Awareness came suddenly: one second he was somewhere cold and dark, in the next, he knew he was dreaming. The knowledge didn't help him much; he still didn't know where he was.
He felt safe, though. The bed was warm, the covers smelled fresh and sweet, the air was pleasantly cool. There was a fireplace nearby, pale blue flames dancing merrily, spreading fresh air rather than heat. A small table and a few wooden chairs were set in the corner; the chair legs looked nervous and wobbly, as though terrified someone might actually try to sit down, which would clearly be the death of them. An old walnut tallboy with a large ornamental clock on the top stood to their left. The clock ticked away seconds in a lazy rhythm, as though it was purposely stalling, too lazy to concern itself with accuracy.
The walls were not walls at all, but dirty grey canvas; he was undoubtedly in a tent. There was a painted window near the entrance, depicting a sunlit day, with a light breeze brushing against treetops and disturbing the surface of a too-blue lake.
Draco sat up. The sudden movement sent a sharp stab of pain through his forehead and Draco's hand flew to his head. It pounded, the way it normally did when one was bedridden for days. His finger found a crusty mass on his forehead and he panicked before he remembered that was how healing paste felt when applied to a wound.
The tent flapped open and hot air burst inside together with Harry Potter.
Potter froze, staring. "Thank Merlin," he breathed. "You're awake."
Potter's face seemed to have broken a dam and Draco's mind was flooded with memories. The events of two hazy but horrible days flashed in front of his eyes. He remembered Fenrir Greyback's terrifying face when he'd grabbed Draco's wrist and Apparated them away; Draco's body had obeyed Greyback's every command, no matter how hard Draco's mind had tried to resist. The feeling of vague happiness and compliancy had won; the Imperius Curse had stolen his will. He remembered the cave, Greyback's lair, cold and reeking of blood and rot. He remembered Greyback's eyes filling with hunger as the sun had set. Draco had been hunched in the corner, helpless but unafraid, because he was told not to fear when Greyback approached, his yellow teeth too close to Draco's cheek.
But then Greyback had flown back and Potter had stood at the cave's entrance, wand in his hand and fury in his eyes. If he had been able to feel, Draco might have felt relieved.
The fear he wasn't allowed to feel back then assaulted him now. "He bit me," he gasped. Draco's fingers were on his forehead again. "Did he bite me?"
Potter was by his side in an instant. "No. No, he didn't. Don't touch that." Potter trapped Draco's hands in his and pulled them away from his face. Potter's hands were warm, their grip comforting, washing away the filth of Greyback's touch. "He never hurt you," Potter said. "He wanted your father's gold. You were worth more to him unharmed."
I missed his voice, Draco thought. More than anything, he had missed Potter's voice. How soothing it was when Potter spoke softly, how rich when he was angry, low and vibrant when he was aroused. He hadn't seen Potter for almost two years; he hadn't realized how much he had missed him. Potter's touch had never felt more reassuring. Draco's hands relished Potter's warm grasp; he hoped Potter would not pull back too soon. "He's not a very rational person. He seemed to have forgotten his plan soon enough." Fenrir wanted to eat me. Draco's heart beat too fast. He willed himself to calm down.
"He never got the chance to bite you, though. I've checked."
Draco looked down at his lap. He was wearing a pair of flannel pyjamas that definitely weren't his. Potter must have stripped him, examined him, dressed him. He wondered how Potter had felt in those moments. Did he stare at Draco's skin and remember how he used to trace it with his tongue? Or was he detached, focused on what needed to be done?
"Where are we?" Draco asked, desperate to stop thinking about Potter's hands on his bare body, touching him while he slept. "Where is he? Why aren't I at St Mungo's?"
Potter's hands squeezed Draco's briefly. "I'll tell you everything, but first tell me how you're feeling. You must have hit your head pretty hard; I couldn’t wake you. It's been almost two days." Potter's fingers were at Draco's chin. "Look at me."
Draco looked, startled into obedience.
Potter studied Draco's eyes, the way he had once, a lifetime ago; back then, the careful study of Draco's face had ended with a kiss. Potter was unlikely to kiss him now. "Are you dizzy? Nauseous?" Potter asked.
"No. Tired. Hungry."
Potter made a face and stood up abruptly. Draco felt cold when the heat of Potter's body was stolen from him; he could still feel Potter's touch on his chin.
"That's good," Potter said. "But I don't actually have food." He strode to the table in the corner and picked up a small black pouch, the kind one would use for a handful of Galleons. Half of Potter's arm disappeared into the pouch as he rummaged inside.
He returned to Draco's side with two phials, a tube and gauze. "Here, drink this." Potter handed him a phial filled with yellowish liquid. It took Draco a moment to recognize the potion. Daphne Greengrass used to drink it every morning and then barely ate at all for the rest of the day. She had taken ill eventually; the potion could serve as a temporary substitute for food, but one could not live on it for long.
Draco took a sip and felt instantly better, as though he had eaten a bowl full of hot soup.
Potter uncorked the other phial and dampened the gauze with the green potion inside. It was meant to dissolve the paste on Draco's forehead.
"I should inspect the wound," Potter said, as though justifying himself when his fingers brushed away a stray lock from Draco's forehead, gently, carefully, fingertips barely touching Draco's skin. Goosebumps spread all the way to Draco's spine. "The wound didn't look too bad," Potter said, cleaning away the paste, "but it knocked you out properly." Potter's eyes were focused on Draco's forehead, so intently it seemed Potter was making a conscious effort not to meet Draco's eyes. It would have been wiser to do the same and look away from Potter's face, but Draco's gaze roamed over Potter's dark hair that looked wilder than ever, his cheekbones, his jaw, his lips, the wire-framed round glasses, which Draco had sometimes pulled away slowly and set them aside, just to let Potter know he was about to kiss him senseless and make him wait for it.
His forehead stung and Draco winced.
"Sorry," Potter said and met Draco's eyes for a brief moment. His face was so close, Draco could lean in just a little and kiss him.
He banished the thought and asked, "Did you try healing it with Episkey? It didn’t work?" Draco wondered at that. The paste was used when one was cursed and there was risk of infection. If he had merely hit his head, a simple Healing Charm would do. He certainly wouldn't be unconscious for two days.
Potter said nothing, just pressed his lips together; he looked apologetic.
"You don't have a wand," Draco realized, his left hand twitching. "Greyback's out there and you don't have a wand."
"Greyback's dead," Potter said calmly. The tips of his fingers were in Draco's hair, stroking. Draco wondered if Potter was even aware of it. "We were duelling," Potter went on, "curses flew everywhere, hitting the cave's walls. The whole cave was ready to collapse. I Vanished his wand and he lunged at me. I lost my wand in the struggle. There were rocks and dust everywhere. I knocked him out, grabbed you and ran out of there. He was buried inside, together with my wand."
"He's a werewolf, Potter. They're resilient. He might not be dead."
Potter shook his head. "You were Imperiused, were you not? No one cancelled the curse, but you're no long under its influence. The curse died with him."
"I was." Draco's will had been taken from him before Greyback had grabbed him in Diagon Alley. He must have shot the spell at Draco's back. In broad daylight; everything had happened so fast. "But perhaps the spell was cancelled when you Vanished his wand."
"It doesn't work like that." Potter's tone was harsh. "Greyback is dead, I'm sure of it," he said with finality. "Your wound is healing," he added and grabbed the tube. "I'll apply some more healing paste, just in case."
It took a moment before Draco realized that had been a question; Potter looked uncertain. Draco nodded.
"I'm not much of a healer." Potter sighed.
Potter's touch was gentle and sure, and Draco wanted to tell him he was doing more than fine, but Potter had snapped at him only a moment ago and Draco was unwilling to pay him a compliment.
"Done." Potter frowned at his work and then wiped his hand on the gauze. "Once we get back a proper healer should fix it in a heartbeat. Unless you'd prefer to have a scar." Potter smiled slightly, but Draco could not smile back.
"Are we stuck here?" he asked.
"Slightly stuck, yes." Potter looked unhappy.
"Don't people know where you are? Your friends? The Aurors?"
Potter gathered the potions and stood up. "Not yet," he said. He walked back to the table and put away the potions, carelessly tossing them into the pouch. "Your mother contacted me the moment they've received Greyback's owl. They didn't want Aurors involved. I spoke to a few Death Eaters in Azkaban and then tracked down some of Greyback's pack members. One of them had been to Greyback's lair before. He didn't know where it was but he showed me his memories." Potter cleared his throat. "Eventually," he added darkly. "I Apparated near the cave, more or less blindly. It won't be easy to retrace my steps. But they will, I'm sure." Potter turned and smiled at Draco reassuringly. "Doesn't really matter now, does it? We'll pack up tomorrow morning and head out. Not sure where we are, but it's hardly the end of the world. We might stumble on some Muggles and borrow a phone, if nothing else."
Draco digested Potter's speech slowly. His mother had called and Potter had come running. Would he have done that for anyone? He probably would.
"Some hero you are," Draco said, his mouth curling. "Couldn't you have carried me to London?"
Potter snorted. "I've carried you long enough. You weigh a ton."
Draco winced. He would have preferred not to be carried. He would have preferred not to have been kidnapped, too. He wasn't entirely sure how he felt about being stuck with Potter for the night, though.
"You're clearly in poor shape, Potter," Draco said. "I'm light as a feather."
"Well, next time I rush to your rescue, I'll remember to drink a Strengthening Solution."
"Let's hope there won't be a next time. It's getting repetitive." Draco looked at Potter out of the corner of his eye. Thank you, he thought at him, but Potter wasn't even looking Draco's way.
"There's a bathroom through there." Potter pointed at the door to Draco's left. "If you want to take a shower. Mind your forehead, though. And . . ." Potter frowned at him. "Call me if you feel unwell."
Draco nodded, indulging himself with a five-second fantasy: he'd be in the shower, calling for help, and Potter would rush inside. Potter would realize Draco had lied and he wasn't at all unwell, but Draco would be naked and Potter would be in his arms, and it wouldn't really matter.
Potter walked to the tallboy that stood between the bed and the table. "I don't think I have any more clothes for you to borrow. I have a spare shirt and trousers, but you'll need that for tomorrow. And, er, a pair of clean underpants, but that's also for tomorrow." He opened a drawer and pulled out an ugly green tee, so long and wide it looked like it belonged to a whale. "I have this. If you want to change out of your pyjamas."
Draco stared at the t-shirt. It's Dudley's, Potter would say whenever Draco objected to a particularly nasty piece of clothing. Potter had always slept in those. Draco had never told him, but he loved those shirts. They were old and washed out, but soft and loose, all but begging Draco's hand to slip beneath it, over Potter's thighs and hips, stomach and chest.
"Just promise me I won't have to wear Dudley's jeans tomorrow," Draco said.
Potter's lips twitched. "Can I interest you in a toga, then?"
Draco groaned. "I realize my clothes are probably dirty, but I'll rather take my chances with those."
Potter shook his head. "It's a lovely pair of trousers, actually. Purchased at Twilfitt and Tatting's." Potter looked away. "You picked them out, if I remember correctly."
Draco remembered it, too. Potter had looked so good that day; shirtless, wearing only well-fitted black trousers. It had made Draco bold and he'd sucked off Potter, right there in the store, behind the curtain. Potter had clutched Draco's head and fucked his mouth, spilling himself down Draco's throat in a matter of minutes. It seemed those trousers were now stored inside the tent, shoved into a pouch and placed into Potter's pocket.
Potter cleared his throat. "I don't have food but I have a couple of Butterbeers, if you're interested."
Draco nodded. "After the shower."
"All right. I'll be outside." Potter pointed to the tent's exit unnecessarily. "Call if you need me." He grabbed the pouch, glanced at Draco and then turned and left. He might have been eager to escape Draco's presence.
Draco dragged himself out of bed, his headache intensifying. He was so dizzy when he stood up, he was tempted to call Potter. His lips remained sealed, however, and the dizziness passed soon enough.
The bathroom was small but infused with magic. The water temperature obeyed his wishes, the soap jumped into his hand and the shower curtain extended and clutched the walls desperately, as though determined to keep out imaginary intruders.
Refreshed, Draco put on the t-shirt Potter had offered, stroking the soft fabric and trying not to remember Potter wearing it as he slept beside him. The bed was tempting, but Draco pulled on a bathrobe he had found hanging on the bathroom door and walked out of the tent in search of Potter.
The sun was setting and the air was still warm. A gush of wind ruffled his hair, its touch more than pleasant. Potter sat on a large, old log a little further away. He handed Draco a bottle of Butterbeer when Draco sat down beside him.
"It's warm," Potter said, "but it's better than a potion."
Draco uncorked the bottle and took a sip, agreeing with Potter's sentiments.
The weakened sunlight hit the tent's metal pole. The tent was smaller on the outside and dark green, blending easily with the foliage. It seemed to shimmer with the magic surrounding it. It must have been charmed to keep out intruders.
"How did you set it up without a wand?" Draco asked, nodding toward the tent.
"Yelled Erecto at it for a minute. I think it took pity on me."
Draco smiled. "You're known to perform wandless magic in emergencies."
Potter stiffened and Draco regretted his words. Potter had Conjured lube the first time they were together. Draco had rented a room in the Leaky Cauldron after Potter had testified on Draco's trial and they had spent the night there; those nerve-wrecking hours were filled with exploration and failures, and some brilliant discoveries. Draco had told himself he was merely doing it out of gratitude, but he suspected Potter wouldn't have agreed to it if that were true. At times, he thought Potter knew him better than he knew himself.
"Hermione cast so many charms on this tent, its magic seem to have a mind of its own," Potter said eventually.
"I've noticed." Draco sipped his Butterbeer. "Some food in the kitchen wouldn't have gone amiss."
"It would have gone bad, though. I carry the pouch around when I remember it, but I haven't actually used this tent for at least a year."
"Ever thought of carrying a spare wand?"
Potter's jaw twitched. He never did like criticism. "That's dangerous, you know," he said. "People have cursed their own feet when they accidentally channelled their magic through the wand in their pocket as well as the one in their hand."
"Old wives' tales."
"Basic wand safety. I'm not taking any chances. I need my feet. Besides, I'm doing fine without a wand, aren't I?" Potter's tone was harsh; it wasn't bragging, merely sounded defensive.
"You've certainly patched me up. We have yet to see how successful you were." Draco was teasing, but Potter's gaze snapped to Draco's forehead.
"How do you feel? Does it hurt?" Potter's hand twitched upward, as though to touch the wound, but then he seemed to think better of it.
"I'm fine, Potter. It's hardly a serious injury."
"You were out cold for nearly two days. It looked serious to me."
Draco shook his head. Now that his mind was clear, it was easier to draw conclusions. "Greyback ordered me to stay awake and stand guard. And I did. For two days. That, in combination with dark magic, must have drained me. I was merely exhausted."
Potter looked unconvinced.
"I do know a bit more about healing than you do," Draco added. He had spent almost a year working as an apprentice at St Mungo's, but he had lost all enthusiasm for healing after breaking up with Potter. It had felt like that chapter of his life had needed closing. He was a Malfoy; he was not meant to be a healer, or share his life with Harry Potter. It was a year filled with impossible dreams.
"I wish I'd found you sooner," Potter said.
"Yes, well, I wish I wasn't kidnapped. But we can't have what we want, can we?"
"Looks like it." Potter stared at the bottle in his hands. "You should go lie down. We're heading out early tomorrow and it will be a long walk."
Draco almost complained, on principle; it was still early, but his limbs felt heavy and he was having trouble keeping his eyes open. And Potter seemed determined to brood. Draco was afraid that if they continued their conversation it would end with a fight and he was too exhausted to fight. What could they say to each other, anyway, that they hadn't already said two years ago? Nothing had changed. If anything, the rift between them was deeper.
Draco nodded, wished Potter good night and went back to the tent. He barely had the strength to take off the bathrobe before he crawled into bed and fell asleep.
What seemed like only a minute later, the bed moved and woke him. More than a minute had passed, however; it was dark outside. The fake painted window was covered with stars. Even the blue light of the fireplace seemed to have dimmed.
The bed moved again and Draco closed his eyes. He had thought this might happen. There was only one bed in the tent and Potter could not Conjure another. Draco knew he should ignore it and remain as he was, on his side, turned away, but Potter was lying beside him and Draco could not pretend otherwise.
Draco turned around slowly and faced Potter.
"Didn't mean to wake you," Potter said at once. He lay on his back, glancing at Draco briefly. "Go back to sleep."
"It doesn't really work like that, Potter. I'm wide awake at the moment. But I suppose I could close my eyes and pretend I'm sleeping if it would make you happy."
Potter's skin was deathly pale in the blue light of the fireplace. It made him look younger than he was. "We really have to get up early tomorrow," Potter said with obvious impatience. "It's unbelievably hot and if we don't find civilization before midday, the heat will be unbearable. What if you get sick? I don't think I'll be able to get the tent back into my pocket. It's so bloody wilful. And I'm sure Greyback picked this place, wherever this is, for a reason. There's bound to be other rogue werewolves around. I need you to be alert. We might have to run. I don't have a wand; I can't protect us — Don't."
Draco rose up on his elbow and pressed his palm to Potter's chest. "You should calm down."
"Calm down? You almost died, Draco. Are you aware of that?"
Draco could feel Potter's heartbeat against his palm. "I knew you'd save me," he said. He had known it. Even under Imperius, carefree and without thoughts, he'd known to expect Potter to show up.
"I almost didn't," Potter said thickly. "I lost my wand. How fucking stupid was that? He grabbed my wrist and it just rolled away, and I couldn’t even see where it went. I thought it was over. I thought I failed. I thought he'd kill us both. Turn us, eat us. Merlin knows in which order."
"But you didn't fail."
Potter swallowed, looking away. "No, I . . . I killed him. With a rock. It was suddenly in my hand, big and sharp. It cracked his head open. And he was dead, just like that."
Draco winced but tried not to show it. The moment Potter had told him Greyback was dead, with so much certainty, Draco had suspected that something like that must have happened. "He was a horrible man, Potter. We'd be dead if you hadn't done that."
"I know." Potter sighed. His chest rose and fell heavily against Draco's palm. "I know. But I keep seeing his face in my mind. The way it froze; how empty it was."
Draco was at a loss. He had no idea what to say to that, how to make Potter feel better when all he had to offer was hollow words. There was only one thing he could do: Draco leaned in and pressed a kiss to Potter's lips. Two years melted away and every buried feeling returned full force, choking him with need.
Potter pushed him away. His eyes were accusing. "Don't; just please don't."
Anger built inside Draco, even though Potter had done exactly what Draco thought he'd do. "Why not? I almost died, you've killed a man, don't we deserve some comfort? Can't we just pretend for one night —"
"Pretend?" Firelight reflected in Potter's eyes. "Pretend you're not getting married?"
Potter's words were sharp enough to stab. "Who told you that?" Draco asked quietly.
"Does it matter? It's true, isn't it?"
"I haven't even proposed yet." All things considered, that information was irrelevant, but Draco wanted Potter to know. The news had spread too quickly. Draco wasn't ready for people to find out about it. He had been picking out the engagement ring in Diagon Alley when Greyback had grabbed him. Draco didn't know what sort of ring he should buy. He had no idea what Astoria would like. He knew so little about her. She would be a good wife, everyone had agreed. Looking at it logically, they were right. But sometimes Draco wasn't sure what that even meant. He didn't even know whether she truly liked him or if someone had convinced her he would be a good husband.
"But you plan to. That is what you've always wanted: a pure-blood witch to help you father little Malfoy heirs. Sounds like a dream come true." The bitterness in Potter's tone was so familiar it brought back memories Draco had struggled for so long to forget.
He moved away sharply and lay back down. "That's not what I wanted. You know that."
"I'm not having this conversation again." Potter sounded more tired than angry. "I've heard it all, haven't I? It's not what you want, it's what you have to do. You want me, but not enough to make me a part of your life. Or, Merlin forbid, tell someone about us. How silly of me to complain."
"I see you still haven't joined the world of adults." Draco's eyes stung and so did his throat. "I don't even know how you can live with your head so firmly in the clouds. What did you expect? We announce our relationship to the world and live happily ever after? I'm sure everyone would take us seriously and be so respectful. Our lives wouldn't be hell at all. We could throw Christmas parties and invite all our friends. And Granger and my father would get drunk together and sing merry songs."
"I can see why you'd think that. You never took us seriously."
Draco looked sharply at Potter. "I took us very seriously. You're the one who wanted to put us on display, subject us to ridicule. Our relationship was ours; it could have stayed like that."
"Well, it did in the end. Congratulations. You won."
"Yeah." Draco closed his eyes. "I won." He wondered if he'd ever be able to go back to sleep. He wanted it more than anything but his mind was so awake, busy arguing, busy rewriting history. He should have kept his mouth shut, he knew it, but he could not stop the words from spilling forth. "You're still missing the point. You've always missed the point. Things would end the same, Potter, even if you had your way. It would change nothing, merely postpone the inevitable."
Potter didn't say anything for so long Draco thought he had fallen asleep. He sounded irritated when he finally spoke. "We broke up because you made it clear you plan to marry respectably and continue the Malfoy line. There was barely any room for me in that scenario. Which point am I missing, exactly?"
Draco's stomach was in knots. Two years ago he would have told Potter to grow up; he'd get up and leave, letting Potter believe what he wanted. Let him believe every word Draco had spoken in anger. But now he just wanted Potter to understand. "That's not why we broke up," he said quietly. "We broke up because we were always meant to break up. I just did it before we went through the whole farce you so desperately wanted. Before you told everyone about us. Before I had to listen to them saying how wrong I am for you, how I don't deserve you. Before I had to witness you changing your mind and deciding they were right. At least this way I have other options; if we'd done it your way, I'd lose everything in the end. And then I'd hate you and that's the last thing I wanted."
Potter was on him in a flash; he grabbed Draco's shoulder and stared down at him. Ridiculously, Draco's body responded despite Potter's obvious anger, or perhaps because of it. In moments like this, when emotions were clear on his face and his green eyes, Potter was breathtaking.
"Don't you dare say that to me," Potter said. "Not now after two years. You're the one who ended our relationship. And now you want me to believe it was my fault? Because of something that never even happened? Something I could have theoretically done in the future?"
"I never said it was your fault. I just gave you a fact. We are who we are and that will never change. That's no one's fault, it's just how things are."
"And you said you took us seriously."
"I did, others wouldn't."
Draco laughed without humour. "But you're lying to yourself, Potter. Can you honestly claim that your friends and family wouldn't be horrified when you told them you're fucking a wizard? And a former Death Eater at that? What would your co-workers say? The public? You might scream 'fuck others' for a while, but they'd wear you down. They'd wear us both down. One day you'd wake up and realize they were right all along and it just wasn't worth the bother. And then we'd end up truly hating each other."
Potter was breathing heavily, his eyes dark, searching Draco's face. "I hate you now." He said that with so much conviction that Draco believed him. He didn't even have time to feel upset, though: in the next second Potter was kissing him, his tongue hot in Draco's mouth, reclaiming every part of it with near desperation.
Draco's hand flew to Potter's back, clutching the hem of his shirt and pushing beneath to stroke the warm skin.
"You said you don't want . . ." Draco whispered between kisses, but Potter didn't let him speak.
"Shut up, shut up, shut up," Potter chanted as his lips moved to Draco's neck, pressing hot open-mouthed kisses below Draco's ear.
Draco's body bucked upwards, shivering, as Potter's mouth and teeth found every sensitive spot with ease. Potter's fingers were beneath Draco's shirt, fingertips stroking his ribs so lightly it almost tickled, then moving upward to pinch Draco's nipple, pulling on it until it hardened and sent sparks of pleasure straight to Draco's cock.
And then Potter's mouth was on Draco's again, and his hand moved down, over pubic hair and to his balls, stroking below, then returning to grip the base of Draco's cock.
With a shudder, Draco realized Potter's hand was slick; it moved up and down with ease, Potter's thumb pausing to stoke the sensitive tip of Draco's cock before his palm slid down again. A low moan tore from Draco's throat when he realized what Potter planned to do. He had missed everything about Potter, but he missed being inside him the most. They had been together for months when Potter had let him do that to him for the first time. It had never stopped feeling like a small victory: that Potter would trust him enough to give him access to every part of his body.
Potter tore his mouth away from Draco's and swung his leg over Draco's hips, straddling him and pushing the covers away in one fluid movement.
Potter's breathing was shallow as he reached behind and reclaimed his grip on Draco's slick cock. Fixing his gaze on Potter's green eyes, Draco grabbed Potter's arse, spreading him open. Their eye contact broke when the head of Draco's cock pushed against Potter's entrance, breaching him slowly. The world spun and Draco closed his eyes, not daring to breathe as Potter sank down, the tight feel of him almost too much to bear.
A brush of hair against Draco's forehead made him open his eyes. Potter had bent low over Draco's body; his lips were parted, hot puffs of air hitting Draco's face.
"Fuck," Potter breathed. His eyes were half-closed.
Draco's palms moved over Potter's skin, stroking his back; he wished Potter had taken off his shirt. "Are you all right?"
Potter nodded, but didn't speak right away. "It's been awhile," he said at last, his green eyes searching Draco's face. "Two years, I'd say." He smiled slightly, sadly.
"There was no one for me, either," Draco hurried to say; it was suddenly important to let Potter know that. "Not ever." Potter had been his first and there had been no one since.
Potter stared at him for a long time and then rested his forehead against Draco's. "Legs," he whispered.
Draco's body obeyed the request without a thought. He carefully bent his knees, lifting up his hips a little and pushing deeper inside Potter. He searched Potter's expression for any sign of pain, his hands massaging Potter's buttocks soothingly. Potter half-sighed, half-moaned and then curved his spine, moving experimentally at first, then more surely. Draco lost himself in the feeling that he thought he'd never experience again. Potter moved slowly, pulling only slightly away before he pressed down on Draco's cock again and Draco followed his lead, letting his hips mimic Potter's rhythm.
It was mercifully slow; Draco wouldn't have lasted if Potter went any faster. He tried to fill his mind with thoughts of potion ingredients to make himself last longer, but then Potter kissed him again, with sloppy open-mouthed kisses, all tongue and teeth and hot breath, and all rational thought fled from Draco's mind.
His orgasm built slowly; he was teetering on the edge when Potter sped up, panting against Draco's mouth, his heavy cock hot and sticky against Draco's stomach. Draco's hips jerked upwards, once, twice and his body shuddered as he came. Potter was still moving above him, riding out his orgasm. Draco was seized with a sudden urge to grab Potter and not let him go; he didn't want this to end.
But Draco did nothing when Potter stopped moving and rested for several moments, with his cheek pressed to Draco's, before he pulled away and rolled onto his back. Draco was sweaty and sticky, his shirt bunched up and smudged with Potter's come; he could have used his wand right then, to clean up the mess. He could get up and go to the bathroom to wash himself, but that seemed like too much effort.
Potter was lying down with his eyes closed, breathing heavily. He might have been regretting what they had done. Draco stared at him for a while and then rose up to grab the covers and lay back down, with his arm tossed over Potter's chest and his face buried into the crook of Potter's neck. He fully expected Potter to push him away, but Potter only pulled him closer, his fingers finding their way into Draco's hair.
"You were supposed to rest tonight," Potter said, his voice scratchy.
Draco breathed in Potter's scent and relaxed. "I will."
"I can't believe it refused to shrink," Potter said for the umpteenth time.
"Didn't you say yesterday you expected as much?"
"I was willing to be proven wrong."
"You'll come back for the tent, and your wand," Draco said. "And mine, I hope. I'm not sure what Greyback did with it."
Potter sighed. "It might have been in his pocket. We'll try to Summon it."
Draco nodded, running out of words again. They had talked and talked since the moment they'd woken up and got ready to leave. They had discussed the tent and its refusal to be pushed back into the pouch, they'd discussed the weather, the peacefulness and beauty of the forest road they'd taken, and even food and drinks they planned to consume the moment they got back to civilization. They'd discussed everything except what had happened in the tent last night.
Perhaps that was for the best. Draco didn't have the energy to fight anymore. Soon they would return to their lives and ignore each other's existence as they had done for the last two years. Perhaps they would meet again one day, perhaps Draco would be married by then, and have a son. Perhaps Potter would find someone else.
"What's wrong?" Potter asked.
Draco realized his steps had faltered and he'd lingered behind, deep in thought. Potter was staring at him.
"Nothing." Draco forced a smile and hurried forward. "I just thought I heard something," he lied.
But Potter said, "So did I," then frowned and looked around. "Like a growl."
Draco froze. "You're joking, aren't you? There can't be more werewolves around. It's broad daylight and surely Greyback made his lair somewhere far from —" But then Draco heard it, too: a low, distant growl. Which promptly turned to high-pitched barking one would expect from a poodle. "That's a dog," Draco said.
"It is. And I think I hear voices."
"We should run after them, shouldn't we? Maybe they're moving in the same direction."
Potter nodded but didn't move. The barking grew distant. "I didn't expect us to run into someone so soon."
"Is that a problem?"
Potter turned around to look at him. "I guess it is." He looked so miserable, Draco took a step forward, moving to Potter's side instinctively. "I think I'd rather go back to the tent now that I think about it," Potter added.
"We don't have food," Draco said quietly.
"We could hunt and pick berries." Potter smiled but stopped quickly. "I guess this is me being irrational again."
It was certainly irrational. And tempting. But one of them had to keep a clear head. "We should go, Potter. We can still catch up with them."
But rather than moving down the road, Potter walked up to him and grabbed the front of his shirt. He looked so fierce, Draco thought he meant to shake or push him. Instead, Potter said, "Marry me."
Draco blinked. "What?"
"Marry me. Don't marry whoever it is you've planned to marry. Marry me."
"I'm the one who hit his head, Potter, not you. Honestly, hunting and picking berries sounds like a perfectly logical plan now. How can you even . . . that's not even legal. We're wizards."
Potter's hand curled into a fist around the fabric of Draco's shirt. It pulled and twisted, and passed Potter's anxiety onto Draco. "I thought about this last night," Potter said hurriedly. "It's legal in the Muggle world, with some distinctions. And the Ministry normally accepts Muggle ceremonies as equally binding. We'll need a Ministry seal to legalize it. I don't care what I'll have to do to get it. I'll blackmail them, threaten, start a campaign."
Draco wished he could cast a Silencing Spell on Potter and force him to shut up. He was making no sense, but a part of Draco, a huge part of him, wanted desperately to say yes and just accept the impossible, mad dream.
Draco grabbed Potter's clutching hand and pushed it away. "And what would marriage solve, exactly?"
"It's not a solution, it's a promise. I want to officially promise I won't leave you. When someone tells me you're wrong for me, I want to tell them to be careful what they say about my husband. I want to show everyone, and especially you, that I won't change my mind at the first sign of trouble. Draco, you are right. No one will take us seriously if we don't take ourselves seriously first. But if we do, we'll have a chance to change their minds. Not wait for them to change ours."
It felt as though someone had pulled a rug from beneath his feet. And Draco was trying so hard not to fall. He wished Potter wasn't telling him this in a forest so full of light and colour, most of it green. "Potter —"
"We'll meet tonight, go into the Muggle world, Confound someone if we have to, and get married. And then we can wait, for as long as you want, until you're ready to let people know. I won't push; I swear, I won't push."
"You're mad." So mad his words could seem like reason only to a madman. And Draco was succumbing. What did that say about him?
"I'm right. This time I'm right. Last time I let you leave. I didn't fight for you. I gave up. Just like you predicted. I'm not making the same mistake again. No one can say you're wrong for me. Not even you."
Draco's head felt heavy; he rested his forehead against Potter's. Somehow, he'd known this would happen. He'd known that if Potter asked him to come back, he'd do it. He hadn't expected Potter to ask, though. Especially not like this. He could feel his reason melting away. "You've Imperiused me. Just now, without a wand." Except the feeling of happiness Draco was trying to push away didn't feel vague; its source was clear. Had he been hoping for this moment the whole time they were stuck in the tent? Was that why it was so easy to forget everything that he'd believed kept them apart and surrender the moment Potter threw him a bone? Except it wasn't just a bone; Potter was offering himself.
"Is that a yes?" Potter's green eyes were mesmerizing.
"What if it is? If I go back home now, I'll . . . what if I change my mind? What if you change your mind? What if we agree to meet somewhere and one of us doesn’t come?"
"I won't change my mind," Potter said fiercely. "And I'll kidnap you if I have to."
Suddenly, Draco wasn't ready to go home; he didn't want to take any chances. Right now, he was alone with Potter, away from everything and everyone. He had nearly died, and his body still remembered Potter's warmth and its comfort. Right now, anything seemed possible. He was stuck in one of Potter's irrational dreams and he didn't want to wake up. If he lost sight of Potter, he'd lose sight of everything that seemed so clear and promising in that moment. "We could . . ." Draco grimaced. Was he really doing this?
His heart beat uncontrollably as he stepped away and rolled up his sleeve. Potter looked too confused to stop him. Slowly, Draco tapped against the wrist of his left hand five times. The air around his forearm shifted and revealed a leather holster. Glancing at Potter apologetically, Draco pulled out a short wand. It elongated to full size in his hand. "Spare one," he said. "I never cared much about basic wand safety."
Potter stared at the wand and shook his head. "This whole time you had a wand? But —" He seemed unable to decide whether to be angry or not. "Why not show it to me?"
Draco swallowed. "I needed last night. I thought that was all I'd get."
"Oh." Potter slowly wrapped his fingers around Draco's; they held the wand together. "Why show it now?"
"I thought we should go and Confound some Muggles. Right this second."
Potter's eyes widened. "You're saying yes? You're seriously saying yes? To a Muggle ceremony that won't even legally marry us because we're not Muggles and we plan to Confound them?"
Draco laughed; it sounded both happy and hysterical. "I don't care. I want to hear your promises. Officially. And have a stupid piece of paper to remind me of it."
Potter kissed him suddenly, a short, needy kiss that solidified Draco's resolve.
"I thought I blew it," Draco whispered against Potter's lips, a barely audible confession. "I thought you'd never take me back. I panicked when you wanted to tell the world about us and I've regretted it ever since. I tried telling myself it's for the best, but it isn't."
Potter sighed and kissed him again, then squeezed Draco's hand. "Okay. It's okay. It doesn't matter anymore. We're getting fake-married today."
Draco nodded, smiling. "Where?"
Potter considered the question. "Little Whinging. I might even find us a couple of witnesses. My cousin and his wife. I think Dudley will love to see me get married in his old shirt. Well, perhaps not to a man. He might do it anyway, just to spite his parents, though. We'll ask. What the hell; it can't hurt."
Draco was laughing. "I don't even know what you're talking about, but all right." He frowned. "And then we'll go and tell my parents."
"I almost died, you saved my life; it's perfect timing."
"If you say so."
Draco pulled Potter closer with his free hand. "Think of Little Whinging."
Potter kissed him again. "This is not a mistake. I swear it," he said when he pulled back.
It couldn’t be. Draco was too happy. He realized he hadn't been feeling much at all for two years. This might be an impossible dream, but that had been a nightmare.
He had planned his life so carefully; weighing and measuring every option, discarding those that seemed to lead to failure. And despite all of it, he had almost died two days ago. The reason he was still alive, the reason he felt alive, was in his arms. If keeping Potter there was a mistake, there was something wrong with the world and it shouldn't be allowed to win. And if Potter could fight for him, then Draco could fight for Potter.
"Go," he said, and Potter smiled and closed his eyes. Draco gripped him tighter and, with a sharp crack, they Disapparated.