A couple of lookers like us should be out loving the nightlife.
Not hanging around in the dark like some kind of… vampire.
- Doyle, "Lonely Hearts": Angel
It was a really fabulous day.
If you asked anyone out on the street, their opinion would probably differ. It was the sixteenth day straight that it had rained- today, a light drizzle- the price of petrol had gone up, the real estate market was failing, and teenagers were out, skiving off of school and doing things that teenagers shouldn't be allowed to do. On the opposite face of the world, vampire attacks were up, werewolves were lobbying for better treatment, the Galleon was losing face to the pound, and the wizarding world's saviour wasn't quite what he was cracked out to be.
But for said saviour, it was a really fabulous day.
It was six years to the day that Voldemort had died, and Harry was buried in paperwork. Usually he was loath to do his paperwork, but this paperwork was extremely easy on the eyes. Eyewitness and victim accounts, photographs of the suspects, even a testimony from an inside source. It was shaping up into a positively perfect case that would be wrapped up with a snap of his fingers, especially now that he had got rid of the silly bint they had just partnered with him a bare month past. He could hear the rumours whizzing by outside.
"… Scared off another partner…"
"… The sixth this year…"
"… Poor girl came running out, crying, said Potter had…"
Harry ground his teeth, dotting an i with perhaps a bit more force than was necessary, scoring a hole in the parchment. Why couldn't they just understand that he preferred to work alone? Ron somehow got it, he was quite happy to be partnered with Boot over in dark wizards. It wasn't exactly unheard of for Aurors to go without partners. Sure, they were usually older or did desk work almost exclusively, but still... Harry swiftly scribbled another note onto the parchment, slashing a t so quickly the quill skidded across the desk.
There was a tapping at the door, which Harry ignored. However, he could not ignore it when the source of the tapping- a lime green origami crane- squeezed through the crack of the door and the wall and began bumping into his head repeatedly. Harry ground his teeth again, jutting his jaw forward, and stared straight ahead as the crane continued to abuse him, its paper wings flapping madly. His Seeker skills snatched the crane out of the air a millimetre from his head, crumpling it into a ball, which he was sorely tempted to throw across the admittedly small room. But there was enough paper on the floor. Almost tearing the crane in half, he brutally unfolded it and began to read.
The bold, black, and demanding words on the paper made him growl, and he did throw the crane across the room. It drifted lazily to the floor as Harry firmly planted his face on his desk. In the corner, his elf owl twittered in alarm on her stand, shuffling the length of the wooden dowel she rested on. Harry pulled himself back up and slumped against his chair, glaring sourly out at the room. His office was too small for a partner, couldn't they see? With all of his files not so neatly arranged into towering stacks and boxes and cabinets that took up most of the floor space, he barely had room to get to his desk in the morning.
Harry hauled himself to his feet with a grunt, pompously rearranged his black-and-red Auror's cloak over black jeans and tee shirt, and strode out of his office. Immediately, the hushed whisperings stopped, and all eyes were on him. Well, not all. Those people intent on keeping their eyeballs in their heads had them obediently trained on their files and paperwork. Affecting his best glare- something he had actually learned from Draco Malfoy- he fixed the idiots in his gaze and they eventually backed down. It wasn't just the whole incredibly-powerful-wizard-who-defeated-the-worst-Dark-Lord-in-history-when-he-was-seventeen bit that put them in their place, but the fact that Harry's record was impeccable. Except for the partners, of course. Harry had a certain single-minded intensity on his given tasks that seemed to unnerve other Aurors.
His black dragonhide boots thumped off the wooden floors as he passed down the hallway between the open and closed offices of dark creatures. He turned a corner and went through dark wizards; dark artefacts and dark spells were located a floor below. Ron popped his head out of his office and called after him, but Harry didn't hear whatever it was he shouted. He was set on finally bashing Shacklebolt into the ground and making him give up on trying to partner Harry with losers. He was becoming certain he was the last Auror exam. After all, if you could stand up to the vicious Harry Potter, you could stand up to anything. Shacklebolt's secretary didn't even look up from charming a paper frog to hop, she merely waved him into the office.
Harry stood at attention, his hands clasped behind his back and staring blandly at the opposite wall, just above Shacklebolt's head. His supervisor was shuffling through a file- presumably his- before he set it down and picked up another, thumbing through it briefly. Harry was expecting the regular chewing-out and was quite ready to match point with counterpoint. He was surprised when Shacklebolt leaned back, his hands clasped loosely on his lap, and instead of fixing him with a stare adopted Harry's own tactic and stared at the wall beyond him.
"We're running out of people to work with you, Potter."
Harry blinked. His confusion must have been evident on his face, because Shacklebolt allowed himself a small smile. "Sir?"
"The lure of the Boy Who Lived Twice can't last forever."
Harry felt his eyebrows twisting awkwardly on his forehead.
"People are talking. Something about how you assaulted that girl."
Harry clenched his jaw.
"Things like that stick, even if they're untrue," Shacklebolt gave him an exasperated look. "Her son could be killed? Constant vigilance was required to raise a young lad? Honestly, you sound like Moody."
"Moody was a genius, in his own way," Harry said quietly. "She should be able to deal with the idea of death, in our line of work."
Shacklebolt rubbed his temple, muttering something about aspirin, which had Harry making a confused face. As far as he knew, only four Aurors actually used Muggle medicines, and they were all Muggleborns, which Shacklebolt was not.
"That's not the point, Potter. Look, I like you. Have since I met you. You're almost bloody perfect as an Auror."
"Everyone," Shacklebolt said, as if he were making a great point that would change the world. "Understands the need for time off. Except you. It's like your job is a step above breathing."
"I like my job, sir," Harry said. This was closer to most of the lectures he'd received in this office.
"You'll slip someday, Potter, especially without someone to watch your back."
"I can watch it myself, sir."
"You've eyes in the back of your head? Don't," he interjected as Harry opened his mouth, "answer that." Shacklebolt picked up one of the files, gesturing in Harry's general direction with it.
"This is the last one willing to work with you. Wants a transfer out of artefacts paperwork and onto the field, and we're the only open spot. If you fuck this one up, you're off the field." Harry was dumbstruck by the fact that Shacklebolt had sworn. He blinked down at him. "I'd hate to lose you as an agent, Potter, but if it's risking your life, I'll do it. So try this time." Harry nodded with a sour grimace.
"Dismissed," Shacklebolt said after a moment, dropping the file with a sigh. Harry turned and marched straight back out the door. He would absolutely kill to be able to work alone, but it seemed that that wasn't in the cards. With an alarming bark of laughter that made the secretary jump, he realised he hadn't even got to his argument. Harry shook his head, his mess of hair swaying, wondering what the shit he was going to do. Undoubtedly the prettyboy- or, Merlin forbid, silly twit- would drive him absolutely mad and cause him to lose his job.
"Harry!" Harry blinked, startled from his reverie, and saw Ron standing in the hallway some feet away, his arms braced as if he expected Harry to walk right over him. Over the years, Ron had acquired his father's height, along with a set of shoulders to rival Charlie's. For a while it had grated on Harry, but it wasn't as if he had ever expected anything different: it was rather obvious from photos that his father was no taller than his mother, and according to everyone he had been able to ask, Lily Potter had barely grazed five and a half feet in height.
"Sorry, Ron," Harry said, and Ron grinned, crossing his freckled arms over his chest.
"Shacklebolt tore you a new one?"
"Again," Harry sighed. "I just want to work alone, you know?"
"Yeah, I know," Ron said. Harry heard a lazy fluttering as another green crane flew past him, soaring into the lift at the end of the hall. It seemed to mock him as the door closed.
"Cheer up, mate," Ron clapped him on the shoulder good-naturedly. "Maybe you'll have found the perfect match this time."
Harry rolled his eyes. "I doubt it. I've got a case to finish up, so…"
"See you Saturday at the pub," Ron supplied, and stepped back into his office. Harry continued his Godzilla-like rampage down the hallway back into his office, closing it with the spectacular slam that people had come to associate with his being assigned a new partner. Immediately the whispers began again, and Harry wanted to thrust his head back out and shout at them to shut up. Instead he threw himself into his chair- it tottered backwards and then forwards, and Harry followed the motion, slamming his head into the desk. He did it again for good measure, and then kept going. His ink bottle danced a merry jig as it bounced around; his elf owl set up a racket in the corner. Harry took his glasses off and set them on the desk, then pressed his palms into his eyes and sat up, digging his fingers into his hair.
Someone cleared their throat. Obviously, there was a knock he hadn't heard, caused by his new partner. Harry really didn't want to open his eyes, but he did anyway, trying to focus on the blurry figure clutching a box to its chest by the door. He thought it was a bloke, an exceptionally tall one with an almost shockingly white head of hair. All Harry could think was that he would stand out. He better be damn good at concealment, Harry's brain growled. The figure hefted the box, and when Harry said nothing, it was dropped on top of a stack of boxes. Harry groped for his glasses and reapplied them to his face, then glared.
Harry groaned. "Why did you have to transfer now, of all times?"
"Is that what Shacklebolt told you?" Draco mused. Harry didn't like being left out of any perceived loops, so he glared at him harder. "I've probably gone through twice the partners you have, Potter. You're my last chance, or I get stuck in a musty old room with documents." He affected a shudder, which Harry responded to with cool indifference. Draco looked him up and down, a quick appraisal, and said, "That's not a half-bad glare. Just pout less, you're not trying to look pretty."
"I am not pouting, Malfoy," Harry snarled. Draco shrugged, his eyes flitting about the room in search of a seat. When he realised that the only one was currently occupied by Harry's arse, he placed himself on the corner of the desk and leaned over, trying to read the papers Harry had scattered across its surface.
"Intriguing. I never figured you for the meticulous type," Draco said, looking back up at Harry through his hair. Harry's glare had only deepened, and Draco's smirk widened. "I can hear your brain swearing, Potter."
"You'll hear my mouth swearing soon if you don't get your arse off my desk, Malfoy."
"Testy," Draco said.
"Look, Malfoy. We're partners, that's it. Stop trying to be cute-" Draco made a strangled sound of anger- "because I'm not buying it."
"I heard you bought cute quite often."
Harry's eyes narrowed. If he could kill Draco with his eyes, that look probably would have done it, neatly eviscerating him and splaying his brain against the far wall. He did not appreciate Draco's implications, and told him so. Draco shrugged noncommittally, still using Harry's desk as a chair. This was going to be a truly awful experience. With a groan of defeat, Harry smashed his head into his desk again.
-- -- --
Over the next two weeks, the Daily Prophet took great delight in reporting the activities of its favourite Auror. Photographers always seemed to be on the scene whenever Harry and Draco could be seen holding each other up after a particularly messy raid, or fused together by a particularly nasty spell. When one unfortunate photograph was taken of their faces melted together at the cheek, the Prophet decided that blazing a headline of, "BOY WHO LIVED TO BE QUEER DATING EX-DEATH EATER!" was appropriate. It was probably a bad idea on their part, because the photo-Harry took to flipping the bird, and photo-Draco's eyes were fit to kill. The whole ordeal had been absolutely appalling, especially since they'd had to be extracted, their teeth had to be sorted out, and they needed to regrow half of their faces before their next assignment.
By the time they had made three headlines and broken one photographer's nose and camera at the same time, Harry and Draco were actually on not-bad terms. They couldn't be called good, but they were no longer ready to hex each other into Swiss cheese at the slightest provocation. It was at this time that Ron saw fit to invite Draco to their weekly get together at their favourite pub- the Dragon's Breath. Harry was rather surprised at this, but couldn't exactly see why not. Considering how often he went through partners, Draco was turning out to be not half bad.
"Ron!" Harry shouted over the din of bass-heavy music, drunken singing, and the hum of people talking. Ron waved at him from their table, and Harry grabbed Draco, dragging him through the crowd to the booth in the far back corner. When they reached the table, Ron was looking up at him, rather confused looking.
"Why are you strangling Malfoy?" he asked. Harry looked back at Draco and saw that he had him gripped by the collar, right up under his throat.
"I'd like to know that too," Draco said, and Harry quickly released him. With a braying laugh Seamus Finnigan shouted, "I always knew Draco'd like a bit o' pain!" Harry felt his face heating and quickly turned away, falling heavily into his seat and forcing the others to move over to make room for Draco. There was much readjusting of mugs and glasses as Dean, Seamus, Neville, and George shuffled over. He glanced over at Draco and was perversely pleased to see that he was one shade shy of mortified. Harry gave him a searching look which Draco pretended to ignore, so he looked at Seamus, one eyebrow cocked. Seamus had to most evil grin on his face and was also studying Draco. Draco's eye met his and darted away, and Seamus crowed.
"It's true! I am a genius!"
"I need alcohol," Draco moaned, and buried his face in his arms.
"That can be arranged," Ron said, and flagged down a waitress.
After that, Harry was rather hazy. He recalled Firewhiskey shots, and then snakebite shots, and a drinking game that involved a good deal of laughing and yelling as pyramids of shot glasses fell down. There was a fainter recollection of dancing with a pretty girl, and then with a pretty boy, and then having himself dragged off the floor and plumped back into his seat with a remorseful look, before he attempted to snog his rescuer. When they left at one in the morning, it was to head back to Seamus' house- it was the nearest to the bar- and fall into an ungraceful heap on the couch before falling into the sort of sleep that only recently-recovered insomniacs and the very drunk can manage.
When he awoke, he really wished he hadn't. His mouth tasted like he had eaten a dead rat, his head felt like that rat's offspring had taken up residence there, and he desperately needed to piss. He lay on his stomach on the couch, one arm flung protectively over his head and the other asleep, caught under his stomach. He attempted to move and found that his legs weren't responding. With a grunt Harry rolled over, regretting it as sunshine assaulted his delicate retinal nerves. There was an angry growling from the end of the couch, but Seamus didn't own a dog… Harry squinted, and then stopped when that hurt more. He fished along the back of the couch for his glasses and put them on, focussing on Draco, who lay curled up on his legs, his face pressed into the far arm of the couch.
Harry reached out and poked him. Draco snorted.
"Malfoy," Harry said in a low voice, intent on not waking Neville- who was sprawled on the armchair- to this ridiculous predicament. "Malfoy," he tried again, but Draco just made sleep sounds. Very happy sleep sounds, Harry realised. "Draco!" he said, trying to hide his disgust.
"G'way Poppy," he mumbled. "Sleepin'."
Harry was too pissed off- and needed to piss too badly- to care anymore about Neville. He smacked Draco's arse and growled, "Get up!" Draco responded by squealing and falling to the floor, and Neville sat bolt upright in his chair.
"What!" he shouted incoherently, causing everyone present to wince.
"I'd like to know," Draco said from his spot on the floor, attempting to fix Harry with a glare. It came out as more of a squint. Harry cocked an eyebrow at him, rubbing his legs to get the circulation going again. When he had a smidgeon of feeling in his feet he wobbled to them and said, "Needed to piss. My legs aren't a bed." Neville squawked a pained laugh, and Draco just squawked, as Harry hobbled down the hallway and slammed the bathroom door. Draco pulled himself back onto the couch, and saw in his peripheral vision that Neville was staring at him. Hoping he could glare someone into submission, he stared at Neville. Who didn't so much as blink.
"Sleeping on Harry?" he said, half an accusation.
"Nowhere else," Draco muttered. "I was on the end of the couch until he started kicking me."
"So you slept on his legs?"
"That, or I'd hex them."
Neville seemed to think that the given situation was better than having Harry's legs hexed into jelly, because he stopped pressing the matter and stretched instead, like a languid cat. It was at about this time that Seamus stumbled into the living room, his pillow-hair almost wilder than Harry's was on a regular basis.
"Whassall this, then?" he yawned, and the crack of his jaw was audible clear across the room. Draco rubbed his tentatively, wondering why the Irishman's face wasn't falling off.
"Draco used Harry as a body pillow," Neville put in. If it were at all possible, Seamus' eyes sparkled with more amusement than normal.
"Our ickle killer and the boy saviour," he sighed as he crossed the room, and ruffled Draco's hair. Draco snapped at him and tried to pat it back down. Harry returned from the bathroom and the door slammed again as someone else took up residence there. Harry sniffed, covering his eyes with his hand, his glasses trailing absently from the other.
"Coffee?" Seamus asked, and Harry nodded.
"Make it hot!" came a voice from the bathroom.
"None of that instant shit, Shay," was Dean's input as he pulled a shirt over his head.
-- -- --
"Oh, for fuck's sakes," Harry growled, his fists clenching around the Daily Prophet as if he would like nothing more than to tear it into hundreds of little pieces. Draco very carefully extracted it from his grip, his eyes scanned the page, and then he snorted.
"You think they'd be creative," he said, neatly folding the paper and placing it under the owl's perch. Today's headline read, "BOY WHO LIVED TO BE A SEXUAL DEVIANT!" It was then that Draco determined that Harry Potter ground his teeth so much, they should rightfully be dust in his skull by now.
"How did they… with the…" Harry squeezed his eyes shut behind his glasses. "He was a goblin, for fuck's sakes.
"I'm just appalled that you cheated on me." The paperweight on Harry's desk was suddenly flying through the air. Draco's instincts reacted before his brain, and he reached up to catch it. A corner struck his palm and he folded, the paperweight falling to the floor with a thump as he hissed in pain, clutching at his hand.
There was a tapping at the door, but Draco was too busy glaring at Harry to notice. With an irritating flapping sound, the crane squeezed into the office and began bashing into Harry's left temple. Harry snarled, clenching his fists on his desk, and Draco tried not to laugh. It was rather amusing to watch the man prophesised to kill the worst dark wizard in centuries being abused by a bird. Not even a real bird, a paper bird. He watched the show for several long moments, as the tendons in Harry's neck began to stand out, before speaking up.
"Gonna get that?"
Harry crushed the crane in one swift movement, twisting the green paper with a distasteful wrinkle of his nose. He sucked on his left canine as he unfolded the paper, smoothing it back out to legibility, so that he could read the note scrawled across it. His eyes darted across the paper once, twice, and again, narrowing further and further each time he read it. He then inhaled sharply and held it in, glaring so hard at the paper Draco was amazed it didn't immediately burst into flames.
"Shacklebolt," Harry said with great and obviously false reverence, "wants to see us."
In short order they were standing before Shacklebolt's desk, Harry staring at the wall and Draco studying the desk with great interest. He could almost smell the explosion that was about to take place between Shacklebolt and Harry. Images of Shacklebolt impaled on his hat rack and Harry gleefully wearing a wreath of intestines danced through his head.
"You've both been working for three years, Potter. It's mandatory."
"No buts," Shacklebolt cut Harry off. "You're having a holiday, Potter. That's it."
"Sir," if Draco didn't know better, he would have said that Harry had been reduced to whinging. "I've almost finished my case, and-"
"Churchill offered to take it. Time off, Potter. Now. I want you out of the office by noon." He fixed Draco with a level stare. "Both of you."
The rest of the afternoon was spent hurriedly trying to finish filling in cases and files. As five drew near, Harry sent his owl home, and they both left their cloaks in the office. With great reluctance, Harry handed his files and notes over the Churchill, with explicit instructions- intermingled with threats that should have, by all rights, killed the man of their own accord- on how to complete the case without fucking things up. They left the Ministry together and stood in front of the doors, Harry hunched over with his hands thrust into the pockets of his coat, glowering a hole through the pavement.
"Where are you going?" the words surprised Draco.
Harry grunted. "Thought so. I think I'll go drown my worries in some whiskey."
"Why Potter, I never took you for a secret alcoholic."
Harry laughed a hollow laugh. "No one did."
Something about the seriousness of the conversation made Draco shuffle his feet. He should not be caring about Harry in this way. Keeping him from being exploded, or melted, or turned into a rat on the job were ways that he should care about Harry, because if Harry was being exploded, melted or turned into a rat, it was likely that Draco was too. Being concerned for Harry's genuine wellbeing was not in the agreement. It would be part of other agreements, but Draco highly doubted that those agreements would ever be made between them. He cleared his throat.
"Well, see you-"
"Come with me," Harry said, and Draco decided then that he hated being surprised by Harry Potter. "Please." Harry was watching Draco indirectly, from the corner of his eye, and with his hair in his face and his too-polite, defeated tones, he looked at that moment incredibly young. Draco nodded.
"Er," Harry said, giving Draco the impression that he had intended to march into the nearest pub and drink himself blind. "There's one down the street, the Magic Number?" Draco nodded again, feeling an odd sense of melancholy that Harry Potter had been reduced to this state… although he could not quite understand why. Harry led him up the street and around two corners in silence, his hands still buried in his pockets and his eyes downcast, as if he regretted asking Draco to come. When the pub came into view, it was a Muggle pub, which was rather unexpected. Nonetheless, Draco sank into a comfortable corner booth with Harry, who put as much distance between them as possible.
The place was dim, and smelled too clean. Draco's Auror instincts told him that it must be hiding something, but Harry didn't seem to care. Harry procured himself a pint of stout and proceeded to nurse drink after drink, his silence gradually loosening and his body gradually moving until he was shouting in Draco's ear and had his arm grasping Draco's neck in what was very close to a deathgrip headlock. By this time the pub had filled up with noise and commotion, so it didn't attract much attention, but Draco desperately wanted nothing more than to vanish. Right now, if you please.
"Ye 'member tha' match?" Harry burbled happily in his ear.
Draco fervently hoped he wouldn't be vomited on. "Sure," he agreed.
"Tha' was a goo' match," Harry seemed pleased with himself. "Kicked yer arse."
"You always kicked my arse," Draco said, carefully orchestrating Harry's glass away from his chest. It would not do to let Harry cover him in beer.
"I like yer arse," Harry confessed gleefully. "Wish I never hadda kick it."
Draco rolled his eyes. "And I'm sure all those times Finnigan wasn't in class he was off blowing Thomas." Harry's eyes widened comically, and he came dangerously close to dropping his glass in Draco's lap. Draco freed it from his grasp and put it on the table, where it sat, forgotten.
"How did you know?" Harry gasped.
"I didn't, you told me," Draco lied.
"Ooooh… Seamus is gonna kill me. Dead."
"The Dark Lord couldn't 'kill you dead', as you so eloquently put it," Draco pointed out. Harry's look of concern morphed into one of deep and utter gratitude. He flung his other arm around Draco and squeezed him.
"I am always right."
"You can stop agreeing now, Potter."
"Oh. Right," Harry said, letting him go and snatching up his beer again, which he threw back with a mighty gulp that made Draco wince. Harry made a face.
"Oh, no you don't," Draco said quickly. "Get your arse outside and breathe. Now." Harry pouted, but obliged. He stood up on legs that didn't quite want to listen to him, squeezed past Draco, and parted the crowd with all the grace of a three-legged buffalo as he stumbled to the door. He was, Draco realised, not exactly in any state of mind to be walking upright.
Harry wasn't precisely aware that standing on the middle of the pavement, gawping up at the sky was a bad idea; he just knew that standing in an alley would afford him more privacy if any of his recently-imbibed drink decided to make a spectacular comeback. Harry lurched towards the nearest alley, parting the Magic Number from the next building over. This was probably the most monumentally stupid move Harry had ever made in his entire life, though he didn't know it at the time. Harry stumbled into the alley, promptly smashing his knee on a rubbish bin, and yowled, clutching at it. A string of swears that would have made Seamus blush found their way out of his mouth as he hopped on one foot, and fell into the wall. It seemed to Harry that a piece of the night shifted as he righted himself. He reached out, groping at the dark, and stumbled forward another few steps.
"Know you're there," he muttered, swinging both of his arms in wide arcs in front of him. He was actually rather pleased when his closed fist met something, which gave with a delightful cracking sound and a loud exclamation. A hand seized his wrist, and this feeling immediately turned sour as the person attached to the hand shifted, not quite into the light, but close enough that Harry could make out a gaunt face and the most ridiculous pair of caterpillar-sized black eyebrows over almost black eyes.
"Not 'zactly pretty, are ye," he slurred, trying to get his hand out of the iron grip. Harry frowned as he was laughed at, the moonlight catching ivory.
"But you are," the accent was so heavy and thick that Harry's drink-muddled brain had to take a long moment to decipher the words. A pale, wet finger trailed down his cheek and a part of Harry's brain was screaming This is wrong wrong so wrong, but Harry wasn't paying attention to the smarter parts of his self. He glared at the face, still trying to get his fist free, as the finger slid across his lips, off of his jawline and down his throat, resting on his pulse point. What happened next went so fast that Harry didn't have time to register the fact that his neck had been grabbed, he had been pulled forcibly forward, and he was suddenly staring up at the sky. The moon stared down at him like the cold and complacent eye of a dead man.
Then things stopped mattering.
Light exploded across his vision, and it seemed the stars were singing in the sky, a chorus of angels. Intense euphoria the likes of which he had never experienced was coursing through his veins, until he was certain it would burst to steam and seep out of his pores from the sheer heat of his blood. Every bone melted, every sensory signal suddenly screaming at him. He moaned; the laugh in return was throaty, muffled by the lips at his neck. Harry threw his head back, his eyes fluttering closed, and wrapped his arms around his assailant, whatever thoughts he had had replaced by the urge, the need, for more of this bliss. As cool night air struck his throat, Harry found himself falling to his knees, his hands- palms up, wrists in- reaching upwards, an imploring posture as he stared up rapturously. His chin was seized roughly, forcing him to crane his neck further, and he licked his lips, swallowing hard.
"You are not very smart, no?"
Harry shook his head, a lopsided smile on his face. The shadowed face chuckled, and was gone. Harry found himself staring after the retreating figure with a profound sense of loss. The buzzing caught between his ears was no longer that of alcohol, but the unrelenting need for more of that happiness high. Somewhere deep in the pit of his chest he knew how to get it, but there was a gnawing at his mind that prevented him from understanding it. Harry tried to stagger back to his feet, a hand at his throat, but his knees folded bonelessly under him.
It was a hymn in his mind. He half-turned, a baffled expression on his face. Draco hooked his hand into Harry's arm and hauled him to his feet, but Harry sagged against him.
"Potter, you've been groping me all night, you can do it now," Draco growled, bumping Harry back up. Harry wrapped one arm around Draco's waist, the other hanging limply at his side, and stared up at him, his jaw loose. "You don't have to look like a complete buffoon, Potter."
"Wanna make you happy," Harry said childishly.
"Despite common opinion, your looking like an ape does not make me happy any longer."
"Not that way," Draco peered at him curiously. "Pretty."
"You've definitely had enough to drink," Draco muttered. "Let's get you home." Draco dragged Harry further into the shadows, made sure no unsuspecting Muggles were coming this way, and Apparated the both of them with a smart crack. They ended up outside of Harry's flat, and Draco managed to convince him to unlock the door and let them in. He dropped Harry onto his bed, pulled off his boots after much swearing and struggling- throwing one of them into the mirror in the process- before turning to leave.
"Stay," someone was pulling at his sleeve, and Draco really did not want to deal with this right now.
"Let go of me, Potter," he said, without turning around.
"You want to," Harry said petulantly, releasing his sleeve. "Why won't you?" Draco did turn then, and met Harry's eyes, swampy and confused as they were.
"Because I'm not taking advantage of the Boy Wonder," he replied. "I very much doubt you could function in your state, anyway." He twisted his lip then, wondering in just how many universes Harry would invite him to do this very thing if he wasn't piss-drunk, and decided that no matter how unlikely an occurrence like that was, it wasn't worth a guilty conscience. Bloody conscience, he groused to himself, and Apparated, leaving Harry curled up in his bed, his eyes sparkling in a very unnatural way.
-- -- --
His head hurt.
It appeared to him that no less than four dozen buffalo had taken up residence between his ears. An animal of the furry-and-clawed variety also appeared to have put down roots in his stomach, and was buddying up to the lust-dragon in his chest. They were in very deep conversation about one particular blonde-haired, utterly ravishing creature that Harry really, really wished wasn't so delectable, because every image of Draco made his migraine vanish for a moment. Harry knew that that could not mean anything good. Nothing that relieved his pain so effectively could be good.
At the present moment, Harry Potter was curled up on the floor of his living room, his arms around his head. He was acutely aware of the fact that the sun had just set mere moments ago, and also that he had broken out in the most painful blisters while trying to draw his bedroom curtains shut. The migraine he had got from looking out that window made the one he had now look like a kitten with a ball of string. Unable to close his curtains, he had hidden in his closet for the day, feeling deeply sick in the pit of his stomach. Nothing could ever just be easy in his life. Survive an unsurviveable curse, kill a Dark Lord, deal with pesky partners: these things, Harry could deal with. Become a vampire was not on that list.
His elf owl thumped into the curtains, fell down them, and landed on the floor, blinking up at him with such loathing that Harry was sure she wanted to kill him. She hopped across the floor, offered him her leg, and promptly flew to the lamp and roosted on it. Harry unrolled her missive- a response from Hermione, who would be there as soon as she could. Harry sighed with relief. Hermione would fix it. She fixed everything. She sat around all day in her flat or her office, doing nothing but reading on obscure topics, taking notes herself and with a metric tonne of charmed quills. She would know something about what he could do. The fireplace blazed green, and Hermione was suddenly there. Harry peered at her through his arms.
"Hermione, my head hurts."
"You were drinking last night, Harry," she said patiently. "Of course it hurts. What's all this about being a vampire?"
"I got bit," he whinged, unable to keep himself from doing so. It just wasn't fair.
"Yes, well, unless you bit back, you're quite safe. I'm sure you're just exaggerating."
Harry swept his tongue over his canine, sucking on it. "Nope, it's still a whole fucking inch long, Hermione," he said with a grimace that quite resembled a gargoyle. Hermione was on her knee beside him, her hand under his chin, turning him as if he was some very interesting sculpture or diagram.
"Oh, my," she said.
"I gathered that."
"But… I don't understand. You need to ingest your sire's blood soon after."
"I… I think I punched him," Harry said, the distinct need to vomit rising in his gut. "I might have broken his nose." He traced his finger from the corner of his jaw across his face. "Oh, Merlin, the bastard practically fed it to me, and I didn't notice."
"Oh," Hermione said in a very small voice. "Do you… do you feel the need to bite me?" She looked very faint, pale and drawn and small, and Harry barked a laugh.
"Merlin, no!" he said. "I just have a killer headache, and about eighteen different animals living in me."
"Well," Hermione bit her lip. "Harry, would you… I mean. I haven't been able to talk to any vampires, you know, and… for my research." Harry smiled. It was normally a very fetching smile, the kind that got him plastered onto Witch Weekly, but right then, in the firelight and darkness, it looked sinister.
"Of course," he said. "I might as well be useful before I get killed."
"You won't be killed, Harry," Hermione said, reaching into her handbag to pull out a quill and notepad. "You're not dark or anything, just…"
"Sure," Hermione said, scribbling on her pad. "Could you tell me how it… felt?"
Harry's eyes almost glazed over. "Merlin, Hermione. It was like someone took an ultra-strong cheering potion and injected it straight into my brain. I think I would have walked straight into the street had he asked me to, it was just so good. And… eh," he seemed to come back to himself, and shook his head. Hermione stared at him with rapt attention, her quill poised.
"And… I'm actually rather amazed I didn't spontaneously orgasm, actually." Hermione snorted, a poor attempt at stifling a laugh. "Hey, it was like someone uncorked all the happy-sex feelings I haven't exactly been feeling." Hermione wrinkled her nose, and Harry glared at her, the effect unfortunately ruined by the fact that she could only see one eye and a portion of his forehead through his crossed arms.
"But you don't want to, you know… Rip any throats out?"
"No," Harry replied simply. "I have a horrible craving for a steak, though. And more of those happy feelings."
"Happy-sex feelings," Hermione amended. Harry made a face at her, finally lowering his arms.
"Well, even this explains a lot. Like how killer vampires are responsible for their actions, and how they could convince people to stand still long enough to be bitten."
"Yay, I helped save the world. Again," Harry said in flat tones, rolling his eyes.
"Just stay here, Harry," Hermione said kindly, pocketing her quill and notepad. "I'll talk to Ron, he'll talk to Shacklebolt, and we'll get back to you tomorrow. I'm sure that as long as you don't try to eat anyone, he'll be fine. You are Harry Potter."
"I hate being Harry Potter." Hermione smiled encouragingly at him.
"I'll send you some dragon steaks, Charlie thought it would be a good idea to give Ron some. I'm sure you'll enjoy them more." Harry leaned back, tapping his head against the arm of his sofa. He smiled up at Hermione, gratitude written all over his face.
"It's not a problem," she said, and vanished into the fireplace.
Harry banged his head against the sofa again, for good measure.
-- -- --
Draco had been reading the same book for hours. He sat in the library of Malfoy Manor, curled up comfortably in his favourite armchair, an ancient book in his lap. It probably had the most information on part-humans of all the books in London. Shacklebolt had told them to be on holiday, but he had said nothing about not researching. Research was good. It kept his mind off of… things, and it was useful. There wasn't much known about part-humans, but it was needed for his work as a dark creatures Auror. Not that Aurors were exclusive to their departments: he'd worked plenty of field even in dark artefacts, mostly with MacMillan and Kent in dark wizards.
Perhaps most well known is the werewolf, Draco read, and snorted. Yep. They were well known, setting up yet another ruckus over their rights. Not that Draco thought they didn't deserve to have rights, because they could still practice as wizards and most of them had been wizards before they had been bitten. Really, it was the children of werewolves, or those attacked while the wolf wasn't in wereform, that were screwed, caught between two labels. Draco tapped a sentence with his finger. It is now known that attack under a waning moon or birth to a werewolf and wizard parent will cause a halfwere: a carrier of the viral infection, capable of passing on full wereism, but not affecting the change themselves.
The best example he could think of was Teddy Lupin. Lupin hadn't been a half-bad teacher, he had really taught them the most of all their teachers, actually. And he wasn't exactly barking mad. Just… barking. Occasionally. Draco recalled seeing Harry during those lessons, his eyes vivid and completely trained on the task at hand, exhibiting the degree of devotion that he now applied to his work as an Auror. Draco underlined another sentence with a bit more force than he intended. There was also William Weasley. As Draco understood it, William was perfectly capable of biting people and turning them into werewolves, but his kids had escaped unscathed. Draco turned the page, out of the section on werewolves, and began reading again.
Little is known of vampires. Vampires usually gather in groups (see: covens, murders) in the range of mountains known as the Carpathians. Draco almost laughed at that. Murders. It painted a picture of vampires in black overcoats, hanging around in trees like a bunch of scavenging crows. Draco quickly ticked through the list of symptoms of vampirism, idly wondering why giant inch-long fangs and photosensitivity weren't on it. Draco struck through the word nocturnal, replacing it with the aforementioned light allergy, clucking irritably at the book. It should be more up-to-date than that. Really, even Harry's joking How To Spot a Vampire poster in his office was better than this list. Draco was ready to scrap the whole page and rewrite it, after sending the publisher an appropriately pissed off letter. He settled for flipping to the next section, which was merfolk.
There was a clunk in the hallway, and Draco underlined another sentence in his book, brushing his quill against his lips.
"Poppy?" he called out, his eyes scanning the page. "Just pick it up, don't iron your toes or anything." The low, ominous chuckle in the hallway most definitely did not come out of Poppy. Draco looked up, and saw nothing. Chewing on the inside of his cheek, Draco set his book aside, marking his place with his quill. He got up, pulled his wand out of his pocket, and tapped it against his leg as he walked out into the hallway. A cursory exam of the area told him that no one was there; a shield bearing the Malfoy crest was spinning to a slow halt on the floor. Draco levitated it back to its spot on the wall, affixed it with a sticking charm, and returned to the library. The fire was beginning to die. Poppy must have been scared about the shield, though Draco had no idea why she would be. It wasn't as if he was his father, kicking her in the rear whenever she so much as blinked funny. As Draco strode across the room it flickered, threatening to go out.
"Malfoy," he faltered mid-step and whirled around, his eyes those of the hunted. Draco had absolutely no idea what was going on, because no one was there. He laughed nervously.
"Malfoy," it was almost singsong, and he spun back, brandishing his wand threateningly.
"Malfoy," a hoarse growl, right by his ear. He stiffened.
"How did you get in here?" he croaked. The voice chuckled, its owner licked the back of his neck and he shuddered involuntarily.
"Interesting question," he was going to make himself dizzy if this didn't stop. He bared his teeth, now facing the heavily draped windows. "Thought you'd be interested in who got in here."
"How first, so I can adjust my wards," Draco said, turning his head slightly. "Who isn't so important. Just stand still so I can hex you." Whoever it was laughed again, in an almost hyenic way.
"You'd love that," with a sound of disgust Draco turned around again, glaring, now, at the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. He heard a book slide off the shelf, the sound of pages flipping, and then it was slid back in place. "Always have."
"Of course I love hexing those stupid enough to sully my house with their presence."
"You fall into that list, yes," Draco said, his brow creasing.
"I'm sure you've always loved thinking of me."
"It would help if I could see you, you bloody tosser," Draco snarled, losing his patience. The firelight flickered, and Draco cast around the room, waiting for the next response. He was surprised to finally see the source of this game of cat-and-mouse, leaning against the fireplace mantel, cut in sharp relief by the light and shadow.
"Potter," Draco growled, rolling his eyes as he lowered his wand. "You didn't need to be a complete pillock." Harry's expression was that of deep amusement. "How did you get in here?"
"Your wards are incomplete," was Harry's simple reply. "All of them are."
"Stop staring," Draco said, unnerved. "I thought you were going to find the meaning of life in the bottom of a bottle of gin?"
"I did," Harry said. "Its name was Malfoy." Draco laughed.
"That's rich, trying to paint me the centre of the universe after so many years convincing me I wasn't."
"You," Harry said, taking a step towards him, which Draco matched with a step back, wondering why he felt so nervous. The faint sound of Harry's footsteps was incredibly loud in the quiet of the room. "Are stunning." Draco stumbled over his own foot.
Harry grinned sharply, the feral smile of a hunting wolf, his eyes catching the light, reflecting it. "You know you think so. Is it really so hard to believe someone noticed?"
"Hard to believe you did," Draco retorted. Harry chuckled again, that ridiculously dark sound that made the hair at the back of his neck stand on end.
"No, it isn't. You know that," Harry said softly. "I can see it."
Draco felt his eye twitch. "What?"
"Right here," Harry said, and pressed a finger to his temple. "You're like reading a book."
"What are you on about, Potter?"
Harry tutted. "You know." He grinned again, and Draco gulped in a breath.
"You were reading it," Harry tongue's darted out, sucking on his canine, a gesture that Draco had become familiar with over the past weeks.
"Most obvious of symptoms is bloodlust," Harry quoted. "It is unsure whether they feed for sport or for need."
"Shit," Draco wheezed. Harry smirked. "What happened to you?"
"The best thing ever," he said, as if he were admitting a terrible secret. He grinned again, the expression striking Draco as deeply dangerous. "At first, I didn't know how to get it back." His eyes were mesmerising, Draco could get lost in them. Harry reached out, running his fingers lightly along Draco's jawline; he blinked, and Draco jerked his gaze away. He stepped back quickly, out of reach, and Harry's hand fell. "But I think I figured it out. Yesterday, noonish. When I was busy hiding in my closet." The grin turned amused, and Harry abruptly barked a laugh. Draco's eyes went wide with alarm.
"You've wanted me for the longest time," Harry said, and Draco felt his face burn. This was a terrible secret.
"Don't bother," Harry interrupted, his tones almost soothing. "Like a book. Remember?" Draco nodded, swallowing hard. His back hit the wall and his eyebrows shot up his forehead as he licked his lips. He had nowhere to go, but Harry still had space to manoeuvre, and Draco could read it in his eyes, shining in the half-light. They were gleaming; Draco knew that look. He had seen it so often in Harry's eyes when he tossed a careless glance over his shoulder- at a Quidditch game, before arresting a criminal. It was a look of triumph. He knew he had Draco against a wall, in more ways than one.
"You're nervous. Why?"
Draco tried to laugh, but it came out as more of a strangled whimper. "I've a vampire in my library, probably about to tear my throat out." Harry shook his shaggy head, his eyes momentarily- and alarmingly- vanishing as he closed them.
"I don't have to do that," he said. "I don't want to do that. I want to hear you scream."
Draco shut his eyes, his heart pounding in his chest. "Right. I can't do that without vocal chords. Enough of this verbal foreplay, Potter. Just kill me."
"Not that way," Harry's voice was entirely too quiet, and entirely too close. "I want to hear you panting, to hear you crying out my name from sheer pleasure as I cover every inch of that deliciously pale body in kisses." Draco inhaled sharply as he felt Harry lean, his arm a bare inch from Draco's head. "You'll love it. I don't have to be able to see it to know it. It's written all over your face." Draco wanted to curse his face, but right now probably wasn't the time. "Too pretty to curse." The backs of Harry's fingers brushed lightly against his cheek, but he was caught, unable to move away, or maybe unwilling. "Oh, you're perfectly willing," Harry whispered, sounding amused. "You are so damn willing you can taste it. You know how long I've wanted that. To bring you over the edge, then show you an entirely new kind of bliss."
"I said stop the verbal foreplay, Potter," Draco managed. "Not fuck me with it."
Harry chuckled, and Draco hazarded to open his eyes, instantly regretting it. Harry's were fierce and endless and he could bloody well see himself in them, he was so close.
"But you like that," Harry whispered, and Draco shivered.
"I'd rather a non-bloodthirsty you to do it, thanks."
"You'd love it, you know," Draco gulped as Harry leaned even closer, his sense of personal space being completely invaded and destroyed. "There's no pain. Just your blood catching fire, every nerve alight." The breath that came out of Draco was just a hair shakier than he intended it to be.
"I don't fancy spending my life in the dark," Draco said, congratulating himself on keeping his voice even.
"You don't have to if you don't want," Harry's lips were moving against his, barely touching. "Just don't bite back." Suddenly Harry was touching, pressing Draco further into the wall, and Draco moaned against his mouth, feeling those sharp teeth grazing his lower lip. Harry's hands were positively devilish, moving so fast that Draco could barely keep track of them: they were at this throat, digging into his clavicles, clawing his buttons open. His mouth was almost as bad, his lips burning against Draco's, kissing him so thoroughly that Draco's head went light before he was able to catch a breath, and only because Harry's deft fingers had exposed the hollow of his throat. Draco's eyes widened with alarm as Harry's lips ventured there.
"Harry," he said, half a yelp, half a whimper.
"Shhh, won't bite," Harry said, dragging his teeth gently along Draco's throat. Draco moaned- helplessly incapable of keeping it inside him- and Harry's hands kept going, until the length of his chest and stomach were exposed to the cooling air, and those hands slipped inside, briefly, ridiculously, tickling him. Draco's wand fell, forgotten, to the floor, and he squeezed his hands between their pressed bodies, frantically trying to catch up to Harry, popping off more than his fair share of buttons. He had always expected Harry to be hot- after all, they were basically opposites in every other way- but by contrast his skin was maddeningly cool, almost cold, as it pressed closer to him. As if Harry was trying to crawl into his skin.
His hands, shaking, sought Harry's trouser buttons, and Harry laughed against his throat, the heat and vibrations somehow travelling straight into his groin. Another moan found its way out of him as Harry's hands- considerably more controlled than his own- flicked open the front of his slacks, before sliding around his hips and into his pants, sliding them off of his hips and cupping his arse. He didn't need any further encouragement to wrap his legs around Harry's waist. Somehow Harry managed to press him further into the wall; his neck was probably at the most awkward angle in the world, but Draco just didn't care. He grabbed a fistful of Harry's hair, wrenching his face away from his neck, and kissed him forcefully. He was reminded just how little control he had when Harry nipped him, drawing blood from the corners of his lips.
"Oww," Draco whinged, the sound turning into a needy keen as Harry probed gently.
"Just a reminder," Harry said, lapping at the blood he had drawn. "I'm in charge." Draco nodded, thinking that at this point, he would agree to just about anything Harry wanted, as long as he kept doing that. Harry seemed to have other things in mind- not that Draco could really blame him- as he readjusted himself and pressed his hips forward.
"Dear God in Heaven," Draco gasped, as Harry thrust into him with an animal grunt. Draco threw his head back, banging it against the wall, and Harry pressed his forehead to the hollow of his throat.
"Thought you were an atheist."
"I don't th-think anyone could be, w-w-with you," Draco stammered, a truly ridiculous moment of Malfoys do not stutter, passing through his mind, as Harry gently rocked against him. Draco dug his heels into the backs of Harry's thighs, trying desperately hard not to scream. And wail. And grunt.
"'Swhat I want," Harry breathed against his throat. "'Swhat you want." Draco shook his head, hearing it grind against the wall, as Harry ground against him. His arms, around Harry's neck, tightened. "Or is it?" Draco squeezed his eyes shut with a moan as Harry thrust up, hard, digging his fingers into Draco's hip. "Bit o' pain," it sounded almost amused. His free hand, the one not wrapped around Draco's waist, was suddenly on him, pumping with slow, teasing strokes that made Draco want to writhe. It was like Harry wanted to drag his orgasm out of him, with his slow, hard thrusts and his breath at Draco's throat.
"I can smell it," the breathless whisper crept along under the hinge of his jaw. "Right here." Harry's tongue touched his jugular, a long, luxurious lick that started almost at his collar and ended right under his jaw, reducing Draco to incoherent whimpers. "What do you want?"
"Nnnng," Draco said, grabbing another fistful of Harry's hair and pressing him closer to his throat. Harry dragged his tongue across the thinly veiled veins again, and then his teeth. Draco nodded, his head thumping against the wall.
"OhJesusJosephMaryMotherofGod, bite me," he breathed.
Harry obliged, listening as Draco's reedy cry tapered off into a long, low moan that just kept going as he sank his fangs deeper into Draco's neck, his blood- warm and sweet and deliciously resembling liquid chocolate- ran down Harry's throat. At the first press of pain against his skin, Draco tensed almost painfully, but as his blood seemed to catch fire in his veins, pure bliss coursing through his blood, he came. It was the single most intoxicating thing he had ever experienced, as Harry rutted shamelessly into him, his teeth at Draco's throat and everything in Draco's body screaming for him never to let this end. Harry moaned against his neck- every nerve was suddenly sending sparks across Draco's skin- and, as Draco practically spurred him onwards, Harry thrust up again, emptying himself and pressing Draco flat against the wall. Draco purred with ecstasy.
They stayed that way, locked together against the wall, for several long moments, Draco occasionally twitching as Harry's tongue swept over the wounds he had created, the pulse still pounding like the galloping of a horse at his throat. With great care Harry's lips lifted from Draco's neck, and he tapped Draco's rear. Draco loosened his death grip on Harry's waist before realising with minor annoyance that he had used the same method to convince errant horses to move out of his way. He didn't have the energy to complain- although Harry laughed lowly- but Harry kept his hands at his waist. There was a deep sense of loss that was only partly related to losing the best high he had ever had. Harry pressed his forehead to Draco's chest.
"Perfect," he breathed.
Draco nodded his agreement, absently fiddling with Harry's hair, an adoring smile on his face. "Except for the grr," Harry chuckled, the vibrations jolting through Draco's chest like an earthquake.
"The grr?" Harry asked, and Draco nodded, burying his face into Harry's hair and inhaling deeply.
"Bitey thing. I like it," he amended, "but you're screwed."
Harry laughed again. "I honestly hope I wasn't so goofy afterwards," Draco frowned as Harry tilted his head back, looking up at him, effectively taking away his pillow. "Talked to Shacklebolt. He thinks I'll still be useful. Something about needing something more than work." Draco snorted.
"He's happy you need blood to live?"
"Here's a secret," Harry said conspiratorially, and Draco met his eyes. He thought he could get lost in them: predatorial and gleaming in the dying light, intense and vivid. "I don't." Draco's hand shot to his neck, but Harry intercepted it. He held it, palm up, tracing the lines with his finger. Draco was pinned in place by those eyes as Harry pressed his lips to his palm. He arched his lip, and Draco's hand tingled as he felt sharp canines push flat against his hand. He felt Harry's tongue press against his hand, and at that very moment was certain he was drooling. Harry's lips quirked, and he pulled away, breathing across Draco's cold palm so that goosepimples crept up his arm. "You just taste delicious."
-- -- --
The last of my one-shots before I start uploading "Life, As It Were". The first draft was completely scrapped about three days ago and rewritten in one. Then I realised I made a huge jump between drunk!Harry and molesting-Malfoy!Harry, so I readjusted the pub scene and added a new one in, for some meat. Really, I just wanted to write some biting. I've read plenty of vampire fics where it either hurts, or it doesn't, but I have yet to come across any where it actually feels good. Which, you know, seems likely. So, here you go!