Draco had turned his head to ask Kirk when he had to be off, and was met by a pair of sloppy lips being mashed against his. His body slumped with annoyance. He knew this was bound to happen. After all, a man does not generally invite himself over to your solitary apartment at eleven in the evening just to try your vintage wine, no matter what his pretenses say. And to think that the blond brute had actually had him believing in his interest in 1890 labels.

He pulled back to give the tall man a piece of his mind, but Kirk apparently laced his lips with superglue based on this seersucker hold. Draco bent back as far as he could go and still their lips wouldn't come apart, and now the idiot apparently thought Draco was trying to get into a proper love-making position rather than politely flee.

Draco put his hand firmly on Kirk's expansive chest and pushed, but little was accomplished.

"Kirk," he said firmly, but it was largely drowned out by Kirk's face, and now the man had found a hold to gain entrance to Draco's mouth. Draco nearly gagged on tongue.

Time to bring out the big guns. He shoved his forearm into Kirk's throat and pushed him away from there like a bad dog.

"Kirk, really," Draco said, and didn't know what to say beyond that. He could barely believe this had happened to him…again.

Hadn't it been the same with Walthus? With Magden and Thomas and Tristan and Gregory? He had been stricken by all those and more in their turn, enchanted by their gorgeousness or charisma or a million other things, had flirted outrageously, had seduced them uncompromisingly, yet as soon as their lips had touched Draco had known that these people felt for him what he could not return. They all had the outlandish idea to sleep with him.

Draco knew that he was perhaps behind the times, was a bit more miserly than any of his friends ever were. While they were giving it away to anyone who showed an interest in it, he had recognized that his virginity was a prize that could only be given to one person. And he had spent his life to this point trying to find someone worthy of such a gift—the virginity of a Malfoy, a scion of the two most pure Wizarding families in history.

Only his closest confidant, Blaise Zabini, knew this though. And after that reaction, Draco wasn't likely to let on to another soul his little secret. Blaise couldn't imagine a life of celibacy, couldn't believe Draco's intense self-will and stamina, but really it wasn't as difficult as that at all. Draco didn't know if it was because he was a freak or was just unaware of the intense pleasures of sex, but he'd never even felt the overwhelming desire for coitus that struck Zabini multiple times a week. He felt lust, striking lust, right up till someone kissed him, and then it all just became embarrassing, like being dead sober in the midst of a sloppy drunk.

"It's like the exact opposite of Love's First Kiss," Blaise had said in awe. "Are you quite certain there were no fairies at your Christening? Evil or otherwise—sometimes the well-meaning fairies are the worst."

If there were, Lucius and Narcissa never mentioned them, but regardless of their attendance, it still left Draco in the same position. Kicking a love-struck bloke out on his behind, never to be spoken to again.

Lucky for Draco these boys never went around bragging that they'd been kicked out of his apartment without even achieving first base. Indeed, the average layman would be convinced of Draco's playboy tendencies rather than his austere virginity based on their tales of debauchery and delight.

Draco had no idea what imagination they got these tabloid pleasers from, but he was sure that Kirk would do at least as well at it as Magden had done (really, where would Draco even have procured so much whipped cream from?)

"Kirk, I'm terribly sorry, but you're just going to have to leave now," Draco said sternly, clearly making it known that he was only terribly sorry he had even let Kirk in here to begin with.

"Oh Draco!" Kirk cried, sounding so agonized and lusty that Draco actually jumped in surprise. Kirk slid from the couch and threw himself across Draco's knees, clutching him tempestuously. "You—you just don't know what you do to me!"

"It appears that I do quite a lot to you, but you're still going to have to get out of here in the next two seconds."

Kirk blinked up at him with those pale green eyes, realizing he was very serious. Those eyes were the whole reason Draco had fallen for him, but now they left him unsatisfied.

"Wait, you're kicking me out?" Kirk shouted angrily, jumping to his feet.

"One, two," said Draco, then he flicked his wand and watched in meager amusement as Kirk was pulled by his cloak front by invisible hands, all the way out of the apartment and, if Draco had preformed the spell right, and with this amount of practice he was sure he had, straight onto the curb.

That finished, he threw himself back on his couch. This scene had been acted out too frequently recently for his tastes. He was beginning to understand that something was seriously wrong with him. Holding onto his virginity was one thing, he felt completely justified in that, but in his life the longest he'd been with someone was two months, and that was because the cowardly Hufflepuff had taken two whole months to finally build up the nerve to kiss him.

Draco needed to discuss this while it was still important in his mind, before he became complacent with the facts yet again. He knew that with a good night's sleep he'd be up in the morning with his usual "so what" attitude.

"Blaise—

My pad, now. Will supply amenities.

--DM" he wrote quickly on a scrap of parchment, and sent it off directly. Still it was another 15 minutes before the cat-like black man arrived.

"This had better be good," he growled, fresh from the fireplace. "Daniel and I were just starting to have fun."

Draco gave him an aghast look and Blaise rolled his amber eyes. "We were playing Wizard chess! Merlin, for a virgin you sure do have a perverted mind."

"You can't say perverted things and get angry with me for being led to a perverted place by them," Draco retorted, shoving a cup of coffee in Blaise's direction.

"Where's Sarsgaard?" Blaise asked suspiciously. Draco pouted. Blaise knew him too well, that was for sure. "Him too? What was wrong with him? I thought you liked him."

"I did like him. And now I don't. That's what I called you about. Blaise—honestly, what's wrong with me?" Draco asked with much exasperation.

"You're still a virgin, that's what's wrong with you."

"Not that again, I'm not getting into that. That's not up for discussion. I'm not going to give it away to some plebian just because you think I'm weird."

"Everyone would think you were weird, if only they knew."

"Which is why they're not going to get to know."

Blaise shook his head but set his mind to work firmly. His friend was in need of an answer and Blaise was smart enough to give it to him if he took a moment to think about it.

"What you need is a strategy," he finally said, intensely confident.

Draco let his interest be engaged—he liked strategies after all. Blaise grabbed a piece of parchment and a quill.

"All right. Now all this time you've just been jumping onto any man who randomly catches your fancy, right?"

"Well, I mean…"

"Right. So, this time, we're going to figure out exactly what you want, and then go find that specific person!"

"Okayyy, but how will we find this specific person? I mean…there are millions of blokes out there."

"But I bet there aren't very many at all with your exact specifications. I don't know. We'll put out an advert or something."

"WHAT?! No. No way, no how. I'm not putting out a sex advert!"

"Fine, fine, forget about it. We'll just like…hire a private detective or something! Now come on, while I'm still up on caffeine. Let's get this list going. Now, what kind of guy are you looking for?" Blaise set himself down in journalist stance, hunched seriously over his parchment and eyeing Draco quizzically.

"Well," Draco started, blushing slightly with this bright beam of interest aimed at him. "I want someone tall. I mean, not freakishly tall, but like…a bit taller than me."

Blaise blinked at him.

"That's what it takes to get your virginity? They've got to be tall?" asked in flat tones.

"That's not all! That's just one of the things," Draco said angrily.

"Okay. Next thing."

"…they've got to be attractive."

"Come on, Draco, be serious."

"I am serious! I'm not going to date some ugly bloke!"

Blaise hit his hand on the countertop loud enough to get Draco's attention.

"Look at me and Daniel. He's cute, sure, but I know I could do better if I wanted—but we've been together for seven years now. That's because we like each other, not because we like what each other look like. I'm not going to look this good at 60 and chances are he won't either, but we're still going to be together then because our foundations aren't built on something that changes so easily."

"Doesn't mean I have to date an ugly bloke," Draco grumbled.

Blaise gave up.

"Fine, we'll start out with the hotties and slowly let you lower your standards, just like everyone else. So what does your dream hottie look like?"

"Well," Draco started happily—this was really a lot of fun once you got into it—"Um…darker skin, but just like a nice tan—an outdoorsy look. Not so white like me, but not dark dark."

"Thanks, racist."

"Shut up. Umm, really athletic looking. Someone who works out—but not crazy works out. Not like weight-lifter muscles. No one with arms thicker than my waist."

Blaise frowned but kept writing.

"Dark hair would be nice. Not someone who spends too much time on it though. I don't want to fight over mirror time. A manly kind of man—but not an idiot. A gentleman. Polite, gallant."

"Finally, we're getting somewhere."

"He has to play Quidditch. Someone sweet."

"Wait right there—sweet?"

"Of course! There can only be one bitch in the relationship, and that's pretty clearly going to be me. They have to even out. For as bitchy as I am, that's how sweet he has to be."

"I don't think I know anyone that sweet."

"Then it'll be a small pool to search from," Draco growled.

"What about blood?"

Draco blushed red hot. "Oh well…I guess I don't really…mind about that."

"You don't?" Blaise asked in shock. Daniel was Pureblood after all, and Draco still didn't think he was pure enough for being an illegitimate child. If anyone were going to have a problem with the lineage of their boyfriend, Blaise had been sure it was going to be Draco.

"Well, it's not like we're going to have kids to pass on bad blood to."

"I guess…Okay, this is what I don't get—you like them tall, dark, and handsome, but Kirk was about as blonde as they get and you fell for him hard."

"Oh I know—it was those damned eyes of his! I'm a sucker for green eyes, Blaise."

The black man blinked back at him.

"So…dark hair, green eyes, Quidditch player, sweet, gentlemanly…"

"I know—I think we've gotten a lot accomplished! Call me when you get that private eye figured out—I'm afraid I've got to sleep now, early start tomorrow. Give my love to Daniel, bye!"

xXx

Draco had an especially hard time waking up the next morning. It was starting to get cold out and his bed was just so warm after accumulating all his body heat for the night. He loved being warm in his comfy bed when it was so cold out. He hated getting out of his comfy bed when it was so cold out.

He ran quickly to the shower, turned the heat up and jumped in. Scalding water always made him feel better about having to be up at this ungodly hour. He knew he didn't need a job, of course, and he had tried to be unemployed for a while after school, but in truth it was just so boring. He much more enjoyed being busy.

He frowned, thinking. Blaise had no job, but he was rarely lazy or lounging.

"Daniel is my job," he'd say haughtily, and continue doing laundry.

Now that Draco was going to get a boyfriend, he wondered if he'd keep working or make his new boyfriend his job, like Blaise did. He figured he'd keep working. After being single for so long, it was hard to think of another person he'd like to devote so much attention to. It was hard to consider a give-and-take relationship that didn't involve his boyfriend giving everything and him taking everything. It was hard to think of a person he'd like enough to even bother learning that for.

Blaise made it look so easy, dammit. Even when he and Daniel fought it always seemed like a healthy, loving kind of fight. And it almost always ended well.

Draco smiled confidently and shampooed his hair. When he was in a couple, he was going to make Blaise look like a chump. He was going to be the best boyfriend in the entire world. He naturally excelled at everything, after all. Why should dating be any different, once he found a man he truly fancied?

xxx

Draco was glad that it was Kirk's day off and everything, but it sure was annoying having to do things for himself now. Normally he made his beau of the week do the annoying parts of his jobs—namely courier work. Normally, after such a last night, he would have found some new cutie to get to do his dirty work by now. He patted the parchment in his pocket—the list of his One True Love—to make sure he didn't try to find another no-good boyfriend today.

Still, he could have a pet without having a throw-away boyfriend.

"Harry, darling," he said, catching the tall man as he waited for the lift.

His assistant was there, too, a lanky blonde girl with her hair in a tight pony tail, her face austere, showing him paperwork that needed to be gone over.

As Draco spoke he allowed himself a healthy look-over of Harry's fine figure. He was wearing that new style of robes that were all the rage right now (but that Draco flatly refused to buy into, for regulations of tradition)—matte black, buttons behind the back to keep the train out of the way, kept professional with a matching black vest. Draco enjoyed the view: there was certainly more of it without traditional robes.

"You're going down, right? Do you think you could be a dear and bring this to Greenfoote's office for me?" Draco requested, giving his most charming smile.

Harry's green eyes went happily wide, and blinked back an over-flow of emotion, his hands clasping desperately in front of his chest.

"Oh Gosh! Could I really?" The image Draco was enjoying so much flattened out to blankness. "No. Go get one of you little boy-toys to do it."

Draco started to pout unhappily, but Harry wasn't watching anymore, turning back to his assistant. She watched Draco with disparaging gray eyes—like a leech Harry had had to stop and peel off him.

Draco turned angrily on his heel and stormed back into his office.

Damn that Harry Potter! Thinking he was so hot just because he was promoted to Captain of the Aurors. Draco threw himself back into his office chair and glared at the manuscript Greenfoote wanted from him. The old man would just have to wait until his aide got back from lunch, Draco was too busy fuming over one Harry Potter.

Draco had been reformative had he not? He had apologized to Potter for all those years of being a brat—someone saves you from the wrath of a maniacal Dark Lord and you're likely to apologize for a lot of things, given, but still—even afterwards he had kept up with his reformation. He hadn't antagonized Potter, he said 'Hello' when they passed one another in the hall, he had signed the giant card at his office birthday party. Yet Harry was nothing but cold back to him. Not hostile, not aggressive, no, but never warm—never even as warm in return as Draco was to him. Draco had willingly put the past behind him, had buried the hatchet, had started on a new foot, and still Harry was nothing but chilly to him.

The door to his office opened with some difficulty and his aide came in, a heavy bag in each hand.

"Hi, Mr. Malfoy!" she said in her regular chipper tones.

"Harriet, put all that lunch stuff away this moment and bring this document to Greenfoote on the Second Level—and then, after that, I want you to go to Harry Potter's assistant and say something snooty to her! Something really hurtful—I mean it!"

"To Miss Malfina? Oh, but Mr. Malfoy—I like her! I could never!" Harriet cried, those big pea-green eyes of hers shining with stress at even the idea of it. Draco sighed. He could never be properly strict with Harriet—she was just such a little dear. Normally that made Draco want to gag, but Harriet counteracted her gagging qualities with being tough as nails when put to the test. It was just that Draco could never be pressed to push her hard enough to call upon that toughness.

"Well give her a dirty look at least as you go by," he grumbled.

"Yes, sir, Mr. Malfoy!" Harriet agreed, beaming, taking the document and putting Draco's lunch on his desk before going back to the anteroom with hers.

Draco frowned; he sure did wish she'd start wearing her hair down—but how to broach such a subject? It was just that it was such nice, black hair.

As Draco ate his lunch alone, he took The List out again to give it another look-over. He'd have to strictly memorize these things—it would make it easier in case he met someone he thought might have some of these qualities. From now on, if they didn't meet the criteria, they weren't in—no matter how smitten he was.

Blaise had separated the list into two columns, one titled PETTY SHIT and the other IMPORTANT SHIT.

Draco thought he'd start with the petty stuff. That was the stuff, after all, he'd be able to decide on right away when he met someone—even before he met them, really.

Tall

Tan whitey (racist bugger)

Athletic—Quidditch

Black hair

Green eyes

Glasses?

Draco frowned. He hadn't said anything about glasses…although now that he thought about it, there was something kind of mysterious and smart about a boy with glasses…Wait…when you put it all together like that it sure did sound like someone he already knew. Someone who continuously irked him, in fact. Frankly, it sounded like the spitting image of Harry Potter himself.

Draco grabbed another sheet of parchment, making two columns, one headed by a checkmark and the other by an X.

Yes, Potter had dark hair, green eyes, was athletic and played Quidditch, was tall and tan and…alright, was rather attractive. Yes he was rather manly.

But no, he was not too bright—Draco remembered that much from school. He wasn't gentlemanly or polite or sweet—as this day showed quite clearly. What kind of gentleman didn't act courier to a poor boy in distress? How gallant was that?

Yet at that thought another sprung up, of Harry's young arm pressed hard across his shoulders, keeping him down and out of harm's way as curses flew overhead.

Draco shook it from his mind. That was quite enough thinking for one day. Quite enough remembering.

xxx

By time he reached the café, Blaise was already there.

"You're late," Blaise chided.

"It took me forever to find the place. Why didn't we just go to Terrington's? What is this place?" Draco pouted, dropping into the chair across from Blaise and pouring himself a cup of piping hot tea.

"It's new. I wanted to try it," Blaise said with a suspiciously nonchalant shrug.

"It's not new. It says right over the door—Est. 1981."

"Well it's new to me," Blaise growled.

"Well, it's needless to ask how your day's been going. What'd you do, burn breakfast?"

Blaise didn't deign to give that a response, and gave haughty consideration to the creaming of his scone. Draco grabbed on too—they looked nice and hot.

"These don't have raisins in them, do they?" Draco questioned suspiciously.

"Of course not—I learned my lesson after the Scone Fiasco of 2001."

"And rightly so." Draco slathered cream and jam on his scone and was just about to take a bite when the door jingled open. In stepped none other than Harry Potter. Draco couldn't help but immediately blush, and Blaise looked around to investigate.

"So, have you given any more thought to that list from last night?" questioned Blaise with a smirk on his face.

"Shut up—and I know just what you were doing, putting that glasses comment in there."

"I didn't do anything. Aren't glasses the sole reason you dated Tristan?"

"That is none of your business, and—who is that?"

Harry had sat down opposite a man across the café without noticing Blaise and Draco: a ringlety blonde man with clear white skin and a chipper smile, with dimples. Draco disliked him immediately on principle: chipper smiles spiked with blonde ringlets were an automatic deal-breaker for him, and anything with dimples was immediately gauche.

Blaise looked carefully then whispered, "That's Malcolm Redding."

"That's Malcolm Redding?!"

"You saw his pictures in Witch Weekly all the time—don't you remember him?"

"Are they back together?" Draco whispered it but didn't know why—it wasn't like they could hear him.

Blaise only shrugged. That was unacceptable.

"That is none of your business," said Blaise, trying to mimic his drawl. "Unless you'd like it to be your business?"

"Of course not!"

"So you don't think those criteria we set out matched Potter perfectly?"

"Maybe they did and maybe they didn't."

"You're not going to even try him out? Come on—he matches that list spot on."

"Does not! Just today he was very ungallant towards me. Besides, it looks as if he's already pre-engaged. And" he stressed, not allowing Blaise to interrupt him as he so obviously wanted to do. "Even if he weren't, he has absolutely no interest in me whatsoever. He's never even so much as nice to me."

"They are not back together for your information."

"How would you know?"

"Daniel and Harry are on the same Ministry Quidditch team, you know that. They talk. Daniel says Harry's been all broken up since he and Malcolm split, and if they were back together he'd have lightened up by now."

"I have noticed he's been a lot less excitable at work."

"Oh, you have, have you?"

"Shut up, you lout."

"So, what do you say? Are you going to give him a go?"

"Absolutely not. He's obviously not over Redding, and I do not date damaged goods." Seeing that look in Blaise's eye, he amended that to, "Well…not any more."

xxx

Draco gave his most dramatic sigh as soon as he got home and immediately threw himself onto his bed. How could he have done it? How could he have agreed to go out with Blaise and Daniel tonight of all nights? After staying late to oversee fiscal transactions between Gringots and The Auditors, he was exhausted. It was already nearly 9 and he promised Blaise he'd meet him at The Black Bird at 10 sharp. And he still had no idea what to wear. Sure, he had some Muggle clothes, mostly for incognito assignments in the Muggle world, and sure, they looked glorious on him, just like everything else, but his idea of a comfortable evening did not include so much fabric on him.

He smiled though and thought of those new robes on Harry, so clinging--defining.

Then he groaned and covered his face with his hands. He was not thinking about Harry Potter. What he'd said to Blaise was true: no damaged goods allowed. This was a new start, and he could not vary from the List. That list had gallant, gentlemanly and sweet, and that was not Harry Potter. Nix that, that was not how Harry Potter was to him. He was all of those things and plenty more to everyone but him.

But Blaise had had a good point, too.

"Just kiss him—just find an excuse and kiss him. Then you'll know if he's right for you or not."

Draco wasn't sure it worked that way, of course. Kissing had only ever led to the emphatic dismissal of a potential lover. It had never aided him in knowing that the man was right for him, only proved that he was wrong for him.

Draco tried to imagine what Blaise cheekily referred to as "True Love's First Kiss." The story books were never very technically detailed. The true loves kissed and then they just knew—then they normally got married the same night and left town immediately: preferably at sunset.

What would it feel like? Draco knew extensively what the opposite felt like: like a distinct turning off. As if lust had left him all hyped-up Muggle electric currents and then that kiss cut off the power. Would True Love's First Kiss be like a distinct turning on? Would it feel like electricity? Draco only had a dim grasp of the concept, but he imagined that would be like lightning. And in French wasn't love at first sight analogized to a bolt of lightning? Would this be the same, but a kiss instead of a look?

If the chance came about, he would try to kiss Harry—feign drunkenness or something. An Imperius? No, as an Auror (and a good one at that) Harry was bound to know what a true Imperius looked like. No use faking it.

Of course it was upon finding this out that Blaise insisted he join them at The Black Bird, so Draco had assume that Harry was going to be there, and that Blaise was going to try his Slytherin damndest to get them into just the situation where Draco would kiss the black-haired man. Draco didn't mind though—except that he was so very, very exhausted.

He was more worried what would happen when Harry turned out to not be The One. Should he take Blaise's advice to the next level and just go around kissing everyone, hoping for the bolt of lightning? What if it never came? What if this curse just didn't work that way? What if it really was a horrible curse that could only leave him cold in the onslaught of ardor and not the kind of curse that would actually be a blessing in the end?

And if Harry were The One—then what? Did that mean that Harry was The Only One? Did that mean Draco should just give in right then and there and marry the cold, moody man? Would the kiss make them fall in love, or just Draco? He didn't want to do it if there was the chance it would make him a slave to his love for Harry, but leave Harry unresponsive in its wake. He had to hope that this curses' final blessing wouldn't only be unrequited love. Didn't it have to be love on both ends to even be considered true love?

He just didn't know enough about the technicalities of his predicament to move forward with it.

Draco pulled his hair—just enough to relieve stress, not enough to damage his beauteously-maintained locks—and glared at his clock. Time to do or die.

He started getting dressed and thought about what being in love—true love—would feel like. It always looked so moony when Blaise and Daniel did it. Yet homey, he had to admit. The way they looked at each other, like there was no one else. Did it feel like being drunk? Did you lose all sense of yourself? Did you no longer care if people stared at your coupledom or did you genuinely not even notice? Was it like being blind or was it like being free?

Draco knew he didn't have much experience—none of his own and only smidgeons of role models'. Besides Blaise and Daniel, his parents were the only people he knew who had been in love. Yet these two cases were so different. His parents hadn't been very affectionate, after all. More affectionate towards him than they were towards each other, at least when he was in the room. But what were they like in private?

The only memory Draco had in this vein of thought was when he was very young, walking in on them late at night in the dining hall—they were dancing. There was no music, but they danced close together and in sync, swaying to something Draco couldn't hear. He had watched them dance and reveled in the way his father's arm cradled his mother—protectively, covetously, lovingly.

He thought of that night, of Harry's arm around his shoulders—amazing, both how important that night was and how little of it he remembered clearly. But he remembered his face pressed against Harry's throat, smelling of sweat and blood and soot. He remembered the weight of Harry's arm around his shoulders—heavy and reassuring and protecting.

He shook himself from his reverie and finished getting ready.

xxx

The club was busy but not packed. Made sense though—it was only Thursday night. He had to work in the morning, after all. Yet another reason he shouldn't have let Blaise talk him into coming. Blaise, whom he didn't even see. He stood on the landing at the top of the stairs next to the entrance and overlooked the bar and dance floor. No svelte black men draped over average-looking brunettes, that was for sure. Maybe they'd gotten lucky and snatched a booth.

Draco descended, cringing at wearing pants. He would never understand pants. Sure they looked great, but they were just so everywhere.

He set his brain to look for Blaise and ignore everyone else, and thus hone his search: the black man had not managed to get a booth, that was for sure. That left the VIP seating on the upper level and the bathrooms.

But then again maybe he was just early. Well…he was actually fifteen minutes late with all that remembering, but still—maybe he was early compared to Blaise and Daniel…

He'd have a drink at the bar someplace visible and then check the VIP section. If they were in the bathroom now (probably enjoying each other) they would hopefully be finished by time he moved upstairs.

"Draco," he heard in a gravelly voice. But when he turned it was only Kirk, and not Daniel or Blaise as he had hoped.

"Oh, hello," Draco said grudgingly. He supposed he was going to have to do this at some point, so he might as well do it here and not at the Ministry tomorrow morning.

But Kirk just stood there, clenching and unclenching his fists.

Draco would be worried, but the man was obviously drunk, and there were too many people around for the man to seriously injure him. Although they were all located outside this particular stairwell…He'd never actually been in a fist fight before—although Harry had punched him in the face that one time…But that hadn't killed him, and if Kirk decided to do the same he'd live—live to have the man arrested for assault.

Yet Kirk didn't seem sober enough to do anything but stand there and stare at him—couldn't even get a glower on that stoned face.

"Well, it's been lovely, but I really must be going now," Draco said, happy to avoid a discussion even if now would be the best time for it. It gave him hope that, like with Magden and Charles and Jonathan and many others, he would be able to slip out of this thing without having a talk about it at all.

But when he walked past, the immobile Kirk suddenly became very mobile.

He grabbed Draco's wrist quickly, and Draco realized how strong the blonde man was.

"Draco—leaving so soon?" he growled.

"Yes, I am," Draco said angrily, and went for his wand.

Kirk grabbed him before he could work his wand out of his pants pocket. Draco realized how very strong Kirk was.

The area was in shadow, no one from the dance floor only a few meters away was even glancing in their direction. Draco's breathing quickened tightly in his chest—Kirk pressed him against the wall with his body, pinning his wrists to his sides.

"Kirk, you're hurting me," Draco gasped, although the binds on his wrists were more uncomfortably too tight than painfully so.

"Oh, Draco," Kirk groaned, pushing against him even harder, his mouth moving over Draco's hair, his ear, his neck. Draco wanted to cringe away but could hardly move—he tried to push Kirk's face away with his head, but he knew it looked too much like nuzzling—felt horrified and wanted away even more. His breathing was too quick, he wasn't getting enough air; he was feeling light-headed. "I don't think we understand each other, Draco. You see, even you can't stop what it is we share. I mean to have you, Draco—even if it means burglary. Then you'll see, Draco. You'll feel how much I want you. You'll like it, Draco. I promise."

"Get off—off," Draco panted—not enough air. He squeezed his eyes shut. This was not happening, he was not here. He felt Kirk's mouth on his throat and struggled despite the feeling of disconnect between his brain and his limbs. The taller man quelled his insubordinance —Draco felt definitively his own powerlessness in the situation and reached all the harder for his wand, tried to push him away with his legs, shook his head hard, tried to get more air to launch a stronger assault.
"Ohhhh I like it when you squirm, Draco," Kirk murmured, but above that Draco could hear his own mental litany: This isn't happening. This isn't happening. This isn't happening.

And as if his mental will conquered the blonde, Draco could feel Kirk pull away from him harshly—he grabbed his wand automatically, clutched it desperately, opened his eyes and found his wand unnecessary. Kirk was sprawled on the ground howling in pain, but Draco only saw it for an instant before he was pulled away by a strong arm around his shoulders. He realized his ears were ringing—it was hard to hear even the heavy beat of the club music.

He was hit with a wave of cold and found himself outside, the arm still leading him along. His hands were cold, still clutching his wand, but his whole body felt cold.

He finally looked at his companion, and it was both surprising and expected.

"Does he know where you live?" Harry asked.

Draco could only nod. He tried to test out his voice.

"He tried—he was going to—" Draco croaked. So his voice mostly worked but his brain was still in a daze.

Feeling was coming back though. His legs felt wobbly—it was hard to walk—he leaned heavily against Harry.

"Yeah, you sure can pick 'em," Harry responded, and led him up a couple of stairs to an apartment building.

It was warm in the lobby.
"Do you want to take the lift or the stairs?"

"He wanted to…" his brain was slowly moving back to thought and the main thought in it now was panic. "Does he know where I am? Did he follow us?"

Harry rubbed Draco's back reassuringly.

"No stairs then. And no. For the record, I don't believe he followed us."

Draco felt too hot now—wanted something to fan himself with. His legs were burning and he moved to sit down, but Harry reached out again and held him up.

"Come on, the lift is here—you can sit down in my apartment."

"Your…apartment?" Draco said, taking deep breaths, trying to get more air. He still felt suffocated.

"You said he knows where you live. I thought…"

"I did?"

"Yes. He does know where you live, right?"

"Yes…yes…"

Harry brought him up to the fourth floor. Although Draco kept his eyes closed, he could feel Harry staring at him.

"Are you too hot?"

"I can't…breathe…"

Draco jumped when he felt hands at his throat, and sparks erupted from his wand tip, singing Harry's white dress shirt.

"I'm sorry," they both said.

"Maybe we should put that away. You can keep mine, too, if that makes you feel better," Harry said slowly, handing it to Draco. The blonde shook his head.

"I'd feel better if one of us…useful…"

The elevator dinged and the doors folded open. Draco didn't feel like walking but let Harry lead him on.

The apartment door open, his legs tried to collapse again, and Harry half-carried him to the couch, going back to shut the front door.

"Can I get you anything?" Harry asked awkwardly.

"Water…water please," Draco gasped.

The water was ice cold and helped immensely. Draco could feel his brain release its tight hold on panic, his breathing evened. He put some of the water on his brow and cheeks so his face didn't feel so very hot.

He finally realized where he was, and who he was with.

Harry sat in the comfy looking chair diagonal from him, running his fingers distractedly across his wand. Draco realized he was still holding his and set it down on the coffee table in front of him.

"How did you…How are you always in the right place at the right time, Potter?" Draco said, trying to sound playful, but his voice was still tense.

"Oh that's how rescuing people is: distress beacons just light up my radar and I'm there in a flash," Harry replied, but seeing Draco's confusion he amended his statement to "I was supposed to meet a friend at the bar. I couldn't find him so I was going to check the VIP sections. You looked…distressed."

Harry threw in a moody shrug for good measure.

"Thank you," Draco murmured, staring intently at the ice in his glass.

"Who…who was that, if you don't mind my asking?"

"Um…Kirk. Kirk Sarsgaard. I don't know if you know him. From…" Draco stopped when he realized Harry was chuckling.

Rubbing his eyes ruefully, shoulders shaking, the black-haired man said, "Wow. I'm sorry. Rescuing you from your own boyfriend. Although I suppose, looking at this from a silver-lining kind of way, it will get you an interesting jealous response. A good dose of playing hard to get."

Draco stared, shocked.

"He's not my boyfriend," he growled, setting his glass down before he broke it.

Harry nodded, smiling angrily. "No, of course not. You're obviously the type of guy who would balk at a set title. No strings attached, I get it."

"It's becoming very obvious that you don't get it," Draco said coldly.

Harry held up his hands apologetically.

"Sorry to intrude into your very public private life. I'll just open the fireplace and you can floo home to Kirk. You'll have to apologize for my overactive heroism and very painful Curse. Maybe next time keep your bedroom games in the bedroom."

Panic gripped Draco again, hard as he tried to turn it into rage. "I can't go back there—what if he's there?" he murmured, taking another long gulp of cold water.

"Of course, let him stew for a couple more hours," Harry said sourly. Draco glared hard, but the other man wasn't watching. "Well, where can you floo to?"

"I'll go to Blaise's. Thanks ever so much for the wild accusations and unsympathetic harassment—we simply have to do it again sometime." Draco got up, chest brimming over with acidic hatred. He started a fire in Potter's grate and started searching for the floo powder.

"Excuse me? What is that supposed to mean? What good comes from me playing your little game—so long as Sarsgaard believes it, that's all that's necessary isn't it? I can't say that I have much experience in this dramatic level of psychotic kink, but is it really necessary for me to play the part of the sympathetic stranger?"

"Shut the fuck up, Potter!" Draco snarled, tossing a pinch of the green powder into the fireplace before clamoring inside and growling "Zabini's apartment!"

He spun as was proper, but instead of stepping into Blaise's living room he hit a very firm wall and fell back into Harry's den. He would have certainly smashed either Harry's coffee table or his own ribs if the man hadn't caught him, but he fought ferociously from the loathsome grasp regardless.

"What the fuck is wrong with your fucking fireplace?" he shouted.

"Nothing—Zabini's is locked," Harry glared back.

"He only locks it when he's out, so I'll just wait till he's back," Draco pouted, throwing himself back onto the couch.

"Come on—Sarsgaard's got to be properly dragging himself across hot coals for your return by now, right? Throw the kid a bone and go back to your own place."

This was too much for Draco's short temper to handle. He exploded.

"Did that fucking scar muddle your meager brains? He tried to rape me you fucking idiot! You think I go around asking psychotic men to grope me against club walls?" he screamed.

"Well judging by Witch Weekly—yes! Precicely!"

"You of all people should know better than to believe everything you read in print!"

Harry looked extremely taken aback by this.

"Are…are you telling me that…that I shouldn't believe it? That over a hundred guys all decided to tell the same lie?" Harry questioned suspiciously.

Draco stared up at him in utter shock, trying to calculate in his mind.

"There's no way it was over a hundred guys!"

Harry looked smug again, and the heat in Draco's chest grew hotter. He was angry that Harry thought so little of him, but he was also humiliated and intensely hurt.

His throat felt tight and he could tell his eyes were starting to water, so he looked down just in case they went whole hog and started actually crying.

"I get it. You believe them. That's okay. I believed Rita Skeeter. We're even," Draco murmured, trying to talk past the lump in his throat. "But even believing them, how could you believe I deserved that? Deserved him touchi—" his voice nearly cracked and he decided that was all he was going to be able to say until he got himself under better control. He took deep breaths and managed to stifle the flinch that Harry's hand on his shoulder garnered.

"Look…I'm sorry. Of course, you're right. Even if it were over a hundred, of course you still have the right to say no. And no one should ever try to take that choice from you," Harry murmured, sounding properly chagrinned. Still, Draco's skin crawled as if he actually had slept with over a hundred men. So ridiculous. Where would he even find over a hundred gay wizards? Where did people get this stuff?

"Listen, you're obviously exhausted. I won't blame you if you still want to stay up waiting for Blaise to come home, but the least I can do is offer my bed." Draco was barely able to stop his body from jerking straight upright at these words, waiting for what was sure to come with someone as purely prudish as Harry Potter. "I'll take the couch." There it was, so his body could hurry up and calm down already.

"Thank you," Draco murmured. "I am tired. Although if you take my acquiescence as some sort of dastardly ploy to get you in the sack I will of course hex you into next week and then expend all my energies into getting you banned from the wizarding world solely so that I'll never have to look at your ridiculous face again."

"Deal," Harry chuckled. "And if you accept my offer of pajamas without suspecting me of any underhanded plots I will of course extend the same courtesy to you."

"Sounds better than sleeping in my boxers, at least," Draco agreed.

"So you wear boxers then?" Harry said in a dreamy tone, but when Draco looked up at him the boy was blinking in a panic. "Ha ha," the brunette offered.

Draco gave him a suspicious look but let it pass.

Harry's pajamas were nice—high end, but Draco still hated them. He hated wearing pajamas at all. He wished he weren't afraid of going back to his empty apartment alone tonight. He would make Kirk pay for making him fearful again. He hadn't been this paranoid since the war. Thinking of the war again, though, made him think of Harry.

Harry's room was nice. There was a simple full bed with heavy comforters, a small reading chaise, a desk, an armoire. It was well put together—not cluttered but not austere. There was a framed black and white poster of Hogwarts over the headboard that was strange but sweet. The rest of the decorations were equally nostalgic: framed photographs and memorabilia: a ticket to the Quidditch World Cup, Harry's old Hogwarts' acceptance letter.

It was comfortable and comforting, but still Draco couldn't sleep. He'd been in here for an hour and couldn't sleep. He blamed it on the pajama bottoms, tangling up his legs, but he half-acknowledged the real problem: Harry thought he was a slut.

Draco had never cared what anyone reading the various wizarding journals might think of him. Blaise and Daniel were his only real friends, and they both knew it wasn't true, so he had never cared about what anyone else might think. He had never thought about what Harry might think. Harry was always such a truthful person it was strange to think he might believe a lie. And for some strange reason, he now found out he did care. He wanted Harry to think well of him. If Harry thought he was catty or sneaky, or something that was true, he'd be fine with it. But to think badly of him for something he'd never even done—that was too much for Draco to bear. He'd never been met with such unfairness.

Draco set his jaw with grudging determination. There was no way to get around it. He would just have to tell Harry the truth. He'd rather the man think him a freak for something that was true than think of him as a filthy whore for over a hundred things that weren't true.

Decision made, Draco drifted easily to sleep.

X

Of course that didn't make it any easier to actually do it the next morning.

Harry didn't have work that morning, but he was still already up when Draco left his borrowed room, dressed again in his awkward Muggle gear.

"What can I get you for breakfast?" Harry asked uncomfortably.

"Just toast, please," Draco replied, equally ill at ease.

It was about a hundred times worse sitting at the small breakfast table with Harry across from him, searching for a way to broach the subject before his toast was done with and he had no other excuse to stay.

He finally decided that, with a Gryffindor at least, the direct approach was the best approach.

"Listen, Harry…about last night," he started, but couldn't even get that far.

"Hey, please, forget it. I was an arse. I stayed up about half the night beating myself up over it, and it would mean everything to me if you would fully Obliviate that memory out of the both of us."

"Harry, please, just listen…" Draco tried again, and this time Harry let him. "I've never told anyone this—besides Blaise—so if this goes any further than the three of us I'll have no problem AKing you." Draco watched Harry carefully to make sure he got it, and it seemed he did, so Draco continued. "Everything in those stupid tabloids is…is completely made up. And I know you're going to say that if that were the case I should have brought all those lousy slanderers straight to the courthouse, but, actually I thought that it was better people think I was a fun-loving playboy than the alternative. I guess I never really thought about what you would think, though, and that's where I went wrong. Because I do care what you think of me Harry. I want you to think well of me. And even though the truth is just about too embarrassing to bear, I'd rather you know the truth than believe a lie—a filthy, slutty lie, no less." Draco glanced up and was glad to see that Harry was taking this with all the fervor and interest that was his just reward for revealing such an awkward secret. "To tell the truth, the tabloids are about as wrong as they can possibly be," Draco continued, staring firmly at his hands beside his untouched toast so he wouldn't lose his nerve. "Actually, I've…I've never actually been with anybody," he finished in a barely audible murmur. He hazarded another glance to see if Harry had heard him, and based on the shocked look on the brunette's face, Draco had to assume he had. "Now before you say anything, I'd just like you to know that I certainly could have. There have been no lack of offers, believe you me, but it can only go to one person and I've just never found anybody I like enough to…do that with." Just because he was telling the truth didn't mean he had to tell the whole truth. He wasn't some Hufflepuff after all. "That doesn't make me some freak prude, though, okay? I mean, I'm not afraid of it, I'm just a miser. I'm not a freak."

"No," Harry said, voice soft. Draco jerked up, and was surprised to see Harry was smiling—but not cruelly, and not smugly, either. Just sort of…pleasantly surprised. "No, I don't think you're a freak. You're actually incredibly brave. You haven't let anyone rush you. You're holding out for that teenage feeling. I respect that. If I had been braver I would have liked to have done the same." Seeing Draco's confused response, Harry continued. "Like most people I let the norms pressure me into it. It was still nice, don't get me wrong, but a lot of the time I look back and wonder what it would have been like to have had my first time with someone I loved." Harry seemed to realize just how personal what he said truly was, and blushed hard.

"Like Malcolm Redding?" Draco probed curiously.

"Malcolm? That's who I'm talking about," Harry responded, slightly confused.

It was Draco's turn to be shocked. Malcolm Redding was Harry's first time. Harry didn't love Malcolm Redding. He had so much to tell Blaise.

Harry seemed to read that thought right off his face, because he said, "Hey, that doesn't leave this table."

"Fine," Draco mumbled. He swore to find a way around that promise.

He couldn't stop himself from smiling though. He felt…so strangely happy. Not even just happy. Exuberant. Absolutely euphoric. Today was going to be a great day despite the drama of last night. What a pleasant surprise.

"Well, hey, you probably have to get to work. But…well I'm glad we talked," Harry said jovially. Draco didn't think he'd seen him this happy in quite a while.

"So am I. We should do it again some time. Minus the near-rape, of course."

"Definitely," Harry laughed, and gallantly walked him to the door, even opening it for him.

Draco steeled himself. This would either make his day ten times better or crush the sunshine-feeling inside his chest, but it had to be done. It was do or die.

"Harry," he asked, he said in a low murmur, looking up at the slightly taller man through his eyelashes, leaning in closer. "I just wanted to thank you—so much—for last night. Is that okay?"

Harry's brain seemed to have completely shut off. For a virgin Draco sure was good as this whole seducing thing. He slid his hands onto Harry's firm shoulders and inched forward. The pounding in his chest was incredible—his heart had never tried this hard to get out of him before. But close as he was, Harry's breath warm on his face, he couldn't manage to push those last few centimeters forward.

He and Harry were finally on good terms, it seemed. If the Curse got him too, Draco wasn't sure their tenuous friendship would survive. Draco would have to continue his search with other boys, and Harry would probably go back to believing Draco was a slut: no prude attacked men in their doorways like this. But he wanted it so intensely…

Before Draco could come to a definite decision, Harry had grabbed him and pressed them together hard, lips crushing together, and then Draco's mind went blinding white, like burning magnesium.

It was an astounding feeling, an energetic charge shooting from his toes on up. It was a brilliant white-hot glow filling him up, clouding his thoughts and any thoughts he'd ever had. It was powerful and frightening and the most intensely pleasurable thing that had ever happened to him.

When the glow dissipated it felt like waking up—he felt at once completely energized and completely worn out. His entire body seemed to be trembling as if it were on the verge of exhausted collapse, but his mind felt incredibly alive.

He realized he was gripping Harry hard, arms clasped tightly around the man's shoulders, but he couldn't let go. At least he wasn't alone in this: Harry's hands were fisted in his hair and in the small of his back.

He had never looked someone in the eye this close up before, but he didn't feel awkward.

"You know, it's not absolutely imperative that I go to work today. I have a lot of sick days wracked up," he said, and his voice came out thin and panting.

Harry moved his hand from the back of his head, pressing the back of his hand gently to Draco's cheek.

"You do feel as if you might have a fever, so it doesn't count as lying," Harry agreed.

Draco couldn't help but beam, and Harry decided to join in too.

xxx

"So what do you want to do today?" Harry questioned after Draco had showered and changed into one of Harry's old school robes.

"First, I was thinking we could stop by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. I've got a certain blonde who needs a few Hit-Wizards sent after him. Olfus Buggs owes me a favor; I'm sure I won't mind spending it on this."

"What are you going to do to him?" Harry asked with great relish. Gryffindors were usually queasy when it came to misuse of the system for personal gain, but when you threw revenge into the mix they soon got over their aversion to inflicting pain. And Draco planned on inflicting a lot of pain.

"Oh, a few weeks of intense questioning. Of course he'll be brought to court and convicted—there's no question about that. Attempted rape, disarming a peaceable wizard, assault, resisting arrest (who gets to decide what's resisting, after all? Why not me?), libel, maybe some slander. He'll have to pay me some galleons for restitution and pain and suffering of course. Maybe a year or two in Azkaban, if I can swing it. And of course I'll get him blacklisted from every job he tries to get from here on in. Seems fair, don't you think?"

"More than fair. I'm just glad I got that Curse in before Azkaban got him. As it stands now I rescued, not assaulted."

"I do so love starting the morning out right," Draco said cheerfully as they flooed to the Ministry.

xxx

Their animated chatting refused to be interrupted by the dour atmosphere of the D of MLA, but it was effectively silenced by Blaise jumping nearly on top of Draco, shouting "You arse! I thought you were dead in some filthy Muggle ditch somewhere!"

"Blaise! What are you doing here?" Draco questioned, voice muffled by overeager arms. Harry took a step back and scratched his head awkwardly.

"I've been here all night, you louse! The Hit Squad has been looking for you! I got to the bar and everyone said you'd been attacked by that bastard, Kirk! Then you were nowhere to be found! They said you'd been taken away by some terrifying bloke!"

"Sorry, that would be me," Harry offered apologetically.

"You? How could they have failed to recognize you?"

"He looks a bit different when he's pissed off," Draco reminded.

"And with a hot blonde on my arm," Harry added, and neither of them could help but exchange goofy smiles over this.

Blaise crossed his arms over his chest very slowly.

"I get it. I get it now. You left me alone in the police station tearing my hair out over you so you could get some lousy bloke into the sack. You cretin—I've been on the verge of a heart attack all night because you were playing hanky panky with the Boy Who Lived?" Blaise screeched, his voice rising octave after octave.

"If anything, I prefer at least Man Who Lived at this point," Harry interrupted, and was met with the glaring wrath of Blaise Zabini. He grabbed Draco by the shoulders and moved the blonde between them.

"Listen, Blaise, I'm sorry. I tried to go to your apartment, but the Floo was locked," Draco said, trying to appease the scary man.

"My place!" Blaise exclaimed, slapping a hand over his face. "I've had Daniel at your place all night waiting for you. I didn't think of my place till after midnight last night. What kind of idiot only tries once?"

Harry helpfully pointed to Draco at this point. Draco responded by elbowing him in the ribcage.

"Well what are you doing here?"

"Waiting for the Hit-Squad to find your mangled body in a sewer pipe, you hateful jerk!"

"Where's Kirk? We just stopped by to start the process of making him pay dearly for his audacity."

"He's at St. Mungo's, in a coma."

"A coma? What happened?" Harry asked in a shock.

"He fell," Blaise said non-commitally, looking over his manicure. Draco and Harry exchanged frightened glances. "But I am just pleased as peaches that you two are getting along!" Blaise added, squeezing their shoulders sweetly. This was equally scary.

x

"So, I'm going to bed now. I've been up all night you know," Blaise chided after the three of them had exerted the brunt of their powers to insure that Buggs was going to do his worst against Kirk, with the help of Draco's best barrister.

"He is pr-etty scary. Sorry about that," Draco laughed as they left the Ministry.

"Don't worry. I grew up dealing with you, so Blaise doesn't affect me so very much," Harry responded, and to Draco's very great pleasure the other man slipped their hands together.

"So should I order new business cards? Draco Malfoy. Junior Financier. Boyfriend of the Man Who Lived."

"That sounds lovely. If I had business cards I would do the same," Harry answered, looking at him endearingly. Draco's chest fluttered embarrassingly, but Draco found he didn't mind it at all.

Creeper comatized; Curse broken; Man Who Lived properly seduced; today was certainly shaping up to be a very pleasant day.