Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction, written purely for fun.

Author's Notes: Thanks to mimiheart for the excellent beta! This is an AU, written with a Champions sort of sensibility. The Draco here is arrogant, charming, irritating as all fuck, volatile, sexy, and full of sass. Ring any bells? I've temporarily stole the Champions Draco for my own nefarious purposes.

Draco was pissed off. Royally pissed off. He debated canceling his standing Tuesday night dinner date with Blaise, because when Draco was in this sort of mood Blaise either got that "Draco Malfoy is one insane motherfucker and tell me why I am his friend" look on his face; or he went all Zen on Draco, like Draco was some sort of fucking cross to bear, a trial that would, ultimately, bring enlightenment. After twelve years of friendship, a war, and three marriages (all Zabini's), Draco didn't think it was too much to ask that Blaise expand his repertoire.

He kicked his desk a few times and was satisfied to see that he'd ruined another pair of six hundred quid loafers. This was another thing that pissed him off. And why this didn't bother anyone else mystified him. Why couldn't wizards make decent shoes? He took some consolation in the fact that when he was in a really bad mood he could go into Muggle London armed to the eyeteeth with attitude and snide. Pansy had the nerve to point out to him recently that baiting Muggle shop clerks was a wee bit childish, but he countered with they'd always treated him like he was Flobberworm shit because they knew something was off about him. Draco was never happier when his immature behavior was justifiable. The last time he went into Bruno Magli, some tosser had the nerve to ask him if he was American. A little flick of his wand, and that dickhead wasn't going to get an erection any time this century. An American! He couldn't have been more insulted than if he'd been called, well, a Hufflepuff. He cast Tempus charm. Damn, no time for Muggle shop clerk baiting. Which really yanked his chain, because now he was going to dinner at the best restaurant in London with scuffed toes. And it was Draco's turn to buy.

Life was a vale of tears.

Blaise was late, as usual. Draco slid into the booth side, angling himself so that his feet had the least amount of potential exposure and certain ridicule, and proceeded to get hammered. Food, smood. As he told the waiter when he ordered a bottle of Bordeaux, "If I see the bottom of this glass at any point this evening, I will make sure that you are fired."

Blaise's latest wife hated Draco—come to think of it, all of Blaise's wives had hated Draco—but this one was an utter whack job who never used words to express her discontent when throwing lamps would do. Blaise, whose claim to magical fame was solely based on an obscene ability to cast sex magic, was now becoming something of an expert in casting healing charms. Needs must. When Blaise finally showed up, Draco could only just see the faint line of a rather nasty gash at the beginning of Blaise's hairline. Her aim was getting better.

"I see Malgorzata was overjoyed at the prospect of you having dinner with me tonight."

Draco signaled to the waiter, who immediately conjured up a gin martini and placed it in front of Blaise. That was another thing that pissed him off; Blaise's penchant for Muggle cocktails. An affected habit that Blaise picked up from wife number two, an American named Trixie(!). Draco had learned his lesson after he'd gotten shit-faced at the Ministry party last Christmas on something called a Hand Grenade, which resulted in him and Potter giving each other black eyes for Christmas. If he'd been holding a hand grenade the next morning, he'd have pulled the pin his hangover was so bad. Just the smell of that gin was giving Draco a hangover flashback.

Wife number three was the youngest daughter of some Polish grandee (Blaise only referred to him as Count Moneybags with a Wand of Zamość), who was a Squib. Hence the absence of well-placed hexes, which, really, was a blessing because the woman was truly unstable (and with all the nut jobs populating the Malfoy/Black family tree, hello, Aunt Bella, Draco considered himself something of an expert on insanity). Blaise's wives were all wealthy, his only standard being the "gold" standard. If they had money, his last name and dick were theirs. When Draco pointed out that the apple didn't fall very far from the family tree, the only difference between him and his mother was that Blaise's wives all seemed to survive their brief marriages, Blaise replied, "Does that mean you're going to start kissing the arse of some powerful wizard, and, really, the only appropriate candidate these days is Potter, or you're going to have a stable of eighteen-year-old secretaries. How is your mother, by the way?"

This really didn't make sense when Draco thought about it later, but Blaise's misleaps of logic always sounded monstrously intelligent and witty at the time. Blaise was the only person on this planet, besides his mother, who could effectively shut him up, misleaps of logic or no. There was Potter, of course, but the only way Potter ever shut Draco up was by shoving a fist down his throat.

"Looks like a direct hit. That woman is going to kill you one day, Blaise."

Blaise shrugged. "She's high-spirited, and it was the Waterford crystal lamp in the study," he smiled. As Zen-ish as all fuck.

"She's a fucking whack job. When are you going to stop this nonsense and finally marry Pansy? If you marry her, she'll stop trying to micromanage my life." This was a total lie, but a lie they were all comfortable with. "She's been your mistress for eight years now and there's no one on the entire continent better at giving a blow job."

A fact to which Draco could attest. The relationship between the three of them was extremely fluid. As in, they fucked each other often. Fuck buddies didn't quite cover it. Fuck best friends was more like it. Draco and Blaise didn't do it much anymore. When they did it was more like a fuck for old time's sake, or both of them had a hankering for dick. But Pansy would use Draco to make Blaise jealous when a new wife was in the picture. Something that didn't bother Blaise one bit, but was perfectly happy to let Pansy think it bothered him. "Keeps her happy, Draco. Play along." Since Blaise's marriages were always short-lived—the new wife never had a chance to become an old wife—Draco got tons of wild sex out of the deal, so he wasn't complaining. Pansy thought she was sticking it to Blaise, so she wasn't complaining. And Blaise was porking his new wife and Pansy and filling his bank account. A win/win/win. Draco usually had no trouble championing a marriage between them as he had, previously, every confidence that a wedding band on Pansy's finger wouldn't have any effect on their mutually beneficial arrangements. Although come to think of it, there was that business with Pansy putting out to get revenge, and if she didn't need to get revenge, would she continue to fuck him? Hmmm. He'd never thought of that before.

Draco never understood why people made sex so complicated. Dick. Dick likes hole. Not too picky about what sort of hole as long as it was hot. And preferably wet or lubed up. Then there was the opposite corollary. Hole likes dick. Preferably big. Not that Draco was a size queen or anything. Definitely lubed up. The hole that is. Oh, and the dick too, although sometimes he liked it a little raw. Until today, Pansy hadn't seemed to have any weird notions about sex, like cutting him off if she actually did marry Blaise, but then there was this unholy fit of hers this afternoon. It was a little disconcerting.

She had spent over an hour shouting at him things like, "Get a clue, Draco. This is really getting old. All of us are sick to death of it." Then there was lots of shouting about relationships and love and, "It's right in front of your fucking face, Draco, and has been for years," and more shouting, then, "The only person more maddening than you is Potter. You two deserve each other." And then she really went ballistic when Draco asked how those black eyes at the Christmas party figured into this conversation.

For the life of him, Draco didn't know what in the hell she was screaming about, but it seemed to have something to do with these hate memes. She then said, "Draco Malfoy, I am as close to cursing you as I have ever been in my entire life. I am even angrier at you than the time you decided to decorate the Christmas tree in the Slytherin common room with my bras. I am now going to Apparate to Paris and spend at least two hundred pounds at Sephora. You are very lucky that I have a make-up kink," and with that she stomped out of the office, leaving Draco with the most profound sense of what the fuck(?) and really itchy balls. He suspected she'd cast a hex or two anyway on her way out the door because his balls had really been itching like hell since their fight.

Because Draco had never had a relationship that lasted more than two weeks (he didn't count Blaise and Pansy), he really had no clue what she was bleating about. How did you not get bored with someone? Well, if Pansy cut him off, he'd just have to find another fuck buddy. Shouldn't be too hard. Might be nice to have some dick for a change. He'd certainly been stocking up on pussy these days. Plus, there was the added bonus that Blaise would actually be on time for their weekly dinners. And Pansy liked him. Most days.

"I mean it, Blaise. These wives are getting more bizarre with every 'I do.' I thought the American was bad. I'm sick of going over to your place and not knowing if some Polish bitch is going to bash my brains in with a lamp just because it's Thursday and why not go into a homicidal rage. All the best wives are doing it. She's coming up on the six-month mark, isn't she? Dump her and marry Pans. At least you'd show up on time for dinner."

"One of these days. She owled me by the way and told me she'd torn strips off of you. Oh, Sephora just stocked its fall line. Which perked her up a bit, so she might actually be speaking to you by tomorrow morning. If not, she'll at least look very fetching. She didn't tell me the whole story, but I got the gist of it. Really, Draco. I have to agree. It's getting ridiculous." Blaise gave him a Cheshire cat smile and it was clearly Blaise-Zabini-Zen-Flunky on the menu tonight. Christ! Not waiting for Draco to comment, he went on, "So, why are you so pissed off? The guzzling of red wine—I would wager that is bottle number two—and the torturing of the salt and pepper shakers is usually a sure bet you're furious over something, as is your suggestion that I make Pansy an honest woman. Since we are at three for three, you must be on the verge of a stroke."

As if he wasn't already ready to start punching walls, Blaise's (accurate as all hell) assessment of his moods was supremely irritating, and why couldn't he just have a stranger as a best friend?

"That fight with Pansy was a lulu. Plus I'm fucking exhausted. Shacklebolt sent me on a trade mission where it was one of those eight countries-six day deals. The trip was just one execrable meal after another, every single glass of wine tasted like unicorn piss. The only decent meal I ate the entire time was the dinner at my mother's. Which was somewhat ruined by the fact that instead of Portkeying from Rome to London, her completely incompetent secretary Portkeyed me to Osaka. You know how I feel about the Japanese, Blaise. Malfoys do not bow. I get back, there's a veritable mountain of owls to shift through. No sooner do I sit down than an Urgent flies into my office from Shacklebolt demanding attendance at a mandatory meeting this afternoon. My back is killing me from all that bowing. That moronic fucker Marco is going to get a Howler as soon as I get the time—"

"Good help is so hard to find," murmured Blaise. "Your mother still have a penchant for brunets?" he asked with a nonchalant brush of an errant (brunet) forelock.

It was one of those times when Draco really wished that Blaise wasn't his best friend because, wands be damned; a swift and powerful punch to his jaw would be the perfect capper to a perfectly shitty day. But then Pansy would go nuclear and make his life at work even more horrible than it already was. What was he thinking in hiring her as his assistant? Now he couldn't even wallop Blaise like he deserved. Blaise's relationship with his mother was one of those not-even-Draco-Malfoy-goes-there sorts of scenarios. While the rest of them were getting their arses hexed morning, noon, and night, and people were getting fucking killed (Draco still couldn't say Vince and Greg's names out loud), whenever he mentioned Narcissa's exile during the war, she would get this smile on her face and say, "Blaise was such a help."

So Draco ignored him. As Blaise knew he would.

"The meeting?"

Draco also ignored the implied sneer in Blaise's voice. Blaise's business card, if he'd had had the balls to print some up, would have consisted of four words: "Blaise Zabini, Professional Husband." Blaise never understood Draco's desire to work. The irony that Blaise was playing aristocrat to Draco's commoner and vice versa was not lost on him.

Draco had given up on explaining that just because his father had scotched his chances of becoming Minister of Magic by following the orders of the most terrifyingly insane person he'd ever laid eyes on (which Draco considered irrefutable evidence of his father's personal slide into craziness, because who in their right mind takes orders from a man who neglected to Glamour himself a nose), didn't mean that Draco's dreams of ordering all and sundry around were dashed. Working in the Ministry seemed the logical way to go about restoring his family's name. Despite Draco's war record, there was an inordinate amount of sins-of-the-fathers bullshit even five years later. Not to mention he was slowly amassing dirt on any possible rivals and buttering up those who would be helpful in the years to come. In short, a few years of drudgery at the Ministry's behest, and hello nearly unlimited power and perks up the arse. He obviously didn't do it for the money; he had loads. His father had been crazy, not stupid. There were Gringotts in every major city in Europe, and every single one of them had a vault with the Malfoy name on it. No, it was for the power. Whenever they had heated discussions about power and what it meant, Blaise would stop all talk at some point by invoking Voldemort's name. Which was just so chicken shit of him. And really effective. Blaise never passed up an opportunity to sneer at Draco's ambitions. Hence, Draco never felt any guilt over insulting Blaise's wives.

Deep in the dead of night Draco often wondered if Blaise wasn't just being a cerebral arse about all this, perhaps he was on to something. Because nothing seemed to wind him up. Which meant that nothing affected him. Which in a bizarre way meant that Blaise was powerful because no one had power over him. Where pretty much anything jerked Draco's chain, although whenever someone commented on his tendency to have irrational fits he denied it vociferously. Sometimes Draco wondered what it was that tied the three of them together. In very bleak moments, he suspected that it was because of all the Slytherins of their years, they were among the few who had survived.

The food arrived, but Draco just pushed his plate away and took another sip of wine.

"It was about these hate memes flooding the Ministry."

Blaise raised a curious eyebrow.

"Someone is using the interoffice memo system to send anonymous hate memes. The first one happened at the end of last week when I was in Romania. I've hated your odd Romanian. Bet Marcus Flint had Romanians in his background and you know what a perverted motherfucker he was, but now I hate the entire country. Blaise, I kid you not. I'm convinced that the entrée I was served was nothing more than deep-fried Thestral shit on a bed of noodles. Which I guess in a way is sort of complimentary to the unicorn piss they were pouring. Both are sort of, well, equestrian. Horses but not. And the dessert? You'd think it impossible to top that utter horror story of an entrée, but no—"


Draco gave an inward sigh, because this was Blaise at his most annoying, Zenish worst. Conveying entire paragraphs of chastisement in one word. Someone once told him that the Inuits have twenty words for snow. Draco didn't know what in the hell an Inuit was, but he did gather that they could speak some sort of language, when their balls weren't being frozen off their bodies. Because if you have twenty words for snow the amount of snow must be colossal. And if Shacklebolt ever so much as said the word "Inuit" in his presence, Draco would resign right then and there. He'd spent enough of his life shivering through Scottish winters, winters so cold that he routinely checked to see that his dick and balls were still attached, not lying in some frostbitten pile in a hidden corner of his boxers. Yet another reason to be grateful that his Hogwarts years were behind him.

The point of all this was that Blaise had fifteen renditions of "Draco." The most common one being the "I'm not in the mood for any of your bat-shit insane nonsense." That got the most play for some reason. Draco quite liked the one where Blaise's voice would drop three octaves, with oodles of emphasis on the "Dra," elongating the "a" of his name so that the "co" was nothing more than an afterthought. That "Draco" meant, "Drop trou and bring that luscious dick of yours over here. NOW!"

This "Draco" was sort of a variation on a theme. He'd given them all numbers in terms of "popularity," and this one ranked number two. There were elements of bat-shit insane "Draco," but also, you're running off at the mouth again and as usual it's all about you and you are boring the shit out of me so please get back on track "Draco."

Draco really did want to get back on track because he hoped Blaise had some insight into why Pansy was so ticked off at him, but he made a little sneer of protest, because it didn't do to acquiesce to Blaise's demands without something of a struggle.

"Whoever generated the first one was really damn clever. Has Slytherin fingerprints all over it. Based on how much work it must have taken to put together, I'd have pegged Granger for it, but you know that her metier is that in-your-face lording over you how intelligent she is and how puny your brain is in comparison. God, that woman—"

Blaise's fork fell to his plate in a not-so-discrete ping on the china.

"The hate meme was delivered to the fountain around nine, so that everyone waiting for the lifts in the morning got an earful. It's a variation on a Howler. A carefully disguised voice screeches out that day's venom. But here's the clever part. They added instructions on how to send your own hate meme or you can add your two cents to the previous hate meme. The thing is, Blaise, they can't get rid of them. Unlike a Howler, they don't blow up, but hang in the lobby like wallpaper. You can see all the previous day's venom. These memes appear to be impervious to any counterspell. The lobby is actually vibrating from the gobs of magic courtesy of wand-happy Aurors zapping the unholy shit out of them, but it's not doing a damn bit of good. It's driving them round the twist, making Shacklebolt look like an arse," Draco finished with some satisfaction. He was still smarting over that trade mission. Romania? What was Shacklebolt thinking? If those culinary deprived bastards hadn't had a corner on the dragon market, he would never set foot in that crummy country again. "Today's meeting was to gather all top-level employees and brain storm over how to stop these things. The Ministry has come to a total bloody stop because apparently Granger has some half-arsed idea that these hate memes are stealing the magical signatures of employees sending normal memos. Which if it hadn't been Granger's suggestion has some logic to it. Except nobody seems to realize that since the magical signatures have been stolen, the hate memes are stealing magical signatures from other hate memes."

Because Blaise was only interested in sex magic (and now healing charms), his eyes usually glazed over when discussing anything that wasn't a variation on an engorgement charm. Or a shrinking charm. Which Draco never understood, because it seemed to him that they'd cancel each other out at some point, and then you've done all that fancy wand work for nothing. But this caught his interest.

"Who was the first hate meme devoted to, and did people actually add to the hate meme?"

"Potter. Surprise, surprise. The usual drivel how he can't see, and how did someone with the eyesight equivalent to a bat become an Auror first class when he wasn't even twenty-five yet. Morons, hello? Even I don't begrudge him that distinction, and I begrudge him everything. At the age of eighteen you kill a power-mad wizard who has an extremely perverse kink for snakes, as in he even spelled himself to look like one, and if that isn't possibly the most fucked up… Merlin's balls, I am a Slytherin, but that seemed to be taking one's fetishes far too seriously. Nostrils are a definite must. They aren't negotiable like, say, the length of one's hair."

The fork dropped again.

"You are beginning to annoy me, Blaise. Anyway, in my book it is worth some points. Although I heartily agree about the eye business. Why can't the tosser get his eyes healed or centrifuged or something? By Friday it had spewed off into how he was obviously impotent because the she-Weasel dumped him for Longbottom. God, I don't know why he hasn't killed himself by now. I would have. The shame. Pansy tells me Longbottom's hung like a horse. Like I believe that nonsense. And how Pans knows… Of course, that would mean that the she-Weasel was a size queen—"

Blaise coughed something that sounded like "Pot kettle."

"Shut up, Blaise. This morning there were some really vile additions on Potter, Granger, and Weasley sticking it to each other, and I stopped reading at that point. You know I abhor freckles. Freckles and sex shouldn't even be in the same sentence never mind in the same room as far as I am concerned."

Blaise was still picking his way through a cheese plate, which prompted Draco to order another bottle of wine. There was something profoundly wrong with capping a meal with cheese. Blue cheese no less. He knew it was French, but the French fucked up every now and then. Look at that revolution.

For starters, cheese should be a nice light shade of white or orange (as in cheddar) or runny white (as in brie). Any other color was anathema as far as he was concerned. Not that he hadn't given the blue food thing a whirl. Being somewhat stung by a plethora of comments by both Blaise and Pansy that he was a stick in the mud, he decided to throw caution to the winds and try something blue. Blueberries seemed a safe choice. They didn't smell like Greg Goyle's socks for one thing. Sneaky little bastards; how could something so small be so deadly? He had the most hellacious runs for three days, which cured him of blue food for ever, as the severity of the runs didn't quite compensate for the glory of being right. He was even robbed of lording it over the two of them because Pansy countered that he was such a craven bastard that he was capable of psychologically inducing the shits just to prove a point. That put Draco in something of a quandary because he rather liked the notion that he'd go to such lengths to prove a point, but it also was very painful when all was said and done. Since Pansy and Blaise continued to eat blue food, all that pain and suffering was for naught.

The bottom line was thus: why eat cheese, period, when you could eat a mountain of chocolate something? That was insane. Not for the first time did Draco ponder why the things that he thought were crazy, i.e., cheese plates for dessert and the paucity of decent magical shoemakers, no one else gave a toss about. Since he and Blaise had a tacit agreement never to discuss the war, thank Christ Pansy had given a toss about the "Voldemort = snake fetish = megalomaniac with sick snake fetish = time to cut their losses and eat crow and join Potter's band ASAP" thing. Would that Vince and Greg…

"I'm finished now," Blaise interrupted his train of thought. The blue cheese debate was along the lines of "What did you do during the war, Blaise?" discussion. To be avoided at all costs. "Stop guzzling that wine and tell me exactly what these hate memes have to do with Pansy being furious over you and Potter. At the rate you're going, I'm going to have to levitate you out of here."

"First of all, everyone thought it was me."

"Naturally," murmured Blaise.

"Which is six different kinds of shit, Blaise."

"Of course it is," he agreed. "You're certainly capable of devising something that sneaky and vicious, but as far as Potter is concerned, if you were going to insult him, you'd do it to his face. There would be nothing anonymous about it. What would be the point? If it was anonymous, then the two of you wouldn't get into a fist-fight." The smug tone of Blaise's voice signaled that he was making some sort of earth-shattering pronouncement, but it was lost on Draco. "What would wind up Pansy to the point she had to Apparate to Paris to stop from killing you?"

"You tell me," Draco huffed. "We're sitting in this meeting. Weasley accuses me point blank of being the author of the original meme. I tell him to fuck off. Get reprimanded by Shacklebolt. I point out that at the time of the first meme I was in Romania eating Thestral shit. Everyone but Weasley concedes that it wasn't me. I am shaking with rage, absolutely shaking, Pansy is trying to calm me down by feeding me chocolates—"

"This is your run-of-the-mill Weasley shit. I fail to see why you're so worked up that you've just swilled back three hundred pounds worth of Bordeaux." Blaise yawned and with a gentle finger touched his forehead, which was followed by a naughty, small smile.

"Never call me insane again, Blaise. I can tell you're thinking about make-up sex with that nutball you married. Her psychosis is probably catching. My Aunt Bella was normal until she started getting boffed by You-Know-Who."

Blaise didn't even dignify that with a reply, as it was gratuitous wife bashing. Because both of them knew that it was really a toss-up as to who was more insane: his Aunt Bellatrix or Voldemort. And that she had never been normal. The sort of child adult shake their heads over, murmuring "bad seed" under their breath. Even his father was afraid of her. Again, Lucius Malfoy was whacked but not stupid.

"Pansy's feeding you chocolate, everyone's ignoring the Weasel, as they should. At the risk of repeating myself, I fail to see the meltdown factor in all of this."

"Blaise!" Draco shouted, because really. "If anyone is going to hate Potter, it's me. These Johnny-come-late-lies. Who do they think they are? Potter is mine. Me and only me has the right to hate him in the manner in which he deserves. These hate memes." Draco made a dismissive cut with his hand. "I mean, how dare they? If I find out who sent out that original hate meme, I am going to spell them a new arsehole. First of all, that bit about his eyes. Hackneyed. I was using that insult back in our first year. And the She-Weasel? Like that was ever going to last. You didn't work with those two during the war. The threesome? Which I didn't want to bring up again because I cannot help but think of freckles. Imagination-challenged sods. So fourth year. I spit on these second-rate haters."

That last sentence made Draco sound a wee bit more French than he usually liked, especially in light of the cheese plate thing, but it got the point across. Unfortunately, too well, because Blaise switched immediately from Zen flunky to long-suffering "I'm friends with a lunatic" irritation; it was not a little scary. Draco hated it when that happened because it always involved Blaise being scathing at his expense. Blaise had that look of total exasperation identical to Pansy's. Placing a protective hand over his balls, they had only just stopped itching (or they were numb from the wine; hard to tell), there was no way to fight back. He was exhausted from all that bowing. Plus he was really hammered.

"You told Pansy all this." There ought to be been a slight upswing in his voice to indicate that it was a question, but apparently Blaise already knew the answer. "Pansy was right. You have really gone around the twist this time. I am going to try to spell it out for you one more time. And I hope you get it because it really is getting old. Don't you think that you have always displayed an unhealthy fixation on Potter? So much so that you're willing to risk your position at the Ministry by attacking someone just because they are jeopardizing your status as the official Potter hater. Ten years from now, I am going to remind you of this conversation, Draco, and you will finally appreciate how restrained Pansy and I have been all these years. Can we please stop this farce once and for all? Once he killed Voldemort, you and Potter picked up where you left off, changing your school robes for Ministry robes, and continued to rehash your entire Hogwarts experience. I have no faith that Potter will ever see the light, but I'd hoped that by now you'd have an inkling as to what was fueling this entire dynamic."

"First of all, you've hit the nail on the head. I should be the official Potter hater. And those Malfoy wannabes should just bugger off."

Blaise really lost it at that point. If he hadn't known better, Draco would have accused him and Pansy of scripting identical responses. Except Blaise wasn't Apparating to Paris at the end of his tirade; no, he was going home to fuck his psychotic wife. To each their own.

"I am going to say what Pansy and I have never had the nerve to say to you. Do not mistake this as a heartfelt desire for your happiness, Draco. For one, you don't deserve it, you maddening git; and two, we are all Slytherins, and Pansy and I won't insult you by pretending this is nothing more than a last ditch attempt to stop this boring-as-all-fuck ridiculousness between you and Potter. We are sick of this faux fucking the two of you have been doing for the last five years. You want to fist him, start shoving your hand up his arse and stop shoving it down his throat. Would you please fuck Harry Potter once and for all and put us out of our misery?" The room went silent.

"Blaise, may I say just one thing before I kill you?"

"Of course, Draco. Hangover potion on the bedside table. Want your shoes off?"

"Lovely, thanks."

Draco was sprawled out on his bed, watching his ceiling do backflips and feeling his stomach do handstands. With a very distant part of his brain, perhaps the one percent that wasn't completely pickled, he realized two critical things: first, he was approximately one minute from passing out; and second, he'd better get a move on if he was going to kill Blaise.

"Far be it from me to cast aspersions on your phenomenal ability to cast sex charms. Merlin knows I have benefited more than once from your handy wand work. But when I say to you, 'I'll do one half of the room and you the other,' because it goes without saying that if we didn't wipe the memories of every single person in the room, I would have had to commit hari-kari right there and then with your cheese knife, I don't think it unreasonable of me to expect you to start casting Obliviates. Imagine my shock when one half of the room, my half, sported the slack faces and unfocussed eyes of people reeling from a particularly harsh Obliviate, while the other half—your half—either had expressions of glee, the men, or horror, the women. Off hand, I can think of five different spells that would have sufficed," and here Draco was rather pleased with himself because his voice had been matter of fact up until then, "BUT AN ENGORGEMENT CHARM WASN'T ONE OF THEM!" At which point he promptly passed out.

Around eight-thirty, he stumbled into their office and would have stumbled right out had his "reverse" been working. Apparently red was the color for fall because Pansy's nails and lips were the most intense shade of vermillion. Which made his eye ache like holy fuck—despite two lots of hangover potion and a cucumber mask courtesy of his house elf. How did Muggles live without house-elves? If he had a functioning brain, instead of the limp wine-soddened sponge that was currently occupying the space where his brain used to reside, it would have boggled his mind. He brought a hand up to his eyes. So. Well. Red. Ow. Ow squared.

"Stop being so dramatic. There's an extra-large orange juice on your desk. I didn't think you could handle an espresso this morning. I had breakfast with Blaise and heard the whole story. Here," and she Transfigured a quill into a pair of sunglasses.

Draco frowned and hesitated. "Pansy, these are last year's Armani."

"Suck it up, Draco. I am still rather pissed at you, but I am willing to cut you some slack based on Blaise outing you in the restaurant."

Draco put on the sunglasses, lifted a shaking hand, and pointed to his office.

"For God's sake, you are such a drama queen. Just can that ghost of Christmas future nonsense."

"So you agree then," Draco eased himself down into his chair and took a tiny sip of orange juice. Fresh-squeezed. Ah. He nearly forgave Pansy for the sunglasses. "We kill Blaise. It doesn't have to be particularly painful. Oh, I won't deny that last night I devised several scenarios that would have done my father proud, but in the light of day, I've reconsidered. We've been friends for years and one must take that into account. He just needs to be dead. Tonight, preferably. And if that raving bitch of a wife of his gets caught in any crossfire, tant pis."

"Nonsense, Draco. Although killing the wife is tempting. And granted, he thinks too much with his dick. But so do you," she pointed out.

"Pansy, you think with your twat, but as least you had the grace to accuse me of wanting to hump Potter in the privacy of our office. Not that I understood what in the hell you were bleating about at the time. By the way, that itching charm was not appreciated. Bitch. But back to Blaise. He willy-nilly goes from Zabini-the-coolest-of-the-fucking-coolest-Zen-master calm to a shrieking-at-the-top-of-his-lungs maniac in two seconds flat."

"You do that to people, Draco. Tell me why we stopped smoking? A cigarette would really show off my new nails." She trilled her hands in the air.

"One word. Wrinkles. I don't think you'd have been so sanguine if all of a sudden you had a twat the size of a rubbish bin. Certainly none of the women I saw appreciated it. While he cast the countercurse, I Obliviated the other half of the room. After having done the first half. My magic is exhausted. I had to use a razor this morning and hacked the hell out of my neck. It looks like I tried to kill myself." Draco pointed with his pinky at his massacred neck, a crosshatch of unsightly nicks and cuts, and allowed himself a little pout. Surely, Pansy would…

"Poor baby," Pansy cooed and healed his neck just as he'd hoped. "Please do not give me that bollocks about your magic being off because you Obliviated half of London. Your magic is all off because you drank two bottles of wine. By yourself. And didn't eat."

All of this was true, as Draco knew very well, but that still didn't stop him from wanting to kill Blaise.

"So when do we kill him?"

"Hmmm?" Pansy asked absentmindedly as she Transfigured the top of Draco's desk into a mirror, Accio'd a make-up bag the size of a small rhino, and began touching-up her face.

"Blaise. Kill. Tonight." What was so hard about this? Pansy wasn't usually this thick. Too much make-up perhaps? Maybe she went berserk with that tan-in-a-bottle garbage and her pores were clogged. Her brain clearly wasn't getting enough air.

"Lipstick on teeth?" She bared her teeth to Draco's desk-cum-mirror. "No. Excellent. We are not killing Blaise. First of all, we both have a vested interest in keeping that gorgeous cock of his willing and able. You might have temporarily forgotten that Blaise is a stupendous fuck, but I have not. Once you're in your right mind—and I use that term loosely—you will realize how foolish you're being. Second, he didn't say anything I hadn't said to you five hours earlier. He doesn't regret what he said, but he feels terrible about outing you and Potter in public like that. And a wee bit guilty about the engorgement charm debacle. Even as we speak, he's smothering your flat in hundreds of roses in penance."

Draco was very partial to roses. As Blaise well knew. Fucking Slytherin.

"You're both as mad as March hares." Which gave him no end of satisfaction to say, because they were always saying that to him "The last thing I want to do is fuck Potter."

"Fine. Be the bottom. That's more your kink anyway. Potter strikes me as one of those bottomy tops, where you are definitely the bossiest bottom in all of Britain, perhaps the entire Continent. Do you think I've got too much kohl on?"

Draco lifted the rim of the sunglasses up. "No, you look like a perfect trollop."

"Brilliant. Now I must be off. It's nearly nine and the hate memes are due to go off. Do you know this whole thing has boosted the on-time statistics of Ministry employees by something like fifty percent? We all crowd in the lobby waiting for that next day's installment. It's rather like watching a mid-air collision at a Quidditch match. It's impossible not to watch. Your hand is over your face, but you've got your fingers spread so you don't miss a single drop of blood."

With a flick of her wrist all her make-up disappeared and the top of his desk became wooden again. "Now be a good little lamb and drink all that up. I'll get you a croissant around ten, your stomach should be settled by then." She gave his forehead an affectionate brush with a forefinger before she left the room.

Draco's report on his trade mission was due on the Minister's desk by noon, but his eyes still hurt, and his tummy was still all wobbly, and he probably could charm (or browbeat, which ever worked) Pansy into writing it for him when she got back, and if worse came to worse, he'd change the date on the last report he'd written and turn that in, so sod it.

Not as if anyone read these bloody things anyway.

Nothing ever changed: the Germans were still charging too much for cauldrons (unfortunately, he couldn't put in his report that if the German Trade Minister were any indication, the current trade deficit would be completely wiped out if England decided to export slender blonds with big dicks—Draco's arse still sported the man's hand prints); the French were still bleating about that stupid Revolution and charging far too much for exporting their wine (and that blue shit they have the nerve to call cheese); the Spanish were still haggling over the cost of English woolens (to which Draco had to physically restrain himself from shouting, "Belt up! It's your own bloody fault for not raising sheep!"); and the Romanians were determined to maintain their monopoly on dragons (and since dragons were foul-tempered, nasty beasts that could breath fire and fly, as far as Draco was concerned Romania could keep those scaly, smelly things). Besides they were a nation of horse-shit eaters, which in itself was bad enough, but to foist their culinary atrocities on innocents! Draco was really beginning to hate Romanians. All in all, the entire report was a waste of parchment and his time.

Now that he'd successfully convinced himself that he didn't need to write that evil report, or at the very least, Pansy would do it for him, he decided to concentrate on finishing his orange juice. He counted to ten, took a sip. That worked out well, his tummy didn't revolt. So he counted to twenty and took another sip. More success! He found that counting and sipping was a perfectly marvelous way to waste time until Pansy got back from perusing the hate memes. The idea of eating a croissant was actually beginning to appeal. Thirty minutes flew by without him even realizing it, whereupon Pansy still hadn't returned, the witch, which ticked him off no end because now it was nearly ten and that report really needed to get done. Plus, the counting was getting boring. He tried counting in French, then Italian, which really pissed him off because it reminded him of his mother, which reminded him of Blaise, which then reminded him of Blaise and his mother, which then reminded him of Blaise and the cock-up with the Engorgement charm.

Counting was now out.

Hmmmm. How about ten ways to blacken Potter's eye or, even better, eyes?

He came up with only six, which was fairly disappointing, but really, there's only so many angles in which you can punch someone without throwing your back out. But then happily he realized he could change what he was wearing, and considering Draco's extensive wardrobe, he wasted another forty minutes fantasizing about pummeling Potter while wearing a variety of smashing outfits.

Honestly, if they were even remotely interested in each other, which they weren't, it would have been too ridiculous for words; molesting each other under the guise of schoolboy antipathies that should have died out years earlier. That just proved Blaise and Pansy wrong. Malfoys were never ridiculous. Evil, venal, surly, selfish, and, in the odd generation, whiny, but never ridiculous. It was obviously Potter's problem, with Draco along for the ride. Draco honestly didn't know what Pansy and Blaise were blithering on about. Draco couldn't be in a room with Potter for more than five minutes before he found himself unconsciously bunching up his fists for the punch. The man was a total wanker. Didn't they get it? To know him was to pummel him. The sexual thing? Ridiculous. And since Draco didn't do ridiculous, that left Potter. Maybe it was Potter who was sublimating his desire for Draco's dick. Of course, that made perfect sense. Draco was damn attractive. Half the German Trade Ministry couldn't be wrong. Just like that irritating tosser to be so clueless. Wanting to blow Draco and punching him instead. Typical Gryffindor stupidity, really.

By the time Pansy had returned with his croissant, he'd finished his orange juice and had just wrapped up a delightful fantasy where he was resplendent from head to toe in his favorite set of dress robes, with the added bonus that he'd blackened both of Potter's eyes and broken his nose. A scenario that was nearly identical to the Christmas party—the uber fashionable dress robes and fantastical good looks—minus the fiasco part where he'd gotten completely snockered on those evil Hand Grenades and Potter had landed a few lucky punches, which resulted in Draco matching Potter's black eyes and broken nose.

Draco was having such a good time that it was just past eleven when Pansy skipped into Draco's office. Which all of a sudden made him realize he was starving and that that blasted report hadn't been written yet.

"Pans, I'm starving," he whined. "Where in the seven hells have you been?"

"Draco, you have to come down and see the hate memes. Yours truly was the subject today. Here's your croissant. You throw-up on my Manolo Blahniks and you are dead. Anyway, me, several somebodies wrote something about me!"

The orange juice must have worked its magic because the red on her lips and nails were no longer searing his retinas. He removed the sunglasses slowly and squinted at her just to be sure. She was really quite pretty when she was like this; her eyes sparkled and her mouth was twisted up in an evil smile.

"Oh, and what was that?" he mumbled in between bites of croissant.

"There were a couple of stupid ones about my nose. I know I have a pug nose. Sodding idiots. The one I loved best was, 'I hate Pansy Parkinson because she's a total prick tease, wearing those leopard print bras under her white shirts. Oi, bitch, have any intention of letting any of us see those puppies?'"

"That's a no brainer. Weasley wrote it. His eyes hit the wall every time you appear in that bra."

"Of course he wrote it," she smirked. "I'm going to reply and I'm going to sign my name. Bollocks to all this anonymous shit."

Thinking of the Weasel's penchant for Pansy's knockers was a certain recipe for migraine, and Draco's headache returned with a vengeance. Weasley was absolutely obnoxious about it, and went a long way in explaining Granger's constant childish sniping at Pansy, which had not abated one iota, even though they'd been out of school for ages. Granted, Granger had gotten short-changed in that department, however, Granger's arse was rather awesome in its own right, but then again it was attached to, well, Granger. Which made his head hurt all the more. Sex and Granger was almost as horrifying as visualizing sex and Weasley, and the idea of the two of them going at it like, well, weasels was enough to make him seriously contemplate self-exile to Mozambique to herd cattle or ostriches or something before he stroked out.

"My headache had actually subsided somewhat until I visualized your tits and the Weasel within slobbering distance of each other," he glared at her. He pointed at his head. "Fix this, please. Ah, much better. What are you going to write?"

"Well, in addition to responding to those stupid sods who hate my nose, I thought it was time to call Weasley on it. What do you think? I was toying with, 'I hate dweebs who drool over my tits. I like wearing leopard print bras, and you frustrated fucks can just kiss my arse. And I'm wearing a leopard print thong today, dickheads. That means you Weasley. Love Pansy, Size 36C cup, Parkinson.' Think that's in his face enough?"

Draco privately thought that it was most unwise to out Weasley like that in public. Granger might do something drastic, like finagling the holiday present exchange so that Pansy got that pervert Creevey or stuffing her bras or charming herself a cleavage, which at her age would be the height of pathetic, but since he needed to butter Pansy up so that she'd write his report…

"Oh yes, Pans. It's perfect," he lied.

Not that it happened very often, but this was one of those occasions where Draco's preternatural ability to lie worked against him, because Pansy whooshed out of his office, ignoring his shameless pleas for help in writing his report.

"Sorry, my dear, I can't possibly help you on this one. I need to work on responding to those hate memes. Pug nose, my arse. Who cares about a pug nose when you have knockers like I do? Bet it was that Granger. Tit envy. So sad. And don't even think about recycling your last report and just changing the date. You've done that the last three times and even the Minister is getting suspicious. At the very least, make sure you get the names right. The bloke in charge of the French wine trade died two years ago, and you never bothered to change his name to the current living wine bloke."

And that was that. He had less than an hour to write his report. What was that wine chap's name? After their obligatory we're-not-reducing-the-export-tax-on-our-wine-so-fuck-off meeting, Draco invited him for a drink at his hotel, hell bent on seducing this man posthaste. What was it about slender brunets that made Draco's nuts tingle in the most delicious way? This man was nearly perfect. Tall, slender, with a shock of black hair, glasses, an arse that was absolutely begging to be squeezed. Nothing like that blind-and-ugly-to-boot-Potter. The antithesis, in fact. Potter still wore those stupid glasses, and when was the last time he cut that horrible dark-ish hair? Calling it hair was too generous. It was possessed black straw with hair-like characteristics. And scrawny? Draco really had no idea what Potter's arse looked like—thank Merlin. Blaise and Pansy eat fucking rocks. A ton of them.

This bloke was nothing like Potter, except in that he was male. Hmmmm, come to think of it, he vaguely resembled that busboy in Budapest who'd given Draco a stellar blow-job in the men's. He also looked somewhat like the German Trade Minister's secretary—whose arse Draco certainly wanted to do obscene and delightful things to. Yes, this man was hard on material from the moment he uttered, "Monsieur Malfoy." Why hadn't…? Oh, that's right, the man's wife turned up. Not that Draco was adverse to threesomes, mind you. Some of the best sex in his life had been romping around with Blaise and Pansy. But she wasn't Draco's type, one of those cool blondes a little too close to his mother in looks and personality. Draco was admittedly perverse, but he thankfully didn't have that particular kink. Plus she was Swiss! Ugh, Draco hated the Swiss. The only positive thing he could say about that country was the fact they made excellent chocolate. Did that cancel out that high mountains and tons of snow thing? Not that Draco had a fear of heights, not at all(!), it was just that they were so tall. The snow? Try seven winters in Scotland and then wax romantic about snow. Bet it snowed in Romania.

The attractive-not-in-anyway-resembling-Potter's wife turned up, and he might as well have been drinking unicorn piss with the Romanian trade delegation instead of over-rated expensive champagne. He got nothing more out of the evening than being on the receiving end of some rather nasty looks from that Swiss harpy and a hellish hangover.

What was his name? Claude something or other. Right, Tessier. Draco changed the date, added Claude-of-the-very-nice-arse's name in the place of the dead wine chap, inserted a few negative remarks about the German Trade Minister, because as much as he liked his arse to be admired, it wasn't exactly a duty free shop, and he was done.

Granger was the world's biggest pill. The woman should be hexed. Her recent ban on interoffice memos was still in effect, dictating that Draco actually walk his memo over to the Minister's office. He had a few minutes to kill before it was noon, so he decided to check out the hate memes.

Pansy certainly had wound some people up. Yes, there were various comments about her nose, one that Draco was sure had been written by Granger. It was one of the few hate memes that wasn't chock-a-block with misspelled words and even sported the proper use of a semi-colon, a sad and abused punctuation mark. There were a few add-ons to Weasley's pathetic missive about Pansy's tits. For Merlin's sake, you'd have to be a complete idiot not to know he'd written the first one. Draco could practically hear Weasley braying his sexual frustrations. Obviously, the Granger/Weasley romance was in its death knell.

That was predictable. Thank Christ they hadn't gone crazy like a lot of people and gotten married immediately after the war. Look at that completely worthless sod Millicent married. With Weasley's tiresome chip on his shoulder about nearly everything, the last thing he needed was to be married to that Granger. Always playing third fiddle to Potter. A moron in a family of fairly intelligent people. And to be known forever as merely the husband of Granger? Draco would rather dine nightly on Thestral shit than suffer that indignity. Even Potter's most vociferous supporters referred to him as the "brawn" and Granger the "brain" behind Voldemort's defeat. What Weasley had contributed to the triumvirate was anyone's guess. To Draco's mind, Weasley had spent the last decade or more being nothing more than a sidekick. Draco couldn't think of a worse fate for Weasley than becoming "Mr. Granger." If he hadn't hated Weasley so much, he might have felt sorry for him.

Naturally, the hate memes featuring him were nearly as long as Potter's. He hadn't bothered reading any of them. It would be nothing more than a sad rehash of his father's war crimes (they didn't know the half of it), his questionable innocence (ditto), vicious allegations that he'd bought his Order of Merlin (the one thing that was patently false), or his screamingly loose sexual preferences (the one thing that was patently true). In short, what The Daily Prophet had been printing non-stop for the last five years. When you've been accused of participating in a daisy chain with your own father, Voldemort, Snape, and that twisted fuck Macnair, well, anything else pales in comparison. Funnily enough, it was the inclusion of Macnair that really turned Draco's stomach. That axe thing. Ugh.

The colossal number of hate memes devoted to Potter raised his ire once again. Then he froze in horror. Blaise and Pansy knew Draco would much prefer insulting Potter to his face as opposed to these sneaky, anonymous backdoor attempts to belittle him, but what if Potter didn't know? This was not on! Any belittling between the two of them was going to be face to face. And fist to fist if it came to that. He had no time for people who didn't have the balls to confront others with their obvious and manifest shortcomings. This was quickly evolving into a question of honor. That he hadn't even been in the country when this crap began didn't absolve him, since Weasley clearly believed he'd started it, and Potter only had a few more functioning brain cells than that red-headed, sex-starved idiot. He was going to have to do something about this. The Malfoy name was at stake here.

A zing of magic startled him and he turned around. About four or five exhausted looking Aurors were shooting totally ineffectual Dismantling spells at the hate memes, which only seemed to sparkle more brightly with every zap. Potter was one of them. He lay against one wall, his head held upright by one hand resting against his chin, his eyes barely open as he cast away. He sauntered over to where Potter lay propped up.

"Potter. You look like utter shit," Draco noted with some satisfaction.

"If you'd been here for four bloody days casting useless spell after fucking useless spell, you'd look like shit too. I'm not in the mood for your crap today, Malfoy. Fuck off."

Where were Blaise and Pansy when you needed them? If this wasn't grounds for… However, to prove how totally wrong they were and how right he was, Draco swallowed his urge to pound Potter's jaw so hard that his chin would land in Cardiff. He hated this needs must business.


Potter stopped zapping for a second and then stared at him slack-jawed.

"It's something that civilized people do. They eat a meal at some point around noon. Knives and forks are often used, napkins a definite must. Oh food, too. Perhaps, if one is feeling frisky or stressed, a pint might accompany."

Potter opened his mouth to respond when a hate meme went off shrieking some garbage about how Kingsley Shacklebolt wears women's knickers. An interesting idea that Draco didn't immediately toss off as utter nonsense. There was something revoltingly wholesome about that man, and sporting women's knickers was as benign a kink as you could get. The man had to have some sort of kink. It wasn't natural.

"They've started doing this now, whenever. It's not just in the morning anymore," Potter groaned.

"Clearly, the spell is getting more powerful."

"Fuck off, Malfoy," Potter said between clenched teeth.

Clearly, commentary on the abject failure of the Aurors to do anything about this mess wasn't appreciated.

"Lunch," Draco reminded him. Malfoys were nothing if not determined.

Potter forehead scrunched up like he was thinking of million and one hexes to visit on Draco, but then his face slackened completely. "Right. I could use some food, plus the entertainment factor might be bloody good. Can't imagine why you want to have lunch with me, but at some point you're going to insult me and then I can hit you, and I'm kinda primed right now. The Leaky?"

Draco couldn't deny the primed part. Draco was always primed to punch Potter, but dear Merlin. The. Man. Was. A. Moron.

"Right," Draco couldn't help but mock. "We really want the Prophet's morning headline to read: 'Potter and Malfoy in Tete a Tete at the Leaky Cauldron!'"

"Yeah," he blushed. "Um, bad idea. Where?"

"The Serpent's Tongue does a decent ploughman's. Ministry types wouldn't be caught dead anywhere on Knockturn Alley. It's where Borgins and Burke's used to be. I know you know where that is. Meet me there in thirty. I have to take this up to the Minister's office."

Potter was late, of course. Draco had already finished one pint and was halfway through another by the time Potter stumbled in the door. He stood in shadow, his body somewhat obscured from the light of the door versus the dark of the room, but Draco would know him anywhere. There was an odd disconnect between Potter's tentative and often clumsy body language most times and then that powerful set of his shoulders when he was casting spells, or even that achingly beautiful grace when he was on a broom. It did beg the question: which Potter manifested himself between the sheets? The man who didn't seem to know what to do with his hands, except in the case of the Snitch, or another Potter. Suddenly, a most unwelcome picture came to mind: Potter riding some supremely lucky sod with the determination that was his trademark when casting spells, as well as the unparalleled grace he exhibited while on his broom. The sort of fuck that gives new meaning to the phrase "fucked-out." Draco's dick lurched in his trousers.

Fortunately, it must have been some sort of wee aneurism, because Potter shuffled toward the table in an awkward ramble and interrupted that dangerous thought. Thank Christ. All was right in the world. Potter was his usual cloddish self, with no relationship to that sex god of Draco's imagination. Obviously, Draco needed to get laid if he was so desperate he was conjuring out of thin air pornographic scenarios featuring, of all people, Potter!

"Sorry, had to, uh, speak to Shacklebolt, you know, the hate memes thing," he apologized with his usual stammer, and then scooted into their booth.

Draco snapped his fingers and a Black and Tan appeared. Potter had begun to drink this revolting concoction after a trip to Ireland with that Irish idiot Finnigan. How that magical incompetent survived the war was a complete mystery. Draco couldn't help but eye Potter's drink with suspicion. It bordered on the blue food thing in that beer should be one color. Have stout, have lager, but mixing the two seemed to court disaster. His last devil-may-care bout with experimentation had been with those fucking blueberries, and he had no desire to repeat that cock-up. He hadn't been able to wear his blue cashmere bathrobe for weeks after that, nor any of his blue ties. Just seeing blue made his arse twitch, and not in the ways that he liked. Draco liked beer too much to take any chances.

"Oh, thanks. Surprised you knew that," Potter commented before taking a disgustingly huge gulp that resulted in his upper lip being swallowed up by foam. He made a happy, "Ah," and flopped back against back of the booth, his eyes closed. Dear God, the man was a train wreck. It took all of Draco's will power not to lean over and swipe his thumb over Potter's lip, with some scathing commentary about Potter's woeful table manners, when Potter dragged his tongue slowly over the top of his lip to lap up the foam. "Christ, I needed that. Thanks, Malfoy."

There it was. That tingle. That itch. That almost unquenchable desire to bring back his fist and…

Potter took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes with his fists as if they ached. "So should we eat before we start laying into each other? Confess, I'm starving." His hands clumsily began fumbling around for his glasses.

Draco reined it in, handed Potter his glasses, and beckoned the barmaid over.

While eating a perfectly respectable ploughman's, they chit-chatted about Draco's trade mission. Potter seemed to share Draco's deep hatred of dragons (which Draco privately acknowledged did make his name slightly problematic, but then Draco rationalized that his parents would have never named him after fire-breathing things that wanted to kill you, while constellations were beautiful and far away and non-human eating). He even laughed at Draco's repeat of his hellacious meals at the hands of those vile Romanians. Not that Draco found those meals particularly humorous, in fact, horror stories every one of them, but it was a nice change from Blaise's ennui and snide commentary about how bat-shit insane Draco was because he preferred vintage reds to unicorn piss masquerading as wine.

"Never knew you had a sense of humor, Malfoy," Potter snickered at Draco's description of those petit fours that somehow ended up being petit thirteens in the hands of Spanish pastry chefs.

This comment only strengthened Draco's resolve to ensure that Potter knew that whatever nasty things Draco had to say about him, he'd say them to his face. They'd finished up and were working on the end of their pints, which seemed like a perfect time to bring this up.

"Say, Potter, about these hate memes…" Draco ventured.

"Absolutely the worst week of my life, okay, maybe not the worst but up there. Here I am the supposed expert on all things dark, and I can't even remove those fucking memes."

"Of course you're not the expert on all things dark," Draco snorted. "What a ridiculous notion."

"Riiight," Potter said with what sounded like irony. Could Potter do irony? What a thought! "I have to sit there all day, apparently unable to do fuck all to stop all these horrible things being said about people I know. Listening to the most God-awful things about me, Ron, Hermione… Plus some of it is funny, and I really shouldn't find anything funny about this…" His voice trailed off.

"Oh yes," Draco chortled. "Like Longbottom is hung! I died laughing over—"

"Well, that part's true, although that couldn't possibly be the reason why Ginny and I broke up because…well, that's not the reason."

The implications of this statement! First of all, Longbottom hung? Did Pansy's sly innuendoes have some basis in fact? And how in the blue blazes did she know, sly wench? Then Potter saying that the She-Weasel is something of a size queen, and that Potter could successfully compete against Longbottom. His stomach began flipping in ominous somersaults before Draco heaved a sigh of relief as he put things in perspective. Potter competing against Longbottom. The man probably had a dick the size of a cocktail wiener and Potter was the size of a runty cocktail wiener. Pansy was just jerking his chain. Although he had to admit that the comment about the Weaselette made sense. She looked like size-queen material, but then…

"That's what's so horrible about these things," Potter went on. "There's a grain of truth amongst all the shit."

"No point in reading mine. Been there, read that. After being accused in the Prophet of being the tail end of a Death Eater daisy chain…"

"Yeah," Potter interrupted with a blush. "Like that nonsense about you, Blaise, and Pansy. Blaise being into spanking. And me fucking Ron and Hermione. As if." He barked out a laugh.

"There are times when I wish I were an Unspeakable, because there are certainly some things you don't want to speak about and a threesome with you, Granger, and Weasley is one of them. Considering any sort of sex with Weasley or Granger is sick-inducing and I've just finished lunch, please do not continue or I'll have visuals that will make me upchuck this excellent cheddar. If you are fucking them, spare me the gories. I mean, really. I doubt that Weasley could cast a sex charm to save his life, and Granger and blow jobs? I am not going there, Potter. As for the rest… Well, the part about Blaise being into spanking is nonsense. That's Pansy's kink all the way. As you said, there's obviously some truth squirreled away in these annoying memes. I certainly hope they weren't casting aspersions on Blaise or Pansy. Rather low since he isn't here to defend himself. They should be so lucky. Blaise is a stupendous fuck, and Pansy's deep-throating abilities are without peer. I should know. Thank Christ, Blaise's ill-advised marriages never affect our sex life, or lives, more to the point, and I really don't see that changing when he marries Pansy. Which I hope is eminent. I can't live through another crazy, rich wife. For some reason they all hate me. Plus, once he finally marries Pansy, hopefully, they'll stop micromanaging my sex life…"

At which point Draco stopped talking because this was perilously close to blabbing about their insane theory that Potter and Draco were punching each other because they weren't shagging each other.


What?" Potter eyes nearly hit the table. "You and Pansy? You and Blaise? Pansy and Blaise? But he's married, and he's like male and she's boinking the two of you and you're…"

Draco's eternal scorn for all things Potter-ish, which had abated somewhat during his chuckles over the trade mission nightmare, was happily restored.

"Thank Merlin, you never surprise me, Potter. Your middle-class Victorian stick-up-the-arse attitudes… Anyway, the point of this lunch is that I want you to know that I haven't sent a hate meme regarding you. I prefer to insult you to your face."

Potter stared at him. "You prefer to insult me to my face."

"Of course," huffed Draco. The man was so thick. "We've hated each other publicly for years. Why vilify each other behind each other's back? Please do me the courtesy of insulting me to my face, and I'll do the same. Frankly, I've read some of those hate memes in your honor, and you really shouldn't give them a second thought. Childish and immature attempts at insulting you, tossed off without any sort of finesse. If I were to indulge in that stupid exercise, you can be sure that my hate meme trashing you would be brilliant."

Potter scratched his head. "So you're saying that you'll be a total arse and utter prick to my face, but you won't do it behind my back?"

"Exactly!" He was finally getting it. "You are the most irritating wanker I've ever had the misfortune to meet. Aside from your slaying of that evil Dark Lord business, which I do appreciate, thank you, you are a complete waste of space, you tosser."

At which point Potter broke his nose.

Well, that ended predictably, and any other time he'd have been nearly bursting with satisfaction. True, his nose was broken, but he'd given better than he got. Potter walked away a broken nose and one black eye, so there was no dithering about who won that tussle; even Draco had had to admit that the Christmas party set-to had ended in a very disappointing draw. Did Draco derive his usual satisfaction out of it? Was he humming with joy? Pleased as punch? No, he was not.

In such a bad mood that his magic was completely wankered, he'd miscalculated and didn't Apparate into his lounge but ended up outside on the street in front of his flat. Whereby the sky decided to open up and dump ten months worth of rain on his block the five seconds before he alighted. Into a big fat pothole, ruining his last pair of non-scuffed loafers, which were all wet and made disgusting squelchy noises when he walked. He was now relegated to wearing substandard footwear for the next few days because you really can't successfully bait Muggle shopkeepers with a broken nose and squelchy-sounding feet.

Blaise's suitcases were in his foyer.

Draco toed off his sopping shoes, made to cast a Drying charm on his torn and bloodied clothes, and then asked himself why? He had no intention of doing anything with these clothes but Vanishing them; ditto the shoes. And why in the bleeding fuck did he feel so perilously close to tears?

He padded into the living room. Pansy hadn't lied. The room was covered in vases stuffed with white roses, Draco's favorite, a hybrid created by magic called "Narcissa's Joy." Before the war they had blanketed the gardens at Malfoy Manor. A white, delicate rose with the hint of a pink center, the petals so fragile looking that a harsh breath would surely bruise. An illusion, because when you rubbed its petals through your fingers they didn't tear, but released a scent so sensual, so heavy with attar that Draco's toes curled in delight.

At the sound of his entering the lounge, Blaise looked up from the book he was reading. Draco checked out the spine, hoping it was a Muggle spy novel (the books he read in his spare time) and bit back a sigh of frustration. Was it was the latest Le Carre? No. Machiavelli's The Prince. It was times like these that Draco had to admit that Blaise's intellectual posturing wasn't really posturing, which Draco hated to admit, because he really wasn't as intellectual as he pretended to be, and he certainly wasn't as intellectual as Blaise. You come upon someone unawares and they're reading Machiavelli in the original Italian, and even Draco had to give them their due.

Draco steeled himself for the lecture. How he'd been fighting Potter again and what in the hell had he been thinking and blahblahblah.

And this is why he and Blaise were friends, because Draco didn't get a lecture, didn't get a diatribe on his sick subliminal desire for Potter manifesting itself once more as physical violence. Blaise took one look at him and knew immediately that Draco was two ticks away from "Fragile: Handle with Care"; he put down his book and merely said, "Oh, that must hurt. Come here and let me fix it."

As Draco shuffled over to the sofa, he noticed a champagne bucket filled with ice and two bottles of Blaise's favorite champagne. The standard response to the ending of yet another marriage.

Blaise healed Draco's nose (those six months with that insane, lamp-heaving virago hadn't been a complete waste), vanished his clothes and wet shoes, Accio'd his favorite robe, and then bundled him up in it. Blaise renewed the fire, closed the curtains against that nasty weather, then lay full-length on the sofa, and pulled Draco on top of him and cuddled him. Draco was pants at cuddling, but Blaise was quite good at it, and after a few minutes his eyes weren't scratchy anymore and his nose had stopped tingling.

"Did she boot you out or did you leave?"

"I left," Blaise answered. Draco's head was nestled in the crook of Blaise's neck, his breath warm and soft against Draco's face.

"One too many lamps to the head?"

"She insulted your mother."

Draco ignored that last bit, because it was damn close to that Blaise and his mother business that they didn't talk about. Plus Draco was ecstatic that Blaise had left that Polish bitch once and for all. Even if he was too knackered to express much joy about it yet.

"I'll have Cranky put up the spare bedroom."

His mother's sly sense of humor coming to the fore, giving him a house elf named Cranky. Between marriages Blaise usually kipped with either Draco or Pansy, and Cranky, while a happy enough house elf, went into paroxysms of joy when Blaise stayed, hovering and smirking like she'd been given clothes. She was probably in the kitchen doing cartwheels.

If Draco didn't know better, he'd think Cranky had a severe crush on Blaise, although it most likely had something to do with some slavish devotion to his mother. He hoped. Because Blaise and house-elf sex was really beyond the pale. While Draco's personal tastes tended toward kinky, house-elf sex was sick. Draco was never ever going to go there. He rather have sex with Weasley. That's how sick it was.

Up until that point he'd prided himself on being completely sexually open, willing to try anything once. Look at the blue food thing, which wasn't sexual, granted, but certainly pointed to an open mind. Or an open mouth at any rate. And open mouths always figured heavily into sex, so there you are. Then one night, he and Blaise had just finished a vigorous round of "Pervert, May I?", were lying in each other's arms, basking in the afterglow, Draco a mere five seconds away from falling into an orgasm-induced sleep (the best kind; Blaise had already conked out), when he had a terrifying thought.

Where in the hell was Cranky?

Cranky's insane pandering to Blaise's every wish, which was even beyond normal house elf sucking up, had been at a fever pitch that evening. Would Cranky? NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Which, of course, convinced Draco that they'd been watched the entire time from the first, "Pervert, may I suck your toes" to the final "Fucking hell, Pervert, may I core your arse?" Which made him seriously consider leaping out of bed that very moment and tossing Cranky a sock, but a moment's reflection brought him down to earth. His mother would weasel (pardon the verb choice) out of him why he'd given Cranky clothes, which would mean he'd have to describe his sexacapdes with Blaise. To his mother! Which he absolutely would not do, even if subjected to Cruciatus. Which essentially ended frolicking with Blaise in his flat because the thought of those eyes watching the two of them… And, UGH, the possibility of elf masturbation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There are not words to describe how utterly, totally, completely, and irrevocably revolting that concept was.

Fortunately, Blaise had re-married about then, which always cramped their style, limiting them to an occasional blow-job in the Men's. Whereas Cranky definitely didn't like Pansy, so he and Pans could fuck like rabbits, and Draco didn't have to worry about being spied on.

"Just for the night." Blaise's murmur fortunately brought him back to the present and away from the "Cranky, I'm a Voyeur and an Elf and I'm Proud" episode. "I'm taking a trip. Need to brush off the dust, so to speak."

Draco paused a moment before continuing, because he was getting hinky ripples up the back of his neck. Which were never glad-tidings.

"You coming back anytime soon?"


Draco hated it when Blaise went all non-committal. It was often the precursor to Zen!Blaise. The last time Blaise went all Zen on him about traveling and began spouting shit about life being one long journey, Draco lost it and hexed a map of Brazil to his forehead. He then recalled, unfortunately, the reason why Blaise had finally walked out on that insane psycho bitch of a wife. Time to end this. Belt up, Draco. They were Slytherins for God's sake.

"Would you be going to a country that begins with the letter 'I' and visiting a person whose first name begins the letter 'N'?"

"Ummm. Portkeying in the morning."

Right. Although a complete moron would have now surmised that Blaise was twenty-four hours away from doing his mother, his mother!, Draco couldn't help but press, because really. Enough. This had to be said, and Draco hoped that for once Blaise took him seriously, because he'd never been more serious in his entire life.


"Yes, Draco?"

"If you marry her, I will have to kill you. I am not joking." There, it was out there.

Blaise brought a gentle hand up to Draco's forehead and began stroking.

"I would never insult your mother like that, Draco. Never."

This was said with such conviction that those ripples died, and Draco leaned into Blaise's hand with not a small measure of relief.

"Does Pansy know you're going to that country that begins with the letter 'I' and visiting that person whose name begins with the letter 'N'?" Draco couldn't help but be slightly snide.

"Yes, Draco, she knows. She's known for a long time. You're the only one harboring this notion that she and I… It's time Draco."

Draco sat up because this wasn't Zen!Blaise, but Irritating!Obnoxious!Zen!Blaise who made pronouncements like he was some sort of fucking Oracle, and Draco and Pansy were supposed to get down on their knees and praise his wisdom or whatever. The only way he could handle Irritating!Obnoxious!Zen!Blaise without strangling him was to get a buzz on. Thankfully, Blaise's taste in champagne was only second to his own. Which went a lot way toward forgiving him for these tiresome lapses into la-la land.

Draco pointed at the ice bucket. "Shall we open that champagne and a toast farewell to the latest ex-wife? How do you say, 'Don't waste any Floo powder on your way out, bitch' in Polish?"

"Nie trac proszku Fiuu odchodzac, suko," he said somewhat absentmindedly, and then pointed out with a smile, "Since it was me who left her that wouldn't be quite right. Certainly the most harrowing six months of my life. Some sort of celebration is definitely in order. I think it something of a miracle she didn't kill me."

As Blaise hadn't made any fuss about his broken nose, Draco bit back a retort that if Blaise hadn't been such a fucking coward and had actually fought in the war, dodging lamps would have been child's play. What he did do was continue to ex-wife bash.

"Miracle, smiracle. She didn't kill you because she was too fucking vain to wear glasses," Draco reminded him, because he wanted to hammer home that he'd been warning Blaise about this woman for months. Fortunately, she had some wanky astigmatism, combined with an irrational fear of Healers. She could only wear contacts half the time and only in one eye, the combination of which had improved Blaise's odds considerably. "Thank Christ she was a Squib, or you wouldn't have lasted two weeks. The champagne?"

"Let's wait for Pans. She owled me the moment she saw Potter's face and assumed you two had been at each other again. She was going to make up some excuse about 'female trouble' and leave work early. I'm surprised she's not—"

At that Pansy Flooed in. Draco knew from the droop of her shoulders that something was drastically wrong. Plus, she was wearing those sunglasses she'd Transfigured for Draco this morning, last year's model. And if that wasn't an indication something dire had happened…

"What's wrong?" they said in unison.

At that she burst into tears. The only time either of them had ever seen Pansy cry was when her father had been sentenced to Azkaban. She was much tougher than the two of them put together, and to see her openly weeping like this absolutely terrified Draco.

"Those fucking hate memes," she sobbed. "They started on about my father—" Which is all she got out before launching into another incoherent weeping spell.

They hustled her over to the sofa and bracketed her between the two of them, Blaise's arm around her waist, her head on Draco's shoulder. It took ages to get the story out of her because she kept weeping, but essentially someone had started a thread about Pansy's father, which she admitted was a rehash of his war crimes, and since he'd been a henchman to Lucius, it was a sizably long rehash. She'd sort of expected something along those lines when she'd told those pug-nosed hating pricks to kiss her arse. But then someone started writing about how cold it was going to be this winter and how he/she would watch every day's falling temperatures with glee, thinking of how bitter it would be in her father's cell, and how meager the blankets were in Azkaban, little more than large handkerchiefs. And that if they were at all lucky, Pansy's father would freeze to death and rid the world of one more Death Eater.

"If I ever find out who wrote that hate meme, I'm going to kill them." From the vehemence in her voice, he didn't doubt it for one second. "Draco, I know it's going to be a bad winter. I sent him extra blankets two weeks ago. Do you think they gave them to him?" She was breaking his hand her grip was so frantic. "What if they don't? He's so frail. God, he's lost about five stone since he's been there. He has one more winter, Blaise. Just one more and then he's out and I know it will be horrible for him but it can't be worse than being in there and I don't give a flying fuck what anyone says he's my father and I know he did horrible things but I love him and I don't want him to die in that TOTAL HELLHOLE. HE CAN'T FREEZE TO DEATH. HE'S SO CLOSE!"

Two hours and several crying jags later, Draco had convinced Pansy that he'd somehow ensure that her father got his extra blankets, even if he had to knit them himself. Draco's string-pulling days were essentially over, but surely there was someone he could prevail upon. Shacklebolt was a decent sort; he'd be able to do something.

"Do you think so, Draco? Really?"

"Really, Pansy, he'll be able to do something, I promise," Draco lied and kissed her head. She turned away from Blaise and buried her head in his shoulders for one last cry. Blaise looked hurt at this. How dare he? He glared at Blaise and mouthed, "Fuck you. I was here and you weren't." Because Blaise hadn't been here during the war, hadn't helped the two of them stand up against everything they'd been spoon fed since birth. He hadn't visited his parents in Azkaban, or watched Vince and Greg fall in battle, or listened to spy reports of Voldemort describing what he would do to the two of them should they get caught. No, he'd left them alone to swagger their way through the mistrust and scorn as the only Slytherins who had deserted Voldemort (besides Blaise, who had defected to only himself), trusted by neither side.

Blaise moved to turn away, only to be stopped by Pansy's hand on his arm, the vermilion still on her nails and slightly chipped.

"Come on," she whispered and grabbed Draco's wrist as well.

She led them into Draco's bedroom and closed the door.

"Come on," she repeated and undid the top button on her blouse.

They hadn't done this in ages, the three of them. Oh, sure, they'd had many a fuck, energetic threesomes, but not this sort of comfort sex. When was the last time? When Draco's father went to prison? They'd been rather innocent, although full of sexual bravado like they knew it all. Draco had to smile at the thought, even when a very knowing hand came up to caress his erection. The hand then hadn't been so sure.

Draco realized later that it was the goodbye to their threesome as they had known it. That Blaise leaving and returning to Italy and Draco's mother would cause an irrevocable split. Draco could not be the lover of a man who was fucking his mother, and Pansy couldn't be the lover of a man who loved someone more than he loved her. And that while Pansy would, no doubt, kill for Draco and Draco would, in a heartbeat, kill for Pansy, it wasn't the sort of love you married each other for. They were waiting and fucking each other while they were waiting. What for was anyone's guess.

They assumed their old comfort sex positions, Blaise slowly fucking Pansy, setting the rhythm for Draco to fuck him. At one point, Pansy flailed her hand in the air for Draco to take it, and he gripped it for dear life as the three of them rocked into each other, letting the tension build gentle thrust by gentle thrust. Finally Pansy arched into Blaise, and Blaise clenched at that, which finally put Draco over, which finally put Blaise over. Pansy was trying not to cry as she snuggled against Blaise, Draco was trying not to hit him.

Draco waited until Pansy was asleep before whispering into Blaise's ear, "Don't come back."

He wasn't particularly surprised when Blaise yawned and then whispered back, "I don't intend to."

Draco listened to Pansy's gentle huffs and Blaise's deeper breaths for hours. He ghosted his hands over Blaise's body, committing to memory the long length of his back, the soft dense curl of his hair, and the plump curve of his arse. He'd never thought he'd lose this, and the idea of it both saddened and terrified him. And the fact that he didn't particularly want it anymore didn't seem to make any difference. It was change, and he hated change.

Like most pampered children, every want and need had been met even before he opened his mouth. For seemingly ever, life rolled along with no hiccups, punctuated only by meals and lessons: breakfast at eight, lessons from 9:00 to 11:45, luncheon at noon, lessons again from 1:00 to 3:30, tea always at four. His father and mother shared a cocktail together in the library at 6:00 pm every night: a scotch for him, a martini for her. Dinner was served at seven, and they dressed for dinner. In formal dress robes. Every night. For eleven years the only vagaries in his daily schedule were irritating weather changes. Fall was late. Fall was early. The bulbs couldn't be planted because winter was late. When was Spring coming? The roses weren't in bloom yet and wasn't that a shame? Weather was the one thing his father couldn't seem to control, just about the only thing as far as Draco could see.

Then Draco went to Hogwarts and he had his first nasty brush-up with change: Potter had refused Draco's hand. No one had ever refused his hand. There it was. A harbinger of sorts. Not that he knew it, of course. Then it was nothing but change, as the Dark Lord returned and destroyed all their lives. Yes, he hated change. Change in Draco's life had meant committing horrifying acts in the mistaken belief he was saving his birthright, and then finding himself denying his birthright, rejecting his father, facing his childhood friends on the battlefield, and generally fucking over everything in his life that he'd once held dear.

The only thing that kept him sane was the realization that while his father had decided to gamble with the Malfoy name and wherewithal in the hopes of picking up whatever vestiges of power that nostril-challenged madman was willing to throw Lucius' way, his mother had no such faith in Voldemort's megalomania. She quietly transferred all her money to Italy, and one day handed Draco a Portkey to Rome spelled to activate the second he said, "Mercy."

He understood Blaise's defection in one way. As a small child, Blaise's mother had dragged him all over the globe, and England was just one more spot to troll for rich men. England wasn't home; it was a place to go to school and suffer the presence (short-lived) of yet another step-father. But England, wizarding England, was Draco's home. He never realized how much he loved it until he walked over battle-scarred hillsides, and instead of inhaling the sweet aroma of newly mown grass, he gagged from the smell of dead bodies.

Not that there hadn't been ample enough evidence heretofore, but the magnitude of Voldemort's insanity was impossible to ignore after the night Snape killed Dumbledore. Clearly, Voldemort would do anything to realize his quest for power (for starters, sending a sixteen-year-old boy to kill one of England's most powerful wizards—how bat-shit insane was that?). Draco's certain death—besting Dumbledore in a duel? What was he thinking?—was clearly viewed as a insignificant eventuality, but wouldn't it be nice if he got off a few shots and one happened to be lucky before his sorry arse was killed. Draco hadn't been brought up to be insignificant, an irony he doubted his father ever appreciated. After he and Snape had escaped, he wasted no time owling Pansy, Greg, Vince, and Blaise, begging them to join him in defecting to Potter's band of ragtag wizards. At least Potter hadn't gone berserk and indulged in some sort of weird fetish akin to spelling yourself slits as opposed to nostrils. Well, you could call Potter's hair mane-ish, but it wasn't like a theme or anything.

Only Pansy met him on that windswept moor. Greg and Vince couldn't bring themselves to turn traitor, and Blaise, the most Slytherin of all the Slytherins, had already Portkeyed to France. He'd Portkeyed even before Draco's owl had reached him.

With a start, Draco realized that Blaise was awake. Blaise had always loved Draco's hair, and was now running his fingers through the fine blond strands, perhaps comprising his own mental scrap book.

"Your hair," whispered Blaise, tacitly signaling Draco not to wake up Pansy. "Wanker," Draco whispered, and yet still couldn't help but nudge back against Blaise's hand.

"One last dance, Draco." The hand left off carding through his hair and began a slow, agonizing caress down his back, just stopping at the top of his arse. Draco could have pulled away, could have stomped out of the bedroom in a huff, but he didn't. Not that Blaise didn't deserve it; he'd deserted them before, he was deserting them now. But… Besides Millicent, they were the only ones left of their year. When Draco didn't pull away, the hand cupped his arse, fingertips millimeters away from his hole, their cocks hardening, teasing and pulsing against each other. "Please."

Merde squared. He turned over and whispered a spell. A warm knee parted his legs and then an oiled, knowing finger found his prostate; he arched in pleasure. Baring his neck to be kissed, he heard a faint, "My boys. My beautiful boys," from the other side of the bed.

Blaise's Portkey was due to activate at eight that morning. The three of them crowded around one end of Draco's ridiculously long dining room table, the only piece of furniture he had managed to salvage from Malfoy Manor. Blaise sat at the head of the table, a large goblet of Venetian glass in front of him, Draco and Pansy on either side. They sipped their espressos in silence, watching the minute hand move slowly around the clock face.

When it was a hair's breadth away from the twelve, Pansy leaned over the table, grabbed Blaise's shoulders and demanded, "Write me, you bastard." Then she kissed him, hard, more bite than kiss based on the blood staining his lower lip when she finally pulled away from him. Draco then picked up Blaise's free hand and kissed his knuckles one by one. When he was done he said, "Give my love to mother. You'll be getting rid of those secretaries, I imagine."

"Ummm," Blaise replied, touched the goblet, and was gone.

"…so, that's what I'm going to do. The solution seems so obvious that I can only surmise that the other Aurors' proximity to Potter have permanently damaged their brain cells. Stupid is as stupid does. Sort of amazed they haven't subjected me to a Veratiserum cocktail, frankly. Have to admit that I wouldn't be so confident in breaking the damn spell if it wasn't exactly the sort of thing I'd devise, assuming I were a complete coward and didn't have the damn balls to say these things to Potter's face. And since I do have balls, plenty there and then some, I would never have resorted to this anonymous rubbish." Not that Pansy wasn't intimately knowledgeable about his balls, but one couldn't boast enough about one's bits.

They were still parked at the dining room table, Pansy having moved to the seat vacated by Blaise so that she could hold Draco's hand.

"You'd do that for me? You'd Gryffindor yourself?"

"Of course, darling. Not that you won't owe me. I do need to replace those loafers, and there's that clerk at Armani who always gives you discounts in the futile hope you'll pull him into a dressing room and do obscene things to his dick— Ow, that hurt. Oh, that feels… Pansy, stop. I want to take care of this today. It's bad enough that we work in the same building. I'm sick, sick, sick of seeing Potter parked in that lobby—"

"As opposed to sitting next to him in a pub and pounding back pints?"

"Lunch, you bitch. It was lunch, not drinks. Now I see that scar-headed git a minimum of twice a day. It's impossible to avoid him. So I'm killing roughly a hundred birds with one stone. I end this stupid hate meme nonsense, banish those second-rate Potter haters to their pusillanimous hideyholes where I hope they rot, I show how it's done, and I get Potter back in his office where I neither see him nor hear him. Whoever came up with that seen and not heard nonsense never knew Potter. Anyway, I must go or I'll miss today's floor show. Owl in sick. If I fail, no sense in the two of us looking like the biggest arses this side of Scotland," Draco warned her.

"Don't be ridiculous, Draco. If you're going to sing my praises, I want to hear them." She picked up a knife off of the table and caught her reflection. "One last check of my lipstick."

She'd always refreshed her lipstick right before they went into battle, too, claiming that even dead she was determined to look like a million Galleons. A tickle of adrenaline, unbidden, marched up his spine.

"Let's go."

Draco and Pansy had to shove their way through the crowd as everyone stood waiting for the hate memes to go off at nine. While the odd meme went off here and there, the bulk of these vile invectives waited until the morning to start howling their trash. Draco couldn't help but admire the person who'd designed this hate meme. He/she merely needed to devise a spell for the first one, and then rely on everyone else's secret or not so secret animosities to keep feeding the "beast." They must be relishing the thought that nearly the entire Ministry was held captive every morning; two hundred-odd people on tenterhooks, waiting to see who was going to be pilloried next. Potter—nose none the worse for wear, Granger must have fixed it for him—stood there with six other Aurors, continuing to fire useless spell after useless spell. Shacklebolt's mouth was nothing more than a grim line.

Sodding idiots.

Once they had reached the middle of the lobby, the hate memes hanging over their heads, Draco held up his wand and whispered, "Sonorus."

"Listen up, you bloody morons." Draco's voice overwhelmed all the low-level chatter and quickly there was silence. "If I were Minister of Magic," he pointed his wand at the Aurors, "I'd fire the lot of you. You, Scarhead, have no excuse. Need a refresher course? Mother's love repelling an Unforgivable? Ring a bell?" Draco allowed himself a satisfied smirk at the sight of Potter's jaw falling open. "It's feeding off of your hatred, stupid tossers. It's just getting stronger with every spell you cast. I expect you all to hang your heads in shame later for being shown up by a Slytherin."

Shacklebolt raised his wand, no doubt to shut Draco up, but Potter grabbed his arm and said something in his ear. Merlin, if this didn't work, his arse would be fired for sure.

"Right." He shot Pansy one last look and received a thumbs up. "I love Pansy Parkinson. She's the bravest person I know. The woman has balls the size of grapefruits. When I defected from the Death Eaters, she joined me even though it meant defying her parents and abandoning her other friends, and certain fucking death if Voldemort ever captured us. Look at her. She's beautiful." Pansy didn't blush, she preened and stuck out her tits. Weasley was probably creaming his pants by now. "She brings me orange juice when I have a hangover, a book when I need something to read, drags me out dancing when I'm in a foul mood, and is always up for insulting Muggle shopkeepers. I'm saying this once again. I love her. And the bastard who wrote that meme about hoping her father freezes to death in Azkaban this winter better pray that she doesn't find out who you are because you are fucking dead. I fought by her side during the war and her hexes never missed their mark."

He couldn't help but add that last bit and hoped it wouldn't bollocks up the spell.

Draco had never been able to do a Patronus, ever, but he knew the mechanics: a happy, exhilarating thought to feed the spell. In the rare moments when he didn't have the energy to construct the fantasy that he normally conjured up regarding his upbringing, he realized it was because he didn't have any happy thoughts, that his childhood had been one mediocre blur. Happiness had neither been here nor there. Somehow he doubted the memory of Sunday dinners nor the Malfoy Manor's garden-elves planting daffodil bulbs would do the trick.

Bleeding fuck, what…

But then he remembered sending off that owl, terrified that no one would come, that he'd have to face alone Potter and that put-the-loon-in-lunatic Moody and all the rest of Dumbledore's sorry excuse for an army. Then he spied the red tip of a cigarette, the only spot of color for miles. The smoker took a deep drag and blew it out, then he heard someone snap at him, "Fucking hell, Draco, couldn't you have picked some place that wasn't fecking freezing. If I had balls, I wouldn't vouchsafe for having them anymore." He thought of time he dressed up like a woman and the two of them had gone dancing at Muggle nightclubs trying to pull men. How at the end of the war she, Blaise, and Draco had holed themselves up at some wizard hotel in Cornwall for days, never leaving their room, ordering room service and enough champagne to float a bloody Armada. How Pansy had never left his side for weeks after his father had been killed. How she looked when she was asleep, a single thumb resting on her bottom lip. How she…

And it happened, just like he thought it would. The hate meme devoted to her disintegrated into ash.

A collective "ah" broke out, and people began shouting what they loved about people. Soon it began raining ash, as the hate memes that had been collecting over the past few days combusted into near nothing. Pansy hugged him, shouting into his ear, "Slytherins rule, darling!" She then began laughing hysterically and brushing the ash out of his hair.

Draco fled the lobby for his office as soon as humanly possible. Mass hugging began at some point, ugh, and the hug from he got from Creevey, no surprise, was exceptionally pervy. How in the hell did the man grab so much with only two hands? It felt like his arse was being mauled by the Giant Squid. A visual akin to elf sex!

Assuming that the love-in down in the lobby would continue unabated for some time, he unearthed the bottle of vodka that he kept stashed in his desk for emergencies. Another two weeks like the last and he'd be blowing that twit Carstairs for the first available Portkey to Mozambique. He'd drink just enough to cauterize that visual of whey-faced Creevey boasting tentacles. Clearly, he wasn't cut out for this savior business. He was having brain seizures as a result. As soon as possible, he was going to lay one on that slacker Potter. This was his bailiwick, not Draco's. Look what it did to his nerves. He was dipping into the vodka at 9:15 in the morning, for Christ's sake! Just like Potter to dump this on Draco's lap. Sort of a Slytherin thing to do, really. Well, he wasn't going to be out-Slytherined by that wanker.

Draco continued on in this mental vein for several minutes, working himself up into a right lather over Potter—not that he'd admit it to anyone and especially not Pansy or Blaise, but it was possibly Draco's favorite past time—when he heard someone, a someone that sounded like a Weasley(!) shouting at the top of his lungs,

"You bloody fucking cow, I did not write that shit about your father!"

The sounds of someones entering Pansy's office was following by a someone slamming shut their door to the outside corridor. Unfortunately, someone also slammed shut the inside door to Draco's office, and curse the integrity of those doors because now he could only hear murmurs. Angry murmurs, but he couldn't tell anymore than that.

Shit, another one of those needs must occasions. What had possessed him to put on his favorite trousers this morning? Well, he did look like a fucking god in them… God knows, what was crawling around in that rug… Infested with… He'd have brought in the spare Aubusson except Ministry housekeeping was shockingly shoddy and when he was Minister… Fuck, fuck, fuck. Getting down on his hands and knees, he didn't want Pansy to see his shadow through the glass, he reached the door and just eased it open…

"You wrote that bit about my tits. Don't deny it. And you probably wrote crap about my nose," Pansy screamed back, in full fishwife mode, something she did entirely too well.

Never shy about self-congratulations when he was correct, this was one instance where he wished he hadn't had an ear for voices because, yes, Weasley and Pansy were going at it hammer and tongs.

"Yeah, I did write that bit about your tits. Fuck, woman, you have a perfect rack. And maybe it wasn't professional or even right, but wearing those shirts to work, the buttons open to your goddamned navel, your brilliant cleavage in my fucking face isn't professional or right either. And for the record. I had a brother who was a total arse. Really screwed over my parents and Harry because he was an ambitious wanker and having You-Know-Who come back would have bollocksed up his chances to be Minister of Magic by the time he was thirty. Hated him, I did. My parents… I can never forgive him for that. Destroyed my mum. But I still loved him, and when he died it tore something out of me. So, I know something about, uh, you know, with your father."

There was silence. Then Weasley said in a much quieter tone, "And I didn't write that bit about your nose. Think it was Hermione who wrote that meme, to be honest. Have to admit I didn't help the situation. I get a frigging boner every time you wear that bra. So yeah, I did write about your tits, but not your dad or your nose. You don't have the greatest nose, but like, I'm going to comment on someone's nose when I'm one giant freckle."

How frustrating! Draco couldn't see a thing. He transfigured a handkerchief into a mirror and tried to angle it to see what Pansy was doing…

"Parkinson? That twit Malfoy's on the floor, on his hands and knees, with a mirror in his hand."

"Ignore him. He's just eavesdropping. Draco, crawl back into your office or I will hex your balls and you'll need a magnifying glass to find them. So. You going to run back to Granger and apologize for the next ten years because you're lusting after my rack?" she accused.

Just in case Pansy was checking, he took a few cautionary crawls backward, but kept the door open a crack.

"Um, no. That's not on anymore. For the best really, we're better as friends than we are as lovers. We drive each other spare most of the time."

"I'm not surprised. The woman is a total bitch," Pansy sniffed.

"Yeah, well so are you, so shut it. And… I… I kinda of like it. You know, in a woman. Not much of a vanilla sort of bloke."

There was another long silence.

"Oh really?" Draco knew that "oh really." It was usually the precursor to shedding some article of clothing. "So if you take me out for lunch in penance for coveting my bits, she won't hex me?"

What in the hell was happening? Pansy wasn't in fishwife mode at all. She'd segued into "I'm seriously considering blowing you" mode in the blink of an eye! Pansy was flirting with Weasley!

"Nah. Told you, we're not on anymore. Think your bits are too brilliant for lunch. What about dinner? And drinks. Maybe lots of drinks."

Would the powers that be strike him dead? Please? Weasley was flirting with Pansy! Ugh! He would never, ever use the term "bits" again.

"Sounds lovely," Pansy cooed. "And your bits? Are they worthy of dinner?"

Now, Draco pleaded, now would be a good time. Kill me now!

"Don't think you'll be disappointed. Not up to Neville, but then no one is. Can hold my own," Weasley said in a sultry voice.


Because you don't live in a boys' dormitory for several years without checking out the competition, and that sly confidence in Weasley's voice could only mean one thing. He was packing and he had every expectation that when Pansy unwrapped the goods it would be a convening of the mutual bit admiration society.

Longbottom hung(!). Potter hung(!!), Weasley hung(!!!).

Pansy interrupted his nascent thoughts of suicide by cooing, "Shall we go down to the cantina and get a cup of tea?" Weasley must have nodded yes because Pansy then said in her normal voice, "You can get up off the ground now, Draco. I'll bring you back a cuppa." Then they left the room.

Whereupon Draco tried to get up but he must have consumed more vodka than he thought because his knees refused to work anymore and he fell over. The word "Bugger" was barely past his lips before he fell asleep.

Which is where Granger found him an hour later.

Thank Merlin Draco had had the wherewithal to shove the bottle of vodka back into his desk drawer when he'd heard Pansy and Weasley yelling at each other. Evidence that he'd been tippling vodka straight from the bottle while at work was just the sort of silly trifle that tended to wind Granger up.

"I assume there's some sort of reasonable explanation why you're sleeping on the floor of your office at," she cast a Tempus, "ten thirty in the morning. Hitting the vodka again?"

Fuck! Nothing got by this woman. Which during the war had been a Godsend, but now that the war had ended was exceptionally annoying. To be completely fair, he hadn't gotten any sleep last night, and he'd really pushed his magic vis a vis the hate meme business. The fact that he'd consumed nearly half a bottle of vodka an hour earlier was immaterial.

"Don't be ridiculous, Granger," Draco lied and picked himself up off the floor. Sauntering to his desk with all the aplomb he could muster, considering not ten seconds earlier he'd been found passed out on the floor in a semi-drunken nap, he tsked in disgust before sitting down.

"I was inspecting my rug."

"Inspecting" had such a competent sound to it. Just the sort of word to warm that bureaucratic heart of hers.

"I'm considering lodging a complaint against the housekeeping staff." That was actually true. "I was, uh, checking the carpet for nasty crawly things with big eyes and too many ugly legs." Sort of true because he really did believe his rug was rife with vermin. "My ankles are positively raw from bites. I'm sure it's from the rug."

The words had no sooner left his mouth than he cursed himself. If Granger actually asked to see his ankles he was fucked. More evidence that this savior business had fried precious brain cells. How could he forget the first rule of lying? Keep your lies as truthful as possible and sprinkle a few truths in among the lies. Sort of a wheat with the chaff thing.

Granger rolled her eyes and flopped down in the chair opposite. "You were, were you? Considering your revolting sex life, I wouldn't be surprised if these alleged bites weren't the result of some sort of bizarre tantric marking ritual. Do you normally snore while checking for crawly things?"

"Snorts of disgust, I assure you."

"You expect me to believe…" she began and then stopped. "Did you see them?" Her face crumpled for one second before she got a hold of herself.

There was no denying who "them" was. He pulled out the vodka and handed it to her. She eyed him, then the bottle, grabbed it, and took a big swig.

Of all the Gryffindors, Granger was the best of a bad lot. Once she'd accepted that he had truly defected and wasn't a spy, she'd send him on missions with a minimum of fuss that actually made Apparating to his potential doom much easier. Molly Weasley would fix his collar, cup his hair behind his ears, squeeze his shoulders, and give him a hug before sending him out the door with a "Good luck, my dear" and a teary-eyed look that convinced him that next thing she was going to do was give her mourning robes a press. Granger wouldn't give him a second glance as she pushed him out the door with a, "Malfoy, you fuck this up and I'll have your guts for garters. Come see me the second you get back. I don't even want you going to the loo first." It was almost Slytherin, except that her ruthlessness was borne out of a tremendous sense of Gryffindor righteousness.

By the end of the war, they'd come to a sort of grudging respect for each other. Not that they liked each other any better; Draco still thought she was a bossy know-it-all with a gigantic stick up her arse, and she still thought he was an whiny, posturing, irritating wanker. But she appreciated that while he might whinge about everything under the sun, he did what he had to do and never indulged in a semi-hysterical guilt fest like Potter did after every mission. He appreciated that she didn't send him on missions that gave him less than a fifty-fifty chance of coming back. The odds never changed. In the beginning of the war, he thought they were piss poor; by the end, he was bloody grateful. He didn't question her intelligence and she didn't question his bravery.

Clearly, she much was less sanguine about she and Weasley not "being on any more" than Weasley was.

"You don't look too upset about it. Don't you care?" she demanded.

This was one of those situations where the gap between Slytherin and Gryffindor seemed almost insurmountable. How do you explain the concept of fuck best friends to someone whose great-grandmother was probably some Baptist missionary who spent her entire adult life shoving religious tracts down the throats of and putting loin cloths on Tongan natives. Draco had never been to Tonga, but he was fairly certain he'd hate it. He had a secret phobia of insects—hence the rug thing—and it seemed like the sort of place where bugs the size of dinner plates were de rigueur. Just the thought of it made his ankles itch.

"Well, yes, because of the freckle factor, and no because… I know I'm going to shock your Victorian sensibilities with this, Granger. Potter nearly had a stroke the other day in the pub when I tried to explain this very situation to him, but he wouldn't—"

"Before or after you broke his nose?"

"Before. Just so you know, he threw the first punch that time. Anyway, it's not like Pansy and I are fucking each other. Not exactly. We are, well, fucking each other. I enjoy sex, she enjoys sex, we enjoy sex together. We're friends. Friends who enjoy sex. Together. It's that simple."

Or perhaps not that simple, especially when you factor in Blaise, but Draco hadn't seen Pansy come on like that to anyone else in ages, and he wasn't going to let Granger muck this up. Rather horrible that it was Weasley who lit her up like a Christmas tree, but there you are. Draco had no intention of playing a part in whatever Dostoevsky-ish jealousy-prompted quadrangle Granger might be plotting. Granger gave off that prissy oh-I'd-rather-die-than-be-caught-dead-engaging-in-some-tawdry-contretemps-over-Ronald air, but she had had no compunction about hauling off and whacking Draco in the face more than once, and Draco was dead certain that she wouldn't think twice about raking Pansy's cheek open should poor Pans get within scratching distance. Not that Pansy couldn't hold her own, but Draco would get dragged into it because he was Pansy's best friend and Potter would get dragged into it because he was Weasley's best friend, and Draco had just gotten Potter out of his life and had no intention of letting him back in. Based on the truly frightening grimace on her face, if he didn't do something pronto, a cat fight of epic proportions would be the least of their problems.

Dear Merlin fuck himself twice. Did he have to do everything around here?

"Listen, Granger, if I may offer a word of advice. Do not snort at me. Once in a blue moon I actually have something intelligent to say. Can you spell hate meme? I really don't know what you see in him. Yes," Draco held up a hand to stop her protests, "I know you're going to say a lot of nonsense about the war and what you two have been through and probably drag Hogwarts in there somehow, as you always manage to do, but really. Think about it. His idea of culture is to get hammered on beer and then belch out Surrey with the Fringe on Top. You are not the sort of person to sink to the common denominator, and Weasley essentially invented the common denominator. And assuming that you learn to like spending all your free time in pubs and develop a passion for karaoke, the bottom line is that you are far too intelligent for him. If you sabotage this thing between Pansy and Weasley and you two get back together and, God forbid, marry, at some point the glitter from the war will wear off, and then Merlin help you. Because he's already got a sizable chip on his shoulder and marrying you will make it a mile deep. Mark my words, he will embark on a string of endless affairs to prove to himself that he isn't a mental deficient compared to his wife. Which is pointless because he will be a mental deficient compared to his wife. He will be more obvious about these affairs as you continue your climb up the Ministry ladder and he stays an Auror third class. Because he's a rather simple chap and you're not. I don't think this thing with Pansy is anything more than a burning desire on his part to feel her up, but here's your chance to escape. Take it."

"Don't Cry for Me Argentina," she corrected.

"My point."

She didn't look convinced. Bleeding buggering fuck.


He grabbed her wrist, opened the door, and dragged her down the hall. She hissed and threatened and was at the point of hexing him if he didn't let her go when they reached Accounting.

Thank God, Billings was at his desk, but then when wasn't he at his desk. He wasn't a bad looking chap if you squinted at him in the right light. As in a very dim light, possibly on a day during a solar eclipse sort of light. Tall, but then Weasley was tall, and sort of gangly. Come to think of it, Billings was gangly. In fact, he really wasn't that different from Weasley except he didn't have that obnoxious ginger hair and those repulsive freckles. And, of course, he actually had a brain, as opposed to a Bludger with a few nerve-endings.

"Granger, this is Ted Billings. Billings, Hermione Granger. You two know each other? No? Well, that's because Granger is a swot who never leaves her office and Billings is equally swottish and also never leaves his office. That you're both still swots and have been out of school for bloody ages is beyond pathetic. You two have an enormous amount in common. Granger was brought up Muggle, Billings, your mother is Muggle, isn't she? You were both prefects, albeit Ted has several years on us, Granger, but you are twenty-five going on forty so it's all a wash. He was Head Boy and you undoubtedly would have been Head Girl except for that pesky war. I find both of you a wee bit boring, but you're both boring in precisely the same way; water seeks its own ennui. Ted here likes to do those crushingly hard arithmancy puzzles in the back of the Prophet. In ink, mind you. Something I bet you do every day as well, Granger."

"Why yes. I—"

"Color me shocked. I actually saw Billings reading Hogwarts: A History at lunch last week. Ah, yes, his copy is right here. Just the book I want to dip into while eating my tuna sandwich. Looks as well-thumbed as yours, Granger. And I will refrain from commenting how pathetic that is because we are already up to two on the pathetic meter. Now, Ted, what is your idea of a good time?"

"The ballet, the symphony—"

"That will do. Do you like sports?"

"Well, I was the Ravenclaw seeker in school, but sort of grew out of, say, Malfoy what are you on—"

"Almost forgot. The Ravenclaw factor. If Granger here weren't such a goody-two shoes, she would have been sorted into Ravenclaw. Gryffindor's gain, Voldemort's loss. You two can do arithmancy puzzles together in your spare time. Clearly, the potential for ecstasy is unlimited." He reached into his pocket, pulled out a Galleon, and threw it at Billings, who caught it before it hit the ground. "The plan is thus. Ted, take Hermione here out for drinks after work; the first round of Hand Grenades is on me. If you go to the Leaky, you can get several drinks; have Tom put them on my account. Then, when you both have a nice buzz on, go to dinner. A word of advice, Ted. Hermione doesn't eat meat so if you take her to one of those places that serves sides of beef that are still mooing when you cut into your dinner, you've pretty much scotched your chances of getting in her knickers. Ever. Oh and Ted, she has got an arse like you wouldn't believe. She hides it under those voluminous robes she's addicted to, but take my word for it. I spied on her getting in the bath once at Hogwarts and as far as arses go, it certainly meets the Malfoy seal of approval. If it weren't attached to Granger… However, it is, so I have absolutely no desire to get within ten feet of it. The field is wide open, as they say. Speaking of dinner, I haven't had breakfast and I'm starving. I'm off to the cafeteria. I think you two are absolutely perfect for each other, with the added bonus that you won't afflict your uber conscientious, moral, and resolutely anal personalities on anyone else. I'd say a win/win."

He left them both with their mouths hanging open.

Draco had really had about all he could take for one day. Curled up on a corner of his couch, wearing his favorite robe even though it was only five-thirty at night, he wondered if the champagne was chilled enough. They'd never gotten to it the night before. The bucket was still standing there in the living room when he finally made it home, the ice now all melted, two bottles of very fine champagne leaning against each other as if drunk themselves. He gave a cry of relief, cast a chilling charm, Accio'd his robe, and shed his clothes right there and then.

He put a hand around the neck… No, still not cold enough. It did seem rather like slumming to be in one's bathrobe when it was barely dark and drinking one's dinner, but his clothes smelled like chickens and he was so tired he didn't think he had the energy to lift a fork to his mouth. Somehow a champagne flute filled to the brim with cold bubbly didn't seem like it'd be any effort at all. Merlin, he'd been exhausted even before that nightmare mis-Apparation. A shame about the house-wares section of Harrods…

It wasn't his fault!

His magic was all wanky from that hate meme business (the vodka had nothing to do with it). Which would be his very argument if he were hauled into the Minister's office to explain why the entire house-wares staff and the patrons at Harrods had to be Obliviated and why there were now, literally, hundreds of chickens squawking and shitting all over the store.

When he erroneously landed in the middle of some cooking demonstration, he made to Obliviate pronto everyone within shouting distance. So far this was classic textbook, good, good. He raised his wand, but the bitch manning the demonstration was pontificating on how to prepare the most perfect coq au vin—which caught his attention and he hesitated for second because why was she discussing cocks in the house-wares section of Harrods; then he realized it wasn't cocks as in men (slight disappointment there), but coqs as in French chickens. He who hesitates is screwed, because that slag went berserk and flung a tea towel at him, and, somehow, instead of Incendio'ing it, he accidentally Transfigured it into a chicken. A live chicken. And the hundreds of tea towels in the linen display opposite into live chickens.

He supposed that it was a minor blessing that he didn't Transfigure all those tea towels into detached dicks. Hmmmm. Was that even possible? But then again, they wouldn't have had the wherewithal to run in every possible direction. As did the chickens. In hindsight, he realized he should have transformed all the chickens back into tea towels, but the situation rapidly disintegrated as the chickens started to panic and run. Who knew chickens were such fast little buggers? Anyway, he Obliviated as fast as his little wand could cast and then Apparated out of there with the hope that no one (as in Ministry of Magic officials) would be the wiser.

Could happen to anyone, really. If the Ministry did manage to track his magical signature, then he'd have to play the hate meme card, as in "I was a magical genius this morning." And not mention the vodka. He'd point out that Muggles love mysteries. They read them by the truckload. The question of how all those chickens just appeared would never be answered. Books would be written, televisions shows produced. "The Mysterious Hatching of Chickens at Harrods" would be on par with that crop circle nonsense. Or blamed on university students.

Why did success and failure always go hand in hand. Or at least in his life it most certainly did.

Success No. 1: Showing up the Auror Department by single-handedly solving the dilemma of how to eliminate those bothersome hate memes. Score a big one for Draco, knocking out all possible awful ramifications of chicken disaster. At least by his reckoning.

Failure No 1: Pansy and Weasley all but swapping spit in his office. Hard to do anything with that but check the box next to failure.

Success No. 2: Apparently Granger hadn't just appeared in his office to thwart the course of true lust between Pansy and Weasley. The Minister, so pleased with Draco's brilliance regarding the hate memes—his very words; just bloody common sense as far as Draco was concerned, but who was he to deny being labeled brilliant—was promoting Draco. Even better, he was moving to another department. Fuck off, Romanians. Score two for Draco.

He was so chuffed at being freed from further hellish trips abroad that it took a couple of minutes to sink in that his promotion meant he was being transferred to the Magical Research Branch of the Auror Division.

Massive Failure No 2: Which was so massive that it effectively cancelled out Successes No. 1 and 2, and he might as well go wild and just check off a whole shitload of "failures" boxes. Because his promotion meant that he was working with Potter and to add insult to injury, his new office was located right next to Potter's.

When you have a failure that monumental, what are a few chickens at Harrod's?

He managed to squeak out something about Pansy, how he couldn't possibly accept the position without her (assuming that that would be a deal-breaker because he was willing to put up with those nasty Romanians and their nasty dragons and that nasty deep fried whatever rather than work next to Potter), when the Minister assured him that there was no problem. They assumed Pansy would remain his assistant. Then the Minister threw in a few cryptic comments about how although his performance as a trade representative of the Ministry had been stellar, perhaps it was time for a change: the German Trade Ministry had made some veiled complaints about his last visit (to which Draco sputtered, "The wanker left fingerprints on my arse. I had to smack his hand!"); as had the Romanians, something about insulting local cuisine (to which Draco could only snort he was so indignant); and the Japanese mentioned oh-so-politely that Mr. Malfoy seemed to be ignorant of important Japanese customs (to which Draco shouted, "I bowed like crazy. Crazy, I tell you."). Which, in effect, cemented his transfer and promotion—mustn't forget that—to the Auror Division.

Pansy was no help. In hysterical giggles all afternoon at the thought that she and Draco would be working next to Potter, Draco moved the entire office himself. And that little cup of tea with Weasley that took over three hours??? At his pointed stares at her shirt—Pansy had Transfigured the tarty top displaying two inches of cleavage that she'd worn to work that day into a turtleneck—she only grinned. And to his terse, "What in the fuck took you so long? Did you two Apparate to Ceylon and harvest the tea leaves yourselves?" when she finally appeared with his cuppa in hand, she replied, "Fuck off, darling." Draco could only surmise that Weasley had pulled her into some empty office and they'd gone at each other like starving vampires. He'd bet what was left of his inheritance that Weasley was no longer wearing that ratty button down missing the top two buttons he'd worn to work that morning—fashion-challenged tosser—but was also now wearing a turtleneck. Pansy was rather partial to leaving love bites. As he well knew. On top of all this, she left early to go to buy something to wear for her date with Weasley. To his, "Why waste your money? You're not going to be wearing it for any longer than a minute," she replied, "I'm going to Victoria's Secret, idiot."

On balance: a cock-up of a day. Perhaps a poor choice of words.

And although he really didn't want to think about this too closely, because, well, it monumentally sucked a million different kinds of arse, he had no one to complain to and no one to share this champagne with. Blaise was in that country that began with the letter "I" and… No need continuing further. Draco knew exactly what Blaise was doing and with whom. Pansy was primping for her date with Weasley and, therefore, not the least bit interested in hearing about the Apparation-tea towel-chicken fiasco. He'd only owl Millicent if he was desperate, and he wasn't that desperate because she'd bring that worthless sod of a husband of hers, who could drink both of them under the table; the man had a hollow leg. He only had two bottles, which was too much for one and just enough for two…

The doorbell rang. Heedless of the fact he was in his bathrobe, he leaped to answer the door. He didn't care who it was. It could be that harridan from next door. He'd pop open that champagne and celebrate his promotion. Anyone would be welcome, with the exception of…


"Lo, Malfoy. You sick?"

What in the fuck had he done in a past life to merit having Harry Potter on his doorstep at this very moment?

"No, I'm not sick, you idiot. I'm celebrating my promotion."

Potter scratched his head, and Draco successfully suppressed a desire to whack his hand.

"In your bathrobe."

"It's been known to happen."

"Can I come in?"

At that point, Draco just gave up and headed straight for the champagne. He Accio'd two champagne flutes, because he really did hate Potter, but he wasn't rude, and you didn't openly drink without offering someone something as well. Potter didn't qualify as much, but was hard for even Draco to deny he was a "someone."

Draco handed him a full glass of champagne, held his flute up in a silent toast, and drank down in one fell swoop the entire contents of glass number one. While filling glass number two, he commented. "It's 'may I,' by the way. Grammar-challenged toad."

Apparently, Potter had had a shit day too, because he had drained his glass as well and was holding out the flute for more.

"Have you come in some sort of official capacity to ream me another one about the chickens thing? If so, you really shouldn't be guzzling my champagne. That's just not on."

Potter's eyes nearly hit the wall. "That was you?"

"No," he backpedaled. "Of course not. I heard about…somewhere."

"Oh God, that was you," and Potter put his glass down on the first available surface and began holding his sides in peals of laughter. "I saw pictures on the telly of the security guards trying to round up all these chickens. And the more upset the chickens got, the more they shat. It was a riot." Potter proceeded to laugh some more, actual tears streaming down his cheeks. Draco was dying to call him on the carpet about it, because if it had happened to him, it wouldn't have been that hysterical; in fact, Draco wasn't laughing at all, but that would mean admitting he was guilty.

When Potter had finally calmed down, Draco was already on glass three. Apparently, Potter had a chicken kink because it took him ages to stop laughing.

"Hey, you're ahead of me," he protested and drank up. "This is really good," he said, gesturing to the champagne as Draco refilled his glass. "Don't worry you're safe. They sent that moron Smith to investigate, and he bollocksed up the signature tracking spell trying to determine who'd Transfigured the chickens. Kingsley had a right fit. Considering all the overtime I've done in the last week, I thought it time to head out the door before Kingsley really got going. Saw your handiwork on the telly just before I Apparated here."

"I keep telling you, it wasn't me," he insisted, although it was pointless. The smell of eau de barnyard kept wafting up from his discarded clothes. He kicked them into a corner. "Anyway, why are you here? I've had a horrible day, and although the thought of blackening your eyes and/or breaking your nose usually appeals, I think it over the top if we lay into each other two days in a row. Besides, Pansy can't heal me because she's going out with Weasley tonight, probably impaling herself on his dick as we speak."

Potter scrunched up his face and let out a tortured, "Ew! Really? Like a date?"

Draco nodded. "I know. Disgusting in the extreme. Anyway, I'm shit at Healing charms, and so are you. Granger is out with Billings from Accounting, so you can't depend on her to fix your nose. Unless we want to take a chance on healing each other, which I am vehemently opposed to, I suggest that you finish your champagne and skedaddle out of here. Plus, I just don't have the energy to fight with you tonight, Potter. Be a good little Gryffindor and leave."

"Yeah, okay, in a minute. I just wanted to talk with you about a couple of, um, things. First of all, that hate meme thing. That was brilliant."

Draco rolled his eyes. "I am brilliant, Potter. The Minister said so. Twice. It's just taken you fourteen years to finally acknowledge it."

Potter rolled his eyes. "You know, Malfoy, you are such a fucking twit. You do one brilliant thing, and all of a sudden you've been brilliant all your life. Anyway, it was me that asked that you to be transferred to the Auror Division."

Draco shook his head, because obviously he hadn't heard correctly. He could have sworn that Potter said he'd requested that Draco be transferred to the Auror Division. What a laugh! In fact, he did start laughing.

"Oh, for a minute there, I thought you said," now it was his turn to hold his sides, "that you requested me to be—"

"I did."

Draco stopped laughing instantly.

"What? It isn't enough that we meet roughly six times a year and every single fucking time we smash our fists into each other?"

"Look, I know it's crazy, but we're just going to have to contain ourselves, because—"

"You contain yourself, Potter," Draco filled their glasses. "I happen to enjoy beating you to a pulp."

"This stuff is so good," he sighed and polished off yet another glass. "In your dreams, Malfoy. Oh thanks. Wow, we've gone through one bottle already. Anyway, clearly what this hate meme thing pointed out was that we're too top-heavy with Gryffindors. We need a person who is crafty, devious, underhanded, cunning, tricky, sly, and scheming. You immediately came to mind."

"You say it like they're insults." Draco paused for moment before opening another bottle because usually when he and Potter got hammered, it was a foregone conclusion that violence wasn't far behind. In fact, it was inevitable. Fuck it. Might as well finish the day with a broken nose. Why not? "You forgot brilliant," Draco reminded him.

"Malfoy, you are such a fucking pill. Okay, brilliant. You're brilliant."

Not that Draco got any satisfaction out of Potter admitting it, because he didn't sound like he thought Draco was brilliant. Only if brilliant was synonymous with wanker.

"And was it your brilliant idea that we have offices next to each other?" This really was good champagne.

"Fuck, no. Smith made some noise about he didn't want that shit office anymore and why not give it to Malfoy."

Draco would have harrumphed or at least protested, but he was actually too toasted at this point. He'd reached that lovely line were you were drunk but not slurring. Although slurring was only about five minutes away.

"Don't blame me if we start having daily fist fights," Draco warned. But really, aside from the seeing-Potter-on-a-daily-basis business, he was really quite pleased to abandon the trade section. All that Apparating and Portkeying. Not to mention he was really ticked off at those Japanese. His back still hurt, and yet it wasn't enough for those tossers. What? Did they want him in St. Mungo's with permanent back damage? "Anything else?" he lay back against the couch cushions and closed his eyes for just a wee bit.

"Oh, went to Azkaban to see that Parkinson's father had enough blankets. He's all set. Saw him myself. So you might… You know, tell her he's okay."

That made Draco sit up and, unfortunately, sober up a bit.

"Why? Why would you do that? He wasn't a patch on Macnair, thank God very few people were, but let's just say he earned his seven-year sentence."

Potter shrugged. "I know, but… He was sentenced to seven years in Azkaban, he wasn't sentenced to freeze to death. I lost more than most people but still… He… Yeah, I really don't want to get into why I did it, but Parkinson looked pretty upset when she read that hate meme and so… Anyway. I lost my father, I don't want her to lose hers. He may be a bastard, but… Yeah."

Potter turned his face away and began sipping his champagne.

Never let it be said that Draco Malfoy was a coward.

"That's incredibly decent of you," he held out his hand. "I'll tell her tomorrow. We usually have breakfast together." For one horrible moment he thought they were going to relive the first (and last) time Draco had ever held out his hand for Potter to take. He moved to withdraw it, because Draco knew that if Potter repeated history and didn't take his hand that something would break in him, permanently. It might manifest itself in horrible rage, but there would be no denying the shattering of some deep place inside of him.

Potter stopped his hand from retreating and grabbed it with both his hands and squeezed.

Draco squeezed back and then pulled away. It was ridiculously hot in here.

"Was that it? I…"

"Uh yeah, there's one more thing. Yesterday, in the pub, we were talking about the hate memes and how a lot of them have a grain of truth and you mentioned that bit about the Death Eaters and I mentioned that stupid bit about Hermione and Ron and I in a threesome and how ridiculous that was but when I mentioned that bit about you, Blaise, and Pansy… Um, you didn't deny it, and I don't get it."

Draco sighed with relief, because as much as he needed Potter to take his hand, to acknowledge Draco as an equal or the very least a colleague, it seemed to instigate some bizarre detour from their norm, some level of interaction that was unfamiliar and just plain fucking strange. But stick-up-his-arse Potter was as familiar as all hell.

"Oh?" Not that Draco had an intention of making it easy on him.

"A threesome, with two women, maybe I can see…"

Draco's eyebrows nearly shot off his head. Potter entertaining the idea of a threesome?

"I just can't see that, you know, with a bloke. How kissing a bloke would be…" Potter pulled at his collar.


Potter nodded.

"It's the same. Sex is sex." Draco noted with some amusement that Potter had now undone the first button on his shirt.

"Malfoy, are you gay?"

"Oh, Christ on a raft, I knew you'd come to that conclusion. I'll tell you something, Potter, I don't care who I fuck. I happen to like fucking a ridiculous amount, and I discovered that if I fucked both men and women, I'd double my possibilities right there and then. Men have lips, women have lips. Men have arses. Women have arses. Breasts are lovely, yes, but men's nipples are just as sensitive—"

"They are not!" Potter protested.

"If you weren't such a goddamned goody two shoes you'd know that yes they are. And just think what it would be like if someone who knew exactly what they were doing, because, hello, they've got one too, touched your dick," Draco insisted.

"I… I wouldn't like it." Potter was sticking his chin out in that stubborn way he used to do at Order meetings, which usually meant that short of breaking both legs and tying him to a banister and then beating him senseless, nothing would change his mind.

"You would, too. You'd like the kissing, too. It's just a mouth, for Christ's sake. Or don't you like kissing? Or sex. That's it, isn't it? Not that I'm surprised because I can't for the life of me imagine…"

Potter's eyes narrowed and he got that "I want to pound Malfoy" look on his face.

"I happen to fucking love sex. And I love kissing. And I would not!"

"You would, too!"


There it was. That adrenaline. That indescribable heat that always preceded pulling back his arm and just letting his fist hit flesh. That rush he only got with Potter.

"WOULD TOO!" he shouted.

He expected the fist; he did not expect Potter to grab him by the shoulders and mash their faces together in a brutal kiss that robbed him of every bit of breath he had.

Brilliant, wonderful, marvelous, delicious, stupendous, delectable, overwhelming, awesome, sensational, extraordinary, remarkable, unbelievable, incredible, astounding, amazing, shattering, delightful, exquisite, luscious, juicy, captivating, charming, enchanting, bewitching, ravishing, haunting, thrilling, blissful, in short, fucking OUT OF THIS WORLD.

And they'd only been at it for ten seconds.

That hard push against his mouth lasted only a moment. Potter's lips then stopped their bruising and softened, tasting and nipping and biting gently on Draco's bottom lip. Draco was a millisecond away from taking over, because he wanted his tongue in Potter's mouth NOW!, when Potter pulled away.

Some last vestige of pride, some inner grit stopped him from whimpering, from grabbing Potter and hauling him back to finish that kiss. Draco balled his fists because he knew what was coming and he wasn't fucking well having any of it.

Potter hadn't let go of his manic grip on Draco's shoulders and his fingers bit in so sharply that the next day Draco would find fingerprint-size bruises dotting his upper back. His eyes wide, his mouth slightly open, Potter's face was a contradictory mass of confusion, desire, surprise, shock, and was that disgust?

Draco hated him, absolutely hated him.

"If you pull some sort of homophobic hissy fit after that kiss, I am going to beat you within an inch of your life. I swear on my father's grave, Potter, I will fucking well kill you. You will not deny this. Because it wasn't one-sided, it wasn't just me, and don't you make it out like—"

Potter gave him a little shake and leaned forward to rest their foreheads against each other.

"Shut the fuck up, Malfoy. Please," Potter begged in ragged whisper.

Draco went silent. Draco didn't know how long their breath played hot against the other's face—it could have been seconds or minutes—Draco's breath labored, half from desire, half from rage, Potter's breath was equally heavy. Gradually, their panting subsided, and they sat leaning against each other, forehead to forehead, Potter's hands still clutching his shoulders.

At some point, he let go of Draco's shoulders to bring both hands up to cup Draco's face. Gentle thumbs caressed the sharp curve of his cheekbones, down his jaw line. Potter ah'ed in surprise as his thumbs found stubble. He paused, then anchored one hand against Draco's left cheek, while a thumb slowly traced over Draco's mouth. First the bottom lip, then the top, then it pushed a little and rubbed against his teeth when Draco couldn't help but open his mouth, because he'd begun panting like a goddamned train again. And none of it was due to rage.

"Potter," he groaned. "Dammit…"

"Easy, Malfoy. Easy." It wasn't said like a command, but again like a plea, Potter's baritone breathless and uncertain. Potter tipped his head, nearly, nearly bringing their mouths together. Hands slid down Draco's arms and covered Draco's hands, pinning them against the couch.

"Easy," Potter whispered again before taking Draco's bottom lip between his own and sucking on it, very gently, like it was the first time he'd ever kissed anyone.

Right. Draco could do easy. Easy was a piece of cake.

They kissed like innocents, their mouths uncertain with each other. Draco followed Potter's lead, a mantra of easyeasyeasy singing on one side of his brain (of course, the other side of his brain was screaming fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck). Potter was like a wild animal he was trying to tame; Dracosuspected that any sign of dominance on his part, would spook Potter, terrify him, incite him to bolt. So Draco tipped his head back just slightly and let Potter nibble away on his bottom lip, the sort of nibble guaranteed to make his cock leak buckets. And then barely sighed when a shy tongue swiped his jawbone and then mouthed his ear, exactly the sort of thing to make his balls ache and tingle. Right. Easy. Easy is as easy does. And when Potter eased a very, very tentative tongue into his mouth, testing and tasting, he could still do easy, meeting Potter's tongue with an equal guardedness.

Because he was equally afraid but in a completely different context. Because he knew what it was like to have a man's mouth on yours. What it was like to have your cheek stubble meet cheek stubble. To savor the scent of another man's arousal and sweat in tandem with your own. And what he was feeling was, yes, the usual enjoyment, because everyone knows that bad sex is virtually impossible, it's still sex. Which in itself is intrinsically good. If you've got mouths and dicks involved, short of fucking your close relatives (or Weasley), there's only one way for the arrow to go and that's up.

What totally fucked up the usual equation, kissing tongues=erections=blow jobs and/or fucking=orgasm=nice sleep, was, as usual, the Potter factor.

This was nothing like kissing Blaise or Pansy or anyone else. This. This was passion. This was wanting this man so badly that he was sweating bullets and shaking, virtually shaking from passion so enthralling that he was this short of crying from it all. And the all? A few half-arsed kisses. It was so far beyond being hard (which of course he was; any harder and he'd have to cast that charm to cure blue balls, something he hadn't done since he was fifteen) and getting off (which of course he desperately wanted to, and if he didn't he was going to fucking well hang himself). It was about wanting to touch Potter and have Potter touch him and glory in this shared passion together and, bleeding fuck, the horrible fear that only Potter could elicit this overwhelming desire, and the equally horrible conviction that he didn't want anyone else to even try.

Pansy and Blaise were right, damn them both to eternal hell, and not even Draco, with his tremendous capacity for denial could deny this now. Not when he was so close to tears that he had to squeeze his eyes shut or the tears would surely fall.

And the only thing that kept him from just breaking apart, from not wrenching away and saving himself, because this was, without a doubt, the most dangerous thing he had ever done, was that Potter's hands were sweaty and slick on top of his and he was shaking just as badly as Draco and these tight little mewling noises from the very back of Potter's throat suggested that Potter was even closer to shattering than he was.

Potter pulled away just enough to catch a breath and utter his name, "Malfoy," in a deep, throaty verbal caress that couldn't be interpreted as anything else but a yes. Then Potter slammed on top of him, pushing between the vee of his legs, found his mouth again, and easy went out the window.

Too wound up to do anything else, they humped and frotted against each other in a frenzy, half on the couch, half off the couch, all physical restraint gone. As virginal as that kissing had been, this sex was so close to actual violence that if at some point they had started to hit one another he would have called it foreplay. Too frantic to stop moving for even a second, they never ended up taking off Harry's clothes, but grunted and bit each other and clawed at each other with their hands and rutted against each other's groins like dogs in heat. It was the most brutal sex Draco had ever had. Which goes without saying that it was the best sex Draco had ever had. When they came, they shouted their satisfaction in each other's mouths and promptly passed out in their very same positions, too knackered to do anything more than lift their legs back onto the couch. Potter lay in the vee between Draco's legs, one hand on his hip, the other clutching his shoulder; Draco had a hand on Potter' arse and another in his hair. His last thought before he passed out was how unbelievably soft it was. Who knew?

Draco woke up three hours later. The two of them were still stretched out on the couch, Potter still on top of him, awake (if his light breathing were any indication), every muscle in Potter's body taut and tight.

Draco had had some embarrassing moments in his life, but nothing quite prepared him for this. First things first. He was not doing this mortification by his lonesome. He'd solved the hate meme thing for him, now Potter could just step up to the plate and be humiliated along with him. In fact, it would be nice if Potter were slightly more humiliated. Based on Potter's current body language he considered that a real possibility. Ah, right on time, Draco could feel the blushing of Potter's cheek against his chest as he realized that Draco was awake.

Never let it be said that Slytherins didn't know how to brazen their way out of nearly every situation. He'd never brazened his way out of hot raw sex with Potter before, but needs must.

"Potter, you hungry?" A not unreasonable assumption since aside from the loads of champagne he had consumed, nothing solid had past Draco's lips for about eight hours, and he'd doubted Potter had eaten anything since lunch either.

That got a nod, the stubble of Potter's beard scratchy against his chest.

Draco shoved against Potter a little to hint that now would be a good time to get off of him. "Sausage and eggs good? Right. Loo's down the hall on the right."

Potter took the hint, shuffled off to the bathroom with a mumbled, "Thanks. Be just a minute." Draco asked Cranky to rustle up some sausage and eggs pronto, took the opportunity to pee in the potted plant in the foyer, and then he tied his bathrobe shut, very tight.

"Just a minute" turned into something like fifteen, and Draco was about to send out a search party when Potter finally ambled into the dining room. Cranky had done herself proud and piled their plates high with food.

For once in his life, Draco didn't know what to say, so he didn't say anything. Potter could barely string two words together at the best of times, and they ate quietly, not a single word between them. The protracted silence actually gave Draco hope that, miracles of miracles, Potter would finish eating, utter something completely unintelligible, Draco would make some indiscriminate hand gesture back, Potter would Apparate home to that no-doubt squalid flat he shared with Weasley, and Draco could have his full-blown mental breakdown right on schedule.

"That was brilliant, Malfoy," mumbled Potter, while staring at his empty plate. Draco prayed he was referring to the eggs.

Draco chanted in his head, "Go home, Potter, go home, Potter, please go home, Potter, pleasepleaseplease," in the hope that the "shoo" vibes would get through that thick skull (and that soft, soft hair) … No! He did not think that!

"Um, is it, you know, with blokes, always… Well… That brilliant?"

Trust that fucker to just, well, fuck things up.

In addition to being thoroughly humiliated by frotting, extremely enthusiastically, his most hated enemy, proving Blaise and Pansy right (how that stuck in his craw), with every muscle aching like a son of a bitch because that sex had been extremely acrobatic, Draco's credentials as a Slytherin were being seriously undermined here. He could, should, toss off a, "Sure, Potter. It was fun, now out the door with you," but he didn't. Because that took an enormous amount of guts on Potter's part to admit how brilliant it was. Wild Thestrals couldn't have pulled it out of him, and Draco didn't have any of those antiquated break-out-the-bleach-and-scour-your-dick-Victorian notions about sex-with-blokes-equals-eternal-damnation. The bottom line was that he was grateful (not that he'd ever admit it) to Potter for verbalizing (in his limited way) how truly amazing it had been between the two of them. He didn't want to shoulder the knowledge of this passion alone, and he couldn't let Potter shoulder it alone. And to all those Malfoy self-preservation genes that usually dominated every waking second of his life he said, "Piss off."


Potter's shoulders immediate fell, sagged forward as if he were enormously relieved.

"Hermione and I got into a huge fight yesterday. She thinks we lay into each other because we can't admit we want to fuck each other."

Score one for team Granger.

"Hmmmm, Pansy says the same thing."

"Um, guess they were right."


Now it was Draco's turn to stare at his plate because Potter was not leaving and the tension in the room was so intense they were on the verge of having mutual strokes and if Potter didn't get his arse out of that chair…

"But that doesn't mean we don't hate each other."

Draco jerked upright. That's right. It didn't! They could still hate each other. There was nothing to say they still couldn't beat the shit out of each other on occasion. Or fuck each other silly on occasion. Nothing had changed! Except for the possibility of increasing the potential for mind-boggling sex. Like he was going to turn that down. Not bloody likely. My God, this was turning into a win/win of the most astonishing proportions.

"Absolutely not. I still hate you just as much as ever, and I hope you still hate me."

"Oh yeah," agreed Potter. "You're still a complete pillock."

Potter's relieved smile mirrored his own. But then it vanished, and Potter returned to that lip-biting thing he did when he was nervous.

"Malfoy, you know what you said earlier?"

"Spit it out, Potter, I said a lot of things earlier." The man was so annoying. As usual. Which had not, Draco noticed with satisfaction, been canceled out by the surprise emergence of an extremely fine arse not three hours ago. Thank Christ.

"That, you know, sex between blokes was the same. But. You know… What about… About fucking."

"Mechanics are identical. Dick. Hole. Angle. Thrust. At least that's the way I do it. I don't know what sort of bizarre sex practices you Gryffindors indulge in."

"Wanker. I mean, it feels… When you… It feels the same?"

Draco shrugged, "More or less. I have to admit that it's hotter in there."

"Hotter?" Potter eyes widened.

"Plus you can't just ram it in there. Have to take it slow as first. Couple of fingers, three if you're built. And I'd say, based on the limited evidence gleaned from our previous encounter, your partner would appreciate a three-finger prep. Go easy at first, then you can pound away. You know about easy, don't you?" Draco couldn't help but flirt just a little.

Potter's eyes widened even further.

"Definitely tighter. Need lots of lube."

"T.t.t.t.tighter?" and a flush of arousal crept up Potter's neck and was in danger of singing his eyebrows.

Right. He needed to see someone at St. Mungo's. He was turning into some sort of sex maniac. Against all possible odds (and just plain physical realities), his dick was hard. Again(!). The sight of Potter in heat did it, just like that. As if he hadn't just had phenomenal sex four hours ago, and hadn't had extremely lovely sex (twice!) the previous night. Based on the twitching that Potter was doing in his chair, he was hard as well.

"I want to fuck you, Malfoy."

No stuttering, he noted.

"Bedroom. Now."

He would never understand Gryffindors. How can you go from, "Hey, I'd rather kiss those sucker things on the Giant Squid than a bloke," to "Fuck, Malfoy, my dicks wants to ram your arse," in more or less the blink of an eye. Although come to think of it, Potter had only two speeds. Full stop or damn those torpedoes. Apparently Potter was in "torpedo" mode, which was a very good thing, because if he'd been in "stop" mode, Draco would have killed him.

Right after wrenching off Potter's shirt and pants, and then throwing him on the bed, he became nearly paralyzed with fear. What if their spectacular need had been a fluke? Some weird combination of champagne and post-chicken-tea towel-disaster depression and no dinner and Potter-appearing-at-the-just-right-time and Draco-being-in-his-living-room sort of fluke.

The Slytherin in him would have rejoiced, frankly. Done cartwheels with Cranky in the kitchen. Because who wants to be beholden like that? Because the possibility of that passion did own Draco. Fucking owned him. Until this point in his life, the only other person who had owned him was his mother (and his father until the madman with slits obsession). Oh, Pansy and Blaise had key bits and pieces, but it wasn't the whole ball of Draco wax by any means. Because Malfoys and Slytherins were all about self-preservation. That Malfoy/Slytherin combo with a healthy dose of self-preservation? A damn art form.

So. Team Slytherin was all about "me, me, me." Which Draco was so on board with. And that's why this was so fucked. This was a different "me, me, me," a "me" he didn't know existed. One that sure as hell fed his "me cubed," but was about as close to self-immolation as one can get without going up in total flames. Because he couldn't achieve that "me" without a "thee." Which rhymed with "p." Which, sigh, fill-in-the-blanks seemed to equal "p" as in "Potter."

A "me" who had made do (very nice "do," he wasn't complaining, mind you) with Blaise and Pansy, and a host of other people, most of whose names he couldn't remember. But also a "me" who would let lose the most agonized scream of frustration if that insane frotting was nothing more than a one-off. Because now that he had tasted that passion… Draco had been hungry for a very long time. He just didn't know it.

How fucked up was that?

He lay poised over Potter's naked body, resting on his elbows, his knees bracketing Potter's knees, a few inches away from skin to skin, cock to cock, mouth to mouth. Potter's face was slightly turned away, a little shy, which was as hot as seven different kinds of fuck, but belied by Potter's body language, which was arching toward Draco's in little pushpushpush motions, trying to connect. Which was also as hot as seven different kinds of fuck. If it wasn't the same…

He hoped to God he didn't look as afraid as he felt. As terrifying as it was to experience that bliss with Potter, as in, Christ on a bicycle, this with him, what the fuck?, it was even more terrifying to wonder if Draco had had his fifteen minutes of incomparable passion, and it was now down to getting off. Per the usual. Yesterday, the surety of getting off would have had his dick grinning (if such a thing were possible; the thought was a wee bit squicky). But now? It wasn't at all about getting off, but all about Potter and him and the getting to the getting off.

If Blaise were here he'd be whispering in Draco's ear blahblahbullshit about the "journey" being more important than the arrival. To which Draco would have replied, "Bite me, Zen shit."

Draco didn't know anything about journeys or arrivals, but earlier this evening he'd recently been given a crash course in "click." If there was no click between them, if the click had clucked (dear Merlin, let's not go there), no profound sense of now and timelessness and fuck everyone else but Potter, he would be devastated. Blaise was completely wrong; eat rocks, Zabini. It was, actually, the absence of a journey. The sense that he had already arrived. He was there.

Potter turned his head to look at Draco and brought a hot hand up to cup the back of Draco's neck. "Malfoy?" he asked, a zillion questions in that single utterance. Potter didn't drag him down into a kiss, but blinked at him (most likely because he couldn't see him—Potter's glasses were tangled up in his tee-shirt), fingers caressing slightly, waiting for Draco to resolve whatever was stopping him, keeping him hovering over Potter's body. Now their roles were reversed: Draco was on the verge of running, afraid to jump, Potter a study in (frustrated) patience.

This was just a fucking snake den of fears. The longer he waited, the more questions he began asking. Earlier it had been, "What the fuck was happening here? With Potter?!?!?!?!" Then it was, "What if it doesn't happen again?"; and now it was the worst: "What if it's one-sided?" What if Draco's mouth and hands went searching, both fucking starving, and all Potter had on tap were the standard jollies, and Draco was left with this unquenchable hunger?

Even in the faint light of the Lumos, Draco could see that Potter's eyes had completely blackened. Parting his lips, Potter tipped his head back, offering himself to Draco, his bottom lip trembling just the slightest bit.

As if as hungry as Draco.

And just as terrified.

Draco lowered his head to take Potter's bottom lip in his. And sucked. He waited. Sucked again. Yes, there it was, that mutual bliss, feeding each other, beginning in his groin and radiating out to Potter's groin, answering Draco's click with a click of his own and yes! Fuck journey, hello click! Meet bliss.

Potter let out what sounded like a relieved sigh, and mumbled some nonsense that Draco didn't bother to de-cipher because Potter was usually unintelligible at the best of times. Now in mutual bliss, who knows what blather he was stuttering out. Draco kissed him. And then brought their bodies together, sliding up Potter's body just a fraction of an inch to caress Potter's dick with his stomach.

It was absolute "blick."

Thanks to their earlier friskiness, they could indulge in take-your-time-and-savor-it blick without getting blue balls. By the death grip that Potter kept on his shoulders, he assumed that Potter was too afraid to do anything else with his hands, but that didn't stop him from caressing Draco's mouth in these long, lazy kisses. Kisses that took and then gave, trading dominance back and forth. Ratcheting up the heat between them slowly and easily, swipe by swipe. Their dicks matched the languid pace of their kissing, thrusting against their ever increasingly wet stomachs.

Potter's cluelessness about boysex didn't mean that Draco couldn't use his hands where ever and however he wanted. Feeling a little bit mischievous, he began to thumb Potter's nipples, pulling and pinching gently, rolling them back and forth between his finger and thumb, listening in smug glee to Potter's gasps of delight in mid-kiss.

"Oh, you wanker," he panted. "You're just doing this to prove a— Ah!"


"Prove point. Prove point," Potter begged.

Then Draco's fingers gave way to a tongue and a bit of teeth, and Potter was writhing underneath him, alternatively screaming blasphemies and pleas not to stop. But stop he must, because as much as it would have delighted him to bring Potter off solely with nipple play, he really wanted to get fucked.

He rolled Potter over on his side and brought his sweaty front against Potter's equally sweaty back; he eased a knee up between Potter's legs.

Potter tensed.

"Easy. I'm not going to fuck you. I want to show you how to fuck me. First fingers. You need to open me up." Draco whispered a spell. "Just one finger," he promised. "I'll only do one finger until you tell me differently," and Draco traced the crack of Potter's arse with a slick but gentle finger.

He waited until Potter nodded and then petted Potter's hole until he felt Potter's shoulders relax a fraction, whispered the spell for lube again and gently slid it in. And did nothing. Just let Potter get used to his finger in there, didn't move it or anything.

"Good?" Draco didn't wait for an answer. "You feel very nice. Hot. Tight." He brought his other hand around Potter's waist and felt for a nipple. And began to play with it. The muscles in Potter's arse relaxed, and Draco began a slow twist and turn in companion with the twisting of that nipple, and when he found Potter's sweet spot…

"Oh. Fuck! Fuck! What?"

Draco laughed into Potter's shoulder. "You've never fingered yourself while jerking off?"

"Nooooooooooooooooo. Yessssssssssssss!" Potter begged as Draco stroked and petted inside of him.

"Another, Malfoy, another."

Draco indulged in this arse/nipple play for as long as he thought Potter could stand it. This innocence was so foreign to Draco. Potter's shocked cries, loud with both joy and surprise, left Draco wondering if there was some sort of Gryffindor code where you only have sex with the opposite sex and that only missionary and your hands only went there and not there. It was completely intoxicating. He closed his eyes and just listened and marveled at smells and sounds of Potter's newfound pleasure, giving up his arse like that… To him.

When he could feel Potter's thighs begin to shudder he pulled away. Potter would have let him fuck him, he was sure of it. Later.

He pulled his fingers out and only had time to magic the wall opposite into a mirror before Potter was whispering his own spells and inserting his own fingers. Draco was still a little loose from the previous night's fuck with Blaise, which was good, because Potter didn't know what he was doing. Fingers were a tad enthusiastic, Potter's dick slid in a trifle fast. But it was all good, because once Potter got his rhythm going and angled up in response to Draco's breathless request, that Gryffindor determination and grit combined with Potter's natural grace was a sight to behold. Potter could fuck. He'd give him that for free. Draco watched in the mirror, transfixed at how incredibly beautiful Potter was: sucking on Draco's shoulders, throwing his head back at particularly deep thrust… Draco had had many great fucks, hard to compete with Blaise on that score, but he'd never had one that left him completely emotionally raw like this, stripped down to the nubbins. He'd spread his legs just short of dislocating his hips, welcoming Potter's grunt of appreciate as it brought him that much deeper into Draco's arse. And then his face tensed and didn't go slack-jawed like most everyone. Trust Potter to do things differently. He smiled.

Potter collapsed on him and rolled onto his side, dragging Draco with him. A sweaty hand began to stroke his dick in tight, fast pulls designed to bring him off. Draco was shocked as to how naked, how raw the expressions on their faces were. No artifice, no masks. Draco had lost his sneer, Potter his goofiness. Draco looked much younger, Potter older. Maybe this was what they did to each other. They stripped each other raw. The fighting was just another expression of that raw. This magnificent sexual blick the other. Draco could only give a passing thought to this as his own orgasm took him. He bucked gratefully into Potter's hand.

Potter, not surprisingly, turned out to be a cuddler (which was rather fortunate as Draco was pants at cuddling, but was a superb cuddlee). He pulled out of Draco only enough to wedge his now soft dick in the curve of Draco's arse, and bring an arm around Draco's waist. And then fell asleep. Draco watched Potter's hand against the flat of his chest, rise and fall with his breathing, until the spell ended and the wall faded from mirror back into wall.

Morning brought fuzzy, half-awake hand jobs to deal with that pesky morning wood, a few thousand blushes on Potter's part, and a mutual confirmation of how much they absolutely loathed each other. They also agreed that if they didn't stink like goats and didn't have to be at work in an hour, they would have, at the very least, blackened each other's eyes. They shook on it, which turned into a passionate kiss, which turned, somehow, into a lunch date.

As soon as Potter had Apparated out of his flat, Draco jumped in the shower, washed off the gallons of semen sticking to his stomach and matting his pubic hair, and moved a washcloth very gingerly over his torso. The frotting on the couch had been exceptionally enthusiastic. Breakfast with Pansy was de rigueur; she could charm away the marks between bites of croissant. Dear God, Potter was an absolute beast. He fingered one very deep bruise and smiled.

Draco Flooed into Pansy's flat and faced total bedlam.

Pansy sat at her dining room table, still in her kimono, reading the front page of the Prophet, seemingly unaware that every lamp in her living room was tipped over, chairs on end, sofa cushions everywhere but on the sofa.

"Were you burgled? Better get magical law enforcement on this. I put those wards up myself—"

"Draco, what are you on about?" she yawned, "Oh, fuck." She rattled the newspaper, "The Minister's making his usual election year noises about taking away one of our bank holidays. We need to belt up, he says. Funny how we only have to belt up in an election year."

"Pansy?" Draco said in his most I-am-most-irritated voice. "Your flat. It looks like a herd of wildebeests had wild sex—"

On cue, Weasley walked out of the bedroom, half dressed. The sod hadn't even buttoned his shirt! Draco got an eyeful of freckles and reddish chest hair. Scarred for life took on new meaning.

"Morning, Ferret," Weasley said, before nabbing a croissant and simultaneously kissing Pansy with enough tongue that Draco's nausea tripled. Did the man have freckles on his tongue? Sometimes he hated his brain. "Got to run. Need a shower and some clean clothes. We on for lunch? Just the two of us?" He shot Draco a dirty look.

Pansy ran her nails along Weasley's arm leaving marks. Fucking hell if Weasley didn't start to get hard. "He's part of the package." Pansy gestured toward Draco and spread her legs apart. Just enough.

Weasley grabbed his crotch and murmured "Bitch" in a happy, throaty drawl before rolling his eyes and grumbling, "Yeah, figured as much. Just as long as I don't have to have sex with him."

"Weasel, it just so happens that (a) I have a luncheon date, so sorry, fuck off, and (b) I have a fatal allergy to freckles. As in, you get within two feet of me with that dick and I will kill you."

"Yeah, well, I have a 'fatal' allergy to whiny gits who—"

"Play nice," Pansy snapped in that voice that usually meant that the itchy ball hex was imminent.

Weasley gave Draco one final glare, turned to Pansy, and said. "Can't stand the sod, but you're worth it. Meet you in the lobby at noon." He gave her one more kiss with far too much tongue for that early in the morning and Flooed out of there.

This was awkward. Normally, after one of them had had a hot night out on the tiles, they'd discuss in great detail statistics, foibles, sexual oddities, and equipment, and, if Draco had gotten lucky with a man the night before, compared pertinent details about said equipment. But since it was Weasley whose equipment was in question—the less that Draco knew about that the better; bet the tosser had freckles on his dick—Draco refrained from his usual obnoxious interrogation vis a vis Pansy's sex partners and hoped that Pansy would pick up the slack.

Pansy finally spoke up. "I'm thinking of keeping him, Draco."

She wasn't asking him for permission; it was Slytherin for belt up. If his arse wasn't pleasantly aching from enthusiastic Potter-based pounding, he might have made more of a fuss. Not that Pansy knew this, but even for Draco, whose middle name could have been gall, it would be a pot/kettle of infinite proportions for him to chastise Pansy for fucking a Gryffindor when Draco had been fucked by the ultimate Gryffindor.

"Rather frisky, is he?" Draco pointed to the furniture.

"Hmmmm. You could say that," she grinned. "He's…" A magenta-colored nail—she'd gotten a new manicure for her date—traced a figure-eight pattern on the table. "A bit of all right, Draco. Plus, I can train him up. For the rest, you know. Seems that being the low man on the totem pole in his family has given him a bit of a dominance kink."

"How fortunate," Draco couldn't help but lay on the scorn with a trowel. "That you have a kink to be dominated."

"Very fortunate," she agreed and shifted in her seat slightly. Spanking must have been on the dessert menu. "Tea?"

He nodded. It was a lost cause. Even Draco couldn't deny that Pansy's kink for bondage games far outstripped her hatred of freckles. The freckle-induced nausea had passed. He was starving; he grabbed a croissant.

"So who were you with last night? Quite the animal, I see."

Draco choked on the croissant and then tried to wash down the clump lodged in his throat with scalding tea, which made him choke again because he burnt the living shit out of his tongue and then spit scalding tea all over his white shirt, which soaked through to his chest, which cauterized several of the bites that Potter had left on his torso. Which hurt like a son of a bitch!

"Draco," she demanded. "Who was it?"

He really wasn't in the mood for eating crow this early in the morning, and certainly if he'd been in Pansy's position, dishing out crow of this avian magnitude would continue unabated, as a minimum, for several weeks. Would Potter fess up to the Weasel? If that were the case, then Pansy would hear by lunchtime, and it would be a hundred times worse because he'd be trapped in the office with her all afternoon, and she'd be furious with him for holding out on her. If he told her now, but Potter didn't spill the beans, then…

"Stop trying to figure out the best way to lie to me or stall me, Draco, I can hear your mind turning."

Pointless. He might as well tell all.


He waited and steeled himself, expecting hoots of laughter and every possible permutation of I-told-you-so known to Pansy-kind. Nothing. He looked up.

"Lap," she ordered.

Draco scooted his chair out from under the table. He only let Pansy do this; nuzzle her way into his lap and wrap her arms around him to give him a hug. The first time she'd done it was when Draco had lost that first Quidditch match to Potter. It had mattered so much at the time, and now he couldn't even remember the last time he'd flown a broom. Maybe Potter would like to go for a ride when the weather was a little better. They could Apparate to Wiltshire. Malfoy Manor didn't exist anymore, but he still owned the land. They could fly there and not be seen; the land still unplottable…

The weight of her on his lap cause her to wriggle a bit because her arse was sore from being whacked. Which meant he wriggled a little because his arse was sore from being pounded. Normally it would be because Draco would have done the spanking and Blaise the pounding and now it was someones outside of the three. Blaise was gone. Weasley here? Potter here? It was all changing and new and some of it wonderful and some of it terrifying. He embraced her back. He didn't even know if this was the last time he'd have a lap full of comforting Pansy.

"I hate change," he said in her shoulder.

"I know, lamb. I know." She stroked his hair. "You are shit with drying charms, Draco. Your hair's still wet. Here. Was it good?"

Draco could only nod. He'd always shared everything with Pansy, even more so than Blaise, because you never knew when Blaise would get all intellectual on you and start drawing parallels between your kinks and the age you were weaned. He had no intention of ever talking about his mother's breasts with Blaise, even in the most innocent of contexts, therefore, it was Pansy whose shoulder bore the brunt of most of his confessions, usually like this. Him sitting in a chair, her curled up on his lap, she petting his hair. But he couldn't share this with her, and he hoped she understood.

"Change isn't bad, Draco. We'll be all right."

"Change is horrible."

"You and Potter—"

"Well, thank Christ that's the one thing that hasn't changed. I was thinking about you and that," he was about to call Weasley a walking freckle, but hesitated realizing that the wind didn't blow that way anymore. "Gryffindor," he finished up lamely.

Pansy straightened up a little and looked into his eyes.

"What do you mean, Draco?"

"We still hate each other. Even shook on it this morning. Absolutely loathe each other. Just like always. Potter still despises me, and I still despise him. We talked it all out. Things will continue just as they always have, but we'll have smashing sex as well."

Pansy straightened up even more.

"You mean to tell me that you and Potter shagged each other rotten, but still hate each other?"

"I don't know why you're getting that tone in your voice. Yes. That's about the size of it." Draco frowned. "Just because we're fucking like mad things doesn't mean we can't pummel each other every now and then. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. A sock in the eye, a blow job; one in the same, really."

At first he thought Pansy was crying, which didn't make sense at all. Then he realized she was laughing. Laughing so hard that the tears were streaming down her cheeks.

"What? What's so funny, Pans?"

"This has gone on long enough, Draco," Pansy chastised him. "Write to him."

"I will not." Draco usually couldn't stand-up to Pansy's phenomenal ability to bully him, but on this he was adamant. "The man knocked up my mother, for God's sake. Some things are unforgivable."

"He's forgiven you for this ridiculousness with Potter," Pansy pointed out.

At which point, Potter entered the room, his arms full of mail. "Lo, Pansy and congrats. About bloody time. Only bills, adverts, and a new issue of Sweep. You're still not on about Blaise are you, Malfoy? By the way, Ron says drop dead. Your mother's written you about sixteen dozen owls telling you how happy she is. What ridiculousness with me?"

Why was everyone on Blaise's side on this one?

"The two of you working together side by side, living together, and yet acting like it's a one-off that's somehow stretched into something like fourteen months."

Draco rolled his eyes. As if Potter lived here.

"Pansy, once and for all, I don't live here. Want some tea?"

"No, off the caffeine and the booze. Sucks, to be honest. Sometimes I forget that you're as barmy as he is because you have a tendency to actually act normal on occasion. Are all your clothes here?"

Potter shrugged yes.

"Your brooms? Your few books. CD player, and X-box. Get all your mail delivered here?"

Another yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

"That television is yours?"


"You're paying rent on a flat that you don't live in—"

"I do too live there," "He does too live there," Potter and Draco said simultaneously. They shared smug smiles.

"Bollocks. So what exactly is it that's left in your flat?"

"Heaps of grotty furniture infested with bugs and Weasley jumpers," Draco piped up. "I won't have those dreadful things within six miles of here. They'd pollute all my cashmere sweaters and pretty soon they'd all be out of shape, resembling sackcloth, with a big 'D' on them."

Pansy rolled her eyes and looked at Potter. "He doesn't give you fits when he's like this? Which is all the bloody time."

"Nah," smiled Potter, and leaned over to give Draco's head a little ruffle.

Draco smacked Potter's hand. Hard. He was not a plush toy. "Stop that, Potter. Unless your hands have sexual intent in mind, paws off."

Potter returned the favor by whacking him over the head with Draco's Quidditch magazine. "That hurt, you wanker. If I actually liked him, he would probably drive me spare. But since I don't, he's maddingly endearing. Or endearingly maddening. Some days it's hard to tell," Potter said ruefully.

The two of them had started doing this lately. Ganging up on him. And what was this nonsense about congratulations?

"I know," Pansy shook her head. "It's sort of amazing, isn't it?"

Draco was about to make an enormous scene about how he was in the room and they were talking about him like he wasn't, and he hated it when they—


"The paddles, the paddles!" screamed Draco.

Because Pansy and Potter knew Draco, they didn't do anything more than get irritated looks on their faces. Didn't anyone take him seriously?

"What's this nonsense about paddles, Harry?" Pansy groaned.

Potter rolled his eyes, "He's pretending to go into heart failure. Mr. I-hate-anything-Muggle-especially-that-television-and-I'd-sooner-lose-my-right-arm-than-miss-Grey's-Anatomy."

"That's wedding bling," Draco pointed at Pansy's finger in horror. "You knew!" Draco turned to Potter and narrowed his eyes. "Traitor!" he hissed.

"For God's sake, I did not know, I just found out at lunch with Ron, and it wouldn't matter if I did. I'm best man, by the way, so we're going. He's been asking her for ages and ages. Ignore him, Pansy. He's being an arse, but what else is new? What made you change your mind?"

Draco was not going to contribute to this conversation. Wedding freckles! Was there anything more horrible? Bet they'd have a blueberry wedding cake, and Draco loved wedding cake and wouldn't be able to eat a single bite… He hated it when the world just swirled around him in a hateful, mean way and thwarted every—

"Getting knocked-up. Parkinsons have never yet brought a bastard into this world and I do not intend on being the first. The wedding is in two months. Hopefully by then my stomach won't be too poufy but my tits will be freaking enormous. Ron can't keep his hands off them now. Perverted wanker," she said fondly. She pointed to Draco. "When he comes out of shock tell him that he's going to be my maniac of honor and that he is writing to Blaise and forgiving him because I am not having my wedding ruined because he's intent on continuing this massive hissy fit. My two best friends shall be speaking to each other or they will suffer from itchy balls the rest of their natural born days. Hear that, Draco? If Blaise can forgive him for your collective insanity, he can surely forgive Blaise for knocking up his mother. I need to go. Ron and I are talking to caterers this afternoon."

In the mother of all snits, Draco shied away from her good-bye kiss and curled up into a tiny ball in the corner of the couch and wouldn't budge. Or wouldn't have budged if Potter had tried to coax him to un-budge. As it was, he stayed scrunched up while Potter sat at the other end of the couch thumbing through his Quidditch magazine, the one he'd been waiting all morning for. And now his back hurt. And he really could use a cup of tea. With some of those chocolate biscuits. The ones with the caramel tops.

"She's willingly increasing the freckle population," Draco whined and unfurled one leg. Which felt like it had died. "I can't believe she's being so irresponsible."

"Maybe their kids will be dark-haired and pug-nosed like Pansy. Wow, Malfoy, you should see the new Firebolts. I know what I want for Christmas."

"You're getting big fat lumps of coal for being such a traitor," groused Draco. He unfurled the other leg and wondered how he could hint that he wanted a cup of tea but not actually stoop to ask Potter to make a cup of tea for him. One of the advantages of having Potter around all the time was that he was able to return Cranky to mother. Wasn't that a happy day! Potter was astonishingly competent in the kitchen and gave superb blow jobs. Pants at making beds. Did make a very nice cup of tea. though. On balance… Draco coughed, hoping that the hint of a cold might make Potter drop that magazine and put on the kettle.

"I'll buy you one and then borrow it. Do you think we have enough time?"

"Time for what?" Potter still talked in irritating non-sequiturs.

"Our wedding." Potter kept thumbing through the magazine, as if he hadn't dropped this enormous bomb shell.

"Our wedding? Are you fucking mad? Why would we get married? We hate each other."

"Yeah," Potter said absentmindedly. "Don't know if I can wait until Christmas. Might have to get one of these brooms right now. Oh, doesn't really matter to me. Just thought, you know, that Slytherin thing."

"What Slytherin thing?" Draco said through gritted teeth. He never really appreciated how bat-shit insane Potter was. As if Potter wasn't the last person to offer any intelligent commentary on what was or was not a Slytherin thing!

"Just what a competitive bastard you are. Being the last Slytherin not married. But if it doesn't bother you… Do you think they'd give us a discount if we bought two of these brooms?"

"Potter, as if I gave a rat's—"

Wait a bleeding minute! Millicent was married. Blaise was already three marriages up on him, then Pansy would be one up. Married to a Weasley, but still married. And then there was him. No tasteful bling, no chocolate wedding cake, no designer dress robes.

Not bloody likely!

"Chop, chop, Potter. We have one month to get this show on the road. First of all, no blue food. I am not having it. Secondly, I'm not inviting any of Weasley's Romanian relatives. I bet there are hundreds of Romanians on Weasley's side—"

Potter frowned at him. "You and Ron happen to be related. Remember, Mr. Pure-blood Pillock? If he has Romanians in his family tree, you do. Which he does not."

Draco waved his hands as if to banish the thought that he could possibly have freckles in his family tree. "We'll have lots of champagne and chocolate cake and…"

Oh, change. It would be change and Draco hated change. His trepidation must have shown in his face, because Potter crooked a finger and Draco climbed over to sit on his lap.

"You were all excited by champagne and chocolate cake and now you're frowning. What's up?"

"Does this mean we have to call each other by our first names, because that's a deal breaker as far as I am concerned."

"I don't see why. Don't ever think of you as anything but Malfoy."

"And I am not stopping this hating business."

"Absolutely not," Potter agreed. "We'll probably hate each more, actually. We'll be committed to hating each other, yeah?"

That made perfect sense.

"And we should continue to hit each other. Not that we've done that in a long time, not since that lunch in the Serpent's Tongue come to think of it. Mainly because we're both shit at healing charms, not because we don't want to!" Draco added hastily.

"I want to throttle you about twenty times a week on average. But you're right. Kind of embarrassing actually. We're both really good wizards, but complete idiots at simple charms. How about we just jump to the make-up sex, like we always do?"

"Like we always do." He loved the sound of that.

"Do I have to invite Blaise?"

"Yes, you do. Do you really want to have a discussion with your mother why you're not inviting her lover? The father of her—"

Draco cringed. "Don't remind me. Randy sod. But I'm not inviting any of Granger's Tongans. Nothing will change my mind on that score."

Potter got that look. "Hermione's Tongans," he repeated.

"Do I even need to mention how much I hate loin cloths?" he huffed. "Ties are not optional as far as I am concerned, and the visual of ties and loin cloths…" He shuddered.

This was usually where Potter's look segued into a hearty laugh and some commentary about Draco's mind and how it worked in very mysterious ways. Which was Potter-speak for calling him insane. But whereas Pansy and Blaise out and out called him crazy and usually ended up yelling at him for what Draco considered inexplicable reasons, Potter never called him crazy and then yelled at him. Potter called him crazy and then snogged him and moved his hands over him in very nice places (that shoulder-clutching business didn't last long) in very nice ways (quick study that Potter).

Today was no different. The passion between them these days not as deep and yet somehow even deeper. Changed but not changed. They'd have a wonderful wedding, but none of the fundamentals would change. Not one iota. Draco sighed and gave it up to Potter's really superior kisses—he was even a better kisser than Blaise. Who knew that hating someone could be so wonderful?

Sequel here: BMHM: the Wedding (R)