TITLE: Mi Confesión
AUTHOR: sordid humor
RATING: PG – 13 for adult language and mild sexual content
SPOILERS: Post-War, somewhat Epilogue compliant
WARNINGS: This story features a male/male sexual attraction as well as adultery, smoking, drunkenness, adult language and multiple instances of tango dancing.
DISCLAIMERS: The following story is based on characters created by JK Rowling and licensed to various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury, Scholastic and Warner Bros. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. Or:
I do not own them in a box,
I do not own them with a fox,
I do not own them while I'm bowling,
They all belong to J.K. Rowling.
SUMMARY: When you're a thirty-something wizard, divorced, gay and a tango enthusiast, your dating pool can be counted on one hand: Draco Malfoy, J.D., and Harry Potter.
DEDICATION: for writtenmatrix. I can be squishy for you... sort of.
Harry sat in a cafe, watching life go by. He sipped at a glass of Lambrusco—the chilled red wine helped fight the heat. It was a hot June night and he was trussed up in a simple black cotton suit. At least he'd forgone a tie. The formal clothes were stifling in the heat but it was important to observe these traditions; they made things clear, uncomplicated. And that was something Harry appreciated more than ever these days. Unfettered clarity, the anonymity of the muggle world. He'd come all the way to steamy Buenos Aires for a bit of peace.
He observed a group of young men meeting on the sidewalk. They all shouted and embraced, kissing one another on both cheeks and shouting, lively, all smiles. Everyone kissed everyone. That's just how things were in Argentina: warm, like the weather. He'd needed to get away from England for a while, even just for a night. Argentina was perfect.
This part of Buenos Aires was dominated by the old architecture—he was told it resembled parts of Paris, with winding little streets and beautiful stone work. Harry thought the streets were crowded for a Wednesday night, but what would he know? He drank his wine and watched the people. Sweet elderly couples hobbled arm-in-arm like stones in the river of foot traffic. Young people shouted and laughed, swooping in and out of the local bars, restaurants and dance clubs. Hipsters and European tourists spilled from Club Bahrein and La Cigale, their French and occasional English mingling with the rapid native Spanish, echoing pleasantly down the narrow roads; a heavy, meaningless babble washing down the stone canyon streets. Their clothing seemed unfamiliar to him. Harry hadn't spent much time in the muggle world these last few years but now it was just what he needed—to be just another tourist, to be left alone. Everywhere he went there were witches and wizards whispering behind their hands, saying what a sad case it was, speculating what The Chosen One would do now. It was a relief to be treated like a tourist; ignored, breathing easily for the first time in weeks.
He had stalled long enough. It was nearly eight o'clock and things would be well under way when he arrived. He left forty pesos on the table and set off toward Maipú.
Argentina never ceased to amaze. Stepping into the Plaza Bohemia was like walking into another world—the high ceilings, the extensive wood moldings, the beautiful gilt mirrors, the smell of cigarettes and dark, swirling figures moving in time to accordions, piano and strings. The dj was playing a fast-paced milonga, which was fitting: playing a milonga song at a milonga, a tango social.
But this was no ordinary tango social like the ones he'd been to in England. This was "tango queer," where women could lead and men could follow. Tango had originally been a dance only between men because it was considered too sensual. The gay scene just loved that. The dance certainly had it's share of sexual elements—the way a follower could wrap legs with their partner, the way a leader could use his or her own body to initiate a step or change of direction, the way torsos pressed together, breathing one another in the close embrace. But tango wasn't that "I love you, I hate you," stretched-out-arm parody muggles saw on television. Tango was a dance about staying close, keeping it understated in order to really listen to your partner; one had to lead seamlessly or follow attentively. Tango was a dance about trust; the partner who followed was walking backwards the entire time, trusting their leader to guide them in the right direction and prevent any collisions on the dance floor. The follower had to trust some of their weight—their balance and center—to the leader; just as in life, not trusting one another only lead to disaster... and trodden-on feet.
Harry paid his cover, slipping into his worn leather shoes. He then found himself an unassuming place along the wall to observe the dancing. The song was an old one, easily recognized by most tango dancers as the traditional Canaro "El llorón," a fast-stepping and romantically syncopated milonga—exactly what one would expect and indeed want to hear at a milonga club in the womb of tango. The music inspired small and precise movement, staccato steps and annotated, swiveling figure eights that were even fun to watch. Because milongas like this required such quick movement to keep up with the beat, partners held each other close to maintain their balance, their steps small and tight beneath their bodies, tips of their toes nearly brushing with each slide along the polished wooden floor. You had to be talented to get creative at that tempo. Preferring the slower tangos, Harry leaned against the wall and searched out a couple or two to watch.
The crowd was almost entirely male. La Marshall was not just a queer tango. It had been one of the first openly gay tango clubs back in 2002. Eleven years later, La Marshall was still the place to be. He was relieved to see his wardrobe choice had been correct; the men who led almost universally wore jackets or full suits despite the heat. The men who followed were more casually dressed, linen trousers and shirts relaxed, unbuttoned. It was harder to tell if there was an indication amongst the women. Skirts, floral dresses or trousers appeared to be more fashion choice than social cue. That was fine. He wasn't particularly interested in dancing with women, anyway. He wasn't the greatest follower—it was his independent streak. He wanted to anticipate, get one step ahead of his leader and stay there. Harry made a better leader than follower: that had always been true.
He spotted an unusual male-female pair amongst the dancing crowd. Perhaps not so odd after all—the woman was leading the man. She was tall for an Argentine, her stunningly high pencil heels adding to her statuesque poise. The man was not so tall, though clearly European; slight and refined, with skin as milky white as his French-cuffed dress shirt tucked into tight khaki trousers. He was barely the height of your average English woman, even pulled slightly up onto his toes by the height difference of his partner. The pair was caught in dance floor traffic. This happened on crowded floors. Tango was often described as a walking dance, intended to move anticlockwise around a room. When one couple stopped to perform a molinete turn, parada or some other stationary step, the entire line of dancers was held up. Compound that with a dance floor of nearly thirty couples and what you got was frighteningly similar to a muggle traffic jam. A talented leader could manipulate the flow of the room to his or her advantage, taking note of traffic ahead and setting up their partner for a clever stop or a few syncopated rabona steps to move round the congestion. Leaders learned by the careful combination of watching and doing, patience, practice and time. Everyone here at La Marshall knew exactly what they were doing. The seamlessness of it all was art in itself.
Harry watched the tall woman lead a parada, catching the man's foot with her own high-heeled ones and scooping him close. In the mordida, their feet pressed as close as their bodies, sandwiched in a knot of leather and sparkles, cotton and lace. She held the position, hand re-wrapping to cup the man's shoulder blade as she whispered something in his ear, making him chuckle. When traffic cleared, she opened the embrace just enough to invite her partner through—to pass his foot over hers in a pasada. The man took his time, embellishing the moment by dragging the tip of his shoe up the woman's leg before stepping over her foot as nimble as a bird clearing the nest. As he transferred his weight into the step, she cued a change of his weight and direction, eliciting a sharp little voleo—a release of the leg as his feet caught up with the swirl of his hips, pointed foot leaving the floor, lively and youthful in a springy kick. Harry had never actually seen someone manage one on a crowded floor without hitting someone. He wasn't sure what surprised him more—that the decoration had come from a man or that it had been so swift and graceful.
This had once been new for Harry. He'd danced at a muggle studio in London for ages... but always with the man leading and the woman following. Ginny had dragged him to a ballroom dance instructor as soon as they'd announced their engagement, wanting The Boy Who Lived Twice to waltz at their fancy wedding. Waltz had made no sense to Harry. Stiff formality, huge steps and not looking at your partner? It felt unnatural. He wanted something simple and instinctive, like riding a broom, the shifting of your body weight indicating your direction and intention, your partner willed along for the ride. Their instructor had recommended Harry try tango instead but Ginny insisted on the stiff waltz. So waltz it was. After one of their brilliant rows, Harry had stormed out of their flat with no idea where he was going. Out had been the only thing screeching and roaring through his mind; out, out, anywhere Ginny wasn't. He could get lashed and hit something or be a noble Gryffindor and refocus his energy like Hermione always harped on about. After stomping around London for an hour, Harry had taken the high road and walked to the dance studio to sign up for tango lessons behind his wife's back.
Years later, he was still blowing off steam. It turned out he was actually a fair dancer when there wasn't an overbearing bitch barking at him. Dancing helped him focus his attention on something outside himself. And it certainly helped his ego that his partner had no choice but to follow his lead or get trodden on.
Ginny fought him on everything: it was one of her true and effortless talents. Waltzing at the wedding, buying a flat in London when he had a perfectly good house to live in, having kids young, redirecting his career from the Auror's Office to Quidditch—well, maybe those last two weren't such awful things. Harry loved his kids. He was a doting father and his success as a professional Quidditch player did give him more time to spend at home with Jamie, Al and Lil. It was hard to believe their James had just finished his third year at Hogwarts. By all rights, the lad should have been a second year but once again, Ginny had pulled some strings with the Potter name on them and gotten their first born into school a year early. She said it was because Jamie was bright, eager for a formal education and deserved a head start; sometimes, Harry was bitter about their oldest going away so soon. It felt like Ginny had done it to take James away from him. They'd screamed in one another's red, contorting faces, oblivious to Lil and Al's tears in the next room. James bad been a good boy, comforting his siblings as best he could. Ginny didn't listen anymore—not really. Harry wondered if she'd ever heard him at all or if he'd just been a flood of assonance and sound, making up the constant thrill of "Harry Potter, Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived."
That fight over James starting Hogwarts had been the first time he told her—out of spite, no less, rage pounding in his ears and vengeance in his fists, wanting to break her heart and see that icy, stoic bitch cry for once. He'd been cheating on his wife for years. Harry was good at sneaking around. Gin should have seen it coming, what with the way she snipped at him over every meal and ignored his gentle touches in the darkness of each progressively colder night. Really, the intimacy of their marriage died when Harry started sleeping on the couch, Lil on his chest and the tele casting purple and blue lights across her sweet little face. Harry liked watching the colors flit across the pudgy innocence of her features. Ginny had looked like that once, soft and yielding. That easy, kind woman was gone now. Perhaps the kids had sapped the heart out of her from the inside, right along with their nutrients and magic. Sometimes it felt like everything he loved about his wife had gone into the kids; now that Ginny Weasley had been dispersed, there was nothing left to hold dear.
So tango was by far the most innocent thing Harry did to get away from his fractured life—and tango gave him the most pleasure, ironically. Tango made him feel good about himself, gave back some of the confidence Ginny had stomped into the vintage of their marriage. At first he started going to practicas; later, milongas at the studio after Quidditch practice. Then he was Apparating to New York or Madrid after a game to celebrate in his own way while his teammates raided The Leaky Cauldron. There were some excellent tango workshops in Greece, Italy and especially Russia, Fantasia performances and milongas to dance the night away.
He always found some way to lie around his absences when Ron or Hermione started asking questions—he was meeting with a Quidditch trainer, catching up with a member of Dumbledore's Army or the Order, looking into a painting Ginny wanted or some extravagant surprise for the kids. Everyone believed the stories he told—he was such a good father, a loving husband and affectionate friend. No one ever had reason to doubt The Great Harry Potter. He took everyone out to dinner, gave away Quidditch tickets like candy and always brought back souvenirs no matter how short a time he was away. The Potters took a family vacation to Hamburg a few years ago when Ginny and the Harpies were competing for the World Cup. Harry remembered tucking the kids into bed before tip-toeing down to the muggle hotel's concierge and asking about the local tango scene. That was the first time he'd heard of a gay men's milonga—just in passing, nothing more than a bullet point on a tourist web site but that dot had been enough to pique Harry's chronically over-active curiosity. It was his weakness: everybody had one.
It had been a bit like this—though he was quickly realizing that Buenos Aires had a certain magic of its own, a melted and indescribable something that poured over your brain, slowing your heart to the swishing slide of leather-soled shoes on worn wooden beams, the lyrical plight of a lone piano drifting out from a cafe and carrying you away. He watched bodies, ankles and knees and toes, tiny circles and brushings, creaking leather shoes and strong arms and the first beads of sweat against a pristine white shirt.
So he was watching that man again. The man in the perfect white shirt, face obscured. He couldn't deny it, not even for a moment. Shoulders so square and steady, hips a beautiful figure eight swivel, back and forth, guiding the swirl of his oh-so-light loafers across the floor. How could you not be mesmerized? It was Pugliese now, the lyrical violin and concertina serenade of "La Yumba," lilting, teasing, at once brashly confident and disarmingly coy, almost unsure even after all these years. The man in the white shirt so clearly loved this song. His ochos were elegant, perfectly timed to the irregular thrum. In the plucking of strings, his steps were light as a feather; in the sweep of the bandoneón concertina, the roundness of his steps, the flow of him was almost overwhelming. His weight was so trusted to his partner that he appeared to float on air, his mouth a pouty smile and face nestled in her dark wavy hair. The man's face was shadowed by a gray fedora tilted downward, a stripe of white silk adorning the otherwise plain brim. The woman swept him up in her arms, his weight all in one long leg while the other traced little circles against the floor as she guided him in a tight pirouette, stalking circles around his light little form. He swiveled right on the spot in a perfect calesita, making her lead look effortless as she guided him around like the central pivot of a carousel. He held himself board-straight, pulled up impossibly strong and yet yielding, taking the final dip his leader asked for with a ballet-like beauty. His leg wrapped the skirted thigh inserted between his own, relaxing and giving in to her. Equally strong, she swept her leg just so, wiping the floor with this gorgeous creature attached to her at shoulders, hip and heart. It was so indiscriminately right as the bandoneón died, a last playful trill ringing out through the darkening, smoke-filled hall.
The tanda was over and the floor began to clear. The woman held their position just a moment longer, enjoying it, a few friends smiling fondly at the couple's ending pose—the reversal of masculine and feminine which was only possible with queer tango. It was truly beautiful, the way the effervescence of this man brushed away some of the severity of her tanned features, making her laugh as he cuddled into the curve of her neck. With a smile, she brought the man in for a hug, flicking up the brim of his hat to place a kiss to his temple. Harry caught a glimpse of more creamy skin and a delicately arched brow.
Their eyes met. From across the room, the contact was a jolt of lightning down his spine. He knew those stony gray eyes, that shock of white-blonde hair. He knew the man bloodied, crying, screaming, sneering. The years, though they'd been kind, didn't change knowledge or minds.
For some unfathomable reason, Draco Malfoy was in Buenos Aires on a Wednesday night. At La Marshall, no less! The wizard could have gone to La Cigale or any of the other trendy night clubs around. Those places would certainly appreciate his lavish patronage... but Malfoy was here, in a fairly nondescript gay tango club that played 1940's Osvaldo Pugliese. Un-be-fucking-lieveable.
Malfoy didn't belong here. Malfoy was a robe, a suit—a big shot barrister, only taking the highest profile cases and arguing regularly before the Wizengamot. The Slytherin had been roped into an arranged marriage at the tender age of eighteen and divorced quite publicly not two years later when his wife was found irreparably barren; apparently, it was a standard clause in all pureblood prenuptial contracts. After that unholy mess, Malfoy had finished his schooling and gone to France to practice as a Master of Laws. Harry hadn't seen the man in perhaps a dozen years—certainly not since James was born. Maybe Malfoy was a bit of a recluse? You only saw his name in the paper accompanied by great scandal, and never his own. Malfoy represented the crème de la crème, the richest and most famous of the wizarding world. And he was good at it. Harry recalled a particularly stunning victory defending Oliver Wood over a Keeping contract a good six or seven years ago. Malfoy did good business and charged through the nose for it. Surely he had better places to be—some fancy pureblood party or a barrister's banquet. There was absolutely no reason for Malfoy to be here save one: he liked to tango.
Draco Malfoy was bent and liked to tango.
Those silvery eyes told a different story, boring into him from across the dance floor. His posture had changed, body stiff and hackles raised. His lady dance partner certainly took notice, feminine hand snaking up his white-clad arm, undoubtedly speaking against his cheek. But Malfoy didn't respond.
Harry realized too late what had happened. Their eyes had met.
In the traditional Salon de Tango, men and women played very clear-cut roles—so much so that they sat on opposite sides of the room, hardly speaking except when they came together on the dance floor. Men always led and women always followed because that's the way it was. That was how Harry had been taught, too. There was never the option for women to lead or men to follow. Up until the late 1990's, people got themselves sanctioned or even thrown out of tango clubs for committing such a faux pas as to dance with a member of their sex. It just wasn't done. There were rules in tango. The rigid structure was something Harry could understand. Rules kept people safe.
With men and women so separated, there was a specific protocol for asking a lady to dance. In some ways, it was even more complex than the myriad of practices, signifiers, flags and codes used in the gay scene. When a man wanted to dance, he would step away from the others and attempt to make eye contact with the lady of his choice. If she was inclined to dance as well, she would accept his eye contact from afar. The man acknowledged her with a nod, which she might return. Should a lady object to dancing—object to the gentleman or any other factor, such as the song or the number of couples on the floor—she would avoid his gaze and that was that. The system existed to shield men and their egos from public rejection. By the time a leader approached his partner, she had already accepted him in advance. There was no fear of getting hurt, no sting of defeat, no slinking away in humiliation to be razed by your mates. To approach a lady without first gaining her eye or her nod was tantamount to groping her on the dance floor. You could get yourself thrown out of a milonga for that sort of thing. Protocol, rules and regulations existed for a reason. They protected the men while giving some measure of power to the ladies. It wasn't an equal balance, nor was it entirely fair... but it was something everyone agreed to by walking through the door.
The rules hadn't gone out the window when "tango queer" showed up. If anything, the rules were even more important now. You didn't know who led, who followed. Eye contact told more than ever now. If he held your gaze, mirrored your nod, then chances were he was a follower. If he held your gaze but initiated the nod or started toward you, then you had a leading man on your hands. The fellows who switched back and forth were the hardest. You wondered why he would follow anyone but you. Sometimes Harry couldn't help but take it personally. The jacket code helped make things a bit less murky. A man in a jacket was much more likely to be a leader. It took some of the guess work out of it. Top or bottom? Pitcher or catcher? Those sorts of things were less clear on the dance floor and more so over the glass of wine (or four) that followed a successful tanda. If a fellow really liked you, you might see him for several tandas over the course of the evening. You had to wait and figure it out. Unlike the gay scene in general, Milongueros had a sense of patience. You didn't go to a milonga to find a quick lay: you went there to tango.
Harry found himself gazing across the room at Draco Malfoy. The blond's partner slipped away with a squeeze and a sigh, sensing his distress but unable to do anything to ease him. Her hand lingered as she backed away, suggesting they were quite familiar. Harry couldn't afford to watch her retreat—he might lose Malfoy's gaze.
It was a bit of a staring contest as they looked one another over. The years had treated Malfoy exceedingly well. He looked barely a day over twenty four, fit and impeccably dressed. Harry would be thirty four next month and felt his age in every inch of his body. Then again, Malfoy was divorced with no children. Even with his high-powered job, he probably had more time to spare for himself than a father of three.
Harry watched reality dawn over Malfoy's familiar pointed features. Ever so carefully, the man nodded. He was accepted. They would dance.
Harry stepped onto the clearing dance floor. The dj was playing a bit of pop music to indicate the end of the set, the strum of electric guitars and Spanish lyrics rather jarring compared with the precise classical swell of old-world maestros. Harry had switched into his suede-bottomed dance shoes in the entry, not liking to take his shoes off in front of people. It felt too much like letting his guard down. The time spent in war and later with the Auror's Department had taught him that anything which made him feel vulnerable was to be avoided at all costs. There was an advantage to being a wizard; he merely shrunk his street shoes, dropping them into his breast pocket while no one was looking. Now he felt the floor beneath his feet, every little bump and crevice of the boards making themselves known to him as he walked with purpose toward the other wizard. It was a bit surreal, the blond just standing there as everyone else filtered away. Most of the dancers headed for the bar, ordering drinks and settling down at tables and booths with friends. Everyone seemed to know each other. Over Malfoy's shoulder, Harry watched the woman he'd danced with dart back to an especially large booth. She lifted another woman's champagne flute to her beet-red lips, eying Harry first with suspicion and then growing interest. The occupants of the booth turned to watch as well, drinks in hand and speaking in rapid Spanish amongst themselves, all but pointing and whispering at the mysterious newcomer.
Harry licked his lips. Malfoy swallowed.
It was Malfoy who spoke first.
"I... haven't seen you here before," Malfoy pronounced his words very slowly, carefully, just a hint of his old schoolboy drawl in that trained, authoritative voice of his. The cadence reminded Harry of the way Malfoy's foot traced the floor, decorating tiny circles with the balls of his feet as he waited for an indication of his next move. It was like they were already dancing. "New?"
"No. I usually go to Hamburg or Madrid."
"I don't like the music at Hamburg," Malfoy stated. He gave his opinion as though it were sacrosanct, that irritatingly arrogant ring clinging to every word that left his mouth. Malfoy hadn't changed much. "Hate it, actually. Di Sarli is an aperitif, not a fucking entree."
"I like Di Sarli," Harry replied, shrugging a shoulder. His jacket moved with him, not enough to tug at his buttons but the silk lining slid pleasantly against his cotton dress shirt. A discreet Cooling Charm kept him from steaming alive like a lobster. "The man was a purist who wouldn't succumb to the fads of his time and made his own music. But I agree—Hamburg overplays. Especially Don Juan."
"If I hear Don Juan one more time," Malfoy rolled his eyes, "Di Sarli or D'Arienzo, I'm going to hex a certain muggle's bits off." Silver eyes raked menacingly over the unsuspecting disk jockey standing behind a half-wall of equipment and speakers, twiddling nobs that didn't seem to do much of anything.
"Thanks for the warning," Harry favored Malfoy with a crooked smile, watching the dj from the corner of his own eye. "I'll be sure to Apparate before the Obliviators get here."
Malfoy snorted—the sound was very close to an actual laugh. It had been so many years, he couldn't recall what Malfoy's laugh sounded like. It had been too many years; fourteen, at least.
Harry extended his left hand to the man, a clear signal that he would lead. Malfoy almost seemed relieved, gray eyes closing a moment as he drew a large breath. Slowly, he placed his hand in Harry's outstretched palm, eyes traveling up his jacket to fall at last on his face. Malfoy had very long, knobbly fingers. And warm palms.
"Okay?" Harry asked lamely.
Malfoy looked from their joined hands back to Harry's face, his haughty features a rare and unreadable blank. When he spoke, there was a tremble to his voice. Harry couldn't tell if it was nerves or laughter. "Well, Dumbledore's Army hasn't broken down the door clamoring for my head on a pike, so... yes. I guess we're alright."
"Alright," Harry echoed. "Yeah. It's just a tanda." He curled his fingers over the back of Malfoy's hand, setting their elbows away from their bodies and hands at a comfortable plane. The blond was about the same height he'd been at school give or take an inch, while Harry had ridden one last growth spurt well into his twenties. He stood nearly a head taller than Malfoy now—and his inner schoolboy was rejoicing at the tiny victories still afforded him in adult life. The dance floor was filling again. There weren't nearly as many couples as before so they would have a bit more space for the next set of songs. Music was always played in sets of two to five songs, referred to collectively as a tanda. If your partner was amenable—meaning no one stepped on toes or, in this case, drew wands and cursed one another to smoldering thirty-something wizarding bits—you would dance the full set together. Accordingly, he and Draco Malfoy were about to make at least eight more minutes of awkward and agonizing small talk... or as many as twenty. He swallowed, feeling each and every muscle in his throat activate as he did so.
Malfoy was still looking at him, almost expectantly, hat tipped back so that he could look Harry right in the face; stoic, an ivory idol of patience. It seemed he, too, wanted to pretend the past didn't exist—that they were just two men meeting at a queer tango and having a dance. If Malfoy were anyone else, Harry probably could have done it. But he couldn't stop seeing those slate-colored eyes, that washed out skin and silver-blond hair. In the deepest recesses of his mind, he knew whose hand he was holding.
It was time to set up the embrace. Contrary to popular theory, the Quaffle was on Malfoy's side of the pitch on this one. If a follower didn't want the close embrace, he or she had only to put their left hand to the leader's bicep. This stops the leader from getting any closer, setting the distance at which the dance will take place. The dj had just played a set of the faster milonga songs so they were unlikely to have another milonga for at least half an hour. This set would be tango, vals or waltz. Harry was crossing his fingers the muggle wasn't about to play Don Juan—he couldn't judge how poorly Malfoy would react but it certainly wouldn't be good.
Testing his luck, Harry took a single step forward, easing his arm around Malfoy's ribs until his fingertips found the man's spine through the luxurious fabric of his shirt. It was silky and cool to the touch. He clearly used Cooling and Anti-Perspiration Charms, as Harry did. Dance partners were much more receptive when you were the only man in the room not dripping with sweat and stinking worse than an athletics bag. Harry suspected the blond had cast some type of Concealment or Glamor Spell to hide the shadow of his Dark Mark beneath his long white sleeves. Harry was wondering about this when the other wizard set up his end of the embrace.
Harry hadn't had the opportunity to see Malfoy dance with a man; therefore, he had no idea what was normal for the blond. Harry had danced with plenty of Milongueros and knew that everyone had their own way of doing things. He'd never encountered a dancer, man or woman, who embraced quite like Malfoy.
Pale fingers traced up his spine, a silent demand, drawing him up to his full height. It was blatantly sensual, Malfoy's quiet way of saying, "I'm not afraid of you, Potter." He hooked his thumb over Harry's left shoulder, fingers splayed over his back and long arm draping around his neck like a beloved pet snake. In his mind, Harry could see the Dark Mark pressing against the back of his neck, a few layers of cotton separating his skin from the mark of his long-dead enemy. Oddly enough, the idea didn't bother him. They'd all paid their dues to the Dark War and bore the scars of it—this was life, now. They were just people, dancing. It didn't matter anymore. Just two men having a tango.
Oh. Malfoy was the prefect height. Harry couldn't stop himself from exhaling as that lissome body settled against his own. Ducking his head, his chin fit as though it belonged in the curve of Malfoy's temple, sending the man's fedora hopelessly askew. Harry reached up and snagged the hat, dropping it safely on his own head. He felt Malfoy's mouth drop open at the blatant flip... but then Harry's fingers hooked the ridge of shoulder blade, drawing him up and forward, that much closer. And Malfoy came up to meet him like a dream, a feather on his feet as his chest dropped against Harry's. It was rather undeniable: Malfoy fit perfectly in his arms, like he was made to be there.
Malfoy's signature white-blond locks were sneaking up Harry's nose as he breathed. That was when he realized his eyes were closed. Leaders weren't supposed to close their eyes—after all, they were the only party who could see where the pair was going! Harry swallowed down the scent of Malfoy's hair; bergamot, Earl Grey, camphor and lavender. So English. The scent made him smile.
The pop music faded away to nothing, leaving a dozen couples on the dance floor, waiting.
"No Di Sarli," Malfoy muttered, drawling even under his breath. "Dear Merlin, no Don Juan."
"Here's hoping," Harry replied, collecting, bringing his feet together and distributing his weight to one leg in preparation. Malfoy felt him shift and drew his wing-tipped feet together, too, matching their free and standing legs before the music started. Harry felt it beneath his palm, experienced the muscles of Malfoy shifting as he did something so small as change from one foot to the other. The blond made him hyper-aware; then again, in all these years he'd never been this close to another gay wizard, let alone run into one at a queer milonga.
Harry heard the first few notes, rapid and fluttering under the scratching hiss of an old record player superimposed over a modern tango orchestra. He knew the song. He hadn't expected to hear it here.
"This is Gotan Project. They play electro at La Marshall?"
The bass kicked in and they were off.
It was a quick decision to dance tango on the downbeat. Most people only heard the speed of the piano, completely missing the opportunity to embellish the long, beautiful notes that would soon waver from the concertina. Malfoy was an embellisher—given the time and space, he would feel the music, really dancing to it in that small, sort-of innocent way, eyes closed and biting his lips as he stretched his catlike limbs through the space of notes. Harry paused after only three steps, just to feel the thrill of Malfoy beneath his hand, flush against him, foot light and circling on the floor, ready. The bass and vaguely electronic beat was loud in their ears. It would only get more intense as they neared the back of the room where the dj's make-shift booth resided, a mound of wires and black speakers that would soon be vibrating, pounding to the beat.
"How long have you been dancing?" Malfoy asked suddenly.
"Let's see," Harry actually had to think about it. "Before Jamie was born. So maybe thirteen years. You?"
He led Malfoy in a forward step. Generally it was difficult for followers to step directly at their partners—it was counter-intuitive to the backwards walk of tango but a basic in milonga-style. Malfoy came forward almost too easily, barely needing Harry's hand at his back to tighten in indication. Harry caught the man's foot with his own in a quick mordida. They were very, very close for a moment. Harry let it linger with the music, taking the freno while the song was still relatively soft with instrumentals. He sat back on one bent leg, waiting until just the right time to rise up, opening the embrace to invite Malfoy through. The blond looked at him, extending his leg but putting no weight on it. He was a good follower, waiting on pins and needles, waiting on the ball of his foot for Harry to indicate it was time to step his way through.
"It's a wonder we haven't run into one another before now."
"Yes," Harry agreed, straightening. Malfoy came through the pasada, catching Harry's musicality—the hesitation in rising—and using the time to trace the side of his foot in an arc along the floor before collecting his feet, ending all-too-effortlessly in Harry's arms. Their styles were similar, classic but with a hint of mischievousness, boyish and charming. Their rhythm was the same, a sense of artistry and timing. It was all too damn perfect. They fit together.
"But you go to Hamburg," Malfoy observed, almost for something to say. Neither of them wanted to comment on how well this was working, how natural it felt... how right.
"And you hate Hamburg."
"Yes I do."
A simple turn of the shoulder set Malfoy up for back ochos, a beautiful step that would twist the musculature of his back beneath Harry's hand as his hips moved and shoulders stayed a constant, always aligned to Harry's broader ones. Any other follower would have been resting on their laurels expecting to step straight back—but not Malfoy. Entirely on the balls on his feet, the subtle turn was casual and effortless. He just... went with Harry. Wherever his shoulders went, Malfoy was there, listening with his entire tidy body. Harry couldn't resist bringing Malfoy up with him, pulling slightly on the man's narrow spine until his weight pitched forward all the more. It was a common way to suggest a more advanced step was coming. And Malfoy actually sighed into him, loose and slight in his arms, warm breath billowing beneath Harry's open shirt collar to do funny things to his pulse.
Forget the advanced step. It was all he could do to lead a basic pattern of back ochos—right, left, right—until his brain caught up with his feet. He re-angled his shoulders, switching Malfoy's direction from backwards to forwards. Knowing he had Draco's body secure in his arms, Harry took a deep and daring step back, causing the smaller man to pitch forward in a caida; literally, a 'fall.' All of the blond's weight was on Harry now, pressing firm and hard. His free leg traced a lazy half-moon shape on the floor between them, slender leg limber and relaxed as a brush in a calligrapher's hand. After the sweeping motion his foot tucked in tight, ankles crossing and locking with confidence. Their bodies stood in the A frame of la puente, Draco holding himself by his abs and Harry supporting the bony shoulders butted up against his pecs.
Harry couldn't help but feel a rush of vain pride: he'd timed it perfectly. They had only just landed in that position when the music stopped, nothing but the snicking of the base and swishing shoes of surprised dancers as the melody was ripped out from under them. Malfoy's fingers tightened at his shoulder, the wizard's only reaction to the sheer fucking prowess that had gone into making this moment happen.
"Mi Confesión" was such a great song.
Two seconds. That's all it was. But they had everyone's attention.
The song broke into a flying Spanish rap, tripping and tribal. Harry came forward, gathering a laughing Malfoy in his arms and leading a set of rocking steps with gusto. Malfoy felt the back and forth rhythm down to his toes, not just stepping back but flexing his free foot, a point of pure conceit and style that made him unbearably adorable. He was still laughing pulled into a rollicking molinete turn, a sort-of grapevine pattern that danced him around his partner like a spoke to the center of a wheel. It took a clever bastard like Malfoy to syncopate it like that. Harry guided the man through the pattern twice before making his move, slipping a leg between Malfoy's and stopping him in his tracks. It was a legitimate parada or 'stop,' just not used very often because of the impeccable sense of timing it required. Any miscalculation on the lead's part would result in a kicked follower or a complete miss, breaking the embrace. There would be no doubt in Malfoy's mind that Harry had been dancing for thirteen years and knew exactly what he was doing. The wizard smiled at the feel of Harry's foot snug against his own. He sent Malfoy back, repeating the pattern in the opposite direction, the smaller man moving in a smooth, gliding circle around him. Now that Harry had the blond's rhythm down he didn't bother to turn himself, instead shooting his leg back and stopping the man yet again, this time without even looking.
Malfoy was still laughing, a happy burbling sound that set his torso vibrating under Harry's hand.
The only downside was that they were so far apart up top, though happily tangled below. His right hand caressed Malfoy's ribs just below the pit of his arm, squeezing the fingers still nestled in his own. The slightest pressure to his side and Malfoy understood the intention of his leader's body. The blond brought his feet together, sandwiching Harry's foot between his own in the follower's mordida. They were playing at this point, the floor nearly empty and half the eyes of the room upon the stranger dancing with their Aryan Prince. Malfoy had to be the prince of something. The pomp suited him so well.
The tip of Malfoy's shoe rose up, rubbing against Harry's calf as though he were shining the top of his black and white wingtip on Harry's trouser leg. It was a delightful enganche, that little wrapping of his foot, but the blond was by no means done showing off. Draco Malfoy loved nothing more than being the center of attention: Harry could deal with it if it put that goofy grin on the wizard's face. Malfoy's slender leg crept forward, foot decorating the floor between Harry's legs before fanning up in a magnificent kick—a patada, hooking all the way up around Harry's waist in a sensual flurry.
He'd seen women do this during Fantasia performances. He'd learned ways to lead into the step in master classes. But never had he encountered a follower brash enough to do it on a whim on the Salon de Tango floor. Maybe the fact that this was a gay milonga made the blatant showmanship okay. Harry didn't want to diminish Malfoy's guts, even in his own mind—it was a ballsy move, man or woman, gay or straight.
The song was going to go soft in another minute, the concertina coming back for a romantic interlude. Harry wanted to use this opportunity to figure out what Malfoy was playing at. He maneuvered the blond back in front of him, keeping the embrace open enough for ochos. There was something indescribably pleasurable about watching the torsion of Malfoy's skinny torso as he twisted in the step. From an instructor in Belgium, Harry had picked up an odd habit of dancing ochos en espejo, leading a follower in backward ochos by doing forward ochos himself. The push of the leader's shoulders was what lead the follower's movements, not what the leader did with his sodding feet. Soon he was snaking after Malfoy, watching those slinking angles beneath pristine white fabric. Malfoy was biting at his fat bottom lip, smiling despite himself as he was walked back and back again, swerving from side to side under the steady guidance of Harry's lead. Malfoy started to blush under Harry's fixed and steady gaze.
Dear Merlin, they were flirting.
It was... unheard of. Unthinkable. But there was Draco Malfoy smiling back at him, pale cheeks flushed and lips taking on color from all the biting. He was vernal, vibrant, magnetic. When had that happened? Malfoy made him feel like an old man—a lecherous old pervert leering at this nubile young thing. The blond waggled his eyebrows as though issuing a challenge through his eyes. Okay, Scarhead. What's next?
It wasn't a good thing that he was communicating telepathically with a very turned-on Draco Malfoy. It was probably worse if you considered he was imagining the arrogant git's lilting drawl of a voice in his head and liking it. It was too late; he was gazing back at Malfoy, licking his chops.
Harry took his next step off to Malfoy's side. There was only one way to test this theory: he returned the enganche, curling his leg around Malfoy's.
"Well," the blond muttered, his face in Harry's shoulder. "That much is clear."
"What is?" Harry pulled back to execute a sacada, a step in which he slid Malfoy's free foot along the floor with his own.
"You're bent," Malfoy smirked. "No wonder your wife threw you out."
He'd almost forgotten that night—blocked it from his conscious mind. Gin had quite literally thrown him out, a suitcase sailing after him, her wedding ring sent flying as an afterthought. It had been all over the papers the very next morning. He'd stayed with Ron and Hermione those first few days—just until he could get Grimmauld Place aired out and his things moved into the dusty, disused house. Hermione kept hiding The Daily Prophet in the hope that he wouldn't see the headlines, though it was hard to miss the biggest font the fucking Prophet had. It nearly filled the page. It was the destruction of his life spelled out in squirming black and white, everything he'd spent the last fifteen years working towards in a pile of rubble at his feet; it was hard not to see. It was his misery manifest. It was choking him—had been for years. The fact that the papers were rubbing his failure in his face actually made very little difference. He didn't need to see the headlines to know he'd fucked it all up. His life was over.
England National was keeping him. At least he still had a job. He hadn't seen Albus and James since their Easter hols home from Hogwarts. It had been four weeks since he'd swung Lily around in his arms, heard her laugh, felt her soft doll hands fold behind his neck as he lifted the girl off her feet. Ginny had barred him from their flat. She said he was disgusting and had no right to see their children. Most of the Weasleys agreed with Harry; Gin was being utterly unreasonable. But there was no reasoning with Ginny Potter in a rage. Harry had learned that a long time ago. He didn't have it in him to fight anymore.
That was why he let her catch him fucking a muggle rent boy in their bed. Lily was having a sleepover with Hugo and Rose, so Ginny was sure to walk in on him alone. There were no words to describe the gilded cage that had become his existence, the complete and utter lie he lived. He was a professional Quidditch player—as Ginny would say, he simply didn't possess the vocabulary. He didn't know how to tell Gin he preferred men the same way he didn't know how to tell her he fancied tango and Lambrusco over white wine and waltz. She wasn't interested in his opinions. So rather than tell her and be ignored, he decided to show her.
It had been a really dumb idea. Fantastically stupid. She pulled her wand on the hustler. Harry, balls-deep in the sewer, hadn't had time to react. He'd been out on his ear in minutes, dispelling the last of her Bat Bogey Hex as he hailed himself a taxi.
The next day, The Prophet read "The Potters: It's Over!" There was no mention of Harry's sexual orientation in the article, though it was certainly implied that he was at fault for the death of their marriage. Harry only regretted ending the farce the way he did because it was costing him his children. He'd been wild, savage, blinded by hurt and loneliness. Now he couldn't even explain himself to his babies—see their faces again no matter how contorted in anger or disgust, tell them he loved them and that none of this mess had anything to do with them. Harry would always love his children. He'd never loved Ginny. That was the problem.
Harry's face must have shown some of his distress because Malfoy took up a mordida, sandwiching Harry's feet with his own and pulling so close it hurt.
"I read about it in the paper. I... sorry," the blond mumbled, unable to make eye contact. His pointed noise brushed the fabric of Harry's snug blazer. "I always assume the rest of the world is as heartless and unfeeling as I am."
"It's over," Harry said. The words still felt strange on his tongue, ringing strangely in his ears. He sat back in the mordida, allowing Malfoy through. "I just miss my kids, is all," he told the back of that white-blond head. For some reason, Malfoy was pretty easy to talk to. Thirty-something, gay wizard and a divorcee? They had more in common that Harry would have liked to think. Maybe their marriages had made them bitter. Maybe it was the gay scene over thirty. They were transitioning from someone's boy toy to Daddies themselves—at least in Harry's case. He wasn't sure if Malfoy would ever make that transition. The ponce still looked like a teenager; lithe, impossibly smooth skin, those perfect petit proportions and the crabby, acerbic personality of a know-it-all teen that had made their rivalry everything it was—a Hogwarts legend to this very day. Malfoy was still Malfoy, alright. Perhaps it was Harry who had changed.
The music had gone soft without his noticing. He scooped Malfoy close, leading a tender series of traspie triple steps ending with Malfoy in the cross, his ankles tight together and waiting for Harry's next direction. He went directly into the calestia, just because Malfoy balanced so perfectly, looked so beautiful in it. The blonde remained tucked up on that leg, allowing Harry to prowl in a slow circle, leading him around by the weight of him pressing into Harry's chest. He took Malfoy's weight further (there really wasn't much of it) and walked, pushing the blond backwards across the floor. With the suede soles of his shoes, he slid readily. It helped that he was fit, his back straight as a board as they went. The way he surrendered to the lead was astounding—it wasn't like Draco Malfoy to give in to anyone.
Just to see how far he could take it, Harry gave a distinct jostle, loosening Malfoy's ankles and freeing his back leg to swoop between them, tracing a familiar arc between them in the A frame of another caida. He could literally feel the eyes of the salon upon his back as he set Malfoy to rights, leading a few simple walking steps to ease around another couple. Malfoy's limber legs shot out behind him quick as a dart, extending to his full reach and placing his weight just so—and only when Harry invited it. He froze once, just to see Draco Malfoy stretched out and waiting, quivering for him. With his hand at the man's back, he twisted slowly, knowing it would cause Malfoy's extended leg to draw patters on the floor, swishing with the roll of their chests, shoulders following shoulders, hips matching hips. It was making him hard—the way Malfoy moved, the way Malfoy fit so tight against him. It was all so sweet and right. He pressed his cheek to satiny blond hair before leading him to open the embrace. They needed some distance between them before Harry's disobedience downstairs became any more pronounced.
The song was about to stop dead. That was the advantage of being addicted to tango; you knew every melody like the back of your hand, knew what irregularities to prepare for well in advance. The music could be unpredictable. True musicality was working with it, within it, making the song and the dance your own.
He swept Malfoy off to his side, bumping the blond's thigh with his own in a way that caused his simple crossing of ankles to slide up, one knee over the other with his foot kicking back in a sharp flick. Normally the move lead right back into the embrace but Harry took it above and beyond, dipping so that Malfoy was laid out along his leg, the blond holding his shoulder tightly and staring up at him in wonder when the music stopped.
Someone let out a whoop from the other side of the club.
The song crashed back, rap blazing and beat heavier than ever. Harry could barely hear himself think over the thrum of it in his ears—or was that his racing heart? Malfoy had to stop smiling like that before it broke the harsh angles of his face. The blond took his exit with a flourish, flipping his leg in a voleo as he swirled round to face Harry square-on.
He shook his head, smiling at the attention-drinking Slytherin. The man was practically glowing, a spotlight going off under his skin and lighting him from the inside out. He liked that half the room was staring, watching the curve of his tight-trouser-clad arse with every backward reach, salivating at the lightness of his loafers, the recklessness and confidence he exuded with every breath. The lines he created with his body were nothing short of beautiful, pulled high and tight in Harry's arms and rocking on the balls of his feet, straining to be taller, be closer. Harry re-wrapped his arm, feeling Malfoy's ribs beneath his fingers. The man was lithe, nothing but muscle and bone beneath the softness of that cloying white shirt. He begged to be touched, messed with. Harry moved the man's feet with his own in a brush, over and over, knee nudging thigh, each displacement sending Malfoy's foot careening out and away in a sweep that nearly left the floor, setting a quick pace to the building music. He was waiting for Malfoy's foot to go airborne. In the moment in did, he caught the limb with his own, the tip of his shoe hooking Malfoy's ankle. Harry gave it a little lift—once, twice before returning the blond's black and white shoe to the floor. He wanted every part of them to touch; toes, shins, stomachs or hands, it didn't matter which. So long as Malfoy understood. This was happening. They both felt it.
The way the man adorned each movement was enthralling; each brush of the foot, each careful picado tap of the heel, each lapiz more imbued with grace and distinction than the last. Harry had never seen Draco so alive. His eyes drifted closed, lashes feathering against Harry's jaw.
The end of the song was coming all too quickly. Harry couldn't think of what to do—letting go of Draco was no longer an option. The man was staying wrapped in his arms and that was all there was to it. He lead a series of sharp twists, direction changes the blond could embellish with those romantic picados of the heel he favored; the drag of a toe and extension of each long leg reading loud and clear through the bewitching sturdiness of his frame. Harry let his own foot drag, creating a line of limb for the blond to wind his way around. With a final plunk of the concertina, they were done.
Harry was breathing down the pale column of Malfoy's neck as he spoke, their bodies not leaving the embrace for a second.
"Did I pass?"
Malfoy's expression changed. Harry felt the shifting of his features but couldn't see what change had been wrought there. "Pass?"
"Yeah. Whatever ridiculous test you had going in your head."
"I did no such thing," Malfoy sniffed.
"I don't fancy letter grades much," Harry went on as though Malfoy had confirmed his suspicions rather than denying them outright. "Think we can do a point system?"
The next song of the set had already started. It was a remake of "El llorón" featuring a harmonica as the concertina's part—highly syncopated with an alternating time signature and strumming Spanish guitar. Harry had only heard this version a few times before but decided to play it cool. He danced it back as a milonga—any excuse to keep things close. The short steps certainly did something for the blond in his arms. There was a thrum to his body, pointed nose brushing the lapel of Harry's jacket like a cat nuzzling a sunny window pane. Their steps weaved in and out, walking to the Latin beat.
The tune quickly turned to a jazz riff, playing off the familiar old tune. Harry took advantage of the simple beat, showing off as he stepped between those darting skinny legs. Their thighs brushed countless times, Harry's feet landing swift and sure every time, ducking in to make his presence known. He skated the slender hand in his up to his shoulder, resting it there with a gentle pat before tucking his hand in his trouser pocket, casual as could be. Malfoy was holding him now, twined around his neck and feeling the lead through every inch of their joined bodies. Harry's hand soon left his pocket, straying to the blond's side—needing to feel the twist of him, the deep-seated curve that made up bony hip, narrow waist and oh-so-round bum. He was a goner before the tune could say goodnight.
"Enjoying this, Potter?" The words were spoken into his shirt collar, all breath, tripping tongue and heat. Malfoy could have been talking about the dance—or the unholy stiffy pressing against his own. Why not both?
Harry chuckled. "Not as much as you, my friend."
A quiet hum issued from Malfoy's throat—his only reply. Harry thought it might've once been a growl but no more. Malfoy was too happy, too sated, caught up in their old game of cat and mouse as easy as blinking, breathing, being. It had always been simple between them—strike, parry, return the attack. The pattern that had plagued the social interactions of their youth now served them well on the dance floor. For every action there was an equal and opposite reaction; Harry lead, attacked, Malfoy reacted, followed, Harry basing his decisions on each witty retort of picado, each slur of golpe, each brave and insulting gancho hook. Malfoy had his say in swirls, arcs of the leg and rhythmic tappings of the foot, snapping out a relentless tune of "halfblood" and "worthless boy hero" to his heart's content. And Harry worked around him, planning his next move from the blond's position and mood. In that, things were exactly the same. Why fix what wasn't broken?
Malfoy's sound turned pleasant at the start of the next song, burrowing his face that much closer to Harry's, his cheek tucked beneath the square fall of Harry's jaw.
The tune was the disco-like "Pa Bilar" from Bajofondo, a piece with rock-style drums and a rattling dance club beat. The surprise was a big-band orchestra layered over it all, playing out the frenos and hesitations of a classic tango. Electronic warbles punctuated the piano's rolls. The piece was heavy, demanding large, sweeping steps and stately pauses. He took Malfoy in a sweeping gate, challenging the reach of the man's legs with his even longer ones. Malfoy's fingers tightened around the side of his neck, holding on tight as they took their first steps.
The piano trilled from high to low and back and the blond in his arms swirled with it, moving through each step with unparallelled poise. Soon the melody would drop into a techno beat. They should do something. Malfoy felt it too, unconsciously reaching for Harry's hand. Warm fingers slid down his bicep, making him shiver from head to toe. He tried not to gasp. Really, he did.
He let Malfoy overstep a back ocho—the blond was overcompensating for their height difference, not that it mattered—and slipped his foot between Malfoy's legs before the man could complete his backward change of weight. Malfoy's front leg swung back, catching on Harry's thigh with a little wrapping kick that shot up around his thigh. He got Harry in the bum. On purpose.
Nearby, several couples laughed.
"Why you little shit," Harry growled in his best Daddy's Angry voice. "I'll get you for that."
Fuck. In that stunned moment, Malfoy's hand had somehow snuck from Harry's bicep to his elbow. That narrow hand now crept along his back, taking him by the shoulder blade and hooking those tricky fingers nice and tight. The lead had just changed.
At the back of his mind, Harry began to wonder who Malfoy was showing off for. Sure, it wasn't every day you ran into your childhood nemesis on the dance floor but this tenacity couldn't be inspired solely by Harry's presence... could it? To be frank, Harry didn't think highly enough of himself to believe that was the case. Perhaps Malfoy had an ex lover in the audience. That would make far more sense. That would explain why Malfoy had spent the last ten minutes showing off, playing games with Harry on the dance floor. The things Malfoy did would incite jealousy in just about anyone with eyes in their heads. The only thing Harry's convenient theory didn't explain was the stiffness evident between Malfoy's legs as the blond pulled him close with a rocking turn step.
Malfoy was a strong lead for a small bloke. He didn't hesitate in the slightest, didn't second-guess or waver. He unapologetically asked for Harry's weight, coming in low and nearly taking the taller man off his axis. Malfoy kept asking and so, reluctantly, Harry kept giving. He didn't follow very often, mostly because he was tall and... well, nobody really asked. He knew how. He just wasn't particularly confident; it showed in his hesitant steps, teetering on his supporting leg as Malfoy guided him back.
"Relax," Malfoy told him, leading a sacada. His foot pushed Harry's free leg across the floor and then back to where they'd started. "Good. Walk with me."
The wizard set a broad stride, anticlockwise around the room. Harry hurried to get out of the way. Malfoy's hand tightened on his shoulder blade, the other taking his palm and squeezing gently.
"Don't just reach," advised the blond. "Lengthen everything. Drop your shoulders. Feel the floor and push up from it."
Harry closed his eyes, ducking his face in Malfoy's hair and doing as the man asked. It actually helped that Mafoy was shorter; Harry felt he could lean over the man instead of into him. There was a certain snap to the bass, modern and tight. Malfoy walked to it, legs weaving around Harry's, first walking inside partner and then outside, in and out, his shoulder a constant dig in Harry's chest. Malfoy's forearm pushed his side—an old-fashioned way of indicating the follower's curzada or cross. Some people said the cross was automatic rather than lead. Harry always lead it anyway. He believed in giving indication to his partner with every part of his body. Anything else just felt lazy. Harry committed to his steps, committed to his partner. If you weren't going to engage, why bother? Malfoy was the same, it seemed. The pressure Malfoy gave at his ribs made the larger step back a breeze. Harry's feet gathered tight under him, shifting his weight and then waiting. He traced tiny circles on the floor with the inside of his shoe. It was a common mistake to keep walking backward out of the cross—Harry didn't want to fuck up. Gods, he didn't want to fuck this up.
He was right. Malfoy invited him forward out of the cross, a little snap to the rhythm of his body. Hyper-focused on the step itself, Harry completely missed the opportunity for embellishment.
"Relax it," Malfoy said, catching his body before he could transfer his weight and putting him right back up in his crossed position. "You have to let go of the leg. Just let it happen."
Harry nodded against blond hair, camphor and tea seeping into his lungs and hanging there like the smoke that curled along the ceiling. Was it cologne or did Malfoy naturally smell of French herbs and Earl Grey? Malfoy led the step again. Harry shifted when Malfoy shifted, went where the blond wizard went, following the hitch of his shoulders and the press of his hand so warm at Harry's back. His leg flew back in a delayed patada, just as Malfoy intended. His foot barely cleared his knees but it was a significant victory.
Malfoy kept right on going, sweeping through off-side and cross-body leads that had their legs swirling, wrapping and tangling together. Malfoy's steps were syrupy, never really starting or stopping. He was always in between something, powerful and unpredictable. His direction changes were precise and calculated yet they felt so natural, without thought or airs, caressing every nuance and pop of the music, his feet wrapping, sneaking and tapping out a little rhythm against the floor. He took Harry in a tight mordida, their feet side-by-side in stark black and white lines. When the violin dipped, Malfoy dropped back to a sitting position, one leg beneath him and the other still trapped between Harry's feet.
If he was going to steal the lead back, this was it. He could step over Malfoy's foot and continue being the follower or he could sit back himself, slide Malfoy's free foot across the floor and take back what was his. He did exactly that, eliciting a sharp flick of the head—white hair whipping—as Malfoy snapped around to look at him. It was too late, though. His right arm had swung around to Malfoy's back and he was pulling the wizard into the windmill turning pattern of molinete.
"Guilty," he smiled, twirling Malfoy into a voleo. When the man's foot was airborne, Harry took another shot at showmanship. Malfoy was game for showing off—why shouldn't he oblige? He slipped his foot in so that Malfoy would step on it when his own foot landed. The expression on Malfoy's face read loud and clear. He thought Harry had made a mistake. With a carnal grin, Harry lifted his foot... lifting Malfoy up into the air as they continued to turn.
The man weighed nothing. Both his skinny hands took up roost on Harry's shoulders, gripping as though he thought he were about to fall. Harry set him down neat as a pin, tipping the fedora still on his head.
"Bastard," Malfoy repeated, breathless. "Cheeky little—"
Harry didn't need to hear the rest to know where Malfoy was going; besides, the song was almost over. The bandoneón flew into a complicated rush of notes: Harry matched it with their feet, guiding Malfoy in tight circles around him and then with him, minding other couples on the floor as they weaved much more slowly to the beat. Malfoy was laughing through the fancy footwork, arms wound tight around his leader's neck.
In a quick lunging step, Harry pulled his partner to his hip. Malfoy's leg hooked back between his, giving a little kick. He didn't have the leverage or angle to kick Harry in the rump again. For a final triumph, Harry hooked his own leg on the very last note, curling around Malfoy and knocking him clean in the ass. Ba-dump. He'd never timed a thing better in his life.
Victory was sweet.
"Two points, Potter," Malfoy half-gasped, stepping away. Harry was sad to see him go—he'd gotten accustomed to that warm little body snug against his own.
Harry was about to ask what exactly the points were awarded for when his mind stumbled across a far more assertive response. He gave the man a crooked, cocky smile. "Out of how many?"
Malfoy smirked back, not unpleasantly. "Not telling."
Typical Malfoy, cold and aloof. He wouldn't meet Harry's gaze, looking off over his shoulder. Harry had a moment to memorize the man's face in profile. He looked astoundingly young. And he looked like his father, straight-backed and proud. More people were coming onto the floor. Soon, the dance floor would be as crowded as before—hardly conducive to the blond's grandiose style.
"Are you here by yourself?"
Malfoy fluffed his hair out of his eyes, preening with his fingers before stealing his hat back, plopping it on his freshly coiffed head with a flourish of pale digits, long and graceful.
"With friends. We have a couple bottles of champagne in the booth over there," he indicated the direction with a simple jut of his chin. "You should join us."
"You sure?" Harry cocked his head, trying to catch the man's eyes from under the brim of his fedora. "I wouldn't want to be a bother."
Malfoy extended a pale hand to him, palm up. "Come on, then. I'll be reamed all the way back to Paris if I don't introduce you."
The next song began—a remixed electro-tango version of none other than "Don Juan." Harry's hand was grabbed without preamble as Malfoy dragged him from the dance floor and off into the smoky room beyond.
A hand in Draco Malfoy's, Harry found himself guided to a large booth packed with smiling faces. There were two women among them, introduced as Sabine and Maria-Jose. Malfoy rattled the blokes' names too quickly for Harry to catch or remember them all. The blond put a glass of champagne in Harry's hand before scooting him into the booth, narrow fingers at the smalls of his back and trailing up to his shoulder as he made himself comfortable.
Maria-Jose aimed a question at Harry in Spanish but Malfoy answered for him, firing away in a quick clip that was clearly Francophone—far from native but still well understood. Harry's ears picked out his own name and something about "escuela," which was school. Harry nodded, bringing the glass he'd been given to his lips. It was good champagne, properly chilled and freshly opened. Judging by the quality, Malfoy must have brought it—the brand was none other than Cristal, about two hundred pounds a bottle.
Malfoy slipped in beside him, perched on the very edge of the booth as there wasn't much room. Harry threw his arm up over the back, giving the blond an extra few inches and hoping the man might lean back against him. With a beholden sigh, Malfoy reclined into him, scooping up a flute of champagne for himself. The wizard knocked back half the glass before craning his neck to speak in a low voice.
"I've told them you're a pro footballer, yeah?"
"Sure thing," Harry nodded agreeably. In truth, it was the same lie he'd used for years. English blokes weren't exactly known for their peak physical fitness; plus, there was his age to consider. Most thirty-somethings slaved away at a desk without the advantage of personal fitness trainers, dieticians and daily workouts. Professional athlete was the easiest way to explain the way Harry moved and looked—being from the UK, everyone assumed he was a footballer and the image stuck. It also put to rest many of the questions surrounding his frequent and rather exotic travel, how he could afford all those five star hotels and expensive tango workshops, private instruction and that impressive collection of bespoke suits for every climate and occasion. Harry had given up on wizarding formal wear, feeling more comfortable in his tango textiles than anything else—even his Quidditch gear. He probably owned as many pairs of shoes as Ginny did, if you counted all his dancing shoes. Looking back, there were all these trails of bread crumbs leading to his big secret, his double life. His wife had never cared enough to follow them.
He wondered how much Malfoy lied about himself to these people, sitting around him and laughing, drinking his extravagant champagne. They probably knew he was a barrister who lived in France. Maybe Malfoy had clients here in Argentina. It wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility. Everyone needed a good lawyer.
An older fellow with sandy brown hair moved to refill Malfoy's glass, catching Harry's as well. There were two bottles going round the table, everyone chatting merrily. No one bothered to talk to Harry. A few of them spoke to Malfoy but mostly in passing. The blond would answer a question or simply smile and shake his head, drifting back to his observation of the couples on the dance floor. Harry corrected his earlier assumption: everyone Malfoy knew was sitting at this table... at least everyone Malfoy could tolerate. There was no prying ex love in the crowd. Malfoy had been showing off for the fun of it, dancing for himself. Harry felt his ears go pink.
Malfoy removed his hat, hanging it on one of the empty champagne bottles at the center of the table. He dropped back against Harry, silvery head landing in the shallow of Harry's shoulder. A few curious glances were shot their way. Harry got the feeling he was being talked about.
Malfoy bummed a cigarette off the brown-haired gentleman to Harry's right. As soon as the white paper touched his lips, there were two guys there with lighters in hand. It felt like everyone smoked in Buenos Aires—or rather, everyone in the tango scene did. The room seethed with smoke. It hung in a dense fog, obscuring the design of the dark tin ceiling, dripping from the old chandeliers. The soft light did wonders for Malfoy's face. He was awash in orange, pink and pale golds, the white shirt bringing out a certain coral color that didn't really exist in his cheeks. Harry knew the blond was pasty as photo paper—and was probably equally useless if he saw the light of day. He wondered what happened when Malfoy had a trial before 2pm. His client probably went to Azkaban. The Malfoy he knew wasn't the type to roll out of bed on anyone's whim save his own.
Malfoy barked something across the table, ashing his cigarette on a nearby cardboard coaster. Sabine and Maria-Jose dissolved in gales of laughter while a young fellow beside them looked duly chastised. Harry didn't speak enough Spanish to pick up a word that passed between them.
"What is it?" Harry asked very quietly, leaning a mite closer as Malfoy tilted back. His nose brushed the man's hair, giving him another whiff of pepper, herbs and tea. "Are they talking about me?"
"Yes, Scarhead," Malfoy quipped. "They are."
"And... what are they saying?"
Malfoy heaved a sigh of smoke, blowing it away from Harry and out into the room. "They assume, because you are a fellow Englishman, that you must be my boyfriend."
Harry felt his brows rise, the corners of his mouth going along for the ride. "And... have you corrected them?"
"Certainly," huffed the blond. "My friends are quite the stubborn assholes, as you see." The two women laughed, toasting Malfoy with their glasses. Harry was convinced they understood English but were pretending not to for their own amusement.
"So they don't believe you?" Harry was showing teeth by this point, full-on grinning at Malfoy from ear to ear. The man was so clearly embarrassed by the situation. You didn't expect to meet up with your schoolyard rival at a Wednesday night gay milonga, much less hit it off with near-perfect chemistry on and off the dance floor. Then again, he and Malfoy hadn't really spoken enough to say their conversation was a success. Yet.
"That would be correct, Potter," he drawled. "Very astute."
"They're going to wonder why you call your boyfriend by his surname," Harry teased, lifting his champagne to his lips.
"Further evidence that you are not my boyfriend." Malfoy toasted Harry with the butt of his cigarette before stubbing it out on the coaster.
"Evidence?" Harry laughed. "I wasn't aware you were working, Monsieur Malfoy."
"That's Doctor Malfoy to you, Chosen One."
"You got your PhD?" Harry stumbled, letting that one sink in. "I had no idea. Congratulations."
"You're a little late," the blond simpered into his bubby wine.
"Yeah? How late?"
Harry let out a low breath; it whistled between his teeth. "Sorry. Between the kids, Ginny and her claws—one buried in my back and the other in my Gringotts vault—I reckon I've fallen out of touch with the civilized world."
"That's for certain," Malfoy raised a dirty-blond brow, half-snorting but half-laughing. Self-effacing humor was Harry's go-to because it worked every time. Everyone liked a man who was secure enough to laugh at himself.
"Still, Malfoy! Congratulations are in order," Harry nudged the blond with his shoulder. Malfoy's eyes went wide as he swiveled to look Harry in the face. "I mean, your doctorate is a huge deal. Draco Malfoy, Barrister, Doctor of Law."
Malfoy spoke into his champagne flute, voice echoing in a bubbly fizzle of petulant passive-aggressiveness. "And here I thought you remembered."
Harry looked around the table but the Argentinos were still staunchly pretending they didn't speak a lick of English. Harry turned back to Malfoy. The lines on his forehead said it all.
"What's the date, Potty?"
Harry consulted his watch. "It's the sixth of June."
"Argentina is four hours behind London, Oh Great And Powerful Savior. Learn to reset your watch after you floo-hoo-hmm... fly." Malfoy corrected himself with a jolt, having nearly referred to the Floo Network in mixed company.
"So June fifth," Harry amended. He thought about that for a minute. And another. "Fuck. Malfoy, it's your birthday!"
"Oh Potter, You Rotter," the blond quoted, sighing into his champagne. He downing the contents in a rush, pouring himself another glass right up to the brim. He spoke in a deadpan. "That's exactly what day it is. I came all the way to Argentina to prolong my special day."
Harry peered at him quizzically through slightly smudged glasses. "Really?"
"No, you bloody half-wit! I came here to forget about being thirty-fucking-four! And divorced. Thought I might get pissed—ruddy lashed out of my skull, ponce around a bit, do something I'll surely regret in the morning. I certainly didn't get myself all tarted up, didn't drag my fabulous arse all the way to La Marshall to celebrate my sodding birthday! Extending my misery by an extra four hours? Ha! I consider it a sign from the Gods themselves that you're fucking here."
"A sign of what?" Harry pressed, wanting to comfort the poor bloke but having no idea how. Did Slytherins even accept comfort like other human beings? Did Malfoys? Did the French?
"That it's time to give up," Malfoy harrumphed, chugging another glass of champagne, waggling his fingers until someone surrendered a freshly popped bottle.
"Give up on what?" Harry refilled the man's glass, topping off his own. "On yourself?"
"Bloody buggering hell no!" Malfoy actually looked affronted. He placed a skinny hand to his chest, waving his bubbly with the other and showing no concern what-so-ever when he spilled some. "I'm a Malfoy, Potter. You don't understand what that means. I'll always believe in the name—it's a part of who I am. But this tripe and bollocks," he gestured grandly around the club before disappearing into his alcohol, not resurfacing to finish the thought.
"Tango?" Harry surmised after a long moment had passed in silence.
"Homo... sexuality, you right little cunt," Malfoy corrected, waggling his glass at Harry for yet another refill. He looked about to throw his toys out the pram when Harry didn't jump to refill his crystal with Cristal.
"So you're going to give up being bent, then?" Harry teased. "Go back to women, will you? Because our marriages went so spiffingly."
"By the way of the biff," Malfoy shuddered. "There are a lot of things I'm willing to put up with in this world. Like you, for instance, my little Gryffindor ninny. I've shouldered quite a lot in my time. I could handle a second wife; really, I could. But that... creature," he clanked his empty flute against the champagne bottle, hinting to Harry that he'd best hop-to. "Astoria. Ugh. You know she read The Quibbler?"
"Lots of people read The Quibbler," Harry shrugged.
Malfoy slumped forward, thumping his elbow on the table and resting his head in his hand. It had the effect of tousling his hair, throwing strands over his eyes. The light made his hair look completely white, full of yellow and gold sparks. Malfoy was like a human Snitch, just fluttering there, waiting for someone clever or stupid enough to try and catch him. He peeked back at Harry over his shoulder, long lashes fluttering in the light. The heart-stopping image shattered when the prat opened his pouty little mouth.
"Yeah, well... this bint believed every bloody word of it. How could I be expected to see to the Malfoy line with that bit of puffskein-for-brains?"
Harry put a hand on Malfoy's shoulder. "Harsh."
"Indeed. So I divorced her—oh, don't look so scandalized, Wunderkind!" The blond snorted at the judgmental expression presumable clouding Harry's face with ethical doom and righteous gloom. "She was barren as a brick: I had every legal and moral right."
"That and you were gay," Harry supplied.
"Pffft. Irrelevant. More wine!"
Malfoy was lashed. He was so far into his cups, he might as well have been sitting under the table instead of at it. His friends were talking to him in Spanish, watching with knowing eyes as Harry propped the blond up under his arm, drinking the last of the Cristal before Malfoy could get to it. Harry had drank himself silly a few years ago; ever since, he'd had an ineffable tolerance for alcohol. It took a lot to get him drunk—half a bottle of hard liquor and an empty stomach barely got him stumbling. But he'd never seen Malfoy on the pink and heavy. He had no frame of reference for how sloshed the twink was, when he'd recover or if he'd even be able to hold it. Harry wondered how much of the evening Malfoy would remember. He'd said he wanted to get steaming drunk and do something he'd regret in the morning. Perhaps, come dawn, he'd regret dancing with Harry Potter. Maybe he'd think it was all a beautiful dream.
Malfoy was laughing like a maniac, coral and rouge high in his cheeks as he gripped his stomach, doubling over and shaking his head with mirth. "No fucking way," he managed between giggles and gasps. He had a nice laugh, just a bit higher than his natural voice and sort of burbling, like a child of four or five being pushed on a swing set, squealing "higher, higher!" His wheezing gasps sounded like a plea of "higher" in Harry's ears, choked out between silly sobs.
One of Malfoy's Argentinian friends had the blond by the hand, attempting to drag him from the booth against his will. The fellow was terribly handsome, perhaps all of twenty years old with wavy dark hair and a prominent nose. He looked like a Spanish and vastly more attractive Severus Snape, Harry decided. He couldn't remember the boy's name but he was pulling Malfoy's pale hand rather insistently, chattering something about "tradición" and "bailar."
Malfoy yanked his hand away only to have his wrists seized by two more fellows. The blonde was pulled from his seat and badgered toward the dance floor.
"I said no, Paolo!" Malfoy went on, indignant. "Yo ya no estoy para estos trotes."
People began applauding as Malfoy was hoisted into the lights by his friends. They ringed him, preventing his escape as the dj announced something into his microphone, the sound distorting as it echoed around the large room.
Harry figured out what was going on. When it was someone's birthday, they would be given the floor for a special tanda. Partners would line up to dance with the birthday boy or girl, cutting in on each other for the audience's amusement. Malfoy loved being the center of attention. It seemed odd that he wouldn't want attractive younger men mock-fighting over him on the dance floor. Maybe he was resisting the attention to his age, though he didn't look at all like a man in his thirties. Or maybe he knew he was too drunk to be put on display and feared making a fool of himself. Yes, that sounded like Malfoy—worried about his image even when he's plastered. He'd said he wanted to make an arse of himself and here was the perfect opportunity. Harry leaned back against the cracked leather of the booth, unbuttoning his blazer in order to rest his arms behind his head. This was going to be a show worth his full and undivided attention.
Most of Malfoy's friends stayed on the dance floor, forming up a little queue along the wall. The woman with the dark hair, Maria-Jose, approached Draco, smiling and holding out her hand to lead him. He snipped something at her in Spanish but placed his hand in hers none the less.
At least the dj knew better than to play Di Sarli. The first song was an old Aníbal Troilo from the early 1940's. Malfoy spent about a minute putzing with Maria-Jose before she was replaced by an older gentleman, white-haired and stooped, no taller than Malfoy. This man was a good leader. He kept a slow pace and accommodated for his follower's inebriated state, dancing slow planeos to show off the long line of Malfoy's leg as his foot dragged along the floor. Malfoy seemed to know he was on display but ignored the attention, resting his head on the next leader's shoulder and closing his eyes, pretending the floor was crowded and no one was paying his drunk self any mind.
The third man entered with a new song—more Pugliese—and was a bit of a jerk about it. The fellow didn't bother to take stock of where Malfoy's weight was; he just plowed into his first step, taking the petit wizard right off his axis and causing him to pitch dangerously to one side. That was the sign of a good follower, though. Malfoy trusted his weight implicitly. When his leader fucked up, everyone saw because the blond would go flying. That leader didn't last much longer. Another woman came up to lead; someone not among Malfoy's immediate friends, as she settled in to lead him in the open embrace. In Harry's opinion it was a poor idea. Not only did the man simply look better pulled high and forced to stretch his legs all the way up through his spine, now—well beyond squiffy—he truly needed the support of another more balanced body. The woman quickly realized her error and, with a well-executed cadena, she delivered Malfoy into Paolo's waiting arms.
It became clear that there were two types of people in line to dance with Malfoy—men who were the man's mates and acquaintances and men who wanted to shag him into the floor. The ones with buggery on the brain may as well have written the word on their faces, as it was already tenting their trousers.
The voice in Harry's head finally came to the realization that Malfoy was really quite an attractive fellow. A catch, really. Malfoy had the brains and talent of a wizard in his thirties housed in a body that had gone into stasis around twenty two. He was a slender little blighter—but what there was of Malfoy was all muscle from pointy nose to wing-tipped toes. His skin was perfect porcelain, not a chip or blemish to be found, his bum high and pert and his legs went on for days.
There was no sense in denying it. Malfoy was bloody sexy.
And a drunk mess.
The birthday tanda was going on twenty minutes now. When word of Malfoy's inebriated state got round, more and more Milongueros began flocking to the dance floor; first just to watch but then strangers were steeping into the line, cheeky grins on their faces. Dances were lasting no more than twenty seconds and Malfoy's feet were dragging. Ethereal as he was, the wizard was drunk and tired. It was nearly two in the morning back in Paris and Malfoy probably hadn't eaten in hours. The blond was crashing. Still, he kept that familiar Malfoy mask in place, smiling graciously to every bloke who held out his hand.
The dark-headed Maria-Jose caught Harry's gaze, her expression so clear he could read it across the room—that quirked brow, the fold of her arms and jutting angle of her hip. What are you going to do about this?
Paolo's face was set in a similar cast beside her. Either you step in or I do. Choose. Quickly.
Enough was enough. Harry ducked behind the observers, getting himself to the disk jockey's ear. His Spanish was very limited but all he needed to communicate was a song: Libedinsky, Otra Luna. It was the perfect end for a lashed and lax Draco Malfoy—not to mention Harry's favorite song. There was something aching to it despite it technically being electro-tango. The song made you shiver. It was a melody you could laugh to, cry to, sing or make love to. It was whatever you made it, whatever you needed it to be.
The song began before Harry could get to Malfoy. Still, the opening notes seemed to give him a burst of energy. He was curled around a young chump with no idea what he was up to. The boy hadn't the first idea what to do with a bailarin of Malfoy's caliber. He walked Malfoy through the eight-count basic with follower's cruzada—steps Malfoy could do in his sleep. Harry worked his way to the front of the line, waving down the crowd of eager men with help from Paolo.
"No," Harry announced in a hurry, buttoning his jacket. "No más. No esta noche. We're done." Backed up by explanations and stern looks from Paolo, Sabine and Maria-Jose, those close enough to hear gave up hope of coping a feel of the birthday boy. They meandered to the sidelines, business picking back up at the bar.
Harry approached the lone couple on the floor, looking for a creative and unobtrusive way to cut in. He'd seen some pretty clever tricks tonight as well as some flat-out terrible ones. The boy leading Malfoy was hopeless and couldn't be counted on to manage the hand-off on his own. It looked like the best way was to pop in from behind and start leading both twinks in tandem.
Malfoy was talking to the boy, pink mouth warping around a pierced ear lobe. His eyes were closed as he swayed to the music. "This is my favorite song, you know." The boy replied in Spanish, trying to reign Malfoy in with little success.
Harry stepped up behind the leader. With only a hand under the young man's arm, Harry was able to set Draco up for a delayed back patada kick and sweep into front ochos. The boy thought he'd done it himself—it was probably the grandest decoration he'd ever given space for. Malfoy knew better. Silver eyes met Harry's green ones over the third wheel's shoulder.
"Malfoy, I think you're drunk."
"Well then I must be!" the blond said grandly, nearly slipping out of his partner's inattentive arms. Harry took the boy's torso in both hands, giving silent instruction on creating a decisive cross-body lead. "If The Great Harry Potter says it's so..."
Harry muttered a quick "git" under his breath. Malfoy's partner gave up, letting Harry take over his body completely. Through the boy, Harry steered Malfoy to him. The blond melted against his new lead, oozing to fill his arms in every possible way, not caring who this leader was—only that the frame was sturdy as a brick wall and perhaps smelled nice. It felt like Malfoy was sniffing his neck, nostrils pressed against his skin and flaring, traveling lower with big puffs of breath. Harry tightened his grip on the wizard, sensing he was cradling a failed Potions project that could very well explode in his face. He wasn't quite holding Malfoy upright but it was a close call whether the man would be able to stand on his own.
"No, no, no," Malfoy bemoaned his situation under his breath as Harry lead a simple walking step into a mirrored leader and follower cross. "So... dizzy and... Potter... egh."
"It's okay," Harry shushed him, squeezing his bony hand as he guided the sloshed wizard in a steady, timed walk across the floor.
Suddenly Malfoy was on the very tips of his toes, whispering hotly in Harry's ear. "Wot... what are we doing?" he slurred—well, slurring for Malfoys.
"Dancing," Harry chuckled, setting up his next move to the wavering notes of the concertina. Malfoy was butter in his hands, going along on pure instinct. His pretty white head rested on Harry's shoulder.
"Nothing fancy," Malfoy whispered against his lapel. "Please, Potter...please."
"Of course," he pressed his lips to glittering white tresses, getting his arm around Draco as tight as he could. His hand curled under the man's armpit, fingers fitted in between each rib, securing his body and taking most of the weight from his aching feet. He felt tired, sluggish and sore in Harry's arms. And drunk, sliding meekly through his usually bold and artful steps. "Shh," he cooed absently. "Go with it. I've gotcha."
Malfoy's silence lasted an entire four counts. "What are we doing?" he repeated. "What is this?"
"Ocho cortado," Harry named the step, a little perplexed.
"No, no," the blond rubbed his face against Harry's neck. "Not... no."
"And this is your cross. Ready?" Harry announced the step before leading it. He felt Malfoy's wobbly legs muster themselves into position, absent their typical snap. He was going through the motions, legs all but dead. "Come off it. You're not that drunk—and I have your weight, you lazy sod. Here's quebrada."
Malfoy almost tripped but he made it. "Oh, but I think I am that drunk, Potty," he muttered. "At least, I hope I am. Gods, this is so... bloody embarrassing."
Harry took advantage of Malfoy's lament, twisting that limber little body so that his free leg dragged behind him in time to the careful plucking of a Spanish guitar. He swirled the finish, inertia causing Malfoy's leg to slide up his own, wrapping once—and with a quick tug, twice—before falling away.
"Márka Ez Ozel," Harry muttered. "Márka Ez Ozel." It was a spell Seamus Finnigan had taught him during 'eighth year' at Hogwarts—a spell to siphon off some of the worst effects of drunkenness. It had saved Harry from many hours on various bathroom floors, puking his guts out. God only knew where Seamus had picked it up. While his wandless magic was still a bit dodgy, Harry kept trying. Halfway through a traspie, he felt Malfoy sigh against him. "Better?"
"Mmmmyes," the blond replied, tentative. "How about... a molinete?"
"Sure thing," Harry smiled, falling into the little turning pattern that was a staple of their shared style. Otra Luna was a gentle, lilting song full of long phrases and pauses, allowing Malfoy the time to drag his feet, claiming 'artistic expression' and getting away with it. Harry lead the pattern twice before catching Malfoy's foot with his own, sliding that black and white wingtip across the floor. Malfoy collected his feet around Harry's, eyes still closed and smiling faintly. He looked better already.
"Enganche?" he requested.
Placing Malfoy's hand on his shoulder, Harry grinned. "One better."
With Malfoy's left leg already free, Harry dropped into a half-lunge. He eased the blond forward until he kicked his legs up in a fan, sitting on Harry's thigh with legs crossed at the knee, finespun arms winding around Harry's neck. Harry twisted his torso to the rhythm, snuggling Draco close. Face to face, their noses brushed. His glasses began to fog.
And Malfoy's lips found his.
It was the softest, most innocent and gossamer slide. His eyes slid instantly closed, savoring. For all his abrasive angles and chilly repartee, Draco Malfoy kissed like a girl—thick, wet and, quite impossibly... tenderly. Smooth, full lips greeted his own, breath stopping completely as his bottom lip was sucked into that hot little mouth. Draco sucked at him, honeyed press of champagne and nibbling teeth. Harry groaned.
The arm around his neck tightened, toasty fingers splaying across his cheek as the wizard pulled back by half an inch. Fogged glass made it impossible for Harry to see.
"And what was that?" he had to ask.
"Me... thanking you."
Draco Malfoy thanked him again. With tongue.
Harry was panting when Malfoy released him, lips swollen, bitten and red.
"I think you should thank me outside before we get ourselves thrown out."
"Right," Malfoy sighed. "Good idea. Where's my hat?"
Sabine had told him "la Bisonte Palace" with a huff. Harry assumed Malfoy had a room there. With an arm around his shoulders, Harry steered him out into the empty street. He started them walking toward the main avenue, Córdoba, hoping he'd find either the hotel or someone who could give him directions.
This wasn't a great neighborhood to be in after dark. Harry kept himself alert. Then again, any street hooligan would have his grubby hands full with an ex-Auror and an ex-Death Eater, both armed. The poof thing didn't make them any less dangerous.
Malfoy shimmied out from under Harry's arm, turning and walking the opposite way.
"Public floo is... that-a-way," he muttered, pointing north about two blocks.
"You want to floo home, then?" It was probably a good idea. Malfoy would surely Splinch himself if he tried to Apparate. Harry couldn't speak confidently for himself, either. He was pretty distracted by the way Malfoy's arse shifted when he walked, the tan-covered curves nearly bouncing in a way that made him ache to reach out and touch. This was not the time to grope Malfoy, though. The blond was weaving very subtly, mostly due to his aching feet. That was what created the illusion of his hips swaying to a silent milonga beat.
The man slowed, a hand on his hip. He was staring off into space, brim of his fedora tucked at an angle to hide his eyes from view.
"Malfoy, are you gonna make it?"
The blond sighed, stuffing his hands in his painted-on khaki pockets. "I'm thirty four, Scarhead. Thirty fucking four. Can you believe it? I certainly can't. Fuck," he teetered, shoulder brushing a nearby stucco wall as he continued to put one sore foot in front of the other. He walked on in a slump, his perfect white shirt gathering flecks of peach-colored dust along the sleeve. "This is not where I wanted to be at thirty four. I have nothing I want to go home to. Nothing and no one—do you even understand that, Potty? No one."
"You have your practice," Harry offered, a hand in his own pocket and fidgeting with the few galleons bumping around with his keys. "Your family, your friends—"
"Hang my practice! Hang the sycophants!" Malfoy wailed, coming to a stop and throwing his back to the wall right where they were. Come to think of it, Harry had no idea where they were. There were dark alleys with no street signs, a couple of darkened industrial buildings and an elegant hotel at the far end of the block that he prayed was their floo-point. Malfoy took off his hat, fanning himself with it as he leaned, the long and dangerous column of his neck exposed—dangerous because Harry longed to track his teeth down that pale skin, longed to bite and suck and leave marks with his mouth, with his hands, all over that supple, sylphlike body. There was fire in him. So what if it was frustration or fear or self-loathing? Passion was passion. And they'd had it in the milonga, in their embrace. It could translate. It could. It would.
Malfoy fixed Harry with a piercing look, his eyes like silver sickles in his pale face. "This isn't life, Potter. This is existing. And I h-hate it." His voice broke.
"Trust me," Harry sighed, both hands in his pockets now. "I know the feeling."
"What feeling?" snapped Malfoy. "There is no feeling anymore."
"You're just lonely, you melodramatic prat," Harry rolled his eyes. He couldn't help it. "Your not the first to feel like there's a hole in your chest and you certainly won't be the last. So quit complaining. Nobody likes a bitchy queen."
"I most certainly am not... lonely," Malfoy's nose wrinkled
"Sure you are—you just said so. 'Nothing and no one,' remember? You're a very lonely boy, Malfoy." That earned him an affronted gasp. Harry slapped his palms against the tops of his thighs, shaking his head at the disgusting pavement, all cigarette butts, discarded chewing gum and decaying purple petals. He was ready to be done with this cyclic conversation. "Why am I arguing with you? You're hard pissed, Malfoy." The blond snorted. "Will you let me take you home? I promise everything will be better in the morning... provided you have Hangover Potions and some strong Darjeeling."
Slowly, Malfoy nodded. But he didn't move; he just stood there, eyes closed, fanning himself with his hat. The fedora swished back and forth, a steady little beat in the night. Malfoy even stood with his weight in one leg, his free foot tapped up on the ball of his shoe and hovering just so, as though about to tango. It made you notice the length of his limbs even though he was such a small thing to begin with—twink, waif-like... but lovely, pointed features and hard little body all in perfect proportion. He was swallowing now, the Grecian line of his throat exposed, creamy skin waving like a bed sheet sheet on a country laundry line. His lips parted.
"Are you lonely, Potter?"
Harry thought a moment. "I reckon I am."
"Why?" Malfoy asked, his head lolling against the wall, foot tracing growing circles along the pavement. Bits of dirt, smoke butts and gravel crunched beneath his stiff-soled street shoes. "What makes you so lonely?"
Harry considered his shoes. "I miss them—the kids. Lil, Al and Jamie. Life doesn't feel right without them. I don't know how else to describe it. I... I physically hurt. They're my entire life."
Malfoy nodded, swallowing again. It seemed like the action was getting harder every time, the muscles in his neck constricting. You could see it in the tense tendons of his throat, the fluttering pulse just below his exposed collar bone. It was at least a minute before he spoke.
"You're very lucky, then. To have loved anyone so much." The man breathed through his nose, heavy, nostrils flaring. There was a jacaranda tree somewhere near by; the scent of its long-dead amethyst blossoms hung in the air, their carcases littering the street, stirring up in the breeze. "It would be so nice, to have someone feel that strongly about you... about me."
"It could happen, Malfoy. We're still fairly young."
"It's not going to happen, Potter," said Malfoy. His voice had dropped to a hard hiss, chin jutting forward aggressively as he pushed his back away from the wall. "Don't—"
"Why not?" Harry interrupted him. "Why wouldn't some bloke want to be with you? Your fit, independent and a ruddy good dancer; I mean, I can't say much for your personality but..."
Silver eyes shot up, cold and glaring, silencing him mid back-handed compliment. Malfoy let out a wheeze of a laugh, settling his hat atop his white head. With two deft fingers, he jabbed his left forearm. His tone was ringing, final. "This, Potter. No one wants to fuck a man with the Mark. No one worthwhile."
Harry wasn't aware of surging forward. One minute he was slouching with his hands in his pockets and the next, he had Malfoy pressed into the crumbling old wall, snogging the wizard senseless. There was no rhyme or reason to it—it just felt right. Every bony angle met his body at once, knifed into him in a punishing crush; hard hips and chest, mean snapping teeth and knobbly hands gripping his face, pulling his hair, thumbs rubbing his stubbled cheeks til it hurt and that moaning, the sound rolling high in his mouth and vibrating his palette like music of the tonsils. His eyes slid closed. He couldn't help himself. Draco fit in his arms. Why deny it? Draco might regret it in the morning: Draco might regret it in thirty seconds but for this tiny moment they were together, moving to the thump of hearts, the whistling of blood and the trill of dead jacaranda blossoms clattering in the breeze. Draco fit in his arms and it was heaven on earth.
"My place?" Harry whispered.
"No," Draco smirked. "Mine."
For The Curious: Translations
Yo ya no estoy para estos trotes – "I'm not up for this sort of thing anymore" / "I'm too old for this shit"
No más. No esta noche – "No more. Not tonight."
Márka Ez Ozel – a bastardization of the Greek word márka, "make" and ez ozel, Hebrew for "the goat that leaves." Essentially, a very poor version of "make me a scapegoat," or "make this not my problem."