Title: Duelists, Burning Bright

Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.

Pairing: Harry/Draco

Warnings: Violence

Wordcount: 7900

Rating: R

Summary: The Aurors decide that their newest trainees need extra practice in formal dueling, and open the process up to any interested wizard who can give the trainees a good match. Enter Draco Malfoy.

Author's Notes: Written for a request by nmaetha, who asked for Harry and Draco at a dueling competition, showing off their competitive streaks.

Duelists, Burning Bright

"The second duel will be between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy."

Harry blinked, but the next minute, he lifted his head and walked towards the stage the Aurors had set up for dueling as though he'd expected the summons. He reckoned that part of him had. Of course it was going to come down to him and Malfoy. Maybe it was even fair, a continuation of their interrupted duel from second year.

The hall the Aurors had chosen for this competition was packed with trainees and instructors and other interested Aurors, not to mention the general wizarding public and the people who wanted the Galleons and the five minutes of fame they'd get for dueling an Auror trainee. Chatter pressed on his ears, and everyone was gently sweating together.

So far, an experienced dueling instructor had taken down one of Harry's fellow trainees embarrassingly fast. Harry had assumed the same thing would happen to him. He was good at defensive magic, but that wasn't the same thing as intensively blocking a single opponent's curses for several minutes.

No. Instead it was Malfoy, who Harry thought was more likely to have been attracted by the possible attention than the possible money.

Harry caught a glimpse of Rita Skeeter from the corner of his eye, leaning forwards and patting at her hair to make sure it stayed in place. He turned his head to the side and kept his eyes on the stage, which had three sets of stairs mounting up to it, one from either side for the duelists and one from the back for the Auror who would judge the fight. The Auror who had taken her place up there was Margaret Golding, whom Harry trusted to be fair.

He didn't see Malfoy until he arrived at the bottom of his own set of stairs and turned to look for him. Malfoy was already mounting his steps, his head bowed as though he was thinking about which spell to cast.

He looked up when Harry stared to climb, and his eyes held Harry's, and he smiled.

Harry paused. There was nothing of malice in that smile, the way he had been sure there would be. Malfoy's hands worked restlessly over his wand, but even that didn't look threatening. Malfoy was leaning forwards, but Harry didn't feel like stalked prey.

He felt instead like stalked—desired—competition.

Harry finished his climb, aware that Golding had turned to look at him, and that anyone else watching from the crowd wouldn't understand it if he hesitated now. They couldn't read the future in Malfoy's eyes the way Harry could.

No, this wasn't a continuation of their duel from second year. Malfoy didn't look the way he had then, smirking and strutting and eager to see Harry get in trouble with Snape.

He looked as though he had prepared for hours and wanted someone to take out his study on. Since Harry's hand still ached from turning pages, and his eyes from staring at list after list of spells, he understood the impulse.

He smiled at Malfoy as he finally reached the stage, and as the wards that would prevent their curses and hexes from flying into the crowd snapped up around them. Transparent, of course, so that the audience could watch. Harry placed his hand across his heart and bowed to Malfoy, before Golding could even ask him to.

Malfoy bowed back, his movement smooth and eager, and he straightened up, staring at Harry. He mouthed something, which Harry opted to try and figure out instead of listening to Golding as she explained the rules, rules Harry already understood perfectly well.

You are the only one worthy of me, Malfoy was mouthing.

Well, isn't that interesting? Harry didn't think he had time to mouth it back before the duel started, but he did smile, and Malfoy's eyes widened a little before he straightened up and held out his wand.

"You will walk to the opposite sides of the stage," Golding was saying. "You will turn around and wait for my signal to cast. The duel will be until first blood." She looked back and forth between them sternly, as though she had just now remembered their famous rivalry. "First blood only, and then you will cease."

Malfoy's eyes got bigger, wider, more innocent. Harry bit his lips to conceal his laughter and did an earnest nod that usually fooled his instructors into thinking he was paying attention.

"Good," Golding said, and clapped her hands. "You will begin walking now."

They're trying to make it as fair as they can, Harry thought as he turned his back on Malfoy—which felt dangerous—and stalked for the far end of the stage. But if they wanted to make it fair, then they should have made sure that everyone was equally matched in strength and skill, and that's not possible, not when they don't know the dueling skill of everyone involved. The last duel was unfair.

This one won't be.

He felt the sharp prickles up his spine, like fingers touching there, as he turned around and saw Malfoy waiting for Golding's signal with his wand out. He and Malfoy would show them the way a duel should be fought, but he would also do his level best to win, and from the way Malfoy was smiling, he would do the same thing.

Harry suspected he would see concern on his friends' faces if he looked at the crowd right now. They would think he and Malfoy dangerous because they hated each other. Harry didn't know how to explain to them that right now, it wasn't about hate, it wasn't about anything but the competition.

He was so focused on Malfoy, on the way his eyes blinked and his lips parted, that he nearly missed the clapped signal Golding gave. But he saw Malfoy's wand rising, and he reacted to that instantly, spinning to the side. Malfoy's spell surged past him and splashed into the wards.

Harry was disappointed when he recognized the color as a Stunner. Malfoy was trying to take him out that way, put an end to the contest so soon? Well, Harry would just have to let him know how disappointed he was.

His own wand was in his hand as he completed his spin, and he shouted out, "Mente cassa!"

It started to take effect; he saw the way Malfoy's jaw sagged, the way his eyes began to glaze and go blank. But with a grunt of effort, Malfoy bowed his head and fought it off, and snapped back at Harry, "Confringo!"

Out of the way, Harry's legs had taken him there before he even registered the effect, and the wards snapped and shuddered under Malfoy's spell instead of Harry's bones doing it. Harry nodded to him and countered with a Blasting Curse, which Malfoy blocked with a Shield Charm. Then came the Fire Snare, long strands of flames rising up out of the stage like a Devil's Snare, but Harry dissipated that with the Sunlight Hex.

After that, they closed in on each other, and the spells came so fast that Harry couldn't always keep track of them. At one point Malfoy tried to control his mind, and at another point h tried to make Harry dance until he broke a foot, and always, always he was aiming to draw blood.

Meanwhile, Harry wrenched Malfoy's arm, and tried to make his shirt wrap around his throat and choke him, and tried to turn the stage slick enough beneath his feet that he would fall. His Auror lessons sang in his head. Everything is a weapon. The ground where they stand. The clothing they wear. Their wands.

Their wands.

Harry stared over to the side as though he was going to summon something, and Malfoy turned in that direction—only slightly, because he knew better, but there was no way he could afford to neglect that obvious a signal in the middle of a fight with an opponent like Harry. And then Harry struck with a curse he had learned that was specific to hawthorn. The book he had learned it from had discussed how many old estates were planted with hawthorn trees and this was a way to make them turn against their owners, but it should work with a wand made of hawthorn, too.

"Dumetum capio," he whispered, and flicked his own wand up and down, focusing on thinking how Malfoy's wand's wood had come from hawthorn somewhere, so it should work, they were alike—

Malfoy yelped as his wand turned back to face him like a snake, and seemed about to spit flame. Harry realized that he himself was pausing with one foot in the air, his breathless air like a little kid's. He put his foot down, but he still couldn't take his eyes from Malfoy's bewildered, stunned face.

He wanted to see Malfoy look like that again. He wanted to see him look like that all the time.

Then Malfoy grabbed his wand in both hands and wrenched it down. Harry thought for a stunned moment that he was actually going to break it, but he shook it instead, and Harry felt the core trembling, vibrating, even from that distance, as Malfoy broke the connection that the spell had established between his wand and Harry.

Then Malfoy turned fully to face Harry, and his eyes were half-lidded and he moved slowly forwards, step by step, feet skidding on the slick stage.

Harry laughed aloud, which made Golding start, and then Harry whipped into action before Malfoy could, conjuring two gigantic snakes with red and gold scales. Slow stalking was all very artistic, but it didn't get the duel finished.

"Capture him," he told the snakes in Parseltongue, ignoring the way that half the crowd flinched at the sound of the snake language. The important people wouldn't flinch. Even Malfoy wouldn't flinch, which was more important to Harry than he would have thought it could be at one point. "Take his wand from him. Hold him gently."

The snakes flowed away from him, towards Malfoy, who had his wand still lifted like he was about to launch some impressive curse and—

Who was gazing at Harry as though he had suddenly realized that Harry was one of his important people.

But he leveled his wand at the nearest snake and cast an elegant Vanishing spell, which just meant his attention was distracted from the nest of snakes that Harry opened up beneath his feet a moment later. Malfoy slipped and fell, and Harry opened his mouth to call out, because he knew he had seen one of Malfoy's trouser legs tear and blood start to flow.

But then Malfoy wrenched himself to the side, and recovered his balance, and there was no blood. He Vanished the other snake on the stage and closed the pit as the ones beneath him started to crawl out. From his prone position, he looked at Harry.

There was so much in his gaze. He lifted his wand and dropped it, and Harry looked up in time to see the empty cage hurtling down towards him.

Harry tried to twist out from underneath it, and found that the cage apparently came with an invisible version of itself that prevented him from moving beneath it.

Well, then.

Harry held up his wand towards the cage and unleashed a burst of pure power, not trying to tame it with incantations or wand movements, and the cage flew apart in shivers of steel. Harry leaped up and over the invisible version, and came down, sprinting straight towards Malfoy.

Malfoy hesitated for the merest moment, as though he hadn't expected that, and didn't know how to react to it. Then he turned smoothly to one side, and whispered an incantation that Harry didn't recognize, and might not have been able to hear anyway, under the relentless pounding of blood in his ears.

Harry saw the cord flash into being across the stage a mere moment before he hit it. His feet flew out from under him, and he crashed into the floor. He felt his nose break, and for a few seconds the pain was so stunning that he couldn't breathe. He lay there and panted.

Malfoy didn't attack. Harry rolled over and saw Malfoy bowing to him, while behind him Golding inclined her head like a judge.

"Mr. Malfoy drew first blood," she murmured. "He is the winner of the duel."

Harry reached up and felt at his nose. Yes, it was bloody. He hadn't noticed that one way or another until then. The pain from the break was receding, and he knew very well that he could have gone on fighting. The adrenaline in his blood almost demanded that he do so.

But the duel was finished. He had to obey the rules, because of the way this dueling competition had been set up, and he knew he was unlikely to receive support from anyone except Ron if he attacked Malfoy now.

So Harry stood up, and bowed, more deeply than Malfoy had, the way a loser of a duel bowed to a winner. But he caught Malfoy's eye as he did, and straightened back up mouthing, The Leaky Cauldron. Tonight.

Malfoy's eyes burned like candles seen in a window far away. Harry turned around with a faint smile and walked out of the room, off the stage, back into a maelstrom of snickers and complaints and back-poundings and jeers. There were plenty of people who were angry that he had lost the duel, either because he was Harry Potter and shouldn't lose, or on his behalf.

Harry couldn't be angry, though. Not with the fire he had seen in Malfoy's eyes, and not with the fire that he thought he could encourage to burn there.

Tonight. The Leaky Cauldron.

The words carried him through all the nonsense of the afternoon, his friends planning vengeance on Malfoy that Harry didn't need and plotting out and explaining all the moments and movements of the duel to each other. That, Harry didn't need because he could still feel them aching in his muscles and moving in his blood.

Harry waited in the Leaky Cauldron under glamours, slouching under a heavy cloak as well, and sipped at a mug of Firewhisky that he had Transfigured into water the minute it touched his hand. He wanted to be sure no one threw him out for taking up a table and not drinking enough, but on the other hand, he was fucked in more than one way if he faced Malfoy drunk. And it might be hours before Malfoy showed up. If he did.

But no, he would. Harry knew that the way he knew the duel he'd fought today had contained some of the best moments, and the best spellcasting, of his life.

He wanted more.

The door of the pub finally opened to let Malfoy in. He paused and studied the surroundings as though he figured Harry might have tried to plan an ambush here. Harry ended up smiling into his mug rather than snorting into it, though. He didn't think Malfoy had credited him with enough intelligence to plan an ambush, before today. That might mean Malfoy would give him credit for other things, too, and agree to duel him again.

It didn't take long for Malfoy to orient on him and walk over to his table. He looked down, and said nothing. Harry sipped more Transfigured Firewhisky. He didn't mind the fact that it tasted only of water. There was enough of a spark in his mouth and a sharp taste on his tongue from building adrenaline to compensate for that.

Malfoy finally took a step back and gave him a heart-stopping smile. "Stay here for a minute," he said, in a voice that Harry could only compare to the voice he'd used to talk to the other Slytherins, the one time Harry spied on him in the compartment on the train in sixth year. But it was softer.

Malfoy practically swayed up to Tom to ask for his own mug of Firewhisky, and Harry saw other eyes turn towards them, saw the judgment in their faces. They probably thought he and Malfoy were meeting to have sex or something.

Harry's face flamed for one moment, and then he shrugged and grinned with an enormous sense of freedom. Well, so what? It was better than having them believe the truth, which would probably lead to someone rushing in between them to prevent the precious "Savior" from having to duel again with a former Death Eater.

Malfoy came back with his drink, and sat down on the other side of the table from Harry, then leaned in so he could see beneath the cloak. "You want more," he said, voice low and intimate, and yeah, it would definitely sound like a sex voice to anyone else. That didn't matter. Harry shivered and responded.

"Yeah, I do. And the main problem is making sure that someone doesn't interrupt us."

Malfoy paused and gave him a single, bright-eyed glance. "Really? I thought you would say that the problem is to keep ourselves from killing each other."

Harry laughed, and the other people watching turned away hastily, as though someone having fun while planning a sordid liaison was simply beyond the pale. "No," Harry said, shaking his head. "You're not going to kill me, or use Dark curses that would permanently incapacitate me. For one thing, you would be the prime suspect after today. But for another—" He paused, and let the moment draw out.

"Yes?" Malfoy's head was half-bowed, his eyes as keen as Snape's waiting for Harry to give the wrong answer.

"That way," Harry said, "you wouldn't get to duel me anymore."

Malfoy smiled and leaned towards him. "Right," he breathed. "You have no idea how much I want to see you across from me again."

Harry shivered as the hairs on his arms rose. It felt as though Malfoy had just trailed a finger over his skin, delicate and seeking. He nodded. "Good. As long as we understand each other…do you have a place that we can duel in mind?"

Malfoy considered for a while as he sipped his Firewhisky. Harry bit his tongue on the impulse to say that he shouldn't do that, because then he'd be useless to Harry when the duel began. Malfoy wanted this as much as he did. He wouldn't drink enough to make his vision blurred or his aim off.

That I would ever be thinking things like this about Draco Malfoy.

Harry dismissed that particular thought as soon as he'd had it, though. A lot of things had changed since he came into the Auror program. Learning spells under the supervision of Aurors and dueling was different from hunting the Dark Lord or suffering under incompetent Defense professors. Harry had had to grow up and change some of the ways he thought.

The Auror program had become a bit routine, though. Nothing like the pounding excitement that had filled Harry when he dueled Malfoy. He knew he couldn't count on that all the time, and doubtless Malfoy would do something to deprive him of it eventually, when they irritated each other past the point of endurance. But why not enjoy it while they had it?

Malfoy looked up and caught his eye. He chuckled. Harry raised his eyebrows, but didn't see the point of saying anything.

"You've grown a rational brain," Malfoy said, extending two fingers to point at him. "I might enjoy dueling you for more than one evening after all."

Harry laughed. "I don't have time to waste on things that I don't enjoy. If you don't entertain me, then I'll leave you behind just as fast."

Malfoy hummed, but not in a disagreeable way. "And that's what you're counting on me to do? Entertain you?"

Harry met his eyes, and licked his lips. Malfoy had that look in his eyes that promised violence, and something else, something that had come along with their duel, but which Harry didn't think he could name as anything other than survival. Which was stupid.

But if it worked, why was it stupid? And he and Malfoy both wanted this, and together, they had the ability to make it work.

"No," Harry said, aware that his voice had grown husky. Malfoy set down his drink and stared at him. "I want you to challenge me, duel me, make me work for it. Everyone I fight among the Aurors is either boring or they're so far above me that it's not fun and there's no way I can match them. You're my equal."

Malfoy shut his eyes. "Do you want to know what I would have given, once, for you to say those words?" he whispered.

"No." Harry tossed some Galleons on the table and stood. "What I want you to do is lead me to a private place where we won't be disturbed when we hex the piss out of each other."

Malfoy opened his eyes and gave a quick, panting little laugh. "If you knew what I could say to that, and why…" he muttered. But he stood and turned towards the door, placing some money of his own. Harry followed him, knowing that eyes followed him in turn and that more than one person in the pub was wondering who he was and why he was going anywhere with someone as notorious as Malfoy.

Harry straightened his shoulders and rolled his hips. It occurred to him that, for the first time, he liked that feeling. Yes, they should watch him. Yes, they should wonder. Yes, they should envy the fellowship he and Malfoy were creating, and hate that they were left outside of it.

Malfoy paused with the door open on his palm and glanced over his shoulder, and his eyes flashed hot and dark.

Harry stepped up close to him, feeling his warmth beating and beaming through cloak and robes for a second, before Malfoy nodded and moved on, through the door and into the night, Harry only a step behind him.

"We're not going to do anything as stupid as only first blood," Malfoy said, spinning his wand through his fingers. "But we need some rules, Potter."

Harry nodded, keeping his gaze on Malfoy while using his feet to feel out the surface of the meadow where Malfoy had brought them, just as his instructors had tried to drill into him again and again. Of course, Harry assumed they hadn't thought he would be dueling with Malfoy in the back of some property his family owned behind their extensive gardens. But that didn't matter. Evaluate the ground was the first rule.

So far, Harry liked it. It was wide open for the most part, but with a few bushes and trees here and there he could use as cover. And the grass was soft and easily parted from the earth when Harry tested it. That meant he could fling it and the dirt as distractions if he needed to, or even make them rise up in a whirlwind and attack Malfoy.

"I think it would be reasonable," Malfoy said slowly, "to exclude spells that are only meant to cause pain, like the Cruciatus. And the rest of the Unforgivables, of course."

Harry contented himself with a bright, lazy smile. "I can resist the Imperius, anyway. It wouldn't be fair to only leave you with one Unforgivable that you stood a chance of landing a blow with."

Malfoy paused, then said, "You would use the Unforgivables?"

Harry stepped towards him, and then had to restrain himself. It wasn't even that Malfoy's words had made him upset; they just made him flush, and the sweat rush to the surface of his skin, and his hands clench as though he wanted a wand between his fingers. But what he wanted was less definable than that, and so he had to shake his head and content himself with words.

"Pay attention, Malfoy," he said. "Didn't you see all the newspaper articles after the war, calling for my arrest because of the Unforgivables I used? I used Imperius on Death Eaters, and Cruciatus on Carrow when he spat at McGonagall. The only one I didn't have the chance to use was the Killing Curse."

Malfoy watched him with bright, present eyes. Then he inclined his head. "I apologize. I was treating you like an equal and someone who could be trusted with curses, and then I wasn't. I retract the incredulity."

Harry nodded and stepped back again. He reminded himself again that they were here for a duel, and that was what they should be discussing, not the war. If they talked about the past, any aspect of the past, then he thought things would fall apart.

And he didn't want that. Malfoy could give him a challenge, he had thought back in the Leaky Cauldron, and only as he watched Malfoy pace over to a spot about a dozen meters from him, never taking his eyes off Harry, did he realize how much of one.

"No pain spells, then," Harry said. "None that are used only to cause pain, I mean," he added, because he could see Malfoy's eyebrows rising and knew what he would say. "And no Unforgivables. And I think no human Transfigurations, because neither of us has the expertise to undo one if it doesn't work the way it's supposed to."

"How do you know what I have expertise in?"

"I don't know," Harry said, which was true. He had scolded Malfoy for not following newspaper articles about him since the war, but it wasn't like he had done the same for Malfoy. "I just realized that I knew."

Malfoy watched him with slashing eyes, and then nodded. "Can you think of any other restrictions you'd like to put on us?" He was spinning his wand again, but Harry had seen people come out of faster spins with deadly spells, and didn't take his eyes off it.


"Then, to work," Malfoy said, and inclined his head to Harry in the same nod that Golding had wanted them to use before they dueled earlier.

Harry bowed his head back, the skin at the back of his neck and at his throat tingling. This was the way they should do it, he thought. For some reason, the formal trappings of dueling made sense when he was opposite Malfoy. He would battle most Dark wizards without those trappings, taking them down as quickly as he could, the way his Ministry training emphasized, but this was different and that was important.

Not really any idea why it was important, he thought. Just that it was.

He laid his hand on his wand and spun to the side as Malfoy's wand came out of its spin in turn, and the first curse tore up the ground where he'd stood. He wasn't the only one who'd thought about the potential of a natural stage instead of a wooden one. Dirt flew towards Harry's eyes, and he spotted Malfoy racing towards the side, his head turned back to catch a glimpse of Harry.

Harry shouted out, loud and joyous, and followed him, his head down and his legs pumping. His eyes weren't obscured. His heart was beating. Blood flowed through his veins and his muscles reacted exactly as they were supposed to. He had never felt so healthy in his life.

He knew Malfoy had come to a stop in front of him without knowing how he knew, and dropped to one knee, raising a Shield Charm above him instead of in front of him. It meant the neatly-aimed Blasting Curse Malfoy had cast couldn't actually break his head open. Harry leaped up, laughing and shaking his head, and caught a glimpse of Malfoy staring at him with his lips parted. Harry winked and bent down.

He was the one to start a ripple in the ground this time, racing towards Malfoy. It nearly shook him from his feet before he leaped to the side and cast a charm Harry had never heard.

A dark cloud bloomed under Malfoy's reaching hand, and became larger and steadier as Harry watched. It shook its head and turned to stare at him, and it was a black horse with a flowing red mane and tail, and hooves that looked as if they had been dipped in flame. Malfoy swung onto its back like someone who had supreme ease around horses.

It would be useless to me, even if I learned the charm, Harry thought. But he did admire Malfoy for knowing it, and longed to learn the spell anyway, because Malfoy knew it.

Malfoy charged the horse straight at Harry. Harry could see the edges to its hooves, and the fangs that gleamed around the edges of its lips as it bowed its head and its mane flapped above its eyes. It was snorting at him, and the divots torn up by its hooves were bigger than the ones Malfoy's spell had created.

Harry whipped his wand in a circle around him, and muttered a variation of the spell that Hermione had once used to send canaries after Ron. The grass around him blossomed into small white rabbits.

Small white rabbits with big teeth.

They sprang straight at Malfoy's horse, and it screamed and stamped, ignoring his commands as it tried to escape its vicious little enemies. Harry waited until Malfoy was off-balance on the horse's back, and then cast again.

This time, a simple gust of wind was all he needed to send Malfoy spilling from the horse's back to the ground. Malfoy shouted and tucked himself into a ball, landing safely away from the horse's hooves.

Then the rabbits closed in for the slaughter.

Malfoy watched them for just a second, his jaw hanging slack as though he didn't believe that Harry had really called rabbits to do this, of all the furry creatures he could have used. Then he turned his head, and his eyes locked on Harry.

Harry bowed mockingly and unveiled the non-verbal spell that Malfoy's moment of silent astonishment had won for him. The magic crackled around him, and then lightning was dancing straight at Malfoy, ready to spear him on its tines.

This time, when Malfoy rolled to the side and stood up, shifting his weight around, it was more to a purpose. A barrier flew up in front of him, one made of some sort of crackling purple energy Harry had never seen before, which simply absorbed the lightning. He tossed his hair out of his eyes and smiled at Harry from behind the safety of his shield.

Harry winked back at him and said, so softly that he would have doubted Malfoy hearing the word if not for the way that they were attuned to each other, "Coward."

It was a slight narrowing of Malfoy's eyes, but that was enough warning. Harry flung himself sideways as some enormous, invisible foot tried to slam him into the earth. He felt the ground quiver beneath him and turned to see the grass bending down. It really did look as though a giant were stepping there, unseen.

Malfoy was cursing him in a low, steady stream, and some of those curses hit and stung. Harry forced himself to ignore the slight pain. He could circle around Malfoy and attack from the side, and at the moment, he asked nothing better. He began the circle—

And promptly slipped in the pool of blood lying on the ground from Malfoy's horse, slaughtered by the teeth of the rabbits Harry had conjured.

As his feet went out from under him, he registered the look of triumph on Malfoy's face, and although it was at his expense, it was still one of the most beautiful things Harry had ever seen.

He tried to cover his face and his belly at the same time as he rolled, although he already knew he wouldn't succeed. Sure enough, something else invisible slammed him in the solar plexus and made him gasp and choke out the air he'd stored. Then a hand clapped down on him and held him still.

Harry opened his eyes and prized at the fingers, but he might as well have tried to attack the air. That was all that held him down, as far as he could see.

Malfoy strolled towards him. His face was alight, his hair stirred by slight breezes in the way that Harry imagined the hair of legendary heroes—so not him—often was. He halted right next to Harry and looked down, shaking his head slightly. He was smiling.

"So easily defeated, Potter?" he asked softly. "No more tricks up your sleeve?"

Harry thought he knew what spell this was now, one that his Auror instructors had showed him and told him how to counter. But he still wasn't good at the countercharm. It wasn't like he got lots of time to practice, with everything else he had to learn. So he would need a second to get the pronunciation right and get this force off him in the meanwhile.

He needed a distraction, and he found one by brushing his wand along the side of his mouth, then hesitating. Malfoy laughed and bent towards him. "So loathe to admit my victory?" he murmured. "I give you permission to speak, if that's what you're waiting for."

Harry hesitated again, working his tongue in his mouth. Malfoy bent even nearer, and God, the sight of his eyes, like burning marble…Harry almost hated what he was going to do.

But it was the distraction he had chosen, and the words of his Auror instructors hammered in his head. Even in a formal duel, you should do anything to win. More may be at stake than you know.

So when Malfoy bent nearer still, his head almost tilted so that his ear brushed Harry's lips, Harry spat in his face.

Malfoy reeled back, clawing at his face and spitting himself, in what sounded like helpless rage. Harry smiled once, and cast the countercharm. The touch of his wand to his mouth had made his saliva acidic and bitter, and Malfoy would have to deal with that for the few seconds it would take Harry to cast the countercharm.

He managed it, and was on his feet by the time Malfoy came after him, wand in hand. There was no quarter given in his face, the set lines like bones and the skin as pale as parchment.

Harry didn't ask for any quarter, ever, as he wheeled in a rapid circle and raised a ring of fire around himself—except for a gap at the back, which he promptly darted out of even as Malfoy shouted in fury.

Darted out of, and straight into Malfoy. With that uncanny instinct for what the other one did, he knew exactly where Harry would come out, and he wasn't about to let him escape. He drove at him, and cried a spell that conjured tiny darts of blue light that snapped and snipped at Harry from all sides.

Harry flinched as one of them burned the side of his face, and that flinch seemed to be all that Malfoy needed to rush towards him, shouting victory.

Harry flung his arms wide and shouted out the one spell he was so good at that he always kept it in reserve, because there were still people who paid attention to everything he did and he didn't want it to get out that this was his secret weapon the way Expelliarmus had once been. "Adamas!"

The darts bounced abruptly off his skin, which had turned as hard as steel. One of them came back at Malfoy, and he hissed and brought his hand up to defend his eyes, not expecting to be stung by his own magic.

Harry rushed him again.

It was free and beautiful, it was the most beautiful thing he had ever done, and it made up for having to spit into Malfoy's face. In seconds Harry had taken him down, and they were rolling and rolling on the blood-soaked grass, rolling in the mud, rolling in the tufts of fur and teeth that were left from their conjured animals.

Malfoy was trying to get a death-grip on Harry's throat. Harry had his hands on Malfoy's shirt, trying to tear it open so that the spell he knew to make someone's heartbeat irregular could work better. And all the time they were snarling when they weren't laughing.

It came to an end at last, because all beautiful things had to. Malfoy's hands clamped on his throat, he gave a sound that Harry could only compare to a musical snarl, and he said, "What—what are you going to do now, Potter?"

Harry moved his left hand a little. Malfoy's hold tightened, but it was also all he needed to notice that Harry's wand was resting above his heart.

Malfoy gaped and gasped at him, then coughed as though he was the one being choked. Harry thought he was searching for a word that expressed the duel when they both knew that was impossible, but what he finally came out with was, "Stale—stalemate."

"You call this stale?" Harry asked, and because he knew it would change something, either make them resume their contest or spill it in an entirely different and beautiful direction, he leaned forwards and clamped his lips on Malfoy's.

Malfoy started as though someone had run a wire into his heart, and Harry really thought he would reject the notion altogether for a moment. But the next instant, he had looped an arm around Harry's neck and was kissing him back.

Harry had to shift and drop his wand to deepen the kiss, and Malfoy's eyes glittered wildly when he did. Harry wondered if things were about to shift back the other way, to the duel where having a wand in his hand would be vital.

But if they were, that was only another of the things that made this contest with Malfoy glorious and exciting.

They rolled, and Malfoy's hands were on his neck again, but also his chest, his shoulders, his back. Harry managed to hook his fingers in the right place, and the next time they rolled, they also pulled Malfoy's shirt off.

Malfoy looked up at him and laughed like a fox. Then he kissed Harry again, and while Harry fingered the blood dripping from his lips, cut by Malfoy's teeth, Malfoy pulled his shirt off. Harry had to swallow and tilt his head back as the collar almost caught around his bruised throat.

Not that he would have minded if it had. That was the grand thing about this, the wild thing. Harry didn't think he would ever meet someone he could have this with again.

And he was determined to make it wild while it lasted, and not worry so much about time, or repetition, or whether it was wise.

Malfoy shivered and cursed him, not with a wand this time, as their chests pressed together. "Did you have to use that armor spell that makes your skin so cursed cold?" he snapped.

Harry blinked. He had forgotten that the Armor Charm would indeed give his skin the strength of tempered steel, but also cool it down to the point that it felt that way. "Sorry," he whispered, and found someone's wand in their desperate rolling, and used a Finite to make his flesh and bone warm up to a normal temperature again.

This time, Malfoy's shiver—and his distant, lazy smile, combined with his half-slitted eyes—meant something different, something that made Harry shiver back. And Malfoy took him and explored him over tenderly, his fingers dipping down and rubbing back and forth over one of the scars Harry had inherited from Dudley.

"I want to know where all of these come from," he whispered.

"We each know about each other's most important one," Harry said, touching his forehead and looking at the Dark Mark on Malfoy's arm. Malfoy flinched a little, but Harry pulled his arm straight when he would have hidden it and kissed the elbow above the Mark.

That seemed to be all Malfoy needed to spring on Harry as though he was a starving wolf presented with food. Harry was flat on his back in the next instant, while Malfoy dragged off his trousers and pants and cursed him, this time, for wearing anything.

"Take your own off," Harry retorted, suggested, commanded, his head twisted to the side so he could make Malfoy out past his own propped-up knees. "Then we'll see how we compare, and I can see what kind of marks I left on you."

Malfoy's legs had bruises from where some of Harry's hexes had hit him, and probably especially from falling off the horse. Harry had only a moment to admire the red color of them, and the purple mark of one on his face, before he rolled over on top of Harry, buried his face in Harry's lap, and sucked him down.

God, that was wonderful, Harry thought as he stretched his arms out and shook off the last numbing tingles of the Armor Charm. Malfoy sucked cock as brutally as he dueled, and all of Harry's arms and legs shook as Malfoy's mouth gripped him. It was hard to tell what hurt more, the sheer tightness and pressure Malfoy was using in the sucking or the way Harry's throat was beginning to ache.

But he looked down, and Malfoy's head of hair was bobbing there, and Harry could see a few torn strands and a few singed ones, and he knew which was more brilliant.

Malfoy rode the bobbing of Harry's hips, almost contemptuously, as though to show that he had ridden tougher thrusts than these and who did Harry think he was fooling, really? Harry laughed aloud, and waited for a second when Malfoy's mouth was sort of relaxed and his head was sort of back, and then thrust as deep as he could, down that almost vertical tongue, the one doing maddening things to the sides of his shaft.

Malfoy choked, and bore down so hard that he might as well have bitten. Harry's hips rose off the ground this time. He caught a glimpse of blood and mud on his hips when he looked down, but no more than that, because the next second his eyes slammed shut and he came.

Like everything else that had much to do with Malfoy lately, it was brilliant, and Harry rode the trembling, tumbling tide of his orgasm, the pleasure that drenched him like blood and passed away as quickly as blood clotting at a wound. Harry finally panted and turned his head, opening his eyes, all the while thinking it was a bit strange that Malfoy hadn't required Harry to do something for him in return.

Then he saw Malfoy on his knees, wanking slowly, eyes fixed on him, and Harry smiled. Malfoy had wanted to wait for him to return because he knew it would be best that way. Harry tilted his head back and opened his mouth.

Malfoy shuffled forwards on his knees, staring at Harry's throat, and probably the marks his own fingers had left there. Then he reached out abruptly, grabbed Harry's hips, and tried to flip him over.

Harry fought him, because that was what they did, and for long moments they sweltered and rolled and swore at each other. Then Malfoy drove a fist into his solar plexus, depriving Harry of air as effectively as his spell had, and rolled him onto his stomach.

Harry would have pushed himself back to his hands and knees immediately, but Malfoy slammed a knee into the middle of his back, and Harry could only lie there, wheezing. He hoped that Malfoy had some lube to ease the passage of his body into Harry's which worked better than blood.

But when he looked over his shoulder, he realized that Malfoy apparently didn't care about getting inside him that way. Not now, anyway. Instead, he prized Harry's cheeks apart, rested his cock just between them, released his hold on Harry's arse and took hold of his back so hard that Harry hissed, and began to rock.

Harry counted the strokes, the thrusts, the rubs or whatever they were, and then tried to heave himself out of Malfoy's grip on the third one.

Malfoy laughed, deep and vibrant, and thrust down so hard that Harry felt his hole stretch. Harry collapsed at the sensation, and Malfoy rode him, still laughing, but languid, his head rolling as if his neck was made of liquid.

Harry could only watch him by stretching his neck, and the pain warred with the pleasure, the pleasure of seeing Malfoy look like this, of conquering him even if the only way Harry could win was to let Malfoy use him. And Malfoy wasn't inside, but between.

It was like them—wild, and different, and not something Harry could have envisioned before they clashed in the duel.

Malfoy rocked forwards, and lightning flashed across the back of Harry's eyelids as he finished, coating Harry's arse, and hole, and his back by the time he was done, and by the time Harry could roll him off and pin him to the ground in turn.

Even then, Malfoy showed no fear that he might have pissed Harry off so badly Harry was going to kill him. He opened his eyes a little, sighed, and said, "If it's going to end this way, at least it's a good way to go."

"Yes, it is," Harry said, and contemplated those bright eyes for a second, that carved face, the way his arse ached, and how much pain he would be in when he got out of bed tomorrow.

Then he flopped down beside Malfoy and let his hand wander until it ran into a wand again. They really hadn't gone far away; he and Malfoy hadn't covered that much ground by the time they were voluntarily disarmed. He waved his wand lazily, and a conjured blanket dropped over them.

"I have a Manor not far away," Malfoy murmured, closing his eyes. "We could go there and be more comfortable."

"But not as happy," Harry said.

Malfoy's head snapped around to look at him, and Harry tensed a little at his open mouth, his staring eyes, the way one hand reached for Harry, and then flexed and fell still.

But Malfoy only said, "You understand," and there was a wealth of wonder and miracle in his voice.

Harry nuzzled him a little, and said, "I always did. Go to sleep."

It seemed impossible, it probably was, but it seemed they fell asleep at the same time, and Harry dreamed of them burning across the sky like comets, their wands in their hands, fighting beside each other as often as they fought each other.

Perhaps it would be so. Who knew?

The End.