Thank you again for all the reviews! This is the last chapter of Nothing Like the Sun. Thank you for reading along.
Harry stood there with his mouth feeling as though it was full of some thick soup. Preferably one that he could spit out all over Frank.
But he didn't know yet if that would be advisable, so he swallowed it back and stood there, arms folded, considering Frank. Frank, whose eyes glinted, and who nodded past Harry at the door of the interrogation room, still open. Harry raised his wand and shut it with a click, but didn't let his attention move from Frank. He didn't trust him not to attack his exposed back.
At least that means you've changed your mind about him, said a voice from the back of his thoughts that owed more than a little to Draco.
Harry arched his neck forwards and said, "I don't see what there is to discuss."
Frank leaned back on the table behind him, which was usually used by Aurors to separate them—and sometimes volatile witnesses—from the accused. His grin was wide and strange. It didn't look as though he was really enjoying this, Harry thought, watching him. Then again, he had very little idea of what Frank truly enjoyed.
"Your boyfriend cast an illegal spell on me," Frank whispered. "A spell that you might not have thought I would tell anyone about, but one I did find out about. Now what are you going to do?"
"It's not as though he used the Imperius Curse." Harry felt as though his eyes were unnaturally wide and would never blink again. He recognized it. It was the way that he usually felt when he confronted a suspect, one still armed, who would dart in any direction. He wouldn't miss a hostile move if Frank made it.
On the other hand, he also didn't want to end up Stunning Frank or doing something else that was only ethical in a time of extreme danger. He did his best to lower his wand and relax his grip on it.
"But you don't know the Ministry regulations about mind-affecting spells of any kind since the war?" It sounded as though Frank was trying to tsk, but he just ended up sucking his teeth instead. "They don't even like Legilimency. You need not only a permit but special permission for each case to practice it now."
"The spell Draco cast on you was harmless." Harry would have looked around in search of a chair he could sit down in, but he didn't want to take his eyes off Frank. And maybe it wouldn't be a good idea to give up the psychological power of standing, anyway. "Otherwise you would have been treated for it."
"What makes you think I wasn't?" Frank stretched out his arms and looked sorry for himself.
"You would have sent me a letter that tormented me about it," Harry said. "Even if you were the one who sent that letter to the Aurors last week, you would have been more specific and whinged a lot more."
Frank's mouth dropped openly slightly, and he looked as if he wanted to ask who had sent the other letter. But then he caught Harry's eye, and his casually planted hands balled into fists. "I wasn't whinging," he whispered.
"You were going to break up with me and walk out of the house without telling me anything," Harry said. Strange to think of those memories of more than a year ago in this light. He didn't really know where he got the strength. Maybe the shade of Draco, the memory of Draco, standing behind him and helping. "And when I did ask you what was wrong, and you told me, you were unnecessarily cruel. And you still want revenge. That's the action of someone who's petty and can't let go, Frank. Not the act of a greater lover who still regrets that we broke up and wants to help me heal."
"You hurt me," Frank said, and reached one hand back as though he was going to cup his arse.
Harry hid his flinch. If Frank was going to accuse Harry of raping him, that was one accusation that would still hurt him, because of Andy.
But Frank just rubbed his arse and glared at Harry. "You never knew when to stop pounding. And you were limper than a dead fish when I took you. Limper."
"Had sex with a lot of dead fish, have you?"
Frank stopped, his whole body trembling as though someone had cast a Freezing Charm on him. Harry held his breath. Were they going to get around to the main business that Frank had come to raise, which Harry imagined was blackmail, or were they just going to continue to circle around and repeat the same accusations for hours?
But Frank shook his head, his eyes wide, and murmured, "Harry. This isn't like you."
"I believe you think I'm a person who exists solely to hurt you." Harry shrugged and leaned back on the wall, splaying his legs out in front of him. "So far, I'm acting true to character."
Frank just stood there, and waited. Harry waited, too. Had Frank invited a witness into this, who he was expecting to arrive? That didn't seem like him, but once, Harry would have said that blackmail wasn't, either. Good thing his eyes had been opened.
"You don't have to do this," Frank whispered. "You don't have to be hurtful when I'm only trying to help you."
The incandescence of his own rage surprised Harry. He took a long step forwards from the wall, and although Frank didn't back up, he did reach down and let one hand linger on his own wand. Harry ignored that. He would win any physical duel.
"You're trying to help me," he whispered. "Right. By taunting me and calling my boyfriend a whore, and preparing to blackmail me. Right."
Frank shook his head, his face blank with shock, in the way that had so often fooled Harry. But right now, Harry's memory was standing him in good stead. He didn't believe Frank, and he didn't believe him so thoroughly that he didn't stand a chance of falling back into the web of delusion that Frank had always managed to spin around him.
"Malfoy's got you twisted up," Frank murmured, pity coming back into his voice as he looked at Harry. "He's got you thinking that it's the right thing to do, to respond to your past lovers with insults. I heard about the confrontation with Weasley at St. Mungo's. He wants to isolate you and make you dependent on him, and then he'll start abusing you. That's the way it always works."
Harry stared at him. He supposed this was a normal representation of Frank's argument tactics, or he wouldn't be going on about it, but honestly, why had Harry ever found him convincing? Had he spoken more suavely when he wasn't put on the spot?
Well, no. Because I put him on the spot to tell me why he was leaving when I found him moving out, and he managed to make me believe him there.
Maybe Harry just had someone who actually cared about him now, so he had no need to believe Frank's lies.
"You still haven't told me what you intend to do," he said. "Blackmail, I assume?" He laid his hand on his wand, seeing the way that Frank's eyes followed the movement and almost stood out from his head. "Well? What do you intend to do?"
The crack in his voice was as sharp as Apparition, and it made Frank jump in the same way. He took a step back, but he'd forgotten the table was there, and he crashed into it. Harry struggled to hold onto his threatening expression as Frank cursed and massaged his arse. This was still serious, or could be if Frank spoke to the right people, and Harry needed to take it seriously.
But it was also funny as hell.
"You know that spell's illegal," said Frank, sullenly, not looking Harry in the eye now. "You know he shouldn't have cast it on me."
Harry sighed. "I know that I would have told him not to take vengeance on you if I'd known that he was going to. I didn't know at the time."
"Because you knew it was illegal, and you didn't want me to suffer?" Frank was fully focused on Harry again.
"No," said Harry. "Because if there's going to be vengeance for what happened between us, I should be the one to take it."
Frank's focus only strengthened, but it resulted in him opening his mouth and then shutting it again. He looked so bewildered that Harry wondered if he would have to explain what he could have wanted vengeance for. Probably so. Frank was still deluding himself, even if he wasn't managing with Harry anymore.
"You have no right to talk like that to me," Frank finally breathed. "When I did my best by you to make you a better lover, and when I was honest with you at the last, even though I didn't want to be, because you begged me to."
"You weren't honest," said Harry. Whose arguments are these? Mine or Draco's? But maybe it didn't matter, as long as he was the one saying them. "You were about to sneak out of the house and not tell me. You didn't count on me walking in."
"Only because I couldn't take it anymore!" Frank seemed to find the table now, because he slammed his hands down on top of it. "I couldn't stand watching you twist yourself up in knots trying to please me, when you never would."
That was what made Frank dangerous, Harry thought. Because he could sound like he cared about Harry and what had lain between them even when Harry knew now that he would have done lots of things differently if he cared. Very differently.
"That's not true," Harry said evenly. "You didn't mention anything about that at the time, when you were being so excruciatingly honest. You took care to tell me what a poor lover and how ugly I was. You were leaving because you couldn't take it, sure, but for different reasons."
Frank switched tactics again, and swept him with one probing gaze from head to foot, the kind of gaze that someone could only use when they knew what lay under his clothes. "I'm sorry to say that my opinion on the ugliness has never relented." His gaze landed on Harry's right hand, which still had the glamour over the Blood Quill scar. "And it looks like you agree with me, instead of Malfoy."
Harry's fingers twitched on his wand, but he hesitated. If he removed the glamour, then he was going to have to leave the interrogation room without it.
And then he felt the pressure of his rage against his breastbone again, and told himself to stop being so stupid. Why would he? Why was he letting Frank have this kind of effect on him at all? He could just reapply the glamour after this little conversation, whatever the outcome of it was. He waved his wand sharply down, thinking the Finite, and the transparent magic covering the back of his hand shivered and disappeared.
"In fact, Draco is trying to make me think of myself as beautiful," Harry said, and turned his hand so Frank could see the scarred words. "I don't always agree with him. But I'm a lot closer to agreeing with him than I am with you."
Frank flinched. Harry stared at him, wondering if he had taken Harry's loose, careless gesture with his wand as a sign that he was about to get cursed, and then realized the truth. Frank had flinched when the scarred back of Harry's hand came towards him.
Harry had to grin. Really? Is it that simple to intimidate him? He took a step closer as if shifting his weight, swinging his hand at Frank again.
Sure enough, Frank flinched again, this time to the point where he almost curled in on himself, like a cockroach trying to escape the sunlight. And his eyes were fixed on Harry's hand with such revulsion that this time, a laugh forced its way out of Harry's lips.
Frank's eyes rose at once to Harry's face, and he sneered. He was an expert at that, even better than Harry remembered. "So glad to see that your new lover has taught you to enjoy hurting people."
"You really are scared of scars," Harry said in wonder. "Even though I had most of them before I met you, and it's not like I ever wanted to have them, or tried to collect them, or even tried to show them off."
"You haven't changed," Frank whispered. "I thought you had. I thought you had realized that you can't go around expecting people to take to every scar you have and every crazed thing you do."
"You haven't got around to discussing blackmail yet," Harry said. He made his voice sweet on purpose, and watched Frank's eyes flicker back and forth uncertainly between his face and his hand. He was so transparent. Harry could only attribute his not having seen through the bastard before to his own desperate need to believe in someone, to love someone. "You haven't even mentioned the spell Draco cast on you since the beginning of this conversation. I thought that was what you were all outraged about, Frank. What Draco did to you. Wasn't that the reason you pulled me in here?"
"It's illegal," Frank said, and Harry shifted to scratch his chin with his scarred hand, and Frank winced again.
"But you haven't mentioned it," Harry said. "You said you had terms to discuss. I thought those were blackmail terms. But they're not, are they? They got forgotten the minute you thought you could intimidate me and break me down again. Well, you have shit luck, Frank. Draco's taught me to be more self-confident than you could ever imagine."
Frank shook his head. "That's not true, or you wouldn't have to hurt me."
"Oh, Frank, you poor child," Harry said, and was surprised to realize that he did feel a thread of sorrow curling in among his rage—not so much for his relationship with Frank, which could never have worked, but for Frank himself. Frank could speak well, and he was intelligent, and he was good at his job. It was such a waste of any talent that he had decided to turn into this thing instead.
But he had no self-knowledge at all. Maybe it was because Draco had taught Harry to see himself more clearly, but Harry knew that he could use words to break Frank down at the moment, and do it in such a way that Frank might never recover from it.
Do I want to do it, though? That might only inspire Frank with another desire for vengeance. For Draco's sake, not his own, Harry didn't want that to happen. He tried a different tactic. "Since we both know that you would have a horrible time trying to prove that Draco was responsible for that spell, why don't you forget this, and we'll both go away now? I can promise not to tell Draco you were here if you promise not to bother us again."
Frank straightened his back. "I knew you were a liar," he breathed. "I knew you hadn't changed at all."
And that was the end. Harry felt the restraints on his temper snap, burned away in the fire and the force of his rage. He took a long step towards Frank, who retreated a step in surprise before he bunched his fists and stayed where he was, instead.
"You can't intimidate me," Frank said.
Harry brushed his fringe back, and Frank flinched from the lightning bolt scar. He lifted his hand again, and Frank flinched from the marks of the Blood Quill. Harry lifted his hands to the buttons of his shirt as if he was about to reveal the scars that crossed his chest and back, and Frank scrambled around him towards the door.
"Yes, I can," Harry said softly. "Because you were never the hard, honest mentor figure that you tried to make me think you were. You're frightened. You can't stand for me to be less than perfect. You want to make me feel bad about myself because it distracts you, and me, from your fear."
"Harry…" Frank's eyes remained fastened to his hands, which didn't move away from the buttons on the front of his shirt.
"You wanted me to be your hero," Harry continued, the words spilling over his lips, coming from that perfect knowledge of himself that Draco had taught him to have, at such a great cost. "You wanted me to save you from your own fears, and when it turned out that I wasn't who you thought I was, that I lost duels sometimes and got away scathed instead of unscathed, you turned against me."
Frank shook his head, but he had no words this time, and Harry launched himself into the next part of it.
"You want me to suffer because you can't stand that you were wrong about me. But my suffering once from you breaking up with me isn't enough. It turns out that you had to make me suffer again and again, asking me questions about my other lovers and trying to keep me alone for the rest of my life. Because Merlin forbid that I find happiness with someone else, someone who didn't have your own issues with fears and scars and heroes.
"You had to make me feel like I'd failed you. When you were the one who failed me."
"I never did a single solitary thing to you," Frank said, or Harry imagined that was what he had wanted to say. It withered in the fire of Harry's glare.
"You never did anything for me, either," Harry said. "You didn't leave me with happiness. You didn't leave me with self-knowledge. You took revenge, endlessly, because you're still obsessed with the fact that you were so wrong about me. I was supposed to be your shield against the world, wasn't I? The strong boyfriend who could walk at your side and shelter you from everything that tried to attack you? And then you realized how often I lost, how human I was, and you shied away from me."
"That's not true," Frank said, but the words withered again, to one word and a breathless gasp of the other two.
"Yes," Harry said, "it is. And when I dated Veronica, there you were, to shake your head at me and remind me it could never work out. I believe you said to me once that I couldn't protect her well enough. From what? The war is over. You implied that I couldn't protect her from me and the monster that lived inside me, the monster that hurt people. But that monster is of your own imagining, Frank. You couldn't let me be an ordinary human being even after you realized that I wasn't a hero. And what's the only alternative to the hero? The monster. That's what you made me into."
Frank stared at him, and said nothing this time.
"While you were the victim," Harry said. "Not the wise advisor. I should have realized that. When did your 'advice' ever give me anything but agony? But you could show up and remind me that you were my victim, and I could never make up for what I had done to you. Because monsters can't atone, they can't say that they've done anything wrong, they can't change their minds. You were there to hint me away. You wanted to keep me alone and lonely and hurting for the rest of my life."
Harry was breathing hard, but he held himself back from his wand. He had to destroy Frank with words or not at all. "And you wanted me to think that I'd hurt people deliberately, as if it wasn't a combination of my issues and theirs that caused the problem instead. You were obsessed with me. You still are. That's why you haven't said anything about Draco or blackmail since the beginning of this conversation. It's me that you want to hurt. You want to pull me back into this endless circular conversation where you're the one in pain, and you're the victim, and I'm the one who causes pain, and I'm the monster."
He took a single step towards Frank, who managed a whole-body flinch that tipped him into the table again. Harry kept his voice low and calm and deadly. "Not. Going. To. Happen. Frank. And you know why?"
Frank shook his head, expression appalled but eyes fastened on him, as though he wondered what was going to happen next.
"Because I have my own hero," Harry said, and flashed Frank a smile that made him look as if he wanted to crumble. "Someone who lets me be the victim, and the hero, and the ordinary person, all at the same time. You could never compare to him." He leaned forwards again, a little. "And you're right about one thing. I can hurt people. I can fight and even kill Dark wizards that I fight against, if I have to, if they're trying to hurt me or someone I care about."
"I'm not a…"
"Dark wizard?" Harry finished for him. "Not yet. No. But what do you think is going to happen if you walk out of here and try to tell people about what you claim Draco did to you, when you have no proof? You would have shown it to me before now if you had any proof, because that's what this conversation would have been about. What's going to happen if you walk out of here and try to claim that the Boy-Who-Lived hurt or attacked you? Who are they going to believe, Frank, you or me?"
Frank clenched his jaw. "If it came down to Pensieve memories…to Veritaserum…"
"All I would have to do is show them the conversation that you and I had when you walked out," Harry said. "And the way you flinch from my scars. Scars that other people don't hate the way you do, Frank." As he said the words, Harry thought he might finally believe that himself. "They would think that your issues are your own. They wouldn't believe that I did any harm simply because you don't like my scars." He bent his head, eyes on Frank. "And the press would crush you. If I wanted to play the victim, or the hero? I could do it. Really well. The Prophet has wanted to present me as a victim for years. It presents me as a hero all the time. Your life would be destroyed if you tried to take this beyond this room, Frank." He paused. "It already is, isn't it? The minute I learned not to cower from you, I destroyed it."
Frank shook his head, and tried to speak, but his jaw hung as limp as though Harry had broken it. Harry nodded. Shimmers of silent strength were running through him.
But he owed the strength to Draco, not Frank. He owed it to the fact that he had won a victory over the voice that Frank had set to whisper in his mind, not to the fact that he had conquered Frank. Frank was only a stepping stone to greater knowledge of himself and thankfulness to Draco. He was worth nothing by himself.
"See you later," Harry said casually, and turned to open the door of the interrogation room. "Remember the consequences."
He realized, when he got out into the corridor, that he had never been afraid that Frank would fire a curse at his back. He paused, then shrugged and grinned.
That's because Frank is a coward. And always will be.
And I'm not. Not anymore.
Draco sighed, and settled, floating, into the bathtub in his room. There was the shower he and Harry had had so much fun with, and then this, a tub deep enough to contain his whole body, long enough to let him stretch his legs out in it, and wide enough that he could extend his arms out and still not brush the sides. And right now, it was filled with water hot enough to scald all the minor problems and worries off his skin, and thick bubbles that Draco rubbed and popped between his fingers.
It hadn't been a particularly vexing day—nowhere near the stress level of dealing with a Potions explosion, a thieving apprentice, or one of Harry's breakdowns, for example. But a lot of little things had piled up, and Draco had found himself unable to relax or come down from one irritation before the next one came along. He had lost some paperwork for the latest experimental potion he'd wanted to make, had to deal with an apprentice's crisis of confidence, dealt with a flare of jealous rivalry between two other apprentices, and had an argument with a Healer at St. Mungo's who kept insisting that their latest shipment of Pain-Killing Draught had never arrived.
Draco needed the sensation of warm water, at the very least, on his spine and shoulders. And he could do with warm hands, too, but this was Harry's day to deal with paperwork, and he might not be in a much better mood than Draco. Draco would have to wait and see what Harry said when he arrived home.
Was I asleep? Draco thought as he started up. He'd been aware of closing his eyes, but nothing more than that. But no, the water was still warm and he was still surrounded by hundreds of bubbles.
Harry knelt by the tub, his hand trailing in the water and reaching out to touch Draco's shoulder. His smile was so warm that Draco smiled back before he thought about it, and then Draco saw what was in Harry's eyes and gasped.
He had never, never, seen Harry's eyes look like that. Not after a Quidditch game, not after they'd slept together the other day, not when Harry had confessed some of his worries and found that Draco wouldn't reject him. Draco sat up in a trance, and reached out in wonder.
Harry took his hand, and began nibbling on Draco's fingers, watching him with those heavy-lidded, shining eyes.
I must be dreaming, Draco thought. Never mind being asleep when Harry came in, I must still be asleep.
But Harry looking like that was not a vision that Draco thought he could have conjured, not when he had never seen that expression on Harry's face before. He wondered for a second if Harry had had a really good Mind-Healing session with Millicent, but then remembered that Harry's next appointment wasn't until tomorrow. And even then, she couldn't cause this. This was something that came from inside Harry.
"Do you have any idea what I'd like to do to you?" Harry whispered.
"Uh. No?" Draco deplored the lack of intelligence evident in his voice, but he didn't think he could help it. Anyone who expected intelligence out of him at the moment had never seen Harry Potter with stars in his eyes, looking at him like that. And that included all his former selves, all the Draco Malfoys he had been before this moment.
"I want to thank you for all you've done for me," Harry whispered, leaning closer as if sharing a dangerous secret. "I want to clean you and scrub you and make you shine. I want to make sure that you feel pampered and special, because you really are. And then I want to fuck you until you forget what your body feels like when it's not with mine."
Draco was shaking. He reached out a hand, almost snatched it back when he saw the way the tremors had traveled up his wrist, and then swallowed his pride and went on reaching out. "Yes," he said, with not enough breath behind the words to make them come out right. "Yes, please. Harry…"
Harry swept him up in his arms, and kissed Draco hard enough that Draco's mouth should have been full of blood. But Harry held back, was careful and tender of him, and then broke the kiss and reached down to pick up the soap. "Turn your head to the side," he whispered.
"I don't always use soap," Draco said, even as he settled back into his bed of bubbles and did as Harry asked. "I usually use a soft cloth, and put the soap on that."
"That's an even better idea," Harry said, his voice low and velvety red and making Draco squirm in the tub, it was getting him so hard. "I want to do that." Draco heard him hold up his wand and murmur the Summoning Charm.
A pile of cloths soared towards him and crashed into him, from the side. Harry swore, but not even those words could break Draco's mood. He laughed softly and leaned his cheek on his arm.
He had dreamed, fantasized sometimes, since they started dating, about Harry taking care of him, but he hadn't thought it would happen this soon. Harry needed a lot of healing, and he needed a lot of someone showing that they thought he was worth taking care of. He'd had to be a hero and caretaker for his other lovers, and they had blamed him when he fell short of their ideal.
But this meant something had happened. And Harry had sprung ahead, had flown ahead, further than Draco had thought he would.
"Are you going to tell me what happened?" Draco murmured into the shelter of his arms. "Or just leave me to guess?"
"I want to tell you what happened almost as much as I want to fuck you," Harry murmured. He sounded preoccupied. Probably choosing a cloth and smearing Draco's soap on it. "But it concerns Frank, and I don't know if you want to hear about that during a romantic evening."
Draco stiffened in a non-crucial place for just a moment, and then the cloth, covered with soap and soft and warm with what must have been charms, came into contact with his back.
Draco groaned and dropped his head straight down, almost filling his mouth and nose with bubbles. He didn't care. He had never felt someone stroke him like this, up and down, with such attention to detail. He couldn't reach his back that way. Oh, he could charm a cloth to do it, but it wasn't the same. The charm always moved at a certain pace, and couldn't vary. It wasn't the ideal pace or degree of softness, either.
But this was. Harry was making sure that every inch of skin was clean, and lingering on the tops of Draco's shoulder blades and the back of his neck, where the tension from days like this in the Ministry's Potions Department tended to collect. Draco sighed as the relaxation followed the cleanliness, and he murmured something that got his mouth full of water. Harry chuckled and murmured something back. A second later, a small, cushioned platform rose from the bottom of the tub and supported Draco's chin. Draco could close his eyes and completely collapse into the warmth Harry was bringing him.
"I never heard of that spell," Draco said, and his voice sounded drugged in a way that would have got him arrested in a second for tasting his own products if he talked like that in the Ministry. "You'd better not have ruined my tub."
"I only made the platform add itself on," Harry said. Draco would have pointed out that that wasn't really a reassurance, but even he wasn't that petty. Harry went on stroking with the cloth, and finally added, "So. Did you want those details about Frank, or did you want to wait?"
"I don't want to hear about it tomorrow in case I worry about it and can't sleep tonight," Draco said, shifting so that his cheek instead of his chin leaned on the platform and he could still talk. "And I certainly don't want to hear about Frank while you're fucking me."
Harry paused, and then his free hand, which had been stroking the middle of Draco's back almost randomly, rose to his shoulder and tightened. "Don't worry about sleeping. I'm going to fuck you so well that you won't have a choice."
Draco shivered, would have moaned, but the sound got lost in the long sigh of contentment that worked its way out of his mouth. "Then I think you'd better tell me now."
"All right," Harry said, his voice almost soothing. Draco didn't miss the way that his hands remained strong and firm on Draco's back, though, or the undertone of excitement that was making his words tremble. "First, he came to me and said that we had to come to terms because he discovered the spell that you cast on him."
Draco nearly splashed and jerked his way out of the tub, but Harry held him still, without much effort. "Shhh, it's okay," he said. "I made it so that he's not going to dare to come near us again."
"That spell is not illegal," Draco muttered, but he settled back, propping his head in place again and letting Harry's hands take over the work of his spine and shoulders.
"I don't know one way or the other," Harry said. "Frank had some bollocks justification for it. Then again, all his justifications were bollocks."
Draco paused and craned his neck a little back towards Harry. "I had the impression that you didn't believe that, the last time we spoke with him."
"Everything changed between then and now," Harry whispered, bending towards the back of Draco's neck. Draco shivered, the little hairs on his nape standing up. "In particular, you changed me. Thank you."
Draco licked his lips, forcing himself to swallow. His mouth was heavy with saliva. He thought he knew the kind of story Harry would tell now, and he was tempted to tell him to save it for later after all, so they could skip to the story's conclusion.
But there was a special kind of suspense to be had in hearing the story, so Draco swallowed again and whispered, "What did you say?"
"That he was wrong," Harry murmured, a vicious joy in his voice. "We argued about the spell for a little bit, but soon enough, he got onto the topic of me. That was what he really wanted to talk about. He wasn't focused enough on you, or the spell, to really make it into blackmail. Me, me, me, kept popping back up. He wanted to make me feel bad for the way we broke up, and for daring to be scarred, the same way he did before I met you."
"How long did you let him?" Draco didn't dare hope for the conversation to be all miracles. It was miracle enough that Harry was here now and scrubbing him, without thinking that he must have been that brave and determined all the way through talking to Frank.
"Not long." Harry snickered. "He made one of his usual remarks that tried to compare fucking me to having sex with a dead fish, and I asked him if he'd had a lot of sex with dead fish."
Draco craned his neck back again. Harry made an irritated sound and patted his chin back into place on its cushioned platform. "Are you going to stay still? If you can't, I may have to cast a Binding Charm." Then he went back to rubbing gently on Draco's abused muscles.
Draco just lay there, and blinked, and blinked. Then he whispered, "You really said something like that? And didn't collapse in guilt immediately afterwards?" The Harry he had known in Hogwarts had had a sharp tongue, but this most recent one had apologized and worried over hurting Draco too much for Draco to think he would speak the same way.
"Yes," Harry said, his hands pressing down more firmly for a minute. "Not that I can blame you for doubting me, considering what you had to rescue me from."
Draco shook his head, his hair floating in the water as he closed his eyes and soaked in a different kind of warmth. "I couldn't have done anything if you hadn't been so willing to rescue yourself."
"Well, then," Harry said, and passed his lips over the smooth back of Draco's neck. That started a bunch of shivers that Draco didn't mind Harry seeing, although he would have minded almost anyone else doing so. "Now that we've had our own little mutual admiration society, do you want me to tell you the rest of the story?"
"Please," Draco whispered, and made it as breathy as he could. Just because he was the one being willingly seduced here didn't matter that he was above sending a little seduction back.
Harry paused, and the hand that he'd placed on the small of Draco's back trembled in return. Draco smirked and waited.
"He said something about scars, and glamours," said Harry. "So I took the glamour off the Blood Quill scar, just to show him I could. And then I noticed that he flinched when my hand came towards him."
That, Draco hadn't expected. He had been sure that all of Frank's twaddle about scars was just to make Harry feel that the end of their relationship had been his fault. "He flinched?"
"Then, and several other times," Harry said smugly, his hands making wide circles now. "I might have tested it a few other times, just to make sure that it wasn't a coincidence."
Draco laughed, and felt the laughter doing him more good than any bout had in a long time, relaxing his stomach, relaxing his sides, getting in under his ribs. Harry snickered with him, and then buried his mouth against the back of Draco's neck, licking. Draco moaned.
Harry pulled back a second later as if he hadn't just made Draco moan and didn't have a job to finish, and continued. "So I let Frank know that I was on to him. That he didn't want to talk about you, he wasn't really upset that you'd used that spell on him, he was upset with me, fixated on me. He liked to claim he was so brave and honest and only trying to make me face the truth, but he wasn't, really. He would have sneaked out of my house the day I came home and caught him leaving, and he wouldn't have let me actually confront him. He would never have told me that he had problems having sex with me, and problems with my scars. I don't know why I believed him and let him hurt me for so long."
"You're a giving person," Draco said softly into his arms. "A generous person. It bothered you that you couldn't give him what he wanted, and you believed what he said when he explained, because you had no reason to think that someone would deliberately lie about something like that."
"Yeah, I reckon you're right," Harry said, and began to slide a hand down Draco's arse, with intent. "I told him that he wanted me to see myself as a monster, because I couldn't be the hero. And that was pathetic. That was wrong. I told him that I was thinking of all the advice he'd given me in the past, and how wrong it was."
Draco choked, and only a little because one of Harry's fingers was now moving near his hole. "I bet that upset him."
"Yes, it did." Draco could listen to that kind of smugness in Harry's voice for the rest of his life. "He wanted to see himself as the one who was always in the right, and that was pretty easy as long as I saw it, too. But I'm free of him now. I walked away and left him standing there. He didn't even dare hex me."
Then Harry leaned towards Draco's ear and whispered into it. "I know that you said I helped rescue myself, but I hope that you'll give me the chance to…show my gratitude." Draco heard the wet splash as the cloth fell into the tub, and then felt it as Harry's hand wrapped around his cock.
Draco rolled onto his back, his arms spreading, his mouth gaping as Harry's hand went seriously to work. He didn't think he would have the strength to move away even if he wanted to. His breathing seemed suspended, almost useless. This was what he wanted, to float in warmth and let Harry stroke him.
But the water was finally getting cold, the bubbles popping, and Harry's other hand, still hovering near his arse, reminded Draco of what else Harry had promised, and what he could be missing. He had wanted Harry to fuck him for a while now, but he had thought it would take a lot longer. While Harry might be able to accept a cock up his arse because it was harder for him to hurt someone that way, fucking Draco roughly could hurt him. Draco had thought he would have to talk Harry through it the first time.
Harry wanting him this way, having the confidence that he could have Draco in bed without hurting him, made Draco's cock pulse harder in Harry's hand, and decided him on what he really wanted. Harry made a soft, surprised sound when Draco pulled away and rolled over to face him.
"I want you to take me to bed, and fuck me, make love to me, take me," Draco said, and kissed him.
The kiss got hotter than the bathwater, quickly enough that Harry nearly slipped into the tub as he leaned forwards for more and more of it. Draco heard him curse softly as his own prick knocked against the side of the tub, and snickered.
"Yeah, yeah, better just hope that I still feel like doing what you asked," Harry muttered, as he cast a Lightening Charm on Draco to scoop him up.
"I can't imagine the circumstances under which you wouldn't," Draco said brightly, and laid his head back on Harry's shoulder.
Harry looked down at him from a short distance above. Draco nearly held his breath as he felt drowned in endless green.
"You're lucky that you're irresistible," Harry snapped, before he kissed him again.
Draco looked wonderful, lying in the middle of his bed. If Harry had been a poet, or at least better with words than he actually was, he could have come up with some accurate description of that blond hair and shining skin and trusting smile that he saw as he stood, stripping, at the side of the bed.
But the smile was what made the picture. Harry knew that Draco trusted Harry not to hurt him, and that he wouldn't flinch in disgust when his hands came up and gripped shoulders scarred by the marks of hard living and working.
If he couldn't have believed that, Harry wouldn't be here.
"Don't damage that," Draco ordered huskily as Harry swore again at his pants catching on his erection. "That's mine." He reached out a hand.
Harry let Draco touch him, although he had to close his eyes and hold his breath for a second. He wasn't sure that he wouldn't explode the moment Draco touched him. His hips were already twitching, despite his honest effort to hold still.
Harry forced his eyes open. Draco had pulled his hand back, he could do that. Although when he saw Draco touching his fingers to his lips and licking the webs of skin between them as though it would nourish him, it was difficult for Harry not to shut his own eyes again and just grab his cock and thrust into his hand as he came.
"You promised to fuck me."
Draco's voice was deep and demanding, but it steadied Harry. He opened his eyes and smiled slowly at Draco as he climbed onto the bed. It was so wide that there was plenty of room to kneel beside Draco without actually lying on top of him. "I did promise that, didn't I?"
The confidence was rushing back, the emotion that had made him float out of the confrontation with Frank. He thought he could touch Draco, and Draco would tell him if something was wrong. It was a level of trust that Harry hadn't had with any of his lovers in far too long.
He wanted Draco. He was grateful to him. He would give up almost everything that he had to help him, to keep him.
But what mattered most to him was that Draco made him more himself. Draco gave him back the Harry Potter that he had thought was gone forever, dissipated among the scars and the horror stories and the way that he couldn't face up to his lovers' ideals.
He bent down and kissed Draco, and Draco murmured and sighed and turned his head towards Harry, his eyes glazed and wide. A fierce tenderness rushed through Harry. Draco was his to hold and protect as well as fuck, as much as Harry was Draco's.
"I think that we should begin with the lubrication spell I used on myself the other day," he whispered, and picked up his wand.
Draco didn't move or object. He only smiled.
Harry drew his wand in a slow line up Draco's arse, murmuring the incantation. He deliberately varied it so that it was warm instead of cool, and saw Draco register the change with a startled blink of approval. He reached up a hand and loosely circled Harry's wrist, rubbing back and forth.
"I didn't know that someone could do that, if they wanted," he said. "I haven't ever met someone who used that variation."
"Well, now that you have," said Harry, interrupting himself by bending down to steal a quick kiss, "you don't ever need to meet a different person, do you?" His voice got a bit deeper on those last words, despite himself. He thought Draco might worry about him leaving, but Harry knew he could lose Draco, too. He'd lost so many people.
That thought might have taken root and grown depressing if he was with someone else, but this time, it withered away in Draco's deep, sunlight smile. He leaned up to take a kiss of his own, and murmured against Harry's lips, "You have no idea how glad I am that the search is over."
"For both of us," Harry said, and slid his fingers slowly into Draco.
It was so different, watching from this angle and getting to see the shivers that consumed Draco: the way his mouth fell over and he panted a bit, thrashing around on the bed as if he was either going to kick Harry in the head or in the balls. But then he reached down, and gripped his own legs, and drew them apart.
Harry stared, and stared longer than he knew was polite. Draco's face was tight with concentration and something that looked like panic when Harry managed to pull his eyes away and whirled around to kiss him.
"Thank you," he whispered into Draco's mouth. "You're so fucking hot."
Draco laughed into his mouth, although he stopped laughing when Harry's fingers twisted around inside him. He opened his mouth so far that Harry could almost see down his throat, and writhed on the bed. Harry was there with him, riding every movement, working his fingers deeper and deeper inside. He wanted to make this seductive and pleasurable for Draco, better than anything else he had ever felt, but he also was getting impatient to get his cock inside him. The hotness all seemed concentrated in his groin, leaving it ready to burst open.
God, I want him.
And desired him, and loved him, and wanted to be with him. The yearnings were all blending impossibly inside Harry, the way that so many colors would blend together to make white. That white flame almost blinded him when Draco stretched his neck and whimpered, and lost his hold on his legs. He reached out to take Harry's hand instead.
"That's enough," he said. His voice made Harry's pulse pound and his cock join it, and he nearly missed Draco's next words, lost in the blood-beat. "I'm ready."
"You are." Harry meant to ask it as a question, because he thought it must have been a while for Draco and he wanted to make sure he wouldn't hurt him, but it came out as a statement, and he found himself swinging around and straddling Draco, hands sliding easily into place on his hips.
The bed was so wide and soft that Harry ended up having to slide two pillows into place to brace Draco's hips; just holding them pressed them so deeply into the sheets. Draco smiled at him, half-bashful, and his eyelids swept up and down, his eyelashes shadowing his cheeks. Harry lost his breath in the watching.
"Are you going to fuck me or not?" Draco whispered then. "I thought you said I was ready."
"I know you are," Harry murmured back. "But I thought I'd watch your face while I take you. You don't object to that, do you?"
"You don't know how much I don't object to it," Draco said. "I can't say it in words." One of his hands reached out and took hold of Harry's.
"Your body and your face say it just fine," Harry whispered, and moved Draco's legs even further apart, casting a few Relaxation Charms just to make sure, before he aligned himself with Draco's hole.
Draco looked transfigured by joy as he lay there. Harry couldn't remember the last time one of his lovers had looked that way when Harry was about to fuck them. There had been problems with all of them, of course, but Draco simply left them all behind, the radiance in him burning Harry's memories up.
That was another thing Draco had given back to him, along with so much else: trust in his own body, in his body's ability to give pleasure to someone else without hurting them.
"Thank you," he whispered one more time, and as Draco's eyes focused on him with a slightly questioning air, he slid inside.
The pressure and the heat were incredible, this side of painful. Harry found himself holding still, shuddering. He knew the moment would pass and he would stop fearing that he would be hurt, but he also feared that he would come in instants, because the pain would turn into pleasure.
"Move when you want to."
Draco's voice was gentle, loving. Harry blindly reached out a hand and found Draco's again, squeezing back as the fingers twined around his. He was sweating, all along his forehead and under his arms and down his chest, just from the effort of staying still.
Then it did begin to ease. Harry thought he was getting used to it, but he also knew that the clasp of Draco's hand on his had a lot to do with it.
When he thought he could, he leaned back on his heels, nodded, and caught Draco's eye. "I'm ready to fuck you."
"When you're ready," Draco muttered again, but his eyes were glazing once more, and he tapped a quick rhythm with his fingers in the center of Harry's palm that conveyed just how eager he was.
Harry smiled at him, and threw his hips into the first thrust. Draco gasped and shuddered off the bed, and Harry nearly hesitated, nearly asked him if he had hurt him after all, the way that he had hurt other people's arses.
But no. It wasn't like that. Draco would tell him in an instant if it was real pain, instead of bearable pain. And Harry knew that he couldn't be caught in the same kind of trap that Frank had inflicted on him again; Draco wouldn't lie to him, and Harry wouldn't distrust him.
He thrust again, and Draco settled back down, squirming into the pillows, murmuring under his breath. A faint line creased his brow, but when he opened his eyes and focused on Harry again, all of it melted away into his beautiful smile.
"What a," Draco whispered, then shook his head as if he couldn't find an appropriate ending to that sentence.
Harry half-shut his eyes, because if he didn't stop staring at Draco he would never move, and moved.
The wild snaps of his hips that he found himself engaging in as he moved in and out of Draco surprised him. Not being afraid that he would hurt Draco anymore was one thing, fucking him like this was another.
But Draco was panting and sweating too, and when Harry arched his back a little and moved to the left, he practically shouted. Harry nodded, feeling a slow satisfaction move through him in contradistinction to his quick pace.
"That's something I should do again, then?" he asked.
Draco was too far gone to answer, his jaw hanging open and quick pants moving over his parted lips. Harry smiled, and continued to thrust.
He knew he had hit that spot when Draco's fingers flexed open helplessly on the bed, when his chest bounded up and down with swift breaths, when he tried to hold onto Harry and failed, when his breath scattered in a wail. Harry leaned in and hammered hard, glad that Draco liked it hard, glad that he could give it hard without making it punishing, glad for the heat around him, glad for the pleasure stirring in his stomach, glad for everything.
They bounded along, pushed higher and higher by that communion between them, the trust, the love. Harry was laughing breathlessly by now, not laughing at anything in particular but laughing because he had to, and Draco, when he could get enough air into his lungs to do it, laughed with him.
They bounded along, and they neared the ending, as they had to. Harry wasn't laughing now; he couldn't do anything but thrust, his hands on either side of Draco, his heels planted in some position he didn't even recognize, his cock going so fast that it was starting to hurt again. But this pleasure was the very edge of pain, so good that Harry didn't know if he could give it up.
This connection with Draco, this loving of Draco, this doing something for Draco, this feeling good with Draco.
Draco caught his eye and gave him another of those shining smiles, and Harry spilled from smile into orgasm, as simple and neat as that.
He continued to thrust as he came, though, rougher and stronger, and finally reached down a hand to touch Draco's erection, which he had forgotten all about. Draco gasped, the emotion and the liquid both wrung out of him, and he was coming before the echoes of Harry's pleasure had quite died away.
Harry collapsed as his arms gave out; all of his muscles had lost their strength with the moment of the pleasure leaving his body. He hit face-first in the middle of Draco's chest, and groaned. Draco groaned with him. Harry had probably left a bruise.
But even hurting Draco like that couldn't dent Harry's self-confidence, couldn't hurt his joy. He just rolled his head to the side and stared at Draco, reaching out one hand to cup his chin. Draco smiled lazily at him.
"How do you feel?" Harry whispered, and got a brighter smile for his efforts. He didn't hesitate this time. If he couldn't say it at a moment of exaltation like this, then he didn't deserve to be able to say it at all. "I love you."
Part of the fear and uncertainty that had been swirling around Draco vanished back into a hole forever when he heard Harry say that.
That was what he had been waiting to hear, words like that spoken with such conviction. Harry meant what he said, most of the time, but he had been driven into hesitation and lies by Frank and the others who had hurt him. He had thought that his very honesty could wound people, along with everything else about him.
Draco reached out and took Harry's hand, turning it over so that he saw the Blood Quill scar. I must not tell lies. The words were truer for Harry than for most people, but in a different way. Harry didn't need to tell lies. He made the world better by being himself, by being honest in a way that Draco doubted most people could even comprehend.
Harry's face had started to falter, but Draco kissed the scar, then turned Harry's hand over to kiss the center of his palm, and said simply, "I love you, too. And this is what I was waiting for."
Harry had looked at Draco when he was making love to him as if he was a precious thing. He ought to see his own expression, Draco thought, to judge of what or who in this room was really more precious.
Harry leaned forwards and kissed him, lip to lip, tongue to tongue, eye to eye. Draco gave as good as he got, as much as he could when he was so exhausted, and then dragged Harry over to him so that they could lie side-by-side and see each other better.
"Thank you," Harry whispered again, against Draco's chest and lips and hand. "I love you, and I'm so happy."
Draco would never allow anyone else to court Harry again. He thought he would always bristle whenever Ginny Weasley or any other of Harry's old lovers came near him—although he didn't think Frank would dare. He would grieve to think of all those Muggles Harry had striven to pleasure just to have a connection with someone, wasting his own talents, his own potential, his own self, on them, night after night.
But lying here, with Harry beside him, Draco wished that others could see them, could see how shining they were, how beautiful.