A/N: Thank you for your patience and the kind reviews.
I've been thinking (and yes, there is a first time for everything). Pre-season training will be over soon and with our first game coming up next Monday….have you thought about traveling with the team this time around? You always say that you want to keep an eye on me to make sure I don't spark any media disasters. What better way to keep me in line than to be there every day?
I know you're my publicist, not my babysitter, but it could be fun. You like to travel and I like not ending up on the front page of the Prophet. Both can be accomplished if you come along. What do you say?
Draco dropped down into the nearest armchair and frowned down at Harry's letter. Why on earth would he want to travel around with an entire lot of sweaty, thick-skulled Quidditch players? Since he'd starting working for the Wasps, Draco had always operated from his office within Buzzer Arena. It was peaceful and efficient and worked perfectly well for managing Harry's schedule and endorsement deals.
But on the other hand, if he traveled with the team, as Harry so astutely pointed out, they'd be able to see one another every day. Draco knew why that idea appealed to him, but media control aside, he couldn't imagine what use Harry'd have for him day in and day out.
With a shake of his head, he allowed the letter to fall to the living room coffee table knowing what he had to do. He moved to a patch of rug in front of the fireplace and tossed in a pinch of Floo Powder. "Pansy Nott!"
As if she'd been waiting for him, Pansy's dark hair appeared in the fire seconds later, followed by the rest of her face.
"How are you pet?" Draco asked with a smile.
Pansy frowned, shaking her head in admonishment. "I'd be better if this wasn't the first time I've heard from you in three weeks." From the set of her shoulders, Draco could tell that she'd folded her arms.
"Work has been absurd, as usual," Draco explained. "But I find myself in need of your expert advice. Do you have a minute?"
Suitably mollified, Pansy's face cleared. "I assume this has to do with Zabini?"
"No, actually it's about...wait," Draco's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "How did you know about that?"
Pansy gave a shark-like grin. "I know everything Draco, I thought you knew that already. So if it's not about Blaise, it must be about Potter."
Draco opened his mouth to retort and then closed it in resignation. Pansy had always been the gossip queen in Hogwarts. He didn't know why he'd expected anything less.
"It is about Harry. He's asked me to travel with him and the rest of the team starting next week."
"For a few games?" Pansy asked.
He exhaled sharply. "No Pans, for the entire season. He said he wants me there."
Pansy gave him a strange look. "What did you tell him?"
"I haven't replied yet. I don't know if I should go, especially with Blaise moving in." Draco clenched his jaw in anticipation of Pansy's reaction. Until that very moment, he hadn't admitted to anyone that he'd agreed to let Blaise stay.
"I think you should go with him."
Draco gaped at her stupidly for several moments. "You think...really?"
"Really, think about it. You let Blaise move in so the dunderhead has someplace to stay. But, you're on the road with Potter, and don't have to put up with any Zabini-brand bullshit. Everybody wins."
He took a few moments to let her words sink in. It was an intriguing plan. A little piece of Slytherin brilliance actually.
A smirk worked its way across Draco's face.
"Pansy, you are a genius. Now I've got to go." He stood up abruptly from the hearth.
"Wait! Where are you going?" she called.
"I've got a letter to draft to Mr. Zabini. Thanks for your help."
Feeling better than he had in days, Draco disconnected the firecall and raced to his desk.
Mesia Tavern was unusually busy for a Wednesday night, Draco thought as he waited in front of the establishment for Blaise to show up. Thick foliage draped around the edges of the large front windows, cleverly charmed to be evergreen with twinkling fairy lights. Patrons bustled in and out of the building either being led inside to their tables by staff, or personally walked to Apparition points by the escorts on duty.
After Draco owled to say that Blaise could move in, his immediate response was a whole-hearted thanks and an invitation to dinner to show his appreciation. Draco liked dinner as much as the next bloke, and didn't hesitate to accept. Besides, Blaise still had no idea that Draco would be leaving for the Quidditch season soon and the petty part of him couldn't resist stringing his "friend" along for a bit.
Draco smirked, adjusted the lapels of his dark blue blazer, and looked up and down the walk, wondering where the hell Blaise had gotten to. As much of a prat as the man could be, he was almost always on time, if not early.
He cast a quick Chronos charm and saw that it was nearing 8:20. With a huff, he dispelled the shimmering clock and walked inside to the maître d' podium.
"Has Mr. Blaise Zabini arrived yet?" Draco asked the unusually tall wizard behind the stand. There was an impatient snap in his tone that he regretted, but in his defense, he was bloody starving.
"He's right here," a voice called from behind him. Draco whirled back around to face the entryway and saw Blaise storming up the path, looking murderous. Jaw clenched tightly, he straightened the collar of his suit jacket as he walked. His mahogany eyes were narrowed with annoyance and Draco fought the urge to take a step back. In moments like these, Blaise looked very much like his mother and Draco could do without learning exactly how Zabinis dispose of their acquaintances.
"I'm so sorry I'm late Draco," he said, prompting Draco to raise an eyebrow at both the apology and lack of explanation.
"Mr. Zabini, Mr. Malfoy, please come this way. Your table is ready." The maître d' picked up two menus and began escorting the two men to their preferred booth without another word.
When they were seeing one another, Mesia was Draco and Blaise's go-to restaurant, the establishment catering to high-class wizards on the south side of Wiltshire. In the past, they'd enjoyed meeting up for a meal fit for royalty, followed by a night of world-class fucking. It had been much too long since Draco had a night like that.
In an effort to clear the rapidly impure thoughts filtering through his brain, Draco followed his companion further into the restaurant.
"Are you going to tell me what's got you in a strop?" Draco whispered out the side of his mouth as they walked behind the host.
Blaise's face twitched, like he was biting the inside of his cheek. "In a moment."
At the table, Blaise and Draco slid into the plush burgundy booth, still in complete silence. Draco cleared his throat and took a sip of water from one of the glasses that appeared between them. It was either that or let his frustration get the best of him and shout at Blaise to get on with it. He liked to think that he had matured at least a little over the years – Merlin knew, if he could find a reserve of patience for Harry, he could assuredly find one for Blaise.
At Draco's annoyed glare, Blaise finally deigned to speak. "It was my mother's fiancé," he said heatedly.
Draco frowned. "What about him?"
Sighing, Blaise spread his fingers out over the fine linen tablecloth and gazed intently at his buffed fingernails. "He wanted to spend time with me. Some male bonding 'because you're going to be my step-son' shit. When I told him that I was going out to dinner he kept asking where we were meeting and whether my dining companion was someone he could trust. I had to make up a fake chore Mother wanted him to handle before I could get the hell out of there."
Chuckling, Draco replied in a sing-song voice, "Aw, that's precious. He wanted to make sure that ickle Blaise is safe."
It was only the fact that Draco had known Blaise for so long that he saw the way his hand twitched as though reaching for his wand.
Draco sighed in exasperation. "Stop it, you wouldn't dare hex me. And anyway, he does know that you're twenty-four and not an infant, right?"
"Obviously not," Blaise responded with distaste.
As the waiter arrived to take their orders the conversation was put on hold, and within moments their entrées appeared on the table looking and smelling absolutely succulent. Mouth watering, Draco gave a silent thanks to the speed of upscale restaurants. A few healthy bites of his main course, a tender leg of lamb, took the edge off his hunger.
Sighing with satisfaction, Draco finally felt himself relax.
"So, I haven't said it in person yet, but thank you for agreeing to let me stay with you." Blaise patted the corner of his mouth with a cloth napkin and leaned back, reaching for his glass of Merlot.
"Don't thank me yet," Draco said softly, a malicious smile taking over his face. "I'm a Malfoy and a Slytherin. I almost always have an ulterior motive."
Blaise leaned forward again and gently placed his glass back on the table. When he spoke, his voice was lower, coated with a rich seduction that made Draco shudder against his will. "Tell me, does this motive have anything to do with you lying on your back, ankles touching your ears?"
It was a crude, flippant question and should not have made Draco hard. But it did. And it also made him want to continue the banter, despite knowing that they were traveling down a dangerous path. He pitched his tone to match Blaise's.
"If anyone was going to have their ankles about their ears Blaise, it would be you. Or have you forgotten how much you loved feeling me thrusting on top of you?"
Blaise's eyes lit a spark of lust in Draco's belly that was difficult to extinguish. Their casual flirtation, every sentence dripping with innuendo, was thrilling. Familiar. Too familiar. With a grimace, Draco was flooded with memories of himself brooding immediately following his and Blaise's breakup. No matter how seductive his former bed partner could be, he knew he would regret it forever if he didn't keep it in his pants.
"All joking aside," Draco continued in a hoarse voice, and quickly cleared his throat, "We need to talk about you moving in."
"Are you going to let me stay in your bedroom?" Blaise asked with a lecherous grin.
Draco pretended to think about it before nodding. "I suppose you could…" Draco very much enjoyed the look of surprise on Blaise's face. But he would enjoy the next reaction even more. "…considering I won't be there."
In the time it took to take a sip of his wine, Blaise went from pleasant surprise, to confusion, to something akin to anger. "What do you mean you won't be there?"
Widening his eyes in false innocence, Draco kept going. "Didn't I tell you? I'm going to be traveling with the Wasps this season. So you can stay in the flat as long as you like. I'll hardly be there, save the occasional off-day."
Blaise knew better than to yell, but the fireworks in his eyes said he was seriously considering throwing all his pure-blood decorum to the winds and starting an epic shouting match. "Did Potter put you up to this?" he asked once he'd managed to wrangle some of his anger.
Draco smirked. "Harry did suggest it. I was opposed to the idea at first, but I thought about it, and who am I to encroach on your privacy while you're staying with me? This way I'll be out of your hair and you can have as many blokes over as you'd like. No interruptions."
Blaise spent some more time fuming and then raised another question. "Are you and Potter…you know?"
The question caught Draco off guard and he found himself gaping against his will. "What?"
"Dating. Are you two dating?"
Comprehension finally dawned and Draco sputtered a response. "Me and Harry? Merlin no!" Blustering indignation on the outside, topsy-turvy stomach on the inside. Of course he and Harry weren't in a relationship. They were friends and business partners. Harry was married and Draco was… Draco was happy, he supposed.
Blaise was looking at him curiously and Draco could just feel a blush rushing to his cheeks and neck. Apparently, after a moment's perusal, he found something in Draco's expression that he'd been looking for, cleared his throat, and continued. "Right then. Let's move on to those rules of yours then. What do I get for being the prodigal roommate?"
"The opportunity to live in a cushy flat and not on the streets of London, where you would be if I weren't so kind as to offer up my home."
Blaise chuckled, most traces of his previous anger gone. "Fair enough. When should I start packing?"
On Thursday morning, Draco made his way down to the Wasps locker room. He was hoping to catch Harry for the few minutes between their 9 o'clock team meeting and that morning's practice.
He trekked quickly through the yellow-tiled hallways of the arena until he reached a black door labeled Authorized Staff Only. Draco touched his wand to the door causing it to buzz and shudder, before unlocking smoothly.
A hard right took him directly to the locker room and Draco paused outside the open door. Head coach Carruthers had just closed up his play book and marched over to his office, leaving Draco free to approach Harry on the far side of the room.
He gave cordial nods to the other players, crossing the space between striped yellow lockers. By the time he reached Harry, the star Seeker was changing for practice.
Draco's eyes glazed over. Harry had already shed his shirt and had one foot propped up on the oak bench, unlacing his trainers. The muscles in his shoulders and back were pulled taut, unfairly testing Draco's willpower. Even in the dreadful lighting of the locker room Harry's tanned skin looked absolutely edible. Draco bet it was soft too. Maybe he could just reach out a hand…
Shaking his head fiercely, he tried to get himself together, but didn't manage before Harry turned around and noticed him.
"Draco? What are you doing down here?" Harry asked, seeming surprised but pleased.
Draco blinked rapidly, still attempting to stop ogling his friend and behave appropriately. But Harry's well-defined abs were just calling to him. He allowed his eyes to roam the expanse of the other man's torso until a throat clearing drew his attention away. He reluctantly returned to Harry's face.
"My eyes are up here," Harry said, voice laced with amusement.
Draco's blush was just the latest failure in his attempt to maintain his dignity. "I came to tell you that I'd like to come along with you and the team this season."
Harry's eyes lit up. "Really? That's fantastic! Thank you Draco!"
Draco's insides did a funny loop-de-loop at Harry's grin. "You don't need to thank me. It's certainly not a hardship."
"Still," Harry began, toeing off his other trainer and working on his belt buckle next. "I thought you were going to say no. This is brilliant."
Draco grunted in acknowledgement, but was too engrossed in watching Harry's fingers drag down the zip of his denims to say anything more intelligent. It was the voice of Carruthers that brought him back to himself.
"Oi! Jheon and Potter, get a move on! Malfoy, clear out!"
Harry gave Draco a sheepish grin and reached into his locker for his uniform. "I'll see you later?"
Draco nodded and gave a slight wave as he made his way back to the door. He tried very hard to tell himself that he was not disappointed that he hadn't seen Harry without his trousers.
The work week slid into the weekend and by Saturday evening, Draco had thoroughly cleaned his flat, helped Blaise move in, and nearly finished packing for the first road trip on Monday. Blaise had gone out with his mother and future step-father, so Draco decided to treat himself with a bottle of Chardonnay and a black-and-white movie marathon.
The hours ticked by with Draco engrossed in the classic films, but despite the quaint plots and intriguing costumes, he felt his eyelids grow heavy. By eleven he was curled up on his side, remote dangling from his fingers. By midnight he'd nodded off on the couch, tv buzzing with static as he'd finally lost reception. Draco was just straddling the border between dozing and deep sleep when he felt a weight dip the couch cushion beneath him.
"Draco," a husky voice called close to his face.
"Hm?" he asked sleepily, snuggling deeper into the warmth of the couch under his body.
"I'm back Draco, wake up." Warm kisses were pressed against his neck and jawline, which rather did the trick of waking him up.
Opening his sleep-bleary eyes, Draco eventually focused in on Blaise's face in front of him. His eyes were glassy and his breath reeked of alcohol. "Blaise, stop," he rasped, trying hard to conceal the reaction he was having to soft lips on his skin.
Blaise dragged a hand along Draco's side and hip, the warmth of his touch permeating Draco's thin sleep shirt. "I want you Draco, so much." His kisses trailed closer and closer to Draco's mouth.
Exasperated and tired, Draco reached under the couch cushion where his wand had fallen during his slumber. He pulled it out and held it loosely in his hand, not pointing it at Blaise, but getting his point across nonetheless. "Leave me the fuck alone Zabini. I'm going to bed."
Blaise had the nerve to look confused and hurt but fell back onto his haunches allowing Draco to get up from the sofa and cross into his bedroom. He made sure to cast a strong locking spell on the door to ensure no other drunk horny men could get to him tonight.
With the stirrings of a Blaise-induced headache, Draco slipped under his covers and fell into an uneasy sleep.
Somewhere around 5AM on Monday, Draco was shrinking down his luggage and preparing to Apparate over to the stadium. For reasons he could not explain, his stomach felt like it was filled with rabid Cornish Pixies. He couldn't decide if it was the thought of being away from home, the prospect of being forced into company with the entire Wasps team, or Coach Carruthers that was making him so unaccountably nervous.
With a shudder, Draco packed up one last bag and then caught sight of Blaise poking his head out of the spare bedroom. He had wisely stayed out of Draco's way on Sunday and other than an embarrassed apology from his roommate, they hadn't spoken since the sleep-groping incident.
"Hey," Blaise said quietly, shuffling in the room wearing black silk pajama bottoms and no shirt.
Draco barely refrained from rolling his eyes. "Good morning. Molest anyone today?"
Blaise winced, but inched closer until he was perched on the edge of the front hall table. "Listen, I was a prick the other night. I was completely pissed and you just looked so damned sexy spread out on the couch like that. Like it was a buffet just for me."
Draco narrowed his eyes and Blaise continued hastily.
"But it was wrong of me to touch you like I did. I didn't have your permission and should have just wanked in my room. So, what I'm trying to say is that…"
"You're a twat?" Draco interjected merrily.
Blaise hung his head, but nodded slowly. "I'm a twat. I'm sorry."
Pursing his lips, Draco gave a short nod. "I accept your apology, but I don't forgive you yet."
Blaise looked like he wanted to argue, but quailed under Draco's sternest expression. "That's...fair. Is there anything I can do before you go? Help you take your bags to the stadium?"
"No need. I'm Apparating and then we're leaving straight from there."
"Ok." Blaise sighed heavily and then looked at Draco with hopeful eyes. "Is it too much to ask for a hug goodbye?"
Draco nearly gave in, but then remembered how violated he'd felt the other night when Blaise was hammered and pawing all over him. "A handshake will suffice," he said evenly.
Blaise looked upset but stepped forward to hold out his hand. Draco clasped it lightly and shook before moving away swiftly.
"I'm off then," he said, shouldering one bag and placing his hand over the others. Draco took a deep breath and glanced at Blaise. The last thing he heard before Apparating away was a small, "So long Draco."