Articles of Reconstruction stated that no business or organization could hire anyone identified as a former Death Eater or Death Eater ally. Though Pansy and Nott had never been Death Eaters, Nott’s father had been one, and all of Hogwarts had heard what Pansy had said about giving Potter to the Dark Lord. Identified as allies, they too were unable to seek gainful employ.

Article three-eight-two of the Articles of Reconstruction prevented former Death Eaters and allies from performing anything but rudimentary spells with wands in public. Spells that required more than two flicks of the wand, two words to incant, or force of emotion behind casting were not allowed. Though they could use more complex magic at privately, anything beyond what a third year learned at Hogwarts was prohibited by law in public. Similarly, article three-eight-three prohibited them from buying or brewing potions more complex than the most simple tinctures and tonics.

Draco, Pansy, and Nott hadn’t even been able to get work in the Muggle world. The horrible Muggle clothing shops and restaurants all demanded licenses and papers, and even when Draco found out what these things were—enough to cast illusions anyway—he was lost in the Muggle world. Everyone expected him to know how to work things like money and mobiles and all their little machines, and no one had the patience to teach him. At least in Azkaban, Draco would have had a roof over his head.

Pansy had been the first to sell herself. She wasn’t freer with her body; she was merely cleverest. Prostitution was one of the only jobs on Earth for which a legitimate identity was not required, and it was the easiest. Pansy had been the one to discover that she could fuck without anyone caring who she was, and she could do it for money.

Draco had hated it. He was supposed to protect her. He was supposed to protect them all, and he had failed them. He had led them astray, and if anyone should pay for it, it should have been him. He had tried to convince her to let him sell himself instead of her, but Pansy had refused. The only way to help her was to join her.

After six months of selling themselves on the streets, they had made enough to keep themselves fed and rent a flat together, as well as rent another space for Pansy’s office. That was when they could begin to afford ingredients for Polyjuice as well, which not only hid their true identities from clients, but also allowed them to cast complicated magic such as Apparition in public. Though the potion was illegal for them to brew under Article three-eight-three, they brewed covertly, and the business flourished from there.

Luckily, they were talented—not just at sex, though they were talented at that. With their formal upbringing, they were excellent companions for clients. They could sing, dance, play instruments, speak several languages, perform any number of beautiful and entertaining spells, easily make small talk or conversation about politics, books, or history. Soon their clients were paying them for much more than sex.

Eventually, the company was able to take on further employees, the first one being Nott. With another employee, Pansy could take on more of the business aspects of the job, leaving the clients to Draco and Nott. Pansy had always been better at planning and organizing things than Draco, and Draco had wanted her to stop selling herself. The compromise was necessary.

They called the escort service Verity, a kind of in-joke among themselves. Eventually, Verity took on a couple other Slytherin employees—Daphne Greengrass, Millie Bulstrode. Verity’s clientele had also expanded—mostly thanks to Pansy, who handed all the contacts and contracts. They were no longer a simple prostitution ring. Verity was as close to a legitimate company as an escort service could be. With many clients, Draco didn’t even have sex. Clients paid for the pleasure of his company—in which they delighted, as long as they never knew who he really was.

After eight years of this, both of Draco’s parents were out of the picture. Since Pansy could support herself, Draco really only had himself to look after. Now Draco was making enough money to have his own posh flat and plenty of other things he wanted—but he was still an escort, and Potter was to blame for it. Potter had spoken for him at the trials, then walked away. Everyone had walked away, asking for mercy for the children, then leaving them with no means by which to live. The Articles of Reconstruction had destroyed the House of Slytherin.

Draco wanted Potter to pay. He put the scroll on Pansy’s desk.

“Are you still here?” Pansy asked.

“I’ll do it,” Draco said.

Pansy, writing in one of her ledgers, didn’t look up. “Will you be using Tristan?”

Pansy’s hair was so shiny black that parts of it didn’t even look black; they looked silver in the light. “Yes,” Draco said.

“Give this to Horatio.” Holding out a folded square, Pansy still did not look up.

Draco took the square of parchment. “You knew I would accept.”

“Tell me when the last time you said no to something involving Potter,” Pansy said.

“I can say no. I’m not obsessed. I’m completely capable of having nothing to do with Potter.”

“Try.”

Draco’s mouth tightened. He gave the owl the square of paper. “Take it to Potter,” he told Horatio.

Horatio took off, and Draco watched the owl’s wings spread out against the sky.

*


Part I – Tricks Turned


One.

Five days later, Draco arrived on a lane in a wizarding hamlet of Hampshire, wearing Tristan’s face.

In the early days of Verity, Draco and Pansy had always used Polyjuice. As the business progressed, Draco had developed variations on the potion. With Polyjuice, there was always the danger of someone recognizing the body one used. Furthermore, Pansy required that all of her employees wear posh clothes while on the job, and it was a shame when those clothes only fit the Polyjuiced body Draco used to please clients.

As a result, Draco had developed Masker Ade. Masker Ade wasn’t as versatile as Polyjuice; it couldn’t add or subtract mass from the body, only changing select features. These features, however, could be altered to an appearance of the drinker’s choosing and didn’t have to look like anyone else. Masker Ade was useful in other ways, lasting much longer than Polyjuice, and evading usual test and detection spells. Draco suspected Pansy was surreptitiously using his stash to make her nose appear less pug-like.

Tristan was Draco’s latest masterpiece, created with the help of Masker Ade. In some ways, Tristan looked very similar to Draco—just not enough to be recognizable. Tristan’s mouth was rather fuller, more attractive than Draco’s, though Tristan’s cheekbones were also less pronounced. Though Draco’s brow was not at all heavy, Tristan’s brow was weaker still, his jaw also a little rounder. Besides these essential differences, Tristan’s eyes were blue and his hair was a dirty blond, curly instead of straight.

Masker Ade gave Draco a different face, but let him keep the same body. The only thing that Draco ever altered about his body these days was the Dark Mark and the scars. He might have wished for broader shoulders, his own being somewhat lacking, but he had long since resigned himself to being slender. At least he was quite tall, if not broad.

Because he would be dealing with Potter tonight, Draco had made one other alteration—he changed his voice. Potter might recognize his own, and so Draco had altered it with a spell, giving it a slightly higher pitch and less resonance—silk instead of velvet.

Standing in the lane, Draco smoothed his frock coat. He wore a dove grey wool suit, impeccably tailored to set off his figure. His cravat was sky blue to match the eyes, and Draco knew that he would succeed.

The street was appropriately called Hawthorn Lane, as several hawthorns lined the road. Country houses were dotted along it every acre or so behind Draco, but at the end of the lane there was only a rolling field sprinkled with trees. Draco did not see Potter’s house until he took a piece of paper out of his pocket and read it, and a little house sprang up in front of him, square and rather unimpressive. There was a tangled garden in the front, unkempt and overgrown. Ivy climbed the sides of the house to cover it with curling green.

Possibly this was just one of Potter’s dozen houses, and he used it for all his clandestine rendezvous with unsavoury or secret characters. A love shack. No doubt he considered it quaint.

Walking down the little path through the garden, Draco made it to the front door, where there was a crumbling stoop. Lifting a resolute hand, Draco knocked.

Nearly a full minute later, Harry Potter answered, flinging open the door. He wore all black—black waistcoat, black shirt, still undone at cuffs and collar, an untied black bow-tie at his throat.

“I’m Tristan,” Draco said.

Potter’s eyes raked over him. “You’re early.”

“It’s five thirty,” Draco said. “You’re late.”

Potter’s gaze lingered on him.

Swallowing a smirk, Draco casually slipped his hands into his pockets. He knew exactly how good he looked, and he could see that Potter noticed. “Shall we spend the evening on the stoop, then?” Draco drawled.

Potter opened the door wider. “Come in.”

Potter hadn’t improved any insofar as manners, Draco noted, stepping in after Potter. Someone instantly began yelling.

“How dare you!” said the shrill voice. Turning, Draco saw that the voice issued from a portrait. To his surprise, he recognized the portrait as that of Great Aunt Walburga. “Bringing filth amidst—”

“Don’t,” Potter said.

“But Harry,” Aunt Walburga said, tone softening. “Can’t you see? He profanes your presence! This—this man is no better than a—”

Potter jerked a cord on the wall, closing a curtain over the portrait’s face. “Don’t listen to her,” Potter said. “She doesn’t mean it.”

Behind the curtain, Draco could still hear Great Aunt Walburga muttering.

“In here.” Yanking open a set of doors, Potter stepped into a room off the main hall.

Following, Draco entered a modest and rather homely sitting-room. A crumbling hearth and a dumpy-looking sofa were its primary features, with a worn leather chair in one corner and an overstuffed loveseat in another. The worn-down, commonplace aesthetic was how Draco had always imagined the Gryffindor common room to look.

Potter probably thought that he was humble. Typical.

“Who’s the portrait?” Draco asked, gesturing back in the direction of Great Aunt Walburga.

“Sort of an antique,” Potter said.

“Why don’t you just get rid of it?”

Potter shrugged. “It was passed down. It’s a family thing.”

Draco’s eyes narrowed. Walburga was his family, not Potter’s. “I had an aunt like her, once.”

“You get used to her.” Potter held out his hand. At first, Draco didn’t know how to interpret the gesture, but presently some small objects rattled into the parlour under the door. They were Potter’s cufflinks, and the bastard was casting wandless magic. Just to show off.

“Dealing with family is rather like banging one’s head into a wall,” Draco said, as though he saw wandless magic all the time. “After a while, it doesn’t hurt any longer.”

Potter glanced up, but didn’t otherwise reply, eyes flicking down again to cast the spell to fasten one cufflink.

Draco examined Potter. Usually, Draco prided himself on his ability to read people—everything from expressions to body language to hidden motivations. Given that Draco’s whole career was the service of other people, the skill was a useful one.

Potter, however, was not as easy to read as so many of the clients Draco had known, which was a bit of a surprise. Potter had always been quite demonstrative in school. Perhaps he was simply so dull that there was nothing to read.

For one thing, Potter had small eyes. Big eyes were conventionally attractive, and yet everyone went on and on about Potter’s, especially since he’d lost the glasses. The procedure was Muggle, people said. It had to be, as there was no spell to permanently improve eyesight, which Draco very well knew. People probably waxed poetic about Potter’s eyes because of the way they looked like they were hewn into his face—underneath his strong, hard brow and perfectly Grecian nose, his eyes looked narrow and dangerous.

“I assume you know the details,” Potter said after a while of working on the cuffs. “We’re going to a Ministry party.”

“Oh, yes,” Draco said. “I know everything about it.”

Potter grimaced. “People make such a fuss about me being single. I didn’t want to have to deal with it.”

“People make a fuss about me being single too.” Potter shot him a glance, just as Draco expected. Giving Potter his ready smile, Draco added, “On Diagon Alley it’s a constant lament.”

“Is it.” It wasn’t really a question, and Potter went back to his cuffs.

“Indeed,” said Draco. “And on Knockturn Alley, there is constant rejoicing.”

Potter jerked on his sleeve. “Tonight shouldn’t be too much trouble.”

“It’s no trouble at all,” Draco said, testing out the silkiness of Tristan’s voice.

Potter’s eyes raked over him swiftly; then he went back to fiddling with his sleeve. “Mostly you just have to stand there and smile.”

Potter’s rudeness didn’t make Draco uncomfortable. Plenty of clients treated their escorts as mere accessories, and Draco hadn’t expected anything different from Potter. In fact, Draco had planned on it—charming Potter wasn’t at all necessary for victory tonight, and if Potter didn’t want to make small talk with his escort, that much the better. Potter could act as though Draco was one of his cufflinks, one more possession to add to his costume.

The only real obstacle to Draco’s plan that he could see would be pretending Potter was in the least bit tolerable.

“We should still have a story,” Draco said, slipping his hands into his pockets again.

Potter glanced up.

Draco gave him a pleasant smile. “Even if I’m only standing and smiling, I expect you would not wish to tell attendants at the gala that you’re paying me to do so.”

Potter frowned. For a long moment, Draco thought Potter was actually considering telling everyone exactly that, which would completely ruin everything.

“I guess not,” Potter said abruptly, turning away. He went to go look in the mirror on the mantle, performing the spells to tie his bowtie. “What kind of story?”

“We met in a broom shop. You were examining the Jet Stream 560, when I—”

“No.”

“Oh?” Draco tried not to let his annoyance show, instead formulating a look of pleasant confusion.

Potter wasn’t even facing him to admire the expression, his back still to Draco as he finished with the tie. “I don’t go broom shopping.”

“Why ever not?”

Potter shrugged arrogantly. “They send them to me for free.”

Draco made himself laugh. “I suppose if you’re the hero of the wizarding world, the shops all come to you.”

“I guess.” Potter turned away from the mirror, going over to the door. “Accio cloak.”

“We shall say we met at a tailor then,” Draco said.

“No,” said Potter, as his black robes glided through the door. “They give me all my clothes, too.”

“Then why are you dressed for a funeral?” The words just slipped out—Potter was just so disgustingly entitled.

Instead of getting upset, however, Potter allowed the side of his mouth to twitch. Draco would have called it a smile, except the rest of his face didn’t make it; it remained hard and inscrutable. “Maybe I’m going to one,” was all Potter said.

Now that Draco thought about it Potter’s eyes had darkened on the stoop, when Draco had told him he was late. Potter liked them with a little cheek, apparently.

“Forgive me,” Draco said, keeping his voice light. “I’m afraid I have little experience with fabricating stories to meet the Boy Who Lived. Do you have any suggestions?”

Potter’s frown deepened. “I don’t know.”

“Come now.” Draco smiled a smile he knew to be compelling—a smile that was his own smile, a slow curl at the corner that gradually burned. He knew that on Tristan’s face, it would look encouraging, instead of cruel. “Where do you find dates now?”

“I pay them,” Potter said.

The words were so flat and bleak that Draco was momentarily startled. Making himself laugh, he regained his composure. “Perhaps you should say so after all,” Draco said. “No one will believe you, and it will save ourselves having to formulate a lie.”

Potter turned away. “A Muggle café.”

“Pardon?” Draco asked.

“We could say we met at a Muggle café.”

“Very well,” Draco said. “That’s settled, then. My name is Tristan Bonchance. I am a French potions master, only recently moved to England. We met at a Muggle café; we got on splendidly; you asked me to the gala. I plan to return to France shortly, and thus we do not expect our brief romance to continue.”

“A French potions master?”

“Would you prefer something else?”

“No. Do you speak French?”

Oui.

Potter’s eyes narrowed. “You don’t talk like a . . .”

“Hooker?”

“I was going to say French person.”

“My accent is exquisite in both languages.”

“And the potions?”

“Oh, yes, I am a world renowned brewer. I only took up prostitution as a side job, because it seemed so fun and interesting.”

Potter’s brow lifted. “Just wondering.”

Draco smirked. On Tristan, the smile would look teasing. “My marketable skills are—shall we say—more suited to another field.”

“I hope that field includes talking to a bunch of dull people.”

“I am in fact superb at talking to dull people. It was my specialty in school.”

The line appeared briefly at the side of Potter’s mouth, something like the earlier twitch of lips. His gaze was as intense as ever. “Thanks for doing this.”

“It is my pleasure.” Letting his mouth curl at the corners, Draco held out his arm. “Shall we, then?”

“Yes,” Potter said, taking his arm.

*

Draco had not set foot in the Ministry since the trials more than ten years ago, but he had not let himself forget how imposing the main hall could be. He was prepared for it, exactly as he was prepared for every single detail of this evening—including the official who greeted them as they stepped out of the special invitation Floo.

The official looked overjoyed to be greeting and announcing the presence of the Wizarding World’s Hero. “Harry Potter and guest!” the official said, beaming. He rushed over to the Floo, vigorously shaking Potter’s hand before Potter had even fully stepped out.

“Huxwell,” the official said, still pumping Potter’s hand as they walked through the reception area. “It’s such a pleasure to see you again, Mister Potter.”

“Thanks,” said Potter, extricating his hand.

“I’ll need the name of your guest,” Huxwell said, not even turning to face Draco. “We’ll announce your entrance.”

“That isn’t necessary,” said Potter.

Huxwell stopped in a tizzy of upset.

“I’m Tristan Bonchance,” Draco said.

“Pleasure.” Huxwell nodded briefly in Draco’s direction, then turned back to Potter. “Is there anything else I can do for you, Mister Potter? I know several of the dignitaries attending. I could easily introduce you to—”

“Huxwell,” said Draco. “Huxwell. Not Millard A. Huxwell?”

“Yes.” Huxwell turned slowly back to Draco, frowning. “That’s me.”

“Didn’t you hold a seminar on wizarding relations with Turkey?”

Huxwell’s frown deepened, his bushy moustache wiggling. “Fifteen years ago.”

“Yes, exactly.” Draco smiled brightly. “An acquaintance of mine attended that conference. She put that seminar in a Pensieve and made me watch it—said it was the best seminar she had ever attended.”

“Did she?” Huxwell looked surprised. “I didn’t know anyone remembered.”

“Well, I certainly thought that it was brilliant,” said Draco. “Of course, I was but a teenager at the time, and you know how it is—a struggle to pay attention to anything important. Could your remind me of your conclusion?”

Huxwell escorted them through the Atrium, happily recounting the details of the one moment in his history in which he had done something the slightest bit remarkable, and Draco listened with an expression of thoughtful fascination. Of course, Draco had never known anyone who had attended Huxwell’s seminar. Draco had never even heard of the seminar until a couple of days ago—he’d never even heard of Huxwell. But though Huxwell obviously had not forgotten that he was in the presence of an illustrious hero, Harry Potter was no longer the focus of the conversation, and that was all that Draco intended.

Once they were announced and admitted to the gala, however, a myriad of new challenges presented themselves. Potter was swarmed by his drooling fans—most of whom, in this crowd, were people who held some of the highest offices of magical state.

Draco smiled, shook hands, and made nice with everyone. “Senior Undersecretary Chen, I read your book on the value of the Galleon in modern wizarding economics,” Draco said.

“Did you?” said Undersecretary Chen, who had been panting at Potter’s heels.

“The book was the most riveting of the year,” said Draco, who had never turned a page of it. “Do you plan on writing any more like it?”

Potter, who had probably never cracked a book in his life—besides that one potions textbook he stole—stood there like an utter blockhead and listened.

With Warlock Puri, a Quidditch enthusiast, Draco held a spirited conversation about the local leagues, despite the fact that Draco never followed Quidditch. Puri, distracted by the conversation, gradually stopped trying to get Potter to promise to sign his Snitch, and instead became engrossed by explaining various feints to Draco, who pretended to be ignorant. Potter, who was interested in Quidditch but was sullen and a boor, was eventually left out of the conversation entirely.

To Auror Espy, who was notoriously obsessed with work, Draco put a question regarding some latest arrest Draco had read about in the news. Gradually, Espy stopped trying to discuss her work with Potter and just as happily talked at Draco, who nodded and smiled and pretended he was listening. Potter, who was beginning to realize his social skills barely rated above a semi-intelligent walrus, wandered off into a corner.

The real challenge came about when Potter’s friends descended among all the fans and sycophants. As Auror Espy continued to pontificate, Hermione Granger swished over to Potter in his corner. Her hair was as large as ever and yet surprisingly pretty this evening—she’d left off trying to contain it, instead letting it float out like a cloud. There were tiny enchanted stars caught in it that matched her dress.

Granger had been one of the loudest voices to rise in defence of Slytherin children in the wake of the war. She’d also been one of the most notably absent figures in the denial of Death Eater rights during reconstruction.

Draco felt the twist of hatred hard in his gut, and put on a sweet, mischievous grin. Breaking away from Auror Espy, Draco walked over to Potter, using a gait he knew set off his figure. “Harry,” he said, voice lightly teasing. “Aren’t you going to introduce me?”

“Do I need to?” The slight, dry line appeared at the side of Potter’s mouth, still not quite a smile. “You seem to know everybody here.”

“But Misses Weasley doesn’t know me.” Draco gave Granger an elegant bow.

“Call me Hermione.” Granger’s brow furrowed. “I don’t?”

“Pardon?”

“I feel like I do know you from somewhere.” Granger put her hand out, shawl falling slightly off her shoulder. “I just don’t remember where.”

Draco took her hand and kissed it, despite the fact that that was not her intention. “I think I would remember,” he said, then let go.

“What was your name?”

“Tristan Bonchance,” said Draco.

“I don’t suppose I do know you.” Still looking troubled, Granger looked from Potter to Draco. “How did you two meet?”

Draco laughed. “You mean because Harry never meets anyone?”

Hermione smiled, the suspicion beginning to ease out of her eyes. She tugged her shawl back up over her shoulder. “Well—yes. He does tend to be a bit—reclusive.”

“A bit.” Draco shared a conspiring grin with her. “He hasn’t put two words together all evening.”

“I’ve been using them separately,” said Potter.

The joke almost threw Draco off. He hadn’t expected Potter to be funny, but Draco recovered quickly. “What he lacks in words, he does make up in wit,” he told Granger.

“He can be quite droll,” Granger agreed. “Not many people seem to realize that. What do you do, Tristan?”

“I’m a potions master.” Draco had already chosen his next words very carefully. Granger was a clever witch, not simple enough to be distracted by talking about herself—particularly since she was bound to be suspicious of someone she’d never met dating Potter. The way to win her wasn’t by flattery, but by capturing her interest. “I’ve been pondering a particularly difficult potion proof this last week—but this is technical. Will it bore you?”

Granger laughed. “The opposite, really.”

“Truly?” Draco said, pretending to be surprised. “How lovely. The problem is one of substitution.” He went on to explain the proof to her, and gradually Granger began nodding. It helped that the proof was one that Draco had puzzled over before—not because he found academic journals particularly engrossing, but there was quite a bit of potions research he had conducted in his experiments with Masker Ade. Besides which, Draco wasn’t averse to magical theory. Back in the days before Harry Potter had ruined his life completely, Draco had thought he might be a professor. Or a broom designer. Or a world famous wizard rockstar.

When Longbottom entered the conversation, they all began to discuss the recent research on Devil’s Snare. Potter, obviously bored by all these academic subjects—possibly too daft to even understand the conversation—sulked in the corner, drinking champagne and glaring at everyone—at Draco most of all.

Draco, meanwhile, made nice with Potter’s friends, danced with Ginny Weasley, flattered Gryffindors he had always hated, then gracefully and elegantly manoeuvred himself into positions that would block and distract people from Harry Potter.

Seducing the guests wasn’t as easy as Draco made it look. He had magically hacked the guest list, memorizing the names of each of the attendees. Many of the guests were people that Draco already knew from his attention to news and wizarding publications. Aside from the fact that Draco liked to stay informed about politics and society, being up-to-date on current issues was vastly helpful among clients who liked pleasant small talk or interesting conversation.

Outshining Potter would not have taken so much effort had the world been a fair place. Potter was a social dunce. He might have had a rather striking appearance, if one liked the beefy, hulking sort of fellow, which Draco didn’t—but beyond that, Potter had nothing but his history to recommend him.

The real trouble was that people had forgotten the days before the Dark Lord, when intelligence, wit, and cunning had ruled the political scene and social court. Draco could remember the parties when he was only small, big important parties full of big important people—charities, benefits, fund-raisers, rallies, and galas full of the most powerful witches and wizards. Draco could still remember the way that Mother and Father worked the room, earning the admiration and praise of everyone around them because they were so smart and kind and beautiful, because they were quick-witted, because they were clever.

Father had not had to strong arm his way into the centre of attention, like Harry Potter. Lucius Malfoy hadn’t fought his way to the top with a wand or a sword. He had merely influenced the people around him using the charms and assets he had already, making and using his alliances to slowly, gradually work the system until he was the only choice possible for the next Minister for Magic.

And then the Dark Lord had come and ruined everything. The Dark Lord had caused Father to aim too high too soon; Voldemort had made promises he couldn’t keep, and his power had turned Father’s head.

Father had been an idiot. If Draco had been in his place, he could have shown the world a leader worth loving.

Under the Articles of Reconstruction, Draco would never get another chance to attend a Ministry party, never get a chance to move in the higher social spheres or have any influence in politics. Draco was a prostitute, and he would always be a prostitute. But just this one night, he would show the world the intelligence, the charm, and the elegance that they were lacking, and Harry Potter would fade into the background.

Potter, of course, hated it.

Almost every time someone approached Potter, Draco cut them off, giving them his golden smile, Tristan’s bright blue eyes. Each time it happened, Potter sipped more champagne, his eyes growing icier and icier over the rim of his flute. There was, in fact, quite a lot of champagne—after a while, the wait staff were the only ones who bothered to approach Potter, and every time they came with a tray, Potter took another glass. He downed flute after flute, his gaze growing sharper and narrower until Draco knew that Potter wasn’t looking at anyone else in the room. Potter only had eyes for him, and he was furious.

All Potter had wanted for the evening was an accessory. He had wanted a slave, someone to dote on him and set him off, someone to hang on his every word. Instead, he had got Draco Malfoy, who was gradually and quite effectively beginning to soak up every ounce of lime light previously devoted to their hero.

The best part was Draco himself could not be blamed. So politely and effortlessly did Draco charm everyone around him, so attractive and magnetic were his face and personality, that Draco could not be easily accused of purposely drawing focus. Were Potter to attempt to complain to Verity about his escort drawing more attention than he did, it would only look like sour grapes. Potter was getting exactly what he had hired—an intelligent and attractive companion for the Ministry gala, and if that companion was too intelligent and too attractive—that was Potter’s own fault.

Eventually, the party started breaking up, the guests with children and other responsibilities making their way home. In the corner, Potter peeled himself off the wall, coming towards Draco.

Draco knew that Potter was angry. He was probably also dead drunk, and whatever scene they played out back at Hawthorn Lane was not going to be pretty. Draco knew that Potter was unlikely to contract Verity ever again, and Pansy would probably be furious. Draco didn’t care—he’d done what he’d meant to do, and he’d had a pleasant evening besides. He could still feel the slight buzz of laughter and champagne, even when Potter loomed right up next to him.

“Shall we go then?” Draco asked, giving Potter one of the light, happy grins he’d been using all evening.

Potter’s frosty eyes swept over him. “Only if you’re ready.”

“I’m ready whenever you are,” Draco said, flirting.

The line appeared at the side of Potter’s mouth. “Then let’s go.” Potter put out his arm, just as though he was pretending to be a gentleman.

Draco laughed and took it. They swept out of the Atrium, down to the reception hall, and then into the Floo. Draco knew he should be dreading what would happen when they reached the other side, but he couldn’t care less.

At Hawthorn Lane, Draco stepped out of the Floo, brushing the slight dusting of ash off of his immaculate suit. Now that they were out of the public eye, he half expected Potter to punch him, but he didn’t. Instead, Potter simply let go of his arm and stepped away.

“That was a wonderful evening,” Draco said, pretending he didn’t know that Potter was seething with resentment. “Perhaps we might do it again sometime.”

“Yes.”

Draco looked up quickly, but there was nothing to be read in Potter’s face. There was nothing at all, and something very much like fear trickled down Draco’s spine. Hiding it well, Draco gave Potter another one of Tristan’s seductive smiles.

“Stay the night,” said Potter.

“Pardon?” Draco almost stuttered.

“Stay,” said Potter.

Fear sluiced through Draco hard. “But you didn’t enjoy your evening.”

“I enjoyed you.”

Potter did not sound at all drunk. “You stood in the corner. No one talked to you. You hated it. You—”

“I want you,” said Potter, cutting off Draco’s senseless prattle. “I’ll pay.”

“But . . .” Draco swallowed hard, attempting to compose himself. Quite suddenly it occurred to him that though he had known Potter in school, he didn’t know Potter now. Certainly this evening had illuminated very little about him—Draco had barely talked to Potter at all. He had no idea what Potter was capable of; that time in the bathroom—

“We can draw up a new contract. Right now.”

Potter wasn’t drunk. He wasn’t at all drunk; his eyes were too steady for that. Draco didn’t know what Potter wanted, why he would ask this—

“You can say no,” Potter said, “but you should say it now.”

“No,” Draco said quickly. “No. Indeed—I . . .” Draco almost laughed. He had a tendency to babble when unsure of himself. “Certainly not.”

“All right.” Potter stood there for a long moment, brow wrinkled. “Do you want to go?” He gestured, as though to show Draco out.

“I can—I can find my own way out,” Draco said, turning blindly towards the door.

“Tristan.” When Draco turned back, Potter hadn’t moved. “I didn’t meant to insult you. You—did very well.”

Draco knew the expression on Tristan’s face was unguarded. On Draco it would look weak; he didn’t know how it would look on Tristan. Draco quickly formulated a smile. “It was no trouble. Not a problem. A pleasure.” He put a hand on the knob. “Thanks for your business,” he said, going out the door.

Draco was too busy getting out of there to find out if the barb landed.

Draco had planned to spend the rest of his evening basking in his success. He’d thought he might open a bottle of wine and then have a bath; his sleep that night would be peaceful for once, the rest of the triumphant. Instead, by the time Draco got to his flat, he was trembling with fury.

What did Potter mean by asking him to spend the night? Was it to remind him that he was nothing but an escort? To shatter Draco’s triumph by proving that Potter was still the one with all the power? And yet, Potter should have no idea that Draco was glowing with inner victory; Potter should not have known to quash it.

Draco clawed at his cravat on the way through his flat to his kitchen. He felt dirty. He felt filthy; he needed—slamming open the cupboard, he took out the Firewhisky, uncapped it, started drinking straight from the bottle. He didn’t care that it was uncouth, that a trickle of the Firewhisky spilled down his throat. After a long, burning gulp, he slammed the bottle down. Coughing, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

That Potter would ask to spend the night with him . . . Draco shuddered in revulsion.

Draco fumbled for a cigarette. What if he had said yes? What if he had been foolish enough to fall for Potter’s trap? Would Potter have laughed in his face? Or would Potter have fucked him, merely to prove that he could—he could buy Draco and have him, just like an old used broom.

But that necessitated the question—had Potter wanted it?

Bringing the Firewhisky and the cigarettes, Draco walked over to his balcony, opened the door. He never let himself smoke inside, and the night air was cool enough to feel clean on his skin. Struggling with his wand, Draco lit the cigarette, then tugged open his collar farther. Merlin.

Potter.

For some reason Potter had found him repulsive almost since the first moment that they met—not at Madam Malkin’s, but that time on the train when they were eleven. Draco had never considered that with a different face, Potter would give him another chance. A different chance.

Slumping against the wall on the outside of his flat, Draco drank more of the Firewhisky, finishing off his cigarette. The stars were indistinguishable through the clouds and Muggle smog, and the moon was just a sliver.

Potter always ruined everything.

*

A week later, Pansy contacted Draco with another assignment.

“You look like warm cat vomit,” Pansy told him when he walked in. Her voice was as disinterested as ever, and she barely looked up.

“Thanks as usual, darling,” Draco said, throwing himself into the chair in front of Pansy’s desk.

“How was Potter?” Pansy went on scribbling in her ledger.

“Insipid.” Draco began picking at the stitching on the leather chair. “Potter is mindless and bovine; what would you expect?”

“You must have made an impression.”

Draco’s nail snagged in the stitching, and he glared up at Pansy. “Did you call me for work or for gossip? There are, in fact, other things I could be doing.”

“I had no idea.” Pansy held his gaze. “He wants you back.”

“Excuse me?”

“Harry Potter has requested our services again,” said Pansy, floating him the scroll. “He’s specifically requested the companionship of Tristan Bonchance, if he is at all available.”

Draco grabbed the scroll out of the air, quickly scanning the bold text. The engagement was two weeks from now for a charitable ball to be held in a wizarding hotel outside of Bath. The charity was for Squib children, and Potter mentioned Tristan by name. If he’s not available, read Potter’s large scrawl, anyone will do. The parchment began to crumple before Draco’s eyes, and a moment passed before he realized he was gripping the paper too tightly.

“Well?” said Pansy.

“Well what?”

“Is Tristan available?”

Draco looked back down at the parchment, a thousand thoughts flying through his head. If Potter had been trying to cut Draco down with his request for sex that night, requesting Draco once again was no way for Potter to reinforce his victory. Unless . . . Draco scanned the parchment again, but Potter was not requesting sex. He wanted a social companion.

“It’s quite a bit of money,” Pansy said, after a while.

“I know that,” Draco snapped.

“You don’t have to take it if you don’t want it.”

Draco looked up, but Pansy wasn’t looking at him. “Who would you give him?” Draco asked.

“Perhaps Theo,” Pansy said.

“I wouldn’t trust Theo near Potter farther than I can throw him.”

“Nor would I,” said Pansy.

Nott had been completely neutral during the war, but in the aftermath he’d been branded a Death Eater, despite his lack of participation. After years of unemployment and scraping by, Nott had grown petty and bitter. Draco’s jaw tightened, and he looked down again at the parchment.

“Was it really so awful?” Pansy sounded bored, but the fact that she was asking spoke worlds. “I could—”

“No.” Draco clutched the parchment.

Pansy’s expression didn’t change. “You didn’t even hear what I was going to say.”

“It wasn’t awful.” Draco stood up. “I may not care for Potter, but the social stimuli was . . . somewhat invigorating. Besides, I don’t care about Potter. I can take care of him, whatever he’s playing at.”

“I doubt he’s playing at anything,” Pansy pointed out. “You say all the time that he’s an imbecile.”

“I suppose we shall see.”

“I’ll firm up the details,” said Pansy.

*

Two.

When Draco showed up two weeks later at the end of Hawthorn Lane, he was once more wearing Tristan’s face, though this time he was immaculately outfitted in deep blue. The colour suited both Tristan and Draco, so blue it was almost black, and the robes were cut to show off his figure, laced tightly against the sides and sleeves.

Potter’s eyes darkened when he opened the door and saw Draco on the stoop. Potter himself was wearing black again, though this time he had allowed for a white collared shirt underneath. It was currently open at the throat, and Potter seemed to have just finished shaving. “Come in,” Potter said. “Shut it,” he added, when Great Aunt Walburga began to scream. “You can come with me if you like.”

Draco wasn’t particularly interested in chatting with Potter, but part of the reason he had accepted the job was that he was curious. Following Potter through the house, Draco realized Potter was leading him to his bedroom, which was at the back of the house. The room was spacious, but outfitted similarly to the sitting-room in front—comfortable, but highly unfashionable.

Draco began to relax a bit when Potter stepped into the washroom to rinse his face, and apply aftershave. Apparently he wasn’t planning on asking for sex again—at least, not yet.

“I was afraid I had insulted you,” Potter said.

Draco struck a pose against the wall, pretending to lazily watch Potter through the door to the washroom. “I’m a hooker. I don’t get insulted.”

Potter glanced at him from the washroom, but didn’t come out. “Does that mean you have fewer feelings, then?”

“It means you may do what you please.”

“It doesn’t please me to hurt anyone.”

“Really,” Draco muttered, not loud enough for Potter to possibly hear.

Accio braces,” Potter said. Again, without the wand, the clothing item floated neatly into Potter’s hand. “You don’t have to do everything I tell you,” he said. “We don’t belong to anyone but ourselves.”

“How charming. Did we learn that in school?”

Realizing what he had said, Draco prepared to play off the comment, soften it somehow, but instead a soft, deep chuckle issued from the washroom. “No,” Potter said, “we didn’t.” Potter cinched the braces, and Draco froze again, thinking he’d been caught.

But Potter just went on dressing, and Draco remembered something he’d realized before—for some reason, Potter enjoyed a bit of snark. “How about punctuality? Did you learn about that at all?” Letting his tone go lazy, Draco exaggerated his pose against the wall. If Potter was attracted to Tristan, there was no harm in drawing it out a bit. “Tardiness appears to be a habit with you.”

“It’s not that late,” Potter said.

“I could teach you to be on time.”

Potter’s eyes flicked towards him, darkening again, but instead of coming closer he went to the bureau on the other side of the bedroom, picking up another set of cufflinks. “Thanks again for doing this,” he said. “I think it’ll be about the same as last time.”

“I enjoyed myself exceedingly last time,” said Draco, attempting to be pleasant while also making a slight dig. He still didn’t think Potter could have enjoyed himself very much that night. “It’s not on every engagement that I interact with so many interesting people.”

“You think they’re interesting?”

“I find people interesting in general. They all have their . . . quirks.” That much was true. What Draco didn’t add was that the main thing he was interested in was finding those quirks and exploiting them. There were plenty of ways to do that as an escort, but to do it without sex—to do it subtly, invisibly, with smiles and handshakes and a flattering word here, a doubting word there—that was far more interesting. The gross manipulation of bodies did not interest Draco particularly, but he delighted in the intricate mapping of men’s minds.

Usually he was quite good at it, but Potter—Potter was proving more difficult than most.

“You sound like Hermione,” Potter said. “She says I should be more open.”

“Perhaps you might try three words together this time.”

Potter’s mouth ticked at the corner.

Draco raised a brow. “Or are direct objects beyond you?”

“You tell me.”

Three words, the last one a direct object. “That was very well done,” said Draco.

“You sound surprised.”

“I hadn’t thought of you as clever.”

The tick came again, deeper than before, though Potter was looking around the room instead of at Draco. “What did you think of me?”

“Oh, several multisyllabic adjectives you wouldn’t understand.”

“I’m glad to know I have your good opinion.” At last Potter located his waistcoat and spelled it over to him.

“You’re the one who stands in corners and doesn’t speak to anyone.”

The tick went away, and Potter focused on buttoning up his waistcoat.

Draco shifted against the wall. “We should update our story.”

“Our story?”

“It’s been three weeks since our last appearance together,” Draco pointed out. “We should decide what we have been doing in the interim or else people will make something up for us.”

“Right. You’re good at this.”

“I’m good at everything.” Draco smirked.

Potter glanced over at him, just as Draco meant him to. “I bet you are.”

“You have no idea,” Draco purred.

Potter turned away.

“Our story?” Draco said, after a long moment.

“We haven’t seen each other,” Potter said.

“Very well,” said Draco. “I thought I was going to be called back to France. When you found out I wasn’t, you invited me to the ball. For old time’s sake.”

“It’s more believable than the idea that we’ve been dating,” Potter said, scooping up his robes. “I don’t usually keep secrets from Hermione and Ron.” Seeming to be weighing something, Potter paused. “She asked about you,” he said finally.

“Hermione?” Draco said.

Potter nodded. “She liked you.”

“Lovely.” Draco gave him a warm smile. “I liked her.”

Perhaps Potter’s jaw was too hard and manly to even smile; he just had this line that deepened at the side of his mouth when he tried.

Potter liked the fact that Tristan liked Granger. Draco rapidly tried to sort out something nice to say about her, aside from the fact that she had finally learned how to make her hair appealing. “Her views on restricted ingredients are fascinating,” Draco said.

“Which views?”

“She thinks Beings should have more say in the distribution of products related to them.”

“Hm.”

Her views were fascinating, rather, now that Draco thought about them. “Take mermaid gravestone, for instance. It’s restricted because merpeople grave sites have been desecrated for years in the attempt to get the ingredient. But at the same time, regulating mer gravestone means that merpeople themselves can’t sell gravestone from their own plots, from family members who might have wanted them to profit from it. Besides which, if regulations were restructured in favour of the merpeople, it could shut down the black markets and make merstone more accessible.” Potter was smiling for real, now, and Draco feigned modesty. “Is that funny?”

Potter shook his head. “That’s why she likes you.”

“Because of my economic frame of mind?”

“You’re clever.”

“Phenomenally.” Draco grinned.

Sucking in a breath, Potter turned away. “Let’s go.”

*

As Potter had predicted, the Squib charity ball was not so very different than the Ministry gala. Draco had looked up the list of attendees far in advance. Some of the guests were the same as had been at the gala, though others required new research. People recognized Tristan, which made it even easier for Draco to draw attention to himself. With some of the careful research Draco had done on Squibs, together with the impassioned speeches he’d crafted about their rights and abilities, Tristan was easily one of the most popular people there.

Potter, as before, stood in the corner and stared.

This time Potter drank rather less champagne. Instead of concluding that Potter’s brooding was a result of envy or resentment, Draco tried to pay attention to the nuances of Potter’s expressions. This was rather difficult, as Potter was so wooden—perhaps he was not capable of many expressions. Perhaps that was why he stood there scowling at everyone. Or perhaps his brow was simply too heavy to move, his jaw too solid to do much more than clench.

“Tristan?” said Mister Mallinger. “Mister Bonchance?”

“Of course,” said Draco, realizing he had been staring. “What sort of music does your son play? I’m ever so interested.”

“Magic flute!” said Mallinger, puffing up. “Now tell me Squibs can’t do anything magical!”

“Lovely,” said Draco. “The flute was my favourite instrument as a boy. And you’re right, it is the perfect instrument—anyone can play; one only needs the proper instruction and practice.”

“My thoughts exactly,” said Mallinger. “The spells are all there. He doesn’t need the magic; he just needs to know how to work ‘em!”

“Precisely,” said Draco. “Do you think he’ll take up music as a career?”

Mallinger went on talking. Draco could really care less about Squibs either way, though researching the issues surrounding them in preparation for the ball had been somewhat enlightening. Draco had had no idea that there were factions that wanted to take away what little magic some Squibs had. If Draco had been born with limited magic, he’d want to keep it, not have it stripped from him just so he could better live as a Muggle. Draco had never heard of anything so cruel.

Draco said as much to Warlock Kendal, who was there in support of the Squib cause, and they talked for quite some time about rights and the conditions of Squib schools. They gathered a crowd around them, and when a couple of swooning young wizards and witches caught sight of Potter across the ballroom, Draco wrapped them into the conversation, livening it up a bit.

Across the room, Potter looked . . . relieved.

Draco saw a similar expression whenever he steered the conversation away from praising Potter’s glory, and yet again whenever Draco intercepted Potter’s sycophants, diverting their attention with carefully aimed flattery. It was the strangest thing—as though Potter didn’t want people fawning over him, as though he didn’t live and breathe for being the centre of attention.

Draco had trouble fathoming the possibility. In Draco’s mind, Potter was the big, overly-happy buffoon at the pub who bought everybody beer and occasionally stood up on the tables to sing. Now that Draco thought about it, however, he realized the ways in which that image didn’t fit what he had known of Potter in school. Potter was much more likely to be the glowering brat at the head of the table, whom everybody sought to please and no one could. He probably just wanted to be left alone so he could brood about what a special snowflake he really was.

Although Draco couldn’t really understand not wanting to be popular, the longer Draco watched, the more convinced he became that this vision of Potter was far more accurate. As Draco turned the idea over and over in his mind, another fact became clear—Potter was grateful to Draco for taking the limelight. That was why Potter kept looking at him like that.

That, and Potter was attracted to him.

Potter wanted him. Potter wanted him in precisely the same way that Draco was making everybody else want him; Potter was no different. He was like putty in Draco’s hands, and there was nothing about Draco—no natural revulsion, no inborn repellent—that made it so Potter couldn’t like him. Potter could like him fine—Potter could lust for him, for Draco Malfoy, had only circumstances been a little different. As it was, Potter lusted for Tristan, and that was good enough for Draco.

The knowledge added a spring to Draco’s step. He always got quicker and cleverer, more charismatic, when he knew that people liked him. That it was Potter who was looking at him, desiring him, gave Draco a high beyond anything he’d experienced in a long time.

Everyone wanted to take him home.

But Potter was the one who would do so, and Draco thrilled with the knowledge that Potter might ask again. Potter might ask him to stay the night, and not because Potter was trying to trick him or pull one over on him. Potter wanted him. Potter wanted his body, and even though the face was Tristan’s, the body was Draco’s; Potter wanted to have sex with Draco’s body, and if Draco had been able to tell Potter who he was he would have laughed and laughed. He’d laugh in Potter’s stupid sodding face.

There were times when he was a teenager when Draco had tasted victory like this, and Draco knew it made him look good. It made him look wonderful. Draco was preening as he stepped out of the Floo with Potter and back into the house at the end of Hawthorn Lane.

“Thank you for another lovely evening,” Draco said, sliding his arm out of Potter’s and giving him a sly smirk.

The line appeared at the side of Potter’s mouth. “You certainly seemed to enjoy yourself.”

“I did, thank you. And you?”

The line fell away. “I never enjoy those things.” Potter paced over to the door. “Would you like to stay a while?”

Potter wasn’t going to ask him to stay the night, Draco realized, even though he obviously wanted to. Draco had refused him before, and Potter felt it would be rude to ask again. In any other circumstances Draco would have been impressed that Potter could muster up enough social grace to realize he had been crass, but now Draco just felt frustrated. He could make Potter ask. He had to make Potter ask.

Draco put on a charming smile. “I believe I will,” he said.

Potter’s only reaction was to lift a brow. “Can I get you a drink?”

“I don’t know.” Draco sauntered over to him. “What do you have?”

Potter’s eyes flicked over him as he approached, but so rapidly that had Draco not had a lengthy career in sex work, he might not have noticed. Potter opened the door to the parlour. “Mostly beer.”

Typical.

In the kitchen, Potter looked at the shelves in his larder. “Butterbeer, pepperbeer, mustardbeer, honeybeer, thunderbeer . . . and magic apple cider.” Potter turned back to look at Draco, the line beside his mouth again. “You’re not really a beer type, are you.”

Draco smiled back, though inwardly he was sneering. Beer. With all of Potter’s money, a larder full of beer. “Allow me,” he said, swaggering over to the shelf and taking out the Butterbeer. “Glasses?”

Potter went over to another cupboard, pulling down two large pint glasses.

“Oh, no, that’s all wrong.” Draco’s voice was teasing as he came up behind Potter, letting his chest brush Potter’s back as he reached into the cupboard past him. “Accio two Glencairns.”

“What are those?” Potter said, moving away.

“Hm,” Draco said, when nothing came from the cupboard. “Accio lowballs.” There was a resultant tinkle in the cupboard, then two cut glasses floated out.

“I didn’t know I had those,” Potter said.

Draco smirked. “You’re not really a whiskey type, are you?”

“I don’t have any whiskey.”

“Not yet,” said Draco. Opening one of the Butterbeers, he poured half in one glass and the other half in the other glass, then began to weave a spell. Rather complicated, with several incantations, the spell took a full minute to complete.

Draco knew he looked good using magic. Pansy used to say he made casting a spell look like sex, and that was because for him, magic was like sex. Magic was better than sex. There were few things Draco enjoyed more than the flow of power moving through him, his own strength bending the world around him to his will—and this time Potter was watching. All of those times Potter had laughed in his face when Draco threatened him with his magic, and this time Potter was watching him, just watching.

When Draco finished the spell and looked up, Potter was looking at him intently, something soft in the usually hard line of his mouth. When he realized Draco was looking back at him, Potter’s gaze moved to the glasses on the counter. There was only half an inch of liquid in each, a deep, molten gold that caught the light.

“Cheers,” said Draco, handing Potter one of the glasses.

Potter took it. “That looked like a tough spell.”

“Just intricate.” Draco made his tone flirtatious. “Try it. It won’t bite you.”

Potter took a tiny sip, after which he began coughing.

Draco laughed again. “Neophyte.” He brushed his fingers on Potter’s arm, reaching for his own glass. “Allow me to show you how it’s done.” Draco gracefully tipped back the drink, allowing the fiery, still-too-sweet taste to burn down his throat in one large sip.

Potter stared at Tristan’s throat, which was precisely Draco’s intention.

Draco put the glass back on the counter.

“It’s whiskey,” Potter said finally. “How did you do that?”

“You really don’t know?” Potter shook his head. “It’s a distilling spell.”

Swirling his glass, Potter sniffed it again, then lifted the glass and swallowed its contents. He still came up coughing, and Draco gave him a friendly yet lingering pat on the back.

“Is it really so dismal?” Draco asked, laughing again.

“No. It’s good.”

Turning away, Draco opened another bottle of Butterbeer, again splitting it between the glasses.

“Where did you learn that?” Potter asked.

“Somewhere between advanced potions and Celtic rune translation. I’m surprised you haven’t seen it before.”

“I guess not many people I know really drink whiskey.”

“That surprises me also. What do they drink?”

“Ron likes beer. Sometimes Hermione has wine.”

Draco waited, then realized that was all Potter was going to say. Of course. Draco had seen the way Potter had reacted to people at the ball this evening. Potter thought he was so special, so different, such an outcast. “You don’t drink with other people,” Draco said, making his voice low. “They don’t really understand you, do they.”

Potter gave a noncommittal shrug, but Draco saw the flicker in his eyes. A few more maudlin clichés and Draco would have him wrapped around his finger.

“People assume that they know you. They think they know everything about you, because they read a bunch of lies in the paper,” Draco said.

Potter shrugged again. He really, really didn’t talk as much as he used to.

“And you don’t share much,” Draco said. “I’ll bet they’ve never once bothered to get to know who you really are.”

Potter’s mouth tightened.

“It’s all right,” Draco said. “People make assumptions about prostitutes as well. Correcting them always seems like too much bother.”

Taking out his wand again, Draco performed the distillation spell again, spelling the Butterbeer to become whiskey. It was not as good as the expensive Firewhisky Draco preferred, but just about anything was preferable to Butterbeer. When Draco looked up, Potter was once again watching him intently.

“Would you like another?” Draco asked.

“Not now.”

So much the better. Draco picked up one of the glasses, Potter’s eyes drawn to his hand as though by a magnet. Potter watched him as he brought the glass to his lips, and Draco slowly lifted his eyes to meet Potter’s as he swirled the glass. Then he threw back the next shot, smooth and easy.

Potter stared at Draco’s throat, but looked away as soon as Draco put the glass down.

“Could you show me the spell?” Potter asked.

Draco covered his surprise with a laugh. “It’s a trifle long.”

“It’s beautiful,” Potter said.

“All right,” Draco said, making himself sound amused. “The first part is the distilling—that’s the hardest.” Draco purposefully waved his wand about dramatically and fast. “Stillabit.

Taking out his wand, Potter made some scribbles in the air in an attempt to copy him.

“Like this.” Draco waved his wand again. “Stillabit.

“Like this?” Potter scribbled again. The wand, Draco was relieved to note, was not any that Draco recognized.

“This.” Draco put down his wand, then put a light hand on Potter’s. Hand guiding Potter’s, Draco helped him trace the shape in the air, slowly, leaning into Potter as he did so. “Imagine the water, droplet by droplet,” Draco murmured, guiding Potter’s hand again. “You’re pulling each one of them out, separating them from the alcohol.” He leaned into Potter’s ear. “Stillabit.”

Stillabit,” Potter dutifully repeated.

“Yes, just like that,” Draco said, taking his hand off Potter’s, but still standing close. “Now Banish the excess water—you must have learned this in potions. Siccatum.”

Siccatum.”

“Good. Now, remove the sulfur-based compounds. You learned this in potions, too.”

“Um . . .” Potter turned a little towards him, his hair brushing Draco’s face. It smelled bland, like soap.

“Don’t you remember?” Draco’s lips were almost brushing Potter’s ear. He could feel the response in Potter’s body.

Sulfur ejecto,” Potter croaked.

“Good. Now this part is delicate.” Draco put his hand back on Potter’s. “You want to age it, adding the flavour of oak, but you don’t want it to come out tasting like a tree. You have to do them both at the same time, slowly.” Moving Potter’s hand, Draco traced a slow clockwise motion, then a series of loops. “Saporem quercu, cum tempus.”

Draco let go of his hand, and Potter tried it. “Saporum—

“Slower, Harry,” Draco said, covering Potter’s hand again. “Gently. Think about the shape of the oak tree, trace it. Softly. Learn the lines of it, and stroke them.”

Potter sucked in a harsh breath. “Saporem quercu, cum tempus.”

Draco moved away. “You have it.”

Potter stayed turned away for a moment. “I haven’t learned a new spell in a long time,” he said at last, turning around.

“I haven’t taught anyone in a long time.” That was true. The sweet little smile Draco gave him wasn’t. They would be coming to it, soon. Potter was going to ask him; Potter was going to try to touch him.

Potter put away his wand. “Thank you.”

“Never bother.”

“No.” Potter came closer. “It’s a good spell.”

Inexplicably, pride stirred in Draco’s chest, and he crushed it. It didn’t matter whether the spell was good or not; he was playing a much better game. “It’s nothing. It’s—”

“I think it’s a good spell.”

“Well, obviously, if you think it a good spell it must be positively sublime.” Draco huffed, annoyed that he had let sarcasm get the better of him. “I mean to say—”

The line appeared beside Potter’s mouth. “I think you meant to say that I shouldn’t correct you on what you think of your own magic.”

“Not at all.”

For a long moment, Potter just looked at him. He didn’t move away. “Where did you come from? Are you really from France?”

“I came from an escort service.” Potter’s tone had grown soft, but meanwhile, Draco’s was still sharper than he meant for it to be. “Are you going to have that other whiskey?”

Potter shook his head.

“Do you mind?” asked Draco. When Potter shook his head again, Draco took Potter’s glass. When Draco threw back the shot, Potter watched with dark eyes. The warm feeling returned in Draco’s belly, and he felt a little more settled. He was still in control of this situation.

“I don’t want to insult you again,” Potter said.

Right on cue.

“I wasn’t insulted,” Draco said, deliberately misunderstanding. “You were complimenting my magic.” He produced a rueful smile. “I should learn to take a compliment with grace.”

“I wasn’t talking about that.”

“What were you talking about?” Draco didn’t quite flutter his eyelashes, but he knew that the light set them off—Tristan’s lashes were darker than his own. Draco cast his gaze down so Potter could see them, triumph fluttering similarly in his stomach.

He wasn’t thinking about the fact that subtlety was lost on Harry Potter.

“I want to sleep with you,” Potter said, blunt but not at all gruff. He just sounded honest.

“Ah.” Draco pretended to be thinking about it, eyelashes still cast down. Meanwhile that warm, bubbling sensation of success was slowly surging from his belly to his chest.

“Do you do that sort of thing?”

“All the time,” Draco murmured.

“I want you. I’ll pay. I’ll sign a new contract with your . . .” Potter seemed unable to finish the sentence, and Draco wondered whether he had been going to say pimp. Pansy would have laughed and laughed. “I’ve never done anything like this before. Tell me if I’m out of line.”

Draco suppressed his smirk, finally lifting his eyes. “You’re not out of line.”

“Will you stay?”

“Oh, is that what you were asking?” Potter’s brow knit, and Draco made a move—fingertips drifting along the top of Potter’s forearm, then touching his wrist. Draco rested his fingers there, lightly, and as expected, Potter’s gaze went straight to the contact. Then Potter lifted his eyes to Draco’s, hot with desire.

Draco felt positively drunk with power.

“Tell me,” Draco said, his voice nearly a purr, “if you wanted my services, why did you not simply request them to begin with?”

Potter shook his head. “I thought I was crazy the first time. I didn’t know I’d . . . want to touch you so much.”

“You want to touch me?” Draco looked down at where his fingers touched Potter’s wrist, moving his finger to brush inside the sleeve of Potter’s robe, the delicate skin on the inside of his wrist.

“Yes.” Potter’s breath was short. “Please.”

“How nice.” Draco let his eyes drop to Potter’s lips.

Potter’s breath turned ragged. “Can I—”

“Do you want to kiss me?”

“Yes.”

“Lovely.” Draco let his other hand brush Potter’s hip. “Do you want to fuck me?”

“Tristan—”

Here it was, the moment of truth. Draco took his hand away. “No.”

“Tristan—”

“I do apologize.” Draco gave him a sympathetic smile. “I’m quite tired. I have so many other clients, you see.”

“Oh,” said Potter, sounding thick and stupid.

“Well then,” Draco said, moving away. “I’ll be going.”

“Now?”

“Yes.”

“Okay.”

This was not at all the reaction Draco had been so carefully calculating. “Thanks for the drinks,” he said.

“Yes. Thank you. You’re welcome.”

“No hard feelings,” Draco added.

“No,” Potter said quickly. “Of course not. Are you sure—you’re going now?”

“Yes. There are just so many other men lined up to fuck me tonight,” Draco said, trying to dig it in.

“All right,” said Potter. “Yes. Sorry.”

This was—everything had been building to this moment, this final moment, and Potter was not cooperating at all. “I’ll show myself out,” Draco said, his voice chilly.

“Sorry,” Potter said again. “I’m sorry.”

“Have a nice evening,” Draco snapped.

“You too. I mean—thank you.”

Gritting his teeth, Draco walked out the door.

Back at his flat, Draco jerked at the fastenings of his robes until he finally simply spelled them off, the magic so violent he could hear the fabric rip. He could feel the butterwhiskey inside his stomach—sick now, threatening to come back up. Draco was desperate for a fag.

Draco was supposed to feel satisfied, denying Potter something he wanted, but Potter hadn’t been disappointed. No, he’d been disappointed, but just hadn’t given Draco what he’d wanted. Potter had got the better of him again. Maybe Potter had tricked him again. Maybe Potter was playing him—but he wasn’t.

Potter was no better than anybody else and far worse than some. Draco’s other clients thought of him as property, and Potter was no better; he thought other people were beneath him. He thought Draco was beneath him—and then he had apologized, and looked guilty for wanting him when Draco, with every look, with every touch and every sweetly aimed flirtation, had done everything he could to lead Potter on.

Sitting on his balcony, Firewhisky in one hand and cigarette in the other, Draco could look back on it and pinpoint the moment when most clients would have grabbed him. Most clients would have had him up against the wall, the way that he had been flirting with Potter, the way he had been touching Potter, the way that he had intentionally been making Potter want him. Potter hadn’t even tried it. The second Draco had told him no, Potter had pulled away.

What little triumph there had been in the moment now felt sour. Despite all the other conquests of the evening, Draco still hadn’t been able to conquer Harry Potter, and Draco had lost his chance to, now. There was no way that Potter would accept Tristan again, even if he did request another escort. There was no way to make Potter pay for everything he’d done, even in the littlest way, and Draco felt so small.

He felt small and insignificant and filthy, oh so filthy, because Salazar help him, in spite of everything Potter was gracious, and accepted rejection like a bloody saint.

Draco hated him; he hated him. Firewhisky burned down Draco’s throat and the smoke tasted acrid and bitter; his mouth felt like paper and ashes.

Draco took a long draw on the cigarette. The smoke swirled away into the night.

*

Draco only took a couple days off. If he took more, Pansy would begin to suspect something had gone wrong with Potter, and Pansy could be quite merciless in her pursuit of gossip. As it was, the business was successful enough these days that Draco usually took a day or two between clients. It had been some time since he had had to turn a trick every other hour, and in those days, he’d never known where the next bite to eat was coming from.

Pansy asked few questions, and life went on much as before, until another week passed and Pansy called Draco to her office.

“What have you been doing with Harry Potter?” Pansy asked without any preamble, the moment Draco stepped into her office.

“Ignoring him, I hope.” Draco had paused on the threshold, but now he came the rest of the way in. “Has he complained?”

“No.” Pansy held a parchment in her perfectly manicured hands.

Pansy, meanwhile, remained silent, which was not at all a good sign. “What is it?” Draco said, rolling his eyes and coming around to her side of the desk.

“Ironic,” said Pansy, and gave him the parchment.

Draco scanned the page, but could not make sense of it. He tried to read it again, and it still didn’t register. Only when he realized his heart was beating in his throat did Draco take a deep breath, and read the missive again—slowly, word by word.

Potter was requesting an escort again. This time for a banquet at a castle in Dover, held by the NimbusCorp, celebrating the release of the Coriolis 1000. Potter requested Tristan, even offering to pay extra to ensure his availability. The request was explicit: only public service as a companion to Potter, no private services before or after. The party was in another week.

“I assume you’re not otherwise occupied,” Pansy said eventually. “I don’t have you booked for that night.”

“Conveniently.” Draco let the parchment drop on the table.

Pansy looked at it, then up at him. “Are you shagging him?”

“Don’t be appalling.”

“Are you?”

“No, I’m not shagging him.”

“Do you want to be?”

“I’d rather fuck a wet Crup.”

“I suppose that can be arranged.” Pansy was silent for a while. “So?”

Draco looked down at her. “So what?”

“Why does he want you? Just you, no one else?”

“I suppose he’s infatuated with me.” Draco sat down in front of Pansy’s desk.

“And you’re not fucking.”

“Salazar’s feces, Pansy, give it a rest.” Draco began picking on the stitching of the leather chair.

“So you’ll take the client?”

“Yes, I’ll take the client. Is there anything else you want to slide down my throat while my mouth is open?”

“You don’t have to take him.”

Draco wanted to look up. He wanted to, but he didn’t. “Of course I do,” he said sourly. “It’s a lot of money.”

“No.” Pansy stood up. “Actually, you don’t.” Pansy came around the desk and Draco hated her. He really hated her, because Pansy never did this. She never went down to her knees in front of him, never touched him gently like she was now, never looked at him kindly, like she was now, and that made it that much more terrible when she did. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to,” she said.

“I’ll just tell all my regulars my legs are closed then, thanks.”

“I can take on more clients again, if that’s what you want.”

Grimacing, Draco picked the stitches some more, trying not to look at her. “Obviously, that’s not what I want.” Draco’s voice was rougher than he meant it to be, but Pansy was between his legs with her hands on his thighs and the only time in his life when a position like that had nothing to do with sex was Pansy. It was always Pansy.

“I don’t mind,” Pansy said, rubbing his thighs.

“I do.” Grabbing her wrists, Draco pulled her hands off of him. “Stand up, for Merlin’s sake. I can handle Potter.” Pansy stood up and Draco stood up as well, moving away from her. “He just has a bit of a crush is all.”

“You don’t have to handle him,” Pansy said again. If she was saying it three times, she must be worried.

“I can,” Draco said, lifting his jaw. “I will.”

*

Three.

At the appointed time, Draco showed up at the house on the end of Hawthorn Lane. Potter opened the door wearing some Muggle thing. Typical.

“Thanks for coming,” Potter said, opening the door wider. “Come in.” Potter held the door as Draco entered. “Don’t even start,” Potter told the portrait of Great Aunt Walburga, then opened the doors to the sitting-room. “I’m sorry about last time,” Potter said, once they were inside. “I don’t want you to be afraid it will happen again.”

“I’m not afraid,” said Draco.

“Good.”

Apparently Potter was attempting to be polite. Shocking that no one had told him staring was rude.

Draco smiled back. “In fact,” he said, “I was hoping you would bring it up again.”

“You were?”

“I really was otherwise engaged on the evening of our last encounter. Tonight, I’m available.”

Draco had expected Potter to have a definite reaction to this revelation. Instead, Potter looked away. The carefully constructed expression Draco had put on Tristan’s face began to crumple, but Draco took a firm hold over his emotions, resisting gritting his teeth. If Potter was going to play hard to get, so be it. Draco would still get him in the end. Potter had wanted him before; Draco could make him want him again.

“Do we have to make up a new story?” Potter said eventually.

“Only a short time has passed since our last engagement,” Draco said. “People will think we’re casually dating.”

“I don’t date casually.”

“Never bother.” Draco gave him a flirtatious smile. “They’ll think I’m playing hard to get.”

Potter looked away again. “We should go to the banquet.”

“Indeed. Is that . . .” Draco gestured. “The full attire?"

The line appeared again. “I didn’t know you were pure-blood.”

Draco only smiled again. “You caught me.”

“It’s called a dinner jacket,” Potter said.

“Oh. Well, it looks very nice,” Draco lied.

Potter grimaced. “I don’t like it. But it’s better than robes.”

“Oh is it? I hadn’t noticed.” Draco’s tone was innocent.

Potter actually smiled—not just the line. His eyes actually crinkled at the corners.

Draco felt disconcerted. Potter’s eyes really were very tiny.

“I’m fairly certain you notice everything,” Potter said.

“Only things that pertain to me,” Draco said, remembering that Potter liked them cheeky.

Potter definitely liked it. He seemed to find that answer cute.

“We’ll be late,” was all Potter said, despite the smile. “I know you don’t like that.”

Draco was about to comment that his preferences hardly factored into the matter, but instead he smiled pleasantly. “No,” he said. “We wouldn’t want that.”

Potter had been about to take a step towards the Floo, but at the tone in Draco’s voice he paused, eyes lingering.

Feigning innocence once more, Draco walked over to the Floo himself. “Shall we?” he said, turning back to Potter and putting out his arm.

“Yes.” Potter came up and took it, then took a pinch of powder. “NimbusCorp Castle,” he said, throwing the powder in the hearth.

They stepped from the dumpy, sad sitting-room into the glittering pageantry of the most wealthy wizarding company in the entire world, and whatever promises Potter had made to himself, they would soon be forgotten. Rather than outshine him, the glamour of all these people would show Draco at his best advantage. They would only emphasize how attractive, clever, and sociable he was, and Potter would see it all. Potter would watch every move he made, knowing that Draco was for sale. Potter would see him and want him, lust for him—by the time the night was over, need him.

Draco had Potter right where he wanted him.

*

With his trap so well-laid, Draco didn’t expend extra effort seducing Potter during the banquet. Instead, he applied his varied skills to seduce everyone else there.

Meanwhile, because it was a banquet, Potter was unable to get away with his tall, dark, and silent routine throughout the evening. He had to at least pretend to interact, which he didn’t do very well, remaining terse and sullen at the supper table next to Draco.

“I suppose you’re still seeing men, then,” said the woman sitting on the other side of Potter. Her name was Helena Rich, the secretary for the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes.

“Yes.” Potter went on eating.

“But would you date a woman?” Rich asked.

“Would you?”

“Oh!” Rich laughed nervously. “I’m not gay!”

“Pity,” Potter said, going back to his food.

“What Harry means is he’s seeing neither men nor women,” Draco said, leaning towards that side of the table. “He’s seeing me.”

The annoyance melted from Potter’s eyes. Putting down his fork, he turned a bit towards Draco. “You’re neither a man nor a woman?”

Draco cast Tristan’s lashes down. “I’m one man.”

“Hm,” Potter said.

“Are you still chasing dark wizards?” asked Philip Tran, a Warlock from the Wizengamot. “I know the papers say you don’t, but there’ve been so many reports of people seeing you near the Minister’s office.”

“The Minister has excellent coffee,” said Potter, turning back to his plate.

“Come Harry,” said Rich. “No one believes you visit the Minister so often for the coffee.”

“Why not?” Draco asked.

“Are you working on Granger’s legislation?” Rich asked.

“No,” said Tran. “We think he’s liaising secretly with the Auror office. Helping them on some of their harder cases.”

“You all have Harry absolutely wrong,” said Draco. “You completely misunderstand his devotion to a fine cup of coffee. Why, just the other day when I looked in his cupboards—” Potter went stiff beside him, and Draco could tell Potter was tense at the idea that Draco was revealing personal information. Merlin only knew why, since Potter had the most banal cupboards imaginable and didn’t even have appropriate whiskey glassware—“and they were full of nothing but coffee. And coffee paraphernalia. Why, just a few weeks ago, Harry Apparated to Somalia just to sample a new kind of bean.”

Beside him, Potter relaxed.

“You went to Somalia?” Rich asked, looking at Potter with interest.

“Oh, yes, it was a lovely trip,” Potter said.

“You went with him?” said Rich, looking slightly more interested in Draco now.

“Oh, no,” Draco said quickly. Potter had got a little stiff again—probably upset that Draco might make his relationship with an escort out to be more than it was. “But he told me all about it.” Then Draco proceeded to tell the whole story of the trip, which of course had never happened. Draco had more than enough details to work with, however—one of his clients and been from Somalia and spoken of it often, and another of his clients had been quite the connoisseur of tea. Completely different than coffee, but Draco just changed all the terminology and then made some of it up.

Meanwhile, Rich and Tran listened with fascination, thinking they were getting an inside story about Harry Potter. Once Draco was done, he asked Rich some questions about her work and engaged Tran in a conversation about brooms.

“You made all of that up,” Potter whispered, once Rich and Tran had turned back to other people beside them.

“But it worked,” Draco whispered back. At Potter’s furrowed brow, he explained, “They’re leaving you alone now. They find coffee exceedingly dull.”

Potter’s eyes searched his face. “They don’t find you dull.”

“Of course they don’t. I’m deliciously entertaining.”

Potter’s eyes dropped to Draco’s lips.

Draco pretended not to notice. “Not to worry, love,” he said, putting his hand on Potter’s thigh under the table. “I’ll protect you from horrible people who want to do awful things like make polite conversation.”

Potter didn’t smile, just looked at him.

Feeling his face grow hot, Draco took his hand off Potter’s thigh.

“What do you think about the new Coriolis, Harry?” asked Orsino Thruston, one of the Weird Sisters. Thruston was sitting directly across from them—Millie probably would have been drooling. “Do you think it’s better than the Jet Stream?”

There was a rather long pause. “I don’t really know,” Potter said finally. “I heard Tristan say something interesting about it earlier.” He turned to Draco. “What do you think?”

Draco swallowed. Earlier he had taken the focus away from Potter, but now Potter was deliberately giving it to him. Draco didn’t care. He was being asked to charm a Weird Sister, so he did.

Whenever Draco glanced beside him, Potter was just looking away, as though he had been staring, and his mouth had that little line. When every once in a while more people tried to speak to Potter, Draco simply spoke for him, sometimes lightly touching Potter’s hand—like a lover would, so that people could see Draco had Potter’s permission to speak in his stead. Draco played the lover in other little ways—stealing morsels off of Potter’s plate, occasionally sipping Potter’s wine. Such behaviour was rather crass, in Draco’s opinion, but Potter seemed to be enjoying it—in the end, he simply pushed his plate next to Draco, giving Draco his entire share of dessert.

Draco could hardly protest. They were having chocolate truffle crème brûlée.

After the meal, the vice president of NimbusCorp invited Draco, Potter, and a handful of other people into a back room where they were served fairy acorn mead in thimbles. The drink was potent, so Draco only drank one half of a thimble—offering the other half to Potter, who declined. Meanwhile, the vice president of NimbusCorp seemed very impressed with Draco.

The excitement of the evening caused any dread Draco had held for the night to come loose and simply melt away. Here Draco was at a big important party full of big important people, and one of the most important of all enjoyed him. He might have even been able to get a job with NimbusCorp, were it not for Article three-seven-nine. Perhaps he could even speak to the vice president, hint at the truth, see if there was any way that he could possibly—

But no. Of course not. Draco was still a prostitute, whatever else may come.

He drank the rest of that thimble-full after all.

As the warmth spread through him, Draco stopped his gloomy train of thought and instead focused on enjoying the evening. Whatever else happened tonight, he would still have his revenge. It would taste as sweet as the fairy mead.

*

“That was brilliant,” Draco said, after they Floo’ed back to Grimmauld Place. He tried to put as much sincerity as he could into his voice. “Thank you.”

“I’m glad you had fun,” Potter said. Then he just kept staring at him, like the utter lummox that he was.

Draco cast Tristan’s lashes down prettily.

“Stay for a drink.” Potter’s voice was rough.

“I don’t know.” Draco looked at him, expression teasing. “Do you remember how to distil your Butterbeer?”

“Yes.” Potter went over to the door, holding it for him—rather more because he wished to herd Draco about than out of politeness, Draco suspected.

“I suppose I might be persuaded.” Maintaining the teasing tone, Draco went out the door and led the way down the corridor to the kitchen.

Potter’s shelves were considerably better stocked than the last time Draco and Potter had had a drinks—besides all the beer, there was now hard liquor, and a lot of it. There was even Dwarvish scotch. “I’ll fix us something,” Draco said, because Potter probably didn’t even know anything about expensive malt and would do something horrible to it.

Potter leaned against the counter while Draco spelled the glasses out of the cupboards, along with various bottles from the shelves. Since he had already had the fairy mead, he planned on having something light—just enough to loosen Potter’s tongue and self-control.

Potter watched him, eyes locked on Draco’s wrists.

Draco flexed them, just to make them look pretty.

“How did you get in this line of work?” Potter asked, after a long moment.

“Oh, you know. I thought it was a good idea at the time.”

“But you had other options,” Potter said. “Didn’t you? I mean, no one’s really forced into it these days.”

Draco barely missed a beat. “Certainly. But I’m quite good at what I do, and I believe one should always excel at one’s chosen career.”

“You’re certainly good at going to parties.”

Draco slid him a sideways glance. “Don’t you want me to be?”

“Yes.”

Draco handed Potter one of the drinks. “Cheers,” said Draco, tapping his glass against Potter’s.

Potter watched as Draco took a sip, then looked down at his own glass. “I don’t really want a drink.”

“You’re the one who suggested it.”

“You said that you were available. Tonight.” Potter put the glass on the counter. “What did you mean?”

Now they were coming to it. “What do you want it to mean?”

“I think I’ve made it clear. Before.”

Draco cast his eyes down. “But what about tonight?”

The silence went on long enough that Draco lifted his eyes. Potter was staring at him with his cold, intense eyes. They were still tiny. “I still want you,” Potter said.

“Mm.” Draco set down his glass. “How much?”

“What do you mean?”

Draco came closer. “How much do you want me, Harry?”

“I’ll pay,” said Harry. “I’ll pay double.”

“Double.” Draco leaned in, so close his lips were nearly brushing Potter’s cheek when he spoke. “You must want me a great deal.”

“Yes.”

“Tell me how much.”

“Triple.”

“I don’t mean Galleons.” Pansy would have been shocked—triple would pay them both for an entire week—but Draco honestly didn’t care. Power over Potter was more important than money right now; it was more important than anything. “I want to know how much you want me. Enough to beg?”

There was a pause, Potter tilting his head to listen to the whisper of Draco’s voice. The long line of Potter’s throat was within reach of Draco’s tongue. “Yes.” Potter’s breath was short, and Draco was used to making people feel this way. He did it all the time; the only thing strange about this situation was that he could do it to Potter.

“Do it,” Draco whispered in Potter’s ear. “Beg me.”

“Tristan.” Potter’s voice was harsh.

“Beg.” Draco lifted a hand to touch Potter’s throat.

Potter caught his wrist, rearing away from Draco’s lips. “I don’t want to if you’re not willing,” Potter said.

“Excuse me?” said Draco, blinking in confusion.

“You have a choice,” Potter said. “I don’t want to force you to do anything.”

That was the best joke Draco had heard all evening, but neither bitterness nor sarcasm showed at all on his face. Instead, Draco melted into the grip Potter had on his arm, angling his body slightly into a submissive pose. “I’m willing,” he said.

“Good,” said Potter, bringing his other hand up to Draco’s face.

Draco let him get close enough to kiss, then pulled away. “The contract.”

Potter let him go.

Pansy had developed an easy spell to Summon a company contract in just these sorts of situations, and Draco performed it now. “Triple, you said?” Draco asked, when the scroll appeared in his hand.

“Yes,” said Potter.

“Maybe you should look,” said Draco, handing Potter the scroll. “I’m quite expensive.”

“I don’t care.”

“Very well then. Sign at the bottom.”

Potter didn’t even look the contract over. Instead he just signed along the line, after which the contract snapped up and disappeared. “That’s gone among our files,” Draco explained. “The money will be extracted from your account the moment the contract is fulfilled.”

“All right,” said Potter.

Quickly, Draco cast protective spells on both of them, ensuring they wouldn’t give each other any kind of diseases. “Now, where were we?”

Potter reached for him again, hands cupping Draco’s face.

“Oh,” Draco said, as Potter’s lips descended. “No kissing on the mouth.”

Potter paused, his mouth nearly brushing Draco’s. He pulled back.

“It’s in the contract,” Draco said.

It wasn’t in the contract. It was just another way to make Potter want him, another thing to throw in Potter’s face when Potter found out who he really was, another way for Draco to know he had the upper hand.

“This is allowed,” Draco said, beginning kissing Potter on the jaw.

Draco was good at this—very good. He knew how to lick and kiss and suck just long enough that he would leave no marks, to the point where the person he was kissing would almost want him to. Sure enough, Potter’s hands slid gradually into Draco’s hair, holding Draco against his neck, carding and combing, gently playing with Tristan’s sandy curls. Potter’s breath hitched more than once, and then Potter began to kiss him back, gentle kisses in nonsensical places—Tristan’s brow, his cheeks.

“You’re beautiful,” Potter said, when Draco pulled away.

“I know,” Draco said, reaching for Potter’s dinner jacket.

The line appeared beside Potter’s mouth, just as Draco meant it to. Potter helped get the dinner jacket off, but when Draco started in on the buttons underneath, Potter began kissing again—Draco’s neck, this time.

Honestly, Potter was one of the least eager people to undress him that Draco had ever shagged.

A wide black line circled a large scar at the centre of Potter’s chest, over Potter’s heart. The tattoo was unexpected, but it made sense when Draco thought about it. Potter was just that pretentious, and he probably thought that it made him some kind of rebel. Draco didn’t pay much attention to it.

Once Potter’s shirt was open, Draco began on his own robes himself. Perhaps Potter was one of those sorts who just expected the rentboy to do every single piece of all the work. Probably he just expected to lie back and have Draco ride him—a pastime Draco somewhat preferred with many clients, as that way he didn’t have a sweaty body grunting over him, and he got to choose the pace. With Potter, however, it was just another sign of how entitled the Boy Who Lived really was.

“Do you want it here?” Draco said, taking off his robes.

Potter seemed momentarily captivated by the well-fitted shirt Draco wore underneath. “Where do you want?” Potter asked.

“Anywhere.” Draco kissed Potter’s jaw, putting his hand on Potter’s chest. “Anywhere you want.”

Potter leaned down, but before he could kiss Draco on the mouth, Draco turned his head. Instead Potter kissed Draco’s jaw, opening his mouth against Draco’s skin. “Bedroom,” Potter muttered. “Bed.”

“Yes.” Draco put his arms around Potter’s neck. “Take me.”

Potter leaned in to kiss him again, and then he was Apparating them, appearing in Potter’s room even as Potter kissed the line along Draco’s throat. Potter’s mouth was warm and eager—not that bad, actually, considering that it was Potter, but when Potter got to the vee of Draco’s shirt, he went no further. Instead he explored the place where Draco’s collarbones met as though it was new territory, as though he’d never met a clavicle before.

Above Potter’s head, Draco rolled his eyes. Potter was obviously one of those clients who thought everybody was having fun here. That Potter actually thought he could get Draco to enjoy himself was ludicrous, and Draco wished that this was over with already. Realizing that he would have to move things along if they were ever going to get to the point, Draco started opening his own shirt.

Potter went on kissing Draco’s chest, taking his sweet time exploring. It was sort of boring, really. It was just a chest. Perhaps Potter had only been with girls. At any rate, it gave Draco a chance to try a couple of things.

In the next several moments Draco learned that Potter liked it when Draco made sounds, liked it when Draco’s hips moved or his breath shuddered, as if in response to things that Potter did. Draco also learned that Potter liked it when Draco tugged his hair, which was interesting and unexpected.

Using Potter’s hair, Draco pulled Potter back up, then spelled Potter’s bow-tie off, tugging at the shirt that still hung unbuttoned on Potter’s body. The rougher about it Draco was, the more Potter seemed to like it, and a picture was gradually forming. Potter must like them to fight—Draco would now lay money on the idea that Potter would like biting and scratching as well.

Perhaps Potter wouldn’t just lie back and have Draco ride him. Perhaps he wanted Draco to take care of the preliminaries so Potter could subdue Draco later, and wasn’t that just like Potter. Of course Potter would want to exert his dominance over the situation. Of course he’d want to take control over the person in his bed—hold down someone who was spitting and snarling, make them take it.

Draco was trying to decide when Potter would choose to force him as he spelled their shoes off, took off both their trousers and pants. Draco had Potter up against the wall now, and mostly Potter just made sounds—harsh breaths and tiny whines, a couple guttural sounds, just like an animal.

Probably a howler once they got to the shagging, Draco thought, and resisted rolling his eyes.

Eventually Draco got them both undressed—seeing as how Potter wasn’t interested in doing any of the work. Even once they were both naked, Potter just kept kissing him—hands tracing the long, lean muscles in Draco’s back, skating down to hips, now—okay, yes, now . . . . One of Potter’s hands found its way to Draco’s front, loosely circling Draco’s mostly disinterested cock.

Potter was fully erect, and not unimpressive, but more than Potter’s inept stroking was necessary for Draco to get his own cock up, especially considering just how often Draco had sex. Plenty of clients didn’t even bother, though, and it was somewhat intriguing that Potter—that Potter—

Potter’s other hand had come around to touch Draco’s bollocks, holding them and squeezing as Potter’s other hand stroked lightly up—

“Ah,” Draco said, allowing himself to make a sound as he caught Potter’s wrist. When Potter looked up inquiringly, Draco soothed, “We don’t want to go too far before the main event.”

“All right,” so Potter, but only looked at him after that.

The main event was never going to happen, Draco realized, if he left it up to Potter. Strangely, Potter did not seem squeamish or nervous, or any of the usually things that prevented clients from getting on with it.

One question was answered when they finally got down to the sheets—Potter made it fairly clear he was to be the one on the bottom, which meant he expected Draco to ride him. Draco supposed he might have expected it, considering the way the evening was going, so after a bit of kissing and frotting, Draco picked up his wand and pointed it at himself. It appeared Potter wasn’t even planning on doing the courtesy of prepping him.

Potter’s hand closed around Draco’s, preventing Draco from casting the spell.

“Prep is in the contract,” Draco said.

“I can do it,” Potter said. He pulled the wand out of Draco’s hand, setting it aside. Waving his hand, Potter muttered an incantation.

Draco frowned. “I didn’t feel anything.”

Taking Draco’s hand again, Potter guided it down—down—between Potter’s legs, under his cock and balls, between his cheeks—

Draco jerked his hand away. “I—you want . . ?”

Potter spread his legs.

“I thought . . .” Draco couldn’t process it. For one thing, to have read a client so completely incorrectly—but this client was Potter. Draco had just assumed that Potter would—

—arse was what nearly all of Draco’s clients wanted. Men who engaged male prostitutes sometimes liked to bottom, but—Draco was very good at taking it. He was very, very good. He had no real preference, liked both about equally, but he was good at bottoming. Good at it in ways that Pansy and Nott simply weren’t; they usually took the clients who wanted to be penetrated, and most of those who liked to switch as well.

Draco took the ones who liked to play at being dominant, the daddies, the bears, the tops—whatever they wanted to call themselves, because Draco could squirm beneath them so well. He could make them feel whatever they wanted to, however big and powerful and in control they wanted to; he could make them feel that they owned him completely, that he would do anything they wanted, that he would squeal for them.

Draco had never been good at taking charge of the situation, of standing out in front, but over time he’d become better at manipulating it. He’d become someone who could get what he wanted by letting other people think that they were getting what they wanted, and it made him good at submission, at being wet and willing for people who wanted to fuck him.

“Is it a problem?” Potter asked.

“No, of course not,” Draco said, automatically, because that was what he said to clients. “Anything you want.”

“I want to try it like this,” Potter said, taking Draco’s hand again. He guided one of Draco’s fingers to his hole, and Draco pushed it in.

He didn’t understand how he could have misread Potter so completely. Now that he thought about it, Draco recognized all the signs—signs of someone who not only wanted to be penetrated, but dominated. That was why Potter had let Draco undress them both, why he had waited for Draco to manoeuvre them to the bed—even why he’d wanted Draco to choose where they shagged. Potter had been waiting to see what Draco would do, willing to follow, wanting to follow . . .

“Tristan.” Potter’s breath was a little short, but his hand was strong when it closed around the wrist of the hand Draco was using to open him up. “Put another one in,” Potter said.

Lost in thought, Draco hadn’t been paying the usual attention he gave to clients. Renewing the lubrication spell, Draco eased another finger against Potter’s hole, and then slowly pushed it inside.

Draco was well aware that personalities outside of the bedroom were no indication of what someone wanted when they were having sex. Some of Draco’s most dominant clients were the meekest men you might ever meet if you saw them on the street. Still, the fact that Potter wanted this was difficult to fathom.

It was just so awkward. Everything about Potter seemed to scream that this should be going the other way around. Potter’s thighs were just like tree trunks; Draco didn’t doubt that even Potter’s arse was thick with muscled strength, despite the fact that Draco didn’t exactly have a good view of it, laid out as Potter was. But Potter’s hole was tiny. It was so so small, and Draco had forgotten how it could feel, his fingers in someone else’s body. So often he didn’t even bother to prep himself—he let the spells do it for him, so his body was ready to take whatever clients decided to give him. It wasn’t about pleasure. It was work.

Draco pushed another finger in, watching Potter’s face as the muscles in Potter’s body first tensed, then loosened to accommodate the new girth.

“Is this . . . what you wanted?” Draco said. The question was one he didn’t usually have to ask, but he couldn’t read Potter’s expression.

“I think so.” Potter shifted his hips, adjusting himself around Draco’s fingers. Potter’s hand slid to the back of Draco’s neck, burying itself in Tristan’s hair.

The room was hot. Draco was hot. Everything was so hot, too slow; Draco could feel sweat starting at his temples. He was having trouble acting naturally, a problem he usually never had with clients, but Draco knew that he had to move along. He had to get inside somehow; he had to fuck him—bloody Harry Potter, who was kissing his neck now, moving his mouth hotly along Draco’s skin. Somehow, Draco had to figure out what Potter really wanted, why he wanted it, and Draco had to do it quickly, but there were no answers, and now Potter was loose enough, wet enough.

Draco slid his fingers out and Potter pulled away as though to protest. “I think you’re ready,” Draco said, nonsensically, because he could not give up the game now. He had to make this happen, and so he got into position, and as he did it occurred to him that this was Harry Potter.

He was going to fuck Harry Potter, this person who had caused him so much strife and ruined everything, this person who thought he was superior but wasn’t really; he wasn’t anything at all. Draco looked into those green, green eyes as he held his cock and put it at Potter’s entrance, and he knew those eyes well. He knew them so, so well, and he hated them.

When Draco pushed inside he wasn’t gentle about it. Potter made a choked sound, and Draco had a moment of scrambling confusion. He was supposed to make this good. He was supposed to make Potter love it; he was supposed to make Potter never want to live without it, so afterwards he could make Potter regret every sweet and heady moment of it.

Potter was so tight that breathing felt difficult.

“Damn it,” Potter said. “Move.”

So Draco moved, thinking about it now—long, slow thrusts, carefully aimed to make Potter want it, make him need it. Potter didn’t pull him closer though, didn’t even touch him. Instead he put his hands on the mattress, curling in the sheets.

Maybe Potter thought he was too good to hold a prostitute.

Draco set his jaw. He didn’t know what Potter wanted, but Draco still knew how to do this. He still could do this, despite the fact that he was topping and it was Potter. Adjusting his angle, Draco thrust deeply, searching for that spot that would make Potter sing.

Potter flailed—just a little, hands letting go the sheets and yet barely touching, grazing Draco’s shoulders as though to grip, then skittering away. After a moment Potter grabbed the headboard above his head. “More,” he grunted.

Draco could give him more, if that was what he really wanted. Potter didn’t want to touch him, wanted to just lie back and take it—then Draco could give it to him.

Rearing back, he slammed inside Potter hard, his cock encased in that tight warm heat. Potter just took it—looking at him, as though waiting. Jaw hardening, Draco pulled back and did it again, and Potter just lay there, hands tightening on the headboard above him, taking it and waiting for it and watching him.

Potter had looked that way right before he had sliced Draco open. Draco could still see Potter’s eyes, Potter’s cold, flinty eyes, unashamed, arrogant. Draco associated that gaze with the taste of blood in his mouth, the scars across his stomach, which Tristan didn’t have, the sharp scent of dittany and the coldness that had filled his mind.

Potter. Sodding Harry Potter, never bloody sorry for a fucking thing.

Draco’s hips slammed into Potter and he hated him; he hated him. Potter had ruined his life and Draco wanted to hurt him; he wanted to tear him and split him open and make him bleed—clients had done that to Draco before and Draco wanted Potter to know, wanted Potter to feel it.

Draco fucked him hard and fast, so hard it was like he lost his mind, couldn’t think straight, just had to do it, and the sweat and the heat and the pain made him just keep going. He just kept going, and something in him, automatic, made him reach down and grab Potter’s cock, grab and twist and get it out of him because Potter needed to know what it felt like to be a whore. Potter needed to know what it felt like—

Draco wanted it to hurt, wanted orgasm to rip through Potter like something painful, something unpleasant, something that stripped and burned away all sense of self and made you just a body, just a body, just something that existed for someone else to pull and tear apart. And Potter did come, came with a shout and a groan almost inhuman—guttural, from deep within.

It made Draco pause, come back to himself, slowing, and then Potter shook his head—his shaggy head was wet with sweat, and he said, “Keep going. Don’t stop. Keep—” But he didn’t finish, just arched and caught his breath again when Draco pushed inside.

Merlin.

Draco didn’t know how to stop; he needed to come but he didn’t understand how he could, and oh God, it was so tight. Potter was so, so tight and hot around him, gripping him so profoundly and it was Harry Potter, Potter whom he hated, Potter who had saved him and then thrown him away like he was worth nothing—

Nothing—

Draco shuddered and the chills moving down his spine setting him off, the juddering of his hips pushing himself to new depths inside of Potter, and then Draco was coming.

Merlin and he kept coming; he couldn’t stop. Draco couldn’t remember the last time he’d fucked anyone that way. Had he ever fucked anyone that way—the way that they fucked him? Hard and ruthless, without a thought given to what was beneath him?

Pulling out, Draco spared just enough energy to pull himself off of Potter, flinging himself down on the bed next to him. Nimue’s Oak. He could sleep for a week. He could sleep for a century. His cock was wet and cold and sensitive—it felt disgusting; every part of him felt filmed with sweat and fluids drying slowly in the evening air.

All of it was disgusting. He was fucking freezing. He needed a wash.

Draco closed his eyes.

When Potter began to touch him, it stung. Draco hated it when clients wanted to cuddle after a long, hard fuck. They should be too tired to do anything like that, if he had done his job. Draco was too tired. He was too tired to even brush Potter away, and Potter kissed his shoulder.

Disgusting. That was disgusting; there was so much filth all over Draco, and Potter had his mouth all over it. Adding to it. Potter’s hand closed over Draco’s arm, warm and sure, and Potter levered himself up to kiss Draco’s neck, his chest.

The plan had been to reveal his true identity. He’d let Potter fuck him, and then he would look down on Potter scornfully as Potter became embarrassed and ashamed.

The plan didn’t seem like such a good idea now, considering. Draco felt far too tired to properly appreciate his triumph, and mocking anyone was entirely beyond him. Besides which, he definitely hadn’t fucked Potter the way he’d originally planned . . . Maybe later. At the very least, Potter’s lips were warm.

Potter kept on going—kissing, touching until the tacky residue over all of Draco felt as though it had melted back into his skin. Every time Draco thought about stopping him, he decided to let Potter go on—maybe this way Potter would thoroughly embarrass himself before Draco told him who he really was.

Potter was using both his hands now—dragging them over Draco’s chest, spreading apart to touch Draco’s hips. Draco was too exhausted for this.

And then Potter’s hands were on Draco’s thighs, spreading his legs. Now they were coming to it; Potter was going to—

Put his mouth on Draco’s cock.

Yelping in surprise, Draco started, almost kicking Potter in the process.

Coming off of Draco’s cock, Potter looked up. “Can I?” he asked, though it sounded much less like a question and much more like a demand.

Draco couldn’t figure out what Potter wanted.

“I want to suck your cock,” Potter said, as though Draco needed that explanation. The clod.

Regardless, saying no at this point would really just be petty. “I suppose,” Draco said, opening his legs.

Instead, Potter stayed where he was, head between Draco’s legs, looking up. When Draco made to close his legs, however, Potter held them open. “You’re the hottest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said.

“I know.” Draco wasn’t really thinking straight. “I’m the hottest thing I’ve ever seen as well.”

“Christ.”

“Weren’t you going to suck it?” said Draco. In response, Potter put his mouth on Draco’s cock.

The head wasn’t the best Draco had ever had. In terms of cocksucking Potter was just mediocre, really—nice and thorough and wet, but unsteady, not well paced. Draco’s cock was not very discerning in terms of quality, however, and responded just as any well-fucked cock might be expected to respond—with lethargic but building eagerness.

Draco’s cock had just been in Potter’s arse, and Draco knew what it must taste like. But Potter didn’t even seem to notice, just went to work licking and sucking, and Draco’s cock certainly wasn’t smart enough to know what was good for it, that it needed to rest before getting into it again.

Testing out a theory, Draco touched Potter’s head. When the touch was not rejected, he carded his hands through Potter’s hair. Recalling how Potter had responded when Draco had pulled it earlier, Draco tightened his grip on Potter’s head.

Potter liked it. Potter must have loved it, because when Draco twisted his fist in Potter’s hair, controlling Potter’s head entirely, Potter’s tongue became doubly invested. Draco’s cock responded almost as eagerly. Potter made a sound much like approval, so Draco tightened his grip and then held him there, fucking Potter’s mouth.

Salazar, he was fucking Potter’s mouth, and Potter just knelt over him and took it—took it took it took it, Draco not worrying about Potter’s breathing, not worrying about Potter’s jaw. Merlin and Morgana, he was just taking it—God—

Draco hated it when johns did this to his mouth. He was already giving them head; he should at least allow them to breathe—Draco’s grip tightened in Potter’s hair.

Potter should take it. He needed to take it. After everything that Draco had been through, all the ways all those other men had treated Draco—

Potter fucking deserved it.

Potter was making sounds—these hoarse, enthusiastic sounds, like a rutting animal and Draco didn’t care. He just didn’t care about Harry fucking Potter; he cared about that wet throat, that full, silky wet throat encasing his cock and Draco wanted to feel it. He wanted to feel Harry Potter’s throat stuffed full of Draco Malfoy’s cock, feel the soft skin of Potter’s neck from the outside and know that he was inside of it, thick and pulsing inside of Potter’s proud neck.

When Draco did—touching Potter’s throat as it bobbed, feeling it contract as Draco forced himself in deeper with his other hand in Potter’s hair—Draco came again.

God, it felt so good, coming down Potter’s throat. Knowing Potter was drinking it and taking it and had no choice, all that thick hot come sliding down Potter’s throat, just like Potter deserved.

Slowly, Draco came down, and Potter saw him through it—warm and stinging touches on Draco’s cock, his bollocks. Merlin, Potter would just not stop touching him—nuzzling Draco’s cock, stroking Draco’s thighs. It was enough already, and why did Potter need so much touching . . .

It was Draco’s last thought before he drifted off to sleep.

*

When Draco woke up, the room was dark.

There were lips on his throat, and it had been ages since Draco had fallen asleep on the job. It was unprofessional. Careless.

Dangerous.

Draco started fully awake.

“It’s all right. It’s me.” Potter’s voice was low and rough. And idiotic, as if Draco didn’t go to bed with someone different every night or three. “Go back to sleep.”

“I can’t if you’re doing that,” Draco said, before he thought about it. Potter was lining kisses along his shoulder, and Draco was irritated.

Maybe a little freaked out.

Fortunately, he had designed Masker Ade to last longer than Polyjuice. Because the potion had to do less work—only changing Draco’s face, instead of his whole body—the potion could last over twenty-four hours.

Potter huffed a breath across Draco’s bicep. It might have been a laugh.

“What do you want?” Draco meant to make his voice low and sultry, but instead it came out sounding annoyed. There was more than one reason he did not go to sleep with johns, and one was that he was never in a good mood upon waking.

Potter just chuckled again, low and deep. “Do you want to fuck me,” he said. It didn’t sound like a question.

“That depends,” said Draco. He wasn’t trying to snark. He really wasn’t.

“On what?” Potter was turning him over now, reaching for him.

Maybe Potter would fuck him now. Maybe he was just waiting until Draco was groggy and tired, unprepared for it—in a mood where he’d fight back, scratch and bite and make Potter feel like such a man when he defeated him.

But Potter didn’t try to fuck him, didn’t try to defeat him, didn’t try to do anything but suck Draco’s throat and slowly stroke his cock.

It was the middle of the night, and Draco was still sleepy—but Merlin it felt good. Honestly, Draco’s response was automatic—biological, anatomical; anyone stroking his cock when Draco’s mind was half-asleep would have turned him on, his body on auto-pilot. Draco wasn’t turned on because of Potter, but—Potter’s hand was on Draco’s cock and Draco knew that he had to take control of the situation. He couldn’t just give in to capable hands and a hungry mouth sucking on his throat; he couldn’t—

“Fuck me,” Potter said, still low and still rough. His lips moved up against the shell of Draco’s ear. “Put it in me.”

“Mm,” Draco said, trying to sound sensual instead of grumpy. “Haven’t you had enough?”

Potter just laughed again, guttural, right in Draco’s ear. “Of you?” he said. “No,” and then he put his hand on Draco’s arse, and he was manhandling Draco’s body to position it on top of himself.

Salazar’s Chamber, Draco was going to fuck him again. He was going to fuck Potter in the middle of the night, his limbs still heavy with sleep and Potter was going to spread his legs and take it. He was going to fucking take it, and Draco wouldn’t have done it except his cock was definitely on autopilot, responding to Potter’s body. And Potter’s hand was positioning Draco’s cock at his entrance and Draco’s cock was still so stupid; it wanted it. His cock definitely wanted it—wanted to push right in, remembering that snug heat and the way that Potter’s body gripped him, clung to him like he was necessary, so desperately necessary.

And why not, Draco asked himself. Why not? He’d just be taking Potter’s body. He’d be taking Potter’s body, stealing his own pleasure, and why shouldn’t he, when so many people had taken from him, and Potter had denied Draco of what should rightfully have been his. Draco deserved to get pleasure from it, to slam his cock in hard to Potter and just take—take—take—

Draco was doing it before he had even quite decided; his cock had decided for him, sheathing itself inside of that hot body and Merlin, it felt good. It felt so, so good. It had been so long since Draco put his cock in another man, inside of anyone, and he’d forgotten it could feel this way. Forgotten how the flesh wrapped tight around him, tightening and convulsing as though to push him out, yet clinging when he thrust as though Potter’s hole couldn’t bear to let him go.

Salazar, Potter’s hole; he was fucking Harry Potter. He was fucking Harry Potter and after this, Draco was going to tell him. He was going to tell Potter who had really fucked him and Potter would be devastated, ashamed.

Draco was already fucking him hard, but the thought made him fuck harder, made him thrust his hips at a punishing pace. He was going to tell Potter; he was going to defeat Potter; he was going to win—

And everything got harder tighter faster and Potter was somewhere in the thick of it all, his voice hoarse—“Fucking hell, Tristan—”

And Draco came to Potter groaning, Potter taking it like a two-Knut rentboy and loving it. Salazar, Potter loved it, loved getting fucked by him, spreading it and taking it and getting filled up with his come.

His come was in Harry Potter’s body, Draco thought sleepily, rolling off of him. His come was leaking out of Harry Potter’s body, filthy and wet, and if Potter wanted it cleaned he’d have to do it himself.

Draco was tired. His cock was wet again and he was bloody exhausted, but he felt good. Every part of him felt good, sated and loose, relaxed as though every part of them that could be tense or hard had melted into something soft.

He was even softer than the bed. The sheets were coarse against his melting skin.

God, it felt good, and it was so dark. It was so dark.

“You’re a-fucking-mazing,” Potter murmured, and then he tucked his warm body against Draco’s.

Potter was an idiot.

Draco went to sleep.

*

Draco awoke to a mouth on his cock.

Merlin.

Merlin.

Merlin.

It was so good. Hot. Wet. Merlin.

Draco couldn’t remember the last time he’d woken up like this. There was a body under the covers, nursing at his cock, and Draco put his hands down—down under the sheets into thick hair—thick, too long hair . . . Potter. It was Potter. Draco’s hands convulsed.

This was the third—no fourth—the fourth time—this had to be a dream. Some kind of crazy, sexy, insane nightmare.

There was something wrong with Potter. Yes, there were johns who loved to give head, but—but they just weren’t Draco’s type of clients; he was always the one on his knees and—

Draco sucked in a breath. Potter was swirling his tongue around the head. He wasn’t that skilled but what he lacked in finesse he made up for in willingness. There was nothing tentative about Potter’s tongue, nothing shy about his mouth. Potter sucked and licked just as though he liked it, one hand softly tugging at Draco’s balls and the other stroking what Potter’s mouth could not cover.

Merlin. Draco arched up against that mouth, cockhead skating along the roof of Potter’s mouth, bumping the back of Potter’s throat. Merlin. Draco’s hand tightened again in Potter’s hair.

What the fuck was Potter doing, waking an escort with a blow job—did he know? Was there something he was trying to prove? Was he trying to throw Draco off, make it so he couldn’t win, show Draco he was—

Oh. Oh.

Potter was trying to deep throat him, trying to take it further down, and Draco could feel him choking. Draco could hear him choking, and he kept his hand tight in Potter’s hair, holding him there, letting him choke, making him take it, and Potter did not resist. Instead he just kept making those sounds, those tight, desperate sounds, frantic for breath, and then he took it further. Potter took it further, the wet muscle of his throat convulsing around Draco’s cock repeatedly.

Potter was choking on his cock. Harry Potter was choking on his cock.

Draco’s hips slammed up and he held Potter there, and then Draco was coming. He was coming and coming and it was in Potter’s mouth down Potter’s throat and Draco didn’t care. He didn’t care.

It was morning, Draco registered, as he came down from orgasm. His eyes were closed and the light was dim, but there was light. Early. Just past dawn. The bed was warm and disgusting, all that sweat and come soaked into the streets and filthy on his own body. Everything smelled like sex.

Four times.

“Let me,” Potter said, and the scouring spell was firm and hard.

Draco felt like a thin layer of skin had disappeared, and beneath it everything was new and clean, completely untouched. Potter did it to the sheets too, and instead of hard and starchy—the usual result of scouring spells—they felt light and warm, clean like something tumbled dry with sunshine potion. Draco’s naked skin felt sensitive, and he wanted nothing more than to burrow into the cocoon of warmth and softness.

Draco drifted off to sleep.

*

Draco next awoke to the scent of coffee and bacon. Sun slanted through the window at an angle that suggested ten or so. Draco never really woke up early, but he felt like he could stay in bed all day. He felt like he’d spent all night running.

Then Draco remembered where he was, what he had actually spent the night doing.

Hastily, Draco sat up, searching for his clothes. They were laid out on a chair in Potter’s bedroom, folded a little messily, but smelling clean. Draco started putting them on, mind racing into overdrive.

He’d fucked Potter. He’d fucked Harry Potter, and then Potter had sucked him, and then Draco had fucked Potter again, and then he’d woken up fucking Potter’s mouth.

Four times.

He’d shagged Harry Potter four times. Draco had orgasmed four times, and before this, he couldn’t even remember the last time he’d done it more than once in eight hours. Maybe once when he had two clients back to back, but often Draco didn’t even orgasm when he was with a client. Often enough they didn’t care; often enough they didn’t even notice.

Four times.

The door eased open silently. Draco, only in trousers, looked up.

Potter had on Muggle jeans and a Muggle t-shirt. Holding his wand, he directed a tray into the room. “Breakfast,” Potter said, directing the tray down on the desk.

Potter’s jeans were faded, rather worn about the crotch and knees.

“Did you want some?” Potter asked.

The words jerked Draco out of his sudden stupor, and he started putting on his shirt. “Breakfast. Breakfast? No. I’m not. I couldn’t possibly. I’m—I was just going.”

“Okay,” said Potter.

Draco made himself stop babbling, concentrating on the spell for the buttons on his shirt. Potter lounged against the doorframe, watching Draco dress.

Draco had come inside of him. He’d come inside of Potter four times.

As if reading his thoughts, Potter said, “I had a good time last night.”

“Naturally,” said Draco, automatically, straightening his sleeves. “They always do.” His shoes. He needed his—

“I want to do it again.”

“I—what?” Draco paused in the midst of reaching for the shoes, then made himself take them, put them on while he answered Potter. “Right now? I can’t. I have very important—I’m very important.”

“I didn’t mean right now.”

Draco looked up at the tone. Potter had that very faint smile at the corner of his mouth, drily amused.

Infuriating. Infuriating. Potter was infuriating.

“Maybe sometime next week?” Potter said.

Draco sneered as he reached for his waistcoat. “I’m usually booked a month in advance.”

Potter’s smiled deepened. “Because you’re very important?”

Potter was laughing at him. Laughing.

Let me out, Draco thought.

Let me out let me out let me out, but he didn’t want Potter to see how much it frustrated him, how much it humiliated him, and so Draco put on the waistcoat, spelled the buttons closed in a swift, straight line. Grabbed his cloak, and tried to think of a snappy rejoinder.

All he could think about was the fact that he’d come down Potter’s throat. Potter shouldn’t be laughing; Draco’s cock had been in Potter’s face and Potter had sucked it, just like a whore.

“I have to go,” Draco said, taking his eyes of Potter’s mouth.

“Thanks again,” said Potter, as Draco pushed past him.

“I can see myself out,” Draco said.

“How dare he let filth like you spend the night!” said Great Aunt Walburga, as Draco pushed out of the door and into the garden.

*

Apparating into his flat, Draco didn’t know what he was doing. He didn’t know what he should do. He needed a shower. He needed—he smelled like Potter, and the scouring spell didn’t matter. He’d slept in Potter’s bed; he’d curled up inside Potter’s sheets; he’d been inside of Potter—

“Where were you?”

Draco whirled around, already knowing who it was.

Pansy had a way of looking like she owned not only whatever piece of furniture she was sitting on, but also the surrounding vicinity. She also had a detestable habit of wearing dark colours and lurking in the shadows, which was not at all complimentary to her sharp pale face. She also had a flat, low voice that Draco hated; he hated it.

“You were at Potter’s.” Pansy rose out of Draco’s living room chair.

Pansy used to be a dominatrix. Draco suspected she still was in her leisure time. She knew how to intimidate people; she liked it.

“Mind your own business,” Draco said, stomping off towards his bedroom.

“I suppose he paid a significant price for you,” Pansy said, following. “Tell me, did you charge extra for your scars?”

“I said sod off.” Draco wanted to shut the loo door on her, but Pansy could not be stopped, following him in directly. Draco didn’t care; Pansy had seen him naked plenty of times before.

Pansy had seen him fucked until he was bleeding and couldn’t see straight, and afterwards she’d cleaned him up.

Draco pulled off his shirt, turning his back to her.

“That’s right,” Pansy said. “This body doesn’t have any scars.”

Pansy was right yet again. The Masker Ade still had not worn off.

“Was it worth it?” Pansy asked, watching him take off his trousers.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Draco said. “Did you want details? I forgot what an enormous fan you are of Gryffindor cock.” Not even looking at her, Draco stepped into the shower.

“Are you?”

Draco, about to spell on the water, turned to her. “Honestly, is this how you get your thrills, now that you’ve stopped taking clients? Living vicariously, are we? If it’s truly so fascinating to you, perhaps you were better off a whore.” Turning back to the shower, Draco spelled the water on.

“Fine.” Turning around, Pansy walked out of the loo.

Draco knew plenty of other people who would not have been able to leave it like that, but Pansy had a habit of refusing to engage when Draco was “in a mood,” as she called it. She knew Draco too well—knew that if she left him alone for long enough he would go crazy, and then she would have her way with him. She always did, and he resented her for it.

Pansy was in every way better—smarter, more controlled, more careful. When she made a plan she carried it out, and Draco—Draco hadn’t planned on fucking Potter. He hadn’t planned on fucking Potter four times.

The hot water poured over Draco from the shower, and for the life of him, he could not understand why he had done it. Draco had meant to get shagged, reveal his identity, and win his victory. That was it. Instead he’d fucked Potter not just once but over and over, and Draco could not remember thinking it through. He couldn’t remember thinking about fucking Potter; he could only remember how good it felt. All that wet heat wrapped around his cock and—

Draco hadn’t enjoyed fucking Potter. Not one bit. He’d done it for revenge. All of it had been about revenge.

Potter had been the one to spread his legs, and that made it worse for Potter, didn’t it? That he’d been fucked by Draco Malfoy, a former Death Eater? That he’d let Draco defile him, let Draco enter his body and deface him with his cock—

Opening the soap potion, Draco worked up a good lather, scrubbing himself and scrubbing himself, washing every memory of Potter down the drain.

*

Draco gave himself three days before facing Pansy.

“All right, have at it,” Draco said, sauntering into the office. “Tell me what a deplorable Slytherin I am. Tell me I’m a disgrace.” Sinking into the leather chair, he lounged carelessly. Despite two days of feeling like utter shite, he knew he looked impeccable.

He’d washed every article of clothing he had ever had. He’d cleaned his entire flat top to bottom; he’d even got rid of the disgusting inexplicable stains on the rug in the corridor. He’d got a haircut; he’d gone shopping; he’d done his brows. Pansy could call him whatever she wanted, but Draco felt much better about everything, mostly because he had not thought about it at all.

“We seem to have another regular,” was all Pansy said. She floated a scroll towards him.

“Oh?” Plucking the scroll out of the air, Draco attempted to feign nonchalance, but he could already feel dread curdling in his stomach. He knew who the scroll was from even before looking at it.

Unrolling the parchment, Draco scanned the page. Potter wanted Tristan, only Tristan, on whatever date “worked best”. There were a list of future social engagements spread out over the next month.

“He didn’t request further services,” Pansy pointed out.

“No,” Draco said, rolling the scroll back up.

“I do find it extremely interesting that he wasn’t charged for a full night in your previous contract,” Pansy said.

Of course. The rate had been triple for the specific act of penetration. Staying until the next night, being available for a variety of services—including oral—was a different rate entirely. What Potter had paid was just below the amount Draco usually charged for a full night.

I only want him, the parchment read.

“Well?” said Pansy.

“It was a mistake.”

“I’ve already written him,” Pansy said, “explaining Tristan is booked solid.”

Draco’s head snapped up. “You haven’t.”

“I have,” said Pansy. “I didn’t send it yet.”

Draco heaved himself out of the chair, but he didn’t want to approach Pansy any more than he wished to remain sitting. Instead he found himself pacing. He made himself stop.

“What is this?” Pansy said, and Draco hated it when she sounded that way. She just sounded so young, the way she had at Hogwarts, when she was just lonely and lost and wanted someone to look up to, and she’d looked up to him. The worst of it was, she still did. He didn’t know why, but she still thought he was someone special. “Why did you do it?” she asked.

Draco lifted his eyes to hers. “I was going to tell him.”

“What?”

“I wanted him to know. After I—after we shagged. I wanted him to know it was me.”

Pansy looked at him, the lost look seeping out of her eyes. She sighed, sounding more like her normal self. “I imagine that went well.”

“I didn’t tell him.”

“I gathered. What stopped you?”

Draco thought about it. “It’s complicated.”

Pansy made a sound suspiciously similar to a snort. “Was his cock just that good?”

Draco shook his head. “No. Mine was. I fucked him.” It felt strangely good to say, after all this time. He’d fucked him. He’d fucked Harry Potter, and apparently Potter had loved it. No one from Hogwarts would ever have believed it.

Pansy looked significantly unimpressed. “Despite your propensity to share the gory details, I don’t actually care who got the leg over whom.”

“I’m just—I think I can use him, Pansy. We can get him for his money, and then—”

“We don’t need Potter’s money.”

“We always need money.”

“Not his.”

“Think about this rationally,” said Draco.

“I am,” said Pansy. “You’re the one who’s not rational. You’re never rational where Potter is concerned. You come up with these insane plans to defeat him; they never work; and then you—”

“That was in grade school.”

“You’re humiliated, and Potter doesn’t even know you were competing. He honestly doesn’t even care if you still exist, Draco.”

“He cares about Tristan.”

“Tristan isn’t a former Death Eater.”

“Exactly,” said Draco. “We can use it, Pansy. Potter wants Tristan. Quite a lot. And Potter has power, and connections, and eventually maybe we can leverage him so that—”

“Leverage him how?”

“I don’t know!” Draco snapped. “I’m saying he’s useful.”

“It’s not useful,” said Pansy. “This is an obsession. You need to stop. I should never have let you take the job in the first place.”

“Let me?” Draco reined in the volume. “Verity is just as much mine as yours.”

“There’s a reason I run the business end.”

“Tell him I can make the end of next week,” Draco said. “The Friday date, for the Ministry auction.”

“This is a mistake,” said Pansy.

“It’s not,” Draco said. “I’ll prove it to you.”

*

Draco had been going about this all wrong. He had researched everyone at the Ministry gala, everyone at the charity ball—everyone except Potter. He’d just assumed he knew Potter, and that was why he had been taken so much by surprise that first night when Potter asked to sleep with him. If Draco had done his homework, he would have figured out that Potter not-so-secretly longed to be a social recluse, and that a social butterfly like Tristan was attractive to Potter partly because Tristan took away attention from himself.

The research, however, proved somewhat difficult. Potter had had few lovers, and even fewer of them male, according to the papers. One lover was Ginny Weasley, whom Potter had dated for nearly a year after the war. Two more were also female, leaving only Jason Weathersby, whom Potter had dated for sixth months, shortly after he came out to the press nearly three years ago.

Weathersby provided a little information at least. Directly after the breakup, he’d given Witch Weekly an exclusive interview. Weathersby had most likely grown tired of Potter being a sanctimonious, condescending prick, because he’d been quite willing to give up private information. He’d told the interviewer that Potter “liked it rough” and was “kind of a kinky bloke”. He’d even told the magazine about the tattoo on Potter’s chest, though he hadn’t been able to explain it.

Either Potter had stopped dating anyone at all after Weathersby, or he’d just become extremely discreet after that, because Draco could find no evidence of other boyfriends. More was the pity. If Draco had had time, he would have tracked down Weathersby just to compare notes.

Unable to find other information about Potter’s ex-lovers, Draco extracted his memories of the last encounter and put them in the Pensieve. He did this sometimes with clients who were problematic, studying the interaction to figure out how he might control the john more easily.

Draco wasn’t looking forward to reviewing the memory. He would need to rein in his disgust for Potter, his hatred, to take note of each and every detail—expressions or little movements that indicated desire, which he had been too thrown off that night to notice. This time, Draco would not be taken by surprise.

Draco put his head in the Pensieve.

The memory began in the bedroom, and Draco could see now that Potter wasn’t reluctant to undress him because he was lazy. Potter was letting Draco control the scenario entirely, opening his body to Draco completely, and Draco had just been too distracted to realize it.

Then their clothes were off and they were on the bed. Potter whispered in Draco’s ear, and Draco knew what Potter said less because he heard it in the memory but because he saw his own body stiffen. Draco had behaved clumsily after that, fumbling like a virgin, but Potter didn’t seem to mind it—still touching him, always with the touching.

Potter was just so—he’d just got broad since Hogwarts; that was all. Not huge, as Draco had thought before, but certainly much wider in the shoulders than Draco, thicker in the chest. What Draco had failed to realize that night was that almost all of it was muscle, and with Draco’s slender body against his it just looked like—he looked like—

Pornography.

It was pornographic, the way that Potter set off Draco’s body, the way they fit together. Draco could see how long and lean he was, how elegant and fine-drawn his lines looked against Potter’s rougher frame. And Potter—the part where Potter just—

He just let Draco take him, opened up powerful thighs and just let Draco do it.

Draco fucked Potter hard and Potter’s mouth fell open, eyes rolling back in his skull as he held on and didn’t touch, didn’t try to control, just took it, took it, knuckles turning white against the headboard. Potter was obviously enjoying it—Draco didn’t remember whether Potter had enjoyed it, but looking in the Pensieve, Draco could tell that Potter obviously had. He liked being made to take it; he liked to be subdued, dominated, controlled.

Potter liked to submit. He got off on it.

Then Potter was coming, and Draco was pulling his head out of the Pensieve. He had enough to go on.

He’d had more than enough.

*

Four.

When Draco arrived as Tristan for his appointment with Potter, Potter actually looked almost ready. “Hi,” Potter said.

He was obviously pleased, but didn’t even give Tristan the once-over Draco had prepared for—been counting on, in fact. Perhaps Potter thought that now that he'd had Tristan once (four times), it was over. After all, as Pansy had pointed out, Potter hadn’t requested further services in the appointment for tonight.

No matter. Draco would have him regardless. “Hello,” he said, putting on his best smile.

“Glad you could come,” said Potter, letting him in the door.

When Draco stepped past the threshold, another grumpy voice said, “Hello.” Startled, Draco looked over at the portrait of Great Aunt Walburga.

“Oh, hello,” Draco said, slightly wary. As far as he knew there was no way Great Aunt Walburga could have discovered his true identity, but portraits had funny ways of knowing things.

“Lovely weather we’ve been having.” Great Aunt Walburga did not sound as though she enjoyed anything about the weather at all, which Draco supposed made sense, attached to the wall as she was. The portrait looked over at Potter. “Well? Are you satisfied?”

“Yes, thank you, Misses Black,” Potter said, very serious.

“She seems to have softened up,” Draco said, when they got inside the sitting-room.

“We had a talk,” said Potter.

“About me? Or just the general treatment of guests?”

“About you.” The line was beside Potter’s mouth.

Draco turned what would have been a triumphant smirk into a pleasant smile. “You wanted me to come back.”

“I hoped you would.”

Draco stepped closer. “What else did you hope?” he asked, his voice sultry.

Potter’s expression faded into something more serious, but Draco didn’t take it as discouragement. He’d studied Potter, and knew that Potter could look quite dour when turned on. “I hoped we’d go to the Ministry auction,” was all Potter said.

Draco moved closer still, his breath brushing Potter’s jaw. “And after that? Did you hope for anything else?”

“Tristan.” Potter leaned in.

Draco turned his head. “Not on the mouth.”

Potter kissed Draco’s jaw, and Draco let him, curling his hand in Potter’s thick hair. “I thought you wanted to go to the auction,” he murmured, after several moments of Potter’s teeth and tongue working down his neck.

“Mm,” Potter said, moving down Draco’s throat.

Thinking of what he had seen in the Pensieve, Draco tightened his grip on Potter’s hair. “Let’s go to the auction.” He yanked Potter’s hair, holding it hard, using it to pull Potter’s ear to his lips. “Then we’ll come back,” Draco whispered, “and I’ll fuck you. I’ll fuck you so hard you won’t be able to walk for days.”

“If you think you can.”

“Sign the contract and pay now, and I’ll have to,” Draco drawled.

Accio quill." A quill snapped into Potter’s hand from seemingly out of nowhere, and it was true that Potter was more intense when he was turned on.

He’d killed the Dark Lord, Draco thought, and shivered.

“The contract?” Potter said.

“Yes.” Shaking himself, Draco drew his wand to Summon the contract, which Potter signed again without looking. “Done,” Draco said, snapping up the contract, Banishing it to their vault. The money would again be magically extracted from Potter’s account.

Potter pulled Draco close again.

“Ah, ah.” Draco wagged his finger. “I said after.”

The line appeared beside Potter's lips.

“Come, let’s go to the auction.” Draco put out his arm. “It’s like foreplay anyway. You love watching me work the room.”

Potter took his arm. “Do I?”

“Please.” Draco gave him a teasing smirk. “You thought I didn’t notice?”

Potter folded Draco’s arm closer. “You certainly don’t miss much.”

“I must say I appreciate the chance to highlight your social incompetence to everyone. It’s refreshing to showcase what a dullard you truly are.”

Potter laughed—a low, warm sound, and Draco felt a thrill go through him. All this time, Potter had just wanted someone to take him in hand, and Draco knew how to do that.

The evening was going to be spectacular.

*

After the auction, Potter and Draco stumbled back through the Floo to the house at the end of Hawthorn Lane, and Draco immediately had Potter up against the wall.

“I’m going to fuck you,” Draco told him. “I’m going to shag your brains out.”

“Tristan,” Potter said, and Draco was ripping off his clothes.

“I’m going to ruin you,” Draco said, because he wanted Potter to understand. “I’m going to leave you wet, full of come, weak—I’m going to make you feel so weak—”

“God,” Potter said, his head thunking against the wall. He was trying to help with his clothes in a perfunctory way, but Draco knew that it was because Potter wanted to be undressed; he wanted Draco to do it for him; he liked Draco doing it for him. Potter wanted to be used.

Those other times at parties, Draco had thought that Potter had been glaring at him. He’d thought Potter’s eyes had looked cold, but they weren’t. They were on fire; those were Potter’s sex eyes; Potter had been practically eye-fucking him the whole auction, and all those other times too. This time, Potter hadn’t even tried to hide it.

Potter was going to spread so wide for him and Draco knew just how to fuck him. Draco was prepared for how to fuck him; he was going to give it to him so good; Draco was going to subdue him, the most powerful wizard in the world, and Potter was going to love it. Potter was going to thank him for it.

Draco felt drunk on power, the feeling transmuting itself to lust. He had Potter naked against the wall of the sitting-room now, and Draco himself was half naked—sans shirt and shoes, but still possessed of trousers. Draco wasn’t even fully certain of how they’d got to this point. He wanted to touch Potter everywhere; he wanted Potter to touch him everywhere; he wanted to feel in control of Potter, for Potter to feel Draco’s control of him—

Not until Potter’s hands touched the fastenings of Draco’s trousers did Draco snap back into himself. “Slow down,” he hissed, clamping his hands down on Potter’s wrists.

Potter laughed, his voice husky. “You’re the one on me like a freight train.”

“I was . . .” Draco grimaced. “We can’t all have your moribund passivity.”

“I’m not passive,” Potter said. “Trust me.” He moved his hips against Draco’s, but he didn’t need to—his cock was exposed, and anything but moribund. It . . . it was very large.

When Draco looked up, Potter seemed amused. Draco resisted the urge to grit his teeth. “Get to the bedroom,” he said instead.

“How about right here?” Potter rolled his hips again.

Draco glanced down disdainfully, then purposefully moved away. “Go on,” Draco said.

“Tristan—”

“You want me inside you?” Draco leaned in until his teeth were by Potter’s ear. “You want me inside your tight little hole?”

“Tristan.”

“Answer me.” Draco nipped the lobe of Potter’s ear with sharp teeth, then went on, “You want my cock packed tight into that hot—” Draco nipped him again—“wet—” again—“little—”

“Fucking hell.”

“Then you get over to the bedroom,” Draco told him, “and you get that arse all ready for me. Slick it up and spread it out. I want you to be easy for me. I want to slide right in.”

“I didn’t know you were this dirty,” Potter said.

“I can be so much worse,” Draco said. “Go on.”

Potter held his eyes for a long moment. “Hm,” he said, then popped out of sight with a large crack.

Turning, Draco backed up to slump against the wall. He took a deep, rattling breath, then another. Pansy always said that he turned red when he got agitated.

Turning his head against the wall, Draco closed his eyes, which also felt too hot. Potter was . . . just another client. A john who liked being dominated in bed. Draco could do that, even if he didn’t get a chance to do it often. Draco could do that very well, and then Potter would be entirely in his power. Draco would hold all the cards; he could humiliate Potter however he wanted, manipulate Potter however he wanted.

Pushing on off the wall, Draco took a deep breath. The wards would not allow him to Apparate in Potter’s house. He walked down the hall to the bedroom.

*

“You need to pick a safeword,” Draco said.

Sitting on the bed, Potter didn’t look as though he’d done anything Draco had told him. He was still naked, but he leaned against the headboard with his hands behind his head, lounging as though he owned the place. Technically he did, but the point was that Potter was imposing. He didn’t look like someone waiting to get fucked. “A safeword?” was all he said.

“You do know what a safeword is?”

“I don’t need a safeword.” Potter looked amused.

“For what I’m about to do to you, you do,” Draco said.

“Mm.” Potter slid down a bit against the headboard, spreading his legs and taking his hands out from behind his head. Now he looked a lot more like someone about to be fucked. “What are you going to do to me?”

“It isn’t a joke,” Draco said. “I won’t shag you without one.”

“I don’t need a safeword.”

“Pick one,” Draco said. “Right now.”

Potter’s eyes went heavy-lidded. “Hogwarts,” he said.

“Hogwarts,” Draco repeated, because checking was important. He sauntered forwards, still in just his trousers, and climbed on the bed. “Say Hogwarts if you want me to stop,” Draco said, pinning his knee between Potter’s legs.

“I’m not going to want you to stop,” Potter said.

“Say it anyway.” Draco pushed his knee in closer, tight against Potter’s balls, his cock, and then he lifted Potter’s arms above the headboard and took out his wand. “Astrictus,” Draco said, and Potter’s wrists snapped together, bound magically to the headboard.

Potter’s lips parted slightly.

“You like that?” Draco asked, leaning in.

Potter licked his lips, then attempted to break the spell, tugging on the magic bonds. “Could be stronger.”

Draco stared at him. Though it would not be obvious to many, Potter was turned on. His eyes were dark, heavy lidded; his voice was slightly rough. Draco cast another binding spell and an entanglement for good measure.

Potter twisted again. “That’s better.”

“Good.” Moving his knee so that he straddled Potter’s thighs, Draco shoved Potter down. Potter’s hands remained fixed above his head but his arms straightened, splaying Potter down on the bed, his wrists bound awkwardly a bit too high for his shoulders to rest comfortable on the mattress.

Getting down between Potter’s legs, Draco Banished his trousers. Then he manhandled Potter’s thighs, opening them wider, pushing up and back until Potter’s knees bent, and Draco kept pushing and spreading. “I’m going to tie your legs open,” Draco told him, “just like a slut. You’ll like that, won’t you?”

“Find out.” Potter’s voice was pure gravel, and then he spread calves legs wider, his thighs against his chest.

His arse was on display like this.

Draco pointed his wand, and the bonds that issued from it snaked underneath Potter’s knees, knotting back to the headboard beside Potter’s wrists, forcing Potter’s legs to remain in the air, out and up. The position lifted Potter’s lower body off the bed enough and stretched him open enough to reveal the pink hole. Draco put his fingers against it and found that Potter had done what he had said after all—Potter was wet between his legs.

“You like this, don’t you. Tied up, helpless. At my mercy.” Draco played with Potter’s hole, then pressed his fingernail against the rim, scraping tender flesh. “Do you want me to hurt you?”

“Why don’t you try?” Potter said hoarsely.

Draco put his lips by Potter’s ear again. “You’re so wet and slippery down here, I’m surprised you can even feel it.”

Potter made a strangled sound, and Draco leaned in so that his lips were at Potter’s collar bone. “I know what you want,” he whispered. “You want someone who will use you. Someone who doesn’t care that you’re a hero. Someone who will fuck you and hurt you and use you until there’s nothing left, until you’re full of come and bruised everywhere; is that right?”

Potter twisted in the bonds again. “Something like that.”

“I know you,” Draco said. “Everyone thinks you’re perfect. Everyone expects you to be in control. You don’t have to be in control this time.” Draco positioned himself against Potter. “You just have to lie back and take it.” Then Draco pushed inside of him in one solid, smooth thrust.

Draco groaned again on his next thrust just to hear it. Merlin, he sounded indecent; his own voice sounded like someone’s filthiest wet dream. “Look at you take it,” he said, just to hear his own voice. “Look at you take it just like a whore.” Draco closed his eyes, and he hated it when clients talked to him this way. They seemed to think it was hot, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t hot when you were the one getting it; it was hot when you were the one giving it because you were in control. Draco was so in control, Potter just wet and willing and waiting, and Draco could do whatever he wanted with Potter’s body. Whatever he wanted.

He thrust in again, hard, just because he could, just to hear himself moan and to feel the warm spread of Potter’s arse.

Draco lifted himself up and back, then slammed in particularly hard. Potter wanted to be used, and Draco knew it, which meant that Draco taking his pleasure of Potter was also Draco gaining power over Potter. The victory was double, and Draco knew he was getting excited about it again but for once he didn’t see why he shouldn’t. Potter would get off on it if Draco went overboard, if Draco lost his cool. There wasn’t anything Draco could do to make himself lose.

Potter was making these low, tight uh sounds, uh every time Draco found that spot inside him, uh uh uh over and over. Draco put his hand over Potter’s face, turned Potter’s face away so he didn’t have to look at him, then fucked him harder—faster and harder and Potter writhed—

Just like a bitch in heat, he writhed—

Potter loved this; he loved it so much—

The walls were shaking.

Draco only gradually became aware of it. He thought the bed was moving, hitting the walls, but it wasn’t. The bed was very sturdy—perhaps expressly for this purpose—but the walls were still shaking. Things were falling off Potter’s bureau on the other side of the room—

“It’s all right,” Potter panted.

“What . . . ?” Draco was slowing down. His hand slid off Potter’s face; he twisted to turn around—

“It’s all right,” Potter said. He squeezed his arse, tightening around Draco’s cock. “Don’t pay attention to it.”

“What—”

“I won’t hurt you.” Potter squeezed again.

Potter’s accidental magic. It was accidental magic, and Potter was so turned on he was losing control. He was completely losing control, and Draco had made him do it, and Potter was the most powerful wizard in the world.

“Cassandra’s Curse,” Draco muttered. He’d never been so turned on in his life.

“I won’t hurt you,” Potter said, completely misinterpreting. “Don’t stop. Please. I—”

“Cassandra and Macbeth’s witches,” Draco said, slamming into Potter’s arse again, harder than before. “I’m going to—” but Draco couldn’t even think of how to say what he was going to do; he wanted to fuck Potter so hard.

“Fuck.” Potter groaned. “Fuck—”

So Draco thrust into him, again and again, harder than before and rougher, but it still wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough, so Draco sharply scratched Potter’s inner thigh.

Potter flailed against the bonds, his body a pretty bow against the bed.

“You like that?” Draco said, scratching him again.

“Do whatever you—want,” Potter said, speaking with effort as Draco fucked him still.

“I said, do you like it?” Draco scratched him again.

“Yes.” Potter arched into it.

“Do you want me to hex you?”

Potter twisted in his bonds.

“I said, do you want me to—”

“Yes, Tristan, yes, do whatever you—”

So Draco Summoned his wand and hexed him, a sharp, stinging hex along the exposed skin of Potter’s other thigh. Potter shuddered and came. He came with nothing more than Draco’s abdomen scraping against Potter’s cock, and Potter came everywhere, hard and wet. On the other side of the room, something shattered.

Potter shuddered through it. “Don’t stop—fucking me,” he said, and for once his voice sounded shaky, a little high. “Please don’t stop—I want you to come—in me—”

The words sent Draco over the edge. He’d never fucked anyone like this. He’d never felt like this, and the fact that it was Potter was just too much. It was entirely too much, and Draco couldn’t stand it.

He saw white. He couldn’t even feel it when he came; he only knew that he was still coming afterwards—thrusting mindlessly over and over until at last he started slowing, and no more was coming out, and he was slower, and slower.

Finally finished, Draco collapsed on top of Potter.

Merlin. That was—

Merlin. So good. Really good.

Draco felt weak. All that energy, all that come—all of that heat, and his body was covered in sweat. Potter’s body was uncomfortable under him, and Draco was cold.

Salazar, Draco always felt like such utter shite after he came. He hated everything, all of it. He felt dirty and he was too tired. He was too tired.

Then Potter’s hand found Draco’s hair.

Not right. Something was not right.

Potter nudged him, and Draco groaned. He didn’t want to move. Potter nudged him again, and something was definitely wrong. Potter shouldn’t be able to—

Potter pulled Draco's shoulders, and Draco slumped off of Potter’s body, over onto the bed. Potter’s hands should have still been in that binding spell, but they obviously were not. How had he—

A scouring spell ripped over Draco, a shock to the system, just like ice water, followed by something light and warm and clean. It felt good, and Draco just wanted to sleep.

Potter kissed Draco’s nose, his cheek, his jaw. “I didn’t know I needed that,” Potter said, when Draco opened his eyes.

“Mm. That’s why I’m the expert.” Draco meant to push Potter off of him, but instead his hand just lingered on Potter’s shoulder. Potter was very warm, and Draco still felt a little cool, even after the warming spell.

“Do you think . . .”

Draco couldn’t help smirking, because Potter was a dullard. “Yes?”

“I’d like to see you when you’re not working.”

“What?” Draco pushed him off.

“I like you,” Potter said. “I’d like to get to know you.”

This happened sometimes. This happened frequently. Clients who didn’t know any better got attached, asked for his address, wanted to date him. Draco was so used to the conversation by now that he practically had a script, but this was Harry Potter. Harry Potter wanted to date him. This was unbelievable. This was unbelievable. This was . . .

This was the most hilarious thing that had ever happened.

Draco put on his sweetest, most regretful smile. “You’re cute,” he said.

The furrow formed in Potter’s brow—a frown. Pity Draco hadn’t thought to lead him on further.

“And fun to shag,” Draco said, voice dripping sincerity, “but I just don’t think it would work between us.”

“I’m sorry,” Potter said. “I shouldn’t have asked.”

“You’re very sweet.”

Getting off the bed, Potter held out his hand. At first, Draco thought that Potter was gesturing to him, but after a moment a pair of jeans appeared in Potter’s hand. He hadn’t even used an Accio.

“Lots of people get confused.” Keeping his voice completely innocent, Draco stretched out on the bed, glorying in his nakedness. “I understand.”

Potter looked down at him. “I’m not confused.”

Pretending to stretch, Draco twisted, showing himself off. “I’m an escort. You’re a client. I couldn’t possibly. You see how it is.”

“Yes, I see.”

The ironic edge to Potter’s voice made Draco turn to peek up at him. Potter had on his slight smile, the line at the corner of his mouth. Draco had laid it on too thick; Potter knew that Draco was rubbing it in. What Draco didn’t get was why Potter thought it was funny. Potter was the one who had behaved like an idiot.

Huffing, Draco stood up. “Accio trousers,” he said, finding his wand and swishing it. Once he’d got them on, he stood, feeling unreasonably moody. “I’ve got to get my clothes.”

“I’d like to see you again,” Potter said, as Draco stepped away.

Draco turned back to face Potter, something teasing and seductive on his tongue, but stopped with sudden realization. He should have told Potter he was Draco Malfoy when Potter asked him out. Better yet, Draco should have told him when he had been bollocks-deep in Potter. Somehow, Draco had forgotten.

“Don’t go through Verity,” Draco said.

“What?”

“When you want me again,” Draco said. “Don’t go through Verity. Send me an owl.”

“Won’t you get in trouble?”

Draco covered his annoyance with a smirk. “I own half the company. I won’t get in trouble for doing business on the side.”

“You own half the company?” Potter said.

Draco’s smirk twisted. “Why, did you want a street hooker who was relying on her pimp for all her tricks?”

“I wanted you,” Potter said. “I thought that was obvious.”

“Anyway.” Draco grimaced. “I won’t come back if you go through Verity.”

“All right,” said Potter. “Is your name really Tristan Bonchance?”

Draco opened his mouth, then closed it. Potter was right—if Potter told the owl that name, the owl would never find him. Looking around, Draco saw a desk with a quill and paper. Going over to the desk, he scribbled on the paper. “Send correspondence to this address,” Draco said, going to Potter and giving him the paper.

“Okay.” Potter took it.

“Tristan is my real name,” Draco said. “But don’t—it’s a P.O. Box.”

Potter’s brow furrowed again. “P. O. Box?”

Draco frowned back. “Public Owlery Box? That means anyone could see it, theoretically. I live in a Muggle building,” he lied. “I can’t have owls coming to my flat.”

“You live in a Muggle building?”

Draco glared. “Don’t try to find me.”

“I won’t.” Folding up the paper, Potter put it in the back pocket of his jeans.

“Well, then.” Switching his expression to a seductive smile, Draco walked closer. He put his hand on Potter’s muscled chest, then slid his palm down—down into Potter’s jeans. He wrapped his hand around Potter’s dick. “Owl me,” Draco whispered, squeezed, and then let go.

“I will,” Potter said.

Draco sauntered away.

Pansy was going to kill him.

*

“Did you tell Potter who you are?” Pansy asked several days later.

“I have it under control,” Draco said.

Pansy raised a deceptively lazy brow. “That’s what you always say when you’ve got into a hopeless situation.”

“Hopeless?” Draco scoffed. “There’s nothing hopeless about it.”

“You said it when we followed Voldemort,” Pansy said. “You said it when I started selling myself on the streets. You said it when your father—”

“This is different,” Draco said. “I have a plan.”

“Your plans don’t—”

“They have so far,” Draco said, cutting her off. “It’s different than it was in school, Pansy. I’ve changed. I know him better now. I know exactly how to play him.”

“You don’t need to play him,” Pansy said. “Just walk away.”

Sneering, Draco turned from her. “You don’t understand.”

“You’re right. I don’t.”

“Then it’s fortunate I don’t need you,” Draco said.

*

Five.

The owls from Potter came to the P. O. Box every three to five days.

At first, they were invitations to events, similar to the appointments Potter had made with Verity—galas, banquets, balls, charities, fundraisers, celebrations. Draco drew up a private contract for every appointment, basing it on similar ones to those he’d had with Verity, keeping the vows of secrecy and safety so central to their business, adding the clause about not kissing on the mouth. The former would keep Potter feeling safe; the latter would keep him interested.

The appointments passed similarly to prior engagements, Draco continuing to woo the crowds under the guise of Tristan, Potter continuing to let him. Afterwards they returned to Hawthorn Lane and shagged.

Draco was careful to vary the sex. Defying expectations was important, and Potter didn’t strike him as the type to want the same thing every night. Sometimes Draco tied him up, fucking Potter hard and fast. Other times he went slowly, almost gently—hurting him the whole time, scratching spells and hexes that raised welts on Potter’s thighs and chest.

Just as often, however, Draco didn’t do any of that. Those nights were like the first night, except now Draco was prepared. He simply paid attention, studying Potter’s body, listening, adjusting to every movement and every moan. Those nights were often slow and hot, Potter under him—not quite surrendering, but desperate by the end, crazy for it.

On the third night that Draco shagged him, Potter asked him to spend the night.

“I don’t sleep over,” Draco told him.

“You did the first time,” Potter pointed out.

“The first night is an exception.”

Potter turned towards him in the bed. Draco didn’t enjoy talking after sex. In fact, he didn’t enjoy being anywhere near the person who had fucked him, but Potter hadn’t fucked him. Draco had fucked Potter, and Potter’s cleaning spells were—they were extremely vigorous, and Draco always felt . . . good after them. Extremely good.

“That’s not what the initial contracts said.”

Draco’s eyes flew open. “You read them?”

Potter’s brow raised a bit. Draco was as yet unsure, but he had a suspicion the brow-lifting was a precursor to the line at the side of his mouth, which was itself a precursor to the smile. The amusement in Potter’s voice confirmed the suspicion. “You thought I wouldn’t go back and check?”

Draco turned his head to look up at the ceiling. He kept his tone light, but in reality his heart was pounding. “I wasn’t sure you were literate.”

“Mm.” Potter traced an idle line on Draco’s chest, just around a nipple.

Draco’s nipples were not sensitive. He resisted shivering anyway.

“Those contracts didn’t say anything about kissing on the mouth either,” Potter said. “Only your new ones did.”

“It was in the fine print.”

“No. It wasn’t.” Potter’s hand moved from nipple to neck, tracing Draco’s throat to rest upon his chin, then tipping Draco head down. Potter’s face moved over Draco’s, so that Draco couldn’t help but look into his eyes. “You don’t want me to kiss you on the mouth,” Potter said.

“No,” Draco said.

Potter leaned down anyway, his mouth so close it almost brushed Draco’s. “I won’t do it if you don’t want me to.”

Potter’s breath was warm and clean, the way the air feels when it is humid but not unpleasant. Draco turned his face away. “It’s not in the contract.”

“Okay. I won’t.” Potter kissed the corner of Draco’s lips, along Draco’s jaw. Then Potter’s teeth were scraping just behind Draco’s ear. Inadvertently, Draco caught his breath, then gritted his teeth to keep himself from making any sound.

“Let’s go on a date,” Potter said.

“No.”

“Fine. Spend the night with me.” Potter’s lips were soft against the corner of Draco’s jaw.

“I said no.” Draco pushed him off, standing up from the bed and grabbing his wand. Summoning his clothes, he began to get dressed.

His refusals had nothing to do with Pansy. Draco still had the situation perfectly well in hand. This was just going to work better if Potter didn’t get complacent. If Potter could always rely upon Draco’s services, he could begin to take it for granted. Meanwhile, if Draco kept strictly to the appointments and did a thorough job in keeping them, Potter would always be left wanting more.

“I’m sorry,” Potter said. “I shouldn’t have pushed.”

Draco continued putting on his clothes.

“At least let me suck you,” Potter said.

Draco paused. Potter’s blow-jobs lacked finesse, but they were not unpleasant. Without looking up, Draco went on buttoning his shirt. “It will cost extra.”

“How much?” Potter got off the bed. “Seven hundred?” He started coming closer, and then he was close enough that Draco found himself backing up. Potter just kept coming. “A thousand?”

Draco’s back hit the door, but he looked at Potter defiantly anyway. They were of a height. If Potter weren’t such a brute, they would have been evenly matched. “Two thousand.” The price was unfair—Potter had just paid the same amount to get shagged, and blow-jobs were always less expensive. And usually they were the other way around—

But Potter deserved it.

“I don’t care,” Potter said, getting down on his knees. He opened the trousers Draco had just fastened.

“I suppose I can . . . stay for a little while.” Draco’s head thunked back against the door behind him, his hand burying itself in Potter’s hair.

Potter made a sound vaguely like a laugh, but there was no line, no smile—just hot breath huffing over Draco’s cock, and then Potter’s mouth was on him.

Draco’s hand tightened in Potter’s hair. He was only going to stay a little while.

*

Six.

On the fourth night Draco shagged him, Potter said, “If you can’t stay the night, stay the month.”

Draco snorted. “How would that work, exactly?” he said, turning towards Potter on the bed.

Potter cupped Draco’s cheek with his hand, his palm broad and calloused. “I don’t want you by the hour.” He took his hand away.

“If I won’t stay the night, why in Merlin’s name would I stay a month?”

“I’d make a compelling offer.”

Draco allowed a faint smirk to cross his face. “You do realize this isn’t how negotiation works.”

“Three hundred thousand Galleons.”

Draco felt himself go blank. “What?”

“A million. Since you like to charge triple.”

Draco lay back on the bed. “Oh, I see,” he said, forcing a laugh. “You’re joking.”

“Your hourly rate times twenty four, times thirty days for a month, times three.”

“My hourly rate,” Draco said.

“What you charge for shagging me, and letting me suck you. Sometimes that takes less than an hour. Do you want more?”

Draco sat up quickly, the sheet pooling around his waist. “You don’t have that many Galleons.” He looked over his shoulder at Potter. “No one has that many.”

Potter’s mouth was a flat line. “They pay me to use their brooms. They pay me to wear clothes. They send it all to me for free and then they pay me to use it.” Swinging his legs over the other side of the bed, Potter bent down to grab his jeans. While putting them on, he said, “After the war I didn’t know what I was doing. They wanted me to advertise, so I did it. They wanted my picture, so I let them take it.”

Standing up, Potter pulled his jeans on the rest of the way, then turned around. “Arthur made sure I was protected, so I’ve got royalties. Even giving eighty percent of what I’ve got to charities, I’ve still got too much. They keep using those adverts, and the checks keep rolling in. You’ve seen this house. It’s all I want. I’ve more money than I know what to do with.”

Draco started laughing. He laughed and laughed.

“I know,” Potter said. “If only Ron could have this problem.”

Tears leaked out of the corner of Draco’s eyes.

“I don’t care about the money,” Potter said. “I like you. I like your company. I want you to stay with me longer.”

Draco swallowed, making the laughter stop. “Interestingly enough, you can’t always get what you want.”

“I can pay.”

“It isn’t an issue of payment.”

“What is it an issue of?”

“Oh, Harry.” Draco made Tristan’s voice sound soft. “I simply don’t have the time.”

As Potter looked down at him, Draco looked innocently back up. “You’re sure you won’t reconsider?”

“I can’t.” Shaking his head, Draco managed to sound sincerely regretful. “I have other obligations.”

“I understand,” Potter said, putting his knee down on the bed and leaning in over Draco. His lips brushed Draco’s cheek.

Draco turned his head. “It will cost extra if you want me to come in your mouth tonight.”

Expecting Potter to pull back as though slapped, Draco was surprised to hear Potter laugh. The sound was low and warm against Draco’s hair. “You’re a treasure,” Potter said, pulling away.

Confused, Draco couldn’t tell if Potter was being sarcastic.

“How much extra?” Potter asked, and then his hand was underneath the sheet, warmly wrapping around Draco’s cock.

Draco let out a breath in surprise.

Potter squeezed, firm and sure. Draco wasn’t certain how Potter’s hands had got so rough; he had worked a day in his life. “I said, how much?” Potter squeezed again.

“Thirty percent more,” Draco said quickly. His voice was breathless, a trifle high.

“Because tonight you’re particularly grouchy? Or just because?”

Potter was stroking him now, and Draco struggled to make his voice steady. “I can do what I want.”

“Of course you can,” Potter said, his voice amused. “Spread your thighs for me.”

There was something about that, spread your thighs, that stirred something deeply in Draco. The words felt like a button, triggering an automatic response, and Draco spread them, spread them wide, sinking down and opening up. Potter was going to suck him and he needed access; Draco was going to give it, let his eyes roll back in his head and lie there, just lie there, while Potter did the work.

“The offer stands,” Potter said.

Draco opened his eyes, lifting himself up to look. Potter still had his hand wrapped around Draco’s cock, but his eyes were on Draco’s face.

“A million Galleons,” Potter said.

“No,” Draco said, feeling strangely sulky, even though the fact that Potter wanted to make the offer again should have been a victory.

“Just think about it,” Potter said. Then his warm, wet mouth enveloped Draco’s cock and Draco couldn’t think about anything at all.

*

Draco didn’t even think twice about turning down the money.

The amount didn’t even really matter. Power over Potter wouldn’t be got through money, and though Draco supposed he should have felt regret at turning down that much, he didn’t. Instead it felt sweet—so, so sweet, the amount that Potter had offered, that Potter was willing to go to those lengths, and Draco could simply say no. Denying Potter gave Draco the upper hand and he revelled in it; having that dominance was heady, like sex was for other people.

And Draco was already making money without Potter’s loot. Aside from the contracts with Potter on the side, Draco was still working with all his regular clients. Pansy couldn’t complain that he wasn’t pulling his weight for Verity.

She was no doubt aware of Draco’s extracurricular activities. Pansy had her ways, and at the very least, Tristan’s face was always in the wizarding news. Draco couldn’t very well avoid it, going to public functions with Potter as he did, and furthermore he didn’t wish to avoid it. He loved having his picture taken, posing, setting his figure off to advantage. Everyone reading all the gossip magazines and columns were wondering who he was, and Draco’s only regret was that he could not give interviews.

Reporters tried, of course, but when they looked for Tristan Bonchance, they couldn’t find a trace of him. Many speculated that the name was an alias, but no one guessed the reason why.

Pansy had to know better, and yet she kept silent on the issue. Not wanting to invoke further remonstrance, Draco didn’t say anything about it either. His appointments with Potter were not her business anyway. Pansy had no right to complain as long as Draco continued pleasing their regular clients.

And please them Draco did, straight up until he couldn’t stop thinking of Potter whenever someone shagged him.

The first time it happened Draco was with Monty Nils, one of Verity’s oldest and most regular clients. Nils was never very complicated. He liked the same thing every time, and Draco wore one of his early creations with Masker Ade—an angelic face with brown curls named Winston.

They’d already got past the preliminaries; Draco had undressed Nils, stroked him into hardness, murmuring sweet and dirty things just the way Nils liked. They’d made it to Nils’s bed—wide, always clean, comfortable if a little lumpy, and Nils had cast protection spells.

“Gonna fuck you now,” said Nils.

“Come here and do it, then,” Draco said, spreading his legs. “I’ve been needing a man to fuck me.”

“You want a real man’s prick inside you.”

“Mm,” Draco said. “I can’t wait. Just want a big man like you to come fuck me with his monster cock.”

As Nils entered him, Draco spread his legs and groaned, just as Nils liked. Draco was completely flaccid, but it didn’t matter—focus was of utmost importance. There were nuances to the way Nils moved inside of him—sometimes he wanted Draco just to lie back and take it; other times he liked Draco to hold himself open, egg Nils on. Knowing when to moan was an art, keeping Nils going at a slowly building pace until Draco started getting louder, rocking with him, more desperate. Most orgasms were enjoyable, but the idea was to provide the best one, the kind that kept them coming back.

Draco prided himself on it. Even with clients still more oblivious than Nils, attention to detail was essential. Little things could tell Draco how to move, how to adjust, how to shift or moan just so.

For instance, Potter wasn’t very easy to read, which was interesting considering how expressive he had been at school. Draco had his number, though. He knew all about Potter, knew that the firm set of Potter’s mouth was simply the way his face was set and meant nothing, unless you looked into the eyes. He knew the way that Potter’s eyes widened slightly, when Draco entered him, knew that the flicker in the retina was swiftly subdued fire.

When Draco shagged him, he could read Potter’s jaw going harder, tenser—even if it was only a slight thinning of Potter’s lips Draco knew; he knew that when he angled himself just so, Potter’s mouth would finally sag open. He’d gulp for air, a rough, strangled sound, and Draco would know he had him.

He had him, and that feeling was just so intense, so exhilarating, because Potter was coming apart even though Draco was wrapped in his tight, warm heat—

“You’re loving this,” said Nils.

“Hm?”

“Love my big cock ramming into you.”

“I—” Draco began, then realized he was hard. Nils must have noticed, and Draco panicked. “Oh yes, I love it,” Draco said quickly, automatically. “I love big cocks filling me; I love getting the cock of a real man—”

“Yeah.” Nils grunted. “You love it.”

“Oh, yeah.” Relaxing again, Draco lifted his legs, tilting his hips, opening himself more. “Yeah, that’s all I need, a big fat prick to fill me.”

“Yeah.” Nils thrust harder. “Yeah, want it so bad.”

Draco babbled a bit more. As long as there was a hole to fuck Nils would basically be happy. He didn’t seem to notice at all that Draco had been drifting, but Draco noticed.

He couldn’t stop thinking about it.

This had never happened to him before. He never started thinking about one client when he was with a different one. He focused on the person he was with, devoting the time and attention necessary to divine their wants and needs. And yet, it happened again. And again.

Three weeks later, when Draco was letting Fox Fitz-Lloyd fuck him, he thought there was no way that it could happen. Fitz-Lloyd was large and a trifle violent, but Verity had kept him as a client because he was quick, clean, and paid very well. Although he had never hurt an escort, he kept Draco on his toes, lest any of his predilections take a turn towards danger. Other than that, the job was never difficult, as Fitz-Lloyd preferred a passive fuck—someone who would lay there and take it and not say anything.

Honestly, the shag was boring, and while Draco lay there with his legs open getting pounded, his mind began to drift. Potter had owled about a wedding; the request was rather short notice, as Potter had thought he wouldn’t originally bring a date. At the last minute, however, Potter had decided Tristan would make the whole thing more entertaining, and had hired him for the evening.

Draco could wear formal white robes. And then that night Draco could leave them on while Potter begged to kiss him, while Potter’s mouth nipped and licked along Draco’s jaw. And Potter was more tan, his skin darker than Draco’s, which sometimes in the lamp-light made him look gold all over, and Nimue’s Oak the way his legs would just fall open like he was ready to be taken, and his cock—

Potter’s cock was always ready even though Draco rarely used it, only sometimes stroked it for him, and that was shocking wasn’t it, because Potter’s cock was just so big—

Draco wondered what it would feel like inside of him.

Fitz-Lloyd bore down particularly hard, and Draco gasped.

“Shut up,” said Fitz-Lloyd. “Whore.”

This kept happening: Draco thinking of Potter while another client was fucking him, and slowly getting off on it. There were even several nights Draco found his own hand creeping down beneath his satin sheets; he was having dreams, hard in the middle of the night, and that never happened. It didn’t happen. Draco had so much other sex that his prick was uninterested completely; he didn’t want it, and yet it kept happening. Draco found himself frantically wanking in pre-dawn hours—thinking of nothing, desperately thinking of nothing—almost twice a week now.

The problem was Potter. Potter wasn’t sexy—it wasn’t that. Potter was still a buffoon, overly muscled—though sleek, Draco had to give him that. There wasn’t extra muscle, and said muscles weren’t individually defined and veiny, like some of those Fiendfyre fighter models or dragon wrestlers. His arms were just bigger than they should be—though well proportioned, really, and his waist was quite trim and narrow—

But Potter wasn’t attractive. Draco wasn’t attracted to him. The problem was that Potter was Potter, and Draco wanted desperately to defeat him. He’d always wanted that, and Pansy was right, to some extent—Draco was obsessed. He wasn’t obsessed with Potter for himself, because Potter was an idiot, but Draco never had been able to stop thinking about Potter.

On top of that, Potter wanted him to top. It had just been so long since Draco had had any kind of control when it came to sex, and even though Potter was the one giving it to him, it was heady. It was just so heady, and Draco felt so free and hedonistic with Potter spread before him; he felt like he could do anything.

And Draco didn’t know why he shouldn’t. There was no reason he had to stop it. He was in control of this situation, perfectly in control. He might be thinking of sex more lately because he’d been having more—the regular contracts from Verity, plus Potter on the side, not to mention how much Potter liked to suck Draco off. If Draco wanted to, he could have cut the contracts off with Potter; he didn’t want them, except for the money and the power. Meanwhile, the money and the power were quite pleasant, thank you.

Just to prove it, Draco dashed off a quick owl to Potter to let him know that they wouldn’t be shagging after the wedding, explaining that he had another appointment. That would keep Potter on edge, waiting, and prove that Draco could quit any time. He could do anything he wanted—have sex with Potter or not have sex with Potter, anything he chose. Potter sent back a brief message saying that he understood.

And if Pansy asked, this would be proof that Draco knew exactly what he was doing.

*

Seven.

When Draco arrived in the formal white robes to go to the wedding with Potter, he was still resolved not to have sex with Potter that night. They would just do the wedding, and then Draco would go home. Perhaps on the next appointment, they would shag again.

“Is that what you’re wearing?” Draco asked, when Potter opened the door to the house at the end of Hawthorn Lane.

Looking over Draco’s white formal-wear, Potter swallowed. “Yes,” he said, his voice sounding thick.

Draco made a light tsking sound. “That won’t do,” he said, stepping inside the house.

“Oh,” said Great Aunt Walburga, sounding surprised. “You look—rather nice.”

“Thank you, Misses Black. Harry, come with me.” Draco took Potter to the bedroom.

“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” said Potter, as Draco proceeded to his wardrobe, scanning it for better garments.

Draco gave him a reproachful glance. “Someone is getting married.”

Potter looked down at his clothing. “I thought I dressed nice.”

Draco smiled. On Draco, the expression would have been patronizing. With Tristan’s features, hopefully it looked fond. “It’s a wedding. You can’t dress casually.”

“I’m pretty sure they’re going to be casual.”

Draco turned back to the wardrobe. “It’s disrespectful.”

Potter came to look over Draco’s shoulder.

Potter was very close. Draco pulled out a dove-grey robe, but it was almost as unsuitable as Potter’s current attire.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come back and stay a little while after the wedding?” Potter said.

“I told you.” Draco tossed the robe back and pulled out a new one. “I’m otherwise engaged later this evening.”

“We can leave early.”

“What are the colours?”

“Colours?” Potter’s breath was hot on Draco’s neck.

“Yes, colours.” Draco was annoyed, but he was also aware that Potter found it endearing that Draco was respectful towards people getting married. Potter was a troll. “What colours are the bridesmaids? The flowers?”

“I don’t know.” Sure enough, Potter sounded amused.

“Honestly, Harry.” Draco turned to face him again.

Potter’s narrow eyes were bright. “Sometimes you sound just like Hermione.”

“I suppose I’ll take that as a compliment,” Draco said. In reality, he was appalled by the comment, though coming from Potter, he supposed it was meant to be positive. And Granger was quite a brilliant witch—she was just so self-righteous. Although the last time Draco had talked to her she’d seemed fairly even-handed on most issues, and—

Draco took out his wand. “I suppose I’ll have to do it myself,” he said. “It won’t be as good as a magic tailor, but it will have to do.”

“What will have to do?”

But Draco was already pointing his wand, altering Potter’s clothing to be more formal—high quality, but also understated. Draco'd had quite a bit of practice doing similar things when he had been on the streets—no one wants to fuck a boy in rags, and he hadn’t lost the skill, though now he could afford any clothes he wanted.

Potter was silent as Draco cast, just as Draco meant him to be. The wash of someone’s magic moving over you, that close to you, that intimately, could be quite erotic. Taking longer with the spells, just so Potter would have a chance to admire his magical prowess and the way he looked casting spells, Draco furrowed his brow and worried his lip with his teeth. They were old habits that Draco had tried hard to curb when thinking deeply, but Draco would lay money on the bet that Potter would find them attractive.

Draco would have won that bet, too. When at last he was done, Potter’s voice was tight. “Tristan,” he said, reaching for him.

Neatly, Draco stepped away. “Those should last the evening,” Draco said, “but not past the night, I’m afraid. They’ll revert to their former state, with some wear.”

Potter’s mouth quirked, making the line flash and disappear. “Am I Cinderella?”

“I think I make a rather good fairy godmother, don’t you?”

“No.”

The fairy godmother of legend had been a very powerful witch. Draco put his wand away. Perhaps next time he might do some stronger spells, just something to make Potter—

Potter stepped in close, hot breath across Draco’s face. “I think you’re the prince,” Potter said.

“Mm.” Draco stroked a slow finger down the lapel he had just Transfigured. “Are you an evil stepmother?”

“No.” Potter leaned in, and Draco let him get close—so close, until Potter’s breath was in his mouth and Draco could taste it, warm and wet, and Potter’s mouth was almost touching his—

“We had better get to your wedding.”

“Yes,” said Potter. “Are you ready to Apparate?”

“Yes,” Draco said. “Who’s getting married, anyway?”

“Oh, I forgot to tell you,” Potter said. “George Weasley.”

They Side-Alonged.

*

The wedding was a disaster. There were Weasleys everywhere. There were even other Weasleys, Weasleys Draco had never even heard of before—Arthur Weasley’s second cousin from Australia or something; it was terrible.

This affair was nothing at all like the other events Draco had attended with Potter. Here, Potter knew everyone and seemed to actually like them. He wanted to talk to them; he asked them questions; he smiled. Even though he still didn’t talk much, he never once stood in a corner, and he seemed to listen to everything everybody said.

Potter had a large laugh. Draco couldn’t ever remember hearing it before.

There were the low chuckles in bed, in Draco’s ear, a soft husky laugh whenever Draco was acting particularly spoilt. Draco couldn’t remember actual laughter—that rich, velvet sound, the way Potter threw his head back, exposing the line of his throat. Draco had seen it in school—he knew he had seen it at school, Potter chortling with his friends, mocking Slytherins, crowing over his latest triumphs. Draco just couldn’t remember that it had sounded like this. Possibly Potter’s voice had deepened since then.

Furthermore, the Weasleys did not know how to put on a wedding.

Draco remembered going to tons of weddings when he was little. Father and Mother had known so many people and been so important, Draco had attended a wedding what felt like every other month or so. He knew how they were meant to be. They were large and white, with rows of flowers, and magic pipes playing at one end; the bride was meant to have a veil that trailed halfway down the formal hall.

Meanwhile Weasley and Johnson were getting married in Johnson’s mother’s yard, and Johnson wasn’t even wearing white. Her bridesmaids didn’t match, and Charlie Weasley wasn’t even wearing robes—just shirtsleeves and a waistcoat, and what looked like work-a-day trousers.

People were meant to stand in straight lines and be silent, and after the ceremony they were all meant to file out in a particular order. The reception was meant to be lavish, with white tablecloths and champagne, with ten or so elegant, slightly biting speeches. Meanwhile, Weasley and Johnson had a curry buffet and kegs of ginger beer, and Lee Jordan deejayed music by the Weird Sisters.

Everyone here was either a Weasley or someone who had hated Draco at Hogwarts, and the overlap between those two categories was wide. All of that ridiculous gang of troublemakers from fifth year was there—“Dumbledore’s Army”, they had called themselves—even Zacharias Smith and Anthony Goldstein. Bloody McGonagall was there, and Draco thought he caught sight of Minister Shacklebolt.

With Potter being a veritable social butterfly in comparison to his typical behaviour, Draco’s usual trick of stealing the spotlight was not on. During the ceremony, Draco was pierced by a rage so deeply penetrating that he was convinced he would do something foolish. Pansy was always saying he did foolish things when he was worked up and she was mainly right—he’d chased Potter in Dementor’s clothing, after all, and challenged Potter to that duel; she was right that he generally lost it when it came to Potter and—

But that was in the past. Draco was only reacting this way because so many of his enemies from his childhood were here. The Articles of Reconstruction had pushed him down, and these people had left him to rot. They had all forgotten him, expecting those who had been defeated in the war to slither under rocks somewhere and lick their wounds, always hid in darkness. They expected him to be stunted, small; they didn’t think he could rise up—

But Draco had. Even if he couldn’t wear his own face, Draco had money now, and a flat, posh clothes—not to mention he had Potter eating out of the palm of his hand. Draco was in control; he could be, even though the Articles of Reconstruction had crushed him and trod upon him, still he survived. Still he was strong, against their every expectation.

“Are you all right?” Potter asked, leaning in.

At the front of the crowd, Johnson said, “I do.”

“Swimming,” Draco murmured back. His voice was infinitely calm.

After that came the reception, but Draco was in control of himself now. He knew what to do.

“Hermione!” Draco called, his voice pleased.

“Tristan,” Granger said, clasping his hand.

“You look absolutely ravishing,” Draco told her. “Your hair is beyond incandescent—a web of stars.”

Granger blushed. “It’s nothing, really.” Putting a self-conscious hand to her hair, she added, “I use a potion.”

“Veela’s breath?” Draco said.

“How did you—”

“I use it all the time,” Draco said easily. “Do you think my own hair is naturally curly?”

“I hadn’t considered.”

The hair Granger was looking at was not Draco’s own hair at all, of course, and he didn’t use a styling product. The curls were solely a result of Masker Ade. Draco had finessed the potion in order to achieve exactly the sandy curls that would complement Tristan’s fine, narrow face—so similar to Draco’s own, and yet so markedly different that no one would ever know it. “Let me tell you about my modifications,” said Draco, “and then tell me why Misses Angelina ever consented to marry such a churl.”

Granger laughed. “George?”

Draco waved a dismissive hand. “All men are churls when they are marrying women as pretty as that.”

“Surely not all men,” Potter said, coming up beside him.

“Harry is the most churlish of all,” Draco told Granger.

“I don’t think Harry will ever marry a pretty woman,” Granger said, looking between the two of them.

“He’ll have to settle for a plain one. Excuse me,” Draco said. “But is that—it isn’t—is that Minerva McGonagall?” He pointed through the crowd.

Granger turned to look, while Potter said, “How do you know McGonagall?”

Draco looked at Potter as though he were crazy. “Minerva McGonagall? The Headmistress of Hogwarts? She was a hero in the war, not to mention a prestigious figure in academia.”

“Oh,” said Potter.

“I know that your tiny brain can’t cope with things, but I—you wouldn’t—could you introduce me, Harry?”

The line appeared beside Potter’s mouth. “You’ve never needed to be introduced before.”

“Harry.” Here Draco turned beguiling. “Please?”

Something shifted in Potter’s face.

“You better introduce him, Harry,” Hermione said. “That pout could ruin a kingdom.”

“I’m not pouting.” Draco pouted. “I’m earnestly entreating.”

Putting his Butterbeer down on a nearby table, Potter took Draco’s arm, then guided him to McGonagall. Draco then proceeded to gush—not in the entirely embarrassing way that would have set the old bat on edge, but in a sincere, respectful manner. Essentially, Draco treated her with the dignity that McGonagall had never once afforded him or his family, instead demonstrating the sycophantic favouritism she had always displayed towards Potter.

McGonagall was charmed.

Molly Weasley was next, then Ronald once again, then Lee Jordan, then Alicia Spinnet and all of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Every enemy, Draco romanced.

“You seem to be enjoying yourself,” Potter murmured, finding Draco alone for the first time.

“I like your friends,” Draco told Potter, smiling at him brightly.

“They like you.” Potter’s lips brushed Draco’s hair.

“I get the feeling that we would not all have got on so well in school.”

“Why?”

“They would say I don’t come from a good family. I . . .” Looking to Potter, Draco found green eyes so sympathetic—so eager to accept. Deceiving Potter was almost too easy. “I’m an escort,” Draco said softly.

“I don’t care,” Potter said. His eyes were just so gentle. “No one here cares, Tristan. It’s what’s inside that counts.”

“I think that if they knew—really knew—they’d hate me.”

“Tristan.” Potter edged closer. “That’s not true.”

Draco gave him a blankly innocent expression. “Isn’t it?”

“No.” Potter came closer still, almost pressed up against him—right there in the middle of the dance floor. “Tristan, let me—”

“Get a room!”

Twisting to see who had spoken, Draco finally came eye to eye with the groom—George Weasley. George Weasley, who had locked Montague in the Vanishing Cabinet for months and months and never got punished for it; George, who had pranked and humiliated Slytherins for years and years without so much as a slap on the wrist.

“So,” said George, clapping a hand on Draco’s shoulder. “You’re the bloke who’s got Harry all tied up in knots.”

“Periodically I untie him,” Draco said, keeping his voice smooth. He turned to Potter. “Don’t I, dearest?”

Potter’s eyes darkened.

“You’re from France, aren’t you?” Weasley went on.

“Yes.” Draco slipped his arm in Potter’s, still turned towards him. “That thing I did with my tongue the other day? That was French.”

“You should talk with Fleur,” said Weasley.

“I would,” said Draco, turning back to Weasley, “but I’m afraid I’ve been captivated by the most beautiful woman in the room—the one with the braids wearing green? She was up at the front a bit ago.”

Weasley beamed. “Yeah, she’s really fit.”

“Quite so,” said Draco. “I don’t know what that pillock up there beside her did to deserve her.”

“I’ve no idea either.” Weasley’s beam increased. “Lucky bastard!”

“He truly is fortunate,” Draco said, squeezing Potter’s arm. “Isn’t he, darling?”

“Yes,” said Potter. “Fortunate.”

“Bloody great to meet you,” Weasley said, pumping Draco’s hand. “But you know, booty calls.” Waggling his eyebrows, Weasley dropped Draco’s hand, then gave Johnson an enthusiastic wave from across the room.

“I want you to fuck me,” Potter said.

“Pardon?” Startled, Draco looked around the room, but everyone at the reception was loud and talking to each other, and no one had heard.

Potter leaned closer. “Fuck me,” he said in a hoarse whisper, “right now. Take me home.”

Draco pulled away. “What’s got you so—”

“Watching you with my friends,” said Potter. “It doesn’t matter who you are, Tristan. You’re—I want you.”

Looking around again, Draco saw that Potter was perhaps only half wrong. It did matter who Draco was; if they found out that he was Draco Malfoy, they would have turned him out into the cold, just as they had done when they passed the Articles of Reconstruction. And yet, Draco had managed to win them anyway; he had won again, not just a room full of strangers but all of Hogwarts, all his former enemies, everyone he had ever hated. The wrath that had been seething in Draco’s veins all evening took a hold of him, intermingled with glory.

“Take me home and fuck me,” Potter said roughly, and the words hit Draco like a physical jolt, a thrill of arousal so hard he rocked back on his heels.

“Yes,” Draco said hotly.

“If you’re with me, it’ll get you through the wards,” Potter said. “Apparate us.”

Draco did so without a second thought.

*

Draco spent almost the whole next day in his flat.

When he’d got back from Hawthorn Lane late in the night, he’d tumbled directly into bed, only getting up after several hours to eat, take a bath, then go back to bed again. When he woke yet again, he wanked, just because he could. He could, now, when for a long time, he hadn’t wanted to—hadn’t even been able to get it up just for the fun of it, had only managed to do it when it was needed.

Draco could do this all day—eat, sleep, get off, wash, eat, sleep. Ignoring the fact that he did, in fact, do this all day, Draco wanked himself to completion, closing his eyes and thinking of nothing. This was better. Things were so much better now; Draco had made things better for himself, and he had curled up afterwards with that thought and a smile.

He didn’t think about how he hadn’t meant to fuck Potter after the wedding the night before. It had simply happened. Circumstances had called for it.

When Draco awakened again it was early evening. He’d just got himself something to eat when Pansy Apparated in.

“What in Salazar’s name do you think you’re doing?”

“This is my flat, in case you’ve forgotten,” Draco told her.

“A Weasley wedding.” Pansy tossed a newspaper on the sleek coffee table. “You went to a Weasley wedding with him, Draco.”

“Is it the loss of revenue that bothers you?” Draco put his dinner plate on the bar, open to the kitchen. “Or the fact that I’ve managed to continually contract a client worth more than you’ve ever managed?”

“You’re delusional.” Pansy came around the table, while Draco gave an eloquent shrug.

“He’s offered to buy me for a month.”

Pansy stopped dead. “What.”

“He wants to give me a million Galleons.”

“Why?”

“I expect he likes me.”

Pansy came closer. “Do you like him?”

Draco flinched. “Pardon?”

Pansy came closer still. “Do you like him?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “For Merlin’s sake, Pansy. Do you take me for an imbecile?”

“Yes.”

He likes me,” Draco hissed. “He dotes on me. If you only knew the things he lets me do to him—”

“What things?”

Draco gave her a wolfish grin. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

“Not particularly.” Pansy’s expression was flat. “I’m not interested in the sexual antics between our worst enemy and someone I used to trust, who’s now gone completely off his—”

“I’m using him,” Draco said. “Can’t you see that this is to our advantage? I can make him do anything I want.”

Pansy’s mouth went tight. “He’s using you. For sex. I don’t care what he lets you do to him. Draco, you’re a prostitute, or have you forgotten what he reduced us to when—”

“He doesn’t think of it like that,” Draco said. “He wants me for myself.”

Pansy had been leaning forwards, but now she reared back. Her shiny black hair, piled atop her head, made her pointed, pale face look exceptionally stark. “He doesn’t know who you are,” she said.

“I didn’t mean it that way,” Draco said impatiently. “He wants me for who he thinks I am. I think I could make him . . .” He trailed off as a sudden idea struck.

“You can’t make him do anything,” Pansy said. “He’s Harry Potter.”

“I can make him fall in love with me.”

“Draco—”

“Hear me out.” Draco came closer. “You don’t understand the way he needs me. The way he craves my body. Over the last six months, I’ve made him—”

“People don’t fall in love with prostitutes,” Pansy said, her voice deceptively even. She always got that way when she wanted to shake someone. “They fall in love with someone they’ve imagined, someone they—”

“But you see, it hardly matters if he falls for me, or something I’ve created. I can make him want me, unable to live without me. Not just in body—his heart, his soul. Don’t you see, Pansy, I could own him.”

Why?” And Pansy’s calm suddenly broke, the word high-pitched and shrill the way Pansy never was—not any more, not since the war. She sounded like a frightened little girl, and in that moment, Draco felt sorry for her, so sorry. She didn’t see. She couldn’t see. “Draco,” she went on, coming closer, touching him, “you’ve got what you wanted from him. You don’t need Potter’s heart; you don’t need his soul. This obsession—”

“It’s about power,” Draco said, frustrated by her blindness. “Once I’ve crushed him, we’ll . . .”

“We’ll what?”

Draco thought of something quick. “To begin with, we’ll strike down the Articles of Reconstructions. We’ll allow Slytherins and those of us who escaped sentence to Azkaban to live in proper wizarding districts. We’ll—I’ll get a respectable job on the board at Hogwarts, like Father—”

“Draco.” Pansy gripped his arms. “Listen to yourself.”

Draco jerked away. “I’m listening.”

“What does any of that have to do with making Potter fall for you? At the very most, you’ll make him angry with you—and then where will you be?”

There was a time when Draco would have shared Pansy’s viewpoint, but the more Draco thought about it, the more he knew that he was right. He had not considered it before, but he was most certainly right. He couldn’t only make Potter want him; he could make Potter love him. “You don’t know him.” Draco sneered. “You don’t know him like I do. Potter is lonely—weak. He hungers for companionship—not just sex. He wants someone to take away his burdens, and he thinks that I’m the one who’ll do that.”

Pansy started laughing.

Draco scowled.

“The idea that Potter is lonely,” Pansy said. “That’s just funny.”

“I said he thinks he is.”

“How could he?” Pansy said. “He’s world famous. There are Harry Potter action figures, Draco. Harry Potter-themed bands.”

Draco’s scowl deepened. “They don’t know Harry Potter either. They think he’s—” Draco cut himself off, trying to think of what to say. “They don’t know who he really is. They know a persona.”

“Ah.” There was something decidedly sardonic in Pansy’s face that Draco didn’t like. “So, you’re the only one who knows the real Harry Potter. Meanwhile, he has no clue as to the real you.”

Draco could feel his frustration building. “How could he?”

“Whenever you used to talk about Potter in school, you were always talking about yourself.”

“That was then. Things are different now.”

“No,” Pansy said. “They’re not. Draco.” Pansy’s voice went soft, and Draco hated it when she did this. He hated it, and he was particularly irked that she was using it on him now—now that he finally knew what he was doing, finally had a plan. She was just so blind. “End this,” she said gently. “It’s your heart you’d be risking, not his.” Pansy laid her hand on his chest.

“My heart has nothing to do with it.” Draco pushed away her hand, irritated by just how little she understood. “Just wait and see.”

“Somehow I knew you’d say that.” Pansy turned away, something tragic about her profile, those slumped shoulders, all that glossy hair.

The loveliness of her only made Draco angrier. “You’ll see,” Draco said. “He’ll get what’s coming.”

“Yes,” said Pansy sadly. “I suppose you will.”

Her Apparition didn’t pop. Instead she slowly faded into the air.

The relaxed calm that had suffused Draco for the entire day peeled back just like wrapping paper, and Draco felt frustration boil over. He could win. He was going to win. He could prove it to her, and then she would see.

*

Eight.

Draco rang the bell at the house on the end of Hawthorn Lane holding only a single small valise. The clothing, accoutrement, and other things he would need for the month were shrunken down and organized within the bag. Draco had dressed in well-fitted trousers and a tailored silk shirt, casual attire but still sharper than anything Potter would ever wear.

When Potter opened the door he looked surprised; then he sucked in a breath. “We didn’t have an appointment,” he said.

“I reconsidered your offer,” Draco said. “To stay the month.”

Potter just looked at him, and a sudden sinking feeling gathered on Draco’s shoulders. Potter had asked, obviously—multiple times, but that didn’t mean that the offer was still on. Perhaps Potter had changed his mind or now wasn’t a good time. Now that Draco thought about it he could hear sounds coming from within the house—after all, Potter could just hire any other escort and then—

“Come in,” said Potter, opening the door wider.

Draco went in, and Potter’s eyes raked over him. There was a laugh from within the kitchen—Potter definitely had company.

“Are you sure?” said Potter.

Draco lifted his chin. “Yes.”

“Do you have a contract?”

Opening the valise, Draco took out a scroll. “You can take the opportunity to look it over. I can come back another—”

“No.” Potter opened his hand and a quill appeared in it—yet another instance of wandless magic. Draco would have assumed Potter was showing off, but Potter was already flattening the scroll against the wall and scrawling on the bottom line. He hadn’t even read it. He hadn’t even looked at it, and then he was snapping the parchment into a roll and handing it back to Draco.

Draco put it in the valise.

“I’ve a couple friends from the wedding visiting,” said Potter. “I’ll ask them to leave. Come with me?”

“I . . .” Draco swallowed. “I can stay in the front room.”

Potter looked at him again, just looked, and there wasn’t a line beside his mouth. Draco remembered thinking Potter’s eyes were cold, but they weren’t. They weren’t anything. Draco couldn’t read anything in Potter’s face, nothing at all, except he obviously wanted Draco there; he was telling his guests to leave; he’d signed the contract—

“I don’t have a problem with my friends knowing you’ll be staying here a while,” Potter said.

“I didn’t mean to impose,” Draco murmured. “Forgive me; I should have given you notice that I was coming. I can wait until—”

“There’s nothing to forgive. Come with me.”

So Draco put his valise in the sitting-room and then went with Potter to the kitchen, where Granger, several Weasleys, and Jordan all seemed to be drinking Butterbeer. They recognized Tristan, and there were a couple hellos before Potter said, “I’m very sorry everyone. Something came up.”

“Is everything all right?” said Granger.

“Tristan’s moving in,” said Harry. “Tonight. I want to help him get his things sorted.”

“Moving in?” said Ron Weasley.

“We thought you were Harry’s party boyfriend,” Jordan said.

“Party boyfriend?” Draco said politely.

“Are you all right?” Granger asked, turning to Tristan.

“Yeah,” said Jordan. “Party boyfriend. We only ever saw you with Harry when there was a party. We thought maybe he paid you.”

“No,” said Harry. “I’ve been asking him for weeks. He only just said yes.”

“He wouldn’t be able to afford me,” said Draco.

Several of the company laughed.

“But so suddenly,” Granger said.

“I only decided tonight.” Draco glanced at Harry. “A whim, I’m afraid.”

“Stay and drink with us,” said Charlie.

“I want to get things settled,” said Harry.

“We see how it is,” said Ron.

“Do you need any help?” said Granger.

“I think we’ve got it under control,” Potter said.

“He’s got more than that under control,” Jordan said.

There were some other jokes and questions, but Draco wasn’t really hearing them. Potter was kicking his friends out of his house. For Draco. Hadn’t even asked any questions about it, hadn’t looked at the contract, hadn’t hesitated for a moment. Just completely stopped everything simply because Draco had shown up on his doorstep.

Draco wondered whether—if he had developed Tristan’s face earlier—he could have just shown up on Potter’s doorstep eight years ago and everything would have been solved. He could have just shown up, sucked Potter off, said he needed money, and then Draco would have been set for life—Draco and Pansy; they would never have needed to prostitute themselves; Draco could just be Potter’s kept boy—

Potter’s party of friends was heading down the corridor and Potter was behind them, ushering them out. Draco trailed behind him, unable to get the thoughts out of his head. Potter hadn’t even hesitated; he wanted Draco so much; Potter would do anything for him—

Everyone trooped out of the door, and Granger stopped to hug Potter round the neck. She whispered something in his ear, and Potter said, “I know. It’s fine,” then said goodbye. Granger left, and Potter shut the door.

Draco slammed him up against it.

“Oh,” said Potter.

Draco was biting Potter’s neck before he even knew what he was doing—licking and nipping and kissing because he couldn’t kiss him on the mouth, couldn’t put his tongue inside of him, but Draco was damn well going to put it everywhere else. He yanked Potter’s stupid t-shirt out of his stupid jeans and got it off him, then started kissing his chest, too.

Draco didn’t know whether he was angry or turned on or relieved or—or what; he just wanted Potter close to him, Potter against him, touching him—

Potter turned them, getting Draco against the wall instead, against the painting.

“Excuse me!” said Great Aunt Walburga.

“Tristan,” said Potter, kissing Draco’s jaw. The kissing wasn’t the gentle kind—violent and rough, hungry, and Potter’s thigh pressed hard between Draco’s legs. “Here?” Potter said.

“Here.” Draco’s hands were like claws in Potter’s hair, holding too much of it too tight. “Right here.”

“I think not!” said Great Aunt Walburga.

“Yes,” said Potter. He leaned down to kiss Draco’s neck, Draco’s hands still in his hair, and Draco knew he could make Potter do anything he wanted. He could make Potter do any damn thing he pleased, so he pressed down on Potter’s skull, tugged down on Potter’s hair.

Potter willingly went down on his knees.

“Open it up,” said Draco, and Potter was already doing it, jerking on the fastenings to Draco’s trousers, yanking on the fabric.

“This is an outrage!” said Walburga. “Perversions! Perversions!”

“Suck it,” Draco said, but Potter didn’t need to be told that either. Once Draco’s pants were open Draco’s hips canted forwards and Potter went eagerly, sucking willingly, and it was so, so good. Potter’s mouth was so hot and he was so eager, and Draco was making fists of Potter’s hair but it felt fantastic; it felt so fantastic.

Potter was so hot for him he’d kicked everyone out of his house so he could suck on Draco’s cock, and do it for an entire month, spend an entire month on his knees, and he was doing it in front of Great Aunt Walburga. Pansy had no idea. She had had no idea what she had been talking about; she hadn’t known that Potter was like this, that Potter wanted him like this. Potter wanted him so very badly, more than anyone in the world had ever wanted Draco, and it was so good. Everything about it was just so, so good.

“Befoulment!” said Walburga. “Prostitution!”

Draco canted his hips again. “Suck it,” he said, just to hear himself say it again. “Keep that sweet mouth on it.”

Harry Potter moaned around his cock.

“Desecration!” screamed Walburga.

Potter slid his hand up the back of Draco’s thighs, spreading them. Pulling his mouth off Draco’s cock, Potter said, “Hold on.” Then he waved his hands and Draco’s shoes and socks and trousers vanished.

“How—” Draco began.

“It’s just a spell.” Leaning in, Potter kissed him at the root, opened his mouth and dragged it along the side of Draco’s cock. His hand returned to the back of Draco’s thigh.

“But—”

“Let me,” said Potter. “I just want to.” Then he was lifting Draco’s leg and putting it over his shoulder, and Draco was obscenely open, legs spread right in Potter’s face, cock erect and pink—

Then Potter was going down on it again, hot wet mouth between Draco’s open legs and Draco didn’t care that his leg was draped over Potter’s shoulder. Whatever vulgar, deviant thing Potter wanted to do was perfectly fine, and Draco’s head thumped against the wall behind him. “Yes,” he breathed, because he didn’t even have to hold Potter’s head. Potter would just fuck his mouth with Draco’s cock because he loved it, and Draco could stand there with his legs wide open, his cock down Potter’s throat, and Potter would take it and take it and take it.

“Yes,” Draco said again, and arched his back. Potter was taking some of Draco’s weight now, Draco’s thigh heavy on Potter’s shoulder.

Then Potter put his hand on the back of Draco’s other thigh, and Draco knew what Potter was going to do.

An obscene sound left Draco’s mouth as Potter did it—lifted Draco’s other thigh over his other shoulder, proceeding to take all of Draco’s weight on his shoulders and holding Draco’s hips steady with two powerful hands. All of Draco’s weight was taken by his back against the wall and Potter’s shoulders, his thighs on either side of Potter’s face, and Potter just kept sucking him.

Draco didn’t know if Potter was using magic to hold him up, or maybe he was just really that strong, and it made Draco insane; it made him completely insane that Potter was carrying all of Draco’s weight and had Draco’s cock down his throat. He couldn’t stand it.

“Filth!” said Walburga. “Profanity!”

“I’m going to come down your throat,” Draco said.

“Has he really got you on his shoulders?” said Walburga, and Draco came.

He didn’t know how Harry held him up through it, but he did—Potter’s strong, solid hands on Draco’s arse as Draco twisted and writhed, then came slowly down.

Merlin.

Merlin.

It was white hot, and blind, and then when it was done Draco felt weak, spent. His legs were locked into position around Harry Potter’s head, and a part of him thought that was a good place for them—his cock always within reach of Harry Potter’s mouth.

Experimentally, Draco flexed a foot, then put his hand in Potter’s hair and tried to pull a leg off. The muscles were cramped in place, but eventually it came, and Draco got one foot on the ground.

Gently, Potter took Draco’s other thigh off of his shoulder, and Draco looked down. Potter’s stupidly chiselled face was clean. He’d swallowed it all down.

Potter stood up, and Draco couldn’t stop looking at Potter’s mouth. Draco wanted to taste it. He wanted to taste himself on Potter’s mouth. He shouldn’t want to but he did, and Draco’s knees felt weak anyway.

Holding onto Potter, Draco pushed him around, got him up against the wall, then sank to the ground.

“You might kill me,” Potter said.

“I’m only just getting started,” Draco said.

*

Chapter Text

One.

The next morning, Draco awoke feeling even more ridiculously relaxed than the day before.

He’d used Potter hard. He’d had Potter panting by the end of it, covered in a fine sheen of sweat, literally begging for it, and Draco had fucked him thoroughly, extravagantly, barbarically. Great Aunt Walburga would never have approved.

Stretching inside the covers, Draco savoured the sensation strenuous exercise brought to his body the morning after. All his limbs felt loose, newly limber; he’d been exhausted by the time they’d stopped, but he’d slept so deeply he could not even remember any dreams. Draco couldn’t even remember the last time he’d slept that well, and for once he didn’t have to worry about sleeping after sex. He was with this client for a whole month.

Draco’s eyes popped open at the thought, and he turned to check beside him. Potter wasn’t there, and Draco really should get out of bed. Sleeping in and bad moods in the morning would not be the secret to making Potter fall for him; he should be up and ready to go. He really should have woken Potter with a blow job, if he was going to do this properly.

Instead of getting up, Draco snuggled down into the coverlet, taking in the scent of cotton and sunshine. Potter must have cast one of his scouring spells, and it was just so warm and comfortable in here. Draco had worked hard last night; he deserved a respite. Besides, he had a whole month to make Potter fall in love with him. And his clothes were still in the valise downstairs in the sitting-room.

Bugger.

Just as Draco stubbornly burrowed deeper into the bed, the door opened. Quickly, Draco closed his eyes—he didn’t want Potter to think he was awake and hadn’t come to find him—when the scent of bacon and oranges wafted his way.

Draco opened his eyes, sitting up a in the bed.

Potter held a tray aloft with a wand.

He’d done that before, the first night Draco had shagged him. Potter had come in with breakfast, and Draco had run away.

“I thought you might be hungry,” Potter said. “After all that exercise last night.”

Draco blinked owlishly. “You exercised too.”

The line appeared by Potter’s mouth. “I didn’t know what you liked, so I tried some different things.” Directing the tray over to Draco with his wand, Potter placed it gently beside him on the bed.

Draco frowned at it. “Aren’t you going to eat?”

“I already did. It’s nine-thirty.”

“That’s not that late.”

Potter laughed. “It’s not that early, either. I brought your bag, too. Was this everything?” He held up the valise.

“I shrank everything,” Draco said, because he didn’t want Potter to think that was all he had.

“That’s what I thought.” Unfazed by Draco’s tone, Potter set the bag down and went to go open the curtain.

Sunlight poured in, deepening Draco’s frown. He turned sullenly to look at the breakfast, and though every last morsel of it looked delicious, he hated it violently. Did Potter think he was being nice? What was he trying to accomplish? Draco should be the one doing things like serving breakfast in bed, waiting on Potter hand and foot, and then Potter would fall in love with him, and Draco would reveal his true identity and Potter’s heart would be broken; Potter would be sorry. He would be so sorry.

The porridge looked particularly good. There were cranberries in it.

Potter was puttering about, pulling clothes off the floor—of course, not putting them away, just laying them over the chair and spelling the shoes into a corner. He wore a pair of worn jeans and a faded Muggle t-shirt, and Draco found it absolutely appalling that such unattractive clothes should set his body off so well. Not that Draco really cared for said body, but still.

And there was grapefruit. A grapefruit cut in half and sprinkled with brown sugar. Draco’s mouth was watering.

Potter wandered over to the loo, and Draco supposed it wouldn’t do any harm to tuck in—to the bacon at the very least. He loved bacon. For breakfast he really preferred pastries, but no one had ever brought him breakfast in bed before and Draco was famished. He felt as though he’d run ten kilometres in a row last night. He’d come three times.

In five seconds, Draco had finished all the bacon and had started in on the porridge.

After a while Potter came back from the loo. At first, Draco didn’t notice him; he was too busy sucking off the last of the grapefruit from the rind.

“I have to go to the Ministry,” Potter said, and Draco looked up.

Potter was lounging in the doorway, that stupidly slight smile on his face. He looked like he’d been standing there a while.

Trying to have some dignity, Draco looked for a napkin to wipe his sticky hands. “Accio wand,” he said, and his wand flew into his hand. Casting cleaning spells on his fingers, Draco tried to act disinterested when he said, “How long will you be gone?”

“Most of the day. Is that all right?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “I’m not sure how I can manage on my own without you.”

The smile deepened, and Potter was easy. He was so, so easy; Draco supposed that not even his morning bad mood had put Potter off. It had probably charmed him, and it was nonsensical that Potter got off on people acting like spoiled brats. He probably identified.

Draco didn’t care. He could fulfil any sick, twisted fantasy Potter liked; if Potter wanted Draco in a dress twirling his hair and eating lollipops all day, Draco could do that too.

“Is there anything you’d like me to do while you’re gone?” Draco asked, a low purr of suggestion riding under the question.

The smile fell away. “Do whatever you want, Tristan.”

“I want to make you happy.” Draco kept on purring, and something twitched in Potter’s face. Immediately, Draco knew that he'd somehow said the wrong thing.

“Just make yourself comfortable,” Potter said. Pushing himself off the doorframe, he started towards Draco, then seemed to think better of it. “I’ll be back later today,” he said, heading for the door. “Help yourself to anything in the house,” he said, and then he was gone.

Salazar.

Potter was just so much work.

*

In the first week of Draco’s month-long stay with Potter, they established a routine.

Potter always awoke before Draco, usually bringing him breakfast in bed. Draco tried to wake up first—he should be the one spoiling Potter. He should be bringing Potter breakfast in bed, making him feel as though Draco were indispensable, the best investment ever. Eventually, Potter would begin to think of Draco as the best boyfriend ever; Potter would feel so helpless and abandoned without him that he would not be able to live without Draco.

The problem was that Draco didn’t want to set an alarm to wake up in the morning, as it would also wake Potter, and Potter apparently naturally woke up bloody early. Furthermore, Potter always pulled the drapes closed so that the sunlight would not encroach upon the bed, and the bed was comfortable. Draco was exhausted from all the sex, and for once his sleep was dreamless and so blissfully restful. Draco didn’t know how to wake up when he felt so good in the mornings, when he felt so deliciously content, and Potter brought him breakfast in bed.

On the first three or four days, Potter brought pumpkin porridge and beans and plenty of other terribly heavy, savoury things that were by no means enjoyable, but by the end of the week he’d eased into fruits and fluffy eggs and light pastries. Even if they were not Draco’s particularly favourite pastries, it was a delicious way to wake up. Draco supposed Potter had run out of beans and—whatever anyone used to make pumpkin porridge.

At first, Potter hadn’t brought coffee or the Prophet either, but by the end of the week they also began appearing on the tray. Potter must have run out of tea and quit hogging the paper as well, which was decent of him, but likely Potter was trying to feel decent about keeping a prostitute on retainer. Whatever let him sleep at night.

Usually at some point during Draco’s breakfast—Potter usually ate before him—Potter got a Firecall from someone or other. Or an owl. Once he got a Howler, and once someone’s Patronus (an otter). Whatever came, Potter seemed to consider it terribly important, because after receiving something-or-other Potter would declare he had to go to the Ministry (Wednesday), or a friend’s (Thursday), or Hogwarts (Friday), or Diagon Ally (Saturday), or NimbusCorp (Sunday), or somewhere with some Aurors (Monday), or somewhere else with someone (Tuesday, at which point Draco stopped keeping track).

Whatever. Potter was not, in fact, employed. The papers all said so. Draco could read about it right there in the Prophet, and he often did, over his coffee and scone, while Potter declared he had important business with some businessmen or some important politics with some politicians. Potter always said that he wished that he could stay but he didn’t actually, because he never stayed. Most likely he feared having to interact and actually make conversation for one whole day with another human being, even though that human being was an escort.

Potter being gone was optimal, however. Draco didn’t want to have to interact and make conversation with the git, and without Potter there, Draco had time to pop over to his flat to check on the Masker Ade. He had had over a dozen phials stored when he had first come to live with Potter, and with Potter gone every day that first week Draco was able to finish almost a dozen more, with another batch started. He would most certainly have enough for one whole month, with some to spare.

Tending the potions only took an hour or so. After that, Draco returned to Hawthorn Lane and got to work on household chores—cleaning mostly, some laundry, a bit of weeding, a lot of cooking and preparing meals. Potter would find Draco to be the most perfect live-in companion ever, feelings of gratitude and admiration gradually easing into feelings of love.

The days were relatively easy. The house was fairly small, just one story, with only the kitchen, the attached morning room with the kitchen table, the sitting-room, Potter’s bedroom, and a guest room. The yard needed more work, but Draco didn’t want to change things too much, lest it annoy Potter, and so the days passed easily.

Evenings, however, were proving difficult, as they were the least predictable.

During the first week, Draco and Potter had spent two evenings out—one night at a charity ball and the other a banquet—the kinds of events for which Potter had originally hired Tristan. Those nights were fairly consistent: Tristan charmed everyone in the room, keeping the attention off Potter, while Potter stood darkly in a corner with eyes only for Tristan. Those nights were even enjoyable—Draco was starting to look forward to seeing some of the regulars, and not just so he could dazzle them with his needle-sharp wit.

Some of the guests made for excellent conversation—far better than Potter at any rate, who was a taciturn dullard even at his best. For instance, even though Lundvquist was a fashion disaster, talking about the industry was quite interesting. Auror Espy was a boring, work-obsessed hard-nose, but always seemed interested in speaking to Draco, which Draco didn’t mind. Maurice Mallinger, even if he was a bit of a fumbling clod, had views on Squibs that were really quite compelling, actually, even though they were entirely wrong and Draco didn’t care about Squibs.

Except that Squibs born to wizarding families should have a right to stay with their families and the idea that Squibs were an inherent danger to wizarding society was ludicrous, because it wasn’t as if Squibs were automatically Muggle sympathizers. It depended on the Squibs, really, and if the Ministry had had their head on straight they’d change the laws. There were plenty of jobs that didn’t explicitly use magic—or anyway, could be performed with the help of magical equipment. Accommodations should be made and the fact that workplaces weren’t required to make them was an outrage. When you got right down to it, the idea that Squibs weren’t employable was a lot like the Articles of Reconstruction—

But anyway Draco didn’t care; Mallinger’s kids should have a chance at a proper magical education was all, and Mallinger was an amiable bloke. Even Granger was somewhat bearable, once you got to know her. Despite being an arrogant know-it-all, she did have a lot of interesting ideas on magical theory. She probably could even help Draco with some of the ideas he’d had about potions variations. He should pitch them to her next time he saw her, because the Ministry parties just weren’t that bad. The Ministry was a bloody travesty and Draco detested it with every fibre of his being, but the parties weren’t that bad.

Even Potter staring at him like some egregiously baroque gargoyle wasn’t inconvenient, because Potter stared like that when he wanted Draco to fuck him. He wanted Draco to fuck his brains out, and Draco was going to. He’d take Potter home and push him down on the bed and spread him out—even though Potter was so powerful, and so popular, and the one everyone really wanted—Draco would be the one to take him. He’d spread him out and fuck him and Potter was his. Potter was emphatically, desperately his, the way he said Draco’s name—Tristan’s name, but whatever—Potter belonged entirely to Draco.

Sometimes Draco would look at Potter during those parties and think about it. Just imagine it. Imagine taking Potter home and shagging the living daylights out of him. Sometimes he imagined doing it right there in the ballroom. Taking him on the ballroom floor, so everyone would know. Everyone would know that Potter was the one with all the power, but it didn’t matter because Draco owned him. He owned him.

Those two nights were really good nights. The other nights were . . . confusing.

On the first night of his month spent with Potter, Draco had a candle-lit supper waiting when Potter returned from whatever job he had decided he’d work and not get paid for that day. The supper was fantastic, from the best restaurant Draco knew. A bloody gastronomic delight. Draco had gone all the way to sodding France for it, and that was a long series of Apparitions—even worse on the way back, keeping the food hot that whole distance.

Potter had been appreciative. He’d enjoyed it. But Draco could tell it hadn’t got Potter hot. It hadn’t got Potter hot the way watching Draco at a party had got him hot. It hadn’t even got him affectionate, like he was sometimes after Draco used him.

Not that affectionate-Potter was such a delectable treat, or anything. Potter just got this . . . warmth to his eyes. The line appeared by his mouth more. His shoulders relaxed, and he touched more often.

Potter liked to touch. He loved to touch, but he didn’t do it as often as Draco had initially thought. He didn’t let himself do it often, as though touching was too much for him, or as though he had been touched more than he wanted to be by people he didn’t want to touch him. Potter didn’t touch casually. Potter thought about it when he put his hand on Draco’s thigh, when his lips brushed Draco’s neck; he did these things purposefully, with intent. Other people probably wouldn’t have been able to tell, but Draco could read people and he knew. He knew that Potter touched people he trusted, people he liked, and Potter did it more when he was feeling particularly happy and content and horny.

The candle-lit meal hadn’t made him happy and content and horny. It had made him polite. Draco hated polite. He hated polite on Potter.

Among other things, it indicated a dissatisfied client, and Draco was failing in his goal.

On the second evening, Draco suggested that they Apparate to a different restaurant—not as good as the one in France, but this one was expensive and hard to get into and Draco had got them a private room.

Potter did a smile and said thank you. He said that about the cleaning and the laundry and the weeding as well—a smile and a thank you and a, “You don’t have to do that.”

Draco smiled sweetly at him. “I want to.”

Potter gave him one of his flat expressions, impossible to read. “Do you?”

“I—I thought you’d like it,” Draco said, because he thought a little vulnerability would soften Potter up.

It didn’t. “Do what you want,” Potter said, seeming thoroughly finished with the subject.

On the fourth evening (after the ball, before the banquet) Draco arranged for a picnic dinner on a remote beach with wine. Potter seemed to like it. He really liked it—but not the same way he had liked Draco in the morning before he’d got a chance to brush his teeth.

Draco tried to get him presents, which as soon as he produced, Draco could tell were all wrong. Potter got presents all the time. He’d said as much when he’d first hired Tristan, and daily it was proven true. Free samples and wardrobes and yes, even brooms were owled to the house every day; there were so many Draco really wondered at the strength of Potter’s Fidelius until he realized these were Potter’s friends. These were business people Potter worked with when he went out, Aurors and Warlocks and moguls like the ones from NimbusCorp. Draco tried to imagine what it would be like if everyone could send anything they wanted to Potter’s house, and then he stopped imagining it.

There had to be things that Potter liked, things that Potter wanted to do in the evening, things that would make Potter fall for Draco. There had to be, but Draco was wracking his brains trying to figure it out.

“Why don’t we fly?” Potter said.

“Fly?” Draco felt blank. It was the sixth night, and he’d suggested Apparating to a pretty spot on the Isle of Wight. Secret and wrapped in magic, it was meant to be romantic.

“It won’t take that long,” said Potter.

Draco stared at him.

“We can Apparate back,” Potter said.

“I don’t have a broom.”

“I have a lot of brooms.”

“I don’t,” Draco said. He still felt blank inside.

Potter’s gaze softened. “You don’t know how to fly?”

“Of course I know how to fly.”

The line appeared, and Draco felt incensed by the way Potter always thought Draco snapping at him was funny. “Then fly with me,” Potter said.

“Fine,” Draco said. “Let’s fly.” Spinning on his heel, Draco stalked off to find warmer garments, while Potter gathered the brooms.

They Apparated out beyond the city, casting Disillusionments so the Muggles wouldn’t see them, then took to the sky. The air was brisk, but not freezing. Draco’s knuckles were white on the broom handle, and his thighs ached. He kept focused on the space straight in front of him.

After about ten minutes of this, Potter drew up along-side him, wandlessly casting a bubble around them so that the wind parted on either side of them. It was warmer then, and Draco could hear Potter speak.

“How long has it been since you’ve flown?” Potter asked.

“I know how to fly,” Draco gritted out.

“I can see that. You’ve got a good seat.”

Fuck you, Draco thought with all of his might.

“I haven’t seen someone sit a broom that way since Hogwarts,” Potter said.

“My father taught me how to fly,” Draco said, because it was true.

“I just meant most people get sloppy. Tristan.” Potter flew around in front of him, so Draco had to manoeuvre in order not to slam into him. The side-roll came naturally, if a little rusty, but Potter countered with a Flanders flip. Potter had always favoured Flanders flips, the git. Draco countered with a triple sweep.

“See?” Potter said. “You’re good.”

Draco snorted, feinting left, then veering right.

Potter had to dive to keep up with him. “Come on,” Potter said, flying up beside Draco. Their little bubble was gone.

Draco angled his broom down and Potter followed. A good metre and a half before hitting the ground, Draco pulled his broom back up—a shallow imitation of a Wronski Feint. There was no possibility of Potter driving to the ground—but maybe if Draco had meant it, he could have pulled it off.

“Come on,” Potter said, pulling up beside him again.

“Come on what?”

“You can fly,” said Potter.

“I said I could fly,” Draco said.

“You told Warlock Puri you didn’t know what a triple sweep was.”

Draco scowled. “I was being polite.”

“Let’s have a match,” Potter said.

Draco side-rolled again, but Potter managed a neat little mop-turn, coming up beside him once more. “A match of what,” Draco said finally.

“Quidditch,” Potter said.

Draco snorted again. “Quidditch is for school children.”

“And me.”

“Yes, well. I have always maintained that you are a six-foot child.”

“You have? To who?”

Whom. “Anyone who would listen.”

The line appeared, only slightly mocking. “You talk about me?”

“You wish.”

Potter rushed up ahead of him, and Draco didn’t even know what move characterized that extra speed. “Come on, Tristan. Don’t be a chicken.”

Draco couldn’t control his sneer. “I’m not a chicken.”

“Yes, you are. Come on.” Then Potter squawked, just like an infuriating sanctimonious child.

“We don’t have a Snitch, you dolt.”

“Right here.” Potter took a Snitch out of his pocket, and Draco’s eyes narrowed.

“You planned this.”

Potter shrugged. “I only thought we’d do it if you were any good.”

Draco looked from Potter’s face to the Snitch, hovering golden in the night air. Draco looked back at Potter—his small piggy eyes and his stupidly well-defined jaw, his irrationally tousled sex hair. Draco looked back at the Snitch, and then he dove for it. The Snitch went zooming off, Potter on Draco’s tail.

After three quarters of an hour, Potter caught the Snitch. Draco was so exhausted that he headed straight for the ground, only swinging off his broom at the last possible moment.

“I haven’t had a game like that in forever,” Potter said, landing as well. His broom was in one hand, Snitch in the other.

Potter was as pompous and arrogant as he had ever been.

“Usually I don’t even have to try,” Potter said.

“Shut up.”

“What?”

Draco stalked over to him. “Give me that,” he said.

“Tristan—”

Draco snatched the Snitch away from Potter, slipping it into his pocket. Then he grabbed Potter’s broom, threw it on the ground, and pushed Potter square in the chest. “Back up.”

“Tristan—”

“I said back up.”

Potter stumbled a step back, and Draco followed, pushing him, but it was going to take too long. They were standing in a field, and the line of trees was at least five metres away. Taking out his wand, Draco pointed, muttering the incantation. Potter flew backwards, his back slamming against the trunk of the nearest tree. Draco stalked after him.

When he got to the tree, Draco pointed his wand again, said another incantation. The switches of pine lying on the ground conspired to tie Potter to the trunk. “Do you want out?” Draco said, coming up close to him.

Potter looked at him in open-mouthed shock.

“You know your safe-word,” Draco said. “Do you want out?”

Comprehension dawned, and Potter visibly relaxed. “No,” he said. “You think you can take me?” The careless languor in his voice, the relaxed muscles, were in themselves a challenge.

Draco fucked him. He fucked Potter while Potter was tied to the tree, and Draco tried to fuck him hard—so hard, just like Potter so obviously wanted and just like Draco needed and Merlin, Morgana, Potter was just so—so contrary. He wanted it; he so obviously wanted it—Potter could have got out in a second if he had desired it; he could have uprooted the entire tree. Instead he made these filthy, pornographic sounds, his arse wetly clenching and his hips urging Draco deeper—and yet his eyes were so . . . so insubordinate— insolent. He was insolent.

“Merlin,” Draco panted, and he thrust. “Merlin, I want to break you.”

“Try,” Potter said. “Just you fucking try.”

Draco put his hand over Potter’s mouth. “I can beat you. I can take you down; you can’t make me lose—”

Potter bit into his hand.

“I can win; I will, and you’ll just—you’ll fucking take it—”

Potter bit down harder, there was blood, Draco couldn’t see, everything was white, and Salazar, he was fucking Harry Potter tied up to a tree, he had won. His hips snapped so hard he thought he might break them; he might break the tree; he might break Potter, but Potter stood there hard and strong and just took it, took it, took it, Draco’s blood running down his chin.

The haze of orgasm was still causing Draco’s hips to crookedly thrust when Potter took Draco’s bloody hand and put it on himself. Must have broken the entanglement curse, Draco thought hazily, and then Potter was moving Draco’s hand on his hard cock, swift and hard.

Tristan,” Potter gasped, and came.

Draco hated it when Potter said that name that way. He wiped the come off on a tree.

“Let me see,” Potter said, after a long moment.

He meant Draco’s hand. “It’s fine,” Draco said, fastening his trousers.

Potter pushed up off the tree, standing up straight and twisting his neck, as though to get kinks out of his shoulders. “I’ve never been shagged on a tree before,” he said conversationally, buttoning his trousers.

Draco felt inexplicably guilty. “Look,” he began, hunching his shoulders.

“We should play more Quidditch,” Potter said.

“I . . .” Draco trailed off, scowling. Potter’s expression, per usual, was somewhat hard to read, but he didn’t look upset. Well-shagged, but not at all upset. In fact, he looked . . .

“Bet I can beat you every time,” Potter said.

Pleased. Potter looked pleased. Draco straightened his shoulders. “I was out of practice. Once I’ve got my bearings back, I can tear you apart.”

“I’m looking forward to it.”

“Just because you’re Harry Potter—”

“No.” Potter’s voice was sharp.

“You think you’re so superior.”

Potter stared at him. Finally, he said, “I don’t care about the Quidditch, Tristan. It was the way you lost control.”

“Lost control?” Draco sneered. “I didn’t lose control.”

“You don’t do that with the others,” Potter said. “Tie them to a tree.”

The sneer fell away, and Draco knew his face was blank. “Of course I do,” he lied. “All the time. I do worse things. I chain them up. I—”

“You lost yourself,” Potter said. “You did it that other time you tied me up, too. You don’t even think about what you’re doing.”

Potter sounded so much like Pansy in that moment that Draco wanted to hit him; he honestly did. “I know exactly what I’m doing,” he said instead, his voice icy.

Potter’s mouth made a flat line. “Are you certain?”

“Of course I’m certain.” Draco sneered again. “Don’t mistake the way I fuck you for anything else. I’m an expert. Trust me, I’m always in control.”

“Trust you.” Potter’s face was inscrutable.

“You think you know me?” Draco said. “I know you; I know everything about you; I know how hot it gets you when you think . . .” Draco trailed off. He couldn’t think of what to say; he couldn’t think.

“When I think it’s genuine emotion?”

“You don’t know me."

“You’re right,” Potter said, turning away. He started walking across the field, where his broom lay somewhere in the grass.

Draco took a deep breath, then another. He felt hot in the cool night air, knowing that he was flushed red. Pansy would be laughing at him. She would laugh and laugh and laugh. She always said he never thought anything through, and it was so untrue. He thought everything through; he thought through it all too much, and yet when he opened his mouth these things came out and—

And he was meant to be making Potter fall in love with him. Draco needed to fix this, straight away. There wasn’t time to think it through.

“I’m sorry,” Potter said, when Draco caught up to him. “I don’t know you. I shouldn’t assume that I do.”

Potter wasn’t quite looking at him, and it gave Draco the opportunity to examine his profile—the obdurate features, the implacable mouth. “You know me,” Draco said.

“Not really,” said Potter.

“I’m—I get defensive. I was afraid . . .”

Potter turned to him. “That I would see who you really are?”

“If you knew who I really was, you wouldn’t like me.”

“Try me,” said Potter.

Draco shook his head. “I’m petty. Selfish. Cruel.”

Potter shook his head. “I don’t believe that.”

“I can’t stand anyone having power over me.” The lies came easily, so easily—Draco didn’t even know where they came from. They just came, thick and fast and simple, miraculously sounding like things he had thought a thousand times, yet never voiced aloud. “I can’t stand feeling inferior, because . . . I know, deep down, I am.”

Potter took a step towards him. “You’re not inferior.”

“I am. For so long I’ve been . . . I’m cast out. From society. Everyone thinks I . . .”

“You mean because you’re an escort?”

Draco was glad Potter had come up with that. “You asked once why I became one. I—fell in with the wrong crowd, and it put me in a bad place. I needed money. I never meant . . .”

“You don’t have to,” Potter said.

Draco lifted his head.

“You could do anything,” Potter said. “Be anything.”

“It’s not that easy.”

“But it is,” Potter said. “You could be anything you wanted if you—”

“Please don’t,” Draco said, turning away.

“I don’t understand.”

“No.” Draco crossed his arms over his chest, rubbing his arms a bit. “I don’t suppose you would.”

Potter came up beside him, put a heavy hand on his shoulder. “You’re not inferior.”

Draco huffed a laugh. “Thanks for that.”

“You fight. Other people don’t.”

Draco tilted his head, looking back at him. “What do you mean?”

“People, they . . .” Potter gestured. “So many of them cave in to me. They're either in awe or afraid of me. They won’t argue; they won’t fight. And the ones that do fight . . .”

“Beat you?”

“They’re criminals. Former Death Eaters. Dark wizards, people who supported Voldemort during the war.”

Oh. Those people.

Turning Draco to face him, Potter put his hand on Tristan’s face. “I’ve never met someone who takes what they want like you do, who isn’t also . . . evil.” Potter’s thumb touched Draco’s lips.

“Maybe I am evil,” Draco said.

“No.” Potter took his hand away. “You’re not.”

“Oh?” Draco swayed towards him, suddenly aware that they were standing alone in the darkness. The Milky Way spilled out above them, and the moon was a thin white slice from an unripe fruit. “Am I good then?” Draco asked, his voice low, breath brushing Potter’s jaw.

Potter licked his lips. “You’re Tristan.”

Straightening, Draco turned away. The broom Potter had loaned him was in the grass here somewhere. He’d been so furious when Potter had beat him at Quidditch that Draco didn’t even remember dropping it. “We should go,” he said.

Behind him, Potter sighed. They mounted their brooms, taking off into the night.

*

At four o’ clock in the morning, Draco figured it out, and his eyes were wide open in the dark.

Everyone else was always giving. They were always trying to give Potter what he wanted; they were always trying to serve. They kowtowed and sent him cloaks and broomsticks and Merlin knew what else; at all the balls and banquets they fluttered around him like insects around honey. They were always trying to show off to him, ingratiate themselves, make Potter like them—and Potter thought they were all faking it.

They weren’t giving him anything real. They weren’t showing Potter anything real; they weren’t showing him who they were but rather some construct of what they thought that Potter wanted them to be. The public ingratiated themselves to Potter; strangers ingratiated themselves to Potter; friends ingratiated themselves to Potter, and Potter couldn’t stand it. He wanted something genuine, and to Potter genuine meant taking, because no one ever took from him.

“Harry,” Draco said, propping himself up and poking Potter.

Potter made a small sound, hunching up his shoulder.

“Harry.” Draco poked him again.

“Mm?” Potter rolled over, blinking sleepy eyes.

“I want you to suck me.”

“Mm.” Potter put a hand on Draco’s hip and closed his eyes.

Draco pushed on Potter’s shoulder. “I want you to suck me right now.”

Potter blinked at him again. “. . . time is it?” he managed, after something indecipherable.

“It’s time for your mouth on my cock.”

Potter laughed—a soft chuckle, warm against Draco’s shoulder.

Draco grated his teeth. “What’s so funny?”

“Hm.” Potter put his hand on Draco’s hip again. Draco waited, but Potter didn’t do anything else—just kept on lazily stroking Draco’s hip with a warm and heavy hand.

Draco tried not to snap. Potter would only laugh at him again. “Well, are you going to do it, or aren’t you?”

Potter glanced up at him and—and, well, the sort of person who’d like a half-wit such as Potter would—well, they’d find this look very attractive. Potter’s eyelids were heavy and his chest was strong and naked, the white sheet tangled around slim hips. The moonlight washed over him in a bath that made his skin glow faintly. His mouth looked like it was made of sex. “I might bite,” Potter said.

“Fine.” Draco started to roll away.

Potter’s hand clamped down on Draco’s hip, firmer than Draco would have suspected giving how sleepy Potter still looked. “You’re not even hard.”

“Fine,” Draco said again. “If you don’t want to—”

“I want to.” Potter’s hand clamped down more firmly still. “I want to watch you get yourself hard.”

“Get myself . . . ?”

“Then I’ll suck you.”

This was not the way that Draco had imagined this going. He’d figured out that Potter wanted demands to be made upon him, so Draco had made a demand—

But that wasn’t it. Potter didn’t want to be asked for the sake of asking. He wanted people to want, to desire, to have needs of their own that had nothing to do with slaking needs of his.

Draco put his hand beneath the sheets and began to stroke himself.

Potter pulled the sheet down and watched.

This was nothing Draco hadn’t done for dozens of clients—hundreds, probably. They liked watching him grow erect, thinking they themselves had turned him on, and Draco was used to it; he was used to it, except—

Except he wasn’t used to Potter watching.

It did not go on very long. After only two or three minutes, Potter was down there, moving Draco’s hand aside. “You want me to suck it,” Potter said, looking up at him.

Salazar, Potter was annoying, looking up at him with Draco’s cock standing in between them, and of course Draco wanted—

“Like this?” Potter asked, and licked it. “Or maybe like this.” He put his mouth over the head, sucking, making Draco’s hips twitch. After half a minute, Potter took his mouth away. “Is that what you wanted me to do?”

Bloody hell, Potter was smirking. He was enjoying this, the tricky bastard, and Draco had only asked Potter to suck him to prove a point, and now he was hard and Potter’s mouth was right there—

“I’d only want to do what you want,” Potter said, but he was teasing when he said it. He was just teasing.

“Harry,” Draco said, trying to adjust his hips.

“Mm,” Potter said, then gave another lick. He sucked the head again, went down deeper this time, sucking, and then—pulled off. “How about like that?” he said, when Draco’s hips bucked a little, uncontrollably.

Draco scowled down at him to curse him, and then he saw the line. The moonlight was catching it just right and Potter wasn’t just having fun with this. He was happy about this. Potter was delighted about this, and even if it wasn’t in the sexy way, he loved this.

So Draco just said yes, and opened his legs wider.

Potter swallowed. “You want me to suck it?” he asked again, but he didn’t look nearly so teasing now.

“Yes,” Draco said again, and spread his legs still wider. “I want you to suck it. I want your mouth on me.”

Potter sucked in a breath. “Yeah.”

“I want you to suck it all the way down,” Draco said, putting his hand in Potter’s hair.

Potter opened his mouth wider, and took it farther down.

“I want you to open your mouth whenever I say so,” Draco said, testing, but Potter did not react badly. He was sucking well now—steadily, breathing through his nose. “I want to put it between your lips any time I want,” Draco said. “Just shove it in.”

Potter made a little sound—something guttural. He pulled off, but it was only to swallow, take a breath, wrap his big hand around the root of Draco’s cock, because then he went back down, deeper than before.

“I want it in your throat,” Draco said, arching into Potter’s mouth. “I want it all the time; I want it—I want you sucking me—”

Draco was edging towards incoherence, but Potter just kept going and Draco didn’t know how to stop himself from spreading his thighs wider, wider. Sometimes he was really just a whore—

“I want to fuck your face,” Draco said. “I want you to just let me fuck your face, come down your throat, come on your face, any time I want, whenever I want—”

Potter pulled off again, his fist squeezed tight at the base of Draco’s cock to keep him from coming. “Do you want to come down my throat or on my face?”

Draco arched again, hungry for his mouth, hungry for his touch, hungry for anything, just—

Potter put his mouth around the head, then pulled off. “You want to come?”

“Yes, please, Harry—”

“Which do you want?” Harry said, then sucked again. “Throat or face?”

“I don’t care; just—”

“What do you want?”

“I don’t know,” Draco said and writhed in Harry’s grasp. If he would just loosen his fist a bit, just suck a little more; Draco was so close to losing it. “I just—”

“Choose.” Harry licked the head, then squeezed the base. “Tristan.”

Draco hated that name. He’d picked such a colossally trite—

“Tristan,” Harry said again, and then started sucking.

“Face!” Draco choked out, because Draco hated him in that moment. He hated him; he wanted to see him humiliated— “Face; I want to come on your—”

And then Draco didn’t know if he kept talking. He might have kept talking, because Harry let go and then softly held Draco’s balls, touched the spot behind them—exactly the place that Draco liked. Then Potter was licking him and looking up at him and Draco was coming; he was getting it in Potter’s—

Potter’s mouth and his nose and his eyes and—Draco noted with horror—his hair; Harry Potter had Draco’s come in his hair, and it was so good. It was so perfect. It was perfect.

Potter looked just like a whore. Dirty, debauched. Owned. He belonged to Draco, marked with his come.

“Mm,” Potter said, when it was all over and Draco lay shuddering in the bed. “Was that what you wanted?”

Draco was too boneless to care.

“Give us a kiss, then,” Potter said, moving up along Draco’s body.

Draco had enough bones for that. “Not on the lips,” he said, turning away.

“No, of course not.” Potter leaned in to kiss Draco’s neck, gave it a couple of pecks, then waved his face clean with a wandless spell.

Potter’s mouth descended to Draco’s shoulder. There were freckles there, but Potter wouldn't see them in the dark, and Draco relaxed into the soft warmth of the bed. This was good. This was so good. Potter really would do anything that Draco told him.

Several minutes passed before Draco realized his eyelids had grown heavy, and he was behaving not at all professionally. Rousing himself, he propped himself up a fraction to look down at Potter. “Did you want,” he began, but then stopped.

Potter had already gone back to sleep.

*

Two.

At the end of the first week, Draco had thought he’d found the key to making Potter fall in love with him: Potter didn’t want to be served. He wanted to be the one serving.

As being served was easier than serving, Draco began to relax, easing up on cleaning and weeding and doing the laundry. He even ordered Potter about a bit, just as he’d thought Potter might like—but the reality was more difficult than the theory.

“Tell me what you really want,” Potter said one time, when Draco told him to put on a different shirt.

“I want you to look presentable,” Draco told him.

“No.” Potter’s voice was firm. “You want to tell me what to do.”

“I—” Draco had been prepared to be caught out. He was completely prepared. He just couldn’t remember what he’d planned to say. “I . . .”

“Tell me,” Potter said.

“I was just trying it,” Draco blurted. “You said you like people to stand up to you. I thought you might like it.”

“Stop thinking about what I like,” Potter said. “Think about what you like.”

Potter was an imbecile. Draco wasn’t going to stop thinking about what Potter liked. Draco was trying to make Potter fall for him, which meant that what Potter liked mattered, and what Draco liked didn’t. However, Potter’s words were the key to the puzzle—he didn’t like being ordered around for the sake of being ordered around. He didn’t want to be a formalized submissive, a slave; he just wanted to give Draco what he wanted. The problem was that Draco didn’t know what Potter wanted him to want.

Eventually, Draco simply lapsed into asking for things that occurred to him in the moment—telling Potter to close the window when he was cold, asking Potter to bring him a drink when he was thirsty. This worked fairly well, as Draco didn’t have to have much of a filter. He could just say what he wanted and ask for things that pleased him, and Potter spoiled him utterly. Draco no longer even tried to get up early; bringing him breakfast in bed obviously pleased Potter, and if Potter was happy about it, Draco wasn’t going to stop it.

Potter not wanting people to give him things meant that Draco could leave off the cooking and cleaning at the very least. Without chores to do, Draco had no obligatory tasks until Potter returned to Hawthorn Lane, besides checking on the Masker Ade back at the flat. Draco had taken on no new contracts with clients, and he had sent deferrals to his regulars, most of whom would complain but liked him well enough to take him back even after several missed appointments.

Draco napped a lot, read fashion magazines, and occasionally nosed through Potter’s Quidditch magazines. The problem of Potter, however, could not be ignored. Whenever he got home, he asked what Draco had been up to, since Draco obviously hadn’t done any household chores. On the first two days of this question, Draco told Potter he’d been up to nothing, but that made Potter look disappointed—not overtly. You had to know how to read him, but Draco was learning, and that little bunching near the lightning scar meant he’d hoped Draco would feel at home enough to do something interesting and productive.

Over the next two or three days, Draco began telling Potter he was catching up on reading, but Potter responded to that with a warm light in his eyes and, “What were you reading?” Draco showed him a couple of magazines and the bunching returned, presumably because Potter had already seen Draco reading them; they weren’t exactly tomes. Perhaps he thought that Draco was lying—which Draco was, a little; he wasn’t telling Potter about the Masker Ade, but other than that, Draco really wasn’t doing much of anything.

Pretending that he had some other occupation would probably help Potter fall in love with him. No doubt the idea that Tristan’s whole life was literally fucking other men was a turn-off for Potter; people who thought they loved prostitutes always imagined that there was some depth to them, some secret life. They never seemed to realize that when one shagged for a living there was not time for a secret life; there wasn’t room; there wasn’t a pristine soul inside that body, underneath all that come and sweat. There were only glands to produce more come and more sweat, and the knowledge that now there was enough money to keep Pansy safe.

The banquet at NimbusCorp had reminded Draco of an interest he used to have, however—before prostitution had become his life, before the war. He had used to love to imagine broom designs, so he tried his hand at it again to fend off more questions about his activities from Potter.

The broom designs looked like the feeble and ignorant scribbles of a child, and he gave up quickly.

Designing things when one was twelve was very different than designing things that would work realistically in the actual world, and doing nothing about it for fifteen years hadn’t helped. The only area in which Draco had ever had time to work since the war was potions, and that was because he had to—first to produce enough Polyjuice to disguise their bodies, so they could more easily seduce clients. Second, he had developed Masker Ade—easier to brew, longer lasting, less stressful to the system.

Although Draco had invented Masker Ade, he wasn’t an expert, not really. He’d worked at potions for Snape’s sake in school, but honestly Snape had been a bit mad when it came to potions. Admittedly, potions were very powerful and could do many things, but he wasn’t good at them like charms or duelling or flying.

Not that Draco was any good at those things. Not any more.

Draco glanced down at his crude sketch for a broomstick. The idea was for a Blizzard Broom—a broom that could redirect snow and solve the problem of condensation, which changed the weight distribution on the broom. Now that Draco thought about it, a potion could solve those problems, but it would need to be something that could be absorbed into the wood. Like an oil. Or polish.

Draco almost crumpled the parchment. The idea was frivolous. It was pointless.

But Potter was going to come home that night and ask, What did you do today? and when Draco once again said, Nothing, Potter was going to look so, so disappointed. He was going to think that Tristan was lazy, a lay-about, a slag. Eventually Potter would understand that Tristan was nothing but a hooker, and that was not at all the point of this enterprise. Potter was supposed to think that Tristan was worth something; he was supposed to be interested in Tristan as a person. Potter was supposed to want him, and even though a Blizzard Broom was an insensate, brainless idea, it was better than lying about doing nothing.

Haphazardly—almost randomly—Draco began jotting notes for how one might brew a polish that would wick away snow, or use it for purposes of weight adjustment. Really there were all sorts of things one might do with potions in this vein. Not only could potions help protect against elements; they could fortify the aerodynamics of the broom itself. Wands were made by filling hollow wood with magical items; the best brooms were made in the same way, but in every step of the process the wood or items could be infused with deeper magic with the help of potions.

After a while, Draco got a little tired of it. It had been quite a long time since he had written so much with a quill in just one sitting, but then it occurred to him that he would have to show the notes to Potter. After all, the point of the whole project was to convince Potter that Tristan could do productive things with his time. If Potter was to look at it, Draco would need to make sure his notes at least made sense.

He would have to research—something he hadn’t done in a long time—and write up a proper potions procedure and proofs just like Snape would have wanted—something Draco hadn’t done in even longer. When he had experimented with the Masker Ade he hadn’t bothered to document his methods; Masker Ade was not a product to be presented to colleagues or announced in Potion Press, the way Snape would have wanted. The venture hadn't been academic; it had been necessary, and Draco had treated it as such.

This, though . . . Potter had been half in love with that Granger girl all through Hogwarts, and she was the worst kind of academic. No doubt her potion procedures and proofs were fit for Potion Press basically without editing. If that was the sort of thing that got Potter hot, Draco could do it. He could do anything.

This Blizzard Broom was positively genius, by the way. The use of porpoise whisker was particularly inspired.

Draco didn’t exactly notice time passing, but after a while he did notice it was too dark to read any of his books. Glancing up, he realized that the sun slanting in the sitting-room window had disappeared, and Harry Potter was standing in the door way.

He looked like he had been there a while, just as he had on the first morning—arms crossed in front of him, lounging in the doorframe, simply watching.

Draco was still wearing his spectacles.

Masker Ade only changed the appearance of his eyes, not the anatomical structure of them, and Draco’s eyesight had always been poor. When he was young, his parents had always been able to afford charms to improve his eyesight. Even during the war, he’d still been able to buy them, but afterwards the Malfoy fortune was stripped and he hadn’t had anything. Once Verity started doing well, Draco had been able to afford the charms once again. Normally he wore the charms, but this afternoon when the last charm had worn off he hadn’t really thought about it; the glasses were clearer anyway and he’d Summoned them. He’d got so used to wearing them after the war, when all he had was—

Draco ripped them off his face. “I didn’t hear you come in.”

“I didn’t know you wore glasses.” Potter’s face was inscrutable.

“I’m not. I don’t.” Draco Banished the spectacles, and Potter pushed himself off of the doorframe, coming towards him.

“What are you doing?” Potter said.

“Nothing.” Draco pushed the books aside, standing up. “It’s not important. How was your—”

“It looks important.”

Potter’s eyes were very dark in the grey light of the parlour, and suddenly Draco remembered why he had been working on the Blizzard Broom in the first place. “I was just . . .” Draco grimaced. Tristan was supposed to be doing something just to prove he had a life, that he wasn’t just a hooker. Tristan's primary focus, however, should still be Potter; Tristan shouldn’t care so much about stupid polish and Blizzard Brooms.

Draco shrugged. “Just a potion.”

“May I see?”

Draco hesitated.

“You don’t have to,” Potter said.

“They’re just sketches.” Draco picked up a handful of the parchment and gave it to Potter.

A little frown creased Potter’s brow. “Potions procedures.” He flipped to the second parchment, eyes scanning Draco’s cramped handwriting. “And proofs. This looks like the kind of thing my old Potions professor would get published in a journal.”

Draco’s chest felt tight. “It’s nothing,” he said again.

“Hm.” Potter flipped to the next page, then the next.

Draco’s hands itched with the longing to snatch the parchments back.

Potter flipped to another page, and his eyes flicked up. “Why witch hazel?”

“What?”

Potter showed him the parchment. “I thought witch hazel was for healing, not brooms.”

“Witch hazel is a winter plant.” Draco moved closer to see the parchment, pointing out the hazel qualities so neatly listed on the paper. “It’s for the snow.”

“Oh,” said Potter. “And the beeswax?”

“That’s just to provide a base.”

“Maybe you should start from the beginning,” said Potter.

“It’s not really important,” Draco said, but Potter went and sat on the sofa, gesturing to the spot beside him.

“For instance,” said Potter. “The cormorant feathers.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “You’re missing the whole point. Did you even read the first page?”

“I sort of forgot how to read a proof like this.”

Draco sat next to him on the sofa. “Give me that,” he said, grabbing the sheaf of papers. He began walking through the proof with Potter, who had forgotten everything Snape had taught him, apparently. The proof was technical but Potter could have figured out the cormorant feathers at the very least. Cormorants had different feathers than ducks; they were less water repellent. It made them worse swimmers but better fliers; the compromise was necessary.

“I see,” Potter murmured into his ear.

“Now, about the gypsum,” Draco said, turning to the next page.

“Yes,” Potter said. His nose was brushing Draco’s hair. “Tell me about the gypsum.”

Potter didn’t know anything about gypsum, which was patently ridiculous. Snape had spent nearly a month on gypsum in fourth year, but then again, Potter had been wrapped up in showing off, making their school look bad in fourth year—Merlin knew whether Potter was even paying attention now, come to think of it.

They had shifted into a more comfortable position on the sofa. Draco had been distracted by the cormorants and the gypsum, he supposed, because he hadn’t really noticed the moment when they had become more horizontal than vertical. He was lying against Potter’s chest, holding the parchments in front of them so they both could see, and Potter was making low, soft noises of inquiry and assent every so often.

“You’re not listening,” Draco told him.

“I’m listening.” Potter’s lips moved against Draco’s neck when he talked.

“Then what did I say?”

“Something about retrograde solubility.”

What about retrograde solubility?”

“I’m not sure,” said Potter. “Maybe you better say it again.”

Draco twisted to look up at him, difficult to do in Potter’s arms. “This is turning you on.”

“You being bookish?”

“I don’t know,” Draco said peevishly, “but you—”

“Yes.” Potter’s arms tightened around him a little. “You’re getting worked up over it.”

“I’m not worked up over—”

“You’re interested in things.” Potter lightly nipped Draco’s ear, then let go. “I like people who are interested in things. You have no idea how much.”

“I have some idea,” Draco said, still peevish. He shifted in Potter’s lap. Potter was undeniably hard.

“Let me wank you.”

Potter’s voice might have been seductive, but the words certainly weren’t. It didn’t matter, though—Potter’s hand was already moving across Draco’s waist, down to Draco’s trousers, and perhaps Potter had a magic touch or something—perhaps he actually did. Perhaps Potter was really using magic, and that was why all of Draco’s professionalism just went out the window when Potter touched him like this, unfastened his trousers like this, slipped his hand in like this.

Draco was already hard.

He didn’t know why. This wasn’t hot. Telling Potter about his potion idea was not hot. Draco knew how to be hot; he’d planned on surprising Potter that evening—dressing up in leather and maybe using chains and manacles. Potter would have liked it; he’d like it a lot better than coming home to Draco wearing loungewear and ridiculous glasses and going on and on like some sort of swot about how excited he was about gypsum for the love of—

Salazar. Salazar. Salazar's Chamber, Potter had his fist around him and was pulling, just steadily pulling and then dragging back down, and Draco was grinding his arse down against the hardness in Potter’s lap.

Salazar. Merlin.

“Harder,” Draco croaked. “Merlin, Harry, harder.” Potter obliged, and Draco’s back arched, his arm twisting up and behind him to grip the back of Potter’s neck, draw him closer—

Merlin, Potter was big. Draco could feel it against his arse, even through Potter’s trousers, even through his own. Draco didn’t usually think about it, but Potter was fairly well-endowed. His erection inside of Draco would be—it would be—

Draco arched again, Potter’s hand dragging up and then back down, and Draco’s mouth was hanging open.

“You like that?” Potter said, and his voice was in Draco’s ear.

Draco ground his arse into Potter’s lap.

“You like it?” Potter said, tightening his hand around the base of Draco’s cock.

“Y-yes,” Draco stuttered. “Yes, I like it, fuck—

“Good,” said Potter. “I’m going to come.”

“Yes, do it.” Draco squirmed inelegantly in his lap. “Do it—”

“Tristan,” Potter said, and his hand went tight, and his hips arched up, and Draco clamped his hand over Potter’s fist, still wrapped around his cock, and jerked himself with it—jerked himself off using Potter’s hand on his cock while Potter came underneath him, still in trousers, against Draco’s arse.

Something fell off the mantle on the other side of the room—Potter’s accidental magic.

That made Draco come too, and he forced Potter’s hand to catch it, hold the tip of his cock and keep everything that came from it while Draco arched. Potter kissed his neck over and over, making low, hoarse little murmurs along with it. “Like that, Tristan, just like that.”

“Fuck,” Draco said when it was over. He was limp on top of Potter, and Potter had a handful of come.

“That was good,” Potter said.

“That was sloppy,” Draco said.

“I like sloppy,” Potter said, but when he moved his hand away from Draco’s cock he waved it, Banishing the come away.

“And you like academic lectures. I imagine you quite like Professor Binns.” Draco twisted to look up at him when Potter didn’t answer.

“I’m surprised you know who Binns is,” Potter said after a long moment.

Draco faced forwards. He hadn't made a slip. He hadn’t, because Draco could easily explain it. He was definitely suffering the effects of a post-coital haze, however. “I researched Hogwarts before I came to stay,” he said. “I could name all of your professors, probably.”

“Research. That sounds like you.” Potter pushed Draco’s sweaty hair away from his brow, kissed his temple.

Draco squirmed. “You like it. You like that I’m a swot.”

“Yes.”

Twisting up to look at him again, Draco tried to read the tone in Potter’s voice. “You like that I have other interests,” Draco said. “Ones that aren’t your Quidditch score, or anything to do with you.”

Potter’s eyelids went heavier, but he didn’t say anything else.

“I have all sorts of interests that have nothing to do with you,” Draco lied, sitting up. “I’ve got just about a million.”

“Good.” Potter sat up too.

“Like right now I want to eat. And I want a good bottle of wine.”

“I’ll go get one for you,” Potter said.

“And I want better parchment. I stole yours from the desk in your hall and it’s appalling.”

“I can get that too.”

“And I want to suck your cock.”

“That has a little to do with me,” Potter pointed out.

“No,” said Draco. “It has to do with your cock. Just me and your magnificent prick. I could take or leave you.”

The corner of Potter’s mouth turned, and—yes, there it was. The line appeared at the side of Potter’s mouth. “You think my prick is magnificent?”

Draco waved a dismissive hand. “It will do for my purposes. Your arse, however . . .” Draco trailed off.

Potter’s brows went up, but the line deepened. “Is something wrong with my arse?”

“No.” They had been sitting beside each other, but now Draco climbed onto him again, putting his knees on either side of Potter’s thighs. “No, your arse is quite good.”

“Quite good? What about magnificent?”

“Perhaps.” Draco pushed Potter back into the couch.

“Perhaps?”

Draco put his lips by Potter’s ear. “When it’s dripping for me.”

Potter’s hips gave a sad little jerk. He sucked in his breath. “I thought you wanted dinner.”

“Later,” Draco said, because he just had so much control. He could make Potter do anything he wanted. He could make Potter get him dinner, get him wine, get him parchment—he could make Potter’s hips twitch and his mouth go slack; he could make Potter sick with lust without any work. Draco could make Potter drip for it and it would take absolutely no effort; he could tell Potter to do all the work if he wanted and Potter probably would. Potter got hot just from seeing Draco in glasses and a dressing gown, scribbling on parchment; Potter was his slave.

His slave.

Draco wanted Potter so powerfully in that moment that thinking was almost impossible.

“Tristan,” Potter said, voice tight with desire.

Draco held him down. “I’m going to fuck you now,” he said, and then he did.

*

Evenings were still difficult, but the night Draco had begun designing the Blizzard Broom had proven successful. Draco had learned a couple of things that night—Potter liked them bookish, for one—but that hadn’t quite been enough. For instance, perhaps the spectacles and socks had been what really set him off. Perhaps he had a thing for gypsum.

Possibly Potter was a homebody—the sort of person who faffed about the house whenever he could. Initially, it might have seemed implausible, but with the way Potter never seemed to enjoy himself at social functions—even if he enjoyed himself immensely afterwards—Draco supposed it could be true.

He decided to put the theory to the test. To do this, Draco performed a series of experiments.

The first experiment was infiltration.

When Draco had first moved in, he had determined that Potter shouldn’t feel imposed upon by Draco’s presence. Draco had kept most of his belongings shrunk down to fit in the valise so they’d be out of Potter’s way, and he’d tried to change as little as possible about the house, other than keeping it clean and well-kempt. Now that Draco had skived off the cleaning, however, Draco tried a different approach.

A bit at a time, Draco began to make his presence felt—just little details that would only gradually enter Potter’s consciousness, until at last Potter reached a state in which Draco had become such a part of Potter’s life that Potter couldn’t live without him.

Draco began by leaving dirty clothes lying on the floor in the bedroom, once or twice in the bathroom. Draco was an extremely fastidious person; leaving clothes on the floor was a way to get them wrinkled and thereafter ruined, but he did it anyway.

When Potter noticed the garments he paused over them, hesitating, then picked them up and laid them neatly over chairs. Once or twice he put them in the laundry bin or hung them up. When Draco left a cloak lying over the arm of the couch, Potter didn’t do anything about it—but he looked at it. He definitely looked at it. He kept looking at it.

Extending the experiment, Draco left a book on the sideboard. A glass on the kitchen table, a plate in the sink.

Potter was not a fastidious person. These little details were no worse mess than Potter committed, and in fact, Draco doubted he could ever even come close to achieving Potter’s level of slovenliness. But the difference was that Potter was only used to messes he himself had created. The scroll left on the table and the towel on the bathroom floor were evidence another person lived there; until then, Draco had been very careful to eliminate absolutely any impact on the household.

Draco changed other things too—slowly, carefully, with a great deal of thought. He left the blinds up in the sitting-room. He reorganized the liquor cabinet and brought proper glasses to drink with over from his flat. He straightened the books on Potter’s shelves and put food he liked to eat in the cooler; gradually, he unshrank his wardrobe and began hanging it beside Potter’s in the closet.

“I can take them out if you mind,” Draco said.

“No.” Potter’s voice was rough. “Don’t take them out.”

Potter liked it. Potter loved it. Someone who wasn’t watching closely might have had difficulty seeing it, but Draco could see it all. When Draco changed something in a room—even a little thing—Potter’s gaze would go straight to it, then away. Later, when he thought no one could be looking, his gaze would return, lingering there. The line didn’t appear but that hard jaw would soften. He’d look almost tender—the utter git.

For another experiment, Draco tried not doing anything at all when Potter got home. Draco didn’t even bother to get up and greet him, pretending to be absorbed in his potion proofs again. “There you are,” Draco said when Potter entered the sitting-room. Draco didn’t look up. “How was your day?”

Potter grunted a vaguely inarticulate reply. Draco turned a page.

“I’ll be done in a minute or two. You don’t mind, do you?” Draco looked up at him over the rims of his glasses.

Potter grunted again, and Draco went back to reading his parchment. “Come sit on the couch,” he added, moving his feet.

Potter dropped everything. He literally tossed aside everything he was holding—his satchel and a wand case and his robes, bunched up in a way guaranteed to get them wrinkled—all of them went to the floor, and then he just went to the sofa and sat there. Just sat there. Then Draco put his bare feet in Potter’s lap. Sucking in a breath, Potter began stroking Draco’s arches.

“I didn’t prepare a meal,” Draco said, after several minutes of this.

Potter squeezed his foot. “We can order in.”

“Sounds good.” Draco put aside the sheaf of parchments, then drew his toes along Potter’s inner thigh. “How was your day?”

“It’s better.” Potter squeezed Draco’s foot again. “It’s better now.”

*

The third experiment was wearing Potter’s clothes.

The perfect opportunity came one morning in the middle of the second week, when Draco awoke to Potter’s mouth on him. Potter hadn’t awakened him that way since the very first time they'd shagged, when Draco had accidentally fallen asleep afterwards. Once Draco had come in Potter’s mouth, Potter pulled on worn denims and left. Draco snuggled back in the bed.

When Draco awoke again, he supposed Potter was downstairs making breakfast. If Potter was really as disgustingly domestic as Draco was beginning to suspect, he would think it sweet if Draco joined him.

Looking about the room, Draco’s eyes lit upon a one of Potter’s Muggle t-shirts—one of the ones with the faded writing on it that stretched too tight across Potter’s chest. Perfect.

After his dose of Masker Ade, Draco came downstairs in nothing but Potter’s shirt. It was too big, which made it long enough to mostly cover Draco’s arse, but it kept slipping off one shoulder. In the kitchen, Potter wore only jeans, his back to Draco as he cooked eggs at the stove. When Draco came up behind him, wrapping his arms around Potter’s waist, Potter started. “Sorry,” Draco murmured, and kissed Potter’s bare shoulder.

“You’re up early,” Potter said. He didn’t turn, but tilted his head to see Draco better.

“Someone woke me.” Draco stepped away, looking down at the eggs. “What are you making? Can I help?”

There wasn’t any answer.

Draco glanced back up at him, and found that Potter was staring. Draco pretended to look guilty. “Oh,” he said, plucking the loose t-shirt. “I—all of my things were dirty. I hope you don’t mind—I borrowed your shirt.”

“I don’t mind,” Potter said gruffly.

He went back to the eggs, so Draco went over to the ice box, pretending to peruse the shelves as he bent over to look inside. “I suppose I can make fruit salad,” Draco said. “Do you like strawberries?”

When Potter didn’t answer, Draco turned to look over his shoulder, and Potter was staring, just staring—probably at the way his own t-shirt rode up over Draco’s exposed arse. “I’ll get it started,” Draco said, beginning to take out ingredients.

There were bananas and strawberries and a squash, which was close enough, so Draco Transfigured the squash into a melon, and got to work with slicing spells. “If you have yogurt I can—” Draco had turned around to look at Potter again, but Potter was still just standing there, transfixed. “Harry?”

“Yes.” Potter got out the yogurt.

Cutting the fruit with a few spells, Draco got down a bowl and directed the food into it. “Pity you’ve only one pan of that size,” Draco said, though it was not a pity at all, because it gave Draco the opportunity to come up beside Potter to look at the eggs. “I could have made crêpes. Have you put in onions?”

“I thought you liked onions.”

“I do,” Draco said, surprised. “Though I usually can’t bear the way my breath tastes after them. Let’s have a taste.” Lifting a bit of the scrambled egg with his wand, Draco blew on it to cool, then ate the bite. “That’s not half—”

“I can’t,” Potter said, taking the wand out of Draco’s hand. Then Potter’s hands were on Draco’s arse, pulling him away from the stove, his mouth dangerously close to Draco’s mouth. “I want to kiss you,” Potter said. “I want—God, I want . . .”

Draco caught his breath. Letting Potter do it really wouldn’t be so bad. Draco had made the rule arbitrarily anyway; he had just wanted to keep something from Potter, and that had been before he’d decided to try to make Potter fall in love with him. It wouldn’t really be so bad, and Draco took a breath—

But Potter had already moved his mouth down to kiss Draco’s jaw, his throat. Potter’s mouth moved hotly down, along the line of Draco’s neck, then hungry on the shoulder revealed by the t-shirt.

Draco held him there and—and this must be what it felt like, to be wanted, to be truly desired—to be devoured. Potter was shirtless in his sagging faded jeans; he’d just been cooking eggs and now his hands were bruising on Draco’s bum, dragging him closer, fitting Draco’s soft pink cock against the hardness in his jeans.

“God,” Potter breathed, hot breath in Draco’s ear. He squeezed Draco’s bum, fabric and skin caught in his hands as he ground his hips closer into the soft fabric covering Draco’s cock. “I want you,” Potter said.

“You can have me,” Draco said.

This was also part of Draco’s plan. They were going to have sex against every flat surface in this house, and when he was done, Potter wasn’t going to be able to look at a single wall without remembering how Tristan had made him come against it. The loveseat in the sitting-room would be full of memories; the table in the kitchen would have to go, the hall in the middle of the house would be too painful to walk. With any luck, Potter would have to quit the cosy little shack entirely and go live in a barn.

Instead of commencing a shag, however, Potter held him tight.

Draco squirmed in his embrace, trying to get his hands between them, down to Potter's jeans.

“Do you remember when I woke you up this morning?” Potter said.

“Maybe.” Draco was thinking about rimming, and whether he could make Potter do it to him. Often getting rimmed was a perk of getting it up the arse, but it didn’t have to be that way. Potter would probably do anything Draco told him.

“You were having a nightmare,” Potter said.

Draco went still. “Did I say anything?”

“No.”

Draco pulled away. “It isn’t any of your business.”

Potter was silent.

“I mean to say,” Draco began, and stopped. He didn’t know how to fix the sharpness of his tone, so he made himself sound sickly sweet, and lied. “It can be your business if you want it to be. I’m entirely at your disposal—anything you want.”

“Don’t talk like that.”

“Like what?”

“Like you’ve got a script. Say what you really think.”

“Perhaps you wouldn’t like what I really think.”

Potter didn’t say anything. Instead he reached out his hand—the hand that had wielded the wand that killed Voldemort. It was really an unattractive hand—dark and square, with chipped nails, and Draco didn’t like what Potter was doing. Potter was touching the place near Draco’s eye, the place where tears came out, but the eye wasn’t Draco’s, and then rough fingers were tracing along Draco’s temple but the temple wasn’t Draco’s either. Then the coarse pad of Potter’s thumb was touching the corner of Draco’s lip, just the corner, the part where smiles came—but the mouth wasn’t Draco’s; the smile wasn’t his.

Potter said, “Does anyone even know the real you?”

Pansy, Draco wanted to spit. He pushed away from Potter instead, still feeling how Potter’s hands had felt on him. All of him was filthy; he was covered in slime; it was disgusting and he was so—“This is the real me,” Draco said. “This is everything. All of it.”

“It wasn’t the first time,” Potter said. “That first night you stayed—you had nightmares then, too. That was part of the reason I kept waking you.”

“Oh, let’s not dispense with them, then; I wouldn’t want to deny you the pleasure.”

“I didn’t mean it that way.”

Draco tilted his head. “What way did you mean it?”

“I didn’t,” was all Potter said.

Draco wanted to curse him, but he didn’t have his wand and he was supposed to be making Potter fall in love with him and this was what Pansy would call the first step towards one of his breakdowns, so instead Draco left the room.

Stupid.

Stupid.

He was so stupid; he was supposed to be making Potter fall in love with him, not—not—whatever he had been doing back there. Having made it to the hall outside Potter’s bedroom, Draco leaned back against the wall for strength, closing his eyes and taking deep breaths like Pansy always told him to, like Mother used to tell Father to. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. One, two, three.

Straightening his shoulders, Draco took another deep breath, and went back to the kitchen.

“I’m sorry,” Draco said.

“Don’t be,” Potter said.

“Sometimes it’s easier not to be honest.”

“I get that,” said Potter.

Draco bit his lip for effect. “People make assumptions. They think they know you.”

“I don’t want to pick apart your secrets, Tristan. I just want you to feel safe with me.”

Swallowing, Draco looked away. “I do.”

When Potter came slowly towards him, Draco knew that Potter had bought it. Draco had succeeded, the argument as good as forgot. Potter put a hand in Draco’s hair.

“I’ve had them since the war,” Draco said, daring to look at Potter. “The nightmares.”

Potter’s fingers stopped playing with Tristan’s curls. "How were you involved?" he asked.

Draco quickly shook his head. “I wasn’t involved. Not—directly. At first. I suppose we all were—eventually.”

Potter took his hand away, but he was paying close attention. Draco sucked in a breath. “My father,” Draco blurted. “He—he trusted the wrong man, and that man failed him. Betrayed him.”

Though Potter still betrayed no expression, Draco could see that this affected him—Potter’s eyes flared briefly greener; the corners of his mouth went tight. Sympathy. Shared pain. Tenderness, perhaps, and the supposition caused Draco to rush on headlong, because he was getting somewhere with Potter. “It didn’t kill him right away,” Draco said. “That betrayal. But it did eventually, and I had to see him—I had to watch what it did to him, and he—”

Draco found that he could not speak. He was trying to, but he couldn’t; his voice choked. He hadn’t known he was such a talented actor; his eyes were hot, as though he were truly going to cry—but he wasn’t. He obviously wasn’t, because it was all just a lie; everything was a lie—

“Let me wash you,” Potter said.

Draco made some sort of sound—sharp, something half hysterical. “What?” he managed.

“I want to run you a hot bath,” said Potter, “and fill it with your smelly potions. I want—I don’t want you to do anything; I want to lift your arms and legs and clean you, all of you.” His eyes moved to Tristan’s curls again. “I want to wash your hair.”

Pressing his lips together, Draco prevented himself from making the wrong comment. At last he simply raised his brow and said, “Smelly potions?”

“The ones you like,” said Potter. “Please. I want to treat you like a prince.”

Draco hitched a shoulder. “If you insist.”

Potter did what he said—soaped Draco’s hair. Lifted Draco’s feet, washed between his toes. It was asinine and ludicrous and decadent and luxurious, and there were points when Draco almost fell asleep before Potter moved on to lift Draco’s arms, sponging his triceps, his elbows, his hands. Potter spent forever on Draco’s hands.

Thoughts of the nightmares eased away, and Draco supposed he’d given adequate lies to cover them. Perhaps a secret vulnerability was what Potter wanted in a lover after all, which seemed to fit with the impressions Draco had had earlier about Potter wanting to serve someone. “Taking care of people makes you feel wanted,” Draco said.

His eyes were closed, his head on the edge of the tub, and Potter was soaping his hair again. He had already done it once, but Draco had told him the potion should be applied twice and rinsed out each time, and next the conditioning potion. It didn’t really matter; with the Masker Ade, Tristan’s hair would always be the same, but Potter didn’t know that, and Draco had got into the habit of conditioning. “I suppose,” was all Potter said.

Wrong. Potter didn’t need to feel wanted; everyone wanted him.

Draco thought about Pansy, Nott, Millie. The Slytherins in seventh year and before. “It makes you feel strong,” Draco said.

Potter massaged Draco’s scalp. “Partly.”

Closer. Draco breathed deeply, and thought about Mum. The things she had done for him. “It makes you feel like it’s worth it,” he said. “Like the things you do are worthwhile. If you have someone to protect.”

“I think that’s it.”

Draco wondered what to do with that.

“Can you make sure your eyes are shut?” Potter said. “I’m going to do a rinse charm.”

Shutting his eyes tightly, Draco thought there wasn’t much he could do to make Potter want to protect him. He was already a prostitute in Potter’s possession; he couldn’t possibly be more helpless or at Potter’s mercy. But Potter wanted more than that; he wanted to connect, to identify. If Draco made up some nice lies about how much he understood Potter’s feelings, he could win sympathy. Affection.

“I know the feeling,” Draco said, when the rinse was over.

Potter didn’t say anything, just kept finger-combing Tristan’s hair.

Then again, Potter never said much. He seemed to appreciate the false confessions though, so Draco kept them up.

Besides, it felt sort of nice to talk about it.

“I—there were people I protected,” Draco said. “That I still protect. I’m not—I don’t think I’d be anyone’s top choice, but I’m what they’ve got. And they’re what I’ve got. They make me feel like—it’s worth it. Anything is worth it. I’d do anything for them.”

Potter started massaging the conditioning potion into Tristan’s hair. “Why don’t you think you’re good at it?”

“What?”

“You said you wouldn’t be their top choice.”

“I . . .” Typical Potter, latching onto something so utterly meaningless. Draco tried to think of something, but the only thing that came to mind was idiocy. “I’m not very—very powerful. And I don’t have a lot of influence. And I’m not—” Draco took a swift breath. “I’m not very brave.”

Potter just went on massaging Draco’s scalp, and Draco didn’t know whether the lies had been worth the bother. Whether he was getting through at all, and the water felt cold. Filmy. Cassandra’s curse, this was all so absurd—

“There’s a House in Hogwarts,” Potter said, scritching Draco’s scalp with slow, steady fingers. “They have a bad reputation but they’re not all like that.”

Draco powerfully resisted rolling his eyes. He was already done with this conversation.

“Some of them are brilliant,” Potter went on. “You sort of remind me of someone I knew from that House.”

“Oh?” Draco put his hands under the bubbles, so Potter wouldn’t see that they had clenched to fists.

“He had to keep secrets,” Potter said, “but he kept them, even though it meant doing things he hated. He was always playing games, but he was good. Deep down he was the best of us.” Potter traced the shell of Draco’s ear with a soapy fingertip. “He wasn’t nearly as pretty as you, though.”

“Who,” Draco said, but his voice was faint. He swallowed. “Who was he?”

“His name was Snape.”

Draco started to stand up.

“Tristan?”

“I don’t want to talk about this any more,” Draco said, turning to Potter.

“That’s all right. We can—”

“I want to fuck you.”

“Oh. I—”

“Right here in this bathtub.” Draco pulled Potter closer. Even though Potter was still wearing jeans, Draco would spell him in if he had to, but he didn’t have to. Potter came willingly, standing in the tub and then sitting in it when Draco pushed him down. “I’m going to fuck you so hard,” Draco said, settling his soapy wet body on top of Potter’s.

“All right, but what—”

“Touching my hair gets me hot,” Draco said, and it was true. He was hot, so so hot, but not from the hair touching. He was burning up with need; he wanted it so much, and Potter was right here for the taking. He was here for the taking. “Get these asinine Muggle contraptions off,” he said, yanking at the denim.

“You’re the one who got me in here with them on,” Potter pointed out.

“Now I want them off. Get them off so I can fuck you.” Draco wasn’t helping any more; he was too hot to help; he had his knee against Potter’s crotch and his cock against Potter’s tattooed chest and he was kissing Potter’s neck. Salazar, but Draco wanted more.

He was the best of us.

“I’m going to fuck you so hard,” Draco said. Rutting into Potter’s chest, he didn’t even know what he was saying. “I’m going to give it to you so good, love.”

Potter got a little grabby then—grabbier than he usually got, vanishing his jeans, and the water was going everywhere, sloshing outside the tub. He liked it. Oh, Potter liked it; something that Draco had done in the past thirty seconds had got Potter half frantic with lust. “Just—just let me jerk you off,” Potter said, his breath short and quick.

“No,” Draco said, rutting against him in a different position now, but it was still awkward in the bathtub. “I want to fuck you.”

“Tristan.” Potter tried to position them, and Draco half expected he’d do something amazing and athletic and physically impossible, but bathtubs simply were not the best place for sex—at least when they were big enough to spoon but not quite big enough to move. “Tristan,” Potter huffed, after another failed manoeuvre.

“Fuck it,” Draco said. “Transfigure it to a shower.”

Potter stopped his grabbing momentarily. “There’s a spell for that?” he asked.

Rolling his eyes, Draco stood up in the bath grabbed Potter’s wand. It was sitting on the floor outside the tub, and his own was somewhere . . . Draco didn’t know; it was somewhere else. “Transfiguro pluvial,” he said, waving the wand at the tub.

It instantly transformed into a shower—not the nicest one, and it wouldn’t last, but it was made for standing in, and currently Potter was sitting down, looking up at him. “You used my wand,” he said.

He seemed so stricken by it that it killed the mood, a little. Draco rolled his eyes. “Honestly, with the number of times my dick’s been in your arse I find it shocking that you choose to become a prude now.”

Potter stood, staring at him.

Draco wondered whether Potter really had a problem with it, whether he had misjudged.

“Put your cock in me,” Potter said.

A feral smile curled Draco’s lips.

The experiment had been a success.

*

Another experiment was the pet names. Potter just went wild for them. Draco was careful not to use them too much, lest they lose their power, but honestly if he wanted Potter to blow him all he needed to do was call him sweetheart. Potter would bend over backwards when Draco called him honey; he panted when he heard the word baby; he lost it when Draco called him pet. Absolutely lost it.

None of it made any sense. One did not hire a highly trained professional to leave his toothbrush on the sink or call one darling. You didn’t hire a rent boy so that he could draw up pointless, far-fetched potion proofs while you rubbed his neck and listened to the wireless. You didn’t keep a hooker—who could just have easily have been a live-in sex slave—to cook with you and teach you kitchen spells, because that was another thing that Potter seemed to like: household chores.

Potter was all right with cooking by himself, and he didn’t seem to mind when Draco did it, but he got this particular light in his eye when they did it together, when Draco had to manoeuvre around him to stir a pot, when one of them was chopping and the other was sautéing side by side. The entire thing was asinine. Potter could have afforded any food he liked, but Draco was learning among his other experiments that Potter preferred pedestrian things—bangers and mash, a simple curry, meat pies like the ones they used to have at Hogwarts, beans. Far too many beans, and Potter ate just like a horse.

Potter even seemed to enjoy the washing up. The first time Draco had flicked a soap sud at him Potter had looked startled, but then his mouth had flattened—not quite the line, but close. He’d flicked soap back, and since he’d liked it so much Draco had directed an Augmenti straight at his head.

Then there was not only the line on Potter’s mouth; there were full-on teeth in his smile, and Draco hadn’t had a water war with wands since he was nine years old. But then they were there doing it, and Potter was fighting back as though he’d never done it before, as though Muggle methods were allowed, which they weren’t. Potter was scooping big handfuls of suds and it wasn’t fair, except he’d grown up with Muggles and probably learned such things from Blood Traitors like the Weasleys, so obviously it was no holds bar.

Then they were wrestling and their shirts were wet. Draco had Potter up against the wall, and Potter tried to kiss him. Draco turned his head just in time, only Potter didn’t seem to care. His hot lips landed on Draco’s wet neck, steaming tongue licking up the cold water—and soap too, probably, only Potter didn’t seem to mind that either.

Potter rolled his hips in a sinful way, and Draco couldn’t help but shiver. As it turned out, Potter’s hands were just as scorching as his mouth, because once he got Draco’s slacks open and got his hand inside it burned on Draco’s flesh, then wrapped around Draco’s cock.

“Tristan." Potter's mouth was on Draco’s throat, sucking a trail of hot wet fire. “Fuck, Tristan.” Potter’s hips did another little circle against Draco’s cock, against Potter’s own hand between them, fisting it. His teeth scraped a path to Draco’s ear. “I can’t believe you’re real.”

That.

Things like that.

Things like that didn’t make sense.

Fantasies were—Draco didn’t know. Beds filled with rose petals. Chocolate and champagne. Gorgeous, athletic men with thousands of Galleons and Draco didn’t know—pet dragons. Except Draco did know; he knew everything about fantasies; he was a fantasy. He made fantasies come true.

A fantasy was a slender, beautiful boy with his legs open and come leaking from his arse; it was a dominatrix dressed in leather holding a crop; it was a lithe, virginal young man begging to be fucked; it was two boys of roughly the same age begging to be punished because they’d started without their dom.

Draco had been those fantasies. What Potter called fantasies didn’t make any sense, and yet, by the end of the second week, Draco had to conclude that the results of his experiments were accurate. Potter didn’t want the perfect lover. Not only did he reject the idea of someone who cooked and cleaned, satisfied his every whim and darned his stockings; he also rejected romantic candlelight and exquisite cuisine and elaborate, complex seduction.

Instead, for some reason, Potter seemed to want a friend who had independent goals and interests, but happened to live in the same house and fucked him every night. In fact, Potter didn’t seem to want a lover at all. It was more like a—a partner.

Sort of like Mother and Father had been.

Obviously it was nothing like what Mother and Father had been. Mother never would have stooped to flicking soap suds, and Father would have declared an evening spent listening to Quidditch on the wireless time wasted. Furthermore, Father and Mother did have supper by candlelight, and Father had always showered gifts and special little attentions upon Mother. There was a reason the Manor had housed peacocks.

But though Draco knew those grand gestures happened, he was not often witness to them. What he had been privy to were the fantastic galas that Father and Mother had held and attended, and the quiet evenings in-between. During those quiet evenings, Mother had rubbed Father’s shoulders as Father told her of some insupportable foolery the board had got up to. Father had brushed Mother’s hair as Mother spoke of the floral arrangements for her next party, and Mother had fixed Father’s drink for him while he read in the study. Father had held thread for her while Mother wove her magic screens, and Draco remembered the way the silken strands had shone in the light of magic fire.

Cassandra’s curse. Potter didn’t want romantic adventure. He wanted to play house.

*

Three.

Now that Draco’s plan was working so beautifully, Draco began to anticipate the evenings with Potter. Not that Draco was looking forward to them, exactly, just—Potter spoiled him so. Having someone around who doted on you and obeyed your every whim just wasn’t all bad. Besides, with Potter so smitten, Draco could feel his victory drawing closer with every day that passed. In fact, all that time that Potter spent apart from Draco was time wasted. If Potter spent more time in Draco’s presence, Potter would only fall deeper in love, and Draco’s triumph would be yet more complete.

Instead, Potter spent all his days at the Ministry or Hogwarts or who knew where, and Draco spent all day like a medieval princess waiting for her shining knight to return. And then sometimes when Potter did return, so much shagging needed to be done that there wasn’t time for other things.

They shagged every night. Usually they shagged after Potter said, “What have you been up to?” but sometimes they didn’t even wait until after dinner. Sometimes after a marathon of sex, Potter would go back downstairs and fetch them some form of sustenance—cold cuts and spreads, cheese and biscuits. Sometimes fruit—Potter had learned Draco didn’t like vegetables. Potter found this amusing for some reason, but Draco didn’t really care; sometimes Potter brought sweets, too—wine and chocolate, or maybe some of the finer liquor Draco had made him get. Potter would spread it out on a tray, just like breakfast, and then they’d eat.

Fuel. So they could have more sex. Lots and lots of sex.

Potter was insatiable, and fortunately Draco was superb at his job. He could fuck all night, but were he any other person, he’d worry about his stamina.

Potter ate a lot, but he ate quickly. Draco took his time, and Potter liked to watch. “I’ve seen a good deal of different fetishes in my time,” Draco said, spreading marmalade on a biscuit, “but your penchant for watching me eat is by far one of the most . . . aberrant.”

“Mm.” Potter’s hand was lazily stroking Draco’s hair, pausing when Draco leaned in to take a bite, or tilted his head to catch a drip. “Do you want me to close my eyes?” Potter said.

Draco wasn’t looking at him, but he could tell the line was on Potter’s cheek. “No,” said Draco. “It’s merely interesting.”

“You’re just so . . .” Potter searched for words, and Draco would have laid money on Potter choosing ‘sexy’, but Potter usually surprised him when it came to things like that. “Neat,” Potter said. “You’re very methodical.”

“You have obviously never been hungry,” Draco snapped.

The hand in Draco’s hair paused, then carefully moved away. “Something like that,” Potter said.

“No, I’m sorry.” Draco put on the earnest Tristan voice, because he honestly hadn’t meant to say what he had. “I spoke without thinking.”

Potter’s eyes searched his. “I think you think too much.”

“I assure you, I hardly think at all if I can help it.” Draco turned back to the marmalade.

“You think about everything,” Potter said. “Everything you do is calculated.”

A queasy feeling of unease churned in Draco’s stomach, but there was no way Potter could know who he really was. Draco was absolutely safe here, naked with Potter in Potter’s bed; Potter was just talking.

“Sometimes I wish you would stop trying to be something you’re not,” Potter said, “and just be who you are.”

“That’s rich, coming from you.” Draco plucked a plum off the tray and bit into it.

“What do you mean?”

Draco neatly placed the plum back on the tray, then fussed with the grapes. “You’re the one who goes to all those parties, all those fundraisers. You don’t even like them, but you keep going to them. Then they call you to the Ministry—you don’t even have a job there, but you go. You’re at every single person’s beck and call but your own—does that really please you?” Draco took another bite of plum.

There was silence as he finished the plum.

“That’s different,” Potter said at last.

“Is it?” Draco put the pit down and popped a grape into his mouth.

“Yes,” said Potter. “It is who I am, even if I don’t like it. I have a responsibility to—”

“Bullshit,” Draco said, crass on purpose. “You’re Harry Potter. You can do whatever the fuck you want.” Draco reached for another grape, and there was a long silence on the other side of the bed.

“I want to suck you off,” Potter said.

Draco paused. His fingers were on another grape. “I’m still eating,” Draco said. He put the grape in his mouth.

“Can you keep eating while I suck you off?” Potter said.

Draco put another grape in his mouth. “I suppose.”

So Potter pushed away the covers, and Draco feigned disinterest, as though he could go on eating grapes and plums while Potter went down on him.

Draco succeeded for a minute maybe—two at most, and it was just so hot the way that Potter was down there, between his legs, and Draco kept eating as if he didn’t care, as though it was all beneath him. Then Potter stroked Draco’s balls, and sucked particularly hard, and Draco lost it, the food spilling everywhere.

Draco didn’t care, and anyway Potter just loved it when Draco made a mess. He loved it when he thought he’d made Draco lose control, so Draco acted as though he’d lost control—plums and grapes rolling around, the cheese and cold salami in chaos beside him, and Draco didn’t care. He’d mash it up; he’d grind it in; he didn’t care, if only he could get Potter closer.

If only he could wrap his thighs around Potter’s neck until Potter couldn’t see anything else, couldn’t taste anything else, couldn’t breathe anything else except for Draco’s cock. Draco put his hands in that gloriously thick hair and pulled Potter even more closely, murmuring things he knew Potter liked to hear, things like—

“Suck that cock, Harry, love, suck it—”

Draco clutched the sheets beside him, but instead encountered a plum, which squelched between his fingers. Draco didn’t care. He didn’t care; he wanted to be messy; he wanted to be filthy; he wanted to get it in Potter’s hair and it was just so good. So so so good; nothing mattered, and he was coming.

His hips actually lifted off the bed with the force of it, and Potter came with him, sucking it all down, sucking in time to Draco’s thrusts until there was nothing left, and Draco was thrusting feebly. Potter finished it by licking him, and when he was finally done he lifted his head, smirking—a real smirk, the smile wide enough to actually curve his lips and reach his eyes. “Are you done eating?” he asked, setting his chin on Draco’s hipbone.

Draco grimaced. “You made a mess,” he said, wiping plum off his hand onto the sheets.

Potter grinned, his eyes as warm as summer grass. “I like you,” he said, surging up. “I like you so much,” and his face was right above Draco’s.

Draco turned his head. “Not on the mouth.”

Potter hesitated, but obviously decided to laugh it off—a low, husky sound. “Yes, your highness.” He proceeded to kiss Tristan’s face everywhere else.

When Potter had gone on in that way for at least a minute, Draco shifted uncomfortably. Potter was going to kiss his eyelids, for Salazar’s sake. They weren’t even Draco’s eyelids. “I’m lying in food,” Draco said.

“Whose fault is that?”

“Yours.”

“You said that I don’t do what I want to.” Potter kissed Tristan’s temple. “I want this.” Left temple. “I want it all the time. Just this.” He kissed the spot just beside Tristan’s nose—dangerously close to the lip, and yet not quite. “I chose you.”

Draco pushed up on him. “You can buy anything you want.”

Sighing, Potter rolled off of him. “Yes,” he said. “I suppose I can.”

Potter didn’t like being reminded Tristan was a prostitute.

Draco had done it just to hurt him.

Leaning over, Draco caught Potter’s hand as Potter got off the bed. Potter looked down at him, face gone impossible to read once again. “If you clean up this mess you made,” Draco said, “I’ll tie you to the bedpost and put something so big inside you that you scream.”

“Scream?” The line didn’t appear, but Potter’s brow went up slightly.

“Yes, scream. It’s something mortals do when they get fucked so hard they can’t stand it.”

“Hm,” said Potter. “I don’t scream.”

“I can make you.” Draco tugged his hand. “I have heretofore uncharted powers of persuasion.”

The line appeared then, and Draco felt a little thrill. He could make Potter smile simply by commanding him to do so. He could make Potter smile anytime he pleased, because Potter wanted him. “Do you really?” Potter said, leaning in, his voice low.

“I swear it,” Draco breathed.

That night he kept his word.

*

Over the next few days, Draco thought more and more about how inconvenient Potter's frequent absence was. Even if everyone else was always trying to serve Potter, always trying to give him everything—at the same time, they were taking him, too. They were using him. Potter didn’t have to go to help the Aurors or do charities for Squibs, but he did it anyway.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Draco asked one morning, as Potter pulled out from between Draco’s legs. Potter had already brought Draco breakfast, and had begun blowing Draco before he’d even finished eating. Potter had come while he sucked Draco off, but he’d already cleaned the mess and was getting off the bed.

Potter lifted a brow. “To put on pants?”

“Pants,” said Draco. “I despise pants.”

“I think pants despise you,” Potter said, the line appearing briefly by his lips. He went over to the bureau.

“Don’t,” said Draco. “Don’t put them on.”

Potter turned back to him, looking slightly incredulous.

“Don’t put anything on,” Draco said.

“I’m not sure the goblins will like to look at it as much as you.”

“The goblins?” Draco said.

“Gringotts,” Potter said. “They’ve asked me to take another look at their security.”

“Don’t go.”

“I kind of have to.”

“Why?”

Potter grimaced. “I broke into their bank one time. I owe them.”

“Owe them? You don’t owe them. The fault is theirs if someone breaks into their bank.”

Potter's brows went up. “I suppose it’d be their own fault if someone broke into your vault?”

“Yes,” Draco said, annoyed. “They’re a bank; that’s what they’re for.”

Shaking his head, Potter pulled out underwear from the drawer. “I gave them my word.”

Draco watched as Potter put the pants on. He had a perfect arse. The rest of him may have been too brawny, but it gave his arse extra muscle, which gave it dramatic shape—a curve so pleasing that Draco’s mouth watered just watching it. “Ungive it,” Draco said, making himself look at Potter’s face.

“Why?” said Potter, grabbing jeans from the back of a chair.

Draco pushed himself back into the pillows, arranging himself into a lounging, lazy position. Potter wasn’t the only one with a pleasing shape, and Draco had a great deal of practice in setting his own off to best advantage. “I want to shag,” he said, in his best ‘come hither’ voice.

As intended, Potter glanced up, but when he caught sight of Draco, all he did was raise his brow again. “Haven’t you had enough?”

“Not nearly.” Draco arched, stretching in the bed.

“Really.” It wasn’t quite a question, but Potter dropped the jeans and came over to the bed, sitting beside Draco and leaning in to kiss his throat.

Draco turned his head to allow Potter access, and Potter’s hand slid down to wrap around Draco’s soft cock. Twisting under Potter’s warm hands, hot mouth, Draco did his best to make little kitten sounds—the low purrs of contentment Potter always seemed to like the most.

Potter leaned in, hot breath by Draco’s ear. “You feel like you’ve had enough,” Potter whispered.

That much was true—Draco wasn’t getting hard just yet. Twisting to show off his body again, Draco hummed, low and hot. “Maybe I just want to drag my soft cock all over you,” he said. “Maybe I want to take my time getting hard enough to fuck you.”

Potter chuckled softly. “Not that long,” he said, squeezing Draco’s cock. Sure enough, Draco could feel the throb of blood as his cock struggled to respond.

“I want to fuck you.” Arching, Draco caught Potter’s ear with his teeth—a mild nip, and then he pulled away. “I want to fuck you all day. Keep you naked, keep you open and tender the whole time. You’d like that.”

“It . . . has some appeal.” Potter squeezed again, then changed his grip into a stroke.

“I could tie your legs open,” Draco said, his voice breathless in Potter’s ear. “Keep you chained to the bed. Feed you by hand, clean you when you soil yourself; I could cage your cock, keep you from coming—”

Potter laughed again, the sound rich and throaty. “Yes,” he said, “but what’s in it for you?”

“Stay home with me.” Draco scratched his nails down Potter’s back until they reached the pants, then dipped inside them.

“I can’t.”

“We don’t have to do any of those things.” Draco dug his nails in. “We could just—eat and fuck and eat and fuck all day, and—”

“I wouldn’t have minded being chained up, if that was actually what you wanted.”

“We could go flying. Listen to those stupid Quidditch programs you like, and we’ll cook dinner together.”

“That sounds amazing.”

Draco took his hands off of him. “You’re not going to stay.”

“Tristan—”

Draco gave him a little shove.

“I gave my word,” Potter said.

Sitting up, Draco put his back to Potter. The sheets were pooled about his hips; Draco knew he had a magnificent back. He knew that Potter was staring at it.

“What about tomorrow?” Potter said.

Draco arched his neck. “Maybe I won’t feel like it then.”

“Tristan.” Potter put a warm hand on his shoulder, and Draco knew he couldn’t be like this. Even if he was meant to be Potter’s boyfriend, with his own wants and needs, he was also meant to be agreeable; they weren’t meant to get into fights.

Sighing, Draco turned, giving Potter his profile. “Of course you should go, if you’ve given your word. I just want you to myself.”

“Tristan.” The hand on Draco’s shoulder slid up to card through Tristan’s hair—messy, sandy curls.

“I shouldn’t have asked,” Draco said. “I’m just your whore, aren’t I?”

The hand went away. Potter didn’t say anything, but it felt like reproach.

“I’m sorry. I’m just . . .” Draco rubbed his face. “I’m annoyed. That’s a frequent state with me,” he added, turning back to Potter. “You had no idea I was so high maintenance, did you.”

“I had some idea.” Potter’s hand moved slowly to Draco’s face, and Draco allowed himself to rest his cheek in the cradle of Potter’s hand while Potter’s thumb fleetingly traced Draco’s lips. “Tristan,” Potter said.

Draco pressed a brief kissed into the palm of Potter’s hand and then moved away. “Best go, pet,” Draco said. “If you don’t leave right now, I’ll be reduced to begging you to stay again.”

For a moment, Potter almost wavered. “I’ll be back as soon as I can,” he said.

Potter was gone all day.

*

Draco’s inability to convince Potter to stay at home fuelled Draco like a fire.

The plan must not be working if he couldn’t convince him. Potter didn’t love him—not yet, and Draco had to win. He had to make Potter love him, and it meant nothing if Potter couldn’t be convinced to change his ways for Draco. The whole effort was for naught if Draco couldn’t bend Potter to his will.

“Come back for lunch,” Draco said on the third morning of the third week.

“I don’t know if I can,” Potter called from the loo. The shaving charm was at work on his face; he stayed fairly clean-shaven, despite the abysmal state of his hair. This morning, however, Draco had distracted him from his usual routine by wakening nearly as early as Potter and blowing him first thing. Draco had thought that if he woke early to seduce him, he might convince Potter to stay, but no dice.

“You’re teaching a class,” Draco called back. “How hard could it be?”

“It’s not hard. It just takes time. I’m doing all of them for today.”

“And the professor never takes lunch either? What kind of hellish prison was your school?”

Potter ducked his head back into the bedroom. “They just usually need me to do other things, and Apparating back quickly is difficult.” Potter moved back into the loo. “There are wards around the school to prevent Apparition.”

“So it is a hellish prison,” Draco called back.

Potter ducked his head out again, the line beside his mouth. He should watch that with the shaving charm—he could get cut. “I’ll take Sunday off,” Potter said. “All day. I’ll owl everyone—no one can bother me on that day; it’ll be just you and me.”

Draco scowled at him. “Sunday is four days away.”

“You could come with me to Hogwarts,” he said.

Draco shuddered delicately. “Don’t be appalling.”

“You might like it.”

“Oh, yes, allow me to teach fifth years the fine art of cocksucking; the Headmistress will love it.”

“She did like you when she met you,” Potter said, wandering back to the loo.

Draco sat up in bed. “Are you pimping me out to Minerva McGonagall?”

“I don’t know.” Potter’s voice wafted back to him. “Sounds hot.”

Finally getting out of bed, Draco went to the loo, sliding his arms around Potter as Potter shaved in front of the mirror. Draco could see Tristan’s face over Potter’s shoulder, and they looked good together—light and dark. The picture probably would have been even prettier with Draco’s real hair colour, stark against Potter’s own. Draco batted Tristan’s lashes at Potter in the mirror. “I’ll show you hot,” he said, pressing his bare cock against Potter’s jean-clad bum.

“I think you already showed me earlier.” Potter rinsed his face with another charm.

Draco squeezed his arms around Potter’s waist. “Come home to lunch with me.”

“I told you, this Sunday—”

“Don’t make me wank without you.” Draco slid his arm up Potter’s bare chest, over the black circle tattoo in the centre. “Don’t make me slather myself in whip cream and lick it off myself without you. Don’t make me suck on a big, long toy charmed to look like your prick without—”

“Jesus, Tristan.”

Opening his mouth on Potter’s shoulder, Draco bit down, licking the spot, then looked up to smirk at Potter in the mirror. “Is that a yes?”

“I don’t—”

“Say yes.”

“Tristan—”

“Say yes.” Draco rolled his hips. “Or I’ll fuck you right here in the loo and make you watch yourself in the mirror.”

Whirling in Draco’s arms, Potter grabbed him, crowding him against the opposite wall in a matter of moments. “I’m supposed to teach a class in twenty minutes.”

“Ooh,” Draco taunted, his voice seductive and low, “are you going to punish me, Professor Potter?”

Groaning, Potter pressed his forehead against Tristan’s. Draco grinned.

“Say yes,” Draco said.

“Fine. Bloody yes. I’ll come home for lunch—are you happy?”

“Mm,” Draco said, rolling his hips against Potter’s jeans. “I’d be happier if you stayed here with me.”

“You’re insatiable.”

“You love it.”

Potter kissed him on the cheek. “I’ve got to go.”

“At least put on a shirt.”

“Tristan.” Potter kissed him on the other cheek.

Draco pushed on his chest. “Don’t you have children to teach?”

Potter groaned, and Draco smiled.

*

Potter did not come home for lunch that day.

When he did come home at four in the afternoon, Draco wasn’t at the house.

At three-thirty in the afternoon, he had set a ward so that he would know when Potter did come home. Whenever he decided to show, however, Draco didn’t want to be there—as though he had been there the whole time, waiting. Which he had.

Since he had been prepared to have lunch with someone, Draco decided to go out. Pansy wasn’t an option, as they had not really been speaking since Draco had signed the month-long contract, but Draco had no other real friends.

Nott was an all right bloke; he was just—difficult to talk to sometimes. So obsessed was he with the wrongs done to him by the Ministry, by the Order of the Phoenix, by everyone, that sometimes Draco felt like all he did was complain. Draco was similarly obsessed, except that he and Pansy had tried to do something about it. They had started Verity, and even though Nott was a part of it, sometimes Draco got the impression that Nott hated it so much that he wanted to destroy it.

Draco didn’t like being a prostitute. He loathed it. At the same time, Verity was his creation—his and Pansy’s; it was their phoenix, their sign that they could rise from the ashes. For all that Draco hated what he had to be, he took a fierce pride in the way that they had managed to rise above what had been done to them. Nott, however, was even more hell-bent on revenge than Draco.

In some ways, they were simply too much alike to get on well. The worst of it, however, was the way Nott still held himself apart. He hadn’t been a Death Eater, like Draco, and he’d never spoken against Potter, like Pansy had. Draco sometimes got the distinct impression that Nott believed he and Pansy had deserved what they got, as though Nott was somehow above them. They were all in the same situation, though, so Draco still tried to be friendly with him.

Among other things, a good working relationship was also good for the company. Sometimes, clients asked for twins. Nott and Draco just used the same Polyjuice. They’d had to have sex with each other on numerous occasions.

Sometimes, Draco still missed Blaise Zabini. Zabini had always had such a dry, objective way of observing the world that managed to put Draco in his place—sort of like Pansy. Before the Articles of Reconstruction had even passed, the Zabinis had up and moved to New Zealand, with nary a backwards glance.

Nott proved to be available, however, despite the odd hour, and they met at a café in Knockturn Alley, where no one would mind a former Death Eater and Death Eater ally having lunch. Draco’s Masker Ade had not yet worn off, and he had purposely brewed it as difficult to dispel, so he took a bit of Polyjuice with his own hair to revert to his normal face. It would not due for Tristan, who was known to be Harry Potter’s paramour, to be seen in public with Nott.

“What’s got your knickers in a twist?” Nott asked, shortly after they had ordered their sandwiches.

“I’m perfectly fine,” Draco snapped.

“Oh yes, I can tell. You’re a positive delight.”

“It’s nothing. I’ve just been—” Draco couldn’t think of a good lie. “I’ve been cancelled on for lunch.”

“I know you’re not upset about Pansy or Millie.” Nott looked surprised. “Draco, are you dating?”

Draco grimaced in disgust. “No, I—” Cutting himself off, Draco realized that Nott’s assumption could be useful. “I suppose it sort of is like dating,” he said slowly.

“Shocked you managed it,” Nott said.

“What do you mean?”

Nott’s mouth twisted as he shrugged. “Difficult attracting anyone when the Ministry’s branded you anathema.”

“Yes, I’ve had the same problem.” Draco didn’t want to lie to Nott, but at the same time—no one but Pansy knew what Draco was doing with Potter. If Nott found out . . . he’d be angry. He might try to do something stupid, like bring Potter down. He wouldn’t understand that Draco had a plan, that the process was delicate; Nott had a habit of going off half-cocked, and he rarely listened to anything anyone had to say. Though he had been the most patient of them in school, the aftermath had really done a number on him.

But Draco couldn’t explain the problem he was having in terms of a client. They rarely had long-term contracts like this one, and it would take too long to formulate an explanation for why Draco needed this particular client to spend more time with him. In this case—a little lie wouldn’t hurt.

Draco would tell him the truth later.

“This bloke works all the time,” Draco began to explain.

“Is he fit?”

Draco gave him a quelling look. “Theo, you’re not even bent.”

“Wouldn’t know it by the number of blokes I’ve fucked.”

“And got paid to do it,” Draco added with a frown, because one of the blokes Nott had fucked had been him.

Nott just shrugged.

“Some people would say he’s fit, I suppose,” Draco said.

“Wouldn’t you? You’re the one dating him.”

“Yes,” Draco hastily, just to preserve the lie. “He’s just a tad . . . brawny for my tastes.”

“Sounds hot,” said Nott.

“Yes,” said Draco feeling annoyed. “But he works all the time.”

“What does he do?”

“Oh, something at the Ministry,” Draco said.

“This Ministry?” Nott had been about to take a sip of his drink, but now he slammed it down. “How can you? They’re the ones who’ve—”

“He’s just a clerk!” Draco said quickly, looking around. He didn’t want Nott to make a scene. “He doesn’t do anything important. Cassandra knows if he had the power, he’d make a stab at repealing the Articles.”

Which was a bloody lie. Potter basically had all the power of the Ministry at his fingertips. Shacklebolt called him for coffee. But Potter would never have lifted a finger to help Draco, not if he knew who Draco really was.

“Still,” said Nott, sounding disgusted. “The Ministry. They’re all a bunch of hypocrite bastards—”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Not everyone who works for the Ministry is evil, Theo.”

“Yes, they are. The whole rotten lot of them are a bloody blight on—”

“Well, whatever,” Draco said. “The problem is my boyfriend. He’s really—”

“Boyfriend?” Nott’s brows went up.

“The bloke I’m dating,” Draco said, still annoyed.

“You didn’t say he was your boyfriend.”

Draco shrugged. “I suppose he is.”

“Has he stayed at yours?”

“No.”

“Have you stayed at his?”

“Yes.”

“And the next morning?” Nott prodded. “What was that like?”

Draco just shrugged again, as though it was nothing, but he could feel a warm seed settle in his stomach. Nott was going to be impressed. “He brings me breakfast in bed.”

Nott gave a low whistle, and the warmth in Draco’s stomach blossomed.

“He also gives me backrubs,” Draco added, just because.

“Crikey,” said Nott, who had never been very articulate.

“We prefer to stay the night in, actually,” Draco went on. “He loves cocksucking. I’d say he’s fairly addicted to it.”

“Now you’re taking the piss.”

Draco shook his head. “He cooks for me. He’s washed my hair. He says—he says he wants to treat me like a prince.”

Nott’s eyes narrowed. “Where did you find this bloke?”

“It’s not a client,” Draco said quickly, “if that’s what you’re thinking. He just—he knows how hard my life has been. Our lives have been,” he corrected, “and he wants to . . . make it better.”

“So, what’s the problem?”

“I can’t convince him to have lunch with me.”

“Pfft. All of that, and he won’t pop over for sandwiches? Doesn’t seem like a big problem.”

“I know, but . . .” Draco found himself twisting his napkin in his lap. “I feel like he doesn’t love me. I mean—he’s not in love with me, is he, if he won’t even pop over for lunch?”

Nott shrugged. “Maybe he’s busy.”

“I just . . .” Draco’s teeth worried his lip, a bad habit he had when he was lost in thought. “I want to find a way to convince him.”

Nott snorted. “Shouldn’t be a problem.”

Draco looked at him inquiringly.

Nott leaned in over the table. “Draco, in case you haven’t forgotten, we’re prostitutes. Convincing people is what we do.”

“I’ve already tried—” Draco’s mouth snapped shut. Yes, he had tried the traditional blow-jobs and fucking; he had tried whinging at Potter in the morning. But those were the sort of tactics a boyfriend would try—not a trained professional.

Draco had been going about this all wrong. Potter did want a boyfriend, but Draco wasn’t one. He could pretend to be one—but he also had a plethora of other skills at his disposal.

“Now you’re getting it,” said Nott.

“Yes.” A cruel smile curled Draco’s lips. “Now I’m getting it. Thanks, Theo.”

“Any time.”

*

After his late lunch with Nott, Draco went to his flat, first to have another dose of Masker Ade, and then gather a few choice instruments to implement his plan. After that, he stayed another two hours just to make Potter wait on him longer.

When Draco returned to the house at the end of Hawthorn Lane, Potter was extremely penitent.

Draco had Apparated to the front stoop—the wards still wouldn’t admit him—but the front door was unlocked, and he had walked in. Potter had appeared almost immediately.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“What for?” Walking back towards the bedroom, Draco pretended to be surprised.

“Lunch,” said Potter, walking with him.

“Never bother.” Draco opened the door. “What do you think of trying again tomorrow?”

“I thought you’d be angry,” Potter said, following him into the bedroom.

Turning back to him, Draco raised a brow. “Do you want me to be angry?”

“I want you to be whatever you are.”

“I’m whatever you want me to be.”

“Tristan.”

Draco hitched a shoulder. “I’m a hooker, Harry. I don’t truly expect you to wait upon my whim.”

“That’s not why I didn’t . . .” Potter gritted his teeth. “You’re angry,” he said, coming closer. “If you’re angry, come on and fight me. That’s what you do.”

“Do you want me to fight you?” Draco said calmly.

“I want you to—” Potter reached for him.

“Shall I undress?” Draco said, when Potter touched him.

Potter let go.

Turning away, Draco smirked to himself, just a bit. This was not the plan he had concocted while sitting with Nott—that plan was a much better one, but this was working quite well for now. “I’m quite tired,” he went on, in that same calm tone. “If you want to fuck, my cock is as always available for your pleasure.”

“Damn it,” said Potter.

Draco went to the loo to brush his teeth and gargle mouth potion, then re-entered the bedroom. The night was young, and Draco was not particularly tired. However, this farce had the enjoyable effect of making Potter furious, and even though he was supposed to be making Potter love him—well, Potter deserved it, if only for one night. Tomorrow morning, Draco would go back to being Tristan’s far more pleasant self.

Just now, however, Draco was going to prepare for bed. He took off his shirt, and Potter grabbed him. “Get angry with me,” he said.

“Why?”

“Because you are,” said Potter.

“Why would I be?”

“Because I missed lunch.”

Put that way, it sounded so ludicrous. As if Draco really was the jealous boyfriend he’d played for Nott, when he so obviously wasn’t. “I don’t care where you eat. Are we going to fuck?”

“No.”

“Then let go of my arm.”

Potter didn’t let go of his arm. “I made you a promise,” Potter said, “and I didn’t keep it.”

This wasn’t amusing any more. Draco was beginning to feel annoyed. “I don’t care about your promises.”

“You wanted me,” Potter said, “and I didn’t come.”

Draco ripped himself out of Potter’s grasp. “I didn’t want you.”

“You asked for me.”

“I didn’t want you. I was—I wanted—”

“Tristan.” Potter took his arm again.

“Don’t touch me.”

“I’m sorry—”

Draco snapped. “Get on the bed.”

Potter stood there.

“I said get on the bed.”

Potter looked from Draco, to the bed, and back to Draco again. “What if I don’t?”

Draco bent down to where he’d left his robes on the floor, jerking his wand out of the pocket. “Levicorpus,” he said, pointing the wand at Potter.

Potter lifted up, and with a jerk of his wand, Draco dumped him on the bed. “Stay there,” Draco hissed.

“What if I don’t?” Potter said, starting to get up.

Petrificus Totalus!” Draco cried.

Potter went stiff, and Draco went over to the bed. Knowing that Potter could still hear him, still feel him, Draco got on top of him, straddled him on the bed. He leaned in to Potter’s ear. “I said once that I could fuck you like this,” he said, his voice silky. “Do you want it? You can’t even say yes.”

Draco began kissing him—not on Potter’s mouth, but on Potter’s cheeks, his chin, his throat. Draco moved down, and Potter was still clothed. He’d worn a button-up for teaching at Hogwarts, so Draco slowly moved down the buttons, one by one. Potter lay immobile under him.

“I could do whatever I want with you like this,” Draco went on, and the truth of it sent a thrill to him. He could do anything. He could literally do anything, and the fact was—Potter was getting on. Draco could see it in Potter’s eyes.

Leaning down, Draco gave Potter’s cock a long, hot swipe of his tongue, his other hand moving down to squeeze Potter’s balls. “I know you can get out of this,” Draco said, squeezing again. He licked again too. “You could break the Body Bind if you wanted, but you don’t want to, do you. You just want to lie there and take it.” Opening his mouth, Draco took Potter in and sucked.

Potter lay there unresponsively. It wasn’t nearly as fun as Draco had imagined.

He pulled his mouth off with a pop. “I know you can break it, Harry.” He licked again. “Come on. Just do it.”

Potter still just lay there.

Beginning to get worried, Draco squeezed Potter’s balls tighter. “Break it, Harry; come on, just do it—”

Potter’s hand tangled in Tristan’s hair. Turning his face into Potter’s palm, Draco bit it. Hard.

He was still angry at Potter.

“Ouch,” said Potter.

Draco positioned himself between Potter’s legs. “I’m going to fuck you.”

“Yes.” Potter’s hands moved firmly down from Draco’s shoulders, along his ribcage.

“You’re going to just lie there.”

The hands skated from ribs to hips, and then they were curling around to squeeze Draco’s clothed buttocks. “You’re going to have to bind me again.”

“No. Just keep your hands to yourself.”

“I like touching you too much,” Potter said, squeezing Draco’s buttocks again. “You’ll have to tie me up.”

“You’re such an arse,” Draco said, getting off the bed. Taking off his trousers, he got his wand again, then performed an undressing spell on Potter. Draco’s were far less speedy and elegant than Potter’s own, but they got the job done. Next, Draco began casting the bonds to bind Potter to the bed. “You’re an ignorant, arrogant arse, and you make everything difficult—”

“I’m sorry I didn’t come home for lunch,” Potter said. “There was an escaped dragon.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Oh, is that all?”

“I’m taking Sunday off,” Potter said. “I contacted everyone who could possibly want me, and told them I’m unavailable that day.”

“I don’t care,” Draco said.

“And we can have lunch tomorrow,” said Potter.

“We’ll see,” Draco said. “After I shag you.”

Potter seemed perfectly happy with this plan.

*

The next morning, Draco got to work on the plan he’d made while he was having lunch with Nott.

Potter had already brought him breakfast, and Draco had finished eating. Potter was just getting dressed for the day, putting on rather nice robes, considering that it was Potter.

“You’ll be at NimbusCorp all day?” Draco asked. Watching Potter from the bed naked was getting to be a favourite pastime of his.

“But I’m coming home for lunch.”

“Promises.” Draco stretched out.

Potter quirked a brow. “After last night, I’m afraid of what you’ll do it if I break one again.”

“That’s right.” Draco twisted for him in the sheets, showing off his body to its best advantage. “Fear me.”

“You look just like a cat.”

“I’m not a cat,” said Draco, ruffled.

“Now you look like a hen.”

“Stop comparing me to barnyard animals.” Draco flopped onto his stomach on the bed.

“They’re not meant to be insults,” Potter said.

Draco arched a glance back over his shoulder. “I always knew you had a thing for bestiality.”

“And remember,” said Potter. “I’m taking Sunday off.”

“You keep saying that,” Draco said, purposely bitchy. “I don’t think you mean it.”

“I’ve never really done it before,” said Potter. “It’s a new thing for me.”

Draco watched him. Potter was trying to straighten the collar on his robe, failing miserably. “You’ve never taken a day off?”

“I don’t have a job.” Potter kept fiddling with the collar. “I didn’t think I needed one.”

Draco watched him for a moment more, then slid out of bed. “Come along, darling, let me do it,” he said, going over to him. Naked in front of Potter, he straightened the collar.

Potter did look rather dashing, all told.

Thinking for a moment, Draco went over to the closet, then pulled out his favourite scarf. Walking back over to Potter, Draco draped the long white cashmere around his neck.

Potter reached up for it.

“Don’t wrap it,” said Draco.

“I didn’t know you could wear a scarf over robes like this,” said Potter.

“Trust me.” Draco looked at him for a moment. “You look like you could be on the cover of Glamourous Glamour.”

“I don’t know what that is.”

Draco just kept looking. “Of course you don’t.”

Potter reached out a hand. “You look like you could be on the cover of . . .” Putting his hand down, Potter didn’t touch him after all. “Something that’s illegal in most countries, if not all of them.”

Draco posed for him, subtly, so Potter wouldn’t notice he was posing. “Maybe I have been.”

“I . . .” Potter stepped closer, and then he reached out after all, hand sliding into Tristan’s hair. “I think I like your hair the best.”

Draco stepped away. “It’s stupid hair.”

“No, it’s—”

“It’s sandy and curly.”

“It’s blond,” said Potter. “I like blond. And I like curly.”

“I don’t.” Draco went back to the closet. “I almost forgot. I have something else for you.”

“Um,” said Potter.

“That scarf’s not for you, by the way.” Draco took the toy out of the bag he had brought from his flat yesterday and slipped it in his pocket. “You have to give it back. But this one is for you. Turn around,” Draco said, coming back to stand beside him.

“What—”

“I said, turn around.”

“I have to go soon,” Potter began.

“This won’t take long. Turn around.”

Eyeing him, Potter turned around.

“Hands on the bureau.”

“Is this because I said I liked your hair? Because really, I like you arse just as—”

“No.” Draco pulled up Potter’s robe, fastening it to Potter’s back with a sticking charm to hold it up over Potter’s arse, covered in trousers. “This is to make sure you’re coming home for lunch.” Draco smoothed his hand over Potter’s buttocks.

“I already said I’m—”

“I know.” Draco reached around Potter to tap the front of the trousers—he didn’t want to ruin them—then pulled them and the pants beneath down over Potter’s arse. “This is just to ensure compliance.”

“Compliance?”

Draco stroked his hand over Potter’s arse again, this time against the bare skin. It really was a good arse, solid and round and smooth. Merlin, Potter was just so fit. “Yes,” Draco said, leaving off stroking and pointing his wand between Potter’s cheeks. “Compliance. It means that you comply.”

“I know what—”

“It means you’re going to do what I say.” Draco cast the cleaning and lubrication spells, making sure Potter was ready for it. Then he removed the toy from his pocket and began working it into Potter’s arse. “If you don’t,” Draco said, “you’re going to feel this.”

They toy was a magical vibrator with a multitude of charms within it that could do all sorts of things. First of all, it could be encoded to a wizard. Draco had encoded the vibrator to his wand, so that he could control what it did. Potter would not be able to remove it without Draco’s consent—or his wand.

Obviously, as Potter was a powerful wizard, he could probably break the charms, just as Draco had known Potter could break the Body Bind the night before. However, it would take at least a little work, and Draco had a suspicion that Potter might play along.

“Er,” Potter said, obviously adjusting around the toy.

Draco leaned into his ear. “Has anyone ever put anything like that inside you?”

Potter turned to look at him, his expression hard to read. “No,” was all he said.

“Good.” Draco cast another lubrication spell, getting Potter wetter for good measure, then spelled up his trousers and pulled off the sticking charm on his robe. Leaning in again, Draco said, “I want you to keep that inside you, pet. I want you to keep it in you until you come back for lunch, and then I’ll take it out of you.”

Potter hadn’t really moved. He was still looking at Draco with that inscrutable look. “What if I don’t keep it in?”

“I think you will.”

“Why would I—”

Lazily, Draco waved his wand. Nothing visible changed, but the magical command would make the toy vibrate in Potter’s arse.

Potter slammed a hand down on the bureau, his eyes going wide. “Tristan,” he said. “Oh, God—”

Waving his wand again, Draco made it stop.

Potter took a deep breath, then another. His teeth were showing. Finally, he spoke, still sounding somewhat breathless—and incredulous. “You want me to keep—that—in me until lunch?”

“Why, you don’t like it?” Draco waved his wand again.

This time, the toy was growing larger at the end inside of Potter, pistoning in and back, just like a real cock hitting his prostate over and over.

Potter’s hand curled on the bureau again, and he grit his teeth. Slowly, he turned to Draco.

What Potter was doing was impressive to see. Schooling his expression, Potter gradually let go of the bureau, then stood up straight. After several seconds, he stood there as though nothing was happening.

But it was still happening; that toy was still going on and on inside of Potter; he’d just . . . mastered it.

Scowling, Draco waved his wand to make the toy go faster.

Potter bared his teeth, and then . . . stood there. Taking it.

Waving his wand, Draco turned it off. “See?” he said, smiling brightly. “This is going to be fun.”

The first step Potter took was rather awkward, but he got that under control too and walked over to Draco. His hand touched Tristan’s hair, sweeping over it and then skating down his face. “This is new torture,” he said, his voice only a little rough.

“Hurry home, darling,” Draco said.

*

Draco expected Potter to be home much earlier than lunch. He wouldn’t last an hour with that thing in, not with all that Draco planned to do with it.

But Potter didn’t come home within an hour. At ten, Draco made the toy vibrate for an extended amount of time. At ten thirty, he made it grow again. At eleven, he made it both grow and vibrate, but Potter still didn’t come. By twelve, Draco was growing frustrated. He made it do everything, and still Potter didn’t come.

Obviously, he must have taken it out by now. Potter was at NimbusCorp. He couldn’t sit in important meetings for hours with a sex toy vibrating in him; Draco had expected that Potter would come home after ten minutes, no matter how tough he had pretended to be before he left. At the very least, if Potter had to use the toilet—

Draco was furious. If Potter hadn’t been able to make it, he should have at least told him—

At one-fourteen, Potter finally rolled out of the Floo.

“You call this an appropriate hour for lunch?” Draco snapped.

“No.” Potter seemed to be having trouble speaking. “There was a—an issue with the latest—latest model, and they had to recall them. It seemed wrong to—to—”

Draco folded his arms over his chest. “Keep your promise?”

“I kept my—Tristan, please take it out of me.”

Draco unfolded his arms. “Take what—”

“It, take it, take it out—

“MacBeth’s witches.” Feeling horrified—and at the same time, morbidly fascinated—Draco pushed Potter over to the table in the corner.

Potter went willingly, with effort, sagging. Hurriedly, Draco spelled off the robe and down Potter’s trousers, then his pants.

The toy was still in Potter. It was still going.

“Harry,” Draco breathed.

Tristan,” Potter said. His voice had an edge to it Draco hadn’t heard before.

“Yes.” Draco scrambled for his wand. “Oh, yes. My poor baby—” Spelling the toy out of Potter’s body, Draco directed it out and away, not caring where it went.

Potter made a low, wounded sound, sagging against the table.

Potter’s arse looked—it looked—

Draco couldn’t even bear to see how it looked. Putting his hand over the wet, gaping hole, Draco leaned over Potter. “Poor baby, my poor precious darling—why would you do that?”

“I couldn’t . . .”

Potter sagged some more, and Draco wrapped both arms around him, his cheek against Potter’s back. One hand slid down inside of Potter’s trousers and pants, wrapping around Potter’s cock. It was achingly hard. “How many times did you come?”

“I—didn’t.”

“Honey,” Draco said. “Why did you do that?”

“I couldn’t—they needed my help; I couldn’t get away. I told them I had a—I wanted to—mm, Tristan—

Potter must have liked what Draco was doing with his cock, because he was getting into it now, as much as he could—his hips moving in sad little jerks. Draco bit Potter’s shoulder lightly in remonstrance. “You could have sent me a message.”

“I tried. I sent my—Patronus—mm, please, Tristan, just—just get me off, please—”

“Shh.” Draco rubbed his cheek on the cloth of Potter’s shirt. “I’m getting you off; you’ll get it, sweetheart, just let it come.

“Please.” Potter’s hips were jerking more now, but no less sad—erratically timed, he thrust every which way.

“Shh,” Draco said again. “I’ll get you what you need. Come for me now, love—do it right now.”

Potter made a choked sound, then arched, his body spasming against Draco’s.

Draco just held on, his teeth against Potter’s shoulder to hold him just that much more steady as he came down.

At last, Potter stopped coming, but Draco didn’t stop holding him. He didn’t want to stop holding him.

After several long moments of just standing there, hunched against the table, Potter sighed. “You didn’t get my Patronus?”

Draco knew why he hadn’t got it.

“I thought you didn’t answer because you were mad.”

Draco set his teeth into Potter’s shoulder again, just to keep from explaining.

“I wonder where it went,” Potter said.

Draco pulled his teeth away. “Best recall it,” he said gently.

“What? Oh.”

That Patronus could spend eons looking for someone named Tristan Bonchance. It would never find him. Magic, in so many ways, was deeply linked to names. Just as an owl sent to the home of someone named Tristan Bonchance would be led astray, so had Potter’s Patronus.

Sighing again, Potter took his wand out of his pocket and waved it. After several long moments, a silver stag came thundering into the sitting-room—straight through the wall, and into Potter.

“Feel better?” Draco said, rubbing a circle on Potter’s back.

“A bit.” Potter started to stand up. “That was—”

Draco held him down. “Hold on.” The hand rubbing circles on Potter’s back slid back down over Potter’s arse, back to Potter’s hole. The flesh sagged obscenely open there, angry red and filthy wet. Draco circled the opening. “We’re not done yet.”

Potter groaned.

Leaning over him again, Draco whispered, “Do you think I’m going to waste this lovely ruin you’ve made of your arse?”

“I’m—I have to go back. It’s just a lunch break.”

“Mm.” Draco pushed three fingers in and they went easily, oh so easily. “Yes, this is a nice little break we’re having. It’s probably just long enough for me to get my come inside you—don’t you think?”

“Somehow I get the impression you aren’t actually asking what I think.” Potter’s voice was rough.

“But once I get all that lovely come inside of you, it’s going to slip right out.” Draco pumped his fingers in Potter’s arse, loving the wet, slopping slide of them. “You’re just so loose now, like you’ve been used terribly.”

“Possibly I have been—”

“There’s got to be a way to keep that come inside of you. Oh, I know.” Turning his face on Potter’s back, Draco kissed Potter through his shirt again, then Draco opened his own trousers. “I’ll put something else in you,” he went on, getting out his cock. “I’ll put a nice plug in you and keep you full for the rest of the day. How does that sound, pet?”

Tristan.”

“You sound as though you like it. And if you don’t,” Draco said, easing his cock inside, “maybe next time you’ll be on time for lunch.”

Potter groaned, and Draco got to work.

*

On Sunday morning, Potter made Draco breakfast and brought it to him in bed as usual.

“You shouldn’t have done it,” Draco said, though he was mostly finished with the meal.

Potter was lying in bed beside him, watching him eat again. “Why not?”

“Today is supposed to be your day off. You shouldn’t have to cook for me on your day off.”

“I didn’t have to,” said Potter. “I wanted to.”

“Don’t you know how to be lazy?”

“I’m lazy in the evenings.”

“When you’re not going to parties you don’t want to go to.” Draco moved aside the empty plate and orange rind and began finishing up the grapes. “I want you to be lazy in the mornings.”

“Maybe you should teach me.” Potter pressed his lips against Draco’s shoulder, and Draco simply hummed in response, continuing to eat his grapes. “So,” said Potter. “What are we doing today?”

“Whatever you want,” said Draco. “It’s your day.”

“I want to do whatever you want to do.”

“Typical.” Draco went on eating grapes.

“Don’t tell me you don’t have a plan.”

“As a matter of fact, I do.”

“Mm.” Potter’s hand slid down to the sheet covering Draco’s hip. “I bet you want to lie in bed all day and make me wait on you hand and foot.”

Pretending he wasn't paying attention to Potter at all, Draco plucked another grape from its stem. “Would that make you happy?”

“First I’d feed you, then I’d wash you, then I’d dress you—”

“Don’t be appalling.” Draco plucked another grape. “I would never let you dress me.”

Potter pressed his lips to Draco’s shoulder again. “Let’s both stay in bed all day.”

“No.” Draco plucked another grape. “I have a plan.”

“And then I’ll paint your toenails,” Potter went on, “and carry your furs, and fan you with those big . . . those big leaves. What are they?”

“Palm fronds.”

“Yeah.” Potter kissed his shoulder again. “You’ll expect me to fan you with palm fronds.”

“If I had known you would get so excited about fanning me,” Draco said, setting aside the tray, “I wouldn’t have made plans for today.” Standing up from the bed, Draco wandered over to the wardrobe, knowing that Potter was watching him move.

Potter was always watching him move, with those hawk-like eyes of his, and Draco liked it. Being constantly admired was invigorating, and that Potter was the one doing so was simply added pleasure. There were times when Draco’s chest felt tight with it, so tight that he wanted to shout, It’s me; it’s my body you find attractive; it’s my skin you want to touch, but of course he couldn’t. Draco would have to reveal his identity for that to make any sense, and his triumph would have to wait.

It would come, however.

“What are you doing?” Potter said, watching him from the bed.

“Getting dressed,” said Draco.

“I sort of pictured you staying naked all day.”

Turning back to Potter, Draco lifted an innocent brow. “So you don’t want to go flying?”

“Flying?”

Turning back to the wardrobe, Draco smirked. “Yes,” he said, pulling out clothes. “I thought we would go up to a spot I know in Wiltshire. It’s very pretty. There’s an old abandoned Quidditch pitch—but we don’t have to go if you don’t want.”

During this little speech, the line had grown beside Potter’s mouth until now it was a smile, and he was standing up and there were teeth. He was practically to the point of laughing, but he before he got there he’d got to Draco, sweeping him up in his arms.

Draco made an undignified sound. “Put me down this instant,” he said, when he had got his breath, because he was not a small man and people should not be able to sweep him off his feet. They shouldn’t.

Putting him down, Potter kissed him on the nose.

“Well,” said Draco, disgruntled. “Get dressed, if you’re going.”

Draco had pulled on a pair of trousers and Potter had got on a pair of jeans when the silver otter appeared in the bedroom.

“Harry,” said the otter in Granger’s voice. “I’m so sorry to disturb you; I know you didn’t want to be bothered today.”

“What is it?” said Potter, smile falling away instantly.

“They’ve rejected the bill,” said the otter. “They’re asking for additional evidence.”

Potter glanced at Draco, then turned back to the otter. “Come with me,” he told the otter and left the room.

Draco felt—he didn’t know how he felt. Potter was just going into the other room to tell Granger he was busy; that was all.

Blood draining out of his face, Draco jerked on his undershirt. He’d planned on wearing a very fetching frock coat for the outing, but when he looking in the wardrobe to get it, he saw all of Potter clothes. Pushing them aside to get what he wanted, Draco paused instead on one of Potter's jumpers. Draco yanked it off the hanger.

Whatever its initial state, the jumper had been extremely well loved, and now the hems were frayed. There was a little hole in the bottom towards the side. When Draco pulled it on, it slid towards one side, not quite off the shoulder, the sleeves halfway down to his knuckles.

By the time that Potter came back into the room, Draco was pacing. He took one look at Potter’s face, and knew what had happened.

“I have to go,” said Potter.

“Is Granger’s house on fire?” Draco demanded.

“No,” said Potter.

“Are her children deathly ill?”

“No,” said Potter.

Draco had to grit his teeth to keep from screaming. “Then what could possibly be so important?”

“I’m sorry,” said Potter. “I’ll only be gone for an hour or two.”

“Tell me what it is.” Draco went over to him, but he didn’t know what he was going to do. “Tell me what’s so important.”

“She’s worked really hard to get this bill through the Wizengamot,” Potter said. “It’s really important to her, and now they’re trying to block it.”

“Not good enough,” said Draco.

“Not good enough for you, maybe.” Potter’s face was impassive. “She’s my friend.”

“And what am I?”

“You don’t need me, Tristan. She does.”

“You’re right,” Draco said. “I don’t need you. I don’t need anyone.”

Potter looked impatient. “Don’t be like that.”

“She doesn’t need you either!”

“It’s her bill about restricted ingredients,” Potter said. “You told me yourself you thought it was important. She drafted new regulations that would allow Beings to have more control over their—”

“And how does that have anything to do with you?”

“They’re telling her they need records from the last seventy years.”

“And?”

“And the Department of Magical Records is huge,” said Potter. “It would take someone else all day to do the search and find spells for what she needs.”

Understanding dawned, and Draco said slowly, “And she knows you could do it in an hour.”

“Or two.”

Potter was so powerful that he wouldn’t need to cast the spells on individual documents to find the kinds of records Granger was looking for. He could probably just wave his hand at a file cabinet and everything relevant would come shooting at him—of course Granger wanted him there. “Harry.” Draco gripped his arm. “She’s using you.”

“It’s Hermione,” Potter said gruffly. “She doesn’t use people.”

“Yes, she does,” said Draco, “and she’s using—”

“So what if she is?” Potter pulled away, going over to the bureau, yanking out a t-shirt. “She needs me. If you knew how many times Hermione’s been there for me . . .” Potter pulled the t-shirt over his head. “I’m going to be there for her. I’m sorry I didn’t keep my promise. I’ll be back soon.”

Potter came over and tried to kiss him. Draco leaned away.

“Fine.” Potter Apparated.

He’d never even seemed to notice the jumper.

*

An hour passed, and Potter owled.

My Patronus can’t find you. It’s definitely going to be more like two hours. I’m sorry.
-H

The writing was big, bold, and messy, just like Potter.

Draco had indeed had plans for today. After the flying, they’d shag outside—in a meadow by the pitch; Draco had it all scoped out. After that, he’d planned to take Potter to the market. Knowing that Potter didn’t appreciate the attention when he went out in public, Draco had bought Potter a very handsome robe with a hood, because Potter didn’t have one, and he’d look well in it.

Next, Draco had found a pleasant outdoor farmer’s market that took place every other Sunday in a village in France. Though Potter would certainly still be recognized on the mainland, there might be a bit less instant recognition there, and Potter would be able to beg off talking to people as he didn’t know the language. Draco hadn’t wanted to do something for their day off that would make Potter uncomfortable, but he thought the chance was worth it. Going to the market was so domestic and—well, normal. Potter enjoyed doing things like that, pretending he was a normal bloke.

Then they’d take home all their purchases and cook something delicious with them. Draco had already picked out all the recipes—they were more challenging than the things Potter usually liked, but that meant longer in the kitchen, which Potter would probably enjoy. He loved stupid things like that. And then they would feed each other, and shag some more, and for the evening, Draco had another plan.

When he was fourteen or so, Draco’s favourite book had been one about a Quidditch player who flew around the globe doing wondrous things. In the end, the Quidditch player returned back home to win the final game of Quidditch in the Hogwarts tournament, which was a silly ending, but Draco had loved it when he was young. He'd found the book at an old bookshop and bought it for Potter.

He’d thought they could read it aloud in front of the fire in the sitting-room, and they could pile up the blankets, and Draco could curl up against Potter just like Potter liked him to sit. Potter always seemed to enjoy the sound of Tristan’s voice, and—

—and the whole scene was ludicrous, of course, maudlin, but Draco had thought Potter would like it. He’d love it, and Draco would suffer through it because none of it sounded that bad, actually, and indeed, parts of it sounded quite enjoyable.

Another hour passed, and Potter owled again.

I need to get a testimony from a centaur in the Netherlands. Hermione didn’t think she’d need it but now she does. Only one more hour. I’m sorry. I’ll do whatever you want when I get home.
-H

The note crumpled in Draco’s hands. He threw it away, walked out of the house, and Disapparated.

*

No one stopped Draco when he arrived at the Ministry. By now, Draco knew quite a few of the people there, having gone to quite a few Ministry parties. Recognizing a few of the people in the Atrium, Draco nodded, then went straight down to the Department of Magic Records.

The office of the clerk looked to be in an office just off the main door, and Draco went directly there. “Huxwell!” he said when the door opened, making himself sound surprised and delighted.

“Mister—Mister Bonchance?” Huxwell’s moustache wiggled.

“You remember me.” Draco pretended to be pleased.

“Why, of course. You’re—”

“So sorry, Huxwell,” Draco said quickly. “I’m in a bit of a spot. I’m looking for Hermione Granger. I have important information about her bill—is she still down here?”

“You just missed her.”

“Do you know where she went?”

Huxwell’s moustache wiggled again. “Down to the Department of Mysteries, I think.”

“That’s a restricted area.” Draco bit his lip, thinking about it.

“Do you know,” Huxwell said. “I’ve been reading up again on wizarding relationships with Turkey—”

“I really do have to go,” said Draco, apologetic. “But—you know a lot about the Ministry, don’t you?”

Huxwell puffed up. “I like to think that I do.”

“Excellent!” Draco managed to sound delighted. “Can you take me to Undersecretary Chen?”

*

“Is it all serious?” said Undersecretary Chen, escorting Draco down to the Department of Mysteries in a special access elevator.

“I don’t know,” said Draco, sounding troubled. “Harry seemed to think it important.”

“Well, if Harry Potter thinks it’s important,” said Undersecretary Chen, “it must be.”

“It’s times like this when I only wish I knew more about politics!” Draco fretted.

“Misses Weasley will figure it out,” soothed Chen. “She’s so wrapped up in this legislation, I’m sure she’ll know what you’re talking about immediately.”

“If it matters at all,” Draco fretted some more. “I just want there to be justice.”

“Misses Weasley will know,” Chen said again. “She’ll be grateful for any information.”

“I hope so,” Draco said.

*

Undersecretary Chen escorted Draco directly to Granger, who was looking very frazzled. At least three quills had been shoved into the large bundle of her unruly hair, and interns surrounded her, scribbling furiously. Undersecretary Chen cleared her throat. “Misses Weasley, Mister Bonchance says that Harry Potter has told him very important information about the legislation you’re working on, but that Mister Potter was unable to reach you from the Netherlands.”

Granger turned to him in confusion. “Tristan?”

“Please,” said Draco, putting on his most earnest face. “I very much need to talk to you.”

Hermione looked at her interns.

“In private,” Draco added.

Beginning to look alarmed, Granger nodded, then began walking through shelves of Mysteries to one of the chambers on the far end. Thanking Chen, Draco followed. The chamber Granger opened was full of floating planets, and Granger cast a quick spell as they entered.

Draco had always wanted to see the Department of Mysteries. When he was a child, he had dreamed of going there. Later, he had known he had never would and resented it. Maybe if Potter and his idiot friends hadn’t broken into it, Father would never have been arrested. They would have had the good sense to all move to France and never see anyone in England ever again.

Now, however, Draco didn’t care. He didn’t spare a glance for the Mysteries on the shelves, or the planets in the room; he was too furious to care.

Granger began, “Is Harry all—”

“What do you think you’re doing with him?”

“With Harry?” said Granger, surprised. “What is this about?”

“He was supposed to have a day off.”

Granger’s brows shot up to her hairline. “Excuse me?”

“Do you know he’s never taken a day off before? He’s always doing your bidding, or Shacklebolt’s, or Longbottom’s, or NimbusCorp’s, or Weasley’s, or Hogwarts, or Gringotts, or whoever else.”

“It’s not my bidding,” said Granger, still looking mostly confused. “I asked for his help.”

“You told him you needed him,” Draco said. “You don’t need him.”

“I needed someone to search the rec—”

“You needed someone powerful,” Draco said. “So you decided to use Harry. To search for bloody files.”

“It’s important. I needed—”

“Important to you, maybe. Do you ever think about what’s important to him?”

“I’ve known Harry my whole life.” Granger frowned. “Of course I think about what’s important to him.”

“Do you? Or do you just assume that what’s important to you is important to him?”

Granger’s brow wrinkled. “What’s this about? Why are you so—”

“Angry? You’re bloody right, I’m angry. He told you he wanted the day off. He told you he didn’t want to be disturbed—”

“It was a special emergency!”

“Do you know how many ‘special emergencies’ people need him for? Yesterday they needed him for a recall at NimbusCorp. The day before that it was a dragon. And before that, it was goblins at a bank, and before that, it was a promise to a friend. For all of you, it’s just a favour here and there. But for Harry—do you know that’s his whole life?”

“He could say no,” she pointed out.

Draco rolled his eyes. “For Merlin’s sake, Hermione. When in his whole damn life has that boy ever said no?”

Granger’s face paled.

“He doesn’t,” Draco said. “You know he doesn’t. Except when it’s something just for him, something that he wants, something that he needs.”

“And something that you want,” Granger guessed.

“Merlin.” Turning away, Draco scrubbed his face. He didn’t even know where this was coming from. He’d just wanted to—he’d just wanted to yell at her, make her feel awful; he’d wanted her to give him Potter because Potter wouldn’t do it himself.

“We’ve tried to get him to take time off.” Granger’s voice cracked. “He said he didn’t want to.”

“I’m not saying he’s not an idiot. He’s a fool of the first order.” Draco turned around. “But you’re his friend. You know what he’s like. If you know he’s going to say yes just because it’s you asking him—don’t ask him.”

Granger regarded him a while, long enough that Draco started coming to his senses.

He hadn’t thought about it when he’d lied to Huxwell. He hadn’t thought about it when he’d lied to Chen. He hadn’t thought about it when he got Granger here in the Department of Mysteries—an ex-Death Eater cornering a hero of the war in a forbidden room in the Ministry of Magic. Draco had just been so angry and he didn’t think; he never thought, just like Pansy said he didn’t.

Hermione Granger had brewed Polyjuice in third year. She’d stood up to Bellatrix Lestrange. She’d slapped him, and Granger was terrifying. Draco had always been terrified of her, and now he’d gone and yelled straight in her face.

She was still looking at him, as though measuring him up. When she spoke again, her voice was measuring, too. “You lied to Undersecretary Chen and got yourself down into the Department of Mysteries because you wanted Harry to have a day off.”

“I didn’t lie,” Draco said quickly. “I—obfuscated.”

Granger pursed her lips. “It’s hard to know what Harry wants sometimes.”

“He wants to make everyone else around him happy. He wants to be used, because he’s been used his whole life. Dumbledore made sure of that.”

“Dumbledore was trying to do what was right.” A strange look was on Granger’s face—most likely because no one had ever once suggested to her that Albus Dumbledore was anything but a shining beacon of hope and justice.

“Yes, well.” Draco shifted uncomfortably. “There’s not a war on any more. Someone should have taught Harry that he can live his own life now.”

“What if this is the life he wants?”

“Granger.” Draco didn’t know how to put it to her. She was still terrifying. “You knew that Harry was free today. You knew it. And you knew that he would help you if you made it sound serious—”

“It is serious—”

“But you could have got someone else. You could have got someone else, and you didn’t, because Harry was right there. He’s always been right there for you.”

Granger turned away from him, hugging herself. “I’ve always tried to be there for him.”

“And you are.” Draco came closer to her, not really angry any more. He was getting through to her, and the realization sent a pulse of—something—through his veins. The feeling was not quite the excitement of triumph; it felt more like . . . relief, and gratitude.

Granger bowed her head. “Sometimes it’s just so easy—knowing that he’s there.”

“Knowing he’ll come running if you call.”

“I’d come running if he called,” Granger said.

“Does he ever call?”

Granger sighed.

“Please.” Draco put his hand on her shoulder. “I’m working him on my end. If he can’t learn to say no sometimes, then it’s his own fault. But he could use some help from friends.”

“No one’s ever reprimanded me about the way I’m treating Harry before.” At last, Granger turned around, looking up at him. “Usually I’m going around reprimanding everyone else. I don’t think Shacklebolt is fond of me.”

“The Minister’s the worst,” Draco agreed.

Granger grimaced. “Harry drops everything when he calls. I swear Kingsley calls him sometimes just to get Harry’s opinion on his World Cup bracket.”

“Harry claims he likes Minister Shacklebolt’s coffee.”

“He tried that on you, too, did he?”

Draco shook his head. “He knew I saw right through him.”

“Then I’m glad he has you.” Granger smiled. “He’s with a centaur in Amsterdam. I’ll have him home within an hour.”

“Thank you, Hermione. I honestly didn’t expect you to be so . . .”

“Reasonable?” Granger’s smile widened. “I do love Harry too, you know.”

“I know,” said Draco. “And you should be able to call on friends.”

“No, you’re right,” said Granger. “I could have had the interns do it. I could have had someone else go to the Netherlands, too; Harry’s just so . . .”

“Powerful.”

Granger laughed. “I was going to say accommodating. It helps that he’s fast—but it also helps that he never complains.”

“I’ve got him to complain a time or two.” Draco smiled faintly, thinking of the other day, when he had tortured Potter with the toy.

“Have you?” Granger looked impressed.

Draco’s smile broadened to a smirk. “We’re working on it.”

Granger sighed again. “Speaking of work, I should get back to it. But Tristan?” She pressed his hand. “Thank you.”

Draco’s fingers curled around the warmth where she had touched him.

*

Granger was as good as her word, and Potter arrived back at Hawthorn Lane about forty-five minutes after Draco did.

“I know you’re angry,” Potter said.

“I’m not angry.” Draco slid his hands around his neck.

“I know you’re upset,” said Potter.

“I’m not upset.” Draco began kissing his neck—the spot Potter liked best, just above his clavicle.

“Tristan.” Burying his hand in Tristan’s hair, Potter tipped Draco’s head back.

“I’m not upset,” Draco said again. “You went to go help your friend. She needed you.”

Potter frowned a little. “I don’t think she did need me. She said she could have got someone else to do it.”

“I’m glad she came to her senses.” Draco leaned back in, nuzzling against the side of Potter’s neck.

“So, you’re not . . .” Potter’s hands slid down Draco’s back. “You’re not angry with me?”

Draco smothered a laugh. “Maybe a little. Do you want to make it up to me?”

“Anything,” Potter said. “I’ll do anything.”

Draco nipped Potter’s ear. “Then don’t be a sore loser when you don’t catch the Snitch.”

“God.” Potter squeezed him tight. “You make me not even want to fly. I just want to stay here and hold you forever.”

“Is that a forfeit?” Draco squeezed him back. “Told you I would win.”

*

Four.

The next morning, Draco woke before Potter.

Draco’s timing wasn’t accidental. Before going to sleep, he had modified a delay charm to use on a dose of Pepper Up. The potion began work on Draco’s system before dawn, so that Draco would wake without at all disturbing Potter.

Draco’s favourite pastries were chocolate croissants from a magical bakery in London called Farine. They were light and sweet. Served warm, they were to die for. Apparating to London from west Hampshire was no small feat that early in the morning, and Draco didn’t usually allow himself to indulge in the croissants anyway. That morning, he went to Farine and ordered half a dozen.

The most perfect cup of cappuccino was another Apparition away, but Potter was a clod and would likely not appreciate it. Not knowing which coffee Potter would prefer, Draco simply got the black from Farine, then Apparated home. When Draco got to the bedroom, Potter was still sleeping.

Potter was always awake by the time Draco woke, and though Draco slept more fitfully, he usually fell asleep before Potter did as well. Draco had got into the habit of falling asleep after shagging Potter—a tendency he’d thankfully never developed with any other client. As a result, Draco had really never seen Potter sleep before.

If you had asked Draco three weeks ago, he would have guessed Potter looked peaceful while sleeping. After all, he had everything any wizard could ever want; there was little to disturb him. But now Potter looked . . . troubled. His brow was slightly wrinkled around his scar, and his lips turned down in a slight frown.

The conclusions Draco had come to earlier that month were still valid. Potter liked people who took from him. He wanted to give to people; he liked to serve. But the bare truth of it was: no one served Potter.

They tried to serve him; they gave and gave to an image they thought was Potter. But just as they had constructed themselves into illusions they thought Potter might admire, so had they constructed Potter into an illusion. All those brooms and cloaks and gifts that came every day by owl were for an idol, not a man.

What Draco hadn’t seen was that even Potter’s friends had fallen into the trap of thinking of Potter as their saviour, Potter as someone who was there to help and save them, but not someone to help or be saved. Even Granger, who loved him best of all, took advantage of him—not because she was selfish, but because she had her own battles to fight.

Potter didn’t have his own battles. He’d never had his own battles. He’d only ever had everyone else’s.

Watching Potter sleep, Draco felt himself drawn to the lightning scar on Potter’s brow. That, too, was someone else’s battle—the Dark Lord’s, Dumbledore’s, Lily Potter’s, Snape’s—but not Harry’s. He’d been forced into it from so young and Draco had never realized it before, the way that the whole universe aligned itself to a hero, but never to a man.

Setting down the paper bag of pastries and the coffee, Draco sat down on the bed, careful not to depress the mattress springs suddenly, lest Potter wake.

Potter just looked so . . . tired, and Draco couldn’t help it. Reaching out, he gently traced the scar.

The scar itself was nothing, really, just a raised bit of flesh.

Just like any other scar. Just like the scars Draco could have revealed without the Masker Ade—scars Potter had given him.

For the first time, it occurred to Draco that when Potter had given him those scars, Potter had been afraid.

Tracing the lightning scar again, Draco swallowed. This was everything about Potter that had made him stand out, be so different—everything about Potter that Draco had resented, felt envious of. The scar was everything, and yet in the end nothing except something horrible that had hurt him and cut him and made him have to heal. Leaning in, Draco’s mouth hovered over that ruined bit of flesh.

He wasn’t going to kiss it.

He just—he wanted to taste it. This—this was power, wasn’t it; this was Potter—

Draco’s lips were an inch from it when Potter grabbed him, yanked him down, and got on top of him.

“Harry,” Draco said.

Potter’s eyes were wild.

“It’s me,” Draco said, for the first time thinking about the fact that he regularly shared a bed with ninety kilos of brawn, within which was the power that had killed the Dark Lord.

Potter’s powerful thighs held Draco down, Potter’s strong hands pinning him so as to make movement impossible, and Potter could probably kill him with a word or a blink. Potter’s breath was coming hard, his face expressionless but for the complete lack of recognition in his face.

The objects on the shelves and bureaus were all trembling.

“Harry, pet.” Draco relaxed. “It’s me.”

“Tristan,” Potter said raggedly, realization dawning.

The trembling stopped.

“Yes,” Draco said. As Potter relaxed against him, Draco pulled his arm from Potter’s grasp to stroke a hand over Potter’s back. Draco’s lips brushed Potter’s forehead after all as Potter rolled aside.

“I’m sorry.” Potter scrubbed his face. “Sometimes I . . .”

“That’s all right,” Draco said, straightening himself up.

“I’m not . . .” Potter began, then started again. “I can’t, when I’m not awake.”

“Yes, you can’t be articulate like a normal human being; I understand.” Sitting beside him, Draco pet Potter’s chest.

Potter’s hand covered his, pressing it to the scar over his heart, the black circle tattoo around it.

“You’re very dramatic,” Draco told him, kissing Potter’s forehead again.

“Tristan.” Potter arched up.

Draco turned reaching for the pastries, and Potter’s lips only brushed his cheek. “I brought you something.”

“Why are you awake?” Potter said, settling back down.

“Here.” Draco thrust the bag in his lap.

Potter opened it up. “Rolls?”

“Have one.”

“What are they for?”

“Breakfast. At least do me the courtesy of appreciating it.”

The line appearing beside his mouth, Potter just looked at him.

Draco’s face heated up. “It’s not funny.”

“I’m not laughing,” Potter murmured.

Draco nudged him. “Eat one.”

“Why did you get me—”

Harry.”

“Yes, your highness.” Taking one of the croissants, Harry lifted it towards his mouth.

“Wait!” Lunging towards the side table, Draco grabbed his wand. He cast a quick warming charm on the croissant then put his wand back on the table. “They really are much better warm,” Draco explained.

Potter took a bite. Chewed. Swallowed. “It’s very good,” he said.

Draco felt his face fall. “What’s wrong with it?”

“Nothing. It’s great.” Potter took another bite.

Making a disgruntled noise, Draco grabbed Potter’s wrist. “Here,” he said, pulling Potter’s hand, the one with the croissant, towards him. “Let me try.” Draco took a bite.

And moaned.

“You can have the rest,” Potter said, holding out the pastry.

“What is wrong with you?” Draco said, when he had swallowed the orgasmic bite.

“I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth.”

Draco looked at him.

Potter shrugged. “It’s not a big—”

Draco took the croissant out of Potter’s hand, dumped it back into the bag. “I wanted to do something nice for you.”

Potter raised a brow. “Do you know how many people have ever got me breakfast?”

“I don’t care what—”

“No one.” Potter tugged on his hips, and reluctantly, Draco came closer. “Stop worrying so much about what I might like.”

Potter tried to drag him into his lap, and Draco pushed back at him. “It’s not because you’d like it,” Draco said, annoyed. “It’s because I wanted to.”

Potter let him go.

“I just wanted to.” That was all Draco could say. He didn’t really know what he was saying.

Potter stared at him.

He stared at him long enough for Draco’s face to heat, and then Potter was dragging him, hauling Draco over, getting on top of him until Draco’s back was flat on the bed and Potter was over him. Potter’s size was unfair, and he shouldn’t use it to his advantage, the great hulking brute—

And then Potter was kissing down the length of Draco’s throat, down his chest, and lower.

“I want to eat it off of you,” Potter said.

“The croissants?” Draco said, appalled. “That’s a waste.”

“I want to.”

“I’m not sure I should encourage you to be such a slob. You can’t very well—”

Potter’s hand wrapped around Draco’s cock, and Draco arched.

“Oh, I suppose,” said Draco.

The breakfast really was very good.

*

The last week of Draco’s stay at Hawthorn Lane was an exercise in trying to find ways to spoil Potter.

No one had ever really done it before, as far as Draco could tell. People did nice things for Potter, and surely when they weren’t demanding things of him Potter’s friends did things for Potter just because Potter liked them. But there was no one there to spoil him, and Draco had tried in the beginning but he had tried in all the wrong ways.

Potter didn’t like the idea of someone doing all the laundry and cleaning and preparing all the meals, but he liked it when Draco cast the lemon charm on Potter’s drinking water just because water was nicer that way. He liked it when Draco packed lunches and put them in Potter’s bag before he left; he liked it when Draco cast warming charms on Potter’s feet when they were lounging on the sofa. Little things like that, stupid things, things no one had ever thought to do for Potter, and if they’d thought of it, they hadn’t thought about what Potter might want; they’d just been doing what they thought Potter might like.

Paying attention to what Potter really wanted could be somewhat difficult. Potter liked to bring Draco breakfast in bed; he liked to rub Draco’s feet; he liked to do little things that Draco asked. But after several tries, Draco learned what Potter liked for breakfast, and they rivalled each other in who could serve each other first. Potter rubbed Draco’s feet but Draco rubbed Potter’s shoulders, and Potter never asked for anything, but Draco pretended as though he did.

Doing things for Potter was almost fun, like a challenge. While Draco prided himself on knowing what his clients wanted, he had never studied anyone quite so deeply before. He felt attuned to Potter on a level beyond physical, able to guess what he might want, even what he might say sometimes. There was something heady about being so close that he could almost feel Potter’s thoughts; Draco felt as though in some ways he was merely an extension of Potter and Potter was an extension of him. Every moment they were in sync felt like victory.

*

In the final week, Potter and Draco attended two public functions.

These days, Potter wasn’t quite so much of a gargoyle as he had been at first. After all, if anyone was bothering Potter, he could depend on Draco to eventually come save him, because Draco always did so. When that happened, Draco felt like Potter’s knight in shining armour, and he also couldn’t help but feel that Potter treated him as such. In those situations, Potter almost always expected Draco to answer questions for him, turning to Draco inquiringly if Draco paused to let Potter answer on his own.

On the first night of the last week, Draco and Potter attended a party held by Justin Finch-Fletchley, who had grown quite rich in his investment after the war and had invited everyone he had ever known. Draco was fairly certain that Potter was not attending because he and Finch-Fletchley were best of friends. Either Potter felt obliged because Finch-Fletchley had been in that club of Potter’s or because Finch-Fletchley was a big investor in the Squib charities Potter seemed to care about.

The party was in a large ballroom, and though Draco was on one end of it, he was highly aware of Potter halfway across the other side. That was why he noticed when a blond bloke sauntered up to Potter and started making conversation. Draco was thinking about swooping in to perform a rescue when he noticed Potter’s attitude.

Potter didn’t seem friendly, but Potter was rarely friendly. He looked just as moody and forbidding as ever, but Potter was always moody and forbidding, and his posture towards the blond bloke seemed . . . attentive. When Potter was with friends—people Draco knew and recognized—Potter softened just a little, became just a bit gentler, somehow. Potter wasn’t doing that. Instead, he still seemed surly, just at the same time—attuned. That was how Potter looked when he was interested.

Draco knew. Potter was supposedly interested in him.

However, as Draco began making his way over there—not gracefully—elbowing, really—Potter turned away from the blond man. The blond man watched him go, a trifle reluctantly—as well he should be reluctant. Potter was the most powerful wizard in the room, and he belonged to Draco. The blond man hadn’t any business making Potter look like that.

When Draco got closer, he realized that he recognized the blond man after all: Jason Weathersby—Potter’s former boyfriend. Draco had seen his picture in Witch Weekly.

Weathersby was not as tall as Draco, but he was broader. His hair was dirty blond, like Tristan’s, and curly. When Draco got closer, he saw that Weathersby’s eyes were blue.

“Hullo,” said Draco, putting out his hand. “Tristan Bonchance.”

“Hi.” Weathersby shook his hand, but only gave him a half-smile in return. “Jason Weathersby.”

Pretending to look around, Draco found himself thinking about the personal information Weathersby had told Witch Weekly. “It’s quite a good party.”

Weathersby glanced at Potter, who was talking to Granger against the wall. “It’s all right.”

“I see you’ve already found the fittest bloke in the room,” Draco said, nodding at Potter. Weathersby must be missing Potter by now; he’d told Witch Weekly that Potter liked it rough in bed, that Potter was kinky.

“Harry?” Weathersby looked surprised, then a bit chagrined. “He does stand out.”

“He doesn’t do well at parties,” Draco said.

Weathersby gave a subdued chuckle. “No, he really doesn’t.”

Tilting his head, Draco looked back at Harry. “I’ve got him to the point where he doesn’t looking like he wants to murder everyone.” Draco turned back to Weathersby. “We’re working on it.”

Weathersby raised his brows. “How are you faring?”

“Acceptably, I should say.” Draco put on a smile, remembering that Weathersby had even told the reporter about the tattoo on Potter’s chest. “He does like to please me.”

“Does he?” Weathersby sounded polite. “When I knew him, he only ever pleased himself.”

“Then perhaps you and I are different,” Draco murmured.

“Then good for you,” Weathersby said. “He needed someone different.”

Weathersby seemed prepared to end the conversation, but Draco couldn’t let him. Stepping in front of Weathersby’s path, Draco found that he was inexplicably angry. “You told Witch Weekly about him,” he said, and that hadn’t been what Draco had meant to say. “You told them what he liked.”

“Yes,” said Weathersby, not seeming at all apologetic.

“That’s private,” Draco said fiercely. “You had to know he wouldn’t want to share, that he doesn’t like to be in the public eye. You had to know—”

“Of course I knew.” Weathersby’s mouth was tight. “Why did you think I did it?”

“You wanted to get back at him? For dumping you?”

I dumped him.”

“Liar.”

“I don’t have to argue about this with you,” Weathersby said, making as though to brush past him.

Draco grasped his arm, holding him fast. “You’re a liar. You’d never dump him. You wouldn’t be able to. He’s . . .” Trailing off, Draco tried again. “He’s . . .”

“Everything you could ever want?” Weathersby’s face was pale. “I’m sure he is, at that. And whenever his cock is in your arse, I’m sure you can never imagine leaving, can you?”

“I put my cock in his arse,” Draco said.

“Then maybe that’s the difference, because he would never let me in.” Weathersby wrested himself out of Draco’s grasp.

Draco lit up in triumph.

Seeing the expression on Draco’s face, Weathersby frowned. “He let me shag him—eventually,” Weathersby said. “That’s not what I’m talking about. He never let me in. Never talked about what he was thinking, what he’d been through—he’d never open up to me, and if he does to you . . . well, then I’m glad.” Weathersby’s expression was strangely earnest, open—pouty lips drawn down and troubled, eyes bright.

“He opens up to me all the time,” Draco said savagely.

“That’s good,” said Weathersby. “That’s all I wanted for him. He needed . . . somebody.”

“He needs me.”

“Good.” Weathersby shoved his hands in his pockets. He was casually dressed—far more Potter’s style than Draco. “That’s the reason—that’s why I told the magazine what I did. I wanted him to see that—that it wouldn’t actually hurt him for people to know what he was like.”

“You did the opposite. You made it so he couldn’t trust anyone—”

“I thought he trusted you.”

“He does trust me.”

Weathersby shrugged. “Then it worked.”

“No thanks to you.”

Weathersby pressed his lips together. “Harry, he was—he’s twisted up inside, holding it all in. He needs to let go. I couldn’t live with that kind of pressure. Maybe you can. I hope you can.”

“I can,” said Draco.

“I hope someone can.”

Draco wanted him to stay, wanted to force him to stay so that he could convince him—but when Draco looked up, Potter had seen them and was coming for them.

“I have to go,” said Weathersby. “This—it still hurts.”

Pitiful, Draco wanted to snarl, but Weathersby was pushing through the crowd and then was gone.

Potter paused to watch him go, watching Weathersby as though he had been coming for Weathersby all along. The look in his eyes seemed to be an attempt to decide whether to go after him.

Draco walked towards Potter, not really taking stock of whom he passed on the way, how long it took to get there. All he knew was that it took far less time to get to the other side of the ballroom than it should have and that Potter turned to look at him halfway there. Draco willed Potter to look at him, to keep looking at him, to look at no one else. Weathersby didn’t matter; he couldn’t matter; Potter was there with Draco, and Draco wanted everyone to know it.

When he got to Potter, Draco’s hand clamped down on Potter’s elbow and pulled, dragging Potter. “What are you—?” Potter began, but Draco just kept pulling Potter across the ballroom floor.

Potter came willingly, but when he caught up, Draco lengthened his stride, going faster.

When they got to the men’s, Draco pushed Potter into the swinging door. Potter stumbled inside, and Draco followed him in. He opened one of the stalls. “Get in.” The words were the first he’d spoken since striding across the ballroom.

Potter looked at him with a raised brow. “I don’t need to go.”

“Get in,” Draco said, pushing him.

Potter allowed himself to be manhandled, and once they were both in the stall, said, “Now that you’ve got me here, what do you mean to—”

“I’m going to fuck you.”

Potter looked around. “It’s rather small.”

“Shut up,” Draco said, jerking the fastenings of Potter’s trousers.

“Tristan.” Potter put his hands on Draco’s to still them.

“I said, shut up,” Draco said, frustrated as he moved under Potter’s hands, yanking on the fly.

“Tristan.” Potter’s hands tightened on Draco’s. “I’m not seeing Jason any more.”

“I don’t care. I want—” But Potter held his hands fast.

“I don’t care about him in that way,” Potter said. “Not any more. The only one I want that way is you.”

Draco lost it. He couldn’t think. He just wanted him, got him against the wall on the side of the stall. Jerking out his wand, Draco got it between Potter’s legs, cast the protection and lubrication spells. Then Draco was lining himself up, pushing himself into Potter, fucking him against the wall of the loo.

“You’re mine,” Draco told him, thrusting hard.

Potter’s eyelids were low and heavy, his mouth sagging open as he let Draco take him.

“Say it,” Draco said, grunting with effort. “You’re mine.”

“Yes,” Potter said, his voice catching.

The angle forced Draco to thrust into him too shallowly—not deep enough. Not enough. Pulling out, Draco turned Potter around and Potter went with him, facing the wall. Draco’s hand smoothed once over Potter’s arse—Merlin, he really did have a good arse—and then Draco was lining himself up again, pushing in.

“You belong to me,” Draco told him.

“Mm,” Potter said, pushing back for him.

The response frustrated Draco. He wasn’t doing this for pleasure; he wanted Potter to know that he—

“Say it.” Draco thrust into him. “Harry, love, say it—”

“Tristan—”

Someone came into the loo.

Yanking out his wand again, Draco Disillusioned their feet. The stall door was locked, but they could hear two men on the other side of it talking. For a moment, Draco was paralyzed.

Then Potter pressed back against Draco’s cock.

The men were still talking—using the urinals, probably.

Draco pushed forwards, finding that spot that had made Potter groan earlier.

“Moan for me,” Draco whispered in Potter’s ear.

The men kept talking; they couldn’t hear, and Potter pressed back again. He obviously wanted it.

“Moan for me,” Draco said again. “They won’t recognize you; I want them to hear it.”

Potter pressed back, and the men kept talking.

Draco’s hand snaked around to Potter’s front, reaching down to encircle Potter’s cock. “Let them hear you, pet,” Draco said, and Potter moaned.

The sound came as though ripped from him, and Draco grew clumsy in his thrusting.

“Did you hear that?” said one of them men.

“You’re mine,” Draco said, not caring if they could hear him.

“Someone’s having a good time,” said the other man.

“Who—”

“Mine,” Draco said, fucking him hard now. “You’re mine.”

Potter liked that they could hear him; he loved it. Writhing under Draco, he was letting out these low, sensual moans, expressly for the benefit of the men on the other side of the stall. Potter wanted them to hear him getting fucked; he wanted the other men to know who he belonged to—

“You’re all mine,” Draco said.

“Yours.” Potter panted. “Yours.”

“Let’s get out of here,” said one of the men.

“Good show,” the other one called, as the men walked out of the loo.

Draco shuddered and came, his thrusts so erratic that it was difficult to stay inside of Potter.

“Tristan,” Potter was saying. “Tristan.” Potter was shuddering too, and somewhere from far off Draco realized that Potter was coming—coming from nothing more than Draco’s hand just holding his cock, and Draco inside of him.

When at last Draco’s hips felt like his own again, he was still inside of Potter, softening.

“I’ve never done anything like that before,” Potter said at last, after a long while.

Draco felt strangely embarrassed. Pulling out of Potter, he cleaned himself up then put himself away, putting his clothes to rights. Potter turned around, and he was smiling.

Not a real smile—just the line beside his mouth, but his eyes were bright and it was good enough for Draco. Draco wanted to kiss him. He felt strangely cold, and Potter’s mouth would be so warm. They’d wrap around each other and explore each other; Draco would taste Potter’s tongue.

But Draco couldn’t kiss him now; he couldn’t, because—because . . . well, Potter would probably get the wrong idea, and Draco had written that there wouldn’t be kissing in the contract. He’d probably put that in there for a good reason, but Draco didn’t know what it was; he didn’t know what it was and he wanted—

But Potter was already leaning in, kissing him on his temple, his cheekbones. Draco pulled Potter closer and kissed him everywhere—forehead, nose, chin, everywhere, light kisses over and over again.

“Feeling possessive?” Potter said, after several moments of this.

“No.” Realizing that his behaviour in the last twenty minutes probably had seemed odd, Draco moved down to Potter’s throat, opening his mouth in a more generic form of necking.

“It’s all right.” Pulling Draco off his neck, Potter put his arms around him. “Even if we scarred those two blokes for life.” His lips moved against Tristan’s hair. “It was worth it.”

Draco shivered. “Say it again.”

“It was worth it?”

“Not that.”

“What?” Potter murmured.

“I belong to you.”

Potter laughed. He actually laughed, holding Draco tighter.

Draco let Potter hold him close, but he was insistent. “Say it. Say, I belong to you.”

“You belong to me,” Potter said.

That was the opposite of what Draco had meant, but it still worked anyway.

*

Draco and Potter didn’t talk about Draco leaving.

Draco mentioned it once, when six days were still left.

Potter only held him closer.

*

On the third day of the final week, Potter wanted to invite friends to the house on the end of Hawthorn Lane.

“What do you think?” Potter asked that morning, while Draco was still in bed and Potter was getting ready to go to the Ministry. Shacklebolt wanted him again.

I think you can do whatever you want was the answer on the tip of Draco’s tongue, but Potter didn’t appreciate answers like that. Potter honestly wanted to know what Draco thought, and Draco had to think to figure out what he did want. “Why do you want to?” he said finally.

“I want them to get to know you,” Potter said.

“They do know me,” Draco pointed out. “We talk all the time.” Potter’s friends were at the parties—the benefits, the galas, the banquets.

Potter shook his head. “That’s not the same. I want them to . . .”

“You don’t want me to be your party boyfriend.”

“No.”

Potter looked uncomfortable, but Draco felt light. He felt so light, as though a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. “You want us all to be friends.”

“I want you in my life.”

“I am in your life.” Draco felt lighter still.

“I want you in every part of it,” Potter said. Draco felt as though he was going to float away.

“I suppose,” said Draco, pretending as though he didn’t care. “Granger is quite . . . acceptable.”

“Acceptable?” Potter’s brow went up. “Then you’ve forgiven her for needing my help on my day off?”

“No.” Draco turned in bed, draping himself over Potter, who lay beside him. “But I have to have someone intelligent to talk to every once in a while.”

“And I’m not good enough?” Potter murmured.

“You’re good enough for some things.” Propping himself up, Draco kissed Potter’s chest, lips trailing down Potter’s ribs, his stomach.

“Then I’ll ask them over,” Potter said.

*

Draco spent the day getting the house ready for Potter’s friends.

Potter had never seemed to particularly appreciate Draco doing things like cooking and cleaning, but right now that didn’t much matter. Potter’s friends were coming over, and Draco wanted the place to look presentable. He wanted Potter’s friends to think that he was good for Potter—good enough, at least—and though they had seen Tristan shine at plenty of social functions, this was different.

This was his house. All right—not actually his house, but the place he had been living, and the place had looked different before he had moved in. Then it had seemed like some kind of . . . rustic cliché, too small and modest for someone like Potter. It had been a bit of a dump, really, but the house had grown on Draco, and now had its own rustic kind of charm.

They’d shagged on nearly every surface in it, and in other ways, too, Draco had made the house his own. Transfiguring the furniture into more fashionable pieces wouldn’t have fit the house, so Draco had done what he could within the homespun aesthetic—adding cashmere throws, satin pillows, a few tapestries. As most of the furniture had obviously been purchased for comfort, not style, adding more textiles and intricate weavings fit the over-stuffed feel of the place.

There was nothing to be done about Great Aunt Walburga, but after a while, Draco realized that she added her own kind of charm. The look of the place was eclectic, but everywhere there were deep colours and bright, warm light.

For Potter’s friends, Draco added a few other trinkets of his own—an incense burner, which would make the room smell of cinnamon, and a brass dragon tea-set. Pansy had got it from Taipei and given it to him as a gift; it was Draco favourite tea-set, and looked well on the worn coffee-table in the sitting-room. He was looking forward to serving his favourite spiced tea to the guests.

Then Draco got to work in the kitchen. He remembered the kind of thing his mother made for parties, and he did not have the time or resources for most of them. He could make a variety of chutneys, however, and could put them together with crepes for a nice fusion dish; people could dip them. And then he could make candied ginger, perhaps some spiced almonds for snacks . . .

Draco rarely had guests to his flat—unless he counted Pansy, which he didn’t. Sometimes Theo or Millie popped by, Daphne less often, but beyond that . . . Draco didn’t really know anyone beyond clients. Those few people that he did come into contact with—people that he didn’t have to shag for money—were few and far between. As Theo frequently lamented, either they didn’t want to know a former Death Eater, or if they could stomach that, they didn’t want to know an escort.

The guests for tonight weren’t really Draco’s. They were Potter’s, and yet Draco couldn’t help wanting to show off, a bit. He never got to have parties; this was his first one as an adult.

When Potter’s guests finally arrived, Draco was exhausted, but pleased with the result.

“You didn’t have to do all this,” Potter said, but Draco thought he might be pleased as well.

“I wanted to,” Draco said. “I don’t want your friends to think you live in a hovel.”

“We know Harry lives in a hovel,” said Ronald Weasley. “We’ve given up on it.”

“This is a hovel?” said Granger. “Then where do we live?”

“In a palace,” said Ronald.

“I think I’ll go to sleep,” said Charlie Weasley, sinking down into the cushions Draco had placed in front of the hearth for extra seating.

“You haven’t had tea yet,” said Draco.

Lovegood nudged Charlie with her foot. “You’re making him fret.”

“I’m not fretting,” Draco fretted.

“Sit down,” said Ronald.

“I’m making tea!” said Draco.

“You don’t have to sit if you don’t want to.” Potter came over to Draco at the side table, who was busily spelling all of the tea into little bundles in the cups, so the leaves wouldn’t drift around as people drank, and could easily be spelled out again. “You’re nervous,” Potter whispered.

“I’m not nervous.”

“It’s all right.” Potter put his hand on the small of Draco’s back.

“What are they doing over there?” Ronald said.

“I believe it’s called snogging,” said Charlie.

“Then why do we even come?” Ronald complained. “Honestly, Harry, we haven’t seen you in—

“Where did this tea-set come from?” Potter asked in Draco’s ear, ignoring his friends.

“A friend gave it to me,” said Draco.

“And you brought it here?” Potter’s hand rubbed a slow circle on Draco’s back, and Draco gradually relaxed.

“Yes. I thought it—I thought it would be nice.”

We could be snogging,” Ronald said.

“Could we?” said Granger. “Could we really?”

“I could be dragon taming,” said Charlie. “I actually really could be.”

“I could possibly be snogging,” Lovegood said thoughtfully. “Or dragon taming. I’m not sure.”

“It is nice.” The hand stopped rubbing circles, and Potter’s arm slid around him, squeezing. “You’re nice.”

“They’re practically the same things,” Charlie said. “Dragon-taming and snogging.”

“I suppose that depends on who you’re snogging,” Lovegood said.

“Your friends will see,” Draco hissed, because Potter really was snogging, now—his lips were under Draco’s ear.

“I don’t care if they see,” Potter said. “Am I ever going to meet your friend?”

“Who?” said Draco, because thinking was hard.

“The one who gave you that tea-set,” Potter said.

“Please don’t talk about snogging dragons,” said Ron.

“I should think snogging a dragon would be quite lovely,” said Lovegood. “We should ask Harry.

“I—maybe,” Draco said, because Potter’s mouth was on his throat, and Potter’s hands were on him. “If you can behave yourself—”

“I can be good.” Potter pressed into him. “I can be so good for you. Say yes.”

“I—yes,” Draco said in a rush. “Yes, you can meet her, just—”

“What do you think of snogging dragons, Harry?” Lovegood asked.

Draco stiffened. He knew Lovegood a bit better than the rest of the company, but she couldn’t know—

“Sounds lovely,” Potter said, finally turning back to his friends.

“Lovely?” Ronald said, sounding disgusted.

“You shouldn’t question what someone likes,” Lovegood said.

“Come on,” said Potter gently, his hand returning to the small of Draco’s back.

Draco spelled the tea tray back over to the coffee-table, Potter’s hand gently guiding him.

“Yes,” agreed Charlie. “For instance, I like dragons.”

“Hurrah, tea,” said Ronald.

“Do you like dragons?” Lovegood asked, turning to Potter.

“I like them,” Potter said. His hand slid around Draco’s waist again. “I think I love them.”

Potter wasn’t talking about him. Draco poured the tea.

*

“I’ve been thinking,” Draco said as they entered the bedroom on the fourth night of the last week. “I think you should shag me.”

Potter looked at him.

“It’s a great idea,” Draco went on. “I know you don’t like it, but—”

“I like it,” Potter said.

“Good,” said Draco.

“I like it a lot,” said Potter.

“Good.”

“You’ve never . . . you never seemed like you wanted it.”

“I want it,” Draco said. Jason Weathersby said it was great. “I just think you should, and we haven’t much time left; I want—you should probably do it.”

“You don’t sound sure.”

“I’m sure,” Draco said, and he had never been so sure of something in his life. Weathersby had had it—over and over it again, he made it sound like, and Draco wanted Potter in every way possible. He wanted Potter to belong to him, and before this moment, Draco had always seen penetration as an act of ownership, but this would connect Potter to him.

Draco was good; he could be so good laid out on his back, and no matter how much Potter liked to be on the receiving end, the other way was Draco’s specialty. He could make Potter love it; he could make Potter a slave to it, addicted to it, needing Draco underneath him, Potter’s cock inside of him. Draco could make him, and then Potter would need him.

Potter would need him desperately in every way, and Draco should have thought of this before.

“I’m sure,” Draco said again. “I want you like that. I—need it.”

Potter put his hand on the small of Draco’s back and started rubbing there, firmly circling. “If you want it,” Potter said. “I can do it however you want. You can tell me what to do; I can go however fast or slow you need. You can be on top if you—”

Draco’s hand clamped down on Potter’s arm, forcing Potter to stop rubbing. “I want it—I want it all the way,” Draco said. “Just like you would with anyone else.”

“I wouldn’t with anyone else. I only want to with you.”

“Harry.” Draco leaned in, and they kissed—not on the mouth, but Draco’s lips brushed Potter’s chin, and Potter’s brushed Draco’s jaw. They were close; they were so close, and they just kept doing that, their lips so close to one another’s, but not touching. Draco found himself trembling, and made himself stop.

Potter undressed them with spells. The got on the bed, Draco on his back and Potter beside him. Potter kept touching him—gently, so gently, kissing Draco’s neck, his hands stroking Draco’s skin, lower and lower.

“I think your neck is my favourite,” Potter said.

Draco caught his breath. “I thought it was my hair.”

“That too.” Potter’s lips moved down, kissing his sternum.

Draco buried his hands in Potter’s hair, and Potter pulled away, reaching for one of Draco’s hands as they fell away. “Sometimes I think it’s your hands,” Potter said. He began kissing Draco’s hands—the backs, the knuckles, the fingers, the webbing between.

“Make up your mind,” Draco said, shifting his hips. His cock hurt, he was so hard.

Potter pulled one of Draco’s fingers into his mouth—a warm, soft sink into wetness, Potter curling with his tongue as he pulled back off. Then he did it with Draco’s next finger, and the next.

“Harry.” Draco shifted hotly again. He didn’t like this; Potter was too slow; he wanted—Draco wanted everything, all at once. He never wanted Potter to stop.

“I love your cock,” Potter said, letting go of Draco’s hand. He leaned down to Draco’s prick and started kissing—kisses up and down the sides.

“Harry.” Draco twisted in the sheets. “You can just—”

Potter’s hands gripped his hips. “You said you wanted it my way.”

“You don’t have to get me ready,” Draco said.

“But I want to. Turn over.”

Draco hesitated, but Potter tugged on Draco’s hips. After another moment, Draco turned over. Now they were coming to it. Potter would take him and in the end—it would be like everyone else, all those other clients. A cleaning spell tingled through Draco, next a protection spell. Then would come the lubrication spell, then Potter’s cock, and that would be the end. Draco would exist to please Potter, and that would be the final link on the chain. Potter would be bonded to him, and never want to leave.

“I love your back,” Potter said, leaning over him.

Draco could feel Potter’s cock, pressed against his arse.

“I love your spine,” Potter said, kissing down the knobs of Draco’s vertebrae, down and down. “I love this spot, right here.” Potter’s mouth had reached the small of Draco’s back, the dip just above his bum. Potter’s tongue laved there—hot, then cool where he had licked, then hot as Potter’s tongue swept over the same spot again.

Draco jerked against the sheets, but Potter only lifted up his mouth. “And I love your arse,” Potter said, hot breath in the small of Draco’s back. “Maybe that’s my favourite part.”

“Harry.” Draco felt like he was whimpering; he wasn’t sure.

Potter’s tongue was on him, licking a strike against Draco’s crack, and Draco was whimpering. Potter pulled apart Draco’s buttocks, his tongue sinking down, finding Draco’s opening and swirling around it.

Draco convulsed. “Harry. Pet. Please—

Potter pulled away. “Shh,” he whispered, rubbing Draco’s hip. Leaning back in, Potter swirled his tongue against the tight flesh at Draco’s opening, and Draco had to fight to keep still.

He wanted to feel it. He wanted to feel it—

Potter’s tongue pressed inside. Every nerve in Draco ached with the effort to keep still, keep so completely still, and Potter’s tongue pushed, and pushed. Draco could feel himself opening up to him, opening up for Potter’s tongue—that tight ring of muscle opening, then clenching.

Potter pressed his tongue deeper, then pulled back out, licking straight over Draco’s entrance. After a moment of this, it pressed back in again, fucking him.

Merlin.

Merlin.

Merlin, Potter’s tongue was inside of him, and Draco wanted to press back against it, push into it like some kind of—he was a whore, but this was almost worse. He felt more exposed, more humiliated, because all he wanted to do was reach back and hold himself open, open himself up to Potter, open completely, let Potter see every part of him.

Draco wanted Potter to see every part of him, and Potter was back there licking him. Potter’s tongue entered Draco’s body again and Potter moaned, the vibration going straight through Draco’s arse and into his cock. Draco heard himself make a horribly needy noise, felt himself thrust into the mattress, then back—back against Potter’s tongue.

Potter moaned again, a hand splayed hot and hard on the small of Draco’s back, holding Draco steady as Potter licked and sucked. He was loving this, Draco realized. Potter was absolutely loving this, his mouth wet and messy in Draco’s hole, obscenely noisy. Potter couldn’t get enough, and when Draco thought about why, he realized that this was the first time Potter’s tongue had ever been inside of him.

Draco had been wrong about using this as an opportunity to bind Potter to him. Instead, Potter was binding Draco to him; Potter was pleasuring him just as Potter always pleasured him. This didn’t erase other partners from Potter’s mind. It erased all other clients from Draco’s, and Draco just wanted more. He wanted it to go deeper.

He wanted to be fucked.

He ached to be fucked, in a way he couldn’t remember aching. He wanted it so much so that he wanted Potter to stop, and he couldn’t believe it. Draco loved to be rimmed; he loved it and hardly anyone ever did it for him; few people ever would. He could lie there and take it for hours and hours—just someone’s tongue inside of him, lazy and messy, opening him until he was so slack and loose, it didn’t matter what anyone slid inside of him.

But now Draco was impatient. He couldn’t help it; he wanted more; he wanted Potter. “Please,” Draco said, arching under Potter’s hungry mouth, his insistent tongue. “Please.” He reached back for Potter’s hair, and yanked on it.

“Mm,” Potter said, pulling back a little, but then he went back down, and Draco spread his legs wider.

Salazar, he wanted to give Potter everything.

“Harry,” Draco said, tugging on his hair again.

“Mm,” Potter said again.

Draco held him away, trying to catch his breath.

As though unable to bear being separated, Harry pushed two of his fingers into Draco’s hole, the hot channel inside, and Draco’s breath caught with the fullness of it. Then came the lubrication spell—wandless magic inside of him, and Draco gasped.

“Mm,” Potter moaned again. “I’ve wanted to do that—forever.” Potter licked his lips, his fingers sinking deeper inside of Draco.

He was unbearable to see. Draco couldn’t look at him any more, arching to meet Potter’s eyes over his shoulder, so Draco rested back on the bed. “I want you inside of me,” Draco said.

“Tristan.” Potter licked a stripe down Draco’s back, a third finger pushing in as he did so.

“Please.” Draco pushed back on the fingers. “I want you.”

“Tristan.” Potter kept licking, and then his tongue was back on Draco’s crack, down to his rim, where Potter’s fingers were slowly opening Draco up. Potter added his tongue, pushing inside again.

“Stop,” Draco panted.

The fingers and the tongue both stopped. Potter pulled away. “Do you want me to—”

“I want you to stop wasting time when you could be inside of me,” Draco said. He turned around, tugging Potter up, getting Potter over him.

“So insistent,” Potter murmured.

“I want you to put your cock in me,” Draco said, opening his legs, pulling Potter down. Reaching for Potter’s cock, he lined it up, getting Potter into the correct position.

“And then what will you want me to do with it?” Potter said, holding himself with his prick poised at Draco’s entrance. “I suppose you’ll want me to do other things, too.”

“Just get it in,” Draco said, pulling down on him.

Finally, finally, Potter pushed in, and with Draco’s sudden, insane need for it, he’d forgotten how big Potter was.

“Like that?” Potter said, pausing. “Tristan—”

“Keep going,” Draco said, even though his breath was catching. He spread his legs wider, and his throat was burning. He had to swallow hard. “Keep going.”

“Like this?” Potter adjusted inside of him. “Do you like—”

“Yes,” Draco said impatiently. “Yes, I like everything, don’t stop.”

“Tristan,” Potter said, sinking the rest of the way in, deeper and deeper. Draco could feel himself stretching, and stretching, until at last Potter was inside of him and Draco felt full, so incredibly full.

“Now,” Draco breathed. He wriggled under Potter’s body. “Harry. Now, love, move—”

“Like this?” Potter said, slowly starting to rock.

The movement was just so different than what Draco expected. Potter was big and powerful; a part of him had always expected that Potter would fuck forcefully, but right now he was just—rocking. The movement was so gentle, just a brush of movement inside of Draco’s body, that Draco almost felt like—

He felt precious, like something well loved.

Draco dug his nails down into Potter’s back, as deep as the short nails would go. “Harder,” Draco finally managed to say without his voice breaking. “Please, love, harder than that.”

“Like this, then,” Potter said, adjusting. His arms slid under Draco’s back, lifting him up, so Potter could rock into him at a new angle.

“Oh,” Draco said, wrapping his arms around Potter to hold on.

“Like this,” Potter said, adjusting yet again, pulling Draco up until Draco was seated on him, Potter kneeling on the bed, sitting on his heels.

The position forced Draco to bear down on Potter’s cock, Draco’s weight pressing down so Draco had to take all of him, all of him, and it felt so good. Everything felt so good. Draco wrapped his arms around Potter’s neck.

“Now try it,” Potter said, his voice hoarse.

Draco lifted himself up, Potter’s hands holding him steady.

“How is that for you?” Potter said. “Is that—”

“Yes,” Draco hissed as he sank back down. “Yes.

“Good.” Potter gathered him closer. “Good.”

Draco could almost control the pace this way, but he needed Potter’s help. Starting off slow, Draco rose up, then back down, then faster, and harder, and he was saying this, “Harry, yes, more, love, please—”

“Tristan,” Potter kept saying, as he pulled Draco back down onto himself. “Tristan.”

“Touch me,” Draco demanded, slamming back down onto Potter hard. “Touch me,” he said, and Potter touched him, wrapping a hand around his cock.

Draco rose up again, threw his head back, and came. The thought of what he must look like drove him higher still—sitting on Potter’s cock, fucking himself on it, taking it and coming all over both of them, head thrown back and neck exposed as though he loved it. He loved it.

“Tristan,” Potter said again, and then he was coming inside of Draco.

“Don’t,” Draco half-shouted, shuddering, when they’d slowed down and Potter made to pull away from him.

Draco was draped over Potter’s body, Potter’s cock softening in his body as Draco sat on Potter’s thighs.

Potter’s arms tightened around him. “I want to lick it out of you,” he whispered.

“You . . . what?” said Draco, appalled. Clients sometimes wanted to do that sort of thing, but Potter—

But Potter—

“I want to taste myself inside of you,” Potter said.

“Harry,” Draco said, still appalled, but also still stuck on what to say.

“Don’t worry.” Interpreting Draco’s expression, Potter laughed, soft and warm. “You won’t let me kiss you; you won’t have to taste it.”

“Harry.” Draco held him tighter. The wave of guilt crashing into him felt the same as earlier, but entirely different.

“It’s all right,” said Potter. “Just let me.”

They were going to be at this all night, Draco realized.

He let Potter do it anyway.

*

The other public function Draco and Potter attended was on the sixth night of the final week. The function was a banquet, and Fox Fitz-Lloyd was there.

Draco had not seen Fitz-Lloyd in over a month. Fitz-Lloyd was one of Draco’s least favourite clients, even though he was an easy shag, and seeing him at the banquet was startling, to say the least.

Fitz-Lloyd, of course, didn’t recognize Draco. Draco had never shagged Fitz-Lloyd as Tristan, and likely never would. Draco had planned on retiring Tristan after the month was over—after all, Draco wouldn’t need to work much, with all of Potter’s money. Seeing Fitz-Lloyd at the banquet, however, reminded Draco of who he really was—a former Death Eater. A hooker. Trash.

Though Draco studiously avoided Fitz-Lloyd, he eventually found himself trapped in a conversation with him. Draco shouldn’t have been surprised—Tristan was the best looking bloke there and obviously gay, as he had arrived with Potter. Before Draco had noticed Fitz-Lloyd, he had been flirting with practically everyone in the room, as was his wont. He still liked to impress everyone around him, even though now he didn’t do it to spite Potter. In part, Draco did it because he knew Potter would be amused, and that filled Draco with bubbling triumph as much as the thought of making Potter jealous once had.

Once Draco had noticed Fitz-Lloyd, he’d toned down the flirting, but Fitz-Lloyd had already noticed. He’d made his way over to Draco and was flirting back.

Draco could handle it, of course. Fitz-Lloyd was clumsy and ham-fisted. There was nothing delicate about him; Draco could manipulate the conversation easily. Fitz-Lloyd was only here because he had a lot of money.

“So you’re with Potter, eh?” Fitz-Lloyd said. “What’s that like?”

“Superb,” said Draco.

“’Course it is,” said Fitz-Lloyd. “Pretty little thing like you.”

“I am pretty,” Draco said coldly. “Aren’t I?”

“Sure,” Fitz-Lloyd said, not really paying attention. He did that when he was fucking Draco, too—he never wanted Draco to say anything; he didn’t like other people to talk who weren’t himself. “But I assume Potter can have anyone he wants.”

“Anyone,” Draco said.

“Sure.” Fitz-Lloyd stirred his drink. “You’d think, having his pick of the blokes, he’d not get bored. But sometimes a fellow just wants something fresh.”

“And you have something fresh?” Draco knew that he should leave. He needed to leave; he should get out of this conversation, and yet a part of himself couldn’t stop. A part of himself knew that this was where he really belonged. Not with Potter.

“Different from what Potter’s had, I’d wager. There are the sort that come to you, but then there’s the sort you have to go out and get.”

“And what sort is that?” Draco said, digging himself in deeper.

“A sort unsavoury to some.” Fitz-Lloyd finally turned to him. “You’re not stuffy, are you?”

“Oh no,” Draco said. “Quite the opposite.”

“Well, then.” Fitz-Lloyd shrugged, then threw back his drink. “Potter might have it easy, but if he wanted—he could have a willing slave.”

“A slave?” Draco feigned interest. He didn’t belong with Potter. He belonged right here, where Fitz-Lloyd was talking about him to strangers, like a piece of meat.

“It’s a company called Verity,” Fitz-Lloyd said. “You’re really into this?”

“This is the best thing I’ve ever heard,” said Draco.

“Then I’ll owl you the information,” said Fitz-Lloyd. “You should try my boy. Just lies back and takes it like a—”

“Is there a problem here?” Potter had come up behind Draco without Draco even seeing him—a feat in and of itself, since Draco’s gaze often returned to Potter, at events like this. Since Fitz-Lloyd had started talking, however, Draco hadn’t been able to look away.

“No problem.” Fitz-Lloyd smiled wide, his lips meaty and thick.

“No problem,” Draco repeated.

“Come with me,” Potter said, putting his arm through Draco’s. “Sorry,” Potter told Fitz-Lloyd, but Potter didn’t sound very sorry. He started dragging Draco away.

“What was that about?” Potter said, letting go of Draco’s arm. He’d led Draco to an alcove on the other side of the hall, and Draco had blindly followed him.

“What was what about?” Draco said, feeling empty and dull.

“Tristan.” Potter rubbed Draco’s arms. “What did he say to you?”

“Nothing,” Draco said. “He didn’t say anything.”

Potter’s jaw hardened. “Tell me what he said.”

“He didn’t say—”

Potter grabbed him, and Draco didn’t know what was happening. Potter backed him against the wall. “Tell me what he said,” Potter said, his voice a low growl, “or I’ll bring him here, and make him say it to me.”

“No,” said Draco.

“Tristan.” Potter leaned in. “Tell me.”

“He’s—he’s a client.”

Potter pulled back, eyes searching the crowd. His jaw was firmly clenched, and Draco could see hot fire in his eyes.

“Don’t,” Draco said, hand circling around Potter’s wrist. He wasn’t sure what he was telling Potter not to do, only that he recognized that look in Potter’s eyes, even though Draco had never seen it before. “He didn’t—he didn’t recognize me. I—I Polyjuice, sometimes. For clients. When they want different things.”

“Why would anyone want anything different?” Potter scowled. “Don’t answer that.” He flexed his fingers, curling them into a fist and then uncurling them. “Did he say anything that—”

“No,” said Draco. “I was just—startled, that’s all. I didn’t expect to have to . . .”

“You don’t have to,” Potter said, face softening.

“It’s my job,” Draco said. “It’s—”

“Come home with me,” Potter said.

“The banquet—”

“I don’t care about the bloody banquet,” Potter said. “Let me take you home.”

Draco shuddered, and Potter put his arms around him. They Apparated away.

*

On the final night of the final week, Draco couldn’t stop thinking about Weathersby.

Draco knew that he had succeeded with Potter. Potter wasn’t thinking about Weathersby or anyone else that final night. Potter wouldn’t think of anyone else again for a long time, and yet Draco couldn’t get something Weathersby had said out of his mind.

He never talks about what he’s thinking, Weathersby had said. He never talks about what he’s been through.

Potter certainly wasn’t loquacious, but Draco didn’t need him to be. Though Draco had needed some time to figure Potter out, now Draco understood him completely. He knew what Potter wanted, what he was thinking. He knew that Potter liked for him to predict his thoughts, because Harry didn’t like having to express them.

And yet, there were other parts to Potter Draco hadn’t seen, couldn’t guess at. Potter was just so—content with this whole situation. Perhaps he did just want a little house, with a little garden, with someone in it who knew him and cared about him and ate breakfasts he made in the morning. But Potter had a side Draco had glimpsed, but not seen fully.

That time Draco had got Potter breakfast, Potter had rolled him over, held him down. Since then, Draco had got Potter breakfast a couple more times—though Potter usually beat him to it. At least Draco had learned what Potter liked—eggs in a basket, beans on toast, generally disgusting things. Potter seemed to get more used to being awakened that way, and yet—he was still a little wild first thing in the morning, as though he had not had time to curl up all that raw power and put it away.

And now Draco was thinking of the other night, with Fitz-Lloyd. Potter had been about to do something to Fitz-Lloyd. He’d been willing to, but Draco hadn’t let him. Draco almost wished that Potter had; he could have seen what Potter would have done.

Potter’s magic obviously wasn’t in control. The way he lost it during sex certainly wasn’t normal—then again, nothing about Potter was normal. No one Draco had ever heard of could use wandless magic the way that Potter did.

“What are you thinking about?” Potter asked, turning to him in the bed.

The last time they had shagged had been almost excruciatingly tender. They’d do it again before the night was over. Draco knew that he should make it brutal and hard—that was what Potter would remember, when Draco told him who he really was.

“You,” Draco said, turning also.

“What else?” said Potter.

He meant the question seriously, which caused Draco to smile. Potter wouldn’t accept anything flippant from Draco—not tonight. “You don’t talk to me,” Draco said.

“You want me to talk?” Potter said.

“Maybe.”

“What do you want me to say?”

“I don’t know. Maybe . . . something about yourself.”

Potter turned over, lying on his back and looking at the ceiling. “You’re thinking about Jason.”

“Maybe,” Draco said again.

“I don’t need to talk.” Potter looked at him. “You know everything.”

Draco put his hand on Potter’s chest—the scar over Potter’s heart, the black circle tattoo around it. “What’s this for?” he asked.

Potter put his hand over Draco’s, pressing down.

“What is it?” Draco asked, when Potter said nothing.

“You know me.” Potter let go, and Draco propped himself up to look down at him.

“Do I?” Draco asked. Slowly, he began to trace the lines of Potter’s face—the lightning scar, the wrinkles that would appear on either side of it if Potter frowned. The dark brows, the incredibly straight nose. Draco had once thought Potter’s eyes small, but they were sharp, the lashes around them long and inky black. Draco traced Potter’s cheekbones, the line that appeared when he smiled, Potter’s mouth.

“I only know what you want to show me,” Draco said. He took his hand away, and thought of the way Potter had looked at him when he had seen him as Draco Malfoy on the street.

“I could say the same of you.” Potter’s hand slid into Draco’s hair. “Who are you, really?”

Draco shivered. Potter didn’t know. He couldn’t know—but if he did, everything would be so much easier. Draco wouldn’t have to tell him at all.

“You know me,” Draco whispered.

“I know what you want to show me,” Potter said.

“That’s enough,” said Draco. “That should be enough.”

“Yes.” Potter’s hand tangled in Draco’s hair, drawing him down. “It’s enough.”

Draco would tell him the truth in the morning.

*

Potter didn’t hear the truth the next morning.

Before Potter woke, Draco slipped away without a word.

*

Chapter Text

One.

When Draco got back to his flat, he began drinking. Alcohol had been a problem on and off again since the Articles of Reconstruction had been passed.

Part of it was due to boredom. Coming home after having had his brains fucked out by a client, there was nothing to bloody do, and Draco didn’t relish the thought of faffing about in his flat by himself. When he was at school Draco had pictured himself travelling, designing brooms, being a famous wizard rock musician, winning at Quidditch, and making Potter eat dust.

Now there was a bottle of Dwarvish rum, not to mention ten million fags.

During the month at Potter’s, Draco had barely touched alcohol. He’d been too busy shagging Potter senseless at first, and later performing the absurd, fribbling tasks with which Potter liked to fill the evening. Flying. Listening to the wireless. Cooking, lounging about feeding each other, touching—so much touching. Potter was obsessed with it: stroking, petting, caressing, embracing, nuzzling. Snogging.

After the first twenty-four hours apart from Potter, Draco put his wand to his head, murmured an incantation, and withdrew a memory. It was the one in which Potter had washed Tristan’s hair, and the thread of the memory slowly unspooled from Draco’s brain to glisten at the end of his wand.

Draco kept his Pensieve in his laboratory—a long room with a wood floor that ran across the length of his flat, with a series of windows to dispel fumes. Once the first memory was safely ensconced in the Pensieve, Draco drew out another. And another.

Soon the Pensieve was so full that Draco began to bottle them, so Draco took out his stock of potion phials and lined them up. Bottling each memory, Draco opened the cabinet with the special lock, the one where he kept the Masker Ade he used for specific clients. Alone on the top shelf was the Masker Ade for Tristan.

Draco had used the entire store he had brought to Potter’s, but he always kept a backup store. There were two phials left. If he drank one, he could return to Hawthorn Lane, and tell Potter his identity. Draco could finally have his revenge—though he could even wait a bit before revealing the truth. He could lull Potter into a false sense of security, and then they could . . . Potter might want to suck him, as it had been a while. They could go to Potter’s bed with Potter’s smell and Potter’s breath and Potter’s hard hands on him . . .

Draco put all the memories on the shelf, locked the cabinet, and went to go find a bottle of Dragon’s Breath scotch. He deserved it, didn’t he; he’d just spent a month being insanely fondled his worst enemy. If that didn’t merit a bloody scotch, he didn’t know what did.

Two or three or twenty-one times, Draco resolved to go back to that bloody house at the end of the lane. He’d tell Potter who he really was, have a big hearty laugh in his face, point to the place on the contract that meant Draco got to keep the money, then pop back home with a smile on his face. Each time that Draco resolved it, he picked up the bottle again and drank.

The money was enough of a victory. Draco had pulled one over on Potter—Potter never had to even know. Draco would know, and that would be enough, the knowledge that he’d finally got the better of Potter. And Potter would go on oblivious, blissfully ignorant of whom he had been shagging for the last month solid; he’d never know, never guess, eventually just . . . forget . . .

Draco picked up the bottle again.

*

“This has gone on quite enough, hasn’t it?” Pansy asked.

“What has?” Draco looked at her blearily.

“This.” Pansy made a vague, languid gesture at the room.

Draco looked around. “I don’t see anything.”

“I’m not surprised you can’t see through that haze of liquor.”

Draco slid a fag out of the package.

Pansy’s eyes narrowed. “You never used to smoke in here.”

“It’s my flat,” Draco said.

Pansy stalked over to him, then with one swift movement, pulled the cigarette out of Draco’s mouth and broke it in two.

Draco looked down at it. “That was a perfectly good fag.”

“Accio bottle,” said Pansy, pointing her wand. The bottle—Lightning vodka today—snapped into her hand, and Pansy walked with it to the kitchen.

Despite having had half the bottle already—it was three in the afternoon—Draco managed to stand without wobbling and follow her. He always held liquor well. He’d had practice.

Pansy was pouring the Lightning vodka down the sink.

“You’ll regret that,” Draco told her.

“Did you tell Potter?”

“Tell him what?”

“I thought so.” Pansy set the empty bottle on the counter, then rounded on him. “He’s won, you know.”

“Won?” Draco laughed. “Do you have any idea how much he paid me?”

“To be his concubine? I honestly don’t care.”

“I wasn’t his concubine,” Draco said sharply.

Pansy crossed her arms. “Then what were you?”

“I was his . . .” Draco may have held his liquor well, but it made him less articulate, and for some reason he could not think of the word he wanted. There was a word for it—what he had been to Potter, what he had done to Potter . . .

“Paramour?” Pansy suggested.

“Conqueror,” said Draco.

“Some conqueror.” Pansy’s flat voice was even flatter than usual. “You’ve done nothing but mope for days.”

“How would you know,” Draco said, but it wasn’t really a question. He could hear that his own voice was peevish, and his mouth was beginning to feel like thick, unwashed cotton. He wanted a drink of water, but he wouldn’t give Pansy the satisfaction.

“Because that’s how long you’ve been away from Potter,” Pansy said.

“I’m recovering.”

“Fine. Recover away.” Then Pansy was coming closer, and her hand was on his cheek. “But spending your life recovering is what a Slytherin calls losing.”

Draco couldn’t help but sneer. “Hate to break it to you, my dear girl, but Slytherins did lose.”

“Not all of us.” Pansy took her hand away. “You’re the one who told me that.”

Draco hated her. He truly did.

Pansy Parkinson was always right.

*

The problem with not drinking was that there was nothing else to do.

If Draco did not spend his money frivolously, the million Galleons that Potter had given him was more than enough to support himself for twenty years. Even if Draco did continue to work, he could pick and choose when he did so, and do so rarely.

Perhaps there was another use for Potter’s money, however. Since Draco hadn’t yet told Potter his true identity—he would eventually, just not now—there was still revenge to think about. There had to be a way to use Potter’s money against him; perhaps Draco could use it to bring some kind of libellous suit against Potter, or maybe he could use it to hire someone to frame Potter for a crime.

There had to be some use for it like that, which was a good thing because the more Draco thought about using Potter’s money as income, the more positively ill it made Draco feel. It just didn’t seem right somehow. Draco didn’t know why.

Maybe it was because it was Potter’s, and Potter hadn’t really earned it in the first place. Potter’s money paid for arrogance and conceit and Draco didn’t really need it; he didn’t need anything from Potter. He didn’t need Potter at all—so Draco went back to work.

The first client Draco took back once he started work again was Monty Nils. Though Draco had been having trouble concentrating the last few times he’d been with Nils, Draco was fairly certain that he’d finally shagged Potter enough to get Potter out of his system. Draco had just been . . . a little obsessed with Potter, true, but that was because before Potter Draco hadn’t topped in so long, and Draco’s sex drive had been so low. Now that Draco had got to fuck Potter as much as he could possibly want, there would be no distractions.

Draco had to end the appointment halfway through.

It had nothing to do with Potter, or getting distracted. Draco had been perfectly fine, concentrating on the job—and then Nils had touched him, and Draco had violently recoiled. After a moment, Draco had been able to get a hold over himself—he didn’t know what was going on—and he’d reached for Nils.

Nils had been all right with it, hadn’t really minded. He never minded what Draco did, just did what he wanted with Draco’s body while Draco lay there—and though Draco could steel himself, resist pulling back, a slow nausea began curdling in his stomach. There was something off about Nils touching him; there was something deeply uncomfortable. It felt wrong.

It felt like violation, and after Nils thrust twice inside of him, Draco had invoked the contract, cancelled the appointment, and Disapparated. Then he had sicked up, forcefully and excessively, into the toilet in his bedroom loo.

Nimue’s Oak.

Nimue’s Oak.

For a moment, Draco had the wild thought that Potter could have got him pregnant. Draco had heard stories like that, and then he Banished the thought of Potter completely.

A while had passed since he had worked; that was all. This had happened the first few times johns had used him, when Draco had been working the streets. Nausea was just something one had to subdue, get used to. Eventually, he’d get used to it again.

Draco knew that he could do it. He had to do it. He couldn’t use Potter’s money. Furthermore, if Draco went back to work, it would show that nothing had changed.

Nothing at all had changed.

*

Two.

Nine days after the month Draco spent with Potter, Draco’s flat was burgled.

Draco had been out getting potions supplies. If he was to continue taking on clients—which he hadn’t exactly done since the failure with Nils, but still, he meant to—he had to continue brewing both Masker Ade and Polyjuice. Though Draco had stores of both which would hold up for a while, before Potter Draco had been in the habit of constantly brewing, just in case.

When Draco got back to his flat, he went back to his laboratory to find the door unlocked. Inside, nothing at first looked terribly disturbed, and yet—Draco remembered locking the door, and a few things were not as he had left them. Not until Draco approached the locked cabinet did he drop his parcels of ingredients on the floor, rushing over to inspect the damage.

The cabinet was open, phials of memories on the floor beside it, on the table, the desk, moved to different shelves. None of them seemed broken, but Draco hurriedly began counting. One of them could have broken, lost, stolen, and Draco panicked.

Swiftly he counted them, over and over, opening the phials and restoring the memories to his mind as he worked.

The memories flooded back inside of him—everything. Everything.

Potter touching him, Potter holding him. Flying with Potter and that time when Potter had been inside of him, that time with Potter the first time that Potter saw his spectacles, that time with Potter against the wall in the loo of the men’s. All the memories were here. Draco couldn’t breathe, the relief was so intense, and that was when he realized—he’d stored the phials of memories on the same shelf as the Masker Ade.

The Masker Ade for Tristan was gone.

Frantically, Draco began to look. Possibly the thief had simply wanted reagents—Salazar knew the ingredients in this lab could brew all sorts of coveted potions. Perhaps the thief had found the Masker Ade, realized it was not what they wanted, and simply tossed it away. There was no reason for anyone to take it—

Unless the burglar knew what the Masker Ade was for. Unless they knew about Potter. Unless it was Potter, and Potter had found out, and—

Amidst Draco’s frenzied searching, he realized that the stores of Polyjuice had also been disturbed. They had been just sitting there, waiting for the final ingredient to determine whose body the potion would form. On a hunch, Draco checked the stores of hair and fingernail clippings he used for different Polyjuices and variations on the Masker Ade. The only store that seemed at all disturbed was the packet of his own hair and nails, which Draco had combined with hair from others to make Tristan.

The only other thing out of place was the Pensieve, which had a lace of silver floating inside. The lazy flow was certainly a memory, and yet Draco was so sure he had them all—

Potter rubbing Draco’s shoulders.

Potter feeding Draco a peach one bite at a time.

Potter’s expression when Draco had brought him the croissant that morning.

Potter on that last night—that last night—

A loud crack sounded in the other room, and a few seconds later, Pansy came into the laboratory. “Draco?”

Draco didn’t move. He couldn’t move. He just kept staring at the memory, swirling in the Pensieve.

Walking across the room, Pansy said, “What’s happened here?”

“Someone broke in,” Draco said.

When Pansy didn’t reply, Draco looked up, only to find Pansy looking three shades paler than usual. Draco’s eyes narrowed. “What are you doing here?”

“I—” Pansy swallowed. “It’s Theo. I . . . think he might have done something.”

“What?”

“I don’t know.” Pansy swallowed again.

“But you do know something.” Draco came closer, his voice was deceptively gentle. “Pansy,” he said, “what did you do?”

When Pansy looked up, her dark eyes were pleading as they rarely plead. “I’m sorry. I thought I was helping you.”

Draco’s voice dropped down lower, silkier. “What did you do?”

“I told Theo about you and Potter.”

“And?”

“Theo used to be so rational,” Pansy said. “I thought perhaps he could help.”

“Help what?”

“Help make you stop caring for Potter!” Pansy finally burst out.

Draco stared at her. He didn’t know how long he stood there, but he couldn’t breathe, and he hadn’t blinked. Finally, he stirred. “I don’t care about Potter,” he said, quite calmly.

“Then what was in all those bottles?” Pansy gestured at the empty memory phials. “You think I don’t know you? You put everything you don’t want to think about in a Pensieve, only that’s already full up.”

Draco glanced at the Pensieve. “That’s not my memory.”

“Then what is it?”

Draco turned back to her. “What did Nott do?”

“I don’t know. He sent me an owl that said he fixed it. I hadn’t heard from you, so I . . . got worried.”

“Did you tell him about Tristan?”

Pansy tilted her head. She obviously regretted it, but she wasn’t going to lie. “Yes,” she said.

Draco strode over to the Pensieve, then put his head in it.

The laboratory swirled around him, slowly resolving into the grey of memory.

Draco wasn’t sure how he was able to instantly comprehend what he was seeing. Before this moment, he hadn’t even thought to dread it. And yet, once he’d seen those missing bottles of Masker Ade, he’d checked the Polyjuice. With Draco’s hair in the Polyjuice to give someone Draco’s physique, and the bottle of Masker Ade to remove the tattoo and scars and give someone Tristan’s face—

The problem with a mask was that anyone could wear it.

In the Pensieve, Tristan was standing on that old familiar stoop, and Potter was opening the door.

“You came back,” Potter said.

“Couldn’t resist.” The voice was not quite Tristan’s—a little too high.

“I missed you.”

“Mm,” said the voice that wasn’t Tristan’s. “I missed you too, baby,” and then Tristan’s hand—it was definitely Tristan’s hand—Draco’s hand—was wrapping around Potter’s neck, drawing him down for a kiss—on the lips—

And Draco had never felt that. He’d never touched the cords on Potter’s neck when Potter did that, never felt Potter’s tongue move against his own as it was so obviously doing against Tristan’s, never felt the harsh scratch of stubble on his own cheek as Potter took Tristan deeper, and deeper, and—

Draco pulled his head out of the Pensieve, gasping.

“What?” said Pansy. “What is it?”

“I have to go,” said Draco. He couldn’t watch the rest. He couldn’t.

“What—”

Potter had never changed his wards to admit Draco. To Draco’s knowledge, Potter had never tried, most likely for the same reason Potter’s Patronus hadn’t found him that time that Potter had sent it. Potter couldn’t change the wards without knowing Draco’s true identity, so Draco Apparated as close as he could get to the house on the end of Hawthorn Lane.

*

To Draco’s relief, Potter answered the door directly.

“Malfoy,” was all Potter said.

“Did he hurt you?” Draco reached up to touch Potter’s face. “Did he—”

“Just what do you think you’re doing?” Potter’s hand locked around Draco’s wrist, twisting.

“I’m not,” Draco began, but he didn’t even know how to begin to explain. He hadn’t planned any of this; there had been no time to brew more Masker Ade before he left. “That other man,” Draco began again, “he wasn’t Tristan.”

“Tristan.” Potter bared his teeth. He actually bared his teeth, as though he was growling.

“No,” said Draco. “You don’t understand. That man who came before, that wasn’t . . .” But Draco still couldn’t think of what to say. He felt like he was going to be ill; he kept thinking of Nott touching Potter, Nott kissing Potter, Nott fucking Potter—and Potter would open for it like a flower. He’d lie back, give Nott everything, spread his legs, because he thought that Nott was him—

That was rape. It was rape—

“Get away from me, Malfoy,” Potter said.

“I’m Tristan,” Draco said. “I know you haven’t seen me in years. Pansy Parkinson and I—we’re Verity. When you hired an escort—that first time . . . It’s a form of Polyjuice. I took it and I—”

“Nott already told me.”

“Nott?”

“Don’t act like you don’t know.”

Draco couldn’t help himself. “Did he fuck you?”

Before Draco knew what was happening, Potter yanked him inside, slammed the door. “I never knew much about the Malfoys,” said Great Aunt Walburga, “but I expected better of a Black!” Her voice rose as Potter dragged him to the sitting-room, crashing Draco against a wall and leaving him there.

“Is that what you think?” said Potter, looming over him. “I just let anyone fuck me?”

“He had my face—” Draco began.

“It’s not your face!” Potter was in Draco’s face, and Draco had never seen him like this—not since after the war, anyway. Even then, Potter’s growling had never seemed this terrifying. Potter had always seemed a bit foolish when he got into a rage, if you had asked Draco. Now, however—

Draco went on talking anyway, because his mouth was apparently not attached to his brain. “It was just the kiss, then? He didn’t hurt you? Did he try to—”

“Did he hurt me? Christ.” Potter slammed his fist down on the wall beside Draco’s head, so hard that Draco jumped. Something broke on the other side of the room, and Draco couldn’t tell whether it was the force of Potter’s blow that had made the house rock, or whether it was Potter’s accidental magic. “Listen to yourself,” Potter said. “He didn’t do anything. It took me less than five minutes to figure out he was a fraud. You, on the other hand—”

Potter’s fist slid off the wall as Potter stepped away. His broad shoulders were as straight as ever, and yet there was something oddly vulnerable in the way he had turned away, as though defeated. The desire to touch him was like a craving, so forceful that Draco had peeled himself off the wall to do just that before Potter turned again.

“Was it funny to you?” Potter asked. “All those lies you told?”

“They weren’t lies,” Draco heard himself say, and he didn’t know where it came from.

“I particularly like the one where you said you weren’t involved in the war.”

Draco licked cracked lips. “The details—were inaccurate. But the rest was true. Everything I told you was true. I thought that I was lying—but I wasn’t.”

Potter’s eyes narrowed. “Get out.”

Draco did push himself off the wall, then. “Harry—”

“I said get out.”

“I’m in love with you,” Draco said.

There was nothing in Potter’s face—nothing. Draco had thought it was hard to read before, but he’d eventually got the hang of it, and there was something horrifying in the fact that he couldn’t read it now. He’d never seen a person look so completely—blank.

Draco didn’t know why he had said what he had, but Potter’s utter lack of reaction suggested to him that he’d done it to get something from Potter, anything. It might not have worked, but Draco hadn’t said it because it was true. It wasn’t true. He wasn’t in love with Potter.

He wasn’t.

He wasn’t.

He wasn’t in love with Potter.

But perhaps he was. Perhaps he had been all along.

“Did you discover that before or after you tied me up and fucked me?” Potter was coming closer. “Before or after you made me beg for your cock?” Potter came closer, and closer, and Draco couldn’t help it; Potter was so big; Draco backed up against the wall. “Before or after I’d made it clear I was your slave?”

Potter had Draco plastered against the wall, and Potter’s voice sounded a lot like it did during sex—low and rough, catching like silk over coarse stones. And he was so close; Draco felt breathless—he knew that his skin was flushed red, and he shouldn’t be having this reaction. He couldn’t—

“You weren’t my slave,” Draco said in a rush. “You—you were willing.”

“I bet you loved that,” Potter said silkily. “Hearing me moan for it like a bitch in heat. Did it make you laugh? Or were you too busy counting your money?”

“I don’t care about the money.”

“You don’t? Then why did you do it? For the thrill of it?”

“I wanted—” Draco didn’t know what he had wanted. “Revenge. I wanted to hurt you; I wanted revenge—”

“You succeeded.”

“But later I didn’t want that. I didn’t . . .” He didn’t know what he was saying; everything was just pouring out, as though it had been locked inside of him, aching for release. He only knew what he wanted in that moment, and in that moment, he wanted Potter back. He wanted what Potter had given him before—understanding, kindness—trust—

Potter grabbed Draco’s wrist. Until Potter started twisting, Draco hadn’t realized he’d reached out to touch Potter’s face again.

“You’re hurting me,” Draco said, trying to pull away.

“Good,” Potter said, but then he let go, turning his back again on Draco.

“I knew I’d lose you,” Draco said, and maybe that was really the reason. “I knew I’d lose you if I told you the truth, and I couldn’t bear—”

“You love me?” Potter said, whirling around.

“Yes. Harry—”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” Draco said, even though he wasn’t.

“Then leave.”

“Pet—”

“No,” Potter growled, “because you have no idea what real love is. You know nothing of respect, empathy, compassion.”

“I never said I was a good person.”

“And you’re proud of that?”

“I simply meant—I told you that I was selfish. Weak. I didn’t lie about that in words or action.”

“You lied about everything. How can you not see that?”

“You had to . . .” Draco’s throat felt tight, and he didn’t know why. “You must have at least guessed it. You knew that Tristan wasn’t my name. There were hints—”

“Hints that you were someone else, not that you were the racist bigot who fought on Voldemort’s side.” Draco flinched at the name of the Dark Lord, but Potter went on, “You laughed when Diggory died. You stepped on my face. You tried to kill Dumbledore.”

“Professor Snape—”

“If you bring Snape into this,” Potter said, taking one large step towards him, “I’ll tear your guts open again. I’ll do it right here on this floor. I’ll do it with my bare hands.”

On the wall behind Draco, a portrait suddenly snapped off the wall, crashing to the floor.

Draco made himself swallow, holding back something that was bubbling in his throat, making it hard to breathe. Think. He had to think. He could not lose right now; he couldn’t lose—“Both of us have hurt each other—”

“I hurt you because you were a Death Eater,” Potter said. “You let killers into Hogwarts. You almost murdered Ron.”

“I was a child!”

“So was I!”

Draco trembled all over. He couldn’t seem to stop, and he didn’t know what it meant—only that he was losing, losing, losing. Once again he was losing everything, and it was Potter’s fault; Potter was taking it all away.

“If you really love me,” Potter said again, his voice low “you’d go away.”

“I can’t.” Draco’s voice was shaking.

“Because you don’t love me. You want to own me. You want to control me.”

“I want—”

“You don’t understand what it’s like to give yourself up for another person, to relinquish control, to sacrifice.”

“Please don’t,” Draco said, because it sounded like the truth.

“Face it, Malfoy.” Potter swaggered closer. “You’re too weak to love someone. Too spineless.”

Draco lifted his chin. “I can be strong.”

“Prove it,” Potter said.

“I’d give you anything,” said Draco.

“I only want one thing,” said Potter.

“Please,” Draco said, realizing with abject horror that he would get on his knees. He would grovel. He would have done anything to make Potter listen, to get him to understand, but Draco didn’t even know what he wanted Potter to understand; he just wanted Potter not to act this way.

Potter not to hate him.

Potter not to leave him by himself, leave him all alone.

“You can’t even do it, can you.” A crease appeared between Potter’s sharp eyes. “You can’t even turn around and walk out. Leave me in peace. You can’t even give me that much.”

Potter was right. Draco couldn’t do that much, let Potter go, because there was just so much he wanted, so much he needed, so much he never knew that he could have—but he couldn’t have it any more. Draco had always prided himself on being able to read what other people wanted and giving it to them, and he couldn’t even do that much now.

He was nothing; he was spineless; he was the Death Eater dirt they claimed he was and he couldn’t—couldn’t leave.

Turning on his heel, Draco blindly stumbled for the door. He had to get out; he had to—

And the sun was bright and unforgiving. Draco Apparated into darkness.

*

Nott lived in London, like Draco. Draco Apparated directly to Nott’s flat, but he wasn’t there. Pansy’s Patronus, however, was.

“I’ve hidden wardsss all over the placcce,” said the silver snake. “He’ll not return without usss knowing.”

“Where are you?” Draco asked.

“The officcce,” said the snake. “I’m going over hisss recordsss to ssseee if I can find him.”

The snake dematerialized, and Draco Apparated to Verity’s office.

“Draco,” said Pansy, and flew at him.

“Don’t touch me,” Draco said, stepping neatly aside.

Pansy swallowed. “You’ve been to see Potter?”

“I was out taking tea.” Draco strode to the desk, which was messier than he had ever seen it. Nott’s files were spread out over its surface, folders and scrolls and contracts from all of Nott’s clients, as well as the kind of personal information Pansy found useful for matching clients to employees.

“I looked in the Pensieve,” said Pansy.

Draco’s head snapped up.

“You can’t have watched the whole thing,” Pansy said.

“Did Nott touch him?”

Pansy shook her head. “I’m sure you saw the kiss, but Potter saw through it quickly.”

“Was there—did Nott do anything else?”

“He told Potter who Tristan really was, but if you’ve been to see Potter, I imagine you knew that.”

Draco resisted the urge to grind his teeth. “I meant—did Nott do anything else, to Potter, did he—did he put his hands on him?”

Pansy’s face softened, though to her credit, she swiftly hid the expression of pity. “No. Draco—no. Nothing like that. He kissed him; he—he put his hand under Potter’s shirt—”

“I can’t—Merlin, I can’t.” Draco couldn’t stand up. He couldn’t let her see his face. He couldn’t do anything. Covering his face, Draco sank into the chair behind the desk.

Pansy came up beside him. “Draco—”

“Don’t touch me.”

“All right,” Pansy said. “All right. Draco, it’s not what you’re thinking. That was as far as Theo got.”

Draco held his head in his hands. “It was still a violation.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“I don’t care if it’s my fault.” Draco pushed his hands in against his skull. A part of him wished that he could crush it. “I brought it on. I let it happen. If I had told him the truth . . .”

“Someone could still Polyjuice to look like you,” Pansy said. “That’s the reality of living in a world with magic.”

“I had it sitting right there for the taking,” Draco said. “The Masker Ade, the Polyjuice. Anyone could take it, use it to hurt him, and I—”

“That’s not a crime either, Draco.” While there was a pause from Pansy above him, Draco just kept squeezing his skull. “Well, technically it is, according to the Articles of Reconstruction. Did Potter seem upset by Nott?”

Draco laughed, which was a mistake. Laughter could turn to tears. Moving his hands so the heels of them pressed against his eyes, Draco pushed in, in and in until he could feel the shape of sockets in his skull.

“He was rather more angry at you,” Pansy guessed.

“I’m going to kill Nott,” Draco said, taking his hands away from his face.

“I doubt it,” said Pansy.

“Watch me.” Draco pulled the scrolls towards him.

“You’re not the murdering type.” There was another pause as Draco tried to read what was in front of him. He could make no sense of anything; the script was all a blur. “For what it’s worth,” Pansy said, “Theo’s not the raping type either. He was angry—in a way I didn’t guess he’d be.”

“And then there’s what I’m going to do with you,” Draco said, setting the first scroll aside and picking up another.

“I can only imagine.” Another pause. “Apparently you’d told Nott you had a boyfriend.”

“That slimy, gibbering, limp-cocked jelly-fish.”

“I had no idea you’d already talked to him about Potter,” Pansy said, leaning her hip on the desk. “Apparently he thought you’d betrayed the company. He wanted to get back at you and Potter in one go.”

Draco glared up at her. “Talked to him, have you?”

“It’s conjecture. He did leave a rather clear message in your Pensieve, however, had you’d bothered to watch it.”

“I’m going to shove that Pensieve down his throat,” Draco said. “He watched my memories.”

“And that was a violation,” Pansy agreed. Picking up a paper on the desk, she said, “I made a list of the places I thought he might be. I’ve no idea if he thinks that we’ll come after him, but I assume we certainly will.”

I will.” Snatching the paper, Draco stood up.

Pansy slid off the desk. “I’m coming too.”

“No.”

“You’ll do something you regret.”

“I’ve done enough things I regret,” Draco said icily. “Trust me, slitting Nott’s throat will be delightful in comparison.”

“Draco—”

But Draco had his wand out, and for once, Pansy didn’t anticipate him. The spell flung her into the chair before she could even react, and then the bonds were snaking around her. “What—?” she began, and struggled.

“I can’t have you getting in my way,” Draco said.

“You have to let me help you,” Pansy said, tugging on the bonds. “I’m the one who told Nott—”

“But Nott’s the one who touched Harry,” Draco said. “He’ll get what’s coming.”

Draco Disapparated yet again with another large crack.

*

Pansy was a smart girl. She’d work through the bonds in less than a quarter hour, and then be in hot pursuit. For that reason, Draco decided to work through the list at random, to lessen the odds that he would encounter her.

She couldn’t truly be frightened that Draco would kill Nott, but Draco also knew that she didn’t exactly want to help him take Nott down, either. No doubt she thought that she would protect him, because that’s what Draco and Pansy did—protected each other.

Former Death Eaters were not legally allowed to cast complex magic in public under article three-eight-two of the Articles of Reconstruction. As such, former Death Eaters could not Apparate, tie anybody up, or cast Bat Bogey Hexes repeatedly until somebody’s nose bled, which was exactly what Draco did when he caught up with Theodore Nott.

Draco found Nott at the Leaky Cauldron. Though Nott didn’t seem to be trying very hard to hide, Draco later found that Nott had reserved rooms there for the night, so he had had at least some presentiment that Draco would come after him. On some level, Nott had to have hoped for it, or else he would not have left that memory for Draco to see. What Nott had obviously not expected was just how furious Draco was.

Draco Apparated directly into the inn, not caring who saw him. Heads turned as he appeared there, steins of beer slowly lowering. First there was silence; next, a slow murmur started—and then Draco saw the disguise. Of course, Nott still looked very much like Draco, except he wore Tristan’s face. Draco had specifically engineered Masker Ade to last a long time. “Nott,” Draco said, striding across the pub, already aiming his wand.

Nott stumbled out of his seat, knocking his stool behind him. Slowly, he began backing up. “You’re not meant to Apparate.”

“And you’re not meant to be wearing that face,” Draco said, levelling his wand at Nott.

“I don’t know what you mean. I don’t know what he means,” Nott said, looking at the pub-goers around him. Apparently, this was Nott’s plan—claim to be innocent, claim to be a victim, or that it was a case of mistaken identity. Meanwhile, everyone knew Draco’s face, and would trust someone they didn’t recognize over former Death Eater scum.

But it was not a case of mistaken identity. Masker Ade was not Polyjuice; Tristan’s face belonged to no one but Draco, who had created it by hand.

“Sit down,” Draco said, waving his wand at Nott, “and shut up.” The stool slid upright and Nott slammed onto it, the bonds Draco had only recently used on Pansy whipping around Nott’s legs and arms to bind him to the stool. “Against the wall,” Draco said, pointing his wand again.

The stool scraped against the wooden floor, a raw horrible sound as the stool dragged backwards to crash against the wall. Draco stalked over to him. “Don’t touch him,” Draco said, aiming his wand at Nott’s throat. “Never touch him again.”

Now that Draco was close to him, crowding him, Nott showed his true colours. He sneered, angling his face so that the inn-patrons couldn’t see. “What did you think you were doing, Draco? Cavorting with the enemy.”

Draco pushed his wand into the soft skin of Nott’s neck. “What I was doing is my business.”

“He’s the reason we haven’t got jobs,” Nott said. “The reason all of us are nothing but whores.”

“I don’t care,” said Draco.

“Yes, you do,” said Nott. “You cared when you were putting it to him, and you cared when he was giving it up so sweetly. I saw the way you fucked him.”

Draco jammed the wand in harder.

“I particularly enjoyed it when you tied him to that tree,” said Nott.

Draco cast the first Bat Bogey Hex, and Nott cried out. Draco’s Bat Bogey Hex was a particularly nasty one—he’d learned how to do it from Ginevra Weasley, who packed a mean punch when she wanted to. The bats were winging around the bar, high pitched and shrill, while the customers rapidly descended into confusion.

Nott rocked in pain on the stool, but eventually the bats ceased bursting from his nose, and he gasped a breath. “It’s his fault,” Nott said, panting. “It’s Potter’s fault, and you lost sight of that.”

“You kissed him,” Draco said. He cast another Hex, and this time Nott screamed.

Bar patrons screamed too, and the general pandemonium resulted in eventual mass exodus of both customers, and quite a few of the bats. When most of the bats had dispersed once more, Draco held his wand at Nott’s nose. “If you wanted to remind me that Potter is the enemy,” Draco said, “what business had you kissing him?”

Nott grimaced. A trickle of blood was running down his nose. “You made it look so sweet,” he said, sniffing.

Draco cast the Hex again, but this time there were no bogeys—just blood, trickling down Nott’s nose.

“Are you twelve?” Nott wanted to know. “No one uses Bat Bogey—”

Draco moved the wand to Nott’s eyes.

“No,” said Nott. “No,” and he tried to move the stool into the wall, away from Draco’s wand.

Draco cast the Hex again, but this time Nott’s eyelashes, not bogeys, changed to bats and flew out of his eyes. Of course, Nott closed his eyes straight away, but Draco imagined there was still quite a bit of pain. He had never had his own eyelashes all plucked out at once, but it could not be comfortable.

Nott was still screaming when the crack of Apparition sounded.

Finite Incantatem!” a voice shouted. The bats disappeared.

“Pansy,” Draco turned around.

Pansy pointed her wand at him. “Petrificus Totalus,” she said, and Draco felt himself go stiff.

He couldn’t turn to watch, but he could see that Pansy went over to Nott, and he could hear.

“Pansy.” Nott heaved a sigh of relief. “Thank Salazar. I thought he was going to—”

“Hush up. You listen to me now, or I’ll do much worse than turn your body parts into flying rodents. Draco is soft in comparison to me; I can do worse. You know I can.”

Nott made some muffled sound—an attempt to escape, Draco surmised, judging by what came next.

“Not so fast,” Pansy said, and there was a force behind her voice that suggested she was using her wand. “You’re right; I’m letting you go. But first, there are conditions.”

There was a pause. Nott must have nodded.

“We don’t want to see you ever again—Draco or I. Don’t ever come near us, and heaven help you if you touch a hair on Millie’s head. Do not speak of me, Draco, or Millicent to anyone, or I will end you. Do not speak of Verity to anyone, or I will end you. And if you even so much as ever glance at Harry Potter again—I will rip out your spleen by way of your throat and serve it to you on a silver platter, and Draco will make you eat it. Do we understand one another?”

There must have been another nod, because after a moment, Pansy said, “Finite Incantatem. Go on. Get.”

There was the sound of movement, then another pop of Apparition. After another couple seconds, Pansy cast another Finite Incantatem. “Not another word,” Pansy said. “We’re going home.”

There was no way for Draco to find Nott now anyway. Draco didn’t know what he’d do with him if he did find him, because Pansy was right; Draco was not a killer. He still couldn’t cast Cruciatus, even though Nott had made him want to. He barely knew any hurtful magic, which was why he’d cast Bat Bogey—and that he’d learned from a Weasley

In basically every way, Draco was an abject failure of a human being.

He followed Pansy to his flat.

*

Three.

After a while, Pansy finally left him alone, and Draco went to bed.

He didn’t know what else to do. There was nothing to do. Potter knew the truth now, and there was no way to fix it. There was nothing to be done.

The only time Draco had ever felt this despondent was after the trials when they’d begun paying reparations and the Articles of Reconstruction had been passed. Then, though, Draco hadn’t had a bed to sleep in all day. He had been forced to keep himself busy; his hopelessness had necessarily translated into desperation. He’d been everywhere, tried everything; he’d needed to do something—that was how he had become an escort.

Now, Draco didn’t need to work. He had all the money he could ever want.

He didn’t want it.

Draco didn’t know whether he was in love with Potter. He couldn’t be in love with Potter. He would have known it if he was in love with Potter; it didn’t seem possible that he could be. And yet the thought was there, naked and bare—words he had said to Potter, words he had said for reasons Draco could not fathom.

What Draco did know was that he wanted things to go back to the way they were. He wanted to exist in the world still thinking he could have power over Potter, if he wanted it. Draco wanted to believe that he could exert his own will and have it done. Draco wanted to believe he was in control; he had always been in control—but he wasn’t.

He wasn’t.

He wondered if he ever had been.

*

Four.

Draco didn’t know how long he slept. The days all merged together. He didn’t even feel like drinking.

One morning—afternoon—evening when he woke, he knew that Pansy was sitting beside him. The room was filled with half-light, the curtains drawn. There was a smell.

“Aren’t you going to tell me this has gone on quite enough?” Draco said, without turning over.

“No,” Pansy said, “not when your heart is broke.”

“My heart isn’t broke.”

Pansy didn’t say anything, and Draco became aware of a heavy thickness in the room—his own breath. His own odor. The slow tick of the clock sounded as though each tocking second had to cut through a sludge of air.

“Whenever you say anything,” Pansy said, “I simply assume you mean the exact opposite.”

“Thank you for that thoughtful analysis.”

“You lie to yourself more than you’ve ever lied to anyone else. In fact, you lie to yourself so much that whenever you tell the truth, you’ve managed to convince yourself that it’s a lie, and whenever you tell a lie, you think you’re telling the truth.”

“What’s your point, Parkinson?”

The tick of the clock was forced to slice the air again, and Draco wanted to put his pillow over his head. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

“You’ve loved him from the beginning,” Pansy said. “That first night you stayed with him, I knew it.”

Draco wanted to tell her she was wrong, but he didn’t know whether that would be a lie that was really true, or a truth that was really a lie. He didn’t know anything about truth or lies or what he really thought.

“Go away,” he said.

*

Five.

Draco didn’t like to look in the mirror.

For one month straight, he’d been looking at another face—a face that was not his own and yet belonged to him nevertheless.

Now Draco’s chin and cheekbones seemed too sharp, his forehead too high. His lips were too thin, his eyes colourless and grey. His hair was similarly washed out—thin. Limp.

Potter had loved Tristan’s hair.

This—this face. This was not his face. It was some other person’s face, some person he used to be, a stranger’s face, and this mark on his arm—this wasn’t who he was.

Draco smashed the mirror.

*

Six.

When Greg died, Pansy told Draco that she had once planned to off herself.

She’d contemplated it a year after the Articles of Reconstruction, before she and Draco had resorted to prostitution, but after they had lost everything else. She had bought the belladonna—used the very last of her money on it.

She’d said she thought it would be like going to sleep, but when she had told Draco, he had pictured every death he had ever feared, and all of them were Pansy.

Slipping beneath the cold, still water of the lake, before he knew how to swim.

Dying at the Dark Lord’s feet from the pain of Cruciatus, like one of the Death Eaters who had failed him.

On a broom in a burning room, falling falling falling and Potter wouldn’t turn back. Potter was solid and strong and capable, so very capable, but he wouldn’t go back.

Bleeding as Greg had bled, the wand slits at wrists and neck.

Years later, Draco had been angry at Pansy for even thinking about it. He hadn’t understood it then. It hadn’t made any sense. Pansy was firmer and braver and smarter than the rest of them; that she could think of ending her life had been unfathomable to him.

Draco understood it now—not because he wanted any part of it. He simply understood it now, the desire to cease to be.

The idea was not a bad one—it was splendid, really, but Draco knew he could never bring himself to do it. He could never even seriously contemplate it, and all his thoughts on the merits of the idea were distant, as though looking through a glass. Even had Draco wanted to, he knew he’d never be strong enough to go through with it. He just wouldn’t have been able to do it, and Pansy was still the braver one after all.

The thought was interesting, however—the thought of being nothing. The thought of not being anything at all.

It was very interesting.

*

Seven.

“You asked me whether I’m in love with him,” Draco told Pansy.

They were eating in the kitchen of his flat, because Pansy had insisted that he eat, and Draco supposed it was a good idea. The flat still felt sick as though with a cloud, a low-hanging feeling in the air that tasted of body odour, sweat, despair.

“Yes,” Pansy said carefully.

“I don’t know,” Draco said, “but I want him.”

“Tell me about that,” said Pansy.

“I used to want to design brooms,” Draco said.

“I remember.”

“Or sing in a wizard rock band,” Draco said.

“You’d terrible.”

Draco nodded. “I thought I might want to be Minister for Magic.”

“You’d be even worse at that.”

“When I think of what I want now, it’s idiotically mundane.” Draco set down his milk. “We’re darning socks. Or I’m doodling, and he’s stroking my feet.”

Pansy pretended to be interested in her sandwich, but she was bad at it. “He stroked your feet?”

“I do not think I’ve adequately explained this man, Pansy.” Draco frowned at his own sandwich. “He brought me breakfast in bed every morning. He liked it.”

“Hm,” said Pansy.

“Merlin,” Draco said. His chest burned; his throat felt thick. “I do miss him. I can’t—I don’t want to be without him.”

“My darling boy,” said Pansy, who finally, finally touched him.

Admitting it felt like drawing a scalpel down his chest, felt like cracking his ribs open for the world to see.

Yet doing so was a bright pain that cut into the fog. Draco realized that the miasma had not been in the flat at all—it had been inside of him all along.

Knives can hurt when they are sharp, but cutting your heart out with one of that sort is better than using one that is dull. Hurting felt almost good, next to that blank emptiness.

*

Eight.

Draco was a living, functioning human being by the time Granger showed up at his flat. The first week after the incident with Nott had been rough, and the next week not much better. But seventeen days had passed and on each of the last eight, Draco had got out of bed, shaved, and dressed. He was eating more and his skin looked better, and though he was smoking more, there was no longer the lingering scent of body odour in the flat.

He’d even been out shopping a couple times, determining he should get back to brewing, which had to be useful to someone somewhere. On the eleventh day he’d put his laboratory to rights again and cleaned up the cabinet where he’d kept Tristan’s Masker Ade. Draco wasn’t going to make that one. He was done with that one.

When the knock came at his front door, Draco wasn’t expecting anyone. Pansy usually just popped right over, but Draco supposed it could be Millie or Daphne. Thus when Draco opened the door to find Hermione Granger standing there, he was demonstrably surprised.

“Hullo, Malfoy,” she said.

“Hullo?” said Draco.

“May I come in?”

“I—yes.” Draco opened the door wider. Granger came in, and Draco closed the door. He went over to her as Granger looked around, and he wanted to do something—anything. She was Potter’s best friend. “I—here, may I take your coat?” he said, hovering behind her.

“Er,” said Granger. “It’s more of a jumper, really.”

“Yes—of course. I didn’t think. Do you want something to drink? I have . . .” He had liquor. He still had so much liquor, even though he hadn’t even been feeling energetic enough to drink, once Potter found out his true identity.

“No, thank you.” Granger turned to face him. “You’re nervous.”

Draco straightened up. “Well, you did scar that girl for life, fifth year.”

Granger’s nose wrinkled. “You think I’m going to scar you for life?”

“Potter did.”

Her nose wrinkled further. “Are you talking about the Sectumsempra?”

Draco straightened further. “What else would I be talking about?”

“Parkinson said you were in love with him.”

Draco deflated. “Pansy.”

“She said you’d be furious with her for telling me.”

“I’m always furious at Pansy,” Draco said darkly.

Granger looked at him a while, and not for the first time, Draco understood why Potter liked her so much. She had a caring side that Draco had never really seen in school—she’d been so mouthy and arrogant and bossy, and he’d always had to compete with her so strenuously because she always made best marks. But for all of her controlling attitude and self-righteousness, she just cared so deeply, and at times it was right there in her face for all the world to see. She was soft and honest with her softness—of course Potter would like that.

He’d love that.

“You do love him then?” Granger said finally.

He’s an expert cocksucker, Draco wanted to say, but it would have been just to hurt her, and he’d promised himself not to. Instead, after a long moment, he said, “He told me that if I’d loved him, I’d stay away,” Draco said. “I’ve stayed away.”

“Hm.” Granger began wandering around his flat, running her hand along the back of his couch, tapping the end-table with a fingernail. “This is your flat?” she asked.

“Such as it is.”

Granger turned back to look at him. “It doesn’t seem very much like Tristan.”

“What do you mean?”

Granger shrugged. “He was just so—warm. Good. Kind. Funny. This place seems so . . . cold.”

Draco came up beside her. “Pansy says it’s soulless.”

“Yes. Pansy.” Granger chewed on her lip, as though thinking through something. Finally, she said, “Harry’s never had someone like you before.”

“Someone like a Death Eater?”

“Do you wilfully self-sabotage or does it just happen accidentally?”

Draco grimaced. “Habit. I’m sorry. Do go on.” He gestured awkwardly for her to continue.

“As I was saying, he’s never had someone like you. You came and argued to my face,” Hermione said, walking over to the window. She looked down out of it, and Draco had been so proud of the view when he had bought the flat. “You didn’t have an agenda,” Granger said. “You were thinking of absolutely nothing else but him. Harry doesn’t often get that—not even from his friends.”

“So I noticed.” Draco’s tone edged towards dark again.

Granger glanced back at him. “I never thought about it that way until that day you came and visited. I thought . . . we’ve been leaning on each other for so many years . . .” Granger looked back out the window.

He needs someone to lean on.” Now Draco’s tone was edging towards fierce.

“He does have that. I don’t just take and take from him, like some people do. I give back.”

“Not enough.”

“Perhaps.” Granger looked at him a while, then back out the window. “He needs someone like you. Someone who will make him take time for himself.”

Draco’s heart skipped a beat. “Are you saying—”

“I’m not saying anything.” She leaned against the window frame. “You were good for him as Tristan—who knows what you’d be as Draco Malfoy. He might not ever get over that. Not because you’re Malfoy. Because you lied to him.”

“But what if I can make it up to him?” Draco said, taking a step towards her. “What if I can—”

“You can’t.” Granger turned back to him, and Draco had no idea why five minutes ago, she had looked soft. She looked piercing now. “Trust isn’t an economic system. You can’t earn it with enough good deeds to cancel out the bad. He’ll learn how to trust you or he won’t.”

“He said . . .” Draco came closer still. “He said I shouldn’t come near him.”

“Then I suggest you find a way to communicate that doesn’t include proximity,” Granger said, pushing herself off the window frame. “You’re a smart bloke. I’m sure you can figure it out.”

Then she was headed towards the door, and Draco had too many questions he hadn’t asked.

“Hermione,” he said, trying not to rush towards her.

She turned back towards him.

“How—how is he?” Draco asked.

Granger looked around the flat. “I’d say you’re better off than him,” she said. “And if you make him worse, you won’t have a life for me to scar.” Then she walked out the door.

*

Nine.

Draco found a way.

He must have spent at least two days writing the letter, crossing things out, tearing things up. Ink was everywhere, and Pansy finally told him he was getting on her nerves.

“You don’t live here,” Draco said, sneering, but in reality he was too preoccupied to be angry at her for telling Granger what she had.

At last, Draco didn’t really write a letter. Instead, he went to Gringotts and arranged for a transfer of funds—not just the million Galleons, but the Galleons for every appointment he’d ever had with Potter, from the very beginning. Draco wrote a brief note to go with the transferal notification.

“I thought I wanted this money,” he wrote. “I didn’t realize until too late that I wanted something else. I have a few things to say to you, but I understand if you don’t want to see me. I’m free between five and eight on most days except Friday. You don’t need to use the P.O. Box.” Draco included his actual address, then scrawled his initials. The owl went off with the note and the transfer slip.

Draco had only arranged for such a narrow window of time because he wanted to plan for when Potter might arrive. He should wear something comfortable—something reminiscent of Potter’s t-shirt, except Draco couldn’t actually wear a t-shirt because it would look like he was trying too hard. He should be himself—Potter had been very particular about that with Tristan—but it shouldn’t be something so formal as to be off-putting.

He also had the flat to consider. Granger was right; it was cold, but Draco didn’t know how to fix that. He could buy new furniture, but then it wouldn’t look used, and he had no idea how to make it messy and mismatched and comfortable like Hawthorn Lane anyway. Putting out more blankets and throw pillows would have to suffice—a cup left on the sideboard, a book left on the table.

Draco was ready, if ever Potter should come.

Eight days later, Potter came.

*

Chapter Text

One.

When Potter knocked on the door to Draco’s flat, Draco’s heart immediately started pounding. He looked around the flat, which was about as cosy as it was going to get. He went and opened the door.

Potter stood there in all his glory, and Draco didn’t know how he’d ever been able to look at him without being impressed. He probably never had; he’d simply convinced himself that he wasn’t impressed, and endeavoured to believe it. But Draco was impressed. Potter was impressive.

He nearly filled the doorway with those shoulders, but his waist and hips were trim and narrow. Draco could only gather that he’d been so dead-set against Potter because he was envious of those proportions—all of that imposing posture Draco had longed to have and never would. The only attribute Draco had going for him was height, but Potter had that too, not to mention that the squareness of Potter’s jaw and his piercing eyes gave him a presence Draco could never match.

Potter’s hair was jet-black, too long to be at all fashionable, not quite wavy but not quite straight. Draco didn’t understand how he could not have realized that his love of yanking on it when Potter sucked him had been at least eighty percent due to how thick and soft Potter’s hair was. Today Potter had it pulled back in something like bun. The too-short bits escaping from it were thoroughly distracting.

On top of everything Potter wore one of his ratty Muggle t-shirts and a pair of jeans with a hole in one knee. If Draco remembered correctly, the bum in those jeans was worn through as thin as silk.

Draco’s mouth was watering.

“Are you going to let me in?” Potter asked.

Gulping, Draco held the door wider, letting Potter in.

“You said you wanted to talk,” Potter said, turning to face him.

So preoccupied had Draco been by deciding what to wear and how his flat should look that he hadn’t thought of anything to say.

“Well?” said Potter gruffly.

“I’m sorry,” Draco said. “I know it’s not enough, but I wanted to apologize.”

A crease appeared between Potter’s eyes, and Draco didn’t used to know what that meant, but he’d learned it since their last encounter: Potter was unimpressed. For some reason, Potter had always been impressed by Tristan, which was why Draco hadn’t known that expression before.

“You didn’t deserve what I did to you,” Draco said.

“It’s nice that you’ve come to that conclusion.”

“I’m trying to be civil.”

“How unusual for you.”

Draco wanted to snap something awful back at him, but instead he bit the inside of his cheek, making himself look at the floor.

The sound of movement made Draco looked back up. Potter was looking around the room. “This is a posh flat,” he said, glancing back at Draco. “Is this what you do with your whoring money?”

“Some of it,” Draco muttered.

“Uh-huh.” Potter picked up a porcelain vase from the end-table. “What about the rest of it?”

“I put diamonds in my champagne,” Draco said, because Potter was a ponce, “and roll my fags with Galleon notes.”

“I thought you did something else with fags.” Not looking at him, Potter put the vase down, crossing over to the window.

Draco’s face flamed. He had not thought that Potter would resort to calling him names like that.

“And this is where you look down at the peons below?” Potter said, looking out the window just as Granger had.

“Harry,” Draco said, and took a step towards him.

“Why did you do it?” Potter said, turning again to pin Draco with a stare. “Not tricking me—I know you’ve always been obsessed with me. I just don’t get—why did you become a whore?”

Draco stopped dead in his tracks, wavering as though he’d smacked into an invisible tree. He hadn’t expected this line of questioning. “What else was I to do?”

“I don’t know—something normal?”

“How’s that?” Draco spoke carefully, so that his words did not sound bitter. “Getting a job is illegal under the Articles of Reconstruction.”

“Oh. Right.” Potter’s brow furrowed, as though he’d forgotten. “You were supposed to get a Muggle job. That was why that law was made.”

“How?” Draco said, unable to mask his impatience. “They all require some kind of license, something called an NHS number for something called a mobile.”

“A mobile number is different than an NHS number.”

“Thanks. I’ll use that information next time I register to drive a locomotive.”

“You don’t drive a locomotive.”

“Steam engine, then.”

The corners of Potter’s mouth tightened. “Did you even try to learn anything about Muggles?”

“How was I supposed to?”

Draco could see the tick in the corner of Potter’s jaw that meant that he was grating his teeth. “To think I found Tristan’s snobbery endearing. I despise myself for that.” Potter moved away from the window, heading for the door.

“I’m the same as he was,” Draco said, blocking Potter’s path.

“No.”

Draco reached for him. “I’m—”

“No.” Potter grabbed Draco’s arm and twisted, using that to propel Draco backwards into the wall. Draco slammed into it hard, but Potter just kept coming. “When he did it,” Potter said, “he was just ignorant. He was—he was Arthur Weasley, whom I admire. When you do it—you.” Potter pressed him to the wall. Draco could feel Potter’s hot breath on his face. “When you do it, you do it because you’re a mindless bigot. You remind of Voldemort, whom I killed.” Potter leaned in closer. “Does that scare you?”

For a week in Transfigurations, third year, they had been learning how to make pocket lint into doves, so that doves would seem to appear from the pockets of their robes. Draco thought the spell was idiotic, but McGonagall had maintained the spell was a classic, and even father had agreed. Draco had worked until he’d mastered it. He could still remember the time he had succeeded, but the dove had failed to fly from his pocket.

Draco had reached his hand in and felt the dove. Its heart had been beating so fast that it seemed as though that heart could beat right through the dove’s ribcage, and Draco had been almost too-aware of the sense that he could easily break its neck. He’d been tempted to. Just to feel what it was like.

Just now Draco felt like that bird, while Potter was the hand inside the pocket.

“You don’t scare me,” Draco said, straightening his shoulders.

“But I think I do.” Potter leaned until his lips were so close they should have brushed Draco’s ear—but they didn’t. “Was that why you became a whore?” Potter whispered. “Because you enjoy it?”

“I never liked it.” Draco shuddered. “Ever.”

“Except for me. You liked shagging me.” Potter’s hot breath burned across Draco’s face as Potter moved to lean in towards the opposite side, his voice scorching Draco’s other ear. “What was it about shagging me that was so special, Malfoy? Is my cunt just that much better than all the other ones you’ve fucked?”

Draco pushed him, hard, but Potter was so solid that he barely rocked back. “I never called you that,” Draco said.

“But you made me feel it.”

“No.”

“You used me,” Potter said.

“No. I was—” But Draco didn’t know what he was, and more than half of it was true.

“You used me to get off,” Potter said. “And now that I think about it, I doubt it was my arse that did it. It was the fact that you had power over me—wasn’t it? That was what got you off. That’s always been what gets you off. That’s why you became a whore, isn’t it; you got off on people paying you to fuck them—”

“It was you! You’re the reason I became a whore!”

Potter gave him a disgusted look.

Then it all came pouring out, the way it always did with Draco. “You saved me from the Fiendfyre. You defended me at the trials. And then they decide to take away my livelihood—”

“The fortune you inherited—”

“And any chance at a career—”

“You could have got another job.”

“But I couldn’t!” Draco knew that he looked ridiculous when he got like this—the bright sheen in his eyes, the pale thinness of his face with the high points of colour in his cheeks, his mouth that trembled like a fool’s. Pansy called it his angry puppy look, but Draco didn’t care. He didn’t care. “They passed the Articles of Reconstruction, and you walked away. You and Granger, Weasley, your whole lot—you walked away, and don’t you think we tried? I would have done anything, even work for Muggles, for Pansy not to have to—” Draco cut himself off. “We tried. It didn’t work.”

Potter’s upper lip lifted. “And this is my fault, how?”

“Because you could have helped us! Instead you walked away!”

Potter stared at him. Draco tried to get his breathing under control.

“So,” Potter said, and his voice sounded calm. Mildly interested, even. “I was meant to save you. After saving the whole world. You expected me to save you too.”

Draco stared back at him incredulously. “You were the only one who could!”

“Did it ever occur to you that I’d done enough? That I was tired?”

“Oh, and I was very well rested up, thanks!”

Something flickered in Potter’s expression, but Draco couldn’t read what it was. So many unfamiliar expressions had he made in the last two times Draco had seen him, that Draco was no longer sure he’d ever really known him—as though in some sense, Potter had been playing a part as much as Draco had.

For some reason, Draco took strength from that realization.

“It wasn’t my responsibility,” Potter said finally.

“Well,” Draco said, tilting his head defiantly, “we didn’t need you. We got by on our own.”

“By selling your cock to strangers.”

Holding Potter’s eyes, Draco tried not to blink. “Mainly my arse, actually.”

“I don’t want to see you,” Potter said.

“Fine,” said Draco. “I don’t want to see you either.”

“Ever again,” said Potter.

“Me neither.”

“Good,” Potter said. “Then that’s settled.”

“Yes.” Finally pushing himself off the wall, Draco turned away, putting his back to Potter. “You know the way out.”

“Fine,” said Potter.

Potter’s footsteps sounded on the hardwood floor, then Draco heard the door open. There was a long pause, then the door slammed shut.

The footsteps returned. Draco turned around.

Potter crashed into him, pushing him against the wall again. Draco couldn’t move.

“Fuck you,” said Potter.

“Yes.”

Potter’s features were hard, his jaw clenched tight. “Fuck you.”

“Yes—Harry—yes—

Potter’s hands were frantic on Draco’s trousers, and Draco’s hands were trying to help him. “Harry, please—” Potter had Draco’s trousers open, was reaching in for Draco’s cock; Draco reached down to help him and Potter flung his arm away, crushing the bones of Draco’s hand into the wall.

“I hate you,” Potter said, pinning Draco’s hand against the wall and palming Draco’s cock with the other. “I fucking hate you—”

“I hate you too, pet,” Draco said, adjusting his hips for Potter’s hand. “Please, just—” Draco used the hand that wasn’t pinned to open Potter’s jeans, leaning in to catch his lips on Potter’s jaw.

Angling his face away, Potter wrapped his hand around Draco’s cock and tugged. Hard.

Draco moaned—weak and wanton, just like a whore, but he didn’t care; he didn’t care—“Kiss me,” Draco said. “Please, Harry, just kiss me—”

“I don’t want to kiss you.” Taking his hand off Draco’s cock, Potter put both hands on Draco’s shoulders and shook him, jostled him so his head thunked against the wall. Then Potter held him pinned there with one hand while his other hand swept down, taking Draco’s pants and open trousers with it. Potter’s magic left Draco’s pants around his ankles, and Potter leaned in again until his lips were at Draco’s throat. “I want to use you,” Potter said.

Draco shuddered. “Yes. You can. Anything. You can have anything.”

“Good.” Potter’s lips were brushing Draco’s neck and Merlin help him, Draco leaned into it. He couldn’t seem to stop; he really did want anything; he’d take anything—

Potter’s nose tucked into the space beneath Draco’s ear. “You smell like him,” Potter muttered.

A thrill went through Draco, and then Potter was manhandling him—turning him to face the wall, pressing in on the nape of Draco’s neck so that Draco was closer and closer to the wall, until finally Draco had to turn his head, lest his nose be crushed. Draco didn’t feel a wand or hear the incantation, but the protection and prep spells crashed into him nevertheless, sweeping through his arse in such a powerful rush that Draco’s mouth fell open.

He’d been fooling himself, that time he’d fucked Potter in the shower, thinking that his magic had ever in any way impressed Potter. This was what it felt like to get fucked by magic, and the feeling was ten times more powerful than anything Draco could ever do—

And then Potter’s cock was against his hole and pushing in, and in—nothing like the other time Potter had topped, when Potter had spent so long stroking him and rimming him and worshipping his body. This was hard, brutal. Draco was too tall for the angle to be correct; Potter had to be using magic to give himself leverage, and Draco shuddered at the thought of it.

Potter was big. When he pulled out he took Draco’s clinging arse with him, though Potter held his hips in a bruising grip. Then Potter was in again and Draco was pounded into the wall, over and over again. Draco loved it.

He couldn’t believe how much he loved it. Draco didn’t like to be roughly fucked—he liked to fuck others roughly, and Salazar knew Draco had been fucked hard enough by clients. If Draco had had his way, every cock that fucked him would be too big, but also over-gentle. He liked that slow, intense building pressure, the way it built and built, slowly over time—

And this was nothing like that. It was relentless, over and over again, Potter going into him and Draco was just made for it; he was scrambling for it against the wall, panting for it. He felt like an animal, a vulgar wanton animal, and he loved it.

He loved how out of control it felt, how out of control Potter felt, the way that Draco could hear Potter’s strained grunting against Draco’s own low, carnal moans. The neighbours in the flat below could probably hear him getting fucked. Draco moaned louder, just to make sure they could.

“Harder,” Draco said, just to hear his own voice, how dissolute and oversexed he sounded. “Fuck me harder, Harry.” He braced his hand against the wall.

Potter’s hand covered his, fingers tangling; Potter’s cock was pulling out, the brief respite before the next—

Then Potter thrust in and it actually was harder, so hard that when Potter slammed Draco’s hand into the wall in time with the thrust, Draco felt as though the wall was actually shaking. Perhaps it was, and Potter’s whole hard body was lined up so close it was as though they were one flesh. Draco’s hard cock thrust into the wall, and he heard himself make a pitiful, needy whine.

“Harder,” Draco gasped. “Harry, love, I need you harder.”

Potter’s hand swept down from Draco’s own, down around Draco’s front as Potter pulled back again, giving Draco space enough away from the wall for Potter’s hand to settle around Draco’s neck.

“Yes,” Draco said, throwing back his head to expose his throat, relaxing into Potter’s grip. Potter held him up that way, a hand splayed against Draco’s bared throat, another gripping Draco’s hip. Potter held him that way as he fucked him, and Draco could only picture how they looked. He’d surrendered to Potter to completely, let Potter hold him like a rag doll as Potter fucked him against the wall, and suddenly Draco was highly aware of the scrape of Potter’s jeans against Draco’s bare bum.

Potter was fully clothed while Draco’s pants were down around his ankles, and Draco had thought he would never have him again, that Potter would never lay his hands on him again. But Potter was touching him and it just might be the best thing that had ever happened. “Yes,” Draco said. “Fuck me, use me, take me; I don’t care—”

Potter’s teeth sank into Draco’s shoulder on a particularly hard but erratic thrust. Groaning, Potter came.

“Tristan,” Potter said, when his teeth finally loosened, and he was still pumping into Draco.

“Don’t stop fucking me,” Draco begged. “Please don’t stop.”

Potter’s thrusts were slowing down, but he didn’t pull out. As he emptied the last of himself into Draco’s body, one of Potter's arms wrapped around him, locking around Draco’s chest, while Potter’s other hand circled Draco’s cock. Draco mewled—he wasn’t even trying to sound kittenish; it was just something that happened, and Potter’s hand started pumping him—slow and lazy, just like Draco liked.

Potter’s nose found the spot underneath Draco’s ear again, where Draco’s jaw connected. “I just want to smell you all day,” Potter murmured.

“You can if you’re good,” Draco murmured back.

The warm hand on Draco’s cock paused, and Draco knew he’d said the wrong thing.

Now Potter was remembering where he was, and more importantly—who he was with.

Draco put his hands flat on the wall. He dared not turned around.

The hand started moving again, no longer slow. The movement was rough, almost . . . mechanical, but Draco’s cock was like a mindless animal; it didn’t care how touching happened so long as Potter was the one doing the touching, and soon enough, Draco was coming.

Giving a subdued moan, Draco bared his neck again, because that was what he did when he came standing against a wall, but Potter did not try holding him again. Instead, Potter let go of his cock before Draco was even finished pumping and moved away.

Draco finished, facing the wall with his pants down around his ankles, Potter somewhere behind him. Hurriedly, Draco pulled his pants and trousers up, fastening them, then searching for his wand. He used it to clean himself, but did not know how to use it to smooth his features without looking like he was disguising himself. Taking a deep breath, he turned around.

Potter had already fastened himself up, cleaned himself off. He obviously hadn’t needed to school his features. He was perfectly expressionless.

Potter stared for so long and so blankly that all Draco wanted to do was defend himself. He tried not to, but couldn’t think of what else to say. “Well,” he said at last. “That was very interesting, for never wanting to see me again.”

“Fuck you,” Potter said.

“You already did.”

“I’m leaving.”

Draco’s heart began to pound. “Are you actually leaving this time?”

“Watch me,” Potter said, and left.

*

Two days later, Draco rolled out of the Floo in the Verity office, brushing off his robe. “The prodigal son has returned,” he told Pansy, who was sitting behind her desk.

Pansy took one look at him. “You’ve seen Potter.”

Draco couldn’t quite contain the smirk that flashed upon his face at the mention of Potter’s name, though he tried. “So what if I have?”

Pansy’s eyes narrowed. “And you fucked him.”

Draco hadn’t fucked Potter. It had been the other way around, and Draco hadn’t wanted to banish the discomfort. But the ache in his bum wasn’t visible to Pansy, and Draco didn’t particularly feel like sharing. “That’s none of your business,” he said, walking over to his leather chair, careful not to let Pansy see how gingerly he sat. “I’d like to come back to work.”

“Potter’s never going to fall for a prostitute.”

“Who said anything about Potter falling for me?”

Pansy frowned. “Why do you want to come back to work?”

Draco hadn’t told her yet that he’d sent the money back. That was the main reason he needed to come back, but it would take his mind off Potter too. And if Potter wanted to hire him . . . Draco would give it to him for free; he couldn’t take Potter’s money, but there was the off-chance that Potter would agree to shagging if they could treat it as a transaction. “It’s been a while,” Draco said. “I need to look after my income.”

“I thought you didn’t need an income.”

Draco hitched a shoulder. “One can always supplement one’s means,” he said.

Pansy’s eyes narrowed again. “You have a plan.”

“I’ve concocted more schemes in an hour than you have dreamt of in a lifetime, my dear. This is nothing new.”

“You can’t go back to what you had,” Pansy pointed out.

“Of course not.” Draco shifted delicately in his chair.

Pansy closed her eyes, expelling a long breath. “How can you possibly think that whoring yourself out to Potter is a good idea?”

“I won’t be whoring myself out to Potter.” Unless he asks, Draco added silently.

“Even if you fucked him with him knowing who you are, it’s different now,” said Pansy. “He knows you.”

“And I know him. You don’t know him like I do, Pansy. I can make him want me again. I can make him—”

Pansy leaned back in her chair, sounding suddenly exhausted. “You sound just like you did when you got yourself into this in the first place.”

“I made him want me then,” Draco pointed out.

“You can’t just let him use you until he falls in love with you,” Pansy said. “Love doesn’t work that way.”

“I’m well aware of how love works.”

“Are you? I don’t think you are,” Pansy said, “because you’re not going to be happy with it. You’ll think you’re happy at first; you’ll be shagging him again, but eventually, it’s not going to be enough. You’ll want the rest of him.”

Draco traced the stitching on the chair. “Anything is more than what I have now,” he finally said.

“Draco.” Pansy’s voice broke.

Standing up from the chair with a kind of pent-up, restless energy, he paced away from her. “It’s what I can have. It’s what I want, and I’m tired of not having what I want. I’ll take what I can get. Isn’t that the way we do things, Pansy?” He whirled on her. “We’ve always made the best of things—you and I. The scraps the world throws at us, the insult that it hurls on us—we take what we can get, and we make the best of it.”

“You deserve more,” Pansy said.

Draco laughed meanly, but not at Pansy. “I deserve less,” he said. “Less than Potter, anyway, but I don’t care. I want him, and I’m going to get him. Any way that I can get him.”

“All right.” Pansy looked away. “Nils wants you again next Tuesday.”

“Let’s get to work,” said Draco.

*

Two.

Draco gave Potter about three days—long enough for Potter to miss it, not so long that Potter convinced himself he could live without it. During those days, Draco got to work again. Shagging clients was still more difficult than it had been before Potter, but Draco was getting more practice than ever with burying his emotions, and shagging clients was a necessary part of the plan. Among other things, Draco couldn’t afford to live without it.

At the end of those three days, Draco Apparated to the end of Hawthorn Lane.

Potter answered the door, not really looking happy about it and looking even less happy when he saw who it was. Potter had at least a day’s worth of hard stubble on his chin. “You can tell me to leave,” Draco said, “and I will.”

Potter’s gaze darkened further, but after a long moment, he left the door open and walked away. Taking that as invitation enough, Draco stepped inside.

“Disgrace upon the family name,” said Great Aunt Walburga. “Disgrace and infamy.”

Draco followed Potter into the sitting-room, where Potter turned and looked at him expectantly. Potter was wearing a long-sleeve ribbed cotton shirt and threadbare jeans. Draco remembered being disgusted the first time he had seen Potter wear a shirt so obviously Muggle, and not even handmade at that—the ribbing in the weave had to have been made by machine. Now all Draco could pay attention to was the way the fabric stretched across Potter’s chest.

Before Potter had found out who Tristan was, Draco had managed to convince himself he wasn’t physically attracted to Potter. Now, Draco didn’t understand how he’d done it. Everything from the five o’clock shadow to his long, lean muscular thighs within his jeans made Draco ache with want. When people at parties had looked at Draco in awe because he’d got to take Potter home, it hadn’t been because Potter was the hero of the wizarding world. It’d been because Potter was so clearly the fittest bloke who had ever lived, and they’d assumed the shagging was going to be out of this world. Which it was.

“Well?” Potter said, crossing his arms across his chest.

Draco licked his lips. “You once—you once wanted to date me.”

“It wasn’t you.”

“I’m the same person. Everything he did—that was me.”

“So, what?” The crease appeared between Potter’s eyes. “You think I want to date you?”

Draco hitched a shoulder. “So, let’s shag.”

“No.”

“Casual,” Draco said. “No strings. People do it all the time. They don’t have to like each other.”

“They generally don’t hate each other.”

Draco gave him a fluid shrug. “Sometimes they do.”

Potter turned away from him, putting space between them. “What happened last time was a mistake. I didn’t mean to do it.”

“But you did it.” Draco came closer once again.

“I regret it.”

Draco stepped closer still. “I don’t.”

“Damn you, Malfoy!” Potter’s flat hand slammed on the wall, and he turned to face Draco again. “Can’t you ever just let anything go? Ever since we were children, you would . . .”

Potter trailed off, but Draco knew well enough what he meant. “It’s not in my nature,” Draco said. “You said I was obsessed with you. Perhaps I was. Even then.”

“You think that makes it better?”

“I just meant that it perhaps explains my actions.”

“I don’t want you to explain your actions.”

Draco kept his voice and features smooth. “We can just shag, and it will be—”

“I don’t want to shag you.”

Potter looked dark, forbidding, but Draco knew him far too well. “Yes, you do,” Draco said.

“I want him.

“He’s me,” Draco said. “I’m him. I have his hands, his mouth, his cock—”

“You don’t have his heart,” Potter growled.

“His heart is my heart.”

“How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t want you?” Potter said, and the sofa dragged across the floor, a high solid screech that ended with a fierce bang against the opposite wall.

“Many, many more times for me to actually believe it,” Draco said. Potter’s accidental magic was going haywire, but Draco didn’t care. Having seen it enough to not have any fear for it, he stepped in closer to Potter.

“Fuck you, Malfoy.” The wingback chair in the opposite corner slammed against the wall, then cracked.

“Yes,” Draco said, leaning in. “That is the general idea.”

“Get away from me,” Potter said, casting out his hand.

Magic threw Draco across the room, dragging him by the nape to the wall near the front windows, his heels dragging on the floor. His spine thwacked against the wall, and Draco had his wand out before he even knew what he was doing. “Flipendo,” he shouted, but Potter waved the Jinx away with a hand.

Potter took a step towards him, his other hand coming up, and Draco only knew that it was a stinging hex because Draco felt it lash the arm he’d thrown up to cover his face. “Stupefy,” Draco cried, swishing his wand.

Potter waved that one away too. Draco didn’t know the spell Potter used next—just another wave of his hand—but it felt like a slap, directly across the face. Draco could feel the force of it stinging on his cheek, but it wasn’t the pain, it was the humiliation that made Draco press forwards, casting back.

Originally, Draco’s response had been one of self-defence. He’d had clients curse him before; even if he didn’t know a lot of offensive spells, he knew a lot of defensive ones. Even verbally his first reaction was always to hit back before backing down. Now, however, Draco was angry.

Furnunculus,” Draco shouted. “Tarantallegra,” he added, before Potter was even finished waving the first one away. Draco felt a spell impact his stomach like a fist, but he ignored it, zigzagging his wand. “Immobulus!”

A glowing shield appeared before Potter like a silver bubble.

Finite Incantatem,” Draco said. “Serpensortia!

The snake disappeared with a flick of Potter’s wrist. “Obscuro!” Draco shouted, even as his sleeve caught on fire. Potter waved aside the blinding spell, but Draco was already immediately following it up with Levicorpus. As Potter blocked that too, Draco cast “Aguamenti,” to fix his robe, following the tail end of the water charm with the opposite for a fire curse. “Confrigo!”

Accio Harry’s wand,” Potter said—the first time he’d said anything since they’d started casting spells.

Draco had only ever heard Potter use a verbal incantation a few times since they had left Hogwarts.

Draco guessed that meant that he was getting somewhere. “Confundus!” he shouted, but Potter’s wand had already snapped into Potter’s hand, and the silver bubble had appeared again around him. “Finite Incantatem,” Draco said. “Stupefy!

Potter countered it—unbelievable, as though he just stepped aside—but it left Potter open, and Draco cast a Bat Bogey Hex. Potter countered with a wordless wave of his wand, then made a twirling motion without an incantation. The spell pulled Draco’s feet out from under him, but Draco rolled and pointed his wand yet again. “Expulso!” Draco cried.

Potter blocked wordlessly with his wand again, but all of this was obviously costing him something, because for his next spell, he said the words aloud. “Incendio!

Finite Incantatem!” Draco called. “Legilimens!”

Draco had thought he’d seen him angry before, when Potter had first found out who he was, but this was ten times worse. “Protego!” Potter shouted.

Draco tried to counter it, but Potter’s shield was so strong that it wouldn’t budge, and Potter was furious. He looked furious

Draco didn’t know what he’d been thinking, casting Legilimens; he’d just wanted to get a leg up on Potter any way he could, and Draco was still on the floor, and Potter was coming towards him.

Petrificus Totalus,” Draco tried, but Potter just kept on coming.

Erecto,” Potter snapped, and the force of the spell hurdled Draco to his feet.

Expelli—

Expelliarmus,” Potter said, and even though he’d started second, his disarming charm was approximately fifty times stronger, and Draco’s wand slid easily into Potter’s hand.

Potter threw both the wands away.

“I’m not afraid of you,” Draco said, reaching out—he thought perhaps it was to hit him—

Potter yanked Draco to him. Draco got an arm free; he thought it was to push him away—

And then Potter’s mouth was on his neck, and the arm Draco had been going to use to hit him moved to pull Potter in closer, locking Potter’s head against his throat. Potter’s hot hands were on Draco’s neck and hip, and Potter’s hard cock was against his thigh. Draco gave a low, liquid moan, exposing his neck further for Potter’s mouth.

“You fucking bastard,” Potter said, pulling back, giving Draco just enough room to get both arms around Potter.

“Harry,” he murmured, leaning in to kiss him.

“Don’t you fucking dare,” Potter said, turning his head so that Draco’s lips just grazed the corner of Potter’s mouth.

Draco didn’t care. He kissed Potter’s cheek, dragged his mouth against Potter’s stubble, scraped his teeth on Potter’s jaw, whilst Potter pushed his hard thigh between Draco’s legs. “Mm, like that, love,” Draco said, rolling his hips.

“Shut up,” Harry said, jerking Draco against him for emphasis.

Draco leaned in to Potter’s ear. “Make me.”

“God damn you,” Potter said, pushing him away.

Draco caught a finger in the belt loop of Potter’s jeans, not going far. “Make me shut up,” Draco said, sinking down to his knees.

“Fuck you,” Potter said, but thrust his hips, and his denim-covered cock was in Draco’s face.

“You keep saying that,” Draco breathed.

“Damn it.” Potter’s hands moved down to the fastenings of his jeans, fingers jerking on the zipper, yanking on the fabric to get it down.

Draco helped pull the jeans and pants down Potter’s hips, just so Potter could get enough of his cock out—Draco wanted to see it. He wanted to see it again, Potter’s magnificent cock; he hadn’t even got to see it last time, just feel it, and even though that was bloody brilliant, Merlin the way it looked was so—

Draco’s mouth was watering when it came into view—the arched red prick, the black wiry hair, the glimpse of bollocks, heavy beneath. Draco wanted it. He wanted it so badly, Potter’s cock—nice and thick, red and waiting for him—

“You look so good,” Draco said, putting his mouth on Potter’s prick. Moaning just to hear himself do it, Draco sucked.

Potter’s hands came down to slide in his hair. Then his fingers tightened, twisted, controlling Draco’s head more than Draco generally liked. They’d done this several times during the month Draco had spent as Tristan—Draco on his knees, giving head to Potter. Those times hadn’t been like this one, though. Those times, Draco had still been in control, and Potter had fallen apart so neatly in his hands.

Draco pushed back against Potter’s grip, resisting, coming up for air. “I love your prick,” Draco said, when he’d pulled back enough from Potter’s hands and realized it was true. He did love Potter’s prick. He loved it.

Potter pressed Draco’s head back down and Draco went there willingly, tonguing the length of Potter’s cock, waiting for Potter’s hand to ease back into his hair before licking back up and taking the head in his mouth once again. “Don’t tease me,” Potter said.

“I’m not teasing,” Draco said, coming up for air again. Then he proceeded to tease, “I really do worship your—”

“Take it down,” Potter said, pulling on his head. “I know you can take it all down.”

Still resisting, Draco looked up at him. “I know that you can make me.”

Potter made a sharp gesture with his hand.

The spell unfolded Draco and thumped him on the ground, flat on his back.

Potter Banished his own clothes—awkward to straddle someone with pants half down thighs—then climbed on top of Draco, knees on either side of Draco’s chest, just below Draco’s armpits. His cock was inches from Draco’s face as he knelt over him. “Is this really how you want it?” Potter said, hands coming to bury themselves in Draco’s hair. “You want me to fuck your face?”

“Why not?” Draco said. “Are you a chicken?”

Potter’s fingers pressed Draco’s mouth until it opened, yanked down his jaw. Holding it open, he manoeuvred his cock inside.

Draco didn’t care. He wanted this. He wanted this, and he didn’t even know why, because what he’d loved so much about fucking Potter was that he wasn’t manhandled. He had always been the one in control, and Draco didn’t know why surrendering now was suddenly all right, but it was.

Draco just wanted him so much, and if this was what he could get, he wanted this too. Potter thrust into his mouth in one go, prick pushing past Draco’s gag reflex then hot down Draco’s throat in a single solid surge, and that was what Draco wanted too. Potter positioned himself to thrust for real—leaning to brace a hand against the floor, far forwards enough now so that Potter wouldn’t even see his face—he’d just be rutting over Draco’s mouth. Potter started doing it—fucking, just fucking, fucking into Draco’s mouth like it was just another hole, and Draco still wanted that. He wanted even that.

This was what he could get and he loved it; he still loved it. Draco needed it, brought his hands up to squeeze Potter’s arse and push Potter harder into his mouth, down into his throat, and breathing was difficult—

But Draco knew Potter. He knew just what Potter liked, knew when Potter was close but not too close, knew just when . . . And at the perfect moment, Draco let his fingers drift over Potter’s arsehole, just so, and press in—so that Potter groaned a hoarse, “Fuck,” and didn’t come, but also was too far gone to stop. Draco pressed his fingers in.

“Fuck.” Potter panted, movement going erratic above Draco. “Fuck—

Draco pushed the fingers in and Potter arched above him, and then with the deft skill of experience, Draco yanked his fingers out and gripped Potter’s hips, pushing up. Potter, on the cusp of orgasm, was distracted enough to let Draco push him, and then Potter, grunting, came.

The manoeuvre proved successful in earning Potter’s come all over Draco’s face, the result for which Draco had hoped, though more manoeuvring was required to prevent Potter from jamming his cock into Draco’s chin and eyes as Potter finished thrusting uncontrollably. Rolling him over—no mean feat—Draco got Potter’s legs spread, got his fingers back in Potter’s arse enough for Potter to give a low, throaty moan, and another pathetic attempt at thrusting.

Eventually Potter shuddered and went relatively still, lying with his back on the floor, legs spread for Draco. Draco, meanwhile, placed a gentle kiss on the head of Potter’s softening cock, then more kisses along the sides, little nips and licks along Potter’s inner thighs, cleaning up any of the come that had splashed on Potter.

After several long moments, Potter’s hand touched Draco’s face. His palm came away with come smeared on it. Draco just kept on kissing him.

Another moment, the hand came back, firm under Draco’s chin, lifting up his head. Potter held him up that way, propped himself up on his other elbow, and looked down at him.

Draco knew how he looked. There was come on his face and his lips were red, his hair tousled, but that was what he’d wanted. He’d wanted to show Potter he could be used, just used—

“I can’t stand you,” Potter said, pushing Draco down. For a second Draco didn’t understand.

Then Potter was waving open Draco’s trousers, lying Draco down on his back, Potter positioning himself down by Draco’s thighs. One of Potter’s hands wrapped around Draco’s cock. “Expelliarmus, Malfoy, really?”

Draco was too distracted to really register what Potter was saying.

“Did you honestly think that would work against me?” Potter said.

“I didn’t . . .” Draco twisted. He needed more of Potter’s hand. He needed more of Potter’s hand—

“Yeah, you didn’t.” Potter palmed him, then leaned down and blew on the head.

Draco bucked against the floor. “Harry, please. I need . . .”

Potter wrapped his hand around Draco’s cock again, lazily wanking. “What?”

“Please.” Draco twisted again. “I need . . .”

Potter shifted his weight, moving so that his hand was still wrapped around Draco’s cock but his body was beside Draco on the floor, propped up with his other hand. “Don’t you look pathetic,” Potter observed. “On the floor with your trousers open, my come on your face, begging for—what were you begging for again?”

Expelliarmus isn’t yours, you know,” Draco said.

Something shifted in Potter’s face as he looked down at him, and . . . and Draco knew that expression; it always meant that Potter was softening up, relenting about something, and Draco knew that meant that he was getting somewhere. He was getting somewhere; Potter was relenting, and Draco just had to take advantage of it, keep it up.

“Just because you killed the Dark Lord with it doesn’t mean you own it,” Draco said.

Potter snorted lightly, then leaned down and kissed him. Not on the mouth, but he kissed him—on his cheek, where there was come drying, and then the temple, then Draco’s brow.

“I want you to suck my cock,” Draco said, wrapping his hand around the fist Potter still had around Draco’s cock. “Come on, Harry. I want you to suck it, put your mouth on it . . .”

“Why should I?” Potter gave Draco’s cock a squeeze, kissing his temple again.

“Because I . . .” For a moment, Draco didn’t know what Tristan would have said. “I want it,” he said finally. “I want your mouth wrapped around my cock.”

“Mm.” Potter only gave Draco’s cock a warm little squeeze, but his eyes had darkened.

“You know you like it too,” Draco said. “Getting your mouth full up with cock, choking on my prick.”

“This is a bad idea,” Potter said, licking his lips.

“Come on and do it, pet.”

“Don’t call me that,” Potter said. “I still hate you.”

But then Potter was sliding down, leaning in, and then—his mouth was on it.

Draco hissed. “Yes. Suck it, Harry. Take it down.”

Potter opened his mouth wider, and then—he was taking it down, sucking as he fisted the upper part of the shaft with his hand, and this was what Draco remembered. This was everything Draco remembered—Potter’s teasing at first, and that warm, wet cavern of a mouth, gentle and insistent, taking him . . .

Draco felt his eyes roll back in his skull. “Yes,” he said, pushing his hands into Potter’s thick hair and urging him onward. “Yes, take it, take it, just like that.”

The sound of Potter breathing nasally increased in volume—one harsh breath through the nose, and then Potter was swallowing him, taking him down. His hands were cupping Draco’s balls; Potter, Draco realized, also knew what Draco liked—”

“You just suck it,” Draco said, “just like that, swallow it all down, like that, like that, love, oh my love—”

Potter made a sound and started to draw off—but Draco was already coming. Potter got it in his mouth, instead of down his throat, and Draco just kept coming; he didn’t know what he was saying. “Harry,” was mostly all he said. “Harry, Harry, don’t stop, I need you, don't stop.”

Then finally Draco just lay there shuddering, and he didn’t know where Potter was. Potter wasn’t touching him; maybe he had moved away—but then Potter’s face was over his, Potter’s mouth directly over his.

And Draco couldn’t believe it—Potter’s lips were brushing his. They were so close. They were finally going to . . . Draco’s mouth automatically opened—

But Potter didn’t kiss him.

Instead Potter opened his own mouth and pushed the come out.

Some clients liked to do this, but Draco didn’t. This was—this was sick, demeaning, awful—and yet it didn’t matter. It just didn’t matter, Potter’s mouth was so so close to Draco, and his tongue was pushing all the come inside, touching Draco’s tongue—

And the come was Draco’s, but it had been in Potter’s mouth, and Potter was right: Draco was pathetic.

He wanted it.

He wanted it because Potter was giving it to him. He wanted it because Draco’s cock had been in Potter’s mouth and Potter had let him put it there, let him put his come there. And now—Potter didn’t want it, but Draco didn’t care. He didn’t care. Draco wanted it; he wanted it all; this was as close as he would ever get to Potter’s mouth on his.

Then Potter was done. He pulled away, and Draco’s mouth was full.

Putting two fingers on Draco’s chin, Potter nudged up, and Draco’s mouth had to close around the mouthful of come that Potter had given him. “Swallow,” Potter said.

Draco couldn’t read Potter’s eyes, bright and hot in the dim light of the sitting-room. Potter was testing him, Draco knew, but Draco didn’t know what the test was, and he didn’t care. He swallowed.

Potter moved away from him. “You should go.”

Draco swallowed again. There was still come in his mouth.

Summoning his jeans, Potter stood up.

Turning his head on the floor, Draco watched him pull them on.

Potter was just . . . so beautiful—so flagrantly glorious in every line and angle—that watching him hurt.

Slowly, it dawned on Draco how he had managed to avoid realizing just how beautiful Potter really was. When Draco had been Tristan, he’d had the luxury of not admitting it, because Potter was his. He’d taken Potter for granted, taken Potter’s body for granted, and now that Draco couldn’t have it for the taking—everything about Potter was arousing, complicated, perfect. Merlin, Potter was perfect.

Once Potter had got his jeans on, he looked down at Draco—still mostly clothed and yet thoroughly debauched, empty and still needy, come on his face, traces of it in his mouth.

“You can show yourself out,” Potter said. He left the room.

He didn’t come back, and Draco was all alone.

*

Draco was going to wait several days.

Potter wanted to shag him—Potter obviously wanted to shag him. They’d do that for a bit, just casual fucking, and then—and then Draco would decide what to do next.

First, however, Potter had to get used to the idea. Then in around three days, Draco was going to go back and offer it again. Potter would have been missing him enough by then that it would happen like the last time—they’d fight, and then they’d shag.

Maybe this time Potter would let him stay a little longer, after. Possibly he might even do one of those scouring spells that made Draco feel so clean after.

In the interim, Draco kept on working, taking clients, preoccupying himself to earn a living and avoid thinking about Potter.

As it turned out, Draco didn’t have to wait three days to see him again.

Potter came to see him after two.

*

Three.

The knock came at the door to Draco’s flat in early evening. Draco remembered the last person who had knocked, and a thrill went through him. Hastily, he checked his clothes—just a dressing gown, flannels, and spectacles—but that was good. That was very good.

Seeing Draco in such domestic clothes would probably do things to Potter; he was such a homebody. And anyway, Potter was to blame; Draco never would have dressed like this before.

So Draco went to the door as he was and acted very surprised to see Potter there, and then felt embarrassed. Potter was dressed more sharply than his usual jeans and t-shirt. He had on wool trousers and a snug green jumper with a high neck. The green was perfect with his eyes.

And even though there was nothing to be done about Potter’s hair, he’d done more than let it hang about his face, or pull it back into a messy too-short ponytail. Instead he’d pulled back the top part, so the short bits wouldn’t hang in his eyes, and left the rest loose. The style was one Draco particularly favoured, particularly on someone like Potter. It seemed specifically feminine, since so few men ever wore their hair that way. On someone like Potter, it only served to emphasize his masculinity, while at the same time highlighting a gentleness. Draco wasn’t sure whether Potter knew that he liked it that way or whether this was just coincidence.

Obviously he should really cut it; hair that long on a man was appalling. But if he was going to keep it long, this was an appealing style on him.

“Can I come in?” said Potter.

“Yes.” Draco opened the door wider. “Yes, of course. Please do.”

After Potter had come in, Draco shut the door. Potter walked deeper into the flat, looking around as he had the last time. He didn’t say anything. He seemed uncomfortable, and when Potter turned back towards him, Draco could tell that Potter had made himself come. He didn’t really want to be here.

Draco didn’t know what to do. He wanted to fall all over him, because it was Potter and he looked so good and he’d made the next move, instead of forcing Draco to continue pushing things. And yet, what Potter had seemed to enjoy about Tristan was that Tristan didn’t fall all over him. As Tristan, Draco had acted like he didn’t care, because at first Draco hadn’t, and then later Draco had been sure of his power over Potter.

On the other hand, Potter had also enjoyed Tristan because he’d thought that Tristan was honest. Potter had liked it when Draco-as-Tristan had said what he was really thinking, enjoyed it most when Draco had just said whatever came to mind.

“What do you want?” Draco said, because that was what came to mind.

Potter’s jaw hardened—a grimace. Draco had said the wrong thing, then.

“I can get you a drink,” Draco tried. “I have . . . Ogden’s. And Lightning vodka. And Dwarvish rum. And Dragon’s Breath scotch. I could make some—”

“Malfoy.” Potter’s mouth was flat. “Shut up.”

“Yes.” Draco tried to shut up, but Potter didn’t say anything else, just slid his eyes away when Draco tried to meet them. “Are we going to do what we did last time?” Draco asked, after a long silence.

“I don’t want to do what we did last time,” Potter said, unnecessarily loud, and Draco suddenly remembered the way that Potter had shouted all the time in fifth year. He sounded a little like that.

Draco moved closer. “What do you want to do?”

“I want to forget you. I want to forget him. I want . . .”

Potter lowered his head, pinching the bridge of his nose with two blunt fingers, and he looked miserable. He looked so honestly miserable, and Draco knew what Potter meant, now, about loving him. As consumed as Draco had been about getting Potter back, he would have done anything in that moment to make Potter stop looking like that. Draco would have walked out the door if he could have and never come back.

That wouldn’t do any good now, though, and this way was better.

“We can’t forget,” Draco said.

“I want to,” Potter said.

Draco waited. And then a horrible thought crossed his mind, and just like Pansy said, he never thought about the words that came out of his mouth. “I could Obliviate you,” Draco said.

Potter shook his head. “It’s too deep. Tristan is too . . . I’d lose a part of me.”

“I’d lose a part of me too,” Draco said.

Finally, Potter lifted his head. He was clean-shaven, but there were dark circles under his eyes, and Draco ached. He ached. “I didn’t know what I needed,” Potter said, “until he came.”

“I didn’t know I needed you either,” Draco said.

“At first I just liked the way he deflected attention. And then I liked—I thought I could spoil him. Give him a life I’d always wanted. Happy. Perfect.”

“I wanted to spoil you too,” Draco said. “I didn’t at first, but then I . . . I wanted you to get what you needed.”

“I needed him,” said Harry.

“I know,” said Draco. “But you can have me.”

Potter turned away, took several strides deeper into the flat. He stood there with his back to Draco, and Draco still didn’t know what he should do.

“You’re wearing glasses,” Potter said finally.

Draco quickly took them off. “I was reading.”

“I thought . . .” Potter turned back around. “I thought you did that just to—to get to me.”

“Why would I? Glasses aren’t attractive.” Draco realized what he’d said. “Except when you used to wear them. Of course you were very fetching then. Not that you should go back to wearing them. I usually use charms myself, only these are more comfortable and I—”

“I think we should try dating.”

Draco’s stomach tried to drop down to the floor. “What?”

“That was all I wanted, initially,” Potter said. “I just wanted to get to know him better. I only offered him the million Galleons because . . .”

“Yes,” Draco said. “Dating. Dating is good. Let’s date.”

“I’m not talking about shagging. That’s got to stop.”

“What?” Draco’s stomach remembered that it had been on the way to the floor.

“Just dating,” Potter said. “Going out to eat, cinema, that sort of thing.”

“Cinema?”

“It’s a thing Muggles do.”

“You want to date like Muggles?”

“This was a bad idea,” Potter said.

“Wait.” Draco grabbed his arm. “Cinema is fine. The not shagging part is what I don’t—dating can include shagging. People who date shag.”

Potter wrested himself from Draco’s grasp. “Not when they first start dating.”

“Some of them do.”

“That’s not the point. I want . . . your body is distracting.”

Draco brightened. “I always thought so.”

“I loved Tristan for more than that.”

Draco brightened still further. “You loved me?”

“I loved him, and you knew that.” Potter glowered at him. “You knew that from the beginning.”

Draco preened, because Potter wanted to date. “Well, you never said.”

“You’re just so . . .” Potter turned away.

“I’m so what?”

Difficult.”

“But you love that,” Draco said brightly.

“I loved it with Tristan. With you it makes me want to—I want to slam you into a wall.”

“You’ve already done that. Several times.” Draco preened some more.

“God. You’re doing it right now.”

“Well.” Draco smiled prettily. “We’re dating.”

Potter stared at him, and gradually Draco’s smirk fell away. Potter raised his hand—and then his thumb was tracing the lines beside Draco’s right eye, the temple, the curve of Draco’s cheek . . . the spot beside Draco’s mouth. Potter took his hand away. “You’re so much like him,” he said, “but completely different.”

Draco had to resist reaching out. He wanted to put his hand on Potter’s chest, but Potter was . . . skittish. He didn’t want to shag; he wanted to start over. Draco could work with that. It would only take time. Swallowing, Draco got a hold over his impulses. “When do we start?”

“What?”

Draco smirked. “Dating.”

Potter looked grim, and Draco felt his smirk fade again. He braced himself. “I thought we could—tonight,” Potter said.

“Tonight?” said Draco, surprised.

“Otherwise I’ll just keep thinking about him,” Potter said.

“You’re using me as a distraction from myself?”

“You’re not Tristan,” Potter said.

“Ah,” said Draco. “You want to use me to convince yourself Tristan wasn’t real.”

Potter ground his teeth. “You’re always analysing why I do things.”

“Tristan was always analysing,” Draco corrected. “And I do it because we’re the same person.”

“Well, just—stop. I’m not something you solve like a puzzle.”

“It’s how I am.”

“Don’t be.”

“You liked for Tristan to be who he was.”

“That was because he was Tristan.”

“You want me to be someone different?”

“I want you to be—Christ!” Potter bit out. “Are you always so . . . aggravating?”

“You know that I am,” Draco said lowly.

Potter’s breath was coming a bit quicker, and Draco rather thought that it was not solely anger causing his current excitement. Potter had never really got angry at Tristan—he’d always treated Tristan’s cheeky comments as amusing, rather than truly challenging. But that had been because Potter liked to be challenged.

The issue standing in Potter’s way now was the identity of the one challenging him.

Draco could push Potter, since being pushed was one of the things Potter had liked so much about Tristan, but push too far and Draco could lose him. Keeping this in mind, Draco changed the subject. “What do you suggest we do—for the date?”

“There’s a Muggle pub I know.”

Draco tried very hard not to seem disgusted.

Potter frowned. “Do you have a problem with that?”

“Absolutely not. I’ll get dressed then, shall I? If we’re to go tonight.”

Potter’s eyes raked over him. “Yes.” He looked away.

Going to his bedroom, Draco smiled. He knew what that glance of Potter’s had meant; Potter had looked at him that way the first several times he’d contracted Tristan. The gaze was disguised as objective assessment, but Draco knew that it was really covert appreciation. Potter might not like that Draco didn’t look like Tristan, but he did not find Draco unattractive.

Draco was still smiling as he sorted through his clothes. He had to find the perfect thing—something to remind Potter of his feelings for Tristan, but not something Draco had worn so much as Tristan that Potter would be distracted by nostalgia. It had to be well-fitted, but shouldn’t be too formal, as Potter was dressed casually, and Potter thought of Draco as a snob. And then there was the Muggle aspect to consider. Draco had never been to a Muggle pub before.

As all of these complications went through Draco’s mind, an idea began to form. Once it coalesced, Draco looked from his wardrobe to the rest of his bedroom. Last week he had prepared it as he had the rest of his flat, in the vain but secret hope that he and Potter would end up here that first night.

As a result, the room was far more comfortable than it had ever been—Draco had Transfigured the cushions on the seat in the corner to something far less attractive, but far more comfortable. There were a few miscellaneous clothes and books about, and on sudden impulse, Draco went and mussed the bed a bit, so it didn’t look nearly so neat—or forbidding. Then he flung both doors to the wardrobe open, and spelled half of the clothes out. They went flying to the floor, the chair, and on the bed. Taking his time, Draco sorted the things on the bed, selecting certain items and tossing others away.

Then he put on a very fetching pair of grey wool trousers and a long blue frock coat. Potter rapped a knuckle on the door. “What are you doing?”

“Come in and help me,” Draco said, putting the loose bow-tie around his neck. Potter opened the door, and Draco glanced over at him. “Does this make me look like a Muggle?”

“Er.” Potter glanced at him, then around the garments scattered about the room. “Haven’t you got a jumper?”

“I’d considered that, since you’re wearing one.” Draco went over to the bed, pulling a jumper off of it. “But all I had clean was this grey one, and I didn’t want to wear all grey. You don’t think this looks like a wizard jumper?”

“I guess,” said Potter.

“Then I thought just a shirt, but this one certainly looks wizard.” Draco held up a shirt with lace at the collar. Actually, Draco looked quite well in this shirt, but Potter shook his head.

“What happened to that . . .” Potter came farther into the room, looking around some more at the clothes. “It was green. With buttons.” Potter gestured down the front.

Guessing what article of clothing Potter meant, Draco deliberately summoned a different one. “This?” he said, holding up a green robe.

“No.” Potter moved closer to the wardrobe. “It was a shirt. It—felt nice.”

“Oh.” Summoning again, Draco crossed over to him. “This one?” Draco held the green shirt out. Draco had worn it one night he and Potter had stayed in; Draco had fucked him with it on.

Potter touched it, then quickly took his hand away. “Yes.”

“You only wear this under robes,” Draco said. “I thought Muggles didn’t wear robes.”

“They don’t. You wore it without robes before.”

“Only around your house.” Draco lowered his voice into a drawl. “I was frequently not fully dressed when I was around you, if you recall.”

Potter’s mouth tightened at the corners. He wasn’t pleased with the reminder, so Draco went on, “I thought Muggles did wear coats.” Laying the shirt aside, he tugged at the coat he was currently wearing. “Is it not suitable?”

“It looks old-fashioned,” Potter said.

“Oh, I can fix that.” Draco tapped one sleeve of his jacket with his wand, then the other. Then he set about the rest. Eventually, he’d got it at least somewhat resembling the style of dinner jacket Potter had worn to the NimbusCorp banquet—purposely over-formal. “Something more like this? I can improve the spells, of course.”

“You don’t wear that to a pub,” Potter said. “Here, let me . . .” And then Potter’s hands were moving over the fabric and Draco could feel the magic flowing through the seams.

This was what Draco had intended to happen all along, but intending it and feeling it were two quite different matters. Potter’s magic was fluid, hot and strong, and Draco could feel the flush build up on his face. He knew his eyes would look glassy when Potter was done. He licked his lips, and then Potter took his hands off of him.

“That’s it?” said Draco, looking down at the blue jumper Potter had created.

“It’ll do,” Potter said roughly, not looking at him. He was at least a little affected by having cast the spells on Draco’s body, but Draco couldn’t tell how much.

Draco decided to tease. “At least I know what to wear to a wedding, even if I don’t know what to wear to a Muggle pub.”

Potter obviously remembered, but he didn’t acknowledge it. Instead he turned away. “We should go.”

“But are you sure I really need this?” Draco said, and Potter turned back. “It’s hot now, and I’ve another shirt on underneath.” Draco took the jumper off. “Could you Transfigure it so it’s Muggle, but doesn’t feel like I’m wearing an undershirt?”

Potter turned back, looking surly, and that was how Draco knew he’d got him. Potter’s eyes slid over the shirt and up, not quite meeting Draco’s eyes. “It looks fine.”

“Please.” Draco came closer, lowering his voice. “I’m very fastidious about my attire.”

Potter reached out. The magic flowed through the fabric as Potter’s fingers brushed Draco’s chest.

Draco stepped closer, and Potter tilted his head in acknowledgement of it. As Potter’s hands moved to the sleeves, Draco leaned in—he could feel Potter’s breath on his neck. Draco leaned in closer still, letting his mouth fall open near Potter’s jaw, struggling to breathe against the closeness of Potter’s skin. Potter’s hands ran down Draco’s back, changing the weave of the fabric into something more than simple cotton. “Don’t stop,” Draco whispered.

“Stop it.” Potter’s voice was rough, but his hands were still refitting the seams.

“All I said was—”

“Christ,” Potter said, and licked Draco’s throat.

“Harry.” Draco’s hips bucked against Potter’s as his arms went around Potter’s neck, and Draco opened his mouth against the side of Potter’s throat. “Oh, Harry.”

There ensued some rather deep necking, Potter’s mouth hot and insistent behind Draco’s ear, in that spot that made him shiver and whinge like something helpless. Then Potter turned Draco’s head to the other side, teeth scraping down to find another spot, and another. Draco kissed him and kissed him and kissed him—never on the mouth, but with the way Potter was making him buck and pant, remaining lip-locked would have been difficult anyway.

Finally, Potter ripped himself away. “Just this once,” he said, putting his fingers on the buttons his magic had created down the front of Draco’s shirt. “It doesn’t mean anything.”

“That’s right.” Tugging on Potter’s jumper, Draco pushed him back towards the bed.

Potter fell back, still working on the buttons. “It doesn’t mean anything at all.”

“Nothing.”

“We’ll stop after this.”

“Whatever you say,” Draco said, pushing Potter back again. “Get these off.”

With a wave of Potter’s hand, their clothes all disappeared, and Draco pushed Potter on the bed. Draco got on top of him and Potter let him—he let him. Draco forced himself to breathe. It didn’t mean that Potter was going to let him top, just—just Draco remembered what it felt like inside of Potter, silky and hot, and that wasn’t even what was turning him on so much right now. It was the fact that Potter had once let him, and the idea that Potter might let him again was too much, entirely too much.

Potter’s thighs fell open a bit, as though he was thinking about it too, but his mouth was busy at Draco’s nipple and Draco decided to wait before moving further along. Potter hardly ever bothered with nipples—neither of them did, but the way Potter was doing it was just so sweet and heady. The swirling of Potter’s tongue made Draco feel wanton and he arched back, allowing Potter better access. Potter’s hands slipped down against his ribs, down to his waist—then paused.

Then skated over Draco’s abdomen, feeling there.

Shite.

Shite.

Blast it all to hell.

Draco hadn’t been thinking. He hadn’t been thinking, and now Potter was pulling back. He was pushing Draco off of him, looking down at the scars.

“They don’t matter,” Draco said, as Potter stared.

“I can’t do this.” Potter got off the bed.

Draco reached for Potter’s hand. “Wait—”

Potter’s hand clamped down over his, turning, yanking. The Dark Mark curled on Draco’s pale skin, red and ugly.

“It doesn’t matter,” Draco said.

“This is the Dark Mark, Malfoy.”

“I know what it is.” Draco yanked his hand away.

“This was a mistake.”

“It’s not a mistake. It doesn’t—”

Matter? How am I supposed to date a former Death Eater?” Potter’s voice sounded angry, but Draco could read the pain in it, lurking just beneath.

“Haven’t you ever done a thing that you regret?”

“Yes. But I’ve never done something that branded me as evil for all the world to see!”

“You’re right. I haven’t shown the world my stomach.”

Potter recoiled. “That’s different.”

“Why?” Draco snarled, swinging out of the bed and to his feet. “Because the consequences of your actions are on someone else’s body, and not your own?”

“I have enough scars, thank you.”

“And you haven’t learned from them? They’ve not been something for you to grow through?”

“That’s different—”

“Snape had a Dark Mark. You said he was a hero.”

Potter bared his teeth. “Don’t you talk about Snape.”

“Why not?” Draco could feel his voice going shrill, but he could not control it. “He was my Head of House. My parents’ friend.”

“He was on our side!”

“Is that it?” Draco advanced on him. “You don’t like a loser? Is that why you can’t date someone like me?”

Harry shook his head. “Some mistakes you can’t come back from. Some things you can’t undo.”

Draco took a deep breath, tried to calm down. After a moment he said in a more temperate voice, “We’re both scarred, Harry. We both have marks we can’t undo.”

“Mine are different than yours.”

“Fine. What does that one mean?” Draco nodded at the black circle on Potter’s chest.

Within it was the pale, scarred tissue over Potter’s heart. Startled, Potter put his hand over it. “This?”

“You never told me what it meant.”

The furrow appeared on Potter’s brow.

Draco shrugged. “You’re trying to tell me you’re so different than me—what it is the tattoo for?”

The frown deepened. “It means . . . I can overcome.”

“Good,” said Draco. “Accio wand.” Draco’s wand floated to his hand, and Draco pointed it to his own chest.

“What are you—”

But Draco had already started the needle charm and the pigment charm, using the needle to direct the pigment beneath his skin. Magical tattoos were quite complicated, and should have been administered by a professional, but Draco had heard of this quick and dirty method in the back alleys of enough magical districts to know that it was viable, although painful.

Years of men thrusting over him, men fucking into him, hurting him to take their pleasure, and Draco was very good at withstanding pain. He could take a good deal before crying out, and so he was able to hold his wand, drawing a slow circle as the magic pushed the pigment beneath the first layer of his skin. Draco’s knees were weak, though, and he sank onto the bed as he cast.

The concentration required was too deep to register what Potter was doing, and the smell of the ink and blood made nausea curl in Draco’s throat. He closed his eyes, and when at last the circle was complete, he opened them, though it was difficult. The circle was messy and uneven, a jagged red and black against his flesh. “I’ve overcome as well,” Draco said.

Potter growled a low curse, and then his palm flattened on Draco’s chest, pushing him down into the bed.

The damaged flesh was too tender, bloody and magic-burned, so Draco cried out against the touch. Potter murmured, and the burning stopped. Something fresh and cool covered it, sweet against the raw skin. Slowly, Draco opened his eyes. Potter face was above him.

“I might not have made all the right choices like you did,” Draco said, “but I lived through them, and I made up for them.”

“Jesus, Malfoy, shut up.”

“I’ve paid,” Draco said. “And I’ve paid. I’ve learned what it is to—”

Potter put his thumb on the blackened circled on Draco’s chest, and traced the circle. The swipe of the pad of his thumb was the oddest sensation, and Draco looked down.

Potter’s thumb was adding to the tattoo, adjusting it, making it an even thickness all around the circle, while at the same time making Draco’s flesh feel as though the ink had always been there. The magic felt as easy and soothing as one of Potter’s scouring spells, and when Potter was done, the tattoo perfectly matched Potter’s.

“I’ve survived,” Draco said, “when no one but myself wanted me to.”

“Stop talking,” Potter said, and then he was kissing the circle, that perfect circle. His tongue flattened out against it, and Draco guess that Potter must like it, when Potter reached between Draco’s legs, underneath his bollocks, seeking out the hole between Draco’s buttocks.

Draco’s thighs immediately fell open.

“Malfoy,” Potter said, coming up for air. Potter had never said his name that way before—the way that he had said Tristan’s.

“Harry.” Draco pulled up Potter’s other hand. As Potter watched, Draco opened his mouth and took in two of Potter’s fingers.

Potter made a tight sound, guttural, watching with darkening eyes as Draco showed Potter what he wanted with his mouth, sucking Potter’s fingers deeper, harder, and deeper still. Getting the message, Potter pressed the finger of his other hand between Draco’s legs into Draco’s hole.

“Mm,” Draco moaned, against the dry intrusion, arching so Potter would know he liked it, letting his eyes roll backwards in his skull. Draco pushed Potter’s head against his chest, and Potter kissed the circle again—light little kisses, like rain.

After another thorough suck, Draco pulled Potter’s fingers out of his mouth. “Put them in me, love.”

Potter’s eyes darkened further still as he complied, switching out his hands so that his wet fingers now pressed at Draco’s entrance. When he pressed them both in, Draco arched again, drawing Potter’s head up from his chest so that he could look at him. Potter willingly went. “Get me wet,” Draco breathed. “Come on, pet, I want to be so wet for you.”

Potter swallowed hard, then muttered something, and Draco swore this was the first time he’d ever heard Potter ever actually have to say the lubrication and protection spells aloud. Usually he just waved a hand, but Potter was so into it and his body was already moving in time to the thrust of his fingers, even though Potter wasn’t even inside him yet.

“More, lovely,” Draco said, spreading his legs still wider. “Just a little more. I want to drip for you before you put it in me, get it all over the bed.”

Potter cast again, filling Draco’s arse with wetness. “Like that? Tristan, is that what you—”

“Yes,” Draco said, even though it was the wrong name. He didn’t care. He didn’t care. “Put it in me. Put it in me; I need—”

And then Potter put it in him, slid it in so easily. Potter really had got it slick, and Draco was open and so easy, just this slow slide for Potter’s cock and Potter was inside him. Maybe Potter didn’t trust him enough to let Draco be inside him this way but it didn’t matter; it just didn’t matter, because they were connected and it was all Draco wanted. It was everything Draco wanted.

“I know my arse is heaven, pet,” Draco said, holding Potter to him. “But at some point you’ve got to move.”

“You’re going to kill me.”

“Not if you move.” Draco gave his hips a wiggle, getting an arm between them to push at Potter. “Just think about how all that tight wet arse is going to cling to you on the way out. How molten hot it will be when you sink back in it.”

Potter shivered on top of him—and yet, for some reason, otherwise stayed still. “I thought I told you to stop talking.”

“You love it when I talk,” Draco said. “Come on, love.” He pushed at Potter’s shoulder again, and Potter came up a bit, lifting himself to better see Draco’s face. “My arse needs pounding,” Draco said, pushing more. “Don’t be lazy. I . . . Harry?”

“Just,” Potter began, but didn’t finish.

His cock was flagging inside of Draco’s arse.

This had never happened before.

Sometimes it happened with clients. Sometimes erectile dysfunction was specifically why they hired him—but it had never happened with Potter before.

Draco clenched his buttocks, keeping Potter tight. “It’s all right,” Draco said.

“I just . . .” Potter swallowed thickly, and then warm fingers slowly wrapped around the arm Draco had been using to push at him. “I can’t . . .” Potter swallowed again. “I can’t look at it while I fuck you.”

The arm Potter currently had his fingers wrapped around bore the Dark Mark.

“I can’t help it; I see it and I just can’t. . .”

“I’ll just—” Draco scrambled blindly. “Accio wand. I’ll Disillusion it—”

“I don’t want disguises.”

“It’s not a disguise. It’s a—please don’t pull out, Harry.” Draco squeezed desperately with his thighs as Potter’s shifted inside him. Holding Potter down onto him with one hand, Draco tried to use that hand to cast the Disillusionment on his left arm. “Please don’t leave me; I can fix it—”

Don’t.” Potter bared his teeth. “Don’t Disillusion it. Just . . .” Pushing the Marked arm down and away from him, Potter leaned back in. “I’m sorry. Just—do what you were doing. Say what you were saying.”

“I’m . . . I need you.” Draco pulled Potter into him with the one hand. “I need you inside me; I need you to fuck . . .” Keeping the other hand down was awkward. Draco wanted so desperately to pull Potter to him, never let him go—“Please. I can’t . . .” Draco shuddered. “Harry . . .”

“I’ve got you.” Potter flattened his palm over the circle on Draco’s chest. “Just . . .” And then he moved a little, finally, finally—a slight cant of his hips, his cock still inside of Draco, growing harder.

Draco heard himself make a desperate little mewl. He didn’t mean to; it just happened, and he tried to open his legs wider for Potter, bending his legs for Potter’s better access. “I need you closer,” Draco whispered. “Please, Harry . . .”

“It’s all right.” Potter stroked the circle on Draco’s chest. “It’s all right.”

Draco’s thighs were cradling Potter’s hips. “I can feel you getting harder inside of me,” Draco said, his voice low. As he wrapped his legs around Potter’s waist, he slid his arm behind the pillow under his head, hoping to distract Potter from it with words and legs. He felt like he was lounging now, but he held Potter close, and Potter grunted softly when Draco tightened his legs. “Just like that, love,” Draco said, and clenched his muscles.

Potter groaned again, then started moving—hand still on the circle on Draco’s chest, as though for grounding.

“Yes,” Draco said, and opened himself, and opened himself. “Yes, love, like that.”

Potter pulled back slowly, and then thrust in. Draco felt his eyes roll back in his skull again, his mouth falling open. Then Potter pet Draco’s chest, and did it again. At first he was so slow—and Draco loved that, that Potter could be slow with him, even though he wasn’t Tristan. The surge of Potter inside of him felt like the inevitable crash of a wave, anticipated, longed for, but new every time; it felt as though Potter came in deeper every time.

And all the while, Potter kept stroking that circle—the way you caress an animal, to soothe it, but also to soothe yourself. And Draco kept on talking; he was talking; he couldn’t stop. “Please, love, don’t stop, keep doing that, don’t stop, pet, I love—”

Potter’s hand curled on Draco’s chest, and then his blunt nails were scratching inside the circle as slowly, slowly, he built up speed. The pace built and built, and that felt inevitable too, until Potter was pounding into him and Draco thought it had to happen; it must happen—he existed for this. Draco existed for nothing but this, open wide and wet for Potter to pound into again, and again, and again.

Draco babbled incoherently, and everything he said was I love you.

“Fill me with it, Harry, put it in me, I need it in me, I need you, I want you, sweetheart, I love you—”

“Malfoy.” The hand on Draco’s chest slid down to his cock, and Draco lost it.

He stiffened, coming all over himself, and then kept coming. Potter shouted hoarsely, and then he was coming too. Draco could feel it inside of him—he could feel it inside of him—and he thought it was the best thing he had ever felt.

Potter had said Draco’s name. Draco’s own name, not Tristan’s.

As Potter came down, finishing with shallow, erratic thrusts and trembling breath, Draco could feel the come, the sweat. He’d come all over himself, and Potter was on top of him spreading it everywhere; Draco could already feel it leaking from his arse around Potter’s cock.

It felt good.

It felt so good; everything felt so good. When Potter pulled off of him, rolling to the side, Draco for once did not feel dirty. He felt—he just felt content, because he was covered in himself and Potter and Potter had said his name and there was nothing—there was nothing vulgar or filthy about it.

Draco had never felt that way before. He was still wondering at the sensation when Potter waved his hand, and the well-known cleaning spell stripped over him, followed by the warm, cottony-smelling sensation that had always used to make Draco want to curl up and go to sleep. For the first time, Draco felt so strangely—bereft. He wondered whether this was what it felt like to shag without money, lies, or anger to make it feel awful afterwards.

He wondered whether Potter would get angry now.

Beside him, Potter sighed. “So much for dating.”

“We can still date,” Draco said quickly.

Potter sat up. “Not tonight.”

“But in the future. We can still—do whatever you want. We can go to Muggle restaurants—”

“And you’ll pretend not to know what Muggles wear?”

Draco fell silent.

Huffing a breath, Potter sat up, not looking at him. “Tristan played those kinds of games all the time. I thought it was . . .”

“Cute?” Draco guessed.

Potter looked back at him, eyes impossible to read. “Hot,” was all Potter said.

“Well.” Draco sat up also. “To be fair, you weren’t appropriately dressed for that wedding.”

Potter grunted. “Maybe not a pure-blood one. You all wear white and stand in rows.”

“I—how do you know?”

Potter rolled his eyes. “I’ve been to pure-blood weddings, Malfoy. So have George and Angelina. They just don’t like them.”

Frowning, Draco looked down at his hands, the empty fingers. “I like them.”

When Potter didn’t say anything, Draco lifted his eyes. Potter was looking at him inscrutably. “I know,” Potter said finally, looking away. “If I had known the reason you liked them so much was because you were Draco Malfoy, and not because you were a fish out of water, I wouldn’t have found it so . . .”

“Hot?”

Potter looked back at him. “Cute.”

“You liked Tristan because you thought he was innocent.”

“He just seemed like he’d never . . .”

“Been involved in a war,” Draco finished for him.

“It was stupid.” Potter shook his head. “I knew that bad things had happened to him; I just . . .”

“Didn’t want them to be the same kind of bad things that happened to you.” Draco moved so he could face Potter on the bed, so that he was right in front of him, and Potter couldn’t look away. Laying his hand on the ring around Potter’s heart, Draco said, “We’ve been through the same things. We were on opposite sides, but we were both dealing with unfathomable evil and losing people we loved. Harry . . . I could never have been Tristan without that. You never would have loved him, without that.”

Potter placed his hand over Draco’s, and then very carefully, took it off his heart and put it back in Draco’s own lap. “I should go,” Potter said.

“Stay.”

“No.” Potter stood, and for one moment, Draco was offered a glimpse of that tall, broad, awe-inspiring body, and then Potter waved his arm. His clothes appeared back on him as though they’d never been taken off, and not for the first time, Draco wondered at the extent of Potter’s wandless magic.

“We can do this again,” Draco said in a rush. “Not shag. Date. We could—pick a night.”

“We should meet at the pub,” Potter said.

Right. Draco wouldn’t end up flat on his back at a pub. Maybe. “All right,” Draco said. “I’ll . . . when? Is Saturday night too soon?” Saturday was five nights away, and it seemed just like forever.

Potter’s gaze swept over him, then back away. “Tomorrow.”

“Yes.” Draco stood up, highly aware that he was naked next to Potter’s fully clothed form. “Tomorrow, I’ll come—what time?”

“Seven.”

Draco came closer. “Where?”

“I’ll owl you.”

Potter still wasn’t looking at him, and Draco came closer still. This was the same thing Draco had done when Potter was Transfiguring Draco’s clothes—coming too close, tempting him. Potter was reacting the same—standing stock still, refusing to look at him, because—he wanted it. Potter wanted it. He just could not admit it to himself. “Tomorrow at seven,” Draco breathed, his lips an inch from the corner of Potter’s mouth. “You’ll owl me. I’ll be there.”

“Yes.” At last Potter looked at him, putting his hand on the small of Draco’s back, and Draco thrilled at it—he knew how he looked, wanton and still debauched, naked, begging while Potter was ready to go. This was just like Pensieve porn, and Draco was willing to make it one of the truly dirty ones if only Potter would stay.

“Harry,” Draco breathed. “Don’t leave.”

Potter’s hand moved down over Draco’s bum, and squeezed.

“Sleep with me,” Draco said.

Potter’s expression darkened, and the hand convulsively squeezed again.

Draco tilted his head, lips three centimeters from Potter’s own. “Kiss me,” Draco said.

“I can’t,” said Potter, letting him go. Pushing past him, Potter said, “I’ll see you at seven,” and then he went.

*

Four.

Their first date didn’t go very well.

Draco didn’t know what to do, how to act. Once again he was caught trying to think of what Tristan would have done, knowing Potter had wanted Tristan to be himself but fearing Potter wouldn’t want him to, now that he was Draco.

Draco’s greatest pride was in pleasing other people, not so much because he liked to give pleasure but because he was good at it. The world had condemned him, yet Draco had found ways to make himself needed and wanted by the very people who had thrown him away. There was a fierce irony in that that felt like victory, and Draco had treasured it, guarded it close.

There was nothing else in his life, except Pansy. There was nothing else to talk about, which meant making conversation proved awkward.

Part of the problem was Potter, who didn’t seem any more comfortable than Draco. He acted as he had the day before when he had come to Draco’s flat to ask him to date—as though he didn’t want to be there, as though with Draco was the last place Potter had ever wanted to be. Still and over-formal, this was how Potter acted when he was forced to interact with people at all the banquets and galas and parties. He’d hired Tristan originally to avoid those interactions.

Potter was acting how he acted when he was with a stranger.

First they talked about the drinks and the food. Draco played his usual priggish self about the drinks, but tried to be very polite about the food.

The pub was not at all posh, but it was no worse than the Three Broomsticks, which Draco had rather liked before he’d brainwashed the nice lady who used to bring him Butterbeer when he was twelve. They had had to walk a bit, Apparating into a dark alley so that no one would see them, then wending their way through London streets to get there. The place was not unsavoury, however; it was warm and inviting.

The nice Muggle waitress came and took their order and their menus, and silence reigned.

“It’s very comfortable,” Draco said, looking around the pub.

“No one knows me here.”

“Do you take other dates here?”

Potter scowled. “No.”

Picking at his napkin, Draco tried to think of something else to say.

“Where are your parents?” Potter finally said. He’d been gruff all evening—worse than usual, making Draco do all the talking.

Possibly because all he had to say were questions like this.

“You don’t know?” Draco asked. He didn’t want to talk about it.

“Why would I?”

Draco fiddled with the napkin on the table. He’d worn the grey jumper after all, and black trousers. He looked well in it, but Potter hadn’t said anything. “You always followed me around in school.”

Potter glowered. “I obviously don’t now.”

“So you just went to speak for her at the trial and never thought of her again?” Draco said.

“Why should I?”

“She saved your life!”

“I saved hers.” Potter’s voice was flat. “In more ways than one. I’d consider that even.”

“Well, she’s dead.” Draco put the napkin in his lap. “So you don’t have to bother any more, if that’s what you were worried about.”

“I wasn’t worried,” Potter said. “I was making conversation.”

“Yes, well.” Even though the napkin was in his lap, he started fussing with it again. “Don’t about my parents.”

“What about your father?”

Ripping the napkin out of his lap, Draco put it on the table again. “I said don’t.”

“Did you want to talk about my parents?” Potter said meanly. “Tristan said his father was dead.”

“My father is in Azkaban,” Draco said. “Dementors are sucking on his soul. Five years ago when I went, he didn’t know who I was—he doesn’t know anything. He’s worse than dead—and you’re the one who helped put him there!”

Potter’s mouth was tight. “He put himself there.”

“Well. Thank you for checking in after him after you locked him up. You’re a real hero, you are.”

I didn’t lock him up.”

“Might as well have done.”

“How can you blame me for all of this?”

“I don’t.” Draco put his hands on his face, scrubbed them hard over his cheeks. “I don’t. I just . . . it hurts for you to ask, when so many times, I thought . . . I thought you saved me. You helped me. And then you left me, and I kept thinking you could have . . .”

“I didn’t leave you, Malfoy. I did what I thought was right, and no more. I don’t know why you expected me to—”

“I didn’t expect you to! Or maybe I did, I just . . .” Draco frowned down at the table. “I needed someone to blame. And you were there, untouchable, and being angry at you . . . it helped me get by.”

“Great,” Potter said sarcastically. “This is going to work out swell.”

Draco desperately needed to change the subject. “How did you . . . get so interested in Squibs?”

“What?”

“All those Squib benefits we did,” Draco said. “There were a bunch of different charities, but you seem most involved in that one.”

“Oh.” Brow furrowing, Potter thought about it a while. At last, he sighed, and followed the change of subject. “Hermione. She . . . has a bunch of different causes. But that one—it helped her see that people don’t always want to be taken out of the situation they’re in.”

“You mean her house-elf crusades. House-elves don’t necessarily want to be free, since serving wizards is what they know.”

Potter nodded. “Squibs don’t necessarily want to be part of the Muggle world because they’re Squibs.”

“I got very interested in it,” Draco said. “Maurice Mallinger has interesting things to say.”

“I suppose,” said Potter. “The flip side is that a Squib would probably be more successful in the Muggle world, because though they can’t do whatever wizards can, they can do whatever Muggles can.”

“And since house-elves can’t learn independence, they don’t know the benefits of it. You could argue they can’t make the choice because they don’t have all the information.”

“That’s why I keep donating to Squib organizations,” Potter said. “Hermione says with more research maybe we can find ways to live in both worlds.”

Draco nodded. “It just reminded me of the Articles of Reconstruction. Perhaps we were expected to enter the Muggle world, but this is the life we know.”

Potter sat back, a line between his brows. “Is it always going to come back to that?”

Draco picked up his napkin again. “What?”

“How you’re so trampled and put-upon because you swore fealty to a mass murderer, and let Death Eaters into Hogwarts?”

Draco’s throat went tight. He swallowed hard. “I never said that I was trampled and put-upon.”

“You deserved what you got,” Potter said. “I know you went through hard times, but as far as the Articles—they made sense at the time.”

“And now?” Draco asked.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Good.”

Fortunately, the food came just then, and they ate in silence for a while. Draco had only got a salad, feeling he wouldn’t be able to stomach anything else. When he was close to done with it, Potter said, “How is it?”

“Fine,” Draco said. “How is yours?”

“Fine.” Potter had got some kind of burger thing. After taking another bite of it, he taunted, “It doesn’t taste like Muggle food?”

“I said it’s fine,” Draco said shortly.

The finished without talking any more.

“So what else have you been doing?” Potter said, after he had finished and pushed back his plate.

“Doing?” Draco was finished too, but he was listlessly moving his fork around in the remnants of the salad dressing, just to have something to do. He was miserable. This whole thing was so miserable, and all he wanted was to lie on Potter’s sofa at the end of Hawthorn Lane and talk to Potter about potions. Then maybe Potter would talk about Quidditch and it would be so stupid; all of it would be so stupid, and then Potter would rub his shoulders and Draco would talk about his past so vaguely that Potter would empathize, rather than be angry.

“With your time,” Potter said. “You had your . . .job. And you developed a Polyjuice variant.” Draco looked up, and Potter went on, “Nott told me all about it.”

“Yes, well. I didn’t like wearing other people’s bodies.”

“That kind of brewing is illegal for someone with the Mark.”

“I know that.”

“So what else did you do?” Potter pressed.

Draco grimaced. “I’m afraid whoring takes rather a lot of time.”

“So you didn’t . . . your Blizzard Broom, you didn’t design things like that?”

Draco dragged the fork around on his plate. “Not until . . . I never had that much free time before. And you were always asking what I was up to.”

The furrow appeared around Potter’s lightning scar. “You designed the Blizzard Broom because of me?”

“No. Yes. I—I used to do things like that, but then there wasn’t any point, and . . . I just didn’t think about it again until you started asking.”

“And flying? You didn’t do that either?”

Draco shook his head.

“So you just . . . shagged. All you did was shag and get paid for it.”

“Pretty much.” Draco knew that he wasn’t making a good impression, but he didn’t know what to say. He wasn’t anything without Harry, not anything, but that wasn’t what Harry wanted. Harry wanted someone who had independent interests, someone who had hobbies that had nothing to do with himself, someone who was unique and interesting and creative. Draco had only ever been a whore.

“What about your friends?” said Potter.

“What is this? An inquisition?”

Potter’s features hardened. “I’m just trying to get to know you. Since I thought I did, and I don’t.”

Draco’s eyes slid away. “You know me,” he muttered.

“Not the real you."

Draco didn’t look up. “My friends are fine.”

“What is Goyle doing?”

“He was in Azkaban.”

“But he’s got out by now, right?”

“He—he wasn’t right after,” Draco said. “In the head. He’s not—he’s dead.”

“Dead like your dad is dead or actually—”

“He committed suicide.”

Potter sucked in a breath. “Oh.” He frowned. “I’m sorry.”

For a long while, Potter didn’t say anything. Draco couldn’t look at him. “And Parkinson works for Verity?”

“It’s—I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Christ, Malfoy. We have to talk about something. It might as well be the only thing you apparently did with your time.”

“Verity is illegal.”

“I thought prostitution was—”

“It’s illegal for me to be working at all!”

“Oh. Right.” Potter waved a dismissive hand. “But you did work there. You and Pansy and—Nott worked there, didn’t he?”

Draco mumbled a reply.

“So you all just decided to be hookers.”

“We didn’t decide,” Draco said. “We did what we had to do to survive.”

“So,” said Potter. “That’s what you do in your spare time. Laugh it up with your Slytherin whore friends, and brew illegal substances that hurt people.”

“Don’t you ever call Pansy a whore. Ever.”

Something flickered in Potter’s eyes. “You lied to my friends. I took you to George’s wedding; you skulked up to McGonagall—”

“You liked it,” Draco said, his voice still low and hard. “You liked for me to make nice with your friends—”

“And all that time you knew them. You and your friends, you Syltherins, your prostitution ring—”

“I didn’t want to do it!” Draco said. On the other side of the pub, plates clattered, and Draco looked around. No one was looking back at him, but he leaned in anyway. “I was forced to be a whore—”

“You weren’t forced to be my whore.”

“I was forced to be nothing, turn myself into nothing, so I could survive! I wished I’d gone to Azkaban!”

“I wished you’d gone to Azkaban too.” Potter reached into his pocket, then came up with a leather billfold. Yanking out some paper notes, he thumped them on the table, then stood up. “I knew this wasn’t going to go well.”

“If you wanted me in Azkaban,” Draco said, leaping out of the booth, keeping his voice low, “you should have put me there, instead of speaking for me at my trial.”

“I felt sorry for you,” Potter hissed.

“And I hated you.”

Grinding his teeth, Potter walked out of the pub, and Draco followed him. Once they were on the Muggle London street, Potter whirled on him. “Why did you come after me in the Room of Requirement, the night Voldemort attacked Hogwarts? What did you think you were going to do?”

Draco snarled back. “Why did you follow me all of sixth year, like some kind of obsessive stalker? Honestly, Potter, I could never tell whether you wanted to fight me, or fuck me on the floor until I—”

Potter whirled back away from him, even more furious than before, practically stomping down the street towards the back alley where they had Apparated when they arrived. Draco rushed to catch up to him.

“You were bratty,” Potter bit out, when Draco came abreast of him. “You were bigoted, and arrogant, and obnoxious—”

You were arrogant. And bratty. And Salazar, so moody—”

“You’re immoral,” Potter said, sweeping around a corner, closer and closer to the alley. He was trembling with fury. “You’re a liar, and a cheat, and I don’t trust you—”

Even though Draco’s legs were even longer than Harry’s, he was having trouble keeping up. “And you’re headstrong, and stupid, and self-centred—”

Then they were in the alley. Potter took Draco’s arm, yanked him deeper into the shadows, and slammed him against the wall. “I fucking hate you.”

“Harry,” Draco said, pulling Potter to him.

Potter yanked on Draco’s trousers. “No one fights me like you do.”

“Hurry up,” Draco said, likewise working on Potter’s trousers. “Hurry up.”

“No one tells me I’m wrong; they don’t make me think the way that you do—”

“I don’t care,” said Draco, reaching in for Potter’s cock. “I don’t care; get it in me—get it in me—”

“Jesus,” Potter said, ripping down Draco’s pants. “You’re a slut.”

“You’re a ponce,” said Draco, tugging on Potter’s cock. “Get it in me; get it between my legs—”

Potter cast the lubrication and protection spells, then seemed to hesitate. “Here?”

“Anywhere, Harry, please.” Draco tried to pull his cock in. “Please, get it in me.”

“I still hate you,” Harry said, but his voice didn’t sound like that at all, and then he put it in, and that was all Draco needed. He didn’t know why he needed it so very badly, Harry filling him, but he did. He did, because it didn’t matter what they said, what came out of their mouths; there was this. There was this.

“I hate you too,” Draco said. “Fuck me. Please fuck me, Harry; pound me—”

“God,” Potter said, thrusting into him. “You’re gorgeous.”

“Yes. I am.” Draco arched. “Tell me.”

“You’re . . .” Potter thrust again, then buried his face against Draco’s neck as he pulled out. “I hate that you’re not him.”

“I don’t care.” Draco buried his hands in Potter’s hair so he could pull on it.

“I hate it.” Potter pushed in again. “I hate it, but you’re so . . . you’re so . . .”

“Lift me up,” Draco said. “Pick me up and pound me into the wall.”

Groaning, Potter picked him up, then started fucking Draco at that new angle, sharp and sweet. Draco heard himself making soft little needy moans—and then he made them louder, louder; he didn’t care. He wanted everyone to hear.

“You make me so angry,” Potter said, pounding him particularly hard.

“Yes, yes, love, yes,” Draco articulately replied.

“And I can’t . . .” Potter thrust. “I can’t live without you.” He thrust again.

“I’m going to come,” Draco said. “Harry, love, I’m going to—”

“Do it,” Harry said, giving it to him. He pounded into Draco as Draco came, and then he came himself, hot and shuddering inside of Draco’s body and Draco heard a hoarse voice murmuring encouragments, and realized the voice was his own.

Afterwards, Draco gingerly slid a stiff leg from around Harry’s waist, then carefully brought the other down as well. Harry let the weight go, still close up against him even though he slipped out, and Draco sagged against the wall. “Good first date,” Draco said, after a while.

Salazar, he wanted a fag.

“I just fucked you in an alley,” Potter said.

“I liked it.” Draco thought about conjuring the cigarettes. “Remember that time I fucked you at the banquet?”

“You were jealous.”

“I was furious. I never want anyone else to touch you.” Draco conjured the cigarettes after all, and the box appeared in his hand.

“I didn’t know you smoked,” Potter said.

“Does it disgust you?” Draco took one out, put it in his mouth.

Potter just looked at him, then took one out as well.

Draco lit the end of his own fag with his wand, but Potter’s just . . . flared to life, already in his mouth. The brief brightness of the flame illuminated his grass green eyes, sharp in the otherwise darkness. Smoke curled around his dark hair, and Draco thought that he might die from sex appeal.

“Let’s go to your place,” Draco said, already stubbing out his cigarette. He was horny again; he had better things to do than smoke.

“Hm.” Potter just kept smoking, leaning beside Draco against the wall.

Draco had always thought of Potter’s hands as brutish and square; they were so broad. The palms were square, that was true, but his fingers were actually quite long. They were just—bigger than many men’s fingers, but at the same time—also more elegant. Draco thought of all the ways he’d seen Potter move them, casting spells, and he wasn’t sure how he had never realized before this moment that Potter had the sexiest hands on Earth.

“Come on,” Draco said. “I’ll let you finger me.”

Potter just kept smoking.

“I’ll let you finger me until I cry,” Draco said.

Potter took the cigarette out of his mouth. “Until you cry?”

“Like a baby.”

“Sounds interesting.” Potter put the cigarette back in.

“You can put toys in me,” Draco persisted. “All those toys I put in you. You can stuff me on either end, watch me squirm and squeal for you—come on. It’ll be fun.”

“Sure,” Potter said. “But what’s in it for me?”

Potter had asked the same thing once, in the opposite direction. Draco opened his mouth, and—and Potter’s brow had lifted a little.

Potter was teasing him.

“You truly are a ponce,” Draco said, feeling ruffled.

“From either end?” Potter asked, as though to clarify.

Both ends.”

“Well, when you put it that way.”

Watching Potter smoke his cigarette, Draco tilted his head. Potter just seemed so . . . comfortable, at ease, as though he was dealing with someone he knew very well. “We should shag, then date,” Draco said suddenly.

Potter’s brow went up again. “We’re already doing that.”

“No,” Draco said. “I mean—next time.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t date at all.”

“No! I want to. I just mean . . . it’s easier to talk, afterwards. And you’re right, we don’t know each other, so we should. Talk. Next time, we should shag first, then go out to eat.”

“Next time, we should go flying.”

“All right.”

There was a pause, filled only with Potter smoking. “You were always hot when you flew,” he said at last.

Draco smirked a bit. “Yes, I recall your words about how I sat a broom.”

“No,” Potter said. “Before.”

“You mean . . .”

“Not consciously.” Potter stubbed out his cigarette. “But you were always—you were fit in school. I may have noticed.”

Draco perked up. “I definitely noticed. My mirror told me so every day.”

The line appeared beside Potter’s mouth.

Draco had missed it so much he nearly fainted with happiness.

“Come on,” Potter said, taking Draco’s arm. “I’m going to eat you out until you squeal.”

“I don’t think that was an option.”

“I combined some.” Potter nudged him. “Get going.”

Draco looked back at him in surprise. He’d expected Potter to Side-Along him. “But the wards—”

“They’ll admit you,” Potter said gruffly.

Draco inwardly rejoiced. Whatever happened this evening, Potter had planned to take him home.

They Apparated to the house at the end of Hawthorn Lane.

*

Draco didn’t cry, but he did squeal.

He stayed most of the night, and it was almost like before—shagging until they were both so exhausted they couldn’t see straight, then falling asleep under Potter’s cleaning spells.

In the morning, however, Potter didn’t make breakfast, and he didn’t let Draco sleep. Instead, he shook Draco awake by the shoulder, and Draco came awake blinking. When he could finally focus his eyes, Potter was already dressed.

“I have to go,” Potter said.

“Right now?”

“Yes.”

“Mm.” Draco stretched out in the bed. “Don’t you think there might be time for me to suck you?”

“No,” Potter said, and turned away.

Draco tried not to let his heart break at the line of Potter’s back. “Don’t you want to let me stay here?” he said, trying to sound seductive and confident, the way that Tristan would have, instead of pleading.

“No,” said Potter.

Draco got out of bed.

“Not yet,” said Potter.

*

Five.

The next time Draco saw Potter, they went flying. Not unexpectedly, Potter brought a Snitch, and they chased it. Also not unexpectedly, Potter won, although Draco fancied he made Potter work for it.

Once Potter had got it, he made a dive for the ground, which Draco soon followed. Potter leapt off his broom, and Draco threw his own to the ground. When they crashed into each other it was hot and heavy, in a remote part of Hampshire, with a line of trees against the field in the background.

Potter Apparated them there and pushed Draco against one of the trees. Draco supposed that this was payback, but he didn’t care. It felt like victory to him.

Then they flew again, despite the fact that Draco’s bum was sore. That ended badly; then they fucked again. They might have gone all night, flying and then fucking, except that Potter eventually Apparated them back to Hawthorn Lane and tossed Draco on the bed, where they fucked some more.

This did not seem normal for adults in their late twenties. Draco felt just like a teenager, and yet—there was just so much of Potter, and he couldn’t get enough. Though Draco had fucked him many times as Tristan, he hadn’t fucked him as himself, and besides that—Potter topped, now. Tristan had only experienced a limited amount of that, and Draco wanted every experience he could get, in every way that he could get it. He wanted to know the insides and outsides of Potter’s body as though it were his own, and he wanted Potter to know him the same way.

In the morning, Potter left again, but instead of getting Draco out of bed, he kissed him on the brow. “You can sleep, if you want,” Potter said. “Lock the door behind you when you leave.”

*

Six.

On their third, fourth, and fifth dates, they’d tried what Draco had suggested: having sex before having dinner. That had not worked out quite as Draco planned, as they’d ended up shagging all three nights, and never going anywhere.

Part of the problem was perhaps their overloaded sex drives, the way they couldn’t seem to get enough of each other’s bodies, but Draco had a suspicion there was more to it than that. Quite possibly, they fucked so much because then they wouldn’t have to talk. When they talked they ended up fighting, and Draco thought that neither of them wanted to fight any more. Potter seemed exhausted by it, and yet he was manifestly unable to leave Draco alone. If all they did was shag, however, they got on swimmingly.

For the sixth date, however, they’d planned to do things differently. Potter had invited Draco to help him cook dinner at Hawthorn Lane.

“I want to sit down and eat an actual meal with you,” Potter had said.

“We could try another Muggle restaurant.” Draco knew that Potter did not want to be seen in public at any wizarding establishments, much less with Draco Malfoy.

Potter shook his head. They were lying in Draco’s bed, having just finished sucking each other off. “I want to be able to leap across the table at you if I have to,” Potter said.

“To strangle me or fuck me?” Draco asked.

“Either.” Potter had turned towards him. “Both.” His thumb traced the curve of Draco’s face in a way that was becoming habitual with Potter. Potter had never really done that with Tristan, and Draco wondered whether Potter did it now because Draco’s face was familiar, and he was trying to relearn it. “That time at that Muggle pub,” Potter said, “I just wanted to haul you to the floor and fuck you right in front of everyone.”

“I always said that you were boorish.”

“God,” Potter said, his hand sliding down Draco’s face so that his thumb could touch Draco’s lips. Potter always got just a little bit turned on when Draco said something flippantly derisive. “You fuck me up.”

“Mm,” Draco said, pulling Potter’s thumb into his mouth.

“I want us to try,” Potter said, pulling his hand away.

“Not fucking each other up? I don’t think that’s very plausible.”

“I want to try to have a meal with you and talk to you, like we’re normal human beings. I could do it with Tristan.”

Draco dropped his gaze. “You keep telling me I’m not him.”

“But let’s try,” Potter said, and so they were trying.

At seven o’clock on a Monday night, Draco showed up at Potter’s house holding salad ingredients and a bottle of wine. Potter was greeting him at the door, ushering him in.

“Well, I suppose you look acceptable,” said Great Aunt Walburga. “See that you don’t bring further disgrace on the family name!”

“She’s protective,” Potter said, as they made their way back to the kitchen.

“I’ve gathered,” Draco said. “How is it that you’ve got my Great Aunt Walburga’s portrait anyhow?”

Potter glanced back at him. “Sirius left me Grimmauld Place. It hung there.”

“That didn’t mean you had to take it.”

“We got used to one another,” Potter said, and they entered the kitchen. Potter set about getting out ingredients for the curry, while Draco started making rice.

As Draco got the pan ready, he thought about how sad it was that Potter had resorted to making friends with portraits—portraits who had probably hated him initially, at that. At one time Draco would have just assumed Potter was a pitiful buffoon who did asinine things, but now Draco thought about it differently. Likely Great Aunt Walburga was the one who’d begged to be taken to Potter’s new house.

She must have seen the way he put himself out for others, the way he didn’t take time for himself. She couldn’t have helped but notice the way his life was sad because he’d spent so long living his life for other people he didn’t know how to live his own. No doubt she’d been charmed with the way Potter liked a challenge, by the way he backed down from nothing. Not to mention Potter was so good-looking, so fit and muscular, but not so muscular as to be unattractive. Great Aunt Walburga probably just wanted to look and look at him all day. Probably she’d fallen in love with Potter too.

“What are you doing?” Potter asked.

“Making rice?” said Draco.

“With oil?”

“It brings out the flavour in the mustard seed,” Draco said.

“Mustard?”

“You don’t use mustard seed in your rice for curry?”

“I don’t think I have mustard seed.”

“Never bother,” Draco said. “Let me look at your spices—I’ll bet I can Transfigure something.”

The spice rack was over by Potter, but Draco spelled it closer, and they went on that way. Potter liked the onions browner than Draco did, and Draco didn’t like olives in his salad, but they could talk about the food, and Draco felt—at home. He’d done this with Potter quite a few times when he’d stayed the month as Tristan, and Draco knew that Potter liked the way they moved around each other in the kitchen.

The navigation to fetch ingredients, to both use the stove, to decide which bowl to use for which piece of the process was like an impromptu dance. They generally anticipated each other’s movements, sometimes reaching over to help the other—Draco added salt to Potter’s simmering pan while Potter stirred, and Potter got the tomatoes out of the ice box for Draco’s salad.

Draco slid his hand along Potter’s waist as he moved past him to get a knife, and Potter’s arm brushed his as they both stirred their pans on the stove. Draco was careful not to purposely get too close—Potter would know that he was doing it on purpose; he’d either be annoyed that Draco was being pushy, or they’d end up fucking on the floor. Dinner would be burned, and Potter would be upset because he’d wanted to try talking.

They could try talking. Draco would behave himself.

In that way they managed to cook dinner peacefully, even comfortably. The experience made Draco miss what he’d had during that month with Potter even more powerfully, but they were trying it again and this was better. This had to be better, because Potter knew who Draco was. As long as they didn’t fuck it up when they sat down to eat, this could work.

Eating was the most difficult, however, because they could no longer talk about various cooking methods, and there were only so many times either of them could say, “This is delicious.”

“Where did you learn that—about the rice?” Potter finally said.

“Mother,” Draco said. The food really was delicious.

“I thought you had house-elves.”

“Oh, we did.”

“Didn’t they do all the cooking?”

“Yes,” Draco said, finishing his bite of rice, “but Mother—she threw some very large parties, and she was quite fastidious about the preparation. Sometimes for a party like that, she’d bring on other house-elves from other households. She always oversaw everything in the kitchen, and she always knew how to best make the dishes—how much salt, how much sugar, everything.”

“I never imagined,” Potter said.

Draco raised a brow. “Do you suppose we just let the house-elves do all the work without any supervision?”

“Well, that might be nicer for the house-elves.”

“On the contrary,” Draco said. “Only a poor mistress would leave house-elves to their own devices. They adore supervision. The house-elves worshipped my mother.”

“Dobby didn’t.”

Draco put his glass down with a clatter. “Dobby was Father’s.”

“I’m just trying to . . . you make it all sound pleasant.”

“Of course it wasn’t pleasant.” Draco jammed his fork down into his chicken. “Father was abusive towards the elves, and perhaps even Mum was a bit . . . but that’s what I grew up with. They weren’t unpleasant to me.”

“No. Of course not. They were your parents.” Potter’s voice was gentle, as though he was trying to thinking of something neutral to say. “What were the parties?”

Draco pushed the chicken around in his curry sauce. “They were . . . we had several every year. Big ones. There were fairy lights in all the trees, and Mother hired musicians. There were floating lights on the pond, and dancing, and cakes and . . .”

“You sound as though you liked them.”

“Everything was gold and silver, twinkling, and I remember the way the glasses tinkled. Everyone was always laughing, talking about important matters.”

“You miss them,” said Potter.

Draco looked down at his plate. “That was why I . . . that first appointment. When you contacted Verity for the Ministry gala, and I came as Tristan.” The words felt like a lie—Draco had told himself he had gone to that gala to defeat Potter, but that had not been true, or at least that wasn’t all of it. He’d gone to that gala because it was a gala, and it would be one of his only chances to go and have what he had once dreamed of when he was young. “I just missed it,” Draco said, looking back up at Potter. “I never got to experience it as an adult. I took that appointment partly because I wanted to see if I could be like Father and Mother were—the centre of attention.”

“You were.” Potter’s brow went up. “You were . . . amazing. After a while, I started looking around. I thought there was probably an old boyfriend you were trying to impress.”

“Just you.” Draco’s eyes dropped to his plate again.

“I was impressed.” Potter’s voice sounded rough around the edges.

Draco changed the subject, whether it was because he didn’t want to talk about Tristan or because he might be the one to leap across the table at Potter, he wasn’t certain. “The wine is good.”

“Yes.” They went back to eating. “And the sauce is delicious,” Potter said.

“Yes,” Draco said.

“So,” Potter said, waving his fork as he finished swallowing a bite, “you learned all your cooking spells from your mother?”

“Not all of them.” Draco made himself eat a vegetable. “I . . . Please don’t think I’m bringing this up to demonstrate how hard my life has been.”

Potter frowned.

Draco spoke with effort. “I lived . . . for a while—on the street, and I was . . . I was very hungry. Sometimes I Disillusioned myself and stayed outside of wizard restaurants. They throw a lot away, and I . . . I could see in the window, sometimes.”

“I see.” Potter put down his fork.

“You asked,” Draco said desperately.

Potter picked up his fork again, poking at his curry.

Draco picked up his wine and guzzled it.

“I learned to cook form my aunt,” Potter said suddenly. “She was Muggle. She . . . didn’t like me very much.”

Draco’s heart was beating hard, whether from his own words or Potter’s, he couldn’t tell.

“She taught me things,” Potter said, still poking at the curry. “What boiling means, simmer, sauté, how to dice an onion. I had to cook for the whole family. If I burned anything, those were the bits I got. If I made too little, I didn’t get anything at all. A couple times, I was so hungry, I—I ate their crusts out of the trash.” Potter put his fork down. “I never told anyone that before.”

Draco swallowed. “Not even Granger?”

Potter shrugged. “She would just feel sorry for me. They’d all feel sorry for me, or they’d . . . they wouldn’t understand.” Potter pushed the chicken around with his fork.

“I tell Pansy everything.”

“She’s your friend.”

Potter’s statement seemed obvious, but he was asking something. Draco tried to understand what. “I wouldn’t be alive without Pansy.”

Potter nodded. “I wouldn’t be alive without Ron and Hermione.”

Ah. “But sometimes,” Draco said, “Pansy can be a cow.”

Potter’s eyes met Draco’s, then slid away. Potter would never say anything to Draco about ways in which Granger or Weasley might be difficult—not yet, anyway. But there were best friends, and there could also be other people in your life. There could be other people in your life that meant different things, and that was all right.

Draco wanted Potter like a physical ache.

Potter started eating again, and eventually, Draco followed suit.

“What about that spell with the Butterbeer?” Potter said after a while. They were finishing up, their plates almost empty. “When you turned it into whiskey.”

“That?” said Draco, surprised.

“That doesn’t seem like something you’d learn from your mum? Or . . . elsewhere.”

Draco smiled. On Tristan, that smile would have looked flirtatious. Draco knew that on his own face, it had a tendency to look mocking. He tried to soften it. “I told you the truth, Potter—between advanced potions and Celtic rune translation.”

“You learned it at Hogwarts?”

Draco laughed. “Merlin, didn’t Gryffindors ever try to brew whiskey? That’s probably the main thing we were doing, down there in the dungeons.”

“We thought you were more nefarious than that.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “We were teenagers. Basically we spent all day plotting how to brew Amortentia and wondering if we could grow medicinal herbs in the green house.”

“Anthony Goldstein did.”

Draco’s fork clattered to his plate. “He didn’t!”

“Yes,” said Potter. “He gave me some.”

“Harry! Why, you—you dark horse. Of course, I should have known. You probably had access to every illegal substance known to man.” Draco picked up his fork, and then thought of something. “Was it good?”

Potter shrugged. “Luna liked it.”

“Oh. How is Lovegood? You never said anything more about her after you helped her classify those animals.” That had been one of Potter’s tasks when he’d left Draco for a day during the month.

“She’s good. Are you . . .” Potter hesitated, obviously searching for words. He was never delicate about such things. “You sound as though you know her.”

“A little,” Draco said. “We . . . every once in a while we exchange owls. She knows interesting potions ingredients.”

“She’s never mentioned you.”

Draco tried not to flinch. “I never said that we were friends.”

Though Draco could feel Potter’s eyes on him, he didn’t return the gaze. He didn’t want to have to explain to Potter how he’d got to know Lovegood, how she’d been a prisoner in his cellar. They hadn’t got to be friends, but Draco would come down and talk to her, and he was glad when she was saved. Later, he had sent her an owl to ask how she was doing, and a couple of times, they had met for coffee. She might have been the closest friend he’d ever had who wasn’t Slytherin, and she was merely an acquaintance.

“Can we shag, now?”

Draco looked up in surprise.

“We’re almost done with dinner,” Potter said, “and we’ve talked almost the whole time without fighting.”

Draco brightened considerably. “Don’t you want dessert?”

“Is it going to be caramel sauce somewhere on your body?”

“Maybe we should talk a little more,” Draco said, smirking. “We’re doing so well.”

“I’ve been talking,” Potter said. “I’ve also been really, really wanting to shag.”

“I’m disappointed to learn your mind wasn’t on our scintillating conversation.”

“You’re making it worse.”

Draco beamed. “These are your rules, Harry; I’m always available for shagging. All we have to do is the washing up—”

Potter stood up. “Afterwards.”

“I’m shocked at you. Leaving dirty dishes all over the—”

“Malfoy.” Coming around the table, Potter dropped a hand down on his shoulder.

“Well, if you insist,” Draco said, putting his napkin on the table and standing. “Though you really should learn to curtail your heathen ways when you’re around guests to your—oh.”

Potter had begun nibbling the spot by Draco’s ear, and Draco swayed. “Bedroom,” Potter said.

“I don’t know,” Draco said, trying to maintain that teasing tone. “I’ve heard there’s a kitchen counter available—”

“Bedroom,” Potter said. “Now.”

“You really can be quite brutish, you—”

Potter took Draco’s hand and started dragging him.

In the corridor, Draco pushed him. “You’re against the wall, for once,” he told Potter, pressing him there. He kissed Potter’s chin, his jaw, moving his hips against Potter’s.

“You’re hard,” Potter said, a trifle breathless. “I knew you wanted to shag.”

“Of course I wanted to.” Draco’s hand moved down over the front of Potter’s trousers. “I always want to.”

“Bedroom,” Potter said, pulling Draco’s hand away, then holding it as he dragged Draco the rest of the way there.

“My, my,” Draco said. “Aren’t we eager.” Draco pushed Potter onto the bed, and they got to work—nipping and sucking at each other’s necks, tugging each other’s clothes until Potter Banished them. Eventually they made it to the bed, and Draco’s hand settled around Potter’s cock.

“Malfoy,” Potter said, hand circling Draco’s wrist. He pulled Draco’s hand off, and Draco thought that he had done something wrong—and then . . . and then. Potter was guiding Draco’s hand, down over Potter’s bollocks, and under them, and further down . . .

Potter spread his legs.

Draco’s breath came so quickly he felt light-headed. “Harry.” He tried to say something else, but nothing would come. “Harry, Harry, Harry . . .”

“I can’t . . .” Potter said, holding Draco’s fingers against his entrance.

“But . . .” Licking his lips, Draco glanced down at their entwined hands, disappearing between Potter’s thighs, under his cock and balls. “We did it all the time.”

Potter shifted a little, a frown creasing his scarred brow. “We signed a contract.”

Draco hadn’t thought the contract had mattered to Potter. Now that he thought about it, though—of course there were things people trusted with prostitutes, with perfect strangers, that they didn’t with other people. The privacy and safety clauses were the most essential part of a Verity contract, and Potter had known about those, even if he hadn’t looked at the rest.

“But those other times,” Draco said. “If you didn’t like it . . .”

“Malfoy.” Potter adjusted himself again, rubbing Draco’s fingers over his entrance. “You liked it. I just wanted someone who . . . wasn’t trying so hard to please me all the time.”

Draco let out a breath. “Are you sure you . . . want this?” He pressed his fingers against Potter’s hole.

“I don’t know,” said Potter. “I want to try it again.”

“You don’t have to,” Draco said. “Just because I—”

Potter bore down on his fingers a bit. “That’s not why.”

“All right.” Swiftly, Draco pulled his hand out. “This will be good. Trust me, Harry, this will be so good—let me get you all arranged.”

Draco did and Potter let him, complying as Draco spelled a cushion under Potter’s bum, letting Draco position Potter’s legs the way he liked. “You’ll love it,” Draco said, conjuring a phial of oil. “You’ll love it, I promise. I’m just going to—we’ll take it slow, because it’s been a while. I’ll get you ready by hand.”

Draco knew that his eagerness could be off-putting for Potter. Draco just—he wanted to be inside Potter so badly, and maybe what Potter had said was even true. Maybe Draco had defaulted to topping because he’d just liked it so much, the feeling of filling Potter up. It had always felt like Draco was so in control, like he was owning him, and Potter had liked it. He’d liked it because Draco liked it, not because he had particularly wanted to be owned.

But Potter did like to bottom. Draco knew that; Draco knew how to touch Potter, how to get him hot, how to talk to him. He could do this; he could make Potter trust him, and it was going to be good. It was going to be so good.

“Lie there just like that,” Draco told him. “Let me warm this up for you.” Casting the warming spell, Draco poured out some of the oil into his hands, made sure his fingers were nice and slippery. He slid his hand back between Potter’s legs. “I’ll just stroke you for a moment, get you used to it. You like that?” Draco’s fingers rubbed over the wrinkled flesh of Potter’s hole. “You like the way that feels?”

“Just . . .” Potter grimaced a little. He didn’t like it yet, and Draco kissed the circle on his chest, over and over again, rubbing until Potter was comfortable with it. “Just put something in me,” Potter said, after another moment.

“Okay.” Draco kissed the edge of the circle again. “All right.” He eased a greased finger in—slowly, pressing at an angle against the rim, just the way that Potter always liked. “That?” Draco said. “That feel good? Do you—”

“Malfoy.” Potter’s breath came a little hard. “Stop talking.”

Clamping his mouth shut, Draco pressed the finger in. Potter took it—it wasn’t hurting him, and yet he turned his face away, squinched his eyes shut. Swallowing hard, Draco eased another finger in.

Potter adjusted against him. His cock was hard, but there was still that troubled expression on his face, and Draco didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know what to do, so he kissed the circle, twisted his fingers like Potter liked, and then kept going. Kissing the circle almost frantically, Draco added another finger.

Potter let out a harsh breath. “Talk.”

“What—what do you want me to say?”

“Anything,” Potter bit out. “You were never this quiet before.”

“You told me to—”

“I want it now.”

Potter not looking at him was a good thing, because Draco knew that his eyes were wide, and there was panic in them. Desperately, he tried to think of what Tristan would have said. He kissed the circle, then started talking.

“You open up so good,” he said. “Easy for it. Wet. You like getting wet for me?”

Tristan would have made him answer, but Draco was afraid to. He was afraid of what the answer would be.

Instead, Draco scraped his thumbnail around Potter’s rim, the way he had so many times in the past.

Potter responded with a hiss, the way he always did, but for once Draco could not tell whether it was a hiss of pleasure.

“You love my fingers in you, don’t you, my precious baby—” Draco had called him that before, almost sarcastically, but it got Potter hot. He knew it got Potter hot—“Love me opening you up, getting you ready for my cock.”

Draco had to kiss him. He had to, because Potter still wasn’t looking at him, and Draco had never wanted to taste anyone so badly in his life. Keeping his fingers inside of Potter, Draco moved up, leaned down—

Potter pulled away just enough that Draco’s mouth landed on the corner of Potter’s—on his cheek, really, and Potter made a sound like denial. Instead, Draco kissed Potter’s cheek, his jaw, showing him what he could do with his mouth.

“You want more of that in you?” Draco said, and Summoned oil out of the bottle. He directed it straight into Potter’s hole, Draco’s free hand wielding his wand. Putting the wand down again, Draco could feel the added slick in Potter’s arse, easing the passage of his fingers even more. “Feel that?” Draco said. “How slippery and wet you are? That’s where my prick’s going to go. Nice and thick inside of you, and you want it, don’t you, love, you want me—Harry, look at me.”

Harry gritted his teeth.

Draco eased one of his fingers out of Potter’s arse, trying to make it comfortable for him. “Harry,” Draco said, his voice soft, “look at me.”

Harry looked at him. “I can’t.”

Draco swallowed. “You can. I’ve got you all ready—”

“I’m sorry.”

“Harry . . .” Draco knew what he looked like—knew what he looked like when his face fell, and his eyes went bright. He looked like he was going to cry, and on Tristan this would have been a sympathetic look, but on Draco it just looked weak. “We can do it; I’ve got you—”

“I’m . . .” Potter grimaced. “I want to, I just . . .”

Draco glanced down. Potter was still hard. “You want to; I can just—keep going—”

“No.” Potter’s hand circled Draco’s wrist, pulling Draco’s fingers out of his body. “I’m sorry.”

Draco’s hand had never felt so dirty, nor so cold. “But if you want it,” he said, “and you’re hard . . . can’t we just—I can—”

“Malfoy. I want still him.”

I’m him.”

“No.” Potter pushed him off.

Something was rushing through Draco, something powerful, terrifying—it was hard to breathe—“I’m him, Harry! He’s me! There’s not anything—he wasn’t anything that I can’t give you—”

“I know.” Potter sat up in the bed, turned away from him. “I know all that. I’ve been trying to accept . . .” Potter looked back at him over his shoulder. “But you’re not the same to me. I keep looking at you, trying to see him, but you’re just—you’re you.”

“You just see a Death Eater.”

“No. That’s not it. Not—all of it.”

“That’s all I am to you.” Grabbing his wand again, Draco cast a cleaning spell on his fingers. “I’m just—just Death Eater trash, a Slytherin whore—”

“No.” Turning fully, Potter took him by the shoulders. “You’re more to me than that. You’re starting to be more. But you’re not—you’re still not him for me. Not yet.”

Draco took a breath, then another, then another.

“Malfoy,” Potter said, and kissed his temple.

Draco trembled. “Don’t.”

“Malfoy,” Potter said again, and kissed his cheek, his jaw.

“Harry—”

“We can do it this way,” Potter said. His mouth opened against Draco’s throat, his hand moving down Draco’s ribcage, skating down his hips . . . warmly circling around his cock.

Draco shuddered again. “I want . . .”

“I know,” Potter said, easing him back on the bed. “I do, too. Just give me more time.”

Still shivering, Draco lay back, reaching for Potter, letting Potter slowly stroke his cock. Draco’s hand covered Potter’s around his prick, just to reassure himself that Potter could still touch him; Potter wanted him enough at least to touch him like this. “What if . . .” Draco’s hand tightened. “What if I looked like him?”

Potter’s hand squeezed. “What?”

Draco’s nails pushed into the back of Potter’s palm. “I could . . . I could make the potion.” Draco arched into Potter’s touch. “I could be him again, and we could . . . I could—”

“I don’t want you to have to do that.” Potter flattened his other hand on the black circle on Draco’s chest, the one that mirrored Potter’s.

“I could.” Draco adjusted his hips, thrusting into Potter’s hand now. “It’s not hard. It wouldn’t be any trouble, and we could both have what we want.”

“I don’t want lies,” Potter said.

“I wouldn’t be a lie; it would be—”

Potter squeezed Draco’s cock again. “I want this.”

Draco ground his teeth. “You said you didn’t want lies—”

“I do want it,” Potter said. “Maybe not the same way I wanted Tristan, but I do want you, Malfoy. I’m learning how to want you.”

Draco swallowed. “Fuck me.”

“Malfoy—”

“I believe it when you’re fucking me.” Draco tried to force Potter’s hand farther down. “I just—need you.”

“Are you sure—”

“Harry,” Draco said. “Please.”

“Yes,” said Potter. “All right. Yes.”

He reached down, and the spell was already flowing through Draco—cleaning him, protecting him, prepping him. Draco didn’t know whether Potter did it all at once, or whether it was just several spells in succession. It always felt so good, and he arched his back, lifting his arse for Potter’s access. A gasp escaped his lips.

“Malfoy,” Potter said, and kissed his neck.

“I need you inside me.” Draco twisted, trying to open his body, push himself towards Potter. “I want to feel you.”

“Yes.”

Potter was big. Draco had noticed—he’d noticed the first time he’d ever seen Harry’s cock, and he’d felt it; of course, he had felt it. The first time Potter had fucked him, Draco had felt it—but then he’d been up against a wall, and too desperate to really appreciate it.

Now, Draco could appreciate it. When Potter pushed in, it burned, widening the muscle of Draco’s rim too far—it was too far. Draco didn’t feel like he could take it, but he knew he could take it. He’d taken it before; he’d taken other, bigger cocks, other things that people had shoved in him—

But it was Potter. This was Potter, and Draco wanted it. He wanted it, the way it felt like Potter was opening him and opening him, slowly splitting him until all of him was open, just open for Potter, ready, filled, filled with Potter and ready to take even more.

Potter didn’t want Draco to take him like Potter was taking Draco now. Potter didn’t want to look at Draco’s face, and be taken like this. Draco understood that; he could understand that—how intimate it was, how painful it could be, the stretch of another person inside you. You could feel so helpless that way, so owned, impaled, like you weren’t really a person, just as hole stretched around someone else’s—

“Talk to me,” Potter said, and now he was all the way in. “I do like it when you talk, Malfoy.”

“You feel good,” Draco said, automatically putting his arms around Potter. “You feel so good.”

“Do you want me to—”

“Yes, fuck me; please, come on and fuck me.”

So Potter did, and this was—this was right, wasn’t it? Draco had liked it before, but he couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that Potter didn’t want this from him, couldn’t take this from him, didn’t want to look at his face—

His arms were around Potter, Draco realized. The arm with the Dark Mark was touching Potter, and Potter didn’t like—

Draco slid that arm off and away, wondering what to do with it. What could he do with it? The arm seemed fine when Potter was fucking him fast and hard, when Potter was saying he hated him—but now Potter was—

Potter was so gentle, his big cock rocking inside of Draco gently, his big hands stroking down Draco’s sides, and Draco didn’t want Potter to be distracted.

“Can’t wait for your big cock to fuck me,” Draco said, because Potter had told him to talk. “I love big fat pricks inside of me—”

If only he could be Tristan. This would be so much easier as Tristan, and then Potter would love him. Potter would trust him. As it was, Potter was just . . . Draco was just a hole for him to fuck, a way to get what he wanted from Tristan since he couldn’t have Tristan any more.

“Malfoy,” Potter said, and sweat was dripping down his face.

“I love being fucked,” Draco said quickly. “Just need to get filled with a nice thick cock, a real man’s cock—”

“Not like that,” Potter said.

Potter’s cock was flagging.

Draco took his arm out from behind the pillow. “I could put on a shirt—” Potter tried to pull out again, and Draco wrapped both arms around him. “Please, I’ll do anything; do you want me to—”

“I want you not to talk like that.” Potter pulled out anyway, rolling off of him, and Draco couldn’t stop him.

“Like what?”

“Come on, Malfoy.”

“Like what? I don’t—”

“You love big fat pricks inside of you?” Potter asked sarcastically. “You were always dirty, but you weren’t like that.”

Draco opened his mouth, then closed it. Mentally reviewed the past two minutes.

I love big fat pricks inside of me—

Just need to get filled with a nice thick cock, a real man’s cock—

“Shite,” Draco whispered.

“Right,” Potter said.

“I was on auto-pilot.”

“Yeah. That was pretty obvious.” Potter put his legs over the side of the bed.

“It’s—that’s what I do with clients.”

“So I’m still your client?” Standing up, Potter pulled on his jeans. “I thought I wasn’t paying you.”

“You’re not. It’s just . . .”

“It’s just what?”

“Habit.”

Potter looked down at him, and then—his expression slowly began to darken, as though with realization. It darkened and darkened. “When did you stop taking clients?”

“What?”

Now Potter looked thunderous. “When did you stop taking clients, Malfoy? I’d think you’d got out of the habit weeks ago, with the way we’ve been shagging.”

Draco opened his mouth again. “I haven’t stopped taking clients.”

The window shattered.

It simply fell to pieces, and the room was shaking.

“What?” Potter demanded.

“Watch out,” Draco said. “There’s glass—”

What?” Potter said, and grabbed him.

“I haven’t stopped—”

“You—” Potter couldn’t seem to think of anything horrible enough to say. He’d half lifted Draco out of the bed, but now he dropped him, pacing away—directly over the glass. He was going to cut his feet—“You.” He stopped and turned.

“We never agreed that I’d—”

“Shut up!” Potter roared, and the bed yanked out from the wall, then slammed back in.

Something else broke—in the bathroom, possibly—and Draco felt highly aware that he was naked. Nonsensically, he just thought he’d be better protected with clothes, and the nightstand was falling over; the chair in the corner thumped loudly.

Draco, because he was Draco, defended himself in the only way that was instinctive to him—with words. His voice was high when he began, “We never agreed that I would stop!”

“I was supposed to be dating you.”

“It’s just a job!”

“A job where you sleep with other men,” Potter said. “You let them touch you.”

“It’s a job.” Draco wanted to get out of the bed, but there was glass on the floor, and he was still naked. “You knew I was an escort when we started—”

“I didn’t know,” Potter said in a deadly voice. “I didn’t know anything about you when we started, because you had a different face. You always lie to me.”

“I didn’t lie about this.” Draco looked around for his wand. He could clear the glass, Summon his clothes. “We never agreed—

“You lie to me when I’m in bed with you,” Potter said. “Damn it, Malfoy. I thought I was making love to you.”

“You couldn’t even look at me!” Grabbing his wand, Draco swept away the glass, giving himself a place to step. “I was trying to make love to you and you couldn’t even—”

Three strides, and Potter was there, in his face. “That’s because you’re a whore,” he snarled.

“That’s not fair—”

“You say the things to me that you say to other men.”

“I’ve never told them—”

“Do you tell them you love them, Malfoy?” Potter said quietly. “Is that what you do?”

Then his arm flung out, his hand splayed, and Draco felt himself snap to the bed. Though he strained to see anything, the bonds were invisible, Draco’s hands tied to either side of the headboard, his feet tied to either side of the base. He was strung as tightly as a rack, no room for twisting or for movement.

He was tied high enough that he was several inches from the bed, and there was no support for his head.

It was hard to breath this way.

Potter looked down at him.

He was terrible to see, that gold skin and that striking scar, broad naked shoulders and the stark, powerful-looking tattoo upon his chest. His narrow eyes were blazing, just like green fire. Just like the Killing Curse. Draco had seen enough of it to know.

“I knew that you were faking, all those other times.” Potter’s voice was low, deadly. “I knew everything that Tristan said was just a lie.”

“It wasn’t a lie,” Draco said desperately.

“Shut up,” Potter said. “Everything you’ve ever said to me was a lie. I let you near me. I let you inside me. I let you whip me.” Potter raised his hand.

“No—”

A whip appeared in Potter’s hand.

No,” said Draco.

“You did it without telling me who you were.” Potter ran the handle over Draco’s ribs, and Draco could feel the whip attached to it, the snake of leather. “You did it without letting me choose whether I wanted it to come from you.”

“Don’t do this—”

“You never asked for my consent,” Potter said, and lifted the whip.

“Hogwarts!” Draco cried out desperately.

Potter lowered the whip. Then he turned away, and Draco fell the three inches back to the bed, his limbs loose. He could breathe again, and though he felt his wrists, they were unchafed.

The first thing Draco had learned when he’d begun turning tricks was that you didn’t try to talk down an abusive client. Even when they seemed to be calming down, you took advantage of every opportunity to get the hell out of there. You didn’t worry about the money; you didn’t worry about the negotiations.

But this was different.

Draco didn’t care that it wasn’t safe, that it wasn’t healthy, that he was probably fucked up inside beyond all repair—he just didn’t care, because it was Potter. Because he had hurt Potter too; Potter was right; Draco hadn’t let Potter choose, and Draco wasn’t sure whether what he had done to Potter wasn’t the same as what he had accused Nott of doing.

Potter had been taken advantage of, hurt, abused—and Draco had been the one to do it. Of course, that didn’t give Potter free license to do whatever he pleased, but Draco didn’t care. He just didn’t care.

Draco got off the bed, and went towards him.

Potter, his back to Draco, shuddered.

“Harry.” Draco wrapped his arms around him, pressing his face against the strong muscle of Potter’s back.

“I don’t . . .” Potter shuddered again.

“Love.” Draco pressed a kiss into his shoulder blade.

“I don’t know how to trust you.”

“The same way I trust you.” Moving around in front of him, Draco took his hand, and put it over his abdomen.

Against the scars.

“We hurt each other,” Draco said.

Potter pulled his hand back. “Then maybe we should stay away from each other.”

Draco swallowed. “Do you really want to?”

“I thought you meant it,” Potter said. “All those things you said. I knew you lied about . . . but after, I thought you were—I thought you weren’t still playing a part. I thought you were you.”

“I am me.”

“You’re sleeping around!”

Draco blinked. “Is that what this is about?”

Potter clenched his fist. “What did you think it was about?”

“The fact that I’m a no good whore.”

“I don’t—it’s the fact that you’re having sex with other people! You’re supposed to be dating me!”

“And that made you angry?”

“Of course it makes me angry.”

Draco smiled, leaning in. “That’s very sweet.”

“Sweet!” Potter recoiled.

“You want me to be your boyfriend.”

Potter looked disgusted. “I told you I want—”

“Your exclusive boyfriend,” Draco interrupted.

“That’s what dating is.”

“No. It’s actually not.” The momentary encouragement wearing off, Draco sighed. “How am I supposed to make a living, Harry? I gave you back all the money.”

“Get a job,” Potter said.

Draco opened his mouth.

“A real job,” said Potter.

Draco closed his mouth. Looking around, he found his clothes, put them back on. He remembered how this had started—Potter wanting Draco to top him. Funny how things turned out. “I don’t know how to do get a real job,” he said. “This is all I know.”

“Malfoy,” said Potter.

“I understand if it’s not good enough for you.”

“I want to have something real with you,” Potter said. “I can’t do that if you’re a hooker.”

“Then I guess we can’t do this.”

Potter adjusting the wards had been a good thing, Draco supposed. He could Apparate straight out.

*

At home in his flat, Draco gathered his liquor and his fags, and went to go have a smoke on the balcony.

He wasn’t planning on getting a different job.

Potter didn’t understand. This was the life that Draco knew. Even though it wasn’t actually all Potter’s fault that Draco had found himself in this situation, Draco was still in this situation. There was no way for him to have a real job in the wizarding world, and in the Muggle world, he’d be lost. To work in the Muggle world, Draco would have to give up everything—his flat, his potions work, his life. He certainly wouldn’t make enough money to keep his clothes.

It wouldn’t be worth it, even for Potter.

Leaning against the sliding glass doors that opened to the balcony, Draco smoked his cigarette, admiring the view. He’d got this flat specifically for this view—he did like to look at the peons below, as Potter had said. Despite the fact that it was crawling with Muggles, London was a magnificent city. Draco loved to come out here and look out at it, knowing that he’d crawled back when they tried to push him down. He had climbed up, when they had tried to hold him back. He had reached the top—as high as someone like him could go, and he’d done it alone.

Draco smoked his cigarette. It definitely wouldn’t be worth it.

*

“What are you doing here at this hour of the morning?” Pansy asked when Draco rolled out of the Floo and into her office the next morning.

“Just checking on my dearest chum,” Draco said, wiping ash from his otherwise immaculate sleeve.

“Shouldn’t you be with Potter, then?”

“Tosh.” Draco went to sit in his chair.

“I’ve barely seen you at all these past two months.”

If Draco hadn’t known her better, he would have said that she was pouting. “I’m thinking of taking a leave of absence.”

“I expected this.”

Draco flicked imaginary ash off of his knee. “Expected what?”

“Potter’s made you quit.”

“He hasn’t made me do anything.”

“He has,” Pansy said. “He can’t stand the thought of you with other men.”

Draco was pretending there was ash on his sleeve, now. “That’s not it at all.”

Pansy waited. After a long moment, she goaded, “What is it?”

“I’d just like a break from it.”

“You gave him back everything he paid you,” Pansy said, because of course she had found out. Some of what Draco had returned had belonged to Verity—those first several appointments Potter had made through the company. Pansy reviewed the figures every month; of course she had noticed the drop. “You haven’t any savings,” she went on.

“I have a bit.”

“Don’t.” Pansy’s eyes were narrowing and she sounded vaguely angry, which meant that she was worried. “The cushion is necessary, Draco. Suppose someone should find out about Verity, and we were back on the streets—”

Pansy was talking about the money they had put aside after the first year of establishing Verity. They had agreed that it was for use in emergencies, should the worst befall them. “I won’t be taking your half,” Draco said. “Don’t worry, dearest.”

“It’s ours.”

“Half of it is mine.” Draco finally looked up from picking at his sleeve into Pansy’s pale face. “Don’t worry,” he told her. “I probably won’t even have to use it.”

“But if you’re taking leave—”

“I’m going to seek other employment, which is the main reason I’ve come to you.” Draco stood.

Pansy gave him her slight, bored frown. “I certainly haven’t got the Articles changed—do you think I know someone who has?”

“No,” said Draco. “But you recently contacted Hermione Granger.”

“Granger,” said Pansy, appalled.

Draco swallowed. “I need to speak with her.”

*

“Thanks for seeing me,” Draco said, once he was ensconced in Hermione Granger’s study.

“It wasn’t a problem,” Granger said, even though Draco knew that it most likely had been. She had a husband and two children, and Draco had requested a private audience with her without telling her why. Granger had agreed to it though, and here they were. “I’m assuming this is about Harry,” Granger went on, her voice encouraging.

“Not . . . as such.” Draco hated the hesitating sound of his voice. He put the teacup Hermione had given him on the table with a clatter, then forced his shaking hands to be still. “I’m . . .” His voice wasn’t quite working.

Granger didn’t say anything, but managed to look sympathetic.

Draco licked his lips. “I find myself in need of a job.”

Granger frowned.

“A Muggle one,” Draco clarified.

“Oh.” The sympathy increased in volume—it was in her voice, the turn of her mouth, her eyes, the posture of her body. She practically oozed it, and Draco hated it.

He grit his teeth. “I’ve tried.” He picked up the teacup. “In the past. I . . .” Putting the teacup down again, Draco tried to even out his voice. “They said I didn’t have proper—papers. There was some . . . number.”

“An NHS,” Granger said warmly.

“Yes. And . . .” Draco swallowed hard. “Once I managed to fabricate that, they—I got one. Once. A Muggle job. For a day.”

“Oh.” Granger sounded like she was talking to a wounded little bird. “What happened?”

“I . . .” Licking his lips again, Draco picked up the teacup. “I didn’t know what the telephone—thing—was. And there was something called a register, and there were buttons, and it . . .” Draco took a quick swallow of the tea—just something to do with his hands, like a fag. Putting down the teacup, Draco said the rest quickly. “They thought I was crazy; they tried to fire me; I hexed them, and then I—thought the Aurors would come after me so I ran.”

“That’s so sad!” Granger clasped her hands together, and Draco rolled his eyes.

“It is, rather, isn’t it.”

“But are you sure you want to try to get a job now? I mean—with what Harry’s doing?”

Draco looked away from her. “Potter’s broken up with me.”

“Oh!” Granger sounded surprised. “Has he?”

“I thought he . . .” Draco turned back to her. “What is he doing?”

“Nothing,” Granger said quickly. “It’s not important. I’ll help you get a job, Draco. I can forge the papers and help you learn how to use computers and such.”

“I . . . thank you. I can pay you for—”

“Oh, no,” said Granger. “I feel so badly. We should have—it should have been different, after the war. Both sides made mistakes.”

Draco felt stiff inside. He wanted to forgive her, because she was helping him. She had helped him, and believing that this woman—this lovely soft woman, with her kind eyes and voluminous hair—had purposely meant him harm was difficult. She hadn’t been the one to pass the Articles of Reconstruction.

And yet, Draco had still been harmed. Forgiving Granger felt like forgiving all those years on the streets, those years of being rented by the hour, and Draco didn’t know whether he could forgive anyone for that.

Granger wasn’t asking for that, however. Instead, she was giving him a chance—just like he should be giving her.

“It’s . . . fine,” Draco forced out. “Just—please. Don’t tell Potter about this. I don’t want him to know.”

Granger nodded. “Are you sure . . . the break-up—are you sure it’s not just a minor setback? I know he’s . . . very fond of you.”

“I don’t know.” Draco grimaced. “I . . . don’t actually want to talk about it.”

“Of course,” Granger said, drawing something out of her pocket. “Here’s the first thing. This,” she said, “is a mobile phone.”

*

Seven.

The day after Draco went to Granger, Potter showed up at Draco’s flat.

“Can I come in?” he said, when Draco opened the door.

Opening the door wider, Draco let him in, then closed it.

Potter was looking particularly tousled—a two-day beard, dark circles under his eyes, a typically worn t-shirt, and one of his pairs of ripped jeans. He had on a jacket over that that had probably been sent to him by some top-notch designer, but it was terrifically threadbare, frayed at the sleeves. “I’m . . . I wanted to apologize,” said Potter.

“What for?”

Potter looked incredulous. “I almost whipped you.”

Draco shrugged. “I tied you to a tree.”

“That’s not the same.”

“How isn’t it the same?”

“You had to use the safeword.”

Draco’s brows went up. “Harry, if you’re ashamed to use the safeword, there’s a talk we need to have. They’re meant to be used. That’s why they exist.”

Potter looked vehement. “You shouldn’t have to use it with me.”

Draco shrugged again. “Sometimes I like it.”

Potter turned away. “I don’t.”

“Very well. Is that all?”

“I’m . . . I want . . .”

“Yes?”

“Damn you.” Potter turned around, and then he was herding Draco towards the wall.

Draco resisted, pushing him back, stepping out around him.

“Fuck,” said Potter, grabbing him. “I want you to just—”

“You want me to what?” said Draco. “Let you push me around?”

“No. I want—”

Draco twisted out of his grasp. “You want me to be your perfect boyfriend again? You want me to be Tristan again? You know he was a whore too, don’t you?”

“Goddammit, Malfoy! I don’t want to fight with you!”

“Could have fooled me,” Draco said sourly.

“I didn’t mean to get so upset about your being . . . about you still being an escort. I just—I thought I knew what I was getting into, and every time I turn around . . . you’re still someone different than I thought you were.”

“Well—so are you.” Draco knew his shoulders were spiky; he couldn’t relax them.

“I never lied to you.”

“No,” said Draco. “But you never tried to whip me when I was Tristan, either.”

“Tristan didn’t make me angry.”

“But he said the same things. You have a temper, Harry—you just hide it well.”

Potter threw up his hands, an unnaturally expressive gesture for him. “You bring it out in me!”

Draco looked away. “I guess we bring it out in each other.”

“I don’t want to fight,” Potter said, his hands by his sides again.

“No.” Draco eyed him. “You want to fuck.”

Potter snorted softly. “It seems fairly inevitable, with you around.”

“Well.” Draco tilted his head, stretching a bit, angling his body to his advantage. “I know you can’t resist me.”

“No,” said Potter flatly. “I can’t.”

“Come on, then.” Draco smiled.

Potter came closer, but stopped before reaching out. “Do you forgive me?”

Draco gave him a chiding look. “Such a question,” he murmured.

“Come on.” Potter came closer still, then kept coming, but now Draco was of a mind to back up with him, letting Potter put him against the wall.

Potter really did seem to like him against walls.

“Forgive me,” Potter said, once he had Draco where he wanted him.

“Mm.” Draco swivelled his hips, feeling like liquid against all of Potter’s strength. Yet Potter was not the one in control here, and for once—Draco felt powerful again. “I don’t know whether I ought.”

“I forgave you,” Potter said, then leaned to nibble under Draco’s ear.

“Did you?” Draco asked, tilting his head to give Potter better access.

“I’m here, aren’t?”

“Hm. And what if I’m still a hooker?”

Sighing, Potter rolled his head, pressing his forehead into Draco’s. “I don’t know. I don’t like the thought of . . .”

“Yes?” Draco just wanted to hear him say it.

“I don’t like the thought of anyone touching you but me.”

“It’s my livelihood,” Draco said.

“I know that.”

“I’m not going to stop,” Draco said, even though he had.

“Just . . .” Potter put his hand under Draco’s jaw, pulling away from Draco’s brow so he could look at him. Bringing his other hand up, Potter cupped Draco’s face, his eyes boring into Draco’s.

Draco couldn’t believe he’d ever found Potter’s eyes small. They just might be the hottest eyes he’d ever seen.

“Don’t treat me like one of them,” Potter said, his voice rough.

Draco held his eyes as honestly and unblinkingly as he could. “You were never one of them,” he whispered.

Potter leaned in. He was so close—he was so, so close, but his lips only brushed Draco’s, and then his mouth was moving down the side of Draco’s face.

“Harry,” Draco said, his voice feeling thick.

“Let me make it up to you,” Potter said, his breath skating over Draco’s skin.

Draco let him.

*

Over the next few weeks, Potter and Draco dated. They actually very successfully dated. They went out to Muggle restaurants, flew together, cooked together, took a few turns on the flying motorcycle together, and talked. They talked a good deal, about a great many things, even about subjects Draco never would have supposed they could agree on—Draco’s parents, classes at Hogwarts, and the Ministry. They also discussed private things, intimate things, things Draco had never discussed with anyone but Pansy. Sometimes they still fought, but that usually ended in shagging, so they generally made up afterwards.

They even talked about Tristan some, tangentially. Now and then Potter would bring up something Tristan had said or done, acknowledging Draco was the one who had said or done it. Sometimes he had questions about whether things Tristan had said were things Draco had meant, and Draco tried to be honest in his replies.

They didn’t talk about Draco’s job. That seemed to be an unspoken agreement between them. Granger didn’t break her word, though she was instrumental in helping Draco get the job he finally got in the Muggle coffee shop.

Granger had gone with him to lines of Muggle shops and stores, doing what she called “picking up applications.” She thought that he might be able to get a higher end Muggle job—a desk job, she called it—but that he would need to learn Muggle basics if he really wanted to get anywhere. “So the best thing is retail to start with,” she went on, “and I’ll keep my eye on other things. You might do well for being an English teacher. You always were so very articulate.”

“Thank you,” Draco said, quelling every malicious instinct to say something truly cutting. “Isn’t there . . .” He hesitated. “Is there anything like potions?”

“Well, chemistry.” Granger looked thoughtful. “That would be difficult to translate. What about—how are you at cooking?”

Draco raised a brow. “Potter seemed to think my cooking first rate.”

“You cook for him?” Granger looked delighted. “No wonder he likes you. Harry loves homemade things.”

“Yes,” Draco said, feeling moderately pleased. “He’s a vulgar clod.”

Granger eyed him. “You have a very odd relationship.”

“I mostly date him for his body,” Draco said, now feeling inordinately pleased.

“You still don’t want to tell him about your job?”

Draco deflated. “Not yet.”

“He’d be proud of you.”

“I don’t want him to be proud. I just . . .” Draco didn’t know how to explain to Granger that he just couldn’t stand for other blokes to touch him any more.

In Draco’s spare time—when he wasn’t dating Potter, trying to learn all the Muggle things, and working in the coffee shop—Draco worked on designing salves and polishes for custom brooms.

Potter liked people who were interested in things. Draco wasn’t at all interested in Muggles, or the coffee shop, but he did used to be interested in things—real things that mattered.

In some ways, Tristan had been a version of Draco he hadn’t realized he’d wanted to be. He had developed the Masker Ade out of necessity, but it was a good potion. He could make other things that were good. He’d just been so busy being fucked and otherwise trying to drink away all his problems that he’d never believed in himself enough to try anything. Of course, there was nothing to be done with the broom designs, but Draco enjoyed working on them. Maybe he could sell them to someone one day.

Though they were dating, Potter wasn’t inviting him to any of the charities or galas or anything—nothing like that. He wouldn’t invite his friends over to spend an evening with him and Draco, either, as he had that last week of the month Draco had been Tristan. Draco didn’t really expect to be acknowledged in public—he was still a former Death Eater, after all. There were still laws that discouraged anyone like him from becoming a member of society, and Potter would be humiliated to be seen with him. And it wasn’t as if Draco could have served the same function as Tristan in public anyway—everyone would shun him, when they had flocked to Tristan; Draco could never have worked the crowds as himself, even had he wanted to.

Which he did, of course. He desperately did.

Dating Potter was opening up a whole world of impossible hope, one that Draco tried to shut down over and over, but could not avoid it blossoming in his heart. Draco was . . . pitiful, idiotic, a perfect sop over Potter; he wanted to be Potter’s boyfriend. He wanted to go out with Potter, to be seen on his arm. He wanted to be friends with Potter’s friends—because even though he’d always hated them, he liked them now. Granger was clever and kind; Charlie was talented and amusing, and Draco had always liked Lovegood anyway.

Draco wanted to play house with Potter, wanted that ridiculous fantasy he had scorned Potter for having. He wanted to throw parties for their friends just like Mother used to. He wanted to convince Potter to spend the day with him instead of driving himself crazy with all the demands other people put on him—because Potter was doing that even more, now that Tristan wasn’t there to stop him.

Potter was probably driving himself into the ground, because he was a sad, pitiful bloke who missed his fake whore boyfriend, who was hurt because his fake whore boyfriend had betrayed him. Had he only listened to his fake whore boyfriend, he’d stop killing himself over work he didn’t have to do. If Potter’s friends had been any good at all, they’d make him stop working, force him to stay at home, cook him things and tell him he was stupid and suck his cock for him, make it so he never wanted to leave home again.

Possibly Draco was a bit obsessed.

He couldn’t make Potter want him in that way, but that didn’t make Draco stop wanting it. Potter might even be coming around; he said he just needed time.

They hadn’t tried shagging with Draco topping since that date that had ended so disastrously. Potter hadn’t asked, and Draco hadn’t offered. He was afraid of what Potter would tell him.

But Draco wanted it—oh, he wanted it. Draco didn’t necessarily prefer topping Potter. Draco loved having Potter inside his body, loved the way that Potter could give it to him both hard and fast, then torturous and slow. Draco had always been a bit preoccupied by Potter’s cock; he liked how big it was, how it stretched him, how he felt so full and complete with Potter inside him.

Doing it the opposite way, however, was about control and about trust, and Draco would have assumed he felt that way due to his twisted way of looking at the world, but obviously Potter felt that way as well. Topping wasn’t inherently a position of control, didn’t inherently require trust, didn’t necessarily mean anything besides who preferred it up the arse or didn’t. But for Draco, and Potter too, it was about letting go, and so far Potter couldn’t do that with Draco.

But yes, Draco wanted him to. They both wanted him to. Potter wanted to; there was just a block in his mind he couldn’t get past. If Draco could help him get past it . . .

And of course, as Draco thought about it, a plan began to form in his mind.

*

Eight.

Potter and Draco had been dating nearly a month when Draco put his plan into action.

They were sitting in Potter’s kitchen, having just finished eating another meal they’d cooked together. They were desultorily talking, and everything was pleasant. “I brought something for you,” Draco said.

Potter lifted a brow.

Honestly, Potter had never quite been as sexy as he was in that moment, leaning back in his chair, legs spread, hair still too long—nearly to his shoulders. He just looked so—content and comfortable, and Draco was about to make it ten times better.

“If it’s coriander, we could have used that earlier,” Potter said.

“It isn’t coriander.” Draco took the bottle out of his pocket and put it in the centre of the table.

For a moment, Potter looked at him inquiringly. Then he looked at the bottle and comprehension dawned. All of the ease snapped out of his large frame, even though he didn’t move a muscle. “That’s it,” was all he said.

It wasn’t a question, but Draco said yes anyway.

“No.” Potter looked back up at him.

“Just for tonight.”

“Malfoy . . .” Potter grimaced, obviously trying to think through his words. His hand rubbed the side of his face—Potter’s equivalent of scratching his chin. “You don’t have to do this.”

“I want to.”

Potter brought his hand down and looked at Draco, just looked.

Draco had never felt so pinned by his gaze.

“Do you?” Potter said, his voice harsh.

“You want it too,” Draco said, trying not to sound defensive. He hadn’t expected it would go like this.

“You shouldn’t have to be someone else to be with someone you love,” Potter said.

Draco resisted rolling his eyes. “It’s not someone else.”

“You shouldn’t have to wear a different face.”

“Harry, if I could, I’d be him all the time.”

Potter’s mouth tightened. “You should have more self-respect than that.”

“I don’t need respect.” Draco could feel himself sneering. He tried to stop, and couldn’t. “I’ve never had any.”

“Tristan did.”

Draco did roll his eyes, then. “Come on, you’re smarter than that. It was a show. It always was a show.”

“Yes.” One of Potter’s hands tightened convulsively on his thigh. “But for me, it was real.”

“You saw what you wanted to see,” Draco said. “What’s so different now? You want to see him.”

“I want to want to see you!”

Draco waved a hand, purposely dismissive. “That seems overly complex.”

“Don’t you care about yourself at all, Malfoy?”

“No.” Draco stood up. “I don’t. I only care about what I want, and I want to—” Draco was going to say he wanted to fuck him, but that wasn’t all. That wasn’t the whole truth. “I want it to be easy. I want it to be like it was.”

“It’s not going to be,” Potter said.

“Just for one night.” Draco didn’t know why suddenly he was upon the brink of begging, but he was. “Just this one night. You want him. You know you want him.”

“I want . . .” Potter scrubbed a hand over his face. “Fuck it,” he said, standing up. “Let’s do it.”

Smirking, Draco picked up the bottle. “I knew you’d see it my way.”

“Don’t—” Potter ground his teeth. “Don’t do it in here. I don’t want to see.”

Draco scowled. “I wasn’t going to.”

“Good.” Potter turned away.

Draco went down the corridor, towards the sitting-room.

“This isn’t a good idea,” said Great Aunt Walburga.

Draco sneered at her. “What do you know?”

“Blacks,” said Walburga. “You’re just like my poor boys.”

“Which one?” said Draco.

“Both of them.”

Frowning, Draco pointed his wand at his throat, then performed the spell that changed his voice. Then he opened up the bottle and swallowed the contents in one go.

His features slowly morphed into Tristan’s.

*

Potter was in the kitchen, his back to the door, when Draco pushed back in. “Harry,” Draco said, using Tristan’s voice.

Potter turned around.

Draco put on a pleasant smile.

Potter stared. He stared and stared. “I’d forgotten—” he began, but broke off.

Draco’s smile widened to a smirk. “What had you—”

But then Potter was there; he was so there, his whole body against Draco’s and Draco had forgotten too. This was different; this felt different, because there was surrender in Potter’s body in a way there wasn’t when Potter was with Draco.

“Tristan,” Potter said. “Tristan.”

Then his hand was in Draco’s—Tristan’s—Draco’s hair, tipping Draco’s head back, and Potter’s mouth was lowering to his.

“No,” Draco said, and turned his face away.

“Malfoy—” Potter began loosening his hold.

Don’t,” Draco said, attempting to hold Potter to him. “I just don’t want . . .”

“Okay,” said Potter, “okay,” and resorted to the usual alternative of kissing Draco’s neck.

Draco’s breath caught. He didn’t know why he didn’t want Potter to kiss him this way—he’d wanted it for so long. He’d dreamed of it, and yet the idea of it now . . . Draco couldn’t bear it. He wanted Potter to want to kiss his own lips, not Tristan’s; the idea of their first real kiss belonging to Tristan instead of to him . . .

Tristan had everything else. Draco wanted just this one thing for himself.

“I miss you.” Potter buried his face in Draco’s neck, breathing deeply. “I’ve missed you so goddamn much.”

“I’m standing right here.”

Potter pulled back to look at him again, his eyes hungrily devouring every line of Tristan’s face.

Draco tilted his head. “I know I’m pretty,” he said, the words tasting sour in his mouth, “but perhaps we should—”

“Fuck me,” Potter said. “Fuck me right now.”

“Yes.” Draco stopped breathing. “Yes.” He pushed Potter around—after all, that was part of the point of this exercise—and got him against the wall, then started tugging on Potter’s jeans. “You want my cock in you; is that it?”

“Yes,” said Potter.

“You’ve missed it?”

“Fuck, yes.”

Draco finally got his hands in, Potter’s jeans and pants halfway down his hips. Finding Potter already hard, Draco gave it a squeeze.

“Tristan,” Potter panted.

“Yeah,” Draco said. “You want it. Get on the floor.”

“Make me.”

Yes. Yes. Draco loved it when Potter talked like that. Pulling Potter off the wall, turning him around, Draco pushed him, then pushed him again. Then Draco pulled out his wand, casting the spell to pull Potter’s legs out from under him, but Potter flung his hand out and landed neatly, though still with a loud thump. Draco immediately straddled him.

“Like this?” Draco said. “You want it to be like this?”

“That depends.” The line appeared beside Potter’s mouth as his hands settled on Draco’s thighs. He rubbed them up and down, firm, smooth strokes. “Show me what you’ve got.”

“I’ll show you.” Draco reached between his own legs, down for Potter’s cock. He pulled a little, then twisted, causing Harry to gasp. “Take our clothes off,” Draco said.

Potter shifted under him hotly, and did nothing else.

Draco twisted Potter’s cock again. “I said—”

Potter slammed his hand down on the kitchen floor, and somehow with that one decisive movement, their clothes melted off. “Tristan,” Potter panted. “Now are you going to—”

“Patience, pet,” Draco said in Potter’s ear, then slid down a bit. Pointing his wand at Potter’s hole, he cast the spells to protect and prep him, get him slick and ready. “I’ve got to get you wet,” Draco told him, throwing aside his wand. “And then I’ve got to check you, make sure you’re nice and slippery for my cock.” Draco pushed his fingers inside—

And this was nothing like it had been the last time they’d tried this.

Last time, Potter hadn’t even been able to look at him. Now . . . now, Potter was looking at him as though he’d hung the moon.

“Do you like that?” Draco said, as he slid his fingers out and in again.

Potter swallowed hard, squeezed his muscles around Draco’s fingers. “Tristan,” he breathed.

Draco hated the breathy way that Potter said that name. Leaning in, he asked in a harder voice, “I said, do you like it?”

“Yes. God, yes.” Potter’s mouth kept hanging open, though he had to bring it up to swallow hard. “God, I love it.”

He was just . . . so obedient. Draco didn’t really remember Potter being this obedient. Had he always been this obedient when Draco was Tristan? Draco didn’t remember, but Potter wasn’t like this at all when he was with Draco, and it was . . . it was—Draco’s throat was closing; it was nothing. He had to go on.

He had to go on.

“Love my fingers in you?” he made himself say.

Potter swallowed again. “Yes.”

“Want my cock in you?”

“Yes.

“Good,” Draco said, drawing his fingers out. He was tired of it anyway; all he could think about was how Potter had looked the last time Draco had had his fingers in him—eyes closed tight, as though he couldn’t stand to look. The way Potter was staring now—Potter hadn’t stared at Tristan that way, had he? Like he was drinking him in, like he couldn’t get enough of him.

But of course Potter had looked at him that way. Of course he had. The last time it had happened was a month ago, the very last time before today that Draco had been Tristan.

“Please Tristan.” Potter spread his legs, his hands skating down over Draco’s arse. “Fuck me.”

“I am,” Draco said, and pushed inside.

Potter moaned lowly, and Draco couldn’t see straight.

Potter was . . . Potter was perfect, of course. Hot and wet and tight, all the things Draco remembered, all the things that Draco dreamed about, and yet . . . it felt empty. Something about it felt so empty, and Draco didn’t like it—that warm, silky texture, so heavenly around his cock. He didn’t like it, it felt—

Dirty. Like someone else. It felt the way it felt when he let other people touch him, when he slept with Nils or Fitz-Lloyd or any of the others, when he let someone else touch him who wasn’t Potter.

Except this was Potter. Draco was the someone else; Draco was the one defiling him, or himself, and it wasn’t right—

“I love you,” said Potter.

“No,” said Draco, and pulled away.

“What—”

“No,” Draco said as Potter reached for him. “I thought I could. You were right. I can’t.” He crawled away from Potter, getting off of him on the floor; he needed to get away.

Potter came after him, his glorious naked body—

“Don’t touch me.” Draco shook so hard his teeth clattered.

“Tristan,” Potter said.

“Don’t call me that.”

“Malfoy—”

“Don’t call me that either!”

“Malfoy,” Potter said. “Let me hold you.”

“I can’t,” Draco said, his teeth chattering. “I can’t.”

“You can,” Potter said, and held him. His strong, warm arms wrapped around Draco’s body, gathering Draco to him. Draco shuddered in his arms, and Potter stroked his hand down Draco’s side, over and over, a firm caress. “I’ve got you,” Potter said. He pressed his face into Tristan’s hair, his other hand coming up to cup his face.

“I don’t want you to touch it.” Draco pulled away. “It’s not my face.”

“Draco.” Potter’s voice sounded like it was broken.

“I’m sorry,” Draco said. “We shouldn’t have tried it.”

Potter held him tighter.

“I’m sorry,” Draco said again.

“I’m glad.” Potter’s hand found the circle on Draco’s chest, flattened there while his other hand still stroked Draco’s shivering side. “I don’t want you to pretend any more. I want you to be who you are.”

Draco felt like he couldn’t breathe. Potter was so close, his skin hot, and Draco’s throat felt thick and wet. Turning away from Potter, he tried to gulp fresh air. “I don’t know who I am,” he said. “I don’t—I’ve never known.”

“I’ll help you,” Potter said, gripping him tightly. “Let me help you.”

Draco said okay.

*

Nine.

The Aurors came for Draco at dinner-time.

They came because of Nott, of course.

Potter was over for dinner, and they were making a strata—not really dinner food, but Draco loved it, and Potter didn’t know what it was anyway. Potter was dutifully doing whatever Draco told him, and Draco was being catty about how Potter chopped the scallions when the pounding sounded at the door.

“Parkinson?” Potter guessed, putting down the knife.

Draco shook his head. “She doesn’t knock.”

Potter glanced in the direction of the door, where the pounding was growing more intense.

Draco realized Potter’s quandary. He wouldn’t want to be seen by anyone in Draco’s flat; only a very few people knew about their relationship. “Stay in here,” Draco said, wiping his hands. “I’ll handle it.”

Draco opened the door to two men and one women in scarlet robes. “Draco Malfoy,” said the woman, “you’re under arrest.”

“Auror Espy?” said Draco.

Espy’s brow lowered. “Come with me.”

The two other Aurors started coming towards him.

“What seems to be the problem?”

The Aurors who had been coming for Draco stopped in fear and awe—as well they should. Potter coming out of the kitchen was one of the most beautiful things that Draco had ever seen. Just—his arms. They were so thick and strong, and Draco had not had a thing for arms before, but he did now. Potter’s arms specifically.

Potter was in a black t-shirt, and his magnificent arms were crossed in front of his chest. He nearly filled the doorway of the kitchen, and he did not look happy.

Auror Espy, however, was all business. “Very sorry, Mister Potter, but this man is under arrest.”

“What for?” said Potter.

“Yes,” said Draco. “What for?”

“Casting a Bat Bogey Hex in public.” Whipping out a scroll, Espy unrolled it. “Draco Malfoy, a former Death Eater, cast a Bat Bogey Hex in the Leaky Cauldron approximately six weeks ago, a fact to which at least six witnesses can attest. This is against article three-eight-two of the Articles of Reconstruction, instituted after the brief rule of the Dark Lord to prevent further incursion of dark forces.”

Potter turned to Draco. “Did you cast a Bat Bogey Hex?”

“Oh, yes.” Draco’s mouth curled into his cruellest smile. “I most certainly did. And more than once—until his nose bled. And then I cast it on his eyes.”

“You cast it on his eyes?” said Potter. “I didn’t know that you could do that.”

“The authorities might have been prepared to overlook this infraction,” Auror Espy went on, “as we have in so few other cases invoking article three-eight-two, but as Malfoy himself is corroborating: an innocent victim has come forward to testify.”

Potter frowned. “Who was the victim?”

Espy snapped up the scroll. “Tristan Bonchance.”

Potter looked at Draco.

“Nott,” Draco explained.

“Ah.” Potter turned back to Espy. “You know, Lilah, I think there’s been a mistake.”

“Is that Draco Malfoy?” Espy crooked a finger at Draco.

Potter seemed to think about it. “In a manner of speaking.”

“Then there’s no mistake,” said Espy.

“Never bother, Potter.” Draco lifted his chin. “You say Tristan Bonchance will be at my trial?”

“He’s come forward to testify,” said Espy.

“Then by all means, take me.” Draco held out his hands, wrists pressed together for the Aurors to bind. “I did it. I’ll do it again. I’d do it again and again and again, no matter how many times you arrest me or how many laws it breaks. That blighter deserves it.”

“Then you must not know him.” Espy gave him a hard look. “Bonchance is a friend of mine.”

Draco gave her a toothy grin as the Aurors bound him up.

“This isn’t right,” said Potter.

“I suppose you have the power to stop us,” Espy said, “but I hope you’ll follow the procedure of the law.”

“Yes, Potter,” said Draco, still grinning quite cruelly. “Let’s follow the procedure of the law.”

*

They didn’t take him to Azkaban.

Instead they took him to a holding cell in the Ministry, and Draco stayed overnight.

He had three visitors.

*

The first was Granger in the middle of the night.

“I think you’ll have to serve a sentence,” Granger said. “You did sort of break the law.”

“I hope Nott rots in hell,” Draco said.

“Well, you’ll be happy to know he’ll also serve a sentence, and a far worse one. He impersonated someone and used that to break into the home of the most famous wizard in the world, so there’s that.”

“Then I can rest easy.” Closing his eyes, Draco settled back against the bench. The wooden board was the only thing that could be considered furniture in the room, besides the pot in the corner.

Granger had to sit on the other side of the invisible magical barrier, where she had had them bring her a chair. “They’re reviewing the Articles,” she said.

Without opening his eyes, Draco lifted a brow. “A little late for that.”

“They were going to vote on repealing three-seven-nine today.”

Slowly, Draco opened his eyes. “Pardon?” he said quietly. “I don’t think I heard you correctly. Did you say three-seven-nine?”

Three-seven-nine was the Article that did not allow former Death Eaters and their allies to seek gainful employ in the wizarding world.

“Harry’s been working on getting them to put it to a vote. He wants it repealed.”

Draco tried to hold in—whatever expression he was feeling. Frustration, maybe. “Since when?”

“Oh, Malfoy,” Hermione said. “Ever since he found out who you really were.”

“And he didn’t tell me?” Leaning against the wall, Draco closed his eyes again. “Typical.”

*

The second person to visit was Pansy, and she came late morning the next day.

“They’ve repealed three-seven-nine,” she said in her bored way.

Draco had been lying on his back on the wooden bench, knees up, as that was the only way his long legs could fit. Fluidly, he sat up and turned towards the sound of Pansy’s voice. She was looking at her nails.

Also typical.

Draco regarded her soberly, because wild rejoicing was not in either of their natures. They had been through too much. “What will you do?”

“Certainly not work in a coffee-shop.”

“Muggles aren’t as terrible as I thought,” Draco said, settling himself against the wall, as that was most comfortable. His eyes drifted closed again. “They have a thing called Tetris.”

“That’s some boyfriend you have.”

Keeping his eyes closed, Draco smiled. “I seem to recall you said he was a bad idea.”

“All of your ideas are bad.”

“Mm, yes.” Draco gave Pansy a low breathy moan, then rolled his hips against the bench. “Potter is so, so bad.”

“You’re disgusting.”

“Face it, Pansy.” Rolling his head against the wall, Draco opened his eyes to look at her. “I have the best plans.”

“You never had any plans.”

“Yes.” Draco grinned. “But it worked.”

*

Draco had been waiting for Potter.

He’d been waiting and waiting for Potter, but Potter didn’t come.

Instead, Auror Espy came. “They’ll escort you to your trial soon.”

“My trial is today?” Draco asked, surprised.

“You have no idea what’s going on, do you,” said Espy.

“No. What’s going—”

“The guards will be here in five minutes,” said Espy, and left.

“I never liked you anyway!” Draco called out after her.

*

He’d been waiting for Potter, and waiting, but now the guards were coming, and Espy had said something was happening.

The door at the end of the hall opened, and Draco knew now that that meant someone would be coming to speak to him through his invisible wall. That would be the guard coming to take him to the trial, and Potter hadn’t come yet—he hadn’t come—

Draco was pacing, and when he turned, there was Potter.

He looked particularly sexy, but then again, Potter always looked particularly sexy. He was still in that black t-shirt. Potter should always wear black t-shirts, Draco decided, but otherwise Potter looked tired. There was stubble on his face—always a bad sign, and his hair was swept up messily.

“You didn’t tell me you got a job in a coffee-shop,” Potter said.

Draco grimaced. “Granger.”

Potter shook his head. “She didn’t tell me.” Reaching into his back pocket, he pulled out Draco’s mobile. “I found this in your flat after they took you. A very nice lady named Kate called this morning. She wondered where you were for your shift.”

“Shit.” Draco turned away.

“I told her you wouldn’t be coming back.”

“That’s not a polite way to end a Muggle job.”

“And then I talked to vice president NimbusCorp.”

“Did you?” Still not looking at him, Draco tried not to sound interested.

“Yes.”

“What—what did you talk about?”

“Hm? Oh. You know. The weather, her next line of brooms. She’s really great, you know.” There was a pause. “You should talk to her when you get out.”

“If I get out,” Draco said, coming up to the invisible wall, not quite pressing his face against it.

Potter’s expression didn’t change. “You’ll get out.”

“Is that another law you’re just going to change?” Draco mocked.

“I didn’t change it, Malfoy. I’m not that powerful.”

“Three-seven-nine was repealed.”

“I know,” said Potter. “I went to the Ministry and lobbied for you. For all of you. You’re right—it was wrong. Maybe for a while it was the right thing to do, but you should never have been restricted like that for so long, with nothing to do and nowhere to go.”

Draco sneered. “Now you say that.”

“Now I say that,” said Potter evenly.

“Hmph,” Draco said, but he wasn’t really angry. He was trying to be angry—a part of him was so angry—but he couldn’t be. Potter had come for him.

“There’s a crowd outside,” Potter said.

“Why?” Perking up, Draco walked to the opposite wall. There was a window, but it was too high to see out. Glancing back at Potter, Draco asked, “Is it for me?”

The line appeared beside Potter’s mouth. “It’s mostly for the repeal,” he said. “We tried to keep it quiet, but with your . . .” he waved his hand, “arrest, a bunch of recent activity came out into the open.”

“So the press is here?”

“And protestors. And supporters.”

“I have supporters?” Draco preened a bit.

The lined deepened. “Yes,” said Potter. “You have supporters. Though God knows why.”

“It’s because I’m so good-looking.”

“You are that.” Looking down, Potter scratched the back of his neck. He did that when he was embarrassed—which wasn’t often, but it happened. “I had to give a speech.”

“You?” Draco came back to the invisible wall. “Merlin, you’re such a dullard; why would they choose you?”

Potter rolled his eyes, but he was smiling. “I don’t know, Malfoy; maybe I had something to say.”

“But you hate speeches.”

“It needed to be done.”

“They should have chosen me,” Draco said. “I’m a much better speaker. I’m wittier, and prettier, and I—”

“Christ,” Potter said, and waved his hand. The invisible wall disappeared, then Potter was stepping through where it had been, pulling Draco to him.

Then he was kissing him.

Kissing him and kissing him and kissing him, and Draco had seen how Potter kissed in the Pensieve—that time with Nott, when he hadn’t known that Tristan wasn’t Draco, but then again, hadn’t known that Tristan was usually Draco. Draco had tried not to think of that kiss, tried not to remember the way Potter’s jaw looked, the way his head tilted, the way he could see that Potter used his tongue—

Salazar, how Potter used his tongue.

His tongue.

It was so good; everything was so good, and Potter really knew how to kiss, his mouth taking Draco so deep that Draco felt faint. When Potter finally released him, Draco had to cling to him to hold himself up.

Potter was clinging too.

“I can’t believe you finally kiss me, and it’s in a prison,” Draco said, when finally he could breathe.

“Seemed appropriate,” breathed Potter.

“You’re such a heathen.”

“Come with me.” Potter’s hand slid down into his. “Come do what you do best.”

Draco followed Potter down the corridor. “You found a place for us to shag?” he asked, curious, a little alarmed, and deeply turned on.

“No.”

“Oh.” They kept walking, turning into another corridor with double doors at the end of it. When they were almost to the doors, Draco asked, “What is it I do best?”

“This,” Potter said, and pushed open the doors.

Camera bulbs flashed in their faces left and right and centre, and people were everywhere. Every single one of them wanted to talk to Draco.

*

Epilogue.

Draco served thirty days in a holding cell for casting a hex in public and causing a general disturbance.

Nott served six months in Azkaban for assuming a false identity and using it to enter a private home.

Pansy got a job at a magical law firm which mainly dealt in contracts. She was still a dominatrix on the side.

Granger oversaw a rehaul of all of the Articles of Reconstruction, and started a Muggle Studies program for adults.

Eventually, Draco got a job with NimbusCorp. He also moved into the house at the end of Hawthorn Lane. He kept his flat, however—it was a shame to lose the view.

When they shagged, Potter still sometimes called out the wrong name.

Draco tried not to mind it. Both of the names were his, and so was Harry Potter.