Characters/Pairings: Harry/Draco, Ginny/Zacharias, a few other secondary pairings and characters

Warning(s): disregards epilogue, adult language, sexual content (including oral, anal, rimming, and a touch of food smut, yay!)

Word Count: ~23000 (omg)

Disclaimer: I make no profit from nor do I claim any ownership of the characters and situations discussed in this story; they belong to JK Rowling and Co. The title is taken from a song by Rilo Kiley.

Notes: Hi guys, I'm finally back with an On Fingers Broken Long Ago sequel! I hope you enjoy this; it got sort of obscenely long. I wrote this assuming you've read On Fingers…, so there are probably tons of little details and plot points in here that won't make sense to you if you haven't read that. It takes place about six months after On Fingers…, and I'll be following this up with another sequel that will take place six months after this.

So please let me know what you guys think of this, I'm really very curious, and I should see you guys in a little while with the next sequel!

Bound To Linger On

"I have good news," Draco crows while bursting into the supply room, startling Harry into dropping the pile of twisting wormwood cuts in his arms all over the floor in front of him. Harry sighs and waits for the verbal pummeling, oddly bereft when it doesn't come. Even stranger, Draco immediately draws his wand and starts magically collecting the wormwood without even a word of protest, going so far as to Conjure a basket to make Harry's life easier. Harry stares at him, dumbfounded.

"They've finally done it, haven't they?" he says wondrously, after a few seconds of Draco holding out the basket to him uselessly. Draco draws his thin, pale eyebrows together in confusion and tilts his head slightly to the side. His Wrackspurt, always hovering by his ear, bounces around a bit, put off by his owner's puzzlement.

"Done what?"

"They've finally made you Master and Commander of the Universe." Honestly, he can't think of any other news that would be so great that Draco wouldn't at least make fun of his uniform, something he's done every day since Harry had been assigned to the Potions and Plant Poisoning Department during his Mediwizard Traineeship. The ridiculous brown smock over his standard lime green robes is charmed to sprout various magical plants and flowers; it attracts all kinds of bugs and laughs and drives Harry absolutely mental. He doesn't understand the point of it, cannot abide by his Healer-in-Charge's airy, flighty logic of "It helps the energy of the department, Harry," and fully plans on burning the damn thing as soon as his rotation is over with.

Draco grins big and finally gives up on giving Harry the basket; he dumps it on the same worktable Harry had retrieved the cuts from and then hops onto the wooden tabletop next to it. "No. Better." His expression is so salacious and smug that Harry wonders if this is going to be one of those visits where they wind up on top of the worktable again, the ridiculous smock thrown across the room to bloom roses and chrysanthemums in response to their lovemaking. He wandlessly locks the door to the supply room just in case.

The grin widens. "I like the way you think, Potter." He reaches his legs out slowly to gently hook around the backs of Harry's thighs, tugging him over to crowd him up against the table. Harry gets excited and confused at the same time. Usually happy, mischievous, playful Draco is the Draco at home—the Draco who thought it would be a good idea to take turns fucking each other over Harry's balcony railing, scarring one of Harry's elderly neighbors for life. Sure, they've had their quickies at work, that's more of a St. Mungo's tradition than anything else, but usually those are gruff and frantic, rushed and impatient. Draco always looks two steps away from taking the whole hospital out with a well-aimed Blasting Curse when he's at work.

Whatever the news is, it really is good. For a second, Harry's curiosity actually wins out over his libido, and he pauses before he can fully capture Draco's mouth and end most conversation for the next twenty minutes or so before it can even start. "What's the news, Draco?"

Draco squirms against Harry's hold until the brunet leans back, studies the flushing, pleased face and the shining eyes of his excited lover. The bright, sunshine-emulating light charms of the Plants supply room has haloed Draco's already bright hair, softening it and making him look a bit like an angel.

"Wilhelmina Marrow has died!" Draco says gleefully, punctuating it with what might be an involuntary cackle. Harry shakes his head for a second, stares at his boyfriend, and decides no, no, he will not indulge his evilness today, no matter how attractive and/or adorable it may be.

"Excuse me? I hope Wilhelmina Marrow is some sort of convicted mass murderer that I've never heard about." Harry screws up his best bad Slytherin, very bad! face and pulls back to cross his arms over his chest.

Draco cackles again, knocking his swinging legs against Harry's. "No, no—she's a board member. A board member who has been holding on to her board seat with her bony, 130-year-old hands since my grandfather was a firstie. And now—now it will be pried from her cold, dead hands!" There doesn't even need to be another cackle for Harry to figure that part out; the mwahahaha is well-implied.

"Ah. So you're planning to, um, do this prying?" Draco looks at Harry as though he's a special kind of idiot.

"Of course I am, you dolt. Who better to sit on the board of this hospital than me, the youngest Healer-in-Charge St. Mungo's has ever seen? I mean, I don't think there's a single person under the age of 90 on there—and the 90-year-old is considered the baby of the lot. They need me, Harry!" He moves to rub his hands together vigorously, and Harry grabs them and holds on tight, unable to stop himself from smiling at the evil dictator mannerisms by now.

"Obviously; they probably haven't even realized it yet," Harry muses, kissing the hands he's got a firm grip on. Draco nods emphatically, the tone going right over his head as he gets caught up in his own awesomeness for a moment.

"Just think of it, Harry—Healer Draco Malfoy, Healer-in-Charge, Master Diagnostician, World-Renowned Pathologist, St. Mungo's Board of Trustees Member, The Chosen One—"

"Hey!" Harry cries, laughing helplessly. "You stole that one!"

Draco sticks his tongue out at him, then blushes, probably at his own ridiculousness. Harry leans in and kisses his nose before he can help it. "Oh come on, you can spare a title," he whines up against Harry's lips, and Harry just rolls his eyes and presses his mouth in for a kiss, sighing happily when Draco opens under him and kisses him hungrily back.

Perfectly narrow, elegant fingers reach up to fist at his shoulders and his smock roughly. A burst of fragrance emits from in between them and Harry groans as he feels the smock start to flower. Draco chuckles a bit into his mouth, and then plucks a red chrysanthemum from Harry's smock and strokes it lightly against Harry's cheek, making him shiver.

"You know," he whispers, mouth smirking and eyes glinting; he's shifted in the light, and he's certainly no angel now. "The partners of board members get all kinds of perks." He makes the word perk sound absolutely filthy, and Harry growls low in his throat.

He leans up further, pushing against Draco's mouth with his own and knocking the blond further back on the table. The wood wobbles beneath them but Harry knows that it can take it, it's taken much worse, and with that in mind, he hoists himself up on top of it, hovering over Draco and knocking the basket of wormwood carelessly to the floor. Draco chuckles into another kiss and says, "Neanderthal," but Harry kisses away any more sound and wriggles pointedly down against his crotch.

The table shudders with Draco; gray eyes light up with lust and heat and ah, here we go, this is the St. Mungo's quickie Draco that Harry has come to know and love. No playfulness, no jokes, this is sexy, seductive Draco who knows just how to move his hips and drive Harry nuts. Draco exhibits this talent just as Harry's thinking of it, rocking his hips to rub groin to groin against Harry, heating things up considerably even through layers of smock and work robes.

Speaking of…Harry sits up for a minute between Draco's spread legs and reaches down two hands to tear the stupid smock off his body, making Draco laugh. He tosses the thing thoughtlessly across the room, not paying attention to wear it lands, and then leans down again to grind mercilessly against his lover, savoring the gasps he receives for his trouble. He fits their mouths together and plunges his tongue in roughly, drinking in the sounds and feelings of Draco slowly coming undone underneath him, cherishing the thought that he's following him right over. Between them, Draco's hands are moving uncharacteristically clumsily, trying to undo Harry's trousers and break the barrier of clothes, and Harry tries to muster up enough hand-eye coordination to help him, breaking the blessed clothed contact for the promise of skin on skin.

At some point, an odd smell rises up from somewhere in the room, nearly lost in the heady scent of Draco's arousal and the sunshine aroma that tells Harry's he's been casting Healing spells recently. Harry dismisses the smell as just another of the plants in the supply room, where Harry had been preparing for an allergy test before Draco had come in, and he ignores it to gasp out pleasure against Draco's teeth, the feel of his hot hands against his hard, aroused flesh almost too much to handle. Draco whimpers when he himself is freed from the confines of his clothes and they rock together even more frantically, the table quaking perilously underneath them.

Soon, though, Harry's eyes start to sting with something that isn't quite emotion, and he focuses on Draco's face long enough to register that his eyes are watering, too, and he's sniffing curiously. "Ha—Harry, what…?" he gasps out, still wrapped in the heat and intensity of their coupling. Harry forces himself to tear his gaze away from Draco pink and aroused underneath him and looks around the room briefly—and discovers the wretched smock is on a sun lamp, quietly and steadily going aflame.

"Shit!" he shouts, letting go of Draco and toppling off the table messily, wincing at Draco's yelp of protest. He gropes for his wand, realizes it had gone flying off the table sometime during their frenzied rocking, and dives to the floor looking for it. He ignores Draco's chuckles and comes up with it triumphantly, only to be greeted with the sight of Draco sitting up on the table, trousers still open and half-hard cock still out with his robes pushed to either side, and spraying water across the room with his own wand.

For a second, he is utterly overwhelmed by the sheer absurdity and wonder of this image, and he moves to take Draco back in his arms as the fire dies down. But the moment is broken by Draco looking him up and down and then bursting out in laughter.

"Oh my God," he gasps, putting a hand dramatically to his heaving chest. "If you could see yourself." Harry realizes that he is in the exact same state of dishabille as Draco and feels slightly hurt for a second that Draco finds it funny as opposed to arousing.

Then he takes another second to consider two hospital employees in a supply room, surrounded by sensitive plants and apparently combustible sun lamps, with their cocks out and their clothes all over, and finds the humor in it. "You know," he fake-sneers, making Draco laugh even harder. "I don't think board members typically set fires in Potions and Plants supply rooms. Nor do they deflower innocent young Trainee-Mediwizards."

Draco cocks his head to the side, still chuckling, and then points to the still-smoldering smock across the room and collapses into laughter again. "Deflower!" he cries delightedly, and Harry rolls his eyes and leans forward to gather Draco to him again, kissing the crown of his shaking head.

"You're mental," he concludes, rubbing his hands up and down Draco's arms as his affection for Draco finally overrides his desire. Draco gives one last snigger and then beams up at him, beatific as opposed to his usual coy. Harry draws in a quick, staggering breath, and his lover blushes promptly.

"Good, then," he murmurs. "Have you ever met an employee of this hospital that isn't totally mental? I'm perfect for this job."

"You are perfect," Harry says without any hesitation, and when Draco kisses him firmly and heatedly, slipping them right back into the passion of just a few moments before, his thank you tastes better than anything he's ever tasted before.

It's not that Harry dislikes working on the third floor of St. Mungo's. It's a nice enough place to work, not counting the smocks or Harry's continued utter incompetence when it comes to potions. His boss, though slightly flaky and almost Luna-like in her disposition, is a sweet older woman named Healer Foulis that had taken to Harry right away and ushered him more towards the Herbology side of things, sensing his discomfort with Potions.

"This is ridiculous," Draco had snapped haughtily when Harry had recounted his fourth tale of Devil's Snare poisoning or gillyweed overdose. "The whole point of these rotations are to challenge you and make sure you can cover a wide spectrum of specialties, even if they're not your strong suit."

"But Potions is never going to be my specialty," Harry had argued, terrified of being thrust into a potion-poisoning case and mucking it up completely with his persistent mental block when it comes to the subject. "And I did well enough on my potions exams at Apollo. Besides, we all know what specialty I'm going to pick when I finish my rotation—Bugs. I don't see the point in risking lives just so I can learn a lesson."

Draco had scowled and muttered and gone on to argue, and Harry had cut off the argument quickly with his by now well-used and favorite method: kissing the words away.

So really, even though he's sure he's not planning on making a career out of Potions and Plant Poisoning, Harry can't actually complain about his job there. In fact, the only thing truly and fundamentally wrong with it is that it isn't Bugs.

But the fact is that it isn't Bugs, and so Harry misses Bugs almost desperately. He misses Draco during rounds, misses Ginny lobbing various objects at various annoying people, misses Michael Corner's unruly and unending moodiness since his breakup with Ginny, misses Brigid the Mediwitch's sharp tongue and sneering features—he even misses Sparrow and his inexplicable competence.

He takes any chance he can get to sneak down there and badger people, or just talk to them, to revel in the comfortable environment that feels like a second home to him by now. He knows that Draco takes a lot more consults on the Potions and Plants floor just to stop and say hi to Harry, to make him more comfortable, but it's really not enough. For every supply room quickie they squeeze in, Harry still just misses lounging on the couch in Draco's office or sitting up on the counter at Station One, listening to the wonderful sounds of his favorite people bickering.

And through all these surreptitious visits, made possible by the fact that Healer Foulis really is a pushover and he can really get away with anything there, Harry comes to discover just how Draco plans on making a bid for this board seat.

"It's all about strategy," Draco had told him one night during dinner, as if he were imparting some precious sort of wisdom. "I have to project a good, productive image of the ideal St. Mungo's worker for the current board members, so they'll vote me in at the next meeting." Harry, obviously a long way from obtaining a board seat or even cultivating any interest in one, had simply shrugged and nodded the way he always does when Draco talks about Slytherin things.

Now, though, as he skulks sort of shiftily around the bustling Station One, trying to look busy reading a chart and taking in his surroundings at the same time, Harry realizes that there is some kind of strategy at play here. For once, there is no one standing around gossiping idly—all the nurses, usually so unflappable, look sort of frightened as they consult Healers and patient records. Trainees are moving together in packs, jumping whenever spoken to, and even Ginny seems affected, barely glancing up at Harry in greeting before averting her gaze and hurrying off to do whatever it is she has to do. It's sort of weird, actually, to see the second floor working so diligently for once, and that's how Harry discerns Draco's strategy: he has instated a reign of terror.

"Oi, Potter, get out of here," Brigid hisses as she zooms by. "Don't you dare distract anyone, you'll start a riot. Since we've started working for Healer Stalin—"

"Oh God, please call him that to his face, he probably won't get the reference!" Harry lobs back, grinning widely. Brigid scowls in response and continues on.

"—things have been a little bit tense around here." To punctuate her point, she slams roughly into his shoulder, nearly knocking him off his feet, and then disappears into a ward. Harry sighs, looks around at all the strained, scared faces of his beloved home department, and then stalks purposefully towards Draco's office.

"Harry!" his boyfriend cries, possibly the only delighted person left on the floor. Harry sternly tells himself not to get caught up in it, and instead puts his hands on his hips and adopts another bad Slytherin, very bad! look.

"What did you do?"

Draco blinks at him curiously, and then quickly smirks. "Ah, so you've noticed. Isn't it brilliant? All I had to do was fire—"


"—two nurses and one of the Mediwitches, really Harry, you have got to finish your rotation fast, we are in dire need around here—"

"Draco, you cannot just fire people so that everyone will be afraid of you!" Harry admonishes, refusing to endorse this behavior. Draco blinks at him again, and then shakes his head.

"Honestly, Harry, it's not like I fired them without reason. I've just stopped letting these things slide—Mabel came in nearly an hour late for her shift and then spent even longer by the lifts talking about those Luna-Sparrow engagement rumors—total bollocks, by the way, there's no way Luna will ever marry that clown, she just hasn't gotten tired of him yet. And Lyle had the nerve to complain about me firing Mabel and decided he wasn't going to do any of his morning stat checks, so I had to fire him, too. And then of course Ophelia—"

"Well, you can at least feel a little bad about it," Harry grumbles, not needing to hear how Ophelia had mucked up her job—she had been Zacharias Smith's replacement, and had always been nearly as useless. "There's no need to sound so gleeful."

Draco rolls his eyes up towards the ceiling in a classic move that Harry recognizes to mean Merlin preserve us from Gryffindors. "But don't you see, it's working, everyone is absolutely terrified, and they're all doing their jobs—there hasn't been so much as a whisper of gossip this morning. And oh, you have got to see the archives room, I sent Sparrow there for punishment—"

"For what?" Harry sighs, stifling his laughter.

"Oh, he called me Draco—"


"Yes, just like that—"

"You are fucking awful!" It's impossible to hold the laughter back now; Draco really is just too much sometimes. Harry twitches with the urge to hug him and is almost giving into it when the door behind him shoves open and Ginny appears, mouth pressed into a thin, annoyed line of anger.

"Hello, boss man. Are we still allowed meal breaks, then?" she sneers, making Harry laugh harder.

Draco immediately schools his face into a harsh expression of authority—which nearly doubles Harry over in laughter. The blond ignores him to stare down the redhead.

"Certainly, Nurse Weasley, but please remember not to take more than your allotted 30—ow!" he shouts as Ginny whips out her wand and throws a hex that singes his robes at the shoulder. "Insubordination!"

Harry collapses into a chair, weak with laughter. "Oh please, stop. You're killing me."

"It's not funny, Harry!" Ginny says shrilly, eyes wild as she advances on the blond still rubbing at his injured shoulder and pouting slightly. "I shouldn't have to take this from him! He's gone totally insane! He replaced all the mattresses in the on-call room with wooden boards—he says 'comfort and relaxation only lulls the senses into complacency, hindering the employee's productivity.'" She has a perfect Malfoy drawl, so much so that it only makes Harry start actually wheezing with laughter.

Draco clears his throat and eyes her imperiously, nose up in the air in that indignant nerd way he has. "That's perfectly true, Ginevra, research shows—" But Ginny lets out a little shriek and hurls another hex at him, this one stinging him right on the forehead.

"And he keeps calling me Ginevra!"

"Look," Harry manages, chest heaving with the effort to hold back the laughter. Ginny and Draco are still glaring at each other, Ginny's wand still raised in threat, and Harry knows he needs to fix this before his boyfriend is injured any further. "Let's just head to lunch, yeah? Luna's probably waiting."

It is a very tense twosome that joins Harry in the lifts to head up to the roof for lunch with Luna. The fact that Draco and Ginny can't stop scowling at each other just makes Luna's bright, 80-watt smile all that much more ridiculous, and Harry takes a moment to love her dearly for it.

"Hello!" she calls out sunnily, and Draco and Ginny grunt in strained greetings, derailing her not in the slightest. "It's a lovely day out, isn't it?"

Ginny snorts and crosses her arms over her chest as they all get in line at the café. "Yes, it is, thank you so much for blessing us with nice weather, Master Draco."

Instead of acting offended, Draco gets a little lost in evil dictator thoughts for a while, making Harry kick him lightly in the shin.

Mood improved by the Master Draco implication, Draco retrieves his lunch and starts chattering happily to Luna about all his new policies and his plans to show them off to the board members. Luna listens with her usual guileless grace and nods at all the right times, butting in with blunt and innocently discouraging observations, but Harry tunes them out for a bit to look more closely at Ginny, who hasn't shaken her own sour mood.

"What's up, Gin?" he asks her quietly, leaving the blonds to debate the 'happy workers are productive workers' adage amongst themselves.

Ginny huffs into her sandwich and refuses to meet Harry's eyes, which starts to worry him. "Oh, nothing. It's not a big deal."

Draco breaks off in the middle of something about keeping down the proletariat and rolls his eyes at the both of them. "She and Zach are fighting, so she's pouting."

"Sod off, Malfoy. And how do you even know that?" If possible, Ginny looks even more upset, and Harry glares at Draco in accusation.

"Who do you think he fire-calls drunk at three o'clock in the morning when you two have it out?" He jerks his thumb at himself and quails slightly when Harry's glare turns into a full-on death glare.

"He does? Why didn't I know this?"

Draco rolls his eyes again and starts to look distinctly uncomfortable, as he does whenever Harry brings up Zacharias. It's an old argument with them, one that usually gets resolved quickly enough by the reminder that yes, Zach and Ginny are still together, and no, he's not still in love with Draco.

Harry trusts Draco, he really does, and he's okay with Zacharias when they all go out together. There's also the fact that he owes Zacharias Draco's life, which is something he'll never forget. But he's also never been able to completely squash down that niggling feeling of doubt whenever he hears about the two of them alone together. And judging by the dark look on Ginny's face, he's starting to think that she feels the same way.

"You sleep like a log, that's why," Draco points out, waving his sandwich dismissively in his face and smiling in a way that starts to dissipate the worries.

"So what did he say?" Ginny demands harshly, her own worries clearly not assuaged. Draco sighs and addresses his sandwich when he speaks.

"I really don't want to get in the middle of this, you know."

"Well then, you should've kept your fat mouth shut!" Draco's lip thin and his eyes flash, warning signs Harry recognizes but isn't fast enough to head off.

"Alright, you want to know what he said? He said you don't trust him, you're entirely too insecure, and you're not mature enough for a serious relationship, even though you keep accusing him of the same thing!" Harry winces as Ginny's eyes widen in outrage, but not even Luna's soft, placating, "Draco, please," is enough to stop him once he's started. "And you know, he's not entirely wrong, either. You ought to give him a break once in a while."

And very quickly, the outrage flees from Ginny's face, and is swiftly replaced by hurt and sadness, which is so much worse. Draco blanches when her eyes start to seem a little wet and she stands up quickly. "Oh, come on, Gin, don't—"

"Leave me alone," she snaps hoarsely, and she abandons her lunch to stalk off towards the lifts. Draco sighs and drops his forehead into his hand.

"How did you do this for five years?" he asks Harry miserably, and it takes him a second to realize he's referring to Ron and Hermione and being in the middle of their rather disastrous relationship.

"Er, I didn't. I always mysteriously lost the ability to speak whenever they complained about each other."

Luna nods sagely in understanding while Draco just snorts. "Ah, yes. Nargles are helpful that way. You could do with some Nargles too, Draco." She cuffs him very lightly on the shoulder, bringing his head up to glare at her mockingly, and Harry wonders at the fact that he can only feel the slightest bit of vague jealousy at the comfort with which they interact.

Maybe it's because he and Draco are almost on the same level of comfort by now, nearly a year into their relationship, or because the way Draco and Luna touch each other isn't really how lovers touch each other. Or because Harry has more than enough confirmation from both Draco and the rest of their friends, who had all watched it happen, that there is too much history and heartbreak between them to ever really recover from. Maybe it's a combination of all these things, but the fact is that Luna just doesn't incite that same tight feeling of unruly possessiveness and irrational jealousy that Zacharias always does.

"Well, Nargles or no, this bloody sucks," Draco continues piteously. "They're going to break up, I can just tell, and then Zacharias is going to throw himself off the Astronomy Tower, and Ginny will find some way to blame that on me, the drama queen."

Harry grins and shakes his head. "You have some nerve, calling someone else a drama queen."

Draco ignores him and heaves a weary sigh. "Well, they'll just have to hold off until after the Quibbler Anniversary Gala. There's a lot of schmoozing to be done there, and I can't afford any distractions at this stage." Luna giggles at his typically Malfoy line of thinking, but she knows as well as Harry does that Draco is legitimately worried about his two best friends breaking up, or else he would never have spoken to Ginny so harshly about it.

"I'll talk to Ginny," he offers, and the relieved smile Draco offers in response is breathtaking. After a careless glance around more for politeness' sake, Draco leans to the side and kisses Harry swiftly and sweetly.

Luna beams at them both. "Aw."

"Shut it, Lovegood," Draco gripes against Harry's cheek, not even looking at her. And all at once Harry feels stupid for any sort of jealousy, towards anybody, because Draco is his—for supply room quickies, for lazy evenings in the townhouse, for rushed and hectic mornings, for all the important things. And even though they're not ones for sweeping declarations of love, Harry knows what he feels, knows what Draco feels in every kiss and touch, every surreptitious consult up on Harry's floor where he does more Mediwizard groping than consulting.

Harry's never said the word 'love' to a fully conscious Draco, and he's never heard the word back, but he's not sure the word is totally needed.

Harry likes to think it's a testament to his 'talking to Ginny' skills that both she and Zacharias show up to the Quibbler Anniversary Gala at Malfoy Manor arm in arm, even if they are glaring at each other intermittently.

In reality, all he'd actually done was take Ginny's side, leaving Draco on Zach's side, and that had really been all Ginny needed: someone to tell her she wasn't crazy for being angry at Zacharias. Considering the fact that Harry still isn't quite sure why she's angry at Zacharias (it's something to do with how far Scotland is from London, where Ginny lives, though why that's actually Zacharias' fault Harry will never understand), this is no mean feat. But really, Harry doesn't ever need much of an incentive to side against Zacharias Smith, former and possible current holder of a flame for Harry's boyfriend.

But to Draco, it's enough that they've shown up, and he carefully puts their issue on the backburner in favor of tugging Harry all around the Manor ballroom in which the Gala is taking place, zeroing in on various board members and greeting them like old family friends.

"So glad you could make it, Estelle," he warmly smarms to a poor old woman hunched over a cane, looking as if a gentle breeze could tip her over. Draco hugs her gently and beams when she titters appreciatively.

"Thank you for the invitation, dear," she croaks back, and then she totters slowly over towards the buffet table, beady eyes set on the Malfoy house-elves' excellent asparagus feuilletés. Harry and Draco watch her worriedly.

"Father will be very displeased if someone dies at his Gala," Draco sighs sadly, and Harry would laugh if the possibility weren't so very plausible.

Indeed, Lucius Malfoy is eyeing the various ancient guests of his son's invitation with barely suppressed suspicion and wariness, and keeps shooting Draco subtle glares. The Gala is supposed to be celebrating seven years of Quibbler success under the partnership of Malfoy and Xenophilius Lovegood, and interspersed with the old witches and wizards of the St. Mungo's Board of Trustees are Quibbler shareholders, the entire Quibbler staff, and many important Ministry officials who had come around to supporting the publication.

"Well, we have a bunch of nurses, Mediwizards and Healers here should anyone show any signs of trouble," Harry tells him, and Draco perks up a bit.

"Yup, we all know Zach is very handy with a Resuscitation Spell," he remarks, and Harry can't help it: he pouts a little.

"So am I," he points out petulantly, and Draco rolls his eyes and squeezes his hand quickly.

"Yes, you are, and I promise, if any of the board members keel over, you'll be the first person I ask for," he reassures a bit wearily, and Harry smiles at him and pecks him quickly in gratitude.


Thankfully, no one actually keels over—one older board member chokes on an olive, and all of the medical staff draw their wands and run, but it is Narcissa Malfoy that gracefully swoops in and accios the olive easily, smirking at all the panicked faces. She then plies the board member with another martini, this one olive-free, and flirts with him until he's already forgotten about his brush with death. Draco sighs happily.

"My mum is the best," he says dreamily, and he continues making the social rounds floating on his mother's wonderfulness.

Harry eventually starts tuning out his boyfriend's steady stream of bullshit about increases in productivity and superb budget management and starts paying attention to more interesting bits of the party, mainly the bits between people his own age. He leaves Draco loudly discussing Wrackspurt breeding with a deafened Trustee to check on Ginny, who has separated from Zacharias and seems to be complaining about him to Pansy and Daphne.

"—and really, I don't understand how he thinks 'there's been a Gryffindor-Slytherin match, love, I'm totally swamped!' is a valid excuse to cancel dinner with barely any notice! I'm not an idiot, you know, things between Gryffindor and Slytherin aren't nearly as bad as they used to be, there's no reason for him to be locked in that infirmary for an entire weekend!" She might be a little tipsy, actually, because her own martini sloshes dangerously as she waves her hand pointedly. Harry smirks slightly.

"Of course there's not," Daphne says soothingly, patting her on the back and hiding her own smirk.

"And another thing," Ginny snarls, waving the martini glass again and then gulping it all in one go. Daphne, Pansy and Harry all wince. "I don't trust that Pomfrey woman—she's very handsy, very touchy-feely, I don't like it."

"Gin, Pomfrey's gotta be pushing 80," Harry laughs, earning himself a glare.

"He works too much," Ginny continues, as if he hadn't said anything. "He has to go in tomorrow—on a Saturday, which is so stupid, okay, because, whatever, so I'm working tomorrow too, but Pomfrey isn't crazy like Draco is, so—so he's working because supposedly, some little blighter has dragon pox. Ha! I know better. S'not dragon pox season, it's July."

"Dragon pox can happen year-round," Harry tries, but Pansy just shakes her head discreetly and he realizes he shouldn't even bother.

"They're having sex," Ginny concludes darkly, and then, to their horror, she abruptly starts to cry. The girls swoop in while Harry freezes and gapes, and pretty soon Ginny is lost in a flurry of coos and soothing "Oh no, he wouldn't, he would never!"

Sensing his own uselessness, Harry backs away from them and looks around the room for an escape. He spots Zacharias at the bar with Goyle, determinedly getting smashed and probably complaining about the same things that Ginny is complaining about, and makes a note to avoid that area at all costs. Finally he spots Hermione sitting with Blaise, Theo and Ron, and hurries over for salvation.

"Your sister is mental," he tells his best friend flatly, and Ron shrugs and doesn't argue it.

"Pretty much. But really, who isn't, these days?" He jerks his head towards Hermione, who Harry is realizing looks a bit down and rather frustrated about it. He catches her glancing over at the bar and then narrowing her eyes, and he groans internally at the realization that Zach and Ginny aren't the only inter-House couple having trouble tonight.

"I saw that, Ronald," Hermione snaps, tightening her mouth over her own drink and staring down at the table. Ron repeats her words silently and exaggeratedly, eyes sparkling with mischief, and then yelps when she shoots him with a Stinging Hex.

"I'm gonna tell Pansy on you!" he informs her hotly, and she simply hexes him again and then crosses her arms over her chest.

"What's up, Hermione?" Harry asks wearily, already tired of asking that question of his friends. He remembers a few months back, when Ginny had so adamantly spoken out against dating within the group; he's starting to think she might've been right, excepting him and Draco, of course.

To his surprise, instead of getting petulant and moody as Ginny had done, Hermione just gets wistful and sort of sad, biting her lower lip and looking over at where Greg and Zach are sort of leaning against each other now. "He wants to get married, I think," she says softly, and Harry feels a wave of sympathy rush through him: if getting married is such a problem, then it's obvious that this is much more serious than Ginny and Zach's petty squabbling.

That goes right over Ron's head, of course. "Well, married life isn't so bad, really," he comments carelessly, gesturing between him and Theo. "Right, Nott? I mean, there's regular sex—"

"Sure there is," Theo snorts, rolling his eyes. He scoffs at Ron's sympathetic grimace. "Just wait 'til you and Pansy have kids, Weasley. Then we'll talk about regular sex again and see how much that's happening."

Ron begins to look devastated, which makes Hermione start to smirk a little, and Blaise joins her and stretches to rest an arm around her shoulders.

"Personally," he drawls, eyeing her up and down the way he eyes anything on two legs up and down. "I'm an advocate for life-long bachelorhood. I like to keep my options open." He inches his hand downward and then abruptly pulls it back when she lands a Stinging Hex on it quickly.

"I honestly didn't ask for any of your opinions," she says hotly. "This is something I can work out quite fine for myself, thank you very much." She continues to look upset, though, and Harry sighs and touches her hand, not at all afraid of getting hexed.

"It's alright," he tells her softly. "If it doesn't feel right to you, Hermione, then it shouldn't happen. But if it does feel right—" And he glances over at Draco for a minute, needing a reminder of exactly what feels right. "—then you shouldn't let anything frighten you off. You're a Gryffindor for a reason, you know." She smiles at him, eyes brighter and clearer, and then stands up with her shoulders set.

"You're right. I'm going to go talk to him." She leaves Ron badgering Theo with desperate questions ("Right, mate, are we talking no sex at all? Or about once a week or so?") and Blaise scoping out the rest of the room for another vulnerable victim, to stride purposefully over to the bar, where she tugs Greg away from Zacharias and Apparates out with him on the spot.

To the left of the bar, Lucius Malfoy is possessively pulling his wife away from the old man whose life she had saved, and Harry watches in disbelief as they start arguing through a series of cold stares and raised eyebrows. Ron is now running to Pansy, probably to beg for sex; Daphne ignores Theo completely in favor of comforting a still distraught Ginny. And Zacharias has now passed out at the bar, completely alone.

"It's kind of insane that we're the most stable couple out of everyone we know right now," Draco tells him hours later, after hauling Zach back with them to the townhouse and dumping him in one of the guest rooms. All of the board members have been buttered up and flattered to within an inch of their lives, and fortunately they had all remained living. The various couples had all stomped off either together or separately, and Harry had left Malfoy Manor grinning smugly at the fact that Lucius would probably be spending the night on the couch.

Harry pauses in removing his shirt to blink over at Draco, who is working his way wearily out of his dress robes. "I don't think it's that insane," he says, a bit hurt, and Draco stops and must go over what he'd said in his head.

"I didn't mean it that way," he tries, but Harry turns to face him completely, half out of his clothes and mind whirling.

"Then how did you mean it? I thought we've been doing pretty well." Harry doesn't want to sound whiny, but he doesn't like the implication that their relationship has any expectations of failure.

"Well yeah, that's what I'm saying. But honestly, a year ago, did you see us working out this well? Because I certainly didn't."

Harry frowns. "Yeah, because a year ago I was just this annoying prat of a volunteer who wouldn't get out of your way."

"No," Draco retorts, suddenly blushing in a way that lets Harry know he's going to reluctantly admit to something he'd rather Harry didn't know. "A year ago you were this gorgeous prat of a volunteer who I couldn't stop remembering naked. And you wouldn't get out of my head. And I thought you were sent there to spy on me from the Ministry, which is why that was a problem." He crosses his arms over his chest petulantly. "So there."

And see, this is why it isn't so insane that he and Draco are the most stable couple out of their group, at least not to Harry. Because this is right, and it fits, even with the ticking time bomb of Zacharias Smith sleeping in a guest room and Harry's insecurities and Draco's apparent incredulity regarding them as a couple.

Harry snickers and then moves forward to kiss Draco soundly, happy to help him out of the rest of his clothes and then pull him naked to the bed. "See, it's not so insane, really," he mumbles against heated, wonderful skin, as Draco gasps beneath him. "We just work in all—" He pauses for a sucking kiss right on Draco's collarbone, reveling in the groan he elicits. "—the right—" He grinds his boxer-covered hips into Draco's for emphasis. "—ways." And then back up to his mouth to tangle their tongues, letting Draco grasp for his wand and then spell his clothes away, leaving them both bared and trembling against each other.

They take their time with each other, as they like to do when they're in bed at the townhouse or at Harry's flat and not rutting like dogs in a supply room. Harry sucks at Draco's cock before he can even ask for it, letting his tongue move languidly along the hard and aching flesh and savoring the taste of it at the back of his throat. He preps him with slick, nimble, adoring fingers and then allows him to flip their positions, lets the long limbs and pale planes of his lover's body climb on top of him and straddle his thighs.

"Honestly," Draco huffs breathlessly as he guides Harry's throbbing erection to line up at his hole, quivering slightly in anticipation. "No one elseis having sex as good as this. Not possible." He slides down onto Harry's cock with a grunt and then a relieved sigh, as if Harry filling him is just about the best feeling in the world, and Harry flushes with love and heat and gratitude. Draco throws his head back, his face perfectly blissful, and then thrusts himself up and down again firmly. "Not insane, either."

"Oh God," Harry whimpers, rocking his hips up to meet Draco's downward thrusts. "Fuck, Draco." The blond above him smirks in satisfaction, speeding up until he's just about bouncing on Harry's cock, fucking himself harsher than Harry would normally take him in another position, crying out as the angle shifts slightly and his prostate is bumped. His long cock is standing straight up, right in front of Harry, still wet and warm from his mouth and he's sure he's never seen anything so tempting.

Harry fists his hand around it, tugs and growls at the feel of it wrapped in his fingers, wrests the control easily from Draco, who is now frantic and jerky in his movements, quickly coming undone in his arousal. Two, three, four rough tugs and Draco's crying out and spurting all over Harry's chest and stomach, clenching his inner walls around the cock inside of him. The tight heat of Draco's clenched muscles pulls Harry's orgasm right out of him, and he empties himself into Draco just before the blond starts to slump over in breathless, sated exhaustion.

"Not possible," Harry wheezes out in belated agreement, pulling him close to him and grabbing him into a slow, breathless kiss. Draco chuckles wearily into his mouth, shifting so that Harry slips out of him with a trickle of wetness, and they tangle their legs and lay together. Skin to sticky skin, evidence of their first coupling cooling on Harry's chest and the insides of Draco's thighs, they kiss each other into arousal again, this time taking even more time with each other.

"Mine," Harry growls when he takes Draco again, this time with the blond on his back, wanting the declaration to float down the hall and into the guestroom where Zacharias is sleeping. Draco's eyes widen and darken, as if he knows exactly what Harry's thinking, and Harry thrusts into him roughly before he can take offense to it. He can practically see all thought go out of Draco's head, and he wants to keep it out, wants to keep nothing but yes and more and Harry out of their bed.

He drives into Draco forcefully, spurred on by the increasing volumes of his moans, and he purposefully shifts to ram into Draco's sweet spot. This earns him a shout, a cry that breaks right in the middle and nearly shatters Harry right there. He keeps his pace, keeps the angle, pulls more cries and hoarse screams and then, exactly what he wants to hear: "Harry, HARRY!"

With a shout, Harry comes apart, gripping Draco's desperately writhing hips to keep from floating away on the high of his orgasm.

"Harry," Draco whimpers. He whines breathily when Harry pulls out but shuts up when Harry dips down to mouth at his balls, thrusting his fingers into his well-used, seed-slicked hole. He waits until the soft globes tighten in his mouth and the muscles clench greedily around his fingers to fit his mouth over the head of Draco's cock, and with a final shout of Harry's name, Draco releases onto his lover's tongue.

"Gah," Harry breathes out once he's swallowed his mouthful, and he collapses next to Draco in exhaustion, smiling sleepily when Draco tugs him lazily to rest his head in the crook of his arm. He feels a gentle, weary hand stroking into his hair and he falls asleep knowing that yes, Draco's right—no one else is having sex this good. It's just not possible.

Unfortunately, part of Draco's campaign for his board seat is working on the weekends, and he wakes Harry up early on Saturday with quiet prattle to himself about commitment and healthy work ethic. Harry sits up and prepares to tell Draco off the way he always does when he overworks—this has happened before, of course, even since the wild magic kids, because Draco is nothing if not a little too obsessed with his job—but Draco silences him with a swift kiss.

"Nope, don't. Go back to sleep, it's very early. I'm gonna see Zach out and then head to the hospital."

That has Harry nearly tumbling out of the bed, groping for shower-warmed, sweet-smelling Draco skin. "Mmph. No. Stay."

Draco chuckles warmly. "I can't, Harry, I have to go in. Just relax, Nilly will cook up a nice breakfast for you later. This is your only day off, savor it."

"Your day off too." He realizes he sounds like a five-year-old and doesn't rightly care. He wraps his arms around Draco's trouser-clad thighs and holds him still stubbornly. "Stay."

Draco gets a little quiet, and then he sighs reluctantly and bends down to kiss Harry on the forehead. "Let me get rid of Zacharias," he mumbles, and Harry crows triumphantly in his head and relinquishes his grip.

It takes a full twenty minutes to stuff a hung-over Zacharias into the Floo and towards Hogwarts, but Draco is true to his word and joins Harry back in the bedroom, wordlessly stripping as he goes. They fit around each other for slow, luxuriant lovemaking and then doze happily in sunshine-drenched sheets until Harry's growling stomach draws them out of bed.

They're lazily eating bacon and coffee in the kitchen when Draco's Floo chimes and they exchange curious glances before heading to the sitting room to investigate. Draco scowls when he sees Brigid's head in the fireplace and gives Harry a look that clearly says see? I told you I had to go in.

"What is it, Brigid?"

"It's Ginny," the Mediwitch says shortly. "She's having a meltdown. We're trying to keep her from storming Hogwarts and going after Zach, but she's making a scene, and we can't reach Luna—"

"I'll be there in ten minutes," Draco says, and Brigid's disembodied head nods briskly and then disappears into green flames. Draco purses his lips and then calls for Nilly to bring him clothes.

"Me too," Harry insists timidly, careful not to scare the house-elf into falling asleep. The elf simply squeaks but manages to pop out of sight fully conscious.

"God, of all the times she could've pulled something like this," Draco fumes quietly as they dress hastily. Harry looks at him sideways.

"She's obviously hurting—"

"But this is Ginny! She knows better than this! Zach's obviously rubbed off on her too much." Harry can't quite argue with that; he knows as well as Draco does that this is particularly atypical behavior for Ginny, excepting her penchant for chucking projectiles at people who piss her off.

They Floo straight to Draco's office to find an entire crowd of disgruntled Bugs employees in there, looking more at a loss than they have all week. "You just missed her," Brigid gripes, and Draco groans loudly and turns to head back into the Floo.

"No, I'll go," Harry says quickly, afraid that Draco's temper might just make things worse.

It's a quick Floo trip to Madame Pomfrey's office at Hogwarts, but Harry is anything but looking forward to having to break Ginny and Zacharias up from a fight. He stumbles out into the matron's office and greets the school nurse with a sheepish smile.

"Good morning, Madame Pomfrey."

"Good morning, Mediwizard Potter. I assumed they'd send you to fix this mess. Tell me, are you immune to dragon pox?" Pomfrey is perfectly at ease, sitting primly behind her desk, even though the sounds of Ginny and Zach's argument are floating in from the outer ward. Harry thinks about it and then nods slowly.

"Yeah, I had dragon pox in Toronto, a bad case of it went around the Auror Department."

"Good, you'll be able to leave off with the Bubble-Head Charm. I'm assuming Nurse Weasley is immune as well, since she didn't bother with any precautions."

"Probably," Harry deduces; he knows that Ron had gotten it as a child, and since it's an extremely infectious disease, it stands to reason that all of the Weasley children had as well. He dismisses the issue quickly and moves onto the more pressing one. "Er, I bet a shield wouldn't hurt though, huh? Has she chucked anything yet?"

Madame Pomfrey grins, brightening up her wise features. "I am excellent with Sticking Charms, young man. She won't be able to chuck anything in my ward."

Harry gives her a grateful handshake and then sets his shoulders and draws his wand. "Right then. I'm going in."

Ginny and Zach are standing in the middle of the Hospital Wing, heedless of the few Hogwarts students occupying the beds. None of them are paying the fighting couple any attention, and since Ginny's voice is screeching increasingly higher, Harry deduces that someone sensible, most likely Pomfrey, had set up a silencing spell. A good thing, too, since the dragon pox patient in particular, green and covered in painful-looking sores, looks miserable enough without being treated to the Ginny and Zacharias breakfast show.

"Ginny," Harry sighs when he sees her trying to pry a book off a bedside table, with intent to throw it. Zacharias spots him and gives him his usual greeting of a murderous, disdainful glare with the added bonus of a blush, which tells Harry he hadn't been in a deep enough sleep last night to miss out on Harry and Draco's indiscreet activities. Harry stifles a smirk and steps closer to the couple.

"Stay out of this, Harry!" Ginny snarls, still fighting with the book. Her eyes are wild and furious, her hair mussed, and Harry is hesitant to touch her, lest he lose a hand. Zacharias seems to feel the same way; he looks tired and resigned and more defeated than Harry has ever seen him, even that fateful day nearly a year ago when Draco had fired him. Just like that day, Harry begins to sympathize with him, and he screws up some resolve and steps tentatively towards Ginny.

"You don't want to do this, Gin, I know you don't," Harry tells her softly. She sniffs and lets go of the book, refusing to look at either of them. "Look, why don't we just go back to the hospital, yeah? You can clean up and calm down and then talk it out with Zach later."

Zacharias snorts derisively, causing both Ginny and Harry to glare at him fiercely, and Harry has to remind of himself of who he's dealing with here: Ginny may be temporarily off her nut right now, but Zacharias is always the Hufflepuff Prat Extraordinaire.

"He's—they're—" Ginny says shakily, and before Harry can intervene, Zacharias starts in.

"I'm not bloody cheating on you, Ginny, honestly! You're acting insane, and I'm really getting sick of it."

"Oh, sick of me, are you?" Ginny spits, eyes blazing, and Zacharias rolls his eyes and throws his hands up in defeat.

"No, I'm sick of this! But it doesn't even matter, does it, because you're just going to think what you want, right, never mind what's true. So fine, throw shit at me and scream all you want, you're the one who looks like an idiot."

Her jaw drops, and she pulls her wand and advances forward threateningly until Harry grabs her firmly and pulls her back.

"Ginny, no! Let's go, now!"

"Did you hear what he—"

"GINNY, just stop!" Harry's shout startles her; he can't remember the last time he had actually ever raised his voice to her, and he can tell it has thrown her off completely. She stares at him, shocked and hurt, and then straightens her back.

"Fine. Just…fine." And with her hands balled into fists, she stalks towards Pomfrey's office with her chin high, trembling slightly in anger. Zacharias heaves a deep sigh and wearily rubs at the back of his neck. Harry takes a second to shoot him a sympathetic grimace and the blond Mediwizard simply waves him away.

"Just forget about it, Potter. It isn't even worth it anymore." He sets his jaw and then pulls his wand. "Listen, I have to get back to work."

And that's how Harry knows that Zacharias and Ginny are well and truly fucked: he's pretty sure Zacharias Smith, the laziest sod Harry's ever known, has never been eager to get back to work in his life.

Harry, Draco and Brigid ply Ginny with tea and biscuits and then make her nap in the second floor on-call room, after Harry discreetly Transfigures one of the bunks back into a mattress. Draco then calls the rest of the Bugs staff to gather round and threatens them all with their jobs and their lives if they disturb her in any way.

"So," Harry says hopefully as they disperse, muttering darkly. "Any chance of you taking your day off now?" Draco gives him a faintly loathing glare, and Harry knows by now just to smile brightly in response. He sighs when more glaring is the only answer he gets. "Ah. That's a no, isn't it?" And yet more glaring; a bit of a growl. Harry slumps dejectedly. "So what am I supposed to do, then? Stay home and knit?"

Draco leans back against the door to the on-call room and rolls his eyes. "You need a life, Potter."

"I have a life!" Harry protests. It just happens to revolve around you and this hospital, he doesn't add. Probably doesn't need to add, the way Draco's gaze finally begins to soften.

"Go ask Pansy if Weasel can come out and play."

Harry shudders. "God no. It's Saturday. They—no. They stay in bed on Saturdays."

"Fuck you, Harry, I did not need to hear about that! Well, what about Granger? Er, ask Greg if—God, thank you, now you have me picturing them sexually, too! I hate you, do you know that?"

"No, you don't," Harry smarms, leaning forward to press Draco more firmly back against the door. Draco sighs and lets him fit his arms around him but doesn't make any move to return the gesture, and that's how Harry knows that his next suggestion of an office quickie isn't going to fly.

"I do. I absolutely bloody do. Honestly, Harry, I have to go to work. You can't distract me, I won't let you." Draco sniffs and turns his head to the side, pinking up nicely when Harry kisses his cheek quickly and then folds, releasing Draco and nodding supportively.

"Fine. Let me help; I'll volunteer again!"

Draco narrows his eyes at him. "You have your own floor to work on, you know. And I'm serious, I have to take care of things here, you can't be all—I have to work." Harry beams at the thought of himself driving Draco to distraction, but quickly tamps it down and starts making promises.

"I promise, I'll be an angel. Just, ugh, don't make me put that smock back on and go back upstairs—I miss you guys! I'll do whatever you need, I swear."

Draco tilts his head slightly to the side, contemplating, and then smiles reluctantly. "Fine. Shadow Brigid on her stat rounds; I'm down three nurses and a Mediwitch now—"

"Yes, because you've gone mad with power and you fired most of them—"

"—and I'll Floo your Healer Foulis to let her know I'm using you. You'll get some observation credits, at least. And I'll not take any cheek from you, Trainee-Mediwizard Potter." Eyes sparkling, Draco raises one eyebrow in what is supposed to be a sardonic dismissal but really just gets Harry sort of hot. Draco notices this and looks up at the ceiling in exasperation. "Honestly, I don't know how you ever expect to work for me on this floor, Harry, you don't take me seriously at all—"

"Yes I do," Harry tells him plainly, planting another quick, reassuring kiss on his boyfriend. "You're just seriously hot when you tell me what to do—"

"Yes, well, you're hot when you do what I tell you, so go!" Clearly, Draco wishes his evil dictator voice would work on Harry; he decides to be a nice boyfriend and pretends that it does, quickly striding away.

He spends the rest of the morning happily getting reacquainted with Bugs, even as he takes grumpy orders from the overworked Brigid, clearly at the end of her rope. He chats up patients that she sends him off to check on, pissing her off routinely, but he's missed this side of training. Most of his Potions and Plants work upstairs involves a lot of setting up allergy tests or researching different plants; there hadn't been nearly as much patient interaction as down here.

Draco had once told him that Mediwizards, even more than Healers, need to be able to listen to their patients properly: nurses are the ones that care, Healers are the ones that fix, but Mediwizards are the ones that save. They're more accessible than Healers, more qualified than nurses, and that's why the world needs more of them.

"Mediwizards are the ones that set bones and heal burns; they're the ones you want to kiss your owies," Draco had said knowledgably. "They're like mums with degrees."

Brigid, currently the only regular Mediwitch on the floor, has no time for kissing owies, however. She looks about ready to pull her hair out, or possibly pull Harry's out, as she calls him out of a patient's room in the children's ward with her hands on her hips and an ever-present sneer on her face. "Potter! Stop flirting and start the nutrient pump in 220-B! And—" But before she can pull out any hair or bark out any more orders, a loud, deep sneeze cuts her off. She throws her hands up against her face to cover it and then stands there, staring at her hands for a minute, as if shocked.

Harry eyes her warily before backing up down the hall. "Er, Brigid? Alright there?"

The Mediwitch nods distractedly, bringing her hands down and then giving herself a shake. "Uh, yeah, fine. Okay, so go, what are you—" But then there's another sneeze, and this time Harry sees the sparks coming out of her nose, and he may be still in training but he knows exactly what that means.

"Oh, bugger. Dragon pox, Brigid." Actually, as he's thinking of it, she does look a little green, and he can see the beginnings of sores starting to come out on her otherwise unblemished skin.

Brigid's eyes widen, and she stares at him in growing panic. "But—no! That's impossible, there are no dragon pox patients on the ward today, it's not even the season yet! And if there were, I'd have used a Bubble-Head Charm, I'm not an idiot—" And she caps that off with another sudden sneeze, immediately followed by a flaming cough that makes her groan. "Oh, no. Draco is going to kill me."

"We have to get you admitted and quarantined," Harry says, grabbing her gently by the arm and starting to cast a few simple diagnostic spells. He leads her out of the Derwent Ward, heading towards the Oldridge Ward, out into the main hallway connecting them. "Then we have to make sure you haven't infected…anyone else…"

The main hallway is now filled with Bugs staff making more noise than they have all week, sneezing explosively and moaning about the disease they're diagnosing themselves with.

Harry gasps when he realizes that the majority of the staff has been stricken. Two nurses and Michael Corner have their wands out and are casting spells, and they appear to be fine, but the rest of them: three junior Healers including Luna's boyfriend, Sparrow, Healer Whittaker, who is the only other senior Healer on duty, and at least three nurses are sneezing out sparks and rapidly breaking out into pock marks.

"How did this happen?" Brigid wails, now green as a toad and swaying a bit on her feet. Harry's mind races, and he grips her tighter when the realization comes to him.

"Oh God. Ginny."

"This is a fucking disaster," Draco moans from behind the counter at Station One, which has been set up as a triage of sorts. Small cots and stretchers had been Conjured for all of the afflicted staff in the main hallway, so that the only immune staff (right now a pathetic number of six, including Harry, Draco, Michael, two nurses, and one brownnosing Trainee Healer in on his day off like Harry) can check over the patients that had been exposed and then ward off the healthy from the sick. "How am I supposed to hold a reign of terror over a staff that'll be bedridden for the next 48 hours at least?"

Harry rolls his eyes in the middle of administering a round of Itch-Be-Gone Solution to the currently miserable patients; he'd already slapped Sparrow's hands away from scratching at one of his sores and then Conjured mittens to go over Brigid's restless fingers. Draco is preparing the dragon pox cure, standing at the counter and ranting ceaselessly, and Harry adores him, he really does, but he's starting to get a headache.

"Yes, that's what you should be worried about. Never mind the other wards that are full of patients with just two Healers to treat them."

The color drains from Draco's face as that starts making an impact. "Oh bloody hell—"

"Five patients in Derwent," Michael says grimly as he sweeps back into the main hallway. "I've consolidated them all to three rooms and explained the situation to their parents. They're, ah, not happy."

"Fuck," Draco groans, putting a hand. "Now we'll be lucky to get out of this without a lawsuit—anyone critical?" Harry cringes at the thought; the children in Derwent are already ill, and adding dragon pox, an extremely virulent disease even with the cure, could bring grave consequences.

"No, but they'll have to be monitored closely. You know how unpredictable dragon pox can be."

"Just four in Oldridge," the Trainee, Harper, squeaks out eagerly as he joins them. "They're in two rooms. One has Banshee Cough, though, so we'll want to keep an eye on that." He cringes, as if expecting to be hit or berated for bearing the bad news, but Draco just nods and slumps further over his potions.

"And no one in Abraxas," one of the nurses chimes in, smiling kindly with her good news. This, at least, has Draco perking up, and he breathes an enormous sigh of relief. "I was the only one in there this morning, so no one was exposed."

"Thank God, I can't even imagine if they'd survive it at their age." He gazes at his gathered healthy staff, looking shaky and unsure, and Harry has to stamp down on the urge to drop the Itch-Be-Gone into Sparrow's lap and rush him to comfort. He's glad he does, because in the next minute Draco screws his face up, straightens his posture, and very quickly proves why he's the youngest Healer-in-Charge in St. Mungo's history.

"Alright. Harper, how many empty rooms are in Oldridge?"


"Good, that's six beds for 10 of our afflicted staff. Michael, what about Derwent?"

"Two, plus we'll be discharging 242-A in the afternoon."

"Perfect, we'll put Ginny, Brigid, Nina and Caroline in with the kids, they won't mind. Bertha, you and Olive go and prep the rooms, now. Michael, you're in charge of the Oldridge pox patients—I want full immune system scans, temperatures and BPs on the hour, the works, and you'll be administering the Fever Reducers when the fevers spike. Harper, I want the same from you except in Derwent—do not whimper, I will come in and help you as soon as possible. Harry, I need you to do a complete stat check on all of the other patients—start with Derwent, work your way over to Abraxas. If there's anything out of the ordinary, buzz Michael immediately. It'll take time, but you'll have help as soon as I can get it. Once backup comes you'll switch over to working with the pox patients." He takes a deep, steadying breath, and then looks at Harry, who tries to infuse as much warmth and pride in his comprehending nod as possible. Draco nods back and smiles slightly before continuing.

"I'm going to administer the preliminary pox cure out here and then help Bertha and Olive with the transfer. Then I'm going to get on the Floo and raise all the off-duty staff I can find. If I can't get everybody in here I'll go to other departments, see if they can spare any bodies. I swear, you guys will have backup soon." He eyes them all carefully, eyes like steel, and then nods a final time. "Go on, then."

Harry gives Draco a mock salute, hoping to see him smile again. It doesn't quite work, because Draco is already turning back to the potions on the counter and probably getting ready to start swearing again, but for once Harry can't really blame him. This is a disaster, it's fucking awful, but for some reason he has no doubts that they can actually do this. Because it's Draco—if anyone can lead a skeleton crew through a sudden epidemic of dragon pox, it's Draco Malfoy.

Harry takes a moment to wistfully wish that they'd closed off the Floo this morning and stayed in the kitchen longer, and then sets his shoulders and marches into his duties.

It takes the better part of a hour for backup to start pouring in, an hour in which Harry is monitoring three wards full of sick people whose ailments he's only ever heard about before. It is the most hectic and rushed hour of his life, and it feels like three, but sooner than Harry had expected, Tabitha Crowley and two Mediwizards from Spell Damage are relieving him of his duties.

"You should help with the pox patients now," Tabitha tells him kindly, shooing him away from a foul-tempered woman with Devil's Breath. "We can handle these, and Draco has more reinforcements coming. Go help him, he looks even more frightful than you."

Harry is already a frazzled, sweaty mess, so he can only imagine how Draco looks. He nods gratefully and then moves out of the ward to head to the children's ward.

He finds Draco in Ginny's room, frowning as he looks at her temperature and casts cooling charms. "Your fever's getting too high too fast," he tells her, and she blinks at him as if to say so? What do you want me to do about it? He gives her a Molly Weasley-inspired impatient, disapproving huff. "I'm gonna give you the second round of the cure, then. You must have been sneezing alone in the on-call room for a while for it to have progressed this much already. Why didn't you tell anyone you were sick?"

Ginny shrugs and looks down at her lap despondently. Even with the green tint to her face, her cheeks are flushed, and Harry can't tell if it's from fever or shame. He clucks worriedly and steps further into the room, making her glance up at him.

"Check on Brigid please, Harry," Draco says softly, not taking his eyes from Ginny's gloomy face. Harry does but watches them out of the corner of his eye, sees Draco gently take Ginny's hand. Ginny swallows and looks up at him reluctantly.

"You're not mad at me, are you?"

Draco shakes his head immediately, firmly, and then smirks a little. "No. How can I be mad when you look so pathetically miserable? Even I'm not that sadistic."

"But this is—it's my fault, I didn't even check—"

"I would've thought you had already gotten it. Most purebloods get it as children, and your lot lived like sardines in a tin," Draco muses, cutting her off before she can continue that line of thinking. Harry smiles to himself over Draco's backhanded brand of kindness, and Brigid catches him and makes fun of him with exaggerated facial tics. He sticks his tongue out at her.

Ginny shakes her head. "I was very young when Ron and the others all got it—Mum was scared for me, so she sent me to stay with Aunt Muriel. Worst week of my life, of course, but at least I stayed healthy." She snorts bitterly and glares down at her fists. "I'm such an idiot."

Draco nods, as though in sympathy. "Well, yes, but only in comparison to me, so don't feel too bad." This earns him a bit of a smile. "Now, Harry and I will leave you and Brigid to your girl talk, but someone will be back in to check on you within the hour. You should try and get some sleep, and remember, you'll be better before anyone else is, so you've got that to look forward to, yeah?"

"Yeah," Ginny says, infusing her smile with a bit of evil. Harry gives her a quick hug and then leaves with Draco. They're heading for the next room when something tall and solid and blond suddenly barrels into them both.

"Which room?" Zacharias breathes out, looking panicked and disheveled. Draco rolls his eyes and knocks his hands away from where he's clutching his shoulders. Harry is glad, because he had been contemplating hexing them off for a few seconds.

"Right over there, moron, calm yourself. It's dragon pox, not the Black Plague. She's going to be fine."

"This is all my fault," Zach says, voice high enough to be considered a wail. "I'm the reason she was there, I got her sick, I got everyone sick—"

"Stop being ridiculous and go in there and freak out all over her," Draco demands harshly, reaching up now to grab Zach and shake him roughly. Harry twitches with the urge to pull him away and instead balls his hands into fists at his sides. Draco sees this and lets Zacharias go, though not without a quick warning glare to Harry. "I'm sure she'll appreciate your concern, now go."

"I'm sorry," Zacharias calls, turning and jetting towards Ginny's room. They watch the door to her room snap shut after him, and with another hasty glare, Draco gestures for Harry to follow him into the next room in Derwent.

"Check Caroline," he says stiffly, and Harry wordlessly complies, starting to realize that he's in a bit of trouble.

They check on all of the dragon pox patients one by one, administering second rounds of the cure for those in the later stages of the disease and then starting up a round of Fever Reducing potions. More of Draco's backup has arrived, a few of the night staff and some off-duty Bugs employees coming through for him, and a few representatives from other departments had come to pitch in a hand, much to everyone's relief.

Draco seems to get more and more drawn as he progresses through each ward, and for a few fleeting moments he seems like that shaky, uncertain non-leader again, ready for another rant or freak-out. But he stays quiet, entirely too quiet, and Harry starts to wonder if he's in more trouble than he thought.

"Look," he says, as they leave the last patient's room and start heading back to Station One to touch base with the rest of the staff. "I know this isn't the time or place, but I'm sorry about the Zach thing, it was just instinct, I just don't like to see other people touch you, I know I'm crazy—"

"Other people, sure," Draco snorts derisively, shaking his head. "Just forget about it. It's fine. Look, could you go see who's in Abraxas for me? You know I don't trust just anyone in there, and with my luck it's some glory-seeking prat from Spell Damage with a grudge against me."

Harry sighs, recognizing a classic Malfoy avoidance tactic when he sees one, but moves to go anyway. He turns on his heel at the same time Draco does and—stops. Draco's face seems to flicker oddly for a minute, and Harry reaches out to grab his arm and stop him from leaving. "Hey…"

Draco blinks at him, immediately looking annoyed. "What? I have to go check on that patient with Banshee Cough, plus Sparrow keeps getting nosebleeds, I think he should try a cold compress—"

"Draco, how old were you when you had dragon pox?" Harry asks him quietly, not letting his arm go and peering at him closely. Draco swallows hard, and it's pretty much the only tell, but Harry latches onto it knowingly.

"I was eight, I believe. Greg had it, and he hadn't quite gotten over it in time for a play-date—"

"Finite incantatem," Harry says flatly, and Draco's Glamour slips from his face easily, leaving behind a distinctive green tint and painful-looking sores and a scowl. "You absolute prat. Are you trying to die?"

"I have a floor to run, Potter!" Draco snarls, immediately bringing up his wand to recast the spell to shield his appearance. "I have 10 staff members laid up in bed, I have a ragtag group of interdepartmental leftovers manning the rest of my patients, and I have a bloody board seat to win! I don't have time to get sick."

"Oh well that's fine, then," Harry snaps, grabbing Draco tighter. "Yes, we'll just tell the disease to bugger off until it's a more convenient time for you. Because that's how medical magic works."

Draco tries to wrench his arm away but Harry digs his fingers in, ignoring Draco's deepening scowl. "For your information, I've been employing some memory techniques that I've been researching to keep my health up. So far it's working fine, I haven't even sneezed in hours—"

"You're insane, do you know that? Take that fucking spell off, I'm putting you in a bed right now." He starts to drag Draco back towards the Derwent Ward, annoyed enough to simply haul him against his will, and Draco yelps and flails slightly to keep from going.

"No, wait! Harry, don't, please. My fever isn't even that bad yet—"

"Are you hearing yourself?"

"—and I'll start the cure as soon as things die down—"

"You haven't even taken the cure yet?" Harry is suddenly so angry he's not even sure if that was English or Parseltongue. The fact that Draco looks a little dazed and confused in response isn't much help; he's probably dazed with fever. Harry lets out a low growl and advances on him. "You're going to bloody kill yourself for a stupid fucking board seat—"

"Please, just, you have to let me do this! I could get so much done in that board seat, this kind of opportunity is too good to—"

"This isn't a joke, you know, people have died from this, your grandfather—"

"I bloody well know how my own grandfather died, Harry! Look, just give me a few more hours, alright? I want to make sure the critical patients are in the clear before I take the cure and knock myself out of commission. I mean, look at me, I'm fine, you didn't even notice anything until you saw the Glamour." Harry feels that comment a bit like a punch—he hadn't even noticed his own boyfriend was sick. It must show on his face, because Draco immediately swoops in closer and grabs him in a quick embrace. "No, I didn't mean for you to see, Harry, come on." He leans back and looks him pleadingly in the eye. "Please, just let me. I can handle this, I promise."

Harry sighs and rakes his eyes over Draco's pained face, painted his normal very fair complexion with the Glamour. He cringes lightly at how bad Draco must feel, and how little he must want to stand here arguing with Harry. He feels the two sides of him warring heavily, the side that's completely unable to deny Draco anything and the side that can't let him risk himself, and he's not really sure which side is going to win until he looks in Draco's eyes and sees real, true desperation there. And even though it gives him an awful, shaky feeling in his gut, he nods reluctantly.

"Fine. You have two hours, okay, and then I'm gonna Stun you and put you in 242 if you give me any problems." He frowns at Draco and touches his cheek lightly, noting the flinch. "God, you must be so itchy."

"A Malfoy never scratches," Draco recites promptly, though the way he wrinkles his nose tells Harry that he quite wants to. Harry smiles bemusedly and shakes his head, torn between hugging and strangling his deranged lover.

"Take it easy, Draco, please. Two hours."

"Two hours," Draco concedes, and he clasps Harry's hand gratefully before pulling back. "Now, please go check in on Abraxas—I can't go in and expose them, and you're really the only one I trust to look after them."

Harry's heart swells with the honesty he hears in Draco's voice, and okay, whatever, he knows when he's being buttered up like a board member, but still. He gives him another mock salute, smiling wider when Draco grabs the hand and kisses it quickly, and then turns back towards the Abraxas Ward.

Draco doesn't even last another hour.

Harry's checking an elderly patient's blood filtering pump when Tabitha pokes her head into the ward, searches him out, and says in her quiet, soft voice, "Harry, we have a situation out here."

Heart pounding, Harry is at the entrance to the ward in a split second, knowing there's only one reason they would ask for him, and it's only two long strides before he sees that he's right: Draco is collapsed on the floor in front of Station One, surrounding by wide-eyed, open-mouthed staff members. Kneeling next to him is Zacharias, frantically waving his wand and casting diagnostic spells.

"What happened?" Harry demands, breaking into a run and then sliding the rest of the way down on his knees, twitching and torn between shoving Zacharias away and grabbing Draco into his arms. He settles for the latter, promptly forgetting six months of medical schooling and nearly two months of training and deciding that simply squeezing Draco very hard will make him better.

Zacharias glares at him hastily. "I don't know, he was prepping the last round of cure and he just fell over. His temperature is through the roof and—he's got some sort of spell on him, I don't—"

"It's a Glamour, he has dragon pox," Harry bites out, eliciting gasps from the people surrounding them. He ignores them and finally regains enough sense to pull his wand and end the spell, casting another to check his temperature and blood pressure and swearing at the high readings. "Bloody fuck, Draco, you bastard, you said your fever wasn't that bad."

"You knew?" Zacharias asks, his voice shrill and sort of dangerous. Harry will never think that Zach is anything but ridiculous when he's not casting Resuscitation Spells, but for a moment he feels a chill go through him at his tone. "You knew and you let him work? What the fuck were you thinking?"

"He asked me to!" Harry protests. He rounds on all the gathered staff, both familiar and unfamiliar faces, and growls at them in a very Draco way. "Someone get me a Fever Reducer and a first round cure, now! Honestly, this isn't a free show, go find something to do if you're not going to help. Bertha, prep 242-A for Draco. Harper, get the potions and meet us there, go!"

Zach snorts, shaking his head and reaching his wand out over Draco's prone form. Harry jerks his head up to glare in warning, but all the Mediwizard does is mutter, "Ennervate," and lean back as Draco jumps back into consciousness.

"Huh?" he asks, blinking up at the both of them. Harry turns his glare down on him, resisting the urge to shake him.

"You moron. Your fever spiked; we're admitting you."

"You should've been admitted ages ago," Zacharias admonishes, still glaring at Harry. "If I'd known you were sick, I'd have had you in a bed the second I realized."

"Yes, Smith, we all know much you'd love to have him in a bed," Harry snaps, and he almost regrets it as Zacharias' brown eyes widen with something like surprise and hurt. Then he's back to glaring, practically snarling in response.

"Listen, Potter—"

"Oh God, please just kill me," Draco moans, and both Harry and Zacharias snap their attention back to him.

"Conjure a stretcher," Zach tells Harry. Harry sighs and wants to say 'you Conjure a stretcher' but doesn't want to upset Draco any further. Instead he waves his wand and pops a stretcher into existence, fitting his arms underneath Draco's body before Zach can even think about lifting him himself.

Carefully, he stands up with Draco in his arms and then lays him gently on the stretcher, smiling grimly as the blond continues to blink dazedly up at him. "What—but—no! I have to—"

"You have to get better," Harry tells him softly. "You'll be no good to anyone like this, Draco, come on."

"I can—"

"Save it, Malfoy," Zacharias sneers, standing up and planting himself firmly next to Draco's floating stretcher. "That might work on Potter, but it isn't gonna fly with me."

"Bugger off, Smith."

"The hell I will, you'll just put him back to work again."

"No, really," Draco tells them, voice flat and despairing. "Please just fucking kill me right now."

"No," Harry and Zacharias say together, and Draco glares at them. Somehow, even tinted green and covered in sores, it still manages to look fairly malicious. Harry shakes his head and switches tactics, calling upon puppy eyes and worried frowns.

"You're really sick, Draco. Please, you have to take the cure now and get well."

"Fine," Draco sighs, leaning back on the stretcher and throwing his arm dramatically over his eyes. "Just, fine, let's—" But even before he can finish the thought, Zach is waving his wand and setting the stretcher in motion, moving alongside it in long, quick strides, so that Harry has to shuffle to keep up.

"Why the fuck aren't you immune?" Zacharias asks, ignoring Harry's loathing looks and continuing to frown at the prone man on the stretcher. "Most purebloods get dragon pox before Hogwarts—I had it when I was seven. Even Potter's immune, and he was raised by Muggles, for God's sake."

"Do you really think my parents would have allowed me to contract a disease as common as dragon pox?" Draco answers tiredly, not removing his arm from his eyes. "I never even got the flu as a child—a house-elf sneezed around me once, and then I never saw him again."

"Wonderful," Harry moans, throwing his hands up in the air. "So you have no immune system to speak of, that's just great."

"Oh don't be so dramatic—I've gotten sick before, I've worked with infectious people for six years." He lifts his arm to narrow his eyes at Harry, and he's slightly taken aback by the wildness in them, as if he's skirting the edges of panic. It makes his next order that much more ludicrous. "Seriously, Potter, no hysterics from you. I'm counting on you to make sure things run smoothly around here while I have my little rest."

"Little rest—Draco, you're not getting released until the disease runs its course!" Harry insists. Zacharias nods on Draco's other side, then realizes he's agreeing with Harry and stops to scowl.

"That's what you think," Draco retorts, and Zacharias lets out an angry sound and then points his wand at him sharply.

"Somnio!" Draco only has a second for his eyes to go wide with exaggerated betrayal, before they close abruptly and he slumps into sleep.

"SMITH!" Harry shouts, outraged and readying his own wand. But Zacharias ignores him, either too stupid or too arrogant to realize that Harry is angry enough to hex him, and just ducks quickly into Room 242, guiding the stretcher in after him.

"Bertha, keep Healer Malfoy sedated for the next few hours," he says lazily, transferring Draco from the stretcher to the bed with a flick of his wand. The nurse nods and casts a spell over Draco that glows softly over his sleeping figure. Another spell and he's suddenly clad in pajamas with the bed covers up to his shoulders, and in the glowing magical light he looks very young. Harry's heart clenches a bit and he forgets to be angry at Zacharias for the next few seconds, until the stupid prat opens his mouth again. "Now Potter, don't wake him up for any quickies—"

"Why did you put him to sleep?" Harry asks through gritted teeth, officially fed up. It's one thing to be vaguely jealous of Zach, to remember how competitively he had gone up against Harry for Draco's attentions, to remember how he had forced Draco into a kiss he didn't want. He can deal with that—it sets him on edge, but he can handle it. But it's another thing entirely for Zacharias to suddenly be barging into their lives like this and taking over, as if he has any right at all. "He's supposed to stay awake and try to stay alert while his fever rises—"

"Draco Malfoy is a terrible fucking patient," Zacharias tells him, wearily but firmly. "Especially right now, when his floor is a mess and he's feeling useless. He was already starting to panic, couldn't you tell? He hates being sick, he hates being helpless, and he's pretty fucking miserable right now to boot. His blood pressure isn't going to be able to handle that right now, okay? So let him sleep for a while before he stresses himself into getting sicker."

Harry looks away, angry with Zacharias and angry with himself because Zacharias is right, because Zacharias has eight years of Mediwizard experience on him and nearly as much Draco experience. And if this were anyone else, if this were Ginny or Brigid or even Tabitha or Michael, he would feel grateful for someone to look at this with a clear head, something Harry is never really capable of when it comes to Draco.

And no matter how many times various people tell Harry he's ridiculous for being insecure about Draco and Zacharias—and he can tell by the shifting looks of sympathy that Zach's face is going through right now that Zach himself is about to tell him the same thing—it's times like these that he feels totally justified in it.

"I love Ginny," Zacharias tells him quietly, and Harry knows this speech. He's heard it from Draco, from Luna, from Hermione and Ron and fuck, even Pansy once, after she'd had a few drinks in her. "I love her, okay, not Draco—"

"Fuck, Zach, not now," Harry groans, eyeing Bertha, who is standing over Draco and smoothing down his blankets and checking his temperature. She gives Harry an apologetic grimace and then twitches a bit and then, finally, the nosy busybody that lives in all the Magical Bugs and Diseases nurses bursts in her and says, "But he's right, dear, the Draco and Zacharias ship sailed years ago—"

"I have the first round of the cure and the Fever Reducer!" Trainee Harper calls as he sweeps into the room, tripping in his eagerness and then freezing when he notes the tension in the air. "Er, I can come back to administer them—"

"No, Potter, you do it," Zacharias says, gruff and impatient. He sounds like he does in trauma situations, the way Draco sounds almost all the time at work: authoritative and in charge, and it's incredibly frustrating for Harry, especially as he's continually pushed into doing what he says. "Harper, watch him, Trainees should learn from each other." Glaring, Harry complies stiffly, yanking the potions from Harper's hands and heading over to Draco's bedside.

He brushes Draco's bangs back from his forehead gently for a second, simply needing to touch him, then uncorks the first round of cure and thumbs lightly at Draco's open mouth. Zacharias snorts.

"Harper, no need to get this handsy with the patients. Get on with it, Potter."

"Go to hell, Smith." Slowly, he tips the first potion into Draco's mouth and casts the spell to help him swallow, repeating the action with the Fever Reducer and then bending down to kiss him quickly on his warm forehead. He rubs a gentle hand one last time over Draco's hair and then turns back to the other occupants of the room, wishing they would disappear and leave him and Draco alone forever.

"That was good, Potter," Zacharias tells him, as if speaking to a child, and Harry seethes and bunches up the blanket by Draco's shoulders with a fist. "It's good to know that you can look after him, you just don't feel like it sometimes—"

"What are you on about?" Harry demands, and Bertha finally steps between them.

"I think you two should take this outside," the nurse tells them in her no-nonsense, stern voice. "This is actually a hospital room, in case you've forgotten." Harry moves to protest and she shakes her head firmly. "He's asleep, Mediwizard Potter. We're monitoring him, and we'll buzz you as soon as he's waking."

"Trainee-Mediwizard Potter," Zacharias corrects snottily, and Harry growls, grabs him by one arm, and yanks him roughly out into the hall.

"Alright, listen, you—"

"No, you listen," Zacharias throws back before Harry can continue, and he shoves Harry away from him with a strength he'd underestimated and then advances on him up against the wall. "I realize that you're always going to be an insecure little pissant still fumbling around like a moron when it comes to Draco, but I always thought you could at least take care of him well enough. Why do you think I let you guys stay together?"

"Let us stay—"

"No, I'm not done talking. See, as long as you were taking care of him, following him around like a fucking puppy dog and making him happy, then it was fine with me. But you fucked up today, Potter, and I know exactly why. So I'm going to tell you this once, and I'm not going to repeat it, and you're going to listen because if you don't, I can guarantee this thing with Draco won't last."

"You can go to—"

"It's listening time, Potter, not talking time. Okay, here we go: Draco is not going to leave you, not for anyone. He's certainly not going to leave you for me. You can put your foot down with him sometimes, you know? You can say 'golly, Draco, I'm not so sure you running around with a fever and a highly dangerous, infectious disease is such a good idea'. You can say 'Draco, I'm not really comfortable with you hanging around with a drunk guy that I think really wants to get into your pants'. Draco won't leave you. He's in love with you, and God, that makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little, but it's fucking true, and the sooner you realize that, the better off the two of you will be. Do you know why he left Luna?"

Harry flinches, head swimming, and he looks uncomfortably away from Zach's piercing, truthful gaze. "The baby—"

"Yes, the baby, but the baby was just part of it. Draco left her because after they lost the baby, he was a real shit to everyone. He moved out of the Manor and into the on-call room and just spent his life here, pissing everyone off and tearing up the Lab and being a true fucking bastard. And Luna just let him, she never said anything about it, never told him to stop being an evil little prick or to stop self-destructing. All he wanted was for her to react, to do something about it, and she didn't, and so it ended. And really, Potter, this isn't because I like you, this is because I love Draco—not the way I love Ginny, stop making that fucking face—don't make the same mistake. You'll regret it." Zacharias caps off his speech with an exaggerated eye roll and then a deep bow. "And there, I'm done playing matchmaker for today. This meddling shit really isn't my cup of tea, I think I'll leave it to Gin."

He turns sharply, dismissing Harry abruptly, and leaves him to stand there with his thoughts still whirling, a painful mix of confusion, shame, and a strange sort of gratitude rushing through him. It's all a bit much to get his head around, and there's still that immature little part of him that just wants to nastily refute whatever Zacharias says, always. But there's a larger part of him that can't deny that he's right—the large part of him that can't stop clutching Draco a little too tight, that can't help the fear that this—this wonderful thing with Draco is fleeting and cursory.

He had lost Draco once before, through his own fault, and he's absolutely terrified of it happening again. They've never said the words to each other, but Harry's absolutely sure of his love for Draco, and he's almost as sure of Draco's, can feel it in every touch and smile and trusting glance. And he'll do anything to hold on to that, but perhaps Zacharias is right—perhaps he's doing too much to hold on to it, more than he has to.

It's hard to think about, hard to muddle through, and a wave of exhaustion hits him abruptly as he realizes he has no idea what time it is, how long they've been working today. He does know that there really isn't time to work this out, and this is confirmed when he gets buzzed on his Wrackspurt, Tabitha Crowley's harried voice coming through clearly.

"Harry, I need you in Oldridge, the Banshee Cough patient is rejecting her third round of cure."

Sighing in resignation, Harry gets back to work, pushing the thoughts of he and Draco to the back of his brain for the first time in a long time.

He sees to a few more pox patients, happy to see some fevers going down and some of the sores starting to lose their angry, inflamed look. It occurs to him that it's sometime in the middle of the night when he pops up to the roof for a coffee run and sees the lights of London blinking against a cloudy night sky all around him. Harry takes a spare moment to enjoy the warm summer night before heading back downstairs with the coffee.

He leaves the cups at Station One for any of the exhausted workers to claim and then heads back to Derwent to check on his friends, stopping in on Ginny and Brigid first because he figures they'll be the closest to recovery now. He finds Brigid fast asleep but Ginny wide awake, idly stroking at Zacharias' dirty blond head where it is slumped at the side of her bed. She smiles when Harry approaches, her face much less green than it had been a few hours ago, and lifts her hand to give him a little wave. Something sparkling on her finger catches the dim light of the room and he freezes, staring at her hand and swallowing hard.

"Is that—?"

Her face splits into a huge grin and she nods vigorously, bringing her hand up more fully to flash the modest engagement ring that sits on her finger. "Yes, he asked me a little while ago. Apparently, he's been working so much lately so he can pay this thing off." Her face gets shadowed for a bit, and she looks down at Zacharias with such adoration and guilt Harry has to swallow again. "I feel awful."

"Don't," he tells her hastily. "Just—just trust him. He—" And the words taste awful in his mouth, and he will never really like Zacharias, but the words are true and necessary. "He's a good guy, Ginny. You guys are perfect together. Congratulations."

"Thank you," Ginny answers, smiling again and dropping her hand back to its former position. "I'm just glad I didn't drive him away completely with my stupid jealousy. I was just so afraid he was settling for me, because he couldn't have Draco. It seems silly now, though."

"Believe me, I totally understand that," Harry sighs, and he looks at them, thinks of how much he now owes Zacharias Smith, and decides he's not going to waste any more time being confused about this. There are different ways to handle fear, he knows—Ginny had gone crazy, had lashed out and very nearly driven Zacharias away with it. And Harry has been doing the opposite—he's been surrendering, folding because he's too afraid to fight and make Draco want to leave.

He's in love with you, Zacharias had said, and as Bertha buzzes Harry to tell him that Draco is waking up, he wonders if it's time for the actual words to come into play.

Harry works on his speech mentally on his way to Draco's room, listing the things he wants to say, the things he's held back on before now. He knows that Draco will probably scare off as easily as Harry does—they aren't good at these Big Talks, but Harry knows that it really is time for one.

He rethinks that, though, when he lets himself into Draco's room and sees his boyfriend awake but totally disorientated, eyes bright and hazy with fever. Swearing quietly, Harry takes his temperature with his wand and his heart jumps at the absurdly high reading. "Oh, Draco," he says.

"I'm itchy," Draco tells him in greeting, and Harry knows he's pretty far gone when he moves to scratch at one of his arms. He quickly grabs his hand and tugs it away, holding back a small smile at Draco's protesting whine, and then looks sharply back at Harper and Bertha, wielding the second round of cure and another Fever Reducer.

"Get some Itch-Be-Gone too, please. Harper, get over here with those, you administer."

"You're lovely," Draco sighs, lolling his head back on his sweat-soaked pillow. He squeezes Harry's hand in his. "But I'm still itchy."

"I know, sweetheart, but you mustn't scratch. You'll scar," Harry tells him, and Draco's small gasp of horror makes Harper snort with laughter. "Take these potions, Draco, they'll make you feel better."

"'kay," Draco says, and he swallows both potions with no trouble and snuggles down into his bed. "You're lovely," he repeats, with a sweet, completely uncharacteristic smile. Harper laughs again and Harry looks up to glare at him.

"I've got it from here, Harper."

The Trainee leaves just as Bertha returns with the Itch-Be-Gone, and she passes it to Harry with a kind smile down at Draco. "How are you feeling, boss?"

"Itchy," he informs her, and then he eyes Harry and the vial of Itch-Be-Gone shrewdly. "Zach? What's that?"

Harry frowns at him as Bertha clucks worriedly. "Oh dear," she says. "His fever's very high, Harry, he doesn't even recognize you."

"Yeah," Harry mutters, still frowning deeply, a weird feeling of foreboding taking shape in the pit of his stomach. He shakes his head, though—it's not really a big deal, Draco is just out of it, he reasons. Draco shifts impatiently under the covers and when he speaks, he's back to whining.

"What's that, Zach?"

"Should I get another Fever Reducer?" Bertha asks him quietly. Harry nods and the nurse hurries out. He clears his throat of its sudden tightness and holds up the vial.

"This is Itch-Be-Gone, Draco. It's going to make the itchiness go away, I promise."

Draco gives him another sweet smile. "Oh, good. I'm so itchy." He takes the vial and downs it eagerly, passing it back and giving Harry's hand a grateful squeeze as he does. "Thanks. Love you."

And Harry freezes; he thinks his heart has actually stopped, and his breath is icy cold in his throat. "You—you what?"

"Love you," Draco says, very matter-of-factly, and he closes his eyes as if totally content and gives Harry's hand one more squeeze. Bertha re-enters the room, but Harry barely hears her, barely understands her questions. Instead he hears the words—finally, those words, those fucking words he's always needed to hear—echoing through his head.

Love you. Love you. Love you.

He doesn't even recognize you.

In a shaking voice that's about ten seconds away from falling apart completely, he tells Bertha to give Draco the second Fever Reducer and he watches the blond slump further into sleep. Bertha keeps asking him what's wrong, but he just shakes his head, because he can't say it—saying it would make it real, would connect the dots in a way that he just doesn't want right now. Instead he backs slowly towards the door, mumbles some excuse about needing to check on something, and leaves the room on quivering legs.

He makes it to the on-call room without realizing he's going there. He collapses onto the only mattress-covered bunk, takes his glasses off to put his hands to his suddenly stinging eyes, and takes sobbing, wet breaths for a few minutes. Then he forces himself to ask the question that's been haunting his thoughts for weeks and months now, brought to the forefront of his mind with careless, feverish words.

Who do you love, Draco?

As morning creeps in, Draco's fever breaks, and he wakes up crabby and petulant and totally fucking normal. Harry gives him his last round of cure and is completely unable to meet his eyes. He tells Draco that the Banshee Cough patient had taken a turn for the worse and that he and Tabitha are handling it, and then he avoids Draco's room as much as possible for the rest of the day.

"He's asking for you," Bertha admonishes as he comes out of Oldridge, jittery with exhaustion and heartbreak. "Listen, Harry, if he said something while he was out of it, you can't hold it against him. He doesn't even remember."

"I don't hold it against him," Harry tells her, and that's totally true. He doesn't really hold it against Draco if he is, in fact, in love with Zacharias. After all, since he's really started thinking about it, it makes a lot of sense—Draco has always been terrified of love, so of course he would reject Zacharias to keep himself safe. Draco wants reactions, wants someone to tell him off; Zacharias has never stopped giving Draco a hard time, not in all the months Harry has known the two of them. And obviously, Zach knows what's best for Draco more than Harry does; he hadn't even hesitated once he knew he was sick to get Draco admitted and treated.

Really, Draco and Zach make so much sense that Harry officially feels like an idiot for ever doubting it. Well, he feels like an idiot for a lot of things, and he feels like a heartbroken idiot, and he sort of wants to lock himself back in the on-call room and break things for a little while. But Bugs is still incredibly understaffed, and as a new shift starts, many of their interdepartmental helpers have to head home or head to shifts of their own, leaving them even more at a loss. There is no time for Harry's drama, he knows, and so he tamps it down and keeps working.

He gets called up to Potions and Plants at some point when his own shift is supposed to start, and it only takes a small amount of cajoling and wheedling for Healer Foulis to allow him to go back and keep helping in Bugs. The kindly Healer-in-Charge eyes him closely, as if he's a poisoning patient, and Harry takes a minute to wonder what he looks like.

"Potter," she asks warily. "Are you sure you want to go back downstairs?"

And when he thinks about it, the answer is no, he really doesn't want to. He doesn't want to see Draco and he certainly doesn't want to see Zacharias and Ginny, and he doesn't want to think about the fact that those three people and that entire floor are basically his whole life.

"I made a commitment," Harry tells her, exhausted honesty tingeing every word, and she nods with something like respect.

"You're an excellent Mediwizard, Harry," she answers, and it's nice to hear and would be wonderful on any other day, a day when his heart doesn't feel like it's being put through a coffee grinder.

As the day wears on, the Great Dragon Pox Disaster, as Brigid has dubbed it, starts to wind down. Most of the patients are past the third round of cure and steadily making their way back to healthy. Ginny is the first to be released, and though looking at she and Zach makes him want to cry all over again, he gives them a goodbye and another congratulations.

"Talk to Draco, Potter," Zacharias tells him, and it's the first time in a long time that Harry doesn't want to punch him in the face when he speaks. He doesn't really want to punch anyone, to be honest—he feels too tired for anger, too sad for violence.

One by one, dragon pox afflicted staff members are released to enjoy a day off, and of course Draco is the last to go, much to his chagrin. It's nightfall before Tabitha and Harper release him, and Harry makes his first appearance in Draco's room all day when it's time for him to go.

"Oh, so you are alive," Draco snaps when he sees him. Harry doesn't say anything, just looks down at the floor, and notes Tabitha and Harper exchanging subtle, curious glances. You can take the floor out of the gossip, but you can't take the gossip out of the floor, Harry muses, and very nearly smiles to himself.

"Honestly, I realize I look like a toad, but that's no excuse to stare at those hideous trainers of yours, they can't be more attractive than me," Draco continues, now sounding a bit contrite and uncertain. Harry reluctantly looks up and sees that Draco's lying; he's not green anymore, and nearly all of the sores have gone away. His eyes are clear but tired, and he looks unkempt but no more so than he looks in the mornings. He's dressed in his street clothes again, and in short, he looks beautiful, in the most painful way Harry has ever encountered.

Zacharias Smith is a lucky fucking bastard, he decides, and he wants to explode with the thought as soon as it enters his head.

"Let's get you home," is all he can muster up, and Draco nods slowly and continues looking at him oddly, but follows Harry out without any more words.

In fact, the whole trip down to Draco's Floo and then into the townhouse is completely tense and silent, until they're back where they started, up in the bedroom.

"I'm not entirely sure what I did here, okay, and I'd appreciate it if you could refrain from acting like a mute long enough for me to figure it out." Draco's voice is hard, strained and tired, and the part of Harry that isn't being crushed by doubt and fear and jealousy is remembering that he's barely out of a hospital bed, and he's not really being totally fair to Draco here.

He doesn't listen to that part. That part is stupid, and the reason he's in this mess. And now, faced with this head-on, he can't help but explode with everything that's been roiling inside of him since last night and that damned fever.

"Do you love me?" is what the crushed part comes out with, and Draco actually blanches and takes a step back, the back of his thighs thumping the foot of the bed. For a moment it looks as if he might drop, but he seems to screw himself up and he looks firmly at Harry.

"What? Potter—"

"Don't," Harry bites out lowly, desperate to keep the shakes out of his voice. "Don't Potter me now, Draco, just be honest. Do you love me?"

Draco manages to look both cornered and annoyed at the same time, and Harry knows this is going to take a while. "It's—I—Harry. I didn't think we—it's not even been a year yet—"

"Actually, if we count NEWT year, too, then it's been nearly three," Harry talks over him loudly, foolishly, all the awful feelings that have been boiling up inside of him spinning out into harsh words. "But I guess you don't count that, huh?"

The blond's eyes flash. "You didn't count it at the time."

"I didn't know I did, but I did. I know it now. And I'm sure. I know exactly what I feel, and I've told you—well, sort of, but—look. Here, I'll say it first. I love you. Now, how do you feel about me?" It's probably the coldest, worst 'I love you' ever uttered, and that stupid part of Harry is smacking him upside the head for this, but it's necessary. Because he's not sure what will happen to him if Draco confirms what he thinks is true, and he needs to know, now, while he still has a chance of escaping with his heart sort of intact.

Draco swallows hard and looks away. He is very pale, and rationally Harry knows that's actually a good thing, because it means he's not green anymore, but it still makes his heart hurt a bit. It makes the battle inside of him even worse, because this isn't how this was supposed to go, he should be tucking Draco into bed and making him rest, he should be making him better, instead of making him look so pained.

But he has to know.

"I—" Draco starts, and then breaks off and closes his eyes. And Harry realizes that he was wrong—there's no way he's going to escape from this with his heart intact anymore. It's already in too many pieces.

"Just, please. Tell me. I—I need to know."

"You—why are you doing this? Can't you see how—I don't do well with this!"

"With what?" Harry snarls, anger surging to keep the misery at bay. "With, fuck, letting people down easy? Just do it, Malfoy, so we can stop wasting our time."

His jaw clenches, and hurt flashes so fast that Harry barely has time to feel guilty, and then he's glad for it, because then Draco's doing what he does best: being a prat.

"Fine. Go, then. I won't waste any more of your time."

"I'm not going until you answer the damn question!"

"I don't know!" Draco's eyes are blazing, and he's pink now but not in the cute way, and his breathing is speeding up and he looks desperate. But it's not good enough, because Harry's desperate, too.

"Of course you know! You either do, or you don't, and fuck, Draco, I know you're capable of it, you did perfectly fine with Luna—"

"Oh fuck off, if you want to call that perfectly fine—"

"—and I know you're in love with Smith!"

Smith's name is cresting on a sob, and Draco freezes and stares at Harry in—something. Shock or horror or, God, confirmation, maybe.

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"You asked for him," Harry tells him miserably. "You—you were calling out for him, when you had your fever. And you thought I was him, and you—you said you loved him."

"You're out of your mind," Draco breathes out, shaking his head. "You—you're doing this to me because of something I said when I was delirious?"

"You wanted him," Harry insists, clenching his fists. "I know, I saw."

"I fired him. I fired him and got together with you."

"Only because he disappointed you. And he only disappointed you because you—you love him so much. If anybody else had done what he did—"

"I would've fired them, too! For fuck's sake, Harry—"

"—and then you got together with me because he wasn't the guy you thought he was. But that doesn't mean you don't still love him." It's terrifying to say this all out loud, fears he's been torturing himself with for much longer than he'd realized.

"You've got it all figured out, don't you? I guess it doesn't matter what I say, then. Why did you even ask?"

"Because I—" He tries to make his voice bigger and fails. "Because I wanted it to be me. But I need to know."

He must sound incredibly pitiful; Draco sighs and softens a bit. "I'm not in love with Zacharias. He's—just—we've known each other a long time. He had feelings for me—no, I think he just wanted to fuck me, but everyone knows it's just one-sided. And he's with Ginny now, you know that. They're getting married, for God's sake."

Harry shakes his head and sniffs. "But you said you—"

"Yeah. I guess. I don't really remember. But—Merlin, Harry. I love Ginny, too. And—and Luna. Oh, fuck, no. Bad example. Er—Pans—no. Bollocks. Blaise?—no—Greg. There. I love Greg, and I have not slept with him. Ever. Ew."

He makes a scrunched up face, as if thinking about it, and then shudders and glares at Harry. "And are you seeing this? Are you hearing this? I am fucking listing the people that I love, and most of these people have never even heard the word from me, at least not in any serious sense. I don't do this, Potter. I don't run around, Gryffindoring all over people. And fuck you, because neither do you! You've never told me you loved me! I thought we didn't need to, that—it's hard to say, you know, it takes time. And now you just threw it in my face like a threat! You're awful at this!"

Somewhere during Draco's list, the dueling parts of Harry quieted long enough for the jealous part to get tackled and stomped on, and his heart feels a bit less like hamburger meat now. But still, the jealous part gives one last flail, and in an even smaller voice than before, he says slowly, "And I guess I'm not on the list?"

Quiet. And then, to his immense relief, a classic Malfoy tantrum. Those, he can handle. "It amazes me, really, no, it baffles me, that you can be this stupid and still function in society. No, honestly, what the fuck is your secret, because it is truly just totally exhausting to be this intelligent all the time, and I would really like to join your brain on a permanent vacation—"


"—because really, in what universe does me standing here, listing all the people that I love even though they don't even get told, like even on holidays or birthdays or anything—where does that translate into me not being absolutely mad for you? I'm trying to figure it out, I really am. Maybe you think my brain is already on vacation, because only a sodding moron like yourself would put up with all this from you if he wasn't arse backwards in love." Draco takes a big breath, pointedly looking away from where Harry knows his eyes are turning dreamy and lovesick, and finally sits down wearily on the bed. "I suppose you'll want it in writing, then, or like a contract. I'm sure I can get Pansy to draw something up—"

"No," Harry croaks. The stupid part of him lets out a roar of triumph as he crosses the room and joins him on the bed. He touches him gently, hesitantly, and when he can feel Draco's arms quivering beneath his fingers, his heart clenches and he tightens his hold. "No, you're—that was fine. Perfect." He ducks his head to look into Draco's darting eyes. "I'm sorry. I—I love you."

"Oh, shut the fuck up."

Harry laughs, shakily at first, and then getting stronger when he sees Draco's small, tired glare. He looks like a disgruntled toddler up past his bedtime—face pink and sweaty, hair still ruffled from the Floo trip home, shoulders slumped in weariness. He looks pissed off and still sort of sick—and Harry loves him. Quite a bit.

"Come on. You should get to bed."

Draco makes a face and gestures vaguely. "I'm on the bed." He narrows his eyes and peers at Harry lasciviously. "And so are you. We are on the bed, together. And we just Gryffindored all over each other."

"You're ready to drop, Draco." He feels guilt swell up a bit, and he frowns. "I didn't help. I'm an awful Mediwizard. Ginny will kill me."

"It's fine, you can do all the work." Draco drops back with a thud, his legs still over the edge of the bed.

"I think we should just sleep." Harry smiles and drops some fingers into Draco's hair. "Maybe cuddle a bit."

"Ew." Draco scowls and then ruins it by yawning. "So now you just to want to Hufflepuff with me? Ouch."

Harry pulls his fingers back from tugging Draco's hair and pats the top of his head in apology. "Er—don't mention Hufflepuffs in the bedroom, thanks."

The blond huffs out a disbelieving laugh. "You are utterly ridiculous." Then he smirks and glances up at Harry. "See, you'd obviously prefer to Slytherin."

Harry grins and shakes his head. He gets up from the bed, ignoring and relishing Draco's small, sleepy sound of protest, and he heads to Draco's dresser to pull out sleeping t-shirts for both of them. A muttered spell and a surprised yelp from Draco and he's clad only in boxers on the bed, his clothes folded neatly on top of a chair in the corner. He leans up on his elbows and gives Harry his best bedroom eyes, smiling temptingly. Harry swallows and tosses the t-shirt at him.

"Sleep." He starts stripping out of his own clothes with his back to Draco, ignoring his quiet, ever-present grumbling. "We can Slytherin each other in the morning. You're not entirely well yet."

"Dragon pox isn't exactly a wasting disease, Potter—" But he has dutifully changed into his t-shirt, his shoes kicked off and socks shoved into them uncharacteristically carelessly. Draco sighs and then scoots up the bed, flopping back down again into pillows. "Sod it. I really don't have the energy to seduce you."

Harry smiles and joins him, turning the covers down enough for Draco to slip under and crawling in after him. He fits his body around the lean one beside him and buries his face immediately into Draco's neck, which earns him a sleepy chuckle.


"You don't need to seduce me," Harry mumbles into warm, soft skin. "I've already been seduced. It's just that Gryffindoring takes up a lot of energy." He yawns, exaggerating it only a little bit, and can tell by the softening rumbles of Draco's breaths that he's falling into sleep. "So what's Ravenclawing, by the way?"

Draco chuckles again. "Oh, mmm. Ravenclawing—not ready for that, Potter. Too much to handle—kinkiest of 'em all…" He shifts a bit, an arm he'll never admit to controlling loping over Harry's shoulders, and Harry smiles. "Show you some…" And he's asleep midsentence, breathing low and even, so that Harry feels free to press a firm kiss to the underside of his chin and then snuggle back down.

"I have to tell you something," Harry says quietly the next morning, eyeing Draco across the table, where he's dutifully eating French toast and reading the paper. He had taken the news of his enforced day off with surprising grace and had only demanded that Harry call in as well and spend the day with him, and of course Harry had been happy to oblige.

Draco puts his fork down and meets Harry's eyes very seriously. "You're in love with Weasley, aren't you?"

Harry lets out a short, startled laugh into his orange juice. "What? No!"

"It's okay, I could tell this was coming. All that hemming and hawing about his marrying Pansy, seven years of living in close quarters, rescuing him from the bottom of the lake in fourth year. I'm glad you're finally going to admit it, this is a big step for you."

"That's absolutely ridiculous," Harry tells him flatly, and Draco nods and takes a rather smug sip of coffee.

"Now you know how I feel."

"Huh," Harry says thoughtfully, never having considered it that way. Draco watches him think on it for a few seconds before loading his spoon with clotted cream and then launching it straight at Harry's forehead, making him cry out and laugh again. "HEY!"

"Tell me what you have to tell me," Draco insists, a bit of leftover whine in his voice from being sick. Harry grins and wipes the cream off his face and glasses, popping his wet finger in his mouth and sucking on it lasciviously. Draco's eyes darken and narrow. "Tell me, right now, before I throw you on this table and fuck you until you can't form words."

"Is that honestly a threat?"


"Okay, I'll tell you." He takes a deep breath, looks Draco straight in the eye, and rips the bandage off. "I don't think you should try for the board seat yet."

There is a long pause, in which Harry winces and waits for the explosion that never comes. He eyes Draco carefully, wondering if he's going through hexes in his head, and then jumps when Draco simply asks, "Why?"

Harry fumbles for a bit, unprepared for this, before he gets his footing and continues on bravely. "Er, it's just—I don't think you're ready, Draco. I mean, yeah, you've been great with your position in Bugs, but you've also been abusing it a little lately, and that's not like you. At least, it's not like the real you. And I know the board seat isn't just self-serving, that it's really to look out for the second floor's interests, but—you've only been Healer-in-Charge for, what, not even two years yet, right?" He looks up at Draco tentatively, and sees he's listening carefully, a few different emotions playing over his face, and so he soldiers on. "I just don't think it would make you happy—you've said before that you're a Healer, not a politician. And you already push yourself too hard with your job; I can't even imagine how bogged down you'd get if you added a board seat to it. You—we did a really dangerous thing, you know, letting you work sick like that. That was partly my fuck up, I admit it—"

"Harry, no, don't feel like that, I insisted—"

"No, Zach—Zacharias reamed me out for it, and he was right. I should have put you in bed the second I knew you were sick. And I swear I'm never going to make a mistake like that again. But I know that you will, because that's just you, it's part of why I love you, and I think that having more work to do right now would only make that worse." He feels himself blush as that 'I love you' slips out, and it's always been so natural in his head, it feels sort of good to have it out there in speech, too.

Draco, he notices, blushes as well, and for a heart-pounding moment, he looks down at the table awkwardly, obviously deep in thought. Harry holds his breath and then stops himself, remembering the fear that had consumed him so readily last night. That's another mistake he'll have to try not to make again.

Finally, Draco looks up, and his eyes are alight with something that takes Harry's breath away again. "I—you—just. You, um, you might be right." He blushes again and then looks away. "And I'll deny saying that to my bitter end."

Harry lets a slow, happy grin spread across his face. "Really?"

"Really. I—I'm not a politician. And I have been abusing my power lately, I realized that when I was calling people in to help with the outbreak and knew I couldn't call Lyle or Mabel. I've already decided to beg them to come back, you know. Not Ophelia though, ugh, that crazy bitch. We'll just have to find a new Mediwizard until you finish your rotation. Speaking of, you were fucking brilliant this weekend, you know. I don't think I thanked you properly yet." He grins, promising and perverted, and Harry's heart starts pounding for an entirely different reason. "I will very soon, though."

"So—so that's it, then," Harry says, sort of unable to believe it. "You're—you're gonna give up the campaign?"

"Well, yeah. That's what I meant by 'you're right' and honestly, Harry, you just made me say it again, sneaky little devil. Oh, you'll pay for that." He shrugs lightly, reaching across the table to quickly grasp Harry's hand. "I have been swept away by all of this lately, and I was realizing that when I was in hospital. I'm glad you said it out loud, because I'm not sure I ever would have. So thanks for that, too."

Harry lets out another laugh, light and relieved. "You're amazing, you know that?"

"I know. I'd have to be, I'm in love with you, aren't I?" And he blushes madly, and Harry blushes, and he feels like exploding again but this time with happiness. He practically rockets from his seat, hurries around to grab at Draco and pull him close, and he kisses him deeply, tasting cinnamon and orange juice and sunshine.

Draco kisses back with equal fervor, tongue licking into Harry's mouth with assured grace, and then he breaks away and pushes Harry back against the tabletop. "Hm, would you look at that, Harry. Maple syrup, our favorite." He holds up the small bottle and grins mischievously against Harry's cheek. "I think I should start thanking you. Arms up, please."

With not a word of protest, Harry puts his arms up and lets Draco remove his t-shirt. Then he lets him clear the table of their breakfast and then push Harry to lie on his back on the table, shifting upwards to hover over his heaving, bared chest with the maple syrup bottle. He leans down once more to kiss lightly at Harry's chest, making the brunet shiver against the wood, and then holds the bottle up again.

"Oops," Draco says, and Harry sighs as he feels cool syrup tip out onto his skin. He groans when Draco's warm tongue follows, licking a sticky trail down the middle of Harry's chest, pausing to tongue at hardened nipples and then steadily down to swirl where syrup has pooled into Harry's navel. "Mm, you taste so sweet, Harry," he purrs, and Harry groans again when he feels slightly sticky fingers tugging at the waistband of his boxers.

He's almost afraid to wish for it, but then it's there—syrup dripping down the length of his cock, mixing with his burbling precome and pulling panting breaths from the depths of his chest. Draco chuckles from somewhere near his crotch, and Harry wants to tug him up for a maple syrup kiss, but then Draco's mouth is in a much more wonderful place: placing sucking kisses along the veiny underside of his shaft.

"Draco," he whimpers as Draco laps at his syrupy erection. The blond chuckles again, pouring more syrup on his bollocks and licking there, too, making small, satisfied noises between his licks and then pulling off when Harry starts to get too frenzied. He licks his lips sort of obscenely, smirks when Harry lets out an impatient growl and thrusts his penis back towards him, and then casually engulfs the sticky cock in his mouth.

"Mm," he says around his mouthful, and Harry gasps and thrusts up again, grunting apologetically when he feels Draco gag slightly. He picks his head up just enough to be able to see that bobbing blond head and has to summon quite a bit of self-control to keep from thrusting up again. It becomes easier when the syrup bottle falls out of Draco's hand and clatters to the ground and then he's pressing sticky fingers against Harry's hips, warm and grounding. He pulls off to flick his tongue at the head, gray eyes sparkling up at Harry, and then bobs back down again, sucking insistently and noisily, and it is the best fucking thank you ever. Harry's orgasm comes out of nowhere, slamming in on a combination of the rich smells of their sex and the syrup and the sights and sounds of Draco's lovely red mouth. He releases with a high shout and Draco swallows greedily, keeping Harry stubbornly in his mouth until he's starting to soften, before he pulls up with a hearty sigh and a quick kiss to Harry's thigh.

"You taste so good," he whimpers, and Harry growls again and finds enough energy in new arousal to grab him up and tug him fully on top of him, finding him much too clothed and fumbling quickly to fix that.

"So do you," he says softly, and he kisses Draco thoroughly as if to prove it. Then he flips them carefully, guides Draco onto his chest with his legs dangling off the table, bent over and naked backside presented as if a feast, an invitation, and Harry very quickly accepts it and leans in purposefully.

He licks gently around Draco's furled hole, enjoying the full-body shudder and the nearly-pained groan he elicits. He keeps up the teasing licks, stabbing his tongue in when Draco starts babbling for it, and the blond lets out a muffled shriek against the table and rocks back against Harry's face. Just the simple, earthy taste of Draco on his tongue is enough for Harry's cock to start to fill up and harden again, and he groans appreciatively against Draco, flicking his tongue in and out against relaxing muscles. He fits his lips around his lover's rim and sucks, earning another shriek and now some sobbed-out begging, whimpered pleas for completion. With one last spit-slicked, smacking kiss to Draco's hole, he puts a hand out and wandlessly Summons lube from a drawer, slicking up his still-sticky cock and then lining himself up.

"Oh God, please," Draco moans, and really, Harry can't ever deny that, so he slides in smoothly, grunting at Draco's tight, tight heat and closing his eyes against the waves of pleasure crashing over him. He waits until Draco gulps out a few breaths and then starts rocking back insistently, begging again, and Harry pulls out just to ram back in, starting up a rough pace that sets the table rocking beneath them.

"Fuck, yes, please," Draco babbles, flexing his inner muscles around Harry and making him see stars. Harry swears and starts pounding him harder, the table creaking more and more, his fingers tight around Draco's sweaty hips.

He snaps his own hips forward, balls slapping against Draco's arse, and reaches around to grab at Draco's precome-soaked cock, fisting it roughly. He strokes through Draco's now senseless babbling, strokes him with a twisting wrist and worshipful fingers, and promptly comes undone with a bellow when he feels Draco's warm, ropy spurts of come over his hand. Harry empties into Draco and then leans down to fit his arms around Draco's body, chest to heaving back, and he whispers, "I love you," reverently and honestly.

Draco gives a small sigh and then a chuckle, and he wriggles slightly around Harry's softening cock but doesn't move to disconnect.

"You're sticky," he says lowly, and Harry laughs, picturing his wrinkled nose. "But I love you anyway," and Harry grins and kisses his back.