Chapter One

Harry leaned back into the delightful warmth and thought about waking up, but the dream was too enticing. A hand glided languidly from his shoulder over his bicep, down his forearm and linked long fingers through his. Harry's hand was lifted to curl under his chin and he felt a thumb trail slowly over the edge of his jaw.

He smiled in contentment and tugged the hand up to his lips to press a kiss against the knuckles as his consciousness caught on to the fact that it was no dream, just as a pair of lips pressed into the side of his neck, followed by teeth opening in a gentle nip and a teasing flick of wet tongue.

Harry smiled and kissed the knuckles once more before taking the tip of one finger into his mouth. He licked it and then sucked on it gently.

Draco chuckled against his neck.

"Are you going to wake me up like this every day?" Harry asked hopefully.

"No, usually I'll try to seduce you."

Harry groaned. "I thought that's what you were doing."

"You're so easy," Draco murmured. Harry rolled over and pressed a kiss against his hot mouth and they gave up on the idea of getting out of bed for a while.

Later, Harry toyed with Draco's ultra-fine hair as his head rested on Harry's chest.

"What's for breakfast?" he asked.

Draco made a sound of protest. "You love to complain about your clothing budget, but have you seen the food bill? You eat like a starved lion."

"It's your fault for cooking like a bloody gourmet. Where did you learn that? You certainly would not have needed to cook growing up."

The platinum-topped head rose and Draco's silver eyes met Harry's. "Definitely not, but I had to lean to fend for myself after they burned this house down. No house, no house-elves, no parents. I would have starved but for a delightful witch I ran into at a pub in Cardiff. She taught me everything she knew."

"I'll bet."

"You should thank her for that one little maneuver you like. You know, the one that starts at the small of your back and…" Harry's instant blush made Draco laugh. "You did ask."

"I was talking about food."

"All right, I'll make your breakfast." Draco pushed himself up and climbed out of bed. Harry watched his magnificent physique for a moment before Draco tugged on a black velvet dressing gown. Draco glanced over his shoulder. "When are you planning to go see Granger and the Weasel?"

"Weasley and the Weasel," Harry corrected. "They're married, remember?"

"Just what the world needed. Another Weasley."

Harry could picture him rolling his eyes even though he had turned away. "And it's 'we,'" Harry added.

"We? Not Weasley?"

"No. We are going to see them. Not just me. We. As in you and me."

Draco stilled and turned back to Harry. His eyes narrowed in that way Harry had come to liken to storm clouds preparing to hurl lightning. The platinum head shook in denial. "Oh no. Absolutely not."

"Absolutely yes. You are coming with me."

"To what purpose?"

"It's our job, for one thing. Hermione asked us to escort them."

"She asked you to escort them."

"We are a team now. They are just going to have to get used to it."

"You plan to divulge everything in a paroxysm of Gryffindor guilt, don't you?"

Harry scowled. "That's not how I would phrase it, but yes, I plan to tell them the truth about us."

Draco dragged a hand through his hair, a gesture he must have picked up from Harry. "Look, they already hate me enough without blaming me for your moral degradation."

"It isn't your fault and it isn't moral degradation, either!" Harry snapped, pushing himself out of bed and snatching another dressing gown.

"Good luck convincing the Weasels of that," Draco replied and stalked out.


Harry treated Draco to an extreme dose of Gryffindor stubbornness for the remainder of the morning, but Draco had an astounding amount of natural resistance, no doubt the result of primarily getting everything he'd ever wanted as a child. Harry, however, had never grasped the concept of giving up.

Draco became so annoyed he refused to make lunch and retreated to the library to loudly lay planks on the floor. Harry relented for a time and went to examine Lucius Malfoy's private book collection. An owl came from Hermione confirming that she expected them that evening.

Harry showed it to Draco.

"See? They expect us."

"They will be disappointed." Draco had finished the floor and was busy levitating the excess materials into a neat pile.

Harry stepped forward, grabbed Draco, and slammed him into the wall. He met angry grey eyes evenly. "I really want you to come with me," he said in a cajoling tone.

Draco scowled. "You know you're driving me stark raving mad."

"I'll stop if you just agree to come along." Harry pressed his fingers over Draco's lips to still his words. "In fact, I'll even let you decide what to tell them. I won't divulge anything without your approval."

Draco grabbed Harry's wrist and tugged his hand away. "Truly? Won't you explode or something if you keep that large a secret from your minions?"

"They're not minions, and I'd rather have you with me."

He kissed Draco lingeringly to emphasize his words and Draco sighed again.

"You'll not give up, will you?"

"Not if I have to tie your unconscious body to my broom."

"And I decide whether or not you tell all to the Weasels?"

"You decide."

"You win, then, damn you."

Harry smiled triumphantly.


They headed for Ottery St Catchpole later that afternoon. It was fairly close to Malfoy Manor and they encountered nothing threatening on the way. The house was larger than Draco had expected, but exactly as quaint as predicted. It did have a low stone wall rather than a white picket fence, but it was appropriately festooned with a multitude of flowers in happy colors.

Hermione must have been watching from a window, for the instant they touched down on the road before the house, she bolted outside and threw herself on Harry. Her eyes slid sidelong to Draco. While he did not see the expected animosity reflected in her brown eyes, he did not see a friendly welcome, either. She looked much the same as she had at Hogwarts, though a bit taller.

She stepped back from Harry and nodded at Draco.

"Malfoy," she said flatly. "Welcome."

He grinned, as she had managed to make the word mean the exact opposite. "Granger," he said in the same tone.

"It's Weasley now," she corrected primly.

"No hyphen?" Draco asked with a raised brow. "You always struck me as the hyphenating type."

Her eyes narrowed. "What do you mean by that?"

"Don't start already!" Harry snapped. The front door opened again and Ron Weasley sauntered out, looking extraordinarily bizarre with longish hair and a rather sparse beard. Draco wondered if Ron had affected the look merely to annoy his domineering wife—it seemed the sort of passive-aggressive revenge Weasley would take. Ron embraced Harry as well—quite the huggers, Gryffindors—and must have decided that ignoring Draco was the best policy. He shot Draco a single glare and dragged Harry into the house with an arm around his neck, leaving Draco and Hermione to stare at each other in uncomfortable silence until she grudgingly asked, "Would you like to come inside?"

"No, I think I'll bed down out here with the marigolds."

In hindsight, it probably wasn't the wisest thing he could have said, because he could see her itching to tell him to do that very thing. He grinned and managed—barely—to keep it from turning into a smirk. Harry spared Hermione from swallowing her pride and forced Draco inside by sticking his dark head out the door.

"Malfoy, get in here."

Draco threw Harry an irritated look, mainly for his imperious tone, but also for spoiling his Granger-baiting. Draco hadn't realized how much he'd missed it.

"As you wish, Chosen One," Draco replied shortly and inclined his head in a subservient fashion. Harry quirked a grin at him and shook his head before retreating. Hermione turned and went inside. Draco propped his broom on the porch next to Harry's and entered the house.

It was cosy and well-kept. Even though it grated on Draco's nerves to admit it, he could not really find fault with anything. The furnishings were traditional and much to Draco's taste—mostly pale oak upholstered with muted fabrics in earth tones.

The trio sat on the couch with Harry in the middle, leaving Draco to sprawl casually in a chair near the unlit fireplace. He did so while pretending to ignore them, although he did catch the apologetic glance Harry threw at him.

"Why are you going to London?" Harry asked.

"To see Tonks and Remus. Their owl post said they'll be back tomorrow, right?" Hermione said. "Of course, we wanted to come see you, anyway."

"Why do you need an escort? As Draco said, you could have handled anything out there on your own."

Draco caught Hermione's look of surprise, but whether it was generated by shock at Harry's use of his first name or the possibility of Draco paying her a roundabout compliment was uncertain. Probably both.

"I wanted to make sure you didn't scurry off on another job and figured the best way to ascertain that was to hire you myself," she said. Ron nodded and Draco wondered if he was ever allowed to squeeze a word in edgewise. He almost felt sorry for Ron living with the budding termagant. Harry might be bossy at times, but at least he shut up on occasion, especially when Draco slid his tongue halfway down his throat…

Draco grinned wickedly at the memory and his gaze warmed when he looked at Harry, who blushed as if on cue. Draco nearly laughed aloud. Hermione's sharp gaze passed from one of them to the other, but Draco doubted even she could put those limited clues together. He could see her filing it away for future reference before turning to Harry.

"How did you and Malfoy end up working together?"

"We figured it involved an Imperius Curse," Ron muttered.

"Remus hired him to escort me to find the last Horcrux. Draco saved my life a few times."

Draco avoided Harry's gaze, knowing to look at him with that memory in mind would be to reveal all. They had saved each other on that journey; in more ways than one.

"You know how suicidal Gryffindors are," Draco said dryly. "It wasn't that hard."

Harry snapped his fingers and got up. "I wanted you to look at this, Hermione." He made his way to the door where his backpack sat propped against the wall. He rooted in it for a moment until he found a sheaf of papers that he handed to her.

"What is this?" she asked after skimming the words.

"Lucius Malfoy's notes. I'm hoping to find a way to reverse the spell that makes Apparition impossible. The notes are random and I haven't had much time to look at them."

Hermione looked at Draco. "What do you know about these?"

Draco shrugged. "Nothing. This is Potter's obsession. I haven't looked through my father's things at all." His voice was dead even, but his eyes dared Harry to comment. Harry knew why Draco took no interest in his father's library. Avoidance was his preferred method of dealing with the deaths of his parents and, so far, Harry had left the subject alone.

Hermione set the papers on a nearby table. "I'll read these a bit later. It's time to eat."

They filed into the small dining room and Harry sat next to Draco on one side of the table. Hermione sat across from Draco with Ron across from Harry. Hermione turned out to be an absolutely dreadful cook. Draco managed to refrain from comment, largely due to the fact that Harry reached down and gave his knee a sharp squeeze every time he opened his mouth to do anything other than place another forkful of food inside.

When the interminable dinner was finished, Hermione led them down the hall to a pair of rooms.

"I'm afraid the nursery hasn't been furnished, yet," she said apologetically.

"Nursery?" Harry asked loudly.

Hermione blushed furiously. "Well, it's unfurnished so, obviously, we won't need it any time soon!" Harry laughed. "Anyway," she continued, "I set up a cot in the guest room. You two can fight over who gets the bed. Just don't kill each other deciding. You don't mind staying in the same room, do you? We can move the cot into the nursery, if you'd prefer."

The small guest room contained one full sized bed and a few smaller furnishings. A thick-mattressed cot had been placed against the far wall.

Draco exchanged an amused glance with Harry. They both knew the cot wouldn't be getting any use that night.

"This is fine, Hermione," Harry said. Draco sat on the cot and tugged his boots off; hoping Granger (Weasley) would get the hint. She babbled on for a bit longer, giving Draco directions to the lavatory and explaining where towels and blankets were kept and so on. Draco lay back on the cot with hands propped behind his head and ignored her until she ran out of steam.

"We should get an early start in the morning, Harry, so be sure you're awake by 7 o'clock or so," she said. "Is there anything else you need?"

"If so, I'm sure I can find it myself, Hermione," Harry said with a grin. "I've been here dozens of times."

She smiled. "So you have." She gave him a spontaneous hug. "It's good to see you, Harry. Good night." Her gaze slid to Draco as if thinking about wishing him a good night but unable to find a sincere way to do so.

"Don't bother," he said dryly.

Hermione looked at Harry. "Which is worse? Fighting Voldemort or working with Malfoy?" With that, she huffed down the hall and Harry shut the door behind her.

The latch had barely clicked before Draco's hands and mouth were on Harry, devouring him with pent-up frustration, pressing him against the door and drinking in his essence.

"Which is worse, Potter?" he asked against Harry's mouth.

"Voldemort," Harry replied in a husky whisper. "No question."

Draco laughed.