Disclaimer: All characters from the Harry Potter universe belong to J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic Inc., AOL/Time Warner and associated companies. No offence, legal or otherwise, is intended by the online publication of this story. Neither is profit. Make love, not lawsuits!

Notes: To Enjoeyment on her birthday. Harry, Draco and a rather convenient cabin.


by switchknife


Snow crunched beneath their boots, sharp and clear as crushed glass. Draco's breath shivered in little puffs in front of him, like one of Potter's Muggle cigarettes--but his hands felt uncomfortably hot and sweaty in his thick dragon-hide gloves.

'Well,' Draco said when they reached the cottage. 'This is it.'

Potter stood expressionlessly, hands shoved into his pockets. He stared for a few moments, then said: 'You've got to be fucking joking.'

Draco's fingers flexed inside his gloves. 'I'm not.'

Another moment of silence, and then Potter's eyes slid to his, bland green, lashes dotted with snow. 'Never expected a Malfoy to live in a place like this. Is this Dumbledore's idea of a love shack?'

Draco snorted. 'Hardly. Snape lived here before. Now it's... it's mine.'

'Snape,' said Potter, as though it were a name he didn't recognise. 'Oh.'

'It had to be unobtrusive enough. Easy enough to mask with wards. Tiny enough.'

'It looks like a supply closet about to collapse in on itself--'

'Oh, shut up, Potter--'

'Then unlock the fucking wards, open the fucking door, and light the bloody fire.'

Draco lifted his wand and slashed it in the Arithmantic pattern of 5, 2, 2, 1, 5. The code for this week. The wards around the cottage glimmered, and the little door, made of old, blackened wood, produced an odd little thunk as its bolt slid loose. Draco had to push with his shoulder for the usual three seconds before it gave way.

'Joy,' Potter muttered as they stepped in, the interior of the cottage somehow perversely colder than the weather outside. He shivered.

Draco slid off his cloak and hung it on the spindly coat rack that stood forlornly, like a spindly black spine, in the corner. 'Yeah, well. It's all I've got.' He turned to see Potter surveying the little room--because it was just a room--with the matted if clean fur rug, the only mercy between foot and floor--and the small, soot-darkened fireplace with a little, dented pail of Floo powder on its mantelpiece. The brown couch sagged a mere three feet away, as if the resident couldn't tolerate sitting further from the fire--and the sleeping pallet at the other end of the room looked close to collapse as well, separated from the loo and bath by a thin not-quite-partition.

Oh, fuck. This did look rather bad. He'd forgotten just how bad it looked--he'd gotten used to crashing here between missions, when he was too sore with bruises to notice where his head hit the pillow, as long as there was a pillow to hit.

Potter, surprisingly, didn't say anything. Didn't mock. He only took off his cloak as well, banishing the snow on it with his wand before hanging it next to Draco's on the rack, which nearly collapsed under the unaccustomed weight. He dropped onto the cold sofa and stabbed his wand at the fireplace with blue-tipped fingers, muttering a quick 'Incendio'.

Draco fetched the small kettle and Snape's old supply of tea from the shelves above his bed, dipping the kettle into the bucket of melted snow he'd gathered last morning. He felt awkward doing this with someone watching. Primitive. His smooth Malfoy hands looked ridiculous against the rough iron of the kettle.

Still, the room warmed despite their silence, and the tea took to bubbling quietly a few minutes after he placed it on the fire. He bent to lift it out and pour it into the mugs he summoned from the shelves--and he almost sighed as the fresh, startlingly wonderful scent of tea filled the cottage. He turned around to see Potter watching him--still--and he couldn't help snapping 'What?'

Potter took a mug of tea and attempted--poorly, as only a Gryffindor could do--to hide a smile behind its mellowed rim. 'Nothing. Just looking at the most wanted piece of arse in Britain.'

Draco gaped at him, not sure if he should hex the bastard or laugh. Finally he settled for neither, pressing his lips together as he settled next to Potter on the couch and blew on his tea. Potter watched his mouth. Steam curled upwards and warmed Draco's face. 'Yeah, that's right. Wanted by the Ministry for joining the Death Eaters. Wanted by the Death Eaters for betraying them. Wanted by the bloody Order for their so-called intelligence, which is surely an oxymoron when you think about it--'

'It wasn't an oxymoron when Snape was around,' Potter said unexpectedly.

Draco fell silent. 'No.' He took a cautious sip from his tea, nearly scalding his tongue. 'It wasn't.'

'That's why we need you. You're in exactly the situation Snape was in, thirty years ago, and--'

'Fuck you, Potter.' The mug rattled loudly as Draco suddenly slammed it down on the tiny coffee table. 'I'm not going back to them. I don't mind going on your little missions, even if it means I nearly get my skin hexed off every time--I don't mind assisting in your scouting. But there's no way in Hell I'm going back to them--I never asked--'

'Then why did you join them?' Potter's mug slammed down as well, and suddenly Potter was looming closer, green eyes no longer so calm, no longer so bland. No matter his years of training as an Occlumens, Potter's calm still cracked at the edges.

Draco stared at him. He looked away at his mug again, watching the steam rising in a shape like a question-mark, or a serpent--and felt his chest grow tight.

'I'm sorry,' Potter said eventually, quietly, and Draco scowled.

'If you apologise for what happened to my mother--or my father--again, Potter, I swear I'll--'

'All right, all right.' Potter held up his hands in surrender. 'Let's not talk about it. Let's talk about something else.'

Draco looked sideways; caught sight of Potter scratching distractedly at his wool-clad knee. 'Like what?'

'Where we sleep.' Potter pointed to the rug. 'I've got first dibs on the rug. 's closest to the fire.'

Draco's jaw dropped. 'Excuse me, Potter, but this is my fucking cottage. I get first dibs on wherever the Hell I want. And I want the rug. You can take the flea market on four legs.' He jerked his chin towards the bed.

'I've got a better idea. Why don't we both share the rug?' A devilish smirk curled Potter's lips--the kind Draco had been exposed to far too many times, usually before some rather hurried and drunken groping at the Order headquarters--and he felt himself flush painfully.

'No.' Draco shook his head, and shifted slightly away from Potter on the sofa, which only seemed to sag even more in the middle, making it impossible for him to move without sliding Potter closer to him. Not that it was entirely unpleasant... 'You are not thinking of buggering me on the rug, Potter.'

'Why not?' Potter had the audacity to pout--the expression ridiculously out of place on his face. 'I'm only supposed to check up on you every couple of weeks. I might as well check up on you properly.'

It was getting increasingly difficult to keep his mouth in a straight line, damn it. 'Very funny.'

'I mean, think about it. Tiny little cottage. In the middle of a raging snowstorm. We ought to share body heat. Or something.' Potter was creeping closer, inexorably closer, in a fashion that really was too snake-like for a Gryffindor.

'I am not thinking about it.' Except that he was. 'This isn't a good idea.' Except that it'd feel good, wouldn't it? 'We've never...' Fucked in the daytime before. Fucked when we were both sober. Before, you could pretend it was all a fluke, Potter. Now--

'Yes?' Potter raised his eyebrows, and Draco found himself staring at the long, white scar that ran from Potter's left eyebrow right down to his neck, where it disappeared under the collar, and where Draco knew it continued until just an inch above Potter's nipple.

He swallowed. 'I'm tired.' That much was true. He'd probably black out while coming. His body was already exhausted from yesterday's fighting. And after today's little tourist guide in honour of Potter, trekking right across the Forbidden Forest, his very bones felt like little more than stumps of chalk.

'That hasn't stopped us before,' Potter pointed out. He'd shifted close enough for Draco to feel the warmth of his skin now, so incredibly tempting in the midst of all this cold. Perhaps the body heat idea did have some merit...

Potter's eyes looked darker now, and calm for an entirely different reason. The calm of someone who knew that they'd already won the game. For a moment Draco wanted to balk, to play a little more--but he'd given Potter enough chances to back out of this, hadn't he? Potter's breath was bitter from his Muggle cigarettes, and oddly sweet with tea. But warm above all things. Warm. Living. As so many of them weren't anymore. Like the man who'd owned this cottage before Draco had--who'd shuffled around in here, trapped in exile before his unsung death on the battlefield...

'... doing it again,' Potter was saying. 'Thinking too much.'

Obviously Potter had no problems of that sort. 'Am I?' Draco brought his hands up to curl in the familiar tangle of Potter's hair, hearing Potter hiss as Draco's cold fingertips brushed his scalp. 'All right,' Draco whispered finally, as though he hadn't known that this would happen all along, when Dumbledore had assigned Potter as his periodic Watcher. As if he hadn't wanked off to the thought of this only the other night, curled on the sofa in front of the fire, thinking of fucking Potter right here, on the soft-torn rug. 'But I get to be on top.'

Potter chuckled, a series of hot puffs of breath against Draco's mouth. 'No complaints here.' His hands came up to rest warmly against Draco's waist, surprisingly gentle through the fabric of his shirt, despite the roughness of his wand-callused palms and the scratch of his stubble under Draco's mouth.

'Cooking... oil...' Draco tried to say, in order to reassure Potter that they did have lube within reach--but then Potter was kissing him, pressing his mouth open with a startlingly hot tongue, slipping in quick and clever as a fish, wet and playing difficult to catch. How ironic--the twenty-eight-year-old Auror and his ex-Death Eater ward, playing Seekers even at this age. And in this, as in all their games, Draco was determined to win. The heat of the fire and of each other's bodies slowly built up a layer of sweat under their clinging shirts, a musky, heavy tang--and when Draco finally pushed Potter down onto the matted rug, sliding off the sofa in a tangle of limbs, he managed to suck away the last residue of tea from Potter's tongue. He closed his eyes as he finally tasted what he'd wanted to all day--the bittersweet mingling of ash and saliva, rich and familiar, soft and sharp--because Potter's mouth always tasted, always, of smoke warming the winter air.


* FIN *

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Notes: Ritornelle: (a) A short return or repetition; a concluding symphony to an air, often consisting of the burden of the song. (a) A short intermediate symphony, or instrumental passage, in the course of a vocal piece; an interlude.