Everything But The Kitchen Sink

“Do I have to beg?”

Draco reclined in his chair and looked at Blaise through his artfully arranged fringe.

“Hhhmm, let me think about it for awhile . . .” he said in a musing tone. He feigned serious thought for half a second and that said “. . . that would be a yes – on your knees, Zabini.”

Blaise didn’t look happy about it, but his cock was going to burst the seams of his trousers if he didn’t do something soon. He got down on his knees in front of Draco’s chair.

“Please . . .” he said.

Draco raised an eyebrow. “That doesn’t sound sufficiently sincere,” he said.

There was a vein throbbing in Blaise’s temple. It occurred to Draco that perhaps he should be concerned about the possibility of an aneurism. After all, he’d been teasing Blaise mercilessly for the past hour. A man could only take so much.

Blaise groaned as though he was being tortured on the rack. “Please, Draco,” he said, his hands clasped at his chest. “Let me fuck you.”

Draco yawned and reached for his glass of wine. “Or what?” he drawled.

But Blaise had lost any semblance of playfulness he may once have possessed.

“Or I’m going to fucking die, okay? Are you happy now? I want you so much, Draco. Do you want me to say I’m gagging for it? Alright, I’m gagging for it. My balls are going to explode. You’re fucking killing me, and it’s not funny anymore!”

Now that was sincere.

Draco rose to his feet. He’d already unbuttoned his shirt to give Blaise a glimpse of his nipples, so all he had to do was let it fall off his shoulders. Despite having seen his bare chest countless times since they were eleven, Blaise gasped, and his eyes glazed over. He was still on his knees. Draco moved to stand before him until the bulge in his tight trousers was within a foot of Blaise’s face. He reached down and opened the button and slowly – very slowly – unzipped his fly. As always, he was not wearing pants. Blaise’s eyes rolled back into his head when Draco pulled his cock free and began stroking it lovingly. Pulling the foreskin back from the swollen head, he held it against Blaise’s lips, and Blaise sobbed as he kissed and licked it.

“Jesus, Draco,” he moaned. “You are so fucking gorgeous. You have no idea.”

Draco quirked a smile down at Blaise’s upturned face as he pushed his trousers off his hips and then slowly down his thighs. Finally he kicked them off altogether and stood in front of Blaise completely naked.

Blaise looked like he might actually cry when Draco widened his stance, letting his balls hang free. Draco knew they were perfect – he’d been told they were by every man he’d ever let fuck him. Blaise reached for them as though they were a sack of Galleons and not just testicles. His hand was shaking.

Draco stepped back.

“Ask nicely,” he said with a smirk.

Blaise had no pride left. “Please let me touch your balls,” he begged.

Draco was going to ask him to elaborate, but he took pity on his fellow Slytherin. If Blaise had been from any other House, it would be a different story. He stepped forward again, and Blaise cupped his balls, holding them in his palm and fondling them with great care as though they were one-of-a-kind Fabergé Eggs.

After a couple of minutes of worshipping Draco’s balls, Blaise reached a finger behind them to massage Draco’s perineum, and Draco moaned for the first time. It would be only a matter of minutes now before his arsehole was breached. He lived for the sensation of being penetrated.

“Summon the lube,” Blaise panted. Draco could see sweat beading on his forehead. Fuck. He’d probably pushed Blaise too far, and he was going to come with the first thrust.

“I don’t need to,” Draco said in his husky fuck-me voice. “I already prepared myself.”

“Oh, fuck!” Blaise groaned and grabbed his crotch as he came in his pants.

God damn it.

Blaise looked like he’d been Stunned as he knelt with his knees spread wide staring up at Draco’s face with the look of someone who’d bet a million Galleons on one hand and lost.

“Shit,” he gasped. “Fuck. I’m so sorry.”

Draco sighed.

“It’s not the end of the world,” he said although he made sure his tone suggested otherwise. “There’s always my dildo.”

Blaise’s expression went from crushed to eager in an instant.

Draco turned and walked slowly to his bed making sure his movements accentuated what he knew was his greatest asset of all (no pun intended, of course).

Just last month, he’d let a famous painter he’d met at an acquaintance’s soiree take him back to his studio. After the man had shagged him on every piece of furniture he owned, he’d spent the next morning plying Draco with Turkish coffee and painting his backside.

You make me wish I was a sculptor, he’d said. Despite being an avowed atheist, your buttocks make me believe in a divine creator.

Draco had laughed because (a) the word “buttocks” was silly, and (b) the man was fifty and very urbane and clever, and Draco knew that he – unlike his teenaged lovers – didn’t actually mean his words literally.

Although, honestly, the painter had said, you are the most beautiful boy I have ever seen.

When Draco reached his bed, he got on his knees and forearms. He looked over at Blaise who was still kneeling in front of the fireplace with his mouth hanging open.

“C'mon, Blaise,” Draco said irritably because the situation was getting ridiculous. “Get over here and fuck my arse.”

Blaise didn’t need Draco to ask a third time. He jumped to his feet and literally ran to the bed.

“My dildos are in the second drawer,” Draco said. “Use the blue one; it’s the biggest and has ridges.”

Blaise whimpered and yanked out the drawer in question, rummaging around until he found the requested toy. He got on the bed and positioned himself behind Draco.

The artist had sketched him in numerous poses that could hang in any public gallery, but he’d also done a sketch that would definitely require private viewings. It was a close-up of Draco’s balls and cock-loosened hole, lubed and ready to be fucked again.

It was the least complicated of the painter’s sketches, but it’d taken him the longest to complete because he’d had to stop and fuck Draco every twenty minutes.

Merlin, he’d groaned after the final time. You’re going to be the death of me – and not just literally. You’re the first model I’ve sketched in my thirty years as an artist who’s seriously made me think I should leave my husband.

It’d been meant as a compliment, of course, but it’d been like a bucket of ice water on Draco’s libido. He’d quickly got dressed. The painter had been chagrined and asked Draco what he’d said that’d offended him so deeply. Draco hadn’t wanted to get into a discussion about it, but after being asked for the hundredth time, he’d stopped buttoning his robe and looked him in the eyes.

I am not in the business of breaking up marriages, he’d said angrily. If I’d known you were married, I’d never have let you fuck me.

The painter had apologised repeatedly. You’re too young to understand, he’d said, but sometimes long-time partners need to . . . branch out. My husband doesn’t mind if I have one-night stands; he does too . . .

Maybe you’re right; I’m too young to understand, Draco had said coldly, But to me marriage is a scared institution. When I get married I will never cheat on my husband – and I’ll certainly never give him permission to cheat on me.

He’d slammed the door on the painter’s pleas.

Now, he gasped as the head of the dildo breached his hole. It didn’t matter that he’d had a plug inside him for most of the day in anticipation of Blaise’s visit – this particular dildo was huge.

“Should I stop?” Blaise asked anxiously.

“Only if you want to risk being hexed into a slug,” Draco gasped. “Shove it in me, Zabini.”

He’d meant the word “shove” quite literally, but Blaise only eased the dildo in, making Draco moan and almost beg. He spread his legs and wriggled his arse as the dildo slipped deeper and deeper, massaging the rim of his hole with its ridges.

“Fuck me with it,” Draco snapped. “This isn’t a medical exam.”

Blaise finally got the message and began fucking Draco’s arse in earnest. Draco spread his legs even wider and let himself go. This was why he did this – this was why he rarely spent the night alone. The feeling of something moving in and out of his arsehole. He moaned and pressed his face against his pillows . . .

. . . this was when he thought of Potter.

Potter was fucking him, his hands spreading Draco’s arse wide open, watching his cock plunder Draco’s body. He was grunting with exertion, driving his cock in to the root and then pulling out so far that the head caught on Draco’s rim.

Take it, Malfoy, Potter growled. Fuck yourself on my cock. Ride it, you pretty whore. You love it, don’t you, Malfoy? It’s all you can think about, isn’t it? My cock fucking your arsehole so hard you’ll have to stand during your classes. Come on, take it deeper. I’m gonna fill your arse with my come. I’m gonna empty my balls so far up inside you you’ll be able to taste my spunk. I’m gonna fuck you till I come my fucking brains out, and you’re gonna take it. Oh, fuck, Malfoy! Ride me, come on. Fuck your arse on my cock. . Oh, Jesus fuck, oh shit . . . oh fuck, come on, fuck my balls dry, fuck the come out of my balls, fuck my cock, you slut. No one but me, Malfoy! No one will ever fuck you like I do. No one wants you like I do. No one needs you like I do . . . oh, I’m gonna fucking lose it, oh God . . . oh fuck, Malfoy, take it – take my come up your arse. Oh, shit . . . oh, I’m fucking coming, I’m coming . . . Need you, Draco, need your hole, need your hole to fuck, need you . . . Jesus, I fucking LOVE you!

Draco almost passed out as he came in his hand with the ten-inch dildo buried in his arse and Potter’s voice echoing in his head.

“Oh, fuck,” he moaned, writhing on the intrusion in his channel. “Oh, Potter . . . Fuck me. Come on. Fill me . . . Come inside me . . . Need you to come inside me . . .”

He knew he was sobbing and didn’t care. It was so good, So. Fucking. Good . . .

. . . and then the dildo was jerked out of his arse and replaced by Blaise’s cock.

Draco rolled over.

Blaise looked like he was going to kill him, or himself, or both of them.

“You can’t scream your fucking brains out for Harry Potter and not let me fuck you!” he said. “Jesus Christ, Draco, roll the fuck over!”

Draco curled his lip in a nasty sneer.

“I’ve already come,” he said. “I don’t want anything up my arse anymore. It’s fucking uncomfortable – you should try it sometime. Jerk off if you want to.”

If he could, Draco was sure Blaise would’ve got up, got dressed and stormed out, but clearly he couldn’t. Clearly the show Draco had just given him made any kind of dignified exit impossible. Blaise grabbed his dick and began fucking his hand like a mad man.

“At least let me see it again,” he moaned. “Please, Draco!”

Draco sighed. Alright. Blaise had given him a good solid fucking, and he owed him something in return. He tucked his hands behind his knees and pulled them back against his chest, exposing his arsehole.

“Oh. My. Fucking. Lord!” Blaise shouted. “Jesus. Fucking. Christ!”

Draco hoped Blaise was going to church this Sunday.

He was jerking at his cock so hard it looked like he was going to tear it off at the root. He pointed the head at Draco’s hole and came all over it and didn’t stop coming for a ridiculously long time.

Finally, he collapsed onto his back, his chest heaving as though he’d just run a marathon at top speed.

Draco got up and walked to the adjoining bathroom. He started running a bath.

“You can’t even stay for a minute, can you?” Blaise called after him.

“You know I hate cuddling,” Draco called back. “Plus, you came all over my arse.”

“You could always cast a cleaning spell,” Blaise groused. “You don’t have to go running off.”

“Don’t be a girl, Blaise,” Draco said. “I won’t be long. The reservations are for seven o’clock.”

He closed the door on Blaise’s grumbling.

The water was the perfect temperature. Draco stepped into the bath and eased himself down slowly with a groan of pleasure. His arse was sore. That dildo was not for novices. He sank down as far as he could without submerging his nose, rested his head against the back of the bath and closed his eyes.

It was rather sad that Blaise didn’t go mental over Draco’s orgasmic screaming for Potter. He rarely did it with other men unless they were just one-night-stands with whom it didn’t matter because he didn’t give a shit if they had a problem with it. Otherwise it only took place in his head.

He’d been fantasizing about Potter fucking him since he’d had his first orgasm. It’d happened on the first day of third-year when Nott had brought porn to school, some of which (thank God) was gay porn. There’d been a moving photo of two men having anal sex. He’d touched himself before then but had never ejaculated. That night was a very different story. He’d thought of the photo and thought of Potter and then thought about Potter doing to him what one of the men in the photo was doing to the other. It took only a few seconds before he came. He could still remember it vividly. It’d been like a spiritual epiphany, and he’d fantasised about Potter’s cock up his arse ever since – with or without a partner. He wasn’t sure if he could climax at all without imagining Potter fucking him.

Just thinking about it got him hard again. He got out of the tub and sat on the toilet and used his soapy hands to bring himself off – one hand on his cock and the other reaching behind him trying to shove as many fingers up his arse as he could.

He cried out Potter’s name as he came and heard a thunk when Blaise’s shoe hit the door.

* * * *

He wouldn’t have imagined in a million years that any of the Slytherins, let alone him, would be invited back to school to repeat their last year. He stared at the Owl in his hand certain there’d been some kind of mistake.

“What is it, sweetheart?” his mother called from the drawing room.

“A letter from Hogwarts,” he called back.

She came running into the dining room, her silk robes fluttering like butterfly wings.

“What does it say?” she asked breathlessly.

“That I’ve been invited back for an eighth year,” Draco replied.

She clasped her hands in prayer and cast her eyes to the ceiling. “Thank you, God,” she said. Then she looked back at Draco. “We’ll go to Diagon Alley this afternoon,” she gushed. “I want to make sure we get you the very best clothes and necessities. I can’t believe this is happening – all of my prayers have been answered!”

Apparently her prayers hadn’t included a pardon for his father or the return of the Manor and the half of their estate that’d been auctioned off for reparations.

She was just about to go fluttering out of the room again when Draco caught her hand.

“I love you, mother,” he said trying to soften the coming blow, “but I’d prefer to go to Diagon Alley on my own, if that’s alright.”

She froze. “Draco,” see said slowly and carefully as though she was determined not to yell at him like a schoolboy. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

He only just barely stopped himself from rolling his eyes.

“I’m eighteen, mother. I don’t need to be chaperoned.”

“You may be eighteen,” she said coolly, “but you’re also the son of an incarcerated Death Eater. And,” she said taking a deep breath, “people know what you did, Draco. They know that you let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts that night.”

Draco flinched and turned his face away, blushing with shame.

She reached for him and laid her hand on the side of his face, turning his head to look at her again. “I’m sorry, my little dragon,” she said, “but it’s the truth. I couldn’t bear it if something happened to you.”

He nodded. She was worried for him. He got it. But nonetheless he was of age. He was an adult.

“Mother,” he said sternly. “I understand your position, but I’m going to insist on going to Diagon Alley by myself. I’m not going to stay in our little pure-blood ghetto forever.”

She flinched at his words just as he’d flinched at hers.

“This is a respectable neighbourhood,” she said. “It may be a Muggle neighbourhood, but their most wealthy and influential people live here, and we’re surrounded by other pure-blood families. This is not a ghetto.”

Draco emphatically disagreed with her, but he didn’t want to have that argument.

“All I’m trying to say is that I’m not going to be staying in London for the rest of my life,” he said. “I’m going to go back to wizarding society whether people like it or not. I’m not Marked, and I stood trial and was acquitted. I’m not going to skulk in the shadows.”

His mother shook her head and rolled her eyes in a familiar way. “Going with your mother to Diagon Alley is hardly the same as ‘skulking in the shadows.’ For heaven’s sake, Draco, tone down the hyperbole. It reminds me of your father. I’ve had more than enough histrionics to last me a lifetime.”

Draco reached for her hand, and she let him take it.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll firecall Pansy and Blaise. The three of us will go together. It’ll be fine. You have to stop worrying about me so much.”

She squeezed his hand and took a deep breath. “All right,” she said. “You’re right, of course. You’re a young man now and no longer my little boy . . . .” Her voice quavered.

“I can take care of myself,” he assured her. “And it’s just stupid old Diagon Alley anyway . . .”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” she snapped at him, pulling her hand back. “You may be a man, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also be a fool. No place is wholly safe for you, Draco. It may seem that people are moving past the War, but don’t forget that most people lost someone they loved. You could easily become their scapegoat. Your father was a powerful man, and he trod on a lot of people in his scramble to the top. There are a lot of people out there who hate him, and they’ll not think twice about taking that hatred out on his son. And I’m not just talking about the winners – I’m talking about the losers as well. There are still Snatchers and lower-level Death Eaters who’ve never been brought to justice. Lucius was a cruel and exacting general in the Dark Lord’s army. They have nothing to lose, and that makes them dangerous.”

She laid her hand on the side of his face again. “Look at you, my beautiful boy,” she said. “You are a sun among stars. Your beauty will never allow you to blend into the crowd. You will never be truly safe. Don’t forget that. Don’t be a naïve child. Treat Diagon Alley liked you’d treat the lobby of the Ministry building. Be smart. Be vigilant. And above all, be a Slytherin.”

“How much shit did you get from your mother about coming here on your own?” Draco asked Blaise as they walked with Pansy past the new and expanded Flourish and Blotts.

“Enough,” Blaise grumbled. “You would’ve thought I was planning on visiting a dragon’s lair instead of going shopping for school supplies.”

Pansy laughed condescendingly. She’d moved out of her parents’ house and was living with the Greengrass sisters in a leased house in Hogsmeade.

“Time to let go of mummy’s apron strings, boys,” she said. “Oh! Look at that robe!”

They stopped in front of the window of Diagon Alley’s newest shop – Aphrodite’s Attic – and looked at Pansy’s object of desire. It was a gorgeous red robe that, with her new womanly figure, she’d look amazing in.

“You got a Galleon handy?” Blaise whispered.

Draco reached into his pocket. “1193,” he said, examining worn coin. “That work for you?”

“As long as there’s a heads and a tails, it’s fine,” Blaise replied. “Heads you go in the shop with Pansy; tails you’re free to run like the wind. Call it, Malfoy.”

“Tails,” Draco said, and Blaise rolled his eyes.

“Of course, you’d say tails. Merlin, you’re predictable. Heads, then.”

He flipped the Galleon and it fell onto the cobblestones.

Tails.

“Fuck,” Blaise said. “Well, that’s the rest of my afternoon ruined. Have fun.”

Draco grinned and flipped the coin in the air before putting it back in his pocket.

“No, you have fun,” he said. “See you two at the cafe at six.”

“Bye, Draco,” Pansy said with a little wave as she looped her arm through Blaise’s.

“Bye, Pans,” Draco replied, blowing her a kiss. “Remember to try on every robe in the shop before you make a decision.”

“Bastard,” Blaise said under his breath as Pansy dragged him toward the door.

Draco watched them enter the shop and then started walking in the direction of Eeylops. He couldn’t afford to buy a new owl, but he liked to look at them anyway. The shopkeeper always gave Hogwarts students a handful of treats, and Draco had fun teasing the pygmy owls with them.

He was admiring a group of fit blokes hanging around the front window of the Quidditch supple store when suddenly two men grabbed his arms and dragged him down a narrow street that Draco knew all too well led to Knockturn Alley. He tried to yell, but one of them cast a strangling hex, and Draco clawed at his throat, trying to breathe.

Before they reached Knockturn, the men shoved him through a low door, and he fell down a short flight of steps. He was struggling to rise to his knees when someone cast Anapneo and then Lumos followed by an unfamiliar disarming spell. Draco’s wand leapt from his robe pocket into the hand of a figure walking out of the shadows.

“Ah, very nice,” said a man with a mohawk haircut and a Glasgow grin. “Lucius’s son. This is your lucky day, mates. Twenty Galleons each.”

The two men held out their hands, and the man with the mohawk gave them each two small leather pouches. They turned and went back up the stairs, leaving Draco alone with their employer. Draco staggered to his feet.

The man pulled a packet of Muggle cigarettes from his coat pocket and held it out. “Fag?” he asked and then laughed. “Figure of speech, of course.”

Draco’s blood ran cold. He shook his head.

The man shrugged and lit one for himself with Draco’s wand.

“It’s ‘Draco’ am I right?” he asked.

Draco couldn’t see any point in denying it, so he nodded.

The man took a deep drag off the cigarette and blew the smoke in Draco’s face.

“Well, Draco,” he said. “I have to say your presence here this afternoon exceeds my wildest dreams. I’d assumed you wouldn’t be alone, but lucky for me – and unlucky for you – you were.”

Draco took a shaky breath. “I don’t know what you want from me,” he said. “I only have a few Galleons. It’s not like I’m wealthy anymore, so if Galleons are what you want, you’ve kidnapped the wrong wizard.”

The man laughed. He dropped his cigarette on the ground and crushed it with the heel of his boot.

“I don’t need your measly Galleons,” he said. “I’m not a common criminal. I know your father’s in Azkaban, and I know your mother’s little better than a Muggle serving maid . . .”

Draco made a grab for his wand, but the man stepped out of his reach.

“How sweet,” he crooned. “Mummy’s little boy defending her honour.”

He slapped Draco so hard across the face that he tasted blood.

“My point was,” he said, “that I don’t need money from you, and I certainly don’t need access to power because everyone knows you haven’t got it. What I need is someone I can use as bait. Have you ever heard of Amor Everriculum?”

Draco dabbed at his mouth with the back of his hand and shook his head.

“It’s a spell that permits the caster to ensnare one person through the romantic failure of another,” the man said. “You see, I’m an ambitious bloke, and I happen to know that there are some very powerful and wealthy people in the world who would love to get their hands on one of your classmates – and I’m quite sure you can imagine who that might be.”

Draco stared at him. “Potter,” he said. “You want Harry Potter.”

The man clapped as though Draco had just won a trivia question. “Bravo,” he said. “But I can’t imagine that was a difficult puzzle. I mean, who doesn’t want to get their hands on Harry Potter, right Draco?”

Draco felt a stab of panic.

“You see,” said the man, “I know about you. I know that you’ve spent your summer getting your arse stuffed with cock . . .”

Draco blushed with humiliation. Who was this man and how could he know such things about him?

“Don’t worry,” the man said. “I have no desire to fuck you, although I’m sure you have a lovely pert bum – at least that’s what I’ve heard. No, what interests me is what you babble about when you come. I’ve heard you call out the name of a certain Chosen One.”

Draco stared at him in horror.

Amor Everriculum doesn’t work on just anyone,” the man continued. “You can only cast it on someone who already desires the target. You desire Potter. But another criterion – and the most important one – is that the person who desires the target is also the person the target most abhors. In other words, my sweet Slytherin prince, you desire Harry Potter, but Harry Potter thinks you’re loathsome little toad . . .”

Draco flinched. The man could’ve slapped him again – that was how much his words stung.

The man shook his head in feigned astonishment. “I’m surprised you find it newsworthy that the Saviour might not be overly fond of you,” he said. “What’d you expect? That wanting him dead would eventually win his heart? No, I’ve bet my chances of success on the sturdy premise that The Boy Who Lived hates your cowardly pure-blood poncy guts.”

The man drew his wand and used the tip to caress the side of Draco’s face. Draco’s lip curled with distaste. It wasn’t an unfamiliar sensation. Several of the Death Eaters had loved to do the same thing in front of his father, touching and cooing over Draco as though he were a girl. It drove his father mad from the implicit suggestion that he wasn’t sufficiently masculine to produce a manlier son.

“When I cast this spell – which believe me, I will – you will be my ineffectual net, and Harry Potter will be my fish. You have four months – September through December – to make Potter fall head-over-heels madly in love with you. Fail and the spell makes Potter mine. You’ll have until December thirty-first. If by then, Potter isn’t your love slave, then on January first he becomes my captive.”

He raised his wand, and Draco turned and started scrambling up the stairs. The man shouted Amor Everriculum, and Draco felt the spell crack through his body like a lightning bolt. It threw him to the floor as though he were nothing more substantial than a ragdoll. He started to scream – there had to be someone who could hear him.

The man laughed. “Scream all you want, Draco,” he said. “What’s done is done. But I don’t know why you’re so upset. The spell won’t hurt you at all. You’re free to live your life exactly as you want to. No harm will come to you. The only person this spell will affect is Harry Potter. His freedom – and probably his life – depends on you now. Find a way to make him love you – not just drool after your luscious body – but genuinely love and care for you, and I won’t be able to touch him. Fail and he’s mine to sell to the highest bidder. And believe me, I will. Like your father, I am not a nice person. Remember that, young Malfoy.”

Draco felt like he’d been given Skel-Gro. With tremendous effort, he pushed himself up off the floor and looked into the man’s face.

The man rolled his eyes.

“What do you think I am?” he asked. “A Hufflepuff? This is a Glamour, of course, which I’ll now have to retire. Quite unfortunate. It was my favourite.”

He tossed Draco’s wand on the floor in front of him. Draco grabbed it and staggered to his feet.

Bombarda Maxima!” he shouted.

Protego!” the man yelled, deflecting the crumbling sooty wall. He no longer looked amused.

“Don’t be an idiot,” he said. “It’s my spell. Only I know how to reverse it. Kill me, and remove any chance of a happy ending to this little tale.”

Draco lowered his wand and sighed.

“Now, now,” said the man. “Chin up. Here’s twenty Galleons, which I know is a lot of money these days for you and your Mother. Go buy yourself something to seduce the Chosen One with – leather trousers, perhaps. A closet of short tight t-shirts? A cock ring to make that enticing cock of yours even more enticing?”

The man held out another leather pouch. Draco glared at it, but Galleons were Galleons, and he wanted an owl. He snatched it out of the man’s hand.

“You Malfoys,” the man said with what almost looked like a fond expression. “You’re all far too easy – not to mention predictable. Just remember, Draco, expensive hair product and cock jewellery do not a love story write. And that’s what Potter needs – a love story. So maybe you should forget the nipple rings and buy yourself some quills.”

* * * *

Harry lay on his back and stared up at the ceiling of Charlie’s old room. He wished he could be anywhere but where he was, with his pants and jeans in a heap beside the bed and Ginny’s head between his legs.

She’d been playing with his dick for probably about an hour – first using her hands and now her mouth – and the longer it went on, the limper it got. At this point, flying without a broom would be easier than getting an erection.

Fuck . . . fuck . . . fuck . . . fuck . . . fuck. He had to get hard because if he didn’t, Ginny was going to cry – again, and he was going to feel like a huge arsehole, and Hermione would see Ginny’s puffy eyes and then stomp off to find him and yell at him about being a bad boyfriend, and then Ron would hear about it and make him cross . . . Fuck.

He hated this. Why did they have to have sex at all? They had so much fun together doing other stuff. He loved her. He loved her family. He even liked to kiss her and touch her tits, but this – this – he hated. He hated the way he’d start feeling a tingle of arousal and start to get stiff, and she’d start squeezing and rubbing it and moaning like a prostitute. He didn’t even recognise her when that happened. It felt so . . . wrong. And things were getting worse as the summer neared its end. She’d started wearing lipstick and sparkly eye shadow and tops that revealed every freckle on her cleavage. Earlier that afternoon, she’d taken off her clothes for him as though she were a stripper, and to his deepest chagrin, she was wearing crotchless satin kickers which framed a newly-shaven pussy.

It was terrifying! Absolutely goat-fuckingly terrifying!

She made him sit on the corner of the bed and then straddled his legs, grinding against his poor disturbed prick until his jeans were stained with pussy juice. He wanted to hug her and hold her still and tell her to stop before she rubbed herself raw for absolutely nothing.

“‘Arry,” she mumbled with her mouth full of limp dick. “Yer so hot . . .” There was so much salvia on his balls that they were probably going to rot off. She reached between his legs and squeezed them as though they were a choking Pygmy Puff and she was giving it the Heimlich manoeuvre.

“Ow,” he whispered, but when she didn’t stop, he had to say it louder and then louder before she could hear him over all the slurping and moans of feigned arousal. He sat up and gently tried to push her head away. At last she sat up and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, smearing her candy-floss-pink lipstick even more than it already was. He looked at her helplessly as her chin started to wobble. She was so brave and strong and he respected her so much, but this . . . this was not the Ginny he knew and loved. He didn’t know who this person was, but she wasn’t the person he wanted to marry and raise a family with.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

She didn’t answer and instead got up and began dressing as fast as possible. She was crying in earnest now. The tears were black with mascara.

“What is it, Harry?” she wept. “What am I doing wrong?”

“It’s not . . . nothing . . .” he said, desperate to find the right words to comfort her. “You’re doing nothing wrong. It’s me . . .”

She wrung her hands as she paced around the room, looking for her fancy new bra that’d probably cost her more than a new broom.

“I just don’t get it,” she cried. “What more can I do? I’ve tried everything!”

He nodded. He knew she had. He’d watched her trying and trying for weeks to no avail.

“I don’t know,” he mumbled.

Suddenly she stopped pacing and ran back to the bed and grabbed his hands in hers.

“Maybe it’s not my fault,” she said urgently. “Maybe it’s the War . . . Voldemort, something. You were hit with a curse and didn’t know it . . . you were . . . We have to talk to Hermione!”

Oh God. Why? Why him?

“Er, Ginny?” he said tentatively. “Uhm, this is . . . well, it’s kinda private . . .”

She let go of his hands and stood up. She’d found her bra but she still hadn’t put her top on. She stood with her hands on her hips with stupid purple lace engulfing her tits and a look in her eyes that had “Bat-Bogey Hex” written all over it.

“I’m sorry, Harry,” she said sternly. “But this has gone on too long, and I can’t take it anymore. Either we talk to Hermione and try to find a solution or . . . or . . . .” Her chin wobbled again. “. . . or maybe we need to think about breaking up.”

Harry stared at her.

“What?” he said. “Why? I don’t want to break up!”

She turned her face away and started looking around for her top.

“I don’t either,” she said, her voice full of tears again. “You know how I feel about you . . .”

“Then why?” Harry asked. “Why ruin something that makes us both happy?”

She found her top and tugged it on over her head. She returned to the bed again and sat down with a sigh.

“But that’s just it, Harry,” she said. “We aren’t really all that happy.”

He was still staring at her.

“What do you mean?” he asked. “We just had a brilliant morning. We played Quidditch, we went swimming afterward . . .”

“And then we tried to have sex,” she said flatly. “And suddenly everything wasn’t so ‘brilliant’ anymore, was it?”

He agreed. It was far from “brilliant,” but he bit his tongue.

She sighed. “You keep saying it doesn’t matter,” she said, “but it matters to me. I want to have sex with you, Harry. I’ve been on birth control charms since right before your birthday. In fact, I’d hoped that night would be our first time, and look how awful that turned out to be.”

He winced. His eighteenth birthday had turned into one of the worst he’d ever had, which was saying something. It’d been fine until Ginny took him to her bedroom. He’d been a little drunk – not too much, but just enough to make the idea of sticking his dick in something pretty damn compelling. They’d got undressed, and then he lay down on his back, and she tried to sit on his semi-hard dick . . .

. . . and almost broke it in half. He’d thought he’d die from the pain. He’d rolled over and screamed into the pillow, and in half a second, Mrs. Weasley was pounding on the door demanding to know who was hurt and what’d happened. He’d spent the rest of the night at St. Mungo’s wearing a poorly-cast Glamour and having his bruised prick poked and prodded.

Living at the Burrow for the next few days afterward had been excruciating. It still was, actually. Nobody could look him in the eyes. Harry was counting the hours until school started.

“Look, Ginny,” he said as gently as his rising frustration permitted, “I care for you . . .”

“But you don’t want me,” she said.

“But . . . but that’s not true,” he said. “You’re pretty and fit. Why wouldn’t a bloke want to have sex with you?”

She raised an eyebrow at him. “Why, indeed?” she asked coolly.

Harry sighed, feeling defeated. “I don’t want to lose you over this,” he said. “I bet plenty of happy couples don’t have sex – like your parents. I bet your parents don’t have sex, and they’re happy.”

Her eyebrow was still raised, but she was now fighting back a smile.

“Harry,” she said. “My parents had seven children.”

He looked at her as though she’d just said “check mate,” and she actually laughed.

“Please let’s just talk to Hermione,” she said. “Or, I guess we could talk to my mother . . .”

He leapt out of bed and tugged on his jeans.

“Hermione,” he squeaked. “We’ll talk to Hermione!”

He grabbed his t-shirt and ran to the door. On his way out, he saw her smile out of the corner of his eye. Once again she’d completely outsmarted him. Thank God, he’d only had to face Voldemort. The thought of Ginny as a Dark witch made him shudder.

Hermione looked about as thrilled to be having their conversation as Harry was. They both blushed and grimaced and winced as Ginny described all of her and Harry’s sexual problems in exacting detail.

“ . . so, my theory is that he was hexed or cursed or something,” Ginny said. “What do you think?”

Hermione looked at Harry, and he looked back at her.

“Uhm . . . I . . . I think I know more about Harry now than I’d wanted to.”

“Agreed,” Harry said. “Heartily.”

Ginny looked crestfallen. “I’m being serious,” she said. “And I’ve told Harry that if he . . . that if we can’t work this out than we should think about breaking up.”

Hermione’s eyes widened with alarm.

“No, no, you can’t do that,” she said. “You two can’t break up! That’s not how things are supposed to go. You and Harry are supposed to get married and have kids, and Ron and I are supposed to get married and have kids, and we’re supposed to spend Sundays here, and everything will be happy and perfect, and we’ll all be together. Ginny, you can’t break up with Harry!”

“Yeah,” Harry said. “You can’t break up with me, Gin. I want everything Hermione just said too. Don’t you?”

He reached for her hands. She let him take them, but her eyes filled with tears.

“Yes, I do,” she said brokenly. “But I also want to be with someone who wants me. You don’t, Harry, and I’m beginning to think you never will, and if we can’t make this thing go away, then I need to find someone who doesn’t make me feel ugly and unwanted.”

Hermione’s eyes filled with tears. She hugged Ginny close.

“Know what I mean?” Ginny sniffled into her frizzy hair.

Hermione nodded. “Yeah,” she said softly. “I do.”

Harry wanted to die.

Then suddenly Hermione was all business. She let go of Ginny and turned to him. “Right,” she said. “We have to do something about this. Harry, when was the last time you got an erection?”

He wanted to die even more.

“Er . . . . .”

Oh shit. This was not going to go over well.

“Er, last night?”

“Last night?!” Ginny shrieked.

Hermione nodded. “Okay,” she said. “That sounds promising. So, we know you can get an erection, just not with Ginny.”

How did that sound at all promising?

“What were you doing?” Hermione asked as though she was conducting a press interview.

“Er . . . .”

“Masturbating? The word is ‘masturbating,’ Harry. Stop being so squeamish.”

“Well, actually no, it isn’t,” he said. “It’s wanking. No one under the age of thirty says ‘masturbating.’”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Okay then, were you ‘wanking’?”

He blushed so hard he thought his face might melt off his skull.

“Er, yeah, I guess . . .” he mumbled.

“What were you thinking about?”

“What?!” He actually jumped up from the sofa – there was NO way he was going to have that conversation. Not in a million years..

“I said,” Hermione said slowly as though he were thick or hard-of-hearing. “What did you think about when you wanked last night?”

He just stared at her.

What was he going to say? Oh, nothing much, just Draco Malfoy’s arse.

Really? And was his arse clothed or unclothed?

Unclothed – very much so.

And what were you doing with Draco Malfoy’s arse?

I was pounding it with my big fat throbbing hard-on.

I see, so you were thinking about fucking Draco Malfoy’s arse while you masturbated last night . . .

Yes.

And how did that work for you?

Why, it worked rather well, thank you for asking.

Did you ejaculate?

I certainly did. Twice, actually.

And was it satisfying?

Quite. In fact, the first time, I came so hard I would’ve put my eye out if I hadn’t been wearing my glasses.

And the second time?

Well, the second time was less visually spectacular, but it lasted so long that I starting seeing stars and my foot cramped from clenching my toes.

Very nice, that must have been quite invigorating . . .

Indeed, it was.

. . . I must ask you though, Harry: have you ever wondered if maybe perhaps you just might be a little teeny tiny bit gay?

“WHAT??!!! NO!!!!”

“Merlin, Harry,” Hermione said, looking startled. “You don’t need to shout. We’re sitting right next to you. I was just wondering if you could use a little more foreplay . . .”

“Huh?” He stared her. “Er, what?”

“Foreplay,” said Ginny. “As in what I was doing for a bloody hour just now.”

He sighed with relief. “Oh, thank God,” he said. “I thought you asked if I was gay.”

Ginny laughed and shook her head, but Hermione merely sat there looking at him.

“I’m not,” he said, looking back at her.

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. Gay men don’t want to marry and have babies.”

“Well, actually some gay men do want to marry and have babies.”

“But not with a woman.”

“Obviously.”

“Okay, then. I want to do those things with a woman, so clearly I’m not gay.”

“All right, then let me ask you something: Harry, how are babies made?”

He glared at her. “I know how babies are made, Hermione. I’m not eight years-old.”

“Last I knew, outside of a laboratory, they required vaginal sex, and from what I’m coming to understand, vaginal sex isn’t exactly your cup of tea.”

He turned his head aside. He no longer merely disliked this conversation – he hated it.

“I’ll make it work,” he said angrily. “Just give me some bloody time. I’m sorry to play the Voldemort card, but the Battle was only a little more than three months ago and since then there’s been all the horrible fucking trials and funerals and memorial services. Forgive me if I’m not feeling particularly frisky, all right? Maybe if people just gave me a little space once and awhile. I’m sick of everyone wanting a piece of me and expecting me to be a certain person and behave in a certain way. I’m sick of it!”

He got up from the sofa and grabbed his coat.

“Harry!” Ginny yelled. “You can’t just walk away like that!”

He didn’t look back, but he heard Hermione’s voice as he ran down the stairs.

“I’m sorry to have to say this, Ginny,” she said gently. “But have you considered the possibility that he might be in love with someone else?”

* * * *

“I cannot believe I have to spend another night at St. Mungo’s because of your dick, mate,” Ron grumbled.

The room was bright and the chairs were uncomfortable and they’d had to bring their trunks with them.

Harry glared at him. “Do I look anymore thrilled than you are to be here?”

“Stop it, you two,” Hermione said irritably.

She was flustered and distraught, and Harry didn’t feel even a bit sorry for her. It was partially her fault they were sitting in St. Mungo’s urology clinic at one o’clock in the morning just hours before they were supposed to be on the Hogwarts Express.

“I told you,” Ron hissed. “It’s nothing a good wank can’t solve.”

“Ron,” Harry hissed in reply. “My balls have been in agony for three days.”

“Rule of thumb: never drink a potion whose label reads: If your balls start to ache so bad that you’re ready to hex them off, seek healer assistance. Just sayin’, mate.”

“But it’d worked,” Hermione said, mostly to herself. She wrung her hands. “I don’t know what could’ve gone wrong!”

She was right. It had worked in the beginning. After drinking the potion, Harry had got a rock-hard erection, Ginny had given him a hand-job, and he’d come like a stallion all over her tits. But then his balls had started to ache . . . and ache even more . . . and more. He’d tried to keep it to himself, but finally he couldn’t. It was too awful. He couldn’t even stand up straight any longer. He could barely even breathe.

“I’m so sorry, Harry,” Hermione said, gripping his hand. “I feel terrible. I had no idea . . .”

He squeezed her hand. They’d been through all of this already. He wasn’t angry at her. They’d both read the warnings. In fact, he’d been less worried about it than she’d been. He was so desperate for a solution he’d been willing to try anything.

“Mr. Honeybags?” called a nurse. “The Healer will see you now.”

Ron giggled like he was five.

“Really?” Harry asked. “That was the name you made up for me?”

Ron nodded gleefully. “It was either that of Mr. Scrotum, but that wasn’t very subtle.”

“You don’t say?” Hermione grumbled. “Come on, Ron – you help Harry on that side, and I’ll help on this side.”

“But I want to stay here,” Ron said. “I don’t want to be around while Harry gets his balls fondled, and plus I’ve already been told I can’t bring my crisps into the examining room.”

“Oh for . . .” Hermione said. “Ron!”

Harry put his hand on her arm. “It’s okay,” he wheezed through the pain. “You two wait here. I’m sure this won’t take too long.”

“Better not,” Ron said through a mouthful of cheese and onion crisps. “I want a good compartment. The bloody train’s going to be crowded with all the extra students.”

Hermione swatted him on the head with her bag. “Harry’s about to become a eunuch, and all you can think about is getting a good seat on the train?”

“Er,” Harry said. “You’re not serious, are you, Hermione? Because if you are, I think I can learn to live with things the way they are.”

“Don’t worry,” she said. “You’re not going to be made into a eunuch. I’ve read that the worse thing that’ll happen is that they may have to slice open your scrotum, take out your testicles and wash them, but they’ll put them back . . .”

“Argh!” Harry yelled, putting his hands in front of his crotch like a footballer in front of the goal during a penalty shot. “No one’s ‘slicing open my scrotum’!”

“Bloody right!” Ron shrieked, clutching his own crotch in sympathy.

The Healer entered the room. “Mr. Honeybags,” he said, “there’s nothing to be worried about. If we need to make an incision, you will be stunned before hand. Now please follow me.”

Harry looked back at his friends with an expression that must’ve been so full of horror that Hermione’s eyes actually teared up, which was saying something. She’d seen him walk into some pretty terrifying situations.

“It’ll be okay, mate,” Ron called. “Just make sure they put ‘em in a clear glass jar so Seamus, Dean and Neville can have a look at ‘em too . . .”

Everything was illuminated with blinding white light. Was he dead again? Or was he still dead from the last time? He listened for the cries of that horrible foetus-thing, but all he heard were distant voices – one of which he’d know anywhere . . .

“Hermione?” he croaked.

He felt someone take his hand and squeeze it. “Harry?” she said. “Are you awake?”

He nodded. “Yeah, I think so.”

“Wonderful,” said another voice, and Harry opened his eyes wide enough to see a blur in a healer’s robe.

“Glasses,” he croaked, and Hermione handed them to him. He blinked several times, trying to get the Stupefy fuzz out of his head . . .

. . . . Stupefy fuzz . . . .

“Oh my God!” he yelled. “I was Stunned! You cut my balls off!”

The Healer (damn him) laughed even though Harry couldn’t see anything that might be considered remotely amusing about the situation.

“Your balls are still attached to your body, Mr. Honeybags,” the Healer said. “And you’ll be pleased to discover that your testicles are no longer painful. We did need to make a small incision though . . .”

Harry felt the room slip to the right and then back to the left as though it was on a giant swing. Hermione squeezed his hand again.

“Stay with us, Mr. Honeybags,” the Healer said, sounding even more amused. “Everything is intact. We just needed to run a couple of diagnostic tests on your sperm.”

“Why?”

“Well, as I was starting to explain to Mrs. Honeybags . . . .” Harry looked at Hermione, but she was determined not to catch his eye. “. . . the potion you so unwisely consumed in great quantity seems to have altered your sperm in some way, although it’s not entirely clear how or to what effect. But the important thing for you to know is that they’re healthy, and you’re not infertile. I do advise, however, that if you have any more trouble with impotency in the future, please turn to professionals and not to purveyors of shady potions.”

Harry nodded. “Can I go?” he asked.

“After you have some chocolate, you may leave anytime you want.”

Harry nodded again and stuffed a Chocolate Frog in his mouth.

“Thank you so much, Healer,” Hermione said.

“Well, just remember to name your first born child after me, that’s all I ask,” he said jovially. “Good-bye now.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “I bet he says that to every couple,” he said. “What a prat.”

“Are . . . are you really feeling better?” Hermione asked in a tiny voice. “I just feel so terrible about all of this. I would’ve never resorted to trying a restricted potion except that I’m so scared that you and Ginny are going to break up. What will happen to the three of us if you do?”

He gave her a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I told you already that Ginny and I aren’t going to break up.”

Hermione bit her lip and looked away.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I . . . I can see why she’s unhappy.”

He shrugged. “You and Gin make far too much out of the physical side of a relationship.”

Hermione laughed. “I never I thought I’d hear a boy say that.”

“Well, what I can I say? I’m an enlightened kind of bloke,” he said with a grin. “The two of you need to stop obsessing over the situation. It’ll take care of itself – especially since we’re going back to school and getting out of the Burrow.”

Hermione nodded. “I know what you mean,” she said. “It’s been hard being surrounded by so much sadness all the time. Not that things will be all that different at Hogwarts – you’ve got to keep that in mind. Going back might stir up some very difficult memories and emotions.”

“Merlin, Hermione,” he said as he unwrapped another Chocolate Frog. “Don’t be all gloom and doom about it until we get there and find out what things are actually like. I know it won’t be easy all of the time, but we’ll all be together again – it’ll be just like it used to be, you’ll see.”

She didn’t look convinced, but she smiled anyway. “Have you had enough chocolate? The train will be at the platform in an hour.”

Harry crammed another squirming piece of chocolate in his mouth and got out of bed. He instantly felt a cold breeze and looked behind him. The medical gown he was wearing tied in the back, and his arse was hanging out. Hermione laughed so much she sounded like she could hardly breathe.

“I think that’s a nice look on you,” she said. “Maybe with your popularity, you could turn it into a fashion hit – although I’m not sure there’re many of our fellow students I’d want to see in such a garment.”

“Er,” he said. “Some privacy, please. We’re not camping anymore.”

Hermione was still laughing when she walked out of the room and closed the door. He was just about to take off the gown when he saw a full length mirror on the wall. He turned around and looked at himself over his shoulder. Even when he was actually fully naked, his arse never looked quite so . . . exposed. He closed his eyes and imagined how Malfoy would look in his place, and his prick began to swell and stiffen. Clearly he’d stumbled on a new fantasy. He stripped off the gown and got dressed and then, after looking around to see if anyone might be watching, he stuffed it in his book bag.

* * * *

“There,” said Pansy, stepping back and admiring her handy work. “You’re ready for the Feast.”

Draco Summoned the filigreed hand mirror from her vanity table and held it up.

He turned his head one way and then the other “Pans, you are an artist,” he said with sincerity.

She clapped her hands happily at his praise. “Now maybe you’ll stop giving me such a hard time over quitting school to become a beauty-witch.”

“I must admit, you do have innate talent,” Draco said, continuing to admire his new hairstyle.

“Well, I also had high quality material to start with,” she said, running her fingers through his fringe so that it fell to the side, just slightly lower than his right eyebrow, which she’s plucked into a perfect arch and darkened ever so slightly. “Although it was a little intimidating,” she added. “In your case, it’s hard to improve what Mother Nature’s already done.”

Draco rolled his eyes beneath his newly blond-tinted lashes. “You’re spreading it bit thick, don’t you think?”

“Not really,” she Daphne who’d appeared in the doorway wearing her shop robes. “You look great, Draco . . .”

“. . . as always,” her sister said, coming up behind her and peeking over her shoulder into Pansy’s bedroom.

“Did she give you a manicure? Let’s see?” Daphne said. He showed her his hands. “Very nice. Manly but tidy. Not too gay.”

Draco laughed. “What’s ‘too’ gay?” he asked.

“That,” Astoria said with a nod at Blaise as he entered the room. His already glossy black hair was oiled to a blinding shine, and a perfect little curlicue dangled over his left temple. He was wearing tasteful purple eye shadow, but eye shadow nonetheless, and his skin was so smooth it looked as though it’d never known a whisker or a blemish.

“Wow,” Draco said. “You look really gay, Blaise.”

He preened. “Why, thank you,” he said. “And you look like a delicious golden god. Nice work, Pans.”

She gave a courtesy like the lead ballerina at curtain call.

“Too bad it’ll all be for naught when you have to put on those awful drab uniforms,” Daphne said. “I don’t think it’s fair that the eighth-years can’t wear what they want.”

“Personally, I’m not complaining,” Blaise said, looking at himself in the mirror Draco had handed to him. “Malfoy bought a pair of trousers that could make a grown straight man weep. The fact that he won’t be able to wear them during classes is a good thing for one’s ability to concentrate.”

“What?” Draco said with his best drawl, “do you mean these trousers?” He stood up and turned to face Blaise. He was already wearing his white shirt and House tie.

“Merlin’s knickers,” Astoria said.

Draco grinned at Blaise’s stricken expression. “What?” he asked with feigned innocence. “They’re black . . .”

“. . . and perfectly tailored to accentuate your . . . as they so crassly call them – family jewels,” said Pansy. “My, my, Draco. You’re going all out this year, aren’t you?”

“Well, it is probably his last chance,” Daphne said. “Unless Draco wants to join the Aurors, this’ll be the last time he’ll be in a situation where he can see one Harry Potter every day.”

Draco blushed and Blaise’s expression turned dark and humourless.

“It’s nothing more than a challenge,” he said dismissively. “It’s just harmless fun.” He stood up and put on his school robe. “Come on, Blaise,” he said. “We’ll be late and attract even more attention than we already will when we enter the Hall.”

“Wait for me!” Astoria called. “Bye Daphne, Pans. I’ll see you at the weekend.”

The Thestrals were stamping their hooves and shaking the black manes on their bony necks as the three of them approached the line of carriages. Draco shuddered and fought hard to repress the memory of all the people he’d watched die. Dumbledore. Professor Burbage. Vince. Even his horrible aunt.

“Are you okay?” Astoria whispered. Clearly, she couldn’t see the Thestrals, and Draco was comforted by the thought that some of them still couldn’t.

“I’m fine,” he said, smiling at her. “Let’s find a carriage with Slytherins in it.” He wrapped an arm around her neck and pretended to put her in a headlock. She giggled and escaped, skipping away like the schoolgirl Draco remembered.

As Draco had hoped, Potter was already sitting at the Gryffindor table when he arrived. He paused at the entrance. He didn’t want to walk in with Blaise for at least a dozen different reasons.

“You go on,” he said. “I need to use the loo.”

Blaise glared at him. “Bollocks,” he said. “You just don’t want Potter to think you have a boyfriend.”

Draco raised his eyebrows. “I don’t need to worry about that,” he said “because I don’t have one.”

Blaise flinched, and Draco frowned at him.

“We sometimes fuck, Blaise,” he said. “That’s all, and now that we’re back at school and we’ll be sleeping in a dorm room with Greg and Theo plus the seventh years, we’re going to stop entirely . . .”

Blaise looked alarmed and started to interrupt, but Draco stopped him.

“Come on, Blaise,” he said. “We were just playing around. This was never supposed to be anything serious.”

But Blaise had clearly believed differently. He looked broken.

“Oh hell,” Draco said. “Listen, I’m sorry, okay? I thought I’d been clear . . .”

“. . . I thought maybe you’d changed your mind,” Blaise said in a small voice.

“No, you wanted to think I did,” Draco said gently but firmly so as not to leave any room for misinterpretation. “You knew I was sleeping with other men – lots of other men. You knew I wasn’t treating our relationship as exclusive . . .”

“. . . but I thought that would change when we got back to school,” Blaise said. “It’s not like you can smuggle painters and bankers and bartenders and whoever else into the castle.”

“True,” Draco said. “But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people who are already here that I might want to be with . . .”

“Like Potter,” Blaise said coldly. “Just admit it, Draco. He’s the one you want more than anyone else, isn’t he?”

Draco took a deep breath to slow his racing heart. He was so stressed about the spell that he bore that he wished he could talk to someone about it, and he’d even considered Blaise. They’d been friends since the first day of their first year. But clearly telling Blaise wasn’t an option.

“It’s just a game, Blaise,” he said with poorly feigned nonchalance.

“No, it’s not,” Blaise said. “You call his name when you come, for God’s sake! And I’ve spent years listening to you talk in your sleep about him. It’s no game, Draco, especially not now when, like Daphne said, this is your last chance.”

If only Blaise knew how right he was.

“I don’t want to talk about this tonight,” Draco said, indicating with the tone of his voice that he was done discussing Potter. “I’m going to the loo. I’ll come to the table in a couple of minutes.”

Blaise looked like he wasn’t even near to having said everything he wanted to, but he sighed and turned away.

Draco sighed his own sigh, but it was one of relief. He wished he’d never slept with Blaise if this was a preview of how things were going to be for the next nine months.

He went to the loo, splashed his face with water, and then walked back to the Great Hall. He stood watching Potter for a moment, waiting for just the right moment . . .

. . . and there it was. Potter looked straight at the doors as though he was looking for someone to enter . . .

Draco walked in.

He knew he looked good. He’d made sure that he did. At the last minute, he’d decided not to the buy the owl and instead spent the twenty Galleons on hand-tailored (magic can be imprecise when it came to art) clothes instead. Then there was Pansy’s make-over. If he wasn’t handsome enough for Potter tonight, then he’d never be.

He was used to walking into meals and having people stare at him. It’d been that way since the beginning, and he was used to it – although, during his sixth-year when he’d wanted to just disappear, he’d hated it. But tonight was different. Tonight people didn’t just stare, they gaped, and the noise level dropped by half.

He couldn’t risk a glance at Potter, but he pretended he knew Potter was watching him. He walked slowly enough to showcase his body, but not so slow that it was silly or obvious. His robe had been specially tailored to flair just slightly when he moved to prevent it from tangling with his legs like the stupid standard robes did, and the Slytherin crest over his heart glittered with real silver thread.

“Pinch me because I’m sure I’m having a wet dream,” he heard someone whisper and fought back a grin.

When at last he reached his place at the Slytherin table, he took a moment to move his robe to the side when he sat down in the same deliberate manner he’d watched Blaise’s mother use to great effect on countless occasions.

“Ah,” said Millicent. “I see that our Prince has returned – looking even more beautiful than usual.” She rolled her eyes fondly. “Welcome back, Draco. It’s good to see you well. It’s a nice change from last year.”

Draco bowed slightly in recognition of her compliment. “You look well too, Milly,” he said.

She rolled her eyes again. “Whatever. I’m alive and that’s what counts.”

“Here here,” said Greg. He raised his glass of pumpkin juice in a way that Draco knew was an invocation of Vince’s memory. He lifted his glass as well and the rest of the eighth-year Slytherins joined him.

“To Vince,” Draco said.

“To Vince,” they replied, and they all drank.

Then they set their glasses back down. Draco knew that would be the end of it. He couldn’t tell if he was more sad or relieved.

“So,” said Millicent, breaking the sombre mood, “do we know which House is holding the first party?”

Theo rolled his eyes. “Gryffindor,” he said glumly. “So, I guess we’ll have to wait for the next one.”

Draco frowned. “What do you mean?” he asked. “Why can’t we go to Gryffindor’s party? The Claws and Puffs will.”

All the eighth and seventh years stared at him.

“What?” he asked. “This is the post-War world, not to mention our last year. Do you all think the reins of power are held by former Slytherins today? Because if so, think again. The Headmistress, as we all know, is a former Gryffindor, as are both the bloody Minister of Magic and the Assistant Deputy Minister. The Head of Hogwarts’ Board of Trustees is a Ravenclaw. Gringotts wizard liaison is a Ravenclaw . . .”

Blaise coughed, and Draco glared at him briefly. Draco had spent a long weekend with the man in question at his country house in County Kildare during which he hadn’t worn a single stitch of clothing the entire time.

“ . . . The new head of the Wizengamot is also a Ravenclaw, and as shocking as we may think it is, the new Head Auror is a Hufflepuff. So,” he continued, “as you can see we live in a new world, and as Slytherins we must learn to adapt – and thrive. And that starts now. Lifelong relationships have begun at drunken Hogwarts House parties . . .”

“. . . including, as I’m sure you hope, a relationship between one Harry Potter and one Draco Malfoy?”

Draco glared at Theo. “If I think it prudent to set aside my differences with Potter, I don’t see why that should be considered newsworthy. I am, after all, my father’s son.”

He’d taken a risk with that final remark, and it had only partially succeeded. Some of the Slytherins nodded in approval of Draco’s reference to his imprisoned father, but many others looked away.

Note taken.

“So when is this party?” Malcolm asked. When it came to ambition, Draco knew he could always count on him to join his side of an argument.

“Tonight,” Theo said.

“Oh,” Draco replied. “Wow, well okay. Typical, I suppose. After all who’d expect the Gryffindors to put off until tomorrow what can be done today . . .”

“The boys probably all ejaculate prematurely,” Mafalda said, and everyone laughed except Blaise, who also had a premature ejaculation problem – at least when it came to Draco. Draco was careful not to look anywhere near Blaise’s vicinity.

“So, what’s the plan, your Highness?” Roy asked.

Draco let his most wicked grin crawl across his handsome face.

“What do you mean by ‘what’s the plan’?” he said. “Isn’t it obvious? We dress super-smartly, bring our best spirits, and make the whole lot of them cry and beg us to stay when we say good night.”

In all of his years as a Hogwarts student, Draco had never set a foot in Gryffindor Tower.

He’d been to Ravenclaw parties and even Hufflepuff parties, but it had always been a Slytherin policy that they would never attend a party held in the Gryffindor common room. It’d been a policy that pre-dated even his father’s time. But as he’d said at dinner: times had changed – and changed drastically. Slytherins had to either adapt or die out.

All of the Slytherin seventh and eighth years gathered in front of the fireplace in the common room and stood like a line of soldiers for the customary Party Inspection. Draco, of course, was the Head Inspector and Astoria was his assistant. They walked slowly, examining every accessory and curl of hair.

“That ring is ghastly, Peter,” Draco told the beefy seventh year. “Take it off.”

“Yes, sir!” Peter shouted and immediately Banished the ring in question.

“Irfan, lose the spectacles . . .”

“Sir, but Potter wears glasses, sir,” Irfan said.

“Yes,” Draco drawled. “But Potter looks good in them. Fergus, good God, man! Have some self-respect and shave off that moustache!”

“Loafers are so 1995, Maynard,” Astoria said, sounding disappointed where Draco would’ve sounded outraged. “Put on some expensive Muggle trainers, and if you don’t own any, then borrow some. We’ll never hear the end of it if you show up at the Tower wearing tassels.”

“I’m sorry, Rachel,” Draco said, “but that top’s too tight. You look like a prostitute. Don’t try to compete with the Gryffindor girls. And Bridget? Please brush your teeth, for heaven’s sake.”

“Blaise, that shirt makes me want to cry,” said Astroia, “and not in a good way like Draco’s does.”

Draco bit his lip. Thank God, she’d said something because he wasn’t sure he’d have had the heart to after his and Blaise’s earlier conversation.

Draco turned and walked back, his hands held behind his back like a drill sergeant. He stopped in front of Millicent.

“Shut it, Malfoy,” she said before he could even open his mouth. “I’m going just like I am, so deal with it.”

Draco nodded in what he hoped was a soothing manner. He’d learned his lesson the hard way back in fourth year about trying to get Millicent to wear clothes that fit.

After he and Astoria had inspected the newly revised versions of the earlier fashion failures, Draco stood before them with a proud but grim expression as though they were marching off to war and not to a drunken bacchanalia.

“Just remember, Slytherins,” he said. “You are cunning and resourceful. There’s no innate reason why you can’t fuck a Ravenclaw tonight or go down on a Gryffindor. Just remember: we come as a group, and we leave as a group and no one is left to fend for his or herself if things get ugly. Understood?”

They all nodded.

“All right then,” he said. “Everyone have at least one bottle of expensive spirits in their book bag? Excellent. Let’s set off then.”

* * * *

Just as Draco had hoped, Gryffindor’s common room was full but not yet crowded when they stepped through the portrait hole. He’d sent an Owl to the Gryffindor prefect alerting her that they’d be coming to the party and asking her to tell everyone ahead time of so there wouldn’t be a scene when they arrived. And for the most part, there wasn’t. The Weasel, of course, glared at them, but mostly they were greeted with bland pleasantries.

Draco was relieved. He’d been worried that if there was trouble, he’d have to spend the evening intervening in fights instead of courting Potter.

Speaking of whom . . .

Draco made himself a drink and looked around. The light was dim so it was hard to see much further than the faces right in front of him. He decided to stroll around, pretending to admire all the Gryffindor crap hanging on the walls. At last, he spotted the object of his search.

Potter was half-standing, half-sitting on a broad window sill with a bottle of Muggle lager in his hand. He was talking with Hannah Abbott about something that looked like it might be serious. Draco rolled his eyes. Leave it to Potter to be discussing serious topics at a party.

He looked . . . well, Draco wasn’t sure what he thought about how Potter looked. He hadn’t seen much of Potter since their sixth year, so of course, Potter was taller and had filled out – quite nicely. But he seemed . . . he seemed even more forbidding than usual, which was saying something. His hair (unsurprisingly) was all over the place, but he had new glasses and what looked like three-day old stubble. He was wearing black jeans and what must be a Muggle t-shirt. It was faded and depicted a man playing an electric guitar on the back. Oasis it read. As Potter raised his bottle to his mouth, Draco caught sight of a tattoo of a rising Phoenix on his flexed bicep.

“Draco,” Millicent whispered in his ear. “I do hope you realise that your tailor didn’t leave enough room in those trousers for a discreet erection.”

Draco glared at her and shifted his hips in a way he hoped made his aroused state a little less obvious.

“Nice try,” she said. “He looks good, doesn’t he?”

Draco merely nodded and drank half of his mojito in one sip.

“Although a little . . . rough around the edges, yes? But then again, I bet that’s exactly what you want in a man.”

“Milly,” he said. “Don’t you have someone else you can embarrass the hell out of tonight? In fact, isn’t that Finch-Fletchley I see over there?”

She sighed. “Fine. Good luck, though.” She gestured with her head in the direction of the portrait hole. The Weaselette had just walked in looking drop-dead stunning in a short black dress and stiletto heels.

“Ho ho ho!” Draco heard Blaise’s exaggerated laugh from across the room. “Don’t cry and then drink so much that you throw up on your nice news clothes, Malfoy!” he shouted.

Draco very pointedly ignored him.

He could do this. He had to.

He took a deep breath and walked right up to the Chosen One.

Potter stopped talking with Abbott between one syllable and another and looked right into Draco’s eyes.

“Malfoy,” he said in a new lower rougher voice.

“Potter,” Draco replied, hoping his voice sounded just as arousing to Potter as Potter’s sounded to him.

They looked each other over as only schoolboy rivals do. Abbott rolled her eyes and walked away.

Draco hoped that his half-hard prick wasn’t obvious and that his hair was withstanding the heat of a room with a gigantic fireplace and about fifty people milling around in close quarters.

“I didn’t know if you’d come back,” Draco said after a minute.

“Didn’t know you would either,” Potter replied.

Draco shrugged. “I wanted to see how History of Magic ends.”

Potter looked at him passionlessly, but then a smile warmed his face.

“Then again,” Draco said. “I think I probably was present at the crowning event.”

Potter’s smile didn’t slip away, but it did grow wry. He lifted his bottle and drank the rest of his lager while Draco watched his throat move.

“I need another drink,” Potter said. “Want something?” He looked at Draco’s mojito. “Although if you want another one of those, you’ll have to make it yourself. I don’t even know what that was.”

This was precisely one of those moments when a younger Draco would’ve rolled his eyes and said something stupid.

“Just a no-frills mojito,” he said. “ That’s Finnegan who’s tending bar, am I right?”

Potter’s look of surprise told Draco he too had expected Draco to be a little shit.

“Yeah, it is,” he said.

“The one he made for me was excellent,” Draco said. “I’ll ask him to make you one too.”

Potter nodded with the same smile he’d been wearing pretty much since the moment Draco had walked up to him.

“All right,” he said, and Banished his empty bottle with an infinitesimal hand gesture.

Draco blushed at the lurch of his shameless prick.

They walked over to the makeshift bar, which consisted of a large sturdy table set in front of a looming bookcase. The books had all been removed and replaced by bottles , many of which, Draco was pleased to note, had come from the Slytherins. There were glasses and bottles of beer on the tabletop.

“Harry,” Finnegan said. “What can I getcha? Another Peroni?”

“Nope,” Potter said. “Malfoy here said he’s going to introduce me to whatever he’s drinking.”

Finnegan looked at Draco as though he hadn’t noticed him before which of course was bollocks.

“Finnegan,” he said.

“What kind of rum?” Finnegan asked.

Okay. Well. That could’ve been worse.

“10 Cane, please,” Draco replied.

Finnegan obviously noted the “please” because he lifted an eyebrow. “Good choice,” he said.

Draco suppressed a smile. That’d been easier than he’d hoped.

Finnegan handed them their drinks, and they walked back to the window.

“This is my favourite spot in the whole castle,” Potter said. “Since my very first day. Hedwig, my snowy, liked to perch here.”

They raised their glasses in memory of their dead owls and clinked them together. Potter sputtered when he took his first sip.

“Merlin!” he exclaimed. “This tastes like mint-flavoured broom varnish!”

Another classic Potter moment. A hundred stinging retorts instantly popped into Draco’s head.

“It’s an acquired taste,” he said, which was as close to completely benign that he was capable of getting.

“I guess so,” Potter said, wincing as he took another sip.

“We’ll get something a little less strong after this,” Draco said.

Potter looked at him.

“I still have your wand,” he said.

Ah, the insensitive uncouth off-the-cuff remarks! How Draco had missed them.

“I know,” he said.

“You have a new one then?”

“No, I’m using my mothers, and she’s using some old rubbish one we found under a sofa when we were being evicted from the Manor and our furniture was being auctioned off for reparations.”

“Oh.”

Draco shrugged as if he didn’t care. “Life goes on,” he said, which, at least, was true.

“I should return your wand,” Potter said. “That way you can give your mother’s back to her.”

“She’d probably like that,” Draco replied. The one we found doesn’t work well for her.”

Potter drained his glass and set it on the window sill.

“I . . . I actually have it here,” he said.

Draco had been so busy watching Potter’s throat again that he’d lost the thread of the conversation.

“What?” he asked.

“Your wand,” Potter replied. “I fixed mine. I brought yours to school to give to you if you came back. And you did, so . . . er, I can give you your wand.”

Draco nodded. “Okay, but you don’t have to do it right now . . .”

“Well, it’s here,” Potter said. “In my trunk, I mean. I guess, maybe, it might make sense to give it to you now instead of bringing it to class or something.”

Potter rubbed his hands on his thighs as though his palms were sweating.

“All right,” Draco said. “Do you . . . want to go get it? I’ll wait here . . .”

“Actually,” Potter said. “Maybe you could just come with me to get it, after all we’re in Gryffindor and my bed . . . er, I mean my trunk is right upstairs and it’ll only take a minute and that way I won’t have to go looking for you when I bring it back down and get caught up in talking to other people and then forgetting and . . .”

Draco wanted to laugh. Potter was rambling like a lunatic.

“Are you asking me to come up to your bedroom with you, Potter?” he asked. He looked at Potter through his fringe with a naked flirtation that Potter could either laugh at . . . or take seriously, whatever the case may be.

If blushes could be painful, Potter’s looked like he was in agony.

Interesting.

Draco’s pulse sped up. Was this what it seemed or was he just engaging in some serious wishful thinking.

“Er, well, it’s not really my bedroom,” Potter babbled. “It’s Ron’s too – and Neville and Seamus and . . .”

Potter stopped talking. Something across the room had obviously distracted him. Draco’s heart sank.

“ . . . Dean . . .” Potter murmured.

Draco turned to follow his gaze. There, in a little alcove under the stairs, was the Weaselette and Dean Thomas sitting close together on a loveseat talking and laughing as though no one else existed.

Oh.

Draco had no desire to hang around while Potter went into Dark-Lord-Destroyer mode and hexed Thomas into mashed potatoes.

Draco turned back and looked at Potter. Potter looked like he’d been slapped. Draco gave a little cough to remind him that someone had been talking to him and was still standing there, but Potter kept staring at his stupid girlfriend.

“Hey, listen,” Draco said. “Why don’t we do the wand thing another time? I just saw a couple of people I want to talk to over there . . .”

Potter turned on him. His eyes were bright.

“No,” he said. “Let’s do it now.”

Draco felt his eyes widen. He swallowed. “Uhm . . .”

“Come on,” Potter said. “This way. The door’s over here.”

He started pushing through the crowd, and Draco followed more slowly trying not to splash people’s drinks all over them like Potter was doing.

When they reached the door, Potter opened it and then looked around as though searching for people who might be watching them. After a second, he stepped aside and let Draco walk through first. The spiral stairs were narrow and rather steep, which was why Draco climbed them slower than he would other stairs – but then there was also the fact that, like this, his arse was about level with Potter’s face, and he wanted to take advantage of the situation for as long as possible.

At last they reached a floor with seven doors branching off like spokes on a wheel. Potter opened the door with a “7” on it, and they stepped inside. The room was terrifying: it looked like a bomb had exploded inside it – there were trunks and clothes and beds and books and brooms all over the place, not to mention a shocking amount of red and gold and Chudley Cannons orange.

“Sorry ‘bout the mess,” Potter muttered, kicking stuff aside to make a trail from the door to one of the beds. “We have to share with the seventh years.”

Draco tripped over someone’s ancient Kneazle, and it ran away with a screech leaving behind several large fur balls.

“We have to share too,” he said, “but the room’s a lot bigger.”

And tidier.

Finally they stopped in front of the messiest bed in the whole room.

“That’s mine,” Potter said.

“Never would’ve guessed,” Draco replied.

Potter chuckled and knelt down on the floor. He pulled a battered trunk out from under the bed, opened it and started rooting around, flinging stuff over his shoulder on to whoever’s bed was next to his.

Accio Draco’s wand,” Draco called, and it flew out of a pile of clothes on Potter’s pillows and into his hand.

“Oh,” Potter said. “You found it. I guess I was thinking it was still in my trunk.”

They stood just looking at each other. It was excruciating. Draco had no idea what to do. Should he just thank Potter and go back down to the party? Should he ask Potter stupid questions about his dorm mates or classes? Should he try to make some kind of move? Was Potter even gay?

“Er,” Potter said. “Uhm, well . . . Do you want to, I dunno, sit down or something?”

Draco merely nodded. This was going to have to be Potter’s scene; he, himself, had no idea how to proceed.

Potter started pushing all of his crap off his bed and on to the floor. Draco bit his lip to stop himself from laughing. When there was enough space, he sat down. Potter sat down beside him.

“I bet your dorm’s much tidier,” he said.

“Not really,” Draco lied. “We have our slobs. Greg’s pretty bad, and Vince . . .”

Potter nudged Draco’s leg with his knee. “And Vince what?” he asked.

“Vince used to be a complete pig,” Draco continued, his voice quiet.

“You miss him,” Potter said.

“Yeah,” Draco said, and then he added quickly. “I’m sure there’re people you miss too.”

“Do you . . . are you . . . , I don’t know, angry at me?” Potter asked.

Draco frowned. “What’re you talking about?” he asked.

“Crabbe,” Potter said. “The fact he died.”

“Jesus Christ, Potter,” Draco said. “No, I’m not angry. It hadn’t even occurred to me to be angry. I mean, looking back . . . I can’t believe you saved Greg and me.”

“But I had to save you,” Potter said.

“No, you didn’t,” Draco scoffed. “You had every right to let us die.”

Potter turned to him all of a sudden. “Don’t say that,” he said. “You saved my life!”

Draco blushed. “That . . . that was just . . .”

. . . but Potter interrupted him.

“Shut up,” he said. “Don’t explain . . . just . . . you did it, okay? That’s what matters.”

They’d moved closer as they were talking and the topic was so personal and emotional and the room was so claustrophobic and hot and all of a sudden they were kissing.

Potter groaned and slid his fingers into Draco’s hair, holding Draco’s head steady as he kissed Draco feverishly. Draco slid his own fingers into Potter’s hair and kissed him back just as urgently. Then Potter was pushing him back against the mattress and clambering on top of him, and Draco put his hand up the front of Potter’s t-shirt and splayed his fingers against Potter’s chest. He spread his legs, and Potter wrapped an arm around one of his thighs and pressed it to his stomach.

“Wanted this . . .” Potter moaned against Draco’s mouth. He tugged Draco’s shirt from his waistband with his free hand and shoved it up until it bunched under Draco’s arms, and then he started sucking messily on Draco’s nipples, first one and then the other and then back again.

“Me, too,” Draco gasped. “You have no idea . . .”

Potter rose to his knees, tore off his t-shirt and threw it halfway across the room. Draco reached up and placed both hands on his stomach, spreading his fingers to touch as much of Potter’s skin as he could. Potter took one of his hands and pressed the palm over his heart. Draco took the hint and began pinching and pulling on his nipple roughly as Harry panted and moaned. His hips began thrusting into the space between them, searching for something to hump against.

Holy shit! They were going to fuck! The culmination of seven years worth of desire right here and now on Potter’s messy bed!

Draco groaned and squeezed his eyes shut. He was already close to having an orgasm, and they hadn’t even fully undressed yet. Potter reached down and grabbed Draco’s crotch.

“From the second you walked in the hall tonight . . . these bloody trousers,” Potter said roughly, breathlessly as he kneaded Draco’s cock. “Almost came in my pants . . . fuck, Malfoy . . .”

Draco felt his eyes roll back in his head. It was just like one of his wank fantasies, only a hundred times better. Potter opened his trousers and tried to tug them down off Draco’s hips, but Draco had to move back and take them off himself – and while he was there, he took off his shirt and the next thing he knew he was naked, and Potter was leaning over to kiss him and push him down to the mattress again.

“Wanna fuck you,” Potter said against Draco’s neck as he kissed and sucked on it.

“Do it,” Draco said fiercely.

Potter almost fell over he got off the bed so fast. He unbuckled his belt and tore his jeans open and then hopped around comically as he struggled to get out of them. Draco only got a brief glimpse of the most gorgeous cock he’d ever seen, and then Potter was crawling onto the bed again, between Draco’s legs, and they were kissing and grabbing each other’s arses and moaning like porn stars.

“I’ve never done this before,” Potter gasped against Draco’s mouth. “Don’t we need to do something?”

“Just lube,” Draco said.

Accio lube!” Potter yelled and suddenly they were pelted with about ten tubes and jars that came flying from every part of the room. They started laughing so hard that their breathing became even shallower than it had been and they were both panting and giggling and writhing against each other’s bodies.

“Need to fuck you,” Potter groaned. “What should I do?”

“Just lube yourself up,” Draco said. “Don’t worry about me.”

“You sure?”

“More than.”

“Okay . . . tell me to stop if . . . oh, fuck!!”

Draco had drawn his knees back against his chest, and Potter breached his hole so abruptly and began thrusting immediately so deeply and hard that Draco didn’t have time to acclimatise and started to come at the first hint of pressure against his prostate. He groaned in agonised disappointment as he clung to Potter and rode out an orgasm that was explosive but started far too soon and ended far too quickly.

“Fuck,” Potter gasped, “Fuck, Malfoy . . . was that? . . . . Did you just come?”

Draco couldn’t speak; he could only nod, and Potter’s hips went from thrusting between his legs to thrashing. Unlike Draco’s fantasies, there was absolutely no finesse involved, just complete and utter abandon. Potter had his face crushed into the pillow beneath Draco’s head, and he was whimpering and sobbing, and then Draco felt him coming, slicking his channel with heat. Potter thrashed his hips a few more times and then froze on an in-stroke and emptied himself completely with a bone-deep grunt.

Altogether, the entire thing had lasted maybe about seven minutes

After seven years, seven minutes.

Seven brilliant intense amazing minutes.

But just seven minutes nonetheless.

Potter flopped down on top of him, his face buried in the pillow, but after a minute, he pulled out of Draco’s body and rolled off of him with a groan. He threw an arm over his eyes.

There was a very long very awkward silence. Finally Potter spoke.

“That . . . that wasn’t the first time for you, was it?” he asked, without moving his arm away from his eyes.

Draco wasn’t sure how he should answer, so he erred on the side of the truth.

“No,” he said.

“Good,” Potter replied.

What the hell was that supposed to mean?

There was another long awkward silence.

“Uhm, we should probably get back to the party,” Potter said eventually.

Bastard.

“Yeah, I guess,” Draco said unenthusiastically.

Potter got out of bed and wiped his dick with a shirt he picked up off the floor.

Wow. Draco wasn’t even sure the shirt was Potter’s.

Then Potter pulled on his jeans, zipped his fly and buckled his belt, all the time being obvious about not wanting to look at Draco who was still naked with his knees bent and a huge cooling wet spot under his arse. Not to mention his own come all over his stomach.

“Er,” Potter said, still carefully averting his eyes, “you can use the bathroom. It’s right over there.” He pointed to a door on the other side of the room. “I’m . . . I’m going to . . . uhm, head back downstairs, I guess.”

Draco was staring at him even though Potter didn’t know it. He’d been struck dumb.

Potter found his t-shirt and put it on and actually walked over to the door.

Draco finally found his voice. “You’re just going to leave me here like this?” he asked, trying to sound as dumbfounded and appalled as he felt. No one he’d ever slept with had ever treated him like this.

Potter didn’t turn around. Instead he dropped his forehead against the door and looked down at the trainers he’d put on so hastily that he hadn’t even tied the laces.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I can’t believe I just did that. I just cheated on my girlfriend, for fuck sake!”

He drew his head back and then let it fall forward again as though he wanted to beat it against the door.

“God,” he said. “I am the biggest arsehole in the entire fucking world.”

Draco sat up. He’d had more than enough of this. He found his clothes and got dressed as quickly as he could.

“Pardon me if I don’t want to stay and listen to you wring your hands over how fucking me just now was the worst thing you’ve ever done in your life,” Draco said. He sat on the edge of Potter’s bed and pulled on his socks with enough aggression to tear a hole in one of them.

Potter didn’t say anything, but he rolled his head from side to side.

“Go ahead,” Draco said. “Just blame it on me. You probably will anyway. Tell her I Imperiused you or something.”

He put on his shoes and tied the laces and put his wand in his sleeve.

“Thanks for my wand,” he said coldly.

Potter still didn’t reply, nor did the bastard move out of the way so Draco could leave.

“Excuse me,” he snarled.

But Potter didn’t.

“Fucking hell,” Potter said. “I can’t believe I haven’t even been here for twenty-four hours and I’ve already fucked everything to shit!”

Draco grabbed his arm and turned him around.

“Look at me!” he yelled.

Potter was hanging his head, but at Draco’s words, he slowly lifted it until he was looking at Draco’s face. But he still didn’t look Draco in the eyes.

“Don’t ever fuck with me like that again,” Draco said.

Potter dropped his head. All he did was nod.

“You’re not going to say anything, are you?” Draco asked incredulously.

When Potter didn’t respond or look up, Draco shoved past him and wrenched open the door. He was shaking with hurt and fury, and he couldn’t trust his voice not to quaver if he said another word.

So he didn’t.

* * * *

Harry stood staring at the door Malfoy had just walked through and slammed shut so hard that the mirror fell off and shattered on the floor.

What had he done?

Malfoy had said to blame it on him, but Harry knew he couldn’t. Malfoy hadn’t instigated any part of it. He’d been the one who’d invited Malfoy upstairs. He’d been the one to suggest they stay after he’d given Malfoy his wand. He’d been the one to initiate the first kiss, and he’d been the one who’d wanted to have sex. It had all been him from start to finish. The fact that Malfoy hadn’t said no meant nothing.

Harry turned and walked back to his bed. He had less than no desire to return to the party. He sat down and looked at the wet stain on his duvet. He’d just had sex for the first time. He’d just lost his virginity. But not with Ginny . . . and not even with a girl. He closed his eyes and fell backwards onto the mattress. He hadn’t even been drunk. He reached up and scrubbed his face with his hands. They smelled of Malfoy’s cologne.

God, just the lingering scent and the sight of the wet result of their coupling made him hard again. He had the terrible feeling that he’d merely whetted his appetite, not satisfied it.

What was he going to do? What was he going to say to Ginny? Not telling her wasn’t an option, but what could he say? If only he could summon Hermione like he could summon inanimate objects . . .

There was a knock at the door. His breath caught in his chest.

“Harry?”

He actually broke out laughing and ran over to let Hermione in.

“What are you laughing about?” she asked. Are you drunk?”

Harry hugged her and spun her around.

“Don’t bother to answer that last question,” she said.

“Actually, no, I’m not drunk,” Harry said. “It’s just that I was lying here wishing I could summon you, and then here you are. Here, sit,” he said, patting the mattress beside him, but then he quickly realised he’d suggested she sit on the stain of lube and come, and quickly patted another part of the mattress.

But it was too late.

“You just had sex, didn’t you?”

He cringed. “Er, uhm, yeah . . . kinda . . .”

Hermione slapped him suddenly and very hard.

“Ginny’s downstairs,” she said furiously. “She’s been there the whole time. Harry Potter, what did you do?!”

He sat pressing his hand against his flaming cheek and gaping at her.

“You just hit me,” he said.

“Yes, I did,” she said. “And I’ll do it again if you don’t tell me who she is.”

He bit his lip and looked away from her. He wished she hadn’t come looking for him after all. Why had he thought that talking to her would be easier than talking to Ginny? Hermione wanted the dream of the four of them together forever even more than Ginny did . . .

“I’m serious, Harry,” Hermione said fiercely. “Tell me now or I’m going to get both Ginny and Ron.”

“Christ,” Harry exclaimed. “For God’s sake, don’t get Ron. He’d never speak to me again forever as long as I lived.”

“Then who is she?” Hermione said. “The time I’m allotting you to answer is rapidly ticking away.”

He swallowed and then took a deep breath.

“I didn’t have sex with another girl,” he said.

“But Ginny’s downstairs!” Hermione yelled at him. “I was just talking with her! She was looking for you!”

“I didn’t have sex with a girl, Hermione,” he yelled back. “I had sex with a boy!”

Hermione opened her mouth, but no words came out.

“A boy,” he said. “And it was real sex, not just . . . well, not other non-sex stuff.”

“Oh, my God,” she breathed. She was in shock.

“Yeah,” he said. “Exactly.”

“You were drunk,” she said. “Anything can happen when you’re drunk . . .”

“But I wasn’t,” he said. “Not even a little bit.”

“And it worked?”

He frowned. “What do you mean ‘it worked’?”

“I mean, you were able to actually do it – unlike with Ginny.”

The memory of Draco’s body writhing damply against his, Draco’s mouth kissing him, Draco’s arse stretching wide to take him in, almost bowled him over. His prick started getting hard, and he had to shift positions to get comfortable again.

“Yeah,” he mumbled. “It definitely worked.”

She sighed despondently.

“I was worried about this,” she said quietly. “I’d tried to convince myself it wasn’t true. I don’t want you to be gay, Harry!”

He hung his head and looked at his hands – at the leather bracelet Ginny had given him on his birthday.

“I don’t want to be gay either,” he said in a small voice. “I’m sick of not being normal.”

“It’s not that,” she said. “I mean there’s nothing wrong with being gay; it’s just that I don’t want you to be gay. What’s going to happen to us?”

He looked up at the sound of desolation and despair in her voice and saw that her eyes were filling with tears.

“Nothing,” he said firmly. “Nothing is going to happen with us. I’m going to figure this out, and Ginny and I are going to get married.”

Hermione nodded, but she didn’t look either persuaded or relieved.

“I’m not sure you can just ‘stop being gay,’” she said.

“Well, I’ll figure out a way then,” Harry said. “I killed Voldemort, and I can sort this out too.”

They were quiet for awhile. Beneath them, music began to boom through the floorboards. The party must be getting rowdy. He wondered if Malfoy was still there or if he’d gone back to the Dungeons.

God, he’d not only been an arsehole to Ginny, he’d been a complete arsehole to Malfoy, too.

“Can I ask who it was?” Hermione asked.

But he’d had enough for the time being. “I’d really rather not say if that’s all right,” he said.

She nodded. “Okay,” she said. “But what are you going to tell Ginny?”

He sighed. “I don’t know. That’s why I wanted to talk to you. I was hoping you’d help me come up with something . . .”

“I’m not going to help you come up with a lie, Harry,” she interrupted him.

He bristled. “Who said I was going to lie?” he asked. “You know I wouldn’t do that.”

She looked at him coldly. “I used to think I knew that you’d never cheat either.”

Ouch.

“Okay,” he said nodding. “I deserved that.”

She stood up and started walking to the door, but she stopped before she reached it.

“You don’t have to tell me who it was,” she said, turning, “but tell me one thing: do you have feelings for him or was this just a spur-of-the-moment one-time-thing?”

Harry flopped back down on the mattress and covered his eyes with his hands. What could he say when he wasn’t even sure how he felt?

“I don’t know,” he said after a minute and removed his hands from his face so that he could look at her. Her eyes had filled with tears again.

“You care for this boy, don’t you?” she said. “Be honest with me, Harry.”

He rolled onto his side and traced a seam in the duvet with his fingertip.

“Maybe,” he mumbled. “I don’t know.”

“Well, do you want to do it again?” she snapped at him. “Can thinking about it with your dick help you come up with an answer in your head?”

He’d never heard her say anything like “dick” before, and he was pretty shocked by it as well as the vehemence in her voice.

“I don’t know,” he snapped right back at her. “I’m sorry, Hermione, but you’re just gonna have to be happy with that answer. It’s the only one I can give you. I’d be lying if I told you I knew I didn’t want to be with him again because I don’t know. Okay?”

She sniffled and tried to wipe her nose discreetly on her sleeve. “Okay,” she said. “But when you figure it out, you better tell me . . . and Ginny too.”

“Right,” he said. He looked back down at the seam in the duvet and began tracing it again, expecting to hear the door open and close at any moment. He didn’t plan to look up again, but when he didn’t hear anything, he did. Hermione was just looking at him. He couldn’t read the expression on her face.

“What now?” he asked defensively.

“Have you given Malfoy back his wand yet?” she asked.

Harry’s heart skipped a beat. “Where’d that come from?”

“Well, I know you brought it with you to school, and I noticed he was at the party. I just thought maybe you’d found a moment to return it.”

Her effort at sounding indifferent and merely curious was a complete failure. He just looked at her, and she looked at him back.

“Well?” she asked. “Did you?”

What could he say? He couldn’t just tell her it was none of her business because wouldn’t that be the same as admitting guilt? Or at least inviting another confrontation? But he couldn’t lie. If there was one thing he knew in the world, it was that he’d never willingly lie to Hermione.

“Yeah,” he said, and looked down at the seam again.

“And?”

“He said thanks.” It was true – Malfoy had “thanked” him, but Harry left out the detail about the sarcasm.

“So, you brought the wand down and gave it to him down there. Was anyone else with you at the time?”

He looked up and glared at her. “No,” he said.

“But you did give it to him downstairs.”

“Hermione,” he snapped. “Why are you interrogating me like this about Malfoy?”

“Because,” she said, “I think it’s him you had sex with. I think you brought him up here to give him his wand and that you two had sex.”

Harry dropped his head on one of his pillows face-down and rocked it from side to side as he done against the door when Malfoy was there.

“I’m right,” she said. “You slept with Malfoy. If you don’t answer, I’m going to assume I’m correct.”

Harry didn’t answer or even lift his head.

After a few seconds, the door slammed for the second time that night.

* * * *

Ginny cried virtually nonstop for days.

Harry loathed himself – every cell in his body and every hair on his head, and it didn’t help that Malfoy looked as unhappy as he’d looked during their sixth year.

Outside classes and meals and Quidditch, Harry spent every second with Ginny in the common room. She clung to him in a way he’d never have imagined a girl as strong as her doing with anybody. Just as he’d stopped recognising her when she started wearing make-up and slutty clothes, he didn’t recognise her as she clutched his arm and cried against his shoulder, begging him not to leave her.

And to make things worse, neither Ron nor Hermione were speaking to him; Dean Thomas kept looking at him with barely suppressed homicidal rage, and Harry couldn’t keep his eyes off of Malfoy.

What a bloody mess.

Meanwhile Malfoy had never ignored Harry more completely than he was ignoring him now. No matter how many times Harry snuck a glance at him in the Great Hall, Malfoy was never looking at him – in fact, for the first time in their lengthy acquaintance, Malfoy started sitting with his back toward the Gryffindor table. In their two shared classes – Charms and Astronomy – Malfoy asked for new sitting assignments to place him as far away from Harry as space and the layout of the classroom allowed. When they passed in the corridors, Malfoy stared straight ahead and didn’t even blink.

Harry didn’t know which among all his newly altered circumstances he hated the most, but as time progressed he realised it was Malfoy’s avoidance that was driving him the most insane.

Then, to complicate everything, there was the first Gryffindor-Slytherin match on Saturday. Harry and Malfoy were both Captains which meant, unlike the other players, they had to actually interact with each other. As things stood, Harry could imagine Malfoy skipping the entire match just to avoid having to talk to him.

The morning of the match was not promising. It was rainy and windy and cold – murderous conditions for all of the players but especially for the Seekers. Ron refused to discuss strategy with him directly, so Harry had to use Seamus as an intermediary, and much was lost in the translation. Then there was Ginny whose skills seemed to have completely disintegrated. Things did not look good.

Thank God Malfoy hadn’t skipped the match though. That was at least a little bit promising. Harry didn’t know exactly what he wanted from Malfoy, but studious avoidance was definitely not it.

Minutes before the match started, Harry and Malfoy met with Madam Hooch in the centre of the muddy pitch to discuss the weather conditions and terms of forfeiture. Malfoy didn’t make eye contact even when he was speaking to Harry directly. Harry wanted to grab him and shake him, but Malfoy already looked uncomfortable enough as it was, and Harry knew it was his fault, and there was nothing he could do about it, and he wanted to scream and tear his hair out with frustration.

At last it was time to release the Snitch.

“Good luck, Potter,” Malfoy said. His grey eyes looked right through Harry’s face as though Harry was a ghost. He took off his Seeker’s glove to shake Harry’s hand. Harry took off his glove as well.

“Good luck, Draco,” he said, and shook Malfoy’s hand.

As he’d hoped, at the sound of his name, Malfoy’s eyes immediately widened and focused on his. Harry tightened his grip and held Malfoy’s hand a couple seconds longer than necessary.

Malfoy just stared at him, but that was better than it’d been when he wasn’t even looking in Harry’s direction.

They parted and kicked off the ground into the slashing rain.

It was something that just wasn’t done, especially not by the team captain, and Harry had had to grapple with himself for a long time, but he’d decided in the end that if they were both going for the Snitch at the same time that Harry would let Malfoy make the catch. It hadn’t been an easy decision and for the three weeks between the party and the match, he’d wavered back and forth, but every time he’d decide against his plan, he’d remember pulling out of Malfoy’s body after having just come inside him, rolling on to his back, and refusing to look at Malfoy’s face before Malfoy had stormed out of the room and slammed the door. He still couldn’t believe he’d done that. He’d forced himself to imagine how he’d have felt in Malfoy’s place, and just imagining it had flooded his chest with shame and anger – and hurt.

So, in the end, he’d decided he’d let Malfoy catch the Snitch, but that depended on Malfoy’s quality of play. If they were neck and neck like they always were, bashing into each other, and grabbing at each other’s robes and broom bristles, then Harry could let Malfoy catch the Snitch, and nobody would know what’d he done – even Malfoy, if he really did it right. But they weren’t neck and neck. Not even close. Malfoy’s flying was shaky and hesitant, and he kept having to land and visit the Slytherin locker room – presumably to use the loo. It reminded Harry of Ron’s early days when he’d have to get one of the Beaters to cover goal while he went to the locker room to be sick. All Harry could think was that everything that had happened between him and Malfoy had totally fucked with Malfoy’s self-confidence, putting Malfoy and Ginny in the same predicament, which was – disconcerting, to say the least.

The match went on for fucking ever. It started at ten in the morning, and they were still playing at ten at night, which meant all of the other players were sniping at their Seekers about “catching the bloody Snitch, already.” The spectators were clearly working in shifts, and the rain had only grown heavier as the endless hours ticked by. Harry seriously started to wonder why he’d ever thought he’d liked the game in the first place.

For the most part, Malfoy had stopped flying hours ago and was now basically just drifting, hanging over his broom handle like a tree bowed in an ice storm. Harry flew as close as he dared several times, but Malfoy didn’t look up. Finally, Harry got truly worried. He flew over to Malfoy and stopped so they were hovering right next to each other.

“What do you want, Potter?” Malfoy said without looking at him. He was shivering violently even with a warming charm that was strong enough that Harry could feel it at a distance.

“To see if you’re all right,” Harry replied.

“I’m fine.”

“You don’t look fine,” Harry replied. “You don’t sound fine either.”

Malfoy gave a humourless snort of a laugh. “What do you expect?” he said. “We’ve been flying around in circles for twelve hours in a cold rain.”

Harry frowned at him. “This is hardly the first time we’ve been through this.”

Malfoy looked up, and Harry almost fell off his broom. Malfoy was deathly pale and he looked like he’d been Kissed.

“‘We’? You make it sound like we’re on some kind of team together,” Malfoy said. “But last I knew we weren’t – in any sense of the word.”

“Hey,” Harry said gently. “Let’s go see Madam Hooch.”

Malfoy glared at him. “Why?” he asked. “I’m not going to forfeit, if that’s what you’re planning on trying to get me to do.”

He wobbled for a second. Harry reached out and grabbed his arm.

“Fuck the match,” he said. “You look really terrible . . .”

Malfoy smiled weakly. “Why, thank you,” he said. “How kind of you to mention it.”

“It’s not funny,” Harry snapped. “You almost fell off your broom just now!”

Malfoy’s gaze turned icy. “What do you care?” he snapped back.

Harry sputtered with indignation. “Jesus, Malfoy! You know me better than that – or at least you should by now. Maybe I regret what we did the other night, but that doesn’t mean I want something bad to happen to you!”

Something in what he’d said spurred Malfoy into a full blazing Malfoy rage.

“Oh, please,” he said, “please tell me again how much you wish we hadn’t fucked because I’m not sure I got it the first time!”

Harry wanted to kick himself. “That’s not what I meant,” he said.

“What part of ‘I may regret what we did the other night’ did I misinterpret?” Malfoy said. “Because what you meant sure sounded pretty fucking clear to me!”

He wobbled again – worse than last time. Harry reached out and wrapped his arm around his waist. He’d expected Malfoy to shove him away, but he didn’t, instead he let his head drop onto Harry’s shoulder. Harry was sure he wouldn’t be doing it if he still had any control over the situation. Harry wrapped his other arm around Malfoy’s waist and held onto him as Malfoy began to slip off his broom.

“Okay, this is ridiculous,” Harry said. “Fuck the match. I’ll forfeit if that’ll get you to come down with me. I don’t care.”

“Don’t save me again, you arsehole,” Malfoy muttered blearily. “I’m fucking sick of being in your debt.”

Harry drew the flag that signified forfeiture from his pocket and waved it above his head.

“This has nothing to do with ‘saving’ or ‘debts’ or any other kind of shit,” Harry said, tightening his free arm around Malfoy’s waist. “This is about me not wanting anything to happen to you, okay?”

Finally, his flag was noticed and the announcer called a Gryffindor forfeiture.

Harry’s team went ballistic.

“What the fuck, Harry!?” Ron screamed through the wind.

“Yeah!” yelled Demelza. “We’ve been playing our arses off. You can’t just give up the match!”

“What’s wrong?” Ritchie shouted – obviously the only one who was actually concerned that someone might be hurt. “Are you all right, Harry?”

“I’m fine,” Harry yelled back. “It’s Malfoy! I think he’s ill!”

“You think so?” Malfoy said in a slurred voice that also sounded slightly amused. “As always, Potter, your skills of observation are unsurpassable by mere mortals.”

Harry shoved the flag back in his pocket and wrapped both arms around Malfoy again.

“Shut it, you complete git,” he said.

He was in the process of figuring out how to land together, so that he wouldn’t have to let go of Malfoy when suddenly Ginny materialised out of the fog and darkness with a Bludger raised over her head. Her hair had come free of her ponytail and was flying behind her in wet clumps, making her look a bit like Medusa. Harry swallowed. In a way he was happy because she looked like the Ginny that he knew and loved again, but in others way he wasn’t happy at all. It was clear she intended to throw the Bludger at him or Malfoy or both of them.

“Ginny,” he said as calmly as possible. “Don’t do anything reckless and stupid. Leave that kind of thing to me . . .”

“You’re not funny, Harry,” she said coldly. “Although I do agree that much of what you do is reckless and stupid.”

“How true,” Malfoy mumbled. “Clever girl.”

“Throw it, Gin!” Ron yelled. “If you won’t, then I will!”

“Which of them am I aiming for?” Ginny yelled back.

“Preferably both!” Ron yelled. “But it you have to choose, go for Malfoy!” He flew over and stopped right beside Ginny.

“Excuse me, but is there a fucking problem here?” Urquhart shouted.

“The problem is your pansy Captain!” Ron shouted back. “He’s gone all woozy, and now our Loverboy here has forfeited the fucking match to you arseholes!”

“Malfoy!” Urquhart yelled. “I don’t want to win by bloody forfeiture! That’s not a real win!”

“For fuck sake!” Harry yelled at all of them. “Shut it! This is just a stupid Quidditch match! It’s not life or death!”

“Way to play The Chosen One card, mate,” Ron said darkly.

Harry ignored him, but it was hard. He was shaking with anger as much as Malfoy was shivering with cold.

“With friends like those . . .” Malfoy mumbled against his neck.

“What the hell’s going on up here!” screamed Madam Hooch, blowing her whistle.

“Malfoy’s sick!” Zabini yelled. “Get Madam Pomfrey! And, Potter, back the fuck off! He’s our Captain! Get your fucking hands off of him now!”

Wow. Harry stared at him.

“All of you, except for the two Captains, descend this instant!” Madam Hooch shouted. “And Miss Weasley, put down the Bludger. I shouldn’t have to tell you how dangerous they are!”

Slowly the other players drifted back down to the ground, quarrelling and sniping all the way, and Harry started to breathe easier. He hadn’t realised until just that moment how tense he’d been.

“Now, what’s going on?” Madam Hooch asked.

“Malfoy’s ill,” Harry said. “He almost fell off his broom, and because he’s Malfoy, he wouldn’t forfeit the match, so I did. I’ve seen too many people hurt over the past two years, and I don’t need to see any more – especially over a stupid match.”

The instant he saw Madam Hooch’s horrified expression, he realised that maybe he shouldn’t have used the word “stupid” in his little speech.

“Good job, Potter,” Malfoy mumbled in his ear. He wasn’t even hovering on his own anymore – it was all Harry.

“I told you to shut it,” Harry whispered back, and for no other reason than he was upset and pissed off and worried, he kissed the top of Malfoy’s head and pulled him even closer. If Madam Hooch noticed, she chose not to say anything.

“I must say that this is highly unusual,” she said. “I’ve never had a captain forfeit a match for the sake of a member of the other team, but then again I’m dealing with you here, Mr. Potter, so I guess anything’s possible.”

Harry smiled grimly. “Can we get him down now?” he asked.

“I think it’d be easiest if he just gets on your broom,” she said.

“Hear that, Malfoy?” Harry whispered against his ear. “You get to ride my broom again.”

He realised the innuendo at the same moment Malfoy did.

“I hope it stays up long enough to do the job,” he murmured.

Harry kissed the top of his head again. “Oh my God,” he said. “You are the biggest prat I’ve ever met, Malfoy. Shut up and hang on.”

* * * *

“How is he?”

Harry looked up and was startled to see Hermione standing in front of him. They hadn’t spoken more than bland pleasantries since the night of the party. She was standing with her arms crossed in a way he suspected she thought looked haughty, but to him it looked more unhappy and defensive than anything else.

“He’s okay,” Harry said. “Madam Pomfrey doesn’t know what’s wrong yet, but probably nothing serious. Maybe flu or something.”

Hermione nodded and then turned to leave.

“Wait!” Harry called. “Hermione, this is completely mental. You’re not like Ron. You’re crap at not talking to me.”

She turned and regarded him wearily. At last she walked back to the table he was studying at.

“Sit down,” he said, nudging the chair across from him away from the table with his foot.

“I’m sitting over there,” she said, looking in the direction of a table piled high with books.

“Levitate them over here,” Harry said.

She sighed. “All right,” she said and Summoned her things. She immediately spread them over every free inch of the table, reminding Harry of their nights in the tent, and Hermione’s absurd number of shrunken books.

They read for a while in a silence that was awkward at first but then grew increasingly comfortable as time went on. This was them. They’d spent virtually every minute together for nearly seven months. They might as well be twins at this point.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time,” she said after awhile. “I think maybe, as much as I hate it, that maybe you and Ginny should break up.”

Harry didn’t answer right away. He wanted to get this conversation just right. He missed Hermione – there was a hole in his life where she was supposed to be.

“I don’t want to,” he said. “All those things you talked about? I want them too. I want kids and Sundays at the Burrow and you, me, Ron and Ginny to visit each other every other day. I don’t want to lose you; the three of you are my whole world . . .”

He choked up – he’d been doing that a lot since he’d told Ginny what’d happened. He couldn’t go on talking. He wiped his eyes with his sleeve and held a book up in front of his face in case someone was looking.

Hermione shoved a pile of her books aside and reached across the table to take his hand.

“I know,” she said.

He looked at her. “Really?”

“Really.”

He nodded and squeezed her hand. “Thanks,” he said. “That means a lot to me.”

She took a deep breath, and he braced himself for the big Hermione caveat.

“Ginny and I have been talking,” she said.

Harry winced.

“No, in a good way,” she said. “She’s over the shock and is starting to be able to think about the big picture.”

“Which is?” He had to ask because he really didn’t know.

“The big picture is that you’re gay, Harry. Since you told me about . . . about what happened, I’ve been . . . don’t freak out . . . kind of watching you. You’re not like other boys. You never look at girls.”

Harry frowned. “But I don’t think I look at blokes either,” he said.

She smiled wryly. “Maybe not ‘blokes’ plural, but you certainly look at one in particular.”

Harry blushed and averted his eyes from hers.

“Of course, everything now makes sense in hindsight . . .”

“If you’re talking about sixth year,” Harry said, “I was not stalking Malfoy because I was . . . attracted to him. As I’ve always said, I knew he was up to something, and I was right.”

“I believe at least part of what you’re saying,” Hermione said. “But I think believing that Malfoy was up to something gave your subconscious a convenient excuse to do what it already wanted to do.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “I knew I was going to have to suffer in some way when I heard you were taking Freudian Magic.”

“It’s a very useful class,” she sniffed. “Certainly better than Divination.”

“Same thing, different name, if you ask me,” Harry said.

“Whatever,” she said irritably. “What I’m trying to say, Harry, is that you’re gay and you’re attracted to Malfoy, and the rest of us are either going to have to learn to live with that – or let you go.”

He looked away again as his eyes filled with tears. She was still holding his hand, and she squeezed it again.

“I’m going to learn to live with it,” she said. “Because I am not going to let you go.”

He wiped his nose on his arm. “But what about Ginny and Ron?” he asked.

She made an apologetic face. “I think Ginny will be okay,” she said. “I’ve got her to admit that she was seriously thinking of breaking up with you before she even heard about what happened at the party – I just think it was hard for her to learn that you can experience sexual desire, but not for her.”

He nodded. He could definitely see how that could hurt quite a lot. “And Ron?”

She winced. “Ron will come around,” she said, “but as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, it’s going to take awhile – especially if you decide you want to try to be in a relationship with Malfoy. But I think that once he sees that Ginny’s okay, he’ll be okay too.”

“I guess that’s the best I can hope for,” he said.

They stopped talking. Harry assumed they were going to go back to studying, so he released her hand and picked up his quill again, but after a minute or two, he sensed she hadn’t returned to her books. He looked up. He was right. She was looking at him and obviously trying to figure out how to put something unpleasant diplomatically.

“What is it?” he asked. “Out with it.”

“What do you think about this you and Malfoy thing?” she asked.

He frowned. “What do you mean?”

“I mean do you want to be in a relationship with him?”

Harry grimaced. He really didn’t want to talk about it, but this was Hermione, and she was being opened-minded and trying to patch things up with Ron and Ginny for him.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I . . . maybe, but then again . . .”

“But you are attracted to him, right?” she asked.

“Obviously,” he said drily.

“But is there anything beyond that? After all, you two have hated each other for most of the time you’ve known each other; not to mention the fact that his family – and maybe even him – wanted to see you dead. In fact, have you asked him about that? Did he actually want to see you dead? Because if so, that might affect my feelings if I were you.”

“I don’t think he wanted me to die,” Harry said. “If he did, then why save me at the Manor?”

She shrugged. “Personally, I’ve never known what to make of that whole incident. Maybe you should just ask him.”

Harry grimaced again. That was another conversation he didn’t relish the thought of.

“Harry,” she said, “you’ve only just very recently figured out you’re gay. Don’t you think that maybe you should try to date other boys before settling on Malfoy of all people?”

“I don’t know,” Harry muttered. “I haven’t really thought about any of this.”

“Maybe you should,” she said. “Listen, I have an idea: the Autumn Ball’s coming up. Why don’t you ask someone – someone who’s not Malfoy, I mean?”

Ugh. The thought of asking anyone to a ball was awful, let alone asking some random bloke.

“Er, I’ll think about it,” he said.

She smiled at him. “That’s all I’m asking,” she said. “Now get back to work. The N.E.W.T.s aren’t going to take themselves.”

* * * *

“I’m sorry, Mr. Malfoy, but it’s the only logical explanation,” Madam Pomfrey said.

Logical? Logical?

He looked at Hogwart’s head matron and searched her face for signs of dementia. After all, she was no spring chicken – she’d been there since his parents’ school days.

“How can being a Veela – assuming I am one for a second, although it’s a point I’m far from conceding – explain what happened during the match?” Draco asked, trying to keep his disdain for her opinion out of his voice. “Your diagnosis seems a little . . . extreme.”

What he really wanted to say was “farfetched” or, even more aptly, “completely crazy.”

“You were faint and nauseous, right?” she asked

“Yes.”

“You felt sapped of your strength and vitality, correct?”

“Yes.”

“Well, isn’t it clear then?” she said as though she’d won a debate and was getting ready to leave the auditorium. “You’re a Veela, and you’re suffering exhaustion and malnourishment due to your inability to attract your destined mate.”

Draco just looked at her. He’d crossed dementia off his list, and now the only explanation for her craziness was revenge for him having let the Death Eaters into the castle.

“No, it’s not clear at all,” he said, angrily. “It sounds like I have flu – or at worst a bad cold.”

He didn’t think Healers were supposed to glare at their patients, but then again poor Madam Pomfrey had spent her career dealing with adolescents, so maybe he shouldn’t judge her too harshly.

“Are you suggesting I’m an idiot, Mr. Malfoy?” she asked. “How many students do you think come to the hospital wing on a daily basis who have symptoms of flu or some kind of cold?”

“A lot?”

“Yes, a lot.”

Draco nodded. He was obviously dealing with a person who hadn’t got enough sleep the night before.

“Right,” he said. “Okay, point taken. So, I don’t have flu or a cold. But dizziness and nausea are pretty common symptoms . . .”

“Mr. Malfoy!” she shouted. “I will warn you right now that I have spent the past twenty-four hours consulting with Healers all over the ruddy world about your case, and I am not in a good mood. Now, cease your condescending blather this instant!”

Draco was no longer just looking at her; he was staring at her and was about to open his mouth to reply in kind when her glare darkened and he closed it again.

“I have conducted every reasonable diagnostic test I can think of,” she said. “The only thing I’ve learned for certain is that there is nothing wrong with you . . .”

“But I felt – and still feel – like hippogriff dung!” he interrupted at his obvious peril, but this was getting asinine. “How can nothing be wrong?”

“Because whatever is making you feel uncomfortable is due to something that’s supposed to be happening . . .”

“So, I’m supposed to be feeling like a piece of wilted lettuce . . .”

She frowned at him, and he prepared to get verbally slapped, but then she surprised him by nodding.

“Exactly,” she said. “Now we’re on the same page.”

“We are?” He didn’t like the sound of that. If the page she was on said “wilted lettuce,” he did not want to be on that page with her.

“Your symptoms,” she said, “are due to a status, not a disease.”

Ah.

“My status as a lovelorn Veela,” he said, flatly.

“Precisely!” She beamed at him. “See? Doesn’t it all make sense now?”

“Except that I’m not a Veela,” he said.

Her look of pleasure dissolved into something bordering on homicidal.

“How long are we going to spend arguing over this, Mr. Malfoy?” she asked. “Because, despite what you may think, you are not my only patient.”

“We’re going to spend as much time as we need for me to get you to drop this stupid Veela theory!” he shouted.

She stood up abruptly from the chair she’d Levitated over to his bedside.

“That’s it,” she muttered, although it sounded like she was talking to herself rather than him. “I’ve had it. I don’t get paid enough for this . . .”

She started to walk away. But that wasn’t a good thing – he wanted to get the hell out of there, and she was showing no sign of letting him go.

“Madam Pomfrey!” he yelled after her. “All right, you win! I’m a Veela! Can I leave now?”

She stopped and looked back at him.

“Are you going to follow my instructions?”

He placed his hands on his heart. “To a ‘T’,” he said.

“And you’re not going to just dump the potions down the drain as soon as you get back to the Dungeons?”

“I promise,” he said, trying to make his eyes look wide and guileless.

But she wasn’t buying it.

“You’re just trying to make me think it’s safe to release you,” she said flatly.

“Is it working?”

“No.”

His body slumped in despair, but then he thought of another tactic.

“Okay,” he said brightly. “I’ll stay. That way we’ll have more time to talk about your diagnosis together.”

They stared at each other like duellists – a true Slytherin-versus-Slytherin match-up.

“. . . because I’m sure I can come up with loads more questions . . .”

“Fine,” she snapped. “I’ll release you. You’re not on the verge of death, but we will need to discuss your new situation with the Headmistress.”

Draco nodded eagerly. He’d cross the McGonagall bridge when – and if – he came to it.

“Of course,” he said cheerfully. “Just firecall or Owl and I’ll be here in an instant. You know where to find me.”

He threw back his blankets and slid off the bed and onto the floor and then kept sliding right down onto his knees and then, to his horror, onto his side. He held his stomach as dry heaves racked his body. Suddenly, he was Levitated and plopped back in the bed.

“I certainly do,” Madam Pomfrey said, spelling the blankets back over him. “I most certainly do.”

He was crawling groggily down a long corridor toward a large door, but the door kept receding every time he got near to it. He could hear voices talking, whispering, even laughing now and then. And there was a smell – or rather several smells. Some were revolting and roiled his stomach, but there were a few that ranged from pleasant to . . . intoxicatingly wonderful.

Suddenly, he felt someone touch his hand. It was a tentative touch, but it was clearly deliberate and not just accidental. He was no longer crawling down a corridor. He was lying in a bed. Where was he? He didn’t feel uncomfortable, but he was sleepy and disoriented.

“Malfoy?”

Potter. He was in the hospital wing, and Potter was beside him. In fact, he was close beside him. It must be Potter who was holding his hand. His heart started beating just fast enough for him to start feeling alive again.

“Yeah?” he croaked.

“Are you alright?”

Classic Potter.

“What does it look like?”

“Er. Actually, it looks like you’re not doing so well.”

“Brilliant observation.”

He opened his eyes to find Potter looking at him intently and with earnest concern. He was sitting in the chair by Draco’s bedside.

“I thought you had flu,” he said. “When I came by before, that’s what you told me.”

Draco opened his mouth to tell him about the fucking crazy Veela nonsense, but then he changed his mind. After all, it was nonsense. He didn’t want people to know about it – ever, if he had his way, or at least as long as possible. Especially Potter. The thought of telling Potter he was a hormone-addled supernatural creature who apparently wanted to bond with him for life was not appealing.

“It’s still flu,” he said. “Just a really bad strain, I guess.”

“That sucks,” Potter said.

“Yeah, it does.”

Potter didn’t say anything more, but he also didn’t let go of Draco’s hand.

Unexpectedly the torches dimmed. It was obviously night time and probably rather late. Draco could hear the matrons spelling the curtains closed around the other occupied beds.

“Mr. Potter,” one of them came over and whispered to him. “It’s bedtime for the patients. I’m afraid I must ask you to leave.”

Potter looked at her and smiled sheepishly. “I’m sorry,” he whispered back, “but I’m going to exert my status as an eighth-year and stay a little longer.”

She frowned. “I don’t remember hearing that eighth-years had special privileges,” she whispered apologetically.

Then Potter did something totally un-Potter-like. He looked up into the matron’s eyes and lifted his fringe.

She stared at the scar for several seconds in awe. Perhaps she’d thought it was only a myth.

“Okay,” she whispered. “I’m sorry. Letting you stay a little longer with your friend is the least I can do in thanks for your sacrifice.”

She bowed a little bowed and spelled the curtains closed.

Draco looked at Potter’s face. He was blushing Gryffindor scarlet.

“I can’t believe I just did that,” he said. “I feel like a total prat.”

“That’s because you are a total prat,” Draco said, but he didn’t mean it. He couldn’t believe that Potter had done that – and just so Potter could stay with him for only a few more minutes!

“I can be,” Potter said. “As you know.”

Potter looked at him meaningfully, and Draco knew immediately that he was talking about the night of the party. He was touched, but he also wasn’t ready to forgive. Potter’s treatment of him had been pretty devastating, and he was still recovering from it.

Potter must’ve interpreted his silence correctly because he continued.

“I behaved inexcusably,” he said. “I’m so embarrassed, and I really am sorry. I fucked up.”

Draco nodded. “Yeah, you did,” he said.

Potter bit his lip, but he didn’t look away.

“Can we start over?” he asked. “When I said I’d fucked everything to shit that night, I wasn’t just talking about Ginny. I was talking about us, too. I didn’t want us to be enemies anymore.”

He squeezed Draco’s hand, and Draco swallowed a shallow little swallow that didn’t come close to drowning the sudden emotions that’d closed his throat. Some of those emotions must’ve displayed themselves because Potter took a deep shaky breath.

“May I . . .” he stammered. “May I . . . kiss you?”

His face was red and he couldn’t look Draco in the eyes, but his shyness made it one hundred percent clear that he’d meant exactly what he’d said.

There was no way in hell that Draco could say no.

“Okay,” he whispered very softly.

Potter rose from the chair and leaned over Draco’s bedside. He smelled like soap and – unsurprisingly – messy dorm room. He closed his eyes and pressed his lips against Draco’s. Draco let his own eyelids close.

The kiss was nothing more than mouths; no tongues were involved. But it was brilliant all the same. Potter’s lips were soft and pillowy and slightly chapped – so very Potter. After a couple of minutes, Draco reached up and cupped Potter’s head gently, holding him in the kiss and letting Potter know he wanted it to go on. Potter hummed very softly, and Draco felt the sound in his belly.

After awhile, Potter pulled away, but he didn’t go far. He looked into Draco’s eyes. His pupils were larger than the dim light explained.

“Can I touch you?” he asked, his voice quavering slightly.

Draco wanted to ask him if he was completely insane for thinking he had to ask, but he didn’t. Potter’s polite shyness was as arousing as their kiss had been.

“Please do,” Draco whispered.

Potter released a deep shaky breath and reached his hand under Draco’s bed clothes. It took a moment of searching among blankets and pyjamas, but at last Potter found his prick. Draco groaned softly and pressed his pelvis up into Potter’s hand. Potter began to rub and knead his cock, and then after a minute or two, he reached between Draco’s legs and fondled his balls.

“Oh my God,” Potter half-whispered, half-groaned. He cupped them reverently in his hand. Draco spread his legs encouragingly.

“Can we try again,” Potter asked. “I won’t be an arsehole this time, I promise.”

Draco eyes widened.

“You want to have sex?” he asked. “In the bloody hospital wing?”

Potter blushed that adorable scarlet blush again.

“Yeah,” he said. “I’ll be really quiet.”

Draco stifled a laugh.

“And I bet it won’t be hard to find some lube,” Potter said. “I’ll go find some now.”

Draco had to stifle and even louder laugh. “Eager, are we? I haven’t even said yes yet.”

Potter looked like he might die from some mysterious mixture of embarrassment and impeached Gryffindor honour. Draco took pity on him.

“Okay,” he said. “Go get some lube. Make sure it’s not medicated though, for God’s sake! Water-based only.”

Potter laughed quietly and slipped out through the curtains.

Draco couldn’t believe the wildly unexpected turn of events. He quickly pushed down his pyjama bottoms and kicked them off. His prick was hard and leaking, and his hole was already pulsing in anticipation. When Potter returned, he held out his hand, and Potter gave him the jar of lube he’d found. Draco read the label carefully, and then when he’d determined it was al lright, he opened it and scooped out a generous amount.

Potter groaned loudly when Draco reached between his legs and prepared his opening for Potter’s cock.

“Oh my God,” Draco half-whispered, half-laughed. “You’ve already broken Rule Number One of having sex in the hospital wing.”

“Opps,” Potter said and clamped his hand over his mouth.

Draco prepared himself as quickly as possible. He didn’t want to risk the possibility that Potter might come to his senses and realise they were insane to think this was a good idea. Meanwhile, Potter unbuckled his belt and opened his jeans. There was already a substantial wet spot on his pants where the head of his cock was. Draco closed his eyes for a second to thank whatever god it was that’d made this moment possible. Potter then put his hands on either side of his hips and pushed everything off – jeans and pants alike.

Draco stared at his cock. He’d only been able to glimpse it last time, but now he had the chance to really look at it. It was easily the most gorgeous cock he’d ever seen. Because Draco had dildos in every length and size that his body could possibly accommodate, he could assess the dimensions of Potter’s cock down to a fraction of an inch. It was at least eight inches long and six inches in girth.

Long and thick. Clearly he died and gone to heaven.

In addition to its size, it was the perfect combination of a dusky red shaft and a purplish head, and the foreskin was long enough to cover the entire head, but not so long that it looked like a poorly-fitted sock. And best of all? Best of all, the head was sufficiently larger than the shaft so that it had a gorgeous pronounced ridge that was designed by God to catch against the rim of Draco’s hole.

“C’mere,” he whispered, and Potter moved close enough that Draco could wrap his hand around his perfect cock. It throbbed so hard that Draco felt tears prickle at the corner of his eyes with the sheer need to have it inside him, buried to the balls. He propped himself on his elbow and placed his hand on Potter’s hip.

“Closer,” he murmured, and Potter complied.

Draco leaned forward far enough that he could touch the tip of Potter’s cock with his tongue and lick the fluid out of his slit. The muscles in Potter’s thighs and abdomen tightened, and he stepped closer, sliding his fingers into Draco’s hair. His precome tasted amazing, and Draco sucked the very tip of Potter’s cock into his mouth and sucked, drawing forth more of the pungent fluid. Potter grasped the base of his shaft and held his cock steady so that Draco could have his way with it. After a minute, though, he released Draco’s head and stepped back.

“I’m going to come if you keep that up,” he whispered.

“And I certainly don’t want that,” Draco said quite sincerely. “C’mere again.”

Potter looked at him sceptically, and Draco rolled his eyes.

“I’m not going to suck you off,” he said. “I want you to fuck me too badly. I’m just going to get you ready.”

He scooped another generous portion of lube from the jar and proceeded to cover Potter’s cock with it from head to balls. Potter’s cock throbbed again, even harder this time, and Draco abruptly stopped stroking it. Instead, he sat up and threw his blankets aside.

“Oh,” Potter gasped. Draco looked at him. Potter’s eyes were fixed on his cock.

“Touch it, and I’ll hex your hand off,” Draco said. “You have no idea how close to losing it I am right now.”

Potter laughed breathlessly. “I can relate,” he said.

“How do you want me?” Draco asked, and Potter looked at him with a questioning frown. “On my knees or my back,” Draco elaborated.

“On your back,” Potter answered without a pause. “I want to see your face.”

Draco blushed. “Okay,” he whispered. He lay down with his head on his pillow. “Get up here,” he said. “But be careful. This bed is a cheap piece of shit.”

Potter complied with his instructions, but the stupid bed creaked and swayed under his weight. Draco was about to suggest they move to the floor, when Potter whispered an unfamiliar spell, and the bed grew substantially sturdier.

“Nice,” he whispered, and Potter grinned at him.

“Never know when silly charms like that might come in handy,” he whispered.

Draco placed his hands under his knees and drew his thighs back against his chest. He was completely exposed now, and he could feel the coolness of the room’s air against his wet opening. He looked up at Potter’s face to make sure his efforts were welcome . . .

. . . and clearly they were.

Potter was staring right at his arsehole as though it was the centre of the known universe. Draco squeezed it shut and flexed it open again, watching Potter’s eyes roll so far back, they were white for an instant.

“I . . . I can’t,” he gasped. I’m gonna come too soon.”

“There’s a spell,” Draco said, “if you don’t mind me casting spells on your prick.”

“Cast it,” Potter said fiercely. “Quickly.”

Draco Summoned his wand from the bedside table, pointed it at Potter’s cock and whispered the words to the charm that would help him last at least for a couple of minutes – which Draco was sure would be enough for he, himself, to reach orgasm.

“Hurry up before it wears off,” he said, and Potter positioned himself so that he could place the head of his cock against Draco’s opening.

“Are you sure?” he asked breathlessly.

It was hands-down the stupidest question Draco had ever heard in his entire life.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” he whispered. “Very very sure. If you’re looked for unequivocal permission, you have it.”

Potter took a deep breath and dropped his eyes from Draco’s face back down to his arsehole. Slowly, he pushed the head of his cock inside Draco’s body. Draco closed his eyes while part of him fainted from sheer overwhelming bliss.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Potter murmured. “I thought I’d fucked up so badly I’d never be able to do this again.”

He thrust very shallowly – just enough to push the swollen head of his cock through Draco’s tight rim. Draco opened his eyes again at the intensity of the sensation, and he looked up at Potter’s face. Potter’s gaze was flicking back and forth between Draco’s eyes and his cock as it slid slowly deeper into Draco’s body. Draco was still tight enough that he felt it throb.

“Oh my God,” Potter moaned. “Oh my fucking God.”

At last his balls touched Draco’s. He was buried as deep as he could possible go.

“Does that feel good?” Potter asked in strangled-sounding voice. He looked into Draco’s eyes.

“You. Have. No. Idea how good that feels,” Draco whispered.

“It looks painful,” Potter whispered back.

“It is a tiny bit,” Draco replied, “but that’s part of what makes it so amazing.”

“I’ll have to try it someday,” Potter said, and a tear of sheer oh-my-God-ness actually squeezed from Draco’s eye and flowed down his temple and into his ear. He’d never fucked anyone before, and the thought of doing to Potter what Potter was doing to him now made his sanity slip to the point he seriously worried he might be losing it.

Thank God, Potter didn’t notice. He was too focused on watching his cock as he began to move his hips back and forth. Draco moaned as quietly as he could and reached for the jar of lube. He scooped out just enough to coat his own cock in a thin layer – he liked his wanking with a bit of friction. He watched as Potter’s gaze moved from his arsehole to his hand as it began pumping his cock. He froze abruptly, and Draco gave him a questioning look.

“I’m . . . I’m . . .” Potter said in a guttural whisper. “I don’t think I can hold on any longer – I’m sorry . . .”

“It’s okay,” Draco gasped. “Neither can I.”

It was as though he’d just given Potter permission to lose his mind. Potter began thrusting so hard that Draco’s head slammed against the head board.

“Oh my God,” Potter gasped. “I’m sorry . . .”

Draco told him to shut it and meant it quite sincerely.

Potter began fucking him as though fucking was on the verge of being outlawed. His thrusts were short, keeping him buried deeply. Draco watched him staring open-mouth at their joining and yanked his own cock so hard that it bordered on painful. But the slight remaining discomfort in his arse turned the slight pain of his wanking into something that defied human description. It was a symphony of sensation that flexed the muscles in his belly and thighs and even his toes with a delicious tension.

He was going to come, and it was going to blow his fucking mind to pieces.

“Don’t come until I do,” he gasped. “Please, Harry. I’m so close.”

Potter whimpered at the sound of his name and squeezed his eyes shut, but thank God he didn’t stop thrusting those short rooted thrusts that were driving Draco completely insane.

Draco could tell Potter was balancing on the absolute edge of endurance. A flush had spread from his throat down to the centre of his chest, and his nipples were hard and ever-so-slightly swollen. Draco could feel how tight his balls were as they brushed against his. He was so, so close, maybe even closer than Draco, himself, was. He tightened his grip on his cock and squeezed his hole as hard as he could . . .

And then he came.

He shouted. He knew he did. He couldn’t help it. He arched his back as his come was wrenched from his balls in spurt after spurt after spurt. He squeezed his eyes shut with a kind of pleasure that bordered on agony as his orgasm when on and on. He cried out again when Potter drew his cock almost all the way out and then shoved it back in, parting the contracting spasms in his channel. And then he heard Potter sob and felt his cock pulse and throb as he shot his own load deep up inside Draco’s arse. Just as he had the last time, his hips thrashed forward and back and then he froze, panting and groaning.

Draco’s whole body was shaking, and Potter’s was too. When their orgasms subsided, they clung to each other, still thrusting their hips to maintain the penetration and friction for as long as possible. Finally, Potter’s body convulsed with shudder after shudder, and he yanked his cock out of Draco’s body.

“Can’t . . .” he gasped. “Too much . . . I can’t take it . . .”

Draco wrapped his arms around him and pulled him close. It didn’t matter that Potter was no longer inside him; they were still fucking each other. Their bodies were still moving involuntarily, searching for relief. Draco’s hole was still flexing.

After Potter pulled out, Draco expected him to collapse into a stupor, but instead he reached between their bodies and slipped a finger into Draco’s opening, probing it deeply. He inadvertently pressed a finger against Draco’s prostate, and Draco’s whole body jerked. Potter searched around for it again and then started rubbing it. Draco sobbed and grabbed Potter’s wrist. He couldn’t decide if he wanted Potter to stop or rub harder. He was going to have to come again if Potter didn’t relent.

And he didn’t.

“Suck me,” Draco gasped. He grabbed his sheet and wiped the lube off his stiffening prick.

Potter moved so that he could both put Draco’s cock in his mouth and continue to finger him. As with his fucking, Potter’s technique was terrible, but it didn’t matter – in fact his evident inexperience made the whole thing even more arousing and intense. He moaned and slurped and sucked and pushed Draco to the edge of his capacity to endure all of the sensations.

“Put another finger in me,” Draco whispered urgently, and Potter did. He pushed them in as deep as he could and wriggled his fingertips. Draco’s knees flopped apart as though he’d lost control of his muscles, and he lifted his hips off the mattress as the quiet of the room filled with the wet sounds of being thoroughly fingered.

“I’m gonna come,” he said, not even bothering to whisper anymore. Anyone in the room who wasn’t unconscious could already hear them. “I’m . . . Oh God, please. Please! I need to so badly . . . so fucking badly. Put another finger in me . . .”

But Potter didn’t. Instead he pulled his mouth off Draco’s cock and withdrew the two fingers he had buried in Draco’s arse. Draco sobbed shamelessly, and was about to start begging when he felt the blunt head of Potter’s cock stretching him open.

“Is that big enough for you?” Potter groaned into Draco’s ear. “Does that fill you up?”

“Fuck, yes,” Draco whispered fiercely against his ear.

“I want to be the one,” Potter whispered back just as fiercely. “I want to be the one to satisfy you. Tell me, Malfoy!”

“You’re the one,” Draco moaned, rocking his whole body so as to meet Potter’s every thrust. “I want your cock in me – I want to make you come. I don’t want you to be able to live without this. I want you to need this constantly – I want you to ache for it. I want you to take me in front of everyone. I want the whole school to watch you fucking me as hard as you can. I want them to hear you moan my name as you empty yourself inside me . . .”

He stopped talking when Potter seized his cock and began pumping it in time with his thrusts.

“Tell me when you’re about to come,” he gasped. “I wanna come with you.”

“I’m about to come,” Draco said. “Right now, actually.”

He arched his back and twisted to the side in just the right way that Potter’s next thrust hurt, and that was that. The room receded. The whole world receded and the universe collapsed around his cock, squeezing it so tight that he could hardly thrust his hips anymore. Somewhere in the back of his consciousness, he heard a voice that was not Potter’s cry out an orgasm. He knew it wasn’t Potter’s voice because Potter was grunting with each inward thrust.

“I’m coming,” Draco gasped, surprised that he was still capable of speech. “Hurry up!”

Potter sobbed and tugged his cock free. Draco opened his eyes just as Potter started to spurt on Draco’s stomach. He squirmed toward Potter as quickly as he could in his post-orgasmic state and caught Potter’s last spurt on his throat. He’d wanted it in his face, but his throat was close enough. But then, intuiting what he wanted, Potter shifted forward just far enough that he could milk a few more drops of come from his cock onto Draco’s lips.

Then, before Draco had a chance to lick it up, Potter leaned down and licked it up for him.

* * * *

The Healer was smiling benignly. Draco disliked benign people – they were either duplicitous or mind-numbingly dull.

“Mr. Malfoy, I’m sorry,” the Healer said, “but I’m afraid I must ask you some personal questions.”

Draco glared at him. He’d anticipated personal questions and had already accepted the likelihood of utter humiliation, but that was when he’d thought the people who’d be present for the questioning would be the Healer and Madam Pomfrey. As it turned out, he’d been wrong.

“It’s okay, sweetheart,” his mother said. “No need to be bashful because the Headmistress and I are here.”

Really? No need to be “bashful,” huh? “Bashful,” for Merlin’s sake! A more apt word would be “mortified.”

“Mr. Malfoy, how many men have you had sexual relations with in the past six months?”

Draco combed furiously through his memory: a dozen immediately came to mind, but then there’d been the one-night-stands . . .

He squeezed his eyes shut as though being unable to see his mother and the Headmistress meant they weren’t actually there.

“Uhm, maybe twenty . . . well, I can’t remember exactly – somewhere between twenty and twenty-five, I guess.”

He’d expected a gasp from his mother, but the reality was infinitely worst.

“My God, Draco!” she cried. “I can’t believe I heard you correctly just now. Please please tell me I didn’t.”

Draco opened his eyes, but he couldn’t look at his mother’s face if his life depended on it. He wanted to die.

“There’s really no need to be alarmed, Mrs. Malfoy,” the Healer interjected. “Having a large number of sexual partners is quite common for someone with Veela blood.”

She stared at him. “I still don’t believe this Veela business,” she said. “No one in his family has ever married a Veela – I’m sorry to have to mention it in present company . . .” She glanced nervously at McGonagall. “But the Black and Malfoy families’ adherence to the ancient Blood Laws is – and always has been – absolute.”

“Marriage isn’t always the most reliable indicator of blood status,” the Healer said mildly. “What matters is pregnancy, not matrimony. It appears that some woman on either the Black or Malfoy had sexual intercourse with a Veela and became impregnated and then successfully convinced her pure-blood husband that the resulting offspring was his.”

Draco’s mother looked outraged. “I can assure you, sir, that such a thing would never happen in either family!”

The Healer shrugged apologetically. “Your son is evidence to the contrary,” he said.

His mother looked like she might cry, but it was clear nobody present was going to express their sympathies. In fact, the Headmistress’s expression had grown harder and harder as his mother had continued to talk.

The Healer turned back to Draco. “Did you feel a special connection to any of the men you had sexual relations with?” he asked.

Draco wiped away the sweat that was beading on his forehead. “What do you mean?” he asked in an almost inaudible voice. “Do you mean was I in love with any of them?”

“You could certainly think about it that way,” the Healer said. “Although technically speaking, a Veela’s attraction to his True Mate exceeds the notion of love that mere human beings understand.”

“He’s not even ‘human’ now?” his mother said. She Summoned a lace handkerchief from her purse and dabbed at her eyes.

“That was a poor choice of words,” the Healer acknowledged. “But it is important that Mr. Malfoy understand his unique status.” He turned back to Draco. “So back to my question: of the men that you have had sexual relations with, do you believe any of them is your True Mate?”

Yes, Draco wanted to say immediately. Of everyone he’d been with, his feelings for Potter were the strongest and most intense. But then he thought a bit longer. He’d never thought of his and Potter’s “thing” as love. In many ways it was far more complicated than love as Draco understood the emotion. If he wasn’t sure if he was, in fact, in love with Potter, then how could he honestly and unequivocally say he believed Potter was his “True Mate?”

“Uhm . . . I don’t know,” he said.

The Healer nodded. “Okay,” he said. “It sounds like you haven’t thought about it, which is not surprising – after all you didn’t even know you were a Veela until a few days ago.”

Exactly. He was glad that someone had finally articulated the bloody obvious.

“We’ll need to use other measurements then,” the Healer continued. “Let me ask you this: have you had sexual relations with anyone since you’ve been experiencing your weakness and nausea?”

Draco blushed hotly. “Yeah,” he murmured, praying that he wouldn’t have to say with whom he’d had sex. His mother was already traumatised enough.

“You don’t need to tell me a name,” the Healer said to Draco’s enormous relief. “But you need to tell me – and it’s very important that you answer me truthfully – have you experienced the symptoms of your ailment since having sexual intercourse with this person?”

Draco bit his lip. He didn’t know what the consequence of an answer either way might be, so he opted for telling the truth. After he and Potter had had sex, Potter had spent the night in Draco’s bed. Just before dawn, Draco had been very ill, and Potter had had to summon a bin and hold Draco’s hair back as he vomited. It’d been awful, and if he hadn’t seen Potter since, he’d have figured that it’d been too much for Potter to deal with. But he had seen Potter again – later that morning, in fact. The stupid prat even brought him flowers.

“Yeah,” Draco said. “He and I had sex three days ago . . .”

Madam Pomfrey gasped. “But you were here three days ago,” she exclaimed.

Draco blushed again, and felt more sweat prickle his scalp. “Uhm, yeah,” he mumbled. “Sorry.”

“Sorry??” Madam Pomfrey said in a voice so high and tight she actually squeaked.

The Healer patted her shoulder. “Please,” he said gently, “not now, Madam. I can only stay for an hour, and I need to finish my interview with Mr. Malfoy.”

Draco looked at her apologetically. He wished he could assure her that they’d been quiet and discreet, but even a Slytherin couldn’t tell such a blatant – and refutable – lie.

“I see,” the Healer said to Draco. “What that means is that the person you had sex with is not your True Mate. You’ll know your True Mate when you cease experiencing symptoms after having sex with him.”

Draco swallowed. He hadn’t expected such a confident conclusion. It was clear the Healer had no doubt that he did not have a “special connection” with Potter.

He felt something twist painfully in his chest.

“What I would suggest,” the Healer continued, “is that you continue to have sex with as many people as possible. You must find your mate soon, Mr. Malfoy. It’s imperative. In fact, I am very concerned that if you do not find your mate quickly, your condition will worsen . . .”

“What would happen if that was the case?” his mother asked. She took Draco’s hands in both of hers and held onto them tightly but gently like she used to when he was a child and had been frightened by a nightmare.

“Candidly,” the Healer said, “he could die.”

Everyone gasped, even the Headmistress. His mother burst into tears.

“What?!” Draco yelled. “What?? You’re fucking kidding me!”

The Healer looked at him sadly. “I’m sorry,” he said. “This is not a joke. It’s extremely serious. I’ve seen other Veelas die from not being able to find their True Mate in time. It’s a terrible heartbreaking tragedy.”

“But how am I going to be able to sleep with enough people when I’m here? I obviously need to leave school and fuck . . . I mean, have sex full time like a bloody job!”

McGonagall coughed. “That’s where I come in,” she said. “I think you should start with your fellow gay students, but if none of them is you True Mate, we will start bringing outside men to the castle. Obviously, you will be assigned a private room, and I will be sure your teachers are aware of your situation so you’ll be excused from having to do homework. Your time outside of class must be spent having sex.”

Draco stared at her in pure horror. “Do you absolutely have to inform my teachers?” he said. His mother wasn’t going to be the only one crying in a minute.

“I think it would be prudent,” the Headmistress said. “I will be very clear with them that no student can find out about your situation. I trust my faculty to keep the knowledge among themselves.”

Draco felt his chin wobble when he imagined Slughorn and Sprout whispering in the teacher’s common room about his new “career.”

“Please don’t concern yourself with the administrative details,” McGonagall said. “I will take care of them. You need to focus on finding your True Mate as soon as possible.”

“Indeed,” the Healer said. “Your symptoms will worsen over time, which of course will make having intercourse increasingly unpleasant. So you need to start right away. Within the next couple of days, if possible.”

“And how will he know?” his mother whispered.

“If he’s found his True Mate? He’ll know when his symptoms cease.” He turned again to Draco. “You said earlier that you’re feeling nauseous and faint all of the time, correct?” he asked.

Draco could only nod. In addition to faint and nauseous, he felt humiliated, heartsick and very afraid.

“You shall be having sex with one person a day,” the Healer said. “You will know if you stop feeling ill after having sex with your most recent partner.”

“My poor baby,” his mother wept.

“Other than the person you slept with since the symptoms appeared, have you slept with any other student?” the Healer asked. “I ask because I think it would be easiest for you if you start with him.”

Blaise. He’d need to start with Blaise.

“Okay,” Draco replied. He sighed and got out of his bed. Hopefully Blaise wouldn’t mind when his dick stayed limp and disinterested.

“Alright then,” the Healer said with a clap of his hands as though he was Madam Hooch signalling the start of a match. “Get to it, Mr. Malfoy.”

* * * *

Okay. All right. He had to admit it. There was no point in trying to deny it any longer, after all, wasn’t bravery supposed to be his defining characteristic?

He was in love with Malfoy. Perhaps even madly crazily wildly in love.

Harry lay in his bed, staring out the window at an autumn moon feeling hopelessly awake while around him his dorm mates snored and grumbled in their sleep, blissfully ignorant of his condition.

After they’d had their amazing sex (and poor Malfoy had got ill), he’d visited Malfoy twice a day for the next few days. They’d talked and kissed and talked and kissed some more. Harry hadn’t been able to get enough of either. They hadn’t had sex again, but they’d brought each other off with their hands and mouths a few times. The way he’d felt while stroking Malfoy’s hot hard cock had left him in absolutely no doubt of his sexuality. He hadn’t been able to get enough of it – touching it, looking at it, tasting it. He’d even imagined it inside him, moving slick and stiff like his prick had moved in Malfoy’s body. Later, after he’d returned to his dorm for the night, he’d got into bed, sealed his curtains closed, cast a Muffliato and fingered himself as deeply as he could. He’d never touched his arsehole before, and it was uncomfortable at first. But then he’d relaxed, and the sensation had taken over. He’d called out Malfoy’s (first) name when he came, feeling the rhythmic contractions of his channel squeeze his fingers. Afterwards he lay on his back sweating and shivering with ripples of pleasure that originated in his sore hole and radiated outward to the tips of his fingers and toes. He was left with no question at all as to why Malfoy loved to be fucked so much and so deeply. At the time of his orgasm, Harry couldn’t reach as far as he needed, and he’d whimpered his need, straining to satisfy it. He’d wanted Malfoy’s cock in him . . . he longed for it . . .

Oh God.

He needed to wank.

No, he didn’t. He needed to be with Malfoy. He didn’t want to get off alone. He wanted to hear Malfoy’s filthy whispered encouragements and come all over Malfoy’s hands, his chest, his face.

Harry groaned and got out of bed. He Summoned his Invisibility Cloak and left the room as quietly as he could.

Malfoy had still been in the hospital wing that noon when Harry had last visited him, and he was pretty sure Malfoy was still there. Rather than getting better, it seemed to Harry that Malfoy’s condition was worsening slowly but steadily. He tried to talk to Madam Pomfrey about Malfoy at dinnertime one evening, but she’d emphatically refused to disclose any details of Malfoy’s condition, stating that such information was private and confidential. Later, when he’d asked Malfoy if he’d received some kind of diagnosis, he’d insisted he hadn’t. Malfoy had rolled his eyes at Harry’s concern and told him to “stop being a girl.”

At last, he reached the hospital wing, but when he walked in, he found Malfoy’s bed empty.

He tried to convince himself this was a good thing because it meant Malfoy was getting better, but still it stung slightly. Why hadn’t Malfoy sent him an Owl? He knew Harry was worried about him . . .

He looked around for someone he could ask about Malfoy’s condition, and was thrilled when he saw the matron he’d shown his scar to. She’d answer his questions – the way she blushed when she caught sight of him assured him that she would. He walked over to her.

“Hi,” he said, trying to give her what he hoped was a disarming smile.

“Hi,” she answered bashfully.

“I’m very sorry to bother you but I was wondering if you might be able to help me,” he said.

She smiled back at him, and her eyes sparkled. “You’re not bothering me at all, Mr. Potter . . .”

“Harry,” he said. “Please call me Harry.”

She blushed even more than she had before.

“You’re not bothering me, Harry,” she said. “What can I help you with?”

“I was wondering about Draco Malfoy. Was he released?”

“Oh yes,” she said.

“So, he’s better then?”

“Well, I don’t know the details, but I did hear that he was being assigned a private bedroom – one of the bedrooms used by short-term visiting faculty. I think his will be the one whose door is between the statue of the satyr and the one-armed knight.”

Harry frowned. He wasn’t sure if this news was good or not. In many ways the thought of Malfoy with a private bedroom was very very appealing, but what if he’d been assigned a private room because whatever he has is contagious?

“Do you happen to know why he’s been given a private room?” he asked.

She gave him an apologetic look. “I have no idea,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

He smiled at her. “No reason to be sorry,” he said cheerfully. “You’ve been a great help – thank you.”

“Anytime, Harry,” she said and ducked her head shyly. “I hope I’ll see you again soon – opps! I mean in a good way, not because you’re sick or injured . . .”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I knew what you meant.”

Despite feeling guilty about having flirted to find out information that was probably confidential, he gave her a wink nonetheless and walked back out into the corridor.

He knew exactly where the room the matron was talking about was. He, Ron and Hermione had hidden behind the statute of the satyr on numerous occasions to evade Filch or Peeves. He slipped on his Cloak and went up the stairs. He’d reached the top step when he heard Malfoy’s voice.

“I haven’t had the chance to decorate it yet, so it’s pretty bare bones. There’s a bed though, of course, and it’s sufficiently comfortable – at least for our purposes.”

Our purposes? Despite being invisible, Harry pressed himself against the wall as he moved in the direction of the room and Malfoy’s voice.

“Good,” said some else with an intimate purr. “I’d hate to have to fuck you on a stone floor.”

Harry froze as his stomach lurched. He recognised the voice, but he couldn’t place it exactly, although the posh accent made Harry pretty sure he was a pure-blood Slytherin. He inched closer until he could see them . . .

Zabini.

Suddenly Harry recalled Zabini’s violent reaction to Harry’s ministrations to Malfoy during the match. Zabini had been jealous. He’d felt he should be in Harry’s place, holding onto Malfoy to prevent him from slipping off his broom.

Harry watched as Malfoy fumbled in his robe pocket for a key. Zabini moved behind him and put his arms around Malfoy’s waist and rested his chin on Malfoy’s shoulder. It was a gesture of ownership – of a right to touch Malfoy’s body and not just a need.

It was clear that this was not the first time they’d been together. This was not a first-time thing. It was a relationship.

Harry’s blood ran cold at the realisation, but his skin grew hot. Sweat formed on his upper lip and prickled on his scalp. He’d known jealousy before, of course – in fact, he suspected he was particularly prone to the emotion – but what he felt as Zabini ground his pelvis against Malfoy’s arse was worse than anything he’d ever felt before. He clenched his fists and forced himself to slow his pulse, to lengthen his short shallow breaths.

When Malfoy finally found his key, he turned it in the lock, and the door opened with a loud long creak. It was massive and required Malfoy to use both of his arms to widen it so that he and Zabini could slip inside.

Harry knew it was a bad idea. A very bad idea, but that certainty wasn’t enough to stop him from dashing forward and slipping into the room behind Zabini. He couldn’t help it. He knew that he was going to wait outside the door until one or both of them emerged, and for all he knew the wait could last all night. Eight hours of not knowing. It would’ve driven him mad . . .

. . . but then again watching Malfoy and Zabini could be infinitely worse.

“C’mere,” Zabini said in a gravelly voice. He grabbed Malfoy’s elbow and turned him around, and then they were kissing, and Zabini was cupping Malfoy’s face between his hands and moaning Malfoy’s name.

“Can’t believe I can do this again,” he said, pushing Malfoy’s robe off his shoulders. “Watching you the past few weeks and not being able to touch you . . . Merlin, I thought I was going to lose my mind.” He reached down and pulled up Malfoy’s shirt, and then he slid to his knees and kissed Malfoy’s stomach.

Harry swallowed as Malfoy slipped his fingers into Zabini’s hair.

“Gonna fuck you so hard,” Zabini growled against Malfoy’s skin.

Harry staggered backward until his back hit the wall. He leaned against it, willing his legs not to give out as Zabini opened Malfoy’s trousers.

He couldn’t take it. He just couldn’t. He’d thought not knowing would be worse than knowing, but he’d been wrong. This was infinitely worse. He watched Malfoy’s eyes close as Zabini started sucking his cock.

Harry swallowed again. He was on the verge of tears, and he hated it – hated that he was going to cry over Draco Malfoy of all people. God, what an idiot he’d been! What had made him think that Malfoy didn’t fuck other people? Was he really that naïve? Did he really believe that he, Harry, might be different? That he might have some kind of exclusive right to Draco’s affections because of their history? If so, then he’d been a naïve idiot. Every time he’d left Malfoy’s bedside, Malfoy must’ve laughed his arse off. Stupid Potty. God, he’d probably even told Zabini all about him and his amateurish love-making. Maybe even the rest of the Slytherins. They’d probably been in hysterics. Harry knew how good Malfoy was at telling stories. He’d probably had a field day with the sappiness Harry had displayed. He’d brought Malfoy flowers, for fuck sake! What an arse. What a pathetic arse.

Zabini stood and started undressing.

“I can’t wait to be inside you again,” he murmured against Malfoy’s neck, pushing his hands down the back of Malfoy’s trousers.

There was no way Harry was going to be able to bear watching them have sex. He was going to hex them both, and then he was going to get expelled, and then he’d never become an Auror, and Malfoy will have fucked up his life just like he’d always wanted to.

Harry couldn’t let that happen. He had to get out of there! But the fucking door was noisier than a Banshee in heat . . .

Then he remembered another one of the seemingly useless charms Hermione had taught him during their hunt for Horcruxes. For the vast majority of those seven months, they’d been bored out of their minds. Hermione had taken to teaching him and Ron every kind of charm imaginable. It’d helped take their minds of their impossible task, and there’d always been the possibility of fucking up in hilarious ways. It was better than sitting at the table listening to Potterwatch, stewing in their fears and doubts.

He whispered a non-squeaking charm against the door’s hinges, and then turned back to look at Malfoy and Zabini one last time. They were both naked now. Malfoy was standing with his back toward Harry, and Zabini was on his knees, spreading the cheeks of Malfoy’s arse open and then burying his face between them.

Harry took advantage of their obvious distraction, opened the door, slipped out and then slammed it closed behind him. He hoped it scared the shit out of them.

He’d been angry before, of course. His ability to fight came primarily from rage – rage over his parents’ death. Rage over Sirius’s death. Rage over Fred’s and Tonks’s and Remus’s deaths . . .

The rage he felt at watching Malfoy and Zabini together was comparable . . . it terrified him. It terrified him that he felt that much – that he’d fallen that hard and far.

He tore off his cloak and drew his wand. He was shaking all over. He had to do something. He couldn’t just go back to the Tower and get back into his bed. But this wasn’t like all of those other times. There was no enemy to fight. There were only his feelings or hurt and anger and humiliation.

He ran down every flight of stairs, leaping between them if they were close to docking just to feel the adrenaline race through his body from narrowly escaping a deadly fall. He’d been a fool. No, he’d been worse than a fool: he’d been a pathetic loser. Nothing more than a punch line for one of Malfoy’s jokes. An object of Slytherin scorn.

He’d shown his heart to the one person in the world he shouldn’t have. He’d made himself vulnerable. Weak. Contemptible.

It was raining, and the grass was slick under his feet as he sprinted the distance to the Lake, slipping and sliding and not giving a shit when he fell. In fact, the momentary shock and pain felt good. Cleansing. Freeing.

He’d hurt Ginny because of his feelings for Malfoy. Ron still wasn’t speaking to him. Hermione had had to struggle with herself to accept the whole stupid situation. He’d let down the people closest to him. He’d let down his guard.

When he reached the pebbly shore, he tore his clothes off. He felt dirty – literally and figuratively. His sweat stank. His hands and arms were covered with mud. And . . . and his face was streaked with fucking useless humiliating tears. When he was naked except for his pants, he dove into the Lake’s ink dark water and swam as far as he could. He’d never had lessons, and he was a terrible swimmer, but that didn’t stop him. He didn’t even give a shit about Squids or grindylows or merpeople. He just wanted to exhaust himself until the thought of Malfoy and Zabini and the knowledge of what they must be doing right at that exact moment was drowned in a sea of vast quiet.

At last, he had to stop. He looked around him. He had to be close to the middle of the Lake, which was no small feat given its size and his meagre skills. The rain was falling harder, pelting the water’s surface. He kicked his feet to stay afloat and ran his fingers through his wet hair. He was alone. Alone in the middle of an expanse of nothingness. It was frightening to him that it felt good – that it felt right. If he’d learned anything from the past few months, it was that he wasn’t destined to love and be loved like other people were. He’d been on his own, fending for himself for too long. Everyone had their crosses to bear, and solitude was his. He knew that now. And, if he was completely honest with himself, he always had. At least since that long ago night when loneliness carved its bloody name on his forehead.

* * * *

Draco rolled over onto his side and stared at the naked stone wall of his new room. Beside him, Blaise was snoring like a beached walrus in the sun. They’d fucked twice, and neither time had Draco come. He hadn’t even came close. How could he? He’d always thought of Potter when he came, but now he couldn’t. Not after he’d held the real flesh-and-blood Potter in his arms as Potter moved inside him and murmured silly sappy things into Draco’s ear.

What had happened to him? A week ago this very night, he was in his bed in a dorm room going over Quidditch plays in his mind, preparing himself for the morning’s match with Gryffindor. Now, seven days later, he was a stupid Veela lying in an uncomfortable bed in a cold silent room with his arse full of Blaise’s come, praying that he’d throw up because if he didn’t that meant Blaise was his True Fucking Mate.

What the fuck?!

He rolled onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. He felt as miserable and alone as he’d felt his sixth year. He hadn’t told Blaise about the barmy Veela shit because he hadn’t wanted to plant the seed in Blaise’s head that they were meant to be together forever and ever. It wasn’t that he didn’t care for Blaise because he did. They’d known each other since they were children, and they’d always had fun together. But Draco wasn’t in love with him, and he knew he’d never be. He’d let Blaise fuck him because he wanted to be fucked – not because he wanted to fuck Blaise. Hell, he’d have fucked almost anybody over the summer . . .

But everything was different now. Very different. Potter had always been a fantasy. He’d never imagined that fantasy could ever become reality. Shit, he hadn’t even known Potter was gay, let alone that Potter wanted him! But then he’d learned the truth, and everything had changed overnight. Suddenly, Potter was attainable! And it was obvious that Potter wanted him in return. Draco had faked ardour many times; he knew what it looked and sounded and felt like. Potter hadn’t been faking. Far from it. He’d given Draco everything of himself. He’d held nothing back. He’d fucked and sucked and kissed and caressed with every fibre of his being.

He’d blown Draco’s mind.

And now here he was. Just hours after last having kissed Potter’s mouth. Alone and despairing . . .

And feeling perfectly healthy and fine.

He covered his face with his hands and pictured every nauseating thing he could imagine. It had no effect. There was no denying it. He was feeling better than he’d felt in weeks. It was as though Blaise had fucked the weakness and sickness out of his body.

He squeezed his eyes shut against the sudden tears that filled them.

What was he going to say to Potter? How was he going to explain the whole fucking situation without having to talk about the absurd Veela thing? If he had his way, he’d never discuss it with anyone – not even his mother who knew about it already. He’d just bond with Blaise and be done with it. People wouldn’t bat an eyelash. They were both pure-bloods, both Slytherins, both the same age and social class, and they’d known each other for nearly a decade. It would make perfect sense to everyone . . .

. . . even to Potter. When Potter found out, he’d shut Draco out of his life so completely that Draco would be lucky if Potter even looked at him again, let alone talked to him. Draco knew him well enough to know that Potter would feel used – and probably even humiliated at having made himself so vulnerable. Potter had revealed so much to him during the past week: about his childhood, about being the object of the Dark Lord’s every maniacal thought. He’d told Draco about how happy he’d been during his first couple of years at Hogwarts; how much he loved flying and learning magic . . . he’d even told Draco about how the Weasleys had adopted him and become the family he’d ever known. There was simply no way Potter would’ve told him any of those things if he hadn’t fallen in love . . .

Oh God!

Draco sat up as though he’d been struck with a stinging jinx. The spell! The bloody Amor Everriculum !

Draco started shaking. He couldn’t help it. How could he have forgotten? He’d been given four months to make Potter fall in love with him, and he’d managed, by some unfathomable miracle, to accomplish that impossible task in one! If, indeed as he suspected, Potter had fallen in love with him, then he’d save Potter’s freedom and perhaps even his life! And in a mere quarter of the time that he’d been given!

But what would happen now? Now when Potter found out that Draco was going to bond with Blaise? Would he stay in love with Draco? Would Potter, of all people, allow himself to be tortured in such a way? Or would he do everything in his power to snuff out the feelings he’d developed?

The answer was obvious. Once Potter learned about Blaise, he’d move heaven and hell to crush any love he might feel. After all, he was Potter. Like the tattoo on his arm, he was a risen Phoenix. He’d defeated the greatest Dark wizard of all time, and he’d defeat his feelings for Draco. There was no doubt in Draco’s mind. And once he did? Well, then he’d fall under the fucking spell that Draco bore.

One way or another, Draco was going to be the death of him.

He lay back down, fighting the tears he felt rising from his chest to stopper his throat. He didn’t want Blaise to hear. He didn’t want to have to explain what was wrong, and he didn’t want to be comforted because he couldn’t be comforted. He’d lived an unattainable dream for a few days, and then it’d been snatched away.

He choked on a sob. He couldn’t help it. He was only eighteen, and his life was already coming to an end.

* * * *

“Harry! I’ve found him!”

He looked up from his book, saw Hermione’s flushed beaming face and felt his heart drop.

“By which you mean?” he asked, although he was pretty sure he already knew.

“Your date for the ball,” she gushed. “Oh Harry, you’ll adore him. He’s a sixth year, but he’s seventeen. He’s handsome, and he loves Quidditch, and he’s Muggle-born, so he’ll share your experiences of living in the Muggle world. And he’s so sweet. I adore him already. The Weasleys will love him.”

He stared at her. He didn’t even know where to begin or how to express his horror at her intervention in his love life – no matter how well intentioned.

“I already told you I’m not going to the stupid ball,” he said. “You’re going to need to accept that as a fact.”

He expected her to wander off dejectedly, but clearly she’d prepared herself for his intransigence. She sat down on the couch and pulled his Charms textbook out of his hands. He gawked at her; he never would’ve imagined that Hermione, of all people, would take his homework away from him to discuss something as trivial as a ball!

“This is our last school year,” she said. “This time last year, we weren’t even sure we’d live to experience it. Let yourself have a little bit of fun, Harry.”

“But a ball isn’t my idea of fun,” he said. “In fact it’s a form of torture – maybe not

Cruciatus but close.”

She rolled her eyes. “Sometimes you can be such a drama queen – actually both you and Ron are two of the biggest drama queens I know. Just ask him, Harry. His name is Robin. I’ve already prepared him for the likelihood that you will, and it was clear from his response that he’ll say yes in a heartbeat.”

“What?! You’ve already asked him for me?” he cried. “Hermione, that really is out of line!”

He crossed his arms and sank down into the couch’s amoeba-like cushions. Like every other piece of furniture in the common room, the couch had seen better days. If it’d ever had an ascertainable shape, it’d lost it a long time ago – which was fine with Harry. The deeper and mushier it was, the easier it was to disappear into like a red velvety bog.

“I didn’t actually ask him,” she said. “I only discerned that he’d be amenable to being asked. I didn’t want you to ask and be turned down. I was looking out for your feelings.”

“But now I have to ask him,” Harry moaned. “You’ve backed me into a corner.”

She gave him a little apologetic shrug. “Sorry,” she said cheerfully, and then, signalling that their conversation was over, she glanced down at his open book and gasped.

“You’re only on page ten?” she exclaimed. “Harry James Potter! Tonight’s assignment is pages 200 to 235!”

“Er,” he mumbled. “I’m a little behind.”

But then he brightened.

“I need to catch up,” he said. “I’ll do that on Saturday night!”

She glared at him. Saturday night was the ball.

“Fine,” she snapped. “I’ll let you borrow my notes.”

But Harry shook his head earnestly. “I couldn’t do that,” he said. “That’s cutting corners. With the N.E.W.T.s coming up, I should really read every page. Twice.”

She threw the book at his head, and only his Voldemort-quickened reflexes protected him from a concession. She was really serious about this stupid ball thing. He sighed. She’d been there for the past week, listening to him go over and over and over the Malfoy thing until she must’ve wanted to strangle him and tear out his tongue. He owed her.

“Okay,” he said dejectedly. “I’ll ask this Robin bloke to the ball.”

She actually clapped her hands in glee and hugged him.

“You’re going have fun,” she said, kissing him on the cheek. “Just you wait and see.”

Hermione was right in one aspect. Robin certainly was good looking. Maybe not stunningly gorgeous in a Malfoy kind of way, but certainly handsome with brown curly hair and rich chocolate brown eyes. And Hermione was right when she’d told him that Robin was happy to accept his invitation. He actually tugged Harry into his arms and kissed him deeply before Harry had even finished getting the words out.

“Er,” Harry said when Robin let him come up for air. “Uhm, I guess that’s a yes then?”

Robin kissed him again, whispering a husky confirmation against Harry’s mouth. And then he turned and walked away. Harry remained where he was gaping after Robin and recovering from the sexual tornado had just picked him up and dropped him on the ground with a hard-on and a spinning head.

Wow.

Then he heard a pointed cough and turned around.

Malfoy was standing near enough that he must’ve heard and seen everything. Harry moved his book bag as quickly as he could to conceal the evidence that he’d enjoyed it.

“Found your date for the ball?” Malfoy drawled. “How sweet.”

Harry stared at him. What the fuck?

He and Malfoy hadn’t spoken since Malfoy had been released from the hospital wing. After seeing him and Zabini together, Harry had avoided him like a rat infected with bubonic plague.

“Aren’t you going?” Harry drawled in return, which would’ve been more affective if he could actually drawl. “Are you and Zabini going to wear robes that your great, great, great, great grandfathers wore to their Autumn Balls in 1608?”

Harry had expected Malfoy to draw his wand and try to hex him, and Harry was ready for it. But he wasn’t ready for the stricken look that crossed Malfoy’s face for an instant before his face froze in its usual icy expression.

“How do you know I’m even going to the ball?” he said. “I might have better things to do than faff around with a lot of third and fourth years and listen to ghastly music.”

Harry wanted to agree with him wholeheartedly, but his days of treating Malfoy as a friend – let alone a boyfriend – we’re over.

“Like what?” he asked. “Let Zabini fuck you all night in your new digs?”

“What the hell do you know?” Malfoy said, his voice shaking with fury. “Nothing!”

Ironically, Harry wished it was true. He wished he did know nothing. That way maybe he’d be able to sleep instead of replaying what he’d seen that night in Malfoy’s room over and over and over again until he thought he might lose his mind.

“Nothing?” Harry shouted. “I know enough to know you’re nothing but a slut and that I should never have talked to you let alone anything more!”

This time Malfoy drew his wand, and Harry did too.

Aqua Eructo”! Malfoy shouted, and Harry only barely avoided being soaked to the skin with icy water and having the painstakingly written essays in his book bag turn into a soggy inky mess.

Speaking of ink . . .

Harry Summoned his bottle of ink from his bag and threw it up into the air, shouting “Waddiwasi!” but he was too upset to aim well, and the bottle missed Malfoy by a mile and smashed harmlessly against a wall.

Malfoy gave him a perfect Malfoy sneer and laughed nastily.

“Nice try, Chosen One,” he drawled.

Harry’s stomach twisted in a combination of rage and hurt. They’d talked about that – at length. About the prophecy, about Harry’s loathing of the name, about the unbearable pressure he’d felt – and still did . . .

Ventus!” he shouted, and this time he hit his target. Malfoy’s hair and robes flew back in a blast of dessert hot wind so strong that it hurtled him against the same wall the bottle of ink had shattered against. He dropped to his knees and curled himself into a ball to protect his eyes from the dust the wind kicked up.

Seeing Malfoy incapacitated – if only for a moment – was neither hilarious nor cathartic. It just made Harry feel sad and tired. They were right back where they’d started as though nothing had ever been different between them – if only for flicker of time.

Finite Incantatem!” Harry yelled, and the wind abruptly ceased. He picked up his book bag and started to walk away.

Aresto Momentum!” Malfoy shouted and before Harry could turn around again and give him bloody hell for casting a spell at his back, his legs slowed to the point where he almost couldn’t move them. He watched as Malfoy stalked toward him like an avenging Fury.

“Just so you know,” he spat, “I never felt anything except embarrassment for your sake. A piece of advice from one who knows: take lessons before you fuck what’s-his-face. You were a pathetic excuse for a lover. See you at the ball, Potter. Finite Incantatem.”

Harry actually clutched his shirt over his heart as Malfoy’s words struck their intended target like poisoned barbs. He gasped, but no words came out.

The sneer melted off Malfoy’s face and was replaced by a look of pure shame.

But then he spun on his heel and walked away so quickly it almost turned into a run.

* * * *

Draco took the stairs two at a time and then ran down the corridor to his stupid new room. He turned the key and pulled it open and then once he was inside, he kicked it shut has hard as he could.

Potter’s face just now.

He felt sick.

He hadn’t meant one fucking word. Not one.

He put his face in his hands.

How the fuck did Potter know about Blaise? Draco had been religious about keeping the Veela shit a secret, and no one knew that he and Blaise were more than friends. Draco had insisted on it despite Blaise’s pleas. How did Potter find out?

He’d intended to tell Potter himself, he really had. But then Potter had avoided him so completely there hadn’t been a chance.

He tried not to cry. If he’d been back in his dorm room surrounded by his House mates, he wouldn’t have, but he was alone – alone in a windowless room that felt more like a prison cell than a bedroom . . .

There was a knock on the door.

Blaise. Fuck. He was pretty much the last person Draco wanted to see.

“Go away!” he yelled. “I don’t feel like seeing anyone right now!”

“Draco Malfoy,” said a familiar voice. “You open the door this instant or risk my wrath.”

Pansy!

He quickly wiped his eyes on his shirt and ran to the door, pulling it open and grabbing Pansy’s arm to drag her in before anyone could see them. He threw his arms around her and held her close.

“Merlin!” she exclaimed. “What the hell is going on? Why have you been quarantined? What did you do now for heaven’s sake?”

But then she stopped talking and pushed him back so she could look up at his face.

“And why are you crying, Draco?” she asked gently. “What’s wrong?”

He swallowed. He should probably lie, but he didn’t have the heart to. He needed to talk to someone.

“Potter,” he said and wiped new tears from his eyes with the sleeve of his jumper.

Her expression turned dark. “What did he do to you?” she asked. “Do I need to track him down and hex his balls off?”

He shook his head and walked wearily back to his bed and sat down on the edge of the mattress.

“No,” he said. “If anyone’s balls should be hexed off, it’s probably mine.”

She sat down beside him and took his hand.

“Talk,” she said.

And he did.

He told her about everything. The night of the party. The match. The hospital wing. Their stupid duel. What he’d said . . .

“Ouch,” Pansy said. “That was harsh, Draco. Even for you, which is saying something.”

He could only look down at his lap and nod. The look on Potter’s face would be etched in his memory forever.

“It wasn’t true,” he said, his voice hoarse with tears. “I’ve never felt the way I feel about him before – for anyone ever. And certainly not Blaise. He and I are friends, but I don’t want to be more than that.”

“Well, then why the hell are you two boyfriends?” she asked incredulously. “You’re in love with Potter . . .”

His jerked his eyes away from their hands and looked at her face. “What?” he said indignantly. “I never said anything about being in love!”

She laughed and rolled her eyes as though he was a complete moron.

“Boys,” she said. “You wouldn’t know love if it was the Knight Bus and ran you over. Of course, you’re in love, you idiot! It’s so bloody obvious that the words ‘I’m madly head-over-heels in love with Harry Potter’ might as well be branded on that flawless forehead of yours.”

He bit his lip. Every response he could think of was easily refutable – even by him.

“Which makes it even harder for me to understand this thing with Blaise,” she said. “Why aren’t you with Potter? He clearly has feelings for you?”

Draco took a deep breath and steeled himself for his next words.

“Because I’m a Veela,” he said. “And Blaise is my One True Mate.”

When Pansy didn’t say anything for a very long time, he looked up at her and found her staring at him with her mouth hanging open.

At last she spoke.

“What?!” she practically shrieked. “That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard in my entire life!”

Thank you,” Draco said with great sincerity. “It is the stupidest thing, but apparently it’s true. The reason I was sick is that I was pining away for my True Mate. The Healer said I’d know when I found him because my symptoms would go away, and they went away after I slept with Blaise. So that’s the end of the story. Either I bond with Blaise or I waste away and eventually die.”

“Wow,” she breathed. “That sucks.”

He laughed humourlessly. “Yeah, it does,” he said. “A lot. And now Potter’s going to the ball with some prat who’s obviously only attracted to him because he’s Harry Potter, and I’m going to have to spend the whole fucking night watching him snog Potter’s face off.”

Pansy shook her head. “What a mess,” she said sounding as defeated as Draco felt, but then she brightened.

“There’s at least one thing we can do,” she said.

Draco looked at her. He could always count on her to come up with some kind of plan.

“What?” he asked.

“We are going to make you even more stunning than you already are,” she gushed. “Maybe you’ll have to spend the rest of your life with a man you’re not in love with, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the man you are in love with too.”

She grinned and rubbed her hands together like every wicked witch in every fairytale.

“Potter will take one look at you and forget what’s-his-name-

| even exists,” she said. “Trust me. But first things first. Change out of that snot-covered jumper.”

“It’s not ‘snot-covered,’” he said petulantly. “It’s tear stained.”

“Whatever. I don’t care about the details,” she said. “Just hurry up and change into something that isn’t soggy.”

She started Summoning the tools of her trade from her bag.

“Oh, by the way,” she said distractedly. “You and Blaise are invited to my and Daphne’s house for . . . Good heavens, Draco Malfoy!”

He started. “What?!” he exclaimed. He’d just pulled his jumper off. “Am I hideously scarred? Do I have boils on my back? What? Don’t spare my feelings, just tell me!”

“You’re getting fat!” Pansy gasped, pointing at his bare midriff. “Look for yourself!”

He looked down. Sure enough, he was looking a little . . . rounded. No wonder he was having trouble buttoning his favourite skin-tight pair of trousers.

He scowled. “I can’t imagine why,” he grumbled. “After all, I’ve spent three weeks barfing my brains out with the stupid flu.”

“I don’t know,” Pansy said with a “tsk tsk” of revulsion. “But you need to do something about that. You’re not going to be able to seduce Potter if you turn into Professor Slughorn.” She shrugged at his appalled gasp. “I’m just telling you the truth,” she said.

Bitch. If he didn’t love her, he’d have to throttle her.

* * * *

“Harry, someone’s at the portrait hole looking for you!” Neville yelled up the stairs.

Harry finished tying his tie and looked at himself closely in the mirror. He’d tried to make himself look as good as possible – he’d even cast a special Hair Taming Charm that Hermione had taught him – but nothing had really worked. He looked like shit. His face was pale, and his eyes were dead. He smiled at the mirror, hoping that would make a difference.

It didn’t.

“Coming!” he yelled.

How was he going to get through this night? He’d rather be hunting Horcruxes again than going to this stupid ball and watching Draco snog Zabini. And the thought of doing some snogging himself was totally unappealing. He didn’t even feel like being touched. He was a crappy lover anyway. Why bother? Why make a fool of himself again when he wasn’t even attracted enough to Robin to make the embarrassment worthwhile?

He descended the stairs as though he was walking to his execution. When he reached the common room, he saw Robin, Hermione and Ron, of all people, chatting and laughing together.

“Hiya, Harry!” Ron called as though he hadn’t been giving Harry the silent treatment for a month. “Ready to head down to the Great Hall?”

Harry nodded and gave Robin a weak smile.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi,” Robin replied in a smoky voice. He grabbed Harry and snogged him as though they weren’t surrounded by Harry’s friends and House mates. When Robin finally released him, everyone applauded.

It was humiliating, and Harry blushed, which everyone proceeded to tell him was adorable.

Adorable.

As they were walking through the portrait hole, he grabbed Hermione’s arm and pulled her off to the side.

“I don’t want to do this,” he hissed. “I hate this. I want to stay here.”

She looked at him sadly. “I don’t know why you’re treating what should be a fun evening like an encounter with a Basilisk.”

“I don’t even really like the bloke I’m going with,” he said. “He treats me like a girl. I don’t want to have the door held for me or have help putting on my jacket. It’s silly, and it makes me feel like an idiot.”

“Have you considered that he treats you that way because he cares for you?” she asked.

“Cares for me? Hermione, he doesn’t even know me. I just met him for the first time three days ago.”

She put her hands on her hips and fixed him with an impatient expression. “And I supposed you think Malfoy knows you . . .” she said.

“He does!” Harry interrupted her. “In some ways Malfoy knows me better than anyone.”

He realised the import of his words when she saw her shocked expression.

“I’m not talking about you and Ron,” he added quickly. “But . . . but I might’ve been if he hadn’t dumped me on my arse.”

“But he did,” Hermione said flatly. “Harry, Malfoy doesn’t deserve you. Stop pining away for someone who’s not worthy to hold your hand let alone anything more. Now, come on. Ron and Robin will be wondering where we are.”

Harry followed her slowly with slumped shoulders and his eyes on the floor. He didn’t look up again until he reached the doors to the Great Hall.

“Let’s make our grand entrance, shall we, Harry?” Robin said. He placed his hand on Harry’s lower back and ushered him over the threshold as though he was a movie star and Harry his starlet. Harry looked back over his shoulder at Hermione and was grimly pleased that she at least had the decency to wince.

“I told you,” he mouthed at her.

Then suddenly a hundred cameras flashed in his face. Harry cringed away from them and tried to cover his face, but Robin beamed, tugged Harry closer and kissed his cheek.

“Er . . .” he heard Hermione say. “This isn’t good.”

“Did you call the press?” he asked Robin incredulously.

Robin looked at Harry like he was barmy. “Of course,” he said as though summoning the press to a school ball was the most normal thing in the world. “Don’t you think the public would like to meet your new boyfriend?”

Harry had no words. He could only gape. Someone shoved a camera right in his face, and the flashbulb popped, blinding him for a moment.

“Harry Potter! Why have you withheld from your fans the fact that you’re gay?”

“Harry Potter! Do you think Professor Dumbledore would have advised you to remain in the closet as he’d done?”

“Harry Potter! The public thought you loved Ginerva Weasley, but were you really pining for Ronald?”

Harry looked at Ron. Ron looked at Harry. They both looked at the reporter, their faces mirrors of each other’s horror.

“Oh Harry!” Hermione cried. “I’m so sorry! I had no idea . . .”

But he didn’t want to hear it. He just wanted to get the hell out of there as quickly as humanly possible. He pried himself free of Robin’s covetous grasp, bolted for the doors . . .

And ran smack into Malfoy and Zabini.

“Hey! Watch it, Potter!” Zabini yelled. He pushed Harry backwards, and Harry, still blinded from the cameras, staggered for a second before he bumped up against a pillar. Then he turned his face from Zabini’s sneering expression to Malfoy’s face and gasped.

Malfoy was . . . . Harry had never been very good with words, but a few instantly came to mind like “breathtaking” and “eye-poppingly gorgeous” for instance.

He gulped like the bumbling fool that he was.

“Malfoy,” he stammered.

“Potter,” Malfoy said with a formal little nod. “Leaving the ball so soon?”

Harry swallowed and wiped his sweaty palms on his jacket.

“Er, yeah, actually,” he babbled. “Uhm, right, I . . . I’ll just be going . . . Reporters . . .”

He pushed past Malfoy and Zabini and ran to the stairs. He had to get away from everybody. He tore his stupid tie off as he ran and threw it over the banister. His jacket followed close behind.

“Harry!” Robin yelled. “Where are you going? Get back here! Rita Skeeter wants an interview!”

Harry heard footsteps on the stairs behind him followed closely by a shouted leg-locking jinx. He didn’t turn around, but he heard a body start rolling back down the stairs.

“Potter!” Malfoy called, his voice breathless.

“Draco!” Zabini yelled. “Where are you going? Just get out of the way, and I’ll hex him!”

Harry felt someone grab his arm and sure it was Robin, he was ready to shove him away.

But it wasn’t Robin. It was Malfoy. He must’ve been the one to shout the jinx and incapacitate Harry’s date.

Malfoy tightened his hand on Harry’s arm and dragged him out of the way as a spell struck the stairs right next to him.

“For God’s sake! Put away your wand, Blaise!” Malfoy yelled. “Do you really want to injure Harry Potter in front of a dozen reporters?!”

“But where are you going?” Zabini cried.

“I’ll . . . I’ll be down . . . in a . . . minute,” Malfoy panted. “Go in . . . without me. I’ll . . . join you later!”

He yanked Harry’s arm and they turned a sharp corner and began running down a corridor that Harry knew well – very well.

“In here,” Malfoy whispered and shoved him through a door between the statues of the satyr and the one-armed knight. Then he slammed it shut behind them, and everything went still and quiet.

“Welcome to my private abode,” Malfoy said. He put his hands on his knees and bent over, breathing hard. Harder than he should.

“Malfoy?” Harry asked cautiously. “Are you okay?”

“Gotta lie down for a minute,” Malfoy mumbled as he staggered to the bed and flopped down on the mattress. Eventually he rolled onto his back and threw an arm over his eyes. Not knowing what else to do, Harry sat down beside him. Malfoy had gone from stunning to pale – well, he was still stunning . . . but he was also too pale.

Harry took his hand. He may be furious at Malfoy, but that didn’t mean he liked seeing Malfoy so obviously unwell.

“Should I get Madam Pomfrey?” he asked. But Malfoy shook his head vehemently.

“No, it’s alright,” he gasped. “I’m just a little winded. I’ll be fine in a minute.”

Harry felt stupid, but he kept holding Malfoy’s hand and looked around. Far from a shag palace, Malfoy’s private room was gloomy and dark. There were even cobwebs in the corners.

“This place could use some work,” he said, and Malfoy laughed weakly.

“You’re telling me,” he said. “I hate this place. I used to dream of having private quarters, but all I want is to be back in the dorm . . .”

Suddenly, he cried out and convulsed in obvious pain before curling in a ball around his stomach. Harry leapt up.

“All right,” he said, “you don’t have a choice. I’m getting Madam Pomfrey!”

Malfoy released an agonised groan. “Please don’t,” he wheezed. “Oh God! Fuck!” He scrabbled at his blankets and then seized them in a white-knuckled fist.

Harry had seen more than enough.

Expecto Patronum!” he shouted, and his stag bounded from the tip of his wand.

“Madam Pomfrey! Hospital wing! Quickly!” he said urgently, and the stag disappeared through the door.

Malfoy writhed for a moment as though he was being Crucioed and then curled into a ball again, even tighter than before.

“Do you think you were cursed?” Harry asked, his voice frantic. “I didn’t hear anything, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen . . .”

“Don’t . . . think . . . so,” Malfoy whimpered. “Oh, my stomach!”

Harry had no idea what to do or how to comfort him. All he could think to do was lie down beside him, curl around his back and hold him gently but close. He buried his face in Malfoy’s hair and kissed the back of his neck.

“I’m so sorry,” Malfoy gasped. “I’m so sorry, Harry.”

“Ssshhh,” Harry said, thrilling to the sound of his name in Malfoy’s voice even through his fear and concern. He kissed Malfoy’s neck again.

“I . . . I didn’t . . . mean it,” Malfoy panted. “Not a fucking word of it . . . I’m . . . I’m in love with you . . . Oh, fuck this hurts!”

“It’s okay,” Harry said as soothingly as he could. “You’re going to be okay. I’m not going anywhere.”

Suddenly there was a knock at the door, and Harry jumped up to answer it. Madam Pomfrey pushed past him and bustled toward Malfoy’s bed.

“Good heavens!” she cried. “Mr. Malfoy, what is wrong? I thought we got everything sorted.”

“Well, obviously not,” Malfoy snapped, and Harry hid a smile behind his hand. What a prat.

Madam Pomfrey began rooting around in her bag, pulling out bottles and bandages and flinging them aside as she continued searching. At last, she drew forth something that looked like salad tongs.

“Basic diagnostic tool,” she said when she saw Harry’s concerned look. “Not very sophisticated, I’m afraid, but we . . .”

Malfoy groaned again in agony.

“How long will it take?” Harry cried. “Can’t you give him something for the pain first? Isn’t there some kind of potion . . . ?”

“I don’t know what’s wrong with him, Mr. Potter,” she snapped. “I don’t just go pouring potions down students’ throats willy-nilly . . .”

But Harry couldn’t take it any longer. He drew his wand and pointed it at Malfoy.

Stupefy,” he said, and Malfoy instantly went quiet and still.

Madam Pomfrey stared at him in horror. “You just cast a spell on an unarmed opponent!” she cried.

“He’s not an ‘opponent,’” Harry snarled. “He’s . . . he’s . . . well, I don’t know what he is exactly, but he’s certainly not my opponent. Just help him, okay?” he added frantically.

She didn’t look at all happy with the situation, but she turned back to Malfoy and started murmuring spells as she waved the salad tong-thingie above Malfoy’s body.

“I’m afraid this is going to take awhile,” she said. “Perhaps you’d like to go back to the ball . . .”

Harry shook his head vehemently. He had no intention of leaving Malfoy, especially to return to the stupid ball. Instead he slumped into a cranky looking armchair, which, as he’d expected, grumbled obscenities when it felt his weight. He tilted his head back and closed his eyes. He hadn’t been sleeping well, and the evening’s turn of events had exhausted him . . .

. . . and then he recalled Malfoy’s words . . .

Malfoy had said he was in love with him!

Harry’s breath caught in his chest, and he found himself grinning up at the ceiling like a certified lunatic.

Suddenly Madam Pomfrey gasped with shock and leapt up from the bed. Harry leapt up too, his heart pounding.

“What?” he demanded. “What’s wrong with him? Tell me now!”

But she didn’t even seem aware of his presence. “It can’t be,” she muttered. “There’s simply no way. This hasn’t happened in a hundred years – maybe even longer. This thing must be broken . . . I must’ve said the wrong spell.” She smacked the salad tongs against her palm in the same way Uncle Vernon used to smack the telly when it wasn’t working right.

She began waving her instrument again and intoning a spell that she repeated over and over.

Harry was going to shake her if she didn’t say something soon.

“You have to tell me,” he pleaded. “Is he going to be okay? Should we contact St. Mungo’s?”

She still didn’t look at him. Her face was slack with astonishment.

“WHAT IS IT?!” Harry shouted, and she jumped as though she’d just remembered she wasn’t alone. She turned to him slowly. She looked dazed.

“Pregnant,” she murmured. “He’s pregnant.”

Harry shook his head. There was something wrong with his ears. He thought he’d heard her say that Malfoy was pregnant.

“I’m sorry,” he said calmly. “Can you repeat that?”

She turned stunned eyes to his.

“He’s pregnant,” she said. “Six weeks or so.”

Harry burst out laughing and collapsed back into the chair, ignoring its protestations.

“I’m sorry,” he gasped after a minute. “But that is the most absurd thing I have ever heard in my life. There must be something really wrong with your salad tongs.”

“My what?” she said vaguely, staring at Malfoy’s midsection.

“Your instrument-thingie,” Harry said. “Because Malfoy isn’t pregnant. Last I knew he was a wizard, not a witch, and wizards can’t get pregnant.”

She turned to look at him. Her expression had changed. It was no longer shocked. It was ecstatic.

“That’s not true,” she exclaimed. “It can happen, but it’s extremely rare. This is a miracle! I can’t believe we missed it! He’s not a Veela after all!”

Harry boggled at her. Male pregnancies and now Veelas? “What on earth are you talking about?” he croaked. It was high time he pinched himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.

She waved her hand at him impatiently. “Nothing,” she said. “Misdiagnosis is all. Nothing to concern yourself about . . .! I need to contact the head midwife at St. Mungo’s and let her know . . .”

She kept talking, but Harry’s brain had come to a screeching halt when she’d said the words “clinic” and “St. Mungo’s” . . .

Oh. My. God.

The restricted potion he’d taken for his impotency back when he and Ginny had been together! The Healer had said something about his sperm – that something had happened to them but he didn’t know what.

“It’s mine,” he murmured feeling just as dazed as she’d looked. “The baby’s mine.”

He shook his head, trying to clear it. Malfoy was going to kill him when he woke up! There’d be nothing left of Harry for his friends to identify . . . except maybe his teeth. He’d heard on a Muggle crime show that bodies could be identified through dental records . . . Hermione would know more seeing her parents were dentists . . .

“We need to get him to St. Mungo’s,” she said. “As quickly as possible. Something’s happening with the pregnancy – we could lose the baby . . . we could even lose him!”

Harry immediately snapped out of his own thoughts.

“Then what the hell are we waiting for?” he demanded. “Where’s the nearest Floo?”

“Hospital wing,” she said, standing up and spelling her things back into her bag so quickly that he was pretty sure he heard a few of the bottles break. “Levitate him and follow me!”

* * * *

Draco looked at her. What had he done to her in a former life to deserve this treatment? Because clearly it was a personal vendetta. No one would do this to another person without some kind of serious provocation.

“Whatever it was, I’m sorry,” he said earnestly.

Madam Pomfrey frowned at him. “Sorry?” she asked. “What on earth are you sorry for?”

He shook his head. “I’m not sure,” he said. “You tell me. Obviously I’ve done you a serious wrong, and I’d like to have an opportunity to apologise for whatever it was.”

“Mr. Malfoy,” she said. “You’re rambling. It may be the effects of the potions. I’ll get the midwife . . .”

Draco grabbed her arm, and she looked back down at him.

“First I was a Veela,” he said. “And now I’m pregnant. Clearly you hate me.”

Finally understanding the import of his questions, Madam Pomfrey actually threw back her head and laughed like a schoolgirl.

“Of course I don’t hate you!” she said. “If anyone should hate anyone – which, of course, I would discourage – you and your mother should hate me. I will never be able to apologise enough for the whole Veela thing. I had no idea the Healer had ‘studied’ with ‘Professor’ Lockhart.”

Her finger-quotes left no doubt as to what she taught of poor Gilderoy.

“It’s okay,” he said calmly and with what he hoped translated into equanimity. “I forgive you for the whole Veela business. I didn’t end up bonding with anyone for life, so no harm done. But, Madam, this pregnancy nonsense is a different matter entirely.”

“Oh, it’s not nonsense,” she said. “It’s very much a fact. You will be having a baby right around the same time school finishes. The nausea and fatigue you were feeling were simply the result of changes in your hormone levels.”

He turned to his mother, looking for some back-up, but he was quickly disabused of any such hope. She was beaming, and there were tears of joy in her eyes.

“Is the midwife absolutely one hundred percent sure?” she asked. “Because I couldn’t bear it if they later discover there’d been another mistake.”

“Shall I provide you with incontrovertible proof?” Madam Pomfrey asked, barely suppressing her own obvious baby-lust. “Mr. Malfoy, please lift your shirt.”

Draco grumbled about it, but he did what he was instructed before his mother could assault him and tear off his clothes. Madam Pomfrey waved her wand over his abdomen and suddenly a piece of parchment the size of a cocktail napkin sprouted from the tip like a leaf from a stem. She pulled it off and handed it to his mother.

“Oh my!” she gasped and covered her mouth as her eyes filled with tears again. “Do we know if it’s a boy or a girl yet? I so hope it will be a baby girl . . .”

“It’s a little too early to be able to detect the gender yet,” Madam Pomfrey saidBut at least we know that the baby is healthy and doing fine. Your son gave us quite a scare! I thought the father was going to have a heart attack . . .”

“The father?!” Draco cried. “What? I’m the father!”

His mother and Madam Pomfrey looked at each other and burst out laughing.

“Darling,” his mother said, barely concealing her amusement. “You’re an extraordinarily powerful wizard, but even you cannot induce Immaculate Conception. Another man helped create this lovely little creature.” She showed him the parchment, and his breath caught in his chest. It looked like nothing more than a tiny tadpole, but it was there. It existed. He wasn’t imagining it.

He turned to Madam Pomfrey and forced her to look in his eyes.

“Who is this ‘father’ who almost had a heart attack?” he asked.

Both Madam Pomfrey and his mother went from excited to alarmed in an instant.

“You don’t know, sweetie?” his mother asked.

He rolled his eyes. “Mother,” he said. “You were there for the stupid Veela conversation. I’ve had sex with at least two dozen men in the past four months.”

“Oh my,” Madam Pomfrey said. She looked thoroughly dismayed. “I’m terribly sorry. I thought for sure you already knew that Mr. Potter is the father.”

Draco sat up, but then clutched his stomach, and Madam Pomfrey and his mother forced him to lie back again.

“Potter??” Draco exclaimed. “Potter’s the father? Are you sure, or is this just another one of Potter’s delusions of grandeur . . . ?”

He heard a laugh, and the three of them turned to watch as Potter walked into the room.

“Delusions of grandeur?” he asked, looking at Draco with a raised eyebrow.

Draco crossed his arms on his chest and glared at him. “So, you’re the one who did this,” he said darkly. He’d expected Potter to look sheepish, but he didn’t – far from it actually.

“Yup,” he said proudly. “The midwife could narrow down the date and time of the conception to a single hour, and it just so happens that during the hour in question, Gryffindor was hosting the party of the century.”

Draco stared at him. “You made me pregnant on the same night you were a complete arsehole to me?”

Now Potter finally looked sheepish. He looked down at his horrible orange trainers with the holes in the toes.

“Er, yeah. It looks like it,” he mumbled, his face red. “I’m so sorry, Draco.”

Draco blinked at Potter’s use of his first name.

“Please forgive me,” Potter said. “I don’t want our baby to think he or she wasn’t conceived in love . . .”

“But he or she wasn’t conceived in love!” Draco yelled at him. “You couldn’t even look at me afterward!”

Instead of skulking or storming out as Draco had expected, Potter approached him, took his hand and knelt on the floor right there beside Draco’s hospital bed.

“I was an idiot,” he said. “And it’s not true that I didn’t love you. I did and I have for a long time, Draco. I just didn’t know it. But what happened that night would never have happened if I didn’t care for you. I may have been an arsehole, but I’m not so much of an arsehole that I would ever sleep with someone I didn’t care about.”

Potter pressed Draco’s hand against his lips.

“I know this is a lot of very difficult and rather insane information to absorb all at once,” Potter said. “But I want you to know that I’m going to be here for you and the baby. Even if you tell me to fuck off – er, excuse my language,” he said to Madam Pomfrey and Draco’s mother. “Even if you tell me to bugger off, I’m not going to just disappear. You’re stuck with me, Malfoy.”

Maybe it was stress, maybe it was bloody hormones, but Draco felt his eyes fill with tears, and he had to look away for a moment from Potter’s intense gaze. But then Potter squeezed his hand – hard, and Draco turned to look at him again.

“I mean it,” Potter – Harry – whispered. “Marry me you silly stubborn pregnant prat.”

An epilogue of sorts . . .

“What on earth is this?

Harry turned around to see Draco holding up a flimsy greenish garment between his thumb and middle finger as though it was contaminated.

It wasn’t the first time that morning that Draco had regarded a possession of Harry’s with horror and/or disdain. They were unpacking their trunks in their new private room – one that actually had a window, no cobwebs and an agreeable chair.

Harry squinted at the garment in question, and then he began to laugh so hard he couldn’t breathe.

“It’s a hospital gown,” he wheezed. “I was wearing it when the Healer told me I had Super Sperm.”

“So it’s a memento?” Draco asked.

“Er, you could call it that, I guess,” Harry said. “Hey, you should try it on,” he added, trying to sound off-the-cuff and failing completely.

Draco looked at it. “It looks like it ties in the back,” he said suspiciously.

Harry nodded innocently. “It’s nice and breezy; I think you’ll like it.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “It’s a wank prop,” he said. “Admit it, Potter. You’ve been fantasying about me walking around in a flimsy arse-less hospital gown. Isn’t that a bit perverted?”

Harry tried – and failed – to look shocked and appalled.

“Well, I’m offended,” Draco said. Unlike Harry, he could convincingly fake umbrage.

Harry’s face fell. “Really?” he asked.

“Really.”

Harry looked at the floor like a child who’s been caught stealing sweets.

“There’s only one way to make it up to me,” Draco said sternly, and Harry looked up at him again hopefully.

“How?” he asked.

Draco held the gown up with both hands as though it was a robe he intended to help Harry put on.

“Strip, Potter,” he said.

Harry blushed. “You want me to wear it?” he asked. “But I look ridiculous in it!”

“And I wouldn’t?” Draco drawled. “Come on – make a bloated wizard happy.”

Harry grumbled as he pulled off his jumper and kicked off his jeans. When he was naked, Draco helped him into the gown and tied the ties – one at the neck and one in the middle of Harry’s back.

“Burrr,” Harry groused. Draco ignored him.

“Bed,” he ordered. “On your knees.”

Harry continued to grumble, but Draco didn’t take him seriously. Harry’s cock was tenting the front of the gown and already staining it with precome. He did what he was told and crawled onto the mattress, arched his back, and stuck his arse in the air.

Merlin!

Draco didn’t even bother removing his clothes the traditional way. Instead he Summoned his wand and Banished them into a heap in the corner of the room. Harry was half clothed, but he’d never looked so bare . . . so vulnerable. Draco climbed onto the bed and rubbed the head of his cock against Harry’s opening, smearing it with his own fluid.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?”

Draco slapped Harry’s bare arse. Every time he’d said he wanted to try topping, Harry had balked because of the pregnancy.

“If you ask me that one more time,” he said, “I’m going to tell Weasley all the horrible things you said about him while the two of you weren’t talking.”

“What things?” Harry said in an outraged tone. “I never said anything about Ron!”

Even though Harry couldn’t see him given his present position, Draco yawned and examined his nails with a fake boredom that he’d lovingly cultivated over the years of living with his House mates.

“Whatever you say, Potter,” he said. “But don’t worry. I’m sure Weasley will understand . . .”

“All I’m saying,” Harry said exasperatedly, “is that I’m not sure you should be doing this in your condition.”

“‘My condition,’ you say? And whose fault do you think ‘my condition’ is?”

“Er,” Potter said. “Mine?”

“Precisely,” Draco said. “So I think that at the very least, I deserve a New Year’s Eve gift of my choosing. So, spread your legs and shut it.”

“Well,” Harry said, “seeing as you put it that way.” He dropped to his forearms, spread his legs and arched his gorgeous back to raise his arse even higher.

Draco groaned at the sight. Harry had been begging Draco to fuck him, but Draco had wanted to reserve it for a very special occasion. And this was the most special he could imagine. Just that morning, he’d returned to the basement whose stairs he been thrown down so unceremoniously just four months ago. The man with the mohawk and the Glasgow grin was there to meet him.

So, the man had said. Have you come here to beg me not to follow through on my plan? Because if you have, then save your breath. I’ve been waiting since September for this very moment – the moment of your ultimate failure and my ultimate victory. Don’t try to save Harry Potter. He’s mine now to do with as I please.

Draco had given him one of his most ire-inducing sneers.

I’m sorry you’ve been waiting, he drawled. Please pardon my bad manners. I should have contacted you on September first and spared you all the suspense.

The man had rolled his eyes. I find this exchange tedious, he’d said. You’re nothing to me, Malfoy. You never have been. I used you like a tool, and now I’m going to throw you aside.

The man had drawn his wand and was greeted by a famous voice shouting his famous spell.

Expelliarmus!” Harry had cried, and the man’s wand had leapt from his hand and into Harry’s as Harry had stepped out of the shadows.

But the man hadn’t been chagrined. Ah, how convenient, he’d said gleefully. Now I don’t have to track you down, Mr. Potter. How thoughtful that you came to me of your free accord.

It’s interesting, Harry had said, idly twirling the man’s wand, that you’re simply assuming that Draco failed. He’d walked over to Draco and stood behind him. He’d put his arms around Draco so the man couldn’t possibly miss the wedding ring on the third finger of his left hand.

That’s nothing but a cheap act, the man had sneered. Anyone can buy a ring and put it on their finger.

Perhaps, Harry had said. But what about this?

He’d lifted Draco’s jumper so that the man couldn’t possibly miss the sight of his swollen belly. As the man’s jaw had hit his collar bone in pure astonishment, Harry had splayed a possessive hand against Draco’s taut skin.

So you see, Harry had said. I’ve fallen head over heels in love, so release my husband from your stupid spell or find out why I was just given my own Chocolate Frog card.

Draco had laughed at that. Harry was such a world-class prat. Harry had given the man back his wand and pointed his at the man’s chest until he’d released Draco from the Amor Everriculum .

And suddenly a weight that Draco hadn’t even realised he was bearing was lifted off his shoulders. He’d turned his head and kissed Harry’s mouth as Harry’s hand caressed his belly.

The same belly that was now getting in his way . . .

“Oh, fuck it,” he growled.

Harry looked over his shoulder at him. “Are you giving up?” he asked, and Draco knew he wasn’t imagining the disappointment in Harry’s voice – hospital gown or no hospital gown.

“You must be joking,” he said. “Giving up? Yeah, right. I’ve only wanted to fuck you since we were eleven . . .”

“Eh,” Harry said. “Eleven? Honestly, Draco. That seems a little young to me.”

Draco smacked his arse again, enjoying the hot pink flush his handprint left behind.

“Don’t be a prat. You know what I mean.”

“Uhm,” Harry replied. “Actually, I don’t.”

Draco smacked his arse again – and then once more for the sake of symmetry.

“Never mind about the details,” Draco grumbled. “My point is that I’ve wanted to fuck you forever. You said you wished I’d lost my virginity to you just like you lost your virginity to me – well, you’re about to get your wish. I’ve never topped, Harry. You’re my first . . .”

“. . . and only,” Harry added.

“And only,” Draco murmured as he kissed the base of Harry’s spine.

“So do you want me to turn over?” Harry asked, looking over his shoulder again.

“You’re going to need to, my belly’s too big” Draco replied, kissing Harry’s tailbone again. “But not right now. Lie down and spread your legs.”

Harry did what he was told, but now he wasn’t just looking over his shoulder at Draco, Harry was frowning at him.

“What are you going to do?” he asked with obvious trepidation.

“I don’t know,” Draco replied. “You’re just going to have to wait and see.”

He spread Harry’s arse open with both hands.

“Oh no no no no!” Harry squeaked. “You are not going to lick my arse!”

“Shut up, Potter,” Draco growled at him. “I’m a hormonally volatile pregnant wizard. Do not mess with me. Now relax and enjoy it.”

Harry huffed but he did what Draco asked, and after a couple of minutes, Draco felt the tension leave Harry’s body. He spread Harry’s arse open even wider and kissed his opening, feeling it pulse wide for a second and then close tightly as Draco touched it with the tip of his tongue. He pushed his thumbs deeper and opened Harry’s body until he was able to work his tongue inside him. Harry groaned raggedly and relaxed even more. Draco moved back far enough until he could look at his slightly loosened hole. He could see the pink just beyond the rim and licked it. This time Harry didn’t groan – he sobbed.

“Feels good, doesn’t it?” Draco asked. Harry answered by pushing his arse back against Draco’s face. Draco kissed his hole and then wriggled his tongue in again, pushing it as deep as possible and tickling Harry’s channel with the tip until Harry was moaning and rocking his hips.

Draco pulled back again and watched intently as he slid his forefinger into Harry’s body. He’d never penetrated Harry before, and he wasn’t sure how Harry would respond, so he was relieved as well as aroused by Harry’s obvious enthusiasm.

Draco fingered him deeply, pausing every now and then to remove his finger and lick the rim before plunging it back in again. He buried his finger as deeply as he could and held it there, watching as Harry’s hips began to thrust, fucking himself on the intrusion. Draco’s cock throbbed at the sight.

“Need more,” Harry gasped.

Draco was more than happy to oblige. He pulled his finger out slowly and rose to his knees.

“Turn over,” he murmured, and Harry did. Draco looked at his flushed face and heavy-lidded eyes and for the thousandth time said a little prayer that their baby would inherit Harry’s beauty. “Pull your thighs back against your chest. There you go, oh God, Harry. Look at you!”

He leaned down to lick Harry’s opening. It was uncomfortable, but he didn’t care. He needed to feel the soft flesh against his tongue again. Harry moaned and tipped his head back, exposing his throat. Draco sat up and reached for the lube, smearing it on Harry’s anus and then pushing it up inside it with his fingers until his hole was slick and loose enough to welcome the blunt intrusion of Draco’s cock. He looked up to see Harry watching his face, obviously looking for signs that Draco’s pregnant belly was making him uncomfortable.

“I’m fine,” Draco assured him. “Better than fine, actually. Don’t worry so much.”

He could say it a thousand times, but that didn’t mean Harry would believe him. Male pregnancies were fraught with difficulties and even small exertions could create the kind of problems Draco had experienced after running after Harry on the night of the ball. But the healers had assured them that sexual activity was fine, and Draco didn’t want to second-guess their expert opinion.

He looked down again and watched himself press the head of his cock against the rim of Harry’s opening. It was slick and loosened, but it was still a snug fit. Draco felt his eyes roll back as his cock pushed into the tight channel until it was buried completely and even Draco’s sharp thrusts couldn’t push it any deeper.

“How does that feel?” he asked Harry with a voice so hoarse he almost didn’t recognise it. He’d spent hours fantasising about how this would feel, but none of his fantasies had even come close to reality.

“So good,” Harry moaned. He reached down and grasped his own cock and began to stroke it, smearing the fluid seeping from the slit to lubricate away some of the friction.

“What if I make you pregnant?” Draco asked as he began to thrust, and Harry laughed breathlessly.

“Then we’ll both be hormonal and grouchy together,” he said. “Doesn’t that sound like fun?”

“Not really,” Draco panted. “I’ll try not to then, but I can’t make any promises.”

Harry started to laugh again, but then Draco’s cock must’ve rubbed against his prostate, because his laugh turned into a soft cry.

“Oh God,” he gasped. “Do that again!”

Draco positioned himself in a way he was pretty sure would cause the head of his cock to massage Harry’s prostate if he thrust shallowly. He knew that he’d succeeded when Harry lost his mind a little bit.

“Now you know why I’m such an addict,” he said breathlessly. But Harry was so far gone, he didn’t even respond, so Draco decided to just concentrate on nothing in the world except fucking Harry’s arse as hard as he could. He watched, mesmerised, as his cock slid in and out of Harry’s body. He reached down and gently fondled Harry’s tight balls, and it was obviously complete sensory overload because he felt them throb and then Harry was coming all over his belly with a guttural moan.

“Draco!” he gasped. “Oh fuck!”

Draco watched Harry’s cock pulse with each spurt and the come pool on his stomach. And only when Harry had milked himself of the last drop, Draco let himself go and fucked Harry into the mattress.

“Come on, Draco,” Harry urged him in his husky post-orgasm voice that drove Draco mad. “Ride me, fuck me. Come in me.”

Draco growled and grabbed Harry’s wrists, pinning them against the pillow on either side of Harry’s head as his hips slammed forward. When he felt his orgasm start to grow, he looked down at his cock again and then watched it thrust raggedly in and out as he emptied his balls into Harry’s body with a deep groan of sheer blissful release.

They were lying entwined, their hearts still skipping every-other beat, when their post-coital daze was interrupted by a knock on their door.

They raised their eyebrows at each other.

“You already told someone our new address?” Draco asked, his voice still a little breathless. “I thought this was going to remain our secret for as long as possible.”

Harry blushed. “Er . . .”

“Granger,” Draco said. “You told Granger, didn’t you?”

“Well, it’s like this . . .” Harry stammered. “She’s kinda like my twin, and we . . .”

“Which explains both of your ghastly hair ‘styles’ . . .”

“. . . pretty much share everything.”

Ugh. He knew there had to be a catch to the perfection that was Harry’s adoration. But two could play at the “twin” game.

“So, I guess you’ll understand when Pansy shows up at our door,” he said with a smirk. Pansy was going to drive Harry insane. She was going to pester him nonstop about his uneven shaving charms and his un-plucked eyebrows. He’d never have any peace. And then when the baby came . . . Even he shuddered at the thought of the combined kerfuffle that Pansy and his mother would inevitably cause.

But they still had five months, thank Merlin.

“Harry? Draco?” Granger called anxiously. “Is everything alright?”

“We’re fine, Granger!” Draco answered. “You can come in but only after Harry gets out of the hospital gown he was wearing while we had role-play sex – I was Madam Pomfrey and he was . . .”

“Ergh!” Granger cried. “Stop! Please! I don’t want to know! I’ll come back later!”

Draco crossed his arms behind his head and grinned with satisfaction at having dodged the inevitable lecture about the perils of wizard pregnancies and their need to be vigilant of even the slightest changes in Draco’s body.

“Don’t start thinking it’s going to get any better after the baby’s born,” Harry said. “I bumped into her at the library yesterday; she was checking out a stack of books on parenting that was taller than she is.”

Draco’s grin turned into a groan. Harry propped himself up on an elbow and kissed him while yet again his hand wandered its way down Draco’s chest and onto his belly.

“How long are you going to hide it from your House mates?” he asked.

“As long as possible,” Draco replied. “I’m going to be investing in voluminous robes and praying I don’t go into labour in the common room . . .”

“Or the last day of class,” Harry said. There was an irritating note of fatherly pride in his voice that Draco was going to need to discourage. Harry may have the restricted potion-induced Super Sperm, but he, himself, was the one who was actually pregnant.

They kissed again, even deeper and longer this time. Draco felt his cock twitch.

“You realise,” he murmured against Harry’s mouth, “our revising for the N.E.W.T.s is never going to get done. Giving us a private room is an elaborate scheme to ensure we fail spectacularly.”

“I don’t care,” Harry murmured back. “It’s more than worth it to have you all to myself.”

Draco’s laugh turned into a gasp as Harry’s hand remembered there was something below his belly that craved attention.

“If Hermione comes back,” Harry said, “just scream ‘hump me like a horny hippogriff’ . . .”

“How about ‘screw me, you beautiful Blast-Ended Skrewt?’”

Harry laughed as he sat up and spread Draco’s legs. Draco was sure he could come up with something even wittier, but then Harry swallowed his cock, and nothing else mattered . . .

Yet another epilogue of sorts . . .

Stupid Dungeons with their stupid mossy stairs. Stupid robe with its stupid miles of wool. Stupid Hufflepuffs with their stupid end-of-the-year party . . .

“Stop grousing, Draco,” Pansy said, her patience finally overcome by exasperation. “No one’s forcing you to do this.”

Someone has to make sure no one embarrasses our House, Pans,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe the chaos that can ensue when Slytherin finds itself leaderless at times like these.”

He leaned on her as he lowered himself down a particularly large and uneven step.

“Astoria could’ve done it,” Pansy said. “Didn’t she handle the Ravenclaw Valentine’s Day party while you were in the bloody hospital wing – again? Speaking of which, what will Madam Pomfrey do after you have this baby and you’ll no longer be turning up at all hours in life-or-death situations with Potter leaking wild magic from his every pore like a wonky tap? I worry for her.”

“I don’t,” he grumbled. “She tried to turn me into a Veela. Malfoys never forget being turned into supernatural creatures even if only on paper. It’s not one of those ‘let bygones be bygones’ kind of thing. And as for Astoria? She definitely shows promise, but it got to my ear that Greg showed up in an ill-fitting red velvet suit. We can’t risk such an oversight on our last night as students. We’d never hear the end of it . . .”

His train of thought was disrupted when he stumbled and would’ve fallen if Pansy hadn’t caught him.

“Don’t you dare tell Harry,” he said once he’d caught his breath. “If he knew I was going down to the Dungeons tonight, he’d kill me.”

Pansy’s grip on his arm tightened. “I can’t imagine why,” she said drily. “It’s not as though you were due last week and confined to bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Bed rest is for girls,” she said, and Pansy pinched him – not too hard, but hard enough to remind him that she thought he was an insufferable prat. He kissed her temple playfully but was startled to find it damp with sweat. She really was worried.

“It’ll be fine,” he said gently, but before she could answer, Astoria threw open the common room door.

“Oh thank God!” she cried. “I’d hoped I’d heard your voice, Draco. I’m so glad you could make it. It’s anarchy in there!”

She pointed toward the open door, and Draco immediately understood the source of her dismay. The fools were dressed like it was September instead of May! Ties were half-inches too wide! Spectacles were frameless! Stiletto heels were too narrow! Trousers showed one inch of hip bones, not two! It was a disaster of epic proportions!

“Against the wall, you lot!” Draco wheezed. “Just because I’ve had a private room for the past few months did not release you from your duty to refrain from looking like fashion morons!”

Looking both alarmed and sheepish, the seventh and eighth year Slytherins lined up for inspection by their waddling flush-faced swollen-footed leader.

“Theo! I know it’s only Hufflepuff, but the other Houses will also be there! In Merlin’s name, take off that leather vest!”

“Mafalda, I’m sorry, love, but you know you can’t wear that dress when you’re on your period.”

“Peter, I know you’re colour blind, but that doesn’t excuse you from asking for help.”

“For heaven’s sake, Greg! Are you trying to repent for the tight red suit? If so, wearing a giant bin bag . . .”

“It’s not a bin bag,” Greg grumbled. “It’s my new robe.”

Draco gaped at him. “Greg. Look at me. Like you, I’m the size of a small whale. Do I look like something that could be found atop a rubbish heap? Have some respect for yourself – not to mention pity for the rest of us.”

He continued down the line until he reached Blaise. They stood staring at each other for long enough that the room fell quiet. Blaise’s expression was full of defiance – and a trace of lingering hurt. Draco gave him a slow considering once-over.

“Very nice, Zabini,” he said with an admiring nod. “It pains me to admit it, seeing as I, myself, plan to attend, but I do believe you will be the handsomeness devil at the party.”

He grinned and after a second, Blaise grinned back.

“Even handsomer than Potter?” he said with a teasing edge in his voice, and Draco gave him an incredulous look.

“Please,” he said. “Have you even seen the man lately? He looks like he recently did battle with an army of yetis and lost spectacularly . . .”

“Well, I wonder why,” Astoria said. “It’s not like he’s been living in a tiny room with your hormonal arse for months. Give the poor bloke a break.”

Draco scowled at her and was about to mention the Greg-in-a-red-velvet-suit incident, when she made a tiny little wiping gesture at the corner of her mouth. Draco froze. No one no one had ever needed to insinuate that he had something on his face before.

“You’ve got a little something right there,” she said, pointing. “It looks like . . .”

He turned scarlet and clamped his hand over his mouth. Yes, it was true he’d just finished sucking Harry off when Pansy had knocked on their door, but he could’ve sworn he’d brushed his teeth . . .

“It is NOT what you think it is!” he exclaimed, watching with horror as his minions giggled behind their hands.

Astoria smiled innocently at him. “I was going to say ‘toothpaste,’” she said. “But now that you mention it . . .”

She grinned at him. She’d won. He had to admit it. Slytherin was no longer ruled by a prince – they had a princess now.

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