The rest of the week, Draco and Harry tried to uncover the details of Mitchell Stevens, but it was proving to be difficult. Narcissa had nothing except a flying-while-drinking charge from when he was still a student. But after the frustration of each day, the pair of them found a convenient way to relieve their tension. It was something they never talked about. They simply recognized when the other had reached the end of their mental capacity, taking it as a sign that they should move on to the bedroom. Or the kitchen. Or the living room. Or wherever, really. It was frightening that this was the most commitment Harry had shown to one person in years. Perhaps when this was all over, he would be able to return to his normal ways. Maybe this would even be enough for him finally erase The Kiss from his memory.
But each night, as he felt Draco's chest rise and fall next to him, he worried that this would only create a bigger need, one that no amount of one night stands with random strangers would satisfy. Being with Draco was difficult, yet it was easier than being with anyone else. Draco didn't worship him, didn't seem driven by a need to sleep with the Boy Who Lived. No, Draco seemed to just want him. Harry tried to not think too long on it, afraid to find himself invested in a feeling that would become irrelevant as soon as the investigation was over. It was why he never talked to Draco about what they were doing: he was worried that it would lead to the end of something that might not even be real.
On Thursday, after two days of making no headway, Draco and Harry both decided it was time to take a risk. They invited Mary Flint over to Harry's apartment in the hopes that the secretary to the Head Auror might be able to help them.
"I really don't know what you think I might know," she said timidly, fidgeting with her ponytail. "I just file his paperwork and run errands. I don't know anything about what he does."
"That's okay," Harry reassured her. "We just want to ask some questions."
"Are you sure it's even him? Maybe all of this is just a big misunderstanding."
"We're not sure. That's why we're trying to find out more about him, and you probably know more about him than anyone else."
Mary bit her lip, her forehead wrinkling with concern. She had been a new employee when Harry left the Ministry, but in the times that he had talked to her, she had always seemed like a sweet young woman - if a bit easily spooked. "I just don't want to betray him or anything. He's my boss, after all."
"Look, Mary," Draco said in a soothing voice, leaning forward and resting a hand on hers, "we're not going to write anything you tell us unless it proves that he's involved. And even then, we'll make sure no one knows that you told us anything. I swear."
Mary took a sip of water, but despite Draco's words, she did not look any less nervous than before. "What do you want to know then?"
"Did Mitchell ask you to get the Portkey register for him?" Harry asked.
"Ye-yeah," she replied. "He had me go on Monday."
"Is it for the Graham Davis investigation?"
"I think so, but he hasn't given it to Ron yet to look at." She paused as she considered her words. "It's weird - he wanted it urgently on Monday, but since then, it's just been sitting on his desk."
"Has he said anything about the case?"
She shook her head. "He really thought Parker killed Davis. Said it had to just be a pub fight that got out of control."
"What does he think about Parker's death?"
"Thinks it's either suicide or one of Davis' family getting revenge."
"If that's his theory," Draco said, "why is he taking the Portkey register and hiding it?"
"Maybe he just wants everyone to be on the wrong track while he hides the evidence," Harry considered. "I mean, he can tell Ron to not worry about some missing Dark objects, but he can't tell him to ignore a dead Ministry worker. So instead, he's just trying to lead them on the wrong track."
"Dark objects?" Mary asked, raising her head. "Is that what you think this is about?"
"Does that mean anything to you?"
"He's been going down into evidence storage a lot more than he used to. He said that it's because after Roger Thomas' scare there, he needs to take care of the things down there personally."
"He does like to micromanage the smaller tasks," Harry said, trying to see just how well his theory held up. "It's not unlike him to take on a simple errand so that he looks busy and important. Sorry," he told Mary, seeing her failed attempt to suppress a smile. "I don't mean to insult your boss."
"No, no," she said, looking a bit less scared as she laughed, her shoulders relaxing. "It's true. You know, he used to work on a lot of smuggling cases."
"Really?" Harry tried to think back to when he was working at the Ministry. "I thought he mostly worked on kidnappings."
"He did, but the switched over." Then, still seeing Harry's confusion, she clarified, "This was after you left."
"That's a decent case against him," Draco said. "He could have switched over just to learn all the tricks of the trade."
"Maybe," Harry said with some reluctance. "It's still not enough. We just have some circumstantial evidence that he might be trying to cover up a crime. That doesn't make him this S person."
"S?" Mary was staring at them now, her blue eyes wide in astonishment. "You think he might be S?"
"It's starting to look that way," explained Draco. "But we don't know for sure."
"I wish I had more to help you," she said plaintively. "I told you that I probably wouldn't be much assistance."
"No, no," Harry replied insistently. "You've been a huge help."
She smiled hesitantly. "If you need anything else, you should ask me. You know, we all miss you at the office." She leaned forward. "Don't tell anyone I told you," she said with an embarrassed giggle, "but I was hoping you would be Head Auror instead of Mitchell."
"I think we'd all feel safer if that was the case," Draco pointed out. Harry felt a heat creep into his own face at the unexpected compliment.
"You'll be at Ron's wedding this weekend, right?" Mary asked as she got up from the table. "Oh, I'm being silly. Of course you'll be at the wedding. But what about you?" she asked Draco. Both Draco and Harry snorted out loud before realizing that Mary was completely sincere.
"Oh, no," Draco answered politely. "I expect my invitation got lost before it could get to me."
"No! You should come!" Her face was radiating with sympathy. "Hermione is going to look so beautiful, I'm sure of it. It must have been so romantic, Harry, to watch them fall in love. To travel and fight Voldemort while they struggled with their emotions for one another." She sighed like a young girl contemplating her first love, but her expression quickly grew worried. "Mitchell will be there. Is that bad?"
Harry and Draco glanced at each other uneasily. "I think it should be okay," Harry said, making a mental note to let Ron know that he might need to watch out.
"I'm devastated that I'll be missing this," Draco said flatly.
But Mary missed the sarcasm. "You should come with me!" Her face lit up with excitement. "I was going to go with my boyfriend, but since he dumped me last week..." The happiness of a second ago turned into a sad, pleading look that would move even Filch's heart.
Draco looked uncomfortable, shifting from leg to leg as he considered whether or not to let down the poor girl. "I guess I'll go," he finally said in a thin voice. "We might need to warn the Weasleys before so they don't curse me when I walk in."
Mary's face instantly brightened again, and she clapped happily. "I'm so excited! This is going to be so much fun!"
"Right..." Draco replied uneasily. "Fun..."
It was a surreal experience for Harry to watch his two oldest friends get married. Ron had spent the morning in a mess, scrambling to deal with his tux while calming down his mother, who was terrified that the wedding cake wouldn't arrive in time. Mr. Granger and Mr. Weasley merely waited on the sidelines, debating the merits of airplanes over broomsticks. When the moment came, Harry was relieved to find that everything went perfectly. He stood at the altar with Ron, exchanging excited smiles until Hermione appeared at the top of the aisle. Mary had been right to expect that she would look beautiful.
Draco spent the ceremony with a blank expression on his face. It wasn't a cold one, and in fact, he'd been nothing but friendly and polite with the Weasleys since he'd shown up. Watching him from afar, Harry was struck by how much Draco seemed to have changed, not just from when they had first met at Hogwarts, but from when the war had ended. For all that he still found frustrating about working with Draco, he also found their bickering was more out of tradition than real hatred. And as he watched Ron and Hermione look at each other with so much warmth, he was struck by the feeling that Draco was the one person who hadn't grown up and away from him.
Throughout the reception, Harry felt himself being dragged around by various members of the Weasley family or by people who were curious to learn more about the couple from the one who had been there to witness it all. There also were a few sly offers for post-reception shags. He turned them all down politely, much to the confusion of those who were dedicated readers of Draco's column.
When the music started, Harry finally managed to escape through a small gap in the crowd. He needed a break from the crowd lest the, "So when are you getting married?" questions reach a critical level of aggravation. He ambled idly, letting the fresh air cool his head. There was a small clearing that was still close enough to the party to hear the commotion, but far enough to feel a moment of relief. He sat down, letting his mind clear as he stared at the night sky. He didn't notice that Draco was behind him at first, but when he felt a warm body sit down next to him, he knew who it was without having to look.
"I brought you some Butterbeer," Draco offered. "You looked like you needed it."
"Shouldn't you be inside? Mary will be devastated if she doesn't get the chance to dance with you."
"We had a few dances, but I think she ran off to take some shots. Weddings bring out the desperation in all of us."
Harry turned to look at Draco, his hair shining under the bright lights in the sky. "You don't feel desperate, do you?" he asked softly. "You're Draco Malfoy."
"And you're Harry Potter. Yet here you are, evading wedding parties while considering the meaning of your existence."
"Are you planning to include this in your article? An expose on my quarter-life crisis?"
"Don't worry, I'll keep your adult angst our little secret." Draco stared at him, but it was a soft look that made Harry feel suffocated with longing. "I always thought that someone like you would come out of Hogwarts knowing exactly what he's doing with his life."
"I think everyone expected that. But it's a lot easier to be purposeful when there's a prophecy telling you what your purpose is."
"You don't feel relieved to not have the future of the Wizarding World rest on your shoulders?"
"Of course I'm relieved," Harry explained. "But it's just easy to get a bit...lost."
"You haven't seemed lost this past week."
Harry laughed until he realized that Draco was serious. "Are you trying to be nice to me?"
"Maybe," Draco said, reaching out and wiping a speck off Harry's cheek with his thumb. The action made Harry's heart skip a beat, and he resisted the urge to lean over and rest his head on Draco's shoulder.
"It's been nice to have something that feels satisfying," Harry admitted, not entirely sure if he was talking about the investigation or Draco. "I have to thank you, I guess."
"You really don't. I wanted to do this."
"I might even miss you when this is all over. Until you start writing about me again."
Draco reached forward after Harry said that, placing his hand on Harry's chin so that he could turn it. He laid a gentle kiss on Harry's lips, a kiss that demanded nothing and yet said everything.
"What was that for?" Harry asked when Draco pulled away. Their faces were still close, the tip of Draco's nose grazing against his own.
"What do you mean? We've been doing this all week."
"Yeah, but that was different. That was more..." Every word Harry tried to think of to complete the sentence sounded inadequate.
"You really need to get better with words if you're going to be a good reporter."
"Then why don't you tell me what you're trying to say?"
Draco moved his body so that he was straddling Harry, his arms wrapped around Harry's neck. "What I'm trying to say, Harry," Draco said, kissing Harry's cheek, "is that I'll miss you too."
"Don't worry, you'll be able to live through your sources." There was a faint scent of bitterness in his words, remembering that a return to the status quo meant a return to everything that made him and Malfoy a preposterous pairing.
But Draco just pressed his lips to Harry's other cheek. "I think that's lost its appeal." He pushed Harry back onto the grass, gazing into his eyes for a few seconds before kissing Harry with a ferocity that was eagerly reciprocated. Harry wrapped his arms around Draco, pulling him in tight so that he could feel the heat of their bodies along every centimetre. He had no idea what it was he wanted from this except Draco. That whatever logic he knew was lacking in all this, Draco somehow fit into what he wanted his world to be.
Draco lifted his body out of Harry's arms, pulling away despite Harry's protests. There was a gleam of silver light on him that shone off his hair and made him appear illuminated. Piece by piece, Draco removed his clothing, a slow, teasing show that made Harry breathless as Draco let a hand tease down his chest and further down until they finally reached his pants. He peeled them off, his entire naked body awash in moonlight. He worked more quickly on Harry's clothes, quickly tossing aside the shirt and tie so that Harry felt the cold grass against his back. Draco's cock was hard against his own, and they slid against each other, groaning as the friction between them ignited something deeper.
Draco's lips were at his neck, exploring a path that seemed designed to elicit the loudest gasps and the longest moans. Harry's hands were exploring the muscle down Draco's side and scraping faintly into the pale thighs. He felt Draco's erection twitch against his own, and then a louder cry from Draco's lips as Harry wrapped a hand around both of their cocks. He led a slow, deliberate stroke against both of them, their cocks sliding against each other. Draco rested his head on Harry's chest while he breathed deeply through each stroke. Harry only let go when Draco began to press his way further down his body, hands and lips caressing Harry's abdomen and then insisting onwards until Draco's lips were tracing along his hipbone, tongue caressing the same line.
Harry felt the cold drop of spittle on the top of his cock that Draco stroked along the entire length, the slick heat of each pass building up inside of him. When he felt Draco's lips against the base, Harry's hips bucked involuntarily. He was so engaged in the sensation of his cock in Draco's mouth that he didn't realize at first that one of Draco's hands was playing with his own arsehole. When he caught sight, Harry couldn't look away. Sitting up for a better view, he watched as one finger slid in and out, Draco driving his arse back in a rhythm complicit with his lips moving along Harry's cock.
Harry wrapped his hands demandingly in Draco's hair, his cock going deeper into the other man's mouth until it reached the back of his throat. Harry cried out as Draco persisted with this movement, and then responded by slipping another finger inside of him, the moan vibrating in his throat along Harry's length. He ran a hand down Draco's back, wanting to touch and watch and taste every bump and valley along the way, but settling for what he had at that moment. Lubricating his fingers, he moved Draco's hand aside and slid them into the now-slick hole. Draco continued thrusting backwards at the same rhythm as before, but his groans were louder. Harry could feel Draco's pleasure along every inch of his lower body, taking in every shudder as he passed his fingers in and out at a slowly increasing pace.
Draco's hand was now wrapped around his cock as well, stroking desperately with each thrust of Harry's fingers inside him. The sight was too much for Harry to resist, and Harry felt his orgasm overtake him as he cried out Draco's name. He was still working his fingers inside Draco, lifting himself to get better leverage as he heard the unmuffled moans. He caught Draco's lips in one last searing kiss before he felt Draco's hips thrust forward and he began to pant heavily, trying to regain his breath.
They lay silent in the grass, Draco's head resting lightly upon Harry as his arm wrapped around. His breathing tickled the bare skin of Harry's chest, and Harry absently realized that lying with Draco was becoming pleasantly familiar. He knew what position Draco preferred to sleep in and how he shifted before falling asleep. And he was beginning to memorize the feel of Draco's body lying across his own.
"We should go back soon," Malfoy noted reluctantly after several minutes of this restful silence. "Your friends are going to miss you."
Reluctantly, Harry agreed that he was right. They had just gotten their clothes on when a loud scream pierced through the night. Draco and Harry both reacted immediately, wands out as they tried to find where the sound came from. About 400 meters away, they saw a small figure dashing through a row of trees. They sprinted to the person as a small crowd came out of the wedding tents. As they got closer, they saw Mary, her face aghast with fright.
When she realized who they were, she ran over to Harry and jumped into his arms.
"Mit-mit-mitchell!" she cried out, her eyes wide.
"What happened?" Draco asked. "What happened to Mitchell?"
She just pointed towards the trees, adding nothing to her description. The wedding party was closer now, and when Ron saw Mary's distress, he told the party to stand back and grabbed a small group of Aurors to go with him. Hermione took Mary, wrapping a sweater around the shivering woman.
Harry and Draco followed the Aurors, their wands still ready. The area was dark, covered with the shade of vast trees. Using the light from his wand, Harry tried to find what Mary had seen. His light finally hit upon a lone figure whose right hand was aloft with a wand. It was only when he lowered his wand that Harry saw the motionless body on the ground. It was Jenkins.
"Mitchell?" he said with trepidation.
The standing figure turned suddenly, a stunned look on his features. He stumbled backwards, moving his wand from his current hand to the other and raising one of his arms to block the light of all the wands. "He attacked me," he cried out. "This guy just came out of nowhere and attacked me."
"Put down your wand, Mitchell," commanded one of the Aurors.
"He just attacked me!" Mitchell repeated again.
One of the Aurors disarmed him, his wand flying in an arc towards the group. The Auror performed Priori Incantatem, a flash of green erupting from the tip. Even Mitchell could tell that this wasn't good for him, staring uncertainly at his colleagues.
The case against him became worse when Mary related what she'd seen to Hermione. She'd been waiting in the trees for a rendezvous she'd planned with one of the guests, but she had heard voices arguing. She recognized one of them as Mitchell, but the other was unfamiliar. The only reason it stood out to her was because he kept referring to Mitchell as "S." The unknown man said he'd figured it out, that Mitchell was the only one who could be S because only a Head Auror could do what he'd done. He had accused Mitchell, or S, of killing Graham Davis and William Parker. He threatened to expose Mitchell, to show everyone what he was really up to. And that was when the curses had started. They had fought for only a few seconds before Mitchell shot the Killing Curse and Jenkins fell in a crumpled heap. That was when Mary screamed.
Mitchell stayed quiet as a group of Aurors went off with him. The wedding party was now in a large crowd outside the crime scene. Harry ignored them, trying to mull over what he had just seen. He remembered something small that he'd seen only a few minutes before, something he had only just understood. Leaving the crowd, Harry turned and moved silently, walking back towards the wedding tents. They were completely deserted except for Mary, who was sitting hunched in a chair. She still had a sweater wrapped around her.
"Hey," she said, smiling slightly through a weary look. "Is everything okay? Did they get him?"
"Yeah," Harry answered. "It looks like they got S."
"I can't believe he did it though." She shook her head in disbelief, her large, blue eyes wet with unshed tears. She rubbed her shoulders for warmth, and her voice cracked as she kept talking. "I mean, he just seemed so normal, right? How does someone like that just go and kill people?"
"You never know with people. They can surprise you."
"I guess you're right."
"You know what I find most surprising though?" he began to ask her. "You're his secretary. You know everything about him, right?"
"Obviously, I didn't," she said with regret.
"Did you know that Mitchell is left-handed?"
She looked at him total confusion. "What?"
"Yeah, I remember during training, we switched his ink to a version that wasn't non-smear. He had black all down the side of hand that day. I'm surprised you didn't know that."
"It's not something I had to keep track of."
"No, I suppose not." Harry nodded. "It's just weird though because if I were trying to frame someone for murder by using his wand to cast a Killing Curse, I would make sure to put the wand back in his actual wand-hand. It's a bit suspicious when he's found with the wand in the wrong hand and has to switch it. But I guess you're lucky that he was too shocked to understand what was happening. And no one else seemed to notice it."
Mary surveyed him carefully, her eyes raking up and down as if calculating her next move. The effect of his words slowly began to take effect, and the excitable secretary he'd been talking to morphed into something different. Her body straightened and she crossed her legs; her eyes turned from warm innocence to something much icier. Her lips cocked into a congratulatory smirk. "You'd think an Auror would be less easy to Confund," she said. Even her voice had changed from the high-pitched sweetness to something lower and silkier. "But I guess Mitchell's never been a particularly capable Auror to begin with. It's been good for business, you know, having him in charge instead of you."
"I suppose that I am currently having the honour of talking to the actual S?"
"My name is Selena. Selena Armstrong." Selena extended her arm, but Harry refused to shake it. "Oh, come on, I won't bite," she added, shaking her arm towards him. Harry still refused.
"So this is who you actually are?" he asked. ÒAll the Polyjuice Potions you take to meet with people and hide your identity - and you're really just a secretary?"
"No, I'm really a successful black market dealer. Secretary is just a thing I do to improve business. You should see all the things I get to do just by saying that Mitchell needs it done. I can get the Portkey register and hide it in my boss' desk; fill out requests to remove confiscated items from the records without question; change the records myself - and all because I have a boss who is too lazy to do these things on his own."
"So most everything you told us was a lie to get to tonight? So that you could take care of Jenkins and successfully pass all three murders off onto Mitchell?"
"It was just so easy that I had to do it," she explained, leaning back and crossing her legs. Looking at her now, Harry could hardly believe that Selena had ever been Mary Flint. The transformation was astounding, manifesting in the slightest of details. "Jenkins is so easy to Imperius. Getting him to storm down and rain down accusations on Mitchell was easy. Getting Mitchell out there was easy. Confunding Mitchell half-way through their little fight was easy. Taking his wand and killing Mitchell was easy. All of it was just so easy. You were easy, Draco was easy, everyone is just so easy - especially when you're a sweet little girl like Mary Flint." She smiled with a glint of cruel satisfaction.
"You seem awfully relaxed for a woman confessing her crimes."
"I know I can't Apparate right now. The Ministry has this place on lockdown, and there's no way I'm going anywhere. But you're the only person who has seen through silly little Mary Flint, and even if you are everyone's hero, I doubt any accusation you levy my way will be able to overcome the plight of sweet, young Mary. You'd be surprised by what a few tears can do to sway people's opinion my way."
"You think your tears will be that powerful when everyone's picking at the holes in the Mitchell-as-S theory?"
"I admit that I'm a bit offended that you thought Mitchell was capable of anything that I've done. But yes, I'd bet on people picking my tears over the boy who lived. Your heroism is old and stale, and an innocent girl who gives someone else the chance to be the hero can be so much more persuasive." Then with a swift movement, she pulled out her wand and surprised Harry with flash of purple that hit his shoulder. He barely avoided it, though it managed to tinge a small strip of his jacket. Selena shot spell after spell at him, barely giving him time to respond. He managed to duck and weave his way through the hexes and finally land one on her. A small fire burned at the corner of her dress, and she stared at it with rage growing in her eyes. She raised her arm to shoot another curse, and Harry was just getting read to put up a Shield Charm when -
Selena's wand flew across the room, landing squarely in Draco's hand. She crashed in a heap under a table, suddenly losing the dignity associated with an international criminal. "That's a handy spell," Draco said to Harry as he looked between the dishevelled figures. "I can see why you like it so much."
"Well, boys," George said later, clapping them both on the shoulder as they watched Aurors lead a bound Selena away from the tent. "I think this has been the best wedding yet." In the background, Mrs. Weasley was sobbing to one of her friends about how she just wanted one wedding that didn't end with Death Eaters or smugglers.
"Yeah," Harry said, running through a list of all that had passed through the eventful night. There was so much to do, so much to write. But first, he needed to go home and shag Draco properly. "I guess it has been the best."
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, HE'S TAKEN
I know, I know. The thought of a Harry Potter who flosses his teeth and doesn't shag strangers in bathrooms is almost too tragic to think of, but I promise you all, it is for the best. I hope you've all read his recent adventures taking down the biggest smuggling ring in Europe by now. If you haven't, I hope it's because
The Quibblerhas been sold out. Frankly, I think it's about time. Let's admit it, we were all getting a bit bored of hearing the rave reviews. No matter how accurate, it makes for such dull reading. But maybe this is the return to form we all need out of our little hero. Besides, there are other poor, unfortunate stars who just want their time in the limelight, and I do try to help the less fortunate.
I'm sure you're all wondering who the mystery man is. Well, I'll never tell, but sources close to Potter say that he's handsome, intelligent, and in possession of the most remarkable collection of suits. But surely, that could be anyone?