DTH festbanner 2013

☆ Amnesty ☆
by Sesheta_66



"Ten o'clock on Sunday for brunch," Draco confirmed. "I shall see you then, Mother."

Draco closed the Floo connection and proceeded to his study. He was pleased that his mother was making the effort. His father's death a year earlier had taken its toll on her, but she was slowly recovering. He'd made a point of seeing her on a weekly basis, but this was the first time she'd been the one to extend an invitation.

Part of him felt badly knowing that his mother lived all alone in the Manor. But in his line of work, Draco needed his privacy. And as adept as he'd become at hiding things from others -- thank you Dark Lord for the motivation -- he wasn't fool enough to think he could keep things from Narcissa. She had a mother's intuition, years of experience with Draco, and could hold her own in Slytherin house. All in all, it was best he remain where he was.

Back to business. Draco's tracking spell -- a little known one he'd discovered in an old tome in the family library, and not, strictly speaking, legal -- had worked and it was only a matter of time now. He waved his wand over the map of Shropshire he'd placed on the mahogany table earlier that day, watched an image materialise, and confirmed his quarry's position. Another wave of his wand and two others were revealed, seated at the same table. Draco had no idea who the hangers-on were, their images unclear and faceless, but it didn't matter. The group of nine had become three, and it was time to go.

Glamours in place and dressed in worn robes, Draco Apparated to the alleyway behind the pub. Several complicated motions of his wand later, he felt confident that no detection spells would disclose his true image.

With purpose, he entered the pub and took a seat at a table halfway between the bar and his target. He angled himself to appear casual, but sure the occupants would be able to recall only a general impression of a man on his own. His dark brown hair and eyes, olive skin, slightly husky build and inexpensive clothing portrayed a man not to be confused with the sophisticated one beneath. A slight Cockney accent when he ordered ale rounded out the image.

He sipped his pint and observed the three men. Mulcair looked much the same as he had the last time Draco'd had the unfortunate occasion to see him. A follower of the Dark Lord, he'd paired himself up with a werewolf crew, somehow managing to steer clear of them when they changed. His dull brown hair remained shaggy and unkempt and the five-day growth on his face fell short of a beard and far beyond fashionably scruffy. Draco barely held back a shudder as he recalled the stale stench of smoke and alcohol that tended to wrap itself like a blanket around the vile man. Many a night he'd lain awake when Mulcair had been in residence at the Manor. Not as frightening as the Dark Lord or Aunt Bella, the man had still made Draco's skin crawl. Tonight Draco -- older, wiser, and far more experienced -- wouldn't be losing any sleep.

The other two men, slightly less offensive to the eyes, kept pace with Mulcair shot for shot. Both slurred slightly as they spoke, their voices growing louder as the night trudged on. Draco waited for one man to lumber to the loo before he made his move. Ordinarily quick on his feet, Draco crossed the room at a pace more fitting his current stature.

"Barry?" he said to Mulcair when he'd noticed Skinny's eyes shift to him. "Issat you, y'big oaf?" Draco kept his voice conversational, drawing no unwanted attention to himself, though enough to be somewhat memorable. When Mulcair turned to face him, Draco looked directly into his eyes. He blinked once, slowly, and dropped the glamour on his eyes -- something only Mulcair could see. As Draco's gaze bored into Mulcair's, he saw the recognition there. No one but Malfoys had those grey eyes, and they both knew it. Draco wanted him to know who he was. Needed him to know.

Before Mulcair could speak, Draco grinned and aimed his wand. "Avada Kedavra". Mulcair fell forward and his companion -- possibly sober now, but still too slow -- reached for his own wand. Draco stunned him and wiped his memory. Then he erected a Shield Charm on himself and calmly walked out the door.

He'd turned the corner to Apparate once more from the alley, but was stopped short by loud moaning. He saw the form of a man, curled up and writhing in pain. Careful to ensure that the man hadn't seen him, and that he hadn't been followed, Draco stood against the wall of the building and waved his wand. Gone were his glamour and clothing, replaced by a new set. His freckle-faced, ginger form approached the man cautiously, wand tucked into his sleeve.

The man groaned again, and as Draco moved closer, he knew why. Blood surrounded the body. What he'd thought was a curled up form was more of a heap, with left arm and right leg pitched at unnatural angles. The last time Draco had seen a body in such bad shape had been at a Quidditch match two years previous, after the player had plummeted over a hundred feet.

Draco approached cautiously, careful neither to spook the man nor get within range of his good arm. Aware of the irony of his situation -- after all, he'd just killed a man in cold blood -- he walked around the form to get a look at his face. And then stopped dead in his tracks.

"Potter?"

Another moan, this one slightly louder.

"Can you move?"

No response. A stupid question, really, but ...

"I'm going to Levitate you, okay?"

Another groan.

Draco thought better of moving Potter and opted for some basic diagnostic spells instead. A few waves of his wand confirmed what had been obvious -- a broken arm and leg -- and so much more. Potter had cuts, abrasions, and bruising over most of his body, a dislocated shoulder, and a broken nose to match the arm and leg. Worse than all that, though, he had extensive internal bleeding.

His first instinct was to take Potter to St. Mungo's, but then he reassessed the situation. If Draco showed up at the hospital with a close-to-death Harry Potter in tow, the Aurors would ask all sorts of questions. Like what was he doing down an alleyway behind a building in which a man had just been killed? A dose of Veritaserum, without Draco properly preparing for it, might well seal his fate.

He cast a few spells at Potter -- one to ease the flow of blood, one to numb the pain, one to keep him steady during Apparition, and one to bring him upright into Draco's arms. He'd do the rest at home where he had proper light, potions, and running water.

"I'm going to Apparate us both to my flat, okay?"

Potter's eyes rolled back in his head, and he let out a gurgling noise. Draco's heart raced. That was more disturbing than the puddle of blood. Before his brain caught up with him, he focussed on home.

Thanks to a last-minute Cushioning Charm, they landed softly in Draco's living room. He released Potter and set him gently onto the sofa, careful not to jostle him more than necessary.

"I'll be back in a moment. I'm going to pour you a bath so you can wash out all the ... well, whatever disgusting things linger in that alley."

When he received no response, Draco went to his ensuite, dropped his new glamour and began filling the soaker tub with water and a mixture of healing potions. Draco's flat wasn't a hospital, but it was equipped like one. Occupational hazard. He knew that Potter's external injuries would be easy enough to fix up. The shoulder would be the trickiest part; Draco knew he needed to set it before the swelling would prevent him doing it properly. But he needed to get Potter's bleeding under control first, or else risk making things worse as he tried to put the shoulder back into place. Spells had nothing on potions for cleaning, and Draco needed to see the extent of Potter's injuries before attempting anything that might do more harm than good.

When the tub was well on its way to filling up nicely, he returned to his living room to find Potter in the same position. He panicked for a moment when he didn't see Potter breathing, but then his chest rose slightly and Draco let out his own breath. Fucking Potter. Why Draco thought the man might die now -- after living through all he had done, including death, by age eighteen -- he didn't know. Ridiculous, really.

"Okay, Potter, here we go."

Draco Levitated Potter once more, all the way to the bathroom, then vanished his clothes and lowered him gradually into the tub, watchful that his head remained above water. He risked a charm to hold Potter's head up, then slowly, methodically cleaned his cuts and abrasions.

In addition to the injuries Draco had discovered at the scene, Potter had broken ribs, but at least there didn't seem to be any dark magic involved. Small consolation, but at least now Draco could proceed with magic.

He Levitated Potter to the spare bedroom and laid him on the bed. He tried to shake away thoughts he hadn't had for some time. Thoughts of Potter in his bed, but under much different circumstances. He'd thought the fantasies he'd had back then were in response to Potter saving him from the Fiendfyre -- hero worship and all that business. After a few of his more racy fantasies had seen him wanking to images of Potter beneath him, begging for Draco to fuck him harder and faster, Draco had forced himself to push them aside. He may be many things, but a masochist he was not. He knew nothing could ever happen between him and Potter, so he'd satisfied his needs with other men, real rather than imagined, men who didn't detest the mere thought of him. But now, with Potter here, in his home, he couldn't prevent those feelings flooding back.

As Draco willed himself to think about how much he'd hated Potter in school, he found himself less irritated by memories of Potter catching the Snitch than fascinated by how Potter looked atop his Firebolt. Feelings of jealousy over Potter participating in the Triwizard Tournament were replaced by interest in the man who, as a boy, was able to successfully dodge a dragon chasing him. Image after image appeared before Draco's eyes, only to morph into something he couldn't say was memory, but rather wishful thinking.

Fucking hell. What was wrong with him? Draco needed to focus on the task at hand. If he could mend Potter and get him back to his own home, he could go back to the Potter-free existence that had served him so well.

Several waves of his wand later, Draco had determined that Potter did, indeed, have three broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder blade, a broken finger and arm, and a severely swollen, possibly broken leg. Another few waves and Draco had reset the shoulder, taped up Potter's ribs, and set the arm and leg so they didn't move.

While an unconscious patient made potions more difficult to administer, Draco managed to give Potter a mixture to stop the internal bleeding, repair a lung that had sustained damage from one of the broken ribs, and mend the bones. All the while, Potter said nothing. Except for a slight wincing when Draco reset his shoulder, Potter didn't react at all.

Several times Draco wondered if he was doing the right thing. Sure, he fixed himself up all the time, but this was different. This was Potter. Saint fucking Potter who had better not die while under Draco's care.

But what choice did Draco have? If he took Potter to Mungo's, they'd call in his merry band of Aurors, and then where would Draco be? Under investigation. They'd likely blame him for Potter's injuries and put him in prison. It wouldn't be long before they connected the alley where he'd found Potter to the scene inside the pub. And if Potter did die, Draco would spend the rest of his life behind bars, because proof or no proof, they'd make Draco pay for their saviour's death.

He was well and truly fucked. He looked at Potter's swollen face -- not nearly as bad as that day when he'd been hauled into the Manor, but close. He reached for some healing salve and applied it cautiously over Potter's face, careful not to press too hard on the deeper lacerations.

Draco set aside the salve then brushed some stray hair away from Potter's eye. Fuck. Why was it always him? "You'd better not die on me, Potter."

No response.

Draco ran another series of diagnostic spells over Potter's form, satisfied himself that his patient was on the mend (bleeding had stopped, blood replenishment was well underway and bones were healing), and set an alarm to chime if Potter's condition declined or if he woke up. He got himself a cup of tea then settled himself in the chair beside Potter's bed.

An hour later, he checked again, determined that Potter was stable enough to withstand a sleeping draught without much risk, and gave him the potion. The deeper he slept, the better he would heal.

Draco remained in the chair most of the next twenty four hours, rechecking Potter's condition every hour or so and only leaving the room when necessary. By the time the day had passed, the swelling and bruising had gone away completely, his blood levels were nearly normal, and his bones had mended. The rest was up to him.

Potter's colour returned the second day, but he remained unconscious. Draco transfigured the chair in the room into a bed -- his neck had protested after his night in the chair -- and for the second night in a row slept next to Potter, where he could react quickly to any emergency.

On the third day, Draco risked leaving the flat for a quick trip to the store. He'd long ago cancelled his subscription to the Prophet -- so much of it was utter drivel -- but he thought it prudent to find out what the world was saying about the missing hero.

He picked up some milk and bread, and a few things Potter might eat when he awoke. If he awoke. Draco shook off that thought, unwilling to even consider such an outcome, and returned home.

He checked on Potter. No change. He tried not to worry, but it had been three days now, and he should have woken up. For all Draco could see, he'd healed. But what if he'd missed something? What if he had missed one detection spell? He replayed everything he'd done for Potter. He'd run every test he knew, and a few more besides, after consulting some old tomes. Still Potter slept.

He left the room, checking the alarms remained active, then settled himself on the sofa with a cup of tea and the Prophet. Better to see what he was facing. Nothing. Not one word. He flipped through the paper, cover to cover, but not one word about Potter. Did no one realise he was gone? How was that even possible? The man could have been dead. Would have been dead, had it not been for Draco. Where were the simpering hoards that worshipped at the altar of Saint Potter? More importantly, where were his fellow Aurors and his friends?

Draco glanced down the hall, wondering why no one seemed to care that Harry Potter was in his flat. Anger boiled beneath the surface. Draco didn't stop to consider why he felt this way, only that Potter deserved better. People should be out looking for him.

Once again, Draco questioned his own rationale for bringing Potter here instead of St Mungo's. Had he done more harm than good? Would Potter ever wake up?

Unable to stand his own thoughts, Draco retired to the spare room to watch over the man he'd once wished dead.

Draco dreamt of Potter that night. This dream was more vivid than ones from the past, now that Draco knew exactly what lay beneath Potter's robes and the baggy clothes he used to wear in school.

Potter, fully healed and more than enthusiastic, begged Draco to fill him.

Draco had three fingers inside Potter, stretching him and savouring the sounds Potter was making. "More," Potter urged.

Draco, mesmerised, watched his cock disappear inside Potter, then draw out. Again and again as Potter's moans filled the air. Potter's entire body shook as he clutched the covers.

Draco grasped and stroked Potter until he became a quivering mess. "Harder," Potter begged, his body arching to take Draco in as deeply as possible. Draco complied, savouring the feel of Potter contracting around him as he came, Draco's name on his lips. Draco followed a few strokes later, calling Harry's name into the darkness.

Harry drew Draco in for a leisurely kiss, sensuous and full of promise, more intimate than what had gone before.


Draco awoke, breathing rapidly, sweat covering his aching body. He turned to the other bed in the room and the object of his desire. He wanted this man more than he ever imagined possible. And Potter couldn't stand the sight of him.

Fuck.

Potter lay still. Breathing evenly. Unaware.

***


The next morning, four days after Draco had brought Potter to his flat, an alarm sounded softly. Potter was waking up.

Draco rushed from the kitchen, where he'd been preparing his mid-afternoon tea and trying unsuccessfully not to relive the previous night's dream over and over again.

Potter opened his eyes. Finally. He blinked rapidly, trying to focus. "Malfoy?"

Draco, afraid to speak -- he was so relieved to hear Potter's voice -- reached for the glass of water he'd kept on the night side table, trying desperately to free the lingering dream and its visions from his mind.

"What am I ... what are you doing here?"

"Shh," Draco admonished, reaching behind Potter's head to gently lift him and bring the glass to his lips. "Drink this."

Potter pulled back slightly.

"It's water, you git," Draco said. He heard an edge of hurt in his voice and reminded himself that he and Potter weren't friends, never mind anything else, no matter the images his mind conjured. "If I'd wanted to see you dead, I'd have left you in that alley rather than bring you back to my flat."

Potter frowned. "Your flat." He looked around, mulling over Draco's words for a few moments, then decided to trust him and take a sip. Stupid Gryffindor. That's probably what had got him here in the first place. Potter swallowed then said, "You're not a killer."

Good thing Draco wasn't the one sipping water at that moment, or he'd have choked. "I wouldn't be so sure," he said.

Potter shook his head, then leaned in for another sip. Draco tipped the glass slowly, watching Potter swallow several times before setting the glass back down and resting Potter's head back on the pillow.

"I'm sure," Potter said. "You don't have it in you. I saw you on the Astronomy Tower with Dumbledore. And during the war when Voldemort had you torturing people."

Draco looked away, not wanting to remember any of that.

"Your heart wasn't in it," he said. "You didn't get pleasure from other people's pain."

Draco looked back at Potter and raised a brow.

"Okay, maybe you got a bit of pleasure seeing me hurt, but you would never kill me." He looked at the glass, then back to Draco. "And it seems you wouldn't poison me either." His face turned serious. "You're a good person, Malfoy. Deep down, where it counts."

Draco had only ever heard Potter say positive things about him in court when he'd testified on Draco's behalf. And then it wasn't so much good as it was he's not really evil. And Draco suspected that Potter had only done it to appease his mother after she'd lied to the Dark Lord for him.

"You must be delirious, Potter," he said. He ran through all the treatments he'd administered. "I don't believe it's a side effect of any of the potions I've given you -- the sleeping draught I gave you that first day has long since worn off -- and I only used healing spells, so I have to conclude that you sustained some sort of head injury. Considering you just complimented me, perhaps multiple head injuries."

Potter managed to roll his eyes. Then he winced in pain. Draco laughed. "Serves you right for mocking your saviour," he teased.

Potter scowled. Then winced again.

"Stop thinking," Draco said. "It's obviously too much for your tiny brain."

"Arse."

"Stubborn git."

Potter grinned. "Guilty as charged."

"Okay, now I know something's wrong," Draco said. "You're joking. With me." He stood up, resolved to face the worst. "I'd been preparing to do this today anyway, if you hadn't woken up. Let's get you to Mungo's."

Potter shook his head and cringed. "Shit, that hurts."

Honestly. "Do I have to tie you down?" Draco asked.

Something flashed in Potter's eyes -- something that looked altogether different from pain. Or anger. Or anything else he'd ever seen on Potter. Except in his own fantasies. Truth be told, he'd imagined it frequently enough over the years. He'd just never ... No. Surely not. Maybe being cooped up with Potter for the past four days had affected his brain, too, and he was seeing things.

And then Potter said the unthinkable. "Maybe later. For now I just think I need to use the loo and sleep for a few days."

Draco closed his eyes, willing his body not to react to the vision that flashed before them. "You've already slept for three days," he said.

"What?" Potter sat up quickly, then flopped back down, clutching his head in his hands. "Three days? What happened?"

"You've been here, in my guest room, going on four days now. I found you, left for dead, in a heap in an alleyway. I brought you here, figuring you'd prefer not to go to St Mungo's where the press would hound you relentlessly." It was as good a story as any. He sat on the edge of the bed and once more lifted Potter's head gently and gave him a sip of water. "I see now that I should have brought you there right away. I'm no Healer. I don't know what I was thinking."

Potter gripped his wrist -- he was strong for a man who'd just recovered from near death. "You did the right thing. Thank you," Potter said. "I just have a headache. Probably from lying down for days. And some potions have that effect on me."

"See?" Draco said, worried now. "I didn't know that. I might have ..."

"Malfoy!" Potter flinched at the loudness of his own voice. "I'm fine. Well, I will be fine, eventually. You did the right thing, and I appreciate it." He grimaced in what Draco presumed was meant to be a smile. "But right now, if you don't mind, I really need to use the loo."

"Oh, right." Draco lifted Potter to a sitting position. "Shall I Levitate you?"

Potter scoffed. "I'm not an invalid."

"You're not?"

"Shut up. If it's not too much trouble, your highness, maybe just a shoulder to lean on until I can use the wall for support."

"Stubborn prat."

"I already acknowledged that. Now, if you don't mind?"

"Fine."

"In about five minutes, I'm going to want a full explanation of what happened, how you managed to stumble upon me, and why you felt it necessary to take care of me. I have to admit, that last bit baffles me, considering our past. But for now, I can't think past my full bladder and throbbing head."

"Mungo's," Draco repeated, not sure he wanted to have that conversation. Even if he'd been preparing for it while Potter was unconscious.

"I'm not going to the hospital. A headache tonic and some water should do the trick." His stomach growled.

"And maybe some food?" Draco asked.

"Probably not a bad idea. Now where's the loo?"

Draco pointed the way and watched Potter stagger a few steps before he caught up to him, pulled Potter's arm around his shoulders, and guided his stubborn houseguest the rest of the way.

"I can manage," Potter protested, though he remained too weak to put up much of a fight.

Draco walked Potter through the door to the toilet. "I'm not going to hold it for you," he said, "but I'll help you get there."

As he shut the door to leave Potter to his business, Draco thought he heard, "Pity."

Shaking off the image that conjured, Draco went to the kitchen to rustle up something for Potter to eat. When he heard the toilet flush, he set aside what he was doing to retrieve his patient.

He heard Potter stumble and asked, "You okay in there?"

More noise. "Er ... not really."

"I'm coming in," Draco warned. When he opened the door, he saw Potter sitting on the floor a few paces from the toilet, looking utterly exhausted.

"I guess I could use your help after all," Potter said, a mixture of embarrassment and frustration in his voice.

"Oh, how the mighty have fallen," Draco teased.

Instead of the expected retort, Potter responded by laughing. "Indeed," he said, leaning his head against the cupboard. "Hurry. Call the Prophet."

At first Draco thought it was a dig at his antics with Rita Skeeter in fourth year, but seeing the genuine mirth in Potter's eyes, he revised his assessment. Curious, he asked, "Are you joking with me ... again?"

Potter lifted his arm in silent request. "It's been known to happen," he said.

Draco reached down and lifted him, wrapping Potter's arm around his shoulders again and taking on most of the other man's weight. "Not with me, it hasn't."

"My mistake."

"Seriously, Potter, we need to get you to a Healer."

Potter shook his head. "Ow."

"Stop doing that!"

Potter smirked. "Gonna tie me down now?"

Damn it. Draco's body -- or at least part of it -- responded instantly to that thought. Yes, yes, yes! Do it! He willed himself to breathe. "Not now," he said.

Potter chuckled, clearly enjoying Draco's discomfort. "No Healers. I've seen too many already."

"But ..." You've clearly lost your mind.

"Hmm?"

"You're acting ... strange. Nice."

"I'm just acting like me," Potter said.

"But you aren't like this. You're ornery and argumentative and ... infuriating!"

"No I'm not."

"You are with me."

Potter allowed himself to be guided to the sofa, then frowned. "I guess you just bring out the worst in me."

"Yes, well, I suppose you do the same to me."

"You just don't know me," Potter said.

"Exactly! We don't know each other and we don't like each other. We are certainly not nice to each other." Draco nodded his head triumphantly. "Clearly you need to see a professional."

"Correct me if I'm wrong," Potter said, looking earnestly at Draco. "I was beaten to a pulp and you saved my life."

Actually, I just offed some Death Eater, stumbled upon you in the alley, and in a momentary lapse of reason, brought you here, instead of to St Mungo's. To protect my own arse from being discovered.

"Well ..."

"I'm fuzzy on the details -- I think they knocked me out after beating me senseless, because I was at a cottage in the country, definitely not an alley in the city when it happened. And then, when I thought they'd continue kicking and punching me until I died, I felt a spell hit me and everything went black. Then I woke up here, with you, of all people, hovering over me, looking worried. I'd say what you did falls into the nice category."

Draco stammered, grasping for a believable explanation. "It would have been disastrous for me if the Great Harry Potter, Saviour of the Wizarding World and all that rot, died in my spare room, wouldn't it?"

He seemed to consider Draco's words, his lip twitching in amusement. "No doubt," he agreed. "But that doesn't explain how or why you rescued me in the first place and brought me back here. You could have left me there or dumped me somewhere else to be found."

"You were left for dead, Potter. I couldn't leave you like that. I couldn't leave anyone like that."

"Still, you could have taken me to the hospital. You didn't have to bring me here."

Draco's face flushed. "No, I didn't. Clearly I wasn't thinking." I had just killed someone; what do you expect? "Maybe I didn't want to get blamed for what happened."

Potter scowled. "Really?"

"Yes, really, Potter. Surely you realise that someone with my ... past ... might be considered, or rather assumed to be a suspect. I didn't fancy spending the next while in prison, if you hadn't woken up."

"So," he said, amusement in his tone, "you didn't want to get yourself in trouble?"

Draco nodded. "That's right."

"So watching over me for days, administering potions and spells and staying at my bedside -- that was all just to protect yourself?"

Draco crossed his arms over his chest and nodded. "Of course."

"You nursed me back to health."

Draco took in Potter's face, remembering the swollen, bruised mess it had been. He resisted reaching for it. "You are hardly healed."

Potter scowled. "I'm not dead. Which I'm sure I would be had you not come along."

Draco, in an effort to defer, if not avoid this conversation entirely, escaped to the kitchen. "As I recall, you always liked shepherd's pie in school." He brought the dish and a glass of pumpkin juice into the living room and Accioed a portable table. He plunked the tray onto it. "Here. Eat."

Potter frowned.

"What?"

"You know what food I like?" he asked.

Of course I do. Draco felt his face redden under Potter's scrutiny. "You weren't the only one watching in school."

Potter opened his mouth, seemed to reconsider, then shut it again.

"It's from a pub up the road. Now eat," Draco demanded.

Potter took a sip of the juice, then looked intently at Draco. "Thank you."

Draco waved his hand at the food. "It's nothing."

"I meant for saving me."

"Oh. Well then." Draco wondered briefly if he'd ever bothered to thank Potter when he'd saved him from the Fiendfyre. He smiled. "Just returning the favour."

With that, they fell silent and Potter ate his food.

"Here," Draco said as he replaced the empty plate and glass with a serving of treacle tart and tea ten minutes later. He drew a phial from his pocket and placed it on the table. "Headache tonic. Earl Grey. Treacle tart. Enjoy."

"Careful, Malfoy," Potter warned. "I might start to think you care."

"Pfft," Draco said. "Don't be ridiculous. It's all strategic. After all, keeping Saint Potter happy can only bode well for me in the future."

Potter laughed. "Sure, Malfoy. Whatever you say."

After Potter took the tonic, he visibly relaxed.

Draco relaxed too. "Feel better?"

"Much, thanks."

"Good," Draco said. "I have to go out for a few minutes. Will you be okay on your own for a bit?"

"You trust me alone in your flat?" Potter asked.

Draco shrugged. "You're wandless, witless and can't make it to the toilet without help. And I have strong wards. No worries."

Potter rolled his eyes, this time without wincing. "Oh, Draco, you say the sweetest things sometimes."

"Twat."

"Go on," Potter said, waving him off. "Apparently I'm not going anywhere right now."

"Just lie down and rest," Draco suggested. "I'll be back in about twenty minutes."

"Whatever you say."

Draco went into town quickly and returned with some supplies.

"So," Potter said, "how did you become my saviour?"

"By complete accident. I was in London picking up some take-away. I found an out-of-the-way spot I often use for Apparating, and there you were."

"No sign of anyone else around?"

"No one. Just you and a lot of blood."

"You didn't hear anyone Apparate or drive away?"

"Nothing. I got the feeling you'd been there for some time, if the volume of blood surrounding you was any indication."

"Take me there."

Shit. He'd hoped not to lead an Auror of all people nearly right to the scene of a more fatal scene, one that he'd caused. "Excuse me?"

"Take me back to the alley."

"Are you sure you want to go back there now? Shouldn't you report to the Aurors first?"

Potter ran a hand through his hair, frustration evident in his look. "I want to see if being there jogs my memory, before I contact Kingsley."

Shit. Of course Potter would call the Minister himself. Draco tried not to panic. "Wait a minute." Draco went into his study and returned with a stone bowl covered in ancient runes. "How about this for your memory?"

"You have a Pensieve?"

"Naturally. Father purchased it for me for my eleventh birthday." At Potter's confused expression, Draco hastily added, "To help me with my studies."

Potter grinned. "Bet that helped you keep your stories straight."

"Very funny. If that were its purpose, I'm sure you could have used one yourself."

"No doubt." Potter chuckled. "Were we even allowed those at Hogwarts?"

Draco shrugged. "I don't believe they were banned."

"Probably best I didn't have one," Potter said, humour falling from his face. "I don't know how healthy it would have been to relive some moments."

"Oh, come on," Draco said. "Don't tell me you wouldn't have replayed your many battles with the Dark Lord to all your simpering fans. They'd have positively wet themselves to watch you in action." I wouldn't have minded seeing that myself.

Potter cringed. "Not a chance." He looked directly into Draco's eyes. "I was thinking of some of my less stellar moments." He let his gaze drop to Draco's chest, then he reached out and touched the spot where, years ago, he'd hit Draco with a spell and ripped open his chest. Draco stood rooted to the spot. "I'm so sorry," he said. "I don't think I ever properly apologised for that."

Draco's hand spontaneously reached up to rest on Potter's. "Snape told me that you didn't know what the spell did."

Potter pulled his hand away. "It was stupid. I could have killed you. Nearly did."

Draco wasn't sure what to make of this Potter. "I was about to hit you with an Unforgiveable, you'll recall."

"It's still no excuse. For fuck's sake, I stopped Voldemort by disarming him, not ripping him apart."

Draco grinned. "Good to know you viewed me as more of a threat."

"That's not funny!"

"No," Draco agreed. "But it is in the past. Where it should stay."

"You saved my life."

"And you saved mine. More than once. You saved a lot of lives." The world is a better place because of you. "Stop beating yourself up over something you can't change."

Potter ran his hands through his hair, nearly pulling it out by its roots.

"I forgave you a long time ago," Draco said. And he had. He'd just never realised it.

Potter closed the few feet between them and pulled Draco into a bone-crushing hug. "Thank you."

When Potter released him, Draco said, "Okay, this is officially surreal now."

"Sorry. I didn't mean to ..."

Draco regained his composure, brushing imaginary lint from his shoulders. "Quite understandable," he said. "I am, after all, rather fetching. Difficult to resist."

Potter's eyes darkened and his cheeks flushed.

Interesting.

"Right, then," Draco said. "Let's take a look at those memories of yours and figure out who attacked you."

Potter looked around. "Er ... my wand?"

"About that." Draco drew his own wand and offered it to Potter. Something he'd never imagined himself doing willingly. "When I found you, there was no sign of it." When Potter hesitated, Draco pressed his wand into Potter's hand. "You can use mine. I know for a fact that it works for you."

Potter nodded. He concentrated for a few minutes, drew a silver strand from his temple and placed it into the Pensieve.

When Draco stepped forward to travel into the memory too, Potter said, "You don't have to do this."

"I know, but I want to." Potter tried to argue, but Draco cut him off. "Second set of eyes and all that." Besides, I want to see if I recognize the bastards that did this to you.

Potter stood in a playground surrounded by a group of children. He picked them up one and two at a time, twirled them around, then chased them, giggling, around the yard to a shed. They exited, armed with broomsticks and a Quidditch kit. Potter waved his wand, creating a barrier beyond which they couldn't fly.

Draco watched, transfixed by Potter with these children he'd never seen before.

"Sorry," Potter said, shaking Draco from his concentration. He looked embarrassed. "I wasn't sure when the perpetrators showed up, but this was the last place I'd been before the attack."

Giggling drew Draco's attention once more. He watched Potter barrel-roll on his broom, to the entertainment of his young audience. Draco smiled, then caught Potter watching him. "Who are they?"

"Orphans. Mainly from the war."

A young boy stood away from the rest, gripping a broom tightly but not flying. "And that one?"

"That's Braeden." Potter's expression saddened. "He witnessed his parents killed by Death Eaters. His mother plummeted to her death, falling off a broom at Braeden's feet after being hit by the Killing Curse."

A vision of Narcissa, staring at him with lifeless eyes, sent a shudder down Draco's spine. "I don't think I'd fly either if something like that happened to me."

"That would be a shame," Potter said. "But he'll ride eventually."

"You sound confident."

"I am." He smiled and Draco's heart skipped a beat. "When I first met him, he wouldn't even come outside. Now he watches and he holds his own broom. Watch." Potter rested a hand on Draco's arm and pointed.

Draco's arm warmed at the touch and he looked at the boy. Braeden, after ensuring no one was watching him, put the broom between his legs and ran around in circles.

"See?" Potter said. "It's only a matter of time before he's giving me a run for my money."

Draco laughed. "A tall order, that."

Potter frowned. "How so?"

"Just that it wouldn't be an easy task to challenge you on a broomstick. I ought to know."

Potter smiled again. "Likewise. You know, besides professional Quidditch players, you're the best I've seen on a broom."

"Will wonders never cease. Harry Potter paying me a compliment."

Potter nudged him with his shoulder. "Don't get used to it."

"Wouldn't dream of it."

Draco returned his attention to the memory. Potter said his goodbyes, to much objection from the children, called out to an unseen woman inside, then walked out to the street. As memory Potter approached a car, Draco saw two men watching him. "There," he said, pointing them out to Potter.

Potter's eyes narrowed. "That's them."

Memory Potter opened the door to a red sports car and climbed in.

"Really, Potter? A Gryffindor red car? You are so predictable."

"And I suppose you would suggest a Slytherin green instead?"

"Better than red."

"It's a sports car!"

"What do you even need a car for? You're a wizard."

Potter smirked. "It's fun. You should try it sometime."

"Not a chance."

"What's the matter, Malfoy? You scared?"

Of course I'm scared. It's a Muggle death trap. "Don't be ridiculous."

"Good. I'll take you for a drive someday."

"Didn't you already nearly die?"

"Shut up and watch."

They climbed into memory Potter's car, much to Draco's dismay. He reminded himself that he couldn't get hurt in a memory and made sure the real Potter didn't see his fear.

Along the way, the two men appeared periodically, obviously following memory Potter. When he stopped the car and got out at a small cottage, he popped the boot and reached inside. The two men pounced, throwing a Stunner and Summoning Potter's wand.

"Stupid!" Potter said. "How could I have been so stupid?"

"You didn't know you were being followed."

"I should have known."

Mad-Eye Moody's image flashed in Draco's mind. "Constant vigilance," he said.

Potter nodded as he watched the attack. "Exactly."

The men punched and kicked and hit memory Potter with curses until, after fighting his best, Potter fell to his knees. The larger one kicked Potter repeatedly in the ribs while the lanky one kicked him in the back. Draco winced. He'd seen the injuries those kicks had caused.

When Potter, face bloodied and raw, looked barely able to take a breath, Scrawny hit him with a Stunner and memory Potter collapsed. The memory ended and they stood once more in Draco's living room.


Draco's stomach lurched, though he wasn't sure if it was from what he'd witnessed or from Pensieve travel. Potter leaned on him, still unsteady on his feet.

"You need to see a Healer."

"I'm fine. Just a bit off kilter from the Pensieve."

Draco narrowed his eyes.

"Really, I'm fine. I need to talk to Kingsley."

"Are you going to the Ministry now?" Draco led him to the sofa. "Do you think it wise to Floo just at this point?"

"Might not be such a good idea." Potter rubbed his temples. "I think I'll just send him an owl, if you don't mind."

"Of course not." Draco brought Potter some parchment, a quill, and a bottle for Potter's memory. "Write what you'd like and I'll send it for you."

"I can send it myself."

"Or you could stay on the sofa and rest while I send it."

Potter mumbled something unintelligible under his breath, but handed the sealed parchment and bottle to Draco when he was done.

Twenty minutes later, Draco's owl returned with a reply. Potter read through it quickly, muttered something, then read it again.

"What did he say?"

"He's keeping the memory as evidence for now, and ..." Potter rubbed the back of his neck, looking uncomfortable. "He thinks we'll have a better chance of catching them if they think I'm dead."

Draco thought about that. "It might make them more careless, if they don't believe there were any witnesses." Potter continued to look uncomfortable. Draco sniggered. "You're pissed that you can't find them yourself, aren't you?"

Potter scowled. "As if you wouldn't be."

He had a point. "True."

"I can't go home, in case they're watching the house. I can't go to work. I was already on mandatory leave after my last case, so no one is expecting to see me there." Ah. That explained why no one had been looking for him. "And I can't go anywhere public if I'm supposed to be dead."

"Plus you're not in any condition to be alone, especially without a wand."

Potter groaned. "Hermione will be impossible."

Draco raised a brow. "I thought you three were inseparable."

"Let's just say she's not the easiest person to live with." Draco snorted. He could only imagine. "Besides, she and Ron live together now and ..."

"Being a third wheel not your idea of fun?"

Potter shuddered. "Definitely not."

Draco pretended to mull over Potter's predicament for a couple of minutes. No sense sounding too enthusiastic. "You could stay here."

Potter laughed. "You can't be serious."

"Why not?"

Potter looked genuinely surprised. "Why would you want me here?"

Draco shrugged. "Perhaps I want to ensure you don't die." Potter smirked, but before he had a chance to say anything sappy, Draco added, "I can't let all my hard work go to waste. Besides, the spare room is already set up. Might as well use it."

Potter studied him. "If you're sure."

"Good. That's settled then."

Potter chuckled.

"What now?"

"I'm imagining what Ron and Hermione's reactions will be when I tell them where I'm staying."

Draco grinned, picturing the Weasel's face. Then he remembered Granger's right hook from school and dropped the smile. "I'll leave you to that discussion."

He picked up his Pensieve and retired to his den. He had some work to do.

When he heard Potter speaking through the Floo, Draco pulled out his wand. He drew several memories he'd long since buried and placed them in the stone basin. Locking the door first, he dove into his past.

He was home for Christmas and the Dark Lord had taken over his family home. A line of simpering fools streamed through, day after day, sucking up to him, hoping to win his favour. There! Bradshaw. Scrawny.

Another memory, just before returning to school. Scrawny was talking about his cousin, Murphy, from Salisbury.

A third memory, from Easter hols. Murphy. Draco recognized Potter's second attacker.

Draco pulled himself back to the present.


He'd had a vague recollection of their faces when he'd watched Potter's memories. Now he had names.

Now he had his next job.

***

Sunday morning arrived and Draco went to the Manor for brunch. He spent the entire time making small talk with his mother and thinking about Potter, who had gone to see the Minister for Magic at his home, where no one would see him.

They still hadn't caught the fools who'd dared to attack Harry Potter. Unfortunately, Draco hadn't caught up with them either. He'd found three possible locations for them, but hadn't been able to catch up with either of them. If he could manage to get some form of DNA, he could use his trusty tracking spell, then hope that eventually they'd be stupid enough to show up in the same place at the same time. But he had to find one of them first.

At his earliest convenience, he excused himself and returned home. He went straight for his den and continued his research. Some five hours later, when he'd done all he could, he called it a wash, determined to pick up their trails the next day when the shops in Diagon Alley reopened.

Frustrated and more than a little hungry, he decided to make his favourite pasta dish for dinner.

"I'm back," Potter called, quite unnecessarily, as he toppled out of the Floo.

Draco set aside the sauce he'd been preparing for dinner. "You were gone for a while."

Potter grinned. "Aw, did you miss me?"

Draco ignored him. "What did Kingsley say?"

Potter ran his eyes over the dining table, stove, counter, then Draco. "You cook?"

"I've been known to throw a few things together occasionally, yes."

Potter's lips twitched. "I'd have thought you'd have house-elves for that."

Draco glared. "As I recall, we lost one while I was in school."

Potter grinned. The bastard. "I'm not apologising for that," he said. "Your father was horrid to Dobby. And, if it hadn't been for him, I wouldn't be here."

"And if it hadn't been for you, I might have someone to prepare my meals for me. As it is, I must fend for myself when I don't dine with my mother."

"Oh, the horror." Draco pitched a towel at Potter's head, which he ducked easily. "How is Narcissa?"

Draco frowned. "She's fine. Why do you ask?"

He shrugged. "I owe my life to her too."

"How many times were you supposed to have died then?"

"I lost count a long time ago." Potter laughed. "Seems I've another one to add now."

Draco retrieved a bottle of wine from the bar. "Merlot okay?"

"My favourite, actually."

"Really? You drink wine?"

"I've been known to drink a glass or two occasionally, yes."

"Good. Then you can open it and pour while I get our dinner."

Potter opened the bottle and poured two generous glasses. Draco placed the pasta and sauce into a dish, added some tongs and Levitated it to the table. On occasions such as this, when Draco had a handsome man over for dinner, he'd put on music and light some candles to set the mood. But this was Potter, and it was most certainly not a date. Pity.

Potter breathed in. "It smells great!"

"Don't sound so shocked."

"You have to admit, this is strange. First you save my life, then you nurse me back to health, and now you're cooking for me. I feel like I'm going to owe you forever."

"Oh, I'm sure I can find some way for you to pay me back." An image of Potter's naked body draped across the table, pale skin in sharp contrast with the mahogany, popped into Draco's head.

"Should I be scared?" a fully-clothed Potter asked, bringing Draco back to reality.

Draco cleared his throat. "Excuse me?"

"You zoned out there for a minute." Potter's eyes danced with amusement. Draco wondered if he'd managed to finally master Occlumency. "Should I be afraid of what you have in mind?"

Draco reached for his glass and took a long sip, regaining his composure. No way anyone got into his head without him feeling it. He put his glass down and leaned over the table. "You should know by now, Potter, to always be wary of a Slytherin."

Potter's breath hitched but he said nothing. Instead, he scrutinised Draco and reached for his own glass.

Draco dished Potter a serving, then himself. Potter chuckled.

"What?"

"Now you're serving me." He shook his head in disbelief. "I must be dreaming."

"Interesting. You dream about me often, Potter?"

Potter looked at Draco across his plate and said, "If I did, I doubt you'd be serving me dinner." Then he smirked and took a forkful. He closed his eyes, let his head loll back and let out a soft moan.

Draco's mouth went dry. He watched Potter's Adam's apple bob as he swallowed and wondered if Potter's dreams were anything like his own. He took a gulp of his wine. "I take it you like the food?"

Potter savoured it a moment more before opening his eyes. "Fuck me, Malfoy. Who knew you were so talented in the kitchen?"

Interesting choice of words. "Oh, my talents reach far beyond the kitchen, Potter."

Potter's eyes glazed over and his voice became raspy. "Do tell."

Fucking hell, the man was hot.

Draco took a mouthful of his food. It was very good, if he did say so himself. He took his time before washing it down with a less hurried sip of wine. Emboldened by the alcohol or intoxicated by Potter's apparent flirting, more likely a bit of both, he leaned closer to Potter. "Now what fun would there be in telling you?" I'd much rather show you.

Potter leaned forward too, raising his glass in a toast. "Then here's to discovering your many talents myself."

Fuck. Draco raised his glass to Potter's.

They finished dinner and the bottle of wine, mixing small talk between moments of highly-charged but comfortable silence. Who knew Potter would be a good conversationalist?

"So what have you been doing with yourself since the war?" Potter asked as they cleared the table.

"This and that," Draco hedged.

"Come on, Malfoy, you know all about me."

"It's not my fault your entire life is for public viewing."

"Yeah." He looked at once uncomfortable. Vulnerable. "You'd think they'd have got over me by now."

"Why would anyone get over you?" Draco asked, his tongue a little faster than his brain, if the shocked look on Potter's face said anything. Draco hastily retrieved a second bottle of liquid courage, opened it and refilled their glasses. "I mean, if the world forgets what happened, what might have happened if you hadn't killed the bastard, we could be just stupid enough to let it happen again."

Potter studied him curiously, then nodded and held up his glass. "To never forgetting."

"I'll second that."

After a few minutes, Potter asked, "If you read the papers, how is it you didn't know about the orphanage?"

"I stopped taking the paper a couple of years back."

"Tired of looking at my ugly mug every day?"

Hardly. "Tired of reading half-truths and drivel. It's far too exhausting to have to fish through it all for a nugget of real news."

Potter nodded. "So you never said, what have you been doing with yourself?"

Killing former Death Eaters. The ones the Ministry can't seem to catch. And doing a rather fine job of it, too.

Suspecting Potter wasn't going to let it go any time soon, he decided to go for the truth. Or some of it. He glared at his wine as though it was the force driving him to such lengths.

"I finished school." What a treat that was. Then, after applying for and being rejected by the Aurors, I went to France for a year." No matter how successful he became, it still didn't make their rejection burn any less.

"You applied to the Aurors?"

"Ridiculous, I know."

"Not at all. I think you'd make a brilliant Auror."

Draco laughed. "Nice try, Potter."

"No, I'm serious." He looked serious. Draco wanted to reach over and -- "You were always great in school, and amazing at Potions."

Draco swirled the wine in his glass. "I don't think my NEWTs were the problem."

"Oh. Right." Potter scowled at the tablecloth. "But you were found innocent."

Draco snorted. "Hardly. The charges were dropped. It's not the same thing."

"They can't hold actions against you if you weren't charged."

"Of course they can." Was Potter really that naive? "And they did. They do. Most people do."

"You should reapply."

"I did. Several times."

"It's been a few years now."

"Let it go, Potter. It's in the past. I've moved on." He went into the kitchen to get the dessert.

Potter followed. Stubborn git. He watched Draco remove the tiramisu from the box and place it on a plate. He leaned back, elbows propped on the counter, revealing a small strip of skin above his waistband and looking far more delectable than the dish in front of Draco. Draco looked away and reached for plates.

"Have you?" Potter asked from so close behind him, Draco could feel Potter's breath ghost over his neck.

"Have I what?" Draco asked, so distracted by Potter's proximity that he was no longer sure what they'd been talking about.

"Moved on." Potter leaned over Draco's shoulder to look at the cake. "Seems to me this and that doesn't mean the same thing."

Draco breathed deeply, the scent of Potter's after shave filling his nostrils and sending his already racing heart into overdrive. He could feel the heat flowing from Potter's body and had to fight not to lean back into the warmth.

Draco picked up the cake and turned around, holding it as a barrier between them. "I've made my peace with it," he said. "I made my choices and now I live with the consequences."

"But they weren't your choices."

"Let it go. Please." He pushed past and set the dish down. "You can't fix everything." When Potter made to say something, Draco stopped him. "Dessert. The finest money can buy."

Potter didn't look like he'd let it go, but he shut up just the same.

Draco watched Potter eat and reined in his libido.

"You still keep in touch with anyone from school?" Potter asked when he was done.

"Pansy and Blaise. Sometimes Greg. You?"

"Ron and Hermione. Neville, Seamus and Luna occasionally. Ginny at family functions."

"Whatever happened to the two of you? Everyone figured you for the altar and a Quidditch team worth of ginger babies."

"You've read the papers." Potter laughed without humour. "I didn't fancy living a lie."

"Lots of people do it. Keep the family lines going."

"Doesn't make it right." Potter unnerved him when he stared so intently. "Seems to me you'd know better than most."

"True, but I'm not you."

"We're not so different, you and I."

"If you say so." Draco smiled. "I just think, after seeing you with those orphans, that a kid or ten might be pretty lucky to have you as a father."

"Careful, Malfoy. That sounded like a compliment."

Draco waved Potter's comment away and drained his glass. "Blame it on the wine. Does crazy things to me."

"Mm." Potter smiled and finished his own wine. "Me too." He got up and walked around the table. He leaned down, hands on the arms of Draco's chair and brought his face to within an inch of Draco's. "And so do you."

Potter brushed his lips against Draco's, a mere hint of a kiss. "Feel like showing me some of those other talents of yours now?"

Draco's body, already on alert from their earlier sparring, responded instantly. "Absolutely." He ran his hand through Potter's hair and drew him in for a real kiss.

Draco nudged his tongue between Potter's lips and pressed inside. When Potter's tongue joined his own, Draco's body thrummed. Draco poured everything he had into the kiss. He grasped Potter's hair and turned him to get a better angle. He plunged his tongue deeper, exploring every contour, feeling, tasting, savouring the experience. In the recesses of his mind, Draco questioned how this was even happening, while his body pressed on, screaming More!

Potter gave as good as he got, and soon their kiss became a battle of wills. Like everything else in their lives. Potter ran his hands over Draco's arms, back, sides, pulling Draco up and into his arms. Draco pressed forward, wanting to get closer, eventually backing Potter into a wall, lining their bodies up, shoulder to knee. Heat poured off Potter's body, and their two hearts pounded in their chests.

Draco pulled back for air, and Potter's hands grasped Draco's arse, thrusting their groins together. Draco moaned. "Fuck."

Potter licked a path along Draco's jaw, and nibbled on Draco's lobe. "Mm, yes," Potter growled, and Draco's world spun out of control.

He pulled back on Potter's hair, needing to see his face. He took in the flushed cheeks, swollen lips and dilated pupils. He watched Potter run his tongue over his lips, taking in Draco's taste, his breathing laboured. What was going through Potter's head? Was this some sense of gratitude or obligation? Before this week, Potter hadn't spared a thought for Draco, or so he believed.

This week. Potter had nearly died a week ago. And until a few days ago, he'd been unconscious, clinging to life.

Draco wanted Potter, had wanted this for so long, but ...

"Surely you're not going to back down on me now," Potter said, reading Draco's thoughts. He ran his thumb along Draco's bottom lip, teasing. "Because I've been wanting this for days."

Draco had wanted Potter forever. "Days?"

"Well, years, if I'm honest with myself."

Years? He couldn't be serious. Scenes of the two of them sparring bounced around Draco's mind.

"I've known for a long time that you were more of a man that people gave you credit for. But I'd never thought, never allowed myself to hope that you might want to ... well."

Potter had wanted him? Draco spared a moment to mourn the loss off all that wasted time. Time they could have been doing this.

Potter ran his gaze down Draco's form and back up again. He grinned, dark eyes shining with lust, then ran his tongue over his lip and Draco ached to dive back in. "Ever since I woke up here, had you taking care of me, showing actual concern, it's been ... different. You're more than even I had imagined."

Draco tried to wrap his head around what Potter was saying. "What exactly did you imagine?"

"Lots of things." Potter pulled their groins together again. "How about I show you?"

Draco moaned. There was nothing he wanted more at this moment. He'd wanted Potter for so long. Draco rested his hands either side of Potter's head and drew back enough to really look at Potter. Debauched suited him. Draco took Potter's swollen bottom lip between his teeth and nibbled. Potter whimpered, then opened his mouth, inviting Draco in. Draco accepted, drawing out the kiss this time. Slower than the last, less urgent, but just as passionate.

Potter kissed the way he flew. With purpose, energy. Unrestrained. Draco had thought about this so many times before, but none of his imaginings held a candle to the real thing. Potter's tongue and body played him until he lost complete control. His heart raced, skin burned, and cock ached. He'd kissed men before, many men. Some whose technique was far more polished than Potter's. But Draco had never had this reaction before. Never felt such need, such longing, in every fibre of his being.

"Can we take this somewhere else?" Potter rasped, looking down the hall towards the bedrooms.

Fuck, yes. Draco nodded and they stumbled down the hall, breaking stride occasionally as they continued to devour each other. Draco pushed Potter backwards through his door and onto the bed.

"That's better," Potter said, grabbing Draco by the shirt and pulling him down and kissing him soundly.

Draco agreed wholeheartedly. He lifted himself up onto his hands and drank his fill. Potter was in his bed. With him. A sight Draco knew he'd never forget.

"I didn't think I could stand any longer," Potter said as he began unbuttoning Draco's shirt, trailing his fingers over Draco's skin. "My head is spinning right now."

His head is spinning. Draco squeezed his eyes shut and tried to focus. Potter had nearly died, only a week before. What am I thinking? I should never have let it get this far. "This is a mistake," Draco said, cursing his conscience even as he uttered the words. "I should never have --"

"Really?" Potter asked. He held Draco's hips and bucked upwards while running his tongue along his upper lip and pushing Draco's libido into overdrive once more.

"You're not well. You nearly died. You only woke up a few days ago." He knew he was babbling, and why any of what he said should matter he didn't know, but it did. The large part of Draco's brain -- and one particular part of his body -- protested, but he persisted.

"But I'm fine right now," Potter said. He lifted his head to whisper in Draco's ear. "You're a great Healer."

His breath caressed Draco's ear and Draco let out a whimper. "Stop that."

Potter chuckled. The bastard knew exactly what he was doing to Draco. "Why would I do that?"

"I already told you." Draco drew back to give himself some breathing space. It didn't help to see Potter sprawled across his bed. "You aren't thinking. This isn't you."

Potter frowned. "Did you cast a spell on me?"

"No, of course not!"

Potter lifted himself onto his elbows. "Give me a potion that would make me act this way?"

Draco took a few steps back from the bed and crossed his arms over his chest. "What exactly are you accusing me of?"

Potter sat up, reached for Draco's arm and drew him nearer. "Nothing," he said. "I'm fine. I want this. I want you."

"All of a sudden?"

"No, not really." Potter ran a hand through his hair. "I see you're not going to make this easy."

Draco raised a brow. "Have I ever?"

Potter laughed. "Point taken."

Draco liked Potter's laugh. It made him want to hear it again.

"Here's the thing," Potter said. "I've done a lot of ... soul searching, for lack of a better word. Since the war. I figured out a lot about who I am and who I'm not. Mistakes I've made."

"Are we about to have a moment here, Potter?"

He laughed again. "No deep, dark confessions, if that's what you mean," Potter said. "But I wanted you to know I've thought about you. A lot. I've wondered, if we'd been friends in school, how things might have been different. How we might have been different."

"And?"

"And we can't change the past."

"True."

"And I never thought we'd ... that you'd be interested in ... well, this. In me."

"So your head isn't rattled from the beating?"

"Even if it is, that has nothing to do with this." He waved an arm between them. "With us."

Draco wanted to believe him. Desperately. "You're sure?"

"Absolutely." Potter held his free arm out. Draco took it. "So," he said as he pulled Draco down on top of him. "Where were we?"

"I believe you were about to take off your clothes," Draco said. He pulled Potter's t-shirt from his jeans. Potter lifted his arms and Draco drew the shirt over his head. Fucking hell, Draco had wanted to touch that body, really touch it for days. Longer than that. Ever since he'd first wrapped his arms around Potter while fleeing the Fiendfyre back in seventh year. But Potter was no longer the malnourished adolescent he'd been back then. Draco ran his hand over Potter's chest and savoured the feel of his muscles beneath Draco's fingers. He relished the chills it sent over Potter's body. "Like that, do you?"

"Mmm." Potter reached for Draco's waistband and pulled him into a kiss. Any hesitation Draco had felt faded as he immersed himself in the taste of Potter, the feel of Potter's body responding to his own, and the knowledge that Potter wanted this too.

Draco took his time, trailing his tongue over every curve of Potter's torso, committing to memory every mark, every scar and every delicious noise he made. Potter's enthusiasm threatened Draco's resolve, but he refused to be rushed. He worshipped Potter's body, caressing, kissing and licking all the sensitive areas until Potter was reduced to a writhing pool of need.

Potter's hands roamed Draco's body too, finding all of his favourite and oh-so-responsive spots. The way he looked at Draco with such reverence threatened to send Draco over the edge before they had a chance to get to any of the really good stuff. Fuck, no one had ever looked at him that way before. It was intoxicating.

"Now," Potter begged, rubbing their erections together and sending jolts of fire up Draco's spine. "I need you now."

Draco nodded and wordlessly Summoned a jar of lube. Potter tweaked a nipple and Draco moaned. "Not that I doubt my abilities," Draco warned, "but if you don't want this over before it begins, you'll stop doing that."

Potter laughed. "But you make such delicious sounds." He took the nipple into his mouth, teased it with his teeth and sucked.

"Bastard."

Potter laughed more and bucked up. "You wouldn't want me any other way."

Draco unscrewed the jar and looked, really looked at Potter's face. The strong jaw, cocky confidence, and gleaming eyes that were completely focussed on Draco. He was sexy as all hell, but that wasn't what drew Draco in. It wasn't the hero he was attracted to, but the man. The argumentative, stubborn man that Draco had never been able to forget. The man who would never stop challenging Draco, no matter where life took them.

"You're right about that, Potter." He took a good measure of lube into his hand and slicked Harry's entrance with it. Then he coated his fingers again, teased Potter's opening for a moment and, deciding that he was done with slow, slid one digit inside. Not harshly, but Potter's breath hitched and his back arched as he was breached. Draco smirked. "But that goes both ways." Potter didn't argue.

Draco moved the finger in and out a few times before slipping a second one in alongside it. Potter groaned. Draco fucked Potter with his fingers, watching, fascinated, as Potter's hands gripped the sheets and his hips bucked to meet Draco's strokes. He inserted a third and before long, Potter was writhing beneath him.

"Now," Potter said. "I want you inside me. Now."

Well, who could refuse such a lovely request?

Draco removed his fingers and lathered his cock with a generous amount of lube. Too much, but he was so desperate now to be inside this man he'd fantasised about for years that he couldn't bring himself to care about the mess of his sheets.

He positioned himself and eased forward slightly, breaching only with the head of his cock. "Potter," he said, at once needing eye contact. "Harry."

Harry's eyes opened. He blinked, trying to focus. His chest rose and fell heavily, glistening with sweat. He smiled.

Draco grasped his hands and pressed in slowly, smoothly, all the while watching Potter watch him, until he felt the heat of Harry all around him and he was fully seated. Careful not to move too much, he leaned down and kissed Harry.

Their tongues entwined, hands clasped and bodies joined, Draco's entire world narrowed to this man in this place.

When Harry squeezed his hands Draco broke their kiss and looked into his eyes. Harry wiggled his hips and said, "Move."

Draco drew out slowly, wanting to feel everything. He filled Harry with equal patience, all the while his eyes never leaving Harry's. He kept up this torturous pace three more times before Harry released his hands, grabbed Draco's thighs and lifted his hips, drawing Draco in completely.

"Are you trying to kill me?" Harry asked. "Or are you going to fuck me?"

Draco chuckled wryly, drew back once more and pressed Potter's hips back down. "Oh, I'm going to fuck you." And he thrust forward.

"Yes," Harry cried.

Carnal need took over and Draco pounded into Harry with reckless abandon. The room filled with the sounds of skin slapping on skin, the bed rocking and their collective moans of pleasure. The scent of sweat and sex permeated the air.

Harry trailed his hand up Draco's sweat-slicked back and pulled him forward. "Come here."

When their lips joined once more, Harry wrapped his arms around Draco's back and his legs around Draco's and flipped them over, reversing their positions. "Mmm, that's better."

"Oh, yeah?" Draco smiled as Harry rested his palms on Draco's chest and licked his lips. Fucking hell, the man was hot. Draco bucked up and Harry moaned.

Harry sat upright, moving his arms to rest behind him on Draco's thighs and impaling himself. "Fuck, yeah."

Draco ran his hands along Harry's legs while Harry lifted and lowered himself again and again, increasing his pace as his head lolled back and he took his own length in hand.

Limited though his range of movement was -- and he suspected this was part of Harry's enjoyment -- Draco managed to buck upwards while Harry continued to fuck himself on Draco's cock and work his shaft. Draco's hand joined Potter's and their strokes became frenzied.

Harry's body shook and Draco felt the clenching around his cock seconds before Harry cried out. Draco wanted to watch, wanted to see Harry lose it completely, but he wasn't far behind. His own orgasm rushed over him and his world exploded in a flash of light behind clenched lids, his mind turned to mush.

When Draco opened his eyes again, Harry was watching him, still moving above him, slowly milking the last of his orgasm. Draco pulled his hand free and brought it to his mouth, licking Harry's come from his fingers.

Harry's eyes widened. "Do you know how incredibly sexy that is?"

Draco grinned.

Harry lifted himself up and Draco's cock slid out. Harry flopped down beside him, his hand resting on Draco's stomach.

"Wow," Harry said. "That was ..."

"Incredible?"

Harry lazily turned his head. "Unexpected."

Draco frowned. "How so?"

Harry shrugged. "All the times I'd thought about us together -- and I'd thought about it a lot -- it was always good, really good, but in a hate sex kind of way." His eyes dropped to Draco's mouth and he licked his lips. Looking back into Draco's eyes, he said, "I never expected to feel such a connection."

Draco hadn't either. He suspected that, deep down, he'd wanted it, but he wasn't a masochist. He'd never have tormented himself that way. Then he remembered the dream he'd had just after rescuing Harry. He traced Harry's bottom lip with his thumb and pressed his lips against Harry's in a chaste kiss. "The way I've always imagined it," he said, "the hate sex was pretty hot."

Harry laughed. "Bit of a shame. I don't think I hate you anymore."

"I'm pretty sure I still hate you a bit," Draco countered.

Harry smacked him. "I think we'll be able to muster up a bit of that anger when we fight. And we will fight."

"Without a doubt," Draco agreed. "And we'll have spectacular make-up sex."

Harry's shoulders shook in amusement. "Definitely."

***

The next few weeks were like none Draco had even dared to imagine. Life before the war was more like a dream, his childhood someone else's. The war was best left in the past, visited only when necessary. And life since then had been empty. He had his mother and his few remaining friends, but the rejection of virtually the rest of the world had taken its toll. He'd accepted his lot in life, and somehow had managed to compartmentalise things enough to carry on. He ignored the looks, held his head high, and lived his life on his own terms. He supposed that had been one benefit to living with Death Eaters. Always on guard. Never showing weakness. Never letting anyone in.

But Potter broke down those walls, made Draco feel. Potter knew his past, and still he wanted to be with him. They connected as only people with a shared past could. They knew each other's weaknesses yet did not exploit them. They tolerated no bullshit from each other, and thus, didn't play games. It was exhilarating, unnerving, frightening and liberating all at once.

At last, they'd become friends, something Draco had always wanted but had denied for years. He wasn't delusional enough to put a label on it -- they'd been together such a short time after all, despite knowing each other forever -- but whatever it was made him feel alive. He looked forward to waking, and especially looked forward to going to bed. They hadn't been apart a single night since Draco had found Harry in that alley. Twenty three days ago.

Potter's attackers had gone into hiding after news broke of Harry's "death" and neither Draco nor the Aurors had been able to find them. It was getting more difficult coming up with excuses to leave the flat when Harry was stuck inside. Any mention of work merely prompted Harry to ask, again, what exactly Draco's work was. Being a "consultant" only carried him so far, and he didn't want to lie.

On day twenty-four, the case broke. Draco came home early from visiting his mother and overheard Harry in the kitchen speaking with Kingsley. They'd had a sighting of one of the suspects at a hotel in Birmingham.

"I'm going," Harry said.

"You can't. First of all, you're supposed to be dead. Don't you think it'll cause a bit of a stir if you show up? We both know how poor your glamours are. And if he gets word that you've been spotted in town, he'll not return to the hotel."

"I'll wear a Muggle disguise. Or use my cloak."

"No, Harry. You know the rules. You cannot be involved. You'll compromise the case. Besides, we can't move in without the proper authority."

"But-"

"Let your fellow Aurors do their job. They'll get their authorisation to move in, and then they can pick him up when he returns. If we jump in too soon, he could take flight and we might never see him or his cousin again."

"He could still take flight. Or warn his cousin."

"Not if we take him into custody," Shacklebolt said. "And for us to do that, we need-"

"It's just so frustrating! It's taken this long to find him and now our hands are tied."

"Not for long."

Draco had no such restrictions. He may have been the one to find Harry and bring him back from the edge, but Harry had given him his life back too. And Draco wouldn't rest until those who tried to take Harry out were made to pay.

Harry hadn't noticed Draco enter the flat, so he quietly and quickly left.

He arrived at the hotel in disguise -- a woman this time, the kind of tart that would have made his mother shudder if he'd dared to bring her to the Manor. His overdone makeup, big wad of gum and wild, black hair spiked in all directions topped off the look. He had it on good authority that Scrawny went for this sort, so what better way to get up close and personal?

In short order, Scrawny slunk into the hotel bar where Draco had positioned himself. Draco had made the Aurors when he'd stepped foot in the door. He sat within range of them, but in shadow. They would remember him -- or rather, her -- but would not be able to see beneath the surface.

He watched Scrawny approach the bar and watched the Aurors watch Scrawny. Honestly, the twat was thick, but unless he'd recently been whacked in the head by a Bludger, he'd figure them out soon enough. Draco preferred to take his time, but he suspected he didn't have much. He slithered up to the bar and cracked his gum to announce his presence. Scrawny glared briefly in Draco's direction, then once he noticed the long legs, high heels and short skirt, he stared. The barkeep sighed but ambled over. Draco ordered a glass of Chardonnay. When the barkeep left to fill his order, he pretended to only then notice he had an admirer.

"Haven't seen you around here," Scrawny said, leering at Draco's ample bosom.

Draco's skin crawled and his wand hand itched to end the twat immediately. He cracked his gum instead. "That's cuz I ain't never been in here 'fore, innit?" He leaned over and squeezed his arms together to show extra cleavage.

Scrawny nearly drooled all over the bar. Draco reached up and touched Scrawny's face. "You 'ave a scratch right 'ere," Draco said, running his thumb over a scrape on Bradshaw's cheek and deftly removing a few hairs in the process. "What 'appened?"

Bradshaw reached up but Draco withdrew his hand quickly. No reason for any more contact than absolutely necessary. As it was, he'd have to bathe for hours to wash off the stench of this degenerate.

"Oh, that," Scrawny said. "My cousin and me got into a scuffle today, and I'm no good with Healin' Charms." He shrugged. "It'll fix itself right up in a couple of days."

The barkeep cleared his throat and placed Draco's wine on the bar. Draco snapped his gum and grinned before leaving his payment. "Been a slice," he said to Scrawny and went back to his table.

Not to be brushed off so quickly, Scrawny waited for Draco to sit, then turned in his direction. One of the Aurors stood and Scrawny caught the movement. His eyes widened and he bolted.

Shit. Draco spared a moment to wonder how these two jokers could become Aurors when he couldn't even get past the application process. The two men panicked and ran out after Bradshaw. Draco rolled his eyes. Good thing he hadn't trusted the Aurors to take care of things. Bumbling fools. Now he'd have to move ahead himself with Plan B.

Not wanting to call attention to himself by leaving abruptly, Draco sipped his wine for about ten minutes before Vanishing the balance and taking his leave. He exchanged one glamour for another, then made his way to a location far from curious eyes. Only then did he drop the second glamour and Apparate home.

He arrived back at his flat to find an incensed Harry pacing the floor. Well, that answers the question about whether they caught up with him. Draco removed his cloak calmly and hung it up. "What's happened?"

"Those fucking idiots! I cannot believe they sent those buffoons out to watch for him! A fucking first year is more stealthy than those morons!" His face reddened and he flailed as he ranted, getting more worked up as he went.

Draco suppressed a grin, finding it difficult not to be amused by Harry's tirade, for once not directed at Draco.

"Relax, Potter. You're babbling. Sit down, take a breath, then calmly tell me what happened."

"Robards is an arse, that's what happened!" Harry flung himself down on the sofa. "He had Williamson assign the Aurors to watch Bradshaw and he spotted them and took off and they gave chase and ... and ... argh!"

Draco snorted. Harry glared at him. "Okay, Potter, slow down. Perhaps the word calmly escaped your notice when I asked you to explain. Now, I can't be sure, but I'm presuming we're talking about the attack on you?" Harry nodded, his jaw flexing as he gritted his teeth. "They found one of them? Bradley?"

"Bradshaw, yes. They had a lead but before they could arrest him, they had to have a warrant. While waiting for that, two Aurors were sent to keep an eye out for him. They were to lie low and do nothing but observe."

"I take it they didn't follow those orders?"

"Oh, they probably did. Only their idea of lying low is not the same as mine -- or anyone else's. Those two would stand out in a room full of newbie Aurors, never mind some rough pub in the dodgy part of Birmingham."

"I'm guessing, based on the state you were in when I walked through the door, that he got away."

"Yes." The word barely made it past Harry's teeth.

"Did they at least hit him with a tracker?"

Harry stood up and flailed his arms again. "Of course not. That would require forethought. They haven't got a first year's forethought between them, those idiots."

Draco placed a calming hand on Harry's shoulder. "Just because you have a penchant for sneaking around undetected -- a skill you developed at a very young age, I might add -- doesn't mean everyone else could or should live up to your standard."

Harry shrugged Draco's hand away. "But I told Kingsley I'd do it. Even without stupid glamours I could pull it off."

"Your Invisibility Cloak would help with that."

"I know, right? But noooooooo, I couldn't interfere with the case. Now there is no case! And Williamson! I bet he did it on purpose too. Ron's always saying the bloke's out to get me, because people are always talking about me being in line for the Head Auror job."

"And do you believe Ron?"

"Not really. Williamson's a decent bloke, and a good Auror. He's only a passable team leader, and I know he doesn't particularly like me, but this? This goes too far. I mean those two are the joke of the force. No one takes them seriously."

Draco fumed. "So your boss wants to have you killed?"

"No, no. I don't think that. But if what Ron says is true, it is rather handy for him that I'm playing dead right now."

Draco nodded. Sounded like a typical bureaucrat. "Just give it some time. I'm sure they'll come up with another lead. Or maybe they'll find the other bloke." Or perhaps someone else will step up and get the job done properly.

Harry looked like a caged animal. "But it's been --"

"Give it time," Draco repeated. "And why don't you get out of here for a bit? You're practically climbing the walls."

"I can't go anywhere. I'm supposed to be dead!"

"Yes." Draco pinched the bridge of his nose and drew a calming breath. "I am aware. But you could Floo over to Ron's for a bit. I suspect he will happily commiserate with you at length about the shortcomings of Williamson and the unfairness of the bureaucracy."

Harry smirked. "Brilliant idea, Malfoy."

"All my ideas are brilliant, Potter. When will you realise that?"

As soon as Harry left, Draco got to work.

Once he activated the Tracking Spell, it took Draco an hour to track down Scrawny and nearly two more before he found himself sitting across the room from Harry's attackers. Convenient that they were stupid enough to meet in a public place, together, even after Scrawny had spotted his tail.

Bradshaw had been holed up alone in some abandoned building when Draco had located him. He hadn't had long to wait before Scrawny went on the move. Draco had followed him at a distance, right to a busy coffee house. Draco took care to follow another patron inside to avoid detection.

He had opted for subtle. An Obscuring Charm added to his glamours effectively caused him to blend into the background. Anyone looking his way would not remember details, only that someone occupied the space. Not as strong as Concealment Charms, they tended not to attract trained eyes. In the end it would serve only to buy him time, since Draco had no intention of leaving without being noticed. But he could not, would not allow himself to be discovered before he accomplished his mission.

Draco had directed a nearly imperceptible Listening Charm on their table when he'd first sat down. An Auror would pick it up easily enough, but Draco didn't imagine these two would catch on. He watched his quarry and waited for the patrons to thin out and an opportunity to present itself. He only had one shot at this, and he wouldn't blow it by acting too quickly and letting one get away or, worse, getting caught. The two spoke in hushed tones about nothing in particular, nervously turning their heads every time someone walked through the door.

"What was so urgent?" Murphy asked his cousin at length.

"I think the Aurors are on to us."

Murphy's eyes darted around and he looked ready to flee. "Were you followed? Why would you want to meet here? Idiot!"

"I wasn't followed. I got rid of them. I'm sure of it. I waited all day before contacting you, just to be sure."

Murphy, agitated, glared at Bradshaw. "I told you we should have stayed put another few weeks."

"But I was getting twitchy being all cooped up."

"Then you'll be real twitchy in prison."

Actually, after today neither one of you will be twitchy ever again.

Bradshaw pulled at his sleeves and looked around nervously. "Why don't we leave the country?"

"Let's start by leaving here. We'll make sure we're not followed, go back to the cottage for our things, then disappear forever."

"Forever's a long time."

Murphy stood up. "I know."

Draco counted twelve others in the coffee house. Not how he'd prefer this to happen, but needs must. He had little time to react once Bradshaw stood and they turned towards the door. Draco closed the distance in five strides.

"Hey," he said behind them.

Bradshaw turned, dumbfounded, to look at Draco. Draco smiled. "Avada Kedavra." Murphy had his wand in hand before his cousin hit the ground, but not fast enough. "Avada Kedavra."

Draco shielded himself against attack and strode out the front door. Screams from the patrons followed him down the street, but no one caught up to him. He made his escape using several glamour changes, two Apparitions and a Floo. By the time he reached Diagon Alley, he was Draco Malfoy once more. A minor memory modification on a couple of shopkeepers would ensure he was "seen" there an hour earlier, just in case, and he returned to his flat.

He'd just settled down with a cup of tea when Harry tumbled from the fireplace. "How long have you been falling out of Floos, Potter?"

"They're dead!"

Draco put down his cup and donned a look of concern. "Weasel and Granger?"

"No." Harry waved his hands about like someone flagging down the Knight Bus. "The blokes who tried to kill me!"

Draco shook his head. "What do you mean they're dead? Only hours ago you were lamenting the loss of ... whatever his name was."

"I know. But Ron just got notice that they're dead. Some bloke walked up to them at a coffee shop, calm as could be, killed them and went on his way. Just like that."

"Did they catch him?"

Harry shook his head. "By the time the shock wore off and someone went after him, he had disappeared."

"Stealthy."

"Sounds more than stealthy to me. Sounds like a hit."

"Well, I'd say whoever this bloke is did the world a favour."

"Do you know what this means?" Harry asked, smiling.

"That you're no longer dead?"

"Yes! Which means I can get back to my life and you can get back to yours."

Draco's good mood faded. "Right," he said stiffly. "That's great. I suppose you'll want to get back to it then."

Harry grabbed the sides of Draco's face and kissed him. "Thank you so much for everything. I owe you."

Draco narrowed his eyes as dread engulfed him. "You don't owe me a thing, Potter."

Harry didn't notice Draco's mood change. "Listen, I have to go to work tomorrow and take care of all this. Probably well into the night and the next day too."

Back to reality. Back to your friends. No further need of me. Not quite what Draco had hoped for. But what had he expected? To celebrate with a bottle of champagne? To live together happily ever after?

"But after that, I want to thank you properly."

"Thank me?"

"Dinner, on me. Whatever restaurant you want."

Before he could stop himself, the words spilled forth. "You mean a date?" He cringed at the hopeful sound of his own words.

Harry laughed. "Of course, a date. Now that I'm alive again, I want to show off this hot new guy I've been seeing."

Draco smiled, every muscle in his body relaxing at once. "Be forewarned, Potter. I have expensive taste."

Harry wrapped his arms around Draco and laughed. "Then I guess it's a good thing I have a large vault at Gringotts."

The next two days dragged on. Draco's flat felt empty and the silence pressed in on him. But he had his upcoming date to keep him focussed. And on edge.

When Saturday arrived, Draco spent hours getting ready. He'd put on no less that six outfits, not sure what would look best for a date with Harry Potter. What was he doing? He'd never been so nervous for a date in his life. Which was ridiculous. This was Harry. They'd already been through so much in their youth, then come together in the most horrible and wonderful way possible. What was there to be nervous about?

At six o'clock precisely, Harry stepped out of the Floo. For once he didn't lose his footing.

"Been practicing, have you?" Draco teased.

Harry's cold stare struck him like a blow. Only then did he register Harry's clothes: jeans and a sweater. Definitely not fine dining attire.

"Did I miss something?" Draco asked. "I thought we were going out to dinner."

Harry crossed his arms over his chest and his glare bored through Draco. "Did you honestly think I wouldn't find out?"

Oh, fuck. "Find out what?"

"Oh, come on, Malfoy. I'm a fucking Auror! I saw the memories of all those people at the coffee shop."

Shit, shit, shit. He matched Harry's stance and stared right back at him. "And?"

"And it was you." Harry practically spit the words.

"What was me?"

"Oh, for the love of --" Harry dropped his hands, fists clenching and unclenching at his sides. "You may be great with glamours, and impressively adept at diverting attention from your presence, but I'd recognise your walk anywhere."

Oh. "Are you accusing me of something, based on someone's walk?"

"Yes. Your walk. The killer's walk. One in the same."

"I can't possibly be the only person --"

"Stop. Just stop lying. I thought we'd given that up."

Technically he wasn't lying. He was dodging. And he'd left out some details. Sort of. "I thought we'd agreed that the bloke had done you a favour."

"I can't say I'm sad to see them dead. But you can't go around taking the law into your own hands." In that moment, even without his uniform, Harry looked every bit the formidable Auror. "That's something your father did."

Bastard. "Don't you dare accuse me of being like him."

"You're better than this," Harry said, his voice softer. "Seems to me -- in a warped and very Slytherin way -- you tried to set things right."

A glimmer of hope. "Sounds reasonable."

"Don't mistake understanding with acceptance, Draco." He looked pained and Draco longed to take him in his arms and make everything right again.

But he honestly believed he had done nothing wrong. He wasn't about to deny who he was, no matter the cost. If Harry couldn't deal with that, then so be it. Draco would be no worse off than he was a couple of months ago.

He ignored the ache in his chest.

"You could be anything, Draco."

"Anything, you mean, except what I am," Draco said. Harry didn't argue. "You know what, I'm not dealing with this right now."

"I don't think I can deal with it at all," Harry countered. "You're not the man I thought I knew."

"I told you that from day one," Draco said, grabbing his coat and heading for the door. He needed air.

Harry blocked his path. "Don't bother," he said. "I was just leaving." He turned and walked out the door. And out of Draco's life.

Draco wanted to scream, but the enormity of weight on his chest did not permit words to form. He spared a moment of fear for his future, but he reasoned that Harry wasn't about to report him. He had nothing to go on but Draco's walk, and that wouldn't hold up at the Wizengamot, even if it were Harry Potter testifying. And Harry didn't know about any of the other jobs. Draco had been sure to alter everything about his appearance before. He'd just been too close to this one and had responded too quickly when they'd tried to leave. He wouldn't make that mistake again.

An emptiness such as he'd never felt before -- not even when he'd watched his father dragged away to prison -- consumed Draco. His stomach burned and his heart ached.

As hours became days, Draco heard nothing. Weeks stretched into months, and still Harry did not call. Draco convinced himself that it didn't matter, that stupid Potter with his stupid scar hadn't ripped out his heart, leaving a shell of a man behind. This was why he'd never allowed himself to care before. Draco's home became his enemy: there wasn't a room in his flat he could enter without remembering.

Sometimes, when his memories overpowered him and he thought he could face the world, he ventured out, only to be bombarded by couples walking hand-in-hand, or love songs blaring in the shops. Not that he subscribed to public displays of affection himself, but his surroundings conspired to remind him just how alone he was. Curse Potter for coming into his life and messing it up. Draco had been perfectly content on his own before that.

You're better than this. Potter's words reverberated in his head. What did he know anyway? Draco had done what he had to do to survive. He took evil out of the world, one scum-sucking miscreant at a time. He had nothing to be ashamed of.

At first, Draco ignored the words. Carried on with his job as he had before. His newfound emptiness, rather than leave him vulnerable and distracted, gave him a single-mindedness that served him well. Unencumbered by feelings and emotions, he gained focus. If he hadn't already been the best at what he did, thank you very much, his newly acquired coldness would have put him over the top.

The twinges of empathy and compassion he used to get -- admittedly fleeting and rare -- had now vanished. When on a case, he completely shut out thoughts of everything else. He'd started by not thinking of Harry in particular, but that hadn't worked so well. The bastard had somehow crept into every aspect of Draco's life.

Everywhere he'd turned there'd been reminders -- a curious look on the face of a child evoked images of Harry at the orphanage. Muggle cars reminded him of the red sports car he'd never ride in. Hogwarts students. Quidditch gear. Aurors. Even a visit to the apothecary reminded him of Potions classes.

And that didn't include the photos of Harry in the Prophet, making his most recent arrest. If he didn't look as happy or at peace now, Draco didn't dwell on the reasons.

And then Harry's words would come back to haunt him. Drawing out feelings he'd so successfully suppressed. Fucking Potter.

***


A persistent tapping at his window one morning, three months or so after Harry had walked out of his life, roused Draco from a fitful sleep. A quick Tempus revealed it was nine o'clock. Draco scowled at the offending creature, but this served only to increase both the frequency and force of the tapping.

Tempted to blast the feathered nuisance, he reached for his wand. He waved towards the window to open it, but before he could catch the bird in flight, as though aware of Draco's intent, it soared downwards, skilfully avoiding his spell as it whipped past.

Draco chuckled, despite the early hour after a late night. "All right," he said, putting down his wand as he approached the owl. "You win this round. I concede defeat." He reached for the parchment and barely skirted a nip. Fair enough. He deserved that. With another chuckle, he offered the bird a treat and removed the letter.

The bird swallowed the treat, squawked and took flight once more.

"No reply required, then," Draco mumbled to the retreating form. Only then did he notice the official seal of the Ministry.

"Shit." He needed a drink for this, then remembered he'd just woken up. Coffee it was. He marched to the kitchen and pressed the button, bypassing the auto function he'd set the night before. Coffee maker. When Harry had insisted Draco buy this contraption, introducing Draco to freshly brewed java prepared while he slept, Draco had been surprised to find himself impressed by the Muggle technology. He'd so missed the house-elves when he'd left the Manor, and the part he'd missed most -- besides the obvious domestic tasks they performed -- had been waking up to a fresh cup of coffee. His mother had never approved -- Earl Grey was and would remain her wake-up beverage of choice -- but once he'd become accustomed to the richness of a fine roast, Draco had been hooked. He watched the coffee drip into the pot. One of the only stupid Muggle devices that Draco hadn't been able to part with after Harry had left. How had his life changed so much in so short a time?

His eyes returned to the letter sitting on the counter. Bastard. Draco hadn't thought Harry would betray him this way. Sure, he'd spent those first few nights tossing and turning after realising Harry wasn't planning to return and wondering just how far Harry's sense of right and wrong would take him. Would he report Draco?

Harry was an Auror. But he was also a rule breaker.

He was loyal to the cause. But more loyal to his friends. But then Draco had never really been his friend, had he?

Draco had concluded that Harry wouldn't turn him in. Not that he had any evidence anyway -- Draco had been careful about what he'd let slip and how. He'd even reviewed their conversation in his Pensieve to be sure. As badly as things had ended, Draco had saved Harry's life. And, deny it as he might try, Draco knew that they'd meant a lot to each other. Picturing Harry's face, Draco knew it hadn't been one-sided. Harry cared. A lot. Maybe even ...

No. Draco wouldn't go down that road again. Wouldn't let himself wonder what if. Especially now. But even though they weren't together anymore, Harry couldn't forget that. He wouldn't.

Only now Draco was holding a letter from the Ministry. How could he have done this? Draco envisioned a team of Aurors, Harry leading the charge, marching through his front door and dragging him off to prison.

At least Azkaban was closed. Small consolation.

Draco scowled at the parchment. Why would the Ministry warn him? A voice that sounded suspiciously like Pansy's told him to open the damn letter already.

He poured a generous mug of coffee -- another Potter influence. Before the speccy git had wormed his way into his life, Draco would never have considered drinking from anything but the finest china cup. He topped it off with a generous helping of cream, sat down and took a long sip.

Pansy's voice persisted, and he smiled as he imagined her scarlet nails tapping impatiently on his table.

He unrolled the parchment and read.

His jaw dropped and he blinked, trying to focus once more before he read it again, slowly.

Dear Mr Malfoy,

It has been brought to our attention that your application to the Auror training program had been dismissed without due consideration. While we do not acknowledge this to be the case, we nevertheless reopened your file for further review.

Additional details regarding your court case -- cited, as you may recall, as reason for the first rejection of your application -- have come to light, and it is our opinion that you may have much to contribute to the Aurors. It is with this in mind that we extend an invitation to you to reapply at this time.

Our next training session begins this September. If you still wish to be considered for the program, please complete the enclosed application and return it to the Auror Department at the Ministry of Magic. In August, a preliminary set of aptitude and psychological testing will be administered. Candidates who pass this screening process will be invited to commence training on 1st September.

We look forward to hearing back from you in this matter.

Sincerely,

Heloise Harris
Auror Training Section
Department of Magical Law Enforcement
Ministry of Magic, London


***

"What do you mean, you're thinking about it?" Pansy asked. "You've wanted that job for as long as I can remember. Before even you realised it, I knew."

"Those pompous arses turned him down no less than three times," Blaise pointed out. "And Draco has made a cosy life for himself despite their best efforts to prevent that. I say to hell with them."

"But this is legitimate work."

"And the pay is shite."

"He could redeem the family name."

"But he can't get back all the money the very same bastards took after the war."

"Don't even try to suggest that Draco is destitute."

"No thanks to them. At least Lucius, for all his bad choices, had the wherewithal to diversify."

"You mean hide a fortune out of reach of the British authorities."

Blaise shrugged. "Semantics, my dear Pansy."

"Excuse me," Draco said, finally tiring of their bickering.

Blaise ignored him. "There's no such thing as too much money, and there most certainly is such a thing as pride."

"Pride?" Pansy asked. "I'd say Lucius flushed the family's pride down the toilet years back."

"Hello?" Draco said. "I'm right here!"

Pansy continued as though Draco hadn't interrupted. "This is Draco's chance to get that back. Restore the name to its former glory."

"By working a common job?"

"By ridding the world of those we're all better off without."

"First of all, that's Potter's job. Second, as you've clearly forgotten, Draco's already doing that."

"But no one knows."

"We know."

"But people still think he's scum like his father."

"So what? Who cares what --"

"Enough!" Draco said.

"Draco cares," Pansy told Blaise. "And you damn well know it."

"What I care about right now," Draco said, grinding his teeth in an attempt to retain his composure, "is that the two of you stop talking as though I'm not here." He rubbed his temples and willed himself to take three long breaths. "Just ... stop."

"But Draco, darling," Pansy said, more softly now.

Draco lifted a hand in dismissal. "You've both made your views perfectly clear."

Blaise tried to speak, but Draco cut him off. "It all boils down to money versus pride."

"One thing I don't understand," Blaise said, brow furrowed in contemplation, "is who went to them. Who made them reconsider your application?"

"Whatever do you mean, Blaise?" Pansy asked. "Draco did, obviously."

"Initially, yes," Blaise agreed, "but this doesn't say anything about his application or appeal or any other contact. You didn't reapply recently, did you?" he asked.

Draco shook his head. "No."

"It says brought to our attention," Blaise continued. "By whom?"

"Let me see that," Pansy said as she snatched the letter from Blaise's grasp. She read it over once more, then looked up into Draco's eyes. "He didn't ..."

"Who else could it have been?" Draco said, knowing it to be true.

"Who?" Blaise asked. "What are you two on about?"

"Potter." The word, coming out of Pansy's mouth with such disdain, caught Draco off-guard.

"Why would Potter do that for you?"

"No idea," Draco said.

"Oh, come on!" Pansy objected.

Draco shot her a warning glare, but she would have none of that. She turned to Blaise. "Draco saved Potter's life. Now he's returning the favour. In a manner of speaking. More like giving him a shot at a new life."

Draco exhaled, relieved that she hadn't told Blaise the extent of ... well.

"Well, fuck me!" Blaise laughed. "It's about time the prat did something useful." Then he added, as an afterthought, "Why did you not tell me this before?"

Because I didn't see you. Because I'd hidden myself away from the world -- first to care for Potter, then to fall for him, then to exact revenge on his behalf. "I wouldn't have told Pansy either, but she barged in on me --"

"Your wards never could keep me out."

"Bitch."

She grinned wickedly. "I'll never forget finally breaking through the Floo and seeing you and Potter --"

"Yes, yes," Draco interjected before she could say too much. "Mortal enemies and all that rot."

"Well, suffice it to say that, seeing the two of you ... getting on so well ..." She winked at Draco. "Now there's a picture I've replayed in my mind a fair few times since."

Draco cringed, recalling the intimate scene she'd walked in on. His heart slowed as he realised she wasn't going to say more.

"Do tell," Blaise said. "What could possibly have happened to persuade you to save Potter's life?"

Pansy's brows reached upwards as she considered Draco. He rolled his eyes in response.

"I had just finished a job and was about to Apparate home when I saw a crumpled heap in the alleyway. It turned out to be Potter."

"And you couldn't have just left him there?"

Draco recalled the scene. He'd considered it for a moment, but a flash of flames surrounding him, Draco clinging to Potter on the back of a broomstick, and he couldn't do it.

"The last time I'd seen Potter, he testified on my behalf before the Wizengamot. And the time before that he'd pulled me out of a burning room -- at much risk to his own life, I might add." He'd told his friends all of this before, but it seemed worth repeating.

"Ah, life debt," Blaise said. Then he furrowed his brows. "I thought those were a load of bunk."

"I may not have been compelled by some outside force under risk of death," Draco agreed, "but it would have been ... frankly, rude not to assist."

Pansy snorted. "You could have dropped him at Mungo's."

"True," Draco said. "But then the authorities would have got involved."

"Potter is the authorities. He's an Auror, for fuck's sake," Blaise pointed out.

"Yes, well, fortunately for me, he didn't question why I was there, and -- given the conspicuous lack of investigating into my whereabouts that evening -- I presume he didn't report the specifics."

"How did that work? He'd have had to tell his superiors why he was taking time off."

"When he eventually came to, he told me he'd just finished a case and was on a mandatory week of leave. As luck would have it, he had no idea where he'd been dumped. His attackers had pummelled him to within inches of death, then Stunned, Apparated and dumped him in the alley." Draco remembered the helpless feeling that had come over him as he'd rested Potter's broken form on his sofa. "Anyway, he didn't know where he'd been, so I made up some other location. Not far, but I thought it prudent not to draw too much attention."

"And they didn't suspect you?" Blaise's incredulous tone reminded him of how he'd felt at the time.

"Potter assured them that he'd asked me not to take him to Mungo's."

"He lied for you?" Blaise asked. "And they believed him?"

Draco shrugged. "As you'll recall from school, he was an accomplished liar. Seems Dumbledore and McGonagall weren't the only ones to fall for his bullshit."

Pansy coughed. Draco glared at her. "Bottom line, no one is the wiser and I no longer owe Potter."

"And he no longer owes you."

Draco looked at the letter. "I suppose not." He wasn't sure how he felt about that. Before this, there was always the chance, a glimmer of hope that Potter might come around. Now that he'd done this for Draco, would Potter have any reason to see him again?

"How do you feel about working with him?" Blaise asked.

"Yes, Draco," Pansy said, no attempt to conceal her amusement, "how do you feel about working with Potter?"

Draco frowned. He'd been too preoccupied with Potter's motivation to ponder the implication. "I hadn't thought about it, actually."

"How is that even possible? He's an Auror. You'd be in the same office."

"I suppose I hadn't seriously considered taking the job before now."

"In fairness," Pansy added, "it's not like they'd be partnered up."

Blaise laughed. "Could you imagine?"

Draco could imagine it, both wonderful and painful.

Pansy seemed to read his thoughts. "Potter's on the fast-track to management. They wouldn't partner him with a former Death Eater."

Blaise laughed. "He could be your boss!" he said.

"Oh, God." Draco felt ill.

Pansy giggled. The bitch.

"Shut up," Draco said. "It's not funny."

"Of course it is," she said. "It's positively hilarious. Just imagine Potter bossing you around, telling you what to do. And you'd have to do whatever he told you to."

Draco's body seemed interested in giving that a try. A look at Pansy's face told him she'd noticed. Curse his pale Malfoy pallor!

Blaise, bless his wicked Slytherin heart, offered a different spin. "Might be good for Potter to have someone keep him in check." He nudged Draco's shoulder. "And who better than you?"

Pansy sniggered. "I thought you were against this."

"Oh, I am," Blaise said. "But it doesn't mean I can't recognise a silver lining when it's staring me in the face."

"So, bottom line," Draco said, "I should take the job so I can suffer the indignity of being ordered around by Potter, and in turn I could get a few digs in myself on occasion?"

"No, I think you should continue doing what you have been doing, making gobs of money and wallowing in the beauty of it all."

"And I think you should take the job, pay your dues, and prove to everyone that you are not your father," Pansy said. "You already have more money than the entire Auror core put together earns in a year, you have your health, and you've proven to everyone that matters -- most importantly you -- that you are a self-sufficient and resourceful man. You are everything Slytherins aspire to be. And now you can take that resourcefulness and make a place for yourself amongst those who would make you believe you aren't worthy."

"Strong words," Draco said.

She regarded him with her I know best, so you'd better just shut up and listen look. "I mean it. You are every bit the man Potter is."

"More," Blaise added.

"Too true." She took Draco's hand in hers. "It seems that Potter, for whatever reason, has already accepted that. Don't you think the rest of the wizarding world should too?"

Blaise surveyed the flat, then turned to Pansy with a pained expression. "But the money ..."

Draco laughed. "You are your mother's son." Blaise feigned indignation. "No offence intended."

Blaise grinned. "None taken."

"You know, I'm not so sure the money will be so free-flowing in the future," Draco noted.

"Come on," Pansy laughed. "There will always be a need for assassins, especially ones as good as you."

"No doubt," Draco agreed. "But I don't really have the stomach for random acts of murder."

"That's our Draco," Pansy said. "An assassin with ethics."

"And a cause," Blaise said. "How noble."

Draco shook his head. "Don't confuse noble with vengeful."

The two of them laughed. "You may have performed cold and calculated executions, but vengeance has very little to do with it," Pansy said. "Even if that's how it started."

"Oh, really?" Draco said.

"If I recall," Pansy said, "you only took on Death Eater cases."

"And only true Death Eaters," Blaise added. "The ones who took great pleasure in the suffering of others."

"Or those who hurt children."

"Careful," Draco warned. "You're almost making me out to be a saint."

"Just like Saint Potter," Blaise teased.

"Shut up."

"I told you, Draco," she said. "You are as much a man, as much a hero, as Potter."

"Not quite the hero Potter is," Blaise corrected. "But every bit the man."

Draco opened his mouth to reply, was unable to find the words, then closed it again.

"Tell anyone I said that," Blaise warned, "and I'll hex you both in ways you've never dreamed."

Pansy laughed. "Blaise, darling, I can't imagine you'd have anything on the Malfoy library of spells."

"You have met my mother, haven't you?" Blaise smiled. "And her many late husbands?"

Pansy's eyes widened in mock fear. "Point taken. This conversation never happened."

Still stunned by Blaise's declaration, Draco merely nodded.

"Right then." Pansy stood up and pulled Blaise up by the arm. "We'll be off. Leave you to make your decision."

Blaise stepped away from Pansy. "Just one thing," he said to Draco. "If you do decide to take the job, I want to be there to see the Weasel's face when you walk in."

Draco chuckled. "I'll let you relive the moment via Pensieve," he said, realising at once that he'd already made up his mind. If the smile on Pansy's face was anything to go by, she realised it too.

She leaned in and pecked him on the cheek. "Give Potter a kiss for me," she said.

Before he had a chance to form a witty retort, Pansy and Blaise had Disapparated and Draco found himself alone with his thoughts. He read the letter again. Memories flooded him. Some good, some not so good. But beneath the words on the page lay a truth even he couldn't deny.

Potter had forgiven him. They might never get back what they had, but Draco couldn't let that stop him. He would rise to the challenge. He would show them all. Recalling Pansy's words, he decided that, though there was a sense of satisfaction in it, he didn't need to prove anything to anyone but himself.

He pulled out parchment and quill and penned a response. He completed the form, then sent it and his letter off before he changed his mind.

As he sat sipping a brandy that night by the fire, Draco recalled his friends' words and felt at peace.

***


Three months later ...

Draco sat calmly, his exterior belying the nerves he felt deep in his stomach. He'd only been able to keep down one piece of toast and a cup of tea that morning.

Kingsley Shacklebolt entered and the room fell silent. Heads that had been focussed on Draco now faced the Minister.

"Welcome." His deep baritone echoed off the walls, projecting the way a Sonorus might. His smile seemed genuine as he scanned the room. "We have rather an interesting mix of candidates this session," he said. A few heads turned back to Draco. He met them with a sneer and they looked away. "Each and every one of you has the potential to become a successful Auror. But it won't be easy."

He smiled, then motioned towards the entrance. "And in case you don't believe me," he said as Potter stepped through the door, "just ask your new trainer."

Draco's heart raced and he took several deep breaths to calm himself. He remained determined. He could get through this. He would get through this.

"I'll leave you with Auror Potter," Kingsley said. "Best of luck to you all." He said a few words to Potter then left the room.

Potter smiled and looked around at the candidates, the glance that passed over Draco giving away nothing. "As Minister Shacklebolt said, this won't be easy. But it will be worth it. If being an Auror is really what you want, you will know. If you decide it isn't, best to figure that out quickly and move on." He took a moment to meet everyone's eyes before continuing. "Using the past as a gauge, nearly one third of you will decide to pursue another career path. For the rest, I look forward to working alongside you in the future."

"Bet Malfoy drops out in the first week," some smarmy git a row ahead mumbled to his friend, at a volume meant to ensure Draco heard.

Unfortunately for the git, Potter heard too. He glared at the culprit. "Clearly you don't know Mr Malfoy as I do," he said. "If there's anyone in this room up to the challenge of this training, I'd put him near the top of the list."

A couple of snorts came from the opposite side of the room. Potter shot a look in that direction.

"I will say this once and we will move on from there. I will not have this discussion again." He let his words sink in before continuing. "You all went through the same screening process -- the same process my fellow Aurors and I went through. No one gets into this program without first being put through his or her paces. Background checks are done on everyone. No doubt everyone in this room has something to hide, something in their past they hope would remain there. Fortunately for most of you, those things did not play out in the public eye. Before passing judgement on anyone else, I suggest you all take a long look at your own past, and try to imagine it through the eyes of the public, taken in through the filter of the media.

"Consider yourselves fortunate indeed to not have the Prophet and its ilk take an interest in you. I speak from personal experience when I tell you that they rarely get the story straight.

"As to Mr Malfoy's situation in particular, I happen to have been there to witness much of what he went through. I was in the same year at Hogwarts, I was at Malfoy Manor when Voldemort had taken up residence there, and I was in the Battle of Hogwarts with Mr Malfoy." He ran his eyes over the room once more. "You were not. And I can assure you that, whatever he is, Draco Malfoy is not his father, and should not be judged on what Lucius Malfoy did. He was cleared of all crimes he'd been accused of, and I would suggest you all remember that.

"It is up to Mr Malfoy to discuss his situation, if he so desires. But I will say this: if it weren't for him, I would not be here right now."

Gazes met Draco's once more, only this time astonished rather than disgusted. He kept his face neutral. Years of practice around the Dark Lord served him well now.

"We work as a team here. Set aside all preconceived notions you might have of one another and work together. You will be observed throughout your training. Undermining another candidate will not be tolerated, and you will be out of the program so fast you won't know what hit you.

"Mr Malfoy is here based on his own merit and potential. Just like the rest of you.

"There are no house distinctions, class distinctions or blood status distinctions in the Auror Corps. We are all equals when we start out. We all risk our lives for one another, for the team, and for the public. If you are not prepared for that, I suggest you take your things and leave now. Find another line of work."

No one moved.

"No? All right then. Let me welcome you to your training. The first order of business will be getting you settled into your temporary living quarters for the next six weeks. We will meet in one hour on the training grounds out back. Come ready, and I suggest you not be late. I hear the trainer is rather picky about such things."

Draco stayed behind while the others filed out of the room. Only when the last person had left did he approach Harry. "You didn't have to do that, you know."

"Of course I did."

"I can fight my own battles," Draco said stubbornly.

Harry laughed. "Never a doubt, Malfoy."

"Then why?"

"Because this is my team, at least for the next six weeks. I need everyone to know that I'm in charge and that what I say goes."

Pansy's words flooded back to him, and Draco tried not to respond to them.

"I meant what I said," Potter continued. "Anyone undermining another candidate undermines the team. I will not stand for it. I saw it starting, so I stopped it."

"For now."

Potter nodded. "For now. But if it happens again, towards you or anyone else, I will not hesitate to cut it off immediately. Dissention in the ranks can get people killed. There are no second chances when it comes to this."

Draco considered Harry's words. "That sounds about right to me."

"Good." Potter smiled, almost like he used to. As though reading Draco's thoughts, his face hardened. "I cannot and will not show anyone favouritism."

Draco shot him an incredulous look. "And yet you got me into the program," he whispered.

"You got yourself in."

"Someone got me in."

"Correction: someone pointed out that you were unfairly overlooked. The rest was all you."

He should just accept it, but he needed to know. "But after everything ..."

Potter raised a finger to his lips, then waved his wand. Draco felt the Silencing Charm settle over them. "It came to my attention recently that the Ministry hired an outside consultant to ... let's say assist with some unsolved cases, to carry out some of their less palatable tasks."

What?

Potter laughed. "Yes. That was my reaction too. They apparently found someone highly talented and single-minded to carry out the duties of the former Hit Wizards, but without ties to the Ministry. Couldn't risk sullying the reputation of the New Order. Especially after all the media attention following the dissolution of the Hit Wizard Squad."

His client had been the Ministry. For some jobs at any rate.

"And to be sure the person wasn't a wild card, they placed requests for other, similar jobs, and this mystery consultant refused. Would only take on known Death Eater cases." Potter chuckled. "Imagine that. An assassin with a conscience." He leaned in and whispered in Draco's ear. "Apparently you passed their test." He pulled back. "Who was I to question that?"

Draco swallowed. They'd tried to set him up. "And you found all this out how?"

Potter shook his head. "We never had this conversation. Just like the last conversation we didn't have." He dropped the Silencing Charm. "And remember, Malfoy, no special treatment for anyone on my team." He looked deeply into Draco's eyes, boring through him as though seeing into his soul. "No matter my feelings."

Surely he didn't mean ...

"I cannot fraternise with anyone on my team."

Draco didn't dare dream. "That would be highly inappropriate," he said.

Potter nodded and motioned Draco through the door. As Draco passed, Potter said, "Six weeks from now, you'll be on someone else's team."

Draco didn't turn back, but felt confident as he faced his future. Whether he and Potter could make something work remained to be seen. What he did know, however, was that six weeks from now he might rather enjoy finding out.

And wasn't there something about spectacular make-up sex?

Draco smiled.

~ FIN ~




☆ Please return to LJ and leave your comment for the writer. ☆


Disclaimer: All recognisable Harry Potter characters and settings in this work of fanfiction are
the property of J. K. Rowling and her associates.
No copyright infringement is intended. No profit is made from this work.