Reparations - chapter ten - by Sara's Girl
Disclaimer: see chapter one. Just playing. I've had fun, have you?
AN - I can't believe this is over. It's the longest thing I've ever written and I'm kind of gutted I've finished it. Endless thanks, flapjacks and mismatched coffees to everyone who's been reading, and especially those who have reviewed. I'm still pretty new to writing in this fandom and your fantastic comments have been beyond wonderful.
I initally expected this chapter to play out with more aggression than it did, but I actually like the way it ended up.
This chapter is for Forgotten Lake, who leaves such thoughtful reviews, and who had Redrow pinned ages ago ;)
After a moment's hesitation, Harry takes the slightly longer route to reach Draco's floo connection, the one that bypasses the main lounge. The last thing he needs is to alarm the Stage Twos, who should be straggling in from dinner now and settling in for the evening.
Pulling the door closed behind him, he sinks to his knees in front of the fireplace and firecalls Ron's office at the Ministry. As he sticks his head into the room and looks around, the first thing that hits him is that Ron isn't there. The second is a pair of vaguely familiar dark eyes that fasten upon him from the opposite side of the office.
His heart sinks.
"Hello, Harry Potter," Rodriguez says, rising from his desk and crossing to drop down in front of the fireplace. He rests tanned hands on his knees and regards Harry carefully. "What can I do for you?"
"Hi, um, Rodriguez." Harry's mind stalls temporarily, having been totally ready to just spill everything out to Ron, knowing that his friend would listen. "Is Ron about?" he asks hopefully.
"He went to retrieve some documents from the archive."
"Can you go and get him? Please?"
Rodriguez bristles slightly and Harry bites his tongue, gripping the stone mount of his fireplace hard.
"I have things to do, you know. I take it this call is of a personal nature?"
Oh, you fucking jobsworth, Harry groans inside. "As a matter of fact, it's not," he says out loud. "And I really don't have a huge amount of time, so please can you tell Ron I need to speak to him?"
"If it's a Ministry matter, I don't see why you can't tell me," Rodriguez points out, not unreasonably. "We are partners, you know."
Harry scrutinizes the man in front of him. The curly dark hair and hard mouth and brown robes. Rodriguez is stuffy and terminally serious, but not unpleasant; not untrustworthy.
"Ok. Listen. It's about your Chromia X case." The dark eyes flicker and Harry winces but presses on; too late to worry about what he should or shouldn't know. "The man you want is named Algernon Redrow. He's a Healer here at St Mungo's and a department head."
Rodriguez blinks and rubs at his face distractedly. Come on, Harry thinks, come the fuck on. Say something.
"Redrow, the head of Draco Malfoy's department?" he asks at last. "That Redrow?"
"Yes." Harry resists the urge to reach through the floo and shake Rodriguez. "You need to come and interview this guy. I'm not messing with you, Rodriguez. This is serious."
"He's not on any of our lists." Rodriguez casts a pained glance at the tidy stacks of paperwork on his desk and the neatly labelled collection of photographs on the wall with wiggling arrows and words connecting them together. Really, Harry thinks absently, it's a wonder that Rodriguez and Hermione don't get on better. "There's no evidence. With all due respect, Mr Potter... you must see how potentially damaging it could be for us to just turn up and cart off a St Mungo's department head because you've got a hunch?"
Hanging onto the fireplace and closing his eyes briefly, Harry wishes – just for a moment – that Salvatore Rodriguez was one of those disturbing people who listen to him just because he's Harry Potter. Just for a second.
"It's not a hunch, Rodriguez. I've got a former Chem Dep patient with a chunk of memory missing and only a limited number of people who could have taken it from her. Do you not see how much of a coincidence it is that one of those people matches the very specific description given by all four witnesses?" He sniffs meaningfully and stares at the other man.
"Oranges?" Rodriguez whispers, eyes widening.
"How do you know about that?"
"Is that really the issue right now?" Harry says, hoping Ron doesn't kill him too painfully later on. Hopefully he'll see the bigger picture, but Ron's not always been a great bigger picture kind of bloke. "Look. I know from experience he's jumpy around Aurors. He'll Apparate the second he sees you, unless you come now. Right now he's in the office in Chem. Dep, and he can't Apparate. So if you want to speak to him, I advise you to hurry the fuck up about it before he figures out what's going on."
Breathing hard, Harry waits, watching the changing expressions flit across Rodriguez's solemn face.
"You're sure about this." Oddly, it's not a question. Harry nods firmly anyway.
Rodriguez straightens up and brushes the creases from his robes. "We'll be there in ten minutes."
Harry approaches the office just in time to see a determined-looking Draco ushering Redrow through the door; talking rapidly about exit stats and something else that Harry's racing mind can't focus on.
"Well yes, Draco, I can see why that might be a concern. Why don't you show me the papers, and I'll – Healer Potter, nice to see you up here again," Redrow smiles serenely as Harry enters the office behind them and closes the door.
"Nice, yeah," Harry mumbles vaguely, exchanging a split second glance with Draco.
Redrow heads for the nearest chair, the one Harry still thinks of as his. To his surprise, Draco casts Incarcero and Silencio the second the man sits down. Redrow's eyes widen almost comically as the magical restraints snake around his body, binding him to the chair, but he can't say a word.
Draco shrugs at Harry's expression. "What? No point messing about, is there?"
The flash of nonchalance is striking, and Harry almost smiles. "No. I guess not. Your favourite team of Aurors will be here in ten minutes, apparently."
"Lovely." He turns to Redrow, motionless in the chair turned parallel to the desk. Draco stands in front of the bookshelves, facing him, and Harry instinctively stays with his back pressed against the door in case of any highly unlikely escape attempt. He can see enough of Redrow's face, though, to register the sudden pallor of his skin and the screaming eyes. The mouth desperately forming words that cannot be heard.
Draco stares at his boss for a long time, eyes positively arctic. The only movement is one pale hand, in which he's twisting his wand between his fingers. When he speaks, Harry is suddenly grateful that Ron and Rodriguez will be here in ten minutes, because in all his life he doesn't think he's heard Draco so dangerously angry.
"You absolute, utter fucking bastard." He grips his wand hard and raises it. Harry's fingers close around his own but he doesn't draw it. "You hypocrite. 'Drugs are a menace, Draco. This department is so important, Draco. We have to help these people, Draco.' Yeah. Right."
Redrow blinks rapidly and mouths something that looks like 'I don't know...'
Fury flares in Draco's eyes and he steps closer until the tip of his wand almost touches Redrow's forehead. "I'm going to take the silencing spell off now, and so help me, if you even dare to say you don't know what I'm talking about, I will hex you into so many pieces the Aurors will have to mop you up. Understand?"
Redrow nods slowly and Draco mutters the counter-spell. He doesn't lower his wand.
"You've called Aurors?" he asks, twisting his head awkwardly to look at Harry.
There's a note of fear in his voice and Harry finds himself completely unaffected by it. "Yes. And I'm sure they'll have plenty to ask you, but first I think you owe Draco an explanation," he says, injecting a quietly threatening edge to the words.
"An explanation, yes, that would be nice." Draco glares. His wand hand is steady, Harry notices, but the one at his side is shaking ever so slightly. "An explanation of why you've been sneaking around and betraying everything this department stands for, selling that filthy, dangerous shit... for what? Aren't they paying you enough?"
Redrow closes his eyes for a moment, apparently assessing the situation. The futility of his position seems to dawn on him pretty quickly, because when he opens his eyes and addresses Draco, his words are almost a plea.
"Please, Draco, you don't understand. It wasn't like that at all. The board..."
"The board? Oh, what – the board made me do it? Give me a fucking break." Draco finally lowers his wand, but if anything he looks angrier than before. Harry's urge to cross the room and place a calming hand on his shoulder is immense and he struggles hard to fight it down.
Redrow tries again, looking suddenly very old. "You haven't been sitting in those meetings for the last few months, have you?"
"No, I've been doing the real work, in case you haven't noticed," Draco snaps.
"Listen to me. They were going to shut us down, Draco. Times are changing. Wizards are moving onto the Muggle drugs... it was getting harder and harder every time to convince them that we needed a rehab unit here especially for wizards. The chairman of the board was on a mission to cut budgets and cut departments he thought we didn't need." Redrow pauses, catching his breath. "I had to do something."
Looking blindsided, Draco leans heavily against the shelves at his back. "Do something? The best thing you could think of to solve that problem was to create more addicts?!"
"Draco... don't you think I tried everything else I could think of first?" Redrow appeals, voice strained with desperation.
"You hurt people. You could have killed people." Disbelief tightens Draco's face, and regarding him silently from the door, Harry aches.
"Chem Dep saves thousands of lives. Sometimes you have to sacrifice the few to save the many."
The dull, efficient delivery of those words turns Harry's insides cold. For the first time since entering the office, Redrow's expression is unrepentant; just calm. Cool, hard logic.
Harry lifts his eyes to Draco, who is staring at Redrow with a very strange expression on his face. The flush of recent anger tints his cheekbones slightly pink and his eyes are hard but oddly shiny. Harry's heart stutters and he flattens himself against the door forcefully.
Apparently Draco doesn't have a response to the department head's logic any more than he does, and seems completely lost for words.
"How did you choose the hairs?" Harry says. "Why blondes?"
Redrow sighs. "Sorry to disappoint you, Healer Potter, but there isn't a neat reason for everything. The first hairs I ever used happened to be blonde, and I like consistency. I took them wherever I could find them."
"They were always blonde?" Draco snaps to attention, addressing Harry. Harry nods. "Did you use my hair, Algernon?"
"No. Do you think I'm stupid? They'd have come in here and recognised you straight away," Redrow points out.
Draco's eyes narrow as another thought occurs to him. "Did you use my fucking lab?"
Harry watches the man squirm and shift as much as he can under the tight restraints and knows he did. The look on Draco's face as the full extent of the betrayal sinks in is painful; the underhand use of his private space to create something at such utter cross purposes to his own work.
"Did it not occur to you that I might come under suspicion in all this?" Draco demands, livid once more.
"Draco, even if they did suspect you, I knew they'd give you veritaserum and exclude you from the inquiry."
"Did it ever enter your head that perhaps I didn't want to be carted off by the Aurors and given another fucking mind-altering substance?" Draco demands, voice rising, hair falling into his eyes as he looks momentarily at the floor. "Does my history mean nothing to you? I fucking trusted you, Algernon."
"I know. I'm sorry, Draco, really, but it had to be done."
Seeing Draco's wand hand twitching, Harry jumps in. It can't be long now until Ron arrives, and he has one more thing he wants to ask.
"What did you do to Ramona?"
The dark eyes are quizzical as the man turns his head.
"She's my patient downstairs, and I know someone's messed with her memory." Harry frowns, crossing his arms. "Strike that, I know you've messed with her memory. Why?"
"I always stayed away from the Stage Two patients, especially the ones I recognised from the sales," Redrow says reluctantly, resignation all over his face. "I only came back that night to fetch something I'd left in Stage One, and she was standing at the door when I left. I practically knocked her over, and then she just got this terrible look on her face, and I knew that she knew."
"She could smell you," Draco says dully. "You're safe with the Stage Ones once they're under, but... bloody fucking hell, Algernon, what did you do to her?"
"She shouldn't have been standing there! What could I do? I Obliviated her."
"And nothing," Redrow mumbles, no longer looking at either of them.
"Did you use Imperius? Or did you threaten her? Because she sure as hell didn't walk out of here of her own accord," Harry challenges.
Redrow sighs. "It wasn't Imperius. I just used a suggestibility spell to make sure that she'd do whatever she heard after she'd been Obliviated. I told her she was going to walk out, and she did."
Over the top of the silver-grey head, Harry and Draco exchange glances, and all of the pain, anger and disbelief in the grey eyes leeches into Harry's veins. In that moment, he wants nothing more than to draw Draco close and press kisses to his skin until he feels calm and safe again. It's a strange feeling, and the depth of it shakes him to his core.
"Is she alright?" Redrow asks suddenly, shattering their connection. Draco looks away, flushing.
"No, she bloody isn't alright," Harry snaps. "She will be, but no thanks to you."
The knock on the door is a familiar one and Harry isn't the least surprised when he opens it and finds Anxious Brunette Nurse.
"Aurors," he says wearily. "Again. Shall I let them in, or would you like to go outside to... oh." His mouth drops open when he catches sight of the incarcerated Redrow and he darts glances between the three of them.
"We'll come out, thank you." Draco flicks a grim glance at Redrow. "Not a word to the patients about what you've just seen if you want to keep your job."
The nurse nods hurriedly and scurries away in the direction of Stage One.
"We'll come out? Isn't it better if they come in here? Anti-Apparation wards," Harry says, looking pointedly at Draco.
"This is not going off in my department." Draco scowls. "And apart from the fact that he wouldn't fucking dare, the ropes aren't coming off until he's in Weasley's grubby hands."
"You don't have to do that, Draco," Redrow puts in. "I'm not going to make a break for it now, what would be the point?"
Snorting, Draco deftly modifies the spell so that he can pull the department head to his feet whilst still leaving him very little room for manoeuvre, much less Apparation. "Excuse me if your word is worth approximately bugger all to me at this point."
Harry tugs at the silvery ropes until he's satisfied they'll hold, and opens the door. As he brings up the rear of their rather bizarre procession through the main room and down the corridor, he's trying to imagine what Ron's face is going to look like when he sees them.
He's prepared for surprise, satisfaction and even anger, but when Draco opens the double doors and the three of them step out into the fifth floor corridor, empty save for Ron and Rodriguez, the expression on his friend's face is one of alarm.
"You restrained him?" Ron's eyes widen, and behind him, Rodriguez is shaking his head slowly. "Harry, bloody hell... you can't do that before they're charged, you..."
"He didn't," Draco cuts in. "I did. And he as good as confessed, anyway. Didn't you Algernon?" Draco's eyes gleam dangerously.
Redrow's face is blank now; expressionless. "I'm not going to resist," he reiterates. "I'll go with you. It's not as though it will help."
Harry takes an unconscious step closer to Draco and shoots Rodriguez a challenging stare. He stops shaking his head.
"Right." Ron looks startled but hurriedly recovers his composure. "Well, we don't have any search warrants right now, so it's just a matter of returning to the Ministry for interview."
He takes Redrow's elbow firmly and pulls, but the man resists and stays still. Harry's close enough to feel Draco stiffen beside him, and Rodriguez steps in, but he's cut off before he can say a word.
"It doesn't matter about warrants." Redrow shakes his head wearily. "My office is down the hall. The password is 'necessity'. You'll find all you need there."
Rodriguez nods and Harry watches him and Ron communicate via a series of exchanged glances and vague hand gestures. However much Ron claims the man irritates him beyond all belief, the display of synchronicity is both impressive and surprising.
This time, when Ron moves, Redrow moves with him. Harry lets out a long breath for all of two seconds until the last voice he needs to hear right now makes itself very apparent in the previously deserted corridor.
"Well, well. I was told there were Aurors hanging around on the fifth floor and I thought someone was having me on, and then I remembered you work up here, Malfoy. Why am I not surprised that this has something to do with you?"
Tremellen's disdainful gaze is trained only on Draco, and it seems to Harry as though he hasn't even noticed the restrained department head at Ron's side. As Harry looks at his mentor, there's a split-second flash of guilt for having so eagerly suspected him just an hour earlier, but then he registers the stream of wordless bile spilling out of his eyes and hitting Draco, and the guilt vanishes.
"How sweet," Draco snaps. "But this has nothing to do with me, as it happens." His eyes slide toward the two Aurors and Redrow, and after a moment, Tremellen's follow.
He blanches. "What is the meaning of this?"
"I'm afraid that information is unavailable to unauthorised personnel," Rodriguez says, sounding like he's quoting from the Auror Code of Conduct. He probably is.
Tremellen bristles and draws himself up to his impressive full height, but no one is intimidated. When Redrow doesn't even deign to meet his colleague's gaze, Tremellen turns on Harry.
"Healer Potter, I was under the impression that you failed miserably at Auror training, and as such, I can't quite understand why you're running around this hospital like some sort of - "
"I didn't fail, I bloody quit!" Harry explodes, before he can stop himself.
"That's not what I heard."
"For fuck's sake, Augustus. Shut up." Draco's voice from beside Harry is low but commanding, sending inappropriate warmth up Harry's spine.
"Malfoy," Tremellen says, all contempt. "Do not take that tone with me, you worthless, incompetent scum. I know what you are."
Fuming now, Harry wants to say something but he knows it'll end badly for him. He bites his tongue, but apparently his body fails to agree with this logic; he doesn't even realise he's taken a step toward Tremellen until he feels Draco's hand on his arm.
"If you're that desperate to lose your job for me, at least do it over something worthwhile," he murmurs, only loud enough for Harry to hear.
"But you just..."
"Tremellen can't touch me."
Ron coughs loudly and raises an inquiring eyebrow once all eyes are on him. "We'll be going now. Healer Potter... er, Malfoy. Thanks." He nods. "Healer Tremellen."
With that, he turns on the spot, and with a pop he and Redrow disappear. Rodriguez lifts one corner of his mouth in what can only be his approximation of a smile, and follows them.
"Is someone going to explain to me what's going on?"
Harry opts to keep his mouth closed and his expression neutral. Draco has no such qualms.
"Didn't you hear the man? That information is unavailable to unauthorised personnel." He grins.
"Am I expected to believe that you are such?"
"I don't much care what you believe, Augustus. Healer Potter and I are off the clock now, so if you'd excuse us." Draco shrugs carelessly and flicks his wand over the doors, holding open the nearest one for Harry.
"Er, have a nice weekend, Healer Tremellen," Harry manages, smiling blandly and ducking into the department before Tremellen has a chance to respond.
As he stumbles into the office behind Draco, Harry takes a deep breath and tries to slow the confused buzzing in his head. It could be the drama of the last hour, or it could be the thrill of anticipation that's thickening with each smile and touch and glance Draco gives him; either way, something is making his heart pound like mad.
He has even less of an idea what Draco needs. The man has been irate, upset, cold and amused by degrees and there's no telling what will come next. When he ignores his desk and chairs and instead slides to the floor beside his bookcase, Harry hesitates only for a moment before dropping down next to him, close enough to touch but choosing to keep his hands to himself.
Draco leans back against the shelves and sinks his fingers into the luxurious rug underneath him. Deciding to wait for him to speak first, Harry examines the rug. There are a number of red and green snakes woven into it, and he idly wonders if he could get them to move about. Perhaps if he asked nicely.
"I'm so stupid," he says at last, and Harry looks up sharply.
"No you're not."
"Don't." Draco stares straight ahead and rests folded arms on his drawn-up knees. "You work with someone for five years and you can't figure out they've turned drug dealer? That's pretty far up the scale of stupid by anyone's reckoning."
"It's not your job to figure stuff like that out. You work ridiculously hard, and when you're not with the patients you're in your bloody lab trying to find a way to make things better for them." Harry sighs and shoots him a frustrated sidelong glance. "When were you supposed to have time to play detective?"
"I should have known," Draco insists, but some of the edge is gone from his tone.
"No one knew. Ron and Rodriguez have been looking for Death Eaters all this time. I thought it was fucking Tremellen. We all got it wrong."
Draco tips his head back against the shelves and flicks his eyes to Harry. "We had it all, between us, you know."
When Harry turns his head too, those eyes are only inches away. He swallows and shoves his hands into his pockets. "How do you mean?"
"Oranges. If we'd just..." he gestures vaguely and then lets his hand drop.
"Oh." Harry nods slightly, understanding. The need to reassure is intense. "Well, we'd have maybe saved a couple of weeks. We wouldn't have been in time to help Ramona."
Draco winces. Looks at the floor. "She used, didn't she."
Harry stretches his legs out in front of him and smoothes the creases from his trousers. "Yeah. She did."
"Tell her she can come back."
"Tell her she can come back and finish the programme. Well, she'll have to start again, but still. If she wants to, that is."
Harry smiles. "I think she'd like that."
"It's not her fault. 'Oh, I just Obliviated her and sent her on her way under a fucking suggestibility spell, no problem eh, Draco?'" Draco narrows his eyes and directs the words at the floor.
"That was a particular low point," Harry agrees.
"Oh, I don't know. Sacrifice the few to save the many? I didn't even know how to argue with him, Harry."
The eyes that meet his then are sharp with pain. "Neither did I. Stop. Punishing. Yourself."
"I'm not, I..." Catching Harry's expression, he pauses. Shrugs awkwardly. "Force of habit."
"I know." Without looking away from his face, Harry throws caution to the wind and covers Draco's hand with his where it rests on his knee. The grey eyes widen but then Draco turns his hand under Harry's and laces their fingers together. He grips and Draco grips back; the gesture mutually comforting.
"Polyjuice," Draco says after a while. "Sneaky bastard. I wonder what they find in his office."
"God knows. Lots of hairs, I bet. You know, Cecile lost a chunk of hair in the hospital a while back and she's a blonde," Harry says, giving voice to the thought that had occurred to him during Redrow's impromptu interrogation. "I really hope he didn't, but fuck... she'd kill him."
"I'd like to see that." Draco smiles faintly. His palm is warm against Harry's, and Harry has never been quite so aware of holding hands with someone before.
"Why faff about with polyjuice, though? Why not just use a glamour?"
Draco turns his head and Harry almost gets a mouthful of delicious-smelling hair. "Chromia users are an unknown quantity at best. Some of them would be able to see through it, too much of a risk." Pausing for a moment, he lifts an eyebrow. "Why don't you just use a glamour when you go out at the weekends?"
Harry blinks. "What?"
"Ginevra is awfully talkative after a few drinks." Draco rubs the pad of his thumb over Harry's knuckle.
"Oh... well, I... I suppose it's nice to actually be someone else for a little while. Glamours just hide things, polyjuice is... well, it's real and not real, all at the same time."
"What's worrying is that I actually understood that," Draco says. "I used to think you loved attention, you know."
"I know. And now?"
"I think... you seem pretty intent on getting mine." He looks up and flushes. "Don't think I haven't noticed."
Harry grins, stomach flipping. "Subtlety isn't my strong point. However." He takes a deep breath, knowing that it's now. "You are an arrogant, stubborn snob."
"What?" Draco narrows his eyes and Harry squeezes his hand.
"I know it's a little late," Harry says innocently. "But I recall you asking for a list of things that annoy me about you. The way you always have to be right. The way you yell at Anxious Brunette Nurse just to amuse yourself. Your posh fucking accent. The way you never, ever forget the right word, even when you're angry or tired or distracted. The way you fold your arms and try to look scary... actually, forget that one, I quite like that."
Draco stares, mouth slightly open, eyes unreadable. Harry continues.
"You can be incredibly rude when you feel like it. You've got this huge chip on your shoulder and this insane drive to pay for things that happened when you were still basically a child. I know you think you're cleverer than me. You eat desserts like an absolute tart. In short, Draco, you wind me up something fierce," he finishes, forcing himself to hold the eye contact even though he's never felt more exposed.
"Um," says Draco. And then: "I don't think I'm cleverer than you."
"I forgot 'argumentative'." Harry smiles. "Look, I don't know if I have the crappiest timing in the world, but I've started now, so I might as well finish. I know what you said before, but I'm not some lovesick teenager who's blind to all your bad qualities. I know what they are, and yet I'm understanding you more all the time, and I think... I rather like you, actually. You complicated bastard," he adds.
Feeling suddenly hot all over, Harry relinquishes the eye contact and stares down at his free hand. The silence in the office is crushing.
"Harry, you're... fuck." Draco tries again. "You haven't even been with a man before, have you?"
"I'm not even going to ask how you know that. If I really wanted to experiment, don't you think I might've found someone a bit less complicated to experiment with? You're not exactly easy-going, are you?"
Draco snorts but does not let go of his hand. "You have an answer for everything, don't you?"
"No, but I have been told that I'm admirably persistent," Harry offers, barely breathing.
"You like me." He's so close that Harry can feel rather than see Draco shaking his head. "You like me."
"Yeah. And, erm, then some." Harry squeezes his eyes shut, sensing the exact moment his whole face suffuses with colour.
When, seconds later, Draco lets go of his hand and gets up, the cold shock of disappointment is immediate and Harry doesn't open his eyes to see what he's done wrong, or to watch Draco leave. He knows it's vaguely ridiculous for a grown man to be sitting on another's office floor with his eyes shut, but he can't quite bring himself to care.
The warm weight on his thighs is completely unexpected. Harry's eyes fly open and fasten onto searching grey ones at close range. When it registers that Draco is actually sitting astride his lap, one knee on either side of his thighs, he thinks his heart stops beating altogether.
"Um." A cough. "You, er... hi."
"People won't like it, you know." The words are mumbled and somewhat undermined by the hand that's gently stroking a rebellious strand of hair out of Harry's eyes.
Hope sparks explosively and Harry stares back, trying to ignore the fact that wherever Draco touches him seems to have a direct link to his cock. "When have you ever cared about that?"
"I do, a little bit," Draco whispers harshly, sitting slightly back and resting his hands on his own thighs. At this proximity, his eyes are molten metal and they burn Harry. "If you tell anyone that, I'll kill you."
"I'm not afraid of you," Harry replies, tentatively lifting hands to wrap around Draco's hips, fingers sliding over the smooth leather of his belt and then warm, soft cashmere. It's a lie, of course, because he is afraid, but the fear is shot through with desire and need and warmth; and it's wonderful.
One side of Draco's mouth quirks upward and Harry can't stop himself mirroring the smile. The part of his brain that isn't completely lost in sensation muses that he never expected to end this day being pinned to the floor of Draco Malfoy's office and thoroughly smouldered at. And yet it somehow feels like things are exactly as they should be.
Expect the unexpected. Hell, yes.
"Perhaps you should be."
"Should be what?" Harry traces his thumbs over Draco's cloth-covered hipbones, distracted.
"Afraid of me." Rough-toned, he leans forward, sliding something deliciously hard against Harry's erection, reaching out and supporting his weight on the bookshelves with one hand at either side of Harry's head. Nostrils invaded by the warm scent of citrus, fear and arousal, Harry bites back a groan and tightens his hold on Draco's hips.
"Fearless, are you?" Draco murmurs, contemplative. "Will you tell me what you like about me?"
The question strikes Harry somewhere tender, and despite the seductive tone and obvious fishing, the brief flicker of uncertainty in the grey eyes just about does him in. He nods slowly.
"You're never boring," he says at last, remembering Fyzal's words. "You make me feel, er... you make me feel." Draco stares and Harry can barely breathe from trying not to look at his mouth. "And it helps that you're, quite frankly, um... reallyfuckinghot."
"Oh," is all the response he gets. "I see."
Oh, god. It's times like this when Harry really wishes he'd had more... times like this, he supposes. Just so he'd know what to say and manage to sound smooth and strident instead of like an absolute fucking -
"In spite of this?" Draco shifts his left arm alongside Harry's head, drawing Harry's eyes first to the soft, pale skin on the inside of Draco's forearm, and then to the faded black scar.
Suddenly, Draco's words are a challenge and Harry forgets everything about being suave; looking up and straight into his eyes. Saying the first thing that comes into his head.
"Because of it, Draco."
"That might be the stupidest thing I've ever heard you say," Draco says drily and raises an eyebrow.
The inappropriate laughter that bubbles up in Harry's chest escapes as a breathless bark, startling both of them, but Draco doesn't release his grip on the shelf behind Harry's head. If anything, he leans closer, hot breath mingling with Harry's and almost driving all thought from his mind.
"Give it time, I'm sure I'll say something far more stupid than that. What I mean is that you do this insane, thankless job for practically zero respect, and that when you don't hide your mistakes from the world, I can't decide if you're stupidly brave or bravely stupid but whichever it is," Harry forges on, heart hammering. "I know I want it."
The sound that follows seems to be ripped right from Draco's chest; somewhere between a laugh and a sob, and when Harry looks at him, his eyes are screwed tightly shut.
"Look at me."
Pinned against the shelves and the floor, Harry slides the tips of his fingers under the sweater to stroke Draco's warm skin and he shivers, sending a jolt of pleasure to Harry's neglected groin. Grey eyes fly open at the touch and tear him apart.
The slow, almost predatory smile is at complete odds with the next words. "Harry, I have no idea what I'm doing," Draco says, and then Harry is being thoroughly kissed before he has time to respond.
Somehow it's a surprise, even though he realises abruptly that their current positions had hardly been leading in any other direction, but Harry's soft sound of comprehension as his body gets with the programme only seem to intensify Draco's invasion of his mouth, and he's not complaining for a second.
Wanting to touch everywhere at once, Harry settles for dragging one hand up Draco's back under his clothes and fisting the other into soft blond hair; alternating between kissing back with everything he has and submitting to the agonising slide of warm lips against his as Draco's tongue in his mouth traces an ache that carves mercilessly down his spine.
The shift of hips and equal hardness against his send a spiral of relief and need through him so intense that it's all he can do not to come on the spot. One hand releases the shelf and tangles in his hair, almost hard enough to hurt, but he doesn't care.
"God, Draco... fuck," he mumbles, reduced to incoherence by the soft kisses and small bites being pressed along the line of his jaw. Unable to open his eyes, he feels the smile against his skin.
"Hmm," says Draco, pushing closer still and arching into the hand Harry is sliding up his spine.
"Come here." Harry sighs and pulls him back into the kiss, deciding right there and then that any time not spent kissing Draco Malfoy is a waste of time.
Harry can't be sure how much later it is, that he's utterly lost in a world of too-many-clothes friction; sweet, slick mouth and thoroughly not caring about the shelves digging into his back, but when someone knocks at the office door, Draco jumps and bites his tongue.
"Ow," Harry complains, tasting coppery blood in his mouth and sticking out his tongue to examine it.
"Sorry." Draco wrinkles his nose and leans closer again to look.
The knocking starts up again and Draco twists around to glare at the door. "It's eight thirty. At night. Why does anyone even think I'm still here?"
"I don't know, but maybe you should answer it because the door's not locked and they might just decide to - " Harry doesn't finish his sentence because the door handle starts to turn as if in slow motion.
"Just one moment, please!" Draco calls out, sounding calm and authoritative but – to Harry's pleasure – looking neither. Hair tousled and messy, flushed, eyes wide and alarmed; his recent arousal obvious in both the tint of his skin and the tightness of his trousers.
Fortunately, the door remains closed. Harry allows himself to exhale, releases Draco so he can get to his feet, and then stands somewhat shakily, adjusting his clothes and trying to flatten his hair down. With as much nonchalance as he can muster, Harry leans against the bookcase and nods to Draco, who now looks slightly neater if no less debauched.
"Can't you read my bloody sign?" Draco demands, flinging the door open. Harry looks at the rug studiously.
"Er, yeah, but it doesn't say how long to wait for, does it?" comes Ron's voice. Harry closes his eyes, horrified, praying that the intense blush he feels isn't as visible as he thinks it is.
"For fuck's sake, Weasley, who let you in?"
"A nurse... a worried-looking one." Harry hears Ron's sharp intake of breath and knows his friend has noticed him now. "Hi, Harry," he says uncertainly.
Harry looks up and meets familiar blue eyes that search his face like they never have before. "Hey."
The strain winds so tight that Harry can almost taste it, as he watches Ron glance between them. He barely dares look at Draco, but a split-second sidelong glance reveals him to be wearing an expression of utter impatience.
"Weasley, you have the timing of a confunded goblin," Draco says wearily after what seems like a long time. "As usual. Would you excuse me?" And with that, he steps around Ron and walks out into the ward.
Ron twists around to watch him leave, and when he turns back to Harry, the knowledge is clear on his face.
"Malfoy," he says simply.
Harry worries his hair, shifts in place, and sighs; determined not to apologise, but fuck, this is weird.
"Malfoy," he agrees.
"You...? That... with...? Bloody hell." Ron exhales noisily, lifting his shaggy fringe from his forehead. "You know, the other week, I almost thought... but I didn't know how to ask."
"Because, well, it's Malfoy," Ron replies, as though that's obvious.
Harry's heart sinks, but then Ron smiles. It's a slightly shell-shocked smile, granted, but a smile nonetheless.
"Is he... actually, I really don't want to know." Ron grimaces. "I'm going to go, I think. I told Rodriguez I wouldn't be long."
"What was it you wanted?"
"You know... I really can't remember," Ron admits, brow furrowed.
"Nothing to do with Tremellen then?" Draco asks absently, having reappeared in the doorway.
"Senior," Harry mutters. "I thought he might've been involved. At first."
"Nope, one-man operation, as we suspected. I'll, er, I'll owl you," Ron directs at the room in general.
"Harry or me?" Draco steps into the office and perches on the edge of his desk.
"Both of you," Ron says, looking up. As he turns to go, it's with a strange little nod that Harry has seen before, just once.
"That was surreal." Draco rises from the desk and approaches him. "Where were we?"
"Here's pretty good, I think," Harry manages, gasping involuntarily as he finds himself pressed up against the door, the full length of Draco's warm body plastered against his. Fleetingly, he wonders about resisting; about taking back control just for the sake of it, but it only takes a thrust of hips against his and the warm mouth urging his open to bring him to his senses.
With a flash of heat, he realises that he likes being pinned, covered, held. He could easily push Draco away if he wanted to, but fuck, he'd be a fool.
I've lost my mind, he thinks, pulling at Draco's bottom lip with his teeth and humming with warmth at the sound this drags from him. Completely lost it. And it's amazing.
The address is bracketed by a couple of sharp knocks that Harry feels through the door he is almost at one with.
He groans softly and Draco releases his wrists from their iron grip, slumping against Harry and burying his face in his neck. The ragged exhale against his skin makes Harry shiver.
"Mr Malfoy? You there?"
There's an odd note to the familiar voice and impulsively, Harry grips Draco's shoulders, turning them halfway, and mutters a one-way wandless transparency charm at the door. Draco's eyes widen in alarm at the sudden visibility, and he takes a step back.
Harry reaches out and catches his wrist. As he suspected, a look through the door confirms that Anxious Brunette Nurse's face is arranged in a strange twist of curiosity and amusement.
"S'ok." Harry draws Draco back to him and whispers against his mouth. "We can see him but he can't see us."
"Cross my heart, hope to die."
Draco arches an eyebrow.
"Not literally. I'd say something to him if I were you," Harry suggests, running fingertips under Draco's belt. "He knows you're here, and it wouldn't do for him not to be afraid of you any more, would it?"
"No, that would be... unfortunate," Draco whispers, now finding himself pressed up against a door that looks like it isn't there and managing to look both aroused and disconcerted. "Yes, I'm here, what do you want?"
"Is everything alright?" The nurse smirks slightly and Harry thinks it's a good job Draco can't see him now.
"Well, ok. Just to let you know we're switching with the night shift now."
Harry looks up from where he's licking a stripe up the side of Draco's neck and watches the nurse shift from one foot to the other.
"Goodnight, Mr Malfoy," he says at last, taking a step closer to the door and straining to hear the sounds within.
"Goodnight, Nathaniel," Draco manages. "I'm going to fucking kill you, Potter," he adds, dropping his voice.
Harry grins. "Nathaniel? Yeah, that's going to do wonders for your scary image." He watches Anxious Brunette Nurse leave, shaking his head.
"Harry. Let's get the fuck out of here." The words pressed against his neck are the equivalent of an Incendio to his cock and he nods eagerly. "Just one minute, ok?"
Reluctantly, he releases Draco and spells the door opaque once more. Steps out into the main room, where it's silent and almost completely dark; stretches, feeling light, as he watches Draco enter the main lounge; glancing over his shoulder as he does with a grin that makes Harry's insides effervesce.
He waits, thoughts deafening in the darkness, and Draco is back by his side in less than two minutes.
"My house." Harry slides fingers into the crowded spaces of belt loops, hanging on.
"What's wrong with the Manor?"
"Nothing, per se. But my place is much less likely to contain your mother," Harry points out.
Draco laughs softly and wraps an arm around Harry's waist. "Good point."
The closeness and the anticipation are an intoxicating mix, and it's not altogether surprising that Harry misjudges the jump somewhat. Not too badly, by all accounts, but he blinks in confusion at his kitchen for a good few seconds before anyone says anything.
"You planning to cook for me?" Draco inquires.
"Shut up. I was aiming for the bedroom. So I was a little off... can you blame me for being distracted?"
The smirk and the arms around his neck and the bruising kiss melt away his indignation surprisingly quickly. "Bedroom," Draco murmurs into the kiss. "How presumptuous of you."
"Is it?" Harry mumbles, far more concerned with what Draco's tongue is doing than with words.
"Hmm." As they separate briefly for air, Draco rests his forehead against Harry's and sighs softly, warm breath caressing Harry's cheek. "What a fucked up day. I don't even know what's going to happen to Chem Dep when they find out... fucking Algernon."
Pulling back to look into his eyes, Harry tries to focus and rein in his desire. "Want to talk about it?"
Draco looses a shaky laugh and tightens his arms around Harry's neck. "No. Yes. But not now. This first, then talking."
"This... right now." Heat and hardness pressed against him, tight. "I want you."
Harry swallows hard and nods. "Oh, fuck... ok. Yes. Upstairs then?"
"Right here? In my kitchen?"
Draco smiles, nods and strokes the back of his neck; and Harry is assaulted by the frightening and thrilling suspicion that he will never be able to say no to this man.
Once more threading his fingers into those convenient belt-loops, Harry backs across the kitchen, leaning up against the work surface and pulling Draco roughly against him, the sudden contact ripping the breath from both of them. It's been building for too long now, and he knows that whatever happens is going to be neither drawn-out nor elegant.
He tips his head back as Draco trails desperate open-mouthed kisses against his neck and the recalcitrant cupboard directly above him creaks almost inaudibly.
If you don't want to be unhinged and removed first thing in the morning, you will behave yourself, he addresses it silently just before his eyes close in surrender.
It feels like only seconds pass before the friction between them becomes maddening and Harry releases Draco's belt loops with a groan, attacking his mouth once more as he pushes one thigh in between Draco's and unbuckles the belt, supple leather slipping through his fingers while the other hand makes short work of the button and zip.
Draco mumbles something into his mouth that sounds a lot like 'Yes', and pushes obligingly into the touch; all warm cotton and covered pliable hardness and a leak of sticky fluid under Harry's fingers as he presses his palm against another man's erection for the first time. Draco whimpers lightly and Harry's absent brain amends the thought – not just any man, he's touching Draco Malfoy's erection and it's a whole new kind of rush.
Hurriedly, Harry yanks the trousers and underwear down around Draco's thighs and closes his hand around his bare cock. The flesh pulses and jumps in his fist, sending a jolt of electricity to his own neglected arousal, forcing his lips away from Draco's just long enough to whisper, "Touch me. Please."
"Absolutely," Draco mutters, eyes heated and cloudy with lust. Within seconds, Harry's trousers are shoved down around his knees and a sure, surprisingly cool hand is wrapped around his cock. He almost wants to slide to the floor just from the pure satisfaction of being gripped by that hand at last, but Draco's eyes and hips pin him to the counter at his back.
"I don't think this is going to take very long," Harry half-whispers half-gasps as that hand starts to move in long, smooth strokes.
"Not this time."
"What about – ah – next time?"
"Next time I'm going to find out what you taste like," Draco confides, smirking at Harry's expression and leaning in to cover his mouth.
That thought alone is almost enough, and as Harry sinks into the demanding, deep kiss, it's all he can do to keep moving his hand over Draco's erection, half-learning the pressure and speed and grip that makes him twist and cry out, spreading slippery fluid over the heated flesh with his thumb and sinking further and further into the abyss as Draco strokes him over and over and flicks his tongue into Harry's mouth.
He wants to look, so much, but he can't pull away from the kiss; and all too soon it's just one last twist of the wrist in exactly the right place and he's losing it, pushing up into Draco's hand and gripping his bare hip hard enough to bruise. He comes hard and fast, spilling between them and dripping stickiness everywhere as the heat rips through him and he calls out incoherently.
"Draco, god... fuck... so... oh."
The grip loosens but does not release, and Harry pauses only for a deep gulp of air before he resumes his own stroking, pressing his heated face to Draco's neck and breathing in lemons and sweat and soap; drawing him close and savouring each slide of his fist over the hard flesh. It won't be long, Draco's breath is hitching in his chest and Harry can feel the strong thighs gripping his trembling with need.
Harry nips at his earlobe. Harder. Faster. "Let go," he whispers.
Draco shudders, groans and explodes over Harry's hand, dropping his head to Harry's shoulder and leaning against him heavily.
Breathless, sated, Harry holds him there with his clean hand slipping under Draco's sweater to stroke his back. He buries his nose in the fragrant hair and smiles, eyes still closed. The feeling of sleepy wellbeing settles over him like a blanket, and though he doesn't really want to move, the kitchen isn't the warmest place at night and the cooling stickiness between them is threatening to meld their hands and groins together permanently.
Draco stirs and pulls back to regard him. His eyes are soft and warm; face flustered and pleasantly smug.
"I like your kitchen," he says obliquely. Harry smiles.
"I have more comfortable rooms, believe it or not."
The second attempt at reaching the bedroom is successful, and within seconds they are both falling back onto Harry's –thankfully clean- sheets in a tangle of limbs and exploring mouths and whispered cleaning spells.
In the darkness, Harry looks down at the shadowy face below him as he sprawls between Draco's drawn up knees and knows it won't do at all. He focuses, ignoring the skilful hands pulling at his clothing, and conjures a gentle blue fire inside the crackled glass sphere at his bedside. The room fills with enough soft, glowing light to allow him to see every inch of the man in front of him, laid out on his linen sheets.
Harry's not quite sure when Draco lost his sweater, but the expanse of pale, toned flesh draws his eyes and ensures he cannot look away. The skin is not flawless by any stretch of the imagination, marred as it is by scars both intentional and otherwise, but it feels like silk under Harry's fingers and seems to luminesce in the low light.
"Beautiful," Harry whispers.
Draco takes advantage of his momentary distraction to pull his shirt over his head but Harry doesn't miss his smile.
"Why are you still wearing trousers?" An arched eyebrow and now-warm hands sliding down the back of Harry's undone pants and gripping hard.
"I have no idea. Why are you?"
Draco follows his eyes down to where his own renewed arousal is pushing its way out of the trousers he's only just still wearing. Languidly, he stretches and arches under Harry, looking up at him through a swathe of dishevelled hair until his mouth waters and his pulse races out of control.
"Off, then?" Harry mutters to himself more than to Draco, and a minute of pulling and twisting and stolen kisses and trying not to fall over later, no physical barriers remain, and he's stretched out once more between warm, lightly-haired thighs with his mouth wrapped around a peaked nipple; an insistent hot hardness pushing against his abdomen.
The skin to skin contact burns all over, making Harry question the wisdom of clothing full stop.
"Are you cold?" Harry flicks the pebbled flesh lightly with his tongue.
"Not even a little bit."
"I can't help but feel I should be more nervous about this," he says conversationally, applying his mouth to a delicious collarbone, swiping bitter-sweet-salty-Draco into his mouth like he wants to keep it there.
"But you aren't." Draco blinks, eyelashes bright in the shadows.
Harry presses closer. "Not even a little bit."
"Why would you start now?" The tone is one of mild exasperation, but the little smile makes hope and desire flare in Harry's chest.
Tearing his eyes from Draco's face, he finally allows himself to look at the lines he'd known would be there but still hadn't been ready for. Faint now; fine, pink-silvery lines tracing down across his chest, over gently lifting ribs that remind him that yes, Draco is alive, despite what he did, and carving down almost all the way to the opposite hipbone.
When his fingers trail across the first one, Draco goes absolutely still underneath him and Harry can't look at his eyes, but he knows he's being watched. Whatever the circumstances, he's never forgiven himself for what he did in that bathroom, and as the hands on his back grip hard, Harry leans down, unthinking, and presses a small, repentant kiss against the topmost edge of the scar. Eyes stinging, he squeezes them shut and exhales hard against Draco's skin. Draco shivers.
He doesn't choke the words, because fuck, he's stronger than that, but his chest constricts when he forces his head up to meet Draco's eyes. Those eyes are unreadable as he regards Harry for a long time.
"I don't need you to apologise to me," he says at last, dropping one hand to twist around Harry's as it rests on his chest.
"I need to, though."
Eyes locked, the wordless exchange builds into a silent struggle. Harry holds his breath and is almost convinced that Draco is going to refuse the apology, until finally he nods. Swallows. Looks down at the scars under Harry's tracing fingers.
"Ugly, aren't they?"
A dubious half-smile. "Bullshit."
"Trust me." Harry leans forward, savouring the firm press of warm skin as he stretches to kiss Draco.
"I don't trust anyone."
The words are so quickly and automatically thrown out that Harry doesn't know whether to believe them. Thoughtful, he follows the curve of the scar with the pad of his thumb and then the tip of his tongue.
"Trusting few is wise. Trusting no one is just... paranoid, Draco," he murmurs against the damp skin.
"You – oh," Draco gasps, lifting helplessly into the caress as Harry pulls back reluctantly from the full body contact to be able to lick along one hipbone.
"What about Ginny? You let her alone with your patients every weekend." Harry looks up into narrowed but lust-blown grey eyes. If he didn't have his mouth two inches away from Draco's cock, he'd want to laugh at the sheer impropriety of mentioning his ex-girlfriend whilst in bed with his ex-worst enemy.
Draco's eyes seem to be reflecting the same sentiment back to him as he props himself up on his elbows.
"What about Algernon?" he counters. "Look where trusting him got me."
Harry grins. Runs both hands up Draco's sides, lowering his head to inhale the heavy, intoxicating scent of arousal so close to his nostrils. His ragged breath over the sensitive, flushed skin makes Draco's cock jump, and he gives in, wrapping a hand around it.
"Aha, so you are capable of it. Doesn't mean you're not going to get disappointed sometimes, but... for fuck's sake, Draco," Harry expels, darting out his tongue to flick a bead of moisture from the tip into his mouth.
Draco's answering groan is much more satisfying than any smart remark.
A hand tangles in his hair and he looks up to see that he's being stared at with frightening intensity.
"Your hair is ridiculous," Draco whispers, stretching the unruly strands out with a lazy hand. His sudden smile is radiant, and Harry is lost. He smiles back, lowering his head and applying himself to Draco's cock with characteristic focus and enthusiasm.
One hand gripping the hard flesh, following the path of his mouth over spit-slicked skin, the other resting on top of the sheets; fingers threaded through Draco's as he puts everything he has into making the strong, fragile man beneath him fall apart. Judging by the soft cries and nails digging into his palm and whispers of his name, flying by instinct is paying off pretty well.
He learns ridges and contours and pressure points with an eager tongue, tasting and taking as much as he can, needing so much to tease Draco's release from him; all but ignoring his own needy erection as it drags heavy against the cool sheets. The slow, salty leak against his taste buds makes his head spin with pure want.
"Yes, oh fuck, yes," Draco cries, tensing. Close. Harry grips hard, flicks his tongue, and that's it. As his mouth is flooded with Draco's release, he wonders what kind of pervert it makes him that he's never felt more vital or more validated than he does right now.
Swallowing carefully, he rests his head on the flat, soft plane of Draco's stomach and stretches out, calves hanging off the end of the bed; luxuriating in the hand in his hair as he allows Draco to get his breath back. He licks his lips and pulls his glasses off, dropping them to the floor and blinking at the blue-toned, flickery, slightly blurry room.
"I was supposed to be finding out what you taste like," Draco remarks breathlessly. Harry can feel the low, gentle vibration of Draco's words through the muscles under his cheek. "You always have to beat me to everything, don't you?"
Harry pushes lazily into the hand currently flattening his hair. "Well, much as I love to hear you whinge, I wouldn't be averse to you putting that right."
"That sounds like a challenge."
"Everything sounds like a challenge to you," Harry points out, but the second half of his remark goes unsaid because he's being rolled onto his back and yanked up the bed before he has time to take a breath.
Flopping back onto the pillows, Harry sprawls out brazenly. He takes up as much space as possible on the sheets, looking up into eyes that still burn despite Draco's recent release; quite happy to find their positions reversed. When Draco once more sits across his thighs, he can't suppress the sound that escapes from his throat; the warm friction and pressure and pure sensation without clothes to get in the way is almost too much.
Heat-flooded, Harry reaches out, needing to touch. Immediately. Blindly, he draws Draco down into an agonisingly soft, slow kiss that only serves to intensify the twin aches in his cock and his chest.
Draco feathers long fingers out from the nape of his neck, trailing down over shoulders and collarbones and nipples. Harry closes his eyes. Down over ribs that Harry's always thought stick out a little bit too much, stroking down over thigh muscles and calf muscles and ankles that he didn't even know were sensitive. There's just the right balance of rough and smooth in those fingers to make him shiver and jerk and whine.
"You absolute..." ...tease, he was going to say, but the word is bitten back as fingers close around him; languorous and unhurried. "Oh, that feels good," he amends, eyes still closed, falling fast in the dark.
"I knew you'd be like this," Draco says, leaning close and covering Harry's body with warmth. "Knew you would."
Harry opens his eyes, searching for Draco's under the messy blond curtain. "Like what?"
"This... fuck, Harry, you're so..." he frowns, shrugs and lifts his free hand to brush Harry's hair from his damp forehead; twisting the other one suddenly to bring him right to the edge. "You were wrong, you know, before. I don't have a word at all. For this."
"But you knew?"
"You thought about this." Heart pounding at the implication, and knowing. Hoping.
Draco's eyes glimmer with anxiety just long enough for Harry to see it. "Once or twice. Close your eyes."
"Why?" Harry wants to know, but he complies anyway.
He can do that. Oh, god, yes I can do that, Harry cries silently, throwing his arms out and twisting wrinkled sheets into his fingers as that soft, wet tongue slides all over his skin. Sometimes flat, broad strokes, changing without warning into light, pointed, precision jabs and swirls that set every nerve ending he possesses aflame.
Draco seems intent on covering every inch of skin with his mouth in a maddeningly unpredictable pattern; everywhere, at least, other than where Harry needs it the most. The unhurried circling of a thumb around the leaking head is the only concession, and even that's almost too intense.
Not being able to see what is being done to him heightens his desperation, but even though he knows he could open his eyes at any time, he doesn't want to, because nothing has ever felt this torturous before and he loves it.
He thinks he should be embarrassed about the noises he's making, but he can't find it in himself to care. Gasping, he arches into the drag of Draco's mouth against his inner thigh and a hand splays across his hip, pushing him back into the mattress.
"No," he protests, turning and pressing his face against the cool pillow. Hot breath whispers across tight, eager flesh; drawing a sharp line of heat between bitten hipbones that pulls and rips at the base of his spine.
"What?" Voice low and amused. Thumb circling. Warm breath. Fucking bastard.
"Draco, please." It comes out as exactly the tormented whimper that it is, and Harry doesn't care because he's immediately taken into a hot, wet mouth. Eyes snapping open, Harry just about has time to register the fervent silver gaze as Draco looks up at him and does something fantastic with his tongue, before he's shattering and spilling down his throat and almost crying with relief.
As he slowly unclenches the sheets from his fingers, Harry drags air deep into his lungs and feels every last muscle in his body relax into total submission. He doesn't know whether to be surprised or not when Draco crawls back up the bed and wraps himself around him, but it feels good, and Harry lifts one arm to rest across his sweat-damp back.
He says nothing, just lies there being looked at. Draco curls one arm over Harry's chest and props his chin up on it, just looking. There's something about the steady, calm grey gaze that lights something new and giddying inside him.
"You taste fucking fantastic," Draco offers, breaking the silence. "Everywhere."
"Likewise." Harry bends one knee obligingly to allow a warm thigh to insinuate itself between his. "Tell me... what do I smell like?"
Draco frowns, puzzled. "Don't you know?"
"It's different, isn't it... I want to know what I smell like to you," he clarifies.
Draco snorts, nodding his understanding. "Ah, the drug-related superior sense. Well, right now you smell like sex." He grins and Harry rolls his eyes. "But, ok... lots of things. Cedar. Muggle fabric softener. Espresso. Something sweet that I think you put on your hair. Those are all external things, though. A person's individual smell, the smell that's just them, that's much harder to describe."
"Try," Harry implores, attempting a pout.
Lifting an eyebrow and interestingly, flushing slightly, Draco presses his face to Harry's skin and inhales deeply. He tilts his head just enough that Harry can see a pair of eyes. "It's something like... you know when it rains on a hot day? It's a bit like that. Nice," he adds. Blinks.
The exposure is obvious and Harry smiles, strokes the hair out of the visible eyes and resists the temptation to say something completely sappy that would probably earn him a knee to the groin.
"I could murder a cigarette," Draco says suddenly, flopping back down against Harry's chest.
Surprised, Harry pauses in his hair stroking. "I didn't know you smoked."
"I don't, not any more." He sighs. "Funny how that urge never leaves you. After sex, I mean. Though it's been..." Draco falls silent.
"I've been busy," Draco says defensively.
Feeling unaccountably pleased, Harry skates a hand down his spine. The blue light flickers, casting opalescent shadows over Draco's pale skin. "Me too," he whispers.
When Draco shivers against him, Harry Summons a blanket and drapes it over both of them. When he shivers again, he has to ask. "You ok?"
"Mm... just that 'sacrifice the few to save the many' thing. I can't get it out of my head. It's just... cold."
"Sounds sort of Slytherin to me," Harry remarks without thinking.
Draco lifts his head and shoots him an odd look. Harry cringes inwardly.
Well, that was a brilliant thing to say, chides his subconscious, far too late as usual. You've insulted him.
Shifting against him to rest his chin on Harry's chest once more, Draco's expression turns indulgent. "Algernon wasn't a Slytherin. Slytherins are all about self-preservation. That kind of pure, hard logic is something else. It takes a through-and-through Ravenclaw to make people's lives into a numbers game."
Relieved that he's simply being ignorant rather than insulting, Harry shrugs. "Hmm. Makes sense, I suppose. I don't think you're all about self-preservation, for what it's worth."
"I'd like to think I've moved on somewhat since school."
"You still call me a Gryffindor," Harry points out, indignant, "all the time!"
"Yes, well. You'll always be one. You're a special case."
"Fuck you," Harry mumbles, but he's smiling, and Draco's eyes are playful.
"Not a chance. I'm worn out."
Harry stretches, pressing closer to the warm naked body entangled with his, and luxuriates in the tingle of warmth that presents itself just at the very thought of getting even closer. All in good time, he supposes. But hopefully not too much time.
"Do you think it's true, what he said about the board?"
Draco plays with one edge of the blanket, pensive. "Yes. He had no reason left to lie to me. It's not as though he could have gone any further down in my estimation." His sigh is heavy, regretful. "If nothing else, Algernon is a very smart man."
"What will you do?" The concern seeps through in his voice even though he doesn't want it to.
"Fight," Draco says simply.
"I don't know yet. The bedroom is no place for strategy." Draco yawns, lifting a hand to his mouth.
Catching it, Harry quickly recalls how tired he is. He has no idea how long he's been awake now, only that the whole Ramona-Tremellen-Redrow fiasco feels like it happened days ago. And to someone else.
Warm, satisfied and utterly comfortable with a boneless, tactile Draco draped all over him, Harry lets his eyes close and starts to drift almost immediately.
"I should go," Draco says, pulling back slightly.
Blinking fuzzily, Harry frowns in consternation. His exhausted brain cries 'No going, no!' and he can't stand the thought of it. "Why?"
"I just should." Draco kisses him softly. "I don't sleep well in weird places."
It's all wrong but sleep has got a hold of him now, and he can't focus.
"Stay," he mumbles, curling an arm around Draco's back as his eyes close again. For some seconds, soft blue light dances on the insides of his eyelids, but it soon fades to black.
Harry wakes to the first weak rays of light filtering through the gaps in his wooden blinds. Feeling warm, sated and well-rested, he smiles, remembering the night before in vivid detail. When he reaches out and encounters nothing but cold sheets, his smile fades. He's alone. Draco's gone.
A glance at the bedside table informs him that the glass sphere is empty. Perhaps Draco extinguished the blue flames on his way out. Harry sighs, disappointment settling heavily in his chest. He vaguely remembers Draco saying he had to leave, but had somehow convinced himself that he'd changed his mind.
Not that it matters, Harry tells himself firmly, rubbing his eyes and lowering his feet to the cold floor. It's fine. He's not bothered or anything.
Scrabbling myopically on the floor for his glasses, Harry's hand brushes against something odd. A collection of small objects. He crouches, retrieves his glasses and shoves them onto his nose. Stares at the floor, frowning. Fingers slipping over several gold Galleons, two silver Sickles, a tiny pad of post-it notes, several paperclips and... a piece of string?
Draco-stuff, he thinks, wondering what it's doing all over his bedroom floor for all of five seconds until he grabs up the crumpled trousers next to him and notices that they are absolutely and definitively not his. The thrill of relief is immediate, and Harry grins. He's still here... somewhere.
Hurriedly, Harry pulls on pyjama pants and an old t-shirt. He pockets the string and makes his way downstairs, scratching pointlessly at his hair.
He hears Draco before he sees him. Intrigued, Harry creeps as silently as he can through his house, following his voice until he stops in his kitchen doorway.
Draco is sitting at his kitchen table wearing a white shirt with approximately three (mismatched) buttons fastened and the sleeves rolled up. And nothing else. His hair is all over the place but he's drinking tea – Harry's Earl Grey, if the scent in the air is to be trusted – and is apparently mid-conversation.
"Well that's good coming from you. Anyway, it's not my shirt, it's Potter's."
"Well, I know that," Draco says.
Harry leans on the doorframe and watches him, belly filled with warmth. "Draco? Who are you talking to?"
Startled, Draco looks round to meet his eyes. "Top cupboard. It's rather opinionated for a kitchen fitting."
"Couldn't agree more." Harry slouches into the kitchen and scrapes up the chair next to Draco's. "Hi."
Draco's smile is slightly guarded, but there. "Tea?" he offers, indicating a shiny brown teapot that Harry is fairly sure he didn't own yesterday. He decides not to ask what it used to be and instead accepts the steaming cup gratefully.
"String," he says conversationally over the top of his cup.
"Yarn," Draco replies. "Wait, what are we playing?"
Harry laughs and pokes his bare thigh with a forefinger. "No, string." He holds the string aloft, hoping for an explanation of why a wizard in charge of a drug rehab centre would need to carry string in his pockets.
"Yes, it is," Draco agrees.
Harry sighs, slanting an exasperated look at him. "You don't make sense sometimes, do you know that?"
"Is that a problem?" Draco wants to know. Reaching across the table, he lifts Harry's hand, takes the string and, frowning with concentration, ties it around Harry's wrist.
"No," Harry says softly. Draco squeezes his fingers briefly before he lets go.
And it's not a problem, really. Though it's easily the most surreal morning-after Harry has yet experienced, he feels wonderfully calm; and Merlin help him if he doesn't find Draco's uncertain standoffishness completely charming.
He drinks deeply, the familiar heady taste lifting him as it always does. Wonders where on earth Draco found that shirt. He looks good in it, even if it's vaguely obscene and he surely must be cold.
"I thought you'd left," he says, unsure of what he's really asking.
"I nearly did."
"Why didn't you? Not that I'm complaining. I'm glad you're here," he adds lamely.
Draco meets his gaze head on. "You asked me to stay."
The sensation of something bursting messily somewhere inside Harry translates itself to the slow smile he knows is spreading across his face. Unable to come up with any useful words, he sets his cup down, curls his hand into Draco's shirt and tugs gently.
He gets a sardonic eyebrow flick for his trouble, but the important result is the subsequent lapful of semi-naked, surprisingly warm man. Straddling him so that his feet only just touch the kitchen tiles, Draco holds on to the back of Harry's chair and looks at him expectantly. Harry slips a possessive hand under the shirt and wraps his arm around Draco's back.
"So." Another raised blond eyebrow.
"So," Harry echoes.
Draco sighs dramatically. "If you're going to give me the 'Love conquers all' speech, don't bother. I've already had it from Ginevra. I've also had the 'You're an idiot, Draco Malfoy' one, and the 'I'm going to hex your arse ten ways from Sunday if you hurt Harry' one. She's quite the one for speeches."
Harry shakes his head. "I wasn't going to – what?! You talked to Ginny about... this?" He waves his hand vaguely in between them, not wanting to use the word but doing it anyway, in an awkward whisper. "Us?"
Shifting in his lap, Draco looks away. "It may have been one of our areas of agreement," he admits.
Draco flushes but meets Harry's eyes with a careful but warm grey gaze. "That you were interesting, that's all. I was interested." He rubs distractedly at his Marked inner forearm and suddenly there's that defiance that met Harry with full force on his very first day in Chem Dep.
A swift weighing-up of the situation – one surprisingly pliant, completely delicious morning-after Draco Malfoy in his lap – and Harry opts not to push it. For now. Ginny's not going to know what hit her, though.
"I think you're interesting, too," he says instead, and is rewarded with a small smile and a long, involved kiss that tastes like tea and sugar. Feels like cold tiles on bare feet and early morning sun on pale skin and Draco's heartbeat against his.
"I really do have to go now." Draco pulls back and glances down at the shirt which has mysteriously come undone. "Well, after I've put some clothes on."
"Oh." Harry hides his disappointment pretty well, he thinks.
"It's not like that." Or perhaps, not so well. "I have to give Ginevra a handover."
Eyebrows shooting into his hairline, Harry demands: "You have to give her a what?"
Draco smirks. "A handover. It's not a sexual thing. But thanks for putting that idea in my head, really."
Harry shudders. "I'll walk with you."
"Seriously, you've nothing to worry about. I just have to tell her what's going on with all the patients." Face clouding, he grimaces. "And Algernon, I suppose. She's going to be spitting mad."
"I just want to check on Ramona, that's all," Harry assures. "I left kind of abruptly yesterday. Go put some clothes on."
"Bossy will be the last thing you do," Draco advises, but he gets up. Harry's lap misses him immediately.
Ten minutes later, they walk out onto the street together. It's a freezing cold, bright sunny day; crisp and clear-skied. Harry savours the cool, dry air. He feels energised and content; going somewhere he wants to go with someone he wants to be with. Draco matches his strides, bundled up in a reluctantly-borrowed overcoat that Harry privately thinks looks extremely good on him.
"Quicker to Apparate," he mumbles. "Potter," he adds, attempting to get a rise out of Harry.
"Quicker isn't always better, Malfoy. Isn't that right?"
A grudging smile is his only answer, but when the back of Draco's hand brushes against his again, he decides that's good enough for him.
As Harry makes his way through Chem Dep five days later, armed with coffee, he reflects that none of his carefully nurtured rituals and routines have changed. Everything is much the same, even though some would say that the sky should be falling in because Harry Potter is Draco Malfoy's... whatever he is.
They haven't put a label on it yet, but Harry's not sure he really needs one. It feels like a partnership. It feels brilliant.
Regardless, he's still working ridiculous hours and he's still spending most of his free time haunting Chem Dep. He exchanges professional greetings with Healer Carmichael, the temporary department head, as he passes Stage One. Steps into the main lounge and seeks out one particular face with satisfaction. Ramona has just re-entered Stage Two looking frail but determined to make the most of her second chance.
She looks up from her conversation and returns Harry's smile and wave. The new patients have pulled up chairs around her and are listening to her words with rapt attention. He supposes she has a different story to tell now.
It's early, but he's confident Draco will be in the lab. He knocks gently.
"Give it a push," calls Draco.
Frowning, Harry presses a palm against the door and pushes gently. The complex magic weaves around his hand and wraps tightly for a moment, glowing bright, and then dissipates. The door swings open easily.
Draco stands at the worktable with his back to the door. He doesn't turn around when Harry closes the door behind him and approaches.
"I'm starting to think they're not working you hard enough downstairs if you've got time to come and get in my way this often." Harry can hear the smile in his voice and it lifts him.
"I haven't got long, don't worry," Harry assures, coming up behind him and setting the coffee down. Pressing a kiss to his black-clad shoulder, resting his hands on top of Draco's on the table top. "Hi."
Draco still doesn't turn but he leans back against Harry and hums contentedly.
"We're in the Prophet," he offers.
"What else is new?"
Curious, Harry rests his chin on Draco's shoulder and scans the article, which isn't about them at all. It's a blow-by-blow account of the fantastic detective work of 'two of the Ministry's brightest young Aurors in capturing a true threat to wizarding society', accompanied by various sensationalised 'quotes' and a photograph of Ron and Rodriguez that makes Harry laugh out loud.
Photo-Ron smiles calmly and is doing a great job of looking mature and professional until he digs a morose-looking Photo-Rodriguez in the ribs. Both Aurors engage in a glaring contest before the photograph stops and loops over again.
"This isn't about us," Harry points out.
"Here, look." Draco guides Harry's hand over to a column near the end of the article. "I quote – 'We couldn't have done it without the help of St Mungo's employees Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. Malfoy, 23, who is currently consulting with a prominent Ministry committee on the issue of drug legislation reform, is said to have...'" Draco trails off, turning in the circle of Harry's arms and pressing hands, palms flat, against his chest.
Draco's smile is brilliant. "Did you hear that? 'Malfoy, 23, who is currently consulting with the Ministry.' Not 'Malfoy, 23, who used to be a Death Eater.' Fucking hell."
Draco's surprised delight is infectious and Harry smiles back. "As it should be," he says.
"Do you want to read what they said about you?"
Harry pulls a face. "Not especially."
"Good. It's all far too complimentary anyway; your ego's big enough."
"Shut up." Harry looks down at the desk. "I think you'll get your trials now, don't you?"
Draco frowns, picking up and examining the flask of green potion in front of him, labelled 'Pain-free Combination Chromia Detox' with instructions for the accompanying Altus Retardo-Sedo charm.
"Our trials, Harry."
"Don't be stupid. I'd never have got this far without you. I'd still have been obsessing about finding the perfect proportion of Dreamless Sleep. I needed someone to come in and suggest something completely off the wall, and you did."
Harry catches his breath, ridiculously moved by the admission. Taken by surprise, he instinctively brushes off the praise. "No, Draco," he insists. "I might have helped a little bit, but this is your project, your work, your lab."
"How do you suppose it is that you're able to walk straight in here and get in my way any time you like?" Draco challenges, voice soft.
"I was wondering about that, actually."
"Idiot." Draco stares at the floor. Looks up and smiles with one side of his mouth.
"...trust me?" Harry mumbles against his lips as they close the tiny remaining distance for a bone-meltingly intense kiss that's all mingling breath, warm tongues and contented sighs released into the sterile silence of the lab.
"Little bit," Draco admits breathlessly, pulling away to press his mouth against the side of Harry's neck.
"I knew it." Harry slides a finger under Draco's chin and tips it up to bring their lips together once more. "I have to go. I brought you something suitably warm and disgusting to drink."
Draco's smirk throws him until he retraces his own words. "Coffee. Pervert."
"You love it."
Harry already has the door open, but he turns slowly, looking straight into slightly panicked grey eyes.
"Yeah," he says softly. "I do. I'll see you later."
He carries Draco's stunned expression with him like a warm blanket down five flights of stairs, and he doesn't give a flying fuck how sappy his smile is.
"Catch!" yells Cecile. Harry's seeker reflexes kick in just in time for him to shoot an arm out and grab the chart she's sent flying through the air.
"Patient has no tongue?" he reads aloud from the chart as Cecile falls into step beside him. "At all?!"
"Not a smidge."
Cecile shoots him a strange sidelong glance. "You really are disgustingly happy, aren't you?"
Amused by her bewilderment, Harry laughs. "Cecile," he says gravely. "I am disgustingly happy."
"You don't know how delighted that makes me."
"Really?" Harry comes to a stop in the lavender-scented corridor. She pauses beside him.
"Yes," she says seriously. "Do you know why?"
Harry shakes his head. Cecile grins.
"Because there are chocolate flapjacks in the canteen today."
Harry draws his wand and wet-fishes her before she has time to react, leaving her disgruntled in the corridor.
"Hello, Mrs Wrenbeck," he begins brightly, stepping into his new patient's room. "I see we're going to be re-growing a tongue today."
The old woman stares balefully at him and he smiles at her.
Life is good.
-- fin --
I'd absolutely love it if you'd drop me a comment now that we're at the end of the story.
... for now, at least. If you enjoyed this 'verse, look out for the sequel, 'Foundations', which I'm working on right now.