Prompt: # 131
Summary: “Malfoy tilts his head back, locks eyes with Harry, and he’s so open, so eager to comfort that Harry wants to punch him till he bleeds. Instead, he leans down, presses a tender kiss along the freckled bridge of Malfoy’s too pointy nose. Malfoy’s just like Ginny, in a way. So naïve and trusting, so willing to believe the perfect man Harry will never be.”
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, some explicit Harry/Ginny
Warnings: Some serious angst. I mean, it was so heavy duty, I thought about just scrapping the whole thing a couple of times. I am really not made to write this kind of emo self-flagellation. Read if you’re willing to put up with a whole lot of internal head drama.
Word Count: 9300 words
Author's Notes: As always, I wrote this for a new challenge. Never written in present tense before. Also never written this kind of intense angst, so I figured, just do it!
Apologies in advance for the blatant mutilation of Latin words and/or roots. Also, I am so sorry to lomonaaeren if you were looking for a light and happy fic. This turned out WAY angstier than I’d ever anticipated. I mean, seriously. What the fuck? If it’s any consolation to you, it probably won’t be as miserable for you to read as it was for me to write. Seriously. So fucking depressing to write an angsty fic. I do not recommend it. *shakes head*
Thank you’s are in order to: the wonderful Mods (for giving me extension only for me to decide I didn’t need one after all >.<” – sorry.), lomonaaeren (for this challenging plots), and to emansil_12 for sharing with me some seriously fantastic beta skills (no seriously, though. So detailed and thoughtful. Thank you so much)!
Harry hates Friday nights the worst. On those nights, Ginny is less forgiving. He tries to work through the night, sneaking in only once the sun has long since set. Most nights, she catches him, anyway. Tonight is one of those nights. He slinks into the room as quietly as possible, his shoes in one hand, his socked toes silent against the floor. But when he dips into the bed, she turns, one eye squinted open.
“Rough day at work?” she asks. He nods, his lips a thin line. “Why don’t you let me help you unwind?”
He releases a long breath. He knew it was coming. Knows it’s a distinct possibility every time he sets foot in this room. Sometimes in other rooms, too. He tries not to shrink away as she slips one hand under his shirt, running her fingers through the coarse hairs trailing his navel.
“Shh, Harry. Just let this happen.” She crawls onto his lap and undoes the button and zip of his trousers. He grunts, looks away, doesn’t want to think about what he knows will come next. She pulls him out and places tight lips around his still soft member. He doesn’t want to think about that. He doesn’t want the thoughts to start. But she’s lapping at his prick, and he can sense her building frustration by the rough way her hands wrap around his base and thigh.
“Ginny, I can’t. I’m too knackered.” He nudges her head away gently, but she won’t be dissuaded. She sucks harder, and now it hurts; he knows if he doesn’t get it up, another row will ensue. “Can’t I go down on you, instead?”
She pulls off and shoots him a look so full of hate, he nearly chokes. “I want you to fuck me.” She holds his gaze, brown eyes intense with fury. “Can you do that for me, Harry? Can you fuck your own wife?”
His breath is ragged. Humiliation pulses through him. “Yeah. I can do that.” He kisses her deeply, long and slow as he mentally prepares himself for the thoughts he’ll have to allow, the want he wishes he didn’t have. He rolls them over and hikes up her night gown. On second thought, he turns her over. He doesn’t want to see her face. Doesn’t want her to see his when he does the unforgivable. He kisses down her neck and squeezes her too soft buttocks. And allows the thoughts to flood in. Rougher skin, harder muscle, broader shoulders, a heavy prick. Hard and throbbing, and waiting for him to set it free. His own member swells, and he rubs it against Ginny’s thigh like a first year eager to share his first Wingardium Leviosa. ‘See?’ he wants to say. ’I can do this. I can do this for you, Ginny.’
She wriggles underneath him. “Fuck me, Harry.” And he tries. He really does. He pushes in and grabs at her thighs and tries to take pleasure in the tight warmth around him. But her skin is too soft, and her thighs are too round, and when she clenches her thin, little fingers around his own, his mind goes astray; he’s reminded of the truth. His stupid, miserable penis shrivels up and dies. Useless.
She stiffens, instantly; he remains flaccid. The irony is not lost on Harry. Though how he can joke at a time like this is beyond him.
“Get off me,” she whispers.
“I think you should sleep on the couch tonight.”
He doesn’t bother to grab a pillow. He doesn’t deserve it. He spends the night tossing and turning and wishing he wasn’t so sick.
It didn’t used to be like this. It was easier, before they got married. Molly Weasley had explained to Harry that proper witches remained pure until marriage, and Harry had explained to Ginny that he was no witch defiler. He wanted to respect Molly’s wishes, and Ginny had agreed, taking his stance as a wedding proposal. Before he could explain otherwise, she’d set a wedding date, and he’d suddenly found himself with an upended hourglass.
Now they were two months into their marriage, and the sand had long since run out.
The first false start had been swept away easily enough. He’d pegged it down to the nervous fumbling of two virgins, and Ginny had nodded, nervous herself. But one false start had turned into two and then three, and then Ginny realised Harry couldn’t reach full erection let alone fuck her.
At first, Ginny had blamed herself. She thought she was the problem, that she couldn’t stir Harry’s appetite. And in a way, she’d been right. But not for the reasons she’d thought. Harry had returned home to a new shelf one night, full of books detailing the intricate techniques for attaining sexual pleasure and an overly eager redhead. Two hours later, she’d kicked him out of the room, crying and shaking and screaming, “I don’t understand!”
The next day, Harry had leafed through every book in the Ministry’s library until he discovered Vita Viscus. It seemed a convenient enough solution. Easy to say, the wand movement less than daunting. Until he’d found himself bent over in pain six hours later, still swollen and redder than any prick had the right to be. It was lucky he knew a guy who knew a guy, and wouldn’t send word to the papers. At least Ginny’d had no complaints.
In fact, she’d been so delighted, Harry awoke the next day to the scent of a full English breakfast wafting through the air. And even though she’d grimaced the whole night before, painful as it had been (her first time and all), the morning after, she’d smiled and giggled and pressed a kiss against his temple when he sat down to eat.
And Harry was so desperate to keep this happy fantasy going that he’d risked the spell time and time again, until finally (after the fourth trip to that guy who knew that guy), he got it just right. And it was perfect. And it was bliss. And it was just the fairy tale marriage he’d always imagined himself to lead.
Except the damn thoughts wouldn’t stop.
He couldn’t stand it. The thought of fucking his wife while thinking of... It wasn’t right. And when he weighed inciting Ginny’s wrath against mentally cheating on her while they made love, he picked the former every time. The fifth week into their marriage, Harry stopped whispering Vita Viscus in a huddled corner of the bathroom and resolved to make love to his wife while actually thinking about his wife. Thinking of her and swelling for her without the aid of magic or horrid fantasies.
Harry still hasn’t figured out how to do it.
Apparating into the scene of a crime is Harry’s favourite part of the day. Sometimes it’s a grisly scene, speckled with limbs and blood and someone’s sobbing frame. Sometimes it’s just an abandoned building with a magical trace still shimmering against the walls. Once it was a Muggle arcade, and Harry had got to search for evidence in between games of chomping circles and dancing ghosts. Whatever the scene, Harry doesn’t really care. Whether it’s gore or all empty or neon lights, it all amounts to the same thing. There’s no room for bad thoughts when he’s busy searching for clues.
Sometimes they sneak in, anyway. Like that one time Spencer snagged his robes on a loose beam and spent the rest of the day in a white shirt, wet to transparency with his sweat. But Harry can quash the desires quickly enough while on the job.
Today he’s searching an abandoned warehouse. The floorboards creak and wind whistles through the windows, cracked as they are all throughout the building. He’s looking for signs of crushed newt and salamander scales. Or was it tails? Ingredients for a controversial potion, still in its early stages of testing. It’s not surprising a team of amateur potion makers has already grouped together to mix the yet to be legalised contraband. There’s money to be made in that which risks lives.
“No. How exactly are we supposed to go about finding these salamander tails?”
“Scales,” Spencer corrects, smiling. Harry still can’t believe he got partnered with the perfect blend of Hermione and Ron, intelligent yet relaxed. “Cast a magnetic charm. The ones used for this potion have high concentrations of iron. They’ll soar right at you if you hit them.”
“And what the hell new potion is this, anyway?” Harry grumbles between periodic flicks and swishes.
“Just a pain relief potion, actually. Meant to relieve migraines in particular.”
“Well, that’s not why people are mixing it illegally, of course. They’re after the side effects.”
“What kind?” Harry barely dodges the cluster of rusted nails that whiz in his direction.
“Watch it. If you arc your wand more tightly, you’ll avoid attracting the larger metal objects.”
“Thanks. So what about these side effects?”
“Oh, well, naturally it’s your typical pain relief potions side effects. Relaxation, euphoria, a high that keeps you loopy for hours.”
“So then why not just keep on buying the legal potions already on the market?”
“Well, this one allows you to remain fully functional. Instead of turning into a useless lump on the couch, you can still focus on any task; it just makes completing it all the more pleasurable.”
“Let’s just say you could be scraping up horse shit and you’d be smiling the whole time.”
“Really?” Harry laughs.
“Yep. Your intelligence remains completely unimpaired. You could be working on a complex problem and solve it with pleasure. Actually, it would probably excite you. Sexually, that is.”
“I’m not. It’s a euphoric pleasure that borders on erotic. You’d probably be horny as all hell the whole time you were on it.”
“Well, what’s so bad about that?”
“It’s still in its earliest stages of development, and already there seem to be some fairly horrible side effects.”
“I thought getting high was the side effect.”
“There are others. Long-term use as little as two weeks has revealed rapid health deterioration. It’s too strong. It dulls your head pain while raising your levels of iron to toxic levels. Among other things. That’s all I could get Elizabeth to admit to, anyway.”
“Rogers. You remember, the one who transferred out two years ago. She’s working at St Mungo’s now as a Potions Inspector. She checks all incoming supplies before they’re approved for patient use.”
“Why would Rogers tell you anything about the potion we’re investigating? What?” Harry adds at Spencer’s incredulous stare.
“Because we’ve been seeing each other for the past three months,” he says slowly, watching for Harry’s reaction.
“What? You never mentioned that!”
“Harry, I told you I was leaving early for dinner with her just last week.”
“Yes, but you never said it was Rogers. You said it was some Izzy bird.”
“Lizzy. Short for Elizabeth. Rogers.”
“That’s what she goes by?”
“You’re unbelievable.” Spencer steps over the threshold to an adjoining room on the right, cutting the conversation short. Harry knows Spencer won’t stay upset for long; it bothers him, anyway. He makes a mental note to pay more attention to Spencer’s life. Either one of them would die for the other in a heartbeat. It wouldn’t hurt to show more interest in his personal life.
That night, Harry twists into a less uncomfortable position on the living room couch. He wonders whether or not he should invest in setting up a guest room. One with a bed and a pillow and a comfy duvet. For the guest, of course.
Ginny’s tearful, angry face burns in the back of his mind as he searches vainly for sleep. It’s more than sex, he knows. She wants children, a family, one in which her husband doesn’t cringe at the thought of helping her make one. He wishes he could be that husband.
He tries to think back to the first time the fantasies started, the first time he realised he desired something other than what he knows will bring him happiness. He supposes he’s always admired the broad sweep of a man’s shoulders, the strong jut of a man’s jaw. He’d hoped it just meant that maybe one day he wanted to grow up to be that sort of man. Broad and strong and defined.
He’d started dating Ginny because he loved her. Loves her. Loves when she smiles at him and shares conspiratorial glances with him and pulls his glasses off for cleaning when they get too smudged. He loves her as much as he loves Ron, and even eight years after their first shared kiss, he can’t think of a better reason to be with someone. She’s loving and kind and never quite took to cooking, but that’s okay because Harry likes cooking now that he’s not doing it for the Dursleys. She’s witty and confident and she hates cleaning more than Harry used to hate Potions, but that’s okay because Harry finds cleaning quite therapeutic. She’s optimism where Harry is pessimism, and Harry just knows she would make the perfect mother. If only he would let her.
He dreams of Ginny’s warmth and red hair and a smile that never stops. He dreams of sensual touches and a deep embrace. He dreams of euphoria and contentment and the pure ecstasy of accomplishment.
When he wakes up, he makes an appointment for St Mungo’s.
Harry waits precisely 1.023 seconds before a young wizard rushes to his side, asking what he can do to assist the great Harry Potter.
“Uh, just here for an appointment. Checking in. That’s the queue just there, isn’t it?”
“Oh, no need, sir. We have everything prepared for you already. The Healer will see you immediately. Just head on up to the fifth floor.”
“The fifth floor?”
“Yes, of course. You mentioned you’ve been feeling joint pain, lately?”
“Yes, that’s right. But I thought I would be seeing Mr Barnes.” It’s the same guy who helped him with his previous... medical issue. Discretion is essential.
“Oh, no. Mr Barnes only deals with spell damage. We’ve set you up to meet with one of our body specialists. It’s a new division, had to be added after the war. Witches and wizards everywhere are sprouting up with all the same maladies we only ever used to associate with Muggles. We cleared out the tearoom and set up the Magical Physiology ward.”
Shit. Seamus had always set up the appointments before. Harry begins to consider the possibility that he hasn’t quite thought this all the way through. “Perhaps I’d better come back another time.”
“Oh, no, Mr Potter. You mustn’t. The specialist cancelled his other morning appointment to meet with you. He won’t be pleased in the least if you leave.”
“Well, I didn’t ask him to –”
“Please, Mr Potter. He’s the very best in his field. He’s even an accomplished Potions Master.”
“Yes, but I – Potions Master?”
“Indeed.” The young wizard grins wider, spurred on by Harry’s palpable interest. “He received top marks in all his exams. He’ll almost certainly be named head of the Potions division in a few years’ time.”
“Is that to say he has access to any sort of potion at all?”
“Even those that might not have passed all the safety laws, yet?”
“Of course. More often that not, he’s specifically called upon to help with troublesome potions. He’s already contributed to three new potions this year. He’s incredibly brilliant.”
“Brilliant,” Harry repeats, tasting the word on his tongue.
“Does that mean you’ll be seeing him after all?”
“Yes. Fifth floor, you said?”
“That’s right. There’s a lift just through those doors.”
It’s not that Harry makes any particular habit of using his fame to get his way. But in the five years since he’s left Hogwarts, he’s discovered that everyone has some card or other in their favour, be it money, nepotism, or beauty. Harry just so happens to be the Saviour of the whole goddamn Wizarding World. And doesn’t that entitle him to a little pull every now and again? He hopes this brilliant Potions Master thinks so.
He exits the lift and follows the left-pointing arrow on the wall under the words, Magical Physiology. A middle-aged witch wearing a sky blue uniform sprinkled with dancing teddy bears sits at a desk at the ward’s entrance. She grins when he enters.
“Please take a seat,” she says, waving her hand at the empty chairs in the waiting room. “He’ll be out shortly.”
Harry wonders why no one else is here, and for a brief, chilling moment, a spike of anxiety strikes down his chest. Then it’s gone, and he smiles in the woman’s direction before settling down to wait.
Ten minutes later, a set of double doors swing open. Harry looks up. The anxiety comes back full force. Less than three metres away, a twenty-four year-old Draco Malfoy smirks down at him.
He is even less menacing than Harry remembers. Malfoy has not grown into his pointy, bony features. He is too tall and too thin. His hair is slicked back in a way that seems annoyingly outdated. His skin is pale; his face paler. And when he opens his mouth to speak, his too-thin lips grow even thinner. All this does nothing to abate the sudden queasiness in Harry’s stomach.
“Potter. Follow me.”
He turns without another word, so certain Harry will follow. Just as arrogant as Harry remembers. He almost walks away right then, just to prove Malfoy wrong. Then he remembers what he’s come for and follows Malfoy, instead.
Malfoy leads him into a private examination room; the door shuts behind them. Blond and pointy and too tall for Harry’s liking, Malfoy pivots around in one fluid movement. Harry waits for him to speak.
“Joint pain, is it?”
“I didn’t know you were a Healer.”
“Yes, well, unlike certain fame-seeking celebrities, I prefer to keep my private life exactly that. Private.” Only it’s not. Private. Harry knows because just last year, Malfoy’s face lay plastered across every news article and magazine, eyes half-closed and mouth hanging open while a faceless man sucked him off in a not-nearly-secluded-enough alleyway. Malfoy’s gay, Harry knows. And Harry is proud to say that he has no opinion on the matter whatsoever.
“I need a potions prescription.”
“I’ll be the judge of that. Sit down. And take your shirt off.”
Harry hesitates. Malfoy must know Harry knows he’s gay. Everyone does. Even now, The Prophet still publishes the odd article on Malfoy’s latest boy toy. Harry’s seen the pictures of Malfoy, one arm slung around another bloke’s shoulders, Malfoy laughing at a shadowed man’s words, Malfoy walking down the street with one hand clasped around another man’s own. It’s never bothered Harry before, to think of Malfoy’s particular lifestyle. It’s got nothing to do with him if Malfoy wants to throw away the chance at a wife and children and a proper, happy family. Only now he wants Harry to take his shirt off in front of him, and for some reason, it makes Harry’s stomach flip.
“Potter, I haven’t got all day.”
“Yeah, fine.” He keeps his eyes resolutely down as he pulls the shirt over his head.
“That’s a good boy. Now sit.”
Harry wonders whether or not punching that stupid smirk off Malfoy’s face will compromise his chances of getting the potion. “Why do I have to take my shirt off, anyway?”
“So I can check your vitals, of course. Standard procedure. Rather unfortunate for me when dealing with patients like you.”
Harry glares and tries to ignore the sudden wave of self-consciousness that washes over him at Malfoy’s words. He sits up straighter and puffs out his chest a bit. Then he realises his stupidity and slouches back down. He doesn’t need to impress Malfoy.
A cold hand at the centre of his chest jolts him out of his thoughts. “Breathe in deeply. Once more. And again. Good.” Malfoy grabs a floating quill out of the air and scribbles a few notes onto a piece of parchment at his side. “One more time,” he says, this time with a hand pressed firmly between Harry’s shoulder blades. Malfoy’s so close, Harry feels his breath against his cheek. He tries to ignore the tingle of warmth that spreads out from Malfoy’s fingers, despite their frigid temperature.
Three more deep breaths, then Malfoy flicks his wand to check Harry’s height and weight. He waves the quill and parchment away. “Where has the joint pain occurred?”
“Erm... in my knees?”
“Is that a question or statement?” At Harry’s glare, Malfoy rolls his eyes, but continues, “And when did it start?” he asks even as he squeezes two fingers tightly around the sides of Harry’s left knee, then his right.
“I don’t know. A few months ago, I guess.”
“You guess?” Malfoy’s irritation is palpable. “Does this hurt?” he asks, cupping one hand around Harry’s left knee and lifting his calf with the other.
“And this?” He bends Harry’s knee, hand clutching Harry’s ankle.
“How often do you feel the pain?”
Malfoy’s eyes narrow. “What activities incite the joint pain?”
“Just the regular stuff, I suppose. Running. Erm... the rain?” Harry remembers hearing something about rain and joint pain once. Or was it bones? He wishes Spencer were here to help him.
Malfoy swishes his wand so abruptly, Harry reaches down for his own. But then a halo of colours surrounds each of his knees, and Malfoy steps back with a grimace.
“That bad, eh?”
“Cut the crap, Potter. You and I both know there’s nothing wrong with your joints. What do you really want?”
Harry licks his lips, sighs. “I already told you. I need a potion.”
“For your faulty knees?”
“No. For... headaches.”
“Really bad headaches.”
“So go to the Diagon Alley apothecary. I’m sure they’ll have plenty of migraine solutions there.”
“Those won’t work. I need something stronger. Something that might not yet be technically... legal.”
“I’m not running a black market, Potter.”
“It’s nothing like that. It’s just still in the developmental stages. A friend of mine told me about it. Capitisores.” He watches closely for Malfoy’s response. It’s not good.
“Are you insane? That potion is highly addictive, and the negative side effects very nearly outweigh the positive.”
“I’m willing to take the risk.”
“You’re mad. I’m not giving you anything.”
“I know you have stores of it, here. If I don’t get it from you, I’ll just get it from someone else.”
“Oh, really? I’d like to see you try. Especially now that I know what you’re after.”
“You’re not in charge of the Potions division.” Still a few more years to go for that, if that floor attendant is to be trusted.
“That’s where you’re wrong, Potter. Healer Watts is on maternity leave for the next three months. I wonder who she appointed acting Head during her absence.”
Fuck. “Malfoy, please.”
“No. Now fuck off. I have actual patients to help.”
“Malfoy, I need this.”
“Oh, please. So you have a headache. As if people haven’t dealt with worse.”
Harry’s vision starts to blur and a terrible fear begins to set in. He needs this potion. He can’t go home without it. He blurts out the only thing that’s always got a note of sympathy. “It’s migraines from the Final Battle. I’ve had them ever since Voldemort died. And they’re growing worse. I don’t know what’s causing them, but nothing’s been able to stop them. This potion is my last chance.”
Malfoy’s face is inscrutable save for one line between his two delicate brows. Harry thinks he might just walk out of here with exactly what he came for.
“And you really have tried everything else?” Malfoy asks, his face a mask of neutrality.
“Yes. Well, everything legal, that is.”
“Why did you come to me? Surely you have other connections.”
“I didn’t, actually. Know it would be you.” He doesn’t offer anything more, doesn’t want to risk getting his one real St Mungo’s contact into trouble.
A long pause ensues. Harry nibbles at his lip, then stops when he realises what he’s doing. Malfoy walks out abruptly, muttering, “Stay here.”
Malfoy returns four and a half minutes later, a stoppered vial in hand. The contents are a dark mauve. “Two drops when the pain grows unbearable. Not a drop more. Understood?”
Harry nods vigorously. He can’t believe it. The answer to all his prayers in one little vial. No more disappointed redheads. No more sombre nights on the couch. No more treacherous thoughts as he makes love to his beautiful wife in bed.
“Thank you,” he says when he’s standing, eyes trained meaningfully upon Malfoy. He wants to say more, but he’s afraid Malfoy will change his mind. Instead, he rushes off and tells himself it’s not really lying if it’s for a good cause. And even if it is, better to lie to a miserable creep like Malfoy than to his wonderful wife at home.
Ginny hasn’t looked at him with this much love since they first started dating after the war. A small hand brushes gently down the length of his jaw, and she tilts her head up to kiss him.
It worked. Exactly as Spencer had said it would. Two drops before bed, and suddenly he’d felt light as a bird, happy and just a little bit dazed. He’d crawled into bed, and even Ginny’s pre-emptive glare hadn’t been enough to get him down. He’d pressed his lips against hers, and it had felt wonderful. He’d wanted to taste more of her, feel more of her. The feeling of flesh against flesh, soft hair against his face, delicate thighs clamping tight around his own as he pressed into that glorious heat again and again. Even her breasts had been a delicious sensory explosion of warmth and tingles and plasticity.
It’s been two hours since he took the potion. The euphoria is wearing off, and her touch no longer feels like a blanket of electricity sizzling all down his nerves. But that’s alright. He’d brought her to orgasm three times. Three times. He’d felt her contractions tight around his (for once) strong, erect penis, each and every one of them a confirmation of their love. And he’d done it all without thinking about anything but the beautiful woman beneath him.
“I love you so much,” she whispers against his lips.
“I love you, too.” And now he knows it’s true.
Except it’s not enough. Four days later, Harry has to stop halfway through another marathon of sex for an extra drop of potion. He’d felt it’s weakened effects the moment the drops touched his lips; he hadn’t expected it to wear off so quickly.
Five days after that, Harry goes through eight drops. They only last him an hour.
It’s been eleven days since he got the vial of Capitisores from Malfoy. Exactly one half of the potion remains. He’s trying to figure out how to go about extracting another vial (or five) from Malfoy when he’s hit with a sudden coughing spell. He clenches his stomach as it contracts in pain. It’s been doing that the past few days. When he looks down, a smattering of red covers the hardwood floor.
“Harry, you’ve got to eat something,” Ginny says, rubbing a soothing hand along his arm.
“I’m not hungry.”
“You haven’t eaten dinner the past three nights.”
“I had a big lunch,” he lies.
“... is everything alright?”
“I’m fine,” he says, because really, what else can he say?
“I’m worried about you.”
“Don’t be.” He hurries from the kitchen and into the bedroom. Harry hopes this counts as a fight. That way, he’ll be able to save a night’s worth of potion for a later date.
“I need to see Malfoy,” he growls at the middle-aged witch. She’s wearing a lime green uniform with little turtles swimming about, today. More importantly, she’s blocking Harry’s way to the Magical Physiology ward.
“I’m sorry, Mr Potter, but I can’t let you past without an appointment. Healer Malfoy is attending to another patient at the moment. If you’d like to wait until he becomes available –”
“Bollocks. Malfoy! Malfoy!” he shouts past the witch. His voice is screechy and desperate, and he hopes Malfoy pities him enough to come out.
He does. “What the hell is going on here? Potter?” Malfoy’s face goes from irritated to horrified. “Bloody hell. What in the world happened to you?”
“You look like shit.”
“No, you’re not. You’re white as a ghost. And when the hell did you last have something to eat?” Malfoy flicks his wand at him before he can move. “Merlin, Potter. You’ve lost more than half a stone since the last time I saw you.”
“It’s been a busy week. Can I talk to you? In private,” he adds at the witch’s pointed glare.
Malfoy hesitates. Harry’s brow twitches. “Wait here. I have a patient in the examination room. I’ll come get you when we’re through.”
Harry holds back a growl of frustration. He reminds himself that he’s lucky to be seeing Malfoy at all.
Twenty torturous minutes later, Malfoy steps back out with an elderly wizard hobbling along with the aid of a twisted cane.
“Come back if the pain hasn’t eased up in the next week,” Malfoy says before turning to Harry. He jerks his head for Harry to follow.
“Alright, what is it?” he asks when the door clicks shut.
“I need more Capitisores.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You’re what?” Malfoy shrieks. Harry’s sentiment, exactly. “That’s impossible. I gave you a two month’s supply.”
“Potter, are you telling me you’ve ingested that entire vial’s contents in two and half weeks?”
“Why the hell else would I be back here?”
“Oh, my god,” Malfoy whispers. The look on his face is so horrified, Harry feels a frisson of fear trickle down his spine. Malfoy walks over to him in two long strides and immediately casts a dozen different spells, every one of them completely foreign to Harry. He can’t understand why Malfoy’s wasting his time with silly magic tricks when he could be getting him more of that goddamn potion.
“Malfoy, please. I don’t have time for this. I’ve got to get back to work. Can you please just –” His words are cut off by a tremendous coughing fit, and for one fleeting moment, he fears he might actually be sick. Then he is. All over Malfoy’s shoes. Only it’s not vomit that covers the custom made dragon-hide boots. It’s blood. And god, Harry had no idea so much blood could spill out from his mouth.
“Fuck!” Malfoy swears. Then he’s dragging Harry across the room to lie down along the hospital cot.
“What the hell, Malfoy? Get off me,” Harry hisses. But his arms are too heavy; he doubts Malfoy even notices his feeble attempt to get away.
“Stupid, stupid Potter. I should have known I couldn’t trust a dolt like you with something so dangerous. Drink.” He shoves a vial of something puce between Harry’s lips.
“Blegh. That’s vile!”
“And that’s just the start,” Malfoy mutters, pulling the cap off another vial.
“What the hell are you giving me, anyway?”
“A chance to survive your complete idiocy.”
“So am I. Now shut up and swallow.”
Harry tries not to take Malfoy’s comment out of context.
“You’re lucky,” Malfoy mutters after Harry’s downed his fifth vial of god knows what. “You could have died, I hope you realise.”
“Not sure how that’s any different from anything else that’s ever happened to me.”
“Potter, this isn’t a joke. Your iron levels were through the roof. You had a severe stomach ulcer and acute liver damage. I’m surprised that’s the first time you coughed up blood.”
“And you didn’t come in sooner?”
“I hadn’t run out of potion, yet.”
“Well, you’re out now.”
“Malfoy, I need –”
“Yes, yes. You need it. Just like you need everything you ever want. Well, I need you not to die on me. For Merlin’s sake, do you know what could have happened to me if you’d died from a potion I gave you?”
“I wouldn’t have died.”
Malfoy glowers. Harry tries to figure out a way to get what he wants.
“Look, Potter. I understand that your headaches must be quite severe for you to go this far, but there are other solutions.”
“It’s not...” Harry mentally calculates just how much he has to disclose to get Malfoy’s sympathy without completely giving himself away. “If it were just the pain, I could handle it. But it... it gets in the way of...” Oh, god. There’s no way to say this without completely humiliating himself.
“What, Potter? Get’s in the way of what?”
“Of certain... marital duties.”
“Marital.... Potter, what are you on about?”
“Christ, Malfoy, I can’t get a fucking erection! Alright? Are you happy, now?”
Harry expects Malfoy to laugh. Instead, his mouth falls open and his brows furrow. Harry is only grateful Malfoy’s eyes remain firmly on his face.
“Oh,” he finally says. “Oh.”
Harry licks his lips. “Right, well, now that I’ve made a complete fool of myself...” He stands to leave. Malfoy grips him by the arm. He pulls him back towards the hospital cot.
“Don’t be thick. It’s nothing a hundred war survivors haven’t dealt with before. Let me at least check to see it isn’t a physical problem.”
Really? Harry wants to ask. Instead, he watches this oddly not-quite-horrible Malfoy, eyes soft and lips slightly pursed as he waves his wand at Harry’s groin. He suddenly seems less pointy, and for the first time Harry notices a few freckles along the bridge of his nose, so light he’d never have noticed if Malfoy weren’t less than a foot away. A few strands of hair fall into his grey eyes. They brush against his lashes, and Malfoy tries to blink them away. Harry wishes he didn’t want to brush them behind his pale white ear.
Malfoy licks his lips, and his tongue is so pink, Harry thinks it must taste like strawberry. Which is a stupid thought. Not a trace of stubble shadows Malfoy’s jaw, which is even paler than Harry first realised. So pale, in fact, that Harry’s sure he sees the spindly thin traces of capillaries thrumming with blood beneath his skin.
“Not a physical disability, then.” The words startle Harry out of his thoughts. He follows Malfoy’s gaze down to his groin, where a very erect penis presses hard against his trousers.
“No, that’s not – I didn’t –” Christ. He didn’t even feel it coming on that time.
“Relax Potter. As appealing as my aristocratic features certainly are, I’m not the cause for this particular show.” At Harry’s nonplussed look, he clarifies. “I cast a few spells. Everything seems to be in working order, anatomically, at least. Your problem is psychological.”
“I love my wife,” Harry growls.
“I never said you didn’t.” Harry turns away from Malfoy’s strange look. “Pain can overpower even the most primal instincts. It can severely inhibit one’s libido. I can’t give you something powerful enough to stop your headaches, but I can prescribe you something to bring back your sex drive.”
To his credit, Malfoy's face remains the paragon of professional neutrality as he delivers his speech. Harry can’t quite bring himself to thank him aloud. He hopes Malfoy can read his appreciation in the relieved slump of his shoulders. Malfoy scribbles something on a notepad and is just about to sign when he gazes up sharply at Harry.
“On one condition.”
“What?” Harry asks warily.
“Stick to the recommended dose. It’s there for a reason, you stupid twat.”
Harry tries not to laugh at the oddness of the vulgar word on Malfoy’s tongue.
“Harry. Harry! What’s wrong? Come out from there! Harry, honey, I don’t understand!”
Oh, god. It’s worse. It’s so much worse. The potion increased his libido, alright, but all he can think about is the heat of another man’s flesh. The feel of a muscled chest against his own. A hard length slick against his fingers. He wants to scream, wants to pull his hair out, wants these horrid thoughts to stop. It’s not that it’s wrong for a man to think of other men; it’s not that he’s a homophobe or conservative prick. He doesn’t care what other men do, doesn’t care that Malfoy himself is gay. It’s just that Harry can’t be gay. He’s not meant to be. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. He was supposed to settle down with a nice girl, get married, have children. He was supposed to bestow all the love he never had unto two or three or maybe even four wonderful children who gave his life meaning every time they smiled up at him. He was supposed to be the perfect husband.
What kind of life can he have with another man?
He’s sobbing now, loud and hideous howls spaced with desperate gasps for breath. Ginny can hear him, he’s sure, but he doesn’t have the mental coherence to muster up a Silencing Charm. All he can do is ignore her frantic cries. She would not be so sympathetic if she knew the reason for his own.
He’s leaning over the sink, fingers gripping the porcelain so tightly, they’ve gone numb. The veins and tendons bulge with the strain. He lifts his head to stare his reflection in the mirror. It seems the thing to do. He saw it once on a telly drama at the Dursleys. Only it had been a woman in the film. She’d just had an abortion, and her husband had left her. She’d looked up into the mirror and said, 'You worthless, fucking bitch. You murderer. You murderer!'
Harry supposes he’s not much different. He’s robbing Ginny of the children they could have had together. Maybe she’ll leave him, too. Find someone who can be a real father. A real man.
“You worthless, fucking bitch,” he whispers experimentally. His eyes are rimmed with red, the skin around his lids puffy and awful. His lashes are clumped together, stark and black in the dampness of tears. His whole face is a mess. Gaunt and sallow from the last two weeks of nausea and blood vomiting. He thinks it oddly appropriate that his outside should so accurately reflect his inside. Finally. He feels free. Like he’s not lying anymore. There’s nothing to hide. It’s all right there for everyone to see. “You murderer. You murderer.”
“Harry? What are you saying? Who are you talking to?”
But he’s not free. He’s still stuck in this house with a wife that he’s lied to and these thoughts, these goddamn fucking thoughts! And he knows exactly who’s responsible.
In a flash, he’s Apparated just outside Malfoy’s flat. Even if he did sign a contract not to use Ministry information for personal use. He bangs on the door so roughly, he thinks he might break something if Malfoy doesn’t open soon. But he does. Harry slams into him; only an undignified squeak tears through Malfoy’s lips before Harry’s got him against a wall, fists curled around his collar and shoving up against his throat.
“What the fuck did you give me, Malfoy?”
“What are you talking about?”
“The potion! The potion, you stupid wanker! Did you think it would be funny? Did you think you could turn me into a bleeding poufter like you?”
“You’ve gone mad.”
“Don’t lie to me!” He slams Malfoy against the wall, hard enough that his head bangs against it with a sickening crack. Malfoy’s eyes lose focus. “Why? Why?!”
Malfoy blinks twice and swallows. His focus slowly returns. “I swear to god, if you don’t get your hands off me right this instant, I’ll kill you.”
Harry stands there and cries. He can’t let go. He can’t.
Malfoy takes another look at him. The angry scrunch to his eyes eases into something softer. “What the hell happened to you, Potter?”
Harry doesn’t know. So he cries some more, instead.
“What happened when you took the potion?” Harry still can’t reply. “Look, sometimes patients have negative side effects. If you tell me what happened, maybe I can –”
“What? You can what? Make these sick fantasies go away? Make me into a normal man so I can love my wife and give her the family she deserves?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I can’t stop... thinking about –” He sucks in a ragged breath. He needs to get himself under control.
Malfoy’s face is suddenly so full of sympathy, Harry thinks he might hug him. “The war,” Malfoy whispers, and those two words alone are like a knife to Harry’s chest. Even Malfoy has fallen for the innocent hero act. Even he believes Harry to be so magnanimous that of course the only thing that would distress him is the war. The war, the war, the stupid, fucking war. “It’s okay,” he continues, lifting a hand to rest on Harry’s shoulder. “I think about it, too, sometimes.”
Harry shakes his head, no, but Malfoy takes it as a sign of defeat; he pulls Harry so close their cheeks touch. Malfoy is warm and hard and strong, everything those thoughts have always begged for. He’s solid and he smells so good, and the goddamn potion still hasn’t worn off. He breathes in deeply against Malfoy’s neck, presses a tiny, wet kiss against the delicate skin. Malfoy gasps.
He kisses Malfoy’s lips in response, licks until they open and massages the tongue within. It doesn’t taste like strawberries. More like something slightly bitter, perhaps an evening tea. It’s slimy and damp and everything Harry’s never let himself want. Malfoy kisses him back, hesitant at first, then more urgently. Harry hates him all the more for it.
Malfoy tugs Harry towards an open door, pulls him down as he lies back onto a bed. He feels Malfoy’s prick stiff and insistent against his thigh. He can’t believe this is actually happening. He wants to bolt, but Malfoy kisses him so sweetly, Harry starts crying again. Silent this time. “It’s okay,” Malfoy whispers. But Harry knows it’s not.
He runs his hands along Harry’s sides, so gentle Harry almost thinks this is love. He runs his fingers through Malfoy’s hair, soft as silk. His thumbs trace down the length of Malfoy’s jaw, slightly stubbled after all. Malfoy tilts his head back, locks eyes with Harry, and he’s so open, so eager to comfort that Harry wants to punch him till he bleeds. Instead, he leans down, presses a tender kiss along the freckled bridge of Malfoy’s too pointy nose. Malfoy’s just like Ginny, in a way. So naïve and trusting, so willing to believe the perfect man Harry will never be.
Harry drags his hands flat against Malfoy’s chest, feeling the lean muscle beneath. Then he yanks the shirt off. Malfoy does the same. He moves to undo Harry’s buckle, but Harry presses into him, just wanting to feel the sensation of their bare chests pressed together. Malfoy’s heart beats fast against Harry’s. It’s steady and strong. He doesn’t ever want it to stop.
Malfoy soothes Harry through the embrace, rubbing his hands up and down Harry’s back. Then he undoes both their belts. Harry watches. He rubs Harry’s prick through his trousers. Harry hisses out in pleasure. Or sorrow. He can’t be sure which.
A few fumbled movements, then they’re both naked on the duvet.
“Have you ever done this before?” Malfoy whispers.
He nods and kisses Harry into relaxation. Malfoy pulls back, then. Leans across the bed to grab a jar of lube from his nightstand. “Do you want to prepare me? Or should I?”
“Neither,” Harry responds, resolute for once. He ignores Malfoy’s bemused gaze and moves to straddle his thighs. “You prepare me,” he says, and before Malfoy can try to change his mind, he leans down for another kiss. It’s gentle, yet desperate, and Malfoy slips one lubed finger down to Harry’s entrance. The finger circles his puckered hole, rubs across it a few times, and Harry wonders why anyone would ever think this should be so painful. Then the finger slides in, and Harry grimaces. It’s odd. A bit uncomfortable, even. But not painful. Not yet.
“Is that alright?” Malfoy whispers when a third finger wriggles in.
“Yeah.” His voice is only a little shaky when he says it. “I’m ready,” only he’s not, but he needs it more than he can explain.
“Okay. Lift up.” Malfoy grabs his prick at the base and guides it towards Harry’s entrance. “Go down as slowly as you need to,” he says, sincerity in his eyes. And just for that, Harry shoves down in one fell swoop.
It burns. It really does. But it’s exactly what he needs. Pain and pressure and Malfoy’s taut torso just beneath him. Malfoy whistles out a breath of... pain? Pleasure? Anxiety? Harry’s not sure. He pulls up and shoves down again, watching the changes in Malfoy’s expression. His face is like two masks crammed into one, the top half squeezed shut with tension, the bottom half slack and open in utter ecstasy. It’s the most erotic thing Harry’s ever seen.
Their movements are jerky, completely out of sync, but Harry can’t think of any other way he’d want it. Malfoy grips Harry’s bum and ruts his hips into Harry’s, again and again, until Harry feels something exquisite inside, like a pulsing bead of nerves. Malfoy hits it again, and Harry groans. He’s close. He can feel it.
“I’m close,” Malfoy whispers.
Harry doesn’t respond. He rolls his hips forward, closer to Malfoy, then farther, his hands gripping Malfoys chest for support, sinking his nails in so as to leave a mark. He hopes Malfoy bleeds for this. Hopes he wakes up with scabs and bruises tomorrow morning, dried blood crusting the edges of his sheets.
In a moment, he’s coming, his sphincter clenching so tightly around Malfoy’s prick, it hurts. He hears Malfoy grunt an instant later, hears it but doesn’t see it, his vision so full of white he thinks he might have gone blind.
The moment it’s over, he twists away from Malfoy. His prick slips out painfully, uncomfortably, as if he’s just taken an uncontrolled shit. It’s disgusting. As it should be. And Harry doesn’t understand how he could have felt so differently just seconds ago.
“Harry,” Malfoy says, and Harry thinks right then he ought to kill him.
“Don’t you fucking call me that, Malfoy.”
A pause. “Fuck you,” Malfoy hisses, and he hastily tugs on a pair of cobalt briefs. “If you’re so disgusted, you can bloody well see your way out.”
“Why did you do it?”
“Oh for god’s sake. Not that shite again.”
“Tell me.” It’s only a whisper, but Harry knows Malfoy hears the fierceness.
“I told you. Sometimes it has negative side effects. It can bring up feelings of rage.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about.”
“For fuck’s sake, Potter. I’m not a mind reader. You can’t just expect me to know what’s bothering you.”
“The thoughts! The gay desires! I took it, and all I could think about was men! Naked and grunting and god, all I wanted to do was fuck my own wife!”
Malfoy’s mouth goes slack for a moment. Then it twists into a horrible sneer that makes Harry want to recoil. “You’re pathetic.”
“That potion works by pulling at your psychological desires and making them physical. A man who was attracted to his wife would have grown hard at the thought of her. A man who was attracted to other men, on the other hand, would have been assailed by different thoughts altogether.”
“Says the man who just shoved my prick up his arse.”
Harry’s on Malfoy so fast, even he doesn’t realise it until there’s blood splattering against his face. His fist is full of it. It’s dribbling out Malfoy’s nose in rivulets. He’s so shocked, he doesn’t notice Malfoy’s responding fist. It strikes Harry’s jaw. They’ve both fallen out of the bed, now, wrestling on the floor, not so much punching each other as grabbing and shoving and squeezing and twisting.
“I just wanted something that would let me love my wife!” Harry finally screeches. He slumps down over Malfoy, whose only movement is the rise and fall of his chest. The two are tense and silent, their breath and blood and sweat mingling together. Harry’s flaccid penis rests limply against Malfoy’s navel, lifeless and sad. Their eyes lock together for an interminable moment. Then Malfoy scoffs, thrusts Harry off him with an angry shove. Harry doesn’t move. Just lies there naked on his back on the floor of Malfoy’s bedroom.
“Here,” Malfoy scowls, tossing a small bundle at Harry’s chest. He catches it, unfolds it to find a small vial. The liquid is an opaque crimson. “Take it if you’re so bloody desperate. But I’ll tell you one thing. It won’t help. Not in the way that counts.”
“You don’t know that,” Harry whispers fiercely. Because he has to believe it might.
“I do. It didn’t work for me.” Harry’s eyes grow wide. “I know what you’re going through. It’s not easy for anyone to give up their predestined future of a proper wife and heir and a respected place in society. And maybe I only stopped because the choice was taken from me.” And Harry knows instinctively that he means the day The Prophet outed him for all the world to see. “But it would have had to end, anyway. Sooner or later, you’ll see that there are only two options for you if you keep going this way. Either you’ll try to deny it until you finally buckle and give in anyway, or... or you’ll hate yourself until the day you die.”
It’s a touching speech. Truly. But Harry doesn’t have room in his life for anymore nonsense and stupidities.
“You’re wrong.” His gaze is unwavering, certain.
Finally, Malfoy blinks. His demeanour changes completely. He looks sombre and perhaps a bit lonely. “Don’t do it, Harry.”
“I told you not to call me that.” He redresses with the flick of his wand and Apparates without another glance in Malfoy’s direction. The vial is warm and comforting against his thigh.
“Oi. You alright, mate?” Spencer stops on his way back from the loo. He narrows his eyes in Harry’s direction. “You look awful.”
“I’m fine,” he mutters back, and turns away sharply to make his point clear.
It’s been four days since he saw Malfoy. Four days since he’s tried to have sex with his wife. He tries to convince himself the two aren’t related.
He doesn’t attempt an excuse when he gets home later that night. Just grabs a pillow and heads for the couch. He thumbs the vial in his pocket, pulls it out for closer inspection. He’s carried it with him every day since Malfoy gave it to him. He doesn’t know why he hasn’t used it yet. Sometimes he tells himself he just needs a bit of a detox from all the potions he’s been drowning in the past few weeks. He’ll take it when he feels better.
But a week goes by, and Harry still doesn’t feel better. He’s so confused, he can’t even bring himself to feel bad about ignoring Ginny’s advances. He just wants to be alone, only he doesn’t. He just doesn’t want to be with Ginny.
On Thursday, Kingsley sends him home early for some “rest”. Harry knows this means Kingsley doesn’t want him punching another suspect in the face only to realise that actually it was their prime witness.
But he doesn’t go home. He Apparates to St Mungo’s, convincing himself he just wants to apologise to the poor sod he not-so-accidentally punched – even though he knows he would not have been sent to St Mungo’s for a minor flesh wound. He pushes the button for the lift, but it’s taking too long, and he marches towards the stairs, striding at first, then running until he’s breathless and sweating, right past the yelling witch guarding the fifth floor and into Malfoy’s examination room. The two occupants stare back at him in shock. Harry doesn’t care.
“Get out,” he says to the wizard sitting at the cot.
“Are you insane?” Malfoy screeches. He’s asked it so often, now, Harry wonders whether or not he’s expecting a particular answer.
“I said get out,” Harry repeats, and by now, the wizard’s had enough time to notice Harry’s scar. He scrambles to gather his belongings.
“Mr Shallards, I assure you this man has no authority –” Malfoy tries, but the wizard takes one glance at Harry’s scowl and rushes out without another word. Malfoy’s glare glides off Harry like water on a duck.
“Is this what you wanted?” Harry asks. Malfoy merely purses his lips. “Answer me!”
“Why? You’ll only hear what you want to hear.” Malfoy’s eyes are grey like death and his lips have gone white with tension. He is ice, and Harry just wants to shove his tongue down his throat until he melts against him, a gloppy puddle of defeat.
“I fucking hate you.”
“Oh, trust me, Potter,” he sneers. “Not nearly as much as I hate you.”
Harry’s not sure which of them moves first, but in an instant, they’re at each other’s throats, fisting and snarling and kissing each other so hard it’s more painful than pleasurable. Then again, had he really expected anything different?
Harry doesn’t realise he’s hard until his prick presses into Malfoy’s own erection. There’s no potion for him to blame this time. “I don’t want this,” he whispers against Malfoy’s lips even as he grinds more deliberately against his prick. “I don’t want this,” he repeats, hoping the wetness he feels against his cheek is more of Malfoy’s kisses.
“I know you don’t,” Malfoy whispers back. “But you need it.”
Harry ruts against Malfoy till they’re both coming with an emotion Harry won’t ever name.
Harry hates Friday nights the worst. On those nights, Ginny is less forgiving. But this Friday, Harry thinks it will be for different reasons altogether. He stands outside the small home he bought with Ginny for a long time, for once listening to the sounds around him. Crickets chirp, the grass hums, and the wind twirls around in silent song.
He doesn’t know if he has a future with Malfoy, but he’s certain he doesn’t have one with Ginny. The thought hurts. It feels like death, in a way. But sometimes, Harry thinks, it’s better to say goodbye to those you’ve lost than to cling to what could have been until you lose your own life in the process. He thinks maybe he understands, now, what Dumbledore meant about the Mirror of Erised. Or at least, that which you think you desire.
He steps forward, one, two, three steps, then pauses. He pulls out the vial in his pocket, suddenly heavier than he remembers. He uncorks the top, raises the glass to his nose, breathes in a heady whiff.
It smells of lies and unhappiness. He tips it back and watches as the liquid disappears into the earth beneath him.