AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written in 2007 just prior to the release of Deathly Hallows, so goes AU from HBP. This is just slightly edited for FFN posting purposes.

"Anger management problems! What does he know?" Harry says as soon as he's retreated safely into the magically enforced silence of his cubicle. "Everyone knows he's completely crazy, and he's got bigger anger issues than I do, anyway! Where does he get off telling me I've got too much pent-up aggression?"

He catches the eye roll from the other side of the cubicle. "Oh, not you too! Honestly, you should be on my side. Every time he claims that I'm not fit for field work, it's another week that we're stuck in here together."

Malfoy snorts. "Well maybe if you could get through a single meeting with him without drawing your wand and then stalking out of his office like a spoiled child, he might not think you had problems controlling your anger."

"He's a hypocrite!" Harry says. And so are you, he continues silently. Spoiled child indeed.

"He's your superior," Malfoy replies, quirking his eyebrows. "One day you're going to realise that this isn't school. Dumbledore's not here to protect you when you disobey the –"

"I thought we agreed that you wouldn't talk about Dumbledore."

There are ground rules between them that allow them not to kill each other, and to occasionally even get along. That particular rule is one of the more important among them, and it's one of the few concessions Malfoy's ever made to Harry without argument. He likely doesn't want to think about the former Headmaster of Hogwarts anymore than Harry does, really.

Malfoy falls into silence.

Feeling suddenly awkward – and perhaps more than just a little childish after all – Harry scuffs his foot against the linoleum floor of the mostly open cubicle that they've shared since first becoming full-fledged Aurors and being paired up just over a year ago. In less than another year they'll be able to work individually, and they'll have their own 'personal' workspaces rather than sharing this tiny compartment that was only ever intended to fit one person, and even then would have been cramped. Harry can hardly wait to be able to put his paperwork on a desk rather than having it precariously leaning against the wall in 'his' corner.

But even though Harry doesn't want to admit it, he privately thinks that he'll at least somewhat miss working with Malfoy.

Still, he certainly won't miss working on nothing but paperwork while Malfoy, purportedly out of sheer boredom, criticises every breath he takes.

"I just… I know that the Ministry was in a bit of a shambles still when they asked him back. But it's Moody, of all people. Not only was he retired, but he's also verifiably insane. He's not exactly the poster boy for Head of Aurors."

"Well, actually," Malfoy smirks, "you're the reason they asked Moody back. As per usual, you're your own problem. Moody was made Head of the Auror Department almost entirely because they knew he was one of the few people that would stand up to you. Which is exactly the same reason why they mysteriously decided that we'd be compatible partners, by the way. It's too bad that that didn't blow up in their faces like I thought it would. I'd definitely be interested to see who else they might try to assign to you."

Harry balks. "You said you didn't know why they stuck us together!"

Malfoy shrugs, but he can't quite keep a slight smile off his lips. "Yeah, well, back then I was hoping for a chance to see your fiery streak in a more mutually agreeable setting and didn't want to ruin the already small odds I had of making that happen. It would hardly have helped my cause to make you even more annoyed at me than you already were."

"If you think your chances won't still be ruined, you've got more than just a couple of screws loose," Harry mutters.

"Oh, but now," Malfoy says confidently, "you've had a taste of me and I've no doubt you'll keep coming back for more. It's about time to stir things up, and you know how I like seeing you get all riled up."

Harry throws up his hands in amazement. "You're as nuts as Mad-Eye. Just see if you get laid tonight."

"Fuck!" Harry cries out as Malfoy thrusts into him harder. The hard edge of the wooden shelving – which feels as if it might give out at any moment were it not for the magical re-enforcements Malfoy had foreseen would be necessary when scouting out their 'rendezvous', as he calls it – bites unpleasantly into Harry's upper thighs. Harry can't seem to draw enough breath to ask Malfoy to shift, though. Nor, it seems, can he utter anything other than obscenities.

"You're so… bloody hot… when you're pissed off!" Malfoy pants.

Harry would like to protest. Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately, really, all things considered – he's just a little too busy ejaculating all over the back wall and horizontal shelving of the supplies cupboard with what seems like enough force to pull a muscle or three. The tiny part of his mind that can actually still concentrate on something other than that promises himself that he'll yell later. Or, at least, he'll yell a little more angrily than he is doing presently.

As the spots fade from his vision, Harry slowly becomes aware of his surroundings, and of the feel of Malfoy. And though his cognitive ability has returned enough to properly think once more, Harry decides that he quite likes how his brain feels completely blank whenever Malfoy brings him to this point. It feels like Occlumency, but without the effort of locking his mind up tight. It's actually pleasant. That's more than can be said of most of his other interactions with Malfoy.

"Oh, Merlin!" Malfoy groans as the movement of his hips becomes jerky. He falls heavily against Harry's back. Their chests heave slightly out of time, Harry now being a little less winded than a few minutes ago when he'd finished. It occurs to him that if they stayed here like this they'd eventually stick together, as they sometimes do in the morning when Malfoy stays at his flat.

It also occurs to him that he doesn't particularly care. That bothers him.

"Where's my wand gone?" Harry asks, his tone purposely brusque, after Malfoy's had a moment to come down from his high and has managed to get his breath back a little. He pushes Malfoy off him unceremoniously and rises from the highly uncomfortable position of being sprawled out across a storage shelf. He's surprised the damn thing didn't give him splinters, really. Not that he really thinks Malfoy would have cared enough to stop, or even to apologise afterward.

"We need to clean up," Harry says. "The place reeks of sex, and the next person who comes within ten feet of this room will know what's been going on in here. Not that I shouldn't leave you to deal with it on your own. It was you who decided that we apparently couldn't wait a few more hours until we could go back to mine. This is completely your fault. As always."

"Well actually," Malfoy says, "what I really wanted was to shag you over my desk. So really, it's the Ministry's fault for not giving us private offices. I mean, honestly, cubicles. It's utterly common. We're Aurors." From the tone of Malfoy's voice, he might have been saying they were kings among men, or even gods. "We're supposed to be the elite of magical law enforcement. Shouldn't we be getting some benefits? The pay alone certainly isn't enough to justify risking our lives."

"Could you be any more self-important?" Harry sighs, though he knows full well that the other man is unlikely to be listening to anything other than the sound of his own voice.

He often wonders why he bothers, or why he continues going along with this. Then Malfoy promptly reminds him – as he's just done – how brilliant the sex between them is. Damn Malfoy for actually having a reason to act superior.

"You're angry again," the blond accuses. "Merlin, there's just no end to it, is there?"

"Why do you always say that?" Harry asks, purposely ignoring Malfoy's point. "'Merlin', I mean. It's stupid. You say it like Muggles say 'God', but as far as I've seen purebloods don't worship him or anything."

Malfoy groans, this time not in ecstasy.

"Potter, have you ever noticed that I don't usually stick around for pillow talk? There's a reason for that; you suck at it."

Harry frowns. "Most of the time when we screw there are no pillows involved. Honestly, Malfoy, it's called a bed; you could let us actually use one every now and then. And anyway, you're talking rubbish. You almost always stay the night," he protests.

"I stay physically," Malfoy retorts. "But I don't fall asleep that quickly because I lack stamina. I don't think anyone could accuse me of that." His grin is of the canary-eating variety, which only serves to further incense Harry.

"You're a prat," Harry mutters. "And I'd tell you again that you're arrogant, but I'm starting to wonder if maybe you take that as a compliment."

Malfoy shrugs. "I may be arrogant, but at least my flaws aren't keeping us locked away with the hundred-storey stacks of red tape rubbish instead of out there doing our jobs. The rest of the department must love us for taking so much of the paperwork off their hands."

"And what did you want me to do about it?" Harry asks. "Moody's already made me go through every form of therapy the Ministry's ever so much as considered using. I've released my inner Zen and all that. And I've barely complained until now, you know. I just don't understand why everyone can't accept that... well, that this is just how I am, and nothing seems likely to change that. If they don't think I'm cut out for Auror work, they should just say so."

"As if they would. The great Harry Potter, not up to scratch in some way? It'd be a nation-wide scandal." Malfoy shakes his head in mirth.

"I think I'll have to learn a new language," Harry mutters, "since I'm running out of synonyms for 'git'."

"Ha ha, Potter," Malfoy says dryly. "Look, enough with the self-pity, for the love of my sanity. You've reached your daily quota. You're not a failure as an Auror. I would have tried a lot harder to get you fired than I already have if that were the case. So get over it."

"Ah!" Harry exclaims, holding up his wand in triumph and effectively stopping the Malfoy version of a heartfelt confession in its tracks. "Here it is! Scourgify!" He automatically feels better, particularly as Malfoy is still sitting on the cold floor covered in his own spunk and looking annoyed.

"You're really just as self-obsessed as me, you know," Malfoy says as Harry continues to cast charms – air-freshening, cleaning and a counter-charm for the silencing spell. Harry stops for a moment to glare at him, and Malfoy leers in response. "Anyone else would have asked their partner for help by now rather than moaning about how nothing is working and the world is coming to an end."

"And how are you going to help?" Harry snorts. "Dark magic, maybe? In the middle of the Ministry?"

"Well, maybe not in the Ministry."

Harry laughs half-heartedly, not certain for a moment whether Malfoy is joking. "Bloody hell, you're for real," he says after a few seconds when Malfoy continues looking at him seriously. "I'm not getting involved in any of that."

"And here I thought that you were into bending the rules when necessary," Malfoy muses.

Harry senses the challenge inherent in those words. He feels his eyes narrow further.

"Look, you haven't tried everything," Malfoy says. "You've barely even skimmed the surface of possibilities, really. The Ministry wants you to pretend you don't have any anger. They want you to suppress it. The problem with that is that it accumulates, and it has to go somewhere. That's why you keep having bursts of accidental magic, like a rampaging two-year-old."

"If you're so knowledgeable, how should I be going about it instead?" Harry challenges.

"You confront your problems. You jump right into the thick of it and damn the consequences. In other words, you do what you Gryffindors do best."

"You're just talking rubbish again," Harry accuses, pulling on his robes.

Malfoy says nothing in response. Harry heads for the door and reverses the locking spell he put up earlier, perfectly content to leave Malfoy to gather up and replace the boxes of quills he scattered onto the floor in his hurry to have Harry bent over for him.

"Am I still coming around after work?" Draco asks eventually, his arms crossed almost protectively across his still naked chest. If Harry didn't know better he would think Malfoy was protecting himself from being hurt.

But he does know better, of course. Malfoy's made of stone.

"You did tell me not long ago that I wouldn't be getting laid tonight, after all," Malfoy continues. "And since night time's still several hours away…"

Harry attempts to shrug nonchalantly, though he can't quite keep the grin off his face. "Put some clothes on so I can open the door without the rest of the Ministry seeing your private bits, and then I'll think about it. I'm definitely not spending tonight with you if I have to listen to air-headed witches gossiping about the privilege of seeing you naked for the rest of the afternoon. Your ego will take up our whole cubicle on its own if it gets any bigger."

"This had better work, that's all I'm saying," Harry grumbles.

"My Father drilled it into me: conduct, control, confine."

"Yeah, well, it makes me a little nervous putting faith in anything your father taught you, all right?" Harry says, shivering slightly at the thought.

Malfoy snickers. "Oh, innocent little Potter. Trust me. You can – and do, regularly – say a lot of things about My Father," he says, and Harry is certain he can actually hear the capitalisation, "but never let it be said that he couldn't keep his icy demeanour when he pleased."

There really isn't anything Harry can say to dispute that, though he does think it odd that Malfoy seems to be almost bragging as he says it. As far as Harry's concerned, acting like an unfeeling prick is nothing to be proud of.

"So," Malfoy says, slipping into his best approximation of a teacher's voice, "the first step is to guide the anger out of you in the form of your magic. The majority of the witches and wizards in the Ministry don't realise that you can't ever control your magic until you understand it, and to understand it you have to really feel it. It has to be right there at the tip of your fingers, ready to spill at will. And it probably will spill, at least at first. That's why this process is considered dark; you end up conducting the magic right out of you, and not necessarily in a safe way. That's also where the control part comes in handy."

"And just how do you suggest we get my magic to put in an appearance?" Harry asks. "I somehow doubt it responds as well to bribery as most of the things your father would have taught you about."

Malfoy scowls in response to the dig, but says nothing. They've faced off about his family's allegiances enough times that it's grown wearying for both of them, and Malfoy seems to have finally given up on retaliating in kind with a timely insult to Harry's mother or a reminder that Harry's own father was hardly a saint either (Harry wishes, in retrospect, that he'd never told Malfoy about any of what he'd learned about James Potter).

"Like I said before, we lure out the Gryffindor in you. We're going to make you angry. Which should be the easiest part of the whole process, if past experience can be relied upon."

Malfoy stops talking then and seems to be surveying Harry. Harry raises his eyebrow at him. He goes to ask what Malfoy's problem is, but he's cut off before he can speak.

Malfoy glares at him and says, "You're weak, Potter, and you're useless. You can't do anything right. The real reason Moody won't let you out into the field is that he knows you're just going to mess it up, like you always do. They only let you be an Auror because you're the Chosen One. You're a charity case."

Harry rolls his eyes. "Malfoy, you told me all of that a hundred times when we were first made partners. You'll have to try harder than that."

Malfoy grits his teeth. "I've been cheating on you," he claims. There is a second of shocked blankness in Harry's mind, and he's unsure what to say to that. Before he really has time to form an opinion, though, Malfoy launches onward. "I slept with that Mudblood Granger. She moaned so hard for me, told me I was so much better than Weasley, and he doesn't have a clue."

Harry bursts out laughing. "Oh, you're kidding right? That's ridiculous. Hermione would never sleep with you, and you'd rather die than touch her. Besides, I've got first-hand knowledge that you're one hundred percent gay. Even saying you'd been sleeping with Ron would have been more believable. Not much less disturbing in the mental pictures department, though. Ugh."

Malfoy pouts, looking for all the world like he's about eleven years old and has just been told he can't take a broom to Hogwarts all over again. "Even Mudbloods are higher up in the pecking order than the Weasel," he says. "And anyway, it doesn't matter that it's not believable. You should be getting indignant that I'd even say something like that. Where's the old Harry Potter that I loved to hate?"

"He grew up into the Harry Potter that you love to fuck, I suppose," Harry says with as much of a straight face as he can muster, though the laughter still makes it through to some extent.

Malfoy shakes his head. Then, out of nowhere, he says, "You're just as much responsible for Dumbledore's death as I am. You couldn't save him. You were too weak."

The laughter stops abruptly. There's a reason why Harry insists that they not mention Dumbledore. He doesn't want Malfoy to know that Harry was there in the tower, or what Harry had to do even before that in the cave. And yet somehow Malfoy's intuition allows him to strike a target that he doesn't even know for sure exists.

It doesn't really make Harry angry, though. It just hurts. There's a pain in Harry's heart so deep that he feels like Malfoy has reached into his chest and taken a chunk out of him. And just like every other time that someone, especially Malfoy, mentions Dumbledore, Harry knows that that piece will never be returned. He'll never be whole.

It's bloody annoying, but there it is all the same.

Malfoy seems to sense that he hasn't achieved his intended result.

"Right, okay, enough of that. This isn't working," he announces suddenly.

Harry attempts to pull himself together. "You honestly thought it would?"

Malfoy eyes Harry speculatively.

"I hoped it would. But I admit that I did consider that we might have already worked out most of the real anger we have towards each other. Hate sex does wonders, you know."

"Speak for yourself," Harry mutters. "I'm pretty damn angry at you right now."

"I thought this might be a problem," Malfoy continues heedlessly as he paces across the room to his potions cupboard. "So I prepared a fallback plan. Plan S, if you will."

Harry almost wants to ask why it's 'Plan S' rather than simply Plan B or some such, but then he decides that asking is probably more trouble than it's worth. He's not sure he wants to know, anyway. There's no real telling what goes on in Malfoy's mind sometimes.

When he turns around to face Harry once more, he flourishes a phial filled with a muddy looking substance that Harry recognises all too well from having to swallow it down almost daily during his Concealment and Disguise training.

"What, did you actually brew up some Polyjuice just based on the tiny possibility that I'd agree to do this?" Harry asks incredulously. "You're mad. I know I tell you that all the time, but you really just are."

"Potter, it was hardly a tiny possibility. It was practically certain. Haven't you learned by now that I always get what I want?" Malfoy seems to puff up slightly right before Harry's eyes.

As much as Harry wishes it to be otherwise, it really is true, at least as far as what Harry hesitantly terms their 'relationship' goes.

"And just who do you think you're going to turn into?" Harry asks. "Trust me when I say that no one can irritate me like you do."

"That's what you think now."

The way Malfoy says those five words sends an apprehensive chill down Harry's spine. Until this moment, he's been both amused and exasperated – and just a little curious – but he now suddenly feels worried.

"Malfoy, who –"

"It's surprising," Malfoy interrupts, "what you learn about people after they've died." Harry recognises immediately that he's launched into one of the pre-prepared speeches that always seem to make it into their conversations. He sighs dejectedly as Malfoy brandishes a clump of dark hair. "My mother, rest her soul, was always looking for ways to exploit people. I recently found out that Polyjuice was apparently one of her favourite tools after the first fall of the Dark Lord. She took to keeping bits of people that she might one day want to Polyjuice into." His face scrunches up in a vaguely disgusted way. "It was actually slightly creepy, really. I think her Black blood was shining through or something; I hear they nailed their dead house elves to the wall or something. Malfoys would never do anything that undignified. Just imagine it."

Harry doesn't have to imagine, and he's fairly certain that Malfoy knows that.

"I thought you purebloods were all about blood ties and family and such. They were your family, too. You're as much a Black as a Malfoy."

Malfoy waves him off. "Yeah, well, they never did much for me, did they? Most of them got themselves killed before I was even old enough to remember them, and then the rest of them never bothered to visit. Too busy being Muggle-lovers and criminals, I assume. And you'll remember than my Aunt Bellatrix tried to kill me a few times. That hardly endeared me to her side of the family, all things told."

The last part is delivered in such an indifferent voice that it takes Harry a moment to remember that the man standing in front of him once – in a moment of weakness, he later claimed – fell to his knees before Harry and practically begged for shelter from his ex-comrades, Bellatrix most of all.

Harry wishes he could remind him of that time, but Malfoy made it indisputably clear back then – the very next time they saw each other after that, in fact – that they were never to mention that occasion again. That is the implicit price Malfoy demands in exchange for never pushing Harry on the topic of Dumbledore, though Harry knows the other man has no more desire to talk about Dumbledore than he does. Harry finds that he is loathe to break the rules, however, lest his tentative connection with Malfoy break down. He never admits it aloud, and is unsure if he ever will do so, but he's become accustomed to Malfoy's presence. He would miss him – the sex mostly, he decides quickly, afraid that Malfoy might be listening in on his thoughts – if they stopped seeing each other.

"You still haven't told me who you're planning to become," Harry says. He almost suspects, thinking on it now, that it might be Bellatrix. The hair is certainly the right colour. However, Harry knows that Malfoy would never risk real harm to himself, and they both know that should Harry ever see Bellatrix again, "Avada Kedavra" will be the least of the curses threatening to break loose.

Malfoy merely smiles and sprinkles the hair into the phial. The substance – Harry hesitates in calling it a liquid considering how he always has to practically chew just to swallow it down – turns a mossy sort of green. A bubble forms on the surface and pops almost ominously.

Harry wonders whether he's going insane, that he thinks that bubbles are popping with an actual purpose.

Malfoy tips his head at Harry as if bowing, acknowledging some great feat he has performed – probably just existing, knowing him. He then tosses his head right back and gulps down the contents of the glass container with difficulty and, once it's been swallowed, with a grimace.

"Malfoy, if you don't tell me right now –"

But Malfoy can't tell him anything, because he is suddenly doubled over with a pained look on his face. Harry knows from experience that he probably won't hear a word Harry says right now, let alone be able to answer his questions.

It takes several moments after the transformation is complete for Harry's brain to truly receive the message about what he's seeing.

"No," he says. "No, you did not just do that! Fuck you, Malfoy!"

"Temper, temper, Mr Potter," Malfoy replies, but it's difficult to remember that it's Malfoy when the words are spoken in that smooth voice and when the familiar platinum hair has turned dark and greasy. "If you'll take a moment from your own self-importance, you'll realise that we must play this encounter out. I'm not going anywhere for the next hour."

"No, but I am," Harry shoots back angrily. He spins around and stomps toward the door, reminiscent of his many heated exits from Mad-Eye's office. However, unlike each of those times, the door now slams in his face. Neither magic nor physical force seems likely to open it, Harry decides after several minutes of trying everything he can think of to pry the door from its frame. He wishes he could think more clearly.

He turns to face the visage of Snape, his face set in a scowl.

"What the hell are you thinking, Malfoy?"

"Mr Malfoy," Snape replies in a low but dangerous voice, "is not here to think anything, or to save you. And as you have undoubtedly noticed, you will not be leaving under your own steam any time soon."

"Oh, honestly," Harry says. He whips his wand up to Stun the other man so that he won't have to deal with him for the next hour, but he finds his spell is deflected even before he can say the words.

In that moment it is so simple to forget that Malfoy witnessed his easy defeat in his fight against Snape after Dumbledore's death, so of course he would know what to do to press Harry's buttons while impersonating Snape. In that moment all Harry can see in front of him, and all he can think about, is that Snape is standing right there, batting aside Harry's spells just as easily as he did once before.

Snape, who killed Dumbledore, is almost close enough to reach out and touch, and is certainly close enough to curse.

Harry's mental shields erect themselves faster than he's ever managed and stronger than Snape has likely ever seen them.

"Expelliarmus!" he shouts, and this time Snape can't read his mind to see what's coming. He tries to counter but is swiftly thrown against the wall, his wand arching across the room out of his grasp.

"You're pathetic, Potter. You can't even face me wizard to wizard; you have to take my wand away. Are you going to discard your wand as well and brawl with me like a common Muggle? Like your mother would have done?"

"She wasn't a Muggle," Harry says, his wand trained on Snape.

"No, she was worse. At least real Muggles don't mistakenly believe that they belong in our world. She thought she was as good as the Dark Lord, and look what happened to her."

"Shut up!" Harry screams. "That was your fault, not hers! You told Voldemort the prophecy!"

"I did," he admits. "I don't regret it, either, though I couldn't imagine at the time how he could possibly see the likes of you or Longbottom as threats. I still can't see anything special about you. You're less than mediocre. Your father would be proud."

Shut up, shut up, shut up, Harry thinks, though only an annoyed hiss escapes through his grinding teeth. He can control himself. He can show Draco that he doesn't need to release his anger to keep it in check. He doesn't need to rely on Lucius Malfoy's strange little three-step plan.

"You couldn't even save them. Dumbledore, your dogfather, even your parents; their deaths were all your fault."

"It was you!" Harry denies, though somewhere in his consciousness he knows this isn't true – that it wouldn't be true even if this had been really Snape. His eyes fill unwillingly with tears that are at once both angry and desperate.

"Yes," Snape says. "And I enjoyed helping them along to their deaths!"

Harry literally sees red.

"Crucio!" he cries desperately, his only focus purely on finding something, anything, that will put Snape out of commission without killing him. He wants the man to be around later so that he can have another go. He wants to inflict as much pain on Snape as he's received from him.

A scream unlike anything Harry has ever heard come out of Snape's mouth reverberates around the room, and finally filters into Harry's mind. The scream is familiar, he decides.

There can be no illusion about exactly who Harry has writhing on the floor at wand's end at this moment. His wrist snaps away immediately, allowing the spell's effects to fall away.

"Gods, Draco, I'm so sorry –"

"Haven't I told you to cease your delusions regarding Mr Malfoy?"

The line is coughed out through a slightly-raw throat, but it still sounds just like Snape.

Harry glowers. "Enough, Malfoy. It's too much. I just seriously hurt you."

Later Harry will wonder whether he imagined it. He is, after all, looking for a reaction that is Draco Malfoy all over. Even as an adult, Malfoy has never been a great actor, and while Harry is truly floored by the realism of his impression of Snape so far, it has to falter eventually. Illusion or not, though, right now he would swear that he can see a harsh determination in those dark eyes that pronounces quite clearly that this experiment won't end until it absolutely has to. And Harry knows that no matter how much he tries to dig in his heels, Malfoy is the more stubborn constituent of their partnership. Harry learns that lesson every time he shows up for work in the morning or brings Malfoy home with him in the evening.

And though later Harry will realise that he almost certainly could have stalled until the Polyjuice ran out, at the time he merely sighs and lets Malfoy – Snape – whoever – bat away the hand he offers to help the man up.

"I don't need your help, Potter," he says. Though it's Snape's voice that delivers the line, it still sounds enough like Malfoy that Harry recognises that he means that, that it isn't part of the act. He doesn't want Harry's help. Nothing's really changed in that respect. Harry doesn't know why he ever expects that it might.

Instead, they'll play this out, just as Malfoy wants, and any consequences will be on Malfoy's head.

Snape climbs to his feet. "Now that you've seen what your magic feels like when you're really pushed too far, I expect that even a half-wit such as yourself can recognise the signs and keep it in next time."

In the back of his mind, Harry knows that Malfoy is trying to help him. He knows that Malfoy is trying to explain what is coming without falling out of character. But the majority of his brain still only sees Snape standing there insulting him, after what he's just said…

Harry is already annoyed again.

"You know, during our Occlumency lessons I was actually opening your mind further. I knew what would happen. I knew you would get your godfather killed. I wanted that."

That part of Harry's brain that knows it's Malfoy under the façade only has just enough time to convey surprise at how well the other man must have done his homework to know about that before the greater part of his mental functions shut down any thoughts of that kind. His brain goes blank but for one thought; Snape deserves to be hurt for that.

"That's it!" Snape suddenly exclaims. "Now hold your magic in. Let it build, but don't let it out. You need to control it by altering it."

Harry can feel his fingers tingle, itching to shoot a thousand painful spells in Snape's direction. Why is he encouraging Harry? Doesn't he realise that Harry could – and really sort of wants to – kill him right now? Harry doubts he even really needs his wand to do so. His bare hands would really do nicely.

"Er, right, hold it, hold it," Snape says. Harry does as he asks, though he doesn't quite know why.

"Fuck, I should really have thought ahead," Snape says, and Harry is confused for a moment, his brain sort of stalling. Part of his brain comprehends this, but he can't quite access that over the pressing imperative to tear Snape a new one, at the very least.

And then he feels something – Snape's hand – settle on the front of his robes over his crotch.

All of the tingling from Harry's fingers plummets to that one point of contact and Harry is suddenly so hard that he's sure his cock could carve diamonds. Snape's fingers drag up and then down over the outline Harry's cock makes in the material. Harry's hips thrust up involuntarily. He tilts his head back so that his neck almost cracks with the effort of it and lets out a throaty moan that seems to make the walls shake.

His hands snap out and grab the front of the other man's robes and yanks. He barely spares a moment to think about how angry Snape will be that his robes are ruined or to be thankful that they're in a bedroom with an enormous bed not even two feet away. He's instead busy being grateful that Snape no longer wears greying underwear. Or any underwear at all apparently.

He disposes of his own clothing in much the same fashion. He doesn't care that the robe cost him a week's pay, and he certainly doesn't care that he bought it at Malfoy's urging, for Malfoy isn't there right now and Harry is far too desperate to alleviate his condition to care that the man he is pulling onto the bed on top of him isn't Malfoy, as much as part of him shouts that it really is, so it's fine.

He's also too frantic to be turned off when he goes to kiss the man and comes into contact with a too-large nose. It doesn't matter. Nothing matters but the rocking of their hips together, and the way the man's – Snape's – hand moves to properly grasp both of them at once.

Then Snape goes stiff and stops moving, but Harry can't stop. He doesn't want to.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck!"

It takes him a moment to recognise that that's his voice, as the feeling in his groin has spiralled out of his comprehension. He's afraid for a moment that he'll never think clearly again, for how could he think of anything other than this?

And then some time later, when it all eventually becomes too much, Harry ends up shouting into the night. A mouth closes over his again, not quite silencing him, and he's surprised to find that the nose doesn't get in the road anymore. He can't be arsed to care at that particular second, though. His brain feels like it's racing at the speed of light to catch up with his body, which might well be floating ten feet off the ground as far as his senses are telling him, as if Harry's released so much in climax that he's now lighter than the air itself.

And then all the parts seem to come together and Harry decides he's once more capable of opening his eyes. He's just in time to see the other man hovering above him with his hand jerking himself off. His face – just finishing shifting back into Malfoy's before his eyes, though Harry can barely believe it's been a whole hour – clenches and his mouth opens with a slight pant, but unlike Harry, he is silent as he comes. Harry likes to imagine he can hear his name on Malfoy's breath in that moment, but he knows it's just the wishful thinking of a man who has just had a brilliant orgasm and feels a connection with the person who gave it to him. He's played victim to such emotions before. They aren't safe in this… this thing that he has with Malfoy. It's not even a relationship.

But it's something. And Harry can't help but be glad for its existence.

He exhales, collapsing further into the mattress.

"And that's how you conduct and control," Malfoy announces as haughtily as he can manage while sounding just as breathless as Harry feels.

"Control?" Harry asks disbelievingly. "I couldn't think. I could have killed you."

"But you didn't. You channelled it, even if you didn't exactly realise that that's what you were doing. And each time will be easier. You'll stop becoming so out of it soon enough."

"But I can't just run off and have sex every time I get angry," Harry protests.

He feels Malfoy shrug against the skin of his own shoulder. "It would be very interesting, I'll admit, but I suppose not. It's a start, though. We can work on working it towards more… well, Ministry-friendly avenues, let's say. And eventually you'll be able to learn to confine your anger entirely. Problem solved."

"Not yet it isn't," Harry reminds him.

Malfoy lifts his weight from Harry long enough to shimmy down the bed a little further. He then settles back down, his head coming to rest in the crook of Harry's neck.

"Well," Malfoy says, "maybe after a little more practice?"

"Only if we can keep meeting at your place to do the practice," Harry says, glancing around the room he hardly ever gets to see. "This is a nice bed. The headboard alone probably costs twice as much as my whole bed put together. Why on earth would you want to stay at my place all the time?"

Then the meaning of Malfoy's words registers. "Oh, hang on, practice? As in, with you as Snape? How much of Snape's hair do you have, anyway?"

"A lot," Malfoy answers. "I did tell you my mother's habit was creepy. She could have impersonated him for months at a time, if she'd wanted to. Obviously she thought he might come in handy one day. I doubt she thought it would be like this, though."

"But who would want to Polyjuice into him?" Harry asks with a disgusted shiver. "All that greasy hair, and the nose… What even made you think for a second that I would want to have sex with him?"

"You didn't seem to mind all that a few minutes ago."

"Shut up. It was the magic. It's like an aphrodisiac when it's channelled into sex like that."

Malfoy looks vaguely sheepish, though Harry thinks at first that he must be reading the expression wrong. "It wasn't meant to be channelled into sex," he admits. "I was kind of improvising. I couldn't think what else to do with so much of it built up."

Harry finds that he can't even begin to voice how unbelievable Malfoy is after a revelation like that. His mouth simply gapes.

"Look, it wasn't that bad," Malfoy insists. "And you have to do it, really, if you ever want us to be able to go back out into the field without you cursing some poor old lady's tongue right out of her mouth," Malfoy snickers.

"That only happened just the one time!" Harry says defensively. "And she was hardly just a poor old lady; she was going to hex me! I don't understand why we got taken out of fieldwork because of that."

"I assume that the fact that it took us a week to find her tongue and that the witch then sued the Auror Department for all it was worth – which turned out to be not much, by the way – had something to do with it," Malfoy muses. "But once you demonstrate to Moody that you can keep yourself in check, he'll have no choice but to send us back out. Not a moment too soon, either. And it's all thanks to me."

Harry laughs. "My hero. What would I do without you?"

Harry means the words to sound mocking, but they don't come out quite the way he plans.

Malfoy shifts sleepily. "I doubt you'll ever have to find out. We're stuck with each other, for better or worse."

It's the closest either of them has ever come to acknowledging that this thing between them is more than, as they'd first claimed, just having a casual shag whenever the tension between them becomes too much. And it's definitely the closest they've come to admitting that they don't particularly mind being that close to each other.

"Though considering that I still hate you, I suppose you never know," Malfoy continues, as if he realises what he's just said. "I could run away with Granger tomorrow, remember."

"Yeah, sure. I hate you, too," Harry mutters. But his arms tighten to hold Malfoy closer to him. He stays awake long enough to hear his partner's breathing even out into slow inhales and exhales, trying to match them until he loses track of everything but the way Malfoy's – Draco's – body contorts artlessly around his own.

Harry sighs with something that he might almost think is contentment. If he didn't know better, that is.