Title: And a Moment of Rest

Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.

Wordcount: ~7600

Pairing: Harry/Draco

Rating: R

Warnings: Sex, some angst

Challenge: for literaryspell

Keywords: rest, charm, elocution

Dialogue: "Everything's better after midnight."

Summary: Harry wishes he knew why he keeps having heated encounters with Draco Malfoy.

And a Moment of Rest

The first time was at a house Harry had reached after God knew how many parties. He didn't go to these parties for fun. He went to shepherd Ron along and make sure that he reached home safely after the seemingly dozens of drinks he'd had on the way.

Harry leaned against the wall, which was covered with purple and silver illusions of people doing unspeakable things to each other, and pressed a hand against his mouth to conceal a yawn. He never took his eyes off his best friend, though, who was making a fool of himself with a cup of deep red dragonsbreath wine in the middle of the dance floor. He'd promised Hermione. She was studying to be a lawyer and had no time to accompany Ron. She'd also explained that she didn't think it was fair to stop Ron from enjoying the popularity of a war hero.

Harry could have asked about why she thought Harry was the best chaperone, but the simple, brutal truth was that he had nothing else to do. Kingsley had told him gently that he thought Harry's NEWT scores were too poor for the Auror program as yet, and Harry found Quidditch hard to care about after everything he'd seen, after all the people who had died.

So he watched Ron laugh and drink and have a good time, and tried to convince himself that there must be someone at the party more dead bored, and boring, than he was.


Harry groaned and rolled his eyes without turning his head. Yes, he had been hoping that something interesting might happen, but not this kind of interesting.

"Malfoy," he answered, and shook his head as Ron spilled the wine across the front of an older woman's dress. Tomorrow, he'd wonder where that bright handprint across his cheek came from. "Don't you have silken sheets that need wallowing on?"

"You have no idea what my sheets are like, Potter." Malfoy's voice had deepened instead of taking fire at the taunting, the way that Harry had planned on. "But I can't wait until you find out."

And then he seized Harry's wrist and pulled him around in a circle.

Harry, gasping, tried to find a place for his feet. Once he had firm footing, then he could punch Malfoy and leave him on the floor minus a few teeth. He was afraid that Malfoy would get in the first punch because of sheer surprise.

But Malfoy landed a kiss on him, and not a punch. He was biting at Harry's lips, sliding one hand up behind his neck, groaning all the while and moving his hips back and forth as if he were in pain. Unless he was a masochist, though, the erection Harry met when he stumbled forwards wasn't a sign of pain.

Harry opened his mouth because he was curious, and having someone try to snog him was at least different. Most of the people who wanted to sleep with him sent long and extravagant love letters or threw themselves at him half-naked. He'd got used to them. He didn't care about them any more than he could seem to care about doing anything except Auror work. This was something new and strange.

At least, it was until he tasted dragonsbreath on Malfoy's insistent tongue, hot with the heat of spice. Harry grimaced and pushed at Malfoy's shoulders. He didn't want to snog anyone who was only doing it because of drunkenness. He wasn't that desperate to lose his virginity.

Malfoy pulled back and looked him in the face.

Harry found his breath coming in shorter gasps than it had during the kiss. Malfoy's eyes, at least, were utterly sober and filled with a stormy, shattering light that made Harry feel as though someone had tried to smash all the bones in his body. Malfoy's hand tightened on his wrist, and his skin was hot with the heat of fever, and Malfoy was muttering, "Wouldn't have dared in school, didn't want to accost you in public, but want to."

And probably it wasn't any different than the artificial want that anyone else felt for him, probably Malfoy just wanted to boast about getting the Boy-Who-Lived off, but Malfoy was here and all those people who kept trying to promise that they could make him forget his name weren't. Harry gave in, smashing his mouth back into Malfoy's with a distinct lack of coordination that pulled a dark laugh from Malfoy's throat.

They stumbled away from the party, into a little back room where Malfoy held Harry against the wall and bit his throat. His teeth felt jagged, with a chip on the edge of one that Harry wanted to nick his finger on. He pulled at Malfoy's belt with fingers that shook, and the belt fell away and he clasped Malfoy's cock as if his hand had always been longing for that one specific shape.

Malfoy flung his head back. Suddenly Harry was the one in control. He reveled in it, speeding his hand up, slowing it down, watching the changes in Malfoy's face instead of in the erection. He thought it probably looked like every other cock he'd ever seen in the mirror or the Quidditch showers.

But he'd never seen anything like the frenzied way Malfoy's eyes darted back and forth, dreaming awake, or the way his throat bobbed when he swallowed, or the way that he kept trying to open his mouth and get some coherent words out but always failed.

When Malfoy came, he clenched his fists and drummed them helplessly on the air. Harry grinned smugly as he felt the burst of wetness over his fingers. He clenched down, too, and twisted back and forth, rubbing the wetness into Malfoy's skin, fascinated by the way his lips hung open and slack and parted, his tongue dangling like the tongue of some panting dog. His legs opened further so that he could brace himself, and his hand shook as if he wanted to stop Harry's rubbing but didn't know how to.

Harry pulled away at last. He swallowed with a dry mouth. His erection was so painful that it had almost become a dull ache, as though he'd had a chain fastened around that part of his body for months. He closed his eyes and started to pull off his belt.

Then Malfoy was there, slamming him into the wall, kissing Harry in a rush, a fury, without charm, as though he were in a rage that Harry had made him come even though he was the one who'd given Harry the idea. He pinned Harry's wrists to the wall and held them there. Harry glared at him challengingly. If he intended to jerk him off, Malfoy would have to let him go, and Harry would punch him and tear past him the moment he did, to have his wank in private.

Malfoy sneered at him, eyes wide and hateful, then butted his head forwards into Harry's face. Harry gasped and fell back, stunned. He hardly felt Malfoy transferring both of his wrists into one harsh metallic grip or reaching down to his waist.

But he sure felt it when Malfoy took his cock in one hand and began to pinch and squeeze and tug as if he wanted all the come out of Harry at once.

Harry gave a little moan and opened his eyes. He was a few swimming inches away from Malfoy, but it was still difficult to see him; his glasses had slipped to one side, and the blow Malfoy had given him made the light of the torches dance and blur.

But there was no mistaking the savage pleasure in those grey eyes, or the gloating that Harry had seen again and again when he did something wrong and so made Malfoy happy.

"If you had gone more slowly," Malfoy whispered, his voice low and lover-like and in direct contradiction to the glow in his eyes, "then we could have come at the same time. That was what I wanted." He shook his head, his gaze bright and wicked now, less pleased but more intense. "But you always have to keep me from what I want, Potter, don't you?" His hand worked faster, and Harry felt the lines in his palm, the calluses on his fingers, the sharp rub of his knuckles against his inner thigh.

Harry tried to answer, but the orgasm coiled and exploded through him, and then he was shaking and sobbing and trying to ride it out without letting Malfoy see what he was doing—which was rather impossible when Malfoy had the evidence all over his skin. Malfoy laughed and held up his hand, darting out his tongue to touch Harry's come. Harry turned his head away. He knew that Malfoy would do what he did in the next minute, which was to spit out the semen he'd tasted on the ground, but there was no reason that he had to subject himself to that.

"There," Malfoy said. "That's done, and maybe I'll stop wanting you now. That would be convenient." He kissed Harry on the corner of his jaw hard enough to leave a bruise and shoved away from him with a casual movement that didn't fool Harry. Malfoy regretted what he had done as much as Harry did and was hurrying away. "See you around, Potter."

Harry waited until he was sure that Malfoy wouldn't come back to clean himself up and do up his trousers. His face was burning with shame and embarrassment and anger. That most of all. He didn't understand how he could have let something like this happen.

Then he sighed, and shook his head.

You're making a bigger deal of it than it has to be. This was something to regret, but it's no worse than a lot of other things people have done. You're not in a relationship, and neither is Malfoy. You didn't abandon your friends. You didn't actually have sex with him. Go back and check on Ron, and in the morning this will just be part of the past.

Harry smiled wryly as he finished tying up his belt. Well, the evening had all been one long blur up to this point, and he still didn't know how many parties they'd been to, but at least now he had a solid point to cling to in his memories.

With another shake of his head and a chuckle at his own foolishness, he went to fetch Ron and get him out of there.


How did this happen?

Luckily, Harry had an answer for that the next time the question came up. It happened because people were stupid, that was why.

He'd gone to a party that was mostly pure-bloods, because Ron had a date there—a non-official date, he'd been hasty to assure Hermione, just someone who wanted a dance partner, because apparently this party was going to be full of dancing—and seen Malfoy in the crowd. Harry rolled his eyes, silently groaned, and avoided him. It was easy enough to do. The ballroom in this house, a renovated castle, was enormous, and Malfoy smiled constantly at the pretty witches he danced with. No one seemed to care that Harry leaned in a corner, as usual, and sipped at his one glass of wine, and kept an eye on Ron.

Then one of the witches thought it was a good idea to begin some kind of fertility ritual, or a ritual that was a celebration of spring; Harry wasn't clear on that part. But because she was drunk, the ritual didn't work the way it was supposed to, and the spell ran in a circle of white fire around the room, shepherding everyone together in the center of it.

Harry muttered in annoyance and barely managed to put his wine down before the cord of fire coiled around his back and yanked him forwards. He ended up milling around with other people until one tall witch with black hair piled on her head and caught up in a silver net called, "The only way to end this spell is for everyone to dance with someone else. The dance doesn't matter, but no one can be left out."

People immediately began to seize their partners. Harry rolled his eyes and looked around for Ron. They might as well dance together. Ron owed him that for dragging him here.

Then a hand seized his arm and yanked him around again. This time, Harry managed to plant his feet before he swung very far and brace himself against the insistent pull. Someone cursed, and then Malfoy's voice said, "You heard Madam Elcrow, Potter. Everyone has to dance."

"But there's no rule that we have to dance together," Harry snapped, and tried to fight backwards. A warning hiss sounded at his shoulder. He looked back and saw the cord of white fire glowing behind him again.

"Now that I've claimed you, yes, we do," Malfoy announced cheerfully.

"I hate you," Harry told him, and then stood still and waited for Malfoy to choose something.

Malfoy ended up putting his hands on Harry's hips and drawing him forwards, eyes so intense that Harry felt a tremor and the memory of their moment at that other party boiled up with damning force. Harry ground his teeth and refused to listen to his own stupid mind. It didn't matter what the spell wanted them to do. He would be stupid if he let Malfoy bring him off again.

Malfoy began to step heavily, the movements of his feet kicks and then stomps, his legs snapping out unexpectedly, so that Harry had to adopt the same dance in sheer self-defense or risk his teeth being kicked in. Malfoy smirked at him—the expression was too sharp-edged for Harry to call it a smile, even though he wanted to—and changed the dance again, whirling faster, though he never let go of Harry. Harry matched him, because he could and because he wasn't going to give Malfoy anything to brag about.

They danced through the middle of other couples, fast and graceful and paired as though they'd been doing this all their lives. Harry felt his face burn when he realized that. He'd been so clumsy when he was at the Yule Ball that he'd simply assumed he had no natural talent for dancing. It would hardly be the only thing that he didn't have any natural talent for.

Now he had to wonder if he just didn't have the right partner.

Malfoy was laughing at him, his teeth shining, his eyes so triumphant that looking at them hurt. So Harry concentrated on the steps of the dance instead. Now and then he still tried to look up for Ron, but the crowd was too thick. Better to keep his eye on what was in front of him, he decided at last, and stamped and kicked and circled around Malfoy doing the same things.

Then the sense of tight magic in the air loosened, and Harry blinked and looked around. He and Malfoy were on the other side of the ballroom from most of the dancers. The important thing, however, was that the white fire was gone.

Harry sighed in relief and turned around. He was about to make some sarcastic remark to Malfoy and then leave him alone. He figured that Malfoy deserved it after the way he had left Harry alone last time.

Then he stopped.

Malfoy leaned against the wall of the room, his eyes narrowed as if he were staring into bright sun. His wrists were raised above his head, seemingly tied in place by an invisible rope. He tilted his head, his smile daring Harry to walk away.

"You wanted to punish me after last time," he whispered. "Didn't you?"

Harry wished he could say something—that sarcastic remark he'd been planning, or some cool denial that would put Malfoy in his place. Instead, he had to look at Malfoy and stand there motionless, because he was incapable of doing anything else.

"Now's your chance." Malfoy tilted his head back and spread his fingers, as though he wanted Harry to be sure he held no hidden weapons. His smile was taunting now, and he looked as if he was going to laugh at any moment. "Hurt me. But not too much. Please me." He lowered his head, eyelashes fluttering. "There's no limit on that."

Harry really should have left. He knew that. It was the best thing to do. But he stepped towards Malfoy instead and linked an arm around his throat, dragging his face forwards. Malfoy let his breath travel past his lips in a small sigh. He seemed to anticipate a kiss.

Harry bit him instead, locking his teeth on Malfoy's cheek and holding them there until the git was hissing in pain.

Then he gave Malfoy a challenging sneer of his own and slid his hand into his pants.

He stroked Malfoy through the cloth this time, never taking his eyes from him, never blinking. That seemed impossible, but then, it didn't take Malfoy long to come. He was bellowing like a bull soon enough, the sound swallowed up by the much louder music playing from the dance floor and the titters and swaying of the drunken dancers.

As Malfoy panted and looked at him incredulously, Harry leaned towards him and breathed on his ear. Malfoy jerked. Harry spoke directly into his ear, so that Malfoy couldn't pretend that he didn't hear him.

"There's a distinct limit on the pleasure I want to offer you, and when you look at your new mark in the mirror, I think you'll remember that."

Malfoy's eyes went glazed with shock before they clouded over, and he started to reach out for him. Harry ducked neatly under his hand and walked away, casting a location spell that would let him find Ron. That done, he cast another spell that would take care of his unwanted erection.

Harry had to smile as he moved away among the dancers, though he doubted that the smile was nice to look at. He really should thank Malfoy. A frenzied grope at a party wasn't what he wanted. It was a symbol of how much about his life was wasted right now, living in the shadow of other people's accomplishments, trailing around after Ron because he literally had nothing better to do.

Malfoy was a symbol of meanness and nothingness, meanness and nothingness that Harry could only get rid of by doing something to better his position.

And maybe Malfoy even knew that. What else could have been the reason that he didn't follow?


"I made it?" Harry hadn't meant for his voice to come out so high and squeaky. He cleared his throat and was about to try again when he saw Kingsley's smile and realized that he didn't have to.

"You did. Congratulations, Harry." Kingsley held out his hand, and Harry shook it, dizzy with relief. Oh, sure, he'd applied himself to his studies and waited patiently for his nineteenth birthday to come around before he tried for the Auror program again, but he hadn't believed in the goal even as he was working towards it.

This, though. This was real.

Harry stepped out of Kingsley's office, shaking his head in wonder. He was going into training. He would have a Ministry job. He had a new flat already, but that was a decision that might have affected no one but himself. This would affect other people. Hermione would beam, Ron would whinge about Harry growing up and taking on responsibility too fast when they were so young, and Mrs. Weasley would exclaim that she always knew it and—


Harry blinked and turned his head. He wanted to pretend that the voice didn't affect him, but his heart was beating fast enough to make him dizzy the moment he heard it, so he knew that was useless. He did manage, he thought, to nod briskly to Malfoy and to speak his name with an even tone.

Malfoy stalked towards him. His eyes had that intense, stormy look again, and his hands were spread as though he thought Harry might flee and he intended to stop him. Harry tensed and swallowed. He wasn't quite so sure that Malfoy was a symbol of littleness and nothingness anymore.

"You ran away from me," Malfoy whispered, "like the little coward and bitch you were. You didn't give me a chance to return the favor, and you left the parties after that. That was for the sake of avoiding me, wasn't it?" His breath was coming faster now, and his face was so hard that Harry thought he could have flung the Killing Curse at Malfoy and his expression wouldn't have altered.

But his own anger was rising now, because, as always, Malfoy failed to understand anything. "I stopped going to parties because I wanted to make something of myself," he retorted, "something more than a glorified babysitter. Only your enormous arrogance could make you think—"

Malfoy seized him around the neck and the chest and kissed him.

Harry hastily steered them back into a side corridor, because God knew what the Prophet would do if he was caught kissing "notorious former Death Eater Draco Malfoy" right outside the Minister's office. Then, and only then, did he reach up and try to detach Malfoy's hands.

"No," Malfoy whispered. "It's about me this time. It hasn't always been, but this time it is." He pulled away and looked at Harry with a kind of greed that dried out Harry's throat, the way his mouth always seemed to get around Malfoy. "I want you," Malfoy continued, "and this time, I do get to have you. The way I want." He snapped his fingers, probably concentrating on a wandless charm that must have taken all his minute power, and Harry's belt and trousers sheared in half and fell away from him.

"Malfoy," Harry hissed, reaching down and trying to hide how swollen his groin was, which didn't work very well. "This doesn't make any sense. You can't want me. You have no reason to want me."

Malfoy shrugged, his eyes fastened on Harry's hands. "I don't care. There aren't any justifications for this sort of thing, Potter, and I wouldn't want them if there were. I just want you, and I want my payback for last time." He snapped his fingers again, and this time Harry's shirt slid apart in ruined stretches of cloth and joined his belt and trousers on the floor.

Harry shook his head furiously and lifted one hand. Malfoy laughed softly and stepped towards him, lifting his own hand. His fingers intertwined with Harry's. Their arms hovered between them as if they were wrestling.

"Well?" Malfoy asked, his eyes soft and wet, his tongue curling up at the end as if he wanted to lick his lips but didn't want to muffle his words. "You could push me away. This is your chance. Why aren't you doing it?"

Harry shut his eyes. He could feel the calluses on Malfoy's fingers—he thought they came from gripping a broom, because Merlin knew Malfoy had never done a day's worth of honest work in his life—and the lines on his palm, and he remembered all too well how that hand had felt on his cock.

The memory made him guide the hand down again. It wasn't, couldn't, be anything else. Why should he need Malfoy's approval? He had what he'd wanted now, and he was going to repair his life.

This was a shadow, to be experienced and then left behind in his past, just like the other memories that Malfoy had helped him make. And Harry had a vague idea that it would be easier to bear if he kept his eyes shut while it happened, because that would give him fewer sensations to associate the memory with. He didn't have to watch Malfoy's sneering mouth or fluttering eyes while he came. There was no law that said he did.

He stood there while Malfoy rubbed him and panted into his ear. Harry had the impression that he wanted to say actual words, not make wordless sounds, but his pleasure stole his voice each time. At the end, he moaned, and the sound rushed down into Harry's body through his ear and then his brain and summoned his orgasm. Harry tried to bite his own hand to muffle his cry.

He didn't succeed.

Harry opened his eyes knowing that his tactic had been a failure; all being blind did was intensify the sensation of being stroked. He would have to wank before he went to bed tonight in order to calm the erection he was sure he would have again.

Malfoy sneer-smiled at him, and then stepped back and began to undo his belt. Harry found himself unable to look away as Malfoy shoved his trousers and pants down his hips and revealed his cock.

No. Tell the truth. He didn't want to look away.

Malfoy's erection stood out red and slick from his groin, shoving itself towards Harry as if it had some evil will of its own. Harry swallowed. There was too little saliva in his throat. He spat into his hand to correct that, and then reached out.

Malfoy danced back a step. Harry looked at him in confusion. His head was clouded with desire, with hatred, with something dark and curling that he hadn't ever felt before Malfoy and took to be lust. It seemed impossible to him that Malfoy wouldn't want Harry to bring him off when he'd so clearly wanted that the other times.

"No," Malfoy breathed. "You didn't let me touch you last time. That needs to be made up for." He reached down and encircled the head of his cock with his fingers.

Harry swallowed again. He had better luck this time, and could actually speak when it was done. "You—you think it's such a torment to watch you wank?" he managed to croak out.

"Oh," Malfoy whispered, with a twist of his lips that told Harry exactly how evil he was, "I think that standing there, helpless for several reasons, is the torment."

He closed his eyes as he began to stroke himself. A flush was making its way along his collarbone. Harry shifted in place, absurdly conscious, and conscious of the absurdity, of the spunk that coated his groin and thighs.

He was also absurdly conscious of the fact that he wanted to bite Malfoy's neck. One quick nip, one little mark, and he would be satisfied.

But the sight of Malfoy wanking held him there as if Malfoy had cast a Body-Bind. He had to watch as Malfoy gripped the base of his shaft and pumped himself, his thumb sliding around the wetness at the tip. Malfoy grunted and sighed, an obscene concert that Harry knew would probably attract attention sooner rather than later. It was nothing short of remarkable that they hadn't been discovered yet.

Yes, it's ridiculous. The whole thing is ridiculous.

Harry tried to look away. He told himself he would walk away. He would turn and bury his face against the wall. He would laugh at Malfoy and wither him while he was in the throes of ecstasy. He would do something traumatic and unforgivable that would make Malfoy's eyes gleam with hatred and stop Harry from having to think about any of this. Any of it, but most especially the fact that he was standing here like a fool.

He did none of those things. He held still and watched, instead, and when Malfoy began to huff and gasp like a tormented animal, Harry actually prevented himself from stepping forwards. He wanted to see how this ended without his interference. He had never actually seen Malfoy come, though he had felt it once.

Malfoy's come burst out of his hands and dripped to the floor, slithering and splashing, mixing with his hasty, muffled gulp-noises. Harry shuddered all over. The sight was dirty and visceral, fleshly in the same way that his resolve to study well and become an Auror had been for him. He bit his hand again.

Malfoy opened his eyes and regarded Harry with lazy contempt for some minutes. Then he nodded and said, "I wager I've handed you a lesson that you won't forget in a hurry." His voice was soft, eager. He sounded as if he was talking to a lover in the midst of the afterglow.

That finally loosened Harry's tongue, if not his legs. He shook his head. "I don't understand why this is happening," he said.

Malfoy abruptly pressed forwards, his tongue darting out. Harry fell back against the wall, but of course that wasn't an escape. Malfoy just cupped his chin and held him still while he lavished attention on Harry's lips and palate, his teeth and gums. Harry shuddered. The kiss felt as if it was invading him, leaving a piece of Malfoy behind that Harry would have to carry around with him. Never mind that Malfoy hadn't actually been inside him, not even his hand this time; it felt as though he was.

Malfoy finally stepped back and said, "I like the way you look when you're helpless. It's not a look that anyone but me gets to see, I think."

"And that's the whole reason you're doing this?" Harry blinked. His eyes felt heavy. He wondered if bafflement could send a person to sleep the way tiredness could.

"Of course not," Malfoy said, with a sneer that almost disfigured him. "I'm doing this because I want you."

"But when people want each other, they don't always act on it," Harry said. He knew that. He had wanted Ginny, but he'd held back, because after a year apart, they didn't seem to know each other anymore. And then she'd found happiness with someone else, confirming that Harry had been right not to intrude on her. If her love for him was a deep and everlasting passion, she wouldn't have loved anyone else. "Especially not like this."

Malfoy's eyes flared with a burst of some emotion that Harry couldn't name, because he wasn't sure that he had ever experienced himself.

"I didn't get anything I wanted during the war," he whispered. "Not glory, not prestige. I didn't get an Order of Merlin after it. I had to depend on you to get my wand back and to avoid Azkaban. So I want to have something exactly the way I want it, the way it is in my wildest fantasies. Having you like this, in little bursts, watching you surrender because you can't help yourself, and knowing that you won't tell anyone. That's what I like."

He tossed Harry one more sneer and vanished down the corridor. Harry cast Cleaning Charms and a Reparo on each piece of clothing, feeling as if he moved about in a dream.

Now that he understood Malfoy's reasons, there was no reason for him to yield to them, not even pity. He didn't have to pity the git for being a spoiled brat.

But he knew he would yield again if Malfoy came to him again.

Perhaps he didn't know his own reasons.


When Harry wanked to Malfoy, it was hurriedly, twisting in the stifling heat under his covers, panting and feeling his throat dry out as if he had crossed a desert.

When he licked his own come from his hand and imagined that it was Malfoy's, he did it with his eyes closed, so that he didn't have to see his sticky and gleaming fingers and look his shame in the face.

When he got hard imagining the way Malfoy had come, those slender pale hands on his cock, he shut his eyes and felt as if his life had become a bad dream.

When he knew his reasons for giving in to those abrupt encounters—because they were sudden interruptions in the routine of the life he was "supposed" to live, the life that bored him but which he couldn't think of an alternative to, and they left no trace behind, so that he could retreat into normality again when Malfoy was gone—he stood still with his head whirling and his stomach heaving for a long time.


"Did you know that Ginny's broken up with Gareth?"

Harry blinked and turned around, a Firewhisky in his hand. He'd spent most of the night going back and forth from the Leaky Cauldron's bar to the table where Ron sat, fetching him drinks, though luckily he didn't drink as much anymore and was actually trying for the Auror program. He'd known that Hermione wanted to say something to him privately for a few hours now, but he hadn't expected her to follow him here.

"I didn't know that," Harry said. Gareth Oberlin was the man Ginny had fallen in love with, several years older than she was and a successful bootmaker in Diagon Alley. They'd been dating for almost two years now. Harry frowned. "Why would she? I thought they were madly in love."

Hermione sighed. "Gareth wanted to wait to get married until he had more money. He had some idea about working in the shop while Ginny stayed home with the kids, like Molly did. But Ginny doesn't want that, and she was much more interested in getting married right away. They had an enormous row about it."

"Well, I'm sorry," Harry said, deciding that Hermione was staring at him expectantly because she expected some words of consolation. "I know she was happy with him."

Hermione hissed in exasperation and nudged him in the ribs with an elbow. "Harry. It's more than that. She's talked about you a lot lately. Said that it seems you know what you want and you don't wait around to get it." She lowered her voice and winked at him. "She doesn't have a hopeless crush on you or anything, but she likes you a lot. You could ask her on a date. I'm sure she'd say yes."

Harry stared at her, blinking for a few minutes. Hermione looked more and more impatient, and Harry was sure that she thought he was an idiot. But the news about Ginny had stirred up the two impulses in his mind that always seemed to be fighting each other lately, and he found it difficult to react the way he should immediately.

He wanted Ginny because it would be so convenient to want her. They could get married; Harry knew he could have years of quiet contentment with her. They could have children, which Harry wanted, or thought he wanted. He could have the normal life that would sweep him along without him having to make decisions or do anything extraordinary. He was tired of always making decisions and always being the hero.

But he also knew that if he accepted Ginny, there could be no more of those sudden encounters with Malfoy. He wouldn't be able to live with himself if he was unfaithful to Ginny once he was dating her.

"I'll think about it," he said abruptly, to defuse the thing Hermione was opening her mouth to say, and ducked past her. When he placed the Firewhisky in front of Ron, he told Harry the same thing that Hermione had. Harry smiled weakly and mumbled and pretended enthusiasm. It was a lot easier to fool a drunken Ron than an acute Hermione, and Ron accepted it and tilted his bottle back so that it could splash down his throat.

Meanwhile, Harry leaned back in his chair and thought about what he wanted to do.

It was stupid to let Malfoy control his life like this, he decided at last. After all, he hadn't even shown up for several months, since that time he'd confronted Harry in the Ministry. Was Harry supposed to delay everything he wanted on the off-chance that he'd feel really, really good for a few minutes once in a year? He shook his head decisively. Yes, he'd got to hate making choices, but he could make this one. He'd ask Ginny out, probably date her, probably marry her, and that would be an end of the most confusing sequence of events he'd experienced in his life.

Time wore on. Ron slumped over the table and snored. Hermione patted his shoulder, smiled at Harry, and left to get some sleep, since she had to be up early tomorrow morning.

For that matter, so did Harry. He rolled his eyes and drew his wand to cast a Lightening Charm on Ron, wondering idly what his best friend would do when he became an Auror and had to keep regular hours.

Someone seized his shoulder. Harry automatically ducked out of the grip and whirled around to confront his attacker, the way they had already taught him to do in Auror training; his instructors said he was a natural at all kinds of defense.

He found himself staring up at Malfoy, who hauled him to his feet and hustled him away from the table so fast that Ron didn't do more than let out a muffled burbling noise.

Harry's legs and tongue felt heavy. In his mind, he protested, wrenched away from Malfoy, and went stalking towards a normal life while Malfoy watched in open-mouthed astonishment. He'd left Malfoy standing like that once, at the party where they'd danced together, and this time he only had to resist the prat's blandishments if he came after Harry. But instead, he followed, not even raising his voice when Malfoy opened the door at the back of the Leaky Cauldron and shoved him out into the alley behind the pub. Instead, he turned around, head spinning deliciously, hands already reaching out.

Malfoy, unaccountable Malfoy, stood by with his arms folded and his eyes bright. He smiled when he saw Harry blink at him, dumbfounded, but he didn't move forwards.

"I'm going to kiss you," he said, voice so low Harry heard it in his gut more than in his ears, "and you're going to like it. Not because it's me," he added, probably anticipating the objections Harry could feel building up behind his lips. "But because everything's better after midnight."

This sounded like mad Malfoy logic. Harry had missed mad Malfoy logic. So he stood still when Malfoy closed the distance between them and fastened his lips on Harry's.

Malfoy sucked on Harry's lips, mouthing them, licking them, making small contented sounds in the back of his throat. It was a long time before he slid his tongue into Harry's mouth, open and willing though it was. Harry found himself shuddering under the influence of this gentleness more than he ever had when Malfoy slid his hand around Harry's cock and wrenched at it mechanically. He put his hands out and slid them up and down the sides of Malfoy's face, trembling all the while.

When Harry's hand rested on his cheek, Malfoy let his eyes open. Harry lost all thought of resistance when he saw those grey eyes glittering like moonlit ice, and swayed forwards, only for Malfoy to hold him unexpectedly in place. Malfoy smirked, or so Harry assumed from the movement of his mouth, and then leaned forwards.

Malfoy's was the kind of family who would have demanded elocution lessons for their son; Harry knew that. But his tongue had learned to do more in those lessons than just speak. It twined up and down, lay lazily in place, then suddenly started to life again and thrust back and forth, making Harry's mouth its natural habitat. Harry gasped and whined and parted his lips further.

He thought fleetingly that someone, indeed, must have taught Malfoy this; he was too good at it for all the talent to be natural.

Jealousy flooded him and turned the kiss bitter.

Harry leaned back. Malfoy followed him for a moment, leaning on him, then stared at him and seemed to notice that Harry was no longer enjoying the kiss. He stepped back at once, his face curious and cold.

"What is it?" he demanded.

Harry closed his eyes, trying to be alone with his thoughts, but Malfoy's panting followed him into his darkness. Appropriate, he decided, since all his thoughts centered on Malfoy even if he wanted to pretend that they didn't.

He couldn't stand the thought of Malfoy with anyone else. He couldn't stand the thought of going back to Ginny and never tasting his kisses again. This was too intense, too unusual, too real. He craved to have it all the time, or to at least try to have it all the time and see what would happen.

But that realization only brought despair. How could he demand that Malfoy stay? Harry had wanted him so far because his kisses were an interruption of normal life. Would they seem sweet without a normal life to test them against?

Why should Malfoy even agree to stay?

"I don't want you kissing anyone else," Harry said, without looking at Malfoy. He knew he would not be able to continue if he did. "I don't want you to do anything for the rest of your life but stay with me, kiss me, touch me. I want you to touch me and do it slowly. I want to suck you. I want to know what it's like to fuck a man." He shivered, because he could feel Malfoy's disbelief in the silence around him.

"I want you," he whispered, "in a moment of rest that lasts forever, not just a series of fleeting moments."

Malfoy was silent for so long that Harry would have assumed he'd left, except that he could still hear his breathing. Harry finally decided that it was worse to stand there staring at his feet than face his fate—which was probably laughter—so he looked up.

Malfoy looked at him doubtfully. He opened his mouth, then shut it and shook his head.

"What?" Harry whispered. If they raised their voices, he thought, they would destroy the potential understanding hovering between them.

"I think all we know how to do is have quick sex," Malfoy said. "What else do we have in common besides that?"

"I don't know," Harry said. "Except wanting each other—"

"Which is connected to the sex."

Harry took a deep breath to hold onto his patience. He would get nowhere if he started snapping at Malfoy. "We want each other now," he said. "We wanted each other while we were kissing, but that wasn't fast."

Malfoy licked his lips, and Harry fought back the urge to bite them. That would only postpone this conversation. Or, worse, he might drift into dating Ginny while still fucking Malfoy on the side, just because it would be so much easier.

"I don't think I could do this normally," Malfoy said. His voice shook. He was inching out on a tightrope over a long fall, Harry knew. What guarantee did he have that Harry wouldn't laugh at him or gloat over his helplessness the way he had gloated over Harry being helpless in front of him? "I don't know how to live a normal life. Since the war, there's been ashes and depression and my fantasy. You were my fire, the thought of you, making the world seem bright and full of color when everything else was grey. I don't know what I'll do if I lose you."

"I'll still be your fire," Harry said. "Draco."

And maybe it was too fast, and maybe it wouldn't work, and maybe he was stupid to even try and make the offer. But that didn't matter against the sweetness on Malfoy's face when he looked up at the sound of his name.

"We've shared some intimate things," Harry said, keeping his voice low as he stepped forwards, "but we've never been intimate. I'd like to try and change that." He paused, his heart beating so fast that he was afraid he'd fall to the floor and convulse with it. "If you want to," he added, had to add, because this depended on Malfoy as much as it did on him.

He was so confused. He didn't know why he wanted so badly to make this offer. He just knew that he did, and the reasons would have to come later.

Malfoy stood still for a little while, eyes shut as if he was communing with himself. Then he blinked and nodded as though he was surprised by what he'd found. "I think I want to," he said. "Not that I know why."

Harry smiled. "Neither do I," he said. "So that's something else we have in common."

He raised his hand in front of him the way he had that day in the Ministry, wondering if Malfoy would recognize the gesture.

He did. He came forwards timidly, darting his gaze between Harry's eyes and his hand. Then he reached up and clasped his wrist, squeezing down with a tightness that Harry knew was born of determination. Harry reached out and wrapped his free arm around Malfoy's shoulders before he could change his mind.

Malfoy followed the pull and rested his forehead against Harry's shoulder.

Harry whispered, "Draco," into his ear again, and Malfoy wrapped his arms around Harry's waist—an answer as good as, "Harry" in its way.

We'll try. We will.

They would have to, since life waited for them outside this moment.

But since this was a moment of rest, all they had to do was stand still.