The third club we entered was crowded, wall-to-wall bodies gyrating beneath floating orbs of light. The music was so loud it was nearly visible.
I had been drunk before we reached the second club and now I was working my way back to sobriety, nursing a glass of lukewarm water. I needed to decide whether to return to a hazy state of drunkenness or crawl into depressed sobriety.
Pansy and Blaise had already abandoned me for the dance floor; they had trapped a young wizard and were taking turns snogging him whilst grinding against him. The poor lad was doomed; he would be lucky if he could walk tomorrow.
I scanned the crowd, looking for familiar faces, and then I saw him. The alcohol in my belly seemed to turn to acid when I saw who he was dancing with. Of course he was here with her. They were an item again, were they not? The Golden Couple, reunited. It was my typical bad luck that he would turn up at the same club. He was not much of a partier, or at least he hadn't been when we were together.
"Merlin's Madness," I ordered, turning to the bartender. "Make it two."
The aged barkeep peered at me. "I'm only allowed to sell one at a time and make sure you don't die between."
"Fine. One now and one if I don't die," I snapped.
He poured the concoction, a lethal-looking mixture of alcohols and inebriation-inducing potions. He slid it across the counter and I took a sip. It burned like live flame and I was not certain I'd be able to taste anything for the next week. The heat travelled down my oesophagus and added white-hot flame to the seething ball of jealousy in my gut.
"Firewhiskey and a champagne cocktail," I heard.
I turned to find Potter two patrons away, sweat-gleaming and looking far too fit and happy. Something snapped and I pushed my way over to him. I gripped his arm and leaned close.
"We need to talk," I said.
He stiffened, but did not turn his head to face me. "I don't have anything to say to you," he said.
"Well, I have things to say to you."
He sighed heavily. "Fine. I'll give you five minutes." He looked at me then and his eyes were too dark in the dim light to pick out the green.
"Not here," I said. "Come on." I moved through the crowd and headed for the back door, not completely certain he would follow. I reached the rear exit and pushed through. The alley was sparsely populated due to the fitful rain. One diehard smoker stood against the far wall, puffing on a Muggle cigarette. Muggleborns frequently took up the habit; I could never fathom the attraction.
To my relief, Harry walked behind me. I strode down the alley a short distance and found a convenient recessed doorway, sheltered from the rain and invisible from anyone exiting the club.
Harry stepped into the alcove and crossed his arms in the universal gesture of "keep away". He waited.
So many words had filled my head in the past few days, scenarios I had played out in my head, from angry tirades to pleading, desperate begging. None of them came to mind now, with him staring at me so coldly, as though we had been nothing, as though I were nothing. He hadn't looked at me like that in a long, long while. And I had caused its return.
"Harry," I said, trying to express the depths of my feelings, but I had never been good at expressing anything but anger. At a loss, I took refuge in the physical. Two steps took me to him and my lips met his, gently at first, terrified of rejection, but he only sighed against my mouth and accepted the kiss, not quite returning it, but not shoving me away, either.
Emboldened, I kicked his legs apart and stepped between them, resting myself against his crotch as was my usual wont, something I knew he loved. His arms uncrossed and I felt his hands rest upon my hipbones. I pressed myself to him more firmly and snogged him for all I was worth, trying to speak without words. A flick of my tongue meant I'm sorry, my teeth against his lower lip said I've missed you, and the desperate pull of my lips on his meant Please come home.
He was hard in moments, grinding my erection against his by a fierce grip on my hips. His panting gasps echoed mine and a whimper tore from his throat. It was clear he had missed this as much as I had. If nothing else, I knew the Weaselette could never get to him the way I could. This was my power and I would never let it go.
Heady with success, I gasped for breath and peppered kisses along his jaw, more drunk from two minutes of kissing him than by anything I had consumed. Harry, I thought. My Harry.
His hands left my hips and latched onto my shoulders. I fumbled for my wand, desperate to Apparate us away, to take us home, but he pushed, shoving me away with an oath. I stared at him from a distance that suddenly seemed far wider than the arm's length that separated us.
He shook his head. "Physical attraction was never our problem, Draco." His voice sounded sad and weary and pitying. It hit me like a physical blow.
Down the alley-way, a door banged open. "Harry? Are you out here?" Ginny Weasley's voice was unmistakable and I could not bear to see her face. Not now. Not with everything I'd lost close enough to touch.
I swore savagely and Disapparated.
"Isn't it lovely?" he asked. "Look at these windows! So much light."
"The flat is admirable, Potter, but why are you showing it to me?"
"You really like it? I'm glad because… I want you to move in. Here. With me." He flushed when I stared at him, for once wordless. He struggled on, panic evident in his widening eyes and high-pitched tone. "Grimmauld Place is so gloomy and I'm always terrified of your mum or the bloody house-elves, or worse, your father, walking in on us at the Manor, and I wanted you and me and… Us. This."
He turned away, tugging at his hair and looking fairly traumatized. I viewed the place through new eyes, flummoxed by his request. Granted, we had been seeing one another for three months, but… it still seemed like a sudden move. It seemed permanent and I had thought what we had was nothing more than temporary. Everyone said so.
"Say something," he whispered.
"How am I supposed to sleep until noon with all that bloody light coming through the windows?" I asked.
He threw himself at me, laughing, and pressed a ridiculous number of kisses to my face. "Heavy curtains," he said. "Slytherin green, if you insist."
His happiness was contagious and although my heart pounded with something like dread, I gave in to his joy and tried to shove aside my fears. The press had nearly lost interest in us; this would renew the attack of Howlers and hate mail. And Pansy and Blaise would never let me hear the end of it.
Still, it would be nice to have a place of our own, and the kitchen was amazing.
I turned my attention to Harry and we might have christened the place right then, lack of curtains notwithstanding, but the return of the estate agent halted our early celebration.
"We'll take it," Harry said.
I downed a full glass of water and leaned backwards until I felt my spine give with a popping sound. Salazar, I was tired.
"That's not good for your back. You done for the night?"
I turned and gave Tabitha a weary smile. "Almost. I want to check on Bobby Wheelwright in seventeen. I promised to make sure his plush dragon was in bed with him when he fell asleep."
"I knew you'd turn out to be a big softie under all that eye-rollin' and actin' superior," she said and poured herself a cup of coffee that had likely been re-warmed with Heating Charms six or seven times.
"You most certainly did not," I protested.
"Big bad Malfoy, tucking in a little boy's dragon toy. Admit it, you love workin' here." Her smile was as big as her laugh (as big as the rest of her, really) and I felt an answering gesture tugging at my lips.
"Shut up. I hate it here. And I hate you." To give lie to the words, I stuck my tongue out at her. I chuckled as her booming laugh followed me out. I supposed it was all right, working at St Mungo's. I hadn't killed anyone yet, and no one had killed me. The hours were dreadful and the work alternated between times of horrific boredom (during which all things already clean needed to be cleaned again), and vomit-induced periods of panic, rushing about, spell-casting, and high stress.
I had thrown myself into it. No shift was too gruelling for me, no job too dirty, and no petty slur or callous insult would force me to leave. Pansy told me I was mad and Blaise said I was an idiot. I cared nothing for their opinions. The work was hard and exhausting and every time I went home I sprawled on the bed (sometimes fully dressed) and slept like a dead man, without dreams or regrets, and without memories of Harry Potter.
I had only seen Administrator Mordant once, just after midnight two days previous. I had been bodily holding down a raving man whose face was the shape of a huge frying pan, flat and concave. His eyes, squashed and stretched, rolled wildly. His mouth was a huge O that emitted scream after scream as he thrashed and kicked, begging for someone to help him. He'd popped straight onto the floor rather than coming through Admittance, and had set up a hysterical ruckus. I had tackled him to prevent him scaring the other patients.
"Someone get a bloody Stunner or Incarcerous on this nitwit!" I'd yelled, narrowly avoiding an elbow to the jaw.
The man had gone stiff and I'd collapsed in relief before climbing to my feet.
"We do not refer to our patients as 'nitwits', Mr Malfoy," Administrator Mordant had said as she'd put away her wand.
I had flushed and stammered, feeling like a schoolboy being chastised by McGonagall. Then she had leaned close and murmured, "At least, not where they can hear us. Good work, lad." She's straightened. "Put him in Room Six and I'll get Annabelle to tend to him."
She had wended her way down the hallway and I hadn't seen her since, but her accolade had remained with me, spurring me on whenever I'd felt like quitting. I would succeed at this, damn it all, because it was mine and had nothing to do with Harry. Nothing at all.
"I spend time with my friends because you are never home!" I shouted. "Why did you even buy this place with me? You should have just moved into your office at the Ministry!"
His palm slammed into the bedpost. "Why is everything always my fault? You know why I work so much? It's to help me ignore the fact that you would rather spend time with Pansy and Blaise than with me. We've been growing apart, Draco, can't you see that?"
"I always invite you out with us!"
"They fucking hate me!" he shouted. "They hate us together and they do everything in their power to drive us apart! And you know what? It's working!"
"Oh, is it?" I screamed back. "What about your bloody friends? Have they ever invited me over? They will never accept us being together! Not ever, and you know it, which is why you always keep us apart!"
"What do you expect? Ron's brother is permanently scarred because of you and Hermione nearly died at the hands of your mad aunt! Do you think they'll just forget who you are because you're with me? It's not easy for them!"
I could scarcely see through the tears of rage that pricked at my eyes. "How can they forget who I am when you keep reminding them? Every time you see me you think 'Death Eater', just like everyone else!"
He looked taken aback. "That's not true," he whispered, but it was.
"Get out," I snarled. "Get the fuck out for good."
"Fine. Fuck you, fine, I will."
"Hey, Softie! Wanna take this Skele-Gro to Room Nine for me? I been needin' to pee for an hour!" Tabitha waved a glass flask at me as she waddled my way with a peculiar gait.
I snorted. "By all means. I certainly don't need to clean up after you and the patients. And stop calling me that!"
She tossed me the potion and giggled. "Any time, lover boy. I'll buy you a pastry later."
I grinned almost fondly and shook my head as I walked to Room Nine. I made a mental note to ask Tabitha later if she had been sorted into Hufflepuff at Hogwarts. She was several years my senior—I might have to remind her of that the next time she called me Softie.
The door was ajar so I pushed it open. Healer Thornton was waving his wand in a diagnostic spell I was itching to learn, his patient partially blocked by the oversized green robes he wore.
"I have the Skele-Gro, Healer Thornton," I said.
Thornton stood. "Thank you, Mr Malfoy. Auror Weasley, you'll need to drink all of this. It tastes vile, I know, but it's the only way to regrow those bones. "You'll be right as rain in the morning."
I had frozen where I stood and it took an impatient gesture from Thornton to get me moving again and hand him the flask.
Ron Weasley lay upon the bed with one arm propped awkwardly on a large pillow. We stared at one another silently and I realized I hadn't spoken a word to him in years, despite my months-long relationship with Harry. About to continue that trend by turning and leaving, my exit was halted by Healer Thornton.
"Mr Malfoy, will you tidy the upper cabinet, there? It looks like the last person using it tossed a Cornish Pixie in afterward. It took me six minutes to locate a Pulse Bracelet. That will need replacing, by the way. I seem to have used the last one. Drink up, Auror Weasley."
I muttered an affirmative response and made my way decisively to the cabinet. It was a mess, with cartons and vials strewn about. It had probably been Healer Moonstone. The man was a walking advertisement for chaos. I sorted quickly, hoping to be finished by the time Healer Thornton left. Behind me, I head Weasley choking and gagging. I smirked.
"Very good. I will see you later, Auror Weasley," I heard and then Thornton was gone.
"Goodnight, Healer," Weasley called and coughed. "Bloody hell, that tastes like… well, I don't know what, but it's bad. Very bad."
I heard him gulping water, which never helped. I bit my lip, torn, and then dug into a pocket of my pale green robe. I tossed a wrapped lozenge onto the bed.
"Breath-freshening Tablet," I said. "It will scour the taste."
Weasley looked at it dubiously, but unwrapped the foil and popped it into his mouth with a Gryffindor level of trust. "Thanks," he muttered.
I shuffled items in the cupboard and made mental notes. The Pain-relieving Potion needed replenishing; I wondered if it was okay to give one to Weasley with the Skele-Gro. I would ask Tabitha. Healers seldom thought about mundane things like pain when concerned with the bigger picture, such as bone-regrowth.
"What happened?" I asked, and then winced. I had no intention of talking to Weasley. Under no circumstances would I mention Harry. I wondered if they had been on an assignment together.
"Bloody domestic dispute. The bloke was a typical bully, but handy with a wand. Couldn't get my shield up fast enough. Kingsley is going to have my arse for it. Probably send me back through Training." Weasley sounded morose. "At least he just hit me with a Bone Begone and not a Severing Spell or something worse. I need to send a note to Hermione, although Jackson promised to let her know."
I made a noncommittal sound of interest and lined up a row of boxes. I wondered if babbling was a side-effect of the Skele-Gro.
"You're working here, then?"
"Intern," I said.
"You like it?"
Babbling and being pleasant, I decided. Interesting side-effects. "I like it well enough. How is Harry?" I slammed the cupboard door and cursed myself. Fuck.
"On remote assignment. He's been gone nearly a week."
Oh. Remote assignment. I hated those. Or I had hated those, when we'd been together. Long, lonely nights of tossing in bed, wondering where he was and if he was in danger. I touched the wood of the cabinet and resisted banging my head against it as the familiar pain returned. I had been doing fine at not thinking about Harry. Mostly.
"Harry was pretty upset you never even sent him an owl," Weasley said. "You were that glad he was gone, then? Couldn't wait to be rid of him?"
I turned round to face him. "What are you on about? I sent two messages the first bloody day! One came back and the other had no reply at all, same as the third I sent practically begging him to talk to me. He left me, remember?" I glared at him and willed myself to stop talking, but perhaps the air in the room induced babbling. I could not help but add, "And I assumed the photo in the paper of him with your sister was answer enough."
"Did you?" Weasley asked, although he looked thoughtful.
"She made it rather clear when I ran into her in Diagon Alley and they were together that night at the club…" I trailed off, not wanting to remember. "As far as I can tell, they have been together since the moment Harry walked out. Back to being the happy couple, according to the Prophet, as though what we had was—" I clamped my jaw shut, unwilling to admit that what we had might have been nothing to Harry. It had not seemed like it at the time. It had seemed like everything, even though I had taken it all for granted. And why was I defending myself to Weasley?
"You believe everything in the Prophet, then?" Weasley asked. "If that's the case, when are you and Parkinson—?"
"That was a lie and they printed a retraction!" I snapped.
Weasley snorted. "One line buried on page six, according to Hermione."
I gaped at him, astounded that he would know that.
He shrugged and then winced. Apparently his shoulder joint was also missing. That would hurt coming back. "She reads the whole thing, cover to cover, every day. And then rants about it. Keeps me in the know, at least. So, what are you planning to do about Harry?"
"What am I planning to do? He has made it perfectly clear he wants nothing whatsoever to do with me."
"Giving up that easily, then?"
I made a mental note to check on the ingredients in Skele-Gro. Either Weasley had gone mad or I was hallucinating the entire conversation.
"Are you saying you want us to get back together?"
Weasley made a face reminiscent of the one he'd likely made chugging the Skele-Gro. "I admit you've never been my favourite person and you haven't done anything to change my mind recently… But Harry was happy with you. Really happy. I'd never seen him like that before, not ever. And it was nice. Apparently you fucked it up and now he's bloody miserable, despite whatever my sister might have told you. Do you plan to fix it, or not?"
I made my way to the guest chair and sank down into it. "I don't know how," I admitted. "He won't even speak to me."
Weasley nodded. "Yeah, he does that. He did a great job ignoring me during that Tri-Wizard nonsense, and we were roommates. Of course, I was being an arse. Funny how that works. Sort of takes two, doesn't it?"
I nodded politely and waited, unwilling to admit that Weasley had given me something I'd thought was out of my reach.
"All right, then. Let me think about it and I'll get back to you, Malfoy. Tell me one thing, though. How do you feel about him, really? Was it just a lark to you, like Harry thinks?"
I stayed my tongue on the angry words, knowing it was my fault Harry believed that. "I love him," I admitted, using the words for the first time, despite the number of times they had nearly spilled past my lips during the past few months. I had never told him, thinking it would have made me weak or powerless, somehow.
Weasley settled back into his pillows and closed his eyes. "Yeah. I thought so. Too bad you're such a git."
For some reason the words made me smile. "Fuck you, Weasley."
"Yeah, yeah. Get out now and let me regrow these stupid bones."
I went out, feeling better than I had in days. Because of a Weasley. Would wonders never cease?
Blaise was in a snit. "I cannot believe the stupid, ridiculous woman has changed the colour scheme again! One week from the bloody wedding! The florist is in a tizzy. She was in tears the last time I saw her. Boris is not helping, acting like my mother's interchanging insanity is adorable. The stupid arse doesn't realize he's going to end up like all of her former husbands."
I listened politely as we walked. I was tired, having worked at the hospital until past midnight the previous night. I hadn't seen Weasley at all since our little chat, and feared that our conversation had been a figment of my imagination. Either that or it had been a cruel joke on Weasley's part.
I was off shift at the hospital for the next two days. Mordant had insisted, saying that otherwise I would burn myself out. Blaise had awakened me at ten a.m. prattling about his mother and then dragging me to Twillfit's to have his wedding robes changed.
"Wouldn't Pansy have been a better choice for this? Why do I have to come along?"
"Stop whinging. You know she hexes anyone that awakens her before noon. Besides, your robes were coordinated to match the yellow, too. Now the colour scheme is coral and you don't want to clash. Honestly, coral. And I thought she couldn't do worse than yellow."
"Yellow is worse than coral," I stated, knowing he was right about the robes. I had chosen a soft amber, which would look heinous against a coral background. I would need something else, possibly burgundy.
"Yeah, maybe," Blaise admitted. He paused when we reached the shop. I made to push open the door, but he grabbed my arm. "Draco."
I frowned at his sober expression. Blaise was seldom serious. I was surprised he was so worked up about his mother's upcoming nuptials; he had been through them enough times in the past that it should have been old hat.
"I was wrong," he said. "About Potter."
I looked around to cover my surprise. We were the only ones on the street but for two elderly gentlemen drinking coffee and reading the newspaper in front of the bakery, sheltered by a striped umbrella. It was a quiet, drizzle-filled morning. I renewed the Umbrella Charm over our heads and gave Blaise an arched eyebrow that meant Please continue.
Blaise nodded. "He was good for you. The few times I saw you together, it was obvious. More than obvious, really, that you were both mad for each other. I admit I was jealous. Pansy and I both were. We were arseholes to keep insisting it would never work out, and it was horrible of us to make you doubt yourself, and Potter. I just wanted to… apologize." He scrunched up his nose at the word. It was anathema to Slytherins.
I might have stared at him a bit too long. He glared.
"Anyway. Apparently you're doing a good thing at St Mungo's, according to a friend of my mum's who can't shut up about you. Maybe I'll stop clubbing so much and find a job."
My stare grew even more pointed until he burst out laughing. I joined him. "You prat! You almost had me with the Potter business, but that last thing was just ridiculous."
He smacked me on the arm. "Shut up. I was serious about the Potter thing. But, Salazar, can you see me trying to hold a bloody job? My father, whoever he was, would likely turn over in his grave." He shoved open the door to Twilfit and Tattings.
"We should try to keep the corpse-spinning to a minimum. Let's get this over with so that I can go home and go back to bed."
Blaise waved at the clerk. "Gretchen! What do you have for us?"
"Hello, Mr Zabini. Mr Malfoy. Right this way. I've got you set up with several selections in dressing room One and Mr Malfoy in room Three." She gestured down the wooden hallway and I cocked an eyebrow at Blaise.
"I owled ahead," he said with a smirk. "You don't really think I want to spend all day here, do you?"
"Sometimes you are almost a genius, Blaise."
I entered the dressing room to find a rack filled with various robes ranging in colour from bronze to pink. I shook my head. Coral. I unbuttoned my robes and hung them up. A shell pink garment caught my eye and I removed my shirt and draped it over the rack. I reached for the pink shirt as the door opened and someone burst inside with a shouted, "Hey!"
My arms were suddenly full of someone cold and slightly damp and I strove to keep us both from toppling back against the mirror.
"Harry?" I asked in surprise as the door slammed shut. I had recognized him more by scent than sight. His hair brushed against my face as he righted himself.
He pushed away from me immediately and turned to wrench at the door, which was, apparently, locked. He banged on it once. "Ron! You arsehole!"
I crossed my arms and waited. After a moment, Harry turned round. His eyes met mine and then skated away.
"Hi," he said. He reached for his fringe and his hand froze partway. He lowered it.
"Hi," I replied.
"I, um." He sighed explosively, gave in, and raked a hand through his hair. "Ron took my wand."
I uncrossed my arms, rifled through my robes, and pulled out my wand. I handed it to him. "In case your need to escape me is great enough for desperate measures," I said.
His eyes narrowed, but he did not take the wand.
"Look, I'm sorry," he said.
"Yeah, I—I've made a bloody mess of things. I wouldn't blame you if you hexed me right now."
I frowned and withdrew my wand, considering it. I kept it in hand, twisting it with a slightly nervous twitch. The dressing closet was not large; it was smaller than the alcove in which I had last seen him. Our toes nearly touched.
"Ginny was intercepting your messages," he blurted. "I never got any of them. Ron got the truth out of her, plus what she told you in Diagon Alley. I… fuck, I should have known you wouldn't just toss me aside like that. I can't believe I was stupid enough to believe… And then the fucking Prophet, and thinking you were back with Pansy. God, I'm an idiot."
I tried to piece together his words. He always spoke in jumbled phrases when he was upset, but I had grown familiar with them and could usually translate to human speech. "Are you telling me the Weaselette was stealing my messages to you?"
He nodded. "She knew I was staying with Ron and Hermione and she arranged to be there. To help take my mind off it, she said."
My eyes narrowed and my fingers tightened on my wand. "I'm sure she thought of plenty of ways to take your mind off it."
"It wasn't like that!" Harry said. "There was nothing between us, despite the stupid photos in the paper and whatever she told you. We were out as friends. Even that night at the club, we were there with Seamus and Dean and George and Angelina. It was never a date. I never touched her! You have to know there's no one for me but you, Draco."
I bared my teeth in a snarl. "Physical attraction was never our problem," I mimicked, ignoring his words. As much as I was desperate to believe them, I refused to be hurt again.
He winced. "I'm sorry about that, too. You were drunk and I thought you just wanted sex. You didn't say anything, and… God, it was all I could do to push you away. You said you wanted to talk and then you didn't, and I didn't want to fall back into the trap of wanting you if you weren't invested in the relationship the way I was. Am. Fuck, why is this so hard?"
My heart was pounding and the wand dug into my skin. I wanted so much to throw myself at him. "You left me," I whispered.
His hands twisted together. "You told me to. You told me to get out for good."
The memory was nauseating. I wanted to go back in time and kick myself. "Since when do you do what I tell you?" I asked, voice breaking.
He launched himself at me, arms clenching so tightly around me that I thought he might break me. I hugged back just as hard, almost unable to process that he was in my arms again. Willingly.
"God, Draco. I've missed you so much."
"Harry," I replied on a sigh, and then our mouths were together, sucking and devouring greedily, as though we could put ourselves back together through kissing alone. His hands moved over my bare skin. My fists clenched in his t-shirt and then I pulled him even closer, still not quite able to believe he was real. "You're not… Pansy on Polyjuice, are you?"
He laughed. Salazar, how I had missed that sound. "I hope not. Because if she knows about the time you bound me to the sofa and thenforgot the counter-spell, I will be very upset with you."
I kissed a path down his neck. "It's really you. Merlin, it's really you. I never thought I'd be allowed to touch you again. I thought I'd lost you forever."
"I thought you didn't really want me," he said. His lips were hot on my cheek and his hands had moved to my hair, which he loved. He had told me enough times.
I pulled back, carefully, so that his hands stayed where they were. As much as he loved touching it, I adored his fingers in it even more. "Never think that," I said, "Not ever. I don't deserve you and I am going to change. I'm working at St Mungo's now and I promise to make you proud of me, instead of some pathetic Death Eater—"
His eyes widened and one of his hands clapped over my mouth. "Don't!" He shook his head. "Don't say that. If there is one lesson I learned from our time apart, it's that you are more than the labels you wear, more than the labels I draped upon you myself. This—" His hand left my mouth and gripped my wrist; he lifted my arm to expose the Dark Mark to the soft lights from above, "is part of you. It's not good or evil, or even a symbol of who or what you are. It's only a mark, Draco, just another scar that shows where you've been. It doesn't define you, no more than my scar defines me. I'm sorry it took me so long to see that."
Harry pressed his lips to the Dark Mark, kissing the hated, ugly lines of it, working his way up until he left it completely and reached the bend of my elbow. I shivered as his tongue flicked over the soft skin there and the mood suddenly changed. Contrition and relief were shifted aside by something more primal.
"Harry," I murmured and sank my fingers into his hair.
His head tipped and his eyes locked with mine. The universe seemed to right itself and I knew he knew what I was thinking. Fuck, it had been a long time. Days and days that had seemed like decades.
He straightened and kissed my neck again, less reverently and more languidly. I felt the fear ebb from my bones, replaced by a long-awaited heat.
"Do you think…?" he asked.
"No! Not here in the shop! Are you crazy?"
His laugh rumbled against my throat, rich and beautiful. "God, I love how prudish you are. The wicked Slytherin, afraid to be caught with his pants down in a public dressing room."
"I am not afraid!" I protested hotly. "It's just not very prudent! What if someone—?"
He chuckled again. "All right. I'll take you home. Give me your wand."
I handed it to him without hesitation. I would never hear the end of it from Blaise if I… Well, I probably wouldn't hear the end of it from Blaise, anyway. And it wasn't until that moment that I realized he had conspired with Weasley to bring Harry and I back together. Would wonders never cease?
I held on tightly as Harry took us home.
The bedroom was a mess. The bed wasn't made and I had two days' worth of clothing stacked on a chair. In my defence, I hadn't expected Harry to come back, plus I had been busy with work.
Harry didn't seem to notice. He was busy tearing the t-shirt off over his head in between pressing eager kisses to my lips. I decided to further distract him by removing his jeans.
"Missed you so much," he said. "Missed this."
I could not even speak. I had missed him so much I hadn't even wanked. Every thought of touching myself had brought back memories I hadn't been ready to deal with. I walked him backwards to the bed, carefully, because his jeans had pooled around his ankles and his shoes made them impossible to remove. I shoved him backwards and then straddled him as he sprawled upon the bed.
"This bed," I growled. "Never leave it again."
He grinned up at me as I removed his glasses and folded the tines carefully before tossing them on the bedside table. "That might be a bit difficult. Certain things—mmph!" My kiss cut off his words, but he gamely forged on when I came up for air. "…can't be done from the bed."
"Semantics," I said breathlessly, because his hands had found their way beneath my trousers and were touching things that desperately needed touching. I rocked into his fist and closed my eyes at the sensation.
"What about food?" he asked. "And jobs?" He sounded entirely too coherent. I vowed to do something about that. Two thuds announced he'd kicked off his shoes, followed by the whisper of his jeans departing.
"We'll order delivery. Our jobs can hang." I kissed him again, deeply, whimpering when his hands stroked and twisted in that perfect way. His erection was hard against my arse, still trapped in his confining pants. I reached back and tugged at the fabric until his cock sprang free, hot and eager against the crack of my arse. Oh, yes.
My trousers were in the way, and cutting off the circulation across my thighs. I hated to leave his blissful ministrations, but I was too-quickly approaching orgasm and I wanted it to last. I stopped his hands and climbed off long enough to remove the rest of my clothing. Harry kicked off his pants with an impatient movement and then held out a hand to welcome me back.
I took my place once more and asked, "Where is my wand?"
"Um, floor, I think. Accio Draco's wand!" It snapped into his hand and he smirked at me.
"Prat," I said without malice and took the wand to cast a series of necessary spells. They left me breathless and aching, ready for him at long last. I guided his cock towards into position and then lifted and lowered myself. Despite the lubrication, it burned going in. Two weeks did not seem like a long time, in retrospect, but to my arse it felt much longer.
"All right?" he asked and stroked my thighs in a soothing motion.
I nodded, and kept going until he was fully sheathed. I paused then and our eyes met and locked. I leaned down and kissed him. His hands curved around my arse, gripping tightly and releasing. When I could breathe normally again, I straightened and began to move.
He took up my wand and spelled the heavy green curtains open. Grey daylight filled the room and I smiled when he said, "I want to see you."
I felt only vaguely self-conscious when I wrapped my hand around my cock. His eyes dropped to it and stayed there, watching each stroke as I rose and fell in slow rhythm, riding him until his breath came in ragged pants and his hands quivered against my skin.
"So close. Draco."
I had forgotten how much I loved the sound of his voice speaking my name, especially in the throes of passion. I grinned like a Cheshire cat as I stopped moving and earned a slap against my arse.
"Brat," he said, "don't stop."
I chuckled, but could not stand the suspense, myself, so I resumed my movements, rocking harder, faster, and jerking at my cock as the tension built, curling like a tightening coil until it exploded—all over Harry's chest.
I felt him jolting against me at the same time, his hands squeezing hard enough to bruise, and a hoarse cry spilling from his lips. I collapsed against him, sweaty and aching. His hot breath panted against my hair and his hands let go their punishing grip to roam over my back.
"Welcome home," I murmured.
"Never leaving again," he replied.
One hand tangled in my hair and he pulled, tugging until I met his serious green gaze. "I promise," he said firmly. "Whatever happens, whatever stupid thing we fight about, we'll work it out. No more running away."
I nodded. "If it's any consolation, it helped me work out a few things. You were right about me not trying very hard. Even my mother noticed it."
He blinked. "Your mother?"
I wrinkled my nose. "You have supporters in unexpected places."
"I noticed. Pansy sent me a Howler yesterday."
It was my turn to be surprised. "What did it say?"
"Well, it was a bit vague. It said, 'Get your head out of your arse, Potter, or I'll do it for you!' Not sure what that means, exactly, but definitely something I should avoid."
I bit my lip to suppress a laugh. "I do love that girl. Not in a marrying sort of way."
"I imagine not. Sorry about that assumption, by the way. I wasn't thinking very clearly through the jealousy."
"I know the feeling." I eased away from him and sighed at the sticky, wet residue. "I retract my demand regarding the bed, because we will need to relocate to the shower shortly."
"I look forward to that," he said. "As soon as I can move again."
I nodded, feeling lethargic. And happy, something I'd begun to think I'd never feel again.
"I'm going to stop taking so many long assignments," Harry said after a quiet moment. "And working late. That's just stupid."
I snorted. "If I keep working at St Mungo's, I'll be the one with the erratic schedule and late hours."
His hand stilled in my hair and I made a sound of protest until he obediently resumed his gentle stroking. "And will you? Keep working there?"
"I think I will. I rather like it, crazy as it seems. There is a woman there I think you would quite enjoy meeting. Her name is Tabitha."
"This won't be easy, with both of us having insane work schedules."
"Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, is it? We will just have to make every moment count. Face it, Potter, you're stuck with me."
"And vice-versa, Malfoy."
I kissed him, hard, and only stopped when a tapping on the window distracted me. I groaned, but levered myself away from Harry's warmth to open the window and admit Blaise's owl. It carried Harry's wand and a note. I untied both and tossed Harry his length of holly before reading the note aloud.
When you are done with the makeup shagging, meet the four of us for lunch at the Leaky.
Yes, I said the four of us. Amazing, isn't it?
Blaise and Pansy
Granger and Weasel
PS (Might hurry before we kill each other – Ron)
I looked at Harry in amazement.
"Up for a shower and then lunch with friends?"
"As long as the shower involves more makeup shagging."
Thank you for slogging through the torment! I hope the ending made up for it! You didn't really think I would break them up for good, did you? :D