not your typical annihilatrix (furiosity) wrote in teh_llamas,
not your typical annihilatrix
furiosity
teh_llamas

Fic: Not Ours to Command [Harry/Draco, NC-17]

Title: Not Ours to Command [1]
Author: furiosity
Genre: Mystery/Drama
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Harry/Draco
Warning: Minor character death
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 17K words
Summary: When a poisoning case ends up on Harry's desk at the Auror HQ, Harry finds himself backed up against the wall. Figuratively speaking. Features typical Slytherins, a minor parade of house-elves, a toddler-chasing Ron and a rude talking mirror.
Dedication: legomymalfoy
Beta: delaria
Notes: Originally written for the sunandsmut fic exchange (here).
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.

Not Ours to Command

It all began with a botched blowjob.

Well, no, that was like saying that the Great Flood began with a raindrop. The truth was a little more complicated. At some point between the time Draco Malfoy switched sides in the Second War and the time Harry Potter began to rely on Malfoy to deliver news of the other side's movements, Harry decided that it would be just fantastic to get into Malfoy's pants. Within a few short weeks, this became Harry's idée fix. It was a heady, dangerous sort of feeling mixed with horrible guilt -- Harry was still very much in love with his girlfriend Ginny, and he felt like he was betraying her every time he thought about Malfoy, never mind Malfoy's pants.

On top of that, Harry had no ready way of finding out whether Malfoy would think the idea fantastic as well, or if he would hex Harry into a jelly if Harry so much as hinted at it. As time went by, Harry became increasingly convinced that he should just proposition Malfoy and get it over with; maybe a tumble in some nicely anonymous bed was all that was needed to satisfy Harry's curiosity, if that was what it was. If he didn't do something about this soon, it would turn into full-fledged obsession and Harry did stupid things when obsessed. Everybody knew that. One could say the outcome of the war depended on this, really.

They were standing almost face-to-face in a dank Glasgow alley that smelled of stale beer and staler cats. A thin drizzle filled the air with moisture, causing the altogether unpleasant aroma to linger in Harry's nostrils and tickle at the back of his throat. The revolting atmosphere, however, did nothing to dampen Harry's giddy excitement at standing this close to the object of his unnatural, terrible desire. Malfoy had chosen this particular meeting place -- he always chose dark alleys where sinister shapes lurked beneath every shadow. Not that Harry minded, truth be told.

He studied Malfoy's profile, half in dim yellow light from the nearby thoroughfare, half in shadow. It wasn't even that Malfoy was beautiful; he wasn't. He was just Malfoy. Harry honestly could not explain what made his heart rate double at the sight of Malfoy and triple when Malfoy stood this close. There was something to him, an allure that was impossible to define or quantify, a kind of raw message that came through in every move, in every toss of that blond head -- "mind-blowing sex, right this way", it screamed at Harry, and Harry believed it, so help him God.

It made concentrating a real bitch.

"Are you even listening to me?" Malfoy demanded, and Harry looked down at his feet, flushing with guilt. He wasn't, in fact, listening, but he had no ready way to explain why.

"Er," he offered, but his mind refused to supply anything much more intelligible than that.

"Have you been drinking?" asked Malfoy then, and Harry sensed him lean closer.

"No, just thinking," replied Harry, finding an excuse. "I am capable of thought, you know."

"News to me," Malfoy shot back. "This could be as important as ending the war, and you're standing here daydreaming like a fucking idiot."

Harry looked up, panicking a little. "I wasn't daydreaming--"

"Oh, suck my dick, Potter," Malfoy said with a frustrated sort of shake of his head.

Intellectually, Harry understood that Malfoy meant that as an insult, an aspersion on Harry's sexual orientation, rather than as an invitation. However, before that thought had time to reach the deeper, darker part of his brain that was exulting with animalistic glee, he heard himself say, "Don't mind if I do" as he dropped to his knees right on the damp pavement and hitched Malfoy's robes up to his waist.

::

"Hello? Anyone home? Harry?"

"Wha--?" Harry looked up and blinked furiously as his boss's face came into focus. "Um, sorry, Tonks. Got a little-- uh. Distracted."

He lowered his left forearm to his lap in what he hoped was a casual gesture. Wouldn't do to let Tonks see the rather substantial hard-on his recollection had evoked. Tonks eyed him with obvious concern, but didn't ask.

"You have a case," she said instead, handing him a thin file. "Cold for two hours, illegal poison."

Harry eyed the thin file with distaste. He hated poisonings; they were a bitch to solve, what with poison a staple in every potion-making household. Further back in the office, someone was shouting for Daphne to bring the damn Kowalski files already. Harry fervently wished he could be Daphne, fetching files and not worrying about what was in them.

"Victims?" he asked.

"Pansy Parkinson. Well, Malfoy, really, but she was only Pansy Malfoy for about four hours."

Harry frowned. "Pansy's--"

"Dead, unfortunately. We're not yet sure what it was, but this was no legal potion ingredient. Nothing on the Allowed Substances List kills this fast."

Harry's heart was sinking as he skimmed through the report cover page. "At her wedding reception? Jesus."

"Damn shame," said Tonks, sounding oddly strangled. Harry glanced up from the report and saw that her mouth was a thin line, its corners turned downward. How she managed the Head Auror job without going mad from all the filth that surrounded them was anyone's guess.

"Suspects?" asked Harry, trying not to look at the photograph of Pansy, taken shortly after her death. Her skin was tinged with a sickly purple colour with angry, dark splotches blooming across it.

"Everyone, at this point. Unfortunately, most had already left by the time we managed to get a team on the scene, but Draco gave us a guest list."

Harry shut his eyes for a moment. Draco's wife was dead within hours of becoming Mrs Malfoy. The case was Harry's and that meant--

"Do you absolutely have to give me this case?" he asked Tonks.

She sat down in the empty chair across from Harry and fixed him with a look. "Is there a problem?"

"No real problem, except that Draco and I don't get along too well." Understatement of the fucking decade.

Tonks's eyes narrowed. "Harry Potter. Please repeat to me Tenet Six of your training unit on investigation."

"While on a case, you are an Auror, not a person," said Harry, rolling his eyes a bit. "You serve wizarding law, you are the barrier of light against the forces of darkness, blah, blah, bloody fucking blah. That doesn't change anything, Tonks. I'm not the problem here. He'll throw me out."

"Nonsense. You're not making a social call, you're investigating his wife's murder, and this is your job. I don't know what happened to set you two at each other's throats again, and I don't care. You're the only investigator I can spare right now, Harry, and you're going to get to the bottom of this. Are we clear?"

"Yes, boss," muttered Harry, flipping open the report cover.

"Good man."

::

There was nothing quite like the feeling of someone's cock growing hard in your mouth. Nothing like knowing that you were doing that to that someone, and knowing what it was like -- if only because you had a cock of your own. Or maybe this was the day Harry had to face the fact that he preferred sucking cock to eating pussy. Malfoy made a strangled noise and Harry began to move his tongue again.

Malfoy tangled his fingers in Harry's hair and for a brief instant, Harry felt elation of a kind he would never again experience. In retrospect, it was as though a miniature Harry began to cavort in the back of his own mind, shouting, "he wants me! He wants me! Woo-hoo!" Then Malfoy tugged at his hair and forced Harry to pull back. He looked up and saw nothing but blinding-white rage in Malfoy's eyes. The miniature Harry slunk away into the shadows.

Suddenly, Harry didn't understand anything. He knew Malfoy was gay; that had come out at the very first Veritaserum-aided confessional. Harry had insisted on being present at those, eager to ask Malfoy some questions about a certain necklace that had gone missing from Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place... Instead, he'd learned that Malfoy preferred boys -- that had temporarily put Harry off the "interviews". Right until the day he decided he wanted in Malfoy's pants.

So what the hell was Malfoy's problem? Harry was attempting to suck him off, not propose marriage. When he said so, Malfoy turned even whiter than Harry had ever thought possible.

"You stay away from me, Potter," spat Malfoy, and hurried away, his boots clicking against the wet pavement.

::

"Mr Harry Potter, sir?"

Harry stared through the house-elf for a few seconds before he registered where he was: the spacious waiting room on the ground floor of Malfoy Manor, with a gorgeous view of a well-tended magnolia orchard. A house-elf was waiting patiently at his side, and Harry was about to see Draco for the first time in two years. The last time had been at Ron and Hermione's wedding, and Harry had spent half the night feeling miserable because Draco wouldn't even look his way.

"Yeah," he said to the house-elf, finding his resolve. He was here to work. Draco wanted nothing to do with him.

"Master will see you in the drawing room. Please to be following," squeaked the house-elf, and started out of the room, tugging nervously on its tea cosy.

Harry barely glanced at his surroundings as he followed the house-elf through a large circular hall and up a short staircase. It was disquieting, but all he wanted was to see Draco again. Until now, he hadn't realised how much, but his mind kept pushing work off to the side and focussing on Draco. Harry couldn't even think of him as "Malfoy" anymore. Apparently, putting someone's cock in your mouth did strange things to the way you perceived him. Or maybe--

Draco looked awful. He was as pale as usual, but there was a greyish tinge to his skin, making him look much older. There were dark circles under his eyes as though he hadn't known rest in weeks and his shoulders were hunched as he sat in a Louis XVI-style armchair and gazed at the door with all the excitement of a dead slug. If defeat had ever wanted a poster child, Draco Malfoy would have been a natural.

Harry stopped in the doorway, unsure of what to say. After a brief mental struggle, he decided to go with "My condolences."

Draco made no response, just stared at Harry with those dead eyes.

"I've been assigned to this case," said Harry, wincing inwardly. He could only imagine how it felt to hear a loved one's death referred to as "this case". He made a helpless gesture. "If you don't want to talk about it right now, I can come back later. But we shouldn't wait too--"

"Potter."

"I didn't ask for this," Harry said quickly. "Tonks couldn't spare anyone else."

"I'm sure. Sit down."

Harry crossed the room and sat down in an armchair identical to Draco's. The light was better there and he could see that Draco's eyes were red-rimmed. Something tugged at Harry, but he told himself he was here to work.

"Why don't you start from the beginning?"

Draco glanced up at him sharply. "Am I a suspect or a witness?"

"Both," said Harry, holding his gaze.

"Well, I didn't kill Pansy, if that's what you want to know."

"They all say that," Harry pointed out. He could have sworn there was a ghost of a smile on Draco's face.

"I loved her. Not that you'd understand anything about that."

Hearing this from Draco Malfoy of all people was such an improbability that Harry very nearly laughed. What stopped him was that Draco's jaw was set with determination and the dull sheen in his eyes was bright now. He really meant what he said. Which made very little sense.

"But you're--"

"That's none of your business, Potter. Besides, don't tell me you've never loved anyone without wanting to shag them at the first opportunity."

Harry pursed his lips. "According to you, I'd never understand anything about that in the first place. So why don't you start from the beginning. Like I said."

"It was Pansy's idea. She used to pilfer those ridiculous Pierrot romance novels her mother liked to read. In one of them, there was this woman who made a pact with her best friend -- if they hadn't found true love by the time they were both thirty, they'd marry each other." Draco looked down at his clasped hands. "I don't know how that story turned out, but Pansy was on fire about the idea. We agreed that we'd do the same thing, should we both still be without 'true love' when we were thirty." Draco made 'true love' sound exactly like 'Mudblood' when he spoke.

Harry raised his eyebrows. "I'm sorry, but that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. You married her because of an agreement from -- from a bodice-ripper! -- that you made when you were what, fourteen?"

"Twelve," said Draco, looking up again. "At the time, I didn't even know yet that women wouldn't interest me. So I thought..." He trailed off.

Harry shifted in his seat. "Right," he said, keeping his tone neutral. "None of this proves that you weren't involved in her death--"

"Don't you get it, Potter? Aside from being my closest friend, Pansy was the only chance I had at a normal life. How many women do you know who would marry a... gay man and keep quiet about it?"

"I--" Harry paused, blinking. "A normal life?"

"Yes, a normal life. In the world that I'm used to, with the people I'm used to. I can't do that without settling down eventually. If I were to settle down with a man, my mother would die of shame."

"What about your search for true love?" Harry asked, and instantly regretted it. What a stupid, unprofessional fucking question.

Draco gave him a nasty, contemptuous smile. "My mother would die of shame whether I loved the man I settled down with or not."

"So you just waited," said Harry. Not that he was surprised, really. Draco Malfoy would always be a coward.

"I lost more than my best friend today. I lost my future, too."

Harry wanted to shake him, to tell him not to be so bull-headed and stupid, to realise that there's more to life than social status and power -- but he was not in a position to do so, personally or professionally. Instead, he sat up straighter and decided simply to follow the protocol.

"Would you consent to share your recollection of today's events?"

"Yes," said Draco with a small frown.

"You have a choice between accompanying me to Headquarters and having the Pensieve delivered to your home; which would you prefer?"

"I'd prefer to stay here."

Harry nodded and rose. "It can take anywhere from two to three hours to get the necessary release forms at this time of day; I will be back with the Pensieve by nine-thirty."

"You mean tonight?"

"The longer we wait, the higher the chances of your wife's murderer leaving a cold trail."

Draco stood as well, regarding Harry with suspicion. "You believe me, then?"

"I believe you."

::

Once back at Headquarters, Harry recorded a brief log of his visit into the case file and put in a request for a Pensieve to be delivered to Malfoy Manor later that night. Tonks wasn't in -- for once -- and Harry decided he'd visit Fred and George's shop in Diagon Alley to pass the time. He used the Floo Network to travel to the Leaky Cauldron and then walked towards Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes at a leisurely pace. His mind kept wandering to his earlier meeting with Draco, and he couldn't ignore the anticipation that rose in his gut when he thought about seeing him again. What was wrong with him?

That one meeting had established that at the core, Draco hadn't changed a bit -- he was still self-centred, status-obsessed and cowardly. In short, he stood for everything Harry hated, and yet... God, Draco had even married Pansy because he didn't want to rock the boat. And yet....

When Harry had married Ginny, he'd already been almost certain that he vastly preferred men. After the fiasco with Draco, Harry had begun to keep his gay fantasies strictly to himself -- so he couldn't be absolutely certain about his feelings, not until he tried to live the fantasy. Two years into his marriage to Ginny, Harry had run into Colin. Colin Creevey, with newly dyed blond hair and that old habit of tailing everyone for photo ops and interviews.

Colin had been more than willing to help Harry experiment, and it was a miracle that Ginny didn't catch them at it earlier. But Harry hadn't married Ginny to hide who he was. He'd loved her fiercely until his insane attraction to Malfoy, and he'd still loved her, in his way, when he'd married her. Then he'd quickly discovered that familiarity really did breed contempt -- or perhaps the magic had simply gone. She'd been his first love; it still rankled that he'd caused her pain, but he didn't love her anymore -- he already hadn't loved her when he first brought Colin home while Ginny was at flying practice.

It was not a period in his life Harry was fond of recalling; the divorce had been subdued, but the whole thing had made Harry feel like a total shit -- and still did whenever he thought back to it. He tried to shake the thoughts off, but to no avail. Until he spotted a familiar figure walking briskly ahead of him. Draco. Harry would recognise that self-assured walk and that silvery-blond head anywhere. He was walking in the direction of Gringotts and the investigator portion of Harry's brain told him to follow. Maybe he'd been wrong to believe Draco's story. The man had just lost his wife and best friend -- and future, the way he'd told it -- and yet here he was, shopping. Certainly Draco didn't have any friends who worked or lived hereabouts; his prized social status would recoil in horror at the very thought.

Instinctively, Harry began to walk closer to the buildings, ready to shrink back into the gathering shadows should Draco turn around. It was a good thing he did that, because just before Draco reached Knockturn Alley, he cast a furtive glance over his shoulder. Harry pressed himself to a closed shop's door and tried not to move. He watched as Draco pulled his cloak's hood up, concealing his hair, and ducked into Knockturn Alley. Harry hurried after him, casting a quick charm to avoid his footsteps being heard.

Where was Draco going? They hurried past Borgin and Burke's, past a row of shops that seemed permanently closed except for the light that was seeping trough the boarded-up windows. After ten minutes of walking, Harry knew without a doubt where they were headed. Wizarding London's red-light district. How perfectly disgusting. Still, if you wanted anonymous sex, there was no better place. Harry himself had often fantasised about coming here, but the idea of paying for sex repulsed him.

Harry told himself to turn back -- this wasn't his business. He thought he could hear derisive laughter from one of the windows above, but he knew it was really his own laughter at himself. Harry Potter never learned how to stay out of Draco Malfoy's business, and there was no reason he would start now. He walked even closer to the dilapidated buildings on his left. Draco turned a corner, then another, and then three more until Harry felt like he was back in the Triwizard maze, with danger lurking around every corner and no way to turn back.

Draco approached a low fence at the end of one of the alleyways and gave a series of sharp raps.

"The usual?" rasped a voice from beyond the fence, and Draco knocked once more. A door materialised in the fence then, and a cloaked figure walked out. Draco began to walk into yet another alley, his new companion following closely. Harry cast a Disillusionment Charm on himself and followed, quiet as a Puffskein.

This alley terminated in a Muggle thoroughfare, but Draco and his rent boy didn't walk too near it. Draco stood with his back to a wall not far from a streetlamp, just out of reach of its yellow circle of light. A cat yowled somewhere up ahead, and it was all Harry could do not to jump. He stopped, not daring to come any closer, and watched as the rent boy got to his knees and pulled Draco's robes up.

It didn't take a genius to figure out what was happening. From the smell in his nostrils and the distant roar of cars to the dim light and Draco's position, Harry felt like he had been thrown back in time, only now he wasn't the one on his knees in front of Draco. What the fuck. "The usual," the voice behind the fence had said. No names, no faces, just a series of echoes on a wooden fence and two words. Draco had done this before, and more than once.

"Why?" whispered Harry to the night. He couldn't see Draco's face but he saw his fingers on the back of the rent boy's head, starkly white against the dark hood. Harry used to dream about the brief moment of elation that he'd never been able to recapture since Glasgow -- and now Draco was giving it to some bloody rent boy. Harry watched, filling with irrational, petty jealousy and rage -- and all he wanted was... Draco.

The realisation had been building since their earlier conversation, but Harry had been too preoccupied to notice it.

::

When Harry arrived at Malfoy Manor later that evening, he was immediately shown to the drawing room by the house-elf he'd met earlier. The Pensieve Harry had requested was already there, on a low table between the two armchairs. Draco walked in a few minutes later, looking considerably more composed than he had earlier. He gave a curt nod in greeting and sat down. Harry wondered what was going through Draco's mind. After what he had seen in Knockturn Alley, it was as though the years had fallen away and there was nothing between the two of them but a few feet of space and Harry's crumbling self-restraint.

Draco took out his wand, placed it to his temple, and siphoned away a memory strand, which he dropped in the Pensieve.

"Be my guest," he said to Harry, not looking at him.

Harry got up, walked closer to the Pensieve, poked the surface with his own wand, and fell through the silvery substance. He landed in a large hall he'd seen whilst being led to the drawing room. It was occupied by a large T-shaped table, around which people were eating, drinking, talking, and laughing, unaware that this night of merriment would end tragically. Pansy, who sat at the head of the table side by side with Draco, was laughing as she picked up a small, corked bottle from a tray held up by a house-elf. A small note was tied with string to the bottle's neck. Harry leant closer to see what it said, but Pansy was already reading it out loud.

"Sicilian wine for the bride. It's not signed."

"I've heard that Sicilian grapes, when fermented, are connected to increased female fertility," said a rotund, important-looking wizard in a pince-nez. Draco and Pansy exchanged amused looks for a fleeting moment, and then Pansy pulled out the cork and poured the wine. The bottle was so small that its contents barely filled half the crystal goblet.

"Here's to many children, then," she said with a sly wink as she brought the goblet to her lips.

Harry wanted to shout at her not to drink it, but he could only watch helplessly. In the next moment, the goblet fell to the ground and Pansy made a strangled sound in her throat. Draco's eyes widened and he reached for her. The goblet had shattered on the hardwood floor, drawing looks in their directions. Pansy's entire body was shaking, and she clutched her chest, staring at Draco with huge, pleading eyes.

"Chest," she choked out. Her skin was rapidly turning blue and there was a thin trickle of blood running from the corner of her mouth. "Chest."

"Pansy, Pansy, my baby, what's wrong?" screamed a woman.

Harry wanted to turn around to see who was speaking, but all he could see was Draco, gathering Pansy's limp form up in his arms and cradling her head to his chest. "No, no, no, no," he repeated as he stroked her hair. "Somebody help us, somebody, please--" There were shouts coming from every direction now, and there were tears on Draco's face--

The memory ended there and Harry was yanked back out to the drawing room. His chest was tight as he glanced over at Draco, who was standing next to the Pensieve now, his knuckles white around the basin's edges.

"Did you look--?" Harry began, unsure if Draco had followed him into the Pensieve.

Draco shook his head. "I couldn't. I wish you would take it away along with the Pensieve. I feel much better without it." Still, he took out his wand and put the memory back inside his head. He looked sad and alone as he turned away.

"I noticed your mother at the reception. Where is she now?" asked Harry. Draco's proximity was making his heart beat twice as fast, and he was rapidly losing control.

"Pansy and I were supposed to go on a cruise after the wedding. My mother went instead of us." Still looking down, pale eyelashes casting long shadows along his cheeks. All Harry wanted was to get closer to him, and his mind supplied a ready excuse. His conscience blabbered irately about un-professionalism, shame, and taking advantage of grief. Harry ignored it.

If Draco was still thinking about Glasgow, he must have been regretting his choice that night. He just refused to make the first move -- that was all. And what better way to put all cares aside than sex? It was the only thought in Harry's mind as he stepped up behind Draco, slipped his arms round his waist and pulled him close. Something bright swelled in his chest as he breathed in Draco's foreign/familiar scent, eyes falling shut against an unexpectedly fierce onslaught of feeling.

Despite Harry's great expectations, Draco twisted violently in his embrace, breaking the warm, liquid haze in Harry's mind. "What are you doing?"

"We have unfinished business," Harry breathed into his ear.

"Fuck off," panted Draco, struggling. "Unhand me this instant."

Harry slipped his right hand down and pressed his palm against Draco's crotch, finding exactly what he expected to find. "Why, Malfoy? You want this as much as I do. I don't even have to ask you." He grasped Draco's erection through the robes and squeezed gently.

"Let go of me," Draco growled. "I hate you, Potter. I hate you so much."

"Do you really?" Harry continued to massage Draco's cock as he pressed closer. If only they weren't wearing any clothes...

"I'll report you to Tonks," Draco said. "You're abusing your position as--"

Harry released him. "Just tell me why. Tell me why you won't have me when you clearly want me. Why do you refuse me and then run to Knockturn Alley to role-play Glasgow with some cheap whore? Why, when you know I'd give you Glasgow again and then some? Tell me why, and I'll leave you alone."

Draco's eyes grew round when Harry mentioned Knockturn Alley, and Harry felt a deep twinge of guilt. He'd had no business following Draco there, no matter how many times he told himself that it had been for the good of the investigation.

"I hate you," Draco said quietly. "That's why."

Harry shook his head. "That doesn't explain anything," he said.

"Of course it does. It's not my fault you're not the sharpest knife in the drawer."

"Sharper than you, anyhow. I made it through Auror training. You flunked."

"Fuck you."

"That's the general idea."

"Get out."

Harry couldn't believe they were having this conversation. Well, he'd always had terrible timing. There was nothing for it but to push onwards. "Not until you tell me why," he said, stepping in front of Draco, who in turn took a step back.

"Get out, or I'll throw you out. You're trespassing. I'm well within my rights."

"You know it won't be over even if I leave now."

Draco bared his teeth in a humourless smile. "It was over four years ago. Keep up."

"Nothing happened four years ago." Please, Draco.

"Quite right. And nothing will happen now, tomorrow, or four years from today. Now leave my home."

Harry expelled a frustrated breath. "Just tell me what I did wrong. Can you do that?"

"You don't bloody give up, do you?"

"I'm nothing if not persistent. How many times are we going to have this conversation?"

"Interrogation, you mean," said Draco with a sniff.

"If you like." Harry was beginning to feel light-headed. This couldn't be happening.

"Sit down, Potter."

"I'll stand, thanks."

Draco's eyes were cold steel. "Shut up and sit down."

Harry raised an eyebrow, but backed up towards one of the armchairs and sat down, never taking his eyes off Draco.

Draco turned away from him. "When you started looking at me with lust in your eyes, did you think I didn't notice? Did you think I was blind, or made of stone? Of course I noticed." He turned around to face Harry, his face perfectly blank. "Only I misunderstood you at first. Misunderstood you so badly that I started looking forward to our meetings, started choosing very secluded, secret spots and waiting for you to say something, to do something." Draco half-smiled and gave his head a rueful shake. "I used to dream about you, wake up and look for you beside me, allowed myself to feel smug whenever I crossed paths with your girlfriend. 'Your days are numbered,' I wanted to tell her. 'Because it's not you he wants.' Then when you did nothing, I started to tell myself stories. Made up a font of them, about how you were afraid I'd turn you away and break your heart. Glasgow taught me how foolish I'd been, how naïve." Draco grabbed his crotch in an exaggerated gesture. "This was all you wanted. Never me, only this. I wasn't a person to you, but a live-action sex toy, a whore you don't have to pay for. And I hate you for that, Potter. Hate you for making me feel like I meant something and then taking it away. There's your why. Now get the fuck out of my house."

Harry stared at him, thunderstruck. "But I never--"

"No, you never, Potter. That's right. You never. But it's easier to hate you for making me feel this way than it is to hate myself for a fool. Leave me to it and go." With that, Draco walked out of the room without looking back. The audience was over.

If this were a film, Harry would have had just the right words, wouldn't he? He'd say them and Draco would return, and then everything would fade to black and the end credits would announce that they lived happily ever after. But this was no film, and Harry had no words to shout at Draco's back.

Besides, Draco was right.

::

Harry brushed a lock of blond hair away and watched the sleepy smile beneath. It was the wrong smile, the wrong shade of blond, the wrong man, but it was all Harry had. Did Draco wake up smiling like this? With a pang, Harry realised that he hadn't seen Draco smile since...

Another dark alley, the only light coming from the windows overhead, and Draco is smiling at him, because Harry just said something funny and why didn't Harry ever notice how warm Draco's eyes were?

Harry pushed Colin's hand away and got out of bed. "Sorry, Colin," he said. "I've got to work today."

"But it's Saturday," Colin said with a note of suspicion in his voice.

When had they progressed to the point where Colin got to act suspicious? Was Harry doing the same thing to him he'd done to Draco? Don't be stupid. Draco did all that to himself; you never led him on. But he was leading Colin on, wasn't he?

"Aurors never stop working," Harry said and closed the bathroom door behind him.

After he got out of the shower, Colin was gone. Harry knew he'd need to do serious penance before Colin came back here again, but it didn't faze him. Colin didn't mean anything beyond an occasional fuck, and if Harry was really hard up, there were plenty occasional fucks walking the Knockturn Alley beat. Over the past week he'd somewhat cynically reconsidered balking at paying for sex. Whether he paid three Galleons for a fancy dinner or a dimly lit room with a creaky bed mattered little, in the end.

He tried to think back to what it had been like, being in love with Ginny. One thing he remembered was that she'd seemed so beautiful, even when she would put that horrible smelly stuff in her hair and walk around looking like a bald weasel. Even when she would get her period and spend the first day half-slumped in bed, a hot-water bottle on her belly, her face contorting in pain every five minutes. Now these images made Harry cringe a little inside, but he still clearly remembered seeing Ginny as beautiful even at her worst.

He didn't ever think Draco was beautiful. Except when he looked at Harry, the nearby street's lights flickering in his eyes, the corner of his thin mouth curved upwards in a sly smirk that promised things.

Harry sighed and made his way downstairs to the fireplace. He hadn't been lying to Colin when he said he had to work. The Malfoy wedding case was growing colder every minute, and he couldn't afford to spend his weekends idly. At the office, Tonks's door stood open, and Tonks herself sat at her desk, feet up, staring at the ceiling.

"Boss," said Harry, knocking on the doorframe.

She looked down at him and pursed her lips. "I was wondering when you'd be in. The Minister's taking a personal interest in the wedding poison case. The Parkinsons are calling in all their favours, it seems."

"I'm nowhere," said Harry, spreading his hands in the air. "No motive. As far as I can see, she was well-liked within her circle, and her enmities were half-hearted and petty at most. It looks almost like a random job."

"But it wasn't and we know this. Maybe we ought to look at the method again."

Harry shrugged. "The poison's fairly well known on the black market and can probably be found at a Borgin & Burkes or the equivalent -- anywhere in Britain or the continent. I sent two of my boys to talk to Caractacus Burke, but he insists that they haven't carried it since it's been banned."

"Bullshit."

"Tony and Michael turned the place upside down. Nothing. Burke wouldn't have had time to dispose of his stock. He didn't know they were coming."

Tonks peered at him from above steepled fingers. "Unless he was involved."

"That old fox? There's no price high enough to make him an accessory to murder."

"True."

"One thing that might be useful is the way the poison works."

"Oh?"

"Well, it causes horrible pain all over the victim's body and elevates blood pressure until the heart ruptures. It's not a nice way to die."

Tonks gave him a rueful look. "I'd say not."

"So I would venture a guess that the perp wanted her to suffer. If this was just about killing her, he could have easily used cyanide. Something like hemlock or curare would have served if he wanted her to know she'd been poisoned, before she died. This stuff was just cruel."

"He?"

"You know what I mean. It's a shot in the dark in the first place, but it gets us nowhere. We have no one with motive to hurt Pansy or kill her. That's just where I stand right now."

"Harry, do you think Draco did it?"

The question was completely unexpected, but Harry had no reason to hesitate. "No."

Tonks nodded. "Neither do I. The Parkinsons, however, appear to be pushing things in that direction. Scrimgeour ordered round-the-clock surveillance on Malfoy Manor."

"What? That's ridiculous. Draco couldn't have done it! He-- he loved her. I'd poison Hermione before Draco poisoned Pansy."

"That's what I told Rufus, but he says we should talk to the Parkinsons before we rule out Draco."

"Why the fuck is he interfering with our investigation?"

Tonks scowled, but shrugged. "He used to sit in my chair, you know."

"So? He doesn't anymore. Can't you do something?"

"Not until Gawain gets back on Monday. He won't like it that Scrimgeour is ordering us around. Best thing we can hope for is for the surveillance to be lifted, though."

"So until then we're supposed to do the monkey dance and chase down a blind alley while the real trail grows cold. Fucking wonderful."

"Well, he's right that we should talk to the Parkinsons. They'd know more about their daughter's life than anyone else would."

Harry was barely listening. "Are they watching his fireplaces?" he asked.

"No," said Tonks. "Edgecombe refuses to allow it until Gawain signs off on it."

"Thank God for small favours," said Harry. "I'll be back in an hour or so."

"Where are you going?"

"To talk to the Parkinsons," he said, giving her his best guileless look. "Where else?"

Tonks grinned. "That's what we'll put in the case log, then."

Harry grinned back at her and hurried to the Atrium. He turned into a corridor that led to communication-only fireplaces, hoping the place would be empty this early on Saturday. It was. Harry grabbed a pinch of Floo powder, tossed it into the flames and said "Malfoy Manor", then stuck his head inside. A moment, and he was staring at the armchairs in Malfoy's drawing room, the same ones they'd sat in last week.

"Malfoy, are you there?" Harry shouted, trying to stick his head further out of the fireplace. "Malfoy, damn you, I need to talk to you, it's about Pansy."

"Master is resting," said a voice on his left. Harry stared at the house-elf for a moment, blinking.

"Well, tell him to stop resting and get his pasty self in here, it's important."

"Master does not wish to speak to Harry Potter, sir," said the elf apologetically.

Harry rolled his eyes. "Will you give him a message? He didn't forbid you to take messages, did he?"

"He did not," said the house-elf, and Harry thought it looked a little smug at that.

"Tell him to meet me at the Leaky Cauldron tonight at seven," he said. "Tell him to make sure he uses the fireplace to get there, the house is being watched and Apparition tracked."

"Ticky will do as Harry Potter asks," said the elf, its ears twitching slightly.

"Thanks, Ticky," said Harry. He pulled his head out of the fireplace.

The communications hub was still empty. Harry walked back to the Atrium at a leisurely pace and then Apparated to the Parkinson mansion. He was greeted by yet another house-elf, which didn't give its name. After about a quarter of an hour, just when Harry began to get impatient, Eldred Parkinson rolled out into the vestibule, his teeth bared in an insincere smile.

"Mr Potter, what an honour. I do apologise for the wait. We weren't expecting you."

"I'm the one who should apologise for not calling ahead, sir," said Harry, keeping his tone bland. "I was given to understand that you might have insight into your daughter's murder. I am sorry for your loss."

"Ah, so it is being treated as murder. Thank goodness. I'd been hearing rumours that it was shifted down to accidental poisoning."

"Oh no, sir, it's a murder investigation, and it has top priority. I assure you it will remain so for as long as it takes to catch your daughter's killer."

"Lets hope it won't take too long," said Parkinson, his smile fading just a little.

"Well, that's the reason I'm here, sir," said Harry, showing him some teeth in return.

"Yes, of course. Come in, come in."

Harry followed him to the drawing room, where Mrs Parkinson was already pouring tea. Harry almost stopped dead when he saw her; she was a slightly older, taller version of her daughter.

"Harry Potter at your service, ma'am," he said, stopping and inclining his head a little. "From the Auror Office's Investigations branch. Please accept my sincere condolences."

She smiled at him -- not the fake, crocodile smile of her husband but the wan, forced smile of a ghost. "Do sit down, Mr Potter. It is good to meet you at last. I have heard so much from Pan-- from my-- from--" The teapot in her hands began to tremble and she let out a stifled sob.

Eldred Parkinson grasped Harry's elbow and guided him to a low, Oriental-style sofa. "Please forgive my wife. We are both still shocked and grieving, but Pansy was our youngest and Iris's favourite." Harry wasn't surprised. For Mrs Parkinson, raising Pansy must have been like watching a miniature version of herself grow up. The resemblance was almost eerie.

Harry sat down and accepted a cup of tea from Mrs Parkinson's still-shaking hand. She seemed much calmer by the time all three of them were seated around the coffee table. He hoped she would stay that way; he had no idea what to do with himself when he saw a woman cry. Neither, it seemed, did good Mr Parkinson, who had lost his toothy grin and was staring into his teacup as though attempting to divine the future from it.

Harry broke the silence. "Mr Parkinson, I understand you've got some information for me."

"Ah," said Mr Parkinson. "Yes. You see, when Pansy told us she would be marrying Draco, we were very surprised. They had dated briefly when they were teenagers, but no more than that." He took a sip of his tea and smacked his lips. "We were concerned, you see."

"Pansy had always said that she'd marry Draco one day," said Mrs Parkinson, looking down in her lap. "She had been twelve when she'd first announced it, but I had thought it was just girlish immaturity."

"Go on," said Harry, and drank from his own cup.

"There was no courtship, no... anything," said Mr Parkinson. "One day, she was single, and then the next day, she was suddenly Draco Malfoy's bride."

"Not that we minded. He's from a good family, and Narcissa has ever been my close personal friend," said Mrs Parkinson.

"But it was off-putting," her husband interrupted. "It didn't feel right. So I decided to do a little investigative work of my own," he said with a feeble grin.

"You had him watched." Harry's voice was flat. He had a reasonably good idea where this was headed.

Mr Parkinson set down his teacup and dry-washed his hands agitatedly. "Yes, well-- Yes."

"Poor Narcissa," said Mrs Parkinson.

"She'd never live down the shame. You see, the private investigator I hired followed Draco to a particularly unsavoury corner of Knockturn Alley. It appears that our good Draco is a... homosexual." Mr Parkinson said the word as though it were a particularly vile curse-word.

"I see," said Harry. For a moment, he was tempted to add, so what? I'm a homosexual too, and here you are drinking tea with me. He didn't, of course, but he would have dearly liked to see Mr Parkinson's reaction to that. "Why is that suspicious, sir? It's possible that he's bisexual."

Mr Parkinson looked shifty. "I, ah, also arranged for one of our house-elves to go with Pansy when she moved in with Draco. The elf was to watch what went on in their bedroom and report back to me."

"In the year between the wedding announcement and the wedding itself, they didn't... make love. Not once," said Mrs Parkinson.

Harry felt a little sick. "I see," he said again, setting down his teacup.

"I'm afraid Pansy had always been rather forceful when it came to things she wanted," said Mr Parkinson. "She was our youngest child. We'd always doted on her. You could say she didn't quite understand the meaning of 'no'. And she'd always spoke of marrying Draco with such certainty--"

"We think it's possible that she had somehow blackmailed Draco into marrying her." Mrs Parkinson said flatly.

Harry felt even sicker. "You haven't told Mrs Malfoy any of this?"

"Good gracious, no," said Mr Parkinson.

"She'd die of shame," said his wife. "We had originally been very approving that Draco was doing the right thing and suppressing his unnatural desires to start a normal family."

"We had no idea he would kill our daughter," said Mr Parkinson.

Harry raised his hands. "We have only established possible motive at the moment. You can't say Mr Malfoy killed Pansy. That would need to be proven. Have you material evidence of everything you've told me?"

"Pictures," said Mr Parkinson.

"And the house-elf, Paddy," added Mrs Parkinson.

Harry nodded and stood. "I thank you for the information, Mrs Parkinson. Mr Parkinson. This is certainly an angle that bears investigating. I appreciate you seeing me on such short notice, and I will let you know as soon as we learn anything new."

They said their goodbyes and Harry practically fled. He'd been sickened by hearing about their machinations and he hated that he had to smile and act like they weren't a pair of bigots eager to see an innocent man in Azkaban just because he wasn't 'normal'.

As he exited, he heard Mrs Parkinson say, "Such a polite boy. Even if he did put poor Lucius in prison."

::

Harry had been feeling like a wind-up doll ever since he'd received the Parkinson-Malfoy case. He knew that if he didn't talk to someone soon, he would explode. He had barely stepped into the Burrow's cosy living room when he was already spilling everything to a sympathetic-looking Hermione. She was feeling under the weather and stayed home whilst Ron took their son to Ottery St Catchpole, along with Bill, Fleur and their twin daughters. The rest of the family was in Diagon Alley. Ginny was off in Europe with her newest boyfriend, a local Muggle named Shep who had no idea she was a witch.

"So he thinks you led him on," Hermione was saying. "Trust Malfoy to turn everything into a soap opera."

Harry grinned at her. During the war, Hermione and Draco had actually progressed from mutual loathing, through petty bickering, to a cat-and-mouse sort of friendship that both emphatically denied. They were still 'Granger' and 'Malfoy' to each other, but it had been Hermione who'd insisted that Draco be invited to her wedding.

"I don't know what to do, Hermione," said Harry, settling more comfortably into the cushy sofa. "I can't stop thinking about him."

"Sounds like someone's in love," said Hermione. Crookshanks leapt out of nowhere and landed on the back of her chair with a discontented growl. She pulled the cat down into her lap.

"I'm not in love," protested Harry. "I can't stand Malfoy!"

Hermione eyed him. "Is that so?"

"I mean as a person," amended Harry. "He's a snob, and a coward. He was going to spend the rest of his life married to Pansy just to avoid rocking the boat! Lying about who he is--"

She interrupted him. "Really. Would you have divorced Ginny had she not found you with Colin?" asked Hermione.

"That was different."

"Of course it was. The point is, you don't even know Malfoy, Harry."

For a while, the only sound in the room was Crookshanks's purring. Finally, Harry broke the silence. "I could pretend to be in love with him. I dunno, send him love letters and flowers and romantic shit like that. Uh, poetry."

"Never pretend to a love which you do not feel, for love is not ours to command," intoned Hermione. "You'd only hurt him, and yourself."

"But Hermione, like you said, I don't know him. How am I supposed to get to know him if he won't even talk to me? I thought if I convinced him that I was in love with him--"

"And what if you don't end up falling in love with him? What if you get to know him and find out that he's exactly the petty, spoiled, bullying monster you first met on the Hogwarts Express, and nothing more than that? Will you pretend to fall out of love with him? That sounds like an awful lot of work for nothing but sex, Harry."

"Some men spend their entire lives pretending to be in love just so they can get sex," grumbled Harry.

"And you are one of them, is that it?" Hermione's eyes were shining with something Harry didn't like. At all.

"No," he said. "I'm not. But I know I can't get him out of my head unless I do something."

"So do something. Just don't lie to yourself, or to Malfoy. Never thought I'd say this, but he doesn't deserve it."

"Yeah, I can see it now," said Harry. "I'll walk up and knock on the door of Malfoy Manor and say, 'Hey Draco, guess what? I want to see if I can fall in love with you, so do you think we could get to know each other better?' Yeah, that'll work. I'll get right on it."

"If you do it that way, of course it won't work. Malfoy doesn't trust you, and remember where he comes from. He's been taught his whole life to look for meanings hiding behind hidden meanings. Those kinds of people can't process the raw truth unless it's coming from someone they trust completely."

"Which eliminates pretty much everybody," said Harry. "And I can't offer anything but the raw truth."

"Oh, please," said Hermione, rolling her eyes. "Thus speaketh the man who hid an affair from his wife for six months. Mr. Truth and Justice, that's you."

Ouch. "Hey, you're supposed to be on my side," Harry complained.

Hermione scratched Crookshanks behind the ears and looked up. "I am," she said, and held his gaze.

"I suppose you are, at that."

They grinned at each other, and Harry began to feel that things would turn out all right.

"Is he just a petty, bullying monster?" he asked after a protracted silence.

Hermione gave him a guarded look. "He's not easy to get along with."

"You manage it," said Harry. "You became friends--"

Hermione cut him off. "We're not friends," she said, and lowered her gaze. It was useless to press her, Harry knew, but he rather wished she'd help him out this once.

"So what should I do?" asked Harry after another long silence. "He refuses to meet with me unless it has to do with the investigation, and he certainly won't have dinner with me, even if I beg."

"Do what I did with Ron when I got tired of waiting for him to pop the question."

Harry looked up at her, eyebrows raised. "And what would that be?"

Hermione's grin was positively feral. "Get him drunk."

::

When Harry arrived at the Leaky Cauldron, Draco was already seated at a table near the back wall. His back was to the door, so Harry hurried over to the barkeep and flashed his Auror pin. The man's thick eyebrows rose.

"See that gentleman over there? I want you to pour a double shot of Firewhisky into anything he orders, as long as he keeps ordering. Put it all on my tab."

"Sir, I--"

Harry held his hand up. "You wouldn't want to obstruct a murder investigation, would you?"

"As you say, sir."

Harry walked to Draco's table and sat down across from him, keeping his face smooth. "Malfoy," he said.

"What's this about, Potter? Next time, I'll thank you not to hoodwink my house-elves into doing your dirty work."

"I merely asked that it deliver a message. I didn't ask it to slaughter your favourite pet."

Tom the innkeeper interrupted them as he took their orders. Draco ordered a pint of bitter and Harry did the same. He saw the barkeep cast a furtive glance in their direction and gave him a tiny nod.

He didn't know what to say to Draco. He had wanted to tell him about what the Parkinsons had done, but the more he'd thought about it over the day's course, the worse it sounded to him. Draco couldn't do anything with that information than possibly do something stupid, like confront the Parkinsons and dig himself into a deeper hole. So Harry decided to keep quiet about the details.

"The Parkinsons think you killed Pansy," he said instead.

Draco scowled but said nothing. Their drinks arrived. Harry watched, stomach knotting, as Draco drank. He set the pint down and frowned at it. "I asked for bitter, not poisonous," he muttered, and began to turn around, probably to signal to Tom.

"It's the new Firestar brand; don't tell me you haven't heard of it. It's all the rage in the pubs now," said Harry lightly, taking a swallow of his own bitter.

"Of course I've heard of it," said Draco with a sniff. "I just wish wizarding London's central pub would offer some variety."

Harry suppressed an amused snort. Poor Draco. Caught in a web of his own snobbery. He saw Draco eyeing him suspiciously and gave him an innocent look over the top of his glass.

"Was that all you had to tell me?" asked Draco after taking another sip and grimacing. "That Pansy's parents think I killed her?"

"No," said Harry. "I have some background questions I need you to answer. For the paperwork." He flipped his briefcase open and took out a stack of parchment and a Record-A-Quill.

There were eighty questions in total and by the time Harry flipped to the last page, Draco was already on his fourth pint. He was also pink in the face and slurring his words badly, all the while managing to pretend like he wasn't the least bit drunk.

"What'th in thith thtuff?" asked Draco for the fifteenth time.

"Looks like someone can't handle his alcohol," said Harry with a smirk. In truth, he was impressed. That Draco could still talk after eight full shots of Firewhisky plus some four pints of bitter was impressive. Harry would never have guessed he had it in him.

Draco looked scandalised. "My alco--mo--hol is none'f yer bithneth. Let'th have anoth'r round."

Harry put the Record-A-Quill and parchment back in his briefcase. "I think you've had quite enough," he said, and signalled to Tom, who hurried over and waited as Harry counted out three Galleons for the drinks and the tip.

After Tom left, Draco leant over the table. "Yer goin' to take me home an' f-fuck me," he announced, giving Harry a faceful of Firewhisky breath.

"Whatever you say," said Harry in a tone he hoped was neutral.

Was this what he'd wanted? He didn't know anymore. He got up and realised he was rather unsteady himself, even though he'd had no Firewhisky in his beer. After walking over to the bar, he slipped the barman six more Galleons with a word of thanks. When he got back to their table, Draco appeared to be taking a nap on the table already. Sighing, Harry helped him to his feet and turned his briefcase into a temporary Portkey. Remembering the surveillance on Malfoy Manor, he pulled his cloak's hood over his head.

"Here, hold on to this," he said to Draco, who was slumped against him, his head on Harry's shoulder.

"'d rather hold on ter s-something elth," slurred Draco, and fumbled at Harry's crotch. Flushing, Harry forced Draco's hand away from his robes and onto the briefcase. He only hoped Draco wouldn't throw up while travelling. Moments later, they landed outside the gates of Malfoy Manor.

"'M fine," mumbled Draco. "Can walk okay."

Harry ignored him. The gates stood open, and he half-dragged, half-carried Draco along the interlocking-brick walkway, towards the house. A house-elf opened the door and Harry ordered it to lead the way to Draco's bedroom. He picked Draco up and carried him up the stairs. Draco clung to his neck like a child and kept muttering something under his breath. When they reached the bedroom, Harry set Draco down on the floor. Draco swayed and threw his arms around him. Their noses bumped as Draco tried to kiss him, but missed. Rolling his eyes, Harry pulled Draco's robes off, after which Draco fell back across the bed and didn't move.

"This was not one of your most brilliant ideas," said Harry to himself. Why did he listen to Hermione? He pulled Draco's shoes and socks off and walked around to the other side of the bed, where he hauled Draco up and around to force him into a horizontal position. Draco's eyes flew open. He looked completely lucid, and Harry fully expected him to recoil. Instead, Draco pulled him closer and pressed his lips to the side of Harry's neck, sending a tiny shock of pleasure into Harry's lower belly. "Stay with me," whispered Draco, and arched up into him. Then he fell back and rolled onto his stomach, affording Harry a welcome but frustrating view of his backside, covered only by loose-fitting black underwear.

"Fuck," said Harry, to no one in particular. He was on a bed, kneeling beside the man he'd wanted desperately for years. Who was, by all accounts, asleep or unconscious. He lay down beside Draco and tried to think about what he should do, but he was finding it particularly difficult to think just now. Draco made a small noise and shifted slightly closer. Harry's heartbeat was loud in his ears. Why not? he told himself. It was quite likely he'd never see Draco like this again, never get this close to him…

He flipped Draco onto his back and paused, watching the pale chest rise and fall evenly. Draco's nipples were darker than Harry imagined, and there was a long, thin scar on his stomach that had never been there in Harry's dreams. Harry slid the edge of his index finger along the scar and Draco shifted away from the touch. Harry looked up at his face, alarmed, but Draco's eyes were closed, his eyelids fluttering in dreams. He was beautiful, Harry realised. All sharp lines and angles, but some of the edges were soft, like the hollow at the base of his neck, the slightly defined abdominal muscles.

Harry cupped Draco's smooth cheek and let his hand rest there. A moment later, Draco turned his head sideways and pressed it more tightly against Harry's hand. Harry swept his thumb across Draco's cheek and then removed his hand as slowly as he could. All he wanted was to wake him. All he did was shuck his shoes and robes and pull the duvet over them both. Draco wanted him to stay; he'd said so. Harry would stay, and try to sleep. This proved to be difficult with a neglected hard-on demanding attention, but Harry didn't want to leave the bed. He drifted off to sleep pursued by images of Argus Filch, the most disgusting creature Harry had ever known aside from his cousin Dudley. A certain mood-killer.

When he awoke, it felt like he had only been asleep for a few minutes, but the sun rising outside told him that it must have been at least five hours. Shielding his eyes from the glare with his forearm, Harry tried to sit up, but found a skinny pale arm blocking his way. Draco had got closer to him during the night, close enough for Harry to feel a hard length against his thigh. Draco would be awake soon, if he wasn't already. Harry glanced to his left and saw Draco's eyes coming open. Oh shit. A few more moments, and all hell would break loose.

Then Draco smiled, and Harry felt like his breath had been knocked out. At the moment, it felt quite like this was the best thing that had ever happened to him. If he wasn't in love with Draco yet, he would fall rather soundly in love if Draco kept smiling at him like that, eyes shining brighter than the rising sun.

Just as Harry began to smile back, all manner of hell did, in fact, break loose. In a manner of speaking.

Draco's eyes rounded to roughly the size of saucers. He pulled his arm away from Harry's chest as though stung. "You," he rasped. "We--" He began to lift his head off the pillow, but then fell back down with a groan. "My head. TICKY!"

There was a faint pop and the house-elf appeared on Draco's side of the bed, terror in its protuberant eyes. "Master," it squeaked.

"Hangover potion. Now."

The elf disappeared. Draco closed his eyes; Harry stayed put in his half-sitting position. Then the house-elf reappeared with a vial atop a silver tray. Draco picked it up and downed the dark liquid inside, then threw it hard against the far wall, where it shattered into pieces. The elf scurried to clean the mess up. Draco sat up, edging away from Harry.

"What the fuck happened?" Draco asked, without looking at him.

"You got drunk," said Harry, sitting up as well. "I accompanied you home, and you told me to stay." All of which was, in fact, true.

"Did we--"

"No."

Draco turned to him, eyes narrowed. "We didn't?" He looked puzzled for a moment, then wiggled beneath the duvet. "No, I suppose not. Unless I'm still too hung over to feel my arse."

"Nothing happened."

Draco regarded him for a moment. "Why didn't you?"

"I prefer my victims conscious," Harry said. "You fell asleep," he added after Draco's befuddled look didn't go away.

Draco threw his head back and laughed weakly. "Oh, Potter. You disappoint me."

"Would you rather I--"

"I would rather you weren't in my bed," snapped Draco.

Harry's heart sank like a stone in a pond, but he found he had neither wits nor will to say anything especially cutting. "Okay," he said with a shrug, threw the duvet aside and got out of bed. In a few moments, he was dressed as best he could manage. Without looking at Draco, he Apparated home.

Part II
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