I committed art instead of fic for this year's H/D Holidays, but I did manage to crank out this little one-shot for annafugazzi after the fact. It's just short and sweet. :D
"…and the severity of the crimes, of course, must dictate the harshness of the punishment. Allowing murderers to escape with a mere slap on the hand because of their ability to donate funds to certain organisations is unconscionable!"
"Present company included."
Harry barely heard the words, both vitriolic and dry, exchanged over the dark wood of the conference table. His attention was focussed on the features of the man across from him, gauging every nuance of expression. Firm lips barely twisted as the latter words were spoken, scarcely a crack in the near-marble façade, and nothing like the sneer that used to decorate them regularly. Despite that, a chasm of emotion lay beneath that crack.
"Yes, present company included!" The blustering voice issued forth from Harry's left. Counsellor Ignatius Gasconade, Esquire, had been quite vocal about his hatred for anyone who had been on Voldemort's "side" during the war, no matter how nebulous, and there was nothing vague about those who bore the Dark Mark. Gasconade believed in extermination for those who had been so marked. "You are here and not in Azkaban only because of the immensity of your Gringotts' coffers, Malfoy!"
"Lucky me," Malfoy murmured.
"Lucky you, indeed," Gasconade spat. "You and your family should have been put down like the rabid dogs you are!" He was a beefy, angry-faced man who reminded Harry uncomfortably of Vernon Dursley.
"Counsellor, that is enough," Kingsley said quietly, but in a tone that brooked no argument.
Malfoy said nothing, and his pale hands sorted the papers in front of him with calm, unaffected movements, but Harry noticed the tense set of his jaw and the ice-cold fire burning in his grey eyes, in contrast to the false-smile that curved his lips.
If Harry tried hard enough, he thought he might be able to feel the surge and crackle of Malfoy's magic as it tangled and twirled around him, eager to reach out and rend the Counsellor with the flick of a wand and the whisper of a spell. Malfoy probably had three or four of those spells turning over in his mind.
Harry's attention returned to Malfoy's hands. The nails were short and perfectly manicured; his fingertips could dig into skin and claw over sweat-slicked muscles without leaving a mark. Harry swallowed and would have shifted in his seat except that he knew it would draw attention. Malfoy missed nothing these days.
"Bought his way into his job," Gasconade muttered and shuffled his own files loudly. Gasconade was the prosecutor on a medium-profile case and Malfoy was the attorney for the defence. Harry was simply there as the Auror-in-Charge, and possibly as a witness in case Gasconade snapped.
Harry spoke up. "Nothing is black and white, Counsellor Gasconade." He had no desire to treat the man gently. Gasconade's hard-line stance on the treatment of those involved in the war was part of what necessitated such meetings. New laws needed to be passed and old ones studied and revamped. The wizarding world had to be brought into modern times and taught that not every problem could be solved with Avada Kedavra. "Issuing death sentences was Voldemort's way. We did not fight a war to subscribe to his methods. Our desire is to walk a more merciful path."
Harry dared not look at Malfoy when he spoke; he wasn't sure whether he would find approval or sardonic amusement hidden in the subtle nuances of Malfoy's expression.
Gasconade winced at Voldemort's name, but shook it off and ploughed forwards with his agenda. "It is not merciful to harbour killers in our midst!"
"Solicitor Malfoy is no killer," Harry growled.
"You don't know that."
"Yes, I do know that. I know it for a fact, Gasconade, and if you start assuming everyone that ever followed Voldemort is a killer then you had better prepare yourself for a few surprises. Are you ready to sacrifice your own loved ones to your stubborn idealism?"
"Harry," Kingsley warned.
"What are you talking about?"
Harry sat back in his chair; he'd nearly risen out of it in his sudden burst of anger. He risked a glance at Malfoy, whose eyes seemed to burn into his for just a moment before Malfoy looked down at his papers and lifted one as though studying it.
"What is he talking about, Minister?" Gasconade demanded.
"Step into my office, Ignatius. We need to talk. Privately." Kingsley got to his feet and Counsellor Gasconade shoved his files into a leather knapsack. He muttered to himself, but he had paled at Kingsley's words.
The Minister spoke again. "Auror Potter, Solicitor Malfoy, we will convene again tomorrow. Thank you for your time."
Without looking at either of them, Gasconade stormed out after Kingsley. The door slammed behind him with finality.
Harry looked at Malfoy, who had been calmly packing his assorted files into a black leather attaché case. It looked almost Muggle in design and Harry wondered if it was intentional. Malfoy seldom did anything these days without a purpose.
Harry remained where he was, watching Malfoy's fingers flex. The persistent ache that had developed in Harry's midsection tightened into near-physical pain.
"I assume you found out about Gasconade's nephew?" Malfoy asked calmly.
Malfoy nodded and fastened the buckles with deft movements. A wisp of his hair slipped down over one eye and he pushed it away with an impatient gesture. His lashes looked impossibly long in profile. Harry wet his lips.
Fuck, he thought. Aloud he said, "You never brought it up."
"Why would I? It has no bearing on my case." Malfoy shrugged. "Besides, he would only accuse me of lying. Coming from Shacklebolt, at least he might believe the news." Malfoy snorted. "Not that it will matter. Men like Gasconade seldom change. He will likely become even angrier and ostracise his nephew. It's the way of the world."
"It's not the way of my world," Harry said.
Before Harry could comprehend his actions, Malfoy was halfway across the table and hauling Harry up out of his chair by the lapels of his Auror robes. Harry's breath hitched as he caught a glimpse of intense grey eyes, and then his lips were claimed by a bruising kiss.
Harry relaxed into it, feeling the knot in his stomach loosen and turn into warm threads of something far pleasanter than his earlier anxiety.
Malfoy stopped kissing him and then moved back a bit to look into Harry's eyes. A soft smile twisted his wet lips. "If you had any idea how you look…"
"How do I look?" Harry whispered.
"You look like you want to crawl over this table and devour me and you've looked like that since I walked in here. You have no concept of subtlety. They would have to be blind or stupid not to have noticed."
"Lucky Gasconade is stupid?"
"Shacklebolt isn't. Gasconade, either, although he is blind."
Harry made a noncommittal sound and levered himself onto the table to wrap his arms around Malfoy. He pulled Malfoy into the V of his thighs. "I don't care," he said and realised it was true. He had come to terms with the fact that he needed Malfoy like air, and that the silly thing between them had grown to encompass every waking moment of Harry's day. Either he was with Malfoy or he was thinking about him. There was no longer a measure of time without Malfoy—Draco—in it.
Draco sighed and relaxed into Harry's embrace. Harry allowed himself to do what he'd been itching to all day—touch. His hands sought the curves and hollows and edges that made up Draco, lamenting the stiff robes and fine linen cloth between them. No matter how many times he touched and gripped and grasped, he still wanted more. Harry might have suspected a spell was at work if not for the fact that the need had grown so gradually that it would have been a more complex spell than any he'd witnessed before.
He bit gently on Draco's neck, which tipped away to give him better access even as another sigh ghosted over his jaw. "You must care. You know this can't last. We have to stop." To Harry's delight, the words were only words; there was no force behind them.
"You'll have better luck stopping the tide," Harry replied, "or maybe the sun from shining." He settled in to bite and nip more firmly whilst his hands steadied Draco's hips. The table creaked under their weight.
A chuckle greeted his impulsive words. "If I didn't know better, Auror Potter, I would think you've fallen for me."
"Fallen," Harry agreed, "with no intention of getting up again."
Draco pulled him even closer with a needy sound, until Harry was half-straddling him. They tangled on the table top and two pairs of hands fought for purchase on one another.
"Don't care," Harry repeated. "I don't care about anything but this, but you, but us."
"Easy words to say when my hand is right here," Draco said in a sly tone and Harry groaned aloud when Draco cupped him. His hips rocked of their own volition as his cock sought more pressure, knowing well the bliss to be found in those fingers.
"Then ask me again in an hour, or six hours, or tomorrow. The answer will be the same. Draco, I—"
The door swung open and Harry's head snapped up. They both stared.
"I must have dropped my favourite quill," Kingsley said. "Accio quill!" A black and green feather sailed past them and into Kingsley's hand. He turned and made as if to leave, but then paused and looked over his shoulder. "Locking Spells are useful items, Auror Potter, and Ministry premises are not to be used for such intimate… interdepartmental collaboration. Please compare notes with Solicitor Malfoy at a more private location, if you don't mind."
The door closed and Harry remained curled around Draco for a moment longer. Neither of them moved and then Draco let out a huff of breath and said, "Well, that was awkward."
"At least we were dressed?"
A startled laugh issued from Draco, a sound Harry seldom heard and desperately wanted to experience more often. "Yes, that would have been more awkward."
"And yet he didn't seem surprised."
"I told you your cow eyes are evident to anyone with a brain."
"I can't help it," Harry said. His hands moved again, but Draco scrambled out of his grasp and slipped off of the table.
"Back off, Auror Potter. The Minister himself ordered us to vacate the premises."
Harry followed him, feeling like a predator tracking his prey as Draco snatched up his attaché and backed away. His grey eyes held both a warning and a promise.
"Actually, he told us to move to a more private location. I'm suggesting my bedchamber."
"That would be more private," Draco agreed, holding the attaché between them as Harry pounced. Draco ducked his head and fended him off with a laugh. "Stop it, you. Let me drop this back at my office and I'll meet you in your chambers in… ten minutes? I'll clear my afternoon calendar."
Harry released him at the prospect of an entire afternoon spent in bed. "Ten minutes."
Draco nodded and walked to the door. He paused before tugging the latch. "Harry…"
"I fell, too."
Draco's grin met Harry's startled and most-likely-ridiculously-goofy smile and then the door shut behind him.
"Interdepartmental collaboration," Harry whispered through a warm, bubbling sensation in his chest he thought might never fade, "best thing ever."
He gathered his things and hurried out.