Summary: Sequel to 'Under his Hands' but can be read alone. An indiscretion with another player leaves Draco distraught and Harry desperate. Will their ten years together be overcome by the consequences of Harry's affair?
This story is written in the same style as 'Under his Hands', and takes place ten years after the previous story leaves off. Harry and Draco have bought a house and lived together as an 'out' Quidditch couple (Harry a player and Draco on staff as a healer/physio), diminishing the number of closeted players by their firm stance – the Quidditch community is now far more tolerant. In the interim between the original story and this sequel, the couple have legally adopted Teddy as their son and he lives between their house and Andromeda's during Hogwarts holidays. However, the media circus that continues to surround Harry and Draco's relationship has taken its toll on the couple, and following Harry's stupid actions at the England Team World Cup trials, Draco has to decide for good whether their relationship and the family they have made with Teddy and Andromeda is worth the pain of fighting for… initially intended as a one-shot, this has become a longer and more involved story than even I had anticipated, but it is completed! Get a cup of tea and a packet of biscuits, and go to the loo before embarking!
Author Note: Draco has symptoms of disordered eating in this fic, if you are upset by this issue or think you recognise these symptoms, I recommend BEAT. Their website is www..uk and has information, forums and helplines.
The Trouble With Paradise
a turbulent reality envisaged by skinnyrita
EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS! HARRY POTTER…. PLAYS AWAY?
Special report by Rita Skeeter
'This reporter is shocked to the core by that which she is about to divulge to her faithful readers. Here, secreted away on the Isle of Merlin, miles from the British mainland, the tryouts for this year's England Quidditch World Cup team are taking place. Seekers, Chasers and Keepers from all the top premiership teams are here, competing against each other as they have been for the past month for a place or reserve on the most important team of all this year.
For Harry Potter, exulted Seeker for the Brinsbourne Beaters, second from top of the league and still going strong after carrying his position as starter Seeker for the team for almost twelve years, these tryouts will mean everything. The 34-year-old is due to end his professional Quidditch stint within the next two years, in-keeping with the league's strict age policies, and he will be trying out for England (for the last time) against a lot of new blood this year, including the Tornadoes' reserve Seeker Alexander Cutteridge, whose team is carrying a respectful fourth place in the league tables.
Potter and Cutteridge have socialised in Quidditch circles for the past six years, attending networking events, charity balls and various fundraising activities, with Potter often accompanied by his long-term partner of ten years, Draco Malfoy, the esteemed sports-healer (and official physiotherapist to the Brinsbourne Beaters). Potter and Malfoy have cohabited in South Kensington, a Muggle area of London, with Potter's godson Theodore, who will shortly be commencing his sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Are Potter and Cutteridge becoming too close? This reporter has to admit to a little investigative work after watching Potter and Cutteridge's rather friendly behaviour towards each other whilst watching the third round of Keeper tryouts last week. Leaning towards each other, Potter was seen to brush the hair away from Cutteridge's ear before leaning in to speak to him as they sat in the stands, and this reporter was alarmed to notice Potter's left hand sneak onto the rival Seeker's thigh momentarily before withdrawing and looking about with a guilty expression. Was this friendly caress merely the product of a quiet comment, or could it have been something more?
The following evening, my photographer and I were again shocked and appalled by the actions of the two Seekers as they left the evening's press networking dinner together, and trailed them to the training locker rooms, where after re-asserting their privacy Cutteridge offered Potter a swig from the bottle of firewhiskey he was toting and then, putting his hand to the base of the Tornadoes' Seeker's throat, leant in and kissed him cautiously on the mouth (see photograph below). Although Potter was seemingly embarrassed by what had transpired, making an excuse to leave Cutteridge shortly afterwards, this reporter had a hunch that this would not be the end of the duo's despicable tryst.
Not hardly were they done, as a mere two nights later, after a Quidditch League formal dinner, Cutteridge was seen to catch up with Potter upon leaving the event, and whilst their team-mates and tryout rivals continued to toast the delegations from the Department of Games and Sports, and the visiting Quidditch officials, he accompanied him to the Brinsbourne Beaters' team quarters, where spinning Potter into a wall they embraced a further three times with increasing heat (see quartet of photos below – readers of a nervous disposition may wish to turn the page).
As the two Seekers then retired to Potter's private quarters, (Cutteridge attached to Potter's neck by his teeth,) one can only speculate on the further activities of the evening, however this reporter has two questions: firstly, is a month away from one's significant other really so long that Potter could not keep his emotions in his pants, and secondly: how many more times has Potter played away in the past years, during no less than five former tryout sessions for the England team (three of which he has been granted the starter Seeker position), whilst his godson, of whom he has guardianship, and his long-term lover, waited patiently at home without a clue of his indiscretions?
This reporter can only imagine the reaction of Draco Malfoy, whose…'
Draco expelled a sound of revulsion and threw the Daily Prophet across the dining table, where it smacked into the far wall with a crunch of new paper and dropped to the carpet. He was close to hyperventilating, one hand over his mouth as his eye fell on the open envelope next to him; hideous photographs replaying scenes he would gladly pay to have obliviated from his head. Harry: pinned to the sheets, head thrown back, face and expression obscured by the elated motion, and worst of all: the clenching backside of Alex thrusting in and out of him. He had searched the envelope twice but had no clue who had sent these ones. He was oddly grateful that they hadn't found their way into the Prophet, but the roiling sickness in his guts was churning for the suspense that that could happen yet.
The next photo, a close up of the duo kissing, so much more intimate in colour than the grainy black and white, hurried moments captured by Skeeter's photographer. He turned them all over then slid them back into the envelope, resisting the urge to burn them. The table was glossy with polish, and he could almost make out his own reflection in it. He had never felt helplessness like this.
A hand on his shoulder startled him, and he jerked round to find Teddy's concerned face looking down at him, the sixteen-year-old's handsome face framed by his own shade of blonde. Solidarity, he thought, and something melted in him.
"Hey Ted, you look so smart," he forced himself to smile, focusing on the Ravenclaw crest of his adopted son's school uniform, and smoothing a crease out of the shoulder of his pullover.
"Are you going to be alright? I can stay for a bit, we could owl the headmistress."
Draco met his eye briefly, then glanced away, lost. "You've read the Prophet."
"When's Harry coming back?"
Draco frowned and fiddled with the boy's tie. It was a mark of the moment's gravity that he allowed it. "That's 'dad' to you, alright? No matter what happens with us, we're both still your dads and we love you very much. I'm very proud of you, Ted. I want you to be a really good Prefect this year. Be an inspiration and don't abuse your position no matter how tempting."
"Dad!" Teddy squirmed and Draco released him. "I wouldn't do that. What, um, what're you going to do?"
Draco blinked salt. What was wrong with him? He steeled himself and pulled himself together. "I don't know," he admitted, honestly, "Your dad and I need to have a talk when he gets back."
When he gets home, he thought, desperately, oh God, when he gets home...
He gritted his teeth and smiled. "Let's get you to the station, okay? There will probably be some press and I don't think Harry or your granny would thank me if you get photographed. Bit early, but you can get a good seat…"
Teddy threw his arms around Draco's neck and hugged him tightly. Draco pressed his lips together into a line. All of his internal organs were tense, and his throat was blocked with fear. For a few moments he allowed himself to cling to his son, until the panic passed. He withdrew and gave him a final appraisal: "Cloak?"
"In my case, I'll put it on when we get out of Kings Cross."
"Are you sure? Have you got all your books? Have you got your broom?"
"Yes, yes!" Teddy gave him an impatient look. With a final glance at the white envelope on the table, Draco pulled himself together and allowed himself to be dragged from the chair.
It was dark in the hallway when Harry opened the front door. He shut it behind him quietly and dropped his keys into the bowl on the corner table before flicking the muggle light switch. He was standing less than a footstep away from three large packing cases. He paused, looking at them, and the sinking feeling in his stomach suddenly settled, and the clamp around his heart tightened in its place, his lungs contracting inwards so that he had to gasp for breath, his eyes blurred with a scalding rush of tears.
There was a light showing under the door to their huge open-plan lounge and dining area. It was perfectly decorated in a marriage of their tastes, the pale blue accent wall behind the large table, trimmed with midnight skirting, and the deep slate carpet with the sumptuous pile. Comfortable yet achingly chic low couches courtesy of Draco's superior design tastes, and the high definition television Harry had introduced him to. An enormous Dean Thomas original, compliments of their mutual friend, hanging over the wide mantelpiece, a reminder of their eighth year together. Eighth of just over ten years that he, Harry, had now utterly ruined.
Draco was sitting at the dining table when Harry opened the door, his back to the wall, as though waiting for him. Harry's steps faltered on approach at the red rims around his lover's lowered eyes, the stiff set of his shoulders. His sadness.
Draco cleared his throat, steeling himself, and looked up. He studied his lover for a moment. Harry looked exactly the same as he had a month ago when they had said a cheerfully teary goodbye, Teddy scowling and complaining when they pulled him into their cuddle, stating himself far too old for hugs. Hell, he was even wearing the same shirt and jeans he'd left in. There was a bruise on his jaw where Draco guessed a bludger had come too close. His hands were shoved deep in his pockets. Draco looked away, shaking his hair off his forehead unconsciously. "Harry."
"Please don't do this, Draco, I can explain, I can-"
Draco slammed his palm down on the table. Harry startled, then quieted. The blond wet his lips, and said, "I don't want you to explain. I don't want you to talk to me. I can't deal with it right now, alright? I've arranged for you to stay with Ron and Hermione."
"Draco, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry-"
"Harry I'm warning you, stop or I will crucio you so hard you will know about it for the rest of your life."
Harry sucked in a breath. Draco's face was unnaturally red. He wanted to kiss him and hold him so badly it was burning him. "T-Teddy?"
Draco made an ugly noise and glared at him. "He left for school yesterday morning. Oh, and he made prefect, in case you give a fuck."
"Don't you dare imply I don't care about Ted!"
"You don't care about anyone or anything, Harry! Fuck I can't even look at you right now. Here! Press release! Exclusive, read all about it!" Draco found that he was on his feet. Flecks of angry spittle hit the polished tabletop as he hurled the offending Prophet with Skeeter's article at Harry's head. He was out of control, and was ashamed of himself for it. He seated himself again and regained his composure.
Harry bent and picked up the paper where it had fallen at his feet, and shakily unfolded the front page. Images of his hands in Alex's hair, connected at the lips, assaulted him in shades of grainy grey. A few drops of saltwater fell across their faces and he dropped it sadly to the carpet again. "Draco-" his voice was broken, and he had to swallow the bile.
"Just go. Oh please, please go." Hands hiding his face from view.
"I cheated on him."
Hermione put a mug of tea down on the table and exchanged a grim look with her husband. It was two days after Harry and Draco had parted, and the couple's scheme to remain silent and allow Harry to open up to them when he was ready, was now paying off. The usually bubbly brunette had shocked his friends with his suddenly drawn and sallow features. The grey tinge under his cheekbones coupled with slight bruising around the eyes told them that he had probably slept very little if at all the night before. His eyes were wide and unseeing with self-shame.
"Oh God," Harry breathed. One hand flew up to cover his eyes so that he wouldn't be seen losing his composure, but it was too late, and at the touch of Hermione's tender hands on his hunched shoulders, his whole body became racked with dry sobs, quickly escalating.
He heard her quietly ask Ron to take their children into the next room, before she admitted, "we didn't want to believe the papers, even with the photos. Harry, why?"
Harry dropped his hand and stared up into her maternal, compassionate face: "I don't know! Oh God, Hermione, what can I do? We're broken, I've broken us, I'm doing it and I don't know how to stop it… we were so happy, so perfect… and I've hurt him! Again and again I keep on hurting him, what's wrong with me!" She gathered him into her arms and rocked him, shushing, but his eyes could not stop spilling over, and it was exhausting and painful, so painful it hurt his stomach, scrunching his insides and his face into balls of misery. Eventually the sobs subsided, leaving breathy gasps in the aftermath. "What's wrong with me, Hermione? How can I have done that to him? I love him."
"Only you can know that."
"Alex, he's one of our friends, we go to dinner with him and his boyfriends, socially, as a foursome. It's such a mess. Everyone at the club hates me, Draco and I have to see each other at work tomorrow, and I can't – I don't – Hermione, please, please, what do I do?"
Hermione rubbed his back for a while, compiling words and mentally discarding them. "Have you and Draco… had problems?"
"No," Harry sniffed and rubbed his eyes against the arm of his jumper. "I don't know. I mean, we are happy, but our sex life isn't the same, and working together isn't the same. It's hard sometimes, to be in each other's pockets all the time, but then when I have to …play away… then it feels all so sudden and so lonely… I…"
"All couples go through dry sex patches."
"It's not that we're not having it, just…" he flushed, glancing sideways at her. Hermione looked at him. "It's… he doesn't ask if he can take me anymore. It was special because we only made time for me to… do that… at the weekend when I didn't have Quidditch, and slowly he stopped asking me if he could, and then he never did it, and it was just… I can't describe how I feel; it's different to straight couples. Imagine if Ron never wanted to love you… I mean, no that's not the same."
"Um, right…" Hermione frowned, trying to keep up. "And, and working together?" she ventured, trying to get onto an easier topic.
Harry sighed and blew out the breath he was holding. "I hate how we've become there. I used to love being able to see him any time of day, but I hate the way I feel when I see him massaging the other players, his attention on them when he tends them… and I know I shouldn't be jealous, that he's with me, but… argh! I don't even know what I mean! What the fuck am I talking about? None of those reasons are a reason to… to… fuck, I…" he dropped his head to his arms again and sobbed a little. "What the hell is the matter with me? I love him so much, I love him more than anything…"
"Shh, shh, I know…"
He concentrated on controlling himself, on breathing. "Hermione, he's never going to forgive me for this."
"I think you need to talk to each other about it."
"And say what?"
She ran a hand through his hair. It was curiously tender.
"Anything you like, as long as it's the truth. Do you really want to throw away ten years with him after all you went through to be together in the first place? I remember you sitting at this very table Harry, desperate to come out in public with him and worrying yourself sick about going public with being a gay Quidditch player, terrified of losing him forever if you didn't sit up and confront it. And you did, Harry, you did confront it, and look what wonderful things came out of it: a house together, helping bring up Teddy together, ten years together… isn't any of it worth saving?"
He swallowed and nodded vehemently. "Yes, yes I want that back so much."
"Were you losing it?"
"I… I don't know. I feel so sick. Alex was… he was there, that's all. Maybe I was always a bit attracted to him, but no one could compare to Draco… it's nice having other out gay players to socialise with… I hate being at the trials, and you don't get to contact anyone 'outside'… I just – I can't think about it any more Hermione, I'm going back to bed."
"Potter! Jennings! Aldridge!" Harry jogged across the pitch towards Bill Wandersley, the Brinsbourne Beaters' team manager, feeling sick and wishy-washy inside. He had managed to make it to the club for his 5 am training session by the skin of his teeth and was seriously sleep-deprived. Ron and Hermione had gone to lengths to ensure his comfort in their guest suite, but he couldn't settle without Draco's feet burrowing against his own, and felt completely bereft that morning when he prised his gummy eyes open and was greeted by cold, uninhabited pillows beside him.
"Congratulations lads, you made the list for next year's England team. I will expect you here four mornings a week for top-up training when our premiership season closes in two months…so around and up to Christmas, and beyond that after New Year… and then from May until July's World Cup you will start mixing in with the other selections from whatever other teams have made it in, alright? Same as usual, any changes and I'll keep you informed," Wandersley was saying briskly, consulting a large clipboard with various memos attached to it. Jennings and Aldridge were jogging on the spot to keep their pulse rates elevated. Harry dawdled at the side looking wan. "Great job from each of you at the tryouts… Potter, you've got reserve Seeker."
Harry stared at him. He had never been shunted to reserve before. All of those weeks away from Draco and Teddy. The loneliness. For reserve.
"Thank you Jennings, Aldridge," Wandersley added; a brusque dismissal. Harry clearly heard his teammates comment as they jogged back to the session that if Harry had had his mind on the game rather than the other tryout Seekers, he might have got a better position.
Wandersley's usually paternal expression had moulded itself into distaste that made Harry tremble. "Sir, I-"
"Your last ever opportunity to play for England, son, and you had to go and balls it up," Wandersley spat, shaking his head. "You need to get your head screwed back on and get your mind back in the game, Potter. Reserve or not, I want that win secured by a player from this team, and that means that the onus is on you to show this country, to show the world, that retiring at thirty-six is nothing to a man with a talent and sportsmanship like yours. Understand me?"
Harry hung his head and inspected the grass. "Yes."
"Good." Wandersley thawed a little and put a steadying hand on Harry's shoulder. "I'm not a man who pries in the private affairs of his players, as you know, but son, this business with Cutteridge is something that can't be ignored. You've let yourself and the team down, and I don't think I need to tell you that there's a lad in that physio room that you've really, really let down." Harry nodded, and swallowed salt. "I'm going to level with you Harry: Malfoy is one of our team's biggest assets. He can heal players like it was a gift from above, and if he leaves this team… I'm not sure how well we could cope without his gifts to finish our season, and I certainly don't want him getting poached by a rival. Above all of that though, I need your game to be on top form, and for that every player needs full mental stability. He arrived half an hour ago. I've cleared his appointment book for the next hour. Get showered, and go and grovel your bloody arse off." He returned to the clipboard and began to walk away towards one of the trainers.
Harry wandered out of the showers in a daze, roughly towelling his body and hair before pulling on his tracksuit. He had forty minutes left to see Draco, but his head was empty save for the echoing pain that connected his thoughts to his heart and stomach. He scrambled for the sinks and dry-hurled. By the time he had collected himself and made it to his lover's office, there was only half an hour left. Too much time to fill, and yet not nearly enough.
Draco was standing by the large windows behind his desk, his back to the door, when Harry arrived. "I had an owl from the Montrose Magpies. They want me to move to their team. Be their healer."
"Do you really think I'll let you push me out of this team?" Draco turned around and Harry stepped back with the force of his icy sapphire glare: "You think you're so important that you can do whatever the hell you want and I'll just go away and hide someplace?" he was right in Harry's face now.
"Please Draco… Draco…" the back of Harry's knees hit the massage table and he sat on it, flailing as he overbalanced.
"You've fucking humiliated me! You've hurt me! In here!" Draco shouted, losing control as he moved to prevent Harry from escaping, and pressing a hand against his chest. Another time, with another couple, Harry might have found the gesture humorous. Now, it made him scrunch his face in pain. "I fucking love you! For ten fucking years I've lived with you like I was married to you, helped you raise our son, put up with all of this crap – the early sodding mornings, the late nights, the media hounding us every single fucking day, the press conferences and public appearances, the Hogwarts events you couldn't go to because you had to get up and train at four in the fucking morning!" He was screaming himself hoarse but he couldn't stop. Harry felt tears wet his neck and even trickle into his training shirt – a uniform he donned practically every morning because his life was ruled by his sport.
"You're the only long-term relationship I've ever had! And it was the best thing that ever happened to me!" Draco was shaking him. Shaking him hard and all he could do was watch. "I have never cheated on you! Never, ever, ever! I love you, you fucking, fucking bastard!"
The blond finally broke down and collapsed in mewing sobs on Harry's chest, whose arms came up of their own accord and held him tightly. He clung to Harry's t-shirt, face wet in the juncture of his neck. "Oh God, why don't you love me?" he whispered. The emotional outburst had shattered him – with Draco it had always been all or nothing with extreme emotion. Harry gathered him up and manoeuvred them so that they were lying precariously on the narrow bench.
He pressed his lips against Draco's hair and let them both sob until they settled into silence. "I love you," he whispered back.
Draco made a noise as though being squashed. "No Harry, I don't think you can love me."
"I would do anything to… I would retire from Quidditch today. If it's what you want."
"Would you?" Draco twisted to look into his face. Harry swallowed the panic at the idea, and nodded. Anything, even that would be preferable to this. Draco took a deep breath in. "No, I don't want that Harry." He searched his eyes. They were like his own: wide, and scared. He had always thought of Harry's eyes as his most beautiful feature, large and almond shaped with that unique greenness, and accented since the expulsion of his glasses eleven years ago. Crinkled with little crow's feet at the outer corner. He caressed his cheekbone idly, before tasting his mouth. They stared at each other in silence for a while afterwards. Being quiet. "I have an appointment in three minutes."
Draco disentangled them and got off the massage bench. "I need some time. Please stay with the Weasleys, and don't contact me. I'll find you when I want to talk about this. I have assigned Greg to you for your physio for the time being. You may tell Wandersley that I have no plans to desert the team. That's all now." He pulled his appointment book towards him without seeing it. "Harry, please."
When the door closed a horrible dry buzzing filled his ears.
It was almost a fortnight before Harry had any kind of communication from Draco again – no mean feat considering they shared the same workplace. He thought perhaps he might be outstaying his welcome at Ron and Hermione's. They might all be best friends, but Harry's work hours could be annoying to people who were unused to them – in all honesty, the only person totally attuned to them was Draco. The Weasleys' ten-year-old son Robbie was a pest who liked to ask him a million questions whenever their paths crossed, which although sweet could be a total pain when he was trying to get other things done, and their three year-old Jennie liked to throw her tantrums at the exact moment he was drifting off to sleep. He began to consider the fact that their older daughter Charlotte was at Hogwarts a blessing.
Harry began to spend as much time at his office on Fraction Alley, the wizarding banking district, as possible, although even there he couldn't escape from his long-suffering publicist Janet and the rise in press attention to be dealt with since his indiscretion with Alex. Despite this, he spent as little time at the BB's pitch as possible, and cut his appointments with Draco's assistant healer, Greg, to a minimum, avoiding that area of the club as much as possible in keeping with Draco's request to let him alone. The worst part of all was that he had no one to blame but himself.
"Harry, come and have a cup of tea," Hermione's voice floated over to him as he stepped out of the floo and brushed off his robes. He had spent the entire afternoon at the office trying to convince the publishers of Witch Weekly that they should postpone his next interview until the year he was due to retire. Sadly, that date was not too far off.
"Draco came here today," she said without preamble, placing two cups of tea and a plate of biscuits on the table. Harry sat down and vaguely registered Jennie at his feet, playing with alphabet bricks. He stared at her blankly as she arranged them into v-e-r-i-t-a-s-e-r-u-m and scrambled them again. Hermione put a fizzing glass containing his multivitamin supplements next to his mug. "We had a chat about living arrangements," she continued. "Well, your living arrangements anyway. He wants you to go home today – with your luggage."
"I…" Harry blinked at the frothy glass and took a contraband biscuit – he wasn't supposed to be eating them during the season, but these were extreme circumstances. "Has he forgiven me? Does he want to talk? To get back together? I don't understand, he hasn't spoken to me once for two weeks!" he tugged at his hair and then quickly downed the multivitamin cocktail with a grimace.
"I'm not sure… mainly he asked about the kids. I hope you don't mind but I started packing for you – Quidditch gear is in a pile on your bed, and other bits are in a pile in one of your suitcases. I thought it might help if you got home early."
Harry gave her a grateful smile. "You're a good friend, 'Mione." He sat back and nibbled the biscuit. "I don't know what I can say to him besides how sorry I am and how much I love him…"
When Draco finally arrived home it was early evening. He'd had several massage appointments booked on top of each other – an after-effect of taking off to visit Hermione. There was a smell of cooking in progress snaking towards the door, and he stood there for a moment listening to the person moving about in the kitchen before quietly closing the door and putting his keys in the bowl on the hall table. He removed his cloak and hung it slowly while he continued to listen. The footsteps and movements he heard were too heavy to belong to Kreacher, who was old and frail now, so it must be Harry back.
"What're we having?"
Harry started at the voice, and turned quickly. He knew that the scene wasn't perfect – he usually wore old jeans and little else when cooking, but hoped that Draco would appreciate the gesture all the same. "Risotto," he offered, quirking a hesitant half smile. Unlike in the past, however, Draco made no move to wrap his arms around his waist. He stood against the doorframe and folded his arms.
"I'll set the table," he said, eventually, although stepping into the space he noticed that either Harry or Kreacher had already beaten him to it. He frowned at the intimacy of eating in the kitchen, having hoped to put the formal dining table between them. For a moment he faltered, bereft of any purpose, until he spied the bottle of white wine standing on the counter and took his time opening it and pouring half a glass each. When he looked up, Harry was watching him. "Teddy was in a fight at school," Draco said.
"A fight?" Harry looked perplexed. "But… he's never been in trouble before."
"Well he is now, McGonagall herself flooed my office this morning." Draco folded his arms again. Harry was staring at him with alertness now, absently stirring the risotto. "Apparently some lads in the year above him have been making a combination of metamorphmagus and gay related jibes at him, but that's all he'll tell her. When he came back this term they wanted to know, and I quote the headmistress: 'just how many queers has your godfather let ram his arse'. Ted lost it."
Harry had abandoned the risotto completely. Kreacher appeared with a pop and pushed him away from the stove. He wandered trancelike to the nearest chair and sat in it. "Oh my god, Teddy," he murmured. Draco sat down opposite him and leant his arms on the table. "Is he okay?"
"He spent a night in the hospital wing but I think it was to get him to calm down more than anything else. You know he's not very handy. He gave one of the lads a bloody nose but that's about it. Luckily I spoke to McGonagall about him and she's not going to take his prefect badge, but it was pretty close."
Harry stared at the table.
"Hogwarts have a Hogsmeade weekend," Draco continued, face pinched, "so I was thinking we could go and see him tomorrow. I've already seen Andromeda, she'll meet us there at two o'clock."
"He didn't tell me he'd been bullied," Harry frowned.
Draco shook his head. "Nor me. But it happens."
"He must have put up with shit about us before."
"Yes." Their eyes met silently as Kreacher served the risotto and they began to eat mechanically. "Harry, why haven't you owled him since you got back?"
"I didn't know what to say."
"You - fucking hell," the blond shook his head derisively; "I don't understand you right now. He was devastated by that Prophet article, and there's certainly been enough press since then. He thinks of you as his real dad, you know?" he pulled his hands through his hair and picked up his fork, still shaking his head.
"What're we going to do?"
Draco sighed. "Present a united front, I suppose. Let him know it's not alright to fight, but that we understand why it happened and that we love him. That we're both…here for him, parentally. Even if we're not together." He concentrated hard on his dinner, feeling Harry's gaze on him.
"Are you breaking up with me?"
"I don't know… It's been very hard. There's press outside the wards every minute of the day right now. We bought in a muggle district to avoid just this sort of attention, and now it's gone way out of hand. That's why I asked you to move back in… I… I think I'm going to move to Andromeda's for a while, until it starts dying down. I've had more press attention since… more than I've ever had. I can't cope with it, Harry; I'm not in the public eye like you are. It's too much."
"Uhm," Harry swallowed, his plate swimming in front of him. "I really love and miss you, I hoped… I… sorry," he burst, wiping tears furiously and pushing back his chair. He rushed out of the kitchen before Draco could react.
Harry was in the large lounge area when Draco found him. The blond had finished his dinner as sedately as possible; casting a stasis charm over Harry's to stop it getting too cold. At first he had contemplated throwing the rest of his portion away, but a part of him didn't want to upset Harry if he found it, so he ate it methodically despite the fact that after their discussion it tasted like ash. He leaned in the doorway looking at the back of his lover's messy black mop over the edge of the low couch, wondering whether he'd allowed enough of a cooling period yet. A rustle of paper alerted him that Harry was reading a Daily Prophet. He strode over, snatched it from his grasp and noted the front page before folding it in half and dropping it on the floor. Harry scrambled into a half-sitting position and looked at him. His eyes were red and the skin around them was blotchy.
"I don't want him, or his face, or even his name in our house, ever again," Draco gritted, tense. Unconsciously, he kicked the latest Prophet to re-showcase Harry and Alex's embrace, under the couch. "Hey-!" with a jerk and a twist, Harry had yanked him over the back of the couch and onto himself. Draco scrambled and clutched to prevent himself from falling, eventually finding purchase on the brunette's shoulders, a thigh on each side.
They glared at each other intensely before leaning in together and connecting in a tentative kiss. Draco felt Harry moan and deepen the intimate link by stroking the length of his tongue in a curl along his own. His fingers threaded into the soft hairs at the nape of Draco's neck, stroking the sensitive area he so loved to be touched and caressed, the touch that made him feel so loved each time. He paused, uncertain for the first time as to whether to allow it, and broke the kiss. Harry stretched his neck forwards to nuzzle the tip of his nose, prolonging their contact. His eyes were large and hopeful, and desirous.
Leaning back again, Harry bared his throat to Draco and let his face lie open to scrutiny. Draco gave him a searching look, and he could tell that the blond wanted and needed to be intimate with him just as much as he did, but they hadn't had sex for nearly two months, since before he'd left for the England training, and the blond might think of giving in as some sort of weakness.
"Please," he ventured. It was a whisper. "I'm all for you. Draco," he murmured, the name lost in the new onslaught of hot lips on his. Draco's warm hands parted his collar as his slid his own up the blonde's back, seeking skin-on-skin contact, grabbing in his haste. He mapped his shoulder blades and then released him quickly to tug the blonde's shirt over his head without bothering to undo the buttons. Draco stared down at him, panting, but didn't need to be coaxed into action again as he made for Harry's remaining buttons and parted his shirt to check him over. Harry felt himself flush. His torso was richly muscled and toned up from the more intensive England training.
"Did I buy you this?" Draco fingered his emerald shirt, feeling the soft material next to the tanned pectorals. The chain he had given Harry when they had first begun dating so many years ago was glinting at the base of his neck.
"I expect so."
"It looks… you look so…"
Harry pulled him down and gave him a heated look: "Then don't take it off me," he suggested, breathily, skimming his hands to Draco's hips before flipping the button and fly of his tailored trousers, moving to his own jeans and unzipping quickly. Draco sank his teeth into his collarbone and he panted harshly, struggling to rid himself of his lower garments without dislodging the blond. Draco shifted and looked down at him from within a curtain of silky locks, which Harry couldn't resist pulling his fingers through. Draco's face nuzzled into his palm as it passed, like a little kneazle. As if he had only just realised that Harry had been left naked apart from the open shirt, his eyes darkened down to aroused ink and a high rose painted his cheekbones and neck. Harry panted giddily, and parted his thighs to wrap one around Draco's waist, throwing the other over the low side of the couch.
"Harry, you can't…"
"Please," he pressed their foreheads together, eyes raw. "You don't make love to me anymore, Draco, why? I want this so much, I need it; I need to feel you. I love you."
Draco cast him a doubtful look. "But… you never ask me to."
"You never seem to want to top anymore," Harry countered. Draco didn't answer him, hiding his eyes with his tousled hair, trailing his long fingers on Harry's thighs, massaging lightly. Harry brushed the fringe away, prompting the blond to look at him. "Bit of a communication problem, maybe," he murmured, smiling ruefully.
"You have to get up and train tomorrow. Are you sure you want… I do want to, Harry. Oh god, so much."
Harry sat up so that they were propped up together with their legs wrapped around each other. "I …ache… to feel you in me, and for us to be back in our bed, in our sheets, just you and me together," he admitted, pressing their foreheads back together and stroking the bridge of the blonde's nose with the tip of his own. "Any way and however many times you want. You're my life, and the love of my life. I'm only for you, Draco."
Draco's mind flew reflexively to the hidden white envelope containing the explicit photographs that he'd never had the courage to look at properly, but couldn't quite throw away. But Harry's earnest expression was so hopeful, so open and so loving that the offensive images soon fled back behind their bars and he found himself pushing his nose into the soft shaggy black strands at the brunette's temple, his hands on muscled biceps, pectorals, abdomen and stroking down to the trail of soft pubic hairs that pointed like a dark little pathway to Harry's groin. They were kissing, and clinging, their lips so soft and their grasp so fierce.
Draco disentangled his legs and took some control of the situation, pulling himself and Harry to stand on the lounge floor. He let go of the dazed looking brunette in front of him to quickly finish slipping out of his trousers and undergarments, leaving them both naked save for Harry's shirt and both of their socks – a particularly unrefined combination, unnecessary in the soft shaggy pile of their expensive carpeting. Harry reached out and took his hand, regarding him with his head tilted curiously to the right. Draco looked him over silently for a few moments, noting the new hardness of Harry's muscles and the noticeable growth in them since the last time they had been fully naked together. The silky material of the green shirt made the brown strands of errant chest hair gleam, and he was half-hard, an amusing aesthetic.
Without releasing his hand, Harry dropped to his knees on the carpet and pressed two kisses to his hips, one either side of his own pale groin. Seeing his lover kneeling there, staring up at him as though a single command would give him the Seeker as his servant for whatever bidding he could conjure, eyes wide, and open and so green, Draco realised that no matter how hurt he was by Harry's actions, there was nothing that could overpower a sense of love quite like this. Falling out of love with Harry was something too hideous to even try to contemplate. He pulled him back to his feet, led him to their bedroom, and closed the door.
Please review, it has taken me almost a year to get round to putting this fic up, it has grown from a oneshot into something too long to be posted here in one go. I have nearly finished writing it. 'Under His Hands' was such a success I was hesitant to continue it, but I think this story can stand on its own. I am still editing the story, this evening was the first time I tried to split it into 'parts' for uploading so they're not really chapter breaks. I hope you enjoy it!