Upon the calling of his designation, Draco Malfoy of the Department of Mysteries entered the office. He was greeted by the sight of Mr. Macmillan, his superior, rummaging through some papers. He looked up. "Good day, Mr. Malfoy. I have your new assignment. It's an official one." That was nothing remarkable. It was only when one reached the Chi designation that unofficial assignments became common. "You'll be acting as a guard."
He'd acted as a guard; his first thought was it was kind of a boring job. "Who against?"
"Your job is to watching this person." He showed Draco a photograph of a woman. She looked fairly young, with slightly dark skin and very dark brown hair that was wound round and round her head in a thick braid. "Her name is Tania Zograf. She just joined the Chudley Cannons as Keeper, free agent signing. She's also just arrived from Albania."
Albania. That made sense. Ever since Potter had defeated Lord Voldemort one last time eleven years ago, his surviving supporters had gathered in Albania, and immigrants from that country were atuomatically suspect. Draco suspected his father might be in Albania. Though that assumed he was still alive, which evidence pointed against.
"We suspect her target might be the Cannons Seeker, Harry Potter. You're to guard him."
"Come again?" asked Draco in horror.
"Is there something wrong, Omicron-Double-Pi?"
When he heard that tone of voice from his superior, Draco knew there could not be anything wrong. "No, sir. Not at all."
"Good. You will find more details here." He handed Draco a roll of parchment. "Dismissed."
Outside the room, Draco resisted the urge to hit the wall. Mr. McMillan would react very badly to that. The situation called for it, though.
He remembered Harry Potter very well. They had last seen each other when leaving Hogwarts after their sixth year. He remembered bumping into Potter while boarding the Hogwarts Express for, what for him, had turned out to be the last time, and Potter's sentiments to him, ones Draco had fully shared. That summer, Harry had defeated Lord Voldemort, apparently for good.
After the Dark Lord's downfall, Draco's father had disappeared, assumed dead. His mother had been hysterical about the whole affair; that they'd had a large part of their money confiscated probably hadn't helped. She had forbidden him to follow in his father's footsteps, and removed all traces of their former life. They'd been able to keep the manor, but she'd sold it and refused to let anyone he'd known at school into their new home, while insisting he finish his schooling at Beauxbatons, even though as Lucius Malfoy's son they'd shunned him there completely. Eventually even Pansy had fallen out of contact. Draco had pretty much turned eighteen with nothing but a lost legacy.
How he had ended up in the Department of Mysteries he wasn't even sure. He suspected these days they had sought him out.
Naturally the last decade had changed him greatly. Draco didn't think Harry Potter had changed any, though. Just seeing him smile in the photos contained in the parchment, then scowl when he saw who was looking, seemed to drive the point home.
He didn't like Potter. He didn't think he ever would. But he also didn't think this assignment would be a dull one.
"Draco Malfoy?" Harry Potter demanded in horror.
"You know Mr. Malfoy?" asked Ninane Cemout, the Chudley Cannons' captain. She had just delivered the news.
"We've met," said Harry shortly.
"He was Slytherin Seeker when he, Roger, and I were at school," elaborated Katie Davies. "Snot-faced little brat. He and Harry were in the same year, and they hated each other."
"Malfoy once tried to sabotogue Harry in a match against us," added her husband Roger.
"I see." Cemout gave Harry the stern glare that she used to keep all the members of the Cannons in line. Having by the force of her own will overpowered the corrupt management and brought the team out of the rut it had spent nearly a century in, she was very good at it. "You know well he is here for your own good."
"How can we be sure of that?" Harry insisted. "There's no reason given for us suddenly being provided with a guard."
"Unspeakables usually move with good reason-" started Cemout.
"I'd bet this one doesn't," Harry cut her off flatly.
"But Mr. Malfoy is not responsible for his assignment. The official order is authorized by Mr. Desmond Macmillan, also of the Department of Mysteries. Besides, I think we know why." She cast an uncomfortable glance at Tania Zograf, who shrugged. "You'll have to deal with Mr. Malfoy youself, Potter," she said, not unkindly. "It'll only be during practices. And I do believe here he comes now."
Malfoy was coming up the field. Harry's first thought was that he looked a lot less impressive without Crabbe and Goyle flanking him. Although he had grown slightly, unless that was just because the eye no longer compared him to his huge sidekicks, but Harry didn't think it was. Indeed, he did look a little different. Rather attractive-
Hold that thought! You are not attracted to Draco Malfoy! He could be attracted to men, he'd known *that* since the incident in his seventh year. But he could not be attracted to this sneering, arrogant boy whom he had hated since he was eleven, which Harry now considered to be the beginning of his life.
"Malfoy," he said coldly.
"Potter," Malfoy replied, equally coldly.
"Morning, Mr. Malfoy," said Cemout hastily. She held out her hand. When he did not respond, she grabbed his hand from his side and shook it. "Nanine Cemout. We're about to start practice, if you'll just take a seat."
Malfoy paused for a moment to sneer at Katie, then turned and went over to the stands.
An air of tension lay about the practice. Harry and Katie and even Roger kept shooting glares at Malfoy as if how dare he intrude on their pitch. Cemout, usually the force to be reckoned with, seemed almost unneeded to spur the three of them on. Everyone was relieved when she finally called an end.
Since Malfoy had been assigned to protect him, Harry supposed he had to say a word to him. So he landed near him, and said, very pointedly, "Thank you for being done for the day."
Malfoy grinned, which did kind of make sense. It was weird, the way he lit up. Harry told himself he couldn't find that overly interesting, and since it didn't seem like Malfoy felt any need to say anything in response, he walked off.
Fairly simple instructions. Potter better not be in any trouble, he thought darkly, as he headed through his tiny house to his fireplace. If his career suffered on Potter's account, he would find an excuse to kill him.
He landed in a fairly homey-looking living room. There were several people gathered there. Potter was amoung them, in his bathrobe. So was Mr. Macmillan. He was asking Potter about something. Potter was tense. It seemed very obvious to Draco, even from the fireplace, just how set his muscles were under his robes. Before he could think of the perplexity of this, however, Mr. MacMillian noticed him. "Ah. Mr. Malfoy."
"What's going on, Mr. Macmillan?"
"The situation is worse then we thought. Mr. Potter was attacked by Death Eaters tonight. You'll have to stay with him 24 hours a day from now on."
It took Draco a considerable effort to hide his outrage. Potter, not fearing a demotion, had no such qualms. "WHAT?"
"It's for your own safety, Mr. Potter."
This just made Potter angrier. "My own safety?! May I remind you, Mister Macmillan, that I have faced down Voldemort himself no less then four times, not counting when I was a baby?"
"Perhaps that is true, but I still want Mr. Malfoy staying with you. I assume you have no objections, Mr. Malfoy?"
Actually, he had a hundred objections. But there was no refusing Mr. Macmillan. "No, sir."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes." Mr. Macmillan looked suspicious, but nodded and Dissapparated. So did everyone else except Potter.
"You didn't object." said Potter in surprise.
Draco jerked his thumb to where Mr. Macmillan had been standing. "Can't. It isn't allowed."
"Take the couch," said Potter in disgust, and he turned and headed back to his bedroom.
Draco took a look at the couch, then settled down. He'd slept on worse.
Normally, if he'd been provided with a guard right after being attacked, he might have done his best to allow that guard to follow him, especially if that guard was an Unspeakable, because they were generally good at what they did. But of what use was Malfoy, except to put him in more danger?
He peeked into the living room and was pleased to see Malfoy was still asleep. He turned to leave, but something drew him to take a closer look. Malfoy looked very handsome asleep. His hair was cropped around his head, and a couple loose strands fell over his forehead. And he was smiling. Not an arrogant smirk, but a genuine, simple, beautiful smile. Harry had never seen him smile like that before.
So he can smile, Harry thought furiously, passing on into the kitchen. He's still Draco Malfoy. Unbearable, conceited, Draco Malfoy!
He ate very quickly and decided to Apparate there. He'd just have to grab his Firebolt 800, which was by the fireplace.
He tiptoed into the living room, picked the broom up, then heard the all too familiar voice behind him, "What're you doing, Potter?"
The tone suprised him. He was expecting a mocking drawl, or maybe ice, not simple, plain anger. "Why are you trying to sneak off without me? I'm supposed to stay with you at all times."
"Come along then." said Harry grumpily, then delibrately Dissapparated.
He Apparated right next to the changing rooms. A second later, Malfoy Apparated next to him. "Didn't give me any time for breakfast did you?"
Harry turned away and grabbed the door hangle, but then Draco grabbed his arm and spun him around forcefully. "Listen, Potter." he continued. "Okay, I don't like you, you don't like me. But if you're being attacked by Death Eaters, that's a serious matter, and any failure on my part to guard you could result in you actually being killed. When you disregarded security measures at school I couldn't care less, but this *my* career on the line, and I am staying with you."
"And why should I care about your career?" Harry snarled back.
"You should care that you're in danger, and you should grateful for my protection!"
"Protection? How can you protect me, when you've been a Death Eater yourself!"
That was when Malfoy grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and tell him, straight out. "For your information, Potter, I never was a Death Eater. Okay, my dad was one. But I wasn't!"
He released Harry, who gaped at him, genuinely shocked. Then he growled, "Stay out here," and marched into the changing rooms.
Harry was greeted by roars of laughter. "What?"
"If only you two could have *heard* yourselves!" laughed Roger. "Be sure to invite me to the wedding!"
"Harry," said Katie, holding back giggles, "the way you were arguing with Malfoy, maybe it changed after I finished school, but it wasn't the way you argued with him back in school. It was more the way your two best friends argued, and as you know, they are currently married!"
"He never went manhandling her!"
But even Niniane Cemout was laughing. "Everyone's different," she said. "It was close enough."
"I hate you all," grumbled Harry, and went for his practice robes.
Outside Draco paced back and forth. Why had he lost emotional control like that? Potter had been an annoyance, someone to throw insults at and get in trouble if he could, and right now, Potter was a necessary evil. He wasn't someone to lose emotional control over.
Then he emerged in his Quidditch robes, in a very loud arguement with Roger and Katie Davies. He really is attractive, Draco thought before he could stop it.
Before anyone noticed him looking, Draco turned away. He was not going to think like that. He was not. Just wasn't.
Harry was in a worse mood. He said something to Malfoy he had felt a million times, but had never said out loud: "I HATE YOU!!!"
"I hate you too!" Malfoy yelled back, but there was something wrong. Some instinct told him Malfoy didn't mean it. Of course he means it! We hate each other; we always have! Harry tried to tell himself, to no avail. He looked into Malfoy's grey eyes. There was anger there, and-pain. And-desire? Yes, it was unmistakable. The anger died away.
Draco stared. Potter's expression was changing swiftly, from it's previous stance of fury to first shock. And then he smiled, and licked his lips slightly. He stepped towards Draco. Draco moved involuntarily towards him, now entranced by those green eyes, which were glittering with desire.
Potter-Harry, some part of Draco's mind corrected him, reached out his arm. Draco's eyes momentarily fell on his shoulder as Harry's hand settled behind it, the fingers pressing on the skin on the back of his neck, which tingled at the touch. He looked back up. Harry was moving in now, Draco could feel his breath on his cheek.
This is Harry Potter! This is my enemy, my rival, the person I've hated for eighteen years, about to kiss me...and I want him to...too much to stop him. Draco tilted his head, his lips parted, he closed his eyes-
And then abruptly Harry cried out and pulled away, and his hands flew to his hand, clamped over a scar that Draco understood him to have gotten from his final showdown with Voldemort. "Does that scar act as an warning, like the one on your forehead used to?"
Harry nodded. "There might be Death Eaters about." He whipped out his wand.
"Expelliarmus!" Harry's wand flew out of his hand. A figure in the shadows caught it. "Stupefy!" Harry fell. Draco reached for his wand. "Stupefy!" the figure yelled again, and Draco was out as well.
If he hadn't been chained, he would've slapped himself. How had he allowed them to be captured so easily? Had the prospect of kissing Harry really distracted him that bloody much?
Harry was stirring. Draco took a moment or so to admire the view-there was little denying anything now-before Harry glared at him angrily. "Protection, huh? And I was able to fend off the Death Eaters when you weren't there!"
"In my experience," said Draco, "Death Eaters nowadays usually capture or kill on the second attack." This was true; after Voldemort's fall, his supporters had developed a habit of first launching a warning before the real attack.
"Oh I don't know about that! I don't think Voldemort-"
"Ah, glad to see you're avake!" Tania Zograf entered. She was wearing a black traveling cloak with a pattern sewn into the rim which Draco recognized as marking her as a Death Eater. "This mission is going perfectly. You're father vill be very pleased to see you, Draco Malfoy."
"He's still alive?" Draco kept his tone cold.
"Vhy yes! He contacted your mother, intending for her and you to join him in Albania. But you never showed up."
"My mother was wiser then him," said Draco, his voice still cold. "She cut all ties to our previous life."
"I guessed that. A mere Unspeakable? Not even a figure of authority in the Department. A mere Omicron!"
"Less then 15 percent of Unspeakables get so high a designation." Draco corrected her. "If if not for my family history, I would have got higher." Yes, if he could no longer gloat to Harry Potter, why pass up the opportunity here? "It hasn't been so easy for me to get this high. I've had to use every ability I have. Unlike my father, who wa born into it. I could've been born into it, but my mother threw that away, and I've done well anyway!"
He still thought the best part of it was the smile Harry gave him.
"Very noble sentiments, boy. But your father isn't too pleased vith you. And I haffn't even told him yet about what I saw happen betveen the two of you last night." She laughed. Harry turned red.
Draco kept himself calm, asking only, "What do you intend to do with us?"
"Take you to Albania of course. By the time ve're done vith you, all you'll vant is a quick death."
There was the sound of voices outside. "And I do believe its time to go. Stupefy!"
Draco was looking around. A quick inspection told him all he needed to know. "Yes, it certainly is. We're in a Death Eater dungeon in Albania. It's impossible to break out of."
"How d'you know?" asked Harry.
"One Unspeakable," answered Draco. "Was thrown in here and lived to tell about it. He managed to escape after they pulled him out. He was an Omega, which is the highest designation in the Department of Mysteries. I don't think anyone lower can get out of this alive."
The meaning of his words sunk in. "We're dead." said Harry. He said it very dully. It wasn't the first time either of them had faced death.
"Yes I think we are," agreed Draco. They lapsed into silence. There wasn't much more to say.
Until Harry then said, "Penny for your thoughts."
"It's a Muggle expression. Means, 'what are you thinking'?"
"Then why didn't you just ask me what I was thinking?" grumbled Draco. Harry shrugged.
"What are you thinking anyway, Harry?"
Harry looked a bit surprised at the use of his given name, but answered, "Dumbledore told me once that death is the next great adventure. I know you never thought much of him-"
"Well, he did accomplish a few things," admitted Draco. "Defeating Grindelwald-they talk that nonsense about his having a crush on him or whatever, but personally, I don't really believe it. And Lord Voldemort feared him. You have to respect him for that."
"Indeed." He paused. "It's odd, isn't it? When you know you're going to die, this odd calm comes along. It won't matter how painful my death is once it's over. And no matter how many times you face death, you always feel the same about it."
"You've had some luck," noted Draco. "Lived to-what, 28?"
"27. I would have had my 28th birthday in three months."
"Still pretty good. And I'm 27. With an Omicron designation." Silence, then, "What were you arguing with the Davieses about the other day?"
Harry chuckled. "They compared our fights to the kind Ron and Hermione used to have. Did you know they're married now?"
"No, but I'm not suprised." Without thinking he continued, "He always followed that Mudblood about with stars in his eyes."
Maybe it was their impending doom, but Harry responded with nothing more then, "Don't insult Hermione, please." Then, "Mal-er-Draco, there's something I don't understand."
"I know why you were prejudiced about Hermione. You didn't like Muggle-borns. But you were never half as insulting to any other non-Slytherin, not even Hermione or me, as you were to Ron. Is there more reason to that then I know?"
"You don't know ten percent of it, Harry." said Draco simply.
"So, some sort of family grudge?"
"Yes. A very, very old one. The Weasleys once did my family a great wrong, though to this day they insist we did them the wrong."
"What was this wrong?"
He thought. "You know, I really don't know. I do know, however, that Arthur Weasley and my father were also enemies, as were their parents. I don't know beyound that."
"I wonder how'd he'd react if he knew what happened." mused Harry. "If he knew his old best friend nearly kissed his worst enemy."
There was an uncomfortable silence following this. Then Draco started, "I've never felt this way towards another man. Or even a woman, for that matter."
"Me neither," said Harry.
"Really? I thought there was something going between you and what's-her-name-the Ravenclaw girl?"
"There was, but in the end it really wasn't much," answered Harry. "Though actually, there was..." he suddenly drifted off, embarrassed.
"That was what? What happened?" Draco demanded.
Harry looked down. "Colin happened."
Draco's jaw dropped. He breathed a silent thanks(for Harry's sake) he hadn't found out about that when he was younger. "Colin Creevay? Sure, the guy worshipped you, but-"
"Worshipped me?" Harry's voice was filled with bitterness. "For a worshipper, he had surprisingly little faithfulness! I underestimated little Colin. I allowed myself to be slightly fond of him, then I allowed myself to like him, and then I allowed myself to love him, or as close as I ever got to loving. But all Colin wanted was to be in my pants once or twice, and then off to new conquests. Wouldn't even talk to me anymore..."
His voice choked off at the memory. There was so much pain Draco could see. If he ever met Colin Creevay again he'd tear the boy limb from limb. He really would. Except I'm not going to meet him again, he reminded himself. I'm about to die. He wanted to comfort Harry, but he had no idea how. He'd been very honest, when he said he had never felt this way before. Sure, there had been Pansy, whom he thought he might have really loved eventually, but like with Harry's Ravenclaw girl, in the end it hadn't really amounted to much.
Tenatively, he reached out his hand. It was halfway to Harry when he reached out and grabbed it. In one swift move, he had pulled Draco to him and was kissing him hard. Next thing Draco knew, he was on the dungeon floor with Harry on top of him, ravishing Draco's mouth with his own.
Harry's voice, now very husky, sounded in his ear. "We will die in a few hours. Do you want this?"
Draco nodded hungrily.
Tania hurried to where old Nott was monitering through an enchanted crystal the going-ons of the cell where they were keeping Potter and Malfoy. Nott did not appear pleased. "Miss Zograf, when you captured Malfoy along with Potter, were you aware of this?" He pointed to the crystal, where a naked Potter was ripping off Malfoy's robes.
"Vell, vhat could I do?" she protested. "Lucius Malfoy vants his son brought here. He has stated so about a hundred times!"
"And what do you intend to do about this?"
She shrugged, easily hiding how glad she was to see this incidental happening. "Enjoy the show? Come on, Nott! Ve're still going to execute them vhen everyvone gets here. Vhat does it matter vhat they do in the meantime?"
"I must admit," murmered Draco as they came up for air, "this isn't how I expected to spend my last hours."
"Me neither," Harry murmered back. Draco really was different. He couldn't have changed more if he'd turned purple and sprouted a third arm.
Then they heard someone clear they throat.
There was an opening in the dungeon, and standing in it was Tania Zograf. "Put your robes back on and come along, both of you."
Without protesting they obeyed. Two hooded figures accompanied them away from the dungeon along dark stone corridors. Harry kept his head held high, knowing well what was coming and determined to accept it.
"Stop," order Zograf. "I haff something to say."
"What?" asked Harry calmly.
"Not to you, silly," she said, and her accent suddenly changed from Eastern European to Scottish. "To them." She turned to the first of the hooded figures. "And it's this:Avada Kedavra!"
A flash of light, and the first figure fell dead. "Zograf-" started the second.
"Just so you know, Crabbe," she said, "my name's Tamara Zabini. Can't believe you didn't recognize me. After all, I'm that Omega Unspeakable who escaped you. Avada Kedavra!" Crabbe also fell dead.
She turned to Harry and Draco. "Keep going along this corridor, and turn right. Go along that corridor until you reach the end. You will find a door leading a room with a fireplace in it. The fireplace has been connected to the Floo Network. Here is some powder," She handed them a vial of Floo Powder. "And here are your wands." She handed each of them thier wands. "You can use it to go wherever you wish. You've done your job already. Hurry, there will be Hit Wizards from several different Magical Law Enforcement Squads descended on this place any minute."
Neither questioned her. Down the corridor they ran, they turned right. As they went through the door into the room with the fireplace, they heard blasts outside.
"Of course," murmered Draco. "She was a double agent. They were trying to gather as many Death Eaters as possible, so they arranged the kidnapping the two of us so they would come here and be ambushed."
"I don't care," replied Harry. "I'm going home. Incendio!" He took a handful of powder and tossed it into the flames, which turned green for him to step in and yell "Oneplace!"
It was only while he was spinning he realized he had forgotten to remove his glasses. He carefully drew himself to a halt when he landed in his living room fireplace, but they fell off and broke anyway.
He stepped out of the fireplace, picked them up, repaired them with a wave of his wand, and slid them back on. Then, exhaustion taking over, he collasped onto the sofa and fell asleep.
He awoke to a gentle shaking. "Hey, sleepyhead. Wake up." Draco was leaning over him.
He pulled himself into a sitting position. "What's going on?"
Draco sat down next to him. "My assignment here's over. From now on I'm here on my own time."
"So you're sticking around?"
"Yeah, sure, why not?" His tone turned very serious. "You think I can just pass on after what happened? I told you, this doesn't happen to me too often. Besides," and here he grinned, "I don't think I've ever been shagged so well as you shagged me back in that dungeon. Unless of course," his grin faded, "you want me to go?"
Harry smiled at him. "Of course not. I'm in the same situation as you here. We've got a lot in common, Draco."
Just then there was a pop, and Ron and Hermione appeared. "Harry!" started Ron. "You're okay! We heard-" He stopped dead at the sight of Draco. "What's he doing here?"
"Um," started Harry, "maybe you both should sit down..."