Disclaimer: I don't own them. JKR does. Making no money. Bored of repeating this.

Warnings: Slash, sexual content, bad language.

Authors note: This can be read independently as a story by itself, or if you squint and look sideways this could be the prequel to Ask Again Later. I'm not promising it fits 100% though! Thanks go to the wonderful Phoenix Grayson for her support in getting this posted and also for her beta work, and also to Malfoy Unforgiven for the thoughts and encouragement at the start.

Enjoy :)

Off The Map

And I'm so far off the map the sun is shining...

My coffee is cold. And I don't care. It's the beginning of the end really.

Twelve months ago, if Draco Malfoy had been served cold coffee, he would have demanded fresh, shouted and scowled, made the owners of the café tremble behind their aprons because they should have known better than to fuck his order up.

But here I am, slumped (Merlin forbid) in a chair outside a small café in Diagon Alley, with a crappy cold cup of coffee that I don't have the heart to complain about. I cringe, imagining Blaise's voice in my head. Draco, you're a Malfoy. For Hecates sake, act like it.

Blaise can fuck off, I think somewhat petulantly. I sink a little further down in my chair and try not to think about the fact my robes are getting creased.

Something isn't right, and it's not just my moral conundrum over a cup of coffee that's telling me so. It's this whole lifestyle that is somehow making me feel uncomfortable and disorientated. Don't get me wrong; back in school I had played the Slytherin power games and loved it, but now the war is dead and over and I've got time to just stop and think for a moment…I'm starting to think I'm really not cut out for it.

Thoughts tantamount to blasphemy in the eyes of my social circle.

I sigh loudly, casting my eyes up away from the tabletop and then I freeze in my seat; walking up the centre of Diagon Alley towards me is a familiar figure. A very familiar figure with messy black hair and piercing green eyes, someone who could always succeed in turning all my thoughts upside-down. Today is no exception.

Potter spots me too and he nods, his right hand rising slightly in a small wave by his side as he walks. I nod in return, my heart thudding in my chest.

We're no longer enemies. Haven't been for over a year. He'd given me my wand back, I had said sorry (that memory made me hot under the collar even now) and we had shaken hands. But that's it, really. His lot and my lot don't mix, and that's just the way it is.

He draws level with me, and then is walking past and for some unfathomable reason I turn around in my chair, sitting up slightly.


I freeze all over again. Have I really just said that? He stops and turns to me, and I wince. Yes, apparently I have.

"Yeah?" he asks, stepping forwards towards me, expression neutral.

"How've you been?"

I curse myself for being such a fucking idiot, but he's almost smiling and – oh fuck no - sitting down in the chair opposite me.

"Why're you asking?" he asks, no hint of malice in his tone.

"I have no idea," I say weakly and he laughs softly. He's wearing tatty old jeans and a plain T-shirt and looks so damn comfortable in his own skin that I'm tempted to throttle him.

"This isn't a place I'd expect to see you," he says, gesturing around the café, his eyes still on me.

"And that's exactly why I'm here," I mutter, more to myself than him. "I'm sorry, Potter, I've really got no idea why I called you over. I'll plead temporary insanity. You're probably busy."

"I'm not," he says, and doesn't move. Silence falls between us but he doesn't seem to mind, he just sits there and watches me with careful eyes.

After a while he shifts, and pulls his wand out of his pocket. He taps the side of my coffee cup- it's suddenly roasting hot, tendrils of steam rising from the surface- and gives me a small wan smile.

"It'll taste better if it's not cold," he says and then he stands up. "I'll see you around, Malfoy." I nod dumbly and he leaves, not looking back.

I stare at his retreating form and then down at my coffee, and a small smile flickers across my face.

Two weeks later I receive an owl from Potter. I ignore it and send it away without taking the letter.

The next day the owl comes back. I send my own owl - Apollo - after it to chase it away. It works; Apollo is probably the scariest owl in the country and even though he's only young he's brave and doesn't back down.

Like Potter and his stupid fucking owl, apparently. Two days later, Apollo swoops back in the window with Potter's stupid bird in tow. He sits on my shoulder with a hoot, casual as you please.

"Traitor," I snap as he nibbles along my ear. Potter's owl shuffles up along the back of a chair in a manner that can only be described as sheepish, and I grudgingly feel a surge of respect mingled with exasperation. It did manage to get past Apollo after all. Brave, insistent, stubborn and reckless; the damn thing should be wearing glasses and have a fucking scar on its head.

I take the letter and the owl hoots happily.

"It doesn't mean anything," I say spitefully. "I have to take the post now you've got in, doesn't mean I'm going to read it- ow!"

Apollo bites my ear - hard - and I jerk away in shock and pain. He screeches and flaps away, cuffing my head with his wing on his journey over to where Potter's owl sits. They sit side by side, nestled together, watching me with unblinking eyes.

"You fucking turncoat!" I snap, one hand over my throbbing ear, glaring at Apollo. He hoots menacingly at me and I scowl, scarcely able to believe that my bloody owl is interfering in my personal life.

I take my hand away from my ear and am unsurprised to see crimson on my fingers. That fucking owl.

Unwilling to be bitten any further, I sit down and open the letter, cracking the wax seal with my thumb. I stare at it for at least twenty minutes before any of the words sink in.


I don't know why I'm writing to you really, but by sending my first letter back you've made me more determined to get one to you. I think I must have caught whatever you were on with when you called me over the other week in Diagon Alley. Temporary insanity, you know.

I just hope that you're OK. You seemed out of sorts when I saw you and for some reason I can't just leave it alone.

Hoping all is well,


It's so ridiculous that I laugh. Ridiculous, but almost exactly what I've come to expect from him. He does things without knowing why, just because he wants to. It takes me a while to realise the small twinge in my chest is jealousy.

Apollo flies back over and sits back on my other shoulder, nibbling at my hair with his beak.

"Are you going to bite me if I don't reply?"

He bobs up and down and gently nips at my uninjured ear. I take that as a warning.

"If you insist," I sigh, standing up to go and find a quill and some parchment.


You never could leave me alone, could you? I don't suppose that much has changed now we're pretending to be all grown up.

I'm fine. I hope you are too.


The reply comes the same day, rushed and eager. His handwriting is terrible.


Pretending is definitely the key word to that statement. I'm glad you're alright. I'm fine, too.




I don't even dare ask why you even care. And I would have penned the Saviour of the Wizarding world as being more than just 'fine.'


I hate to admit it, but my curiosity is sparked. My Mother used to reprimand me for an overabundance of inquisitiveness when I was younger; said it would get me into trouble. It did. When I was five I had heard raised voices coming from Father's study one day and had gone to investigate. I was hit with two hexes at once from both him and Snape and was unconscious for two days.

Mother was not best pleased with any of us and I remember it distinctly as the one time I felt a proper connection with my Father: just because we were both shit scared of her yelling.

Memories aside, I want to know why Potter is suddenly concerned about me. And why his life doesn't seem to be the giant bed of roses I always imagined it was.


I ask myself the same thing on a regular basis.

And I think that same thing as well.




Maybe we've got more in common than we thought.


Another week passes and I bump into him again, this time in Quality Quidditch. I'm inside staring at the newest model- the Blitzstrahl - which is beautiful and sinfully expensive.

"Nice isn't it," a voice murmurs at my elbow.

I know who it is and don't turn around despite the prickle that runs down my spine. I've been thinking about him a lot since our exchange of letters, and am disturbed to find that my thoughts about him aren't bitter or angry. I'm somewhat relieved to find it as such. I've grown up enough to appreciate that being enemies with someone takes more energy and effort than it's worth.

And he saved my life. I can't hate him any longer.

"Mmm," I agree, my eyes lingering over the silver letters embellished on the gleaming handle. I love this shop, always have. The smell of broom polish and dragon-hide flying gear, the excitement I get from seeing the new models…I can get lost in here staring at the wares and I do so willingly.

"Interested?" Potter asks. "They've only got ten in stock until next year."

"Maybe," I say vaguely, still staring at the broom. "I guess if I spend all my money on brooms then the Greengrass's won't try and make me marry their daughter."

"They're going to make you?"

Blinking, I realise what I've said. Shit. "Never mind," I say, turning to look at him. He's scruffy and biting his lip, a small frown on his forehead.

"Like an arranged marriage?" he continues and I hate the flare of pity in his eyes.

"I don't want to talk about it," I snap. It takes a considerable amount of effort not to add 'especially to you,' to the end of my sentence. Old habits die hard.

"Fair enough," he shrugs and there's a brief pause. "How about a drink and we can talk about Quidditch instead?"

I am surprised by the question and I know it clearly shows on my face. "Me and you? Drinking? Talking?" I ask sceptically and he grins ruefully, scratching his head.

"Well, yeah. I figured it can't be that bad- you know, with alcohol to help and on the premise that things between us can't really get any worse?"

I laugh. The sound startles me; I haven't had much cause to laugh at anything lately. Except at Pansy breaking the heel off of her shoe in the middle of Nott's last dinner party, and she hexed me for the trouble anyway. Bitch.

"I'd say we're doing a lot better than we did at school," I drawl, turning back to gaze at the broom some more. "Two whole conversations and not one insult. There must be something wrong with me."

"I'd call it a vast improvement," he nods seriously and then nudges me with his elbow. "Come on. If it's horrific you can leave and tell all your friends I'm still a complete shit."

Damn him. I'm smiling again, and I can't hold it back. "Alright," I agree and the idiot practically beams back. "One drink."

"You wouldn't be my friend! I was used to getting my own way!" I say and Potter laughs harder. He is on maybe his fifth or sixth pint and I've knocked back a fair few whiskeys and am feeling deliciously warm inside. We've moved on from Quidditch and are (probably stupidly) discussing our school years.

"Well I'm sorry," he says, his eyes twinkling. "That I upset you when we were eleven."

"You should be," I sniff, picking up my drink. "Left me psychologically unbalanced for the rest of my school years."

He's laughing again and I'm finding it hard not to laugh along. Drinking with Potter is so different from drinking with Blaise or Theo, or at any dinner parties or social evenings. Inexplicably and completely against any predictions or assumptions I may have formed prior to this, I find that with Potter I can kind of let go. I'm not worrying in the back of my mind that I'll get too drunk to remember my manners, or that I'll forget people's names, or use the wrong cutlery.

We are being a little careful; it would be obtuse not to be. No mention of Dumbledore, or the Astronomy tower, or the Dark Lord. We can laugh about the things we said and did to each other, but we can't talk about the rest of it. Not yet.

Despite this, I'm more relaxed here than I have been in weeks. I've already shucked my expensive outer robes, which is a relief, but my black shirt and tie ensemble is still a stark contrast to Potter's T-shirt and jeans.

"I am sorry you know," his tone is conversational but suddenly, somehow, he's serious. He picks up his glass, and then sets it straight back down. "I always wonder what it would be like now if I hadn't been such a shit to you."

Exasperated, I drain my own drink. "I can't believe you're apologising. I was way worse to you than you were to me."

"But I-" he swallows. "You never nearly killed me."

"Don't think I didn't try," I quip but he's not smiling.

"Did it scar?"

Sighing, I run my fingers through my hair, leaving it dishevelled, before reaching for my tie. His eyes widen as I pull it loose and undo the top three buttons of my shirt. I pull it aside to show him the tip of the faint white scar that runs across my chest. It's barely visible except for when the light touches it.

A trembling hand reaches lifts off the tabletop and I freeze; does he mean to touch it? Touch me? His eyes are wide, staring at my skin-

The hand reaches out and then diverts and picks up the pint glass again. I breathe out slowly and do up my shirt buttons. My head is spinning- I certainly hadn't been expecting the scar to get that much of a reaction.

"I-" he begins.

"Don't," I say quietly but firmly. "I am well and truly convinced that I deserved it, and think it's a fair exchange for what a cunt I was to you. I broke your nose for Christ's sake. Don't apologise or I'll end up with a moral dilemma, and I'll have to find some other way of making it up to you and I really can't be bothered."

A small smile crosses his face again. Oddly, I'm pleased.

"Sorry," he mumbles. "Alcohol," he adds as way of explanation.

I smile and nod. "Time to go home then maybe? I'm sure someone's waiting for you and I'd hate to get the blame for keeping you away. My reputation is bad enough already."

He eyes me sharply but doesn't argue. He drains his pint and stands up, belching loudly. I carefully do my tie up and pull my robes back on before leaving the pub.

Harry walks me home. Stupid Gryffindor. I've my own place in London- as much as I love my Mother, living with her can be a challenge. I swear the woman has made it her own personal crusade to drive me up the wall before I'm thirty.

He looks up at my townhouse, curious. "No manor?" he asks.

"Might as well be for what it cost me," I sigh.

"I live not far from here," he says out of nowhere. I'm not sure what to say in response, so I keep quiet. He looks at me sideways, and I have the mad urge to tell him that the reason I don't want to marry Astoria Greengrass is because I much prefer cock to anything a woman can offer, but I stay silent.

For some stupid reason I like this odd truce we seem to be building. Like it too much to fuck it up by letting that bit of information loose. Reactions to me admitting I'm gay have ranged from shock, disgust, anger, acceptance, and even deadpan stares that quite clearly state 'like I didn't know that already.'

Getting to know Harry…is like a breath of fresh air. Being away from my world for a while feels great. It's just what I need right now - a break. Fate be damned that it's Harry bloody Potter giving me the break I so desperately need.

Finally making friends with him is also a bit like putting the past to rest; I can finally put a seal of that negative part of my life and move on. I'll still call him names, mind, but the hatred is gone.

Clearing his throat, he looks at me somewhat nervously. "Well. It's been…"

"Yeah," I nod, understanding. I smile weakly and he returns it, holding out his hand.

I take it and we shake hands for only the second time in our lives. I have a feeling it wont be the last.

"Really Draco. You should have known there'd be photographers about-"

I scowl at my Mother who is looking at me reproachfully. A week old copy of the Daily Prophet is open on the table in between us; a grainy photo of me and Harry sat side by side in the Leaky is the page three spread. 'Potter and Malfoy call time on feud'is the tagline. The article is surprisingly nice, for once. The writer is obviously still riding the post-war love train, and is thrilled to bits that two former enemies have 'made positive steps towards mending the bridges between the different social spheres of our world'.

"It was just a drink," I say and she frowns.

"But why?"

"I don't know alright," I snap. "I bumped into him in Quality Quidditch and he asked me. I was fed up and had nothing better to do."

"Fed up?"

My Mother knows me too well.

"Yes," I continue a little bitterly, "Fed up of not being able to relax, of all these rules,of having to watch myself all the time. Being with him was so good, you have no idea. Just to be able to talk and drink and not worry that I'd picked up the wrong drink at the wrong time or that I'd offended the second archduke of Worcester or some shite."

She sniggers and tries to hide it in her teacup. She straightens up and looks at me, trying to be serious. "Draco, you have a duty to the Malfoy name. You know what the Greengrass's are thinking with regards to you. And if you turn down their proposal you probably won't be able to keep your position in their firm."

"I know," I say unhappily. "I just…don't know what I want."

"Well, I want you to be happy."

Her comment catches me off guard and I look up at her. She's smiling, sadly.

"I mean it. Be happy," she sighs and looks at the paper. The photographic versions of Harry and I laugh together, oblivious that we're being watched. "And if drinking in the Leaky Cauldron with Harry Potter makes you happy, then bugger to all and do it."

At times like this that I realise just how much I love my Mother.

"Thank you," I say quietly.

She waves a dismissive hand at me. "It's fine. Anyway, you really never were cut out for this high society lark, were you?"

I laugh and she smiles mischievously back. "No. I really don't think I am."

My mother's cryptic blessing fills me with an energy I don't know I've missed until it's back. I still have no idea what I'm doing but it's just so good to know that no matter where I end up, she'll be happy for me.

Madness strikes and I owl Potter. Just a quick thank you note for the drinks - a week late but it's better than nothing - and a thank you for the time he gave me. I admit that I had fun, and that it was nice to be able to relax and get out of the elite for a while. Apollo eyes me suspiciously as I tie the note to one of his feet and I can't blame him. I think I've gone insane, too.

I've kept the snapshot from the Daily Prophet. I stare at it hungrily, scarcely able to believe that I didn't notice someone taking pictures of me. It's strangely liberating.

My friends aren't happy. Pansy calls me an idiot for not checking for photographers, but also says that Potter and I look hot - her word not mine - together. That girl is a bloody liability.

Blaise calls me far worse than an idiot. He sharply reminds me that I should be spending time with the girl I am meant to marry, not another man and definitely not Harry fucking Potter.

He's always had issues with me spending time with other men. Pretends he doesn't, but I can tell by the way he refuses to talk about it, and the stupid jargon he uses - Your acquaintances. Your inclinations. You being somewhat different. When I point out that I'm not about to start shagging Potter in the toilets of the Leaky in full view of Prophet photographers, he glares daggers at me but thankfully changes tactics. He reminds me that Potter is so far removed from high society he's practically the enemy, and adds in a somewhat threatening tone that the incident is only one kiss away from being a full blown scandal.

He has a point, I suppose. Prick.

Theo - quiet little Theo - actually shouts at me for it. He still blames Potter and the Order for what happened to his father. I don't like to point out that his Father and mine ended up where they are - Azkaban and dead - because of their own stupid mistakes.

I care that they're mad at me, of course - they're still my friends after all - but I find that I don't care enough to regret it. This thing with Potter, whatever it is, is my own personal little rebellion against my world and it helps me sail through a formal evening at Blaise's house a few nights later. Keeping the knowledge of my further communiqués with Potter to myself as a little talisman in my chest, allows me to nod and agree with Blaise when he starts ranting about politics, and smile in Madam Greengrass's face when she sidles up to me to drop hints about how beautiful Astoria looks.

It's something I've got that they can't touch. They can't control it, and it's wonderful to know that I'm doing something considered socially unacceptable, something that would make them all gasp and drop their wineglasses if they knew.

My little secret - combined with Pansy's whispered dialogue about how fat Daphne Greengrass has got - allow me to get through the night with ease. And when I get home, there isn't the usual desire to smash everything around me, to lash out and create some chaos in an otherwise ordered world. My ornaments and books are grateful, I'm sure.

Apollo is waiting with a reply when I get home. I open the scroll of parchment eagerly and then mentally shake myself. For god's sake, I'm acting like I'm fifteen all over again.


You're welcome. I can say I'm as bewildered as you because I had fun too. I mean it. You're not so bad you know. I quite like your sense of humour when it's not directed into making fun of me.

I'm going shopping in London on Friday and want to know if you'll join me? Consider it another little break away if you wish.


I have a function to go to with Blaise next Friday, but that doesn't stop me immediately owling back a yes to Potter. I've gone mad.

Still mad, I end up outside his house at nine O'clock sharp on Friday morning but I dither on the doorstep, too nervous to actually knock. Even this early in the morning the sun is bright and warm and I'm uncomfortable. I contemplate running away but before the thought is even properly processed he flings the door open to find me stood there on his doorstep.

Twat. Now I feel stupid.

"Morning," he nods, and then pauses, looking me up and down. "You're not going out in that."

"What?" I frown. He's wearing a T-shirt and cut off khaki shorts which I admit, look ridiculous but are better suited to the weather than my shirt, tie and trousers are.

"It's too warm," he states, stepping back in a gesture for me to come inside. I'm in Harry Potter's house. I feel a mad urge to laugh.

Raising an eyebrow, I stare back at him. "I don't exactly own casual clothes, Potter. I mean, I wouldn't exactly want to dress like you."

Grinning, he shuts the door behind us. I immediately feel wary; that smile is a little too calculating to be trustworthy. I'd heard a rumour that the Sorting Hat tried to put Potter in Slytherin, but I didn't believe it until now.

"Oh really?" he grins, a challenge sparking in his eye.

Oh fucking twat. This can't be good.

Half an hour, several bribes, two arguments, and one stinging hex later, I am wearing Harry Potter's clothes. Hysterical, I know. Knee length grey shorts, a black polo shirt and a pair of black canvas lace-up plimsolls. I can practically hear Father crawling his way out of his grave to come and throttle me.

Harry seems thrilled at my attire. He coaxes me out of the bathroom and looks me up and down with a smile. "Suits you," he says and passes me a pair of sunglasses.

I feel like a twat.

"I feel like a twat."

Genuine surprise flickers over his face at my announcement and it's all I can do not to call him a moron. "Really? You look comfortable."

"You're a bastard," I huff, putting the sunglasses on.

"Takes one to know one," he replies dryly and gives me a push towards the stairs. "Go on, you posh twat. No-one we know is going to see you."

Sometimes, I still really do hate him.

Two hours later and Potter is forgiven. We're lazily wandering down a street with shopping bags in hand, and I'm carrying a cardboard cup with a plastic lid that's full of some delicious fizzy drink. I'm chewing on the straw as we walk and every so often I stop myself, then remember I'm with Potter so chewing on straws is alright, if only for today.

I spend a fair while wondering how the hell I've ended up here, but then Harry grins at me, elbows me in the side and tells me to stop over-thinking. I glare and am about to shout at him when I realise he's right; hanging out with him is good because I don't have to think about everything. I can just do and be.

"So. Astoria Greengrass," he suddenly changes subject without warning or preamble. Nothing like Gryffindor subtlety.

"Yes," I say. "I work for her Father. He wants me to marry her."

"And you don't want to?" He asks.

"I don't want to so much I've resorted to avoiding all of my friends and hanging out with my former childhood nemesis," I drawl and he chuckles.

"Things must be bad, eh?"

"Why are we doing this, Potter?" I stop outside a shop, looking blankly in through the glass window. Muggles bustle past, not even giving us a second glance.

"I don't know," he replies, standing next to me and also feigning interest in the window display. "But I know I like hanging out with you, so I'm not going to second-guess it."

"We hate each other."

"No we don't," he says, looking at me. He reached out and takes the drink from my hand and sips through the straw, despite the fact I've chewed it into a mangled plastic shape that is proving tricky to drink through.

"That's disgusting," I say and he shrugs.

"Sorry. I forget you pure-blood lot have certain rules-"

Snatching my drink back, I snap, "It's not rules, it's manners."

He looks at me long and hard and then turns away. I curse and follow, unsure of why I'm doing so. "Potter," I jog to catch up with him and take hold of his elbow. "Sorry."

He looks down at my hand and I let him go quickly.

"It's alright," he says and I know he means it. "I just forget you come from a different-" he gestures vaguely with his hand, looking for a word, "-different kind of world to me. Especially when you're like this, acting all normal."

I want to point out that this is so far from normal for me I'm probably about to burst into flame from the oddness of it all, but I don't. I sense it's not worth antagonising Potter right now so instead, I try to talk.

"I don't…I'm not sure I like that world much anymore."

"Really?" he wanders towards a fountain, a large square pool with a small bubbling dome in the centre. He sits on the stone edge and I follow suit.

"Yes," I say. I can't believe I'm actually saying this, and to Potter no less. "You know what I do every time I get home after an evening out, or a dinner party?"

He looks intrigued.

"I smash something," I tell him. "I get in, take off my robes and break something. Just because I've had to spend the whole evening playing a part that really doesn't feel right. It's suffocating."

"I know what you mean," he says. I want to be sceptical but I wait it out. "After the war, there were a lot of expectations for me to do certain things, and most of them I didn't want to. I could get away with saying no though, I'm lucky." He pauses and I sense there is more to be said.

"The Weasley's…" he begins, shifting where he sits. His knee knocks against mine. "They all expected me to marry Ginny and I had to let them down. That was hard. I dragged it out for as long as possible, convincing myself it was the right thing to do."

"But it wasn't?" I ask. I want to know why he didn't marry the Weaselette but try and put a lid on my curiosity. I'll only be able to stay quiet for so long; it's like trying to plug a volcano.

"Not at all," he says. "So I didn't. I eventually said no."

"I can't just say no," I remind him.

"I know," he says with a small, sad smile. "Like I said, I was lucky."

He leans back and trails his fingers though the water. I've a mad urge to jump in the fountain. I bet he'd do it with me if I asked.

"I can't believe I'm telling you all this," he muses, leaning further and further, one leg sticking out for balance, so his fingertips touch the blue tiles on the bottom of the fountain.

I reach out unconsciously and put my hand on his leg to stop him overbalancing. His skin is warm underneath my hand, his leg hair dark and smooth.

"Of all the people in the world that sort of understand…it's you," he says thoughtfully with a short laugh that's filled with wonder. He walks his fingertips across the tiles. "Water's warm," he adds, pulling his hand out and sitting back, his leg touching the floor once more.

Staring at the rippling water, I smile. "You ever get the urge to jump in?"

He grins at me. "Every damn day."

"Apollo! Fancy a few flights?" I run up to the attic which Apollo has taken up as his residence. It's full of furniture and odds and ends that I frankly can't be bothered to find a home for - Mother would be shocked if she knew.

He's sat on top of an old dusty wardrobe and cracks open a large amber eye, before spreading his wings with an imperious hoot. It's his way of saying of course I can.

I give him a few extra treats before he goes. Since I went shopping with Potter we've been owling back and forth nearly every day, sometimes more than once. Apollo must be knackered - I've not received or sent this much post in weeks.

Apollo leaves and almost immediately another owl swoops in, narrowly missing him as they pass. I recognise the bird and sigh, not wanting the letter that is attached to its leg. However, I've learnt my lesson about refusing to take post from owls so I take the missive with a bad grace.


That's two dinners running that you've missed, what are you playing at? If you're not careful Pierre Loubelle is going to usurp your seat and you'll have to sit next to Nott at the next party- he's still mad at you for the whole 'Potter isn't so bad' comment.

Thursday- cards night- BE THERE. I'm running around in circles trying to keep you at the top here and it'd be nice for you to make some effort in return.

And go and see Astoria- apparently Lady Greengrass is not happy that you haven't.


I stare at the letter and then crumple it into a ball, throwing it behind me. "Fuck off," I snap at Blaise's owl and it obediently takes off out the window. That note has put me in a foul mood now; I honestly forget that I'm meant to be with Blaise and the others when I'm thinking about Potter, and the owl has bought me back to earth with a painful and unwelcome bump.

Ten minutes later and I've called in sick for work for the next day and started drinking myself into a stupor. It's an old game but one that works well.

Sprawled on my back on the floor next to the sofa in my sitting room several hours and a bottle later, I stare up at the slowly revolving ceiling and wish things were simple. I wish I was straight and cared about the society games so I could just marry Astoria and be done with it.

Every sodding time I make my mind up to go see her, however, a face pops into my head. A messy haired, bespectacled face that's grinning at me as he nearly falls in a fountain, smiling as he see's me dressed in his clothes, looking earnestly at me as we discuss Quidditch over drinks in the Leaky.

I might just stay drunk and daydreaming about Potter for the rest of my sad lonely life.

A soft clicking noise makes me frown and then I realise it's Apollo, waddling inelegantly across the floor towards me, his talons making the tap tap tapping noise on the wood.

"Apollo!" I raise my glass in a toast to him. "My dearest friend and delivery bird. My little secret keeper. How was your trip to Potter's?"

With supreme effort I roll over and hold my hand out. It takes a while due to lack of co-ordination, but I manage to get the letter off of him. I'm smiling like an idiot as I break the seal and slowly unfold it. Every time I get a letter from Potter I feel both excited and nervous in a way I haven't in a long time.

Squinting until the words come into focus, I stay lying on my front with my chin on the rug.


You're so wrong about the Kestrels being odd's on favourites- their goalkeeper is shite even if the rest of them aren't. They'll be flattened by the Harpies just on goal difference.

And for your information I have read Hardman's latest novel- and I thought it was shit! Literary symmetry my arse. It gets half way through and then repeats itself all over again-pointless.

You'll probably be rather entertained to know that Apollo bit Ron- everyone is getting rather intrigued about who I keep writing to so he tried to snatch one of the letters. You must be rubbing off on me because I found it hysterical.

I'm hoping that story will put you in a good enough mood to say yes to my next request- on Thursday we're playing a muck around five aside Quidditch game and we're a player short. Hermione suggested that I invite my mystery correspondent and I sort of agreed to it.

So will you please consider saving my arse and come on Thursday?


Choking slightly, I roll onto my back laughing unstoppably at the sentence 'you must be rubbing off on me.' My whiskey addled brain finds that disproportionally amusing and it takes me a good few minutes to calm down enough to make sense of the rest of the letter.

Rubbing off on Potter is admittedly not too bad a prospect. I can easily imagine his weight on top of me, pinning me to a bed, his mouth on mine and his hips thrusting up against-

Hang on - I banish my severely inappropriate thoughts and try to focus again. He wants me to go and hang out with his friends? He wants me to go and play Quidditch with them?

Things are getting confusing. This isn't just friendly chatter, this is something more. The boundaries in my mind between enemy, friend and lover have become dangerously blurred and I'm not sure where Harry should fit anymore. I think it's all three.

I think maybe I'm fucked.

"Apollo- fetch me a quill," I slur. "And some ink."

I look expectantly over to where he is now sitting on the arm on the sofa, looking at me with clear disdain. He doesn't move.

"Oh, bollocks to you then."

Crawling is all I can manage but it'll have to do; I make it to the sideboard and reach up, grabbing a quill and ink. I wonder if I'm going to be able to write, considering the apparent lack of communication between my head and limbs. I'm going to fucking try anyway.


I should not be writing to you whilst pissed. My handwriting looks like yours

YES yes yes. Quidditch on Thursday will be the good. Come fetch me when you want me on my broom

Tell Weasel it serves him right for trying to steal post, especially post between me and you.

Yours, Draco

I awake the next morning on the sofa with all my bones aching, my head pounding and a note clutched in my fist.


I'll hold you to it even if you are pissed. Thank you, I'll make it up to you I promise. I'll see you Thursday.

Yours, Harry.

Bollocks fuck and twat. I'm meant to be at Blaise's on Thursday. And if I don't go, he will be furious, Pansy will whine, Mother will tut and everyone else will talk about me behind my back.

I hatebeing spoken about behind my back. Unless it's in a positive light and I'm certain it won't be if I skive yet another social gathering.

Going to Harry's on Thursday means I get to avoid the whispers of my crowd. Although I'll have to face up to the Weasley's and I can't imagine receiving a warm welcome from any of them even if Harry has invited me. What would I rather have? An up front showdown with the Weasley's, or endure the discreet whispers of my so called friends who are less than impressed with my behaviour as of late?

If I go with Harry on Thursday, I get to see him and play Quidditch.

I think I might be a teensy bit out of my depth here.

"You're fucking kidding me, right?"

Ron Weasley says what everyone is thinking with all his usual grace and eloquence. It's him, Harry, two Weasley brothers, a girlfriend of one of the brothers, an ex-Gryffindor I recognise as Jordan, the Weaselette, Finnegan and Thomas.

And me.

I'm half expecting them to chase me away with torches and pitchforks. Or at least the beaters bat that one of the Weasley brothers has in his hand.

"Nope," Harry says, a stubborn tilt to his chin. "You guys said to bring who I'd been writing to. Here he is."

"Malfoy," Finnegan says uncertainly. "You've been writing to Malfoy."

"Yep," Harry says. Behind the gang of players stands Granger, Longbottom and Lovegood. Granger looks worried. Longbottom looks gobsmacked. Lovegood is looking at the clouds.

"Not a chance," one of the Weasley's butts in. The remaining twin.


"No! Fuck that right off! No!"

Shouts erupt from several people as the argument escalates. The assembled Weasley's are adamant they want me nowhere near them. Finnegan and Granger are half-heartedly trying to support Harry, who is looking furious.

Retreating away from the group who continue to argue, I sit down heavily on a bench at the side of the pitch, against the small brick building that houses the changing rooms. I drop my broom and put my head in my hands, leaning my elbows on my knees.

Christ. Even Blaise's thinly veiled insults and Astoria's simpering smiles would have been better than this. What was I thinking? This isn't my world- my world is currently playing cards in a smoke filled room somewhere and slipping away from me with every thought I have about Potter.

I curse said thoughts about Potter. They've become increasingly confusing as of late but I've tried my best not to think about it too much. I can't think about it too much.


I jump a mile as Potter sits down on the bench next to me, leaning back against the wall of the changing room and stretching his feet out in front of him, crossing one ankle over the other.

"What're you doing?" I look up.

"I'm not playing until they let you play," he shrugs. "They can play four aside if they want and we'll go get pissed instead."

"Potter…" I look at him helplessly and wish I could get mad at him.

"I know, insane, bad idea, we hate each other, blah blah blah," he says dismissively with a wave of his hand.

I scowl at him. "You're an idiot."

He nudges my knee with his. "Yeah, an idiot who for some reason is upset that my friends don't want you to play Quidditch with us."

He smiles weakly at me and my stomach clenches. Friends friends friendsI chant over and over in my head but it's not working. I opened a doorway somewhere when I was drunk and now it won't fucking shut again.

I am now well aware that I fancy the pants off of Harry fucking Potter.

It's all I can do not to cry.

Trust me to fucking fall arse over tit for my relentlessly heterosexual ex-nemesis. Well done Draco. Father will be turning in his grave, again.

"Chin up," Harry says softly. "It'll be alright."

I manage a short laugh that sounds a bit like a hiccup and I smile at him. He smiles lopsidedly back and then his gaze slides up to something behind me, the smile disappearing. I turn to see Weasley who is looking resigned and still a little put out.

"Alright," he bites out. "We'll take your word for it."

Harry grins and jumps to his feet, clapping Ron on the shoulder. "Thank you," he beams, and bounds off to the others who are waiting to start.

"I can play?" I ask cautiously, picking up my broom.

Weasley stares at me long and hard. "Yes. You can play," he says finally. I bite back a twinge of annoyance and an insult; since when did what I do depend on a Weasley's permission?

But at the end of the day I know that this is important to Potter, which means I'll do it.

Merlin, I'm pathetic.

A hand catches me in the chest to stop me as I make to step after Potter towards the others. I raise an eyebrow at Weasley and he flushes, snatching his hand away from me.

"Just-" he begins, pointing at me. He glances around and lowers his voice. "If you hurt him, I'm going to hex your balls off."

"Eh?" Not my most eloquent, but I think it conveys nicely just how bewildered I am.

"You heard," Weasley says, the threat clear in his voice.

He marches away and I stand still for a moment, frowning. What the hell is that all about?

"Malfoy! Get your arse over here if you're playing!" That's Finnegan shouting at me in his thick Irish accent and I start, walking quickly over to them.

Much to my surprise, he holds his hand out as I reach him. "I've ignored Harry's judgment before and I ain't gonna be doin' it again," he says. "If you's alright by him, you's alright by me."

I nod and shake his hand.

"The same goes for me," a quiet voice says as the players all wander to the middle of the pitch they've rented. I turn to see Hermione Granger looking at me. "Harry says you've changed and I'd like to believe him after everything we went through."

"Honestly, so would I," I say and she almost smiles.

"Go and play then," she says with a sigh, pausing for a moment. "It goes without staying that your wand stays away," she adds, her tone hinting towards stern.

I scowl and open my mouth indignantly but she gives me a look and carries on talking, speaking over me. "However - I've told them if they do anything out of line when you're playing, I won't be stopping you if you decide to hex them."

I shut my mouth and manage a smirk, looking up and cast my eyes over the assembled players who are being split up into two teams, laughing and joking all the while. "I'll behave if they behave."

"Could have done with that line of thinking when you were twelve, Malfoy."

I glare at her but then realise she's teasing me, a mischievous look on her face. "Oh go away," I snap somewhat petulantly and she laughs.

Something has gone very wrong in the world for Hermione Granger to be teasing me and not receiving a curse in retaliation. I suddenly remember what my Mother said to me after the newspaper article about me and Harry. "And if drinking in the Leaky Cauldron with Harry Potter makes you happy, then bugger to all and do it."

I guess playing Quidditch and hanging round with Muggle-borns counts too, right?

Blaise is going to shit a Hippogriff when he finds out.

After the game we end up in the pub. I don't want to go, but Harry pleads and threatens in turn. I don't want to suffer the indignity of being carried into the building over his shoulder like he promises to do if I make a fuss, so I follow him in with a bad grace.

I end up sat in-between him and Granger, which isn't too bad. I'm perfectly content to listen to the banter and conversation around me, sipping my drink and replying to Potter when he inevitably turns to repeatedly ask if I'm alright.

"I'm fine you prat, shut up," I answer sharply after his fourth enquiry. He grins sheepishly but before he can reply-

"Hey, he's being nice to you," Ron snaps. "The least you could do is act grateful."

The table goes quiet, tense. Eyes are flickering between Ron, Harry, and myself and I feel my face heating up. Christ, what I wouldn't give for some of my Fathers composure right now. I never really got the hang of it though - and around Potter this weakness always becomes ten times more pronounced.

"Ron," Hermione says gently, trying to placate him but he ignores her, red in the face and voice rising in anger.

"No, I'll put up with him but I'm not going to let him sit there and be a cunt to you," Ron says angrily.

I want to point out that Harry calls me names as often as I call him them, but keep my mouth shut, taking a swallow of my drink instead. My hands are shaking and I don't like it. I really don't want to be the cause of a fight right now, and I definitely don't want to be involved with one, especially one I'm outnumbered in. I'm still not entirely used to being in confrontation without Crabbe and Goyle standing either side of me.

"Ron it's fine," Harry says levelly. "He didn't mean anything by it, it's just the way we talk-"

"You've been nothing but nice to him and he's still-"

"Ron," Harry says in warning, his voice low. "Shut up. You don't know anything about us-"

Anger and exasperation lace Weasley's tone. "Yeah, because you didn't tell us about it! It doesn't give him a free pass to be a twat just because you fancy him!"

"Ron!" That's Granger, sounding shocked. The Weaselette is saying something but no-one is paying any attention.

"Well so what if I do?" Harry snaps back defiantly and I choke on my mouthful of drink. All the voices stop abruptly - it's like someone is casting fucking silencing charms over the table the way that keeps happening.

I look up through watering eyes to see that Harry is glaring at Ron, who is returning it with equal force. "It's not your say." Harry says tightly.

"Harry?" That's the Weaselette, sounding uncertain and hurt. Christ, now I know why he didn't want to marry her.

Finnegan and Charlie are staring at me and I blanch. Shit. I quickly stand up, my leg bumping the table and sloshing several drinks.


"I'm fine," I say, my voice uneven. "Bathroom-"

I bolt away from the table, hearing the raised voices that flare up the moment I leave. In my haste to get to an exit I bump into a man who is turning from the bar; his pint slops over his wrist and he swears. I hastily mumble an apology and continue, spotting the door that leads out to the patio and smoking area.

It's empty and I sink down onto a bench, my head spinning. That blows my previous estimation of Potter's sexuality straight to hell.

That blows my previous estimation of Potter's opinion of mestraight to hell.

Now what the fuck do I do? Before, I could entertain romantic notions of unrequited lust and allow myself to admit that I fancied Potter because he wouldn't fancy me back and that meant nothing would come of it.

Knowing he does - it slams the whole scenario into pinpoint focus and I realise what a dangerous game I'm playing. Before, leaving my world seemed appealing but it was just a dream, a fantasy, built up on what I thought was a one way crush.

It's suddenly a real possibility.

Could I do it? Leave everything behind and pursue Harry? No, what am I thinking- I've only really known him for weeks, all his friends hate me, he's my ex-enemy, I nearly got him killed for fucks sake.

I'm scared. I hate the feeling, and I hate admitting that I'm scared. I've been called a coward countless times by nearly everyone I've ever come across, and it still makes a hot embarrassed flush rise in my neck. When I was younger that hot prickly feeling would make me lash out, but now it just makes me feel miserable and a bit pathetic.

I don't want Potter to think I'm a coward anymore. I don't want my friends to be annoyed at me. I don't want to be pushed around like a pawn in society games. But whilst I'm being very adamant about what I don't want, I don't have a bloody clue what I do want.


Granger comes out with a glass of water in her hand, her appearance thankfully ending the thoughts that are racing through my head without conclusion. She sits next to me and passes it over; I take it without argument.

"Running away isn't the best option you know."

I'm suddenly feeling too bloody knackered to argue, or even come up with a scathing retort.

"I'm still here, aren't I," I say quietly. "I just didn't want to be dragged into a fight. They can shout it out without my sarcastic comments well enough."

"You have changed," she says and the wonder is clear in her voice.

"So everyone tells me," I say. "I'm still pretty much a complete prick though, don't get your hopes up too much."

"It's not my hopes that matter," she replies. There's a pause. I can hear the voices from inside, still raised in argument.

"I didn't know," I say after a while. "That he - you know."

"Well now you do," she says. "He does you know. Like you. I could tell when he admitted it was you he was writing to. He told me yesterday, all of it. Slipped his mind to inform us that you'd be turning up today, though."

"It doesn't matter." I say sullenly.

"Of course it does-" she flares up and I'm reminded of her at school, all bristling hair and indignation.

"No, it doesn't. Potter-"


"-Potter is from a completely different world to me. Quidditch games and banter in the pub. My world is formal dinners and power plays and money-"

"Could you not compartmentalise everything in your life for once?" she asks sharply. "It's not always black and white like that."

My voice rises. "For me it is! With my friends, if you're in, you're in. There's no half measures. They're all either currently gunning for me or talking about me behind my back because I've missed a few lousy dinner parties to hang out with Potter instead. And Potter doesn't get it, I can't be with him and then do the whole social scene too, it just doesn't fit! I'm meant to be marrying Astoria Greengrass for fucks sake. I can't do that and be with him as well."

"With him?" She asks delicately, her voice hushed.

"Oh shut up," I groan at how I've let that slip my mouth, and even worse, that she's picked up on it. "You sound like my Mother."

She doesn't snap back at me and I'm grudgingly grateful. My hands are still trembling and I wish they weren't. I never realised what a fine line I had been treading until now, and I will now admit without fuss that it's scaring the hell out of me.

It's like trying to decide whether to jump off a cliff or not.

"There's always a choice," she says quietly and I hate her. I feel sixteen all over again with that fucking Dark Mark and my Father and not knowing where to go.

"There's not." I say forcefully. "It's fucking easy for you. I can't leave it all behind, can't just abandon everything. I've got nowhere else to go."

There's footsteps and we both look up as Harry steps out of the doorway, looking concerned. Relief floods his features as he see's me sat there.

Granger looks from Harry then back to me as he walks over. "Yes you do," she says firmly and I know exactly what she means, the bloody bint.

She gets up to leave as Harry comes over. She squeezes his hand and he nods, then she's gone and he's sitting down heavily beside me.

"I-" he begins, his voice thick and uncomfortable.

"Forget about it," I say and pass him the glass of water.

He takes a sip. "Ron's a prick."

"No, he's just suspicious of a former tosspot Death Eater," I sigh. "And with every right. He's just looking out for you."

"He's mad I didn't tell him before."

"So am I," I say tiredly. "If you had it would have prevented me being stuck in the middle of a highly embarrassing scene in the middle of a pub."

He laughs shortly. "I'm sorry."

"So am I. I didn't mean to ruin your evening," I reply.

He blinks and smiles lopsidedly, pushing his glasses up his nose. "You didn't."

Silence falls and I'm suddenly aware of how different this all feels. He's sat this close to me before but I've never been quite so aware of him in this way. Now I know we both fancy each other, it's changed it all and I'm so tempted to reach out and touch him, to see if he touches me back.

"I better go," I say and he's nodding, but not looking happy about it.

"Want me to take you home?"

I put the glass of water down on the concrete beneath the bench before standing up. "I'll be fine."

"Can I owl you tomorrow?" he asks, hastily standing up beside me and sounding so uncertain that I have to smile. He's an idiot.

"What sort of shit Gryffindor would you be to give up at the first hurdle?" I ask, teasing.

He raises an eyebrow. "This is the first hurdle?"

I laugh shortly. "Touché. I suppose not. But it's still a hurdle. And you're a Gryffindor."

"So you want me to owl you?" he asks in clarification, looking hopeful. A complete idiot.

"You've not given up on me yet," I tell him, wanting to be honest, just to give him something in return for everything he's done for me. Wanting to be honest with myself. "I'd hate for you to do so now."

His eyes widen and he nods. His hand reaches out and his fingers curl around the sleeve of my jacket and my breath hitches in my chest as I look up into his eyes.

"Talk to you tomorrow," he says quietly and I swallow thickly, nodding.

I reach up before I can stop myself and my fingertips are running along his jaw. I can feel rough stubble beneath my skin and I desperately want to run the same path with my lips.

I let go and so does he, and I take one step back and apparate away before I do anything else monumentally stupid.

"My life is ruined, Pants, ruined as in fucked, completely-"

"Calm down," she says firmly, pressing a mug of coffee into my hands and cutting off my rant. I must look sufficiently like hell because it's nine in the morning on a Sunday and she's not shouting at me for waking her up or calling her Pants.

Tightening the belt on her dressing gown, she pours herself a drink and sits down next to me. "You're going to tell me what's been going on lately then I take it?"

I nod. "I think I have to."

"Blaise has told everyone you're ill, you know," she says, reaching for a croissant that's on the plate between us. "Eat."

I take a blueberry muffin, picking at it agitatedly. "I've been…spending time with someone else."

Her eyes widen. She's practically drooling at the prospect of insider information. It's only saved from being called gossip by the fact she knows that I'd murder her if she repeated this to anyone. "Who?"

"Someone rather inappropriate," I mutter.

"Are they poor? Muggle-born? Revolutionary?" she asks, and then she gasps. "It's a man isn't it?"

I nod.

"You know the Greengrass's are going to arrange a meeting for you and Astoria next week?" she says seriously.

I blanch. "The meeting? Next week? Oh fuck."

"Yes oh fuck," she says grimly as I press my palms to my face, my elbows on the table. Fuck propriety right now, I'm about to have a seizure. "And if you've been blowing off your responsibilities to go out gallivanting with some man-"

"Harry Potter."

"HARRY POTTER?" she screeches and I wince. God she's shrill sometimes. "You've been fucking around with Harry Potter?"

"No!" I insist. "Well, yes, it's him, but it's just hanging out, spending time together. Not fucking around per se-"

"What?" Suddenly she's stopped shrieking and looks a lot more suspicious and I'm not sure why. Surely me fucking him would be more scream-worthy than me just spending time with him?

"We've not been…doing anything we shouldn't have," I say, my face colouring. "Just owling each other a lot, and going shopping, and having drinks-"

"So let me get this straight…that thing in the Prophet wasn't a one off publicity stunt like you passed it off as?" she asks, speaking slowly.

"No, that was the first time but I've seen him loads since then…what? Why're you looking at me like that?"

She's staring at me, biting her lip. "Draco, you like him."

Oh. That's why she's looking at me like that. That lot work on a foundation of sex, money and politics, I remind myself. God forbid any of us just liking someone, I mean how scandalous would that be?

Dickheads, all of them.

I rub my face. "Yes, I like him. Hence being fucked."

"And you're not even viciously denying it, or shouting or sulking," she says in wonder. "Wow."

"I know," I despair. "And I spoke to Granger the other day without insulting her, and Finnegan shook my hand-"

"You've been hanging out with his friends?"

"Only the once," I say hastily.

"Blaise is going to shit," she says, fingers on her lips to stop the giggles.

"Pansy!" I snap, not bothering to tell her that's exactly what I thought.

"Sorry, sorry," she says, picking up her croissant and taking a bite, brushing away crumbs. "Well, you're obviously quite taken with Potter if you're putting up with his friends, but you're meant to be marrying Astoria."

"I know," I say quietly. "I can't choose. I don't know if I can give up on all this even if I'm shit at it…but if I want to keep hanging out with Potter-"

"It's not just hanging out if you're head over heels in love with him," Pansy tells me. "What're you going to do if he finds out you've got the hots for him?"

I bite my lip. "Well, he already told everyone that he likes me."

"He does?" she asks eagerly. "Oh, Draco-"

"No, not oh Draco-" I snap. "I can't be with Potter- if this goes any further you lot will toss me out on my arse. I won't be welcome anywhere, I'll lose my job-"

"You shut up and listen to me," she snaps back and I immediately quiet. Fifteen years of friendship with Pansy has taught me not to argue with that tone. "You are in love." She punctuates between each word by jabbing me in the arm with a finger. "That doesn't happen every damn day and definitely not for you. You hatethis whole society lifestyle, I know you do and it's pathetic that you're sulking about being left out of it just because you hate being left out in general."

"They'll all talk about me behind my back-" I try.

"They're doing that now anyway!" she says and I wince. "If you leave and run off into the sunset with Potter, it won't be any worse, and at least you'll be shagging Potter as a distraction."

"You're terrible," I say with a small smile.

"I learned from you," she quips, and then she takes a deep breath. "Whatever you do, I will always love you, and I will always be around to tell you when you're being stupid. They won't stop me knowing you because frankly, they can't."

"Why can't I be like you?" I say. "And have people in both worlds?"

"Because you're a pushover and I am not, and because it's Potter. I'm still marrying the right person in their eyes and I like the expensive formal lifestyle." she says and takes my hand. "Do it. Take a gamble and make your own life. Your mother will support you, so will I, and it's what you've always wanted. You need this, Draco, or you're going to spend the rest of your life drunk and violent and wishing you'd got out when you had the chance. Not to mention you'll get to shag Potter. I bet half the Wizarding world want to shag Potter."

A fraction of a smile lifts the corner of my mouth. I know she's right, but I'm not ready to admit it. "I'll think about it," I tell her and she sighs.

"You're impossible, you know that."

"Wouldn't be me if I weren't."

I spend the next thirteen days skulking around my house, only leaving to go to work and flooing in directly to the offices to avoid seeing anyone I don't have to. Harry keeps owling me and I grudgingly owl back, only because he and Apollo both get shitty with me if I don't.

My heart wants to owl Potter every damn day but my head is being slightly more cautious. This is my life in the balance.

Apollo swoops in late one evening, carrying a letter from Harry, a direct reply to the note I sent him not an hour earlier.

I don't know whether to smile or scowl as I read it


The sun is not evil and that's a shit excuse for not wanting to leave your house. I haven't seen you in a fortnight and my owl's getting tired.

Tomorrow- the café, 6pm.

And Apollo has been told to bite you if you don't reply with a yes. I'm not sure he understood, but I wouldn't want to take the risk.


Stupid Gryffindor prat.

I'm there at ten past six, determined to be fashionably late, but the prat beats me at my own game, turning up at twenty past and looking harried.

"Ginny," he says in way of explanation, sitting down opposite me.

"Told you to keep away from the big bad Death Eater?" I ask jadedly. "Told you she's the better option, with her breasts and womanly wiles and whatnot?"

"I told her to fuck off."

"You did not," I reply shortly.

"I did," Harry says and he sounds a little proud of himself. Oddly, I'm proud of him too.


"You know why," he says, smiling tiredly.

I look down away from that smile, shaking my head and speaking helplessly. "What are we even doing, Potter?"

He frowns at me. "You ask that every time we see each other."

"Well than surely that's a hint that you've not answered adequately," I retort.

"I'm not replying because I don't really know what you mean," he admits. "I know we're hanging out and that I like it, but you seem to want me to answer with something else."

Subtlety really is lost on Gryffindors.

"Well, after what Weasley said-" I begin. He flushes and looks down at his lap and I mentally bet that he was hoping I wouldn't bring it up. There's no hope of that - even if I'm a shit Malfoy I was a good Slytherin and have been holding on for the opportune moment to mention it.

"Yeah?" he asks, looking up with his jaw set, looking determined.

"Is this two former enemies spending time together and getting over past grudges…" I shrug, dancing around the words. "Or is it…I don't know."

Urgency tints his next question. "What?"

"Well, is it two former enemies pretty much dating."

Silence follows my words. I feel annoyed that I've been the one to say it. But then again, even if Potter is the braver out of the two of us he seems pretty much clueless when it comes to this.

Surprise is his expression of choice as he looks back at me. "You think this is dating? That we've been dating?"

"I didn't!" I insist. "But now, if I half close my eyes and look at it this way-" I squint and tilt my head sideways. "Then it could be interpreted as dating."

He starts to laugh, his hand over his mouth. I straighten up. "What?" I snap, affronted. Tact or no tact, if Potter laughs at me for this I'm going to curse him.

He's the one who admitted to all that he fancies me,for fucks sake, no matter if I secretly return the attraction.

Smiling at me fondly and shaking his head slightly, he takes his hand away. "It's not what you said, it's the way you said it. You make me smile."

Oh. Well, that's not so bad. I relax a little and don't snap back, and he takes it as a cue, reaching out over the table to take my hand, his fingers threading through mine.

I don't pull away.


Dinner, tomorrow? I'll pick you up at 7pm.

Dress code is somewhere between the two of us.


"No. No. No," I say as Pansy holds up different shirts in front of me for me to take a look at. She lowers them with an exasperated look on her face.

"Draco, it's just dinner in some pretty lower class restaurant in Diagon. Remind me why you're being such a picky wuss about it?"

I level her with one of my most vicious glares but she's unfazed, merely shrugging and tossing the shirts aside onto my bed.

"You've been hanging out with him for weeks, why are you nervous now?" she asks, following the shirts to sprawl out on my bed. Jesus, it's like being back at school all over again. Although there's a subtle difference in that she's given up on trying to shag me these days, thank the stars.

I step a little further into my wardrobe, pushing aside a set of formal robes with an irritated growl. "Because now it's different."

"Oh yeah. Different," she deadpans, rolling her eyes. "You know Blaise is beyond angry you're not coming with us tonight. If he finds out who you're with he's going to come and curse you himself."

"No he won't," I reply distractedly. "I'll be with Harry, if he points a wand at us he'll go to Azkaban."

"Oh, Harry is it now?"

I pause and silently swear. "Potter," I amend, far too late.

"Draco's in loo-oove," Pansy laughs.

"Bitch," I snap and I grab a shirt out the back of my wardrobe. It's black and plain but it's nice and simple and I've been told I look good in it. I reverse out and show her and she nods in approval. "Yes," she says, nodding eagerly. "That one."

She watches me in silence as I unbutton the shirt and then pull it over my shoulders, letting the hanger fall to the floor.

"You know this is it, right?" she says, her voice uncharacteristically gentle. "You've got to decide tonight."

I nod once, a slight jerk of my head as I look down at my fingers that are buttoning the shirt back up. Taking a deep breath, I nod more visibly and then look up, feeling determined and almost sure of myself for the first time in months.

"I know."

Harry is there already when I arrive at the restaurant, and smiles broadly as I'm led over to our table. It's at the back and out of the way and I'm thankful for the discretion. I'm not ashamed to be seen with Harry, but whilst everything is so up in the air I'd rather keep it quiet and definitely not splashed across the papers.

"Nice to see you actually on time today," I say as Harry stands up to greet me.

He grins as we sit. "I told everyone I was meeting you at 6pm. So they're currently feeling bad because they think they made me forty minutes late. I got to shout, it was fun."

"I'm impressed," I laugh, and it's true. "Almost Slytherin of you."

"Must be your influence," he replies mischievously, pouring us both a glass of wine.

"How did they try and stop you?" I ask curiously.

"Ron hid my outfit and Ginny came over to beg me not to go," Harry shrugged. "Then Hermione came and gave them both a bollocking."

"She's surprised me," I admit. "I wouldn't think she'd be my biggest supporter."

"She's a supporter of me being happy," he says and the words make my stomach flip: the implication is that I'm making him happy. "And she was rather impressed by how you dealt with Ron's outburst after the game."

"Don't get me wrong, a part of me wanted to call him names or tip my drink over him," I say and Harry chuckles. "But I suppose after the Dark Lord takes up residence in your house, you learn to keep your mouth shut," I speak quietly, avoiding his eyes. "I learnt a lot that year." This is the first time we've mentioned the war, or Voldemort or any of those huge juggernaut issues, but I can't dance around it any longer. I need to know that we can. Maybe not now, but at some point I want to be able to talk about these things. I still can't discuss it with my friends, even after all this time: they don't like to be reminded of how their social circle is still somehow synonymous with less than favourable memories of certain elitist groups. The idea is completely ridiculous of course; Death Eaters were chosen by blood, not by wealth or social standing.

I just happened to fit both.

I force myself to look up, my heart speeding up in my chest due to my nerves, and he's watching me with careful eyes. I give him a half smile and he reaches out to move my fingers off of my wineglass so he can take them instead.

Something rushes through my body- it's not as sharp as triumph but feels very similar and I squeeze his hand in thanks.

He nods and I can tell that he's thinking carefully about what to say.

"It's alright," I jump in before he can say anything, stroking my thumb across his knuckles. "I know that…that at some point I'll have to talk about this, and I know it'll be hard. We don't have to now. I just wanted to know that it would be OK if we do."

"When," he says, his voice cracking slightly and I raise an eyebrow in question.

Clearing his throat he continues. "When. You said if we talk about it…it'll be when we talk about it."

Relief courses through me and I can feel myself blushing in the face of his eager, determined expression. I look down and bite my lip to stop myself grinning like an idiot.

"OK," I manage and we both laugh, eyes meeting again. "OK. Now, back to bitching about your friends and maybe even ordering some food?"

As he slides a menu over to me with his free hand, he laughs. I'm never going to get bored of that sound.

I reckon I'm still in way over my head, but now I really don't mind as much.

"Thank you for tonight," he says. We're standing outside his house- this time I've walked him back- and neither of us really wants to say goodbye.

"You're thanking me? You paid," I say. "At least I hope you did or we can't go back there. Imagine that. The Saviour of the Wizarding World, a sneak-thief."

God, what's happened to me? I'm almost babbling but Harry seems to love it. He listens to everything I say with genuine interest and I reciprocate, wondering if he's always been this interesting and I just missed it because I was too busy being a dickhead.

"No, I did," he smiles. "So we can go back. That is, if you want."

"Yeah, I'd love to," I nod and his smile gets even wider.

"So-" he's stepped slightly closer and he's looking at me as he bites his lower lip between his teeth, and his eyes are flickering from my eyes down to my lips. He's going to kiss me, and I'm thrilled to realise that there's nothing on this Earth that I want more.

I step up to him so we're nearly touching chest to chest and he's still looking at me like that and I can't tear my eyes away. I could happily stay there for quite some time, just looking at him, but one of his hands comes up to cup my cheek and he's leaning in-

I shut my eyes just as his lips touch mine and it's nothing like anything, ever.

Something electric uncurls in my chest and darts though me as his lips gently move against mine, and my heart is frantically beating, trying to get blood back to my brain which has gone wonderfully blissfully blank, and the only thing in the world is Harry.

His lips are warm and gentle against mine, applying enough pressure to tell me everything that I want to know. It's quietly possessive, promising more very soon, and I'm flooded with gratitude for it.

He pulls back slightly, his nose against mine and his breathing heavy. He tastes of wine and something else, and I suddenly know that I'm never going to get enough of him.

I look at him and he looks back and we both move at the same time, kissing once again and I pray that he's even feeling a fraction of what I am, because if he is then everything will be OK, I just know it.

We break apart again but don't let go of each other.

"I'd ask you to come in…" he says, leaning back a little so he can look me in the eye again. "But…" he looks down and then speaks quickly, the words coming out in a rush. "I don't often ask people to come in, and I don't want to ask someone who is going to disappear tomorrow to marry Astoria Greengrass."

There was a point in time where I would have responded to that statement with bristling indignation, but then again at that point in time I wouldn't have been in the situation of standing on Harry Potter's doorstep listening to him explain why we wont be having sex just after he's kissed me.

"I know," I say, taking his hands and holding them to my chest, pressing my forehead to his. "I understand."

"I want to be able to invite you in," he says quietly, almost desperately, and I want to beg him to take me inside right now, to let me use his Floo to tell Astoria to fuck off so I can kiss him again and again-

"I know, but…don't take this the wrong way," I swallow and feel him tense. "No, it's just that I haven't called it off because I couldn't tell her no until I knew that you wanted me-"

"You did know," he says and relaxes, pulling our entwined hands up so he can kiss my knuckles. "Ron said-"

"That you fancied me," I reply and he falls silent; I think he understands what I mean. "Until tonight we'd been skating around the big issues and I couldn't be with you until…until I knew that it was a when and not an if."

He replies by gently nudging my nose with his and kissing me again, one long lingering kiss that's making me shiver and want nothing more than to ravish him right there on the doorstep.

I must still retain somesense of propriety despite spending all this time with Potter because I resist the urge to stick my tongue down his throat and pull away.

"I better go," I whisper. "If you don't want me to jump on you right now."

"God, I do," he blurts out and we both laugh. "But I want to do this properly," he adds a little sheepishly.

"Alright," I concede, shutting my eyes and pressing my cheek against his. "Leave it with me."

"You mean it?" his voice is barely above a whisper, and he sounds so nervous and just a little uncertain. It fills me with a mad urge to kiss him and hold him until that worried note vanishes.

"Of course. Hanging out with you has clearly driven me insane, I might as well go all the way with it."

I feel him smile in the way his cheek moves against mine but it quickly fades, and when he speaks again he sounds serious. "I don't want you to do anything you don't want-"

"Shut up, Potter," I say and he chuckles. "Leave it with me. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

He nods and I step back, our fingers still laced together. I pull them up to my lips and kiss the back of his hand before letting go and apparating home, wishing more than anything that I didn't have to.

If my courage holds out for tomorrow, maybe next time I won't.

Midday of the next day finds me sat in the parlour of the Greengrass's manor, uncomfortable in my formal robes.

I've been waiting for half an hour when Daphne waltzes into the room - Pansy's right, she has got fat - and sits next to me, smiling. I always got on well enough with Daphne at school, although I do remember being viciously mean to her on occasion, egged on by Pansy of course.

Lady Greengrass comes in next with Astoria next to her. Astoria is looking nervous and I feel a stab of pity for her. She's beautiful, but she's none too bright. I think that's why they're trying to pair me up with her instead of Daphne; the elder sister is smart enough to look after herself and the family's interests. Astoria needs a gentle shove in the right direction; it's slightly hysterical that they think I'm the right direction.

"Draco, so nice to see you," the Lady says. "I trust you are well?"

"Yes, fine thank you."

"Blaise said you'd been sick," Daphne chips in. "But Father said you'd only missed a day off work."

"I've had a lot on," I say truthfully. "And I've got to go somewhere this afternoon so can we make this quick?"

Lady Greengrass gives me a hard look, Astoria and Daphne glance at each other, and Daphne starts to frown.

"You know why we've asked you here, I presume?" Lady Greengrass sits down on the sofa opposite ours and Astoria perches on the arm, smoothing out her dress.

"Yes," I reply shortly. Daphne's frown deepens. In my head I can imagine Pansy's cackle of wrinkles!and fight to keep a straight face.

They're expecting me to say more, but I don't. I'm too nervous; this is the pinnacle of the last few weeks of confusion, it all comes down to this moment. Horrifically poetic, really, but I can't care. I'm so close.

"Astoria's Father and I have decided that it would be fortuitous for you and Astoria to be joined in marriage," Lady Greengrass finally says when it becomes clear that I'm not going to say anything. "We saw how well you two got on when first introduced, and considering your family name and your position in the firm…" She gestures with a hand, stating the obvious. "Astoria has agreed, the decision is yours."

Poor beautiful Astoria is nodding and then looking up at me with wide eager eyes, full of hope. I like her well enough, I really do, in a fond younger sibling sort of way, and it pains me to hurt her.

But Lady Greengrass has said it all, really. My decision. My life. My choice.


They all freeze. Astoria's eyes get, if possible, even wider.

"I beg your pardon?" Lady Greengrass whispers, her tone deadly.

Standing up, I shrug. "No. I'm not going to marry her."

"What do you mean, no?" Lady Greengrass stands, her voice rising. Daphne is looking gobsmacked and Astoria is looking panicked, frightened. Oh god, I hope she doesn't cry.

"I mean no, because I'm gay and I won't be marrying or sleeping with any women just because society says I have to," I say bluntly. I can barely believe the worlds are coming out of my mouth but it feels wonderful, liberating, and I can't wait to tell Harry.

"You're gay?" Daphne asks, sounding scandalised.

"Oh come on, you must have had some idea," I laugh and start heading for the door. "You were in school with me for seven years-"

"You will regret this if you don't reconsider," Lady Greengrass snaps.

Ignoring her, I turn to address Astoria. "I'm sorry," I say honestly, stepping backwards. "Rest assured if I were straight I'd definitely do you. Tell you what- you can be top of my reserve list if I ever decide to not be bent."

She claps a hand over her mouth just as her Mother rounds on me, looking furious. Her shriek of "how dare you!" is probably heard in Scotland.

"Easily," I retort. "I'm fed up of your shit. I don't want to be involved with any of this pureblood elite. I want to eat crap Muggle take-away food and chew on straws and spend all my time with the man I love."

I'm in the doorway and I pause to salute the three women that are gaping at me. "You can shove your marriage proposal and tell Lord Greengrass to shove his job. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a fountain to go and jump in."

Laughing, I flee their house. They probably think I'm mad and are probably floo-ing everyone they know to spread the word I've lost my mind, but I don't care.

I fucking did it - I haven't felt this elated in years; it's rapidly swelling in my chest like a expanding bubble and making me want to laugh, to shout, to run and dance. Soon everyone will know what I've done, and I can't bloody wait.

There's one person I want to tell myself though, and I apparate away to find him with a grin still plastered to my face.

"Open the fucking door, Potter!"

I'm hammering on his door and have been non-stop for the past minute. My robes are draped over my arm to avoid startling the Muggles but I'm doing that anyway with the commotion I'm making.

I hear a lock turn and the door opens; Harry is there, looking panicked, his glasses lopsided on his face.

"Draco! What's wrong? Are you alright?" he asks, looking worried.

I lean on his doorframe, panting. "You, me, ice-cream, Diagon Alley. Right now. Kissing in public and holding and hands and stuff."

Comprehension dawns over his face, an eager smile slowly growing. "You did it?"

"Of course I did it."

His laugh is delighted, and he steps out onto his doorstep, grabbing my shirt in his fist and pulling me to him, kissing me square on the mouth. I respond with enthusiasm, dropping my robes and wrapping my arms around his neck.

Pulling away, I straighten his glasses and look him in the eye, my arms still tight around his neck. "First, before we go anywhere, I need to ask you something."

A frown crosses his face. "What?" he asks uncertainly, his hands now gripping my waist.

"Can I borrow some of your clothes?"

He laughs loudly and kisses me again, wrapping his arms around me and tipping back so I'm nearly lifted off my feet.

"Yes," he says breathlessly when we break apart. "Yes, of course, yes."

"Come on then," I smile and then bite my lip, leaning in and running my nose against the side of his face. "Find me a change of clothes and then maybe after we've had ice-cream you can get me out of them again."

His hands tighten reflexively on my waist. "Can't we just do that now?"

I laugh. "No. Ice-cream first, nakedness later."

"Spoilsport," he grumbles.

"Look at me," I say firmly and he does so. It's thrilling to me to have someone who is so clearly willing to listen to what I have to say. "I just fucked off my arranged marriage, my job and my social life in one go and they're going to try and spin it to make me and you look bad. If we hide away they'll have more of a chance of doing that, so I want to be outside where everyone can see me and you together." I pause. "And I really want a chocolate sundae."

"Christ," he says fervently. "You don't do things by halves do you?"

I smile and kiss him, just because I can. "Not anymore."

"You didn't," Harry laughs harder, leaning forwards over the picnic bench we're sat on. It's in the sun outside Florean Fortesques and people keep shooting us curious glances as they walk past towards Gringott's. It's exactly what I wanted; for everyone to see us together looking happy, but that tactical thinking takes a backseat to the simple fact that I am impossibly thrilled with where I am and what I'm doing.

"I did," I grin. "Then I said if I ever decide to not be bent she would be at the top of my reserve list."

He laughs himself into hiccoughs, looking up at me with his face red. "You're terrible-"

"I know," I grin. "Part of my charm."

He coughs and smiles mischievously at me and reaches out to put a hand on my waist. I don't stop him. Public displays of affection are a strict no-no in my former social circle but I find I'm quite liking it.

I like the feeling it gives me, knowing that Harry isn't afraid to show everyone how he feels about me. What I like even more is the pleasure on Harry's face when I reciprocate, when I reach out to touch him, to kiss him, to show everyone he's mine.

"You think this will work out?" he asks me suddenly, and I know he's talking about us.

"Course," I smile back, swirling my spoon in the bottom of my ice-cream glass, raising it to my mouth and delicately licking the chocolate sauce off. Harry's eyes drop from my eyes to my mouth and widen slightly and I fight the urge to grin.

"Do you?"

With difficulty, he looks up away from my spoon licking antics. "Yeah," he says a little breathlessly, and then his eyes focus properly and he hastily nods more firmly. "Yes, yes I do. In a weird kind of way…I think this makes sense."

I'm intrigued. "Care to explain that one, Potter?"

"Well, things have never worked out easy for us, have they?" he asks me, pushing his glasses up and his nose, looking thoughtful. "Like, things have always been complicated, and I tend to find things in unlikely places," he gives a small shrug. "So finding love with you…I guess it's just so crazy it's all the way back round to making sense."

This is one of those times where I know I should probably say something smart in response, but all can I do is smile at him and then scoot close enough to gently kiss him, holding his chin in my fingers.


Fuck shit bollocks dickhead. That's Weasley's voice, coming to ruin what may have been the only perfect moment of my life. Twat.

Harry pulls away from me, albeit with some difficulty because I tighten my grip on his chin ever so slightly.

"Hey," he says, reaching up and moving my hand away, smiling brightly. I turn around to see Ron and Hermione, who are - for gods sake - sliding onto the bench opposite us.

"So…" Hermione asks. "I take it you two have made up?"

Harry grins. "Guess what Draco did?"

"Go on," Hermione smiles indulgently.

"Turned down the Greengrass marriage proposal," Harry says, and I can't miss the pride in his voice. "And is now with me," he adds as an afterthought.

"Well, we guessed that by the kissing in public," Hermione says. Weasley harrumphs next to her and she elbows him sharply, gives him a warning glare and then addresses me. "So what does that mean for you now?"

"Basically, I've just kissed my life goodbye," I tell her, pushing my empty ice cream glass away from me across the table. "And my job. Pansy says she'll still talk to me, but I don't know if she really can. I'm going to have to take it one day at a time, and hope I can find work elsewhere."

"That'll be easy," Harry chips in, his tone dismissive.

"I'm not sure..." I say but he doesn't hear, too busy saying something to Granger. I know he's wrong but I don't argue with him just now. It's a conversation for later, when we can properly talk.

"Ron?" Harry's worried voice snaps me out of my reverie and I look up to see him staring at Ron who is looking severely uncomfortable, his expression bordering on pained. "Are you…I mean, are you going to be OK with this? Because I told you that I'm not-"

"No, it's OK-" Ron bites out and I frown. He looks strained, his face is red and he's biting his lip, looking like everything is rather far from OK.

"Weasley?" I say cautiously and Harry kicks me under the table in warning. I kick him back - harder - and he jerks, leaning down to rub his ankle, muttering under his breath at me. I ignore it and turn my attention to Weasley. "Breathe-"

"Why are you wearing Harry's clothes?" he blurts out suddenly, looking mortified.

I glance down at myself, completely forgetting how odd I must look in jeans and a T-shirt. And then I realise why Weasley is looking traumatised at the notion that I'm wearing Harry's gear and I start to laugh, and I can't stop.

"I didn't want to wear my formal robes anymore," I laugh, clutching my sides. "It's not what you think-"

Harry twigs on and starts to laugh too, much to Weasley's chagrin.

"Alright," he says grumpily, his face a flaming, embarrassed red. "I just thought-"

I lean over to Harry, my hand on his knee, whispering in his ear. "Maybe we should go and live up to Weasley's expectations?"

He kisses me and breathes hotly against my ear, making me shiver. "I thought you'd never ask."

He stands up and pulls me up too and I feel fifteen and ridiculous all over again, giddy and reckless. "That's a good point though, Ron," Harry says seriously, holding onto me around my waist. "In fact, I'm going to go and make him get out of my clothes right now."

Hermione bites back a laugh, Weasley makes a strangled noise of dismay and me and Harry apparate away, laughing and holding each other tight.

We appear out the back of my townhouse, under the porch away from prying eyes and I drag Harry up the step, pressing my hand to the door which unlocks with its usual grinding clunk. I've barely hauled him inside and kicked the door shut with my foot when there's a loud and angry screech from somewhere up in the house.

"Shit- that's Apollo," I said distractedly.

Running through the house with Harry just behind me, I find him in the sitting room, perched on the back of the sofa next to an owl I recognise as Mothers. He's screeching and snapping his beak at another owl that's sat on the window sill, shuffling from side to side and not daring to hop inside.

"Fuck me, he's scary," Harry mutters and I laugh shortly.

"That's because that owl belongs to Blaise," I say, walking over to take the letter from it, before nodding to Apollo. "Go on."

He takes off and Harry ducks as Blaise's owl is chased back out the window with an indignant scream.

What the fuck have you done? The Greengrass's are furious- you have to fix this NOW or we're done.


"What an idiot. That was my point," I say, trying to sound braver than I completely feel, passing the missive to Harry. I know I made my choice and everything, but it still hurts to think that my friends will refuse to be as such anymore, because of that choice. I push the hurt away and move to the owl that has come from Mothers.


Just received a call from a less than impressed Lady Greengrass, have done as much damage control as I can for now.

I'm happy for you even if you have clearly gone mad.Say hello to Harry for me and tell him we're now even.


I smile, but I'm frowning, too. I'm not sure what to make of her message to Harry. He sees my confusion and edges over to read the letter in my hands.

He laughs quietly and slips a hand onto my waist. "I'd have to agree with her."

"What?" I ask, looking sideways at him. "She saves your life and you get landed with me?"

"Sometimes you really are an idiot," he says, turning me around by my shoulders.


"Draco?" he cuts me off and I look at him expectantly.

"Shut up."

He leans in and kisses me, hands still on my shoulders and my breath catches. I grab hold of his waist to keep myself steady and he laughs against my lips. I debate telling him that now is really not the time for laughing, but I decide it can wait because he's kissing me, his tongue gently running across my lip and oh god, I've never wanted anyone more.

The hurt from being cut off by my friends fades as Harry's mouth moves against mine; for some bizarre reason I feel safe here, wanted, and I trust him to take care of me.

Warm hands steal under the T-shirt I'm wearing and move around my waist as we kiss, hot and open mouthed. We're trying to get closer together, bodies pressing from hip to chest and I can feel his cock through his trousers, pressing hot and hard against my hip.

"Upstairs," I manage to say against his mouth and he nods, kissing along my neck and making my legs shake.

"It'll be easier if you let me go," I breathe as I take a step back and he stumbles with me, mouthing along the juncture between my neck and shoulder, pulling the T-shirt aside with clumsy fingers.

"Mmm," he agrees. "But then I have to let go of you."

Trying another step back proves pointless; he moves with me, his hands tight on my waist and I realise that I'm not helping matters by running my hand down his back to cup his arse, pushing him into me.

"Oh fuck it," I turn us around, tripping over our feet as we shuffle round, still lip locked. I bring my hands up to run over his chest and he moans appreciatively just before I place my palms flat on his chest and then shove him, hard. He cries out and falls backwards, the backs of his legs hitting the sofa and making him fall back, sprawling inelegantly over the cushions.

"What the hell?" He looks up at me indignantly but then his jaw drops, his expression quickly changing as he sees me pulling my T-shirt over my head, tossing it aside.

I smirk down at him, my fingers trailing over the button of my jeans as I take a step backwards towards the door. "Are you coming, or am I going to be having fun all by myself?"

Popping open the top button I take another few steps back and Harry hastily scrambles to his feet, his eyes fixed firmly on my fingers.

"I'm coming," he says fervently, his voice hoarse. "Christ, Draco-"

He steps towards me and I turn, confident he'll follow as I leave, all but running up the stairs towards my room. I can hear his footsteps behind me and as I shove through the door to my bedroom his hands catch my hips, stumbling through after me.

Turning in his grip, my eyes light up as I see he's divested himself of his shirt on the way and I'm treated to the delight that is being pressed up against Harry Potter's naked torso as he pulls you into him by your hips and kisses the living daylights out of you.

I'm not sure how we make it over to the bed; I'm far too busy running my hands over every bit of his exposed skin that I can and he's far too occupied trying to trip me up by pushing my - his - jeans down my thighs so they slip down, pooling around my feet and rendering walking an issue.

Impatience wins out over self control and this time he pushes me; I end up sprawled on my back on my bed, hard and panting. He's looking down at me, his chest heaving and he reaches down to unbuckle his belt.

Scrambling up onto my knees, I only pause long enough to kick the damn trousers from around my feet and yank off my socks (which, by the way, are impossible to take off in a manner that is at all graceful or seductive) before crawling over to him, grabbing the waistband of his trousers and heaving him closer. His shins hit the bed and he lurches forwards with his knees pressing on the edge of the mattress, his hands grabbing my shoulders to keep himself upright.

I kneel up straight and take his mouth in a kiss, loving the way his breath hitches in his throat before he kisses me back, his hands sliding down my back.

"God, I want you," he says against my mouth, his voice rough and scratchy. "I've wanted you since that day you wore my clothes-"

"Well hurry up then," I reply. "You can't fuck whilst wearing your trousers."

He groans, letting go of me to undo his belt and open his trousers, pressing kisses to my mouth over and over as he pushes them down, his movements clumsy as he tries to get them past his knees and off. "You're going to be the death of me," he breathes.

"Good job I'm now trying to do it with sex instead of evil schemes, right?" I quip and were both tumbling backwards onto the bed, clad only in our underwear and desperately wanting more.

He wraps a leg around mine and we press together again and I can feel his erection against mine, even closer than before, but still with too much material in the way. Fortunately he seems to be thinking on the same lines because he's trying to tug both his underwear and mine off, alternating between the two, tugging them a fraction down more each time before switching back to the other.

"Get on with it," I hear myself saying but he's laughing and works his other hand uncomfortably beneath us to assist in the clothing removal. My boxers are the first to go and then his are also removed and tossed aside to join mine on the floor. He presses back up against me and I gasp as he frantically ruts against me, our cocks sliding together and his hands are on my arse, pulling and kneading and pressing me into him, every movement feeling fucking fantastic.

Keeping track of things is proving difficult - now we're both naked my head is spinning and we're like two randy teenagers, kissing messily and groping desperately. He pulls his hips back away from mine and he reaches down to take me in hand and fuck, his hand is sweaty and hot around my cock and it feels so fucking good,pumping up and down with enough wonderful pressure to make my toes curl and my back arch. Every time he runs his thumb over the head of my cock, smearing precome, I gasp and he moans softly in response. I've always thought handjobs are underrated, especially when the person giving is pressed up against you, their body hot and hard against you, their mouth panting into yours-

His hand leaves my cock all too soon and he rolls us over so I'm on my back with him atop me and suddenly it all changes. We pause, and I look up at him, biting my lip somewhat nervously. My heart jolts; he's lost his glasses somewhere in the fray and god, those eyes, they're so green and he looks vulnerable somehow, blinking to keep me in his focus.

He's staring down at me like he can't quite believe that I'm there. Without thinking, I reach up, putting my palm on his cheek and he laughs breathlessly, quietly and then leans down, resting on his forearms either side of my head.

"You are just..." he murmurs and gently kisses me. "Infuriating," he finishes. "Brilliant."

I carefully kiss him again. "I know," I say seriously and he rolls his eyes. "Now, get on with it."

"Infuriating," he repeats and leans down to kiss me, long and hard. When he pulls away I'm breathless all over again, but my mouth still manages to run away with me.

"Brilliant," I breathe back and he smiles.

"Are we just staying in bed all day then?" A sleepy voice asks from behind me.

"Mmm..." I reply lazily, wriggling contentedly, my back pressing against his chest and my arse against his crotch. I bet if I wriggle enough I could get him excited all over again and ready for another round. "Well I am. You're going to get out to go make us a drink."

"Nice try," he says and kisses the back of my neck. "I'm the guest here. I get to be the one to laze around in bed."

"Yes, but I've just been fucked six ways from Sunday, walking is going to be a problem for me."

He laughs and I grin, rolling over in his arms. It's true; whilst the sex wasn't the fast, wild, animalistic shagging that I had envisioned, it was deep and strong and oh-so-thorough. I can still feel a twinge somewhere up in my body if I move in the right way, and I'm pretty sure my thighs will never be the same.

Christ it was good. I've never had it like that, that intense. With someone not just fucking me, but taking care of me whilst doing it: holding onto me, touching me, kissing me, thrusting slow and deep. I shiver pleasantly, knowing that I'll probably be feeling it for days.

He rubs his nose against mine and I flush, rolling my eyes. "Christ, you should have been a Hufflepuff."

"Can I remind you who instigated the spooning?" he responds.

"I did not-" I say indignantly, pushing at his shoulder.

"You so did," he insists, laughter lacing his words. "You're Draco Malfoy, secret snuggler."

"I'll kick you out," I threaten, pressing my feet against his knees and starting to shove him backwards.

"No you won't," he grins back. "You like me being in your bed too much."

"Fuck you and fuck your logic," I huff, relaxing the pressure on his legs and he chuckles again, shifting his head on the pillow and looking at me.

"This is really happening isn't it?" he asks softly.

"Yeah," I reply, and then add 'idiot'as an afterthought.

He pulls a face at me but then wriggles down the bed a little, burying his face in my neck under my chin, his arms wrapping around my chest and his lips pressing a kiss to the hollow between my collarbones.

I kiss the top of his head and breathe in and out slowly, for once not trying to think about everything and rationalise everything in my head. I suppose when you're in love rationality flies out of the window.

It's going to be difficult, of that I have no doubt, but as Harry breathes out in a large contented sigh, his breath ghosting over my skin, I smile.

I rather think I can get used to this.