Ron hated Malfoy Manor. Just the sight of its clean white lines from behind the gates made his muscles tighten and his face flush. He stood out there, fuming, waiting to be allowed into those hallowed grounds – even though he was there on Auror business.

Even though last night he'd fucked the heir. He'd had Draco writhing and sweating and overheated under him. He'd thrust his cock inside Draco's heat, felt him move with Ron's rhythm, stroked and sucked and pulled his hair until Draco's whiteness sprayed the Leaky Cauldron's sheets.

The gates opened, and Ron trudged up the drive.

Narcissa was waiting for him, pale and slender as an unlit candle. Lucius stood behind her, silently glaring. She smiled and nodded politely as he explained: Auror business, part of Lucius' probation, searching the premises. He could see the freezing hate in her eyes as he asked for the passwords to the bedrooms; but then her head dipped as she sought to hide her face.

The gesture was familiar.

"Look, I really will be careful," he said awkwardly. "I'm not here to smash up your stuff."

Narcissa nodded, warmth leaking into her ice-blue eyes for a moment.

Not like Draco.

Draco hadn't met him as he arrived. Bitterness corroded Ron's chest as he cast revealing charm after revealing charm at the ground floor. Searching the kitchen did nothing for his temper: it was built for house-elves, and couldn't accommodate his six-foot-three frame. He came out swearing, clutching the top of his head, and found Draco waiting in the hall.

His face was as white and hard as the Manor itself. "What are you doing here?"

"My job. I can see how you'd be confused, since you've never done an honest – "

"Find someone else to do the search," Draco snapped.

"What?" said Ron, bristling at the haughty tone. "I've done everything by the book. You can trust me."

"Don't be ridiculous," Draco retorted, and something twisted in Ron's stomach. "You can't be in my home."

"I'm not going to do anything," Ron said, his temper rising. "You are far from irresistible, believe me. Your parents aren't going to know a thing."

Draco's face went paler, until he looked like a statue: melding perfectly with the white marble walls except for his pained eyes.

"Isn't that what you want?" Ron demanded as he felt his face heat. "Isn't it?"

He left early, telling Kingsley that he didn't think he should finish the Malfoy Manor gig. "I'm sorry, but I think I'll lose my professionalism."

Kingsley nodded and told him he was proud of his maturity. "When you can deal with these people impartially, that'll be impressive; but it's a different sort of integrity to come to me and say someone else needs to take over. Good for you, Auror Weasley."

Ron nodded, wide-eyed. He finished some paperwork, spending the afternoon staring down at the forms and not speaking. He was focussed and fast but he seemed to have misplaced his voice.

He went home in the grip of a ferocious sulk, and was met by Draco's eagle owl. He glared at it and took the letter. It took off instantly, almost scratching his knuckles with its talons.

He stretched, ignoring the burn where Draco had scratched the shit out of his back the second time, and ripped the letter open.


Today has shown that our assignations will only lead to my ruin. I cannot be discovered for a sodomite; I will lose my inheritance. My home.

I trust you will act with discretion henceforth.

Draco Malfoy

Ron choked on rage.

He swore and threw the parchment. It fluttered foolishly to the ground a foot away, making nonsense of Ron's fury. He glared at it through blurring vision.

Weasley. Discretion. His ruin.

"The selfish shit. The fucking – how dare he act like we're nothing!" Ron stopped as he half-choked on something that was, horrifyingly, a sob.

He didn't – pain was spiralling through him, hot and painful and clanging through him. Draco was a bastard, a bastard – he knew it –

"He signed it like he signs his business letters! Like I'm – "

Ron felt his face twist with this ugly, sordid pain.

This was – he'd been fucking Malfoy, who'd probably only consented to touch him because Ron was 'pure'. Who was going to marry some poor woman for the sake of her womb and spend weekends in dank pub loos. Who had no ability to love – to care for anyone who wasn't his blood.

Fucking Malfoy was the mistake. Surprised he didn't have icicles on his dick!

Ron knocked back another drink and nodded to himself.

His heart was crumpling in his chest – like it was an origami heart being crunched into nothing by some careless hand.

A knock at the door.

Draco stood outside his door, swaying a little. His eyes were washed of colour. He was holding his body straight and tall, just as slimline and untouchable as ever, his face frozen – then he swayed forward once more and Ron caught his elbows, holding him up.

Draco crumpled forwards instantly, his body collapsing against Ron's chest. Ron felt him slump, until Draco's warm, somehow fragile body was limp and huddled in his arms.

"Draco?" he said into pale hair.

"They found out," Draco muttered against his chest, sounding like he was holding his jaw stiffly. "So they sent me away."

"You... Your parents found out?" Ron said, something curdling in his stomach. The hurt and confused rage that had been swirling inside him – quenched for a moment by the sight of Draco so breakable – returned. "You didn't tell them?"

Draco tensed in his arms. "No."

Ron pushed him back a little, though he was still supporting Draco's pointy elbows. Half Draco's weight was still on him, but now Draco was raising his face.

"Why would I tell them? They've disinherited me. I knew they would." Draco was turning pink with distress, blood rising to his cheeks like he'd been slapped.

"Right." Ron retreated, watching Draco stagger and grab for the doorframe as Ron's support went away. "Why would you? I was never anything to you. Why would you speak up?"

"Hah. You're out, everyone knows. But you wouldn't have let on about me either way! Don't pretend I'm the only deceitful one."

Ron wasn't sure if it was guilt over what Draco had said or simply the way he looked – flushed and unhappy and as if he might fall down – but he couldn't attack him any more. Not when he was so vulnerable.

But still – "Why did you come here?"

Draco looked at him with sharp, though shadowed, eyes and Ron went on, "not that I mind. Exactly. But you just finished telling me it was all over in that horrible letter and you look done in. Isn't there anyone better to look after you?"

"I – er. I didn't think about it. Could I have some tea?"

Ron folded his arms. "You've got to do better than that."

Draco shut his eyes for a moment. "Er. I – I just thought of you. I said it in the letter, didn't I? I trust you.

"I knew you wouldn't turn me away."

Ron wasn't quite sure if he opened his arms first or Draco stepped inside or who did what but then Draco was warm against him and gripping Ron's shirt and still in his arms.

"Good answer," he mumbled. "And yeah. You know you can come here. You knew it before I did." He felt Draco's shoulders relax.

Draco's hair smelt amazing. Shampoo he recognised and that sweet, animal musk: another human, one he welcomed into his territory. Someone to be part of home.

Ron charmed the front door shut.

"So. Would you like to come to the Burrow on Sunday?"