ORDER OF MERLIN
Draco scanned the patrons of the club with growing annoyance. He hated to be sent out on a stupid case, but even more than that he hated being sent out on a false alarm. His orders had been extremely vague, which added to his irritation factor. He had been told only that there was a high profile Ministry official disturbing the peace and that he needed to be escorted out "with utmost discretion".
"Oh, shit," he said when he caught sight of the "high profile Ministry official". "Shacklebolt, you utter prick."
It was Harry fucking Potter.
Despite his exasperation, Draco could not help but stare. It was Harry Potter as Draco had never seen him before. His black hair was wilder than usual and his smile was too bright. He wore a white shirt unbuttoned to the navel, exposing far too much tanned flesh, in Draco's opinion. The hem of the shirt was loose where it had been half-tugged from the waistband of his black Muggle jeans and a diamond-plate belt glinted beneath the material as he moved.
Something gleamed on Potter's left breast. What was it? A medal of some sort? Surely he wasn't wearing his Order of Merlin?
Potter held a drink in one hand and his other arm was casually draped around the neck of a young man who seemed only too happy to have the attention of the Chosen One. Even worse, Potter was singing. Quite badly. And loudly. Potter raised his glass with the chorus and Draco caught sight of his wand in the hand that held the drink.
Fuck, this was not going to be easy. Potter was a loose cannon. It was rumoured all over the Ministry, even in the secret subsection in which Draco was employed. Personally, Draco did not understand why they didn't just cut him free. His days as the Ministry's poster child were obviously long gone. Potter's bad deeds were in the news far more often than his good deeds had ever been.
Looking at Potter smiling into the face of the boy with the spiked blond hair made Draco ponder one of those tales. It was rumoured that Potter would sleep with anything that walked; male, female, centaur, vampire, veela; it was all the same to him. Draco had always thought it to be a load of tripe… until now.
Potter's song reached a crescendo, loud enough to rattle the glasses with most of the crowd now joining in. Draco half-crouched and drew his wand when a series of loud pops was heard over the dying voices. A bottle of ale next to him exploded, sending foam and alcohol spraying onto his robes. The crowd screamed with hilarity as beer, champagne, and other beverages splashed onto random bodies.
As if on signal, Potter threw back his head and laughed. The man clinging to him did the same, splaying his hand over Potter's chest and giving Draco a view of one of Potter's pink nipples. Draco straightened and spelled his robes clean with a frown. He felt a hand pluck at his sleeve.
"Please, sir. You're from the Ministry, aren't you? I spotted you right away as an authority figure, 'specially when you drew your wand."
Draco turned to see a pudgy man with a round face and a worried expression. Sparse wisps of greying hair decorated the top of his head.
"Can you stop him, please?" the man went on. "I'm Willis. I own the place. I like the business he brings in, but I don't like it so much when he gets like this. I can't ask him to leave, but…"
"I'll take care of it," Draco assured him, although he wished he were as confident as his words sounded.
Potter was dancing now, and he had released his hold on the blond, whose hands were clutched around Potter's hips in what appeared to be a death grip. Potter was half-turned away from Draco and he figured he might not have a better chance.
"Accio Potter's wand," he said quietly with a sharp snap of his wand. To his amazement, Potter's wand snapped away from the glass cohabitating Potter's hand and flew into Draco's outstretched palm.
Draco blinked at it for only a moment before gripping it tightly and bracing himself for Potter's attention, which fixed on him with terrible intensity. Draco held his gaze and waited while Potter disentangled himself from the clingy blond and sauntered forward. Draco tucked Potter's wand into an inner pocket for safekeeping.
"Draco Malfoy," Potter said in a tone guaranteed to set Draco's teeth on edge. Two small words brought back years of rivalry and hatred in an instant.
"Potter," Draco replied in the same vein.
To his surprise, the look in Potter's eyes changed, becoming something Draco did not recognize. Potter's gaze moved over him suddenly, slowly and methodically, starting at Draco's chin and travelling slowly down over his frame, taking in Draco's body clad in nondescript dark grey robes. Draco felt the pressure of that gaze as it moved down his torso, waist, and thighs. The stare made its way to Draco's feet and back again before a smirk twisted Potter's mouth.
"Neat trick with my wand, Malfoy. What other tricks do you know?" Potter's voice was a seductive purr and before Draco could think to respond, Potter's body was plastered against his and his hands clung to Draco's waist, holding their pelvises together. Potter's face was inches from Draco's and his eyes seemed luminous beneath the spectacles he wore.
Potter leaned forward and for one timeless instant he thought the man meant to kiss him, but then he felt lips skating along the edge of his jaw, barely brushing Draco's skin on their way to his ear. Potter's next words were issued in a whisper that sent gooseflesh springing to life along Draco's neck and arms, and turning his nipples into hard nubs. "You've changed, Malfoy. I never would have expected you to turn out so… hot."
Potter's hands began to wander, sliding up over Draco's ribcage and curving around his back to caress his shoulders. Draco felt certain he should escape, somehow, but Potter's nearness and insane behaviour seemed to have destroyed his ability to react in a normal fashion.
He tried, anyway, and succeeded in speaking. "We should… You should probably go home. I think you're drunk."
"Mmmm." Potter's words were muffled by the fact that he seemed to be tasting the edge of Draco's throat by way of tiny butterfly-light kisses and flicks of his tongue. "I am definitely drunk. Should we go to your place?"
Draco's breath caught. A dangerous warmth had begun to pool in his midsection, sending tendrils of something unexpected slithering through him. How long had it been since he had allowed anyone this near? Overwhelmed by Potter's proximity, he could not process the murmured suggestion for a moment—until he realized Potter's busy hands were not attempting to seduce him at all. Instead, Potter was systematically searching for his wand.
Draco shoved him away with an oath, face flaming as he fought a crushing sense of disappointment. Potter hadn't wanted him; he had merely been Slytherin-sneaky. Draco tried to unclench his jaw. Why should he care that Potter had been faking? He hated the git, after all. Draco glared at him and held onto the rage, allowing it to wash over the knowledge that he had been rejected, once again, by the Chosen One, if not exactly overtly, and shouldn't he be used to it by now?
"Bastard!" he hissed.
Potter grinned at him and shrugged. "It was worth a try. And no, I'm not ready to go home, yet. Who sent you?"
"Does it matter? You are leaving, regardless." Draco was relieved to note that his voice was fairly steady and not shaking, despite anger that made it difficult to breathe.
Potter cocked a brow at him in a way that should not have been seductive. Damn it all, when had Harry Potter turned into sex on legs? "Am I?" Potter purred again.
The spiky-haired blond had caught up to them, by then, and he wrapped his arms around Potter's neck. "Harry!" he whined. "There you are!"
Draco frowned at the too-obvious ponce and the boy stared at him challengingly.
"I'm coming," Potter replied, but Draco reached out and snatched his wrist.
"I'm afraid not," Draco said. "Mister Potter is leaving."
"Am I?" Potter repeated, this time in a dangerous tone.
Draco hauled him bodily toward the door, keeping his wand tightly in hand. If he had to hex Potter he was not quite sure what spell he would use, but it had better be fast and it had better be long-lasting. He flitted through a quick mental list.
There was a sharp crack and he glanced back to see the mahogany bar split straight down the centre, sending glasses and bottles sliding and patrons leaping away.
"Sorry, Willis!" Potter called amiably. "I'll pay for that!"
Draco pulled more forcibly, eager to get Potter away from the crowd, especially if the idiot planned to start throwing around wild, wandless magic. Potter stopped resisting and allowed himself to be dragged.
The fresh air tasted lovely in contrast to the steamy, cloying atmosphere of the club. Draco drank it in gratefully, hoping to shake off the after-effects of Potter's false flirtation. Potter snatched his arm away and stopped walking. Draco turned and gave him a patented Malfoy glare.
Before either of them could speak, a shout drew their attention. "Harry! Are you all right? Leave him be, you bleach-blond slut!"
Draco frowned menacingly at the sight of Potter's boytoy, all puffed up and indignant, holding a wand that caused Draco's lips to twitch in a half-smirk. The wood was short and rather stubby, which did not bode well for the wielder, according to popular lore.
Draco raised his wand to cast a Stinging Hex on the annoying puppy, but he was apparently more excitable than Draco anticipated. The boy flung a spell at him, yelling, "Stupefy!"
Potter, true to form, stepped in front of the bolt, either to save Draco or because he simply could not resist his heroic instinct. More likely the latter, Draco decided. He disarmed the annoying blond lad with a simple Expelliarmus, bound him with several magical ropes, and left him propped in the alley next to an overflowing rubbish heap.
"I am a natural blond, you little tosser," he murmured next to the boy's ear before returning to Potter. He knelt and half-propped the Gryffindor against him. He needed to get Potter away before anyone else from the club decided to give the hero a rescue attempt.
He sighed and Apparated them to his London flat.
Draco heaved Potter onto the sofa and went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. He knew it was stupid to drink it at this hour—likely it would keep him awake half the night, but he needed something to calm his nerves and nothing seemed to work better than Earl Grey.
He heated the water with a single spell and tossed a practised handful of tea leaves into it. He watched the water darken and the leaves sink while he thought about Harry Potter. The man was unpredictable. Once the Golden Child of the Ministry, he had been pushed farther and farther out of the limelight until he had left the Auror Department entirely. Rumour had it that Potter had been demoted, although the official paperwork insisted that a position had been created that was "better suited to his abilities", although what those abilities were had been left unmentioned.
Draco tried to remember Potter's official title. International Wizarding-Muggle Relations Liaison Officer or some such rubbish. Potter's unofficial title was Troublemaker and Ministry Embarrassment.
Draco cast a spell that whisked the spent tea leaves from the cup and sent them winging to the rubbish bin. After pouring in enough sugar to boost the wakefulness factor even higher, Draco took a welcome drink and returned to the living room.
He stood next to the couch, drank his tea, and surveyed the sprawled man. Portrait of a broken hero, he thought morosely. There was something morbidly depressing about Potter's fall from grace. As much as Draco had despised him in hero mode, it was still better than seeing him gyrating with strange boys in seedy bars, drinking like he was nothing more than an average Ministry drone, acting as though he had never…
Saved us all, Draco thought, possibly admitting it for the first time since the war.
More than Potter's morality had changed, obviously. Draco sipped his tea and let his eyes slide over the man with an appreciation he would never have shown if Potter were awake. His hair was worse than ever, longer than Draco had ever seen it, nearly covering his eyes in the front and curling over his collar in the back. It looked… soft.
Draco scowled and continued his survey. Potter had new glasses. They were barely there, edged in silver with smaller, oval lenses that made him look more intelligent than he obviously was. They perched atop a face that had grown amazingly handsome. Potter's lips were tantalising, bow-shaped and perfect for kissing. He wondered how many men had tasted those lips and his hands clenched around the mug.
Probably hundreds, he admitted. Who wouldn't want the Saviour of the World? Especially when he looks like that? He wondered how many had made it past the snogging stage… Draco buried the thought before it took root and conjured up images he would rather not envision.
Potter's shirt had opened to reveal even more skin during Draco's manoeuvres. One hem hung completely free of the tight trousers, exposing most of Potter's torso. His incredible torso, Draco corrected. Potter's body was perfection. There was not an ounce of fat on him and his abdominal muscles would have put a professional athlete to shame.
One hipbone was visible, jutting from the edge of his jeans, looking far too tantalising for Draco's tired mind to deal with. He left the prone man and walked to the linen cupboard where he fished out a soft blanket to toss over Potter. He nearly left him, but paused and turned back in order to remove Potter's shoes. Not to make him more comfortable, but merely to keep him from marring the sofa.
As he tucked the blanket around Potter, he caught sight of the medal that dangled from Potter's shirt. He leaned in for a closer look and shook his head in wry amusement. It really was Potter's Order of Merlin—a proud display of sarcasm. The idiot had style, Draco had to admit.
After one final chore—sending an owl to Kingsley with a terse note assuring him that the Saviour problem had been dealt with—Draco shut off the lights and went to bed.
~To Be Continued~