Harry sat bolt upright, cold sweat coating his skin. His chest burned as if he’d run a marathon on a winters morning. He couldn’t remember the details of the dream, just that things were lurking in the shadows, just out of sight. Long pale arms reaching out trying to drag their victims into the dark with them. Small stinging creatures snapping large claws in a threatening display. He felt the anxiety sitting in his chest as he tried to breath around it. He looked around, to ground himself.
The room was dark and quiet, only the sounds of the rain still tapping on the window could be heard. He reached out to the bedside table as he felt around for his glasses. Once on, the blurry room now looked clear but deserted. Harry turned to the other side of the bed but knew before his eyes landed that it was empty. He ran his hand over the rumpled sheets and felt a knot of dread lodging in his gut. He reached for his wand and cast a Lumos charm. The light filled the room, and Harry felt his anxiety ease slightly. Draco’s wand had disappeared from the table which meant he hadn’t been snatched.
His breathing was easing slowly as he closed his eyes. He was at home, he’d had a nightmare. He thought of the long list of names he’d seen on the reports and cringed. Some had been snatched right out of their homes, some while out shopping. There were conflicting accounts of the reasons behind the abductions. All of the people who had reappeared were drugged, some had no memory of their ordeal while others remembered snapshots, some had teeth or hair missing, and almost all showed signs of having had blood removed. Whatever the drug they had been given had lasting effects which were worrisome on their own.
Harry shivered. He had been looking through approximately twenty-five files of people who had been abducted and was trying to find a pattern between them, some worked at the ministry, some had family who worked at the ministry. All were magical, it appeared that whatever was happening hadn’t really affected the muggle populous. Age and gender weren’t factors nor was blood or social status. He sighed as he ran his hand through his hair. He wished that he could discuss it with Hermione or Draco, but even the smallest detail could put them at risk.
Noises from somewhere in the house brought him back to the present. He swung his legs out of bed and stood, off to investigate. He had almost reached the door when it opened. He stood stunned for a moment, the sleep-haze still not gone entirely from his mind.
Draco stood before him, fresh from the shower, a towel around his waist and one which he was rubbing his hair with. His mouth was in the shape of a small ‘o’ of surprise, and a pink flush tinged his pale features.
“You’re awake?” Draco said, surprised.
“10 points to Slytherin for your observational skills!” Harry smirked as Draco smiled.
“What do I win?” He asked as he stepped closer to Harry. The sweet, spicy smell filling his nostrils.
“What would you like?” Harry asked as he ran his hands around the bare waist. His fingers traced the hem of the towel, hoping it would drop to the floor.
“Things we still don’t have time for if you still insist we must go out tonight?” Draco threw the towel in his hands onto the floor letting his wet, shoulder-length hair fall to his shoulders. He rested his arms on Harry’s shoulders as if they were about to dance.
“I must insist, regardless of how much I really, really want us to stay home!” Harry groaned inwardly, the thought of going out on the town when he could be enjoying whatever ‘things’ Draco had in mind pained him, but he had made a promise that they would be there, and it would be rude to just not turn up.
“Well, you had better start getting ready then, we are already fashionably late, if we leave it much longer, there will be little point in us going!” Draco said, kissing him on the cheek lightly as he stepped away from Harry. Harry watched the man walk away and noticed the precise moment the towel slipped off his hips. Harry’s mouth went dry at the sight. Draco kept walking as if nothing had happened. Harry knew Draco had staged it, he always did like the drama. His suspicions were confirmed when he caught Draco looking at him from the mirror. Harry smiled, and Draco blushed as he pretended to ignore Harry’s blush.
“Point taken, and objections noted.” Harry laughed as Draco huffed.
“This is all your fault!” Harry said as they walked quickly through the emptying muggle streets. He smiled as he looked back at the blond who refused to rush. His face looked cool and untouchable as his hair blew in the breeze.
“I fail to see how this is my fault.” He replied, a slight tilt to his mouth appearing as Harry stopped and waited for him.
“There was nothing wrong with what I wanted to wear tonight, nor the second outfit you got me to try on, or the third for that matter.”
“And the fact that you think that is adorable.” He said as he took Harry’s hand.
“Alright! Educate me! What was wrong with my choice of clothes?”
“Really?” Draco asked incredulously “You really want me to go there?”
“Yes, I want you to go there!” Harry said with a chuckle as he ran his hand through his hair.
Draco took a deep and theatrical breath before beginning.
“Remember, you asked for my honest opinion!” Draco warned, the smile now growing on his lips.
Harry nodded as he brought his hand to his lips and kissed the back.
“Go on, I think I can handle it.”
“As you wish,” Draco took another deep breath before starting. “The first outfit was far too muggle, I don’t even know where to begin! You’re going to be seen in public you don’t want to look like a tramp.”
“A tramp?” Harry laughed “I would hardly say a hoodie and jeans makes me look like a tramp!”
“And that is why I give you fashion advice!” Draco nodded. “Now don’t interrupt!” He kissed the back of Harry’s hand before continuing. “The second option wasn’t right for tonight, nor the third,”
“And why are these black muggle jeans, shirt and shoes more appropriate over that suit? I thought I looked very dashing” Draco turned away and Harry suspected he was blushing.
“You wish, Potter!” came his quiet reply. Harry stopped a smirk on his face.
“Now I get it!” Harry announced, ignoring the disgruntled looks of the people walking around them.
“Get what? Come on, I thought you were worried about being late!” Draco said trying to pull him along the pavement.
“No, no! We’re this late, another five minutes won’t hurt!” Harry said holding up a finger with a triumphant smile overpowering his face. “Are you trying not to tell me that the first two outfits which you chose for me made me look too good?” Draco snorted and rolled his eyes in a well-rehearsed manner.
“Don’t be absurd” Draco snorted, but Harry knew the look in his eyes.
“Perhaps too good, too tempting?” Harry left the word hanging there between them as he stepped closer to the blond. He stared into his monochrome eyes and saw the eyes narrow at the corners slightly and knew he was right. “I knew it!” Harry said with a smile.
“Damn you, Potter!” Draco said without feeling as he pulled Harry close. “You’re not supposed to be able to read me so easily! We Malfoys pride ourselves on being unreadable.”
“Pride is the worst of the seven deadly sins” Harry laughed as he kissed the taller man briefly. Draco smiled as they started to walk towards the pub again.
The delicious aromas from the restaurants they passed reminded Harry that they hadn’t eaten yet. The growl of his stomach was thankfully hidden as he pushed open the door to the pub. It was always a strange sensation for Harry to see the activities within but not be able to hear anything until he’d stepped over the threshold, then, like a bubble bursting, the sound washed over him. The sounds of chatter and music filled the air and mingled strangely with the smells of butterbeer and tobacco. Harry felt Draco’s hand on his back as they walked into the crowded little tavern. There was a drunken cheer from the far corner as they headed to the bar, drawing Harry’s eye George and Lee stood on the table waving.
Harry chuckled as Draco snorted as they stood at the busy bar. Draco’s hand on his lower back. Harry waved before turning into Draco’s arm.
“What would you like to drink?” Draco asked, his eyes distracted for a second as he looked at the back of the bar, Harry took a second as he appreciated the clean, pale lines to his face. He smiled fondly as Draco’s head turned and his silver eyes looked at him. Harry smiled in response.
“Surprise me” He replied with a smile. “You know what I like.”
“Indeed I do. Something tall, pale and bitter coming right up.” Draco said with a small smile.
Caught off guard by the comment, the laughter burst out leaving him breathless “Sweet Merlin, I didn’t realise the mere scent of alcohol could inebriate you to such an extent!” Draco smirked and Harry, once his laughter died away, could tell he was quietly pleased with having made Harry laugh in this way.
“Merlin, Draco!” Harry panted as he composed himself. He took off his jacket at the sudden heat within the pub. “And anyway, I was thinking something more elegant, sophisticated and addictive” Harry winked and watched as Draco preened with a secret smile before he leant closer to Harry.
“Flattery will get you everywhere, my love” He pulled away leaving the heat to rise to Harry’s already warm cheeks. Harry just smiled as Draco tried to catch the bartender’s eye.
“Go over, I’ll bring the drinks.” Harry smiled and patted Draco back before turning to see the others.
“Harry!” They all cried as he appeared at the edge of their group.
“Nice of you to join us” George slurred slightly as he waggled his eyebrows.
“Yeah, eventually” Lee Jordan added. Since George had come out of St Mungo’s Lee had fallen into the gap that Fred had left. They were the two new partners in crime. Harry shook his head and laughed.
“It wasn’t like that!”
“Like what Harry?” Oliver Wood asked causing the group to smirk and chuckle.
“Yeah Mate!” Ron echoed. Harry could tell that almost all of them were tipsy to drunk, but Ron was something else. “You’re not supposed to leave your friends for your other half y’know” Harry looked at his serious face before they both broke out into a grin.
“So where is Orion?” Harry asked looking around the group.
“He’s in the toilet,” Said Percy leaning against the wall behind them.
Harry nodded as something bumped his arm. “Hey, Draco!” Called Lee as Harry turned around, excepting his drink.
“So, Draco?” George started with a smirk “How long did it take you to get Harry into bed when he got home?” They all started to chuckle as Harry rolled his eyes. “I mean, that’s why you’re late, right?”
“Oh of course!” Draco ran his now empty hand around Harry’s back and settled it on his hip. “About two minutes, you guys in the auror office keep him so busy that he’s quite pliable and suggestible when he gets home!” Draco said before sipping his drink. Harry shook his head as he too sipped the drink Draco had bought him. It wasn’t something he had tried before, but he liked it, the dark liquid sloshed thickly inside the glass and Harry decided he had to taste more. He noticed Draco smile as the dark liquid touched his lips again.
“So he was quick into bed and slow out of it?” Lee asked.
“Guys, come on!” Harry said rolling his eyes again.
“He was up again sooner than expected,” Draco said, his flawless face perfectly straight. Harry knew from a lingering look from him that he knew exactly what he was saying, each word measured and exact.
George and Lee snickered in the corner as the others rolled their eyes.
“Harry! Draco!” They heard something fall over behind them. They turned around to find Orion being helped off the floor by a sandy-haired Wizard. Harry felt himself stiffen as he recognised the wizard.
“Orion” He replied enthusiastically, but he let his voice grow cold when regarding the other man “Zacharias.”
“Oh, hi Harry.” He said meekly back, and it was apparent that he heard the change in tone.
Harry felt Draco look at him for a moment before he cast his eyes back to the group. He knocked back the glass with the dark liquid in a single motion, mostly in frustration.
“You guys are just in time! Orion is going to attempt the Gamp challenge” Announced lee clearing the way from Orion.
“The what?” Harry asked as he felt the warming effects of the liquid weighing down his limbs already.
“Gamp’s old Gregarious?” George repeated. “Come on Harry, how do you not know about Gamps?”
Harry shrugged feeling a small involuntary smile come to his lips, he would really need to know what Draco had given him. He seemed to be a lot tipsier than he should be already.
“It’s a beer that was made about three hundred years ago, and to this day no one has been able to finish a whole pint. There is a one-hundred Galleon incentive to anyone that does” George said gleefully.
“Wow!” Harry replied.
“The incentive is there because it’s so repulsive!” Draco muttered into his ear. Harry nodded with understanding at that.
“Lee, go and get the beer in question!” George shouted like a general before lee saluted and disappeared to the bar.
“Speaking of the bar, do you want another?” Draco asked quietly, a knowing smile played on his lips.
“That last drink, what was it?” Harry asked as he placed the glass into Draco’s offered hand.
Draco smiled mischievously “Why, like it?” Harry nodded. Draco laughed as he headed back to the bar. The room seemed to take a moment to catch up with his vision as he turned back to the other wizards.
“You alright, mate?” Ron asked stepping close to Harry, his voice low. Harry pulled a face and shrugged.
“Not really, no! You?” Ron shook his head as he knocked back the remained of his pint.
“I got home, and Hermione started fishing for information again, I love the bloody woman, but I wish she’d leave it alone!” Harry nodded, knowing exactly what Hermione could be like. “Has Draco tried?”
“Not that I’ve noticed, he just keeps looking at me as if I’m about to keel over. He’s told me to quit.”
Ron nodded, as he gave Harry an appraising look.
“You’ve looked better, to be honest; however, you look a damn sight better than when I saw you earlier! Whatever the ferret is doing, let him keep doing it!” Harry smiled softly as he glanced over at the bar, knowing that his eyes would find Draco immediately.
“All we did was sleep, I got in, and he actually pulled me to bed where I fell straight to sleep!” Harry shook his head and realised that was a mistake.
“Is that slang for sex now? Sleep?” Ron snickered, and Harry punched him in the shoulder. “Ouch!” He laughed, but the sound was a hollow one.
“So, are you managing to sleep?” Harry asked.
“Between the nightmares and Edward, it’s difficult, most of the time Hermione gets up for him.” Ron paused a look of wonder falling across his face. “I seriously don’t know how she does it!”
“She’s amazing, that’s why! I think you should buy her flowers or get her a nice pair of earrings or something. She puts up with a lot” Harry said thoughtfully, thinking that he should do it to for both her and Draco.
“Yeah” was all he said in response.
There was a momentary pause which erupted into a cheer as the owner carried a large and ornate stein of beer over. Harry looked around, and the eyes of the whole pub were on that tray as whoops and cheers filled the air. The owner, a middle-aged, dark-haired man with dark and grizzled features placed it in front of Orion who gulped nervously.
“Now there are some rules to follow. You and only you must drink the whole thing. If you throw up before you drink the whole thing, you’re disqualified. If you use any magic on it, again, you’ll be disqualified, and you’ll incur a fine. Understood?” He asked, his voice as grizzled as his face.
Orion nodded in earnest as he looked up at the bartender. The barman turned and left, leaving Lee Jordan standing with a sick bucket ready on standby.
It doesn’t look too hard,” Harry said as a glass of the unknown amber liquid appeared in front of him again.
“Don’t let looks deceive you!” Came to a voice as smooth as caramel behind him. Harry smiled as he turned to look at Draco, his pale eyes looking decidedly alluring as he a knowing smile grew on his lips.
Harry smirked slightly as Draco handed him the glass. It looked like a double this time. He raised an eyebrow at Draco who just smiled smugly at him as he ran a hand around his waist, pulling him close. Harry felt a blush creep up his cheeks as his thoughts turned to more intimate things.
“Everyone ready?” George asked loudly. They all nodded as they watched Orion raise the stein nervously to his lips.