Stormy Horizons
by dirty_darella

Pairing: Draco Malfoy/Harry Potter
Rating:
Adult (R) verging on NC-17
Warnings:
None
Word Count: ~25,000

Genre(s): General (slice of life)
Canon:
Through DH (EWE)
Other Characters: Blaise Zabini, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, OC House-elf
Artist(s):
ningloreth and reikokatsura

Summary: Draco is less than pleased when an unexpected house-guest shows up in the middle of the night. 

Author's Notes: Thanks to the mods of this fest, and to my cheerleader Hope. Thanks to my beta's, clear_stream18 and tari_sue.

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.


 

If Zabini wasn't dying, Draco was going to Avada Kedavra his arse. No, the killing curse would be too good for that sleep-depriving bastard, he'd... well Draco would... maybe think of something better if it wasn't four in the morning.

Draco gritted his teeth as another warning from the wards pulsed uncomfortably through his body, a feeling like spinning too fast on a broom. Where the fuck was Flenchy when he needed him? That blasted elf. He was probably off telling his bloody mother how he hadn't flossed tonight.

This made six times since Draco moved into his flat that Blaise had shown up unexpectedly, begging for a place to stay. It was getting to be a weekly thing. But it ended now. Not this time, Draco didn't care what Zabini's sob story was – He wasn't going to let that prick stay here on principle.

He threw open the door, the tip of his wand already glowing red from the hex on his lip, and then nearly tripped forward in shock. In retrospect, any good Slytherin-raised wizard would have know it wasn't a good idea to open a door before checking to see who was on the other side, no matter how sure he was that he knew. But his sleep deprived mind hadn't been functioning at its normal capacity, and now he was facing quite a surprise. Instead of the charming, smiling face he was expecting, he saw shockingly green eyes that definitely did not belong to Blaise.

Potter. Potter? Potter. Potter?!

"Blaise?" Draco said.

"Er... no," whoever it was said, not only doing a fabulous job of looking like the stupid git, but sounding like him too."It's me. Ha–... Potter."

The stranger took a step out of Draco's shadow, letting the light from the flat illuminate his face, as if Malfoy had been so poor of sight he just hadn't seen him properly. Right. Potter was standing outside his flat at four in the morning. Draco would have a better chance believing The Dark Lord had come back from the dead and showed up for a spot of tea with him.

"Bullshit, Zabini. Did you Polyjuice yourself as him?

"No, Malfoy, it's really me."

Narrowing his eyes, Draco frowned as his mind started to mull this over. It was a trick, obviously. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled uncomfortably as he squeezed his wand tighter. There were plenty of wizards out there right now playing vigilante towards ex-Death Eaters. It wouldn't surprise him if someone disguised themselves as Potter and went hunting.

Petrificus Totalus, Draco thought clearly in his mind while flicking his wand. His victim was caught unaware, falling sideways, his shoulder bumping into the frame of the door before he landed like a brick on the hallway floor. So much for this person being much of a threat.

"Quiet!" He froze as he heard the hiss of his (very often) pissed off neighbor, Mrs. Frigidbitch, or whatever her name was, pounding on the wall with what sounded to be her wrinkled old fist. She'd called the Aurors plenty of times in the past, accusing him of whatever illegal actions her feeble old mind could fabricate when he wasn't doing anything. What had it been last month? Slaying a Unicorn in his flat, or some such rubbish. Please, like he'd want hoof prints messing up his beautiful hardwood floors.

She'd probably go positively frothy at the mouth if she saw he was actually doing something suspicious. Feeling the definition of irritated, he took a step back and floated the stiff body inside before reestablishing his wards, which included a strong silencing charm. Now, to deal with his would be attacker.

Now, to deal with his would-be attacker. He walked around the body, curling his lip in disgust at the stupid expression frozen by the spell. If it really was someone impersonating Potter, they were doing a damn good job of it. He studied the face, eyes tracing the defined jaw and narrowed chin. The hair was the perfect mix of unruly and wild. The eyes held that shockingly green color, strong and defiant yet somehow gentle – although, there did seem to be some unfamiliar shadows flickering beneath their surface. It would have had to be Polyjuice, there was no way glamours could have been done so well.

The clothes were even pretty good; baggy and ugly and obviously muggle. They seemed excessively shredded and tattered, but with Potter that wouldn't be too out of the ordinary. He leaned down for a closer inspection and his nose crinkled. As much as he hated to admit it to himself, he did know Potter's smell. He'd been close enough to the other teen during Quidditch matches, along with the occasional physical confrontations they had over the years, to have the scent of Potter's skin and sweat burned into his memory. This person definitely smelled like Potter.

Looks like him, acts like him, smells like him.

Reaching down, Draco started to pat gingerly against the other's side, looking for the wand. It felt awkward and strange to be so close to Potter, or at least this Potter look-a-like so he quickly changed his mind and summoned for the wand instead. Cringing a bit, he did have a bit of sympathy as the wand burst clear out of his captive's sock, ripping the hem of his jeans. That would definitely hurt.

Studying the wand in his hand, he frowned. He'd had that chunk of holly wood pointed at him enough to know that it was, in fact, Potter's wand. For the briefest moment a tremble of panic shocked his body, thoughts of whomever this was overpowering Potter and taking his wand. That couldn't be though. Potter was the most powerful wizard in the world; he'd earned that title.

"Reveal," he snarled, jabbing his wand into the person's side. After a frustrated moment of nothing happening, Draco stepped back and tapped his chin pensively with his wand. Huh. He danced with the idea of giving Legilimency a try, but with as groggy as his brain was right now, he'd probably end up getting stuck inside their mind.

"Finite incantatum," he said, keeping a tight hold on the other's wand. He twirled it in front of them, a silent warning not to try anything.

"The fuck Malfoy," Potter grumbled, rubbing the left side of his body, the side he had fallen on.

"Potter?"

"Yes," the other hissed angrily."God you're mistrusting."

"Oh, excuse me. I just simply forgot I should be expecting you at four-twenty in the morning. Why the fuck would I think it was really you?"

Potter shrugged uncaring, as if the answer was obvious to him, but he couldn't be bothered to elaborate. Draco's jaw clenched, that was so typical of Potter.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Draco said, crossing his arms, the two wands clanking together as they fitted themselves in his fist.

"I need a place to stay..." he said, rolling his left shoulder and flinching.

Draco was floored."A pl–... a place to... stay?" he said, sounding the words out as if they were foreign and he couldn't understand their meaning. Was Potter completely mad?

"If you could just," he paused, looking away from Draco with an irritated crinkle in his brow."If you'd let me crash on your couch for a little while... just until I get some sleep."

After a moment of silence, Draco realized he'd been standing there with his mouth open in surprise. He closed it quickly, trying to salvage some dignity from his response. Potter couldn't be serious, could he? No. What the fuck was this? Maybe he'd lost a dare? Gone off the deep end? Was under some kind of spell?

"I... you can't be..." Draco took a deep breath, pushing a hand through his hair."Why in the world would you come here if you needed a place to sleep?"

A flicker of irritation passed over Potter's face before it became impassive. That was definitely new, Potter was hardly known for keeping a cap on his emotions."Look, Malfoy, I have my reasons. Can I stay here or not?"

Tapping his wand impatiently against his arm, Draco shifted his weight to his other hip and huffed.

He flinched when he felt the skin on his palm pinched, and frowned down at the two wands in his hand. In fact, he was holding Potter's wand right in front of him, and the git didn't even seem to care. He clicked them together, studying Potter's face curiously, but he didn't react with anything more then a small roll of his shoulder. Potter was an idiot; any smart wizard would feel vulnerable in this situation. Especially since Malfoy had, on multiple occasions, hexed him.


Actually, he hadn't noticed before, but on closer inspection Potter was looking rather... tired. Really, he was looking down right dead on his feet. Dark rings marked his eyes, sticking out sharply against an unusual paleness for Potter's face. There was obviously something going on with Potter, but despite the stirring of curiosity in his chest, Draco firmly assured himself that he didn't care.

"What happened to Weasley and Granger?" he said, tilting his chin up. "Go stay with them."

"I can't."

"Then go stay with another Weasley, or another Gryffindor. Hell, go stay with that oaf Hagrid," Draco sneered.

"I can't," Potter said a little more forcefully. Draco wondered if he was biting his tongue wanting to defend the half-giant's honor. For a brief moment, a playful desire to push Potter's temper cropped up, just to see him lose control in front of Draco like the old days, but he shook his head, clearing the thought from his mind.

He stared at Potter blankly. Surely there was someone out there Potter could stay with. Why the fuck would Draco even cross his mind as a possibility? If it were the reverse, he'd certainly never think of Potter as a possible roommate. When a memory of flames and flying and clutching onto Potter tried to surface, he crushed it down. That had nothing to do with this.

"Then why don't you just go to the Leaky Cauldron or something?"

"I don't have any money."

Draco let out an exasperated breath, and couldn't hold back the small, dry laugh. This was ludicrous."That is bullshit. I know for a fact your parents left you gobs of money."

Potter's eyes narrowed, and he looked inquisitive for the briefest of moments before shaking his head."I can't get in to Gringotts."

"And why the bloody hell not?"

Potter mumbled something that sounded oddly like, because goblins hold grudges.

Draco had to control himself from grabbing his hair and pulling it out. It was much too silky and lovely to suffer such a horrible fate. What the fuck was wrong with Potter? Or maybe there was something wrong with Draco. Maybe someone had broken into his house and split his head open, and now he was lying in bed with a concussion that was causing him to hallucinate all this.

He glanced over to the rosewood clock on his fireplace – one of the rare family heirlooms he'd manage to obtain when their possessions at the manor had been auctioned off, along with some of his mother's jewels and father's cloaks. It was now a quarter to, and he would have to leave for work in just a few hours. Bloody fantastic.

"You know what?" he said, sneering at the goon."I don't care.

"Really?" Potter said, blinking.

"Stay here, I don't care."

"You sure?" For the first time since their encounter Potter looked worried. Stupid bastard.

Draco's head felt fuzzy and his eyes were heavy with sleep. What else could he do in this sort of situation? He still wasn't completely ruling out the whole, he's in a coma and hallucinating thing."Yeah. Knock yourself out, Potter, the couch is yours."

The words were bitter. He still didn't know what the hell was going on, but his head hurt just thinking about it, and right now all he wanted was to get some much-needed sleep before he had to get up for work and face his bitchy boss.

"Thanks, Malfoy." Potter reached out his hand, as if he was going to shake Draco's, or maybe pat him on the arm, but then seemed to decide no touching was necessary as he dropped his hand limply by his side, to which Draco was extremely grateful. Potter tried to mumble some other words of gratitude, but Draco turned on his heels not listening. It felt wrong having Potter thank him for anything. Walking through the small hallway area separating his bedroom from the living room, a dull clack in his hand reminded him that he was still holding two wands.

Potter's wand had been touching his this whole time, pressed tightly against it in his hand. He frowned, turned back around and was slightly surprised to see that Potter had already kicked off his shoes, discarded his glasses and collapsed on the couch with his eyes closed. He couldn't have fallen asleep that quickly, could he? It had been ten fucking seconds. A light snore followed, as if in answer to his question. Either Potter was faking sleep in order to get Draco to leave him alone, or he really had been that exhausted. Throwing Potter's wand onto a lamp table, he thought he saw Potter stir out of the corner of his eye, but he quickly made his exit.

***

When Draco's silver chimes rang at six-thirty, he groaned angrily and banished them to France. He'd just barely started to fall asleep when they'd gone off. Bloody Potter.

Unexpectedly, he hadn't been able to get back to sleep. Despite the fact that he'd had Blaise stay over on occasion – and Pansy once, when she was falling down drunk – he'd never been so aware of another's presence in his home. It was extremely distracting, especially because when it came to what had happened, he'd been left with many questions he couldn't stop thinking about.

As much as he wanted to just roll over and try for some more sleep, he couldn't be late for work. One of the conditions of his early release from Azkaban was that he held at least a part-time job, and his current boss was looking for any reason to fire him. Grudgingly, he threw his legs over the bed, rubbing his eyes despite the voice in the back of his head reminding him it caused unsightly bags under them.

Just as his feet hit the floor, which was blessedly charmed to be warm, there was a familiar pop. Flenchy arrived like clockwork, a cup of black tea in his boney elf hand, sweetened to Draco's liking with enough sugar mixed in that left a thick pile on the bottom of the cup. He took it gratefully.

"Master has a mixed blood in his living room!" The elf squeaked in what was probably supposed to be a quiet voice.

"Don't I know it," he said bitterly, taking a few sips of his tea. He allowed the caffeine to enter his system, rousing him just enough to clear the foggy sleep from his mind. So Potter was still out there, and it hadn't all been some bizarre dream from last night. Dammit.

The elf hopped from foot to foot like a child that had to pee but was told to hold it. It obviously disapproved, but it knew its place well enough to not contradict any of Draco's actions. Flenchy was one of the elves that had remained loyal to his family even after he'd been freed. He wasn't sure how many there were, or if there were even any others; he hadn't talked to his parents in a year, and that was the way it had to be. They were on the run, and any information of their whereabouts might be unwillingly extracted from him. Flenchy was their only connection, ordered by his mother to keep an eye out on Draco, and any messages were indirectly passed through him. Which meant a lot of the elf running off to her and exaggerating every little sin Draco committed. It usually ended in the elf passing on his mother's lectures and nagging, verbatim.

This assuredly would be something the elf would inform her of as soon as it was dismissed from Draco. He'd learned that it was a touch more intelligent than most house elves, and that ordering it to keep secrets from his mother was a lost cause. It was simply more loyal to her than himself. Either the elf found ways around the wording of his orders, or told her and punished itself for it later.

Draco took a few more sips of his tea, swirling it around to stir up the sugar at the bottom before placing it on his night-stand and standing up to enjoy a long stretch of his back. The caffeine helped wake him up, but he was never fully awake until his morning shower, and putting off the Potter issue a few more minutes couldn't hurt anything. He stumbled off to the bathroom, taking the fluffy towel that Flenchy summoned and throwing it over his shoulder."Eggs, bacon, and toast with Lingonberry jam," he told the hovering elf, who disappeared immediately.

"Wait," he called him back as an afterthought."Make it for two."

The elf's face scrunched up in a mass of disapproving wrinkles, but he kept his tongue, and after just a slight pause bowed obediently and disappeared again. Potter was going to owe him big after all this.

The water was magical against his skin, warm and soothing. There was nothing like a good morning shower, they were sacred to Draco, made only more so after the six months he spent in Azkaban where the showers had always been cold and short, and never very private. After he was done with cleaning his hair and body, he indulged himself and stood under the spray of water for a good while longer, just enjoying the steady stream against his skin. Baths were the proper wizard way of washing – showers an evil invention from Muggles – but this was one Muggle thing he thought actually had any merit to it.

When he was done, he dried off, dressed, cleaned his teeth, and started on applying the various vanity potions to his skin and hair. He'd stopped slicking back his hair after his boss had commented to others how it made him look like such a greasy slime ball. He hated how it would fall all over his face, creating a messy curtain of blond over his eyes, but he didn't think he had the bone structure to crop it short so he lived with it. He'd need to invent a spell that prevented it from flying directly into his eyes one of these days.

When he came out of his room, he was half hoping to find that Potter had disappeared, but the git was still there, lying on his couch. Not only had he fallen asleep without even transforming the couch into something more comfortable, he apparently hadn't even bothered to conjure himself a blanket or pillow. The wand was still where Draco had left it, laying at the exact same angle underneath the table lamp. The idiot probably couldn't transform anything without McGonagall there to help him fake it.

He frowned as he walked over closer to Potter. Flenchy was being uncharacteristically loud in the kitchen, banging pots and clinking silverware together, but the brunet continued to appear sound asleep. He was lying on his stomach, his arms tucked underneath his head and his feet crossed at the ankles. It was such an unusual scene to see. He'd seen Potter unconscious before, but never just sleeping. His cheek was squished against his forearm, forcing his lips to part slightly as gentle breathing noises slipped in and out.

Something prickled inside Draco's core, a complicated emotion that he couldn't name, dark but twisted with other feelings. That's how things had been with Potter from the start – complicated. He'd always made Draco feel an excess of interwoven emotions, and that in turn left him half wanting to destroy Potter and half wanting to study him closer; like a dragon tamer would study a vicious beast before making a move to break it.

The sooner Potter was out of his house, the better. He started to reach out to shake the teen awake but hesitated with it inches from Potter's skin. He could feel heat there, and it made Potter's presence suddenly more real, stifling.

"Wake up," Draco said unceremoniously, kicking at a leg of the couch.

Potter jolted, turning so quickly he just about fell off and onto the floor, but to Draco's disappointment, he managed to save himself at the last minute. He shifted so he could look up at Draco, his face free of his glasses and suddenly Draco's stomach seemed unsettled as he gazed into Potter's green eyes, piercing and raw.

"Wha time izzit?" Potter slurred after squinting like the speccy git he was.

Draco turned his head to break the gaze."It's seven. Get up. You can have breakfast; then I want you out."

Potter groaned in a way that shouldn't have made Draco fight back a blush."Let me sleep more. Please."

"No."

"Please Malfoy." His voice was muffled as he spoke with his face pressed against his arm. Having Potter beg him was something Draco never imagined would happen in his entire life. He could have tied Potter up and tortured him for days, and he doubted Potter would beg even then. That thought left something slithering in his gut, but he quickly dismissed it.

"If you can convince me over breakfast, maybe I'll let you stay. Maybe." But first he had some questions.

After a moment, Potter grumbled miserably while he got to his feet and shoved those ugly glasses over his eyes. Blinking tiredly, he asked where the loo was. When he pushed past him, Draco tried to ignore Potter's scent, or the fact that it seemed to be so much more amplified than normal. Scrunching his nose, he cast Scourgify on his couch and frowned. He cast it again, just for thoroughness.

Right as he was sitting himself down to breakfast, Potter stumbled in with as much grace as a three-thousand-pound bull charging across a lake of ice. Flenchy placed Draco's food in front of him gingerly, then went to drop Potter's on the table, giving the unwelcome visitor a disapproving look. It changed immediately, however, when Potter mumbled a groggy 'thank you', surprising both Draco and the elf enough for their eyes to widen. Who the bloody hell thanks a house-elf? That had to be the mudblood's influence.

Flenchy looked completely lost, and after tugging his ears once, almost as if he was punishing himself just in case he was suppose to, he disappeared with a pop, most likely going straight to Draco's mother. It actually made Draco's lips curve, just slightly, into a smirk. Telling his mother that Potter had spent the night and was now eating breakfast with him would probably leave her in confused hysteria. His father would might even faint after hearing that. His smirk widened.

"So can I stay or not?"

Draco blinked, coming out of his thoughts at Potter's question. He looked over to the other teen who was eating his food like the lowbrow moron he was –chugging down juice with a mouth full of half-chewed toast. Disgusting.

"Why here?" Draco managed to say between bites of his own food. He chewed his food fully before opening his mouth to speak, which was more courtesy than Potter offered.

"I told you, I've no where else to go."

Draco narrowed his eyes."I don't believe you. Go stay with Weasley or Granger."

"I can't."

"Why?"

"They're trying to have a baby."

Draco dropped his fork as that horrifying image popped into his mind. The Weasley as a sexual being was probably the most repulsive thing he could have ever imagined. The mudblood too, for that matter. There went his appetite.

"Aren't there," he cleared his throat and forced his lip to uncurl from their upturned disgust."Aren't there thousands of Weasleys running about out there? Stay with one of them."

"No, that's not..." Potter groaned in frustration. He looked like a grumpy little kid, scowling unhappily with bed-ridden hair. It caused another tingle of that same twisted emotion in Draco's chest, in turn making him frown moodily into his eggs. "Look Malfoy, I told you I have no where else to go."

Draco didn't believe that for a minute. Harry Potter was the most loved wizard in the world, he could go anywhere he wanted, no doors were closed to him. Unlike Draco, who's ex-Death Eater status guaranteed him a life of trying to work his way up from the bottom of society.

"You have no where else to go, or you're not willing to go anywhere else?" He watched as Potter's lips thinned."Wouldn't want to be a bother to anyone, now would we? Of course inconveniencing me is perfectly fine," Draco sneered. He'd meant the comment to be sarcastic, but Potter's face dropped away all emotions quickly, leaving his expression blank and lifeless. That was... odd.

Despite Potter's fame, he'd always seemed to have a very poor grip on his self-worth. The only time he ever got flustered was when people addressed his heroic status, something Draco had taken advantage of quite often back at Hogwarts.

This was ridiculous though.

Anyone would be lucky to house such a great wizard. Not including Draco, of course, because he hated the git with a passion. Maybe that's why Potter had chosen him. He didn't fully understand the logic behind it, but it seemed like something Potter would think up.

"Malfoy, I just want a place to rest for a little while. I'll stay out of your hair, and when I get access to my Gringott's account I'll pay you back."

Draco's lips curled up again."I'm quite well off, I don't need nor want your money."

"Fine, I'll make it up some other way," he paused."I'll cook and clean for you."

"If you hadn't noticed yet, I already have an elf." Although, the prospect of having Potter serve him like a lowly house-elf was quite appealing, especially if an apron was involved.

Potter ran a hand through his hair, making the wild black strands stick up more horribly than usual, if that were even possible. He couldn't tell if it was a nervous gesture, or maybe one of aggravation, Potter's face was too void of emotions to distinguish.

Draco was mildly surprised Potter hadn't played the one card against him that any Slytherin would have used from the beginning. He owed Potter his life, that was obvious. Maybe Potter thought himself too good and moral to hold that over Draco's head.

"Fine. You can stay," Draco said, the words feeling heavy on his tongue. He didn't want Potter in his house, it was intrusive and irritating, and he was well within his right to kick him out. He wouldn't feel an ounce of guilt, Potter had plenty of places he could go, he'd just have to suck it up and do so. But– well. That was just it... surely there should have been a 'but', a reason Draco was letting him, he just couldn't put it into words.

Standing up, he let out a long-suffering sigh. He didn't want to keep harping on this subject anymore. He had to get ready for work anyway. He'd think about it later.


***

Draco left Potter on his couch, already going back to sleep despite still not summoning a pillow or blanket, or transforming the stupid thing into something more comfortable to sleep on. It was a Victorian couch built more for looks, not comfort, and surely Potter couldn't find it a very relaxing place to rest. Draco was starting to think Potter had forgotten that he could use magic.

These thoughts, unfortunately, distracted him on his way to the owl post where he worked, slowing his pace on the first half of the walk and thus making him hurry the other. He was the only one there that had to walk to work, which was a huge inconvenience, but there was nothing he could do to change it. In the old days he might have tried throwing money at the problem, but this was one case where his bosses hatred of him would always outweigh any greed for money she might have.

After an attack on the owl post during the war, in which letters had been stolen by a group of death eaters, the place had been heavily warded against apparating. Employees with clearance could floo into the office, but Draco's boss kept insisting his paperwork for that kept mysteriously disappearing. Bitch.

The owls cooed pleasantly in greeting as he rushed into his work area, one minute late. Not surprisingly, his boss was standing in the middle of the room, arms crossed and her heel tapping. She had an odd smile playing on her lips, as if she couldn't hold in her excitement for the fact Draco was late, and she got to reprimand him for it.

"There you are, Mr. Malfoy," she said, stilling her tapping."I was wondering if you were going to show up at all today."

"I apologize, Ms. Williams," he said, trying to keep the distaste of seeing her so early in the morning out of his voice."It will not happen again."

"Hmm," Her eyes squinted as the corners of her mouth widened."I don't really see how you can make such a claim."

Draco said nothing, biting the inside of his cheek. If he played the part she wanted to, this would end quicker.

"I'll have to deduct the first hour of your pay for your tardiness," she said, her eyes gleaming happily. God, he could smell her cheap perfume all the way from the other side of the room and he had to fight back a gag. She was the kind of person who was plain looking, if not a bit ugly, and only managed to make her appearance worse with fake eyelashes that were half-fallen off her lids and caked on blush. Not to mention the maroon lipstick that was often decorating her two front teeth. She was a disgusting being.

Knowing what she was hoping for, Draco put on his best crestfallen expression that he could manage. She'd think he'd be devastated over losing a whole hour of pay, but he didn't give a shit. He had plenty of money in savings, he didn't need the measly wages this place paid – and for him, it was very measly. He just needed a part-time job to uphold the arrangement that got him released early from Azkaban, nothing more.

As he expected a pleased grin spread across her face."Now, I think you've wasted enough time. Back to work."

Still doing his best to look miserable, which wasn't actually all that hard if he thought how unfortunate he was to have to look at her ugly mug so early in the morning, Draco nodded and moved past her, settling himself down on his usual stool with his shoulders slumped dejectedly. He waited, listening as her heels clacked against the floor, and a few seconds after they'd become too quiet to hear anymore, he turned and sneered at the doorway she'd exited from. If he thought he could get another job, he would quit faster than she could blink – and you could bet he'd have a few choice insults to shove down her throat on his way out the door. The reality, though, was that no one wanted to hire an ex Death Eater. This job was out of the public's view, no one but the owls ever saw him. As much as he'd like to cut down his bitch of a boss, he couldn't afford to burn that bridge.

The owls were getting impatient, shoving each other aside as they all fought for Draco's attention. They struggled for the closer perch positions, legs sticking out as they clicked their beaks. He pulled the box of coin pouches close to him, soothing the owl directly in front with a quick pet to the chest. The barn owl next to it smoothed out its feathers and stood as tall as it could, showing it's obvious distaste at not being picked first.

Draco's fingers were nimble and quick, and very used to attaching the leather pouches to the birds. It helped that they trusted him now, which hadn't been the case in the beginning. He still had a few scars on his fingers from the early days.

To his left, as if hearing his thoughts, an owl hooted in what he imagined was a proud manner. He turned to see her. Well, at least most of them trusted him, there was actually one very annoying exception. He didn't know her name, or if she even had a name – she was a post bird after all – but she was a great horned owl with devious eyes. He could swear every once in a while she staring at his fingers hungrily, just waiting for her time to nip him. Tensing as she came up for her turn, he prepared to tie hers as fast as possible.

Just as he'd worked the leather through the metal hoop, a sharp pain spike up his finger. Bloody owl.

She hooted and flew off to get her package from the next room. Healing his now bleeding knuckle with a quick charm from his wand, Draco grumbled moodily. The skin threaded together, sealing the small gash in his tender flesh a lot slower and more painful than he would have preferred. His new wand lacked the finesse that his old one had.

Sighing, he pocketed it and shoved any sudden thoughts of a certain home-invading, wand-stealing bastard out of his mind as the next owl hopped over to him.

***


Of course, Potter had been sound asleep when Draco entered his flat. If Draco didn't know any better, he'd have thought Potter had been put under some kind of sleeping hex.

Flenchy took his cloak quietly, but his mouth opened for a moment, as if he had something to say, most likely from his mother. Draco raised an eyebrow inquisitively, but the elf shut his mouth with a clack, then disappeared. Odd little beast.

Draco stood in front of Potter for a moment, just watching the rise and fall of his chest, then decided that was rather creepy and cleared his throat and turned away.

"Potter," he mumbled. The other didn't stir, continuing with his soft, even breathing. How could Potter of all people be such a heavy sleeper?

"Get up," Draco said while shoving Potter's shoulder gently with his hand. The touch seemed to linger long after he drew it away, and he wiped his palm absentmindedly against the fabric of his robe.

A barely audible groan came from Potter – a sound that clearly shouldn't have caused a trickle of something cold and shocking to creep down his spine.

"Wazzit," Potter mumbled."Let me sleep."

"No. Get up, we're going out."

Soft breathing followed. What was Potter, a narcoleptic?

"Potter!" Draco shouted and the other startled, turning over and opening his eyes. After the initial confusion of being woken up passed over Potter's face, he crinkled his brows but remained quiet. Seconds ticked by, then he yawned and mumbled an apology. Draco's eyes narrowed, Potter was acting a little too passive lately, it was starting to piss him off.

"Need something?" Potter's voice was husky with sleep.

Yes, payback for the inconvenience. If he was going to make it work, then Potter needed to look presentable. Considering how much a mess hero-boy was now, it was going to take a lot of work.

"We're going out," Draco repeated."

Potter stared at him for a moment, his face expressionless. Draco's eyes tracked a red spot on his cheek where his arm had been pressed against it. The black strands of his greasy hair were starting to clump together worse than usual and Draco had to smooth his features to prevent the look of disgust from forming on his face.

"Fine," Potter grumbled while reaching for his glasses. His wand remained untouched."Where are my shoes?"

"Not yet."

Potter looked up."What?"

"Before we go I demand you at least try and scrub the filth off of yourself. You smell like rotten snake eggs." Eating something would be good for him too, but Draco refrained from making that a demand. He was already sounding invested in Potter's well being – he didn't need to give Potter the idea he actually cared about the git.

Potter lifted his arms up for a long stretch, one of the holes in his t-shirt raising just enough to expose half of a pink nipple, and Draco jerked his view away immediately.

"Fine," Potter shrugged nonchalantly."I could use a shower."

Draco bit back the response that Potter could use ten; he was starting to smell ripe. Without another word, Potter stumbled to his feet like a drunkard and made his way back to the bathroom.

"Flenchy," Draco called as soon as he heard the click of the bathroom door. The elf materialized in a bow.

"I want you to steal Potter's clothes from him once he's in the shower."

Flenchy looked at him, eyes wide and glossy in what appeared to be utter panic. When he spoke, his voice was shrill and piercing, and Draco could feel a headache forming."Master is giving Flenchy more clothes?"

Draco held up his hand and shook his head.

The elf's eyelids lowered and he clapped his hands together as if in prayer.

"Get ride of them, burn them if you have to." He paused and tapped the wand in his robe pocket, "Take out anything in the pockets first. And bring me his glasses," he instructed. The elf nodded his recognition and vanished.

Having that taken care of, Draco made his way into his own room, already picturing the clothes he wanted. Finding them took a little longer than he would have liked. The green shirt had been clear in the back of his wardrobe – another piece of furniture he'd saved from the manor – and he'd literally had to dig it out. Then came the muggle jeans that Pansy had talked him into getting, saying everyone, muggle or wizard, had to own at least one pair. She claimed they were a fashion staple, but Draco had never worn his, nor did he have any desire to.

He laid the clothes on his bed and started contemplating the alterations he'd need to do. The shoulders of the shirt needed to be broadened, the hem of the jeans shortened. Modifying clothes was tricky magic, but Draco had a knack for it. He didn't know Potter's exact measurements, but he could guess sizes better than the horribly baggy clothes the git currently showcased.

Along with the jeans, the shirt was something Draco wouldn't miss either – a stripped button down with a high collar, alternating light and dark shades. He'd always thought the color clashed too horribly with his pale hair. It would compliment Potter's eyes, though. Not that he cared about that, he wanted Potter to look presentable when out in public, this was going to reflect on Draco too.

He'd just finished his spells when there was a rather loud thump on his bedroom door.

"Malfoy," Potter's voice growled from the other side."The fuck happened to my clothes?"

"I had them destroyed," Draco answered without missing a beat.

There was a long pause, followed by another loud thump on his door."You better be fucking kidding."

"Potter, they were ugly rags," Draco said, approaching his door.

"They were my rags. You had no right."

Draco reached for the door handle."I did you a..."

He paused as it swung open, revealing a very nearly naked Potter, dripping wet with a towel wrapped low on his waist. Of course some part of Draco's brain figured that was to be expected, considering he'd taken Potter's clothes and left him with nothing but a towel, but seeing Potter, seeing all that skin and lean muscles was a shock of warm heat to his groin.

Shaking his head quickly, Draco's eyes shot up to Potter's face, but thank fucking Merlin the idiot was a blind git, because he was squinting, apparently oblivious to Draco's slip-up.

"... favor," he finished at last, cringing as his voice came out husked."Where are your glasses?"

"I don't know," Potter said, crossing his arms over his bare chest. Draco's eyes briefly fixated on the way Potter's stomach muscles clenched at the change of position. How the hell did Potter get such definition in them when he just slept all the time?

"Flenchy," he called irritated, and at once the elf was there, handing over the glasses without a word of direction. They felt bulky and fat in the palm of Draco's hand, and his lip turned up when he noticed the thick, cheap frames where heavily scratched.

"Malfoy?"

Draco's wand tapped the frames twice, morphing them into a sleeker, square metal design that would compliment Potter's face better. Not to mention they would emphasize his eyes, rather than hide them behind pure ugliness.

"Malfoy," Potter growled."What the fuck are you doing?"

He slipped them onto Potter's face, startling the other wizard. Potter blinked at him, his eyes focusing, and for a brief moment Draco thought he spotted something odd shifting beneath their surface, something feral. A second later they hardened as Potter pulled away, his face smoothing out any expressions as he looked blankly at Draco.

"You're really starting to piss me off," Potter said, but despite his words, the tone of his voice was eerily void."I'm playing nice since you're letting me stay here, but would you mind telling me what exactly you're doing?"

Draco shifted to the left, exposing the clothes on the bed.

"... Playing dress-up?" Potter guessed.

"Something like that."

"Why?" Rather than answering him, Draco allowed himself to become distracted with a thought. Potter would need socks and... underwear too. He walked over to his dresser, found the nicest pair of boxers he owned and tossed them on the bed with the clothes, along with some cashmere socks. Potter's eyebrows raised a hair.

"You want me to wear your boxers?"

"They're clean."

"I am not wearing your boxers, Malfoy."

"Fine. Don't wear anything underneath the jeans for all I care," Draco said with a shrug, but something about the idea of having Potter wear his underwear did funny things to his stomach. Crushing all sudden thoughts and feelings down, Draco cleared his throat, but failed to clear his mind. He straightened his robes, wishing it would help straighten the sudden chaos in his head.

"Why are you giving me these?" Potter said, picking up the shirt by the cuff.

Draco had his own selfish reasons. If Potter was seen getting along with him in public, good. If Potter was looking more put together than usual, that was even better. With a little luck, the newspapers – and there would be articles, there were always articles about Potter – would speculate that Potter's improvement was by Draco's influence. Of course, they might try to spin it the other way – that Potter was a good influence on Draco – but either way was fine. The best-case scenario would be that their 'friendship' appeared mutually beneficial, but that wasn't as likely.

With Potter by his side, society's view of Draco would definitely change. Maybe then he could walk into a store without a thousand surveillance spells cast onto him by the owner.

"I have my reasons," he said eventually, quoting Potter's earlier argument.

Potter's head was turned down when he looked back up, eyes peering out from underneath his lashes, and something tightened in Draco's gut. Potter seemed to give him a once over, and suddenly the air felt very charged. Draco's eyes fell to the place where the towel had been tucked into itself, holding together so low he could see the beginning outline of Potter's hipbone. He tried to swallow, but his throat was suddenly unbearably dry. The scent of his shampoo and soap smelled good on Potter.

"I'll wait outside," he said, relieved when his voice came out normal."Get dressed."

He glanced back just before he shut the bedroom door, but Potter was no longer looking at him.

***


"What do you think about this one?" Draco asked, smiling as charmingly as he could when he felt the shopkeeper's eyes on him. Potter tugged the hem of his shirt for the sixteenth time since they'd entered Quality Quidditch Supplies, acting like a dog that had been put into a sweater it didn't want to wear.

"Well?" Draco prompted with a forced chuckle.

"I don't know. You'd know more about brooms than I would," Potter answered as he fidgeted with his cuffs. Draco really did wish he'd stop playing with the clothes like he was. The fit had been perfect for him, hugging to his body in just the right tightness, emphasizing the length of his torso and slight flare of the shoulders. The jeans on the other hand framed Potter's arse wonderfully, while visually giving his legs extra length. Potter seemed to think otherwise, claiming the clothes were"too tight".

"Don't be modest," he said, the corners of his mouth feeling weighted."You're a much better flyer than me."

One of Potter's eyes squinted while his cheek lifted in an expression that showed obvious disagreement."But you're much more knowledgeable about all wizarding stuff than I am."

Draco's smile tightened even further. Potter was ruining this for him. He'd hoped that by taking Potter to the broom store and asking his opinion, Potter would have started to get cocky and try to prove his superiority, giving off a mentor vibe, which would have been ideal for onlookers to witness. Instead of getting smug, though, Potter was acting like he didn't want to be there with Draco, and while that was undoubtedly true the bastard could at least have the decency to pretend it wasn't.

This obviously wasn't working, so it was time for them to move on. Biting back a sigh, Draco shrugged his shoulders, still feeling the shopkeeper's eyes boring holes into his back."I guess I'll have to think about it some more." Potter looked gratefully at him.

As they headed for the door, the shopkeeper nodded at them."Come back anytime," he said, focusing mostly on Potter, but his eyes drifted over Draco for a moment, extending the offer to him as well.

He'd been in this store a month ago to get a replacement broom handle, and the shopkeeper had been insistent that they wouldn't have anything he was looking for. Translation: get out of my shop you lowly ex-Death Eater. Just one little trip with Potter at his side, though, and the man had completely changed his tune. Draco allowed a smirk to fall on his face."I will." Translation: In your face, you arse.

Outside on the sidewalk, he couldn't help but smile brightly. It pleased him that so far he was being treated better. When he was little, all anyone had been able to see was the Malfoy name and the money it came with. Now, all they could see was a Death Eater who'd followed the Dark Lord. With Potter at his side, he wasn't sure what they saw, but it must have appeared more trustworthy, and more beneficial not to treat him with open distain.

"These fucking clothes," Potter said grumpily. Draco rolled his eyes.

"They're fine."

"Fine? You might like to wear clothes that are two sizes too small, but I certainly don't."

Draco looked down his nose at Potter. "You're just too used to those baggy rags you feel the need to cart around all the time."

"I look like a bloody kid who's outgrown their clothes."

Draco slowed his steps for a moment so that he could catch a glance of Potter's arse. "That's not what it looks like to me."



"Harry!"

Draco jumped and Potter's shoulders tensed as someone called his name. For a shear moment of panic, Draco thought someone had seen him, before his inner voice had a chance to assure himself that he had been much too sly for that.

"Harry!"

Even Draco recognized that voice, feeling mild irritation touch his chest.

When they turned, it was to see Granger running toward Potter at full speed, Weasley on her heels.

"Harry! Oh, I'm so glad to see you!" she said, throwing her arms around him. Something jumped in Draco's gut, something he refused to think of as jealousy.

Weasley approached a bit more cautiously, spotting Draco.

"Uh... Malfoy?" he said in a dumb tone, apparently forgetting that Potter was there.

"Weasley?" Draco mimicked as best he could, exaggerating the redhead's stupid expression.

"That's definitely him," Weasley muttered darkly.

"Good to see you, mate," Potter said, bringing the other's attention to him. A grin stretched across Weasley's ugly, freckled face as he reached out to pat Potter soundly on the back.

"What are you," Granger paused and glanced quickly over to Malfoy, her first acknowledgment of him,"two doing here?"

"Er- shopping. I guess," Potter said with a shrug.

At her side, Granger was pointing her wand directly at Potter. It swished a few times, and Draco thought she was probably testing to see if Potter had any kind of mind control spells that Draco had placed on him. It both amused and irritated him all at once. If Potter noticed any of it, he didn't let on.

When she was apparently done, she shared a look with Weasley, shrugging her shoulders, which caused the redhead to narrow his eyes into disapproving slits. Draco snickered quietly under his breath. When he turned to Potter once more, he was surprised to find his face had completely closed itself off.

"Where are you staying now?" Weasley asked, apparently unaware of the change in Potter's demeanor as he shot Draco a suspicious glance.

"With him," Potter said, gesturing to Draco.

Weasley's face was scrunched up in the most ridiculous fashion, as if he couldn't decide weather or not he wanted to be angry or worried or both."You're- you... that's... joking... you..."

"We kept all your things safe," Granger interrupted his rambling, eyes shifting for a moment to the side, as if she was trying to watch Draco from her peripheral vision. The girl had no subtlety."All your books and," her voice dropped a level,"all your cloaks."

Really, she was about as obvious as a pink troll charging through the streets. She'd be referring to Potter's invisibility cloak, of course, he'd known about it since third year. He'd even thought about taking it, once, when he'd found Potter on the train in sixth. He'd been adequate at disillusionment charms at the time, he could have tried to cast one on Potter and taken the cloak for himself rather than tossing it back on Potter so he wouldn't be found. It would have been a priceless trophy. But something about taking that from Potter hadn't seemed right. At the time, he told himself it was because Potter would hunt him down later for it, and he wasn't particularly privy to the idea of being on the wrong end of the wand that had foiled the Dark Lord on multiple occasions.

Since then he'd come to terms he had a different reason. Taking Potter's invisibility cloak was something he'd never be forgiven for. But that was part of a collection of thoughts in his mind he didn't think about. In fact, he'd labeled them appropriately as Forbidden Potter Thoughts.

"Harry, mate," Weasley said, the shock in his voice ebbing away for it to regain some volume."You're not really staying at Malfoy's place, are you?"

"Yes."

"But that's horrible!"

Draco narrowed his eyes but Weasley didn't appear to notice."Come back and live with us. Please. We want you to."

Next to him Granger nodded enthusiastically.

"I couldn't," Potter said in a light tone of voice like he was turning down a second piece of cake, clearly undermining the gravity of this situation. Why was Potter pushing them away? The curiosity of it curled in Draco's mind.

"Why?" Weasley said, with brows drawn down.

"You guys just got married. I'd just be getting in your way," Potter laughed gently, but it sounded forced to Draco's ears.

"You can't possibly think that," Granger said with a pathetic frown. "You'd never be in our way."

Even Draco could tell that wasn't the real reason. Those three had been closer than sugar and sweetness during Hogwarts; he was mildly surprised they hadn't found a way to marry all three of them together.

"Yeah, mate. Come back with us. Or hell, my parents would house you. Anyone would be better than him."

Surprisingly, Potter turned his head just enough to make eye contact with Draco and gave him a pleading look that was completely unexpected. It took Draco a moment to get over his bewilderment before he could act.

"Potter obviously wants to stay with me," he said, smugness seeping into his voice.

"You can't possibly stand living with that prick, can you?" Weasley said, ignoring his comment.

"We have a great time, don't we Potter?" Draco drawled."Just last night we indulged ourselves in a fun time of ritualistic goat killings before hitting the cemetery for some good old fashion grave robbing, then topping the night off with a tasty gauntlet of baby's blood."

Weasley's face paled as his eyes bugged out of his head. He heard that. What a wanker, he actually believed it.

Next to him, Potter laughed, startling the whole group. It was more then a simple chuckle, Potter actually burst out in a rich, bouncy laugh that Draco had only ever heard from a distance, and never caused himself. His chest felt like it was swelling.

"He's turned you into a nutter!" Weasley said in distress.

"Relax Ron, he was obviously kidding," Granger said, although her eyes remained keenly fixed on Potter as if she couldn't fathom what she was seeing.

A moment of awkward silence followed. Draco tried to hide his discomfort with a performance of boredom. He turned to study the old stone wall he was standing next to, tracing the cracks with his eyes and noting the various changes of grays and browns splattered across. An ant was making its way to the top, about a foot over Draco's head, and he wondered briefly where it was going, or if it was running away from something.

"Well um," Granger cleared her throat, drawing three pairs of eyes to her."We should get going. Ron and I."

Weasley made a protesting noise that sounded a lot like a terrier whining, but he didn't appear to have the ability to word his displeasure. Especially not with the way Granger was staring at him with wide eyes and pursed lips.

"Us too," Potter announced, edging closer to Draco. Granger's gaze shifted to him, sharp and dissecting and Draco found himself very glad he wasn't on the other end of that. They didn't seem to be on bad terms, but Potter was quick to withdraw from their company.

"Harry," Granger said, her voice soft but with intensity."You're always welcome at our place."

Potter nodded, and then Granger was gently pushing at Weasley, prompting him to start walking. Draco glanced back at them as they passed, but Potter's gaze remained ahead. Looking at his profile, Draco though he saw a twisting of emotions on Harry's face – irritation, anger, sadness.

"There's a place that sells Muggle clothes to wizards up ahead. That'll be our last stop," Draco said, trying to clear the sudden heaviness of the air.

Potter looked at him with a blank expression."You're buying Muggle clothes?" He deadpanned.

"Of course not." Draco wrinkled his nose in disgust.

"You want me to? I don't have any money."

"I'm aware of that," Draco said smugly, "but if you're going to be seen in public and not thought of as a lunatic who rolls around in a pile of razors until you're covered in torn fabric, you'll need some clothes."

"I have clothes. They're at Ron's place."

"Let me guess," Draco sneered."Hogwarts uniforms and oversized muggle clothes."

Potter shrugged."I also have some dress robes."

"You're an idiot, Potter. Move," Draco shoved him in a similar fashion that Granger had shoved Weasley, although not as gingerly. His hand felt incredibly warm after that brief contact, his palm extra sensitive. He grimaced at the sensation.

"What's the point of buying muggle clothes from a wizard shop?" Potter asked with a frowned. Draco wanted to roll his eyes as he bit back the obvious part of not having to actually go and... coexist with the Muggles while shopping. Potter clearly wasn't as disturbed by that thought as he was.

"They have magical properties added to them."

"Like?"

He huffed in annoyance. Since when was Potter so keen on holding a conversation with him?"They're charmed to resist stains. Zippers, buttons, ties will fasten on their own. Useful things."

Potter's frown deepened, his eyes shifting to the side.

"I don't want you buying me clothes, Malfoy."

"Too bad."


***


Draco had to fight tooth and nail for every piece of clothing they bought. It was difficult too, considering he was fighting with Potter while trying to make it look like they were best of chums to any on-lookers. Potter was stubborn, and showed too much emotion on his face too easily. Draco wondered where all those closed off expressions for Weasley and Granger had disappeared to.

"Will that be all for you?" The cashier said with stars in her eyes as she gazed at Potter. The brunet was visibly uncomfortable, his face tight.

"Yes," Draco said with a charming smile that was lost on her. They'd settled on five, (slightly oversized) shirts, another pair of (blessedly fitting) jeans, a jacket, and a decent amount of socks and boxers. Draco had wanted to add a formal outfit to the mix, but as it was he'd had enough of a hassle convincing Potter to get what he did, so he'd drop the subject for now.

"That's twenty-four Galleons and 14 sickles," she said, still looking to Potter. Considering he'd been the one trying on clothes for the past two hours – or rather, fifteen minutes with an hour and forty-five minutes of arguing – it was understandable that she expected Potter to pay for it. When Draco reached for his wallet instead, her eyes grew round with surprise then narrow with suspicion.

He laid out the galleons on the table, ignoring the sullen look Potter shot him. It really wasn't much money at all, Draco had expected to pay three or four times that amount for a new wardrobe. Potter probably suspected Draco to be poor after all the ministry took from him and his family: the manor, a vacation house, and one of their vaults from Gringotts. Unbeknownst to them, the Malfoys had multiple vaults in different names, and others in France and Germany. The Ministry had only captured a fraction of their wealth, although some of the treasures lost in the Manor were irreplaceable.

Potter picked up the clothes that the woman had packaged in brown wrapping paper and twine, mumbling a vague thank you that could have been directed at either Draco or the shop clerk, then practically bolted out the door.

Outside the sun was setting and the streets were thinning out. Draco had a hard time keeping up with Potter's quickened pace while still appearing dignified. Rushing anywhere showed a lack of composure, and looking as if he was chasing after Potter was even worse. He glanced around conspicuously, noting a few eyes that followed Potter's tracks.

"Where are you rushing off to?" Draco said irritably. Potter stopped abruptly, causing Draco to narrowly miss plowing into him. They were only inches apart and his heartbeat rose as he stepped back a few feet. Good thing too, because Potter whipped around like a hurricane the next instant.

Potter had been acting antsy since the whole ordeal with Granger and Weasley, but it only seemed to be escalating. Draco almost asked if he was okay, but caught the words on his tongue just in time.

"I'm going to go out for a while," Potter said out of the blue, his voice sounding eerily forced, as if he was holding back from scream.

Draco raised an eyebrow."We are out."

"No. That's not what I mean."

Suddenly there was a brown package being rudely shoved in Draco's hands. Frowning his disapproval, he grabbed a hold at the last second, just as it had started to fall to the filthy street.

"Potter, what the hell has gotten into you?"

It was then that he got a glimpse at green eyes, wild and more alive than Draco had ever remembered seeing them. He opened his mouth, maybe to say something, but no words came, and he was lost in the storminess of Potter's eyes.

Then with a turn, Potter was gone.

****

Harry Potter's New Look

Harry Potter was seen shopping in Diagon Alley yesterday looking better than he has in ages.

He was spotted outside of the Apothecary sporting some new threads, much more fashionable than his usual baggy t-shirts and jeans. His button-up shirt and muggle blue jeans were formfitting and flattering to his body. It seems everyone's favorite hero is taking steps to improve on his personal appearance.

In the past, Mr. Potter has always been a modest and shy wizard, but eyewitnesses reported him being quite cheerful and boisterous as he caught up with some old friends from Hogwarts. It seems everyone's favorite hero is finally coming out of his shell.

Draco put down the paper with a smirk on his lips. It was a short article, but he was pleased with it. The writing was horrible yes, but all that really mattered was the picture above the text, featuring Potter, Granger, Weasley and him talking, combined with the line about Potter catching up with friends from Hogwarts. He wondered what all his old classmates would think when they saw this.

He shoved the newspaper in his nightstand drawer and stood to stretch. He had Flenchy making breakfast for them now, so he suspected he'd need to make his usual shower a bit shorter, which is a pity, because he was especially tired this morning. It had been close to midnight when he had finally given up waiting for Potter. He didn't know what the bastard was off doing, but some people had work in the morning, so he reluctantly keyed Potter into his wards and went to bed.

He washed and dressed in a surprisingly quick fashion – for him – although his usual hairstyle suffered a bit from the neglect, curling slightly at the ends. Actually, he decided he didn't mind the look, it was a bit more muggle than he usually liked, but he thought he could wear it well.

Walking into the kitchen area, hunger gripped his stomach more tightly as he smelled the French toast. The scent of nutmeg and cinnamon filled the air, making him think of Christmas time. It took a little self-constraint not to lick his lips like a dog that'd spotted a delicious treat in its bowl.

Glancing over, he expected to see Potter asleep on the couch, but paused when it proved to be empty. He frowned and scratched underneath the collar of his shirt.

"Where's Potter," he asked the elf who was busy sprinkling a light dusting of powdered sugar over a heaping stack of French toast. The elf's ears went down as he whimpered.

"Flenchy doesn't know, master. Flenchy is sorry." The elf put down the sugar and started to reach for the grill, hand hovering over it.

"Stop." Draco commanded. He hated when the bloody elves hurt themselves, it was disturbing."Don't punish yourself."

The elf's hand hovered over the grill for a moment longer before dropping limply to his side.

"When did he get in last night? Do you know?"

The elf shook his head and Draco frowned. Potter had probably never come back at all, which meant he'd been out all night. He quickly squashed the small tremble of worry that tried to worm its way into his head. Since when did he care what Potter did?

It wasn't like he had expected them to be on friendly terms for real.

As he took the first bite of his French toast, he thought it tasted strangely bitter.

***

When Draco strode into his work, he was unsurprised to see his boss there. What was unusual, though, was the way she seemed to be nervously wringing her hands as she looked at him.

"Morning, Ms. Williams," Draco said a bit stiffly. He didn't like this odd behavior, it could mean she was planning to fire him, and looking for a new job would be an absolute nightmare. His eyes narrowed a fraction when she didn't say anything back, merely biting her bottom lip, exposing a smear of lipstick across her teeth.


"You," she clicked her heel once and flipped her fake-looking hair over her shoulder."You- um. Yes."

Draco raised a curious eyebrow.

"Howhaveyoubeen?" She said in a rush of words.

"... What?"

"Um..." she fidgeted nervously with the clasp of her robe and Draco pleaded to the universe not to have it accidentally fly open and show him what he very much didn't want to see. Behind her the owls hooted impatiently, shifting on their perches, rotating their heads to fix an eye on him, confused why he wasn't tying on their pouches yet. In the corner of the room, he spotted his least favorite, the horned owl with devious eyes fixated on him as she fluffed out her feathers before smoothing them down again.

"Did you go to school with Harry Potter?" His boss asked out of the blue, catching him completely off guard. After he took a moment to process what was happening, he bit the inside of his cheek to prevent the smirk that wanted to crawl across his lips. So that's what this was about. The article. He could only imagine what expression she made when she'd opened the paper and seen the Great Harry Potter standing next to the employee she'd been a bitch to for the last few months.

"I did. We were very close." As rivals, at least.

Her eyes seemed to gloss over as if she was picturing them, walking down the hallways of Hogwarts and laughing like good mates to an inside joke.

"Listen," she said, her shoulders hitching up stiffly."I mean- if you could introduce me..."

Draco decided that if she'd gone to Hogwarts herself, there was no way she'd have been a Slytherin. She had no subtly, no cunning. He could tell she was gagging for it, a chance to meet Harry Potter, a real-life, breathing Hero, the great warrior of the wizarding world. She might have been trying to act nonchalant about the situation, but anyone with half a brain could read the eagerness in her tense body language.

"Well," he said, looking to the side and pretending to study the owls closely,"Harry's a very busy individual."

She nodded as if she whole-heartedly agreed, like she personally knew Potter and that was the most obvious thing in the world.

"I can..." she shifted on her feet, her ugly purple shoes scuffing against the concrete floor."I'll give you a three-percent raise."

Holding back a scoff, Draco pushed a pensive look onto his face. Her bargaining skills were atrocious. Even if he'd been desperate for the money, he'd hardly do such a big favor for so little. It was laughable. Good thing he wanted something else.

The only problem here was that Potter had gone off and decided he didn't need Draco anymore, and had run off without even paying him back. Bastard. Still, Potter owed him, and being the noble guy he was, Draco was sure he could guilt Potter into paying him back for his recent hospitality.

"Ten percent," he said, watching as her eyes widened in surprise. He saw optimism enter her face, probably realizing his response meant that meeting Potter was a tangible possibility now.

"I can't go higher than five," she countered a few breaths later. She could, Draco was sure, she just wouldn't. He considered pressing her for more, watching her sweat as he squeezed out more than she wanted to give up, but he had to remember that there wasn't an equal power balance between them. She was still his boss after all, and he only had so much leverage because of that. Too bad this wasn't a case of blackmail, it would have been so much more fun.

Still, having Potter show up next to him, holding that over her head was a superiority that he could taste.

"Alright," he said, smiling just crooked enough to put a little trepidation in her eyes.

***

Cursing to himself, Draco made his way to outside the anti-apparation ward while holding his bleeding hand. On his way out of work he'd gotten a nasty nick to the side of his hand, just under the pinky knuckle from that bloody horned owl. She had skipped her usual bite earlier that day, and just as he'd thought himself safe, she'd attacked him in the hall. Fucking bird, he was going to strangle it one of these days. He wouldn't be surprised if she wasn't actually Potter, or hell Weasley in Animagus form, biting him daily just to piss him off.

Usually he'd have no problem whipping out his wand and healing a bite, but there'd been three employees in the hall, and he'd learned long ago that people get incredibly jumpy when ex-war criminals pulled out their wands. Sometimes that led to them taking hasty, unnecessary action against him.

He reached the apparation point, healed his bite, then before the magic had even finished working, apparated just outside his door. His mood had been fine up until the bird attack, but now he was really looking forward to a spot of tea from Flenchy and maybe a sweet treat or two. Or ten.

Throwing open the door, he nearly tripped as he saw a body sprawled out on his couch. Potter. He'd completely forgotten about him, which was a surprise considering the git had been on his mind so much lately. Well, in all actuality, Potter had been on his mind in some level since he was eleven. Even in Azkaban. Especially in Azkaban. On the worst of nights, alone and trapped and panicked in the cell he'd been sentenced to for five years, Draco would think of Potter to distract himself. The memory of the time in the fiendfyre...

Draco squeezed his eyes shut, pushing all his thoughts away. Those were things he kept buried, the Forbidden Potter Thoughts, and he'd be damned if he lacked the self-control not to keep them that way.

Flenchy appeared at his side, hands outstretched for Draco's cloak, which he shucked off his shoulders and tossed to him. With a snap of the elf's fingers, it disappeared before touching the elf.

"Did you let him in?" Draco asked in a whisper. He already knew the answer. He had warded his house out of anger before leaving that morning, there was no way Potter could have gotten in on his own. The elf nodded timidly, looking unsure."Good," he said quickly when he saw the elf eyeing the wall, as if contemplating weather or not he should charge head first into it as punishment.

Draco studied Potter's sleeping form, and upon and was surprised to see Potter was filthy. His clothes were littered with little rips and tears, the corner of his eye and the back of his hand covered in dried blood. What the hell had Potter done? Gone out and wrestled with werewolves?

Potter's hair, though, made him realize exactly what must have happened. He'd seen it wind-whipped enough in the past to recognize it. Potter had gone flying, and at very fast speeds by the looks of it. The tears in his clothes and cuts in his flesh indicated he'd probably been foolish enough to do it around too many trees, letting their branches snag at him. He hadn't even bothered to clean up his cuts afterwards, and was probably getting blood all over Draco's expensive sofa.

Something new in the room caught Draco's eye then, a light brown duffle bag lying against the segregating half-wall between the living room and kitchen.

Flenchy was wringing his hands, the deep wrinkles on his forehead more defined than usual with a scowl."A Mudblood brought it. Master's guest's belongings," he said, indicating the bag.

Fingers itching to open it up and look through it, Draco turned away, quelling the temptation. He doubted Granger would have brought anything of real value for Potter, especially since she left it here with a house elf that probably glared murderously at her. Still, he had to wonder if that invisibility cloak was there, in the bulk of that lumpy tan fabric.

"The Mudblood left this for you," Flenchy said, holding out a scroll, sealed both with wax and magic.

"Tea. And some lemon curd and scones," Draco ordered and with a bow the elf popped into the kitchen, dropping the note on the table.

He unrolled it and watched as the letters scrawled across the parchment. Very interesting, Granger had charmed it for only his eyes. Was there something she wanted to say that she didn't want others reading? Or perhaps Potter himself was to be kept out of the loop. He wouldn't have put it past Granger to charm it so if he tried to share the information in any way, with anyone, he'd forget it immediately, or lose his voice, or some such rot. Glancing over he saw Potter still fast asleep, eyes flickering slightly underneath his eyelids.

Flenchy put down his scones and tea, and Draco took an ungracefully large bite before starting on the letter.

Malfoy,

I don't need to remind you that Ron and I are very protective of Harry. Should you hurt him in any way, we will hunt you down like we did Voldemort.

Well. He chuckled. Who knew Gryffindors could sound so threatening? Adding the Dark Lord's name was a nice touch; Draco could admit even to himself that it caused an unpleasant shiver to rack his body. He repressed the urge to cover the name with his thumb and read on.

I don't know if it was you that convinced Harry to live there, or the other way around, but it was clear today that you're using him. But just because Harry doesn't use magic anymore, doesn't mean he's not dangerous.

Draco blinked a few times, rereading those words. Just because Harry doesn't use magic anymore? It was true that Draco had noticed Potter's lack of spells, but he obviously could and did still use magic, considering he'd apparated out of Diagon alley yesterday. He glanced over to the sleeping form on his couch, watching Potter's steady rise and fall of his chest. He turned back to the letter with a frown.

In fact, I'm writing to warn you. When Harry abstains for even a little while, his magic can become volatile.

Reading the world volatile gave Draco an uneasy feeling. Especially since he could see scratch marks in the parchment where Granger must have been writing other words, then spelling the ink clear, leaving just the carvings of the pen.

He needs our help, but refuses it. Please, if you have any decency, convince Harry to come back home.

-Hermione

Draco rolled the parchment back up and tapped it thoughtfully against his leg. When Granger said Potter's magic became volatile, she must have been referring to magical accidents. Uncontrolled bursts of magic might have been scary to a Muggleborn, but every normal wizard knew magical accidents were commonplace, especially when it came to children who hadn't yet learned to channel their magic through wands. Weasley should have known this, but considering his intelligence level was on par with a slug, he probably couldn't figure it out.

It was no surprise that if Potter, for whatever reason, wasn't practicing proper control of his magic by frequently channeling it through spells, he'd have this kind of problem. It was almost laughable, like a child wetting the bed, but Draco could appreciate that with Potter's high level of magic it was probably a little more problematic than most magical accidents. Powerful wizards meant powerful magic. The real curious issue was why Potter didn't cast spells anymore. Draco had a few guesses, but only Potter would know the real reason.

Just then there was a deep sigh from his left, and he turned to see the figure on his couch sitting up. Potter yawned and arched his back.

"Finally awake I see," Draco sneered.

Potter made a dismissive gesture with his hand as he stood, stretching some more –Draco absolutely did not look at the strip of Potter's stomach that was exposed – and shuffled clear into the bathroom.

A few minutes later, the door opened and out came a slightly more awake looking Potter. Draco had already ordered Flenchy to make Potter a cuppa, and he was still sipping his own while nibbling on his scones. Potter came over yawning, pulling out a chair but pausing when he saw what Draco had been staring at.

"Is that mine?" Potter asked pointing to the bag while cocking his head, his voice still a bit hoarse from sleep.

"Apparently."

Without another word, Potter went to kneel by it, hands working the drawstring knot at the top. The blood had been washed from where it had been dried at his eye and hand, but there were still cuts present. Draco's eyes glanced over to the table by the couch, spotting Potter's wand lying there, looking almost lonely. His attention was shifted the moment a cup of tea was placed on the table, actually more closely to slammed, but not a drop was spilled. Apparently Flenchy was still harboring some ill feelings toward Potter.

"You're dismissed until diner," Malfoy instructed, and the elf Disapparated. Potter looked at him in a disapproving way, but remained quiet, digging back into his bag and pulling out the biggest, ugliest gray t-shirt he'd ever seen in his life.

"You are not wearing that in my house," he said turning up his nose.

"What does it matter what I wear?"

"I bought you decent clothes, Potter." He narrowed his eyes."Or are those not good enough for you."

"I think they're too good for me," Potter said, scrunching his face up."They're too nice. Plus, they're way too tight on me."

Draco made a show of rolling his eyes, but the brunet's attention was still focused on pulling out even more disgustingly gross clothes and laying them over his knee. Potter really was an idiot.

"For the love of- they're not tight."

"Whatever," Potter said dismissively, and Draco tried not to feel insulted as he took a few more gulps of his tea. Once finished, he rose to discard the teacup in the sink, tired of watching Potter pulling out the horrible muggle garments.

He placed his hands on the counter, feeling exhausted. Frowning as he felt a twinge of tightness in his back, he stretched his arms above his head, cupping his hands and pulling his back muscles. Merlin that felt nice. He turned, arms still in the air, and then froze as he realized Potter had been watching him, green eyes darting away quickly.

Draco's arms dropped limply to his side, as his heart rate speed up. Potter fiddled with the drawstring of the duffle bag for a moment before diving in again, still not looking in Draco's direction. Had Potter...

The air was tense, and Draco felt uncomfortably warm. He turned away from Potter, going to lean against the arm of the couch. Self consciously, he crossed his arms over his chest. Had Potter been looking at him, or had that simply been a product of his imagination?

Glancing over his shoulder, he saw Potter reach in and pull out two long, slim boxes that made Draco's chest clench unpleasantly and forget all about the odd moment. Wand boxes. Probably his, and the other was doubtlessly the much talked about Elder Wand. He couldn't decide which one Potter owning pissed him off the most.

From his peripheral vision, he watched as Potter lifted the lid of one box, just enough to peak in, then shoved it back inside his duffle bag. He lifted the second lid clear off, pulled out a ten inch Hawthorn wand that had Draco's chest nearly bursting, then stood up, ignoring the fact all the clothes he'd been balancing on his knee unceremoniously fell to the floor.

"Here, if you want it."

Draco just stared in disbelief at what was in Potter's hand. The cylindrical wood that was like a limb to him for over seven years of his life, the wand his fingers still itched for, was there in front of his eyes, being offered to him. Potter had kept it all this time, and now he was just handing it back. He didn't know if he was grateful or angry. A little of both.

His fingers reached out, just barely grazing the surface of the hawthorn, but that first touch was enough to throw him into an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia. He remembered it connecting with his magic like one remembers the sensation ice being cold, fully ingrained in his mind.

"Thanks," Draco mumbled, but that word wasn't enough. Feeling his old wand in his hands again was indescribable. He was so happy he could kiss Potter.

A loud clack started him and he nearly dropped the wand. Potter was sitting opposite him now, frowning into his cup of tea, which he'd noisily dropped into its saucer like the low-brow barbarian he was. Half the contents of his duffle bag had ended up sprawled out on the table, including a toothbrush, not to mention the other half dumped onto the floor, but Draco kept his scornful comment about that to himself.

"What it is?" Draco asked, his fingers absentmindedly traveling up and down his wand, exploring the familiar groves of it.

"It's gone cold," Potter said studying it as if there was someway of getting it to warm up just by looking at it." I don't suppose you have a microwave you've been hiding."

"A what?"

"Never mind," Potter said with a chuckle."Muggle thing."

Draco looked thoughtfully at him as Potter took another sip and made a face of dislike before swirling the hawthorn wand and casting a heating charm.

Potter looked down at the now steaming cup."Thanks Malfoy."

He smiled at Draco, not big, but bright and honest, and it caused something warm to coil in his gut. But as soon as he glanced back over to Potter's own wand, he frowned. While he was at it, he summoned a pillow and blanket for the couch.

***

"So you want me to just follow you to work?" Potter's eyebrows crinkled and Draco had to smother a smile.

"Yes. I'll pretend to be pretending to show you around. You just have to pretend to be interested. That way I won't not have to not kick you out on the street."

"Wait..." Potter's eyes squinted in confusion.

This time, Draco couldn't help the smirk that curled on his face. He'd found messing with Potter's head was a fun activity he was starting to enjoy on a daily basis. Yesterday's was with unwarranted hurt looks that had Potter scrambling for apologies in which he wasn't sure what to say. Today's game was with words.

Potter wasn't too unbearable to live with. For the most part, he slept on the couch, and kept to himself. He was messier than Draco liked, but a few scathing comments about Potter's personal hygiene usually cured that. The best part was Draco's brilliant plans to screw with his head. Potter was just too easy sometimes.

"So I just have to go in to your work and pretend I'm fascinated by the owl post?" The brunet said, obviously giving up on completely working out what Draco had said.

Potter had only disappeared to go flying one other time and come back with his clothes ripped. Draco had Flenchy fix them this time, while he healed a fairly shallow cut on Potter's right shoulder. The fact that he got to see Potter shirtless was completely unimportant to him. He'd yet to see any magical accidents Granger had been talking about, but he wasn't too surprised. The magic usually had to build over a period of time – it might be months before he witnessed one. He had to admit, he was a little curious to see what would happen. He was mentally prepared to forgive Potter if a piece of furniture blew up, or whatever this volatile magic would be.

"If you want. As long as you remember to act like we're mates."

Potter shrugged."I've had to do worse in my life."

Draco glared half-heartedly.

The more used to each other's company they got, the more they developed into a behavior of jaunting, although on a much less severe level. Potter's expressions were more guarded than back at school, and his temper heated up quite a lot around Draco. On the other hand, Draco found more sarcasm slipping out of his mouth than there had been in years. His scathing remarks might have been watered down a bit, but his tongue was still sharp and witty. At least, he'd like to think so.

"Are you sure you can manage to get up that early, or will it cut into all that beauty sleep."

Potter glared."I'm not the one who's concerned about my beauty, Malfoy."

"You're right. You must be sleeping that much in hopes that you'll permanently ingrain bed head as your natural hairstyle. I've got news for you, Potter; you've already succeeded in that."

"Excuse me for not being born with flat, limp hair like some people."

"Limp!" Draco huffed, his voice a little higher than dignified. He narrowed his eyes and fixed Potter with the iciest glare he could muster."I'm not limp."

Potter's eyebrows rose suddenly, his face flushing as it darted first to Draco's crotch then quickly away. Draco bit back his own blush, his heart slamming in his chest."My hair always has volume," he said with half the power of his normal voice.

"Yeah," Potter mumbled.

Draco knew an awkward silence would follow if he didn't quickly lead the conversation into something else, so he shifted where he was sitting, tucking one leg underneath him and tossing his arm over the back of the couch in what he hoped to appear as a relaxed position.

"Wear something I bought too, not your old clothes," Draco made a show of curling his lip up in disgust. They were beastly things, baggy and completely unflattering, hiding way too much of Potter's body. The git had taken to wearing them, rather than the items Draco had purchased. Only rarely did he see Potter don a new shirt or the jeans, showing off his body better. Not that Draco thought about Potter's body all that much, or what the clothes were hiding behind it.

"Why do you want me to meet your boss?" Potter said, shifting to face Draco more. He appeared to be staring at Draco's hand draped over the couch, which made it feel twitchy.

"Because I want to rub her face in the fact I personally know the wizarding world's hero."

Potter rolled his eyes.

Draco lifted his hand and ran it through his hair, ruffling it, still feeling self-conscious about Potter's flat hair comment. He'd thought he had managed to do it subtle enough, but there was a small curl in Potter's lips. Since when did he smirk?

"What?"

"Fixing your hair for me?" Potter said, in a teasing tone of voice.

"Please. Why would I care what you thought about me?"

Potter lowered his face until his eyes were peering out from underneath their lashes. It took all of Draco's willpower not swallow nervously. The brunet glanced down Draco's chest for a moment, and his tongue darted out to wet his lower lip in what looked like a subconscious gesture. Draco's whole body started to buzz, feeling more energized than it had in months.

"Potter," he started to say something, but there weren't any words that followed as his mind drew a blank, distracted from the oddly husky sound of his voice.

Potter stilled completely, frozen where he was. Then slowly, yet in a way that was too quick for Draco's liking, his body shifted, leaning much too close.

The heat radiating off of Potter was like a furnace, burning Draco's body inside and out the moment they touched. Strong hands brushed his stomach, pausing at his initial jump in surprise, then sliding upward towards his chest. The tentative touch sent a tingling of pleasure along his skin.

Draco glanced up and was met with the most acute gaze he'd ever received from Potter's ghostly green eyes, all his attention focused fully on Draco. The feeling was rich, like his head was suddenly too foggy for rational thought.

Somehow things had changed all too soon. Draco didn't know what Potter was doing, hovering too close to him, touching him, but he couldn't do anything about it. He'd lost command of his body, the ability to use his arms to push Potter off, to form scathing words demanding what the prick thought he was doing. It was like Potter was a viper who'd struck him, paralyzing him, leaving him at his mercy.

No, it that wasn't right because he was leaning into the touch, his blood pumping so strongly in his veins it felt like his whole body was pulsing. His senses became only aware of Potter, his touch, his smell, his tan hands running down Draco's shirt. Potter shifted closer, his head coming near enough for a few black strands of hair to tickle Draco's cheek. Green eyes focused on his lips, which felt unbearably dry so he licked them, his mind completely hazed as he leaned a fraction of an inch closer.

Then suddenly it felt like he was spinning too fast on his broom, and before he could realize what he was doing, he had shoved Potter off him, clear onto the floor and cursed. Potter looked up, surprise dancing in his eyes, and Draco took a deep, shuttering breath as he reached out with his magical sense, feeling that there was a presence outside of his door.

"I'm sorry," Potter mumbled, and Draco glared down at him, not sure if he was mad at Potter for doing what he had, or if he was angry at being interrupted. Perhaps both.

"There's someone at my door," he said, his voice a little more horse than he'd have liked. He cleared it and straightened out his shirt. After a moment, Potter stood too, settling himself back on the couch and looking away from Draco. What had just happened was such a brief moment, and yet Draco had never felt so shaken, so utterly undone before.

With a tremble in his fingers, Draco reached for the doorknob, his other hand gripped tightly on his wand and he was trying to make himself focus on the fact that there was a stranger just outside his door. He couldn't even think of a defensive spell as he turned the doorknob, the presence of Potter so thick in his mind.

He cracked the door open, peering out.

There stood a familiar face he had no desire to see at the moment. Silky black hair, coffee brown skin, tight black t-shirt, he was going to kill him.

"Draco!" Blaise said cheerfully through a toothy smile."Whoa, why the sour face?"

Draco had done nothing to hide his irritation. In fact, he tried to amplify all he felt ten fold, focusing it into the most scathing expression he could manage, then turn it on Zabini. Unfortunately for him, they'd known each other since they were very young kids, and Draco's looks didn't ever work on him."What the fuck are you doing here?"

Zabini's smile fell and his eyes turned down in a saddened expression that Draco didn't buy for a second."She kicked me out. I did nothing but offer my purest love to her, and she still she turned me away."

"Uh huh." Draco sneered."Well, better luck next time."

He started to push the door shut, but Blaise stopped it with his hand."Oh come on, Draco. We both know how this goes, I beg you to stay, and you eventually cave in and let me."

"Not this time," he said, narrowing the opening of the door a fraction."I already have one unwelcome house guest. Go somewhere else."

A smirk played on Blaise's lips, one that rivaled his own. Bastard."Did Pansy get drunk again and pass out? The poor dear can't hold her liquor."

Draco closed the door a bit more, only to have Blaise to push back harder than he'd expected. The door swung open, revealing more than Draco had wanted the git to see.

Blaise's dark brown eyes widened until the whites showed and Draco knew he'd seen just whom it was sitting on his couch."Oh my god," he whispered."You finally fucked Harry Potter."

"I did not!" Draco squeaked rather undignified. Potter'd better not have been able to hear that. He lowered his voice."Potter just showed up here."

"And you didn't take the opportunity to fuck him?" Blaise gave him a look like he was the stupidest creature to ever walk the Earth. Draco started to list hexes in his head.

Potter cleared his throat, probably to bring attention to himself, and it worked.

"Hullo, Harry," Blaise said at normal volume, giving him a bright, charming smile."Long time no see. How have you been."

Looking a bit taken aback, Potter answered with a barely audible,"Fine."

He looked Blaise up and down in confusion, which Draco found to be reasonable. Blaise always acted like he was the best friend to everyone he talked to, and considering he and Potter hadn't probably ever spoke directly to each other in their entire life, it was an awkward situation to face.

"Well, Blaise," Draco said with a slight growl in his voice."As you can see, my place is all filled up."

"That's okay. Potter can sleep out here, and I'll share your bed," Blaise said in a silky tone, wrapping his arms around Draco's shoulders. Draco wanted to slap his arm away. Or maybe just slap Blaise. After what had just happened between Potter and him, he wasn't in the mood for Zabini's play-flirting.

Potter sat up a little straighter."Zabini can sleep out here with me, I don't mind."

"Ooh, even better offer," Blaise whispered into Draco's ear.

"Well I do mind," Draco said bitterly, and ignored it when Blaise gave him a curious look.

"Why?"

"Because I'm sick of free-loaders."

Blaise raised a knowing eyebrow that Draco didn't particularly like.

"Fine, you know what? Stay. Apparently my flat has become an inn to unwanted travelers."

"Thank you, Draco," Blaise said, giving his shoulder a squeeze."You're a saint."

"Flenchy's gone for the night, so if you're hungry, tough luck," he said, looking down at the hand on his shoulder. He shook it off, scowling.

"Aww Draco, I never knew you cared so much," Blaise said, smiling.

"Whatever." His lip turned up."I'm suddenly feeling very tired, and I have to go to work tomorrow, so I'm going to bed."

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Potter staring at the floor, completely void of emotion.

"You're leaving? I just got here," Blaise said, pouting.

Draco was shaken and not at his best. The last thing he needed to be around right now was a Slytherin who would be dissecting his every move.

"We'll have the party some other time," he said dryly, making his way across the room, trying his best to pace himself so it wouldn't appear as if he was running away. He was almost out of the room before Potter stopped him.

"What time do I have to get up?" he said, and Draco stared at him blankly, confused."To go to work, what time?"

Work. That's right, he'd finally asked Potter to come to work with him. Somehow, that seemed so long ago.

"Flenchy will get you up when it's time," Draco said over his shoulder.

He shut the door behind him, just barely restraining himself from slamming it. Placing both hands on either side of the sink, he stared at his reflection in the mirror, looking directly into gray eyes and frowning. After a moment, his body moved on its own, going through the motions of cleaning his teeth.

When he moved from the bathroom to his room, he could hear them both in there, laughing, and it made him sick. It certainly didn't take Potter very long to buddy-up with Blaise. So now he was just handing his friendship out to anyone who wanted it? Draco frowned. That's how it had always been, Potter would befriend anyone. Anyone except him.

He dropped to his bed, rubbing his eyes. How the hell had everything changed so drastically so quickly? Blaise had some really bad timing. Or maybe he didn't, maybe he'd just saved him and Potter from doing something they'd have really regretted. He wasn't sure how far that would have gone.

And he still wasn't sure how far he wanted it to go.

***

Sleeping wasn't the easiest thing to do. Draco couldn't imagine why, it just one of those mysterious nights where no matter what he did, he couldn't fall asleep. He couldn't get comfortable on his bed, his sheets were too hot on him, but it was too cold without them. Just because he kept getting up in the middle of the night – to get a drink of water, to go to the bathroom, and to make sure he'd warded the door and windows properly – didn't mean he was checking out the happenings of the living room. If he noted every time that Potter and Blaise were in their perspective sleeping areas – Potter on his couch and Blaise on the newly transformed coffee table, that was just a simple observation, and not reassurance for any worrying thoughts.

***

Draco woke up panting and hard and incredibly confused as to why Potter's head wasn't between his legs. That was, until he realized he'd just been dreaming. Merlin, he'd been dreaming.

It was still dark outside; he didn't have a clue of the time. Groaning, he turned over onto his stomach, which only exasperated the problem in his groin. He whimpered pitifully, forcing himself not to hump the mattress in desperation.

This was all Potter's fault. What the hell had he been thinking earlier? The reminder caused his hips to twitch forward, the delicious pressure rubbing the fabric of his pajamas against his sensitive flesh. He groaned, tucking his head in the crook of his arm and squeezing his eyes shut.

He couldn't do this, he shouldn't. It wouldn't be the first time he wanked while thinking of Potter – far from it – but doing it now was wrong. It just- he couldn't with Potter out there. With Potter and Blaise out there.

He rolled over, onto his back again. Each brush against his erection caused him to cringe as pleasurable tingles kissed up his spine. Stupid body.

It wasn't fair. The more he tried not to think of the dream, the more vivid the image became of Potter's lips stretching around his cock, eyes burning with lust.

Draco bit his lip, fingers gracing the skin right below his belly button, rubbing softly. Then his hand slipped lower, despite the voice of reason screaming in his head, and Draco knew he'd be ashamed of himself later.

As he wrapped his hand around the stiff flesh, he decided right now he just couldn't bring himself to care.

***

The look on his boss's face was priceless. Even more so from the way it had been frozen in place from when they'd arrived. Mouth parted, eyes so wide her forehead wrinkled.

"So er..." Potter said, standing almost flat against the wall as if trying to disappear in it. Draco could sympathize with how uncomfortable it would be to have his boss's stare fixed so eerily at him."Draco. This is where you work?"

Draco smirked. Potter had given up trying to talk to her after the only responses he'd gotten were a variety of high-pitched squeaks. It was also highly entertaining the way Potter kept saying Draco's first name, like it was a foreign word that he had to sound out carefully each time.

"You're Harry Potter," his boss said, and Draco couldn't fully hold back a snicker. He'd seen a fair amount of people mooning over Potter in his life, but he'd never seen someone as star-struck as his boss. It was a good thing he hadn't warned her about bringing Potter today, her being mentally unprepared was quite fun to watch.

"Yeah, last time I checked," Potter said with an embarrassed smile. She laughed then, too high and even to be natural.

"You saved us. You saved us from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named," she said airily, as if just now realizing it.

Potter cleared his throat, pressing himself even closer to the wall."Not by myself. I had a lot of help."

For the briefest moment, Potter's eyes touched on Draco's figure and he could feel the heat rise on his neck.

"You're amazing," she breathed, sighing.

"Yes, he really is," Draco said, smiling smugly at her."But isn't it time we got to work."

She blinked slowly, as if the concept was completely new to her."I work here," she said, giggling.

"Well actually," Draco said, about to touch her elbow before deciding he didn't actually want to touch her anywhere. He stepped in front of her instead, blocking her view of Potter."You work out there."

She looked to where his finger was pointing, her smile slowly falling off her face. Blinking rapidly for a beat, she started to blush, ugly red splotches littering her cheeks."I should get to work."

"Hmm." Draco said in an agreeing tone.

She ducked her head around Draco, smiling once more."If you need anything, anything at all Mr. Potter, you come get me right away."

"We will," Draco assured, walking with her to the door while blocking her view of Potter the best he could. After another sickeningly long look at Potter over Draco's shoulder, she turned around the corner, thankfully leaving.

The clack of her heels down the hall were uneven, as if she kept pausing and pondering weather or not she should come back, but eventually they faded away.

"Your boss is weird," Potter said, tapping his skull."Not all quite there, huh?"

Draco smirked."That's what happens when faced with the charisma of the All Mighty Hero. You're as good as a confundus charm to people."

Potter glared."So this is all you do all day? Tie things to Owls?"

Jutting his chin up, Draco looked down his nose at Potter, unamused."When they're out delivering their items, I clean up after them too."

"Lovely," Potter said, his eyes scanning the droppings around the perches.

"It's a lot more than you do," he said defensively.

Potter shrugged, walking over towards a few owls on the perches. They stuck their legs out, thinking he was going to tie their pouches on. Dumb animals."Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind working with owls. Better than being stuck in front of a store all day, having people stare me like I'm some kind of freak in the circus."

Sitting down at his station, Draco chanced a quick glance over to Potter to see that his face had gone completely blank. He wouldn't be surprised if that was exactly what it had been like if Potter had tried to get a job. Anyone in charge of him, especially if they owned a business, would want to exploit Potter for further profit. Draco gritted his teeth as he picked up the first square of leather and tied it to a tawny owl.

"Why don't you just spell them onto the owls?" Potter said, nodding his head towards the box of coin pouches.

"By all means, why don't you give it a try? I'm sure the owls won't do more than scratch out your eyes if you use any magic on them."

Potter looked from the box to the owl right in front of Draco a few times before apparently losing interest and walking off towards the perches in the back. Draco focused again on his work, looping the leather strings through the metal ring, then tying the ends together with a sheet bend knot. It was the best knot he'd found, quick enough to tie onto the owl without them getting impatient, and equally as quick to release when they got back.

"You remind me of Hedwig," Potter said quietly, and Draco turned his head to see him stocking the wing of a snowy owl as it hooted contently. The way Potter spoke, it sounded like his owl had died, and Draco felt a little sympathy go out towards her. He'd seen her at school and she had been quite beautiful. Potter had seemed to really care about her too, at least from the way he'd give her scraps of his food whenever she showed up, and pet her gently. It made him think of his own owl, currently playing traitor by staying with his parents instead of him.

When he looked again, he tensed as he saw Potter now in front of the great horned owl, petting her chest.

"Careful, that one bites," he said, but Potter being the stupid idiot he was just kept on touching her. The owl tilted her head, rotating it until she was looking at Potter sideways. He watched as tan fingers slowly moved to her chest, gently stroking her soft feathers. Potter's sudden smile was warm and gentle and nothing like Draco had ever seen close-up before. His chest started to burn, and he had to tell himself that he was not jealous of that bloody bird. Leave it to Potter to make friends with the one that hated Draco.

***

"How'd it go?"

Draco's hand clenched tightly around his wand, arm muscles tense with the desire to stab Zabini in the eye. He was sitting on the couch – Draco did not almost think of it as Potter's bed – smiling in his charming way while reading Draco's paper. Shirtless. His chest was a lot more filled out than Draco's own, muscles well defined but not bulky. Still, it wasn't anything compared to Potter's, in Draco's opinion.

"Fine," he said, moving into the room so that Potter could step inside."I see you're making yourself right at home."

"Well, you know I have always considered this place as my second home."

"Is that so..." Draco tossed his cloak into the waiting hands of Flenchy. The elf bowed and shuffled behind him.

"Harry Potter sir?"

Draco peaked over his shoulder to see Potter removing his jacket and gingerly handing it over.

"Thanks," he said, embarrassment seeping into his words.

He wasn't sure when Potter had gone from 'Master's guest' to 'Harry Potter sir', but the elf seemed to be very accepting of Potter. He'd found them on occasions, talking together. He couldn't imagine a house-elf being much of a conversationalist, but Potter never seemed to mind. He didn't know what it was they talked about, but he'd caught a few sections of stories Potter told about the nine and three-quarters Platform gate not working for him in second year, rouge bludgers during a Quidditch game, even about a house by the coast. It irritated him that Potter would waste his war stories on the likes of Flenchy, but it wasn't like he really cared. Why would he care if Potter told his house elf about his war experiences and not Draco?

"Take a load off," Blaise said, looking at Potter with lowered eyelids and patting the couch next to him."It's exhausting work being paraded around all day like a trophy, isn't it?"

Glaring, Draco toed off his shoes."You would be familiar with extorting people," he mumbled under his breath.

"I didn't mind," Potter said with a shrug. Draco smirked satisfyingly at Blaise.

"Well anyway, its good to have you guys back. I was so terribly bored," Blaise said with a playful pout.

Draco's smirk shifted into a withering look."I'm so sorry my house – the house I'm so graciously letting you stay in – is boring."

"Apology accepted," Blaise said smiling."You really ought to expand your book collection, Draco. There's not one ounce of romance on that shelf over there."

Draco rolled his eyes.

"Even better, you should get yourself a Muggle telly." Blaise laughed charmingly."Don't look so horrified by the 'M' word. They're really quite fun. Aren't they, Harry?"

Potter glanced up from the corner of the kitchen he'd gone to stand in. His arms were crossed, lower back resting against the counter and looking particularly moody.

"Sure," he said, running a hand through his hair distractedly."I think I'll go take a shower before dinner."

"Take your time," Blaise said, which really was an odd thing to say in Draco's opinion, but Potter didn't acknowledge him as he shuffled off.

"Mmm, just imagine," Blaise said while looking at the direction of the bathroom."Potter's sexy body dripping wet. I wonder if I could make it look like an accident if I walked in on him..."

"Why don't you find out," Draco said bitterly.

"Do you think he got all hot and bothered seeing me?" he said, running a hand down his bare chest.

Draco narrowed his eyes and made himself uncurl his fists when he felt the finger nails digging into his palm.

"How long are you planning to stay?" he said, sounding more snappish than he'd intended. Blaise made a thoughtful noise.

"I don't know. I'm really enjoying my time here." As if to make a point, he glanced back to the bathroom and smirked.

"You have one week to find a new place before I kick you out."

Blaise chuckled, his eyes twinkling in an infuriating imitation of the late Dumbledore's."Does that deadline apply to Harry as well?"

Draco must have made some kind of expression, because Blaise broke out into a snickering laugh. Tugging on his collar, Draco hated the way he suddenly felt so self-conscious.

"Despite what you think, Draco, subtly is not your art."

"And that's suppose to mean what?"

Blaise stretched out on the couch, resting his neck on the back while his legs crossed at the ankles. There was a playful smile twitching on his lips."You've always been quite obvious when it came to Potter, whether you know it or not."

Sneering, Draco started to cross his arms, but decided placing his hands in the pockets of his trousers would appear less defensive."I'm sure it always has been rather obvious that I hate Potter. Don't mistake that I'm letting him stay here as a sign of concern."

Blaise raised an eyebrow.

"I owe him my life, that's the only reason." Draco fingered a few loose coins in his pocket as he strengthened the scorn in his sneer."I pity him. I despise him. That's all there is to it."

A slow, dangerous smirk slithered onto Blaise's face, a look of a cat right before it pounced on it's pray."You really hate Potter?"

"Yes," Draco snapped, feeling the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

"Really? That's not what it sounded like last night.

For a moment Draco stared at him in mild confusion before embarrassment and shame washed over him like a sudden downpour.

"I don't know what you're talking about," he said, his voice a pitch higher than usual.

"I heard you," Zabini said, smiling deviously.

"I don't know what you thought you heard, but-"

"Moaning and groaning and writhing-"

"I was not writhing-"

"Ah! So you do admit it. Unless, could it be you were thinking of me instead?"

"No!" Draco snarled, just as he heard the metallic squeak of the shower being shut off. He took a deep breath as he glared down at Zabini, who was currently chuckling as he tucked his hands behind his head.

"Like I said, subtly isn't your art."

"Shut up. You don't know what you're talking about."

"I think I do," he said, uncrossing his legs."I think you like Potter. Or at least the idea of Potter on his knees in front of you."

Draco really hoped the heat in his face wasn't noticeable.

"Either way," Zabini continued."If you're not going to make a move, I am. Harry is looking very sexually frustrated and I certainly wouldn't mind helping him remedy that."

Just as Draco was opening his mouth, a venomous reply on his tongue, the bathroom door swung open and out walked Potter wearing nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist. Out of the corner of his eye, Draco could see Blaise craning his neck to get a good look.

"Where's my bag?" Potter mumbled, probably to himself as he scanned the room. The towel was just hanging there precariously.

"Here," Draco growled, spelling the blasted thing to shoot across the room and it hit Potter square in the chest. He caught it with a grunt, shot Draco a puzzled look, then, blessedly, turned back into the bathroom.

"Yummy," Zabini said as soon as the door clicked shut. Draco's fist trembled with the effort it took not to punch him square in his stupid mouth.

****

The sidewalks were shiny, the scent of rain still in the air as Draco walked back from work. It was refreshing, the breeze crisp and cool against his skin. He really did love being outside after a storm, there was nothing like it.

It would have been a very lovely walk, if it weren't for the bushy head of hair he kept spotting in the reflection of windows he passed by, trailing behind him. He suspected it was suppose to be a stealthy operation, but his follower made one hell of a lousy spy.

"Are you stalking me, Granger?" he said casually over his shoulder. He heard a muttered curse – although, a very kiddy curse in his opinion – and had to bite the corner of his mouth to keep from snickering. How on earth Potter and his friends remained undetected by the Death-Eaters hunting them during the war, Draco would never know. He suspected that it had a lot to do with Potter's invisibility cloak. That, or she was putting up to something, putting on a show on purpose, but he couldn't imagine her to be the cunning type.

"Hello, Draco," Granger said stepping out from behind a store sign that had barely been covering her at all. It was obvious that she'd decided to do the brave thing and confront him outright. She had a lot of audacity to call him by his first name, though. He tried not to glare as he nodded in recognition.

"Afternoon."

As she stood opposite him her eyes were kind, yet probing, and it was only from years of practice that he kept himself from fidgeting under such a strong gaze.

"Something you want?" he said, keeping his voice calm and as friendly as it was going to get with Granger.

"Where's Harry?"

"Home."

"You mean your place."

Draco rolled his eyes as impatience started to win out over the amusement."Obviously."

"How is he?"

"Do you mean, is he dead yet?"

Her mouth tightened.

"Look, besides what you and Weasley must be imagining, Potter and I get along quite amenably. He sleeps most the day, we eat together, we might even talk a little bit. It's all very domestic."

"How did Harry convince you to let him stay with you?"

Apparently with Granger, one answered question meant a handful of new ones. Sighing, Draco shifted his weight to one hip and crossed his arms, resigning himself to answering enough to get her to leave him alone.

"What do you mean?" Draco smirked."He asked me, and, being the nice guy I am, I let him stay out of the kindness of my heart."

Granger's lips pursed even tighter, her eyes dripping with suspicion."Was it because he got you out of Azkaban early?"

The world around Draco suddenly blurred. Thoughts vanished from his mind, leaving only vague images of Azkaban and Potter flashing through it. Cold bars, gray stones, darkness, smells of decay and then Potter, pulling him away from that, saving him from the panic.

"He didn't tell you?" she said in a pitchy whisper. Her face was a mix of terror and annoyance, as if she couldn't decied whether she should be mortified by the fact she had betrayed Potter's secret, or angry that Potter hadn't done it himself.

He could see why Potter hadn't said anything. He understood the way the git thought, he always downplayed his heroic actions and he was uncomfortable of having people praise him. He probably hadn't said anything to Draco to try and prevent things from being even more awkward between the two of them. Though, he wished Potter had.

Draco, slowly regaining his senses, wanted to curse at himself. It had been quite a bombshell Granger had dropped, but if he'd acted like he'd already known that, he might have gotten her to talk more about it. Too late for that now. His best option was to act as if that news wasn't important and hope that she either reacted by proving to him it was by going into details, or seeing that it wasn't a big deal and she didn't need to be so tight-lipped about it.

"No, he didn't," Draco said with a shrug, trying to loosen the sudden tension in his body so that he would appear nonchalant and board.

"Never mind," Granger mumbled, shoving a mass of frizzy hair behind her ear only to have to fall forward again. Damn, she was going to avoid the topic all together. Draco changed tactics.

"Why would he do that? Why did he?"

"You'd better ask him," she said predictably. As much as he'd like to pursue the topic, he backed off, knowing the more he prodded Granger for information, the more she was likely to close up about it. It was too bad, she was a better bet to learn about what happened than Potter. In the old days, Draco might have been able to taunt the information out of Potter, but lately the brunet had been acting too compliant.

"What do you want?" he said after a moment of silence stretched out between them.

She straightened."I want reassurance that you're actually taking care of Harry."

"Potter doesn't need me to take care of him," he paused, fighting back the smirk that wanted to form on his lips as he said the thing he knew would really piss her off."He's got my house-elf for that."

As he'd predicted, Granger's lips pressed so close together all the color rushed right out."I'm watching you, Malfoy." She said in a huff, and spun as if to dissapparate. Unfortunately for her, they were still in the anti-apparation wards. Her brows drew in as confusion fitted across her face, then after a scowl at him, Granger stalked away, rubber souls of her shoes slapping loudly against the wet concrete.

He snickered as he watched her turn the corner. Was he supposed to be afraid of her? Silly girl.

*****

Draco was sitting on his kitchen counter, legs dangling like a child as he ate the sweetest, richest chocolate pudding Flenchy could make. He wouldn't usually indulge himself in such uncultured behavior but, well... he'd been in a sour mood all day and wasn't in the frame of mind for practicing his lessons of propriety from his upbringing.

He spooned another bite of pudding, the creamy sweet rolling over his tongue in the most wonderfully delicious way. He closed his eyes, savoring the taste and letting it distract him from his bad mood. Bless Flenchy and his cooking abilities.

Potter had been gone when Draco had woken. Either he'd run off to wherever it was he sometimes disappeared to, or he was with Zabini. Draco couldn't decide which one irritated him more. Either Potter had gone flying for who knows how long and would come home exhausted enough to pass out for hours, or he was with Zabini alone. Probably getting fed all of his pathetic romance lines. When it came to Blaise, he had more moves than a wizard chest board.

Not that Draco particularly cared. Why would he? Blaise could go after whoever he wanted. Potter probably was sexually frustrated, and that's why a couple nights ago he had done what he did. Draco didn't care. Not one bit.

Just as he was poking sullenly at his pudding, he heard the fireplace blaze, followed immediately by a very loud thump and cursing.

Without craning his neck to see past the separating wall, Draco knew who it was. Potter was the only wizard who apparently couldn't master not falling on his ass whenever he used the floo.

A moment later the brunet came into view, ash littering his wind-whipped hair. Draco's fingers itched to brush it out before he frowned at the ridiculous thought.

"Welcome back," he said, a touch of sarcasm in the words.

"What are you eating?" Potter asked as he unzipped his jacket and casually threw it over the back of a dinning chair. Draco's grip tightened on his bowl.

"None of your business."

Potter blinked blankly at him before approaching, obviously lacking any proper etiquette when it came to personal space. From this close, Draco could recognize the usual fatigue Potter had after his flying sessions, but there was also something lively about him, like the energy around him was completely untamed. It didn't appear as if he'd tired himself out as much as he usually did. His clothes weren't torn, no cuts on his face. Draco was pleased to see that he didn't look as if he had been as reckless as he usually was.

Potter put both hands on either side of Draco's thighs, bowing his head to peer into the bowl. Draco's heart thumped loudly in his chest as the other's presence was suddenly so prominent.

"Potter, you have the manners of a dog," he said, putting the bowl off to the side. He expected Potter to back off, but he remained, and when Draco looked up he had to keep his breathing steady as their eyes locked. Despite a somewhat expressionless face, Potter's eyes had an unnerving intensity in them.

"You're always such a mess," Draco said as his fingers reached up of their own accord, brushing the gray soot out of black hair.

"I know."

The air around Draco felt charged, buzzing against his skin as Potter's eyes moved about his face, something hungry emerging inside them as they fixated on his lips. Draco's hand fell to his side once again, still tingling where it had touched the dark strands.

Potter made a frustrated noise in the back of his throat as his lower stomach brushed against Draco's knees. He moved in closer, pressing their bodies closer together, foreheads merely an inch away. Draco could smell the earth on Potter, the sweetness of dried leaves, the freshness of grass, all mixed with the saltiness of his sweat.

It would just take one little shove, a hand pushing at the center of Potter's chest and all this would end before Draco dug himself into a mess. Instead, he allowed his legs to open slowly, accepting Potter closer to his body, shivering at the feel of his hips dragging gently against Draco's inner thighs. The heat of embarrassment flooded to his cheeks, but it was nothing compared to the heat rushing to the lower parts of his body.

Potter's breath shuddered against his lips, but a twinge of disappointment spiked through Draco's body as Potter turned his head, grazing his nose against Draco's cheek. Not knowing what to do with his hands, but wanting to do something, he placed them on Potter's shoulders. It felt awkward and forced, but it prompted Potter to move his own hands to Draco's thighs, sliding up them erotically, and that was wonderfully warm.

Draco shifted closer to the edge of the counter, pressing their bodies tighter together, and the heat between them was almost unbearable. Lips grazed a sensitive spot just behind Draco's ear, and his fingers flexed, moving up until they were tangling with black hair. Potter leaned into the touch, like a kitten starved for attention, arching his neck and exposing the bump of his Adam's apple.

As if a primitive part of him had taken control, Draco moved without thought, pressing his lips against Potter's chin, the corner of his mouth, then tentatively against Potter's own lips. It was just a brush, quick and gentle, but it awoken something inside both of them.

Their mouths connected again, more hungrily. Potter's lips parted underneath his own, a probing tongue slipping out. He answered with his own, opening his mouth wider and slanting his head to deepen the kiss.

The wrestling of tongues was heightened by the mingling of their quickened breathing. Strong hands squeezed his thighs, eliciting a moan that was echoed in Potter, vibrating against both their lips.

Draco slid even closer, and Potter moved a hand to rest on Draco's lower back, fingers just barely grazing against his arse as their hips met. The feel of their erections touching was the single most arousing moment of Draco's life so far. And then it was nothing compared to the way Potter ground their hips together and moaned torturously.

"Malfoy," Potter whispered against his lips, sounding eager and frustrated while he repeated the action. Pulses of pleasure thrummed through Draco's lower body, shooting up his spine as the harsh fabric of his trousers brushed against him again and again.

"Hello?"

Both teens froze as the silky deep voice carried from the other room. Cursing to himself, Draco shoved Potter away and leapt down from the counter. With shaky hands he brushed off his chest, heart thumping as he could still feel Potter pressed against him – his lips, his hands.

Just as Blaise slaughtered into view, Draco had the wits to wrap his robes around his waist.

"There you are," Blaise said, smiling so wide his cheeks dimpled. Stupid, dimple-smiling, cock-blocking bastard. He was going to kill him.

Draco's gaze shifted to Potter for a minute, who he noted with some relief had grabbed his jacket and was now holding it casually in front of himself. For a moment, Draco's spine prickled with worry that Potter was somehow going to give them away, but then he realized Blaise was studying him, and Draco had to quickly reign in any emotions that had been showing on his face.

"So what's going on? Having a snack?" Blaise eyed the bowl on the counter.

"I was," Draco sneered."Until I was interrupted."

Potter's eyes remained fixed on the table, his expression completely blank as Blaise chuckled happily.

"Pudding? You have such a sweet tooth," he said, throwing his arm around Draco's waist and pulled him close in one smooth movement. Draco's gray eyes narrowed dangerously and he prepared to elbow the idiot in the ribs when a loud crack suddenly echoed throughout the room. He jumped and felt Blaise tense next to him. They spun around, still connected and stumbling slightly. Potter was standing over the table, his eyebrows low and his mouth tight, looking like a child who'd just got caught doing something he wasn't suppose to. Below him, the table had a new, deep gouge in a zigzag pattern right down the middle.

"Sorry," Potter mumbled, clearing his throat and keeping his eyes lowered. Draco's gaze traced the new mark with fascination. The gouge itself wasn't that impressive – any idiot could cut wood – but he could see the magic that had caused it still lingering, lighting the table's wound in an eerie green color much like the Killing Curse. Or Potter's eyes.

"Wow Harry, you must not know your own strength," Blaise said in a light, teasing voice. From under his black fringe, Potter looked up with gratefulness in his eyes and Draco felt a prickle of anger touch his chest. He shoved Blaise away as a cold burn settled in his stomach. Although what he was getting so worked up about, he couldn't say.

"I'll buy you a new one," Potter said."Eventually."

It had been a magical accident, Draco was sure. He'd been expecting them since Granger's letter, but a very small, protective part of him regretted it had happened in front of Zabini.

"Nothing that a little reparo won't fix," Blaise said, pulling out his wand and casting the spell. Nothing happened.

Draco snickered."Wow Blaise, you're amazing."

"Just leave it. It's not reversible," Potter said irritably. Draco eyed the scar now on his table. He suspected the only one powerful enough to remove it would be Potter himself, and considering he never liked to use magic, he doubted that was going to happen any time soon. Then he blinked in surprise as Potter suddenly disappeared.

"Wow, no manners," Blaise said tusking. Draco gave him a dark look then peered down, glowering at his kitchen counter.

"I better get going too," Blaise said, stretching his back.

"But you just got back."

The other boy shrugged."I just came back to change for tonight."

"Tonight?"

Blaise smiled deviously."A gentleman never tells."

A few moments later, Draco found himself just as alone as he'd been a few minutes ago, agitated.

"Great, Blaise is going out to screw someone out of their money, and Potter's moodily gone out to fly again."

"Harry Potter doesn't go flying," Flenchy said appearing at his right, high voice sounding more upset than usual. Draco blinked in surprise, at first thinking the elf had somehow read his mind before he realized he had just said all that out loud.

"Of course he does," Draco said, narrowing his eyes.

Flenchy shook his head."No, no, no."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Flenchy saw it," the elf said, grabbing his ears and pulling so hard it looked as if he'd tear them clean off."Harry Potter took Flenchy to see Dobby's grave."

Dobby? The old Malfoy house-elf that had helped Potter that night at the manor? "What does that have to do with flying?"

"Then Harry Potter walked into the storm." The elf shook his head quickly, squeezing his large eyes shut tightly. "Mistress Malfoy ordered Flenchy to watch over Harry Potter, but Flenchy was too scared!"

"What do you mean, he walked into a storm?" Draco hissed in confusion.

"It was all around him. Harry Potter called it."

Called it? He summoned a storm? Then it hit Draco. A storm around Potter, one that he created. It was a magical accident. Every time he'd thought Potter was out flying, he'd been letting his magic go crazy to its hearts content. If he called storms with his uncontrolled magic then Potter was even more powerful than Draco had thought. Affecting nature itself with magic was no small feat.

A desire coiled in his chest. He wanted to see it. He wanted to see Potter's magic uninhibited.

"Take me to him."

Flenchy shook his head, knobby hands gripping at his ears.

"Flenchy can't. Flenchy can't!" the elf shrieked.

"Yes, Flenchy. That's an order."

The elf wailed, pulling on his ears until they turned red, then went completely white. Draco waited. He knew the elf just had to ride it out, like a toddler tiring itself after a tantrum. He could wait.

***

As soon as he emerged at his destination, Draco was hunching over and covering his eyes as a vicious wind screamed at him. It'd been a bit alarming, going from the calm quiet of his flat to a raging windstorm, so it took him a moment to get his wits about him. He cast an eye protective charm and raised his head to look at his surroundings.

"We shouldn't be here, master!" Flenchy squeaked, barely audible. Draco looked down at the elf, appearing decidedly pathetic while squatting with his hands over his head like a scared animal cowering before a storm.

"Go home."

"Master?" Flenchy looked up unsure, his big round eyes watering with the effort to keep them open.

"I'm staying. You go."

The elf continued to stare at him.

"Go!" He shouted, and the elf disappeared, leaving Draco in the furious storm alone. No, not alone – Potter was out there somewhere.

The forceful gales continued to rage, throwing the air at Draco, pushing harshly against his nose and mouth as if to suffocate him. He had to remind himself to breathe, keep breathing, because with as fast as his heart was thumping he'd surely pass out within seconds if he didn't.

Water droplets pierced through the air, hitting the exposed skin of his face, his neck, his hands, just like a stinging curse. He pulled out his wand to cast a water-repelling spell, but the next instant a pulse of powerful magic filled the air. His wand crackled, red sparks flying from its tip.

Draco frowned. That was Potter's magic, and the wand was accepting it, trying to channel the raw power. Potter still held some mastery over it, if Draco tried to cast any spells while Potter's magic was flying threw the air like it was, there was no guarantee they would take.

"Potter!" he called, but his voice was swept away from him, getting lost in the madness of the storm. He shivered as another powerful wave of magic crashed through the air, fizzling all around him magnificently. It was intense, forceful, shocking, terrifying and awe inspiring all at once. This wasn't a natural storm, this was a storm caused by power, by the magic of a great wizard, by Harry Potter.

The wind was savagely thrashing about, unforgiving in the way it pushed across his body, tearing at his clothes with rocks and leaves and other debris, nicking at his skin. His eyes strained to see around him, to look through the rain and the heavy glow of magic. He felt disoriented, lost. He had no where to anchor his view but then something flashed in front of his vision, too fast for his eyes to track. Lightening? No, it was as if fire itself had streaked across. Another flash, and this time his eyes were able to follow, straight to a small dot in the horizon.

Potter was a lone figure standing in pure chaos, his magic heavy in the air like a thick fog, blinding, all-encompassing. It was uncapped and out of control, feeding itself into the forces of nature, amplifying them.

"Potter!" Draco shouted, but the wind blew harshly, shoving the name back at him.

He pushed his way past the hissing wind as the tall grass beat at his shins. A piece of debris flew past his arm, slicing open his sleeve as if it were a sharp knife through paper. The wind screamed through the trees, stripping their leaves from them, pulling their branches down. It came at him like a wave, crashing over him, consuming him, and he had to fight with all his strength to remain upright.

"Harry!" he shouted as loud as he could, voice cracking under the strain. His robes clung to his body, flapping helplessly as he trudged closer. A gust hit him dead on again, as if fighting him back, knocking the breath out of his lungs as it burned his cheeks and broke through the protective spell on his eyes. Watery eyes shut tightly and he gripped his wand, strengthening his hold as much as possible as he recast the spell.

There was a crackling, the wand started to vibrate in his hand, fighting between two different magical sources. He cleared his mind and tried again, carefully moving his wand, willing it to only listen to him.

Relief loosened the swell in his throat as the spell took, feeling the protection of it wrapping around his eyes once more. He opened them, trying to overcome his disorientation as he sought out Potter again.

His stomach dropped and he froze as he spotted Harry staring directly at him, in the same way a small animal freezes when it senses itself being watched by a deadly predator. He'd never seen Potter like this; green eyes blazing wildly, wide and frenzied. His expression was raw and primal, as out of control as the magic surrounding them. Faster than a blink of an eye, Potter appeared directly in front of him, and suddenly the screaming wind in Draco's ears was gone, replaced by an eerie calm. Around them, the storm still surged, as if they'd both just stepped into the eye of a tornado. Big, fat drops of rain started to fall within the still air, crashing noisily against the surface of the Earth.

"What are you doing here?" Potter said, his voice deep, sounding almost sinister. Draco smoothed out his face, hiding his anxiety, willing his hands not to shake.

"What the hell, Potter?" Draco said, his voice sounding oddly weak to his own ears. "What are you doing out here?"

Potter's smile was slow and dangerous."Letting it all out. Everything that's been building up inside of me."

"How nice for you," he tried to say snidely, but still his words lacked any strength. He tightened his jaw, like hell he was going to look week in front of Potter.

The brunet took a step back, the smile on his face lessening, but still just as dangerous."Go home, Malfoy.

"No," Draco said, thankful his voice sounded more forceful.

"Stubborn prick," Potter chuckled darkly. Then all the humor evaporated from his next words. "Aren't you scared?"

"Why would I be scared of you?" Draco said, raising his chin.

"I can't control it," Potter said as a pulse of magic surged through the air, heavy enough for Draco to taste, and the wind howled even louder around them. Despite what Potter said, Draco did see him in control. Maybe he didn't have a perfect leash on his magic at the moment, but Draco wasn't afraid. He knew Potter would stop it from hurting him. At least, he knew Potter could, and he'd like to think Potter cared enough about him that he wouldn't want to intentionally hurt Draco.

"I'm staying."

Potter's eyes narrowed."Why?"

It was a valid question, but one Draco couldn't voice an answer to. The thought of Potter out here alone in all this madness was upsetting, and there was something driving Draco to want to be here with him... It was ludicrous, but there it was. Still, he couldn't say that.

"This is absurd, Potter. If you would just try casting a few spells once in a while, none of this would be happening right now."

"I can't," Potter said, taking another step back and causing the calm circle in the wind to expand."I can't control my magic anymore."

"You don't even try."

"You don't understand," Potter shouted, then softened his voice."You don't know what it feels like, always lurking underneath the surface, too powerful to stop."

A thoughtful frown formed on Draco's lips. Potter had been through a lot. Facing the Dark Lord had doubtlessly pushed his magic and his mind to the absolute limit. He could imagine that it brought a lot of power to the surface, pulling it from inside, strengthening Potter's abilities. The sudden growth in his level of magic was understandably overwhelming. Rather than tackling this head on like Draco would have expected, Potter had hidden it, tried to bury the problem from everyone, including his friends, and including himself. He lacked the confidence in himself that he needed. Over time, Draco could help him bring that back.

"I'm staying," he said, crossing his arms defiantly.

"Malfoy, go away! You're making it worse," Potter hissed. "Fuck! I can't stand you!"

There was a sharp, tightening of his heart but Draco refused to show his hurt and scowled darkly. He hadn't realized that Potter still hated him. He suddenly lost the desire to help Potter at all anymore.

"Is that so?" he said through his sneer, wishing he could think of something more scathing to say, but his mind was annoyingly blank.

"Yes! God, you drive me insane."

The tight grip on Draco's heart squeezed even harder, causing his scowl to curl into something darker.

"I can't stop thinking about you," Potter began to pace back and forth, the circle of calm expanding more. "Then you're just there all the time, acting so fucking domestic. And I start wanting to touch you so badly my hands burn at the thought."

Draco's knees almost buckled in shock. That was not something he ever thought he'd hear from Potter."What?"

"And now Zabini," he spat the name like a curse,"is always hanging around you. Flirting with you. And you let him. You like it!"

Draco wanted to laugh, or maybe just sit down and try and figure this all out. Him and Blaise? Potter had it all so very, very wrong. He thought Blaise was attractive in the same way he thought his mother was beautiful – strictly on an observational level.

He watched as Potter ran a hand through his messy hair agitatedly and couldn't help but smile. Potter's words were starting to sink in. He'd known the brunet might be interested in him, at least enough to initiate the groping sessions they'd had. What he hadn't dared to think was that Potter was actually crazy about him. It fed his ego, swelling his head.

"So you want to touch me?" he said, trying to downplay the sudden glee coursing through his body."Then go ahead."

Potter looked at him skeptically as a mix of emotions flickering across his face. The energy was awkward between them; never in his life did Draco think he'd be trying to seduce Potter.

"What?" Potter finally managed to say, his eyes narrowing into disbelieving slits. The wind around them calmed a fraction more.

"Go ahead. Right now, I want you to."

Potter searched his face and Draco met his gaze eye to eye. After a moment, the wind picked up around them as Potter's face scrunched up as if in pain."Malfoy, go away. I don't need this from you."

"What, you only want to touch me when you feel like it?" Draco sneered, and Potter matched his expression. He took a step closer, eyes determined as he approached the powerful wizard. Potter put his hands on Draco's shoulders, as if to push him away, but then he gripped them tightly, anchoring their bodies together. Draco leaned forward, a drop of rain hitting his cheek and rolling down to his lips as he whispered sensually, achingly into Potter's ear.

"Harry. What about when I want to be touched?"

It was like a switch had been activated, Potter's hands were anything but hesitant as they roamed over Draco's heaving chest, down his sides, resting at his hips. Draco tried to keep his own hands from shaking as he reached up and took Potter's glasses off, tossing them carelessly behind him, to be swept away by the rushing wind. His hand went to rest at the back of Potter's head, drawing the other down for a messy kiss. Then their mouths slanted, tongues fought with each other as ragged breaths fanned their lips.

In the back of his mind, Draco was trying to figure out if he was taking advantage of Potter in his unbalanced emotional state, or if maybe it was the other way around. But then he didn't care, because Potter's tongue did something especially wicked to his own, and decided he could always mull over it later.

He wasn't sure how it happened, but in the next moment the world tilted, and then Draco was on the ground. The fall was painful and disorienting, but a moment later all of that was completely irrelevant as Potter's body pressed against his. Amazing pressure and warmth sent pleasurable shivers down his body, coiling in his groin. He couldn't believe they were doing this here, he didn't even know where here was. A bunch of school children could come frolicking from behind the hill at any moment for all he knew. Although, he doubted anyone would be crazy enough to walk out in the middle of this storm.

A tongue traced along his neck, and Draco couldn't help the moan it invoked, spilling off of his lips. He turned his head, giving Potter more, wanting more from Potter. Bodies shifted, and Draco found himself instinctually opening his legs. Their clothes were soaked from the rain, wet as they moved against their increasingly warm bodies, and it somehow made it so much more erotic when their members brushed together.


Then it was more then just brushing together, their hips were moving, thrusting, cocks pushing against one another, drawing out primal pleasures.

He could feel Potter's magic surging in the air and throughout his own body, rattling his teeth with its intensity. Above him Potter's face was tortured with lust, cheeks flushed pink, beads of sweat forming at his brow, eyes pinching shut, only to snap open and look into Draco's with wild desire. Pleasure was coiling fast inside his gut, his cock was almost too hard to bear.

The sight of Potter above him, moving against him with black hair plastered to his forehead and parted lips was too erotic, and he had to close his eyes for a moment, willing to gain control, willing to make this last longer. Potter's arms gave out, collapsing onto his forearms and Draco's legs went up automatically to wrap around his waist. The new angle was agonizingly good as they thrust together, pouring a haze of pleasure into Draco's mind.

Potter was inches from his face now, his pupils abnormally large and his eyes glossy. He groaned, closing them, then moved his head down to attack Draco's neck. Lips traced along his jaw, over his cheek, meeting his mouth in a heated kiss that was messy and imperfect and breathless.

Black strands of hair tickled his forehand, and somehow even that was too erotic to stand, his toes curling. His fingers gripped Potter's back, a tongue traced his lips as his body tensed, back arching and then he was there, and a few desperate thrusts later from Harry, they both were, in that perfect moment of immeasurable bliss, bodies jerking uncontrolled as pleasure embraced every inch of their bodies.

Draco's entire body went limp, collapsing flat on the ground, except for his arms which remained around Potter. For some reason, he couldn't stand the thought of letting him go, as if Potter would just float away in an instant if he did.

Minutes ticked by, measured by Potter's warm breath in his ear. The storm ebbed down its intensity, the rain stopping as the clouds broke open to reveal the sky above. It was the clearest blue Draco had ever seen.

The whole world seemed to have changed. The air was crisper in his lungs, the grass so much more fragrant, the sun more warm and gentle in its embrace.

The wind had torn the trees apart, branches and leaves sprawled all around them. The ground was muddy, grass pressed flat against it. Yet even with the destruction, it was somehow a wonderful sight. The calm after the storm.


Draco's eyelids felt heavy, closing lazily and then opening to stare at the gray sky above. Something gold kept blurring across his vision, he was still too blissful to care.

"So what now?" Potter asked eventually, sounding unsure. Draco hummed, his brain hazy.

"We go home," he mumbled. The air around them had calmed into a cool breeze, whispering gently against his sweaty skin.

"I mean..." Potter trailed off, then rolled, settling down next to him. Draco felt cold.

"You mean, are we going to start fucking on a regular basis?" Yes, if Draco had anything to say about it. He still couldn't see straight, his whole body thrumming in absolute bliss. Imagine how much more intense it would be with Harry inside him, or him inside Harry.

Potter groaned torturously."Don't get me worked up again."

Draco snickered, ignoring his own arousal starting to stir. He'd be sore enough as it was. Besides, he was sure this wouldn't be their only time, they were going to do this again.

He wasn't going to delude himself into thinking they had genuine feelings for each other beyond lust. Or maybe they did. Potter and he had always been pretty passionate in their encounters. Either way, they had time to figure this out.

More golden blurs passed across the sky, and this time he pointed to the sky. "What the hell is that?"

"Hmm?" Harry sounded as if he might already be falling asleep. Stupid narcoleptic. Draco smiled.

"The flashes in the sky, what are those?"

There was an odd squelching noise, and Draco suspected Potter had tried to shrug against the muddy ground while lying down. "Hermione thinks they're phoenixes."

"Phoen-... God dammit. Only you, Potter," Draco said as for a brief moment jealous heat touched his chest. The Phoenixes were obviously attracted to Potter's show of magic. They only ever allied themselves with extremely powerful wizards, and even that wasn't enough some of the time. There was obviously something special about Potter. Story of his life.

After a fortifying breath, Draco let his resentful feelings pass. He would always be jealous of Potter, but that didn't bother him as much as when he was a child. He'd matured a lot since then.

If he played his cards right, rather than watching in envy from the sidelines, he could be at Potter's side and that would definitely soften the blow. Plus, Potter obviously needed him. His friends were too easy on him about the kind of magical build up he allowed, Draco wouldn't be. He could read the problem in its fullest, too, where as Potter's friends might be too blindsided by their affections towards him. It went beyond the fact that Potter was abstaining from using magic – Potter himself was unbalanced. An unbalanced mind meant unbalanced magic. Draco could help him find his footing again. Although, the one place Potter's friends did have an advantage over was with Potter's trust. If the git was too proud to accept help from them, allowing Draco to would most likely be near impossible.

However...

Draco rolled over onto a slightly surprised looking Potter, leaning down for a kiss. It was different from before, more hesitant on both their sides. There was no heat-of-the-moment air around them, nothing to blame it on later but their own conscious desire to kiss. As their tongues began to explore each other's mouths more confidently, Draco felt the stir of arousal in his cock, mirrored by the one pressing against his leg.

However... he was pretty sure he could come up with a few enticing ways to get Potter to listen to him.

***

"Where have you two been?" Blaise said the moment they apparated into Draco's living room, raising one eyebrow playfully. Draco tried not to tense when he felt Potter possessively wrap his arms around him, pressing fully against his back.

Blaise blinked in surprise and Draco smirked, saying his next words with positive glee.

"Fucking." Dry humping counted as sex. It did.

He'd never seen anyone look so scandalized in his entire life, and he couldn't help but snicker evilly. That was, until Blaise smiled wickedly in return. If he thought they were about to have a threesome or some such rot, he was severely mistaken. Malfoys don't share.

Blaise's eyebrows rose. "I can't believe it actually worked."

Draco's brow wrinkled. "Huh?"

"She was spot on, that brilliant Muggleborn."

Potter tensed behind him, his arms squeezing tighter.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Draco said, trying to keep his expression completely neutral.

"I show up and then bam, suddenly the two of you are all over each other."

Draco narrowed his eyes into slits."If you thought you had any part in us getting together," he tried not to cringe at the words 'getting together', that was still such a new concept it made his tongue feel numb to say,"you are severely mistaken."

"Sure, right. Whatever you say," he said with a graceful wave of his hand. "Well, I'm off to get my money from Granger." With a wink, he shouted"Granger-Weasley nest" and stepped into the floo.

A few ticks of silence passed, before Potter shrieked, "What did he say?" consequently right into Draco's poor ear.

-Fin

 


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