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There's a heat wave in Benha the week Draco arrives. It's steadily creeping up to 43 degrees and Draco wonders if maybe the universe is trying to tell him something. He decides, if it is, it will have to be a lot louder about it. His professor, his godfather, he suspects his best friend in the world – and how bloody sad is that? – had his throat ripped out in some dusty, disused room that a man he had hated to his last breath had spent his formative years in. His parents are pariahs and nothing in their past had prepared them for dealing with that with any sort of grace.

England is some unfamiliar husk of home now. Maybe Egypt isn't the right place to try to build a new one, Draco doesn't pretend to know, but it doesn't hold any memories – good or bad – and that's enough for now.

He's rented out a hotel for the week. He's there three months when he starts to wonder if maybe he should look for a more permanent living arrangement. He stops buying Linguasieves in bulk when he realizes there are only a handful of phrases his solicitor uses that he can't catch. He thinks maybe Egypt is the right place for a new home after all.

He meets a local man named Abasi in a jazz club. He immediately takes a liking to Draco and his pale-but-quickly-turning-golden skin and his ultra-blond hair. He speaks English but his accent is thick and Draco thinks he might understand him better when he uses his native tongue. It doesn't stop Abasi trying to perfect his English. Thankfully, he doesn't seem to mind too much when Draco giggles at his mispronunciations.

"I am saddened to see zis," he says one evening as they are standing on the veranda of one of the larger restaurants in Benha. His hand discreetly strokes down Draco's arm as the words twist out of his mouth.

Draco's skin warms at the contact, recognizing and welcoming the familiar touch all at once. "What's that?" he asks lazily, his head with the chattering crowd standing beneath the awning on the ground floor.

Abasi's palm curls over Draco's bicep with a reverence that makes Draco wonder if the time hasn't come to remind Abasi of exactly what their relationship is. Or rather, what it isn't. "You are turning dark like me." He holds his forearm up against Draco's as if to compare. "You are so bale when we first meet." He sounds almost wistful. Draco likes the way his 'p's turn to 'b's.

He punches up an affronted look on his face even though Abasi's words hold little weight with him and always have done. "You only like me for my Scandinavian looks?" He pouts and his tone is teasing.

The joking undercurrent hasn't broken through the language barrier but still Abasi doesn't seem to take it too seriously. He shrugs his shoulders and leans against the concrete next to Draco. His curly hair is darker and limper, even shiny due to the humidity and his open face is tight with gravity. "I make friends jealous because of how you look," he says with his typical blunt honesty. "I like you for ze brain."

Draco snorts. "Well that shan't change any."

Abasi's grin is blinding. "Zen I will like you always."



He and Abasi have had the discussion about making their relationship more serious on three separate occasions by the time Potter arrives in Benha. He's working a case that Draco has no interest in. In fact, when Draco first sees him at the pub Potter talks and talks but Draco doesn't hear a word of it. It is as if his past has turned tangible and come to hunt him down.

"Er, Malfoy, are you listening?" Potter shifts about uncomfortably and his hand reflexively tightens on his lager.

Draco blinks. "No."

"Oh." Potter obviously doesn't expect the honest answer and he doesn't seem to know how to respond to it now he's got it.

Potter opens his mouth and Draco says, "Where are you staying?"

Potter shrugs. "You know you've got like one hotel in town?"

Draco grins. He remembers. It was his first home in Benha. "I've a guest room," he finds himself saying and he could say that the words have caught him by surprise but he'd be lying. He's been wondering how to get Potter back to his flat almost since he laid eyes on him. Suddenly six years of such passionate hatred make perfect sense.



Potter drinks too much and falls asleep on his couch rather than the guest bed that first night. It takes five more days for the case to finish and Potter spends every free minute of his time with Draco. Draco shows him around Benha like a proper tour guide and Potter proves not to be terrible company.

Draco makes a move on him on the fourth night. They are sitting on the same side of the booth as Draco has run into two of Abasi's drinking mates and they are sharing the space with them. Draco lets his hand slip down to rest on the cracked vinyl between their thighs and he feels Potter tense instantly, hyperaware as he is of Draco's movements. He waits until Potter has another drink in him to smooth his hand up his thigh and onto the inseam of his trousers.

Potter's breath catches and he presses back as far as he can into his seat, away from Draco's hand. Draco squeezes the inside of Potter's thigh and the man shudders. Potter's fingers close over his and squeeze for a moment before moving his hand away. The blokes get up to bring them another round and Potter hisses, "What do you think you're doing?"

Potter's so busy glaring at him that he loses track of Draco's hand which allows him to place it squarely on Potter's not-uninterested cock. He gasps and his eyes flutter closed against his will. "M-Malfoy," he stutters out.

Draco strokes his hand teasingly over Potter's cock and feels it growing hotter and heavier between his legs. Potter's fingers clench hard over Draco's and he shakes his head, his jaw tightening. "I'm not a pouf," he forces out.

Draco leans close and says lowly, "Your cock says otherwise."

Potter forces his hand away and pins it to the sticky vinyl. "Don't touch me again, Malfoy." His voice is cold and unflinching. "I mean it." He's breathing hard and not meeting Draco's eyes.

Draco sighs and leans away. He drops a few pounds on a water ring and wonders where Abasi might be tonight.

He doesn't get back to the flat until early the next morning. Potter's already gone and Draco doesn't expect he'll be back. After knocking on Abasi's door looking to be fucked the night before, he's been roped into having dinner with him. Draco gets home after nine and finds a very drunken Potter waiting for him.

"Why'd you hafta—You made this—You should never've—" is all he gets out before he launches himself at Draco's mouth. Potter's sloppy with his tongue and there's more saliva than Draco's ever had to deal with but somehow – in some way Draco could never describe – it's perfect. He shoves his hands into Potter's choppy hair and grips tight. The action soothes a long lost desire that he's buried deep inside himself.

Potter's hands smooth up his back and his mouth gets even more vigorous, which Draco would have said was impossible. He pulls back with a smile he doesn't realize he's wearing. "Slow down," he says calmly.

Potter shakes his head frantically, pushing him back against the door and tugging up on the hem of Draco's shirt. His glasses are crooked and his hair looks like the lightning bolt scar on his forehead is giving off actual electricity. A warm and melty feeling threatens to overtake him for a moment before Draco shakes himself out of it.

He wraps his hand over Potter's and squeezes the way Potter had done when he'd rejected Draco the night before. Potter looks up at him and Draco can see he isn't rushing it because he wants to, but because he needs to. "Okay," he says, more to himself, even though it isn't. It isn't okay at all.

He shoves his hand into Potter's trousers and fists his cock without ceremony. Potter lets out a guttural moan that surpasses pleasure. His fingers twist up in the fabric over Draco's shoulder as he bends into Draco's torso. "I want—Will you let me fuck you?" Potter doesn't meet his eyes as he makes the request. Draco suspects it's because he honestly couldn't say it if he had to.

"Would you let me fuck you?"

Potter's swallow is audible. "You want to?" He's looking up into Draco's face now and he's childlike and almost vulnerable. It does funny things to Draco's insides.

Draco grabs his arse cheek and pulls him forward, giving a tight twist of his hand on Potter's cock as he does. Potter falls into him and Draco can tell he's on the edge. He yanks his hand out of Potter's pants and tilts his chin up, making Potter focus on him. Potter's eyes blink one after another. He grinds his teeth a moment and says almost defiantly, "Yeah. If you want, I'd let you."

Draco's grin is sharp. "Oh, I want to."

Potter's horribly virginal and Draco wishes they had shelved the conversation until they were further along in things so he wouldn't have to watch Potter awkwardly struggle out of his clothes now he knows what's coming. It isn't until he's on all fours in the middle of Draco's bed – not a strip of clothing on and shivering – that he says in a small voice that Draco isn't entirely sure he's meant to hear, "Will it hurt?"

Draco's insides do that jittery dance again and he presses his mouth to Potter's shoulder. "If it does," he assures, "it'll be nothing compared to the pleasure."

Potter stops shivering. "Yeah?" He turns around to look at Draco with wide, trusting eyes.

Draco doesn't bother to answer. Instead he delves into Potter's mouth as that is the best comfort he can offer, subtly forcing his head back around with a gentle finger. Potter turns willingly with the kiss.

Draco smooths his hands over Potter's back until he can feel the tenseness bleed away and he can't quite help his grin as he knows what comes next is only going to make Potter stiffen right back up. He doesn't give any warning before he makes a long stripe with his tongue over Potter's crack.

Potter almost jumps and blurts, "Holy—motherfuck." Draco's grin widens as he pulls Potter's cheeks apart and buries himself in his task. He's never been so eager as he is now but he's also never had to soothe a virgin's nerves either. Potter's moaning things like, "So fucking wrong," and, "Fuck, Malfoy, don't," but his cock is so red it looks ready to burst. It's throbbing between his legs and rocking with the slight sway of his body and Draco thinks the brush of a sheet would be enough to finish him.

He shoves his tongue inside Potter and fucks him with it, delighting in the way Potter hides his face in Draco's pillow while his breaths shudder through his whole body. He keeps at it until he sees Potter's toes start to curl and then he unbuttons his trousers and replaces his tongue with something much larger.

Potter makes a stifled noise into the pillow and his muscles freeze in position. It only takes a single shallow thrust before he pushes back into the intrusion. He doesn't make it past four before his cock spasms and he comes so hard Draco's almost afraid he'll pass out. He turns his red face to the side and tries to catch his breath while Draco seizes his opportunity to fuck him harder and deeper than he'd dared, knowing Potter's orgasm has desensitized him to it – at least for the moment.

Draco loses himself in the rhythm of fucking Potter's tight and perfect arse, loses himself to the heat and the clench of Potter's insides. He wants to lock himself in position and never move again, simply spend the rest of his days buried deep inside Potter. He can't think of a more perfect way to spend eternity. He's still trying to stave off his finish when he realizes Potter is saying something. Draco leans down but he can't quite make out the words. He thinks it might be:

"Wanted this so long."

Draco comes before he even realized he'd deciphered it and Potter groans like it's the sexiest thing he's ever felt. He turns his head and catches Draco's mouth. Potter's still kissing him when Draco falls asleep.



Potter's left and come back three times – to resolve the case or some such. He makes a definitive point to tell Draco he isn't queer and they while away a pleasant, and platonic, few days together. At least until the last day of Potter's trip when he inevitably drowns himself in liquid courage and begs Draco to take him again, over and over until he can't walk without feeling Draco's cock inside of him. "Like the first time," he always says.

Draco suspects they fuck until his legs feel like jelly and Potter can't open his eyes anymore because Potter needs the feeling to last for all that time between visits. Of course Draco doesn't mention this out loud. Just as he always agrees when Potter tells him he isn't gay. Just as they don't talk about the fact that Potter's dating the Weaselette. That's not why Potter comes here and those aren't conversations Draco really wants to have.

They've finally fucked themselves into an exhausted heap and Potter is pressing lingering kisses to Draco's shoulder blades when Draco hears a heavily accented voice boom into his bedroom. "I knew zis. I knew." Abasi's already halfway out of the flat by the time Draco catches up to him.

His pants are still halfway down his arse and he tugs them all the way on when Abasi finally stops in his front hall, chest heaving up and down. "You knew what this was," Draco reminds him carefully.

Abasi runs an angry hand through his hair. "I knew," he says again and it means something else now. His eyes are searching Draco's face until the floorboard behind them creaks. Then they flare with something a lot like hatred and they shoot to some place over Draco's shoulder.

Draco turns to find Potter sneaking, half-dressed in pants and a plain t-shirt, out of his bedroom. He freezes as he realizes he's been caught out and Draco rubs a tired hand over his face. "I'll put the kettle on," he throws over his shoulder as he turns away, not caring one whit if either of them follow.

When the kettle finally whistles, he moves to set his cup down on his small and circular kitchen table. He finds Abasi and Potter have taken seats opposite one another and are glaring unapologetically at each other. If not for all the tension, it would almost be funny. Even with all the tension, Draco has to shove down the amused snort that wants to break free.

Abasi's lip curls and he stares heatedly at Potter. "So zis is ze oser man?" he says with heavy-handed disgust.

Potter actually laughs. "The other man?" he parrots. He taps the counter in a staccato rhythm. "I have no designs on Draco. I'm seeing someone else."

Draco's shoulders tense and he stares down into his cup, trying to shut out the words. Abasi looks almost confused and he sits up straighter. "You are not sleeping wis him?" he asks Potter, looking hopeful.

Potter has the decency to look uncomfortable and Draco clears his throat, deciding to field the question. "Potter and I have a casual relationship," he adds pointedly, "much like you and I do."

Abasi leans back again and says coolly, "I see."

Draco knows once Potter leaves, he's in for a highly unpleasant conversation with Abasi.



Potter has a goofy grin on his face when he pushes open Draco's door almost six months later. His coat and hair are dripping wet and he's shaking out a newspaper in the hall. He says he's working a case. Draco doesn't even care enough to wonder whether or not he's telling the truth. All that matters is that Potter is here.

He waits until his last night, until they've fallen into bed together to ask, "How's, uh, Oddbody?"

"Abasi," Draco corrects with a smile that tilts his mouth to the side. He shrugs while Potter's fingers drag up and down his spine. "He left."

Potter freezes. "Why would he do that?" he asks with hooded eyes.

"He wanted something more serious than I was willing to give."

Potter clears his throat. "Why not get serious with him?"

Draco's eyebrows raise in disbelief. "Potter," he says sharply, a significant look in his eyes. And Potter isn't truly the reason. Draco had been very upfront with Abasi from the beginning on what their relationship was and what it never would be. He didn't doubt, however, that Abasi would still be in his bed if Draco wasn't sleeping with another man – any other man. Draco continues to let Potter think he is the impediment to Draco's love life because it is ludicrous for Potter to ask why he is not getting serious with a boyfriend when Potter has come there specifically to fuck him.

Surely he must see that denial of this magnitude is cause for serious concern.

He doesn't.

He practically jumps out of bed and starts pulling on his trousers. "You know," he says in a voice that's randomly leaping up and down octaves, "I shouldn't fuck around like this. The case is finished and I need to notify—"

"You're serious?" Draco interrupts.

Potter looks away and tells the bottom panel of Draco's door, "I can't pal around with you when I'm on the job."

Draco rolls his eyes, severely doubting there is a 'job' at all. "'Pal around?'" he says with a snort. "Is that what you call it?"

Potter ignores the question and says stiffly, "I'll see you around, Malfoy."

He's nearly out the door when Draco calls after him, utterly unimpressed, "Right. Run away without looking back, it's what you're best at after all." Draco realizes how histrionic he sounds only seconds after it is out of his mouth and he's disgusted with himself. He wonders if this is how Potter feels every time they're together. The thought makes his stomach rebel and Draco thinks he's never been happier to see Potter's back than he is when the door slams behind him.

Two weeks later, with Abasi's warm skin draped over his back, a black owl swoops in and settles on his bedside table, holding out its leg. It's a short note, only two words.

I'm sorry

The words aren't the answer, they're all but meaningless and for all Draco cares it could say 'billywig snot.' They aren't what Draco's needed to hear but the note is. Because Potter had cared enough to send it. Because even if he's not there now, even if he can't admit what Draco is to him, even if he'll pretend until the thestrals come home that he doesn't want to stick his dick in the first arse he can find, he does want to come back. And that's an admission Draco didn't ever think he'd get.



It's been three years and he's seen Potter maybe sixteen times in all those months. In all that time, he's not said that Potter needs to make a choice, he hasn't pushed, he hasn't nagged, he hasn't asked for anything. He leaves the Prophet out on the kitchen counter, the evening edition announcing (finally) Potter's engagement to 'longtime girlfriend' Ginevra Weasley.

Potter doesn't see it before he grabs Draco round the middle and drags him off to the bedroom. At least two years back, Potter had stopped pretending to be straight for four days before fucking Draco on the fifth and instead utilized all the time they were given. Probably because so little was offered.

When Potter finally exhausts himself, Draco finds himself honestly wondering, "Why are you here?"

Potter tries to quiet his breaths as though he realizes the seriousness of the topic and that he shouldn't be panting through it. "I have a case," he says slowly, carefully. "You know that." Even after all this time, Potter hasn't stopped needing the excuse of a job to come see him.

Draco swallows and his voice is just as guarded. "You seem to have an inordinate amount of cases in Benha."

Potter stiffens. "Does that bother you?" His voice is strung tight and Draco fancies he can see the knots forming in his back.

He's no better. His voice is brittle despite his best efforts to make his remark sound off the cuff. It doesn't. It sounds bitter and hurt and that leaves him furious with himself. "I think maybe you should start passing them off to someone else."

Potter's gaze grows wide and he blinks a lot as though there's something in his eye. "Oh."

And Draco can tell what Potter really means is, 'what's changed?' He's tempted to make Potter say it, to make him acknowledge that there is something to change but he doesn't. If he was still trying to hold on to this, maybe then he would have made him say it, maybe then he would have kept fighting tooth and nail. He's too tired to fight now. He's moved out of England in order to stop fighting. So he answers the question Potter's not-asking. "I'm not interested in getting fucked by someone who's ashamed of me."

Potter's response is quick, as though he'd only been waiting for the chance to let it bolt out of his mouth. "I'm not ashamed of you—"

"Ashamed of my gender then," Draco shoots back just as fast. "I see the disgust on your face every time we finish. I know you won't turn over because you can't look me in the eye while I'm screwing you. I see the resolve that it'll be the last time each time you dress. I see the self-loathing each time it breaks and you undress." Potter's moved to the edge of the bed now and he's hung his head in his hands. But he's not denying any of it. "I've no interest in being your weakness, Potter. We're not teenagers anymore and I want a partner. I want to be a strength."

The muscles in Potter's back quiver and Draco's eyes cut away as he makes himself say in a hoarse but resolute voice, "Don't come back here."



Draco stops taking the Prophet so he won't be tempted into anything stupid. After a while, the time without Potter stops being 'time without Potter' and just becomes 'time.' He goes to the World Cup in Cairo and meets Viktor Krum again – or rather, properly, for the first time. He has a smile that's infectious and he's mad about Draco, and Draco doesn't think he's ever had that – at least not anyone who'd admit to it.

They're talking about moving in together when Potter shows up spouting the inadvertently domestic line, "Malfoy, are you home?" It's as though he's been away on a long business trip and is only just returning and Draco feels woozy for all of a moment. The hard look on Viktor's face brings him back around.

Potter wanders into his kitchen and Draco says in a surprisingly steady voice while purposefully looking at Potter's face and not down at his left ring finger, "Viktor, you remember Harry Potter."

Potter swallows and doesn't quite meet anyone's eyes as he greets tightly, "Krum."

"Potter," Viktor says and it's little more than a growl. "Vot brings you to Benha?" Somehow he makes the inquiry sound like a threat.

Potter lets himself off leash now that he's gauged the extent of Viktor's hostility. "I could ask you the same," he says coldly.

Draco clears his throat and says weakly, "Potter has an Auror case here."

"And I am living vith Draco," Viktor says, jutting out his chin. It's technically true, Viktor does live with him while he's in Benha visiting and Draco lives with him when he's in Romania to do the same.

Potter pales and says, "I just need a moment, Malfoy."

Draco sighs and hangs his head in a nod. Viktor grabs him round the waist as he passes and gives him a deep and possessive kiss. Potter's eyes are shadowed and his hands are shoved in his pockets as he stares at the floor.

"Through here," Draco says and he tries not to notice the red ring beneath Potter's eyes. They've barely reached the laundry room before Draco turns around and says, "Go home."

Potter doesn't even seem to register he's spoken. He takes a deep breath as though readying himself for a lengthy speech but all he says is, "I looked back."


"You said—" Potter starts, swallows, and starts again, "You said I run away without looking back."

Draco's hands are shaking and he crosses them over his chest so he can hide them in the crook of his elbows. He makes himself toughen up and says icily, "What do you want, Potter?"

Potter runs a hand through his hair. The light catches the gold of his wedding ring as it drags through. "I don't know," he huffs out.

Draco snorts to conceal the effort it takes just to stay upright after the revelation that Potter has actually done it. He actually married her.

Potter frowns and says, "All right. I do, but I know I can't have it because it's impractical and unfair to you and it means nothing has to change and I know something has to change." Potter motions towards him with his elbow and stares down at Draco's trainers. "I want you. I don't want to have to 'come out' because I want you. Not blokes, understand, just you. I want to be with Ginny because that means my life is normal, that means the press is off my back and that means things are the way they should be. I want to live in England. I want you to come back and live in England because it's hell coming up with excuses to see you. I don't want you to be moving on."

Draco gives a huff of a laugh. "You want me so long as you don't have to tell anyone you want me." Draco's face twists up. "Romantic."

Potter scowls and his gaze is still focused near Draco's feet. "I told you, it's not pretty but it's what I want. I know it's not realistic. I know I'll have to make a change somewhere, I just haven't decided where yet." Potter shakes his head slightly. "It'll be you. I think it'll be you. Seeing you with Krum, in a real relationship, I've never felt so unhinged. I can't think about anything but the fact that the two of you are getting more serious every day and every day it gets less likely that you'll choose me." Draco's gaze widens as it becomes obvious that Potter knew about Viktor long before he walked in on him in Draco's kitchen. Draco had been wondering what had finally drawn him out. Now he knew. "It was bad enough with that Oddbody bloke," Potter's fists clench, his eyes glitter and his jaw tightens, "obsessing about him touching you, and if his hands were softer than mine, and if he kissed you on the mouth, but with Krum I can literally feel you slipping through my fingers. I think I might break if you fall away completely. So, right. I think it'll be you. It's just—change is hard. I'm working on it though."

He offers Draco his most charming lopsided smile. It's not nearly as infectious as Viktor's.

Potter seems to realize he's not getting through and his next words become the preface to a rant. "Wanting you changes everything. It means this huge part of me is different, it means people won't look at me the same, it means the press will be all over me again, it means I'll have to announce my sexual preferences to my friends, it means this is my defining characteristic now, it means I'll be 'That Queer, Harry Potter' forever even if it's only you and not blokes, it means people will judge me based off this one thing and will associate all these other horrible things with me based off that, it means I'm a deviant—"

"Green eyes make you deviant," Draco interrupts without sympathy. "Get over it." He can't believe how angry he feels. He thought he was past the point where Potter could influence his emotions. "Why should you give a damn what anyone else thinks? Your friends – the people who mean anything – love you unconditionally. And I do mean unconditionally. The public has never got it right when it comes to you – thinking you're mad, thinking you're a lying, melodramatic troublemaker. So who gives a rat's arse what they print or what they believe? And if this is your defining characteristic for you then I pity you. If this is the defining characteristic everyone else sees then what does that matter?"

Potter glares at him. "I'm only trying to explain, this is hard. For all those reasons and more. That's why I've been dragging my feet. Because it means change, it means a lot of change. All I've wanted is normal and boring and this is the polar opposite of that." Potter looks close to throwing up his hands. "Give me time."

Draco snorts. "That's all I'll give you, Potter."

"Malfoy," Potter starts.

"Do what you need to do, Potter," Draco cuts him off, "but do it for you." He's trying not to come off as horribly furious as he actually is but he can't quite believe that Potter expected he was just waiting for him. "I'm not asking you to do it for me, I'm not asking you to do anything for me anymore," he clarifies coldly as he turns on his heel.

"Don't go," Potter begs, and it's as if it's escaped him against his will. When Draco's facing him again he clears his throat and says with less melodrama, "Not like this."

Draco shakes his head. "There's no good way to walk away from this. It doesn't matter how, it's always going to sting."

Potter actually laughs. "This is just a sting?"



He and Viktor barely last out a week before they decide to finish things between them. Viktor realizes he'll never be able to compete with Potter – whether he's in Benha or not – and Draco cares too much about him to contradict that with a lie. Happily, they manage to develop a friendship that Draco genuinely values and relies on.

It's been a while since he's been single. He's only been at it less than a month before Potter shows up on his doorstep. He shoves the Prophet into his limp fingers and Draco stares down at the headline.


"I did it," Potter says in a rambling fashion. He wrings his hands. "I didn't know if you'd have seen it here but I did it." He points down at the newspaper hanging limp in Draco's hands. "I did it for you, because of you, because I want to be with you and I'll move to Benha if I have to because there was no good reason not to be with you and I'm sorry I was being so dense about it. The press is awful and my friends are thrown but I get you. I guess I didn't realize how that would obliterate everything else. I'm mad about you and I don't want you with anyone else. I lov—"

"Draco?" comes a voice from the other end of the hall.

Both Draco and Potter turn to find a man with dark hair and darker skin staring at them with his head cocked to the side.

Potter looks like he might be sick. "Oh. Oh fuck." Potter stares at the man – Draco's forgot his name already – with wide, wet eyes as he backs away, running into the doorframe and an end table on his way out, babbling, "I—I'm sorry. I'll just—" He turns and practically flees.

Draco catches up with him on the street. "Potter!"

Potter barely turns and seems to be caught in a loop of apology and shaking his head. "I'm sorry. I didn't think you'd—I didn't know."

"I'm not a monk," Draco says flatly.

The shaking becomes a quick nod and Draco feels better knowing he hasn't broken the wizarding world's hero. "I know, I—"

"I'm a fan of sex," Draco keeps on, ignoring Potter's broken record deference and apology.

Potter swallows. "I know."

"That doesn't mean I'm interested in marrying every bloke I fuck."

"I—" Potter freezes, "what?"

Draco gives him an uncertain smile. "He isn't you." Potter swallows as though he's waiting on tenterhooks. "I've noticed all the men I've tried to date have that flaw in common." Potter's grinning now. Draco twists his hand nonchalantly as though to brush the issue away. "He's what's known as passing time, while you got your head out of your arse."

Potter looks positively giddy now. "You were waiting?"

Draco scowls but manages to admit through clenched teeth, "In a fashion."

Potter's teeth are so much whiter than Draco remembers. "I love you," he says.

Draco snorts. "I thought that might've been where you were going with that."

Potter can't seem to stop smiling even as he tries to warn him. "I can't promise I won't bungle this horribly or that my head is totally out of my arse yet. I'm… wary." Draco understands what he really means is he's still not comfortable with the idea of 'being gay' and there's no guarantee he won't backslide.

Still: "It's a start."

Potter smiles and pulls him close. "Yeah, it is," he says happily and Draco lets himself be kissed by the man he suspects he's loved since he was eleven.