Disclaimer: The irresistible world of Harry Potter and its characters are, regrettably, not mine.
Warning: Sexual content, not overly graphic, but it's there.
A/N: A somewhat light-hearted and rather risque summing-up of my writing thus far, so there are references to my other fics sprinkled in here.
Nightingale by my Pillow
It was one of those cheap hotels where one gets precisely what one pays for. Though not the most comfortable place in the whole of England, there was one good thing about it: there was little to no surveillance. For someone like him, it was almost like a luxury.
When he knocked on the door of room 310, the door swung open almost immediately. The man in the room was holding a bottle of whisky -- clearly brought by him since room service was a foreign concept at a place like this. Looking decidedly flattering in grey shirt and black trousers, Draco Malfoy was gazing at him with an appreciative half-smile on his face.
His heartbeats skipping several tempo faster, Harry Potter wondered what Draco saw when he looked at him. He had worn a cashmere jumper and low-cut jeans, knowing Draco liked seeing him in those. Personally, he was quite taken by those form-fitting clothes that accented Draco's figure.
"Hi," Harry said as he walked into the room while Draco held the door for him, and the first impression he had of the room was -- "Well, at least it's not as shabby as the last one."
A funny sound from behind reached his ear; Draco had snorted at his display of sarcasm. "Anything is like heaven compared to the Room From Hell," Draco commented dryly while pouring the earthy liquid into two glasses that were sitting silently on the little round table. "Granted, it was an interesting experience to be standing on the bed instead of lying on it."
Harry could not help smiling at the memory as well; yes, it had been, as Draco put it, interesting. Accepting a glass from Draco, Harry took a sip. As was expected, the whisky was rich with a hint of spice; Draco was never one to settle for anything less.
"Did you bring any food with you?" Harry asked absently as he peeked through the drawn curtains; there was nothing much to see outside except for trees and fences.
"Oh, so I'm supposed to pack a picnic basket?" It was Draco's turn to be sarcastic, but it never bothered Harry much, since Draco never meant what he said to begin with. "What am I? Room service? If you want anything, you should do the packing yourself."
"Hmm." A playful thought came to Harry, and deliberately he sent an appraising glance at Draco's direction. "Well, you've already done the packing. And quite a nice package too, I might add."
"That is one of the worst pick-up lines I've ever heard," Draco drawled as always, his tone hovering between amusement and wryness. While Draco was not known for being modest, Harry could swear that his blatantly suggestive comments got under Draco's skin more often than he let on. "Has the whisky gotten into your system already?"
"Maybe," Harry said before downing the remaining mouthful and gazing into the empty glass. "If I start burbling about world domination or being the new god of the world, smack me with the pillow."
"You know, I do wonder about your mental capacity sometimes." Following Harry's example, Draco tossed down the whisky in one gulp and set the glass down. Intently he prowled to where Harry stood beside the window, then removed Harry's trademark glasses with breathtaking gentleness. "But I'll leave the thinking part for later."
It was an affair, really, and an addictive one at that. Every so often they would receive a message from the other, and then they would, like now, meet in one of the many hotels in England.
Harry would like to think that should he want to end it, he could do it whenever he wanted to without hesitation. For one thing, he knew Draco was thinking of the same thing. As for the other thing, the Mark on Draco's forearm said it all.
It had been nothing more than a coincidence, and both times it was all because he had too much time in his hand -- someone above clearly had a warped sense of humour.
The first time it happened, it was during the time when they were still attending Hogwarts, the time when they were crossing the bridge between adolescence and adulthood. Bored and unable to sleep, he had sneaked out of the dormitory, thinking that maybe he could get a midnight snack in the kitchen. But in the end, it was not the appetising aroma of pastries that he found; instead, it was the sound of a piano being played that attracted his attention.
It sounded very cliched now, but as a pianist himself, he simply could not resist finding out more. Therefore he followed the sound, which led him to an abandoned wing within the castle. The melody was a bit disjointed, as though the one playing the piano only knew half the tune, and not very well at that.
His curiosity was getting the better of him, prompting him to steal a look through the slightly ajar door. The room looked nearly as desolate as the rest of the wing, and standing to the side was an ancient-looking piano that might have looked very majestic in the past, before time and neglect caught up with it. There was a candle-holder on top of the piano, its feeble light barely sufficient for reading and writing. And there the mystery pianist was, sitting before the piano and tinkling a slightly off-key melody.
He was very certain that he had not made a sound, but somehow the pianist had noticed him, and abruptly the playing stopped. Not knowing what to do, he simply went back the way he came, although a small part of himself wondered why he had felt the urge to run away.
The second time, however, he did not run away.
The world had been thrown into chaos by then, and by extension, so was his life. One supposed that he ought not to even have time for idle wandering, but the truth was there was honestly not much to do, since the two sides were at an uneasy standstill at the time. And besides, everyone deserved a break every now and then, a little respite to pause and smell the roses.
And so it came to be that he had stumbled into a Muggle pub that looked slightly more established than the rest down the street, simply because he could no longer stand the company of his fellow comrades nor the cold wind that was repeatedly slapping his face. The inside of the pub did not particularly stand out in his mind, though what caught his attention was a vaguely familiar melody being played on the piano. It was then that he noticed the grand piano sitting on a stage by the corner of the pub, and the person playing the piano.
It was a scene straight out of a cheap romance novel with wildly unbelievable plots that required suspension of disbelief on the part of the readers. It had been said that art imitates life, but in his case, life clearly imitates art -- the very bad ones at that.
The pianist was getting better at his playing, which was a pleasant surprise -- he wondered how the other even found the time to learn the piano properly. And then, as his rotten luck would have it, Draco Malfoy found himself meeting the curious gaze of Harry Potter.
The hot, humid summer arrived with a blast of heat and enough sunlight to make the dandelion in the garden grow into the size of man-eating monster flowers. There was hardly a difference between going outdoor and staying indoor; neither provided much relief unless you have the air conditioning running on full power.
As luck, or the lack of luck thereof, would have it, the air conditioning system in the countryside beds-and-breakfast that Harry and Draco were staying broke down -- which was more than a minor hassle, especially considering the particular type of activities they engaged in inside the room.
The small lamp on the nightstand was turned on, and Harry, lying on his side with nothing but a thin white sheet to cover up his modesty, stared at the tall figure by the open window. Draco, leaning against the window-sill, was clad in his trousers, seemingly unbothered by the heat wave; Harry could not help but envy his composure.
"Hey, don't you feel hot wearing those slacks?" Harry said absentmindedly while brushing his hair away from his sweat-drenched forehead. "It's bloody boiling in here, and you are wearing your trousers."
He did not need to look to know that a pale eyebrow had arched at his blunt remark. "Unlike you, I'm not so shameless as to walk around the room in nude."
"So said the bloke with his shirt off," Harry replied impertinently, although inwardly he rather enjoyed the view -- not that he would admit it aloud though. "Oi, you are blocking the window."
"So? It's not as if there's any wind," Draco drawled nonchalantly, but he did move away and sat down on the bed, forcing Harry to move aside.
It turned out Draco was right, there was not even a whisper of wind; all they got was sultry midnight air pouring into the room that already resembled a furnace. At least they got a nice view outside, but from Harry's position, he could only see the hazy grey sky. The weather forecast claimed that it was going to rain tonight -- the weatherman ought to be shot.
Unable to take it anymore, Harry threw aside the blanket; he did not care to be seen stark naked anymore. Besides, it was not as if the other occupant in the room had not seen it all already. Reaching for the glass of water by the nightstand, Harry accidentally brought his knee to Draco's spine, almost knocking him over.
"The hell, Potter! You want to break my back?!" Draco was not the type to yell, but this was close.
"I'm sorry, okay?" Harry replied grudgingly while nursing his own numb knee. "Besides, it's not as if your back will break so easily. If it's so breakable, you would've broken it a long time ago."
"I don't see you complaining about it those few times when I almost broke my back," Draco, being his nasty self once more, got back at Harry.
Harry could not help reminiscing about thattime in Liverpool, and he could not help grinning at the memory. They had been quite, enthusiastic back then, since they had not seen each other for close to three months.
Water completely forgotten, Harry sat up, eyes aglow and lips curled into a wicked grin, which Draco obviously took as a bad sign, since there was a hint of wariness in Draco's stance.
"Hey, don't look like that. It's not like I'm going to attack you," Harry said lazily as he moved onto Draco's lap, pulling Draco's face to his while he was at it. "And if I do, I'll make sure you like it."
"That's corny." But Draco was not given any further chance to express his opinion as Harry pushed him down onto the bed, their previous argument completely thrown aside into the sultry night.
It was sheer undiluted pleasure to be with Draco like this; Harry never needed to think about anything except the obvious. The rule in the hotel room was simple: no talk about work or the war or their being mortal enemies. Other than that, everything else was fair game.
Was there any love involved? Harry was hesitant to throw love into the formula. He was no Romeo, and Draco would kill him if Harry called him his Juliet.
Draco had not properly duelled with Harry since they left Hogwarts; the few unfriendly encounters they had in their adult years were brief and chaotic, what with packs of people fighting each other all over the place.
Therefore, when he saw Harry jerk his head towards the direction of the front entrance of the pub, he thought he would be eager to take up the challenge, but he could not ignore the shadow of weariness in his heart.
Following Harry out the door, he was instantly met by a crisp wintry breeze; the heady warmth that had dulled his mind was immediately chased away.
Harry had led him into a deserted back alley. With the faint orange light from the lamppost out on the street being the only source of light, the back alley was dark. In short, it was a perfect place to perform any shady business, but it did pose the problem that one could not see much of anything in there.
Although Draco could only vaguely make out Harry's silhouette in the gloom, he was not too worried about fighting in the dark; it had been part of his training after all. And judging by Harry's choice of a duelling ground, Draco could tell Harry had received similar training as well.
"You surprise me, I must admit," Harry said, a tone not entirely hostile, but it could hardly be classified as friendly.
"What? You thought I was going to turn tail and run?" Draco replied condescendingly.
"I thought you were going to blow up the pub, along with everyone else in it," Harry said coolly, but it sounded more like sarcasm than accusation.
"You don't know me that well then," Draco remarked while tilting his head to the side. "I'm not interested in mindless massacre."
"Really?" Harry's voice sounded incredulous; Draco could not blame him. "Is that the new Death Eater motto?"
If Draco was still his former self, he might just say yes to infuriate Harry. Nevertheless, he was so bored that he thought he would give something else for Harry to think about instead. "Believe it or not, I don't like committing murder any more than you do. Some deaths are necessary, but I would stay far away from other unnecessary and completely pointless things."
There was a pause. "And you expect me to believe that, knowing who you are?"
"I didn't blow up the pub in front of you, did I?" Draco answered nonchalantly as he squinted at the shadow in the dark, suddenly wanting to see the look on Harry's face.
Yet another pause, but this time it felt longer than the one before. Just when Draco gave up on getting a response from Harry, Harry asked quietly, "Why are you here?"
And there was no reason for Draco to lie; sometimes the truth could be even more unnerving than a lie. "Because I was bored." Draco meant to make it sound like a taunt, but somehow his voice came out sounding tired. Before he knew it, more words tumbled out of his mouth. "Don't you get tired of all the plotting and fighting and waiting sometimes? How many years has it been since it started? Ten, eleven years? Who knows how much longer it will drag on for."
Stunned silence, that was the only way he could describe what he got from Harry. Fortunately Harry could not see his face, or else Draco would most likely turn a one-eighty and run away as fast as he could as though he was chased by a herd of angry centaurs with very sharp arrows.
Maybe he should just go now; he was not in the mood for a duel anyway. Before he could so much as turn, however, Harry had at last snapped out of his eerily silent mood.
"I feel the same way too, you know," Harry said tentatively, as though he was not sure if he should reveal this much to an enemy. But it was enough for Draco, who felt as if someone had lit up a light inside of him, granting him a glimpse of the things he had never considered before.
In the end, they went on their separate ways without so much as a half-hearted exchange of schoolboy hexes.
Draco blinked when he stood before one of the most prestigious hotels in central London, wondering if he was at the right place. He blinked again when the door to room 713 was pulled open and there Harry stood, wearing a snappy navy blue suit and a bright smile.
It was rare for the usually vocal Draco to be speechless, but it seemed this was one of those rare moments.
"Eh, hi." Harry was growing self-conscious when all Draco did was stare at him -- funny, he did not feel this uncomfortable when he wore nothing but his birthday suit in front of Draco. "Come in."
Once Draco entered the room, the first things that caught his eyes were a bottle of chilled champagne and a silver tray full of sweet delicacies placed upon an elegantly carved rosewood table. The room itself was certainly a great improvement from their usual lodging; Draco could not find one single fault to complain about.
Finally recovering from his initial shock, Draco said, "What's with the change of heart? What happens to secrecy and such?"
"Hey, weren't you the one who said you were getting tired of all those third-rate hotels? And for your information, of course I took care of the security. And I'm sure you didn't waltz in here without making sure you weren't seen." Harry commented while attempting to open the bottle of champagne without much success; Draco simply pulled his wand out and pointed at the offending bottle, and with a loud crack the cork flew out like a human cannon-ball. "Bloody hell! You could've warned me first!"
"I like to see the startled look on your face," Draco said unconcernedly; Harry could not help but grit his teeth in irritation. "I didn't take you for a romantic though."
Heat was creeping onto Harry's cheeks; he pretended he was busy pouring the golden liquid into the two tall-stem champagne flutes. "Just want to try something different, that's all."
"Oh, I can see that," Draco replied, smirking faintly; Harry could tell that whatever was running through Draco's mind mirrored what Harry himself had in mind.
Feeling himself heating up at the thought, Harry gave Draco a glass, and then held up his own. "Cheers."
"A toast to the here and now," Draco announced with a quirk on his lips and put his glass to Harry's with a crystalline clink. "And to Harry Potter the sap."
"I most certainly am not," Harry objected as he sent a withered glare at Draco, but he felt slightly flustered all the same. It was unfair how Draco always managed to mess with his mind. One of these days, he might just strangle Draco and be done with it, but that would pose the problem of having to dispose the said body -- besides, he was not interested in necrophilia anyway.
Then again, he could always settle for some other methods to deal with him.
Feeling a bit more adventurous than usual, Harry drank a mouthful of the chilly but sweet alcohol, before pulling Draco to him. It was more messy than he thought to feed Draco with his mouth, but when Draco tilted his head and deepened the alcohol-tinted kiss, any coherent thought running through Harry's mind was completely chased away.
Soft laughter and pleasurable sighs erupted in the spacious hotel room as they fed each other strawberries and sweet and bubbly champagne. But next time, Harry would have to remember not to stuff too much chocolate into Draco's system -- Harry learnt it the hard way when Draco kept him awake and busy for the entire night.
If nothing else, he had at least learnt something about Draco Malfoy: chocolate to Draco was like whisky to Harry.
A note came to Draco about two weeks after his encounter with Harry in the pub. It was brought by a tawny owl Draco did not recognize, but he could recognize the writing on the parchment. The note contained only one short line, "Tonight, 9 p.m."
Draco wondered if this was a prank of some sort, or worse, a trap. But he doubted even Harry would be so foolish as to think that a note like this could trick him. Besides, he was curious to know if Harry had indeed thought about what he had said.
And so he arrived at the pub at the appointed time, just in time to catch the tail-end of Harry's performance. Sitting at the corner table, where he could easily see the door, he observed Harry. His form was good, as was his playing, although Draco found it strange that the melody sounded a bit loose, as though Harry was playing to his own erratic, offbeat rhythm.
It did not take long for Harry to come over and join him, with a black leather portfolio tucked under his arm. Once the raven-haired waitress with crimson lips set down a glass of water for Harry, Draco asked, "What's that you were playing just now?"
"It's jazz. A song called Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered." Apparently seeing the blank look on Draco's face, Harry elaborated. "Jazz is a genre that originated in the U.S. -- New Orleans as a matter of fact. It doesn't rely so much on what's written on the score, but on exercising a musician's creativity in interpreting the song. That's where improvisation comes in. And that's why no one playing of the same song would sound alike."
"So it's American music," Draco concluded; the concept of jazz did not make much sense to a classically trained pianist like him -- it was as foreign an idea as firewhiskey being able to cure hangovers.
"It's being played in other parts of the world as well," Harry said while sipping some water. "But yeah, I suppose you can think of it that way."
Draco made a noncommittal sound, before sipping his cup of rather bland tea -- he would have gone for something stronger if he was not worried about the possibility of facing Harry in battle.
Although they had not started hexing each other yet, Draco could sense caution and reservation in Harry's posture, though not a hint of enmity could Draco read off him. It was puzzling and alarming at the same time.
"What do you want?" Draco asked as he kept a discreet eye for any sudden movement from Harry. "You didn't call me here just because you want me to hear you play, did you?"
"You could've ignored the note," Harry replied, his vivid green eyes looking straight into Draco's; it was unnerving to be stared at by a pair of catlike eyes that seemed able to glow in the dark. "But you chose to come instead. Then tell me, why are you here?"
"Maybe I'm just bored." Draco took up the challenge. "Maybe I'm just curious to know why you call me out."
"Then maybe I just want to see how you would react," Harry effortlessly countered, throwing Draco's words back at him. "Maybe I'm curious about why you came here in the first place. Maybe I'm also bored."
Sparks were flying between them as neither wanted to relent. When the next group of performers struck up the next piece, however, they broke eye contact at the same time.
"Why are you playing piano here anyway?" Draco inquired offhandedly. "It's not as if you needed the money."
"It's called hobby," Harry answered with a frown, clearly unhappy about the implication behind Draco's words. "Maybe you should find one yourself."
"That's not what I meant, and you know it." Over the rim of the cup, Draco regarded Harry stoically. "Why here? Why in the Muggle world?"
A flash of irritation appeared on Harry's face. "I should be the one asking that question. Doesn't your lot hate everything that has to do with Muggles?"
And Draco had been prepared to answer that particular question. "Hate is such a strong word," Draco smoothly retorted while crossing his legs. "You cannot attach intense emotions to something you hardly care about."
Green eyes narrowed in agitation; it pleased Draco to know that he could still get a rise out of Harry. "So you don't care whether they live or die."
"They will go on living or dying whether we intervene or not. So yes, I could care less." Draco was about to bring the cup to his lips before he thought better of it, and set it down again.
"Your tone sure has changed," Harry uttered coldly, a tone that sounded oddly cynical and world-wearied. It seemed the naively noble Harry Potter had suffered his fair share of disillusionment over the years.
"People change, as they are supposed to," Draco quietly spoke; the unwanted memory of his father's broken body flashed briefly within his mind, leaving him with an emptiness that could not be easily filled. "Only the dead remains the same."
No words came out of Harry's mouth, as though he too had fallen into the well of reminiscence, drowning in memories that could only exist in mind and in heart.
Shortly after, they lingered awkwardly by the entrance of the pub as they were about to part ways. But Draco suddenly felt a strange reluctance to leave. Casting a glance over to where Harry stood, he found Harry also watching him, the youthful face that was marked by the infamous scar was filled with the same peculiar emotion Draco was feeling. When their eyes met, they reached a mutual understanding.
Neither went home that night; they were in one of those seedy hotels in London, kissing and caressing and clawing at each other's body.
Perhaps they were bored; perhaps they just wanted some release; perhaps they were just lonely, lonely and tired. Whichever the case may be, it did not matter except for the fleeting moment when the rest of the world ceased to exist.
It was near dawn by the time Draco woke up from his slumber; Harry was nowhere to be found. The empty space beside him was cold; Harry must have left soon after he fell asleep -- Draco mentally beat himself for letting down his guard in Harry's presence. But as he gingerly got out of bed, he wondered if perhaps he had given Harry too much credit -- it would have been a great opportunity for Harry to apprehend him -- a Death Eater belonging to the Dark Lord's inner circle -- and yet Harry did not take it.
As he stretched his arms and legs, his eyes caught sight of something white glued to the mirror: it was a note that said, "I was not here last night."
It made Draco smile; he could not decide whether Harry was being cute or being obstinate. Conjuring a quill of his own, Draco wrote on the blank space below, "Neither was I."
Draco tasted like a smoky blend of coffee with a dash of cedar, Harry thought absentmindedly as he nibbled on that sensual hollow between Draco's neck and shoulder, at times licking the pale skin with his tongue. To concentrate on more serious rumination than this would be difficult, considering that Draco's hands were doing their best to distract him.
Out of the blue a sudden thought came to him -- this sudden flash of insight seemed to happen a lot whenever he was with Draco, even though he was not sure why. "Hey, tell me who was your first and when."
"You have very bad timing, you know that?" Draco groaned, clearly more interested in the activity at hand than any prolonged conversation. "Aren't we supposed to talk about this kind of things either before or after, but not during?"
"Just a change in pace, you know. Isn't that something couples talk about when they make out?" Harry replied as he kissed his way down Draco's collar-bone.
It was quite obvious, even without the more distracting movement of Draco's body that left Harry breathless, that Draco did not agree with Harry's sentiment. Nevertheless, Draco indulged him in the end.
"Fifth year. I couldn't remember her name, but she was older than I was," Draco muttered as he ran a lazy finger up Harry's spine, sending a pleasant quiver to Harry's mind -- which was only too glad to stop thinking for awhile. "Does that satisfy you?"
"Quite," Harry murmured while little by little he trailed his tongue steadily downwards to Draco's navel, and then some more. "Quite satisfied."
And as how these things usually go, bedspread got tangled into a messy heap, as were the two very naked bodies lying on it.
"So now it's my turn. Who was your first and when?"
"Huh?" Harry had quite lost his train of thought already as he was nearing his breaking point, but when Draco abruptly stopped what he was doing altogether, Harry was completely beside himself. "Wha... you can't do this to me now!"
"Actually, yes, I can, and I'm doing precisely that." There was a devious smirk plastered on Draco's face as he held Harry down, steadfastly refusing to move one inch even when Harry attempted to arch up to him. Harry was very tempted to hex that infuriating smirk off Draco's face -- if only he could reach for his wand, which, if he remembered correctly, was somewhere on the floor along with the rest of his clothes.
"Bastard! Finish what you've started!" Harry glared in frustration at him as he struggled to get free, but Draco was clearly stronger than his look suggested, for Harry could not even so much as quiver.
"I will, once you've answered my question," Draco said leisurely, as though it was commonplace for him to exercise such method of interrogation. "I've answered yours. Shouldn't you reciprocate in kind?"
On hindsight, Harry supposed he ought to know better. "Fine!" It was not as if he had any other choice than to raise the white flag, what with his body completely betraying his mind. "My seventh, no, sixth year. Summer holiday. A boy who lived nearby. Fooled around a few times. Haven't seen him since--" His words turned into appreciative sighs when Draco's mouth descended upon his, accompanied by certain other motions in the lower part of his body that made Harry melt. And clinging onto Draco like ivy vines, Harry rode along with him to the path of ultimate release.
When at last they lay spent on the thoroughly abused bedsheet, Harry heard Draco mumbled to himself, "So it was a boy."
"Yeah, so?" Harry blinked for a second, before an unexpected thought surfaced to his mind and made him smile; Draco could be so adorable sometimes. Propping himself up so that he was hovering over Draco, he said playfully, "Ah, you are jealous."
Draco snorted in indignation and leant his head back onto the pillow. "If you think I'm jealous, then you don't know me that well."
In the end, Harry never did figure out what was truly running through Draco's mind when he said those words.
Weeks had passed since that night, and Draco went back to his life as it had always been since he joined the fray: waiting and plotting and fighting. The temporary standstill had broken down when one of the important Ministry officials was murdered. Since then violence had erupted anew, and once more chaos descended.
Draco knew there were people from both sides who felt relieved that the fighting had begun again; doing something was infinitely better than doing nothing. In a sense, he was also one of them, even though he was never fond of mindless violence -- he found it distasteful and vulgar.
Because of his busy schedule, he had more or less driven Harry out of his mind, though there would be occasions when his eyes would unconsciously scan the crowd for unruly dark hair and vivid green eyes. He did not go to the pub where Harry performed, however.
Whatever happened that night in the hotel was a one-time affair with no strings attached, and he wanted to keep it that way -- this was not some love-lies-bleeding, tear-jerking tragic romance stories.
But like everything else in his life, the capricious creature called coincidence had come out to play once more.
He had just come back from one of the cafes in Muggle London he had grown quite fond of -- although he still liked his tea, coffee was beginning to grow on him. He was about to enter the Leaky Cauldron when he nearly crashed into someone who just came out.
Quickly steadying himself, he noticed with no small amount of surprise that it was Harry he had run into. Harry seemed equally stunned to see him here; he froze on his track and stared wide-eyed at Draco as though he had just seen a ghost -- on second thought, Draco reckoned it was more like a Norwegian Ridgeback.
The atmosphere between them was awkward at best. Draco had literally slept with the enemy, and now he ran into the said enemy in a place other than the battlefield -- someone high above was clearly having a good laugh over his predicament.
"Eh," Harry's voice came out raspy, and he tried to clear his throat a few times. "Well, um, hi?"
"Hi," was all Draco could say; mentally he scorned himself for acting like a stuttering adolescent facing his secret crush. "Heading out again?"
"Yeah," Harry answered noncommittally as he shifted his weight. "You are heading back?"
"Yeah, I just came for some coffee," Draco said while stuffing his hands in his pockets; it would be better if he just let the whole thing go. "I'd better be going then."
"Eh, okay." Was it just his imagination, or did Harry sound a little disappointed just now? "Later then, I guess."
"Hmm, bye," Draco said as he stepped aside for Harry to pass; a whiff of something that smelled very much like apple flowed into Draco's nostrils as Harry brushed past him, reminding him of what Harry's mouth tasted like -- a menage a trois of apple, mint, and white chocolate.
Draco could not help following Harry's figure with his eyes, only to find himself meeting Harry's gaze once more -- Harry had turned his head to steal a glance at Draco. It seemed Harry was on the verge of saying something, but then he shook his head and walked on.
To walk away from it all as if nothing had happened between them was the right course of action; maybe Draco should follow Harry's example. But as he took hold of the door handle, his mind had already made up. Resolutely he turned away from the Leaky Cauldron, and followed Harry out onto the street.
Although he knew Harry could not see him, he had a suspicion that Harry knew he was tailing him. And yet, Harry gave no sign at all, but merely led Draco to the very cafe Draco had just visited not too long ago.
As Harry pulled open the glass door, he gave a meaningful glance at Draco -- that look at least Draco could decipher very well. As a small smile threatened to break out onto his face, Draco watched Harry walk to the back of the cafe where the bathrooms were, and then he duly followed him inside.
Once the door to the men's room was shut, he saw Harry leaning slightly on the basin while biting his lips in that nervous gesture of his, but those bright green eyes were filled with the same desire Draco could keenly feel in his body. Making sure they were alone in the bathroom, Draco walked up to Harry, who met him halfway.
Immediately they crushed into each other, their lips locked tightly together. Harry was already working on Draco's trousers when Draco slipped a hand beneath Harry's jumper. With some difficulty, they stumbled into the last stall and locked the door.
It would be some time afterwards when Draco realised that he had not thought about the war once when he was with Harry.
The bed was whining loudly beneath them, a sound not unlike the chirps of summer cicada coming from outside the window. The roaring of automobiles and the rumbling of trains accompanied heavy pantings and incoherent grunts. A series of rustles suggestive of shifting position put a stop to all the sound in the sleazy hotel room of tasteless extravagance, before the sound began anew all the more vigorously.
Somewhere down the street, speakers were blaring loud rock music: a singer of unknown gender screamed out nonsensical words while electric guitars wailed and heavy bass thundered along. But neither of them heard anything except muffled moans and rhythmic groans and their own racing heartbeats.
Higher and higher it climbed, until at last everything came to a silent halt. And then, they exhaled deeply, and the cicada was buzzing noisily once more.
Lying beside Draco on the dishevelled bed, Harry stared languidly at the ceiling, trying to catch his breath. There was not much to look at; most of the hotel ceilings looked the same anyway.
"Hey," Harry called out lazily; his feverish body was beginning to cool off, but now he felt uncomfortably sticky. "Ever thought about going away for awhile?"
"In what sense?" As always, Draco rarely gave a straight answer right away. "Going away as in on the run? Or as in walking out on everyone around you?"
"As in taking a break for some time, not running away forever," Harry replied as he ran his hand over his face. "So, have you thought about it?"
"And here I thought you are asking me to elope with you," Draco said teasingly, and then Harry felt a shift on the mattress. "I wonder what Rita Skeeter would say about that if she got wind of this."
Propping himself on his elbow, he turned to look at Draco, who was also lying on his side. Draco's hair was sticking out everywhere like a hedgehog, which was quite an amusing sight to behold. It was strange that even though they just had wild, gratuitous sex, Harry still felt as though he could eat Draco up with a spoon -- his libido always went on overdrive where Draco was concerned.
"Probably about how I kidnapped you and forced you to be my slave," Harry remarked half-heartedly as his eyes glided over the contour of Draco's body. "Who knows? Maybe she'll even throw in all the raunchy details just to spice things up and boost Daily Prophet'ssales."
"Sex sells, isn't that what they say?" Draco said nonchalantly while tugging at his hair. If he was feeling bothered by Harry's gaze, he did not show it. "Like those de Rais novels. There's essentially no plot, just a bunch of scenes where the main characters sleep with just about every other character -- both male and female -- in very minutely details that would surely corrupt hundreds of innocent minds."
"You read porn?" Now Harry was more than amused -- it was hard to imagine the scene where Draco, the haughty ice prince, snuggled underneath his blanket at night and read pornography with a torch.
"That's what teenage boys do, or perhaps you have skipped some steps along the way?" Draco commented offhandedly with a quirk of his head. "And by the way, how did we come to this topic in the first place?"
"Huh?" It took Harry some moment before he remembered the original thread of their conversation. "You were talking about eloping and Rita Skeeter."
"But you were the one who brought up the whole slave business." Draco was definitely grinning now, that devious grin that made Harry want to smack him or kiss him, or both. "While it has its potential, I would have to decline."
"Stop trying to change the subject already." Harry was beginning to feel exasperated -- not that it was the first time Draco tried to annoy him. "Just humour me, okay? If you were given a chance to go away for some time, would you take it?"
Perhaps noticing the sober tone in Harry's voice, Draco finally dropped the grin, his expression grew contemplative. "Perhaps, but I doubt I can just pack up and leave."
Yes, Draco had always been the sensible one out of the two of them; it did not make Harry feel any better, however. "But wouldn't you want to be able to do that? To leave everything behind and disappear for awhile."
There was an odd look on Draco's face that Harry could not decipher. "What's with you all of a sudden?"
Harry could only give a weak chuckle. "Just talking, that's all." Cushioning his head on his arm, he stared unseeingly at some distant point over Draco's shoulder. "I'm thinking about the U.S., maybe Seattle or San Francisco, or New York. I'm not into gambling, so Las Vegas is out of the question. Hmm, maybe I'll go to Disneyland."
"Dis-what? Uh, never mind." Draco shifted into a more comfortable position, unintentionally brushing his leg against Harry's; it was peculiar that even accidental touches such as these could make Harry's pulse quicken. "So, you want to go to the U.S. for a vacation? Just like that?"
"I'll at least pack my toothbrush," Harry corrected Draco, smiling uneasily and avoiding what Draco was obviously meaning to ask. "Can't leave home without it."
There was a momentary pause; Harry could feel Draco's eyes on him. Harry was sure he knew what Draco was about to say, but what he got instead was, "I would suggest a change of clothes as well, unless you don't mind the smell." And that was the end of their discussion.
It had always been a gamble. Harry had no way of knowing whether or not Draco might turn the table on him. Then again, Draco was in the same position as he was. Perhaps it was this mutual suspicion that kept them from actually trying to trap the other.
Harry was not deluded to think they had stopped being enemies simply because they were sleeping together, but a small part of him would like to think that he and Draco had at least reached an understanding when it comes to each other.
The little tea house by the street corner was a quiet, cosy place where respect for privacy was the main selling point rather than the tea itself. The booth design and the strategically placed plants, along with the dim lighting, made it the perfect place for secret meetings. The fact that the tea house had a back entrance was another reason Draco chose this place.
When he got there, Harry was already sitting in the booth at the very back of the tea shop, a place where they would surely be offered some much needed privacy. Harry wore a striped shirt with a straw-coloured jumper over top, and a neutral expression on his face.
After taking off his coat, Draco slid into the booth and studied Harry, who seemed to be surveying him as well. The atmosphere was not so much uncomfortable as anticipatory -- they both knew well the main purpose for this meeting.
When the yawning waiter with sleepy hazel eyes left with Draco's order, Draco spoke, "So, what do you think?"
"What do I think about what?" Harry lobbed the ball back at Draco, a move that Draco was not entirely surprised about.
"Game over or continue?" Draco said placidly while folding his arms before his chest. "Just so we are clear on that."
A soft chuckle escaped Harry's lips. "Funny, I never thought I would have this conversation with you of all people. Well, I didn't know I would have this conversation at all in the first place."
"Gods have a funny way of keeping themselves entertained," Draco remarked casually.
"You believe in gods?" Harry asked, his eyebrows raised and his gaze pensive.
"Only to the extent that we can blame them for whatever plight we were thrust into," Draco said boredly as he engaged Harry's gaze.
A smile was tugging at the corner of Harry's mouth. Draco tried to remember if Harry had ever smiled at him before, but he came up with a blank.
Their conversation was interrupted by the waiter, who came back with Draco's order. The waiter dutifully put down the tea set and a plate of scones, before languishing off to serve his next customers. Ignoring the milk and sugar, Draco was about to pour himself a cup of tea when he suddenly felt a hand settled on his thigh. He tensed for a few seconds as he looked straight at Harry, who was staring hard at him with a strange, unreadable expression. Finally, Draco willed himself to relax, and continued as if nothing was wrong.
As though testing how far he could go, Harry tentatively rubbed his hand against Draco's thigh. Even with a piece of fabric in between, Draco could feel the warmth emitting from Harry's palm; it made his skin tingle.
Draco went through the motion of spreading butter onto the scone and munching on it, but his mind was more preoccupied by the hand that was massaging his thigh. Feeling he had remained passive long enough, Draco slowly brushed the toe of his shoe against Harry's leg, before running it steadily upward and downward on the inside of Harry's leg; his action elicited a sharp intake of breath from Harry.
Over the rim of his steaming darjeeling tea, Draco studied Harry. Those forest green eyes that were entwining with Draco's stormy grey seemed glazed yet shining at the same time. As Draco continued his movement, Harry chewed on his lip while their eyes engaged in a bold intercourse. The hand lingering between Draco's thigh was slowly slipping its way between Draco's legs, and Draco let it play around for awhile before grabbing Harry's hand.
Harry looked alarmed at the gesture, but Draco simply gave him a quick smirk while pulling Harry's hand away from his thigh -- it took a little more will-power than he originally thought. Casually sipping his tea as though nothing was amiss, Draco saw Harry blink a few times, before giving Draco a look that spoke volume of his annoyance -- Draco did not need to be a mind reader to know what Harry was annoyed about.
Mentally he smiled to himself; Draco figured he did find the answer after all. "Well, I guess that settles it."
"I guess it does," Harry replied morosely as he took a bite of his cake, then licked his icing-filled fork in a way that could only be described as erotic. Those narrowed catlike green eyes of his were fixated upon Draco. "And just so you know, I don't sleep with someone I don't like."
Draco could not help but be fascinated by this young man sitting there before him; Harry turned out to be not quite what he had expected. Flashing a winning smirk of his own, Draco remarked mildly, "Neither do I."
It was raining in Seattle, not a drizzle but a heavy downpour -- going outside was like jumping into the shower with one's clothes on. Harry had the misfortune of being caught in the rain while outside, and by the time he got back to his hotel, he was soaked to the bone.
After a long hot shower and a cup of blissfully hot tea, Harry finally felt less like a wet dog and more like a human being.
Draping a towel on his shoulder, he stood by the window and stared at the glorious lakeside view. It was a sight he did not get to see everyday: faded blue ocean and grey hazy sky stretching into the horizon. He had a feeling Draco might enjoy the view, since Draco always seemed quite taken by oceans and lakes.
Harry blinked, wondering where that particular train of thought came from. It was only a week since he left England, and yet here he was, thinking about Draco. Maybe it was time for him to end it, this affair of theirs. But just the thought alone made him feel queasy, as though he had eaten something bad. He wondered why; it was not as if he was in love with Draco. Theirs was a purely physical relationship, nothing more. Then he should not be agonising over this, should he?
Groaning loudly, he picked up the book that was precariously thrown onto the nightstand, and settled comfortably on the armchair near the window for an afternoon of swash-buckling action and high sea adventure.
He reached the part where the main lead's ship was attacked by the French navy when someone knocked on the door. Thinking it was perhaps the hotel cleaning staff, he nonetheless kept his wand close before he opened the door.
And there Draco was, looking like he had just taken a dive in the lake, yet there was a hint of a small smile tugging at Draco's lips. Harry's first instinct was the same as everyone else when they were in shock -- he froze. Then his second instinct started kicking in, which was to give Draco a wet and passionate kiss with tongue and all right there in the hotel corridor.
At least that was what was running through his mind, until he saw an elderly couple strolling by slowly in the background. "Eh, come in," Harry said and held the door open for Draco, who sauntered into the room with his usual grace.
After making sure the Do Not Disturb sign was hanging on the door handle, Harry shut the door and turned to Draco. "How did you know I'm here?" Harry asked suspiciously, but his eyes were busily staring at the slightly transparent white shirt that clung tightly to Draco's body.
"I don't," Draco replied casually as he looked around the room with some interest. All the while he was running his hand over his hair in an attempt to brush them away from his face. "That's why it took me several days to find out where you are staying."
"But I didn't tell you about my final destination." Harry threw his towel at Draco, who caught it neatly. "You didn't really go to all the cities I've mentioned, did you?"
"The whole idea of a mouse being able to walk on two legs and talk is quite disturbing," Draco remarked absentmindedly as he attempted to dry his hair without much success; finally he let magic do the work for him -- Harry could not help feeling a little disappointed about that.
But when Harry caught onto the meaning behind Draco's words, he felt a shiver of warmth growing inside of him, like marshmallow melting in his mouth. Harry had not made it easy for anyone to find him, but Draco had managed it somehow. Although the idea of Draco having other ulterior motives had crossed Harry's mind briefly, he supposed that if Draco wanted to try anything, he would have done so a long time ago -- Harry had already given him far too many opportunities than was healthy for him.
"Here." And out of nowhere, Draco whipped out a certain familiar-looking black leather portfolio -- it was the very same one Harry used for storing his sheet music. He thought he had left it at the pub after his performance, but it seemed he must have forgotten to take it with him after his meeting with Draco in the hotel.
Harry could do nothing but gawk at Draco. Surely he did not have it with him all along? "Don't tell me you come all the way here to return this to me."
"Well, I've heard that America is a nice place to go to around this time of year," Draco said while tilting his head, his grey eyes shining a rather curious gleam. "And besides, I was thinking of taking a vacation anyway."
And that was all Harry needed. With a conspiring smile, he closed the distance between them and pulled Draco in by the collar. Draco's yelp of surprise was immediately cut off by Harry's eager mouth; it took mere seconds before Harry felt Draco's arms encircling his waist and held him close so that no space remained between their bodies. The black portfolio fell to the ground with a dull thud, completely forgotten.
Harry did not know what would happen from here on -- maybe they would end up killing each other on the battlefield in the end. But future was such a fickle thing that he might as well leave all of it up to chance. For now, he would simply live this moment with Draco and leave the rest of the world behind for awhile.
It was one of those freezing days when very few people would dare venture outside. And yet here Draco was, stretching out on a hotel bed and staring at the ceiling, waiting for Harry to show up.
He had been feeling slightly uneasy about this whole situation, even after he had made up his mind. Whenever he was about to meet Harry, he always got this strange disorienting feeling inside him, as though he had just slipped on the stairs.
Granted, he was not completely chaste to begin with, and he was not one to dismiss his instinct. He knew he was playing a dangerous game, and if he was not careful, he might just lose -- and it might not be just his life that he was going to lose.
A series of knocks unceremoniously snapped him out of his musing, and he got up to answer it. Harry was standing there, wearing a dark coat and a burgundy scarf, in his hands were two large cups. His face and the tip of his nose were flushed from the cold, making him look more like the teenage Harry Potter he used to know.
"Hi." Despite being obviously close to near frozen, Harry smiled a little and offered one of the cups to Draco. "Here, it's coffee. Don't worry, I didn't add anything in it."
Now Draco was more than bewildered. He looked from the cup and back to Harry again; he certainly had not expected this. "Thanks." Draco accepted the cup and let Harry in. The cup was still hot to the touch, and immediately it warmed up his cold hand.
Following Harry with his eyes, he watched Harry carelessly discarding his coat and scarf on the chair on top of Draco's own coat -- fleetingly he imagined what Harry would look like wearing the scarf and nothing else.
"You know," Harry spoke as he sat on the bed, his own cup of coffee in hand, "I've been wondering how you seem to know so much about the Muggle world. And you obviously know enough to navigate around London without getting lost. Care to enlighten me?"
"I have too much time on my hands," Draco replied before sipping his cup of coffee.
"You sure use that excuse a lot." Harry sighed and turned to look at Draco with an expression that could only be described as exasperation. "You use this to explain everything."
Not everything, Draco mused to himself. He did not tell Harry the real reason he came to the Muggle world; it was the same reason Harry played piano in the Muggle pub. They were both trying to escape from the harsh reality called war for a while by vanishing into the Muggle world, where they could exist as anonymous entities. For that brief moment, they could forget about everything around them and simply be themselves and nothing more.
And that was how they ran into each other; deep down, they were very much alike. Disillusioned, sceptical, wearied of the war and the world, more at ease with physical intimacy and the matter of the mind than the matter of the heart -- in a perverse kind of way, theirs was a match made in heaven.
But Draco would never say any of these aloud; there was no need.
"Well, I'm certain I won't be too bored for the next few hours," Draco said as he placed the cup on the nightstand and advanced towards Harry, who had an almost feline grin on his face.
Putting down his own cup as well, Harry said cheekily as he unfastened Draco's trousers, "Even if you want to be bored, I won't let you." And Draco let Harry do whatever he pleases.
It was impossible to count the hours. By the time Draco felt the rush fading into the background, night was steadily growing old. All the light in the room was turned off except for the little lamp by the nightstand; the atmosphere could almost be described as romantic.
Sitting up, Draco gazed at Harry, who was sleeping so soundly that he did not even stir. Reaching for the cup of coffee on the nightstand, Draco finished the cup, even though it had turned cold. For all his new found cynicism, Harry could be so obliviously sweet.
Heaving a sigh to himself, Draco had to wonder if he might not have already fallen in deep. It was just like one of those formulaic romance novels they sold for several Knuts in second-hand bookstores -- it would have been quite funny if it was not for the fact that he seemed to have somehow stumbled into one.
Then again, perhaps he should just wait and see how it would turn out in the end. After all, he would not be Draco Malfoy if he was not his capricious self.
Leaning close to Harry's sleeping face, Draco whispered to him with a small, sly smile gracing his lips, "If you keep it up like this, I might just fall in love with you," before he pressed his lips firmly against Harry's.
Strolling along the lakeshore near daybreak with a cup of latte -- or in Draco's case, French Roast -- in hand, Harry and Draco enjoyed the cool morning air as much as the company. If Harry's memory served him well, they had never actually taken walks like this in the past -- they had been more preoccupied with things a pair usually does in bed other than falling asleep.
Harry stole a sidelong glance at Draco's direction, and was surprised to find Draco looking decidedly relaxed -- maybe he was not wrong about Draco having a thing for ocean views. "Hey, do you believe in forever?"
A fair eyebrow was raised bemusedly. "I know you have a tendency to sprout out random things at random times, but this is the most random topic you've come up with."
"I'm just trying to strike up a conversation here," Harry sighed; Draco never liked to make things easy for him. "It's a very simple yes or no question."
Draco looked at him for some time, as though wondering what was running through his mind. But Harry just kept staring at him until he finally relented. "No, I don't."
"Good," Harry said with a playful smile lingering about his lips. "Neither do I."
"Good?" Draco repeated, feeling keenly that he was missing something very important -- like a cat missing its claws. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"That means we haven't lost our heads yet," Harry replied calmly as he took a sip of his latte, and tilted his head to regard Draco with a faint smile on his face. "Don't you think it's good?"
It did not take long for Draco to put two and two together; and when he did, he could not help but smile as well. "Yes, I suppose it is."
Forever was a make-believe invented for love-birds; it did not suit either of them at all. Neither knew how long this love affair of theirs would last, nor how it would end; perhaps it did not really matter in the end -- it was enough that they had lived it.
And they both knew it in their flesh and blood that as long as the music keeps playing, they would meet in one of the many cheap hotels in England, exchanging pointless banters and having their wicked way with the other in bed all through the night.
A/N: I admit I have a little too much fun writing this fic. Hmm, I consider this fic to be the antithesis of some sort to my other fic, L'amour, Toujours L'amour. As for influences, this fic is inspired by both jazz and Shiina Ringo's music (she's a famous Japanese jazz/rock vocalist, who has a band called Tokyo Jihen), but mostly the inspiration comes from Shiina Ringo. So, thanks for reading (and thank you for all the reviews I've received for my other fics), and please tell me what you think?