Pairing: Draco Malfoy/Harry Potter
Word Count: 16.5k
Warnings/Enticements: suits, martinis, leather jackets, Draco in the muggle world, Muggle/wizard relations, Auror!Harry, Banker!Draco, Negotiations, Banter, Mildly Dubious Consent, Kink Negotiation, Blow Jobs, Face-Fucking, Anal Sex, Office Sex, Suit Kink, Praise Kink, Dom/sub undertones, Tension
A/N: This was my fic for the always fabulous dracotops_harry fest, and since it's been, oh, two months since reveals (*headdesk*) seemed a good time to claim it! Many many thanks to disapparater for the wonderful beta and britpick and support, to gracerene for the fantastically fun prompt, to birdsofshore for cheerleading and flailing with me, and to shiftylinguini for INCREDIBLE art to go along with this! (Have you seen it? You must! It's absolutely magnificent and I was entirely agog upon seeing it for the first time and still am, really.)
Summary: As a top trader, Draco has power and money, suits and cars, houses and good champagne - everything a person could want. So when Auror Potter comes looking for help, Draco can't think of anything that might persuade him to lend a hand.
“The Muggles had a few good ideas after all, you know.”
Draco leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers, trying to determine whether Potter was employing some half-baked interrogation technique or simply, predictably dumbfounded. He raised an eyebrow. “This chair, for instance. Herman Miller. All the comfort of a cushioning charm, none of the electronic interference. The office supplies them.”
Potter blinked twice in quick succession.
“The cars, too. Did you know that the Bentley Continental Flying Spur can reach double the speed of a Nimbus 2002? And accommodate a driver? They don’t smell of Abraxan shit, either. Best innovation in British travel since the ban on flying carpets. Family brooms are so sluggish.”
Potter opened his mouth.
Once Draco had established that words were not immediately forthcoming, he dropped his hands to his blotter and folded them neatly. “Of course, I’m stuck with the Arnage until they’ve finished the custom interior. Then it’s on to planes, I think. I can use the company jet, of course, but they’re still on the Learjet 40, and those have been around since… well, let’s just say that if he’d had more of a sense of style and a bit less priggishness about their origin – and any money of his own to speak of, obviously – they’re so old that the Dark Tosser could’ve had one of his own. And they only seat seven. Seven! The Bombardier Challenger 300 can fit twice as many.” He paused. “Still, it’s American...”
Potter closed his mouth, furrowed his brow, then opened it again.
“I know, Potter. The thought galls me, too.”
Potter managed a garbled sort of noise.
Draco bit back a smile. Six years of astronomical success at Barclays had got him a bit used to leaving people speechless, but seeing it on Potter’s face came with an extra edge of nostalgic charm. “All a bit unfamiliar? Fine, then. How did you get here?”
“B–” Potter squeaked. He stopped to clear his throat. “Bike.”
Draco felt his forehead strain as his eyebrows shot upwards. “Bicycle? The Ministry has their golden boy riding a bicycle on official business?”
“No!” Potter exclaimed and then, seeming to find at least a hint of his feet, lowered his voice. “It’s mine. And a motorbike. It’s my motorbike.”
“Ah.” Draco leaned back, dangling his hands over the arms of his chair. “The explains the–” He flicked a finger up and down over Harry’s ensemble. “And here I thought the leather jacket was some futile attempt at intimidation.”
Potter’s cheeks coloured. “No. Safety.”
“Did you wear jeans to one of London’s premier financial institutions for safety, too? Or is that down to poor taste?”
“It’s all charmed.” Potter’s tone was defensive. A good thing, in Draco’s book. Men on the defensive gave in easily.
“Of course. Wouldn’t want to run the risk of chafing.”
“For safety,” Potter insisted again, this time more vehemently.
“Is that what they’re calling it nowadays?”
Potter’s jaw tightened and his eyes narrowed ever so slightly. Draco might not even have noticed it if he hadn’t sat through quite so many negotiations. Or so many Death Eater meetings. Though in the end, he thought, Muggle and magical megalomaniacs weren’t so very different. They all clenched their jaws and narrowed their eyes sooner or later.
He thought it a good time to change the subject. “I suspect you aren’t here to talk transportation.”
“Though you’ve yet to supply your own topic of conversation.”
“Did you get my owl?”
“Have you seen the building?" Draco gestured to the solid glass pane behind him. "They don’t exactly open.”
“It was meant to go to your home if it couldn’t get you at work.”
“Do you know how many people would like to throw an AK my way? My home is under six different layers of wards, three of which were laid by foreign security firms. Your average British wizard wouldn’t begin to know how to crack them. Even owls can’t get through.”
Potter squinted at him. “You didn’t know I was coming?”
“You didn’t do the basic due diligence to make sure I did?”
“How was I supposed to do that?”
“You were raised by Muggles. I would assume you are familiar with the telephone.”
Potter’s words came more easily as colour rose on his face. Some things never changed. “I don’t exactly have your number in my mobile.”
“I work with a secretary and a personal assistant in a building with a massive switchboard.”
“How was I supposed to know you didn’t get the owl?”
“Perhaps because I didn’t respond to it?”
“Maybe you were just being rude.”
“I’ve been accused of many things, Potter. Rudeness has never been among them.”
Potter mumbled something that sounded distinctly like, “–clearly didn’t spend much time in the Gryffindor common room.”
Draco, with all the enlightened magnanimity of adulthood, decided to let it pass.
Potter had the good grace to look the teensiest bit abashed when Draco offered him a restrained smile instead of a bollocking.
Draco felt the first, relaxing hint of victory. “If anyone’s been rude, Potter, it’s you. Though that’s far less surprising.”
“If I’m so rude, why’d you let me up?”
Draco laughed. “I sold £1.5 billion in securities this morning. One of the lads at Credit Suisse bet me a Goodman’s fillet and a bottle of Chateau Margaux that I couldn’t get a penny over 1.45, but the poor bastard’s in meetings all afternoon and can’t pay up until this evening.”
“So,” Draco huffed, a grin still playing at the corners of his mouth. “I was bored. What’s your excuse?”
“Just trying to do my job.”
Draco’s smile vanished. He was glad – gladder than usual – that his job involved learning to perform a certain amount of bravado even when one’s stomach had begun to twist uncomfortably. He knew he hadn’t done anything the Ministry could bring him in for. He also knew that that didn’t always have much to do with whether they brought people in or not. “Your job involves coming to see me?”
“As you would have known if you’d opened my letter.”
“As I would have done if you’d contacted me in some manner more effective than hurling pebbles at a Protego.”
“As I wouldn’t have needed to do if you didn’t work in a glass box and live under nineteen different enchantments that probably aren’t even registered w–”
“Listen here, Potter. Everything I’ve done, everything I do, is completely in compliance with Ministry regulation. Completely. My solicitors and accountants, Muggle and magical, look over every penny, every charm I cast, everything. Say what you like about me – you don’t reach this level without developing skin thicker than a Chinese Fireball’s – but don’t you dare suggest that I’ve run afoul of any sort of regulation.” His voice rose, full of all the confidence he didn’t feel. Whitley & Whiting were excellent, but perfection was damn near impossible to find and the sliver of a chance that they’d missed something, that he’d be dragged back to the wizarding world kicking and screaming – literally, if necessary – wasn’t the kind of thought he wanted to so much as entertain. “There is no conceivable way I could be in trouble with the Ministry, and I’ll thank you to keep your accusations to yourself.”
Potter held his hands up in mock-surrender. “I wasn’t accusing.”
“Then pray tell, what are you still doing in my office?”
“I’ve come to ask for your help, Malfoy.” Potter’s face twisted into nervousness at the end of the sentence, as though he’d been just annoyed enough to get through the start of it, and lost steam as he remembered what exactly he was asking, and of whom, and how it was likely to be received. Which Draco thought showed better judgment than the request itself.
“My help?” Draco spat.
“My help? He couldn’t entirely stop the hint of hysterical laughter that threatened to edge into his voice.
“Yes.” Potter paused just long enough and in just such a way as to make Draco feel like a Crup under inspection for signs of rabidity, and then rushed on. “We’re trying to break up a potions smuggling ring but the Goblins say they don’t have records on this one, so they’re either dealing in cash or… well, we have reason to believe they might be coming through your bank.”
“You have reason.”
“Er, as it happens, we tackled one of them at the end of a chase. He got away, but Davis nicked his wallet. Three IDs with different names but the same picture, and a Barclays debit card.”
“And you’re sure it’s his?”
“Pretty sure. Robards recognised the picture and and said it was a match to the name on the card. And we know of a few people he’s worked with before. We need their records too.”
“Potter, I do fund management. I’m on the investment side. What makes you think I have access to individual bank records?”
“We just need someone with access to the computer system.”
“Why don’t you ask Williams on seven? She’s a witch.”
“Leora has been… reticent, in the past. She feels it’s… well, in any event, she’s… unavailable to us.”
“Bloody hell, we’re bankers, there’s not exactly a Hippocratic Oa–Oh.” Draco stopped short. A wave of cold fury washed over him as Potter’s intimation caught up. “Oh.” Draco laughed. “She feels it’s unethical, doesn’t she?”
“Doesn’t she?” Draco repeated. “Of course, you figured I wouldn’t have any such qualms, didn’t you? Why would the former Death Eater give a damn about Muggle banking regulations? Never mind that I’ve rebuilt my life in this industry. Never mind that I had to do it after you lot took everything my family had worked for over generations – and don’t you dare make that face at me, Potter. All you ever saw – all you ever took was the end result of a fortune and a reputation that was centuries in the making. And you took it all, down to the last saucer, the last runner, the last duvet.
“And here I am now. Top of Barclays tower, driven home to Mayfair in the Arnage. I earned that. With one parent in Azkaban and the other out of the country and a few neglected scraps of Muggle investment here and there – do you know how difficult it is to go from operating in Galleons and Sickles to pounds? From working with Goblins to–” He stopped short. Investment bankers hadn’t been much of a transition, really. “To being at the very bottom rung, having to prove yourself all over again, knowing that you have nowhere to go, nothing to fall back on. You think I’d give that up, risk that, because you waltz in here uninvited and ask? And cast aspersions on my character in the process?” His breath began to run out. He crossed his arms tight across his chest and waited expectantly.
“Er.” Potter’s had looked thoroughly unmoved until the last bit, when a funny sort of look had replaced his usual blank stubbornness. “No?”
“Ten points to bloody Gryffindor. No, Potter. Not on your life.”
“I suppose ‘please’ wouldn’t do much good?”
“Apologies would be more effective, and even those would be quite a stretch. I will not risk my career for you.”
“So that’s a no, then?”
Draco goggled at the pure gall. Only Potter.
“Right, then. Shall I show myself out?”
“As far as I’m aware, the last time you left a bank it was by Dragon.” He pushed a button on his phone. “Kate will walk you out.”
Potter rose as one of Draco’s heavy wooden double doors swung open and, after a tight smile and nod, he followed Draco’s secretary down the hall.
Draco wondered if Martin-Davies would let him swap out the Chateaux Margaux for something a bit stronger.
£ £ £ £ £
Draco was considerably less sanguine when he arrived at his office the next morning to find Potter waiting for him. Sitting in his damn chair, no less. He decided, not for the first time, that pleasantries might reasonably be reserved for those who were actually pleasant.
He slammed his briefcase down on the desk and slid it across to land in front of Potter who, to Draco’s satisfaction, didn’t quite manage to suppress a flinch. “What are you doing here?”
“Waiting for you.”
Draco cursed his luck. In addition to being more annoying, Potter had got more confident. His awe at the finer things had worn off on a second exposure. Draco rounded the desk and did his best to loom. “Get out of my chair.”
“You have others.” Potter gestured to the two chairs on the opposite side of Draco’s desk. Uncomfortable by design, for visitors. Which Draco was not.
“Or what?” Potter reclined and looked up at him.
The bastard had probably messed with all the ergonomics, Draco realised. All of them. Even the angle on his lumbar support.
If a man’s home was his castle, his desk chair was his throne. Or as close as one could get in an office setting without drawing unwelcome attention. It practically made the decision for him. He waved his arm. “Levicorpus.”
With a most undignified squawk, Potter was flipped upside down, dangling over the Clive Christian mahogany by the ankle. Draco gestured to the left, so as to suspend him fully over the hand tufted Pierre Frey instead, clearing a path to his chair in the process.
He sat gingerly, testing it while Potter spluttered. Potter had apparently lacked either the inclination or the knowhow to adjust anything other than the tilt. It would be easy enough to fix once Potter was dealt with. He reclined, if not nearly as far as he would’ve liked, crossed one wool-clad leg over the opposite knee, and folded his hands neatly in his lap. “Thanks ever so, Potter. It’s terribly rude to take a man’s chair.”
“You–” Potter gasped. His face was halfway to resembling the old Express.
“How–You–Bloody–You don’t even have a wand!”
“Ah.” Draco flexed his fingers and stretched his right arm. “Wand pocket.”
“How–Where–It’s your arm, Malfoy!”
“Bespoke, Potter. The Huntsman house style. Hammick still does mine himself, and he’s both understanding and discreet. Had a wizard in the family, Hogwarts ‘63.” He cuffed a sleeve, revealing a sliver of fine green silk and the very tip of a wand. “He understood.”
Potter flailed his legs, trying, with much futility, to right himself. “Thought you were a Muggle now.”
“I may live among them and do near-magical things with their money, but a wand, Potter… Much like a black card, one should never leave home without it.”
Draco had never had cause to wonder what it would look like if someone tried to roll their eyes whilst upside-down. It wasn’t any less amusing for the lack of anticipation.
“Now, I gather you were waiting for me. I assume it wasn’t for your entertainment?”
“Or was it? Is this the sort of thing you go for, Potter? If so, I’ll put you down immediately.”
Potter clenched his jaw and shook his head, looking more and more like a tomato with each passing second.
“Hmmm. Shall I leave you there, then?”
Draco was almost impressed that Potter managed to cross his arms and pout. If he’d been rightside up – and if Draco hadn’t been well over the Potter hype since he was, oh, twelve – he might even have been intimidated.
But he was well over the Potter hype. “I’ve got a meeting in–” he glanced at his Audemars “–7 minutes. The charm should hold while I’m gone, but the carpet’s quite soft if it doesn’t.”
“Let me guess,” Potter managed, twisting his torso in a mostly vain attempt to look Draco straight on. “Fancy Persian silk handwoven by children?”
“Tut, tut, Potter. No. Pierre Frey of Paris, expert craftsmen weaving wool and silk onto a custom designed frame with a Savonnerie knot. Though I suppose compliments are due; I wouldn’t have thought you knew a Persian rug from a bathmat.”
“Full of surprises,” Potter managed through gritted teeth.
Draco tilted his head to the side. The banter wasn’t nearly as entertaining as it might’ve been when Potter could only manage half a dozen words at a time. “Finite.”
Potter landed with a barely audible thud. The rug had been a great investment.
“I trust you’re satisfied with the pile.”
“Oh, extremely,” Potter intoned. “I just love being dropped head first when it’s on to a really soft carpet.”
“I’m glad you have some appreciation for life’s finer things.”
“Did Barclays take out your ability to detect sarcasm along with any concern for the poor?”
“To hear your lot tell it, I never had any concern for the poor. Or,” Draco arched an eyebrow, “any semblance of an ethical compass to start with.”
Potter had the good grace to look vaguely chagrined at the reference to their last conversation as he climbed to his feet. “About that.”
Draco pulled his other brow neatly into line with the first, and waited.
“I’m sorry about that.”
“And you couldn’t have sent a card?”
“Through your seventeen layers of wards?”
“You’ve met Kate, Potter. She takes messages. Professionally. And I’m fairly certain I mentioned our switchboard? We’ve got a mailroom, too. Or is Ministry training so poor nowadays that you’ve completely forgotten how to use Muggle post?”
“I can send a letter, Malfoy. It’s just you’re a bit prickly, aren’t you? Thought the personal touch might do the trick.”
“You thought seeing your face would leave me more inclined to help? I haven’t got a Pensieve on me just now, but I’d wager you’re badly misremembering our shared history if you think that’s the case.”
“Well how else would you sugg–”
“Flowers, wine, liquor. It’s hardly practical for the everyday, but I would’ve accepted the ‘74 Quattroporte.” He took a turn to roll his eyes at Potter’s blank confusion. “It’s a Maserati, Potter. That’s a car.”
“I know what a– You want a car?”
“You want me to accept a half-arsed apology for serious insinuations, and perhaps a touch of stalking, which you’ve chosen to deliver by breaking and entering?”
“Er.” Potter ran a hand through his hair, as if it might make any sort of difference in either his appearance or Draco’s disposition. “Yes?”
“A car might be a good start.” He glanced down at his watch. “And I don’t mean a shiny new Vauxhall. I’m off, Potter.” He looked back up. “I’ll be back in thirty minutes. If you haven’t come up with something substantial by then, I’ll have Kate block your calls and security ban you from the building.” He started moving towards the doors, stopped, and cast a few quick wards. “If anyone else comes in, I’ll know about it. And remember, this is just the apology we’re negotiating.”
Potter exhaled heavily. “Seriously?”
“Look around you,” Draco laughed. “One doesn’t get this far by offering freebies.” He nodded curtly. “Half an hour.”
£ £ £ £ £
“I have a list.” Potter stood and held out a battered mobile before Draco had even finished closing the door. Damned shame, not least of all because the door on the left was squeaking, and somewhere there was an office manager who needed to hear about it.
Draco glanced at the mobile, kept his reports firmly in hand, walked around Potter, and took a seat in his office chair.
Potter turned and shuffled towards him, audibly dragging his trainers over the rug.
Draco didn’t look up until his papers were in order, and found Potter, still holding out the mobile. “I’ve got a phone, thanks.” He paused. “Two, actually, both much nicer than that bit of rubbish.”
“It’s not the phone, Malfoy.”
“A phone call, then?” Draco snorted and crossed his arms. “I can’t imagine you’d know anyone I’d want to speak with.”
“The list,” Potter huffed, “is on the phone.” He let a hint of smugness tug at the corners of his mouth. “It’s charmed.”
“Wizards think they’re so innovative.” Draco laughed and pulled a blackberry from his top drawer. “Muggles have already got there.”
Potter frowned. “Do you want to hear the list or not?”
“Not especially, but I’m a man of my word. In spite of your opinions to the contrary.”
Potter’s frown deepened. “You left me to come up with options. Do you mean to say you’re not actually willing to consider them?”
“Consider? I always consider an offer. The distance between an offer and a deal, however, is about as vast as the difference between our respective aptitudes for fashion.”
Potter surveyed his suit, seeming to linger over the top button of his waistcoat before his eyes snapped to Draco’s face. “Are you ready?”
Draco gestured him onwards. “Please.”
“I will go before the Wizengamot,” Potter read, “and see about restoring a portion of the reparations they took after Voldemort’s defeat.”
“Reparations?” Draco laughed.
“A portion of your choosing,” Potter added. “A particular vault. Or,” he leaned forward, loading his voice with meaning. “A particular property.”
“The Manor, you mean?”
“Of your choosing,” Potter repeated.
“Your flexibility is appreciated, if stupid. I have no interest in the Manor.”
Potter balked. “You’re joking.”
“The wards on the property are embedded in the very foundation, as well as many of the root systems on the grounds, and some predate the Magna Carta by over a century. Do you really think it would accommodate WiFi?”
“But,” Potter spluttered, ”but–”
“Or a mobile signal? Or telly?” He leaned in faux-conspiratorially, trying to match the gravity in Potter’s voice rather than dissolving into laughter. “Between you and me, I do enjoy seeing which magical bits and bobs turn up on Antiques Roadshow.”
“So no, I’m afraid that won’t do.”
“The things that are in the Manor? The portraits, the heirlooms?”
Draco arched an eyebrow, quirked his mouth, and left it at that.
Potter’s jaw fell, and stayed that way for so long that Draco considered seeing if he could land a paperclip on Potter’s tongue.
He sighed instead. “That was a short list. If I’d expected anything, I’d be disappointed.”
“No!” Potter exclaimed, pacing towards Draco. “There’s more. The press. Your reputation. I could restore your reputation in the wizarding world.”
“Is it possible that your head’s got even bigger than it was at school? Have you inspired haberdashers across the wizarding world to new widths?”
Potter scowled. “Not necessary.”
“No, but none of this is, and as long as we’re having a bit of fun.”
“F–” Potter bit down on his lip to stop himself speaking.
Draco did enjoy seeing him flustered.
Potter took a deep, steadying breath. “You might not like that I am actually capable of doing something to help you, but that doesn’t change the facts. I could do it.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. A few front page headlines at big charity dos. Reintroduce you as a philanthropist.”
“In what world can you guarantee that? You’re an Auror, not a reporter.”
“Yeah, I’m an Auror who never goes to these things, and the Prophet’s favourite recluse. We could–We could pretend to be dating. If we showed up together we’d make the front page, guaranteed, and they wouldn’t dare write anything against me.”
“Your ego really is boundless, isn’t it?”
Potter pressed his lips together. “I’ve never liked that it’s true, Malfoy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t.”
“Even if you weren’t full of shite, you miss the larger picture: I don’t care.”
Potter snorted. “A Malfoy who doesn’t care about reputation?”
“And a Potter who does. The world’s gone all turvy-topsy. But, in a stunning turn of events, you’re not entirely wrong.”
“No?” Potter crossed his arms and quirked an eyebrow.
Draco smirked and hit the intercom. “Kate, bring in the invitations.”
They stood there, staring each other down, until the door on the right swung open. Draco wondered whether he could possibly enjoy the smug victory to come more than his anticipation of the same.
Kate’s heels clicked once against the threshold, and then she crossed the carpet to stand next to Potter. She held out a thick stack of envelopes. “Sir?”
Draco held up a hand and gestured to his… well, guest would be pushing it. “Kate, you remember Mr Potter?”
“Would you please read us, say, the last five invitations I’ve received?”
“Of course, Mr Malfoy.” She pulled the first from its envelope. “We’re getting into June and July, now. Great Ormond Street Hospital would like to know if you’re interested in a table at the second annual F1 Party.” She moved the envelope to the back of the pile. “The Royal Opera House would like you for a dinner preceding the premiere of Das Rheingold. These next two are internal and primarily social. Mr Varley would like to know if you’re interested in joining his group for the Lord’s Test match, and,” she glanced sideways at Potter, “Lady Rose Gilman would like to extend an invitation to join her family in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot. The last is a high tea for the RSPCA.” She glanced up.
“Thank you, Kate. That will be all.”
She nodded and, with another single click over the threshold and the sound of the door shutting, excused herself.
Draco met Potter’s eye. “The Malfoy name may have relocated, but it isn’t exactly suffering.”
“You’re seriously telling me you don’t care at all?”
“About my reputation? Even you know me well enough to answer that. About charitable giving? It contributes nicely to the spirit of the social season. About the scapegoating twats who turned a coerced, quite literally tortured, seventeen year old onto the streets without parents, a home, or the chance to finish his education? Not a whit.”
Potter was left silent, seeming to take him in for a moment. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”
“As a Bludger to the head.”
“There’s… is there really nothing?”
“I do appreciate the attempts at ingenuity, but you haven’t even come close.”
“We–” Potter paused and carded his hair. “Look, Malfoy, I hate to say it, but we’re desperate. This lot aren’t just smuggling potions, they’re selling them on the cheap, and mounds of people are ending up in St Mungo’s, half of them claiming they didn’t even intentionally take the stuff. We think they might be slipping it into people’s gardens or owl orders or drinks or something, and it’s not as though all wizards are, are… scapegoating twats, or what have you. It’s innocent people getting hurt here.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, but that doesn’t make it any more my problem than it was when you first showed up. Uninvited.” It felt amazing to say it. Even more amazing to mean it.
“But if we could just access their bank records–” Potter had the good sense to stop talking when Draco shot him a warning look. He sighed. “Fine, my ideas are shit. Fine. Can I–What if I send you the Prophet? Or the Quibbler, Witch Weekly, whatever you want.” He went from carding his hair to tugging at it. “Look through them, see if anything jogs a memory, if there’s anything you want. We need to solve this case. Legilimency has never been my strong suit. If I can’t guess what you want, tell us? Name your price, and if we can meet it, we will.”
Draco reclined and sized him up warily. There would have been a time when Potter’s offers would have appealed. When they would have appealed quite deeply. That they didn’t anymore wasn’t a good enough reason to turn down a blank cheque from the wizarding world. If he could think of something worthwhile.
He sat up and folded his hands on the blotter. “Fine. You have one chance. Put them in a box, send all of them to Kate, and I’ll look them through once. Once. And I hope it goes without saying that you’re to use Muggle post?”
Potter sagged, unmistakably relieved, and nodded.
“This doesn’t mean I’m saying yes,” Draco warned.
Potter failed to repress a sigh, but nodded.
“And Potter? For the record, the grovelling doesn’t hurt.”
Potter’s face was, for one instant, unreadable, though whatever mystery might’ve been found there was quickly replaced with annoyance. “Thanks ever so, Malfoy.”
“Ta, Potter. Have Kate walk you out.”
£ £ £ £ £
The package arrived at the start of Draco’s lunch break. It was hand delivered by Muggle courier, and Draco would almost have been impressed with Potter’s thoughtfulness if he hadn’t made the necessity of Muggle methods so abundantly clear. And if Potter hadn’t used the cheapest courier service in central London, thereby forcing Kate to interact with someone so utterly plebian that she had delivered the box, free of its outer wrappings, with the smell of sanitizer fresh on her hands and a poorly hidden twist to her nose.
He crumpled a barely legible note from Potter and threw it into the bin without reading it. Then, as promised, he perused.
The Prophet was thoroughly boring. An ad for Honeyduke’s evoked a moment’s nostalgia for chocolate frogs–until he remembered the truffles at Prestat, which didn’t ever try to jump away from him. Witch Weekly was much of the same. Even if Draco had ever had any need whatsoever for cosmetic glamours, he wouldn’t trade in the satisfaction of an hour with Bobby or Fabrice, the feeling of wringing every last reserve of strength from muscles no amount of Quidditch could ever have touched. Or the results, which had the distinct advantage of not wearing off at inopportune moments. And he certainly didn’t need charmed curlers or contraceptive potions.
The back pages of The Quibbler were a bit more interesting. The masthead suggested that Lovegood the younger had taken over from her father, and her advertising policy was a departure from even the most liberal of mainstream wizarding policies. Draco was not a little entertained by the promise of a masturbation sleeve charmed to respond to the user, but asking Potter about it was well out of the question. He bookmarked the relevant page and made a note to see whether Expectations or Coco de Mer could do one better. Likely. Without the benefit of wands, Muggles had to be far more inventive.
Potter had been clever enough to include Which Broomstick, but he simply didn’t have any need of anything in its pages. He’d moved on from that life. If he wanted top speeds, he had his choice of cars. If he wanted a view and the wind in his hair, there was always the roof at Shoreditch House.
He sighed and turned back to the Prophet. Flipped past Quidditch results and was happy enough to notice that the Falcons were still performing well, though even that didn’t elicit more than a mildly pleased hum. He considered a request for World Cup tickets; he still had a few of the old Slyths around on occasion, and it might be nice to throw something of meaning their way. But Quidditch tickets were the sort of thing one threw in as an extra. They were far too trifling for the main event.
He flipped past the politics section–blissfully irrelevant nowadays–and on to the social pages.
Whatever Potter might have said about his supposed reclusiveness, they managed to get more pictures of him than he’d let on. There was a grainy photo of Potter leaning on the bar at the Leaky, his head thrown back as he laughed at his companion’s joke. One of Potter, clearly taken through a window, being fitted for robes at Madam Malkin’s, the fabric hanging open over Muggle jeans, sliding over his hips as he smiled kindly and turned to let an assistant at his sleeve. Witch Weekly had a few more still – Potter grinning and urging his broom forward during a game of pickup Quidditch in what looked like someone’s private orchard, Potter giving a group of stumbling Auror trainees a commandingly, almost enticingly, stern look. And, once he started looking, the Quibbler was the biggest surprise of all: Potter, grinning sideways at a musclebound bloke as they seemed to joke–joke of all things–with a Sphinx.
Now that–that was interesting. The Potter in these photos was a different creature to the nervous, flappable bloke who’d let himself be hung upside down over the rug. He had much more in common with the stupidly heroic–and, Draco would admit, self-assured, determined, athletic, surprisingly competent, utterly confident–subject of at least a dozen of his schoolboy wank fantasies.
It had been an age since he’d had a wizard. Muggles were certainly better at sex toys, and quite a few of them were given to an admirable, or at least much appreciated, libertinism. But none of them were wizards. All of that faffing about with condoms and containers of lube, never the smooth efficiency of a charm. He did miss the ease of it.
Granted, taking up with Potter, in particular, was a strange proposition. But the more he thought on it, the more it grew on him. Either Potter would balk and have to go back to his Ministry empty-handed, or he’d have to bend over and yield to Draco’s will. Even as used to winning as Draco was, the thought of it brought on a sense of anticipation so visceral that he couldn’t help but take notice. He bested the wizarding world every day, of course. Shoved it up their collective arse by not giving a damn. It had been some Muggle or other who said living well was the best revenge, and he embodied that like none other. But they didn’t see that, cloistered as they were behind the Leaky and in Hogsmeade. On the rare occasion when they did, as Potter had during his office invasions, it wasn’t the same as knowing it. They didn’t avert their eyes the way the junior traders did when Draco walked down a hallway. They didn’t tremble, as his opponents across a bargaining table did, when his reputation preceded him into a room. They didn’t know his power. But Potter… he could make Potter know it. Make him feel it.
And wouldn’t Potter be delightfully defiant about that. At least until Draco got his hands on him.
Among other parts.
He realised it might be construed as petty. He didn’t especially care. Not when this particular victory promised to taste better than the black truffle risotto at Orrery.
He ran back through the photos again, then shoved it all into a drawer and turned on the intercom. “Kate?”
“Sir?” She replied near-instantly.
“Has Potter attempted to make another appointment?
“No, Mr Malfoy.” There was the slightest hint of surprise in her voice. “Do you want him on your calendar if he does?”
Draco paused. “Yes, and make sure he gets the full treatment on arrival. Imagine he’s got ten million pounds to invest, or the hottest tip since mortgage bundling. Whatever does it for you.”
“As you say, Mr Malfoy.”
He lifted his finger off the intercom and began to make his plans.
£ £ £ £ £
Potter did call eventually, and came back to the office, this time by appointment. Kate's efforts to make him comfortable had some effect, though they did not quite make him confident. He seemed… differently unnerved, looking over his shoulder as though expecting cameras to be revealed, watching Kate lay out tea and biscuits on a table in front of the sofa as though she might slip a bit of cyanide in if he turned away.
He perched tentatively on the edge of the sofa and looked surprised when Draco walked around his desk, ignored his chairs, and took up the other end, crossing one leg over the other and twisting to rest one elbow on the leather upholstery and look him straight on.
“Um.” Potter began.
“Good afternoon,” Draco offered. “I trust that Kate has made you comfortable?”
“Yes. Er, very comfortable.” He shifted on the edge of the seat.
“It won’t bite if you sit comfortably, you know. Do you take sugar, milk?”
Potter slid back halfway. “Two sugars, please.”
Draco hid a grimace. “Of course.” He poured the tea himself, dropped in two cubes, and offered the saucer.
Potter took it gingerly, his eyes never leaving Draco as he took a first sip. “Thanks.”
“You’re quite welcome.”
“Yes, well, thank you.”
“Biscuit? Thought you might be a sugar man, but Kate can bring in crudité if that would better suit.”
“Er, no, thanks. Just had lunch.” He shook his head as if to clear it. “And I’m really just here on business, anyway.”
“Ah.” Draco leaned further back into the sofa. “And why shouldn’t business be a bit pleasant from time to time?”
Potter leaned forward and put the saucer down. “To be honest, Malfoy, I wasn’t expecting much more than a kick to the bum, so it’s not so much pleasant as disconcerting. You can just give me your answer, you know. Somehow I don’t think tea will change it, whatever it is.”
“You wouldn’t, would you?” Draco mumbled, rising from the couch and walking part way across the room. “Fine, then. You may be disappointed, though I imagine not surprised, to hear that the wizarding press was of no particular interest.”
Potter sighed, and weariness began to edge on to his face.
“Except for one thing.” Draco turned to face him.
Potter perked up, and sat up straighter.
Draco resisted the urge to straighten his spine, lest Potter think he was anything less than perfectly relaxed. “You made a proposal, when last you were here, about restoring my reputation.”
“I did.” Potter knit his brow. “You refused it. Rather adamantly.”
“How far were you willing to take it?”
The lines in Potter’s forehead deepened in confusion. “As I said, we could publicly attend charitable events–”
“You misunderstand me. How far are you willing to take the particular charade that would be involved?”
“I thought three or four events ought to do it.”
“For Merlin’s sake, Potter, tell me they have a separate unit for detectives. In order to sell the story, you proposed a particular conceit. Do you recall?”
“That we,” Potter pointed to himself, and to Draco, and back again, “would pretend to be dating.”
“In order to make it believable.”
“Yes.” Draco waited.
The edge of confusion didn’t show any signs of abating.
“For Circe’s sake, Potter, what do boyfriends do? Or is that a total mystery to you?”
Realisation dawned on Potter’s face, closely followed by something nervous, and then open wariness. “They go to charity balls.”
“And… out for drinks.”
“And?” Draco arched an eyebrow.
“Antiquing?” Potter tried.
“Bloody hell, Potter. The papers make quite clear that you’re single, and I am no longer wondering why. Antiquing, really?”
“You’re the one who wants to give up his ancestral home for the chance to watch Antiques Roadshow!”
“When I’m too hungover to move, Potter, and that’s in anticipation of the day a wayward magical teakettle bites Michael Aspel on the nose.”
“Well you clearly like posh old stuff!”
Draco felt the affront down to the tips of his toes. “You think I buy it myself? That’s what decorators are for you–” He clenched his jaw and force himself to exhale. “Do you want to make a deal or not?”
Potter groaned and buried his face in his hands. “Yes.”
“Are you going to continue feigning idiocy, or shall I assume it’s authentic?”
“What’s your point, Malfoy?” It came out muffled, spoken mostly into the heel of Potter’s palm.
“Aside from antiquing and, I don’t know, crocheting doilies and feeding street urchins, what do you and your boyfriends generally do?”
Potter snorted. “Hold hands and share ice cream sundaes.”
“How important is this case to you?”
Potter’s impatience disappeared in a flash. He looked up. “Serious.”
“Serious enough that I came here in the first place.”
“Mmm. And serious enough that you, quite voluntarily, offered to be seen on my arm in public.”
“And how far does that offer extend?”
A flush rose on Potter’s cheeks. “Are you asking what I think you’re asking?”
“Are you, quite voluntarily, willing to take your place on my arm in private?”
“You arm?” Potter’s eyes widened. “Your whole–?”
“Figure of speech.” Draco raised his eyes to the ceiling in a silent prayer for patience. As he looked back down, it slid into a grin. “Unless you’re into that kind of thing.”
“No!” Potter nearly screeched. “No, definitely no arms.”
“Was that the opening of a proper negotiation?”
Potter paused, then nodded once.
Something tensed in Draco’s chest. It felt a bit like anticipation. Of his success, surely. He refused to let it show. “Fine, then.”
“But what’s in it for you?”
“Is that relevant?” Draco didn’t pause before his question. He was well trained in deflection, and bloody thankful for it.
Potter shrugged and opened his mouth.
“Exactly,” Draco went on before Potter had the chance to figure himself out. “Do we have a deal?”
“Well,” Potter began slowly, his eyes focused on Draco’s tie instead of his face. “The start of one, maybe.”
“I need everything you can give me on our suspect and his three known associates. Bank statements, payment records, investments, known aliases. Anything and everything.”
“And in exchange?”
“You can do that?” Potter refused to move on. “You will provide all of that?”
“I can.” Draco hesitated, and not because he couldn’t. “Whether I will depends on the rest of our negotiation.”
“Right.” Potter paused. “Right, then. What is it you’re asking for, exactly?”
“Apparently a whole arm is off the table.”
Potter wrinkled his nose. “A whole arm, a whole hand… nothing like that.”
“Really? All those years you walked around with a stick up your arse, you’d think a hand would slide right in.”
Potter scowled. “And no insults. None. That’s a hard limit.”
Draco perked up and slid back on to the couch. “A hard limit, Potter? Is it possible that the Golden Boy knows the scene?”
“Golden Boy counts as an insult. Savior, Chosen One, Boy Who Lived, and all their variations. Absolutely none of that.”
Draco tilted his head. “No insults, or no dirty talk?”
“No insults. Or epithets.”
Draco noted the omission of ‘no dirty talk’ from Potter’s list of nos. “Fine. And no fisting?”
Draco braced his elbow on the sofa. “And what should be on the table?”
Potter closed up tighter than a Pogrebin. “This is your show.”
“In which you’ll be participating. Actively. If your plan is to lie back and think of England, deal’s off.”
“Which doesn’t grant you insight into… whatever. It’s up to you.”
Potter hesitated, just for a moment. “Fine.”
Draco’s eyebrows rose entirely of their own volition. “Handcuffs.”
“No to handcuffs particularly, or all toys?”
“Nothing that would bind, otherwise constrain, or injure.”
“This is the strangest negotiation I’ve ever had.”
“And I once negotiated a hostage situation between the goblins and merpeople over a Pygmy Puff breeding facility.”
“Vibrators and cock rings.”
Potter sighed. “Fine.”
A pause. “Whose...?”
“Your arse, spread open.”
“I don’t, usually.”
“Yet you’re not saying no.”
“Lots of lube. Lots.”
“Not a problem.”
“And condoms, protection charms, whatever.”
“Fine, then.” Potter was gripping the edge of the sofa so tightly his knuckles had gone white.
“Anything else I ought to know before we meet again?”
“If I think of anything, I’ll be sure to send it by courier rather than owl.”
“Fine. While this is blissfully unlikely, if I run into any other Aurors, what’s your cover story?”
“Cover story?” Potter blinked at him.
“Unles the DMLE has changed a great deal in my absence, I assume you’ll need one?”
“Right.” Potter sighed. “You held me hostage and dangled me over a pit of hungry Nundus until I promised my firstborn.”
Potter rolled his eyes. “I was going to say you were helpful and the paperwork had taken a while.”
Draco blinked again, trying to parse the various types of confusion that had settled in his stomach at Potter’s offer. He finally picked one at random. “Are you trying to make me out as a fool?”
“Someone who wouldn’t even have the good sense to negotiate?”
“Oh, for Godric’s–It’s simple, it’s easy to remember, they won’t ask questions, and they don’t understand Muggle banking well enough to need more specifics. And I wouldn’t think you’d be actively opposed to something that makes them think well of you. Okay?”
Some of the confusion settled. Some. “Oh. I suppose that’s fine, then.”
“Good.” Potter rose. “When can I get the records?”
Draco stood, looking him in the eye. “After.”
“After?” Potter frowned. “How am I supposed to know you’ll come through?”
Draco folded his arms over his chest and smiled thinly. “That might be the smartest question you’ve asked yet.”
“You’ll just have to trust me.”
Potter threw up his arms. “Seriously?”
“Well it wouldn’t be very smart to give it to you beforehand, would it? What incentive would you have to follow through?”
“What incentive do you have?” Potter retorted.
“I have a happy, prosperous, trouble-free life in the Muggle world, and I’d like to keep it that way. And you’re asking me to hand you just enough material to charge me with extortion or report me to the FSA, without getting enough to bring you down with me if you try it? I think not.”
“Fine.” Potter shook his head. “I can’t believe–Fine. Where’s your flat?”
“My flat, Potter? Do you really think I’d go to all the trouble of laying that many different wards just to hand the address to Britain’s star Auror? You’re even more barking than usual.”
He didn’t bother to suppress a smile. “Here.”
“Here?” Potter looked sceptical.
“Here,” Draco confirmed. “The office empties out by nine. I’ve got a full bar, and if we find ourselves in need of any other accoutrements, well, we are both wizards, are we not?”
Potter craned his neck as if taking the room in anew. “Here,” he repeated.
“When I said ‘here’ the first two times, it wasn’t because I meant somewhere else.”
Potter’s eyes lingered on the edge of the desk, the leather Winchester that they’d just abandoned, the rug. And the he turned them back to Draco, a determined gaze set above firm lips. “Nine o’clock.”
£ £ £ £ £