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Calanthe

The secret lives of shadowmen

Being wizarding Britain’s most famous Auror isn’t all about defeating Dark Lords and saving
the world. Sometimes it’s about low-priority stakeouts, rediscovering old acquaintances,
and learning things about yourself you might be better off not knowing.

Harry bit his tongue and breathed in deeply through his nose in an effort to contain his
disappointment. It seemed that having Kingsley as a mentor was having a positive impact
on him after all. It wasn’t common knowledge that the Minister for Magic played such a
hands-on part in the training and development of the Department of Magical Law
Enforcement’s most famous Auror: evidence of yet more preferential treatment for the
Boy Who Lived would only have irked the other newly qualified Aurors, and Harry
couldn’t face the prospect of any more Skeeter ’exclusives’ examining the
appropriateness, or otherwise, of his relationship with yet another ‘replacement father
figure’.

Being an Auror was fantastic. It was everything Harry had always imagined it would be.
Okay. Not quite. What he hadn’t reckoned on was the politics.

Unless he made some monumental fuck-up somewhere along the way, Harry was a dead
certainty to make Head Auror in a decade or two. And on the whole, the thought pleased
him: to lead a group of people committed to fighting the good fight was a worthy
pursuit. The problem was that Head Aurors had an uncanny knack of becoming Ministers
for Magic, and anyone who knew Harry personally knew he was not Minister material. So
the dilemma had been to either learn what was needed to step into the role or to
engineer his career in such a way as to remove any public expectation of his future
candidacy. It was fortunate for him that Kingsley saw the situation as Harry did, and
undertook to coach Harry on all possible outcomes. The drawback was that few aspects
of Harry’s working life afforded him any degree of normalcy because every case
allocation, task, investigation, and prosecution was vetted before Harry was allowed
within a hundred paces of it. It seemed that “big ‘P’ Politics” coloured every action Harry
might be permitted to make, and only two months into his fully qualified Auror role,
Harry was already fed up of the behind-thescenes machinations that made him look
‘good, but not too good’, in Kingsley’s words.

Take today’s work allocation meeting: all his colleagues had been given challenging,
interesting roles in a brand new investigation into Muggle trafficking, while Harry had
landed a solo stakeout job at some upmarket Muggle wine bar in search of a wayward
potion maker selling his or her wares disguised as recreational drugs. Even a textbook
bust wouldn’t result in a conviction; cases where Muggles were unaware that their illegal

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purchases weren’t what they seemed just didn’t stick, and the culprit would walk out of
the Wizengamot with a caution about blowing the Statute of Secrecy and nothing more.
This was the kind of case, Harry knew, that the office only entertained when crime was in
a lull. Or when Kingsley deemed the only other alternative activity to be too high profile.
‘Let your colleagues take the limelight on this one,’ he’d said. ‘Let the public see that the
Auror Office is comprised of more than one man, and you’ll buy yourself some room to
breathe.’

Harry could see the wisdom in Kingsley’s decision, so he kept his lips zipped but scowled
inside. Toeing the line wasn’t a skill he’d developed under Dumbledore’s tutelage; in fact
the reverse was true. And now Kingsley was trying to teach him diplomacy and subtlety,
which was proving as hard in its own way as mastering Occlumency had been.

The meeting broke up and Harry wandered half-heartedly towards the exit.

“Potter.” Enid Lilley, section leader and Harry’s direct manager, pulled him away from his
thoughts. She handed him a large, badly rolled parchment before continuing. “Here’s
your brief. There’s not much information to go on so you’ll have to use your head.” The
crooked smile she managed let Harry know that she was fully aware how he’d feel about
the second-rate assignment, but she was completely loyal to Kingsley, like most of the
remaining ‘senior’ staff, and she wouldn’t go against his decision. “Meet up with Savage
to report back every two days unless there’s a breakthrough. We’ll see you when you get
back.”

“If the trafficking case goes manic you know where to find me,” Harry replied, trying for
a smile, and failing.

“I know. Good luck,” Enid sighed, patting him on the shoulder before stepping past him
and walking away.

As Harry watched her go, he thought about all the Aurors who’d died defending innocent
people from Death Eaters and from Voldemort himself. The office had been stripped of
its best and brightest, and people like Enid knew they were second choice for the top
jobs. Which, Kingsley told Harry, was all the more reason for Harry to play the game and
help rebuild confidence in the fledgling Auror Office. The appearance of capability was as
important as actually being capable, Kingsley said, a notion that made little sense to
Harry. But Harry trusted Kingsley – set store in what the man said – and because of that
he took the advice that was offered, although he asked more questions than he ever did
of Dumbledore. If it irritated Kingsley, the man never showed it.

“I’ll just go and pack then,” Harry said to himself. He flattened the roll and shoved it in his
pocket. He’d stop by the joke shop to see Ron before he left, and write a quick letter to
Ginny in Egypt too. Then there’d be no excuse not to get cracking on his case.

Great.

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The work turned out to be just as mind-numbing as Harry had anticipated: three days in
and he was only just getting his first sniff of a lead.

Making sure he adhered to all he’d been taught about undercover work, Harry had been
conscientious about both his disguises and his behaviour whilst surveilling the wine bar.
He’d made sure to sit in different places and order different drinks each night, and he’d
practised the advice he’d been given about personal Transformation Spells, that little
changes worked better than trying to become someone different altogether, which
usually resulted in the subject looking like a lifetime fan of intensive facial reconstruction
under an overzealous plastic surgeon.

It was the subtlety of the changes that almost certainly caught Draco Malfoy’s eye as he
entered the wine bar on Harry’s third night, and oriented himself. Even across the
expanse of the room Harry could make out the deep frown of instant recognition on
Malfoy’s face, followed by a certain tempering of his expression as he took note of the
differences and dismissed Harry as a stranger with nothing more than a striking similarity
to his schooldays rival. For himself, Harry fought to neither stare nor look away guiltily,
but he was relieved when Malfoy’s steely gaze moved past him and further into the bar.

Bingo, thought Harry. If anyone was capable of tricking Muggles for a quick profit it was
Malfoy, although god knew he didn’t need the money. But Harry never had worked out
how Malfoy ticked, and he thought it unlikely to happen now. It wasn’t that he hated
Malfoy; such childish emotions were in the past, but even given that both mother and
son had undoubtedly protected Harry when the chips were down, he still found it
difficult to reconcile the fact that no member of the family had ever faced anything more
than intensive questioning about their affiliations and Death Eater activities. You just
couldn’t trust Malfoy, Harry thought. There was something almost uniquely selfish about
everything he did, and Harry wracked his brains to find Malfoy’s angle for engaging in
such petty criminal activity.

Harry watched Malfoy furtively while his mind grappled with the details of how he was
guilty and, even more importantly, how to prove it. Harry wondered how much it cost to
flex the old Malfoy influence these days; the family credibility had plummeted once the
Death Eater link became undeniable. Harry was wise enough to know that everyone had
their price, and it was perfectly likely that Malfoy would be able to buy his way out of
ever appearing before the Wizengamot for his crimes, however petty. It made the
assignment plumb new depths of pointlessness in Harry’s mind.

As he digested scenarios and their possible outcomes, Harry assessed Malfoy’s behaviour
for anything suspicious. He couldn’t help but notice the solicitous air in Malfoy’s
interactions; that alone cemented Harry’s conviction in the man’s guilt. Since when had
Malfoy ever been friendly? And with Muggles? There had to be a damn good reason for it,
and what better reason than drumming up custom for his illegal potions empire? He was
smooth, Harry noticed, at ease, dripping with confidence, and his impeccable Muggle
attire and good looks didn’t harm his approachability. In fact, Malfoy looked like the kind

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of man women trampled over each other to get to; powerful, charismatic, and the tiniest
bit aloof.

Harry was not, therefore, surprised when a woman took the bar stool next to Malfoy’s
and turned towards him. Within moments she was smiling flirtatiously and laughing, eyes
heavy-lidded and suggestive. Harry watched as Malfoy bought her a drink from a barman
he clearly knew and returned her interested overtures. He didn’t think he’d ever seen
anyone he knew engage in such a blatant display of sexual manipulation, and he frowned
in distaste. Malfoy reminded Harry of a shark scenting blood, his attention unwavering
from his prey.

A further glass of wine into the conversation, Harry couldn’t help but notice that he’d
seen no signs of Malfoy attempting to sell the woman anything other than his interest in
bedding her. The reasoning part of Harry’s brain told him that this was an awfully
expensive, and time-consuming, method of dealing drugs. At this rate the woman would
be the only buyer for the evening, and surely there was no profit in that? There must be
something more to what he was seeing, but Harry couldn’t quite grasp what it was.

Harry’s opportunity to create an opening through which to study Malfoy more closely
presented itself a short time later. Intuiting Malfoy’s need to use the facilities, Harry
made a hurried dash himself, arriving in the gents’ first. When Malfoy approached the
urinals, Harry turned, nodded a bland ‘hello’, and returned his gaze to the wall. He sensed
Malfoy take a breath to speak, but nothing came out, so Harry washed his hands and
took a moment to fuss with his hair in the mirror. He watched Malfoy’s back, lingering
over his fake grooming routine in the hope of catching his eye again. He wasn’t
disappointed.

Finally approaching the mirror, Malfoy cleared his throat and ventured, “Excuse me?”

Harry turned to look at him, his face wearing a ‘Who? Me?’ expression.

“You look uncannily like someone I know,” Malfoy said, his eyes scrutinising Harry openly
now they were close. “Do you have a relative? A cousin, perhaps?”

Harry chuckled. “I have got a cousin, but I’m not sure she’d be too happy about being
compared to me. She’s much more…” He made a gesture with his hands, drawing the
curvy outline of a small woman in the air between them. He was glad he’d taken the time
to disguise his voice; that’s something Malfoy would have known straight away.

Malfoy laughed, an easy, honest laugh, his eyes crinkling in a way Harry had never seen
before. He looked almost likeable.

“Ah, no,” Malfoy finally replied. “I was definitely thinking of a man.” Harry bore Malfoy’s
further once-over with a sense of discomfort. “It’s remarkable…” he murmured, more to
himself than to Harry.

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“People are always mistaking me for someone else,” Harry replied. “I must just have one
of those faces.” He shrugged an apology.

Malfoy nodded thoughtfully. “Well, sorry for staring.” After a moment he added, “I’m
David, by the way.” He extended his hand, and Harry couldn’t help but notice how very
long and white Malfoy’s fingers were. They would have looked creepy except for the fact
that the skin looked very soft and the nails were beautifully manicured.

“James,” Harry responded, reaching out to grasp Malfoy’s hand. They exchanged smiles
and Harry felt sure there was a certain glint in Malfoy’s eye, but the moment he
registered it, it was gone.

“I have company this evening or I’d ask you to join me,” Malfoy continued. “Perhaps next
time?”

“Yes,” Harry said. “Next time.”

It was as Malfoy exited the restroom that Harry felt his first real pang of doubt. He just
didn’t look like an illegal potions dealer, did he?

Returning to his seat, Harry noted the appearance of a man at the bar. The man stood
very close behind Malfoy’s prey for the evening, and as Harry watched, a hand extended
and cupped the woman’s elbow. It was a familiar gesture between them, and Harry got
the distinct impression they were a couple. It was pathetic, he knew, but Harry drew
some small satisfaction from knowing that Malfoy’s conquest had been plucked out from
under his nose.

Despite the no doubt uncomfortable atmosphere that must surely be in evidence, Harry
noticed the calculating expression on Malfoy’s face, and the continued conversation
among the party of three. A bubble of excitement expanded in Harry’s belly, and he
wondered whether he was seeing the makings of a proper transaction.

They appeared to be preparing to leave, so Harry cut out first and headed for an
unusually deep and irregularly shaped glass-lined doorway several shops down, where he
could don his Invisibility Cloak unseen.

Squashing down the shabby feeling that accompanied his intention to spy on someone
he knew, Harry waited.

Mere moments later, Malfoy left the bar. His companions were the couple Harry had
seen him with inside, and even a blind man could have seen the sparks of anticipation

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bouncing back and forth among the three. They headed towards Harry’s hiding place and
walked past, the man talking loudly enough for Harry to hear easily.

“My car’s not far from here. Are you driving too?”

Malfoy replied simply, “No.”

“Good.”

Harry fell into step some distance behind, following the trio down an alleyway he knew
led to a car park. There was no further conversation, but the body language was very
interesting indeed. The man, ‘the husband’, Harry decided, moved purposely on several
occasions to place his wife between himself and Malfoy, and they seemed to exchange
the odd glance every now and then, after which the woman would drift closer to Malfoy,
brushing his arm or catching his hand with hers. For his own part, Malfoy remained
slightly separate from the woman although he did nothing to discourage her clumsy
attentions.

Harry remained at a distance as they crossed the almost empty car park, but drew closer
as they came to a stop next to a large saloon car, a brand new Mercedes. How ironic that
Malfoy even managed to pick up wealthy women over poor ones, he thought.

The first flash of discomfort coursed through Harry as he watched the woman advance
on Malfoy, placing her hands on his chest and leaning against him, her face tilted
upwards, inviting a kiss. Several moments of confusion followed before Harry took stock
of the situation and registered what was going on. It was the husband’s face that gave it
away; his lips were curved up in a tight smile and his eyes were brimful of hunger. The
man’s hands twitched, his car keys jingling, as he anticipated Malfoy touching his wife.

Harry stood rooted to the spot, a wave of appalled resignation creeping through him,
making his stomach flop uncomfortably. He found he was unsurprised to learn that
Malfoy engaged in games with other men’s wives, although he himself had never
imagined that any man would wish to watch such a spectacle. It went against everything
Harry believed a relationship was about. Where was the all-consuming love? The respect?
The special intimacy? It was impossible to love someone and share them, wasn’t it? It was
so wrong. Yet here Malfoy was, his arms wrapped loosely around the woman’s waist as
he kissed her thoroughly, noisily, for her husband’s entertainment. To Harry it felt like
watching a boil burst; you didn’t really want to see the contents, but it was impossible to
look away, and you kept looking because you wanted to be disgusted.

The husband took several steps towards the couple. Malfoy broke the kiss and slowly
turned the woman in the circle of his arms until she faced her husband, before pulling her
to him so that her back was pressed close to his front. Harry watched her mouth drop
open and her eyes close as she wiggled her hips and moved against him. One of Malfoy’s
arms clamped tightly around her waist and he thrust against her as he stared into her

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husband’s eyes. Harry was gaping; he couldn’t help himself. With his other hand, Malfoy
traced a light path down the silk of the woman’s dress; her husband licked his bottom lip
almost nervously. Harry watched, frozen, as Malfoy’s hand brushed against her lower
stomach, two fingers extending lower until they pushed into the dip between her legs
and fondled her languidly there, making her moan and drop her head back against his
shoulder. Malfoy and the husband never broke eye contact, and Harry couldn’t tell
whether it was a challenge or something else altogether. But when the husband closed
the space and pressed up against his wife, trapping Malfoy’s hand between them, Harry
could only forsee one outcome. The man cupped the back of Malfoy’s head before
drawing their faces close and sealing their ménage à trois with a long, intense kiss, the
woman between them forgotten momentarily.

Oh my god … oh my god… Harry thought, completely shocked now, struggling to


comprehend that people did such things. It was a far, far cry from his idea of a life of
monogamy with Ginny, and more than he had ever imagined or fantasised about. This
was a whole new world, and one he fervently wished he’d never discovered, thank you
very much.

“The car,” the husband gasped roughly. “Get in the car.”

The indecent little party moved apart finally, the husband rushing for the driving seat
while Malfoy followed the wife into the back seat. As the car reversed out and pulled
away, Harry watched it disappear, trying not to think about the way Malfoy’s head
moved lower and lower until it dropped out of sight altogether. And he definitely tried
not to think about the woman’s hearty moan, audible even through the closed windows
of the Mercedes.

Quaking in the near silence of the deserted car park, Harry told himself that perhaps he’d
been too hasty with his assumptions; Malfoy’s evening appeared not to have been about
selling drugs after all. More’s the pity.

Some days later Harry was still watching the bar, and still struggling to erase the images
of Malfoy and the couple from his mind. The unwelcome addition of his imagination did
nothing to minimise his memories. In fact, the mental pictures seemed to grow worse,
more intense. The upside of the situation was that he was putting an unprecedented
amount of energy into solving his case – anything to occupy his mind and keep it on a
more palatable track.

His determination had awarded him nothing more than a Muggle peddler of who knew
what, although Harry was guessing at cocaine given the clientele at the wine bar. The
dealer was a woman of indeterminate age. She was anything between midtwenties and
early forties, smartly dressed in an understated way, and rather selective about whom
she sold to. Harry had watched her carefully from a distance, and seen her exchanging

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small packages for cash on four separate occasions. Her sleight of hand was good, but
not brilliant; Harry had made her for what she was almost straight away.

But it wasn’t a lead to anything. Harry’s case information told him he was looking for a
witch or wizard, and his tests showed that this woman was definitely of the nonmagical
gene pool.

His method of achieving certainty would have done more than raise eyebrows had it
been public knowledge. During Pius Thicknesse’s time as Minister for Magic, certain
people at the Ministry had been given an open remit to develop particular kinds of
charms and spells, namely those which would enable blood purity and magical strength
to be measured incontrovertibly. Dolores Umbridge had built up quite the portfolio of
nasty little spells, all with the intention of creating a magical caste system. Upon her
subsequent detention in Azkaban most of her documents and notes had been recovered
and studied at length by trusted pro-Muggle experts. Almost without exception the
fruits of her labours were Dark in both origin and intention. Kingsley’s administration had
set about burying all such research and was mostly successful. However, with people
arguing about the semantics of what ‘Dark’ was, and which spells could be used for good
reasons, one or two sat in something of a grey area.
Such was the status of the charm Harry had used to investigate his drug dealing suspect
from a distance. Senior Ministry officials had grudgingly approved the highly supervised
use of the Magic Marker, as it was nicknamed by the Auror Office, since there were still
pockets of pure-blood supremacy activity across the British Isles, and many agreed that
being able to distinguish innocent Muggles from guilty witches and wizards could come
in very handy indeed. Only a small number of Aurors were entrusted with knowledge of
how to perform the Marker, and the charm had a Trace on it so that the Head Auror
would know whenever it was performed and by whom.

The woman showed not even the slightest hint of magical ability, so Harry made a mental
note of her activities in the bar, but consigned her to the lower level of his attention. He
paid more notice to her stream of buyers, however, in the small hope of gleaning some
useful ideas about what sort of person bought drugs and whom he should look out for as
his assignment continued. Perhaps some of the woman’s customers would also be
customers of his law-breaking quarry? It was worth a punt, and if he was going to be
thorough, Harry knew he should keep track of them all.

Harry had noted something he felt was unusual about the drug seller, but it wasn’t
worryingly unusual. She had a very select number of buyers, he had noticed, except for
on one specific occasion. He had watched her track and approach a young, goodlooking
man who entered the bar, and it was obvious to Harry that they had never met before.
Moving close enough to eavesdrop with an Invisible Extendable Ear, Harry had listened in
as the woman had delivered a very polished, very subtle sales speech, in which she had
encouraged the man’s interest in her illegal wares without actually being so crass as to
come right out and say what she was doing. She was good, Harry thought. The man,
bemused yet intrigued, had left at the end of the evening with his pocket slightly fuller

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and his wallet slightly emptier. Harry wondered why this man, alone amongst all the
many patrons, had been singled out to be tempted into the woman’s web. Perhaps there
had been a sign that Harry had missed. He briefly puzzled it over before setting the
question aside to concentrate on identifying his magical miscreant.

In his various disguises, Harry learned a surprising amount about the comings and goings
at the bar. For example, he knew it was a meeting place for a local escort service, and he
also knew that one of the bar staff was stealing wine from the cellar and getting several
friends to smuggle the bottles out when the manager wasn’t looking. More than three
quarters of the women who came to the bar were single, a much higher proportion than
of single men, or at least single straight men. The wine bar was too classy by far to be a
weekend cattle market, yet there was a steady but subtle undercurrent of flirtations and
propositions, and Harry knew few patrons had to leave unaccompanied at the end of the
evening if they so chose. It was, perhaps, why Malfoy found it such a good haunt, with a
steady stream of available women and men to tempt him.
Keep your mind on the bloody case, Harry told himself for maybe the twentieth time. Don’t
think about Malfoy. Definitely don’t think about Malfoy.

Sadly, the man himself turned up a week or so later, making it impossible for Harry to
successfully bury his unpleasant imaginings. Malfoy hadn’t completely made it off the list
of possible suspects, so Harry watched from a distance while Malfoy unleashed his no
doubt spell-enhanced smile on another unsuspecting customer, a young man this time.
The same young man, in fact, who Harry had noted conversing with the Muggle dealer
some days previously. If that wasn’t a strange coincidence, nothing was. Maybe Malfoy
had Muggle co-conspirators? Ideas formed fast in Harry’s head.

Harry had had the foresight to take a table much closer to the bar, and he was able to
pick up on a fair proportion of the conversation unnoticed, primarily because of his
Polyjuiced disguise of a middle-aged, balding stockbroker. As he weighed Malfoy’s
conversation for hints of any illegal activity, Harry couldn’t help but register how natural
he sounded, even while propositioning a total stranger. Harry himself would have been a
complete and utter wreck had he attempted the same feat; his own small talk had always
been stilted and blunt. He could never do what Malfoy did, would never be able to
manage it even if his life depended on it. He was glad that he wouldn’t have to face the
awkward social fumbling associated with dating, because when Ginny got back from
Egypt they’d pick up exactly where they’d left off and it would be comfortable and
familiar and safe.

Harry watched closely as one of Malfoy’s hands slipped slowly below the bar top. Was he
about to pass something? It was possible; his fingers were folded against his palm, the
perfect position for hiding a tiny package. Maybe he was receiving something instead?
This was it. Harry felt vindicated, that he had been right to watch Malfoy because not
only was he a pervert, but he was up to no good as well.

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The hand was in deep shadow yet Harry tracked it easily, eagerly, not wanting to miss the
crucial moment.

The fingers uncurled slowly; Harry held his breath. He watched Malfoy place his hand,
with practiced precision, slightly above his companion’s knee before sliding it upwards,
tracing the lean line of the man’s thigh. Harry’s eagerness turned to lead and plummeted
into the pit of his belly. Malfoy was making a pass at a man! Right there where anyone
could see! Harry was incredulous. He had to fight the temptation to look around and see
who else had spotted the sordid exchange. Yet there sat Malfoy, casual as you like,
feeling up a man in a public place as though he had every right to behave as he wished!
There were people all around. Anyone could be watching, didn’t Malfoy realise? Was it a
purposeful distraction to disguise the potion exchange? Harry couldn’t take the risk of
missing something important by averting his gaze.
Harry shifted his paunchy businessman’s body in his chair, a jagged half-lurch that had the
unfortunate consequence of catching the eye of Malfoy’s conquest. The man turned his
attention to Harry for a long second, appraising his appearance in obvious disdain before
smirking unkindly and pointedly placing his hand right on top of Malfoy’s. The man
squeezed Malfoy’s fingers, his eyes telling Harry that they were both too young, too
good-looking, to be in his league, and leaving Harry in no doubt whatsoever that this tiny
taste of voyeurism was all he would ever get, had he in fact been interested in anything
more. The man leaned forward and whispered in Malfoy’s ear, his eyes never leaving
Harry’s. Harry couldn’t look away even though he was mortified at being caught
watching. Twice. Twice he’d watched Malfoy now, and there still weren’t any signs of
drugs or potions or anything else Harry wanted to know about.

With an eardrum-shattering scrape, Harry pushed his chair back and heaved his heavy
body out of it. He didn’t have to look at the bar to know that he was being watched by
two pairs of eyes, and he didn’t have to eavesdrop to hear the cruelly sarcastic insults
directed his way by Malfoy’s catty companion. As he clumsily navigated his way through
a cluster of small tables, Harry heard, “The poor love. Fancy being fat and old. I bet he
can’t even pay for it these days.”

As he pushed the door open and stepped into the cool evening air, Harry acknowledged
Malfoy’s skill in finding compatible dates. Not only did he have an unerring skill at sniffing
out money, but clearly he could home in on obnoxious bastards as well. Tonight’s
assignation would be almost like sleeping with himself, Harry imagined. Or rather, he
tried not to, at least not in any detail.

But why was he so bothered by Malfoy? What did it matter what he got up to in his spare
time, or with whom? Harry really didn’t want to know. He didn’t want to think about
Malfoy naked with a man. Or a man and a woman; a husband watching Malfoy and his
wife get off together. Harry would never let a man touch Ginny that way, never mind
watch it happen. It was sickening: just the thought of Malfoy’s pale hands resting on
Ginny’s waist, measuring the curve of her hips with his fingertips; Malfoy bending down
to Ginny’s neck and kissing her there while he sent a smouldering invitation to Harry with

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his eyes; Malfoy weighing the soft mounds of Ginny’s breasts in his palms, his thumbs
rubbing almost absently at her hardening nipples as she closed her eyes and sighed her
obvious arousal at his skilled caresses--

Too much. The very thought of it had Harry’s temper straining at its leash. It was wrong.
Immoral. Degrading. Ginny would never want it, not the Ginny Harry knew and loved. She
wasn’t that kind of girl. Was she?

Was she?

Harry shoved the heels of his palms into his eye sockets and pressed hard enough to
make white shapes dance inside his eyelids. Why did he have to dig up his insecurities
right now? Ginny had reassured him time and again that he was the one for her, that
what they did together was great, that she’d never be serious about another man. But
watching Malfoy at play made Harry’s insecurity peak. It was like having his nose rubbed
in his own ignorance. All the things he feared he didn’t know about how to pleasure
someone were being shoved in his face in the shape of Draco fucking Malfoy and his
twisted, sordid libido.

He dug his nails into his palms and walked away from the bar, annoyed with himself for
botching his surveillance and letting personal thoughts interfere with his work. Heading
into the deep shadow of his usual doorway several shops down, Harry donned his Cloak
once more, determined to salvage his evening somehow. He let his mind run through the
outline of his assignment and the few details he’d gleaned since commencing his
stakeout. The routine calmed him and focused him until he was ready to make his next
move.

It was too risky to attempt to sneak back into the wine bar, but a large expanse of open
window running the length of the bar would allow him to scrutinise the comings and
goings without fear of discovery.

It was a good plan. Except that Malfoy chose that exact moment to tumble into Harry’s
discreet doorway, attached at the mouth to his sharp-tongued ‘friend’, effectively
preventing Harry’s safe exit, and rendering it irrelevant anyway.

“Can’t wait…” one voice came in strained tones so that Harry couldn’t tell who had
spoken. There was a dull thump as one of the huge sheets of glass rattled slightly under
the pressure of two bodies falling back against it.

“Mmm…”

The sounds of sloppy kissing and clothing being rearranged filled Harry’s ears. He
couldn’t look. Not again-- last time was more than enough. Keeping himself as small as
possible, backing right up into the corner closest to him, Harry turned around and faced
away from the pair, concentrating solely on making sure his feet didn’t make a sound.

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Resting his forehead against the glass, he opened his eyes and sighed quietly in
resignation.

Opening his eyes was not the best idea he’d ever had. Being invisible made you, well, see-
through. Which meant he got a perfect reflection of Malfoy’s activities in the window.

“Ungh…” Malfoy grunted, his head thunking back against the glass. Harry could just
make out the expression of bliss on Malfoy’s face as it peeked above the top of the other
man’s head, which was buried in the curve of Malfoy’s neck. “Just…” Malfoy gasped.
“Mm. That’s so…”

The man chuckled, the sound muffled by skin and clothing, and Malfoy’s eyes fluttered
briefly, but remained closed.

“How about,” the man teased, “if I do this.”

The rough, metallic sound of a zip being unceremoniously yanked down ripped through
the air, and it was obvious to Harry from the way the man moved that he had shoved his
hand down the front of Malfoy’s open trousers, and it was equally obvious from the way
Malfoy moved that he liked it.

“Mmm,” Malfoy’s conquest murmured. “Impressive.”

Oh, please, Harry groaned silently. He really didn’t need a running commentary on the
size and state of tumescence of Malfoy’s prick to run alongside the visuals. He spent a
long moment promising every deity he could think of that he’d never complain about a
dull assignment ever again if only he could be spared from eavesdropping on Malfoy’s
inevitable orgasm.

“You like that, don’t you?” Harry didn’t have to be looking to know the man was smiling,
and that it was a smug, wicked smile. The tone of his voice said it all. Harry wondered if it
was possible to hate someone you didn’t know; Malfoy’s friend was shaping up to be a
good candidate.

Several minutes of heavy breathing, inarticulate moaning and moist sucking noises
followed. Harry hoped the liquid squishing was the result of the men kissing rather than
their below-the-waist activities. There was nothing wrong with masturbation per se, and
not even that much wrong with doing it with another man if you were that way inclined,
but Malfoy? Blimey, you’d have to be desperate. And into obnoxious bigots.

Harry’s train of thought was interrupted by an enthusiastic cry of, “Oh, baby.” Which was
followed by a number of “Mm, yeah”s, some “You’re so fucking hot”s, and a final,
cringeworthy, “Come for me, baby.”

“Stop talking and suck me off.”

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Harry had never, never been so grateful to hear Malfoy’s snide tones as he was at that
moment. For all his straight-laced inexperience, Harry knew a badly-dubbed porno
soundtrack when he heard it. And it seemed Mr Tall, Auburn and Snooty had heard a few
in his time as well because how else could he have so accurately imitated one?

Harry risked a glance at the pair, assessing their position and noting that they were still
blocking the deep entranceway, thus cutting off his only exit.

Perhaps suitably chastised, Malfoy’s partner made a show of dropping to his knees, and
in rearranging himself, gave Harry an eyeful of Malfoy’s privates. Well, what could be
seen around a very busy hand at any rate. Snapping his eyes upwards, Harry found
Malfoy’s face instead, which wasn’t that much of an improvement given the situation.
Malfoy’s eyes were almost closed and his face had the slack appearance of drugged
contentment; his mouth was open ever so slightly, just enough to show the tip of his
tongue. The mouth contorted into a lazy smile as the sucking commenced, and Harry
decided he couldn’t watch any more. Watching Malfoy get blown was not his idea of a
constructive evening’s work, although he knew a few of his colleagues who would be
more than happy to swap places.

Both Malfoy and his dad were admired by quite a number of women working in
Magical Law Enforcement. The blokes joked about it, calling it the Death Eater Fan Club,
and Harry couldn’t help but think they were similar to those women who married
incarcerated murderers, like there was the possibility that they could tame the sexy bad
boys with their feminine wiles. Harry had tried on several occasions to dispossess his
colleagues of their attractions, because what was sexy and bad about being a big girly
coward? The stock response to this was usually that poor old Harry was jealous, which
was often the point at which he gave up and let them think what they wanted.

Malfoy’s steadily increasing huffing in and out let Harry know that zero hour was at hand.
He imagined he’d be scarred for life, replaying the throaty groans of Malfoy’s orgasm in
his deepest, darkest nightmares. The sucking reached a crescendo as Malfoy
hyperventilated, and then it was all over. With a loud whoosh of exhaled breath Malfoy
came, and it was a perfectly uninhibited exclamation of satisfaction, the sort that Harry
always felt shy of making. It was just that he felt embarrassed about his sexual
performance, and he felt too self-conscious to just come out and ask for what he
wanted, as well. How was it that some people were so free? It didn’t seem fair.

God, why did Malfoy bring all this to the surface? Harry was much happier when he was in
denial.

“Come on,” Malfoy’s voice murmured, much more in control now. “Time to hail a taxi, I
believe.”

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Harry heard a zip tugged up and the scuffling of feet as the other man rose and adjusted
his balance. Less than a minute later the pair exited the doorway, leaving Harry to gather
his thoughts and get back on track. He dragged the Invisibility Cloak off himself and ran
his fingers repeatedly through his hair, as though rearranging it would erase the previous
ten minutes. It didn’t work.

Frustrated, and distinctly uncomfortable in his own skin, Harry covered himself over
again and resumed Plan A – to watch the bar through the window. His best leads were
now gone, but the cold of the night air and the endless monotony seemed appropriate
self-flagellation given his present frame of mind.

He gave it another three hours before going back to the little house the Ministry had
allocated him for the duration of his assignment. He hadn’t learned a single thing.

Flopping lifelessly into bed, Harry lay awake for a while running over his case leads yet
again, but more often than not finding himself knocked completely off track by the
unexpected appearance of Malfoy at the bar, and the things he’d subsequently seen and
heard. Harry considered yet again why Malfoy might be the person he was looking for,
yet at the same time he knew deep down that it simply didn’t add up. It was, perhaps,
some remnant of boyhood wishful thinking that he’d finally be able to make something
stick to Malfoy junior. He knew he should really explore other leads and not limit himself
to one possible dead end. If only there were some other leads.

He picked up a carefully folded parchment sheet from the bedside table and opened it.
Harry lay and re-read Ginny’s most recent letter, more for the mental diversion than
because he couldn’t remember what it said. She was much better at writing than him; he
wrote perhaps one note to every three of her letters. He knew she didn’t mind, but he
felt guilty all the same. Not quite guilty enough to write more often, however. There just
never seemed to be the time. He marvelled at how she ever found the time herself;
Ginny’s letters were always full of her latest escapades, and almost everything about her
life seemed to run at breakneck speed.

Harry hadn’t minded when Ginny’s training had taken her to Egypt. He wasn’t that
surprised she’d opted to follow Bill’s footsteps into Curse-Breaking because she had a
natural talent for that kind of thing. A year was a long time to be apart, but it was easier
than Harry might have expected. Work kept him busy, and he had his friends to fill any
empty spaces in his life. The relationship they shared was a comfortable and easy one,
lacking a lot of the high-octave drama so common to many of their friends. There was a
warm certainty to the path they would take; Harry knew it and Ginny knew it. Perhaps
that’s why there didn’t seem to be any hurry, or any pressure.

It was the lack of pressure that Harry valued the most. He didn’t need to be cajoled or
manipulated; there’d been enough of that in the past. Ginny let Harry live life at his own

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pace, never sitting in judgement when that pace proved slower than most people’s. He
often felt stunted, lacking in some way, more than likely a result of his childhood neglect,
and although the notion of love didn’t scare him, he often feared he didn’t know how to
love someone or perhaps even how to love himself. They’d never discussed it, but Ginny
seemed to acknowledge Harry’s insecurities and she had always been patient and
supportive, especially in their private lives. They’d both been virgins until their first time
together, but Harry knew he was a long way behind Ginny in both experience and
emotional maturity. Sometimes he felt a bit intimidated by her, and it was out of that
secret emotion that his insecurities had sprouted, growing like a fungus in the dark, out
of sight but never out of mind.

The hints in her letters were always subtle, but in those moments when Harry felt
vulnerable he saw them for what they were. She’d ask from time to time if he was
getting out much, if he’d made any new friends. She’d joke about making sure there
were no reporters around when he was letting his hair down, and encourage him to tell
her ‘all about it’ in his next letter. It was a bit disconcerting to feel that the woman you
planned on marrying was encouraging you to have the odd fling, so much so that he’d
had a rather uncomfortable conversation with Hermione about it. Hermione told him in
that special tone she seemed to reserve just for him that Ginny was secure in the
knowledge that she had his heart, so she wasn’t going to worry too much if someone
else had a little taste of other parts of him while she was away. Just as long as he was
ready to pick up with her when she got home. Even Hermione ventured that it might do
him some good to be with someone else. Harry had felt embarrassed and stupid after
that conversation and completely certain that there would never be a woman he wanted
in Ginny’s place.

Thinking about Ginny and some of their more special times together brought on the
inevitable physical reaction. Harry turned out the light and touched himself, thinking
happy thoughts and letting go of some of his bottled up tension. He took his time,
relaxing into his unhurried pace and letting his mind go blank, free from work, free from
responsibilities, free from Malfoy.

Except that he wasn’t. As his mind wandered, bobbing like a cork in the irregular waves
of his pleasure, he experienced a vivid flash of Malfoy’s hand pressing between the
woman’s legs, and in the quiet of his mind the woman had Ginny’s face, and she was
alight with anticipation. But instead of revulsion a flicker of some other, surprising,
emotion lit up the pit of his stomach, and for a split second Harry was there watching
them, and liking it. More than liking it; excited by it. Like the shock of a flame burning
your finger unexpectedly, the thought shattered Harry’s fantasy, and he recoiled,
disturbed by his train of thought.

He tried to empty his mind, so far gone into his arousal that there was no question of
stopping before he came. Yet his thoughts were treacherous, veering repeatedly back to
the image Harry wished fervently to deny. He barely noticed that his hand had sped up,
his masturbation rougher, more charged than was his regular preference. Instead of

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relaxing, Harry was now tensing all over, the hand gripping his erection tightening until
the veins beneath the skin pressed back against his fingers, no soft skin, just hard, hot
blood and the promise of fireworks behind his eyelids.

He was close, so close, and in his head he saw the hand wrapped around Malfoy’s
exposed penis, and the image of it overlaid itself so that Harry barely knew if the hand in
his mind was his, or the prick in his fist was Malfoy’s. All the visuals jumbled together
until the seams became invisible. There was Ginny, watching Harry drop to his knees
before the commanding figure of Draco Malfoy, and he felt himself hypnotised by
Malfoy’s eyes.

Harry’s masturbation became a battle of sorts. His body and his mind fought over their
two separate conclusions; in his head he sought only to see Ginny, but where there was
Ginny there was Malfoy too, and then there was only Malfoy, all come hither sighs and
fuck me eyes. His body didn’t care about people and names. All it cared about was relief,
and stroke by stroke, Harry felt his willpower crumble and his imagination grow in
strength until disgust and desire became the same thing. When Harry came it was with
the shape of Malfoy’s mouth impressed on his mind’s eye.

Feebly, guiltily, Harry murmured Ginny’s name aloud as he laid his spent prick against his
belly. He told himself he was tired, frustrated with his work, and that was the only reason
there had been any confusion, and that at the crucial moment, there had definitely been
no picture of Draco Malfoy and his sultry smile at all. It was a mistake. Yes, that’s all it
was; just a trick of his subconscious mind. He disliked Malfoy, couldn’t find anything
worth respecting about the man. He certainly didn’t fancy him, and that was a solid gold
fact.

Harry worked hard at justifying this most peculiar, distressing little blip when it became
apparent that denial wasn’t going to stick. He didn’t fancy men, never had. And even if
he decided he did, he’d never fancy Malfoy.

Punching his pillow back into shape, Harry huffed aloud, turned onto his side and pulled
the covers over his head, trying to keep the bad thoughts out and failing spectacularly.

It took a long time to get to sleep.

The next time Harry returned to the bar, neither the drug-dealing woman nor Malfoy
showed up, so Harry scanned the bar casually, pretending to take sips from his wine glass
and looking as uninteresting as possible; the last thing he needed was to be chatted up.

Harry wasn’t the only person who visibly perked up when two uniformed police officers
walked in and approached the bar. The manager hustled over quickly, clearly concerned
about their arrival, and a conversation followed in which one police officer withdrew a

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piece of paper from her pocket and passed it to the bar manager. The man took the
paper, his brow wrinkling as he strained to think. Harry thought he looked unsure about
something. The other waiting staff were called over and the paper was passed around.
Whatever was on it prompted several affirmative nods, and the second police officer
withdrew a notepad and jotted down several pages worth of notes as his colleague
asked questions.

Keeping one eye on the serious little group, Harry trained his other eye on the door,
interested in which patrons saw fit to attempt to slip out quietly while they were still
unnoticed. Only one man looked particularly suspicious. He had the look about him of a
man who might be meeting a lady of the night, but Harry took care to memorise the
man’s face all the same.

Some time later, with the bar staff now departed back to their duties, the police officers
commenced to approach all the patrons in the bar, reaching Harry’s table in short order.

“Excuse me, sir,” the woman officer opened. “Sorry to interrupt your evening, but we’re
asking people to look carefully at this picture and tell us if they’ve ever seen this man
before.” A colour photocopy criss-crossed with supple fold lines was handed to Harry,
and he was genuinely surprised to recognise the face portrayed.

The picture appeared to have been taken on a foreign holiday, the backdrop depicting
another bar, but a seafront one, strewn with party lights and backlit by the setting sun.
The young auburn-haired man was laughing, a preposterously ostentatious cocktail held
high in salute, his other arm draped around the shoulder of a dark-skinned man, perhaps
his conquest for the evening. His smile seemed more genuine, his face more relaxed, less
posed, than it had been the last time Harry had seen him in the bar sitting next to Malfoy.

Schooling his features with care Harry scrutinised the picture for long moments as
befitted a serious attempt to help the police officers. “Has something happened to him?”
he asked, conveying just the right amount of concern for a complete stranger.

“We’re conducting a murder investigation, sir,” one police officer responded.

“Murder?” Harry said, the shock in his voice completely genuine. “That’s terrible.” After a
long pause, and further consideration of the picture, Harry handed it back and said, “I’m
sorry. I’ve never seen him before. But still; murdered…” He felt troubled, deeply
troubled by this turn of events.

“Yes, sir,” the male officer continued. “Nasty business. Ritualised killing, it’s believed.
I’m surprised you haven’t seen it on the news.”

Ritualised? As in ‘black magic’ ritual? Could there be a connection to the potions? It


seemed too much of a stretch to imagine this was a mere coincidence. Muggles wouldn’t
know about real Dark arts, but there had been a lot of unpleasant rumours about goings-

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on amongst the Death Eaters. Harry had to ask. “Do you mean like black magic, that sort
of thing?”

“Maybe,” the policeman added earnestly. “It could be a homophobic attack too.
There were certain indications--"

“But we’re not at liberty to discuss the case, sir. I’m sure you understand.” The female
officer cut smoothly across her colleague, interrupting anything useful he might have
been about to say.

“Of course,” Harry said, nodding. “Of course. I’m just sorry I can’t help. I hope you find
whoever did it,” he said, although he was thinking but if it’s Malfoy I’m going to get to him
first.

“Goodnight, sir. Enjoy the rest of your evening.”

Harry made a non-committal response as the officers moved on to the next table. His
brain was working overtime, trying to make a completed jigsaw out of the few oddly
shaped pieces in his possession. For the first time in a week or more, the problem of
illegal potions dealings took low priority in his thoughts. If he was honest, he really
couldn’t make Malfoy for engaging in anything so common as that. But murder was a
different story altogether. Okay, so he knew from first-hand experience that Malfoy
wasn’t much of a killer, but that wasn’t the only option here, was it? It could be some sort
of extortion racket, with Malfoy being forced to procure victims for some of his hidden
ex-brethren. This couldn’t be about loyal Death Eaters trying some harebrained plot to
resurrect Voldemort, could it? It wasn’t much of a stretch to see Malfoy being part of
something like that, although his track record of cowardice told Harry that he was more
than likely acting against his will. If he was involved in any wrongdoing, Harry had to
remind himself. There was still the small matter of ‘innocent until proven guilty’,
although plenty of his fellow Aurors would be willing to believe the worst right off the
bat.

He needed to find Malfoy as soon as possible and engage him in some sort of
conversation. Ideally, he needed to befriend him, to gain a level of trust so that he could
observe Malfoy’s behaviour at close quarters. And he needed to start following anyone
he’d had any remote suspicions about, including his drug dealing Muggle, as well as her
customers.

For the first time since the assignment commenced Harry was feeling a buzz. There could
be more than met the eye here, something to really challenge his abilities. The thought
that he might finally have something to really sink his teeth into was a happy one,
although it seemed a bit callous given that someone had lost his life to create the
scenario.

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Nevertheless, the news of the man’s death had reignited Harry’s interest, and for the first
time he considered the worrying possibility that Muggles might be playing a role in
whatever conspiracy was afoot, whether unwittingly or knowingly.

Given that there was no hint of a connection between his case and the murder, Harry
didn’t feel obliged to call Savage out to meet up early; Harry didn’t think he’d respond
well to getting all worked up over what amounted to nothing more than intuition and
perhaps a sprinkling of desire to make the case more interesting than it was.

No. He’d explore a few more avenues first.

When he left the wine bar late in the evening having instigated casual yet purposeful
small talk with a number of the more regular patrons, it was with a spring in his step.
Harry had ideas. He had plans. And thankfully he had a bit of a budget for his disguises.
The time had come to test his ‘undercover’ acting skills.

Starting with Draco Malfoy.

“Hi. It’s David, isn’t it?” Harry stood several paces to Malfoy’s left and offered his hand
confidently. He watched as Malfoy turned slowly, a tiny crinkle of annoyance between his
eyebrows until he laid eyes on Harry, and then his face broke into a smile. They shook
hands like old friends.

“Yes. James, if memory serves? Take a seat.” Malfoy gestured to the stool next to
himself, and Harry sat down while Malfoy hailed the barman and ordered him a drink.

Harry felt good about his disguise. To his own surprise he’d come near the top of his class
in Transformation. His ‘exam’ had been to pick a disguise and engage Hermione in
conversation without her cottoning on to the fact that it was him. His tutor decided that
if he could fool Hermione he could pretty much fool anyone. She was completely
gobsmacked when she’d discovered she’d been talking to Harry all along, and Harry had
earned a high mark for his efforts. Which meant that fooling Malfoy should be a doddle.

They exchanged idle chit-chat, which oddly, Harry found much easier when he was
pretending to be someone else. He supposed it had something to do with being able to
create any sort of past he wanted without the constant knowledge that his companion
probably knew most of the details of his life anyway. He fabricated details of a Muggle
life and fed them to Malfoy as the questions arose, covering everything from where he
lived to how old he was and what he did for a living, being careful not to give any hint of
even the tiniest magical inclination. For his part, Malfoy offered that he’d attended
boarding school in France and had only recently returned to live in England, thus relieving
him, Harry thought, of having to pretend to know much about Muggle London.

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Harry found it quite disconcerting to be on the receiving end of a pleasant Malfoy. It was
certainly different from his usual experience, albeit that he had a motive for making the
effort. He needed a way to ask certain, more pointed, questions that might arouse
suspicion while they were completely unfamiliar to one another. He could hardly ask if
Malfoy wanted to sell him any drugs or if he’d shagged any murder victims recently,
could he? He didn’t want to alert Malfoy to the fact that he was prying into his personal
affairs, and he certainly didn’t want to raise any suspicion that he knew about any illicit
activities in which Malfoy might be engaged. It didn’t help that as they talked, Harry kept
seeing flashes of Malfoy with his recent conquests.

Harry found himself unable to shake one worrying thought; was Malfoy capable of luring
someone to their death? That’s what this could all come down to. Never mind the
potions for now; that barely registered as a priority in the current circumstances,
although it seemed likely the two things were intertwined.

Around half an hour later they were still chatting away, but not even a hint of anything
‘interesting’ had arisen and Harry knew he had to do something or risk losing this
opportunity. He excused himself and went to the toilet, more to buy some quiet minutes
in which to think than because he needed to go.

Standing at the urinal, Harry pondered how to arrange a further meeting with Malfoy.
They hadn’t talked about sport or the cinema, or in fact very much Muggle culture at all –
Malfoy had been clever when it came to skirting around any questions he couldn’t
answer, and it was clear to Harry that whilst Malfoy might well date in the Muggle world,
he certainly didn’t live in it. This made it hard for Harry to suggest anything without it
coming across as a proposition.

Bloody hell. Maybe that’s what he’d have to do. Sex was the only thing Harry absolutely
knew Malfoy was interested in, so perhaps he’d have to play along just enough to learn
what he needed without ever having to actually follow through. It wasn’t like he’d be the
first Auror to take one for the team. Rumour had it that Kingsley himself had done a five
week stint as a strip-a-gram as part of one of his undercover assignments, although when
Harry had asked him to confirm it he’d only smiled and changed the subject.

Harry managed to force a pathetic dribble out as he stood in the toilets, and it was just as
well he did because Malfoy came in as he was urinating, and it would have looked pretty
off otherwise.

Harry sensed somebody enter the bathroom and move up to stand next to him, ever so
subtly invading his personal space by positioning himself that bit too close for comfort.
He sensed more than saw that it was Malfoy.

Harry’s throat felt tight. Did he pretend he couldn’t see Malfoy or did he acknowledge
him and risk an uncomfortable moment?

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Malfoy coughed lightly and began to piss. Harry inclined his head to offer some inane
joke or other, but was met with an incredibly disconcerting sight. Malfoy was looking at
him. Rather, he was quite openly staring right at Harry’s penis, and even being caught
looking didn’t appear to affect him in the slightest. Any words Harry might have uttered
dried up in his mouth.

Harry’s bladder contracted tightly and the faltering stream of urine stopped dead. He felt
himself growing warm and knew that his cheeks would be colouring up at any moment.
He’d heard about men picking each other up in toilets, but he’d never expected to be on
the receiving end of it. But such were the risks of being an Auror.

A foreign, wicked part of Harry’s brain told him to return Malfoy’s stare, but there was
something so ingrained about the social unacceptability of looking at another man’s
genitals that he found he simply couldn’t do it. He had to settle for watching Malfoy’s
face, and he recognised the challenge there and the indescribable set of his features,
which effortlessly conveyed Malfoy’s self-confident superiority. Harry knew whether he
accepted the as yet unspoken offer or rebuffed it, Malfoy would manage to walk away
having retained the upper hand. It was one of the things about the man that annoyed
Harry intensely and always had.

For some stupid reason Harry hadn’t put himself away, and he realised that Malfoy was
probably only staring because he was displaying himself. With a start Harry corrected his
error and fumbled to pop his penis back into his trousers and do himself up.

The movement brought about a change in Malfoy’s expression; it morphed from


calculating to smug amusement in a flash. Harry watched in growing discomfort as
Malfoy’s gaze began to climb upwards from his groin with aching deliberation, the
scrutiny so penetrating it felt almost insulting. There was an unmistakeable air of sexual
charge about Malfoy’s behaviour, and if ever Harry had thought the man cowardly, well,
he seemed like the archetypical human predator in that moment.

When their eyes finally met and Harry saw the determination in Malfoy’s face, his scalp
prickled with sweat and he felt about as confident as a virgin in a bordello, unpleasantly
aware that his acting skills were starting to fail and his own prejudices and fears were
coming to the fore.

Feeling pretty stumped as to what to do, Harry stood silently and waited for Malfoy to
take charge. Which, after some long and painful moments, he did.

“You’re hard to read,” Malfoy said, completely unperturbed. “Did you want to go
somewhere or not?” It was such an unvarnished, blunt statement that Harry was
knocked off guard for a few seconds. Malfoy, however, was calm as you like. He merely
held eye contact while Harry mulled the statement over, his expression suggesting he
already knew the answer. Harry felt his mouth opening and closing, fish-like, even before
he had any words formed. Malfoy’s smile twisted into something smug, knowing.

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“Shy?” Malfoy ventured mockingly as he finished his toilet and stepped back from the
urinal towards the sink.

“No. I…” Harry stuttered, grateful when the door swung open and another man entered,
breaking the tension of the moment. Malfoy laughed, ever so slightly cruelly, and gave
Harry enough space to let him know he was off the hook if he so chose.

Harry had known this was a possibility. Why, now, was he so unprepared for it? He took
his work seriously and was quite prepared to do unpleasant things to get the right result.
And compared to preventing additional murders, getting off with Malfoy was an
insignificant concern.

By the time Harry had washed his hands and dried them roughly on a paper towel,
Malfoy had walked away, the swing door swishing shut behind his exiting form. He
followed as Malfoy strode briskly through the bar towards the door, and he caught it on
the rebound as Malfoy stepped outside, never giving any indication that he knew Harry
was in his wake.

A little further down the street Harry sped up and caught up to Malfoy. “David, I’m
sorry,” he floundered. It seemed like the right thing to say. Malfoy did indeed stop in his
tracks and he rounded on Harry squarely, one eyebrow raised almost comically, his
mouth twisted into an I told you so smirk. He remained silent, making Harry fumble to fill
the space, making him work for it.

Finally Harry said, “I would like to get to know you better.” Well, it’s true, he thought.
Just not in the way he thinks.

“How romantic,” Malfoy mocked, although there was little real sting in the words.
Harry’s hand dropped away from Malfoy’s arm. He felt just like his old, confused self,
weak and exposed, giving the game away.

Malfoy seemed to take pity on Harry’s uncertainty. His face softened and he smiled in a
way that looked almost sad. “There’s a choice here, you know,” Malfoy said.
“Nobody’s forcing anyone.”

“I know,” Harry replied quickly. “I’m just not very good at…” picking men up I don’t even
fancy, he finished in his head.

Malfoy chuckled. It was a surprisingly warm sound. “Evidently.”

Harry allowed himself a small smile in return and cautiously, he reached forward and
brushed his hand against Malfoy’s hip, just enough of a gesture to appear earnest. Harry
felt weird doing it, but he knew it didn’t show in his face.

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“Come on then,” Malfoy said, turning away, a clear invitation in his stance. “Your place or
mine?”

Harry paused for a moment, giving the impression of serious thought before replying,
“Probably better if it’s yours actually.” He hoped his response was open enough to
suggest any number of excuses to Malfoy. It worked, because Malfoy didn’t ask. This was
a perfect turn of events; scoping out Malfoy’s house would be a job well done.

Malfoy stepped to the curb and flagged a taxi down. “After you,” he said solicitously to
Harry as he held the door open. Harry climbed into the taxi, aware of Malfoy’s eyes on his
arse. He sat down and gave a long, stifled sigh, resisting the urge to rub his eyes.

How in hell am I going to get out of actually doing anything?

He didn’t know the answer to that.

Malfoy didn’t try anything on in front of the taxi driver. Harry was thankful for small
mercies. They travelled in silence, the lack of conversation causing Malfoy amusement if
the expression on his face was anything to go by. Harry knew that second by second,
control was slipping out of his grasp. He was almost desperately hoping that there would
be some sort of ambush at their destination, or immediate, clear evidence of
involvement in wrongdoing. If there wasn’t then Harry was going to have a truly
uncomfortable experience in trying to worm out of the assignation. He pondered his
limited options, asking himself what Kingsley would do. That didn’t help much because
Harry suspected Kingsley would screw Malfoy as easily as looking at him if there was a
good lead at stake.

The taxi drew up outside an impressive town house with a shallow stone staircase
running up to the front door. It was clear to Harry that both the district and the property
were expensive, and he spared a moment to wonder if Malfoy senior knew how his son
was blowing the family fortune. It didn’t look a likely venue for illegal goings on, but then
where did? Most of the Death Eaters had been from old, moneyed families, and Harry
knew more than he would have liked about what had gone on inside some of their
mansions.

With massive trepidation, Harry held the taxi door open for Malfoy and followed him up
the stone steps. There was something blackly funny about watching Malfoy unlock his
front door with a key rather than a wave of his wand, and Harry thought again of Lucius
Malfoy, imagining the look of disdain on his face at his sole heir engaging in anything so
decidedly non-magical.

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“This is beautiful,” Harry finally said, completely aware that he probably sounded like an
awestruck pauper, which would only add to Malfoy’s inbred smug superiority. But it
seemed like the sort of thing James would say.

“Thanks,” Malfoy replied simply, pushing the wide front door inwards to reveal a white
marble hallway, richly decorated with forest greens and dark wood. “I haven’t been here
long, actually.”

“I don’t suppose you would have been if you’ve only just moved over from France,”
Harry replied, giving Malfoy some subtle reassurance that his companion had in fact been
hanging on his every word.

Malfoy led Harry through into an open drawing room before turning towards him and
sizing him up openly. “You need something to help you relax,” he told Harry. “You’re so
tense you’re making my neck stiff in sympathy.”

Harry watched Malfoy’s hand slip into one of his trouser pockets and his pulse sped up in
excitement. Harry just knew Malfoy was going to suggest he took a pill or something.
This was it! His hunch was about to pay off. He had a vision of Malfoy standing over his
comatose body while a number of black-clad men swarmed into the room to tie him up
and drag him off to his doom.

Instead, Malfoy withdrew what looked like a tiny key and proceeded to walk to a large,
ornately carved sideboard where he unlocked a low cupboard and displayed a sizeable
range of bottles of spirits. Oh. Okay then, Harry thought, though he kept his eyes peeled
for any indication of Malfoy slipping something into his drink. Or maybe Malfoy planned
to hit him over the head with a heavy bottle or something? No. Harry dismissed that idea.
Malfoy had always had muscle on hand to do his dirty work; drugging his victim would
mean he wouldn’t have to strain any of his delicate pureblood muscles, wouldn’t it?

Accepting a large tumbler of whisky, he took a sip and observed Malfoy, who was clearly
in his element. The room was decorated opulently. Harry thought, rather churlishly, that
it was probably easy to be stylish when you were stinking rich. There were a number of
large oil paintings adorning the walls, and Harry wondered how long it had taken Malfoy
to get used to the subjects not moving in and out of the frames. Everything in sight was
purely Muggle; there was nothing of the wizarding world at all. The house must be like a
guilty secret to someone of Malfoy’s background.

The whisky was the best Harry had ever drunk. Of course. But what a shame to be
sharing such an experience with Draco Malfoy.

“So, tell me,” Malfoy said conversationally. “First time with another man?”

Harry could hardly lie, so he nodded, wracking his brains for how exactly to get himself
out of the front door unmolested. The chances of that happening were growing slimmer

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by the minute. Maybe, he told himself, Malfoy had his way with Mr Auburn before having
him murdered. If he’d had him murdered, Harry reminded himself. There was still the
annoying fact of no supporting evidence for his working theory.

“Well, I promise not to bite,” Malfoy said coyly, imbuing the words with an undercurrent
that told Harry he most definitely would, given half a chance. Harry laughed nervously
and toyed with his glass. The nerves were most definitely for real.

Plucking the first words out of his head, Harry blurted, “You’ll get me drunk at this rate.”
He jiggled his glass rather too hard so that the contents slopped alarmingly but didn’t
spill over the sides. Malfoy leaned up against the fireplace, his expression completely
neutral. Harry blundered on, “But I’d rather be drunk than stoned, wouldn’t you?” No
response. The jitters were well and truly taking control of Harry now. It was a fine line to
play at being nervous when you were actually nervous inside. It would be far too easy to
make a silly mistake and blow the charade.

Taking a deep breath to calm himself as well as to bolster Malfoy’s sense of power in the
situation, Harry continued more normally, “Not that I’ve got anything against
recreational drugs, you know?” Still no reaction from Malfoy. “What about you?” Surely
he wouldn’t ignore a direct question.

Malfoy looked annoyed, perhaps considering for the first time that he might have pulled
a dud. “I dabble with a few home-grown herbs from time to time if you must know,” he
replied quite shortly. “But I can think of many more rewarding activities to occupy my
time with, particularly right now.” With that he placed his glass on a small side table and
advanced on Harry, making it very clear that it was ‘put out or get out’ time.

Home-grown herbs? Harry thought that was almost as good as an admission of guilt.
Malfoy was likely talking about potions brewing, and there was just enough implied by
the words to pique Harry’s suspicion.

Trying not to look repulsed, Harry placed his own glass down and waited for Malfoy to
get close.

Standing only a small distance apart, Malfoy reached one hand up and held Harry’s chin,
the barest pressure keeping Harry’s face looking right at him. Malfoy’s fingers were
slightly cool from holding his glass, and Harry could feel the temperature difference
against the flushed skin of his face. It didn’t feel horrible.

He wondered in growing discomfort how he was going to get a hard-on if the situation
demanded it. Perhaps imagining Malfoy with tits, wearing a dress?

Malfoy’s hand moved from Harry’s chin to his shoulder before sliding across the slope of
his chest and flipping the top button of his shirt open. Harry felt oddly detached despite
the now-inevitable conclusion. He imagined he would feel repelled, disgusted with

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himself, but he was surprised to feel very little at all. It almost seemed as though he was
spectating again, watching Malfoy with someone else instead of being a participant.

Malfoy’s eyes flicked between watching himself undress Harry and watching Harry’s face.
His expression was unreadable, neither lust-filled nor detached.

“Feel free to join in any time you like,” Malfoy finally said, and it was as though the words
cemented the reality of the situation in Harry’s mind. With startling intensity Harry felt
the brush of Malfoy’s fingers against the cloth of his shirt. Even though the touch wasn’t
directly onto his skin, it might as well have been; Harry was suddenly alive to even the
barest pressure.

There was something about the situation that ramped up Harry’s response to it. Perhaps,
he told himself, it was that he really didn’t want it because it was a man, or maybe it was
just his physical reaction to having Malfoy this close. Whatever it was, the sensations
were like electricity, alternately hot and prickling and dangerous. His nerve endings
jangled and felt like they were exposed above the surface of his skin.

He’d never imagined that anyone but Ginny would touch him with sex in mind, and he
was more than taken by surprise to discover that one careful touch felt pretty much like
another. He could have closed his eyes and replaced Malfoy with Ginny and the contact
would not have been repulsive. But then, he was fully aware he was with Malfoy, and he
was standing his ground with less difficulty than he’d imagined. He still didn’t know if he
could go through with it, whatever ‘it’ proved to be. Only time would tell.

Malfoy’s other hand joined his first and sped up the process of unbuttoning Harry’s shirt
before tugging it slowly from inside his trousers. Harry reached out and tentatively
placed his hands on Malfoy’s hips, steadying himself and offering unspoken permission
for more. He pressed his palms flat and felt Malfoy’s hipbones through the fine layer of
woollen fabric. When Malfoy inched ever so slightly closer, Harry felt the fluid movement
of his joints, something he’d never paid attention to before. Human bodies were truly
amazing, weren’t they? Without thought Harry moved his hands a little, cupping the
curve of the angular hipbones, testing the shape of this body before him, memorising the
experience and making mental comparisons to the only other body he knew with any
intimacy.

Malfoy took the button bands of Harry’s shirt in each hand and drew the cotton open,
exposing the torso beneath. Harry studied Malfoy’s face intently, looking for prompts.
Malfoy didn’t move to touch Harry’s skin. Instead he looked, eyes taking in every curve,
every fine hair; he smiled wickedly when Harry’s nipples shrivelled under his scrutiny.
Harry looked down at his own chest and frowned slightly, a bemused expression, as
though berating his nipples for giving away some dark secret.

Malfoy was looking straight at him when Harry lifted his head. There was something
worldly wise about his expression, particularly in the depths of his eyes. For the first time

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Harry wondered what it would be like to learn another man’s body. Perhaps it might
actually be nice, or rather, not awful.

Harry held his breath as Malfoy’s head tilted to one side and came closer. Malfoy had to
bend down a little to close the gap between himself and Harry; he was taller by several
inches. It wasn’t a kiss, Harry could see that. The angle was all wrong. Harry was
somewhat relieved; he didn’t think he could fake a kiss. It would end up being as smooth
and suave as his kiss with Cho, and that was an episode not worth repeating.

Instead, Malfoy’s face came to a stop several inches from the curve where Harry’s neck
met his shoulder. Harry, confused, noted Malfoy’s eyes close in his peripheral vision. He
could feel the warm wash of breath on his skin and couldn’t deny there was something
tantalising about the sensation.

And then Malfoy inhaled. He took his time, drawing an audible stream of air through his
nostrils, held it for several long seconds and then exhaled, the breath no longer merely
warm, but hot enough to raise a wash of prickles all over Harry’s body. Harry’s confusion
was followed by something approaching shock. What a peculiar thing to do! He felt
suddenly self-conscious about his body odour and hoped he didn’t smell bad. Yet Malfoy
didn’t seem concerned in the slightest. When he inhaled again, Harry felt slightly cool
hands slide inside his shirt and come to a rest on his sides beneath his ribs.

It was a bizarre embrace. There was nothing blatantly sexual about it yet Harry felt as if
he’d never been so exposed. It occurred to him that he had never taken the time to learn
another person’s body before. He knew Ginny’s shape and even how she tasted, and the
fragrance of her favourite perfume, but for the life of him he couldn’t call to mind what
she smelled like underneath. How peculiar that in a single gesture Malfoy could teach
him a lesson he didn’t know he was lacking. It was a sobering thought. And he also felt
some embarrassment about his initial assessment of Malfoy’s night time activities. The
man had behaved more than appropriately with Harry throughout the evening. There
was nothing seedy or over-forceful about his actions. In fact quite the reverse was true.
He merely appeared to be indulging his interest in the human body, and put like that,
Harry struggled to find anything wrong in it. It was just different to anything Harry had
ever done. And, a little voice said, not in keeping with someone who’s going to drug and
murder you.

The ‘wrongness’ of the coupling was inched aside to be replaced by a new


inquisitiveness. For once Harry was in a position to experience something he would never
normally allow himself to try, without any fear of discovery. Malfoy would never know it
was him and Harry would never tell anyone else what he’d done. He’d fabricate
something believable for his report or make it sound less ‘gay’ than it actually was. So it
would be his secret, not necessarily shameful or tawdry, but something that would
require elucidation if it were ever to come out and was therefore better left concealed
for his own sake and the sake of his loved ones. And he really didn’t want to imagine how

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any explanatory conversation would go with Kingsley. Try creating some positive spin on
that for the Prophet why don’t you, Harry thought fleetingly.

Conceding defeat to the moment, Harry turned his head and brushed a kiss against
Malfoy’s hair. The kiss said, ‘It’s okay to touch me’, and it actually was okay. The
remaining nerves he could feel were like butterflies in the pit of his stomach, light and
breathless and anticipatory.

Malfoy moved so that his temple pressed against Harry’s, and he applied the faintest
pressure to guide Harry backwards until they met the resistance of a piece of furniture, a
tall chaise as it happened. The firm upholstery registered as a vague pressure across the
very tops of Harry’s thighs, just below his buttocks. He rested a little of his weight against
the furniture and encouraged Malfoy to move closer until he could feel the velvety linen
of Malfoy’s shirt tickling his chest.

There was no talking, no need to talk. Harry was grateful; he just knew he’d say
something to break the atmosphere if he was forced to speak. And if that happened it
would likely be enough of a distraction to stop him continuing with whatever was about
to happen. He found he didn’t particularly want to stop.

Malfoy rested his forehead against Harry’s and they looked at each other from bare
inches apart so that Harry couldn’t focus properly, instead making out a soft focus
Malfoy, one whose sharp edges had been smudged smooth.

When Malfoy looked down, Harry did too. Malfoy’s hands brushed down Harry’s sides
and traced around the top of his belt with those long, pale fingers, making him shiver
because it tickled. The fingers became a little more inquisitive, pushing slightly inside
Harry’s waistband, displacing the elastic top of his boxer shorts. His hands tightened on
Malfoy’s hips, a mixture of both tension and a desire to get it over with. He couldn’t stop
looking. He really was going to let this happen, wasn’t he?

The leather-covered buckle on Harry’s belt make a series of dull clicks when Malfoy
tugged it undone. The strength behind the tug pulled Harry forward so that his groin slid
against Malfoy’s very briefly; it made him catch his breath sharply, such a loud sound in
the silence. Then Malfoy was undoing the hook on his waistband, and then the zip, until a
triangle of plain blue cotton was exposed to view. Harry felt his pulse beat rapidly in the
top of his groin. He held his breath, fearful yet curious about what was to happen next.

The moment came without fanfare; Harry watched as Malfoy’s fingers rubbed over the
cotton and sought the little flap at the front. If he was disappointed at Harry’s quiescent
state Malfoy didn’t show it, instead dipping nimbly inside and seeking the curled up
warmth of Harry’s penis. Harry’s heart was beating extra hard thanks to his jumbled
emotions; his pulse filled his mouth and made his throat seem too tight to swallow.

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Malfoy’s attempt to coax Harry’s prick out of his boxers met numerous barriers, not least
of which was the tightness of his trousers. In frustration, and because he just wanted to
get it over with, Harry hooked his thumbs inside his trousers and underwear and shoved
them down his legs, making Malfoy snort lightly with humour at the lack of finesse. For a
moment Harry leaned back against the chaise to balance himself, but when Malfoy’s
hand finally cupped him and squeezed lightly, he returned both hands to Malfoy’s body,
taking the initiative and reaching round to grip his backside in what must have felt like a
death grip.

Malfoy’s fingers were surprisingly gentle when he wrapped them around the stubby
softness of Harry’s cock. As the grip tightened and eased rhythmically, Harry hardened
with embarrassing rapidity, the alien touch of another man both pleasant and, finally,
desired. He watched himself grow, heard the sound of his shallow breathing in his own
ears. Finally he could see the head of his erection peeking out above the bunched up
fingers and he thought, Well, there’s a turn up for the books. It appeared that getting an
erection wasn’t going to be a worry after all, and there was something about that
thought that made Harry feel manly and virile, which was a bit odd really.

But then Malfoy started to wank him off and all thoughts of congratulating himself on his
newfound sexual flexibility left his mind.

It was a plain and simple fact that no woman could give a man a hand job better than he
could give himself. However, the same fact obviously couldn’t be applied to getting a
hand job from another man if the current situation was anything to go by. Bloody hell, it
felt so good. There was such unembellished skill in every single stroke that Harry let slip a
tiny, pathetic whimper of satisfaction before he could stop himself.

“Better?” Malfoy questioned in a whisper, making Harry nod his head vigorously and dig
his fingers a little further into Malfoy’s thinly covered bottom.

Malfoy’s grip was perfection, better even than Harry’s own; each stroke felt longer, more
exploratory. And at the peak of each caress, the ring of Malfoy’s fingers twisted only
enough to massage Harry’s foreskin just so, making stars pop in front of his retinas and a
liquid throb beat just behind his balls.

Without even meaning to Harry started to knead Malfoy’s bum, drawing his whole body
closer, close enough that Malfoy had to straddle one of Harry’s thighs to be able to fit.
Sweat started to prickle over Harry’s scalp as his temperature cranked up alongside his
excitement. This was totally unbelievable; Draco Malfoy was tossing him off and he was a
fucking master at it. Harry buried the urge to laugh out loud.

Harry’s throat constricted more and more tightly as he fought to keep any stray,
humiliating bedroom noises inside. He had to concentrate hard to stay in control, and
Malfoy almost certainly sensed something.

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“Turn around and lean on the sofa,” Malfoy said, removing his hand after one final
flourish of the wrist.

“Why?” Harry replied, alarmed. It suddenly occurred to him that his bum was quite happy
being a one-way street and if he turned around he was placing himself at severe risk of
permitting a traffic jam.

Malfoy had moved back to give Harry just enough room to comply. Absently, he raised
his hand to his mouth and rubbed his forefinger against his bottom lip, licking casually at
the remaining dampness from Harry’s cock. Harry was momentarily caught off-guard by
the gesture, and he found himself fascinated by the way Malfoy’s bottom lip dragged
slightly against the long finger.

“Why do you think?” Malfoy finally said, playfully. The usually piercing eyes were full of
humour.

Nervously, Harry mumbled, “But I’ve never…” tailing off to nothing because he couldn’t
bring himself to say anything out loud.

“There’s really nothing to worry about,” Malfoy soothed, clearly practiced in the art of
getting his own way. “Trust me, okay?”

Harry could hardly say, Trust YOU? You, who invited a load of Death Eaters into Hogwarts?
You, who hid behind your father’s cloak every time the going got tough? He wanted to say
it, but, of course, held his tongue in check. He merely turned around, probably looking as
worried as he felt, and clenched his cheeks together as tightly as he could manage whilst
trying to look like he wasn’t doing it. It occurred to him that getting a hand job for
information was one thing, but losing his anal virginity might just be that one step too
far.

Malfoy sighed a decidedly happy sigh. “I do love virgins,” he murmured as he pressed his
clothed groin up against Harry’s bum and rubbed himself against it. Harry stiffened even
more, his back and shoulders tensing uncomfortably. “Oh, very well then,” Malfoy
whispered, nipping at the side of Harry’s neck. “I promise to contain my lustful urges. But
you don’t know what you’re missing. You’ll regret it in the morning.” There was so little
reproach in Malfoy’s words that Harry actually wondered if this was, in fact, Malfoy, or
someone with a significantly better disposition masquerading as him. It also occurred to
him that yes, he probably would regret it in the morning, but for very different reasons.

Harry felt the hand return to his erection, but the experience was tinged with concern
since he felt more vulnerable. However, he managed to shove the concern to the back of
his mind as Malfoy re-established his rhythm because from this angle it felt even better,
and that was saying something. His tension melted, and he even managed a cheeky little
wiggle back against Malfoy, which prompted a nibbling of playful teeth just below his

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ear. He liked feeling the wet mouth on him, and could almost forget it belonged to
Malfoy. He simply melted into the wonderful sensations skittering round his body.

When Malfoy started fumbling with the fly on his own trousers, Harry pushed some of
the fuzzy warmth away and focused on the movement of fabric and flesh against his
backside. He heard the subdued sigh of relief from behind him an instant before the head
of Malfoy’s cock slid against his cheek, leaving a cooling, wet trail in its wake. Malfoy
made a soft sound in the back of his throat and rutted slowly against Harry until his
erection found its home between Harry’s buttocks, where it commenced to leave a tacky
trail of dampness as it ground against him, creating the barest friction.

Harry held his breath. It felt … nice. It was sexy, definitely; it was unmistakably male,
certainly; the fact that it was arousing and oddly comforting really took him by surprise,
though. Malfoy’s purposeful grinding added a depth to the physical sensations that was
unexpected to say the least. Harry was being buffeted back and forth, and in each
direction there was something wickedly enticing, something new and liberating.

He sighed out loud and Malfoy picked up the pace, perhaps assured that his virginal
partner for the evening was loosening up a bit. “S’good,” Harry said, shocked at how
ragged his voice sounded. His hands gripped the back of the chaise as the familiar
mounting of excitement rolled over him, making him tingle from head to foot. He knew
he was panting quietly yet did nothing to hide it despite his usual shyness. He felt his
balls tighten fractionally each time Malfoy’s fist nudged against them, and the tautness
of his sac as it jiggled told him it wouldn’t be long until he came.

When Malfoy sank his teeth gently into the nape of Harry’s neck, a shockwave of
anticipation rocked Harry onto the balls of his feet. Malfoy’s tongue pushed through the
choppy strands of his hair and lapped hotly at his scalp, and Harry pushed his head back
to force the careful teeth in harder, wanting to feel them scrape against his skin. Malfoy’s
cock was sliding freely in its slippery furrow, his hips working hard against Harry’s
corresponding thrusts.

“God,” Harry gasped, clamping his hand over Malfoy’s and pumping his erection hard.

“Not quite.” Malfoy laughed, rubbing the pad of his thumb against the leaking crown of
Harry’s cock.

“I’m…” Harry ground out through gritted teeth, forcing his and Malfoy’s hand up and
down, up and down so hard it verged on painful.

“I know,” came the hissed response.

The final few seconds before Harry exploded was a melange of hot breath and slapping
flesh. He felt the heat unfurl in the pit of his belly, expanding until it touched every cell
and made his balls jerk with the pressure. His head dropped forward like a leaden weight

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the instant his orgasm whipped out of him, and he held their hands fast over the head of
his erection, pumping into their tightly squeezed fingers so that their hands were wet
and squishy with his come. It was how Harry wanked when he was on his own; he’d
never plucked up the courage to do it with Ginny before because it seemed too dirty, too
debauched. Yet with Malfoy it was fine because Harry knew he’d likely done far worse
himself.

A scant few seconds later Malfoy orgasmed, squirting hot lines across Harry’s buttocks
and into the small of his back. Harry felt every drop hit his body, sensed the dissipating
heat sinking through his skin before it cooled and began its dribbling descent.

They caught their breath together, Harry propped rigidly against the sofa, Malfoy
propped against Harry’s back, his forehead a light weight on Harry’s shoulder. Now that
it was over, in the harsh glare of dawning realisation, Harry grew uncomfortable. Despite
his inner protestations to the contrary, he’d liked it. And that was really, really hard to
admit. It was much better to feel bloody awkward instead, and consider how to wipe
himself clean and get out into the fresh air as quickly as possible.

While Harry was working on his list of options, Malfoy moved away, returning a moment
later with a box of tissues. He did a rather thorough job of mopping his mess up, and
Harry wondered whether he was copping a proper feel of his bum. Harry stood fast, even
when Malfoy wiped right up the centre of his buttocks, making him squirm in
embarrassment.

Eventually, Malfoy waved the box towards Harry, so he pulled out a wad of tissues to dry
his hand off with. The silence was beginning to feel strained. Harry couldn’t see a way of
posing any further questions, and it didn’t look like any hooded figures were coming to
drag him off either, so the evening was for nothing. Come on, you got a brilliant hand job,
he told himself, trying not to listen to the glee in his inner voice.

“Would you like a top up?”

Harry was caught by surprise. “What?”

“A top up,” Malfoy said, waving his glass in Harry’s direction.

“Oh. No thanks,” he said. He eyed Malfoy cautiously, certain he’d see the familiar look of
disdain. He found that he was expecting rejection now that Malfoy had come, and it was
disconcerting to discover that he didn’t want to be rejected. “Can I see you again?” Harry
bumbled, playing on his innocence and inexperience.

Malfoy tipped his head on one side and considered Harry. “You might do,” he mumbled
to himself before sighing heavily and replying, “I’ve got plenty of things I can show a
willing victim like you.” A sly smile spread across Malfoy’s face; Harry felt sure there was
something a bit suspicious about the expression, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.

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“Same time next week?” he said, sounding hopeful. It really needed to be sooner for the
sake of the case, but Harry decided to engineer an earlier assignation by following Malfoy
and ‘bumping into him’. Asking for a sooner date would look hopelessly uncool, and even
Harry knew that wasn’t a good thing, especially with Malfoy, who could spot weakness
at fifty paces.

“Fine,” Malfoy nodded, sipping his drink.

“Great.”

They looked at each other, Malfoy victoriously, Harry hoping for a hole in the ground into
which he could dive to save him from any further excruciating unease.

“I’ll be off then,” he finally said feebly. Malfoy looked highly amused.

“I’ll see you out.”

Harry didn’t think it was a good idea to attempt a goodnight kiss even though the
atmosphere suggested there wouldn’t be any tongues. Instead, he let the door close
behind him and took the steps slowly, turning back to look up at the house from the
pavement.

Nope, no ambush awaiting his exit.

Oh well. There went another fine theory. Probably. Great wank though, his pesky inner
voice reminded him as he headed off in search of a taxi.

He sincerely hoped it would shut up by morning.

The next two days proved to be busy. Employing his usual variety of disguises plus a few
new ones, Harry spotted and trailed not only two of the wine bar’s patrons he’d seen
buying drugs from the Muggle dealer, but also the dealer herself.

The two customers hadn’t piqued Harry’s interest at all; they’d completed their separate
transactions with little fuss and gone off to consume their purchases with all due haste.
He’d tried making an oblique approach to the woman on the off chance she might
attempt to sell to him, but she was incredibly wary and didn’t bite. If she had any real
experience she’d be able to smell a law enforcement officer from a distance, whatever
the flavour, and would have made Harry for what he was. Whether it came down to that
or something else, the woman wanted nothing to do with Harry. He did follow her when

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she left the wine bar to see if she went anywhere interesting, but as they left the high
street and headed into a run-down factory district Harry suddenly remembered he
absolutely had to get home, and then promptly forgot why once he was there. Irritated
with himself, Harry vowed to stop letting the business with Malfoy distract him from his
work; the investigation was the priority.

The meetings with Savage were still happening to schedule although they’d talked about
dropping them from once every two days to less frequently, mainly because not much
was happening with Harry, and everyone else was really busy; the manpower was
needed elsewhere. He’d talked to Savage about the woman, and that she might well turn
out to be who he was looking for, but as a Muggle, that meant she wasn’t punishable
under wizarding law. Many a witch and wizard had used Muggles to their own ends,
preying on their ignorance or else using magical means to control or confuse, so
negotiating legal action against Muggles with their own law enforcement agencies was
the only way the Wizengamot could proceed.

Harry had also told Savage about seeing Malfoy in the bar, and that he was monitoring
him. Savage had nodded, intrigued, also obviously trying to calculate how the man might
fit in. He approved of Harry’s decision to keep Malfoy under observation, but he too
voiced scepticism about the likelihood of his guilt. Harry disclosed his conversation with
Malfoy, carefully omitting the subsequent part where he got coated with Malfoy’s come
and making no reference to any of the sexual activity with other people. Harry’s instinct
was to keep quiet about all that unless it became directly relevant. If Malfoy proved to be
innocent he wouldn’t be grateful at having his personal life dissected by the Ministry of
Magic. It wasn’t like he needed any more bad press.

On the subject of Malfoy, Harry had told himself he was placing all his eggs in one basket
and that he’d better be a bit more creative with his other leads. Just because he knew
Malfoy was a bit of a snake didn’t mean he should stop looking elsewhere for suspicious
behaviour. Deep down, Harry didn’t think Malfoy was his quarry. The man was certainly
capable of law-breaking, but Harry believed the lawlessness to be self-serving; Malfoy did
whatever he did because there was a personal gain for himself, whether it be to build a
reputation, curry favour, or protect his loved ones. Harry’s present case suggested any
number of reasons behind the illegal potions and possible murder link, but he couldn’t
see how Malfoy could gain from being involved. He could only lose, and that just didn’t
fit with Malfoy’s survival instinct.

For the most part Harry had done fairly well at not thinking about what he’d done with
Malfoy. In quiet moments he was eaten up with the worry that if Malfoy was innocent,
then he needn’t have put himself in that situation in the first place. Balanced against that
was the fact that he’d enjoyed the experience, regardless of the person he’d shared it
with. There were also the undeniable twinges of guilt he felt – guilt for having done rude
things with another man, something he’d never anticipated doing, and guilt at having
been unfaithful to Ginny. It was all too much to think about, therefore the best course of
action was not to think.

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Of course that couldn’t be guaranteed when he was asleep, and the last two days’ worth
of morning glory had been quite unashamed about their source of inspiration. And it
hadn’t been Ginny. Harry told himself that an orgasm was an orgasm, and what did it
matter who he thought about. No one would ever know. Unless someone practiced
Legilimency on him. And then he was buggered. Which was quite ironic really.

The weekend arrived and Harry donned his ‘James’ disguise again. Harry’s drug dealing
Muggle woman showed up very late on Saturday night, clearly on the lookout for
someone in particular. Harry watched her scan the crowd carefully before moving to
stand close to the toilet doors. It was obvious she was watching the door to the gents’,
so Harry started watching it too. Twenty minutes passed and still the woman kept to her
spot, although she clearly hadn’t found whoever she was looking for. Harry noticed that
at no point did the woman talk to anyone, and he grew suspicious about her motives.
What kind of drug dealer didn’t tout for custom?

When she looked at her watch for the umpteenth time and made to leave, Harry decided
to follow her again. He beat her to the door and jogged to his usual hiding place before
whipping out his Invisibility Cloak and falling into step a good distance behind her. She
talked in low, clipped tones into a mobile phone, so Harry couldn’t hear what she was
saying. He didn’t need to hear the words to know she was arguing with someone,
though. Perhaps she’d been waiting to meet a date and he’d stood her up? No, that
didn’t seem likely. For a start, her clothes weren’t ‘date’ clothes; she hadn’t made any
extra effort with her appearance, so Harry discarded the notion.

He followed her for several streets until she came to a pub. She pulled the heavy door
open with undisguised annoyance and went inside. Harry watched her through the
window. The pub was a single room so it was easy to follow her progress as she circled it,
once again appearing to look for someone in particular. She was disappointed a second
time and made her way back outside where she proceeded to withdraw her phone again.

Harry moved up as close as he dared behind her. Being invisible was one thing, but most
people could sense the presence of someone else even if they couldn’t see them. The
last thing Harry wanted to do was to scare her into thinking she was being followed in
case she raised an alarm, foiling him.

“He wasn’t there either,” she said immediately, sounding both angry and defensive.
“Look, it’s not my fault, is it? I can’t guarantee his social calendar, can I?” There was a
short pause while she listened. Harry saw her shoulders tense and the woman’s pace
picked up, her low heels hammering against the pavement as she vented her anger.
“Well, it’ll just have to wait, won’t it?” she snapped, the hand holding the phone going
white at the joints as she gripped it to her ear. “What about one of the others?” She
barely waited for a response before growling in frustration and snapping the little phone
shut, shoving it roughly into her coat pocket.

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Harry was intrigued. All sorts of alarm bells were priming themselves in his head. Hearing
one half of a conversation and making assumptions was always dangerous, but it was
hard not to. As he padded quietly behind her, he considered what she’d just said; she was
clearly trying to locate a specific man, and it seemed like she might be supposed to be
taking him somewhere to meet up with at least one other person. It wouldn’t have
appeared so suspicious had the woman not clearly been at odds with whoever she’d
called. The implications were that the mystery man might not know he was going
anywhere or maybe that he didn’t know he’d be meeting anyone else. The cogs turned as
Harry considered the angles; he’d been right to pursue this line of enquiry, he was sure of
it. It was definitely worth continuing to follow her because her destination might give
Harry a few more details to focus the picture forming in his mind. Maybe he’d even get to
see who she’d been talking to on the phone.

Hunching up in her long coat the woman doubled back on herself and headed towards
the same district she’d visited several nights earlier. Despite the deserted streets and
broken streetlights she didn’t seem nervous; instead she continued to stride out
aggressively, exuding a palpable air of anger and a conviction that she had a right to be
there. She didn’t look like a victim, and Harry wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d have
known any potential mugger who might jump out on her. She looked like she knew the
area and belonged there.

Harry paid close attention to the buildings themselves. They were mostly old red brick
buildings, factories from the turn of the century which would no doubt be sold to
developers and turned into expensive city centre dwellings within a year or two. He
looked for signs and street names, but most of the boards had weathered so badly as to
render themselves unreadable and those that remained were lost in shadows. It
occurred to Harry that if Dementors had homes they’d probably look like these buildings
- deserted, dilapidated, and depressing.

A vague sense of unease prickled over Harry and he actually pulled his wand and
prepared to summon his Patronus before remembering there was a Muggle not ten feet
ahead of him. Keeping his wand at the ready he continued on, crossing the cobbled road
when the woman did and stepping carefully around a glittering puddle of shattered glass
so that his steps remained silent.

At the next corner Harry’s eyes were distracted by a faded advertising poster depicting a
cartoon gas flame with a smiley face, the old ‘British Gas’ logo. In a sudden rush of panic
Harry realised he’d left the gas on at the house. Shit! The last thing he needed was to be
writing a report to his superiors explaining why he’d managed to blow up a Ministry safe
house because he’d forgotten to turn the cooker off. He stopped dead in his tracks as
the realisation hit him and when he looked back round to see where his quarry had gone
she’d disappeared. Double shit!

Torn between the need to find the woman and rush back to the house to prevent an
imminent explosion, Harry felt flustered. He took a few tentative steps back the way he’d

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walked and came to a faltering halt just around the corner, battling in his head about
what to do for the best. He took a few more steps towards home, and with every step
away, he felt sure he was making the wrong choice. Turning abruptly, he headed back
around the corner to see if he could spot the woman walking down one of the entry
ways between buildings. It might just be possible.

Once again his pace wavered and stuttered to a stop. One more look at the gas
advertisement and he was alive with worry again. Trying to push it to the back of his
mind, Harry took one step forward and then another, but finally gave up the fight.
Walking had become more difficult than battling against a gale force wind. The physical
and mental strain of his thoughts regarding the gas leak was too much. His head
throbbed painfully with it all, and he conceded defeat and turned for the final time to go
home. He just hoped he wasn’t too late.

A short distance later Harry found he had much more perspective on the situation. As he
walked he told himself he couldn’t be absolutely sure about the cooker, so why had he
let a hot lead go? It was stupidity. It was also uncharacteristic.

The further away from the place Harry walked the clearer his head became. It wasn’t too
long until it was clear enough for him to realise that something was distinctly fishy.
Thinking back to his training days, Harry wracked his brains to remember anything he
could about spells for deterring progress, either physical or mental. Muggle-Repelling
Charms were pretty commonplace and every trainee Auror learned how to detect their
subtle tingle, but this was something else, something that repelled wizards yet let
Muggles pass. Harry was pretty sure he’d never heard anything about a Wizard-Repelling
Charm before, although it stood to reason one would probably exist. There was no other
explanation that he could come up with to explain his sudden and desperate need to be
somewhere else, a need that continued to fade as he walked away.

Frustrated, Harry returned to the corner with the intention of trying a couple of
diagnostic charms, but the sense of paranoia about his gas leak returned so strongly that
he couldn’t cast anything effectively. Giving it up as a bad job, Harry decided to call it a
night. He’d talk to Savage about it tomorrow.

At home, having discerned no leakage in the gas supply, Harry sat to think. Someone with
a fair amount of magical skill had cast the Repelling Charm because Harry had been truly
befuddled, even if it was only for a short while, and all Aurors were trained to have a
certain immunity to any spell that intended to affect their thought processes. The fact
that Harry was one of only a handful who could shake off the Imperius Curse meant he
was particularly resistant to influence, so he could only conclude that what he had
experienced was definitely not basic magic.

Malfoy had always been a good student, hadn’t he? And didn’t he happen to be the only
wizard Harry had encountered since taking up the assignment?

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It seemed that finally, the pointy hat was really starting to fit.

Savage met Harry at the safe house the following day. It was good to have someone to
share his thoughts with, and not for the first time Harry regretted the fact that he’d been
sent on the assignment alone. It was never a good idea.

They’d travelled together to the run-down district where the woman had shaken Harry
off. It was mildly entertaining for Harry to watch his much older, far more qualified
colleague experience a sudden paroxysm of panic at having left the bath running and
take off in the opposite direction at a jog, muttering about cascading water washing the
flock off his hall wallpaper.

It had taken Harry nearly two miles’ worth of constant reassurance to remind Savage of
the situation and calm the man down. Even then he insisted on checking his house first
before talking further.

Harry wondered at the strength of the charm and the way it had rendered Savage
completely useless. He knew Auror fallibility was one of Kingsley’s worries; they’d talked
about it a few times, with Kingsley showing signs of real helplessness. And if he didn’t
have any ideas, it was unlikely anyone else in the Ministry would know what to do. It was
well known that certain Aurors were rather too easy to manipulate; everyone in Harry’s
trainee class called Dawlish The Great Confundo because of the number of times he’d
been Confunded by Voldemort’s supporters. Harry knew, from accidental
eavesdropping, that there were discussions about introducing new competency tests for
Aurors. It was likely that Dawlish would be one of the first to ‘take early retirement’ if
such tests were brought in. There might be few senior Aurors left, but it looked likely
that the numbers would be depleted further in years to come. It was a sad state of
affairs, yet in many ways it was inevitable; it was progress, pleasant or not.

Once the safety of Savage’s beloved flock paper was confirmed the pair sat down to
discuss the case and agree a plan of action. They tossed around the notion that the
woman was dealing plain and simple Muggle drugs as a diversionary tactic for her, or
rather, someone else’s, potions supply, but that implied the potion was targeted at very
specific individuals rather than as a retail operation.

Harry felt some of the pieces of his puzzle begin to slot together. He’d seen and heard
the woman searching for a particular person, hadn’t he? As a lead it felt a lot more solid
than anything else so far. But why would Malfoy need the woman? The very fact of him
working in partnership with a Muggle stretched Harry’s belief. Nothing about that made
sense, and Savage didn’t have any theories either.

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What Savage did have, though, was a plan. It was a plan that Harry didn’t like one bit.
But, unable to come up with anything better himself, he reluctantly agreed to give it a
go.

“Malfoy.” Harry pulled out the bar stool and sat himself down without awaiting an
invitation, one which would likely never have come.

Malfoy didn’t turn his head. He surveyed Harry’s reflection in the mirror behind the optics
before rubbing his eye sockets hard. Then he took a large swallow of red wine. “This
must be a nightmare. Yet it feels so real.” Harry thought the expression on his face was
not so much blind hatred but more akin to dull resignation.

The barmaid took Harry’s order and placed a cold bottle of beer in front of him. He wiped
the condensation off with his thumb before taking a swig. “I want to talk to you.” Harry
twisted so that he sat sideways on his stool, looking directly at Malfoy’s profile. Had he
always been so pointy?

Malfoy’s lips thinned as he grimaced in irritation. “Fuck off, Potter. I’m not aware that I
need saving from anything at the moment, so do us both a favour and go away.”

Harry laughed. “So rude! Where are your manners?”

“Apparently they’ve run off with your dress sense.”

Fine, Harry thought rather bitterly. Might as well start as we mean to go on.

Malfoy turned in his seat and looked Harry over from head to toe. It was an unpleasant
scrutiny, one that made Harry feel like a pile of something nasty that Malfoy had
accidentally trodden in whilst wearing his most expensive handmade shoes. When his
eyes raised and met Harry’s, the expression in them was positively viperous. “I’ve seen
that before. Haven’t I?” The words were spat out at Harry, dripping with skin-melting
acid.

Harry followed the direction of Malfoy’s jabbing finger with a little confusion. “The belt?”
he queried. “It’s from Next. I bet half the men in here are wearing the same one.” Harry
doubted that was actually true; most of the men in the wine bar looked significantly
better dressed than him.

“No, Potter. Not the style, cheap as it is,” Malfoy sneered. “I’ve seen that exact belt and
it wasn’t you wearing it.”

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Oh. Oh crap. Harry was so careful with his disguises. Each identity had its own mini
wardrobe and no item of clothing was duplicated from one to another. But a belt wasn’t
an item of clothing, was it? Who ever noticed a belt for fuck’s sake? Especially in
moments of drink-fuelled intimacy. “Don’t be stupid. You’re mistaken,” he replied
dismissively, hoping the lie wasn’t obvious.

“I don’t make mistakes,” Malfoy snarled. Harry raised his eyebrows almost as far as his
hairline. Who was he kidding? The only person who’d made more mistakes in living
memory was Malfoy’s own father, and Harry opened his mouth to tell him so in no
uncertain terms. He was cut off, though. “Those scuff marks on the buckle are exactly
the same,” Malfoy continued with conviction. “So either you share your clothes, which is
possible if not likely, or you’re playing games with me.”

Fuck. Harry was caught out and he knew it. He could see the remainder of their no doubt
very brief interaction plummeting downwards with the breakneck momentum of a
granite boulder.

“I told you, I need to talk to you,” he stalled, desperately hoping to divert Malfoy from
the inevitable barrage of abuse and name-calling.

“I said go away, Potter,” Malfoy said, his voice growing shriller and louder, attracting the
attention of the bar staff and several other patrons. “Or should I call you James?” Harry
rubbed the end of his nose, acutely embarrassed. He’d much rather give
Kingsley and his entire office staffing complement a blow-by-blow account of his private
moment with Malfoy than have to face the man himself. “I’ve seen quite as much of you
as I have any desire to see. More, actually.” Malfoy looked like there was a horrible smell
right under his nose, and that the stench was Harry himself. He also wiped the palm of
his right hand down his thigh; Harry wondered if the action was subconscious.

Harry was completely lost for words. It was a pity Malfoy wasn’t similarly affected.

“Who’d have thought you were into cock. The Prophet will have a field day.” Bugger!
Malfoy’s bare-faced anger of seconds earlier was rapidly being replaced by a much more
worrisome glint of triumphant mischief.

“I can explain,” Harry mumbled feebly in the general direction of his feet. Liar, he told
himself silently. The occurrence of days ago defied explanation, even to himself.

“I doubt I’ll want to hear your explanation, entertaining though I’m sure it will be,”
Malfoy stated before resting his chin on a finger and staring off into space quizzically. “I
suppose you’re going to tell me that since you’ve single-handedly rid the world of evil,
the Auror Office has nothing better to do than send its employees out to get laid.”

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Harry’s temper started to crack, just a tiny bit, but the weakness had established itself
and would no doubt develop to a full-blown fracture in the blink of an eye. “Piss off,
Malfoy,” Harry retorted finally. “It was work, that’s all.”

Malfoy launched himself off his stool and stood looming over Harry. “Oh spare me your
closeted homosexual angst,” he raged. “It’s boring. Not unlike you, now I come to think
of it.”

Harry jumped to his feet in answer to the unspoken threat. He pushed Malfoy’s shoulder,
unbalancing him. “I don’t recall you finding ‘James’ very boring,” he barked, finally
acknowledging out loud what he had done. “In fact you were very interested if my
memory’s correct.”

“Listen to yourself!” Malfoy exploded. “You’re bragging about the fact that I picked you
up now! Maybe it wasn’t just work after all.”

“Shut it before I--”

“Before you what?” Malfoy shouted. “Arrest me for giving you a consensual hand job?
Fuck you!”

It wasn’t only Harry who fell quiet. A ripple of silence radiated outwards from where they
now stood, expanding until it encompassed at least half of the customers in the wine
bar. A slight tic in Malfoy’s eye let Harry know he realised what he’d shouted, but too late
to stop himself saying it out loud. They stared at each other amidst a mingling of shock,
anger and humiliation.

“Gentlemen. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” The bar manager had approached
them and stood firm, arms crossed, as though warding off trouble. Harry, slightly
breathless, felt his face flush and he took half a step backwards, putting himself out of
punching range of both Malfoy and the manager.

Murmuring a brief apology to the manager, Harry hunched his shoulders so he could
shrink up inside his coat, turned, and walked away.

Outside, Harry walked far enough away from the bar so that he couldn’t see in and no
one could see out at him. His emotions were in turmoil. Not only had he not got what
he’d gone in for, but he’d also got something he definitely hadn’t bargained for. It was
only a matter of time before Malfoy spilt his guts to Rita Skeeter or one of her slimy
colleagues, and Harry’s name and reputation would be smeared over the front page of
the Prophet, no doubt with probing features on pages two, three, four and five, and a
double page pull-out-and-keep spread in the centre. He imagined Ginny reading it and felt
very sick.

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He came to himself when he heard Malfoy bellow, “Arsehole!” and storm off in the
opposite direction. Harry scowled, shoved his hands deep in his pockets and turned his
back on Malfoy to walk away. He got a couple of steps before reminding himself that he
hadn’t got the information he needed, which meant he was only going to have to
approach Malfoy again sooner or later. He decided it might as well be sooner, so he
turned on his heel and trudged grudgingly after him.

Harry was just in time to see Malfoy disappearing down an alleyway so he jogged to
catch up. The alleyway led to a service road and then to another alley. Harry followed,
making no effort to disguise his footsteps. Malfoy was quite a way ahead, but Harry
didn’t care if he was heard or not.

Exiting the alleyway, Harry found himself across from a pub. It was the same one he’d
seen the day before. Acknowledging the coincidence he crossed the street and entered,
picking his way through the crowd until he could see the back of Malfoy’s head near the
bar. When he finally elbowed his way across the densely populated floor and pushed in
next to Malfoy, it was just in time to watch the man swallow what looked like a double
whisky and signal for a refill.

“Same for me,” he shouted quickly, noting the way Malfoy tensed but stayed silent,
ignoring him completely. There must have been something about their proximity or body
language because the barman delivered the drinks, took the ten pound note Malfoy was
proffering, and rang up both drinks. Malfoy didn’t bother to correct him. They swallowed
their drinks in unison, Harry grimacing as the fire hit his stomach.

“I still need to talk to you,” Harry said loudly, trying to make himself heard over the
hubbub all around them. Malfoy didn’t answer, even though it was clear he’d heard well
enough. “I’m investigating something,” Harry pressed on. His elbow bashed sharply
against Malfoy’s as someone forced themselves through to the bar on the other side of
him. They both winced. Harry took it as a positive sign that Malfoy had yet to either
explode verbally or to storm off. He ordered two more drinks and didn’t continue
speaking until they’d arrived. Malfoy sipped at his, completely avoiding looking at Harry’s
face.

“Someone’s lodged a complaint,” Harry said, trying to pitch his voice lower, thus giving
them the appearance of privacy. Malfoy closed his eyes and exhaled through his nose. He
looked defeated. Harry knew that it couldn’t be very nice being a Malfoy these days, and
he probably expected Harry to say that someone had complained specifically about him.
“It’s about potions being sold to Muggles. At the wine bar, you know?” Harry said
‘Muggles’ as quietly as he could. He always felt paranoid talking about wizarding stuff
whenever there were non-magical people around.

Malfoy looked pained, like he didn’t want to talk to Harry but knew he was going to have
to or risk being arrested. It was what Savage had banked on; he’d told Harry that Malfoy
would do anything to keep his sheet clean since his family wasn’t exactly flavour of the

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month. “We can’t talk here,” was all Malfoy said before he turned and picked his way
through the throng. Harry, seeing his opening, trailed after him.

Outside, Malfoy turned up the collar of his coat against the December wind and set off at
a slow pace. Harry fell into step next to him.

“Look,” Harry began, “I honestly don’t know whether this is about someone having a dig
at you or not, but I’ve got to investigate it.” Malfoy remained silent. “I’ve been watching
the bar. You’re the only wizard I’ve identified there so you’re my only lead, guilty or
innocent.”

“Those sorts of spells are illegal you know,” Malfoy said levelly, interrupting Harry’s train
of thought for a moment.

“What?”

“The Muggle Identification Charm. It’s Dark magic, Potter. Don’t tell me your glorious
Ministry didn’t tell you.”

“It’s the purpose that’s Dark, not the magic,” Harry retorted, sounding just like his first
year training manual.

“I see. So you get special hero’s dispensation to break the rules, do you?” Malfoy
sounded bitter.

“Sort of,” Harry murmured placatingly.

“The Ministry is just as corrupt with your people in place as it was with the Dark Lord’s,”
Malfoy snapped. “More so, in fact. How many of your lot used Unforgivables against the
enemy and didn’t get even a reprimand for it? It’s not fair.”

“You used them too,” Harry replied, although he made sure his tone wasn’t
argumentative. He’d seen Malfoy through Voldemort’s eyes and knew he’d been forced
to use the Cruciatus Curse against his will. Harry had no axe to grind with Malfoy about
this.

“Yes, but I’m evil incarnate, aren’t I?” Malfoy turned to look at Harry, his eyes blazing
with pent up anger.

“No,” Harry said softly. “You’re not. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just
like me. So let’s not go over this again, okay?” He didn’t want to trawl the same old
ground with Malfoy now. There wasn’t any point.

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After a lengthy silence Malfoy said, “So what potions am I meant to be selling? A little
Amortentia, maybe? Or what about Felix Felicis? The Draught of Living Death? Yes, that’d
be fitting, wouldn’t it? The other two sound rather too nice to be something I’d sell.”

“It doesn’t matter what they are,” Harry said, wishing yet again that he actually knew
what the potions were. “It’s who they’re being sold to, and the Statute of Secrecy,” he
continued. “We can’t let it go, however innocuous the actual potions.”

“You’re trying my already tissue-thin patience, Potter. What, pray, do you need to talk to
me for?”

“I want to ask you some questions, that’s all.” If only he could be sure that was true.
Things had a habit of not being so easy when it came to Malfoy, Harry knew.

“Surely you’ll be wanting to administer Veritaserum before you ask me anything, just so
you know I’m telling the truth.” Harry felt Malfoy pick-pick-picking away at his sense of
calm and control. He appeared to be trying to start a fight, banking on Harry to bite like
he always had done.

Veritaserum had become a controlled potion ever since Kingsley had been elected as
Minister for Magic proper. Following the intensive period of rounding up and questioning
of Voldemort’s surviving key players, a Wizarding Rights movement had been born.
Veritaserum by its very nature removes the right to choose. The civil rights protesters
asserted that each individual should have the ability to choose to tell the truth during
questioning, or to lie if they wanted to. A test case was taken before the Wizengamot to
submit that Veritaserum questioning was cruel and unusual, a method of torture in fact,
and the Wizengamot found itself in agreement following days of debate about rights and
responsibilities.

The case had been prompted by a number of worrying incidents involving Ministry
employees who were overzealous in their duties. The public backlash against Death
Eaters, sympathisers, and colluders was so violent that some law enforcement staff felt
justified in overstepping the mark when it came to interrogating those believed to be
guilty. A small faction of hard line Aurors had been rooted out amidst a blaze of highly
damaging publicity for employing techniques many right-thinking people believed were
akin to torture on those they had rounded up for questioning. Veritaserum was
administered almost indiscriminately and without safeguards until not only were facts
about the war known, but also private and deeply personal information was demanded
and taken without prior consent and recorded in thick parchment dossiers. Some of the
wealthier victims had been blackmailed into handing over large sums of money to the
corrupt Aurors in exchange for their silence regarding these once close-kept secrets. The
corruption only came to light when Rufus Fudge, nephew of Cornelius, committed
suicide following a leak to the press that he was in the habit of dressing up as a school
girl. Fudge had been innocent of any wrongdoing relating to the support of Voldemort,
but that hadn’t stopped the group of Aurors extorting a large sum of Galleons out of him

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‘because they could’. Ever since then anyone wishing to brew Veritaserum had to be
licensed and their supply monitored and periodically audited.

Harry knew the Malfoys, all of them, had suffered badly at the hands of the powercrazed
Aurors. There was little sympathy for the family, even within the internal investigation
team, although whatever had been recorded in their dossiers had been burned along
with everyone else’s, and all involved parties were carefully Obliviated. Harry imagined
Malfoy would be very touchy about the subject of truth-telling given the circumstances,
acknowledging to himself that he’d feel vulnerable too if the tables were turned.

“I’d like to believe you wouldn’t lie to me,” Harry said carefully, trying to sound confident
in his belief. “And I’m dead against Veritaserum in case you didn’t know. I wouldn’t use it
against you or anyone else.” That was completely true. Having been on the receiving end
of Snape’s threat to ‘accidentally’ administer it, as well as had his little run-in with
Dolores Umbridge, Harry was more than happy to see it removed from temptation.
Malfoy’s eyes were trained on the pavement in front of them. The only indication that
he’d heard Harry was a quick, tight shrug of his shoulders. They walked on purposefully,
although only Malfoy seemed to know where they were going. Harry didn’t ask.

When the silence stretched out beyond the point of comfort, Harry began.

“Have you been selling potions to Muggles?” Savage had said to Harry, Go for the jugular.
Make him angry, draw out his temper with the first question. He’s more likely to slip up if
he’s not thinking straight. Well, almost accusing him of wrongdoing was as good a way as
any to start, wasn’t it?

Malfoy exhaled sharply in a loud huff. His pace sped up and Harry could see the
tightening of his mouth as the words hit home. “You don’t fucking know me at all, do
you?” he spat, and the words were shrill with exasperation. There was something about
the way Malfoy looked that caused Harry to wonder if there was long-held resentment at
their particular estrangement; he wondered briefly if Malfoy wanted them to know each
other, to be friends.

Sidestepping a direct answer, Harry responded, “Well, have you?”

Malfoy came to an abrupt halt, taking Harry by surprise. “No, Potter, I have not,” he said,
his teeth bared between almost white lips. “Which exact part of my upbringing and
demeanour would lead you to imagine I’d want to help Muggles?”

Looking at it that way it was true; Malfoy was not a likely candidate for doing anything
nice for Muggles. “Who said the potions were aids?” Harry asked. “They could equally
have been poisons.”

Malfoy strode off at a pace forcing Harry to jog a few steps to catch up. “Poisoning
Muggles would be pointless,” Malfoy lectured. “They play no meaningful part in my life,

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so why would I wish to harm them? They mean nothing to me.” And the way he said it,
Harry believed it. But Malfoy hadn’t finished. “The only possible reason for selling
potions to the ignorant masses would be for profit, and it may have escaped your Aurorly
notice, but I’m rich, rich enough that I don’t need to peddle Wrinkle Banishing Balm or
Keep-it-Up Cream to middle-aged office workers to keep myself in luxuries.”

Fine. A fair point.

“Have you met any other witches or wizards since you’ve been frequenting the bar?”
Harry tried a new tack, hoping for a boost to his pool of suspects.
“Unlike you I’m not allowed to divine peoples’ magical ancestry before I take them home
and fuck them,” Malfoy responded tartly.

“Well have you recognised anybody, then?” Harry snapped back, his blood pressure
rising fractionally as his annoyance rose.

“Only you, Potter,” Malfoy said, turning his head and shooting Harry a malignant smile.
“And you certainly need to sell our secrets to Muggles to supplement your pauper’s
wage, don’t you? It’s a good job you were always shit at Potions or you’d have to be on
your own list of suspects, wouldn’t you?”

He’s goading you, Harry told himself firmly. Just like Savage said he would. Well, times had
changed and Draco Malfoy was not going to get under Harry Potter’s skin this time. Not
about this, anyway.

“Why do you go to the bar, Malfoy?” Harry asked, his voice low, his words measured,
insinuating. “Surely it’s below the standards of a wizard such as yourself.”

“Take a guess, Potter,” came the almost amused reply. “In fact, use your memory
instead. It can’t be difficult for you to find your answer, can it?” Malfoy seemed to be
unembarrassed about his activities. “Did you enjoy participating as much as you enjoyed
watching me pick them up? You have been watching me, haven’t you?”

A bubbling, clammy heat climbed up Harry’s neck and across his face. He didn’t want to
think about any of that, didn’t want to believe what he’d done, that he’d liked it. That
he’d enjoyed feeling Malfoy’s hands on him, or that he’d imagined Malfoy touching
Ginny.

“You liked it,” Malfoy crowed smugly. “I bet you got off better than you’ve ever done
with the Weaselette.”

Bloody hell; if only that wasn’t true.

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“I did what I had to do at the time,” Harry retorted, doing his best to sound businesslike.
“And you haven’t answered my question.” He allowed a tiny hint of menace to enter his
voice. It was a good time to remind Malfoy he could still be taken in for questioning.

“You know full well why I go there. Will you get off on my saying it out loud for you? How
much detail do you want, Potter?” There was an ugly leer plastered on Malfoy’s face. He
was enjoying himself, accurately reading Harry’s discomfort through his veneer of
professionalism.
“The sooner you answer the questions the sooner I can go away,” Harry reminded him.

“I go there to pick up people for meaningless sex, okay? What’s the penalty for having
fun these days? I suspect you’re going to threaten me with unwanted publicity and public
humiliation?”

“Why there? You could go to plenty of wizarding places instead. I find it hard to believe
you’d pick Muggles over witches and wizards if you had the choice.” It was true. It was
the thing that bugged Harry the most; Malfoy had always hated Muggles so when had
they become viable bedroom material?

“Your mongrel breeding is showing through, Potter,” Malfoy said with irritating
selfimportance. “Do you know nothing of pure-blood society?” A brief pause indicated
that Harry was meant to answer, but he didn’t give Malfoy the satisfaction of confirming
his ignorance. “Of course you don’t,” Malfoy continued, sounding pleased with himself.
“Then I shall educate you, so listen carefully.”

Harry thought it was truly sad that Malfoy got so much enjoyment out of even the
smallest opportunity to belittle him. What sort of upbringing had he had to imagine this
was acceptable behaviour?

“Those of distinguished birth,” Malfoy started conversationally, “operate strict rules with
regard to matrimony and the continuation of pure bloodlines.” Oh, here we go, Harry
thought in resignation. Lesson number two hundred and forty in social bigotry the Malfoy
way. “Pay attention, Potter. I may ask questions later.”

Great. Just great.

“As the only son of a family with centuries of documented blood purity I am considered
quite the catch for other bloodlines with daughters of marriageable age.” Of course.
How Malfoy must love the attention. “My parents and I are engaged in the process of
interviewing potential candidates, and just as certain traits are valued in the women, so
are certain others desirable amongst the marrying men. Oh, don’t look so shocked,
Potter. Only the lower classes marry for love.”

Harry was indeed feeling a bit uncomfortable. The thought of picking his future wife only
because she was rich, pure-blooded, or virginal was quite distasteful.

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“I expect my future wife to be intact. Untouched by another man. This is not open for
negotiation.” Harry was bemused at the blatant hypocrisy in play. “I, however, am not
subject to the same moral limitation,” Malfoy continued, “although I believe in the
importance of discretion in all such matters. Hence my decision not to engage in sexual
intercourse with people of wizarding origin. One may well wish to ‘sleep around’, but
certain standards and appearances remain paramount for a man of my position, so I
choose to prevent embarrassment for my future wife by indulging my interest in a
surrounding in which we will never live. Once I marry there will be no other world, no
other social environment, than the upper echelons of wizarding society.”

Harry wondered if Malfoy ever listened to himself, and if he did, would he even be able to
hear how much of an egocentric prick he sounded?

“Simply put,” Malfoy continued slowly enough to imply an insult, “promiscuity is not a
desirable trait in a person of good breeding.”

Harry snorted loudly. “Inbreeding, you mean.”

Malfoy turned a withering stare on him. He found himself stumped for something
sensible to say. So he said something stupid instead. “But you … and men …”

“A very pleasurable diversion which will cease to occur once my betrothal is agreed,”
Malfoy replied. There was no hint of annoyance or resentment in his tone. It was all very
matter-of-fact. Harry, being an emotionally driven person, found it difficult to understand
how anyone could be so cut and dried about their romantic and sexual encounters. He
wondered what it would be like to feel nothing for anyone and decided he’d rather not
know.

They continued to walk on, the silence settling once again as Harry wondered where to
go from here.

“That bloke you were with, the one from the other night with the auburn hair,” he began
cautiously. Malfoy’s brow wrinkled as he thought about who Harry meant then
smoothed again as recognition clicked into place. He nodded once. “He’s dead.”

Something flashed across the surface of Malfoy’s face before being wiped smooth. His
expression was empty.

“Did you kill him, or know who did?”

Malfoy didn’t bite. A violent explosion of anger was the very least of what Harry had
expected, but instead Malfoy looked smaller, more fragile, a victim rather than a
perpetrator.

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“I’m not a killer, Potter,” he said, and for the first time Malfoy’s voice sounded tired,
worried. “I went back to his house, we had sex, I left. He was alive when I left and I made
no plans to see him again. I did not kill him, or know who did.” It was the perfect answer
from one very used to being questioned.
Harry believed him. Malfoy wasn’t accomplished enough to beat his internal bullshit
detector, he was certain of that. Which meant Harry had nothing, nothing to go on at all
except the Muggle woman. He was pleased and aggrieved in almost equal measure. It
was good that Malfoy wasn’t his guilty party; he could imagine the mingled looks of
incredulity, pity, and outright joy on Ron, Hermione, and all his other friends’ faces at any
news of Malfoy’s continued plummet from grace. People would be really pleased to see
him go to Azkaban and that made Harry sad.

The angry heat of the encounter had dissipated somewhere along the line; Harry didn’t
know where. He felt oddly lonely and more than a little bit grubby.

”Have I fulfilled your tawdry little fantasies?” Malfoy asked disinterestedly. “Have I
reinforced your poor opinion of me? I should imagine you’re disappointed at my
innocence. I bet you couldn’t wait to lock me up, could you?”

Did Malfoy honestly believe that of him? Harry felt a deep sense of unhappiness about it.
He didn’t want to hate anyone, and he certainly didn’t want to carry on pointless old
grudges just because it was a habit. He didn’t respond, using the quiet to examine his
motivations, wondering if he really was the better man as Dumbledore had once said. At
times like this he certainly didn’t feel it.

Malfoy’s steps faltered and came to a halt, so Harry mirrored them without thought.
Looking up at the street, he realised they were outside Malfoy’s townhouse. It looked as
impressive and beautiful as before except that the downstairs windows now twinkled
and sparkled with tiny fairy lights, and Harry could just make out the shadow of a large
Christmas tree behind one panelled window.

They spent a long moment in silent introspection.

“I wish I knew what your problem is with me,” Harry said, genuinely confused and rather
sad. “You managed to be quite nice when you thought I was someone else.”

Malfoy’s mouth softened into a smile. “What can I say, Potter. You bring out my inner
bastard.” He spoke softly, no sting to his words.

With that, Malfoy climbed the steps to his front door slowly and withdrew his key to
unlock the door. Harry stood on the pavement looking up at his back, recalling vividly
what had happened the last time he’d seen this house. The whisky he’d drunk earlier
warmed the pit of his stomach again, sending gentle waves of heat down his limbs. He
felt weird, reckless even, as though an opportunity was vanishing before his very eyes.

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When Malfoy walked inside and didn’t close the door Harry impulsively took the steps
two at a time and entered the house, clicking the latch into place behind him. He didn’t
know what he was doing or what he was trying to make up for. And just for the moment
he didn’t seem to care.

Harry crossed the hallway and entered the reception room he’d seen on his last visit.
Malfoy wasn’t there. He wasn’t unduly concerned and made his way over to the
glittering Christmas tree to admire the beautiful blown glass baubles. The strings of tiny
fairy lights decorating it were all that lit the room this time, so that the shadows were
long and flickered as the bulbs dimmed and grew bright again, the rhythm of the change
slower by far than the beating of Harry’s heart.

A small sound alerted Harry that he was no longer alone; he turned and watched Malfoy
pad barefoot and coatless across the tiled hallway and enter the room. Malfoy’s attire
looked rather Bohemian; his trousers and jumper were charcoal grey, offsetting the
paleness of his face, hands and feet. It struck Harry that he himself rarely wore anything
on his feet at home, but Malfoy made the casual nakedness look elegant and suggestive
all at the same time.

The silent admission that Malfoy could look suggestive told Harry all he needed to know
about where this encounter would go. He was done with lingering reservations, guilt and
self-recrimination; he was ready to embrace this strange compulsion to know Malfoy
physically.

As before, Malfoy unlocked his drinks cabinet and poured them both drinks. Neither of
them spoke, yet it wasn’t uncomfortable. Harry felt as though some small measure of
control rested with him. For once he didn’t feel out of his depth, although that didn’t
help calm his sense of nervous anticipation.

When Malfoy pulled the curtains closed on the outside world, Harry was struck by the
simple domesticity of the action. He could almost forget Malfoy was a wizard at all
because he gave not the smallest hint of being anything more than a Muggle. There was
no magical fire in the grate, and real fairies did not flit between branches on the festive
tree. This was not a side of Malfoy Harry would ever have imagined he’d see.

“I would have thought you’d have set up tons of wards on your front door,” he finally
said, giving voice to his thoughts. “I always pegged you for being extra paranoid. You
know, almost-Death Eater and all that.” It was Harry’s experience that most of those
who escaped prosecution after Voldemort’s death were very, very cautious where their
personal safety was concerned, especially where they had reason to expect reprisals.

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Malfoy curled his lip in disgust and rolled his eyes, exaggerating the expression. “Then I’d
need a wand to get into my own house,” he replied slowly, enunciating his words
carefully as though speaking to an idiot. “My own Muggle house.”

“You don’t carry your wand any more?” Harry was shocked. Separation from his own
wand was unthinkable. He’d been wandless once before and never wanted to repeat the
experience.

Malfoy thought for a moment before answering. “Not when I’m here with the
Muggles. That would rather defeat the purpose of my efforts to blend in, wouldn’t it?
Besides which I know just enough wandless defensive magic for emergencies that I don’t
need to keep it with me. Saves answering awkward questions when I’m undressing, you
know.” His expression was mildly challenging, full of mischief. Harry ignored it.

Malfoy walked to a large dresser, opened a drawer, and withdrew a wand before
flourishing it for Harry’s benefit and pointedly pocketing it.

“That’s not your wand.” Harry knew Malfoy’s wand very well, and he didn’t recognise the
one he’d just seen.

“Yes it is.”

“It’s not your old wand, I mean,” Harry clarified.

“Hardly.” Malfoy looked annoyed and paused for a while before speaking again, and
then grudgingly, it seemed. “The old one never felt the same after you returned it. I
didn’t want to go through the rest of my life using your cast-off so I bought a new one.”
Harry opened his mouth to speak. “Bernadette Fluck, before you ask,” Malfoy continued.
“I could hardly approach Ollivander himself.” Malfoy had the good grace to look
embarrassed. “So I had to make do with his niece. She’s taking over the family business I
hear, so it’s still an Ollivander wand, strictly speaking.”

“Is it hawthorn and dragon heartstring?”

Malfoy paced slowly up and down in front of the grand, Floo-free fireplace. “Of course
not. I thought you of all people knew about this ‘wand picks the wizard’ business. It
doesn’t have to be of the same material to work, does it?”

“No,” Harry replied. “I suppose not.”

Malfoy appeared to consider a particularly tricky thought for several seconds before
speaking. “Do you use the Elder Wand these days?”
“No.” That was a subject Harry studiously avoided at all costs. It wouldn’t do to draw
attention to the wand’s resting pace.

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“No? That’s it? No explanation?” Did Malfoy looked obsessively crazed or was it merely
polite interest, Harry wondered. He couldn’t be too careful where the Elder Wand was
concerned.

“No.”

Malfoy nodded slowly, digesting the fact. “Still using the Dark Lord’s twin, then.” It
wasn’t a question.

“Yes.”

“That was a turn up for the books, wasn’t it? Phoenix feather core, and from
Dumbledore’s own phoenix no less. I’ve always wondered how the Dark Lord would have
felt about that had he known.” Harry nodded his agreement; the same thought had
occurred to him more than once. Poor Tom, inadvertently facing both his greatest
enemies, in a manner of speaking.

Malfoy warmed to the subject, a cheeky smile growing on his face, making him look like
the happy young boy Harry had never known him to be. “There used to be an ongoing
joke in Slytherin House,” he said. “We all bet that Harry Potter’s wand would be made of
a twig from Godric Gryffindor’s own sturdy oak tree with one of Dumbledore’s beard
hairs for its core.” He sniggered into his glass as he took a sip, maybe remembering days
long since gone. Sobering slightly, he said, ”You just couldn’t be any more of a clichéd
Gryffindor, could you?” The gaze with which he fixed Harry was penetrating, considering.

Harry shrugged and grinned. “I’ll choose to take that as a compliment seeing as I’ll be
waiting for a bloody long time to ever hear anything else approaching one from you.”

Malfoy stopped pacing and looked Harry up and down, only turning away to place his
tumbler safely on a side table. When he spoke the atmosphere had changed.

“Did you really come inside just to talk?”

No. No I didn’t. But Harry didn’t say anything; there was no need.

Malfoy advanced on Harry, his movements oddly feline, his expression pure predator.
Harry viewed the approach in slow motion, noting every slight sway of Malfoy’s hip,
every roll of his shoulder. Perhaps this was what Malfoy had always wanted, this bizarre
power, this fragile, explosive hold over Harry’s libido.
Harry stumbled backwards half a step. He wasn’t afraid of Malfoy, yet there was
something occurring, a deep-seated warning of impending danger that Harry couldn’t
ignore. He had to plant his feet firm to halt the desire to retreat. But Malfoy hadn’t
missed the small movement; in fact his expression grew yet more triumphant, secure in
the knowledge that finally, finally he’d found a weakness in Harry Potter he could exploit.

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The fact that Harry wanted to be exploited didn’t appear to detract from the tension
crackling between them.

Malfoy didn’t stop stalking towards Harry until their fronts were touching in places. The
aggression so obviously evident in the invasion of personal space did strange things to
Harry. He would never have imagined he could be so aroused by the threat of violence,
or rather the sense of ill-contained unpredictability he associated with Malfoy. It was
challenging, exciting, but most of all it was the sense Harry felt that he might actually
lose this battle of wills. Harry, who always came out tops in everything important, was
finally faced with something passionate enough, something powerful enough to flatten
him and hang him out to dry. He hadn’t felt such excitement since the Horcruxes were
destroyed. Finally, he was alive again and it felt incredible.

Malfoy did not pussyfoot around; Harry felt a long-fingered hand grab his groin and
squeeze firmly, and all his breath left his lungs in a rush. Harry’s heart was in his mouth,
the heavy percussion of his pulse hammering away at the back of his throat making it
hard to draw any air in. Light-headed and spellbound, he could not have broken away if
he’d wanted to.

Malfoy’s palm ground against Harry’s penis, making the blood flood downwards and
tingle pleasantly in his crotch. He hardened enough that Malfoy could feel it clearly,
drawing a look of cruel satisfaction in response.

Harry didn’t realise he’d recommenced moving backwards until his back bumped against
the wall. His head clunked against the plaster and his palms spread out instinctively to
give balance. The last thing he heard before Malfoy’s mouth engulfed his was a dirty, sly
laugh so low and heated that it made every tiny hair on his body stand on end.

There was nothing romantic about the way Malfoy kissed him. It was brutal, honest, and
exactly what Harry wanted. Malfoy’s lips and teeth mashed into his own, his lower face
wet with saliva and tender from the assault. It was seconds before he thought to
retaliate, because the intensity knocked him completely off guard. Malfoy’s tongue
stabbed through the gap between Harry’s teeth, grating against their sharp edges yet
never acting with caution to prevent damage. Harry permitted the invasion, welcomed it
even, and opened his mouth wider to let Malfoy in. Their tongues fought for room to
move, insinuating themselves into every gap.

Harry struggled to hold his own under Malfoy’s onslaught. He wanted to show
Malfoy that he wasn’t weak, wasn’t afraid to let go. In an effort to unbalance Malfoy,
Harry grabbed his arse cheeks and yanked their groins together roughly, drawing groans
of pain and pleasure from them both. The action took Malfoy by surprise and Harry took
the opportunity to shove Malfoy’s tongue out of his mouth, gaining enough ground to
sample the taste inside the other man’s mouth. But the physical sensations were too
much; Harry couldn’t register anything else past the length of Malfoy’s erection rubbing
against his own and the puffy wetness of Malfoy’s lips sliding across his mouth, his chin.

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At the first sign that Malfoy was conceding to his strength Harry pushed forward, taking
them both tripping gracelessly towards the chaise and eventually falling clumsily over its
arm, the air audibly punched out of Malfoy’s lungs as Harry’s weight pinned him flat.
Their rib cages clashed uncomfortably as the cushions sagged and compacted under
their combined weight, but neither of them stopped for breath or to adjust themselves
for comfort. This was not about comfort after all; it was about satisfying dormant
hungers, taking what was needed without mercy. Harry was sure such a truculent, fierce
coupling was something he would never experience with anyone but Malfoy; their joint
history assured the nature of their relationship as unique amongst Harry’s acquaintances.
In the same way Voldemort had chosen Harry as his nemesis, Harry found he had chosen
Malfoy to be his ultimate combatant.

Harry made the most of his position of supremacy by grabbing Malfoy’s wrists and
pinning them down on the sofa, grinding the bones beneath the skin with satisfaction,
enjoying the thought of causing discomfort. Malfoy growled his defiance into Harry’s
mouth even as he sucked at Harry’s tongue, pursing his lips around the wiggling little
muscle and nipping its end with his teeth. Harry felt jubilant and vital, the threat of
maniacal laughter bubbling just under the surface of his skin. He tried to shift his weight,
the better to dominate Malfoy’s wriggling body, but as he lifted a leg to bracket Malfoy’s
hips with both knees, Harry felt a surge of strength from beneath him and he toppled
sideways. His shoulder connected with the ground first and winded him with the flare of
sudden pain. Malfoy rolled on top of Harry and squirmed into a position of command,
drawing attention to his victory with a harsh nip at Harry’s jaw. Harry experienced the
scrape of teeth across his scant stubble and down into the soft skin of his neck as
something fiery and territorial, the parallel lines of Malfoy’s teeth leaving a lingering
prickling below the surface of his skin, almost embedded inside his musculature.

Malfoy’s lean thigh forced between Harry’s legs and pressed against his crotch,
reminding Harry how hard he was and how much it hurt, trapped inside his trousers. His
ears were deaf to any sound but the whoosh of gasped breaths; this was all that existed
in the world, this little bubble of two people who hated and lusted in equal measure.

“You think you can handle me?” Malfoy jeered cruelly, his lips sucking Harry’s earlobe
between them and flicking it with his tongue. Harry’s eyes rolled back in his head. He was
surely going to explode at any moment. “Did you really think I’d let you fuck me?” The
words were spat out, lashing Harry with their naked aggression. Harry fought all the
more to establish a foothold. He would not be denied, not by Malfoy. He tensed his body
and swung one arm out, hoping the momentum would unseat his captor, but the ploy
was used against him. Malfoy went with the swing, rising up just enough to roll Harry
beneath him and pin him face down on the floor. Harry had to twist his head sharply to
prevent getting a mouthful of rug. He felt a vice-like grip on one of his wrists and the arm
was viciously pulled back and pinned in a pressure hold against his own spine, his thumb
forced back towards his wrist. One sharp movement from Malfoy and Harry knew the
muscle in his shoulder would tear with the strain and his wrist would hurt for days.

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Harry felt teeth sink into the back of his neck and bite down hard, attempting to control
him as a mother wolf would subdue a pup. He struggled uselessly, wanting to appear
affronted, but revelling in the swell of exhilaration at the same time. Malfoy’s strength
was unexpected. Nevertheless, Harry knew he could escape. Had he wanted to.

“I’ll show you,” Malfoy’s voice rasped next to his ear. He sounded angry, out of control.
“You’ll never forget me, Potter. Never.”

Harry didn’t know whether it was a threat or a promise. Either option aroused him, in
truth. He gasped as a strong twinge of pain shot up his arm. Malfoy was tugging him
upwards, piling the pressure onto his abused muscles.

“Get up,” Malfoy instructed harshly. Harry used his knees to try and gain enough
purchase to get on his feet. It was tricky, but he managed it without help, not that any
appeared to be on offer. When he finally stood upright Harry felt Malfoy press close
against his back, the unmistakeable ridge of his erection not remotely lessened by their
struggle. If anything he seemed to be harder, even more aroused. Malfoy’s mouth tickled
Harry’s ear, the whisper of his warm breath echoing inside the shell, filling Harry’s head.
“What would they say, Potter?” Malfoy whispered. “What would they all say if they knew
about you?” Malfoy’s spare hand snaked around Harry’s front and molested his swollen
groin. It was carelessly done, almost disdainful, but it felt so good, so honest and lacking
in pretence.

Malfoy shoved Harry forward and they started off on an awkward walk out into the
hallway and up the stairs, the grip on Harry’s arm released and replaced only by the
threat of Malfoy’s proximity.

Guided by the odd blunt word, Harry walked steadily towards the farthest door and once
there, he turned the handle slowly and stepped into the darkened room.

Malfoy flipped the light switch and bathed the room in dull light, revealing a wood
panelled bedroom with a high wrought iron bed as its centrepiece.

Harry rounded on Malfoy, finding him leaning against the closed door, arms crossed and
a self-satisfied expression on his face. “Well, well,” he said smugly. “Had I any inkling you
were so easy I’d have taken a turn at you long ago.”

“Shut up,” Harry replied dully, his eyes travelling around the room to catalogue its shape
and contents, just like a good Auror should.

“Does the little woman know you like to play with boys’ willies?” Malfoy’s tone dripped
sarcasm and it broke through Harry’s excitement and prodded at his temper.

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“I said shut up,” he repeated, his lip curling enough that Malfoy saw it and registered his
success in riling Harry. The smile on Malfoy’s face twisted cruelly, satisfied at the
outcome.

“Poor conflicted Potter,” Malfoy goaded. “Can’t sort out his cocks from his cunts.”

Harry lunged with retaliation in mind. He took a hold of Malfoy’s arm and used all his
strength to tug him away from the door. Malfoy’s laughter ate at Harry, firing him up
further still until he exploded and literally threw Malfoy at the bed. How could anyone
get to him this much?

The mattress bounced vigorously as it buckled beneath Malfoy’s body, but his laughter
didn’t stop. Harry stood over him, fuming at Malfoy’s apparent relaxation; his arms were
straight out at each side and his hands lay palm up, fingers curled. The image made Harry
want to hurt Malfoy, to do something to wipe the grin off his face. He climbed onto the
bed, his knees sinking deep into the thick cover. He came to a stop on all fours, hovering
right over Malfoy’s slack form.

Malfoy’s eyes flickered open and focused sharply on Harry’s looming face. The
atmosphere was tense and even the smallest gesture or word could trigger a bad
outcome. They were on a knife edge; it was a silent war of sex versus violence and the
outcome was not yet obvious.

Instead of further jibes Malfoy said simply, “Suck me.” It was a heated plea, not an
inflammatory order, and it hit Harry squarely, more effectively than any Imperius Curse.
Kneeling there looking down at Malfoy’s surrendered form, all Harry could think about
was stripping him bare of his clothes and letting his passion instruct him on what to do
next. He knelt back on his thighs, grabbed a handful of Malfoy’s jumper and raised it high
on one side, exposing a narrow chest with prominent ribs and one tiny, pale brown
nipple. There was no other option but to lean forward and bite down on it and when he
did, Malfoy’s fingers buried themselves in Harry’s hair, holding his head in place while he
tried hard to chew through the tender skin. Malfoy’s exhalation was a broken groan, so
naked his arousal that Harry’s insides seemed to liquefy in response. Without
relinquishing his toothy grip, Harry worked at removing Malfoy’s jumper properly, not
caring whether he overstretched it or risked ripping the fine knit. Malfoy helped him,
equally frenzied, and finally Harry’s hands touched only silky, yielding skin, his fingertips
digging deep into it to make a mark with each nail.

Malfoy in turn dragged Harry’s top over his head, finally forcing him to cease his biting
for a second or two. He felt hot hands dragging over his back, the once-passive fingers
now clawlike and sharp, scratching burning tracks into his skin and taking his breath
away. When he raised his head to draw in air, Malfoy lunged and clamped his mouth over
Harry’s, pulling him down so that their bare chests came together with a resoundingly
erotic slap. It felt like Malfoy was trying to tear his way inside Harry, not satisfied with
their state of undress.

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They rolled together noisily, all thrashing arms and clashing teeth, until Harry’s elbow
smacked Malfoy in the mouth and the resulting crack stopped them both in their tracks.
Malfoy rolled on top of Harry and hauled himself up until he straddled Harry’s hips. The
split in his lip was obvious, and a fat blister-bubble of blood welled and threatened to spill
over. Harry watched him raise a cautious hand, wiping the back of it across the damaged
lip carefully. The blood left a long red smear, and Malfoy stared at it almost stupidly,
appearing to wonder how it had happened. Harry watched Malfoy’s tongue poke out
and prod at the injury, worrying it until more blood oozed out, which he lapped up and
swallowed, finally with a look of wry amusement on his face.

He reached for Harry’s fly. They both watched as the zip inched down tooth by tooth.
The sizeable wet patch where Harry’s cock had leaked flashed cold as it hit the air,
making him jerk inside his underwear, the dark pink tip pushing out above his waistband.
Malfoy’s eyes were all for Harry’s crotch, the very end of his tongue tracing a flustered
line along his puffy lower lip as he unveiled the much-anticipated erection. The look of
pure hunger in Malfoy’s eye made Harry feel like he’d never been so exposed before.
Ginny had never looked at him with such raw want; she’d never wrestled him and
provoked him until he was fit to blow.

His trousers and underpants were dragged down to mid thigh by eager hands, and
Malfoy inspected his prize with undisguised greed. Harry bucked his hips ineffectually,
shoving at the bunched up fabric of his trousers to strip them off as quickly as possible.
The thought of lying nude beneath a partially clothed Draco Malfoy was very, very
arousing indeed, especially given his volatile mood.

The weight of Malfoy’s body held Harry’s legs in place; he was trapped. When Malfoy
finally deigned to look up and acknowledge him he stilled his struggle, caught up in the
anticipation of what might happen next.

He watched transfixed as Malfoy’s spidery fingers undid his own fly and released his prick
for Harry to see. He’d felt it before, but never seen it. It was long, and thin, and pale, just
like Malfoy. Harry watched unashamedly as Malfoy enclosed the length in his fist and
stroked himself. He watched Harry’s face as he masturbated slowly, the subtle sucking
noises of his wet foreskin moving back and forth creating the only noise Harry could
hear. Malfoy’s eyes were half closed, his lips parted just enough to suck in a little air with
each gentle pull. Harry lay back and watched the intimate display, imagining the
sensation of Malfoy’s come pulsing over his belly when he eventually orgasmed. He
wanted to participate, to feel the tacky surface of Malfoy’s cock sliding against his palm,
so he reached up and covered the languidly moving hand with his own, squeezing down
gently to tighten the grip. Malfoy’s head rolled back on his shoulders, his mouth wide
open as he groaned in pleasure. Harry took himself in his other hand and wanked in time,
marvelling at how easy it was to give himself over to the moment. It felt like the most
natural thing in the world, touching another man. It wasn’t wrong; it was incredibly right.
No woman could understand this. It would be hopeless to even begin to try explaining.

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Malfoy’s hips began to buck forwards into each corresponding tug and Harry didn’t need
prior knowledge to know that his moment was close. It surprised him, then, when Malfoy
threw their hands off him and returned to undressing himself. The redistribution of
weight allowed Harry to complete his own clumsy striptease until they were both nude,
Malfoy poised almost indecently over Harry’s prone form.

The few seconds of near stillness were shattered when Malfoy leaned down and kissed
Harry again, its potency destroying any lingering suggestion of tenderness or caution,
the slightly bitter tang of blood reinforcing the message. Their bodies drew close, a
mixture of misplaced bony angles and planes of velvety flesh. The extra hair on Malfoy’s
body and the hardness of his cock pressing into Harry’s belly awoke a new passion in
Harry; he’d discovered that the desire to be with a man was there, but experiencing the
closeness of a male body, the many ways it was different from a woman’s body, gave
substance to the emotion, made it real.

Harry’s hands grabbed at Malfoy’s bare body, travelling up and down his spine and
grasping at his arms. He couldn’t touch him quick enough or hard enough; there was
something akin to panic inside Harry, a feeling that grew because he felt sure that Malfoy
might refuse to go further at any moment, and he wanted to feel everything even
though he was too excited to savour it.

Malfoy’s prick jabbed in Harry’s groin and slid over his pubic hair as they rutted against
each other. The sticky wetness gluing their bellies together smelled strong and musky to
Harry’s nose. It was unashamedly masculine, something Harry had always felt self-
conscious about when he was with Ginny because he thought it smelled unclean. With
Malfoy, though, it smelled good, perfectly right.

“Turn over,” Malfoy instructed hotly, nudging Harry’s shoulder to get him to comply.

“Why?” Harry replied, feeling himself tense in concern, imagining the painful penetration
that Malfoy so clearly sought.

“Don’t be a fucking prick tease,” Malfoy gasped, his frustration as evident as his arousal.
“You know why we’re here.” He tugged sharply again at Harry, who made a grudging
effort to roll over. Malfoy used his body weight to assist, then pin Harry down, making it
difficult for him to change his mind. Harry turned his head on one side and concentrated
on visualising a calmer headspace, one where he could survive what was going to
happen. He wanted to feel it but felt scared all the same.

Hands pressed hard on Harry’s shoulder blades, the heels of the palms rubbing firm
circles over them, ironing out the bunched up tension there. He started slightly at the
sensation of Malfoy’s tongue licking a wet stripe up his spine, not thoughtfully as he had
licked at his bloodied lip, but hungrily, the tongue a firm, flat pressure. Malfoy’s

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ministrations had the desired effect; Harry calmed down a bit, feeling his shoulders drop
and his frown smooth out.

The bed bounced as Malfoy moved his hands either side of Harry’s torso and
redistributed his weight, placing his body lower down the mattress, low enough to rub
his nose in the small of Harry’s back. Harry heard a muffled swish as the hands dragged
down the silky bed cover, both thumbs extended inwards so that they traced ticklingly
light lines on Harry’s body. It felt nice, better than nice.

And then Malfoy kissed the slope of Harry’s buttock and that felt ten times better.

Open-mouthed kisses were dotted over the whole of Harry’s bum and upper thighs.
Malfoy’s breath was very warm and his lips were damp with saliva so that there was a
little moist sucking noise accompanying every kiss. There was no pattern to the path
Malfoy’s mouth travelled, but Harry thought he might be trying to cover every inch of his
skin.

Harry froze, statue-like, when he felt Malfoy’s tongue lick the length of his crack.

“Don’t!” he exclaimed, buttocks clenched tight, appalled at the thought of what Malfoy
had done. He lifted his head off the bed and craned, trying to see Malfoy’s face.

“Potter,” Malfoy said threateningly, placing his hands on Harry’s cheeks and prising them
apart despite Harry’s clenching.

“It’s dirty,” Harry murmured miserably, embarrassed for both his own sake and
Malfoy’s. Surely Malfoy couldn’t mean to …

“It looks clean to me,” Malfoy retorted before burying his face right in there and licking
Harry’s hole.

“No!” Harry shouted, humiliated beyond belief. What if he smelled? What if … ? No. That
didn’t bear thinking about. But Malfoy didn’t stop. His tongue assaulted Harry forcefully,
rubbing firmly over the tight knot of muscle again and again, prodding the weak centre
on every slippery pass.

Harry hid his burning face in the covers, ashamed of himself for permitting such
debauchery.

Malfoy was really getting into it, Harry noticed. He was making, well, noises that sounded
suspiciously like he was having a really good time down there. Fighting against his inner
sense of disgust, Harry tried paying attention to what Malfoy was doing, wondering if
there was any pleasure in being on the receiving end of something so completely gross.
Steeling himself, Harry let his body relax and Malfoy took advantage, digging his thumbs
deep into the meat of Harry’s cheeks and manhandling them further apart. Malfoy’s nose

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and chin seemed to get in the way at times, but it was his tongue that was doing all the
real damage. Harry felt wet down there; there was barely any friction as Malfoy licked
him, and the sensation was amazingly pleasant. Harry never touched himself there other
than for the obvious purpose, so he’d never paid any attention to it before. He was
shocked at how nerverich it was, and how those nerves came alive and turned his legs to
jelly. Shit. Malfoy was licking his arse – no, Malfoy was sticking his tongue inside his arse --
and now he came to think about it, Harry thought it was just about the best thing anyone
had ever done to him.

It was filthy and degrading and absolutely incredible. Harry’s hands clawed at the
bedspread and he let out a moan of pleasure that came up from the soles of his feet. It
was impossible not to arch his hips up to encourage that wicked little muscle to
penetrate him deeper, so soft and flexible and wet inside him. He tried to form a word,
some indication of how brilliant it felt, but all that came out was a strangled, “Guh.” Still,
it was enough to let Malfoy know he was about to melt into a puddle of pleasure and
seep through the covers and the mattress to drip out below, spent and useless, but at
peace with everyone and everything.

He didn’t want to appear too slutty, but Harry couldn’t control his hips. He rutted against
Malfoy’s face with gay abandon, silencing his shame beneath his gratified groans, hoping
fervently that Malfoy would never stop. He spread his legs as wide as he could and
Malfoy’s hands slid lower until his thumbs pressed at the back of Harry’s balls, pushing
him closer to the edge.

Harry didn’t even hear himself say, “Stop,” the first time. He finally registered that he
was speaking when the word became a litany, his voice fraying past recognition, and
Malfoy drew back, resting his face against Harry’s thigh. He’d been going to come; if
Malfoy hadn’t stopped, Harry would have emptied himself over the covers, his belly
sticky with semen, like some hormonal teenager.

Catching his breath, Harry thought movement might be beyond him for quite some time.
Even when Malfoy pressed a finger against his hole and pushed it in, Harry didn’t flinch.
There was no stubborn resistance, no much-anticipated pain, just a weird friction and a
sense of easy acceptance. If fucking felt as good as Malfoy’s take on oral sex, well, Harry
wished he’d tried it a long time ago.

After a surprisingly long silence, Malfoy patted Harry’s bottom and laughed quietly.
“You’re such an arse virgin,” he teased.

Harry snorted. “Not for long, apparently.”

Malfoy moved and made to turn Harry over. Harry helped half-heartedly, not because he
was being stubborn but because he felt ridiculously contented where he was. When they
were face to face with Malfoy crouched over him, Harry said thoughtfully, “Somehow, I’d
always imagined being on the doing end of this, you know?”

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Malfoy raised his eyebrows and nodded once. “Mm,” he said. “And at least you’re
admitting you’ve given it some thought. It’s a step in the right direction I suppose.”

Harry watched Malfoy lean across the bed and retrieve a squeezy tube from his bedside
drawer. He dropped it on the covers next to Harry’s thigh and began to arrange Harry’s
legs, his movements very matter-of-fact although his hands were kind. Placing himself
squarely between Harry’s spread thighs, Malfoy hooked a hand behind each of Harry’s
knees and picked them up, folding the legs into Harry’s chest, making breathing a bit
more of a struggle. “Hold them here,” was all he said as Harry did what he was told. It
felt uncomfortable and very exposed. But after what Malfoy had already done it seemed
a small thing to worry about now.

Harry watched Malfoy uncap the tube, squirt a big dollop of clear goo into one palm and
use two fingers to wipe most of it in his crack. It was cold, and he twitched at the
unpleasant temperature. “It’ll warm up soon enough,” Malfoy told him with a smirk.

Harry bit his lip as Malfoy lined up his cock with its destination. He knew when Malfoy
was about to shove it in because he glanced up at Harry, a look of unadulterated glee in
his eyes.

And then Malfoy rammed it inside Harry’s impossibly small anus in one go, choking him
rigid with the flare of agony it produced.

“Shit!” Harry shouted, trying desperately to regulate his breathing and control the waves
of pain threatening to drown him. “You fucking bastard!” he hissed at Malfoy. “You did
that on purpose.”

Malfoy’s evil grin grew. “Maybe,” he said, and there was a hint, but only a hint, of an
apology in his tone. He added, “But it does get better, I promise.”

Harry turned his head away, his face flaming and sweat prickling out of every pore on his
body. All of a sudden his arsehole was the only place on his body with any nerve endings
in it, and all of them were rioting angrily at the same time. Not only that, but Harry
actually wondered if his skin had split under the strain of separation – it felt that raw. His
erection shrivelled in a matter of moments, probably, he thought, because all his blood
was pumping out of the tear in his bum.

“Come on, Potter,” Malfoy soothed, holding his body still inside Harry. “What did you
expect? Romantic platitudes and gentle love-making?”

Put that way Harry had to agree. None of that was ever on the cards with Malfoy. This
was just about fulfilling a physical need, nothing more. “Get on with it then,” he
managed bitterly, bracing himself for more naked pain.

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Surprisingly, Malfoy did in fact go gently, to start off with at least. The first few strokes in
and out were smooth, slow and short, just enough to encourage the muscles to slacken
off. The violent throbbing dialled down to a low-key ache and while it was far from
fantastic, Harry could at least cope with it. He couldn’t look at Malfoy, who leaned poised
above Harry’s doubled-over form, so in control of himself and the situation.

“Mmm,” Malfoy hummed delightedly. “Your arsehole is the best thing about you,
Potter.” Harry felt like punching him in the face.

“Why can’t you just--”

“Shut up, yes, I know,” Malfoy sighed. “One sees an opportunity and one takes it,” he
said with a smile, drawing his cock further out of Harry and sliding it back in a fraction of
an inch at a time.

Thankfully, Malfoy didn’t talk for a minute or two. Instead, he penetrated Harry with
care, taking his time and letting Harry grow used to the discomfort. After a while Harry
found that the burning pain had subsided, and he no longer felt the urgent need to expel
Malfoy’s prick and close his legs defensively. His shoulders relaxed and he let out a slow
breath, measuring the effects of Malfoy’s attentions on his body.

He was pleased to note that overall his body was doing pretty well. His bum was
definitely looser, and it wasn’t so much of an obvious struggle for Malfoy to push in. It
also didn’t feel as dry inside as he’d imagined. It felt sort of squidgy and moist down
there and not unpleasant. He dared a look up at Malfoy and was most disconcerted to
find the man staring intently down into his own eyes. Harry felt as though Malfoy could
see right inside his brain; it was a penetrating, intense look, thankfully with no judgement
or humour in it.

Malfoy opened his mouth to speak and then clearly thought better of it. He lengthened
his strokes, bumping up against Harry’s body every time, but softly, not pushing the
pace. It was almost obscene to imagine something so long entering his body like that,
Harry thought. Obscene yet thrilling, if he was honest with himself. Malfoy’s look of
concentration was compelling; Harry didn’t look away. Instead, he watched Malfoy
watching him, took note of the way Malfoy nibbled absently at his split lip, apparently
unaware that he was even doing it.

When Harry rocked his hips to meet Malfoy’s inward thrust, the unspoken signal was
answered. Malfoy groaned quietly and bumped in harder, making Harry’s body move
with the impact. Rapidly forgetting there was ever any soreness at all, Harry responded
in kind, rolling his lower body into the thrusts, feeling an occasional flare of intense
pleasure shoot up his spine to flutter lightly in the back of his throat before dissipating
slowly.

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Malfoy must have read this newfound enthusiasm in Harry’s face because he picked up
his pace, sinking more vigorously into Harry’s hole, employing far less caution than
before. The penetration now felt so good that Harry struggled to keep quiet. He choked
down his moans of gratification, embarrassed about the level of his arousal given their
activity, although Malfoy was not similarly affected; he gasped out his shallow breaths
right into Harry’s face, not bothering to hide the excitement he was so clearly feeling.

Eventually the entire bed was shaking under the force of their activity. Malfoy hammered
into Harry as if he was trying to cleave him clean in two, and they were both straining to
breathe properly. Harry’s reborn erection slapped against his belly, punctuating each
thrust and sending little blobs of fluid spattering down onto his skin.

Their eye contact was finally broken when Malfoy tipped his head back and closed them
lazily, his mouth opening into a delectably suggestive ‘o’ which shaped the sounds
coming out of it. He was completely abandoned to the moment and Harry scrutinised
him openly, noticing properly how handsome Malfoy might actually be. He allowed
himself a brief moment to admit a definite sexual attraction to him before returning to
the wonderful feelings stirring between his legs.

A faint blush bloomed on Malfoy’s chest, offsetting the ring of teeth marks circling one
sore-looking nipple. Harry watched the heat climb up Malfoy’s neck and spread across his
face, the perfect accompaniment to the weighty huffing issuing from Malfoy’s mouth. He
was going to come, Harry knew. He could read the signs and he knew that Malfoy was
getting ready to explode.

“Come on,” he hissed through gritted teeth, coaxing Malfoy towards his orgasm.
Malfoy’s features melted from tense to perfect relaxation and with one indecently loud
moan he slammed his final thrusts into Harry, his head dropping forward like a stone so
that his hair tickled Harry’s chest and traced irregular lines through the wetness there.

Harry couldn’t feel the waves of Malfoy’s orgasm, but he felt the increased lubrication
and the way Malfoy’s cock slithered loosely in his anus. The sensation, whilst not directly
sexual, was both comforting and intensely satisfying. He’d made Malfoy come; Harry
found he was pretty pleased with himself.

Malfoy’s arms started to wobble as he propped himself up to recover. Harry, very


thankfully, let go of his legs and they plopped back to the mattress, numbed and useless
for the time being. He put a hand on Malfoy’s chest to support him while he recovered,
and Malfoy shot him a benign smile in thanks.

A little flood of semen followed Malfoy’s cock as it pulled out of Harry’s hole, and it ran
down Harry’s crack, all cooling and sort of slimy. It felt decidedly weird.

“Hell,” Malfoy whispered, seemingly more to himself than to Harry. He appeared quite
shaky and definitely short of his usual arrogant composure. Harry failed to smother a

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small chuckle at Malfoy’s state. Malfoy looked up at him and raised a single eyebrow, no
small measure of amusement on his own face. It was their first major moment of shared
camaraderie.

Malfoy’s gaze dropped to Harry’s neglected prick and he looked thoughtful for a second.
He looked back up at Harry and waggled his eyebrows wolfishly before beginning his
final descent to kiss it hello.

And when Malfoy’s mouth closed over the head of his cock and began to suck, Harry
closed his eyes and thanked his guardian angel for giving him the perfect gift to make up
for all those lost birthdays and Christmases in his life.

“Wakey wakey.” An annoyingly brisk voice sledge-hammered Harry’s heavy slumber,


forcing him to crack his tired eyes open. How bloody typical that Malfoy was a morning
person. Harry groaned and rolled over, pulling the covers over his head and doing his
best to ignore the nagging discomfort that appeared to accompany ‘the morning after
the night before’.

Oh crap. I slept with Malfoy.

And liked it.

“Get up, Potter. This is not a flop-house for Ministry malcontents.”

Harry snarled an unintelligible response, throwing the covers back and squinting up at a
fully dressed, perfectly coiffed Malfoy.

“I’m not a malcontent,” he finally said, easing himself up into a sitting position, instantly
regretting the pressure it placed on his tender backside.

“Of course you are,” Malfoy lectured. “No self-respecting, conscientious Auror would
skive off duty and shag a suspect now, would they?”

Exasperated, and too plain tired to fight, Harry flopped his legs over the side of the bed
and bent down to pick up his pants and trousers. Malfoy stood, arms folded smugly,
watching Harry’s tediously slow progress in obvious amusement.

“I haven’t got all day, you know,” Malfoy prodded sarcastically. “And make sure you walk
a couple of streets away before you Apparate to whatever hovel you’re calling home
these days. One doesn’t like to attract attention round here.”

That fucking insufferable …

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“Oh, doesn’t one,” Harry mimicked as he shoved his feet into his socks and dragged a
shoe out from underneath the bed.

“Don’t take that tone with me,” Malfoy snapped, clearly enjoying Harry’s irritation.
“Save it for the next poor innocent person you decide to harass.”

“You’re a prick, d’you know that?” Harry retorted childishly, losing the battle to keep
from sulking.

“And you’re upset because you let me fuck your arse,” Malfoy finished, hitting the nail
squarely on the head.

Harry grabbed the rest of his clothes up into a bundle and strode past Malfoy at a pace,
refusing to look at his face because he knew he’d see victory there.

“Goodbye, Potter,” Malfoy said, infusing the two words with multiple meanings.

Harry took the stairs two at a time, briefly pausing in the hallway to yank his coat on
before wrenching the door open and making the fastest possible getaway.

Shit. Why could he always rely on himself to do the stupidest things?

Come teatime, Harry looked back on the night before with a sense of unreality, as if what
had happened had involved someone else and not him. He was grateful not to have had
the day free to dwell on what he’d done with Malfoy or the way he’d felt about it at the
time. He’d worry about how Malfoy might use it against him another time, when he
didn’t have too many other things going on.

That morning, after a quick shower and a bacon batch from the local greasy spoon, Harry
had headed towards the old factory district to meet up with Savage and another bloke
from the Ministry, an ex-Curse-Breaker turned Auror called Rupert Comaski. Comaski was
a whiz with the sort of spells Harry thought might be in operation down there, so Savage
had ‘borrowed’ the man from his other duties to give them a hand in puzzling out how to
break through the invisible barrier. The fact that Apparition wouldn’t work piqued
Comaski’s interest and he agreed to give it a go.

The first couple of hours had been full of frustrations because not only were they not
getting anywhere with the barrier spell, but Savage and Comaski also couldn’t get
anywhere near as close to it as Harry could without feeling the need to flee. So he spent
a lot of time shuttling back and forth between the actual site and their safe site, which
made every test take twice as long as it might have done.

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It was late into the afternoon, when the winter sky had turned dusky and their feet had
turned to ice, that the break finally came. After casting maybe twenty diagnostic spells in
the morning and getting nowhere, Comaski had suggested layering the spells to try and
discover whether their clever quarry had used multiple charms to cover any number of
eventualities. It turned out that this was exactly what had been done, and Harry felt
completely elated when he managed to push through a weak gap in the defensive barrier
and reach the other side. It seemed that the clinching spell was one cast not towards the
barrier, but on Harry himself. Comaski, one of the panel of wizards who had worked on
Dolores Umbridge’s book of nasty tricks, thought to try out a charm meant for
momentarily concealing a person’s magical ability. For a couple of seconds Harry’s
magical signature dissolved and he could pass through the barrier as easily as any
Muggle.

Exercising caution even whilst wearing his Invisibility Cloak, Harry explored the small
number of cobbled roads encircled by the Repelling Spell. The buildings there were just
the same as beyond - Victorian red brick monoliths, long since fallen into disrepair and
disuse. Few street lights were left working, and in the failing light the buildings were
merely great crumbling grey blocks set against a grey sky. It was definitely creepy and
just the sort of place someone could hide with little fear of discovery, because no one in
their right mind would walk these streets for pleasure.

Harry used some of his newly learned diagnostic spells as he walked, trying to locate
further magical traces, but nothing showed up. This confused him; was the entire area
hidden for a reason, or was just one small part being concealed from sight?

Aside from the spells, Harry kept his eyes peeled and didn’t see anything obvious. There
were no shiny padlocks on rusted chains and no tyre tracks ending abruptly at any cargo
doors. It was a mystery. Harry would just have to wait until the woman returned, and
then he’d follow her.

Having parted company with his companions, Harry headed for the Ministry house to
grab something to eat before going back out for the night in search of the woman. He
walked back via the shopping streets, partly to reacquaint himself with bright lights and
bustling crowds, and partly so he could swing by that pub from the day before. He told
himself he was not looking to see if Malfoy was there. Sadly, he didn’t believe himself. It
wasn’t that he was pining like some lovelorn sap because he wasn’t. It was just that
however much his mind told him it was not a sensible avenue to pursue, his body
shouted louder and insisted it’d like to have another go at Malfoy, preferably switching
roles this time. The thought of giving Malfoy’s arse a good pounding was a highly
tempting one, and he knew that faced with another opportunity he wouldn’t turn it
down.

He was just flicking mentally through his disguises to pick one for the evening when
Malfoy rounded the corner just ahead of him. He was in the company of the woman
Harry had watched selling drugs in the wine bar. Instantly Harry felt a thrill of panic,

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wishing he could vanish so that neither of them would see him. Malfoy would be sure to
give Harry away and who knew how long it would be until the woman surfaced again, if
she ever did. It was too late, though. There was no way to avoid their meeting.

So Malfoy did know something after all, Harry thought, intensely annoyed at himself for
ever believing he might have been telling the truth.

Harry tipped his head down as the distance between them closed although he had little
doubt that Malfoy would fail to recognise him; that was too much to hope for. But as he
watched them approach he got the distinct feeling that something was horribly wrong.
Malfoy was not himself. Oh it was definitely him, no doubt about that, but there was
nothing of Malfoy’s personality in his eyes. The lights were on, but nobody was home,
Harry thought. Making no effort to hide himself, Harry lifted his head and looked right at
the pair of them as they walked past him, the casual scrutiny of a passer-by. Malfoy’s
eyes skipped over his own with the lightness and disinterest of a complete stranger.
There was no recognition in them at all, and Harry simply couldn’t believe that anyone
could act well enough to hide something like that. And there was absolutely no way that
Malfoy would have been able to resist making some smart comment or issuing a mean
little smile, Harry knew. The woman was much more alert, he noticed. She was scanning
all around them with a bit too much interest, and if she was trying to look normal whilst
doing it she was failing miserably. No, the uncomfortable weight in the pit of his belly
told Harry that things were most definitely not okay.

He walked round the corner Malfoy and the woman had just appeared from and stopped
dead, counting a few seconds off before turning back on himself and following in their
footsteps at a discreet distance. He was thankful of Malfoy’s abnormally pale hair
because it was like a beacon in the sea of Christmas shoppers, and Harry followed them
easily without having to get too close. He watched them together, Malfoy and the
woman, and the most noticeable thing was that there was no conversation at all. They
didn’t share any small talk or turn towards each other in those tiny moments of shared
experience that normal acquaintances had. They merely walked together, the woman
leading the way as Malfoy kept pace, his steps fluid, but his head robotically rigid, staring
straight ahead, never turning one way or the other, not even when crossing the road. It
was the sort of behaviour Harry had seen in people held under the Imperius Curse.

Harry felt seriously worried. He thought back to the half a phone call he’d overheard the
woman making and it occurred to him that perhaps she’d been sent out to find Malfoy;
he did, after all, apparently frequent both the places she’d visited, and Harry couldn’t
think of another satisfactory explanation. Adding that fact to Malfoy’s vacant expression,
Harry was pretty certain that he was under some kind of spell or more likely had
consumed something the woman had given him, knowingly or otherwise. Things seemed
to fit quite comfortably together; the woman was in league with a witch or wizard who
was supplying potions illegally, and she in turn was taking the ‘victims’ of the potion to a
specially concealed place for reasons as yet unknown. But Harry thought it likely that
some form of ritualised magic was involved, and perhaps even murder. Was Malfoy

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about to fall foul of some sort of murderous plot? The only way to know for sure was to
stay on their tail and not let them out of his sight.

When the crowds of shoppers started to thin out and they were closing in on the old
industrial district, Harry nipped into a deserted alleyway and threw his cloak over himself
before picking up the trail once more. Sure enough, the unevenly cobbled streets Harry
had come to know quite well came into view. Malfoy accompanied the woman passively,
crossing when she crossed, turning when she turned.

The oppressive pressure of the magical barrier began to tell on Harry, although he
noticed Malfoy was completely unaffected. Harry withdrew his wand and began to cast
the layers of spells he’d learned earlier under his breath, the Latin words nothing more
than a whisper and quite unintelligible to anyone, even a person standing next to him. He
felt the insidious squeezing of the Repelling Spell weaken and disappear altogether, and
he was able to pass through unaffected and without alerting the woman that anything
was amiss behind her.

Nervous anticipation filled Harry’s mouth leaving a sweetly metallic taste on his tongue.
When he realised he was holding his breath, he silently berated himself and sucked in
some air, reaching out for his professional composure and drawing it around him. He
kept his wand aloft under the cloak, constantly monitoring for any additional magical
wards erected to draw attention to unwanted visitors to the area. He was glad there
weren’t any. He concentrated instead on watching for any threat to either himself or
Malfoy, poised to take action the moment it was required.

Within a few minutes the woman veered sharply left across an expanse of broken
concrete slabs, the going underfoot quiet thanks to the thick blanket of weeds
flourishing out of the cracks. Harry watched Malfoy take a direct path across the area,
paying no mind to the tall, dead grass stems that scratched against his trousers and left a
tracery of dried seed husks stuck to the woollen fabric. It was the most unkempt Harry
thought he had ever seen him, excluding, perhaps, the ferret incident with Barty Crouch
Junior.

The pair preceded Harry down an unlit alleyway that followed the blocky shape of a
corrugated asbestos extension. It led directly to the back of a neighbouring building, one
Harry vaguely remembered from his earlier reconnaissance. A rotted wooden door stood
partially open, only visible thanks to the sparse light of the moon filtered through thick
clouds. Harry hadn’t seen it earlier, when there had been no such light. It was their
destination, Harry was sure.

Harry watched as the woman indicated for Malfoy to enter before following him inside,
turning sideways to avoid catching her coat on the moss-coated edges.

He counted a painfully slow five seconds and set out after them.

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Harry picked his way carefully through the partly open door, taking care not to catch his
cloak. He tailed Malfoy and the woman across a cavernous, empty space whose floor was
littered with the detritus of an industry long since abandoned. A single light bulb hung
way up in the rafters, its oily surface blocking more light than it allowed through; the
quality of the light it gave out was poor, although it enhanced Harry’s night vision just
enough to help his progress. The air was infused with the pungent smell of burnt oil; it
was strong enough to have a distinct taste. He followed as the pair approached a large
service lift which was set into the far wall, heavy duty enough to transport loaded pallets
or industrial machinery between different levels. The metal concertina guard door once
used to enclose the lift shaft hung buckled and useless from its one remaining hinge.

Harry watched as the woman pushed a bulbous button on the wall and indicated for
Malfoy to wait. The empty factory magnified the ratcheting sound of the lift travelling to
meet them until it echoed eerily off every wall and created the impression of a dozen lifts
moving. As Harry closed the distance between himself and the others, he could just make
out the series of chains and steel wires glinting dully in the shadow of the deep shaft as
they strained to move the body of the lift.

Only mere feet away now, Harry could better discern Malfoy’s expression. It was
completely empty, such that Harry could no longer identify anything of Malfoy left inside.
Subconsciously, Harry’s hand rubbed at a small lumpy object in his breast pocket as he
tried to convince himself that whatever was wrong with Malfoy was reversible.

When the lift finally arrived and came to a stop a foot or so short of the factory floor,
Harry knew this moment was make or break; there was no option but to travel in the lift
with Malfoy and the woman. He selected a corner as far away from them both as was
possible in an effort to disguise his presence; it was helpful that the lift was a good
fifteen feet wide.

The woman set the lift in motion, and Harry felt concern as it clunked into movement,
dropping them slowly to the basement below. It lurched and faltered worryingly, and
Harry could envision it breaking free from its pulley system and plummeting to the
bottom of the shaft. He was never more grateful than when they reached their
destination, the woman now fidgety with nerves.

What he saw filled Harry with both despair and disbelief.

The capacious basement space had been cheaply sectioned off decades before, leaving a
central area which was currently lit with hundreds upon hundreds of candles. The fatty
odour of tallow permeated the air, and Harry guessed the multitude of black candles

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were handmade to some no doubt vaguely sinister recipe in keeping with the clichéd
satanic setting.

The backdrop to the open area was a section of recently-erected plyboard wall perhaps
ten feet wide, a sturdy timber framework holding its sides upright and emphasising the
do-it-yourself nature of the construction. The face of the wall was painted matte black
and decorated with a floor to ceiling-high inverted goat’s head pentagram circled by a
border of runes that Harry was pretty sure were the real thing. But none of these Dennis
Wheatley horror film props disturbed Harry anywhere near as much as the legend
painted in rust-red two-foot-high letters on the floor before him:

MAGIC IS MIGHT

It couldn’t be coincidental, could it? These words, ones Harry had hoped never to see
again, were a macabre welcome mat of sorts, a boundary line separating the mundane
from the ridiculous. A sense of unease joined Harry’s other emotions and he asked
himself who else might be involved behind the scenes in this tasteless endeavour.

Past the motto and further into the basement, Harry saw a circle painted onto the floor
embellished with more runes, thick pillar candles in animal skull bases, and small bowls of
a variety of repulsive-looking substances. Past the circle and situated before the wooden
wall was a stocky trestle table, its proportions ample enough to hold a reclining person, a
use Harry was certain of based on the lengths of rope knotted around each leg. A large
headdress big enough to fit over a human head sat at one end of the table. It was a grisly
sculpture of bones, its face a goat’s skull complete with curved horns, and an assortment
of long, thin bones jointed together with wire dangled around the edges in an
abominable mockery of hair.

The table top itself wore a clearly discernible pattern of dark stains which Harry fancied
were made from blood; there was certainly an underlying musky, meaty smell
reminiscent of offal beneath the cloying odour of the candles.

The lift rattled in the shaft, startling Harry from his observations. The woman made a
rough grab at Malfoy’s arm, dragging him over the motto and into the ritual space. Harry
felt sure she was putting on an act of sorts for the benefit of the lone man who stood
waiting for them.

The man stood ramrod straight, exuding an air of arrogant superiority. He appeared to be
of unimposingly average height and build, although he had accentuated certain of his
features to appear more dramatic, more compelling. Only his face and hands were
uncovered; the rest of him was swathed in rich black velvet, his floor-length robe falling
in heavy folds from his shoulders and topped with a dramatic hood, the sort of thing
Harry had imagined evil wizards wore before he’d known the wizarding world even
existed for real.

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In keeping with his mode of dress, the man exhibited other characteristics associated
with a practitioner of Black magic. Harry could see that his hair was shockingly black
against the pasty white pallor of his skin and that he had a prominent widow’s peak. In
addition to the hairstyle the man wore a goatee beard and moustache, each styled to
sharp points and coloured the same dramatic shade of blue-black. The man had the
overall appearance of a cartoon caricature of the Devil himself, and Harry wondered if his
robe hid a pointy tail and hooves. The overall impression was grotesque.

The air of menace in the staged setting told Harry that this man was deadly serious about
his role-playing. He might even be capable of true Dark magic, or Black Magick, as Harry
could imagine the man pronouncing it, imbuing the words with violent secrets and
untold power. Harry wondered whether the man standing before him was the real
wizard he sought, and he briefly contemplated the awe any show of magical ability
would inspire from those who had grown up in a world where magic was not real. To
Muggles even a simple Levitation Charm would spellbind and inspire. It would likely be
enough to collect a group of worshipful followers to carry out any number of dirty deeds
in the name of a charismatic and formidable leader.

The bargain-basement Diablo moved his hands slightly, showing a wand which had
previously been hidden in the folds of his robe. His worst fears almost certainly
confirmed, Harry foresaw that things were going to go pear-shaped very quickly indeed.
As soon as he could he’d call for back-up.

“Got him,” the woman sang out in obvious pride, her voice filling the oppressively
situated space. “It was easy. Just a few drops in his drink when he was ogling the
barmaid.”

The man gave Malfoy the once-over, walking around him to satisfy himself from every
angle. “Were you followed?” he asked the woman, his voice unctuous yet magnetically
superior. Harry wondered if the man enhanced his vocal chords to create the effect.

“I’m never followed,” she replied in her most assuring tones. “I’ve never let you down
before, have I?” And now her pathetic desperation came through, and Harry knew the
woman was both fearful and worshipful of this man for whom she had procured Malfoy
and who knew how many other poor souls.

“Good, good,” he soothed, the implied praise making the woman smile like a child.
“Because if you were…” He tailed off, his voice suggesting all manner of unpleasant
threats. Harry watched her smile falter and her eyes avert from the man, a gesture of
subservience he supposed. “Now,” he continued, “take him and prepare him. The others
will assist.” Harry watched as the woman once again guided Malfoy less than carefully
away from the man. Harry circled the room and followed after Malfoy, wanting to see
that he was safe, at least for the time being.

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The woman approached a shadowy doorway in one of the flimsy dividing walls and
pulled back the heavy drape covering the gap. Hooking the fabric against the doorframe,
she pushed Malfoy through into a brightly lit room, greeting several people by name as
she followed. Harry, keeping half an eye on the ringleader, moved quickly to the doorway
just in case the drape was dropped again. He wanted to see what was inside the room,
and what Malfoy was walking into.

The room was a featureless ten-foot square containing five people excluding the new
arrivals. The first thing Harry noticed was that they were all naked. The second thing he
noticed was the stink of mania, and he knew these people were eagerly complicit in
whatever crimes were asked of them. They wore the arrogance of arcane knowledge
imparted to the chosen few, and the crackle of human electricity was palpable. They
were excited, he sensed – excited at the thought of the murderous orgy ahead, perhaps?
Harry felt sick to the pit of his stomach. He’d so very nearly missed seeing Malfoy and
being able to follow. The thought of his fate, of anyone falling to this fate, made Harry
feel weak with nausea.

A man and a woman almost fell on Malfoy, divesting him of his clothes with frightening
speed whilst the woman Harry knew found herself a spot against the wall and began to
undress. She seemed to be afforded a level of respect by the others gathered there, and
Harry wondered if she was the High Priestess of this sorry little band.

The sound of the lift cranking noisily into life distracted Harry momentarily and he turned
back to see the robed figure of the man, as statue-like as before, waiting to receive more
followers. Harry held his wand in stiff fingers, training it in steady arcs between the lone
figure and his band of devotees. Things were looking bad for Malfoy. Harry knew he had
to act before these idiots began their ritual, but he had no idea how many other genuine
witches or wizards were involved. There may be more than one duel to be had.

Harry glanced back at Malfoy. He stood, naked and completely passive, but unchained in
any way. The other people present had donned masks, each a bleached white parody of
a human face showing great pain, with enormous screaming mouths and eyes slitted in
agony. Only Malfoy remained recognisable thanks to his unadorned face, not that Harry
would have had much difficulty in picking him out even had he been similarly disguised;
his body hair was lighter by far than anyone else’s.

Two men and a woman stepped out of the lift and bowed before their leader. He berated
them for their tardiness and snapped that they should hurry to prepare. They exchanged
excited looks when he told them the altar was complete. Harry guessed that was ritual-
speak for the sacrifice is lined up and ready to go.

The cloaked man began to pace his ritual space, walking the perimeter of his painted
circle and stopping at each relic to trim the smoking wick on a candle, or to examine the
contents of a bowl. Harry watched him nod to himself, satisfied at the set-up and almost
serene in his preparatory comportment. There was none of the bubbling excitement

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visible in his followers; he exuded only a calm sense of purpose, leaving no room for
doubt as to who was in charge. Harry knew he had to deal with this man first. Without
leadership the others may falter once challenged.

Raising his wand for duelling Harry moved stealthily, taking a sweeping path around
behind the trestle table, affording himself a victim’s eye view of the scene. He moved
slowly, mindful not only of catching his cloak in the flames of one of the many candles,
but also of the way the flames would gutter and flicker with even the slightest
displacement of air. He barely breathed as he moved, fearful of announcing his presence
before he was ready.

Harry’s careful progress was not enough. The man’s eyes cut sharply in his direction and
with shocking speed his wand was raised, his face no longer smooth, but instead a rictus
of grimacing fury.

Simultaneous cries of,

“Expelliarmus!” and,

“Homenum revelio!” rang out in the dense air, slicing through the atmosphere and
charging it with the promise of violence.

The man’s wand was blasted out of his hand by Harry’s Disarming Charm, clattering onto
the floor with a hollow sound and rolling away into the shadows, far out of immediate
reach. It was too late to stop the other spell hitting Harry though, and he knew in an
instant that he would be as visible to the man as a misty ghost, a mere whisper of
transparent substance carrying the definite shape of his outline. “Intruder!” the man
bellowed, causing a shockwave of terrified chatter in the offset room. “Pretender to the
throne of the Master!” He advanced on Harry, stepping inside his ritual circle as if it held
no mystery and no great power to him at all.

Everything from then on seemed to happen at once.

“Master!” one of the men cried, pushing his way out of the side room armed with his
wand. “Who do you see? Is it Him?” His tone was fearfully reverent.

They couldn’t see Harry, so he knew he had the upper hand with the coven members. He
would pick them off one by one, taking down the threats as they were posed.

“Kill him!” the wizard shouted, globules of spit flying out of his mouth with the ferocity
of his words. He stretched out one arm and pointed directly at Harry, and the naked man
swung rapidly to take aim with his wand.

In the same second, Harry and the man cast:

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“Avada Kedavra!”

“Expelliarmus!”

Harry stood frozen, waiting for the flash of green light and the obliterating impact, but
saw … nothing. Once again, the wand fell from the man’s hand and bounced end on end
before coming to a stop, yet instead of fearing the loss of his wand the man gazed down
at his hand, which Harry knew would still be smarting from the sting of the charm’s
impact. The man flexed his fingers experimentally, clearly amazed at what had
happened.

“Accio wand!” the wizard cried, and Harry sensed rather than saw the wand returning to
its master. His attention was split between the two parties.

“Satan,” a hushed, reverent voice said.

“He’s here!” another added, overlaying the first speaker. There was a muted hum of
general confusion.

Harry watched the naked troupe removing their masks and gaping into thin air,
desperately trying to locate him, clearly believing themselves to be in the presence of the
ultimate powerful supernatural force instead of merely an Auror with an Invisibility Cloak
on.

“No!” the wizard bellowed, furious at the response. “No!” With a violent slash he threw
out his arm and shouted, “Crucio!”

Harry ducked low and felt the zing of the curse fly past him and rattle against the
wooden backdrop. His adrenaline pumped hard enough to eradicate almost every
physical sensation.

But before he could act, the sound of a single set of running footfalls slapping dully on
the bare concrete floor became audible, thanks only to the deathly hush gradually
enveloping the place. Harry watched as the wizard swung his glare to the woman
running towards him from the opposite end of the room. Like all the others she was
naked. Bide your time, Harry told himself, remembering the virtue of patience.

“Master!” the woman exclaimed, rushing towards the wizard with no care for her own
safety. “What must I do? What of Mistress Marielle?” The latter was implored, a look of
desperately needing to please him carved deep into her features.

“Take her,” the wizard ordered, a sense of panic tingeing his words even as a flash of
magnesium-bright sparks issued forth from the tip of his wand. “She must be safe. Take
her from here quickly. She must take Aunt Dora’s books. Do it now.” The words tumbled

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out of his mouth, tripping over each other until they all ran together into one long sound.
The woman backed up jerkily and scuttled off into the shadows.

“Locomotor Mortis!” Harry exclaimed, sending the curse at lightning speed and hitting
her on his first attempt.

The thud of the body hitting the floor was drowned out by another woman’s voice.

“Avada Kedavra!” she screamed, and Harry turned quickly to see the caster elbow a clear
space in the curtained doorway and fling the curse in his general direction.

Squinting his eyes in preparation for a neon green flash that never came, Harry yet again
found himself confused.

“It doesn’t work!” she screeched. “You lied!” She had turned on the wizard, her eyes and
demeanour accusatory. “You said we’d gain power, but you lied! You kept it all for
yourself!” She threw her wand on the ground in disgust, and others followed suit.

Forgotten for the moment, Harry watched in horror as the man pointed his wand at his
disgruntled follower and hissed, “Liquefacto.” The woman’s lower face rippled and
bubbled and her hands flew to it in a pitiful attempt to protect herself. Harry was sure
she would have screamed had her nose and cheeks not dripped down like wax and
covered her mouth.

The wands weren’t real. None of them were real, he realised as he stood rooted to the
spot at the scene unfolding around him. Only the leader was the genuine article. God,
what a bloody mess.

The group couldn’t decide where to focus their attentions. They were fracturing like a
rapidly thawing pond, some terrified, others enraged.

“Deceiver!” another man hissed, his face contorted by the strength of his emotions.
“You wanted all the glory for yourself!”

The wizard flicked his wand casually, and too late, Harry read the man’s intention. His
upper lip curled viciously beneath his ridiculous moustache and he spat out, “Avada
Kedavra.” The front most man fell down dead, the vivid green vapours evaporating more
slowly than the dead man’s life force. Harry’s Shield Charm hadn’t made it in time.

Several screams of alarm rang out, and Harry took his chance.

“Stupefy.” He aimed true at the wizard and was fuming to realise he was a fraction of a
second too late. With a flourish of his velvet cloak reminiscent of Dracula himself, the
wizard turned on the spot and Apparated, leaving in his wake a theatrical puff of
thunderous smoke.

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What a dickhead, Harry thought. But the ‘impressive’ exit had the remaining Muggle
followers gasping in awe and terror. For a moment they all forgot Harry’s presence and
stared at the empty space once occupied by their fleeing mentor.

Harry knew the man could not have gone far because while the surrounding barrier was
in place Apparition would be limited to within its confines. He turned his attention back
to the straggling band of shell-shocked satanic groupies. One woman had dropped to her
haunches over her fallen friend and was trying to shake him awake. His demise had yet to
register. It was obvious that the wizard had instructed them all in the Killing Curse, but
they seemed amazed that it might actually work.

The woman with the waxwork face had slumped to the floor and was patting at her skin
mechanically, the light of reason gone from her eyes.

Harry just couldn’t believe that any wizard would have taught Muggles such spells. And
arming them with fake wands? How fucking irresponsible! None of them would ever
stand a chance in a real duel, yet they had been set up to believe they would be able to
harness true power, and such arrogant belief might well lead one or more of them to
their deaths.

“He’s dead,” the woman confirmed of her fallen friend, her whisper shaking with the
threat of tears.

“Master!” another of the men called beseechingly in Harry’s direction. “Take our
sacrifice. Reward us as You promised!” He stepped over his dead companion and lurched
towards Harry, his arms outstretched like a zombie, his eyes almost as empty. Sanity
seemed to have taken a holiday.

“Petrificus Totalus,” Harry cast rapidly, and the man froze instantly, toppling forward
with his continuing momentum.

A loud wailing commenced as the Muggles prepared for death. There was no fight left in
those who remained. Harry picked them off individually with Stupefying Charms before
preventing their escape with several effectively employed Binding Spells. He’d never
been more grateful for such a charm; the thought of manhandling the haphazard pile of
naked would-be satanists was not the most pleasurable one he’d ever had.

He returned the woman’s face to normal. Later, she would probably believe she’d
hallucinated the entire thing, assuming the Ministry didn’t Obliviate her completely, that
was.

Before sorting Malfoy out Harry pulled his cloak off, called out, “Expecto Patronum,” and
then watched as his silver stag erupted from the end of his wand and circled back to face
him. Harry didn’t need to speak; his Patronus took its message directly from his mind

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before building up speed and galloping through the wall, heading for the only people in
the Auror Office who knew how to circumvent the invisible barrier outside. He hoped
they arrived in time to greet the wizard before he removed the Repelling Spell and made
good his escape.

It was impossible to get back into the little side room without treading on some of his
captives. Harry felt a bit squeamish about that, trying not to think too hard about the
bones that rolled and grated below the surface of malleable skin under his weight.

Malfoy stood the same as before, sideways on to the door, naked and oblivious. It
occurred to Harry that it was almost a shame to change this newfound and agreeable
demeanour. He dug around inside his breast pocket and pulled out the irregularly shaped
pebble he’d secreted there.

“Open your mouth, Malfoy,” he said, popping the bezoar inside before telling Malfoy to
swallow it. The rapid purpling of cheeks followed by a rather aggressive, hacking cough
told Harry that the bezoar had hit the mark and neutralised whatever potion Malfoy had
ingested.

“What the fuck?” Malfoy choked out, scanning his surroundings rapidly with a look of
utter confusion. He glanced down at himself and narrowed his eyes dangerously. “You
fucking pervert,” he snarled.

Harry didn’t really have time for a proper explanation. Looking up into Malfoy’s irritated,
expectant gaze, he said, “Remember those illegal potions I was asking you about? Well,
you just swallowed some and nearly ended up as some nutter’s ritual sacrifice. Get your
clothes on quickly.” He bent down and grabbed a handful of Malfoy’s wadded up clothes
and shoved them roughly at his chest.

“Hold on just one fuck--”

“Shut it, Malfoy,” Harry snapped, cutting right across what was obviously only the start
of a highly indignant speech. “You didn’t want publicity for your Muggleshagging
escapades, right?” Malfoy opened his mouth to reply, but Harry didn’t give him the
chance. “So get your bloody clothes on and get out of here before this place is swarming
with the Ministry’s finest.”

After a moment of stunned immobility Malfoy began to tug his clothes on with far more
enthusiasm than care. “Life was peaceful until you came along with your bullshit stories,”
he seethed.

“Save it,” Harry retorted, jogging back to the doorway at the sound of the heavy lift
grinding into action. It was empty so he could only imagine it had been summoned from
another level. “I’m trying to do you a favour, not that I expected any gratitude.”

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“Oh here we go,” Malfoy griped. “You really need it, don’t you? You have to be the hero
of the day. You make me sick.”

“Fine!” Harry shouted with real meaning, catching Malfoy completely off guard. “I should
have left you, shouldn’t I? I can’t think of anyone who deserves to die stark bollock naked
and hacked to pieces by a group of psychotic satanists more than you!”

“Potter the drama queen strikes again,” Malfoy sneered, shoving his feet into his shoes
and elbowing past Harry. He made sure to stamp on several tender body parts as he
clambered over the bodies and out of the room, showing not even the remotest sign of
surprise or distaste at the scenery around him. Harry followed, wondering exactly when
Malfoy had become so desensitised to human suffering.

With nary a backwards glance Malfoy turned on the spot and attempted to Disapparate.
He failed.

“You can’t do that,” Harry said none too patiently.

“What have you done?” Malfoy accused, eyes wide with fury.

“I haven’t done anything,” he shouted. “You tried to Disapparate to somewhere outside


the barrier and you can’t, okay?”

“What barrier?” Malfoy demanded. Harry just didn’t have the time for any of this.

“Take this,” he barked gruffly, pushing his treasured Invisibility Cloak into Malfoy’s hand.
“Cover yourself over and try not to make any bloody noise. You should be able to sneak
past any Aurors without getting stopped.”

Malfoy’s eyes glittered with glee at the sight of this cloak which was legendary and
beyond the reach of even his bank account. Harry guessed he’d often regretted not
taking it back in their sixth year.

“I want it back,” Harry told him sharply. Malfoy snorted through his nose, made a rude
hand gesture at Harry and then covered himself over, disappearing from view.

“Fucking great,” Harry cursed to himself when he felt alone. At least Malfoy had the
wherewithal to look after himself so he wouldn’t have to. He concentrated hard,
visualising the empty factory floor above, and Disapparated.

Being visible made it pretty hard to sneak up and surprise someone when there was
nothing to hide behind. He couldn’t work out, then, why the pretty young woman in the
gauzy white dress who was struggling towards his Apparition point didn’t seem fazed in

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the slightest by his sudden appearance. He had plenty of time to study her as she hopped
hopelessly from foot to foot, her arms ridiculously full with two enormous books and a
large rag dolly, and one hand gripping what he could only describe as a child’s fairy wand.

She looked up at him as one heavy volume slipped from her grip and flumped to the
floor, the thick parchment pages fanning out as it landed face down. “Can you help me?”
she asked, without giving the slightest indication that Harry was a stranger.
“Leo will be so angry if I lose Aunt Dora’s books, and I got really worried when
Rebecca didn’t come back. Have you seen Leo?”

There was something odd about the way she spoke. Harry approached her slowly, wary
of a trap about to be sprung. She carried on chattering away in a voice as melodious as a
happy little girl, apparently completely oblivious to the dark and creepy surroundings of
the disused industrial unit.

“Princess Araminta’s not strong enough to help, are you?” she said, addressing the
beautifully clothed doll in her arms as though she expected a response. “I need to carry
her you see,” the woman continued, returning her attention to Harry. “And it’s too hard
to carry her and the books as well. I don’t know what to do.” As an afterthought, she
said, “I wish Leo was here. He’d know what to do.”

Harry watched her chew her lip as she considered her plight deeply. Her face was elfin
and unblemished by grave thoughts or problems. Her earnestly wrinkled brow made her
look far younger than her thirty or so years, and her dress looked more like a pretty
nightgown, with its ribbons and bows and smocked yoke.

“Let me help,” Harry finally said, pocketing his wand cautiously before reaching to
remove the thick book from her arms. She relinquished the book easily, rewarding Harry
with a sparkling smile. He felt warm inside from it because it seemed so genuine. He bent
and picked up the twin volume from the floor, eyes surreptitiously scanning the neat
lines of text on the newly creased pages. It was no wonder old Leo didn’t want to lose
them.

Quickly hefting them under one arm, Harry stood. The woman had linked her arm
through his spare one without a second thought. She still grasped the wand in that hand,
and close up Harry could see it was a delicately shaped length of wood with a sequined
star stuck to its end. A few streamers of silky ribbon curled around the shaft of the wand
and tickled the woman’s hand as she twirled it playfully.

“Thank you, kind sir,” she said as she curtsied, bobbing her head before allowing him to
lead her away. “Princess Araminta and I would have been stuck here for ages without
you.”

“Is Princess Araminta your doll?” Harry enquired carefully, forming a cautious opinion
that his lovely companion might be a little unbalanced.

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“Oh, no!” she exclaimed. “She’s my daughter, aren’t you, darling?” Harry watched as the
doll, carefully nestled under the woman’s other arm, was given the most affectionate of
squeezes and a soft kiss on the forehead.

Oh dear. If she was for real, Harry thought this might be the saddest thing he’d ever
seen. “How old is she?”

“She’ll be five in February,” her ‘mother’ replied proudly. “And we’ll have a big party with
cakes and balloons and lots of presents from Daddy and me, won’t we, darling?” Even in
the gloom Harry could see the excited twinkle in the woman’s eyes.

“That’s a very nice wand you’ve got,” Harry remarked casually. “I’ve never seen one so
pretty before. Where did you get it from?”

The woman let go of Harry’s arm and skipped lightly a few steps ahead of him. He
reached towards his own wand automatically, but needn’t have done so.

“Leo, that’s Minty’s daddy, gave it to me,” she confided gaily. “It doesn’t work properly,
but Leo says that one day it’ll work just like his. And then we’ll all be able to do magic
together.” She laughed joyfully at the prospect.

Harry’s heart plummeted. Was this woman a Muggle? Or a Squib? Either one was a
possibility.

The crack of a nearby Apparition sounded like a gunshot in the empty building.
“Marielle!” a man’s voice cried out from somewhere hard to pinpoint, and Harry watched
as his lovely companion lit up at the sound of it.

“Leo!” she sang out. “Leo, I’m here!”

Harry drew his wand and scanned his surroundings. If he’d had eyes in the back of his
head he’d have seen the evil wizard pacing towards him.

“Imperio!”

Harry felt the curse smack against his skin and dig its claws in, demanding control of his
body and mind. His opponent needn’t know yet awhile that its demand had gone
unanswered. He froze, statue-like, awaiting an order.

“He was helping me carry Aunt Dora’s books,” the woman, Marielle, explained. “He was
kind.”

“I’ve told you not to trust strangers, now haven’t I?” the man, Leo, chastised kindly.
Harry heard the sound of a chaste kiss somewhere behind him. The crunching of footfalls

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on the gritty floor rang out and Harry sensed the two people come close. The wizard
came and looked directly into Harry’s eyes from a foot away, puffed up with arrogance
and his utter belief in his own power. He withdrew Harry’s wand from between his
clasped fingers and secreted it inside his voluminous robe.

“I’m sorry, Leo,” she replied meekly.

“It’s okay, my sweet,” he told her. “No damage has been done.” She sighed, relieved,
and began to sing a lullaby to her dolly, slipping out of touch with her immediate
surroundings.

Harry met the man’s eyes easily, having practiced affecting the results of the Imperius
Curse on a number of occasions.

“You will guard my books with your life,” the wizard instructed. “If anyone other than
me tries to take them from you, you will kill them.”

“I will kill them,” Harry confirmed with a nod.

“When I take them from you,” he continued, “I will return your wand and you will use a
Slashing Hex to cut open your throat. You will not try to save yourself.”

“I will not try to save myself,” Harry parroted.

“Follow me,” he said, turning on his heel and calling Marielle to him. Harry followed close
behind, calculating what damage he might be able to do with the small number of
wandless charms he could perform. It was all a bit risky, really.

“Potter? Potter!” A muffled echo of a cry rang out and Harry thought he recognised it as
Rupert Comaski’s voice. Wherever he was calling from it wasn’t nearby.

“Damn!” the wizard exclaimed, grabbing Marielle’s elbow tightly and breaking into a
trot. The three of them exited the building at speed, Leo blasting the broken wooden
door from its hinges.

Muttering under his breath and performing a series of frantic flicks and swishes with his
wand, Leo led the three of them out onto the road and within view of the place where
the Repelling Spell was operating. He continued to cast at speed, impressing Harry with
his obvious skill.

When Leo turned without warning, Harry stumbled into him, knocking them both off
balance. The man cursed loudly and shouted in temper, “Give me the books now.” His
hand was outstretched, indicating for Harry to lay them in the crook of his arm. The other
arm pulled Marielle in tight to him, and Harry knew there were only seconds left until the
pair Disapparated.

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“Stupefy!” A cacophony of voices all called out the same spell from different directions,
and Harry watched as both Leo and Marielle succumbed.

“Potter! Are you all right?” It was Enid’s voice, and he could tell from the way it wobbled
that she was hammering towards him at a pace.

“Fine, I’m fine,” he replied loudly, not just for her benefit, backing off from the strange
couple and allowing his colleagues to swoop in and take over.

She jogged up to him and beamed as a number of other Aurors jostled around them to
secure the prisoners. “It’s good to see you,” he told her, and she patted his arm in
complete understanding of all the things unspoken within those few words.

He watched as Leo and Marielle were secured for transportation to the Ministry for
questioning, grateful when his wand was returned to him. When he felt the hairs on the
back of his neck prickle he scanned the street hopelessly for signs of Malfoy. The barrier
was down now, so he’d be able to escape.

Then it was time to go, and Harry wasn’t really that sorry. He could already taste the stale
Auror Office tea in his mouth and found he was really looking forward to brewing up a
pot.

It took a lot of Aurors several hours to round up the captives and catalogue the scene.
Having given an initial briefing to outline what had happened, Harry was relieved not to
have been one of them. Not that filling in the triplicate paperwork for each and every
involved person was particularly thrilling because it wasn’t. It was just nice to be back at
the office around familiar people again, and to feel like a part of something.

There wasn’t a single mention of Malfoy by anyone in the returning party, so Harry knew
he’d made good his escape. No surprises there, then. He wondered idly if they’d ever run
into each other again and concluded it was unlikely.

It was funny that thoughts of Malfoy prompted thoughts about sex, given that he’d quite
like to punch him in the face for being such a twat. Harry laughed to himself as he dunked
a biscuit into his mug; it was nice to realise he could still surprise himself from time to
time. The realisation that he was not destined to lead a dull life didn’t bother Harry any
more.

It was only when a very serious Kingsley entered the staff room and crooked a rather
reproving finger at him that Harry collected himself and refocused his mind on the task at
hand. There were a lot of people to question. He knew he’d better get cracking.

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It was one of the office administrators who put names to the key players. Valerie from
the Major Miscreants Recording Team knew Leo the moment she saw him kicking up a
fuss about signing the custodial register. He’d been in her year at Hogwarts, making him
forty-three years of age. She confided to Enid that she’d had a bit of a crush on him
actually, and had tried hard to make friends with him, but that it had been impossible to
do so. Leo, or rather Leo Fleetwood to give him his full name, had always been a bit of a
loner. The only thing he had ever shown the remotest interest in was his little sister,
Marielle. He’d kept a photograph of her with him at all times, and was often seen sitting
by himself near the window in Ravenclaw tower staring at it for hours at a time.

Harry was interested to note that Valerie and her fellow pupils had always thought Leo’s
fascination with his sister had appeared rather too intense. He remembered what
Marielle had said: ”She’s my daughter,” and ”Minty’s daddy,” the latter referring to Leo
himself. Surely this man hadn’t …

No. That was jumping the gun. There were a lot of questions to be answered before
Harry would let himself believe such a thing. He hoped he was wrong.

It took days of intensive questioning to gather enough information to form an accurate


picture of all the events leading up to Harry’s final capture of Leo Fleetwood and his
coven.

A few of Harry’s senior colleagues were pulled off the trafficking case to take part in the
interrogations, and the buzz around the office was palpable. The coven members, or
cannon fodder, as Harry couldn’t help but think of them, were dealt with first because of
the legal problem of holding Muggles they had no jurisdiction to charge. The Minister
had personally needed to approve their rounding up and incarceration because of the
highly problematic nature of how to maintain the Statute of Secrecy whilst making a
sound case to be tried in Muggle courts. Harry was sure he’d heard Kingsley say
something about a flying visit to Downing Street to iron out the inevitable creases. The
thought of the diplomatic nightmare was just one more reason why he didn’t want to be
Minister for Magic. Ever.

Harry wasn’t assigned to undertake the questioning of any of Fleetwood’s coven, but he
was kept up-to-date by all the teams of interrogators because their information would
influence how Leo and Marielle were dealt with. He and Enid would be overseeing their
interviews.

The Muggles mostly fit the profile Harry had expected; weak, directionless, open to
influence and persuasion, all for the promise of wealth and power. He worked hard at
not letting his personal opinions affect the way he felt about the case, but there were

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times when it was incredibly hard. Reading their matter-of-fact descriptions of the cold-
blooded murder of innocent victims and the euphoric orgies that followed stunned
Harry.
According to all members of the group, the coven had existed long before Leo
Fleetwood’s appearance. Many of them had dabbled with Satanism for years, and
reading between the lines it seemed that their reason for doing so was to indulge in a bit
of extra-marital kinky sex. The thought of gaining any real power was secondary; the
rituals and meetings were little more than fantasy role-playing, a place to boast of
grandiose aspirations and gain an inflated sense of self-importance whilst copping an
eyeful of the opposite sex.

Leo had literally burst in on their meeting one night, appearing amidst a flash of fire,
proclaiming himself as their preordained leader and demonstrating fearsome magical
powers such as the levitation of objects and people, and being able to turn one thing into
something else. The group were astounded, some admitting to never having really
believed in any sort of preternatural world. It was then that the coven became serious,
immersing themselves in Leo’s ‘teachings’ and absorbing without question his claims
that his power came from the Devil himself.

The coven members fought to gain favour and status in Leo’s eyes, and the first sacrifice
made to Satan was one of their own, a man grown too greedy, too dangerous to his
fellow worshippers. The group acted as one, with Leo officiating over the complicated
ceremony, weaving intricate tales of how the man’s soul would be magically tied their
coven, thus providing the necessary spark to bring their magical powers into being.

It hadn’t worked. Leo promised bigger, greater sacrifices, assuring them that given a little
practice their dreams would be realised, and nothing, no material wealth or control over
others, would be denied them.

They believed him.

He gifted them all with wands to ‘focus’ their fledgling abilities, and taught them spells to
control people and cause death, demonstrating them to great effect each time the group
appeared to waver in their convictions.

Once they were in so far over their heads that none could leave for risk of meeting an
untimely fate, Leo stepped up the pace. He introduced his ‘wife’ to the proceedings, a
pretty woman with the mind of a child. She never participated, but she was kept close to
Leo at all times. He was obsessed with her, the coven members said, poring for hours
over books and scratching out notes describing ways to take magic from one person and
plant it inside someone else. She could not perform tricks as Leo himself could, and his
determination to give his wife such special abilities instilled a sense of security amongst
the coven; if Leo could do it for her, he could do it for them, too. And that Leo had
succeeded for himself cemented their belief in him.

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And so whatever he suggested, they did without question. Including participating in


infanticide.

If any of the coven showed the tiniest sliver of remorse it was over the murder of Leo
and Marielle’s daughter. Some were reluctant to admit their part in it, but the collated
evidence against the activities of the whole group was too compelling. They had taken a
tiny baby and laid her on the altar before their Lord Satan and stolen her life and her soul
for their own benefit. The coven were united; that Fleetwood was prepared to surrender
his own child for the greater good was indication enough that he was for real. After that
there were no second thoughts, not from any of them. Leo assumed something close to
messiah status.

Fleetwood started to go out into the city and identify new candidates for sacrifice. He
told his coven he had a spell for identifying those people who had magic inside them, and
that they would be the ones to be sacrificed. All they needed to do was administer or
persuade the victim to take a special powder and then bring them, barely conscious, to
the ritual space. It was easy. And it might have gone on for an awful lot longer if not for
Harry’s fortuitous assignment.

The Aurors gathered everything they needed from the Muggles inside of two days. Just
before they were packed off back to their own ‘world’, Enid told a packed meeting room
that three Aurors were to be assigned to various departments of the police station with
jurisdiction over the crime scene. Kingsley had apparently struck a deal with the Prime
Minister which would ensure none of them escaped unpunished. Harry could not have
been more pleased with the outcome.

Harry and Enid had used those precious couple of days to sit down with all the data as it
came in and decide their way forward. The evidence gathered both from the group and
the scene of the crimes was in itself enough to secure a full conviction for Leo
Fleetwood. Questioning him was a mere formality, but one which Harry was eager to
start. He knew the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of the crimes, but he didn’t truly understand the
‘why’. He needed to hear for himself what twisted, insane justification Fleetwood would
give for his actions.

Whilst Leo Fleetwood had mostly been left to stew, the same could not be said for
Marielle. At the very first opportunity, a Mental Malady mediwizard was called in from St.
Mungo’s to offer a diagnosis on her condition. None of the evidence gathered thus far
suggested she was directly involved in any of the illegal goings on, but they could not
rule out the possibility that she was playing an elaborate game. For himself, Harry
wanted to know whether Marielle Fleetwood gave up her child willingly, or whether she
was little more than another one of Leo’s puppets, albeit a much treasured one.
The diagnosis was immensely saddening. Marielle, who had the face and body of a
beautiful, gentle woman, had the mind of a six-year-old child. She had always been so,
and had no chance of ever being otherwise. The mediwizard overseeing Marielle’s
assessment stated that the impairment was a defect from birth, and if he’d been asked

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to put money on the reason he would have said it was down to too many generations of
inbreeding from within a tiny number of gene pools. Her family tree would weave back
and forth between cousins, similar to so many pure-blood dynasties, causing irreparable
damage to the fruits of many an unhealthy union.

Even before her questioning began it was decided that Marielle would move to St.
Mungo’s to take up permanent residence in one of their closed wards; she was just too
vulnerable to be left to her own devices, and there did not appear to be any remaining
family at liberty to care for her. Harry knew it was for the best, but he felt sick inside,
imagining how the rest of her life would be.

Together with a special advocate, Harry and Enid undertook a careful questioning of
Marielle Fleetwood. She was absolutely charming in a childishly innocent way. It was
impossible not to love her a little, and Harry supposed he could understand why her
brother had taken his duty of care to her so seriously. It was just a shame that he was so
obviously unbalanced himself; who could say how much better a life Marielle could have
had in the care of someone else.

The positive thing, if it could truly be considered positive, was that Marielle was unable to
differentiate between her daughter and the doll who now took her place. She could not
recall the time when the real baby Araminta was taken from her, telling only of her
memories of the pregnancy and birth and the love she had for her baby girl.

Enid had asked her as carefully as she could about Araminta’s conception, mostly
because it was important to verify Leo’s paternity. Marielle flushed deeply and found it
impossible to relate what had happened. She was terribly shy about her bodily functions
and would not do more than confirm that Leo was the father. She didn’t know it was
wrong to sleep with her brother. They’d often played dress-up weddings when she was
little, and Marielle said she always knew that when she grew up she would marry Leo
because he was so very kind.

The Aurors got a similarly awkward reaction when they asked her about the coven
meetings she went to with Leo. Marielle, all prim and proper, always stayed in another
room and made up stories to tell Araminta. She thought it very embarrassing that Leo’s
friends didn’t wear any clothes. She was always glad when Leo took her home again, and
he was always extra nice on those nights, letting her eat all the ice cream she wanted. It
was her very particular treat.
Before the mediwizard took Marielle Fleetwood away she had skipped happily to Harry
and kissed him on the cheek. She said he was nice and that she hoped he had a little girl
to love one day. She raised the rag doll to Harry’s face and patted it against his cheek,
telling him quite seriously that Minty didn’t kiss just anyone; she only kissed people she
trusted. Marielle curtsied like a proper little lady and left with the kind man from the
hospital.

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Harry sat in the room on his own for a long time afterwards. He knew he wouldn’t be
able to shake Marielle Fleetwood from his thoughts for a long time.

Leo Fleetwood’s own account was, hands down, the most disturbing narrative Harry had
ever heard. The case had all the makings of an office legend, and people scrabbled to be
a part of the investigation simply because they wanted the chance to sit in the presence
of a criminal whose actions would cause absolute outrage and whose motivations and
morality, or lack thereof, would be dissected for years to come.

Like all maniacal zealots Fleetwood believed completely in the rightness of his actions.
He was above the law, any law, and he had a brand on his chest - not a tattoo, but a
brand based on Crowley’s famous motto: Do what thou wilt. It was sick.

Fleetwood treated Enid, the lead interrogator, with contempt, as though she lacked the
intellectual capacity to see the greatness of his ‘work’. The man had been able to justify
and compartmentalise his defeat at Harry’s hands, and he talked and acted as if he would
walk free at any moment, ready to resume his place as coven master. Of course that
would never happen. It was Azkaban for Leo Fleetwood with no shadow of a doubt.

The man took great pride in describing how he had obtained his coven. He boasted of his
unsurpassed use of charms and spells, many, he alleged, invented by himself, and he
laughed at the stupidity of the Muggles he had manipulated so skilfully. They were less
than nothing to him, just tools for doing a dirty job before being discarded once the end
result was achieved. His contempt for non-magical people was complete, and he twisted
his face in disgust when describing how he had needed to integrate with them and
pretend to be one of them. But the distasteful nature of that particular task was worth it
tenfold if he could only achieve his end result; he wanted to cure his Squib sister Marielle
and give her the magical status she deserved.

Fleetwood believed that Muggle-born witches and wizards stole their magic from pure-
blood families, and the terrible injustice of having a Squib in his great family was
unbearable. It was completely unacceptable, and throughout his formative years the
dinner table conversation had often revolved around the crime committed against poor
Marielle by the insidious canker that was the Mudblood invasion into wizarding society.

Using his aunt’s spell books, Fleetwood devised an extreme methodology to take back
the magic that rightly belonged to his family. He carefully selected a group of individuals
with few morals and an amusingly similar outlook on humanity to his own; his coven
hated the weak, the unimaginative, yet that’s exactly what they were to him. He tempted
them with parlour tricks and showy displays of power, all the time grooming them to
procure the sacrifices for their altar and participate in the exsanguinations and
eviscerations of their victims. By getting them to do it Fleetwood did not have to soil his
own hands with the blood of the scum.

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At first he believed any human blood sacrifice would be sufficient to supplement the
spells he had fine-tuned. It was only when his first attempts failed to spark any magical
ability in Marielle that Leo Fleetwood re-evaluated his research and decided that his best
chance would be to sacrifice his own flesh and blood. Surely, Fleetwood reasoned to
himself, there were few wizards more powerful than he, and while he clearly was not
prepared to give his own life, he knew he could create a life with Marielle and use the
child to channel its, and therefore his, magic back into his sister and cure her of her
terrible affliction.

When that failed to work, Fleetwood justified his failure by deciding that the volume of
blood was too small; he needed adults, and where Muggles had produced no results
witches and wizards might. He took to scouring public meeting places for magical folk,
using spells from his aunt’s treasured tomes to identify likely candidates. He took anyone
who demonstrated the slightest magical ability, even those who had too little magic to
have been eligible for Hogwarts; these were people who would never have known about
their inferior skills. Occasionally he was lucky enough to spot a fully fledged witch or
wizard, and he thought that for their crime of mingling with lesser folk they deserved to
find themselves on his altar.

The Fleetwoods’ relationship with their Aunt Dora, and the incendiary nature of her spell
books, was an area of particular interest to Enid and Harry. It became clear very early on
that much of Leo’s exceptional charm work was drawn directly from the two weighty
tomes, and their relative’s deviant nature was obviously a great influence on Leo himself.

Harry recalled what he’d seen of the books before he’d handed them over for analysis,
and had he not actually read some of the wording he would have easily been fooled into
imagining their contents amounted to nothing more than neatly copiedout recipes from
Witch Weekly magazine. The handwriting was overtly feminine, with copious and
painstakingly formed loops illuminating every word. It was clear that there were years
upon years of work in the books, all fully recorded and annotated, and to their author
they must have been a source of great pride as well as the culmination of a life spent
tirelessly researching every possible Dark permutation of every ambiguous spell. Leo in
his arrogance wrote off their discovery and his subsequent loss of them as a trifling
matter, claiming that his own abilities now far exceeded Aunt Dora’s ‘preparatory work’.
Harry wasn’t so sure. Perhaps Leo could ask his Aunt Dora, or rather, Dolores Umbridge,
for her opinion if he ever found himself in a cell adjacent to hers.

When it had come out who Aunt Dora really was, Harry had sighed heavily and wondered
how such a malignant tumour of a woman had managed to infect so many lives. He
didn’t know anyone who had been sorry to see her finally incarcerated for her crimes
against wizarding and non-wizarding people, but her imprisonment had been like
excising a fatal poison and now he found the disease had spread, claiming more victims,
ruining more lives, without her even needing to be present. Every time he flexed his hand
and saw the spidery scars she had inflicted a new wash of bitter hatred welled up inside

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him, taking him back to that terrible feeling of helplessness that had shaped his fifth year
at school.

And now her nephew had picked up the mantle and created new nightmares to keep him
awake at night. Marielle’s story would haunt Harry for years, he knew. No one who loved
children could fail to be horrified by what Leo had done to their daughter, even
excepting the incestuous relationship that had taken place to make her.

If ever the wizarding world had needed a reminder of the dangers of segregation and
caste systems then the Fleetwoods’ story was it. It was just that it had come so soon
after Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Harry was greatly troubled by it all, the worrying
effects of generations of pure-blood inbreeding in wizarding Britain, and the persisting
class system pervading that same society. The Malfoys of the world would always fight
against any efforts to equalise them with the everyday wizard in the street, but times had
to change. They just had to.

The Wizengamot undertook a special sitting to rule on the case of Leo Fleetwood. It was
a closed sitting thanks to Kingsley’s petitions to keep the details quiet. Many insiders
agreed that it was not in the Ministry’s interest to publicise a man whose crimes were
greatly influenced by the propaganda of the previous Ministry incumbents. No one really
wanted to revisit that particular blot on the copy book.

There was a terribly angry outburst from Fleetwood himself when Enid stood to give
evidence from the Auror Office. It so happened that dear old Aunt Dora herself had
tipped off the Ministry about Leo’s potion brewing, thus starting the ball rolling on the
entire investigation. Harry was just as shocked himself, having been kept in the dark
about that particular fact. Umbridge had been trying to barter her way out of Azkaban
for nearly two years, and she obviously thought nothing of trading the freedom of her
nephew for her own. Which just about summed her up, really.

Families, Harry thought. There were definitely benefits to not having one.

It took the Wizengamot less than an hour to sentence Leo Fleetwood to life in Azkaban.

The story hit the Daily Prophet in Christmas week despite the fact that several of the
nosier journalists had been bribed rather handsomely to look the other way. Harry knew
it had been too much to expect that it would be successfully hushed up; it was too
shocking a tale to die a silent death. The public read the juicy details with distasteful
eagerness, and once again he was lauded up and down the land as the heroic figure,
risking life and limb to protect the common witch and wizard from evil.

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Apart from the fact that he found the attention excruciatingly embarrassing and some of
his colleagues were highly pissed off about it all, Harry found it absolutely impossible to
do much in the way of Christmas shopping in Diagon Alley. The literal avalanche of
people all wanting to congratulate him or just plain gape in awe made visits impossible.

Oh well. At least Arthur would appreciate a Muggle gift.

Two days before Christmas Harry went to St. Mungo’s to visit Marielle. The thought that
she would never really understand what had happened or why she had gone to live at
the hospital filled him with a terrible despondency.

She greeted him in a flutter of girlish giggles and a flurry of gauzy scarves, her floaty fairy
outfit such a sad reminder of her mental infirmity. She carried both her fake wand and
Princess Araminta with such a proud sense of responsibility, and it broke Harry’s heart to
wonder whether there were ever moments of clarity in which she realised her child was
lost, and her beautiful baby daughter was nothing more than a much-hugged rag doll.

Sitting with her, Harry couldn’t help but see shades of Dumbledore and Ariana: the
powerful, charismatic older brother and the insubstantial shadow of a poorly little girl in
need of protection from the world. Neither brother, Harry knew, had been successful in
providing safety or stability for their sister, but he was grateful for Marielle’s detachment
from reality. She at least had created a world of her own, a place in which she was happy,
which was familiar. Her make-believe universe travelled everywhere with her and she had
already woven the mediwitches and other patients into her world, giving each of them
distinct characteristics and titles. Gilderoy Lockhart made the perfect Prince Charming for
Marielle, and Harry could tell he was smitten with the delightful new patient who had
joined his merry band.

Marielle’s tinkling laughter and unblemished innocence appeared infectious, and Harry
could see already how many of the hospital staff doted on her. That at least was some
small comfort. Finally she had found a place where her trust and love would not be
abused or twisted into something ugly.

Reluctant to visit empty-handed, Harry had chosen a pretty gift for Marielle, a silver
filigree pendant on a hair-fine chain, a tiny milk opal teardrop at its centre. Her eyes were
wide as cauldrons as he helped her put it on, her sighs of gratitude so honest and heart-
warming that he felt a genuine pain in his heart. The tiny matching brooch boxed
separately had been pinned proudly to the front of Minty’s pinafore dress, and Harry felt
such a strong pang of emotion that he had to swallow hard to hide it. He hadn’t stayed
long after that. When a jealous Lockhart challenged him to a duel to win the hand of the

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Lady Marielle he’d beat a rapid retreat, remembering back to long-gone days when the
man had been trusted to carry a wand, days he would never see again.

It was only when he was home again that Harry realised Marielle had not once asked
after Leo.

He couldn’t decide whether that was a blessing or not.

Another Christmas at the Burrow came and went, and Harry was thankful for the several
weeks’ leave Kingsley had insisted he take following the flood of publicity on the
Fleetwood case. He was fit and well and raring to go in terms of his workload, but Harry
knew his mental batteries would benefit from recharging, and swamping himself in
Molly’s fantastic home cooking was always a step in the right direction to achieving that.

Ron hadn’t been around much because Christmas was the busiest time of the year for
Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes. Harry had hung out a lot with Charlie and Arthur,
thoroughly enjoying himself in their company. The permanent air of melancholy
associated with Fred’s absence did not mar the celebrations in any way, surprisingly
enough. The whole family wanted to remember him and all the others who lost their lives
finishing Voldemort and the Death Eaters off, and they did so in their own special ways,
learning to appreciate what they had with each other in the shorter term all the more.

The biggest surprise of the holidays was Ginny’s flying visit from Egypt. She’d managed
to wangle a long distance Portkey to London and travelled home by Floo Network from
the Leaky Cauldron. She fell gasping and ruffled from the kitchen fireplace just as the
table was being laid for Christmas dinner, and it was Molly’s shrieks of joy that alerted
everyone else to the youngest Weasley’s shock arrival.

Harry was thrilled to see her; she looked so well, her freckles multiplied by the hot
Egyptian sun and that same cheeky grin plastered right across her face. She threw herself
at him and he held her tight, thankful of the warmth and security she provided; she was
his link to normality. He found himself almost speechless at her sudden appearance,
which unfortunately left enough room for everyone else to make fun of them.

Arthur and Molly were awkwardly complicit in the stolen moments of privacy he shared
with Ginny during her brief stay, and it was clear they harboured the obvious
expectations with regard to the inevitable betrothal. Harry found he didn’t mind so
much.

The funny thing was that Harry knew Ginny had clocked on to the changes in him just as
he could read the signs in her. They didn’t talk about it because there was no need.
Neither of them appeared interesting in prying into the affairs of the other, and it was
that single realisation which led Harry to conclude that not only would they marry, but

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also that they would marry successfully because they respected each other’s space. It
was simple; they weren’t children any more. They had free will, and the youth and
enthusiasm to make the most of it.

Harry didn’t need to wait for New Year to make his resolutions; the time he’d spent with
Ginny over Christmas had helped him resolve the one nagging issue outstanding in his
life. When his mind was able to turn fully to thinking about what he’d done with Malfoy it
was with the benefit of a little distance and a lot of pragmatism. There was no crime in
liking what they’d done and no risk of jeopardising his future with Ginny because she’d
always made it clear that it was okay to have fun while she was gone. And it wasn’t as if
he wanted a love affair; he wanted physical intimacy and the thrill of the challenge and
he only wanted them with Malfoy, someone with whom he could never settle down into
any kind of domesticity.

With the benefit of hindsight Harry admitted to himself that he’d allowed guilt and
shame to negatively colour the experience of sex with Malfoy. It was slightly
disconcerting to discover that he’d been waiting to give himself permission to repeat it
rather than waiting for Ginny to do so. But for the time being his memories and his
intentions were private, his to enjoy in delicious secrecy without the necessity for
explanations and justifications, his other, shady life.

Once his mind was clear Harry didn’t hang around. That was how he found himself once
again climbing the broad stone steps up to Malfoy’s front door early in January. He’d
brought a bottle of wine as a peace offering of sorts, although in truth he rather hoped
that one look at him would provoke Malfoy into frog-marching him up to his bedroom
again. There were so many things Harry wanted to try and he promised himself that he
would deny himself nothing this time.

He knocked the door and waited, smiling to himself when the hall light blinked on and
bathed the porch in light. When Malfoy opened the door he was already dressed to go
out, his coat on and his gloves in one hand. He stilled when he saw who it was, and for a
moment Harry didn’t know which way things would go. After all, his Invisibility Cloak had
been returned in a brown paper package with no note of acknowledgement or thanks, a
totally impersonal gesture.

Harry smiled more shyly than he would have preferred, realising he was opening himself
to a rejection he hadn’t contemplated. Malfoy was silent. There was puzzlement in his
eyes as though he was playing a game of chess and calculating madly what his options
twenty moves hence might be. He folded his arms loosely and leaned against the partly
open door, tilting his head to one side as he continued his wordless scrutiny.

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Finally Harry thought he spotted the ghost of a smile on Malfoy’s lips, and inside his
nervousness dissolved into anticipation. When Malfoy almost imperceptibly nodded and
backed away from the door, retreating into the house once more, Harry inhaled a deep
breath and crossed the threshold.

Only time would tell if they could manage their differences; indeed, it might prove that
their differences were the single tenuous link that held them together. Either way Harry
knew he would not waste another moment. Life was simply too short for that.

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