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mirabella ([personal profile] mirabella) wrote in [community profile] mirabellafic2013-09-29 07:44 pm
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Title: Harry Potter and the Inconvenient Condition
Fandom: Harry Potter, Harry/Draco, R.
Summary: Harry comes back from vacation with an inconvenient case of vampirism and must learn to cope with blood, Malfoy, and recalcitrant secretaries. And if that doesn't tell you everything about the plot you need to know, you haven't read enough badfic.
Warnings: Relatively mild bloodplay, as close as I'm ever likely to get to consent issues.

The smell of rain wrapped around Harry, smotheringly thick, as soon as he stumbled out of the pub. Blinking in the sudden darkness, he braced a hand on the doorframe and looked around, trying to get his bearings.

"Hazamegy, ön hazamegy," scolded the barmaid, a wizened Magyar woman whose disapproving frown had deepened with every drink she brought him. Harry made a sort of weary I'm going, I'm going gesture back over his shoulder.

"Jó éjszakát," he called back, pushed away from the door, and started down the cobblestone street, hands stuffed in his pockets. There was only moonlight to light his way; he'd chosen to spend his hard-earned vacation in a tiny, out-of-the-way wizarding village on the Danube, and he counted himself lucky that they had a pub, never mind streetlamps. Head down, he watched the moonlight glint from the damp street and remembered the electric streetlights of his childhood, harsh and brilliant like the glow of a wand too close to his eyes.

He hadn't actually meant to get drunk. It was that sodding letter from Hermione that had done it. He was starting to think there was something horribly passive-aggressive in the way she earnestly urged him not to cut his vacation short and then went on to inform him, in clinical detail, of every catastrophe large and small that had occurred in his absence, starting with Karkaroff's ambush of one of Ron's Auror teams, going on past the number of Draco Malfoy's broken bones when his broom was hexed out of the air, on down to the unseasonably cold weather killing a whole crop of Neville's mandrakes. Harry didn't want to hear any of it. He'd done his job, he'd killed Voldemort, and he was starting to think that someone else could bloody well take care of the surprisingly tenacious remnants of the Death Eaters.

His footsteps echoed oddly on the stones of the street – odd in a way that he recognized instantly. There was someone behind him.

Harry slipped his wand into his hand and glanced covertly around, not lifting his head. The street wound downhill for another half a mile before it reached his lodgings; closed shops overhung the streets to either side, providing little cover in their outer structure but probably unlocked. He'd been too drunk to Apparate before he heard the steps behind him and even now would probably run a grave risk of being splinched, but he felt clear-headed enough to aim for it as a last resort. Surroundings noted and catalogued, Harry turned and looked back – it was amazing, he'd learned long ago, how many sneak attacks could be switched off at the main just by letting the would-be attacker know that his cover had been blown. It was probably nothing, in this case, but he turned and looked back anyway.

There was no one there, and no swirling in the rising fog that would indicate that someone had just moved through it at speed.

Harry frowned, listening. The footsteps had fallen silent the moment he began to turn. Invisibility cloak, or a bloody good Disillusionment charm, he thought.

"All right," he said aloud, all too aware of the fact that he still sounded painfully drunk. "You're louder than front-row seats at a Weird Sisters concert. You've blown your bloody cover and your chance to catch me off-guard tonight. Bugger off and try again some other time."

Only silence answered him, but that was all the answer he'd expected. Well, shit, he thought, and in a flash was out of the street and into an alley, praying he wouldn't trip over anything. There should be a turn, and yes, there it was, and Harry was racing up an alley that ran right behind his lodgings, straining his ears for footsteps behind him and hearing none. Briefly he ran through all the scenarios that could account for that lack of audible pursuit, then set them aside and focused on getting inside the wards surrounding the small cottage he'd rented.

For an unpleasant moment he was out of the shadow and exposed as he swung over the back fence; then he was down again, crouching a couple of feet from where he landed and surveying the tiny garden. Nothing there, and his head was starting to spin again. Telling himself he'd been an idiot and was probably going to wake up the next morning with a wooden leg and an unnerving false eye, Harry dusted off his hands and stood.

The dark rolled over him, heavy and suffocating, and he felt himself falling.

Consciousness returned with painful abruptness and he nearly sat bolt upright before he clamped down on the instinct, remaining where he was with no more than a slight flutter of his eyelids. He was on a bed, not overly comfortable but adequate to the task; some sort of padded cuffs surrounded his wrists, almost certainly securing him to the bed frame. Fuck! he thought, exceedingly disgruntled.

"Rise and shine, Potter," someone drawled, and Harry's eyes snapped open.

Malfoy was sitting in a chair beside his bed, a Quidditch magazine folded open in his lap. Harry started to say something along the lines of Goddammit, Malfoy, I should have known – a speech that, truth be known, he'd had prepared for years and still polished a bit from time to time while in the shower – when he noticed two things. First, Draco was wearing pajamas and a bathrobe and looked like a man who hadn't quite recovered from falling a hundred feet off a shattered broom; and second, Harry had never been so thirsty in his life. His whole body ached unpleasantly with it, and for some reason Malfoy was irritating that ache like an unscratchable itch.

"You're at St. Mungo's," Malfoy told him. "Granger drafted me to sit with you at night, seeing as how I'm a day or so from being released anyway – well, and I think she hopes you'll kill me –"

Harry shook his head, wishing he knew where his glasses were. "Wait, that I'll what? What in buggery have you done now, Malfoy? And why am I strapped to the bed?"

Malfoy looked vaguely annoyed. "I haven't done anything, Potter. You were the one stupid enough to get drunk and go wandering around alone at night in the shadow of the Carpathians. And as to why you're strapped to the bed…" Malfoy smirked and tossed Harry his glasses, waited while Harry fumbled them onto his face, and then lifted his wrist and turned it toward the candlelight. His skin was so very pale, transparent as alabaster, and underneath it, limned with faint blue lines…

Thirsty. Oh, Jesus, Harry was thirsty, and Draco was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. His hand shot out before he could stop it, yanked to a halt by the straps with Malfoy's wrist half an inch from his outstretched fingertips.

"That's why," Malfoy said quietly, and for once he didn't sound mocking.

Harry was barely listening. He was burning up, and there Malfoy sat like some sort of bloody water elemental letting him do it. He swallowed hard and looked up, meeting Malfoy's gaze.

"Draco," he whispered, and heard something odd in his own voice, some sharp hum behind the pitch and timbre. "Come here."

Malfoy's eyes were starting to glaze over and his breathing was becoming unsteady, but he shook his head anyway. "Not bloody likely, Potter."

Harry drew his hand back and lifted himself up onto his elbow. Fuck, he was so thirsty and Draco was right there and it wasn't fair. "Please," he said desperately. "I… I want you."

"For what?" Draco asked sharply. "For God's sake, snap out of it and think. What would you do with me if I got into bed with you right now?"

"I…" Half a dozen guilt-filled masturbatory fantasies sprang immediately to mind, but all of them were wiped away by the image of his mouth at Draco's throat, tasting skin and sweat, filling with the hot flow of…

"Oh, fuck," he groaned in sudden horrified realization. "Oh, fuck, no."

Draco let out a small sigh, and Harry was surprised to see that he was shaking. "Don't do that again, Potter. Only one of us is tied down, and I'd rather not end my days as your dinner."

Harry looked away, frustrated in so many different ways that he thought his head might explode. "Look, then… help me, okay? I'm thirsty. If it doesn't go away soon I'm really going to need these straps."

"I rang for a nurse as soon as I realized you were awake. I don't know what's bloody keeping them, but if no one's here in a minute I'll go find someone."

"Thanks," Harry said glumly, keeping his gaze turned resolutely away from Malfoy.

"I'll owl Granger and Lupin first thing in the morning. Well, not that they'll be able to see you until nightfall, but I can let them know that you woke up, anyway. In the meantime… here, have a Quidditch magazine. I think the cover story is the World Cup from the year we finished school, but boredom knows no dignity." A magazine landed on the bed beside Harry. "Have at it. Better than sitting there thinking about your condition."

He could almost hear the beating of Malfoy's heart. Harry closed his eyes and whispered, "Draco…" and felt something in his voice reaching out toward Malfoy.

"Potter!" Draco snapped, making Harry jump. "Look at me, and listen. You're a fledgling, but you're a damn fast learner. If you keep doing that, this night is highly likely to end in you snapping out of a daze to find that you're in bed with a corpse and the sheets looks like they were used to clean up an axe murder, because you can't be left alone and there's no one else to sit with us tonight. Get the fuck hold of yourself."

"Can you go find a nurse, please?" Harry asked tightly.

The door opened just as Draco started to rise, and Harry noticed for the first time that they were in a private room. A short, strawberry-haired nurse came into the room balancing a mug on a tray, and the smell of it made Harry's mouth water.

"Oh, we're awake, are we?" she asked brightly.

"We, as in you and I, have been awake for some time. Potter there just woke up," Draco said in the tight tones of someone who knows their correction will go in one ear and out the other and feels compelled to say it anyway.

"Well, I've brought our drinkie," she said, blithely ignoring Draco, who closed his eyes in pain. "Now, Harry dear, I'm going to shorten those straps for a minute so I can set this down, and then I'll lengthen them again so you can get at it. You drink it all down and you'll feel much better."

"What is it?" Harry asked as the straps contracted and pulled his wrists down against the bed.

The nurse set the mug down, stepped back, and cast the charm to loosen the straps again. "It's a little pressie from Professor Snape," she chirped.

Harry was never going to use diminutives again as long as he lived.

"It'll make us feel ever so much better, so drink it down like a good boy! Draco, you make sure he minds!"

It was possible he was never even going to use contractions again.

"Thank you, Gwladys, I'll take it from here," Malfoy said between his teeth.

"You just call if you need anything else and I'll be here in two jiffies," she trilled.

Draco sighed and watched the nurse bounce out of the room. "I'm going to kill that woman before I leave here," he said with the dreamy wistfulness of a child looking forward to Christmas. "Hurry up and drink that, Potter. I'll vouch for it. It really will make you feel better."

Harry picked up the mug and sniffed warily at it. It smelled of blood, dizzyingly so, but also of aniseed, cinnamon, and other things he couldn't quite untangle. Unable to resist any longer, he downed the potion in long, desperate gulps, not caring when it spilled past the corners of his mouth to trickle down toward his throat. There was a moment of panic when he realized that there was none left, before he realized that the thirst, while not entirely slaked, had dulled to an ignorable level. He lowered the mug and wiped at his face, feeling queasy when his hand came away red. "Whose blood was that?"

Draco shrugged. "Might be as well not to ask. Did it work?"

"More or less," Harry answered. The potion was the liquid equivalent of field rations – it suppressed the thirst without satisfying it, didn't taste very good, and really mostly served to make it abundantly clear that someone somewhere was having a four-course gourmet meal and it wasn't Harry. He found himself eyeing Malfoy's carotid artery and poking with his tongue at suddenly sharp eyeteeth, and made himself stop.

"Clearly tending more toward the 'less' than the 'more,'" Draco said disapprovingly. "I'll have to let Severus know so he can adjust the dosage."

"How long have I been here?"

"Three days," Malfoy reported, pulling a hand towel out of the bedside table. "Wipe your face. It's unnerving seeing you sitting there all gore-streaked. Not that it isn't hot in a sort of appalling way, but –"

Harry glowered at him over the towel. "You know, Malfoy, there really is a line between 'living dangerously' and 'suicide by Auror'."

"Is there? Fancy that. As I was saying before your blood-soaked condition distracted me –"


" – the milkman found you just before dawn, and a bloody good thing too or you'd have laid there frying in the sun until whatever bar you've been frequenting noticed that they'd been open a whole half an hour and no Potter. He got you inside, found Hedwig, and sent her off with a message. Hedwig came to Granger, who made everyone's life miserable until she found someone who could speak Hungarian well enough to cast a translation spell; Granger and Weasley went to fetch you, at some risk to their own lives, brought you back here, and here we are." Malfoy folded his hands in his lap and looked at Harry with an expression that Harry really, really did not like.

"Here we are," Harry echoed warily. "So?"

Malfoy smirked. "Oh, come on, Potter. You're shackled to the bed. You're just far enough gone in an uncontrollable thirst that you're not entirely in control of your own actions, but not far gone enough not to be fully aware of what's going on. You can't possibly expect me not to get a bit of my own back." He reached under one of the Quidditch magazines on the table and pulled out a long, thin scalpel, twirling it gracefully in his fingertips.

Harry's mouth went dry. "Malfoy."


"Malfoy, don't. I don't know if these straps will –"

"You don't have a wand, Potter, and I do. The straps were made to hold vampires older and more physically powerful than you. The room has protective spells cast into the walls, and that potion you drank inhibited your ability to do any sort of wandless magic. You can't even get to me to hurt me." Malfoy smiled brightly. "I can't even tell you the possibilities this opens up. I feel like I'm thirteen years old again and have free spending rein in Honeydukes for the first time."

"You are an incredible bastard," Harry informed him. "And also a cowardly little fuck. Why don't you undo the straps and even the odds a bit?"

"Because that would take the fun out of it," Draco explained patiently. "And this isn't cowardice. Just think of it as a bit of kink."

"I am not having sex with you!" Harry squawked a bit too loudly, furiously ignoring the fact a goodly number of the Fantasies He Would Not Tell Anyone About Ever did in fact involve himself, Draco, and good solid restraints.

"Did I say anything about sex?" Malfoy asked innocently. The scalpel stopped spinning abruptly. Mouth watering, Harry watched as Malfoy drew the flat of his blade, slowly and with every appearance of enjoyment, along the line of his jaw. The blade circled just under Draco's ear, following the arterial line downward along his throat, candlelight gleaming from the cold metal in shattered fragments as the scalpel just barely missed nicking Draco's skin.

Harry whimpered, and promptly hated himself for it.

"We'll be stuck in here together all night, might as well make the most of it," Draco said. The tip of the scalpel disappeared into his mouth and slid slowly back out. Harry squirmed. "Hm, I have a game we can play."

"Malfoy, I swear to God when I get out of these restraints I'm going to –"

"Yes, yes, but that won't be for a few days at least and I'm bored now. How about if we see how long it takes this scalpel and me to bring you off without touching you?"

"I am not getting turned on by this," Harry lied loudly.

"No? You have a spare wand under there tenting the sheets like that?"

Harry blushed furiously and shoved his head back onto the pillow in lieu of being able to beat it against the wall. "Oh, God, why does this shit always happen to me?" he groaned. "I could have been raised by my parents and had a nice normal life, but no, I had to be orphaned by a lunatic who tried to murder me at yearly intervals. I could have woken up to Ron and Hermione, who would have been sympathetic about the fact that I've just found out I'm a fucking vampire and am having just a little trouble adjusting to it, but no – I have to wake up to Draco Malfoy, a scalpel, and twelve years of pent-up thirst for petty revenge."

"It's because the universe hates you, Potter," Malfoy explained.

"Well, obviously."

"And anyway, might as well have a baptism by fire, hm? If you had Weasley and Granger in here you'd just come out of it coddled and sulky. This, on the other hand, will teach you a bit of control. It's a win-win scenario, really." Draco drew the tip of the scalpel idly down the veins of his wrist, hard enough to leave a mark but not hard enough to cut the skin.

"Malfoy, I can't even begin to tell you what I'm going to do to you when –"

Lethargy hit him like a freight train full of marshmallows, and suddenly his tongue was too tangled for him to speak coherently.

"Hey," he said weakly. "What else was… in that…"

Draco looked vaguely disappointed. "It's not the potion. You woke late; the sun must be rising."

"I… can't…" For the first time, Harry noticed that the room had no windows.

Malfoy picked up his wand and muttered the spell to shorten the restraints, pinning Harry's wrists back against the bed. "Don't worry, I'll relax them in a minute."

Through suddenly bleary vision, Harry saw Malfoy come and sit on the bed, tapping the scalpel idly against his chin. Something stirred in Harry, too weakly to force him to move; Malfoy's smile stirred a far more familiar feeling of frantic alarm, but that too was crushed under the weight of sleepiness.

"Malfoy," he tried.

"Shh," Malfoy whispered soothingly, and the blade of the scalpel disappeared into his mouth again. A quick movement of his hand and he started, making a pained sound. Awareness briefly won out over lethargy, and Harry found himself very interested indeed in what was going on in Draco's mouth.

"Want a taste?" Draco whispered, leaning over Harry with one hand on either side of his shoulders. "I think it's probably better than the potion."

Shaking now and too weak to strain against the straps, Harry found his mouth opening pleadingly. Draco leaned close and slid his tongue out between his teeth. There was a droplet of blood hanging from the end of his tongue, growing heavier as more trickled downward from the cut, swelling but not dropping. Harry moaned and arched up as best he could, unable to quite reach Draco's tongue with his own.

The droplet fell, exploding into Harry's mouth with a taste that sent ecstasy searing through him, the taste of life and magic and Draco; for a brief moment he was completely awake, more completely awake than he'd ever been, churning with the need for more and the need to have Draco stick his hand under the sheets and bring him off, and he yanked at the straps so hard that he felt his wrists bruising.

"Goodnight, Potter," Draco said with a rather charming smile, and that was the last thing Harry heard for a good long time.

He snapped awake hours later, immediately aware that there was someone beside him. "You'd better not be Malfoy," he ground out.

"No, I'm Remus. I take it you and Mr. Malfoy didn't get along very well last night."

Well, no. No, one could probably not say with complete accuracy that they'd gotten along well. "Where is he?"

"In his own room annoying the nurses, I should imagine." Remus closed his book and set it on the bedside table beside something that looked remarkably like a thermos. "Ready for your potion?"

Harry nodded. Remus aimed his wand at the thermos and removed the spell holding the potion in stasis, and the room filled with the smell of blood. Harry shifted up onto his elbow and grabbed the thermos with a shaking hand, trying not to spill the potion this time as he gulped it down. It still wasn't terribly satisfying, but it made the burning thirst go away, and that was all Harry cared about.

He was decidedly not thinking about the fireworks that had been set off by Draco's blood in his mouth, because that way lay madness, or at least problematic physical reactions he'd rather not be having in front of Remus.

"Better?" Remus asked, and smiled when Harry nodded. "I picked up more wolfsbane potion when I was at Hogwarts laying in your stock. You can imagine how thrilled Severus was at having to make highly specialized and complex potions for both of us."

There was a tap on the door, and Harry found his glasses on the bedside table just as Ron and Hermione poked their heads in. "Are you feeling up to more company, Harry?" Hermione asked anxiously.

Harry smiled. "Yeah. I feel a lot better than I did last night."

"Better how?" Ron asked, plopping down onto the bed by Harry's shins with the indifference of a man well aware that he had forty pounds of solid muscle over Harry and also a longer reach.

"The potion didn't work very well last night. Every time I looked at Malfoy I wanted to…" Harry trailed off, embarrassed, suddenly painfully aware of the fact that he wasn't quite sure what he'd wanted to do to Malfoy.

"But you aren't feeling that way now?" Hermione asked.

Harry shook his head.

"Good," she said, pointed her wand at the straps, and said "Patefacio!" The cuffs snapped open, freeing Harry's wrists, and he sat up with a wince.

"I don't suppose there's a cure for this, is there?" he asked without much hope. All three of them shook their heads.

"The condition is controllable with the potion, and after a few years you might not have to take it every night," Remus said gently. "You won't be able to go out into the sun because you'll burn too quickly and too badly, and even with a heavy-duty sunblocking charm you'll be highly susceptible to skin cancer. You'll find that you're a little faster and stronger than you used to be. You'll still be able to eat and drink as usual, you just won't really need to. As long as you stay out of the light and make sure you're somewhere safe before dawn, you'll be able to lead a relatively normal life."

"What if I bite someone else? Will they turn into a vampire?"

Remus chuckled. "Thinking of giving Malfoy a bit of his own back? They shouldn't – there's usually more to it than that – but sometimes it happens spontaneously, as it seems to have done with you. But don't bite anyone else. You could kill them far more easily than you realize."

"We were worried, Harry," Hermione said quietly. "I'm so glad you're all right."

After having got hard as a rock watching Draco Malfoy play with a scalpel, Harry was a bit worried about himself too. "I'll be okay. I don't feel that much different. Except for that weird thing that happens with my voice."

Hermione's brow furrowed. "What weird thing?"

Harry looked down and picked at the covers. "When I woke up last night… I didn't mean to, but I was so thirsty I couldn't think, and Draco was right there, and I – I wanted him to –"

"To get within reach so you could feed?" Remus asked kindly. "Yes, don't do that if you can help it either. Did you bite him?"

"No. I really, really wanted to, though, and not just because he was being an utter bastard. God, I really need that potion, don't I?"

Ron patted him sympathetically on the leg. "Don't worry, mate. It was your first night dealing with it, and Malfoy's enough to drive anyone to want to bite him. I wish it'd been us there when you woke up."

"Me too," Harry said gloomily.

"But you'll be all right," Hermione repeated. "Now, I'm sure you're dying to know all about what's been going on while you were asleep…"

Harry sighed and got more comfortable, preparing to look interested while fighting the urge to lie back down and pull the blankets over his head.

"Good morning, Potter. Or night, as the case may be."

Harry woke blindingly thirsty and all too aware that Malfoy was sitting on the bed next to him, that Hermione hadn't put the cuffs back on him before they left, and that his wrists were hidden under the pillow. He probably thinks I'm still tied down, Harry thought, and didn't know if he was thinking with his head or with the thirst that made his heart pound painfully in his chest. "Malfoy," he said carefully, not daring to open his eyes. "Go away."

"I told you, dolt, you can't be left alone."

There was a maddening, itchy tingle at the base of his eyeteeth, and suddenly they seemed to be much longer than usual. "Malfoy, I'm not joking. Get out."

"I wish I could, but –"

Harry felt himself move faster than he'd ever moved in his life, and before he could put a stop to things he'd dragged an extremely startled Malfoy down onto the bed, shoved him against the mattress, and braced his arms to either side of Malfoy's shoulders. "Good morning, Malfoy," he purred spitefully. "Or night. As the case may be."

Draco's chest was rising and falling with quick, frantic breaths, but his eyes were steady on Harry's. "Potion's on the bedside table, Potter. I'd have given it to you if I'd had half a chance."

Harry felt a brief stab of guilt through the red-soaked haze that had taken over every one of his faculties, and wasn't quite coherent enough to understand why. "Potion?" he repeated blankly, watching in fascination as the pulse beat wildly at the base of Draco's throat.

"Fucking Granger, I'm going to –"

Harry gave a soft snarl of warning and dipped his head to run the tip of his nose up the side of Malfoy's throat, smelling blood rushing under the skin. Malfoy's hair was very soft against Harry's face; his heart was beating faster now, but his voice when he spoke was calm and steady.

"Potion, Potter. The one that makes you not thirsty anymore. You want that, don't you? The potion will fix everything."

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Harry vehemently disagreed with that assertion. The potion was flat and lifeless, didn't taste like a good year for sangria in the Promised Land, didn't leave him hard and wanting. What he wanted was right underneath him. "Beautiful," he whispered, and licked a thin stripe up Malfoy's neck. "You're beautiful."

"Harry. Listen to me."

"Hm?" Harry said vaguely, opening his mouth to suck just a little at Malfoy's neck, not biting yet.

"Whatever you want, you can have it."

"I know," Harry whispered, and drew the sharp points of his fangs along Draco's skin.

"After you drink the potion."

"Now," Harry argued, nipping hard at Draco's earlobe.

"I'm going to pull out my wand now," Draco breathed against Harry's hair. "I'm going to aim it at the bedside table, not at you, and summon the potion over here. You'll be able to stop me in plenty of time if I try to do anything else. It'll only take you a second to drink the potion, and then you can do anything you want – bite me, fuck me, whatever you decide on. Understand?"

Harry's brain, what little there was left of it, had got stalled somewhere around the fuck me part. He nodded and nibbled on Draco's neck, making him start. So damn thirsty, and soon the cool trickle of sweat on Malfoy's skin wasn't going to be enough to satisfy him. So beautiful, mine…

"Accio potion," Draco said, and the cup flew to his hand. "Harry. Drink this. You promised, and it'll only take a second."

"Don't think I promised," Harry murmured, entranced by the low susurration of blood whispering under Draco's skin. He was floating, drowsy, disconnected from everything but the thirst and the beat of Draco's heart.

"You're thirsty. Drink the potion. Just a second and then it'll be done, and I'll let you do whatever you want to me. Wouldn't you rather have me willing? Good. Drink the potion."

Harry gave a resentful growl and sat up, tossing the potion down his throat. The thirst ebbed, taking the red fog with it; Harry blinked and shook his head, feeling as if he were coming out of deep water, or out from under Imperius. Blearily, he rubbed a hand across his face, and his eyes met Draco's.

The cup fell to the sheets between them, splattering Draco's face with fine red droplets.

"Can I move now?" Draco asked carefully.

"Oh my god," Harry said thinly. "Oh, fuck, what did I just –"

"Easy, Potter."

Harry's gut was churning, and there wasn't enough air. "I think I'm going to be sick."

"Don't," Draco ordered sharply. "I don't have any more of that potion. Keep it in your system."

"Malfoy, I'm, god, I'm sorry, I don't know what – it wasn't this way last night, with Remus, when I first woke up and I –"

"Potter, calm down. You told me to move away and I didn't, and then you caught me off-guard and pinned me. It was partly my fault. I think under the circumstances we did fairly well to get out of it with only minor embarrassment, don't you agree?"

Harry almost choked, but that would have brought the potion back up for sure. "Minor embarrassment? Malfoy, I could have killed you!"

"And you didn't," Malfoy pointed out patiently, wriggling a bit to get more comfortable on Harry's bed. "So now we've found out that you're quite a bit quicker than you used to be, that it's a very bad idea to get near you before you've had your potion, and that you don't go for the bite right away. And that you're well-hung."

Harry stared at Draco, torn between laughing and punching him.

Malfoy examined his fingernails. "So?"

"So?" Harry repeated, puzzled.

"So I said that if you drank the potion I'd let you do whatever you wanted. Get on with it, then."

Harry's mood, which had just begun to recover, plummeted again. "You can't possibly think I'm going to hold you to that. Your life was in danger, you said what you had to to get out of it."

"Well, yes, but do try to make lemonade out of lemons, here, Potter."

"I can't – god, Malfoy!"

Malfoy sat up and ran a hand through his hair, and Harry noted a bit resentfully that the same gesture that made his own hair stick up like porcupine quills made Draco's settle back into flawless order. "Of course you can. Why can't you?" he demanded, looking a bit insulted.

"Remus said not to bite you. Not to bite anyone, I mean. He said it'd be too easy to kill whoever I was biting, and he should have a corner if anyone does on knowing when it's okay to bite people and when it isn't."

"So, biting's out," Draco said, sounding a bit disappointed. "Next?"

"Next?" Harry repeated, and mentally smacked himself for sounding like a parrot.

Malfoy's eyes met his, cool and thoughtful in the candlelight. "You're… very attractive when you're hovering on the verge of an eventual manslaughter conviction."

Harry blinked. "I nearly tore your throat out and you thought it was hot?"

"Well, not at the time. All right, maybe a little at the time."

"Malfoy, you are a sick bastard. Sick."

"Possibly, but I'm also not averse to letting a vampire pound me into the mattress, a trait you may well come to appreciate."

Harry scrubbed his hands over his face and reached for his glasses. "Look. You said anything I want, right? Find a card deck and we'll play Exploding Snap."

And that was definitely a pout on Draco's face, and a damn dangerous one considering that Draco's presence had a nasty tendency to raise twenty kinds of thirst and Harry was holding onto control by a tenuous thread. "Oh, all right," Malfoy said sulkily. "I'll have to ring for the nurse, though."

"Why can't I be left alone?" Harry asked curiously as Draco crawled off the bed and straightened his clothes. He was in faded jeans and an expensive-looking black jumper this time, and Harry's fangs tingled at the base.

"The doctors say that tonight and tomorrow are the last nights you'll have to have someone sit with you – it seems that at first there was a risk that you'd hurt yourself when you woke, and there's still a risk that your body is going to have some sort of adverse reaction to whatever it is that causes vampirism."

"A more adverse reaction than this?" Harry muttered.

"Yes. I suppose you'd turn green and melt into a puddle of slime or something." Back by the bedside table again, Draco yanked on the bell pull. "You'll be able to go home the day after tomorrow. Lupin and Granger have been making your house vampire-safe, and you've a stock of potion in a cabinet in the cellar."

Harry sighed. "I should have gone to the Bahamas."

"You might still have got turned into a vampire, but you'd have had better weather for it," Draco observed, sprawling in the chair with his feet propped on the bedframe. He pulled a hand towel out of the drawer in the bedside table and wiped the potion off his face. Harry tried hard not to lick his lips.

God, was this going to be a long night. Shaking his head, Harry resigned himself to waiting for the irritating nurse, and tried to keep from staring at Malfoy's jeans.

He woke the next night desperately thirsty and conscious of someone sitting beside the bed. Malfoy had put him back in the cuffs the night before, so he wasn't worried, but he was unhappy and uncomfortable and wanted the potion.

"Potion's on the table, Harry," Remus said in that unfailingly soothing voice.

Harry opened his eyes and began to reach for it, then paused. "I'd like to see how long I can do without it. Do you mind?"

"Not as long as you're still strapped down. I don't think it'll be long, but maybe it'd be as well to test it."

Harry squirmed to a sitting position, picked up his glasses from the pillow beside him, and watched Remus spring into focus. "Remus, I…"

Remus raised a questioning eyebrow.

"Never mind," Harry said miserably, then changed his mind again. It was only Remus, after all. "Well, I mean… I have to ask someone this, and you're the only one I know to ask."

Remus began to look a bit hunted. "Oh, god. This is about sex, isn't it?"

"No! Well, yes, in a way. It's just… I'm thirsty, and you're sitting right here by the bed, and I don't have any urge to throw you down and sink my teeth into your throat except in the sort of abstract way where you have blood and I want it. Not necessarily yours, I mean, just blood in general. But Draco… what happened last night was really intense. I couldn't control it. I really think I would have hurt him if he hadn't managed to bribe me into drinking the potion –" Harry glanced up to see Remus eyeing him in confusion and some alarm. "Um. Draco didn't tell you what happened last night, did he?"

"No, and I can see I'm going to have to have a talk with him about that."

"Okay, well, but the point is that I have a reaction to him that I don't have to you. And I was wondering if it has anything to do with… well, with the fact that I've always thought he was pretty fit."

Remus raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Always?"

"Well, no, but for the last few years, anyway. I mean, I don't lust after him madly or anything, he's just… easy on the eyes."

"I don't know, Harry," Remus said, troubled. "It could be, but a reaction as strong as you're hinting…"

There was a knock on the door and Ron and Hermione poked their heads in, hesitating when they saw the untouched potion.

"Come in," Remus told them, really sounding like a man who'd been saved at the eleventh hour from having to explain the bats and the bees to his godson-by-proxy. "It's all right, Harry's testing his control a bit. He's done well so far."

"I might not always be able to get to the potion first thing," Harry explained.

"Good idea," Hermione said approvingly. "How do you feel?"

Harry shifted uncomfortably. "Thirsty," he admitted. "Really thirsty. But I'll be fine."

Ron sat down on the bed, hesitant. "All right?" he asked.

Harry caught himself eyeing the pulse beating in Ron's throat and blinked hard. "All right. Just… not too close, okay?"

"I thought you'd be bored, Harry, so I brought some reports for you to look over," Hermione told him cheerfully, setting an armful of files on a spare chair. Harry winced.

"Hermione, the Ministry can't possibly want me to come back. Not like this."

"They do, actually," Hermione said. "I asked. They were a bit iffy about it at first, but as your performance won't be impaired and might actually improve –"

" – and as long as I'm not in any sort of critical position come sunrise, and as long as I don't have to go more than twenty-four hours without feeding…"

"The point is that they want you back," Hermione said firmly. "You'll see, it'll be –"

"Having a party without me? For shame, Potter."

Harry's eyes snapped back to the door, and Draco, leaning against the frame. Unable to stop himself, Harry let his gaze travel slowly up Draco's body, boots to jeans to a black jumper that, thank god, was a turtleneck this time.

By the time he got to the neck of that jumper Harry's whole world was filmed with red, and thirst seared through every cell in his body, threatening to burn him to ash.

"All right there, mate?" Ron asked nervously, edging away a bit.

Unable to think of anything but that cool skin under his mouth and the taste of Draco's blood, Harry slid back a little on the bed and stretched out a hand, holding Draco's gaze with his own. "Draco. Come here," he said softly. That odd, sharp hum was back behind his voice, nearly inaudible – but Draco heard it.

"Draco, stay where you are," Remus warned, and instinctive resentment flared in Harry at the idea that someone might come between him and Draco. He gave a quiet snarl and kept his hand stretched out.

"You said anything, Draco. Come here."

"Ah, but that was last night, Potter," Draco said in what was meant to be a mocking tone – but his voice was shaking as he moved forward.


"Shut up, Weasley, it's all right," Draco said distantly. "I want to show you something, that's all."

"It isn't all right," Hermione said, moving to intercept him.

"Step aside, Granger, you need to see this. And it'll be… interesting." Draco smiled at Harry and took his hand.

It took the last ounce of Harry's control to pull Draco's hand gently to him instead of yanking it. With a soft, needy sound, he brought the underside of Draco's wrist to his mouth, running his open lips along the paths of the veins, misting the skin with his breath.

Draco's voice sounded as if it were coming from a very long way away. "You see?"

Harry's fangs were tingling painfully, hurting for the pressure of breaking skin. He opened his mouth wider and drew them along the path of the vein, leaving behind white scratches that darkened quickly to red.

"He doesn’t bite right away."

God, Draco's skin was so cool under his parched tongue. Harry licked carefully along the veins, drawing out the pleasure, dizzy with anticipation.

"You have probably thirty seconds to work in, more if you can distract him."

"Draco, you need to move away," Remus said urgently, and Harry barely heard.

"Harry," Draco whispered, his breath hot against Harry's ear. "Time for your potion."

"Fuck the potion," Harry said thickly, and bit.

Someone was screaming, and it wasn't Draco, who sounded like a man well on his way to orgasm. Harry didn't care because his mouth was filling with Draco's blood, flooding with it, filling his whole body with blinding light, more exhilarating than soaring after the snitch at a hundred miles an hour and oh god he wanted to come and bring Draco with him, wanted Draco screaming under him –

"Stupefy!" Remus said, and everything went black.

It was a bit unnerving, after three nights of going from sleep to waking in a heartbeat, to find himself fighting his way out of groggy unconsciousness. "Ow," he said plaintively.

"Drink this," Remus ordered, exasperated and kind. Harry squinted up at the cup, lifted himself onto his elbows, and reached out to the limit of the straps to take it. Remus' fingers brushed his on the cup, and Harry found himself both touched and curiously depressed by that small gesture of faith. He swallowed the potion, grimacing at the taste.

"Where's Malfoy?" he asked, peering around the room. Ron and Hermione were on the other side of the room, standing in a close, protective knot.

"I sent him home," Hermione said in a tight, angry voice. "He had no right to – I'm sorry, Harry, I should have kept him out."

"It wasn't his fault," Harry said, rather resenting being put into the position of defending Draco Malfoy.

"Harry's right, you know," Remus seconded. "It's not Harry's fault either, obviously, but until we understand a bit better why the two of them are so susceptible to each other's… well, charms, shall we say, it's probably better not to blame anyone. No one's hurt, just a bit frightened –"

And with a bloody painful case of blue balls, Harry thought crankily but didn't say.

"– so no harm done. And I have to say that I'm rather impressed with Draco for managing to talk his way out of that situation last night."

"I've never seen anything like that, Harry," Hermione said. "It was…"

"Disturbingly hot," Ron filled in, and Hermione punched him hard in the arm.

"Ronald Weasley, it was not! There was blood! But it was very intense magic, very focused between the two of you. Remus is right, we need to find out what it is. And in the meantime, you and Malfoy need to stay as far away from each other as possible."

"All right," Harry said in a voice that came out far more downcast and petulant than he'd intended. Hermione looked sharply at him.

"Harry Potter, you were never able to stand Malfoy before you went on vacation and came back a vampire, and now all of a sudden he's your teddy bear."

"That you suck the stuffing out of," Ron put in, making Hermione hit him again and Harry laugh.

"I don't care how good he tastes, the two of you are quarantined from each other as of now," Hermione said sternly.

"But –"

"It's for the best, Harry," Remus said apologetically. "You two can't control yourselves around each other, for whatever reason, and one of you is going to wind up getting hurt – probably him."

Well, lovely. There went Harry's love life, cut off at the main just as it was starting to get interesting. Gloomily, he settled back against the headboard and waited for Hermione to tell him what disaster had befallen everything in the entire world in his absence.

He was still upset two days later at his first night back on the job. But he wasn't sulking. He was dealing with his new condition with poise and aplomb. He was possibly a little depressed, but he'd get over it. He was recharged from his vacation and ready to go back to work.

He was going to kill the night secretary.

"But you clearly couldn't have an office with a window, Mr. Potter," she was saying, pursing her lips in disapproval and causing the entire lower half of her face to disappear into a web of wrinkles.

"Genevieve," he said with iron patience. "I'm working nights. I won't be here until sundown and I'll be leaving well before sunrise, when I'm in the office at all. Put my things back in my office."

"Well, we've already moved them to a nice dark cubicle," she said as though his gratitude should know no bounds.

Harry rubbed his eyes. He was getting a headache, and the brilliantly-colored floral pattern of her robes wasn't helping. He kept squinting to see if there were deer amongst the flora, and frankly he really didn't want to know those things. "Then you're going to have to move them back. I have a meeting with the Minister in half an hour, and by the time I get back I expect my office to be exactly as it was when I left."

"Well, I'm sure I don't –"

"Because if it's not, I'm going to be having another meeting with the Minister. I really, really don't think I should have to meet with the Minister about the state of my office, do you?" He smiled thinly, and she glanced nervously at his mouth. "Half an hour, Genevieve."

Mentally exercising his vocabulary of profanity, he moved past her and toward the break room, where there was tea brewing. Vampire he might be but he was still English, and there were times when only a good strong cuppa would do. At least his mug was still there, and the tea might be unfailingly awful but it would do until he could get home and make himself a decent cup. He stirred in sugar and cream and took a sip, glancing up at the clock.

The room faded around him and a strange ringing silence pressed against his eardrums. Oh, shit, he thought frantically, and couldn't stop himself from turning around to look through the break room window.

Malfoy was standing at Seamus' desk, pushing his hair back out of his eyes with the back of his hand in an exhausted gesture. There was a fresh bruise across his cheekbone and he was holding a nasty-looking Dark Magic artefact that looked like a Hand of Glory with nails like talons and a hollow tube piercing the palm. Part of Harry wondered what in buggery the thing was, but most of him was busy fighting down the thirst that threatened to overwhelm his senses. He swallowed hard, tried to force his gaze away, and couldn't.

Seamus said something apparently rather funny, and Draco sat down on the corner of his desk – not so much sat on it as lounged across it, really, and Harry was appalled to find that he really, really did not like that at all.

He was even less pleased to find himself coming up behind Draco and sliding a hand onto his shoulder. "Malfoy," he said softly, running his finger down the side of Draco's neck in a slow stroke; from the back it would be hidden by Draco's hair, but Seamus could bloody well see it.

"Potter," Draco answered neutrally, holding very, very still.

"Harry!" Hermione hissed from right behind him, and Harry jumped like a scalded cat, snatching his hand back.

"Hermione," he said, blushing furiously.

"Seamus," Seamus put in good-naturedly. "Now that we all know each other…"

"We don’t mean to interrupt," Hermione said, taking hold of Harry's arm in a steely grip. "I need to borrow Harry. Excuse us, won't you?"

"Ow, Hermione, I'm sorry," Harry exclaimed as she pulled him into the corner by the water cooler.

"Stay – away – from – Malfoy!" she said between her teeth.

"I'm trying," he protested miserably. "But he, and Seamus was –"

"Harry, just because you nearly sucked an orgasm out of him through his wrist –"


" – doesn't give you the right to bother him while he's trying to work. Here." She pushed a fat file folder into his hands. "You're going on assignment tonight, right after you're done meeting with Minister Fudge. Out in the field, and well away from where Draco's going."

Harry felt a sudden pang of anxiety. "Where's he going? Is it anything dangerous? Does he have backup?"

"Harry. James. Potter."

Harry heaved a sigh. "All right, all right. Just be sure that that bloody old bat moves my things back into my office, would you?"

Hermione made a furious noise. "Has she still not done that? Really, can't anyone do as they're told?" She stalked off without waiting for an answer, bristling like a cat.

Well, he had twenty minutes to get through a huge folder of material. Smiling ruefully after Hermione, he went to sit in the break room and catch up on whatever it was he needed to know.

He wasn't smiling three hours later as he pulled his robes tight around him against the damp chill, peering into the fog for signs of movement amongst the dark looming blotches. Sure, send the vampire to cool his bloody heels in a cemetery all night, he thought sourly. Yes, we're right at home there, hang out in graveyards all the time. I personally am never happy if I haven't just fucking near broken my toe on a gravestone in the dark.

It really, really was not his day. Night. He'd woken cold and inexplicably lonely, knocked his glasses off the bedside table and nearly stepped on them trying to find them, almost hadn't been able to get the top off the potion jar, banged his head on the low doorway coming out of the cellar, dropped his wand about six times, forgot the locking spell to his own front door and was nearly late to work because of it, and that was all before he got to work and his life became really difficult. It was a good thing vampires weren't actually immortal, because hell if he wanted to go through an eternity of days like this.

Stupid sodding Death Eaters, why couldn't they meet in a nice warm tea shop?

The mist swirled in the moonlight, and Harry pricked up his ears. Someone was coming – two someones, from different directions, both of them late. In this fog, before his ill-starred vacation he wouldn't have heard them until they were nearly on top of him. Harry stepped a little farther back into the shadows and watched.

"The secretive cat eats in the arbour," one of the vague shapes hissed – Walden Macnair, if Harry wasn't mistaken.

"The full moon hides the dancing mouse," the other one said irritably, a voice Harry didn't recognize, young and petulant. "Come on, Macnair, for fuck's sake, who else would be out here in this godforsaken weather?"

"Ministry spies!" Macnair answered, audibly bristling.

"Yeah, well, I'm not one, and it's bloody cold and damp out here. What's the word from the top?"

Harry couldn't help but think that the Ministry might be behindhand in many ways, but at least they had their meetings in a boardroom.

"There is a new mission," Macnair intoned. "For the honor of our lost Lord and our own safety. The son of the Serpent's hand –"

"Serpents don't have hands."

"All right, the fruit of that tree which blooms in fair weather and withers in foul –"

"That'd be pretty much all of them, wouldn't it?"

"Bloody kill Draco Malfoy, you impertinent little snot!" Macnair roared.

Harry's vision went red for reasons that had nothing to do with feeding.

"That's easier said than done, innit?" Harry's prospective midnight snack said sullenly. "Rosier hexed his broom out from under him and he made it through with no more'n a few broken bones. Can't we kill someone easier?"

"No! Lucius must be punished for his second betrayal of our Lord!"

Upon Voldemort's defeat, Lucius Malfoy, taking to heart the axiom about leading, following, or getting out of the way, had prudently retired to the French Riviera. He and Narcissa were rumored to rule the upper crust there with an iron fist, and Narcissa still sent Draco care packages.

"Oh, all right," came the surly response. "Any particular place and time?"

"On the full moon at Stonehenge," Macnair said, and Harry rolled his eyes.

"But Stonehenge is always full of gum wrappers and empty crisp packets from the bloody tourists. Can't we do it somewhere a bit more dignified?"

"All right, all right," Macnair said testily. "The standing stones in Wiltshire, then, the ones that are hidden from the Muggles. I think they're even on Malfoy land. Just get it done."

"I can set him up."

"And watch out for Harry Potter. Rumor has it he's a vampire now."

"Oh, well, that's lovely. No fear of him sticking his neck out for Malfoy, though," said the boy that Harry was going to be picking out of his teeth with a bone shard ten minutes from now.

"Be off with you, then. Hail to the Skull and Serpent!" Macnair said.

"Mud in your eye."

Macnair Apparated away with a crack, and Harry moved. Slamming into the Death Eater with blinding speed, he pinned the boy on the ground with a knee on his chest and one hand twisted in his collar just loosely enough to avoid cutting off his air altogether. He hadn't been this pissed off since he was fifteen years old and being pissed off was a chronic condition.

"Rumor," he said between his teeth, "is right."

The boy stared in horror at Harry's eyeteeth. "Don't kill me!" he whined.

"What's your name?"

"Ben Avery."

"Any relation to the Avery we killed a year ago?"

Avery swallowed hard. "My dad's second cousin. On his mum's side. At least, I think he was, but my gran's brother married –"

"Shut up," Harry ordered, and leaned closer. "Listen, Avery. You're going to give me information, and a lot of it, because I've had a shitty night and I'm thirsty, and if you don't talk you're going to be my elevenses. But first we need to make one thing clear. If anything happens to Draco Malfoy, if he so much as has a bad hair day, I'm going to hunt you down, rip out your intestines, and eat them raw right in front of you."

"Ew," Avery said in a trembling voice.

"Too fucking right. You make me do that and I'll be really pissed off. I don't even like haggis."

"But, y'know, there are probably going to be a lot of people sent after Malfoy," Avery protested. "I mean, Macnair won't leave this to just one person, not for Lucius Malfoy's son. It'll be one of those 'Bring me the head of Person X and get a fabulous prize' type of things."

"You had better hope none of them succeed," Harry said flatly.

"Er," Avery said. "All right."

"Good. Now that we understand each other, we're going to have a little talk. Or rather you're going to talk or I'm going to rip your throat out."

"You're very into this vampire thing, aren't you?" Avery observed, eyeing him nervously.

"Only when I'm really, really, really pissed off," Harry said deliberately.

Avery sighed. "Bollocks. All right, what do you want to know?"

Harry smiled. Curiously, this did not seem to reassure Avery.

"But," Harry yelped two hours later.

Kingsley looked up at him over the tops of square wire-rimmed glasses. "No," he said again. "We're short-handed as it is, and Malfoy can take care of himself very well."

"But there's a price on his head!" Harry tried again.

"Potter, there's a price on your head, and I can't afford the manpower to assign a surveillance detail to you either."

"That's different," Harry said weakly. "Look, how about just assigning me? I won't let anything happen to him."

Kingsley gave him a suspicious look. "You hate Malfoy."

"Well," Harry said, "yes."

"So why the sudden concern for his well-being?"

Harry shifted uncomfortably. "I don't know."

"Who do we ask to find out?"

"Hermione," Harry said promptly.

Kingsley frowned. "Does she know?"

"Well, she knows everything else."

"I've no idea," Hermione said when summoned. Kingsley gave Harry an I told you so look. "It's very interesting, though, how little factual information there is about vampires – though maybe not surprising, considering that until fifty years ago the Ministry had a mandate to kill them on sight. But I haven't found anything that would explain whatever's going on between Harry and Malfoy. You want someone who knows more about the Dark Arts than I do."

"That'd be the Death Eaters, then," Harry said sourly.

"Or Professor Snape," Hermione reminded him.

"Let's leave him as a last resort, shall we?" Harry said. "I'm fine. I have self-control. If I can kill Voldemort, I can keep myself from pinning Draco Malfoy to the wall and doing really messy things to him. Now can we discuss putting a protective detail on him?"

Kingsley sighed and rubbed his eyes in a long-suffering gesture. "Potter, we have discussed it. The answer is no. I'll see to it that he knows about the threats, and that's all we can do for now."

"Oh, all right," Harry said, not at all in a sulky way.

Back at his desk, Harry rummaged through his drawers, pulled out a blood-flavored lollipop, fumbled the plastic wrap off, and stuck it in his mouth while Hermione lectured him on what she called "this sudden obsession with Malfoy, Harry, it's getting in the way of your work."

Harry pulled the lollipop out of his mouth and made a face at it. Maybe it was an acquired taste. "You used to accuse me of being obsessed with him back at school, too."

"Yes, and I thought you'd outgrown it," Hermione said in exasperation.

"I am not obsessed, Hermione," he said firmly. "I've just learned about a threat to the life of a fellow Auror. I had to report it, didn't I?"

Hermione fixed him with a shrewd glare. "Did you or did you not try to argue Kingsley into assigning you to be Malfoy's bodyguard?"

"Well," Harry began.

"A bodyguard who's tried to eat him for breakfast twice now."

"But –"

"A bodyguard who seems to think that he, or at least his virtue, needs to be protected from Seamus Finnigan."

"You know, Seamus –"

"Harry," Hermione said, interrupting him in steely tones. "If I didn't know better I'd say you were performing some sort of strange testosterone-drenched mating display for him."

"What?" Harry squawked, trying to force the image of Malfoy and scalpels out of his head. "Hermione, come on, now you've gone mental. I can't stand Malfoy. He's a pointy git with a stupid drawl. And anyway, I like girls," he added virtuously.

Hermione, curse her, actually gasped. "Harry James Potter, God'll strike you dead for telling lies like that!"

"I didn't know you were religious," Harry said sourly.

"There are times," Hermione told him, "when no one is an atheist. In foxholes, on one's deathbed, and when Harry Potter claims to be straight."

"All right, all right, I like blokes. I just don't like Malfoy. He's a good Auror and there's been a threat to his life, that's all. I just thought something should be done to protect him. For the good of the department. And it has nothing at all to do with that thing he does with the scalpel." Ohshit.

"I… really don't want to know anything more about that," Hermione said rather faintly.

"Yes, but the point is, I can… control… myself…" That dimness was pressing in on him again, blackness edging the corners of his vision, everything fading around a ringing in his ears that this time struck a definite wrong note.

"Harry?" Hermione asked nervously.

"Malfoy's hurt," Harry said distantly, shoving his chair back. "Son of a bitch, I told Kingsley –"

"He's – what? Wait! Harry, where are you going?"

The holding cells, it looked like, but Harry genuinely didn't know. All he knew was that he was following that intolerable sense of wrongness at a speed that had Hermione jogging to keep up. Something new struck his senses as he slammed through the doors to the holding area, inadvertently knocking a deputy Auror back against the wall and smearing his coffee and donut all over his robes – a distant scent, gorgeous, rich, and soothing if Harry had been of a mind to be soothed. There was a commotion going on down the hall; Harry followed it to find Ron and Draco waving their wands pointedly at –

He had no idea how it happened. One second he was standing in the doorway and the next he had Avery pinned to the wall by the throat with his feet dangling six inches off the ground. "You!" he snarled, making no attempt to keep his fangs from descending. "You little –"

"Harry!" Ron yelped.

"– weasel-brained son of a bitch, I told you what was going to happen to you if –"

"Harry, you're assaulting a prisoner!" Hermione yelled irately.

" – but you couldn't bloody be smart and listen, could you, and now I'm going to –"

"Down, Potter!"

The red mist faded out of Harry's vision instantly, ebbing with his adrenaline, and he found himself staring in horror at Avery, who was hanging from Harry's fist with his eyes squeezed shut whimpering something about haggis over and over. Slowly and carefully, he put Avery down and looked around to see a room full of Aurors staring at him as if he were one of Hagrid's more unfortunate breeding experiments.

"Er," he said, trying to wipe his palms discreetly on his trousers. "I just…"

Draco's hand was on his arm, he realized suddenly, fingers easing away from a steel-tight grip. That smell was teasing at Harry's senses again, somehow managing to be soothing and maddening and an incredible turn-on at the same time; zeroing in on its source, he saw that the front of Draco's shirt was stained with blood.

"You're hurt," he murmured.

"No, it's nothing," Draco answered in a voice that started out as bizarrely soothing, then cut off abruptly as Draco looked furious with himself. With something closer to his usual waspish tone, he went on, "I'm an Auror, Potter. These things happen."

"They shouldn't," Harry told him, sliding a hand up to rest on Draco's chest. Things like that bloody well shouldn't happen. Not to his Draco.

"Er, Harry," Ron said somewhere in the distance.

"And why not?" Draco asked, trying hard to hold onto his sneer.

"Because," Harry said, pushing gently and walking Draco backward toward the intake desk. "I don't," he went on, pushing Draco back down onto the desk and knocking a pile of papers into the lap of the fascinated night receptionist, "like it."

"Harry, don't make me stupefy you again," said a voice that sounded rather like Hermione's. Harry ignored it and planted a knee between Draco's thighs, pulling himself up onto the desk. Draco gulped and leaned backward, coming to rest on his elbows.

"Well, I'll make sure to consult you next time I feel like not getting out of the way of a hex fast enough," he snarked a little shakily. "I'm sure there'll be time for a nice long discussion on the –"

"Shh," Harry whispered against Draco's ear. Draco was safe now, sheltered between the desk and Harry's body, and that scent was driving Harry insane. "I've got you."

"That's rather what I'm afraid of," Draco breathed, turning his head so that his nose brushed Harry's skin.

"Oh, for – Stupefy!"

The hex caught them both off-guard; snapping out of his daze a little, Harry tried instinctively to shield against it, and wound up tumbling both of them off the desk and onto the floor. They landed in a pained and barely-conscious heap – but not, unfortunately, quite far gone enough for Harry not to be suddenly, horribly, aware that he'd just crawled on top of Draco Malfoy, right on the bloody receptionist's desk, in front of God, prisoners, and a dozen dumbstruck colleagues.

Harry lifted his head and peered blearily at the tangle of limbs that he and Draco had landed in. "Right. Something needs to be done about this," he said, and passed out.

The Potions classroom at Hogwarts somehow managed to look even more dismal at night than it did during the day. The smell of vaguely sinister ingredients and wood fires under cauldrons was stronger than Harry remembered it, and was rather giving him a headache. Annoyingly thirsty and vaguely sulky, he fidgeted on a chair and waited for Snape to re-emerge from the inner chamber. "Where's –" he began to ask, and then thought better of it.

Hermione patted him reassuringly on the shoulder. "He'll be here. Don't worry, it won't be much longer before Professor Snape has everything he needs and then you can feed."

"That's an awfully dramatic way of saying that I get to pop open a pint from the blood bank."

"Wow, you do get short-tempered when you haven't had any, don't you?" Ron said. Harry glowered at him.

The door to the inner chamber opened and Snape came out, carrying a full cauldron and followed by Remus. "All right, let's get this over with," Snape said, sounding as foul-tempered as Harry felt. "Has he bitten anyone else?"

"No, he hasn't," Harry answered shortly.

Snape looked impatiently at Harry, appeared to decide that Remus was the closest thing to a reasonable adult in the room, and addressed him instead. "So we don't actually know if his reaction to feeding from anyone else is as… intense."

"No, we don't," Remus said, looking a bit apprehensive.

Snape pulled a dissecting knife out of the cauldron. "Come here, Weasley," he said shortly.

"Me?" Ron yelped, looking a little pale.

"You or Granger. You choose."

"Um," Ron said unhappily, and shuffled over to the desk. Snape gestured imperiously for Ron to hold out his wrist, then made a small slice in Ron's skin. Red welled up, the scent of blood billowed into the room, and Harry's mouth began to water.

"Go on, Weasley, and let him feed from you," Snape ordered. He pulled out his wand and trained it on Harry; reluctantly, Remus and Hermione did the same.

Looking thoroughly unhappy, Ron came to stand in front of Harry and stuck out his wrist. Trying to retain some remnant of politeness in the face of that irritating thirst, Harry managed not to grab Ron's arm as he pulled it to him. "Sorry about this, Ron," he said, and fastened his mouth over the cut.

Ron's blood was a definite improvement over the potion – nice and robust, filling him with warmth and a vague sort of hallucinatory well-being rather like an absinthe high. Yes, he decided happily, definitely better than the potion.

Harry looked up over Ron's wrist to see everyone, including Ron, staring rather strangely at him. "What?" he asked with his mouth full.

"Ron," Hermione said, "how exactly does that feel?"

"Feels like I'm going to have a hell of a hickey," Ron answered. "Bit strange, having your blood sucked out."

"Nothing like sexual arousal?" Snape asked, and the sheer horror of having Snape talk about anything to do with sex looked likely to kill Ron on the spot.

"Um, no," he answered weakly. "Not much. I mean… it feels kind of good, but not like that. Good like when you're just waking up from a really nice dream. A dream not about sex in any way."

Snape didn't look happy. "Let him go, Potter. Weasley, come here."

Pouting a bit and still thirsty, Harry let go of Ron's wrist. Snape captured some of Ron's blood in a phial and stoppered it securely.

"Draco's here," Harry said suddenly. Snape raised an eyebrow and looked toward the door just as it opened.

"Am I late?" Draco asked, sauntering in. Harry scowled and gritted his teeth at the not-so-small, infuriating part of himself whining Mine mine mine mine and sulking vociferously because Draco was ten feet away talking to Snape instead of paying attention to Harry as God intended.

"Yes," Snape informed Draco in a completely professional and reasonable manner that did not at all cause Harry's insides to ache with sheer jealousy. "Come here."

Draco went obediently to the desk, where Snape cast Scourgify on the dissection knife and reached for Draco's wrist.

Harry saw red with terrifying suddenness, and before he could stop himself he'd shot across the room, yanked Draco back, and knocked Snape's hand away almost hard enough to break his wrist. "You'll hurt him!" he blurted, one arm tightening around Draco's waist and pressing Draco protectively back against him. "You can't do that, you can't hurt him. Find out what you need to know some other way."

"No one gets to hurt me but you, eh, Potter?" Draco asked breathlessly, squirming a little in his grip.

Harry stared at Draco, speechless and feeling like he'd just been slapped. Draco glanced back at him and relented instantly, turning to stroke Harry's face and nuzzle gently against his cheek.

"Shh, no, I didn't mean it," he soothed. Relieved, Harry drew him closer, holding him tight.

"Harry," Hermione said in a strangled voice.

"Wouldn't hurt you, Draco," Harry whispered, nudging against Draco like a kitten.

"Potter!" Snape exploded.

"What?" Harry snapped, rather annoyed at being interrupted when he was just beginning to really appreciate how good Draco smelled.

"You're cuddling Draco Malfoy, mate," Ron told him bluntly. "And… you know, cooing a bit."

Harry froze, feeling as if he'd had a bucket of ice water dumped over his head. A quick check told him that Ron was, against all reason, correct; a second later he and Draco were standing at opposite ends of the desk, Draco looking as horrified and ruffled as Harry felt.

"May I get on with things now?" Snape asked rather sarcastically, reaching for Draco's wrist.

"Yes," Harry said sullenly, until the scalpel came too close to Draco's skin and he couldn't stop himself from protesting. "No! Stop."

"Potter," Snape said between his teeth. "Do you want my help or not?"

"Yes, we do," Remus told him. "Harry, we're going to have to have some of Draco's blood. If you won't let Severus take it, then one of the rest of us is going to have to."

Harry fidgeted miserably. "Look, I can't let you hurt him. I mean… I can't. I don't know why but I don't think I can control it. Please, just, let's do this another way."

Draco reached out and plucked the scalpel out of Snape's fingers. "Well, you didn't seem to object to my using a scalpel on myself, so…"

Harry glanced around, saw the looks of fascinated horror everyone else was giving him, and felt himself turn scarlet. "Well, I wasn't exactly in a condition to protest at the time," he said defensively, then realized how that had sounded and really, really wished the floor would open up and swallow him. "No, not like – it's just, the sun was rising and I was really, and Dra- Malfoy – was – "

The smell of Draco's blood hit his system like an instant intoxicant, making him stammer to a halt and stare raptly at the dark fluid draining from Draco's wrist into a phial.

"Draco," he whispered thinly, trying hard to stay where he was.

Draco withdrew his wrist and held it out to Harry. "Done now, you can –"

"Draco, that is ill-advised," Snape said a bit frantically, but too late; Harry had closed the distance between them in a flash and was gently kissing the inside of Draco's wrist, smearing red across his lips, darting his tongue out to gather droplets of blood that glowed in his mouth like liquid orgasm.

"Good heavens," he heard Snape say from a great distance.

Draco moved suddenly, not taking his wrist away from Harry's mouth, arranging them so that Harry's back was pressed against Draco's chest; and that was very nearly as good as the blood, that feeling of being enfolded in Draco's arms, sheltered, protected while he was vulnerable.

"Get back," Draco snarled at someone, and dimly Harry felt the flare of wandless magic. He opened his mouth and sucked at Draco's wrist, hard, filling his mouth with warm blood, hearing himself moan and Draco whimper. Draco was pressing against him, distinct hardness grinding against Harry's arse, and his free hand began travelling downward.

"I'm sorry, Harry, but you're either going to kill Malfoy or make Ron die of apoplexy," Hermione said. "Stupefy!"

Harry's last thought before unconsciousness was that he was getting damn sick of that spell.

He woke on a hastily transfigured couch, miserable, desolate, and burning up with thirst, knowing without even opening his eyes that Malfoy was gone. "Can I have the damn potion now?" he asked, and on top of everything else his voice was wavering.

Someone pressed a goblet into his hands and he drank quickly, trying to get past the flat taste. His thirst subsided; the misery didn't.

"How do you feel, Harry?" Remus asked gently.

"Not thirsty anymore," Harry said in a small, subdued voice.

"Clearly it's a very bad idea to let you get around Mr. Malfoy when you are," Snape said absently, charming labels onto vials of blood.

"But I wasn't the second time," Harry pointed out. "Thirsty, I mean. I'd had the potion and a booster."

Snape frowned, clearly not liking the sound of that. "Why didn't you say so?"

"No one asked," Harry pointed out. "Where's Draco?"

"We sent him home, Harry," Remus said kindly but firmly. "Now tell Severus what happens when you're around Draco. Anything we couldn't see quite clearly for ourselves, I mean."

Harry curled onto his side, wrapped his arms around a couch pillow, and considered. Judging from the way Hermione clicked her tongue and sat down on the arm of the couch to stroke his hair, he probably looked thoroughly pathetic, but he couldn't bring himself to care. "It's sort of like when you stand up too fast," he told Remus. "There's this weird sort of ringing in my ears and everything gets a little dim. I can tell where he is if he's close enough, and I can tell if someone's hurt him. We can… we can make each other do things, sort of. I almost killed Avery because of Draco, but he calmed me down when I could barely even hear anyone else. And he got me to take the potion that night in the hospital when I almost bit him. If I'm thirsty enough, though, I can make him come to me, and when I pushed him onto the desk he let me instead of hexing me into a slug."

Snape was not looking happy.

Harry closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and plunged onward, both in the interests of finding out what was going on and under the assumption that misery loves company. "Also, Draco's blood… it smells incredible, it tastes incredible, and it turns me on more than I've ever been turned on before, and when you've been a sixteen-year-old boy at some point in your life that's saying something. I can – I can feel it, I can smell it under his skin, and the smell does things to me that don't have anything to do with feeding or sex either one."

"Things like?" Remus asked worriedly.

Harry picked at a loose thread on the pillow and struggled for words. "It's… calming, sort of, or feels like it could be. Like… oh, bugger, I don't know, like he's wearing some cologne that I love because he was wearing it when we went on some wonderful, romantic trip to Paris or something."

"Harry," Ron said, sounding a bit queasy. "You know you just used the word 'romantic' in reference to Draco Malfoy, right?"

"Hush, Ron," Hermione scolded. "I think it's lovely."

Startled out of his disgruntled ruminations, Harry sat up and glowered at her. "It's not lovely, Hermione. You heard Remus. I could kill Draco without even meaning to. And I probably would, too. If someone would actually let me feed from him for more than ten seconds at a stretch, I'd never be able to control myself enough to stop before I'd drained him dry."

"I changed my mind," Ron said. "That does sound lovely."

"Shut up, Ron," Harry and Hermione ordered.

"Severus, do you have any idea what's happening with them?" Remus asked.

Snape's lips thinned even further than their wont. "I have several ideas, Lupin, each more unpleasant than the last. Until I've managed to find out something conclusive, however, I suggest that they stay well away from one another."

Harry couldn't help the vague, protesting sound that escaped his throat.

"Harry, maybe it would be for the best for now," Hermione said apologetically. "Just for a few days, until you can control yourself a bit better. Professor Snape will find out how to stop you draining Malfoy dry, you'll see. I'll help. I can see if the Hogwarts library or the bookshops in Knockturn Alley have anything more about vampires than I've found so far."

"Can I go home now?" Harry asked. He was still feeling utterly bereft and wanted to sulk in peace.

"You might as well," Snape told him curtly. "Don't bite anyone. Especially not Draco. If you kill him you'll have his mother to deal with, and don't think for a minute that having cut your teeth on Voldemort has prepared you for the unleashing of Narcissa Malfoy's maternal wrath."

"Right," Harry said, rather faint with horror. "No biting Draco."

But something inside him rebelled against that order in no uncertain terms, and kept clamoring about the utter universe-twisting wrongness of Not Biting Draco all the way home.

Remus and Hermione had done a rather impressive job making his house vampire-friendly. There was a cellar now, to begin with, and all his bedroom furniture had been moved down into it. It also had a refrigerator stocked full of bottles of red potion. There was a nice fireplace hooked up to the Floo network and set to let through only people Harry or Hermione approved. Hermione had done her best to make it cheery and welcoming, and not like a vampire's lair at all. Of course, there was the whole matter of the bed now being equipped with magical straps that would pin him to the bed if anyone authorized came by unannounced, to save them having to deal with fourteen stone of just-woken vampire just in case Draco wasn't the only one who triggered an uncontrollable thirst; but Hermione assured him that in a few months, when he'd settled into his new condition a bit more, the straps could be taken off. In the meantime, he hadn't seen Draco in a week, and though he hid it well though he said it who shouldn't, Harry was going slowly insane.

It was ridiculous, he thought gloomily as he opened the refrigerator door and peered inside. He didn't even like Malfoy. A day with Malfoy was like a day without… well, with sunshine. He'd even managed to stop whining at Ron and Hermione about Draco's absence. And yet there it was, that niggling itch in the back of his brain that said he'd mislaid something important and had better get it back before something terrible happened. He felt like he was going through withdrawal of some sort; more importantly, the potions were doing less and less to control his thirst, and he was starting to be afraid that he was going to do something bloody and unpleasant to someone. Worrying absently at the corner of his mouth with a fang, he pulled a bottle out of the refrigerator, downed his potion, and set the bottle in the sink.

With the firm resolution to put Malfoy out of his head, Harry pulled off his clothes and got into bed with a stack of files – a thing he wasn't wild about either, but he was rather between relationships at the moment, and asking Luna Lovegood out had resulted in a stern talking-to about vampire mating rituals that seemed to work out to "No," so work and his right hand were going to have to keep him occupied for a while. And not Malfoy. Or Malfoy's blood. Or any other part of that bloody hot body that had fit just so under Harry's.

Grinding his teeth, Harry set to work on a file full of werewolf attacks in London, and congratulated himself every five or ten minutes on not thinking about Malfoy at all.

He woke the next evening to find himself on his back with the straps tight around him, holding him securely to the bed – someone was there who was allowed to be, then, and from the sudden blinding wave of thirst he could guess well enough who it was.

"Why," he said between his teeth, "are you poking at this?"

"Because that's what I do," Draco explained, and Harry opened his eyes – not to the usual blur; Malfoy had put his glasses on, a thing that didn't necessarily bode well. Draco had transfigured a fluffy armchair out of who knew what and was sprawled comfortably in it. He was wearing a white shirt and light khaki trousers, and Harry's first thought was House elves'll have a time getting bloodstains out of those. Then he closed his eyes and whacked his head against the irksomely yielding pillow.

Fuck, he was thirsty.

"All right, Malfoy. What do you want?"

Draco gave him a smile that made it abundantly clear to Harry that (a) Malfoys were sick, sick fucks, really, and (b) Harry himself was in for a hell of a long and miserable night.

"Okay, never mind, forget I asked. Just leave so I can get out of bed and get at my potion."

"You know, I actually do have an errand here. Granger sent me. But it's nothing that won't keep."

"Hermione sent you?" Harry asked, disbelieving and seriously annoyed. For the first time he noticed that his sheets were gone and was extremely grateful that he wore underwear to bed, though being strapped to a bed in his boxers wasn't much of an improvement over being naked.

"I told her I'd be good. And I meant to, really." Draco grinned and crawled onto the foot of the bed, prowling up until he was straddling Harry on all fours. "But, fuck, Potter, you have no idea how hot you look like this. Those straps close around you and you give a little jerk and a whimper, and –"

"Malfoy," Harry said between his teeth. The roots of his eyeteeth were tingling maddeningly.

"And those teeth, fuck, that's sexy," Draco breathed, and leaned down to lick Harry's jaw from chin to ear.

"Um," Harry said desperately, some insistent part of his brain judging just how far Draco would have to move and in which direction in order to come within striking range of Harry's mouth. "You know, I'm not really in much of a position to consent to this."

Draco lifted his head and looked at Harry thoughtfully. "Hm, that's true. I'll tell you what." He crawled backward off Harry, making Harry bite back an involuntary protest, and settled himself in the chair again.

"You don't have to do anything you don't want to do. Anything at all." He reached into his pocket, pulled out a straight razor, and flicked it open with a predatory smile. "You don't even have to watch."

"Malfoy, you are a sick bastard," Harry said desperately, unable to take his eyes off the blade.

"I'll give you your potion if you want," Draco said softly. "But then you do have to watch."

"Look, I don't want to watch you do anything but leave, Malfoy –"

"All right, then, I'll just play by myself," Draco sighed, and slid the razor into the front of his shirt just above the first button. A quick flick of the wrist brought it down; the button snapped off and rolled onto the floor, Draco flinched, and a small patch of red bloomed against the white of his shirt.

Harry swallowed hard.

The next button popped off and he held his breath, waiting for the bloodstain, but it never came. Another button, and then another, and this time a thin line of blood appeared on Malfoy's shirt. Harry's mouth was starting to water. He desperately, shamefully, wanted to see that blood against skin, stark against the pallor of Draco's body, a study in gorgeous, if macabre, contrast.

"Malfoy, I will pay you to go away!"

"As if I needed the money," Draco snorted, clipping off the button at his cuffs and spilling a thin line of red down his arm.

"Look, this isn't funny," Harry said desperately, unable to keep his eyes from following that delicate ribbon of blood. "Not to mention not being very goddamned nice. What is it you're trying to do, exactly?" He could still form coherent sentences, that was good. He might not be able to for much longer, but he was holding firm at the –

- oh, fuck. Draco smiled and came to sit beside him on the bed, smelling of blood and dripping red from his wrist onto Harry's sheet. "I thought you'd never ask," he said smugly.

Harry's eyes followed Draco's wrist, glued to the contrast of red against white, until that wrist was hovering six inches above his mouth. He managed to keep his mouth closed, but just barely.

"Hm, you are getting better at controlling your… appetites," Draco mused, and Harry would have glared at him if he'd been able to take his eyes off the drop of blood forming on Draco's skin.

"I can't stop thinking about you, Potter," Draco whispered into his ear. "It's like a strange and unsavory compulsion. I don't like having Potters in my head."

The drop was getting heavier. Harry darted the tip of his tongue over his upper lip, focusing with single-minded obsessiveness on that swelling of metallic-scented red, already tasting it in the back of his throat. Every drop of his own blood seemed to be draining out of his head in favor of lower altitudes.

"I'll tell you a secret, Potter, are you listening? I don't know how much longer I can stay away from you. And I don't like that. I don't like you having that kind of control over me, especially since you can't control yourself. Sooner or later you're going to wind up sucking half the blood out of my body, if I'm lucky and you only take half."

The droplet fell. Harry opened his mouth and caught it, feeling light explode through him, moaning as he strained against the straps.

"It's going to happen, Potter," Draco whispered, and flicked his tongue over Harry's earlobe. "And I want it to be on my terms."

"Name them," Harry managed; another droplet fell into his waiting mouth, he was as hard as a rock, and he wanted more, desperately, now.

"I want you to seduce me," Draco breathed. "I want to know how much you want me. I want a long and expensive dinner full of verbal foreplay; I want you to convince me to take you to bed, and if you do a good job of it I want you to take me home and fuck me so hard that if I live through the night I won't be able to walk right for days."

It was entirely possible that Harry was going to spontaneously combust.

Draco licked a slow line behind his ear, and yes, Harry was two seconds from going up like Fawkes on a burning day. Another drop of blood fell into his mouth and he whimpered, arching up as best he could. "But I want you to be good at it, Potter. I want you to keep me on the edge until I'm begging you to let me come, and then I want you to bite me right when you send me over it. And not on the wrist, either, I want it right on the neck, right where you're dying to give it to me. Those are my terms."

"Done," Harry gasped. "Are you sure we can't just skip to the sex? Right now, maybe?"

Draco lifted his head and smirked down at Harry, pulling his wrist back. "You aren't really in a position to consent, though, are you?"

Harry gritted his teeth and cursed himself. "I consent, I consent. God, anything!"

"Hm, no, I don't think that counts," Draco mused.

"It counts, Malfoy!" Harry yelled.

"No, no. I'd be taking advantage of your uncontrollable bloodlust. You'd hate me afterward."

"Oh, for – Malfoy, listen. I, Harry Potter, being of sound mind and body, do hereby consent to you coming back here and doing whatever you want to my body as long as it ends in both of us having spectacular orgasms, right? Now –"

"Hm," Draco said thoughtfully, running his tongue over his wrist, scooping a stray drop of blood into his mouth, and nearly killing Harry. Then his face brightened. "Oh, right. I remember now what Granger sent me over here for. She wants the file on the Muckwort case."

"On the –" Harry seriously considered holding the file ransom for a blowjob. "Um, it's upstairs on the kitchen table."

"Right." Draco waved his wand and was his usual immaculate self again, buttons restored to their rightful positions and hair put back in order, nothing left of the business with the straight razor but a tiny, maddening smear of blood right at the corner of his mouth.

Harry tried to decide if he was above begging. Just as he'd decided that a man strapped to a bed in nothing but Falmouth Falcons boxers and a hard-on that could drill through battleship shielding wasn't above much of anything, Malfoy disappeared up the stairs. Cursing between clenched teeth, Harry waited for the pop of Apparition and the disappearance of the straps. Instead Malfoy came back down, carrying the file, and paused in the doorway to smirk at Harry.

"Poor Potter," he said with a solicitousness that very nearly managed to sound sincere. "I've left you in a bit of a state, haven't I?"

"Yes," Harry said between significantly elongated eyeteeth. "You have."

"Hm. Maybe I should do something about that." Malfoy set the file down on the chair and sat down next to Harry, tracing maddeningly light fingertips over his chest.

"Maybe you should," Harry informed him.

Malfoy leaned down so that his mouth hovered just over Harry's. "Friday, Potter. You're going to have to give me time to… set my affairs in order."

Suddenly Harry felt rather as though he'd just been dumped under a very cold shower, and his cock agreed. "Wait," he said. "This is a bad idea."

"Possibly," Malfoy agreed.

"No, I mean – Malfoy, we aren't going to do this. You don't have to."

Draco resettled himself and mouthed along the line of Harry's jaw. "Ah, but that's the point, isn't it? It seems that I do. And we're going to do it, Potter, while one or both of us might still have enough control to get me through it alive."

"But," Harry began, and found his mouth unexpectedly tangled with Draco's. His tongue went unerringly for that tiny smear of blood on Draco's lip. Even almost dried it got him hard again in seconds. His tenuous control snapped, heat and searing thirst blazed through him, and he nearly broke the straps in an attempt to grab Draco, plant him on the bed, and sink his fangs into that gorgeous, pale throat.

Panting, Draco drew back a little. "I think I'd better go."

"Stay," Harry whispered, and was not making a request. "Unfasten the straps."

Draco's hand moved instinctively to the straps, then hesitated.

"Draco," Harry breathed, tilting his head up to nudge softly at the line of Draco's jaw with his nose. "Please."

"No," Draco whispered, but his fingers were already pulling at thick leather.

They'd been talking about something. Harry couldn't remember what now. His teeth were aching at the root, his whole body hurting for the taste of Draco's blood. He could smell it, oh God, rushing just underneath the skin, almost, almost in reach of his lips. "Unfasten the straps," he murmured. "Draco. Unfasten them and I'll fuck you so hard and so deep that you'll have to spit or swallow."

"While you tear my throat out?" Draco asked shakily. The top strap was loosening under the almost-unconscious tugging of his fingers.

"Yessss," Harry hissed, and darted his tongue out to stroke along the muted music of Draco's pulse. "But I'll make you love it. I'll make you beg for it. I'll make you scream."

"Oh, God," Draco gasped, and the strap around Harry's biceps nearly came free. Just a little more –

"You know," came a cold voice, "I'm getting a bit tired of Stupefy. I think I'll move on to Incendio next."

The small part of Harry's brain that was still rational and functioning began clamoring for attention, trying to alert the rest of him to catastrophe simmering. The rest of him joined in the protest when Draco sat slowly back, looking shaken, a bit mussed, and thoroughly conscious of how deep in trouble he was.

"Really, Draco," Hermione went on. "Did you think that I wouldn't come looking for you if you were gone for twenty minutes longer than it should have taken you to pick up a file? Get your hand away from that buckle."

"Draco, wait," Harry protested automatically.

"Good boy," Hermione said to Draco. "Now get into the Floo and go back to the Ministry."

Draco eased away and stood, running his hand through his hair in a vain attempt to recover his poise. "I've had enough of this, Potter," he said in a voice that was probably too quiet for Hermione to hear. "Friday. Sunset. Be here waiting or I'll come find you, and you won't like it if I have to do that."

Then he was through the Floo and gone, leaving Harry shaking, fighting for control, and in a condition he hadn't ever, ever, ever wanted to be in in front of Hermione.

"Oh, for heaven's sake," she said in exasperation, waved her wand, and threw a quilt over Harry. "Do you think you've got hold of yourself yet?"

Harry swallowed hard. "Er. I think so."

"So if I let you up, you're not going to take a bite out of me?"

"You're not Draco," Harry said sulkily.

"For which I'm grateful on a daily basis," Hermione replied tartly, vanishing the straps with a quick swish and flick. "Go take your potion, and then I need to talk to you."

Harry grabbed a pair of jeans off the floor, wriggled into them under the quilt, and got out of bed. "Talk to me about what?" he asked as he poked his head into the refrigerator.

"Malfoy, actually."

"Oh, for – Hermione, look, I thought I could control it better but –"

"Not about that. Drink your potion."

"Yes, mum," Harry muttered, downed his potion, and grimaced down at the bottle. The potion tasted awful and did no favors for that aching sense of frustration that seemed equally centered in his balls and his eyeteeth. "Right. About what?"

"Close the refrigerator. You're not trying to cool Surrey. There's been another attempt on his life."

The bottle shattered on the tiles of the small kitchenette area. "What? When? And by who?"

"Reparo. By Death Eaters, of course – no, we don't know specifically who – and last night. He'd been in Knockturn Alley buying potions ingredients and when he came out someone brought down four gargoyles and half the façade of Flourish & Blotts almost on his head. If he hadn't veered off toward Quality Quidditch Supplies at just the right moment – er, nothing would have happened to him at all, I'm sure, because the rubble missed him by ten yards at least," Hermione finished hastily, looking at Harry in some alarm.

"Hermione," Harry said between his teeth. "Bring him back."

"Now, Harry –"

"Don't bloody think I won't go get him just because it's my night off. Call him back."

"And what will you do once he's here?" Hermione demanded. "Besides tear his throat out and make him enjoy it, I mean."

Harry's face heated like a furnace. "How bloody long were you standing there, anyway?"

"Harry," Hermione said. "You can't protect him. I only told you because you and Draco are the two people in the Ministry who know the Death Eaters best, and you can help us find who was responsible. And because I knew if you weren't told and found out by accident you'd have a hissy fit and we'd never hear the end of it."

"I do not have hissy fits, Hermione," Harry informed her sternly.

Hermione gave him a Look and rose, pulling the Muckwort file out of the chair. "I have to get back to the office. Enjoy your night off, and stay away from Malfoy."

Harry leaned against the counter, arms folded, and watched her Floo back to the Ministry. He was still edgy from the incredibly frustrating encounter with Draco, and now he was furious about the attempt on Draco's life. Those, the annoying part of his brain pointed out, were rather contradictory impulses. At this point it wasn't at all clear who was a bigger threat to Draco, the Death Eaters out for his blood or the vampire who wasn't willing to share it.

"Well, shit," Harry said gloomily, put the kettle on, and began debating with himself about Friday.

By Thursday, Harry was at his wits' end.

Snape had owled Remus to say that he hadn't found any differences between Ron's blood and Draco's that would explain what was going on between Draco and Harry – rather implying, to Harry's mind, that he'd found differences that wouldn't, but if he had then he didn't say so. Hermione had gone to every bookstore in Knockturn Alley, which was more than Harry would have wanted to do, and found that Draco had been there before her and bought every book on vampires he could get his hands on. He had then, to Hermione's consternation, gone on to tell her that she could borrow the books when he was done with his own research into the matter and not before. He had also made reservations for Friday night, for two, at a restaurant the name of which Harry couldn't even pronounce but that he suspected was French for "Just name us as co-owners of your Gringotts vault, it'll be easier."

Unless he could dredge up a heretofore unheard-of amount of self-control, Harry was going to kill Draco Malfoy on Friday night. He was not nearly as enthusiastic about this fact as he would have expected to be back at school.

There had to be a way out of this, he thought, abandoning his paperwork for the moment and burying his face in his hands. Some way to either dissuade Draco from committing Harry-assisted suicide or acquire enough self-control to keep from ripping his throat out. He didn't want to kill Draco, and didn't want to go out with him if he ran the risk of committing unintentional murder. Sod it all, Harry was the Bloke Who Killed Voldemort, and if he could do for Voldemort, then he could figure out a way to break a date with Draco if he set his mind to it.

On the opposing side to the Bloke Who Killed Voldemort, of course, were Harry-the-healthy-24-year-old-man, who was nearly exploding with sheer mindless lust at the thought of getting into Malfoy's designer pants, and Harry-the-vampire, who nearly sprouted bat wings and four-inch fangs every time he remembered the taste of Draco's blood. And frankly, when it came down to battle between his intellect and his gut instincts, Harry had absolutely no illusions about which side was bunkered down in a rickety farmhouse praying for a swift and merciful end.

"Kingsley, can I go on assignment tomorrow? Out of the country?" he asked.

"No," Kingsley said without even looking up from his paperwork.

"Well, fuck," Harry muttered, but only once he was back in his own office and safely out of Kingsley's earshot.

"Drink a double ration of potions beforehand," Hermione instructed as they were eating lunch at an all-night curry restaurant. "You won't be as thirsty and you'll fill up before you've had a chance to hurt him."

Harry picked moodily at his salad. "Well, it's worth a try."

Hermione sighed and patted his hand. "You know, I can put a sort of tracking charm on Malfoy that'll tell me if his heartbeat gets too erratic. Then if it does I can Floo in and stun you."

"You really want to walk in on me giving Malfoy a good hard seeing-to?" Harry asked skeptically.

Hermione's eyes went a bit glassy. "No, no, of course not. But we all have to do, er, distasteful things sometimes. In the interests of not losing very good Aurors. Are you really going to –"

"Yes. No! Because I don't like him. And it would be wrong. And also very wrong to kill him, which I'd likely end up doing."

"Harry." Hermione abandoned her curry and leaned forward. "Can you stay away from him? I mean, forever? Or even for much longer?"

Abashed, Harry shook his head.

"Then maybe he has a point, you know, about confronting this before it gets so bad that you can't control yourselves. Severus hasn't been able to find out anything, I haven't been able to find out anything, and your time's running out."

Harry took a deep breath and finished off his wine. "Right. You're right. But you'll put the charm on him?"

"Tonight," Hermione promised.

Well, that made him feel a bit better. Then something occurred to him and he glanced suspiciously up at her. "Severus?"

Hermione colored a little. "Well, we're all adults now, you know. It doesn't make sense to keep on calling him Professor Snape as if we were twelve years old."

"Speak for yourself. I intend to go on calling him Professor Snape until I die." Harry peered closely at her and smiled slowly. "Hermione. Him?"

Hermione's blush deepened. "Harry," she mocked. "Malfoy?"

"Well, yes, but I don't seem to have had a choice in the matter," Harry pointed out. "Good lord, we'll have to fix Ron up with a Slytherin so we'll have a matched set."

"I wonder what Millicent Bulstrode is doing nowadays," Hermione said thoughtfully.

"I think he'd prefer Pansy Parkinson," Harry said, settled in for a good spirited debate about Ron and Slytherins, and felt better than he had in days.

It didn't last. He was in a panic by the time dawn shoved him forcibly into unconsciousness, he was in a panic when he woke on Friday night, and he stayed that way all the way through showering, dressing, and chugging down two bottles of blood potion, the normal first-date-with-attendant-hot-sex panic battling for head space with the sick, desperate fear at the thought of anyone, including himself, hurting Draco. He found himself staring at the bottles in the sink, trying desperately to remember something, anything, that Luna had said about vampires and mating. He wished now that he'd actually listened to her complicated rambling about rituals and Veelas and improbable-sounding things about covens and orgies.

Malfoy was late. Harry was torn between hoping he wouldn't show and being sorely tempted to track him down and haul him bodily into bed. Just as he was starting to get worried, the fire flared, turned green, and spat Malfoy out into the bedroom. He landed far more gracefully than Harry had ever been able to, brushed a speck of ash off his sleeve, and glanced up at Harry as casually as if he'd come to pick up another file.

"Ready to go eat, Potter?" he drawled. "Well, not that you need to, I mean, but I'd rather like to face the night with something in my stomach and a couple of drinks in my bloodstream. Just tell me if I order a drink you don't like the taste of."

Harry swallowed hard. Draco hadn't skimped on the primp time, and dear god, he was gorgeous. "Draco. Please. We don't have to do this."

Draco sighed and wandered over to stand in front of Harry, hands stuffed into his pockets and his head tilted. "Potter, believe it or not, I'm not wild about the idea of dying at your hands – or your fangs, or anything else. But I have a better chance of surviving this than I do of surviving whatever will happen if we let this build until it's uncontrollable."

"I don't want to hurt you," Harry whispered.

Draco ran the backs of his fingers gently along the side of Harry's face. "Shh, you're upset. You won't hurt me if we do this right."

Despite everything, Harry had to smile. "You make it sound like we're both virgins and you're getting ready to bottom for the first time."

"Into role-playing, Potter?" Draco asked with a smirk.

Harry's insides gave a nasty jolt at the thought of Draco having been with anyone else. It was less a nasty jolt, in fact, than the sudden black urge to hunt down anyone who'd dared to touch his mate and rip their brains out through their eye sockets.

"Right, I see that was a bad idea," Draco said, sounding a bit alarmed. "Take deep breaths and calm down. We need to leave or we'll be horribly late and the restaurant will threaten to give our table to someone else."

Harry took a deep breath as ordered. "Right. Sorry. Shall we Floo or Apparate? I don't know where we're going."

"London. Cadwich Alley, not Diagon Alley." Draco slid an arm around Harry's waist and drew him close. "Have your wand?"

"Oh, yes," Harry managed.

"Right, then," Draco said, sounding rather distracted. "Apparate!"

Harry had never before set foot in Cadwich Alley. It turned out that this was because he was not in the habit of lighting his cigars with Gringotts draughts. The place couldn't even justly be called "upscale," because "upscale" implied that it existed along the same dimension as "downscale," and Cadwich Alley patently did not.

"God almighty, Malfoy," he said. "Does this place check you for trust funds at the door?"

"Well, you'd be all right if they did, wouldn't you?" Draco pointed out. "Ready for dinner and verbal foreplay?"

Draco's arm was still around Harry's waist. They were standing underneath a streetlamp, and Draco's pale skin glowed golden in its light, the faint beat of his pulse flickering in his throat. Harry was suddenly very, very thirsty, and tried hard to keep his fangs from descending. "Malfoy," he said quietly. "I'm better at actions than words. Do you want an evening full of witty repartee from some posh tosser with a dick like a half-melted crayon or do you want me to take you home, peel your clothes off button by button, and touch you in places you didn't even know had nerve endings?"

Draco blinked. "My god, Harry," he said, a bit hoarsely. "I said verbal foreplay, not verbally bending me over a desk."

"My desk," Harry said, leaning closer, "is very sturdy."

Part of Harry wanted very badly to veer to the side and sink his teeth into Draco's throat. Somehow, when the warmth of Draco's breath brushed across his lips, he found that part of himself very easy to ignore.

"Mine," he whispered just above Draco's mouth, and the shop window in back of them shattered under the force of a poorly-aimed curse.

Harry ducked, Apparated, and bounced off an anti-Apparition shield that knocked both of them back onto the cobblestones. Draco grabbed hold of the back of Harry's collar and dragged him behind a raised planter.

"Let's make this quick, Potter, our reservation is in fifteen minutes and I'm hungry."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Right," he said, peering back over the top of the planter with wand at the ready. The street was empty. "Well, bollocks."

Draco waved his wand and brought a thick drizzle of white foam raining over the street. It vanished an inch from the ground without hitting anything on the way down, and Draco frowned. "Well. This is smarter than the Death Eaters generally are."

Harry ground his teeth. He was thirsty, horny, and getting cold, and if the sodding Death Eaters kept him from getting Draco into bed tonight someone was going to die. "We should move," he said, scanning the surrounding buildings.

"Right," Draco said, and blasted a hole in the wall behind them.

Harry followed him through into the darkened kitchen of a closed restaurant. Keeping low, they crept through tables and stoves toward the double doors.

"We're still inside the anti-Apparition shield," Harry whispered, testing the air. "Let's go a bit farther in. If we can get onto the roof, we'll have a decent vantage point."

"Right," Draco said, reaching out to ease one of the doors open.

As soon as his fingers touched it, he vanished with a soft sucking pop.

"Shit! Draco!" Harry grabbed for him, but it was too late. His hand went straight through the air Draco had previously been occupying and hit the second door; there was an unpleasant yanking sensation in his gut, and he just had time to think Hoy, that was actually sort of clever! Which one of the Death Eaters got a brain transplant? before he was tumbling onto a stone floor. Someone yanked him up by the collar, nearly choking him, and a well-placed Expelliarmus sent his wand flying out of his hand.

"Fucking bastards, you herded us in there, didn't you?" he yelled. "I'm going to –"

The two Death Eaters nearest him shuffled nervously back, opening enough room for Harry to see Draco crumpled unconscious on the floor. Something snapped in Harry at the sight; snarling, he dove for the nearest Death Eater throat and ripped open a carotid artery with his teeth.

Something hard slammed into his head with the audible crack of breaking bone, and all right, maybe Stupefy wasn't so bad after all in comparison.

He woke shaking, cold, and so thirsty that his teeth hurt. Some internal clock told him that night had just fallen… and some other, more purposeful inner orientation told him that what he desperately needed to quench his thirst was sitting about five feet away from him. Harry squeezed his eyes closed again and pressed his overheated cheek against the cold floor, and thought, Fuck.

"You're awake," Draco said, apparently having decided to take the bull by the horns. "Not quite how I envisioned last night ending, I don't know about you."

Harry groaned. God, he hadn't fed enough last night and not at all tonight, and try as he might for self-control he wasn't going to be able to hold out long before he slammed Draco into the wall and sank aching fangs into his throat. He heard Draco shift, soft rustling of clothes grabbing his attention painfully, and choked, "Don't move."

"Harry," Draco said softly. "We're in a dungeon cell. No one's going to come with your potion. You're thirstier than you'd normally be because your body's had to heal that head wound. We were put in here together like this so you'd drain me dry for Macnair's amusement. Get on with it while there's still enough left of Harry Potter that you don't crush my esophagus and rip out my throat."

Goddammit, that made sense. Stupid Slytherin. "How can you be so bloo- so calm about this?"

"I've had a bit longer to get used to the idea than you have."

Harry rolled onto his back and looked over at Draco. There was a huge bruise spreading across his face, igniting a flare of unnervingly incandescent rage in Harry that boded ill for whoever had caused it, and the Malfoy hair was for once a bit dishevelled. He looked calm and resigned enough, but his fingertips were drumming nervously on his thigh. Harry stared at them in unwilling fascination. "I don't want to hurt you," he said.

"But you're going to," Draco pointed out, gently but implacably. "It's just a matter of degree."

Harry's control wavered and he found himself on his hands and knees. His clarity of thought was ebbing rapidly, replaced by a familiar, obsessive fascination; try as he might to fight it, he found himself prowling toward Draco, aching for cool skin and the hot flow of blood underneath it. Draco swallowed convulsively.

"My god, Potter, you give whole new meaning to the phrase 'dying for a fuck,' do you know that?"

"No," Harry said absently, watching the rise and fall of Draco's chest speed up. "Draco…"

"Get on with it, then," Draco said hoarsely.

There was just enough of Harry's rationality left for him to whisper "I'm sorry," as he reached for Draco's knees and ran his hands over them, sinking back onto his heels in the V of Draco's legs. Unable to think about anything but how close relief was, he caught hold of Draco's thighs and yanked; Draco yelped and caught himself on his hands, locking his legs around Harry's waist for balance. Before Harry could make another move, Draco levered himself up, grinding down against Harry's achingly hard cock. Suddenly slim hands were entangled in his hair and Draco's mouth was on his, cool tongue sliding into his mouth and scraping past his fangs; Harry groaned, arching up into the pressure against his hips, fingers digging into Draco's back, and oh god he needed this so badly and it wasn't enough.

As gently as he could, Harry disconnected himself from Draco's mouth and smoothed his hair back, tilting Draco's head gently to the side to expose the long, pale line of his throat. Fuck, he was so thirsty, wanted it so much that he was shaking again; he ran the tip of his nose up along Draco's artery, hands sliding down to cup Draco's arse.

"Harry," Draco whispered. "As much as I'd love to hold to our original plan, I'd appreciate it if you'd just get on with it."

"Get on with killing you, you mean," Harry managed to say through a painfully parched mouth.

"Well, you see, it's the drawing things out that… Please, Harry."

"…so sorry…" he managed, and bit.

Blood flooded his mouth, so hot, so fucking good – he swallowed, sucked, clenched his fist in Draco's hair, and the small part of him still anchored to his body and not exploding into a million shards of light and blinding ecstasy heard Draco crying ohgod ohfuck Harry and grinding against him, riding his cock right through both their trousers. Harry clamped a hand over Draco's arse and shoved, blood pulsing into his mouth with his thrust, feeling Draco shudder and jolt in his arms; groaning, Harry slammed against Draco again, and again, over and over, sucking harder with every thrust, blood trickling out of the corners of his mouth to run down Draco's throat. Draco stiffened and writhed against him, coming loud and long in Harry's arms, the taste of his blood somehow changing and that was enough, Harry was coming harder than he ever had in his life, bruising his fingers into Draco's hips, coming for what felt like hours… and then coming down, barely retaining enough energy to whisper a wandless healing charm over Draco's throat.

"Draco?" he asked cautiously, and probably needlessly – no one panting like that was dead or even on the verge of it. Nonetheless, he eased Draco away from him – wincing a bit while he did and wishing that they'd had time to take their clothes off – and smoothed back his hair, peering anxiously at him.

Draco caught his breath, swallowed, and said with what sounded for all the world like affront, "That's it?"

Harry frowned. "Well, you liked it enough a minute ago," he said defensively.

"No, not – God, Potter, I meant that you don't seem to have killed me. You couldn't have taken more than a pint."

"Your blood's really rich," Harry said, vaguely mortified and not sure why. "I'd say you look pale but it's hard to tell. Do you feel all right?"

Draco opened his mouth to say something sharp, then sighed. "A bit dizzy, that's all. Give me a few minutes and I'll be fine. Are you still hungry?"

"No. That was enough."

"Potter. You're not the world's first anorexic vampire, are you? Those potions you drink have twice the volume and six times the concentration of what you took from me, plus thirst suppressants."

"No, I just…" Harry reached up to thread a strand of Draco's hair through his fingers. "It's just you. Your blood is different to other people's. And don't you dare say it's because it's purer, either. Ron's blood is as pure as yours and it doesn't make me come in my trousers."

"It had fucking well better not," Draco said sharply, then looked a little appalled at himself.

"Well, it could just be that he wasn't grinding all over me at the time –"

"Potter, I'm going to –"

Harry laughed and kissed Draco into rather unwilling silence. When he thought he was probably forgiven, he drew back a little and rested his forehead against Draco's. "You're still alive," he whispered.

"So it seems."

"I thought I was going to kill you."

"So did I."

"Marry me."

"This is our first date, Potter."

"Oh, yeah. Come live with me, then. I promise I won't do this every time the sun goes down. I just… I've usually got the potion, so I wouldn't need to be…" Harry trailed off, blushing a bit and feeling ridiculous for it.

"Naked and fucking me senseless while you have your unnatural way with my bodily fluids?" Draco prompted.

"Well, yeah."

"Shame. I quite enjoy it when you get all forceful like that."

"Malfoy, you are sick. Sick."

"All the better for you, Potter."

"True," Harry agreed, and was about to lean in and kiss Draco when there was a soft, somehow embarrassed-sounding rap on the door. Harry drew back with a soft snarl.

"Fucking Macnair, I'm going to rip his lungs out."

"Harry?" Hermione called from outside the door. "Are you decent?"

Harry and Draco blinked at each other, stunned. "Er… yes?" Harry called back. "Sort of."

The door opened and Hermione stuck her head around it. Her hair was frizzier than usual and looked a bit charred on the ends, and there was a smear of ash on her cheek. "Can we come in?"

Draco leaned his forehead against Harry's with a thunk. "Granger, only you would come to rescue someone and ask if it was all right to come in."

The door leaped out of Hermione's grip and Snape pushed past her into the room with Ron and Kingsley close on his heels. "You're right, only Granger would," Snape said shortly. "You'd best thank her for it, though. She's the one who made us cool our bloody heels until the two of you were finished."

"Oh, God," Harry said, mortified.

"Psst, mate," Ron hissed, and made face-wiping motions toward the corners of his mouth. Harry ran a hand over his own face and glanced down to see a smear of red on his fingers.

"I had to alter the charm I put on Draco so it served as an ordinary tracking charm," Hermione told them. "It was a bit difficult, too, without him there. I had to work from my end and adjust the interface of our magical signatures so that –"

"Granger," Snape said, not as crankily as Harry would have expected. "Later. I'm sure Potter and Draco would like to get cleaned up."

"There were a dozen Death Eaters in this bolthole," Kingsley reported. "They're all in custody now. None of them want to get too close to you, Potter. Something about intestines being eaten."

Harry's vision went red for a moment, and intestine-eating rather sounded like an enjoyable way to spend the evening. The soft touch of Draco's hand on his face brought him back, that and the low sound of Draco's voice in his ear.

"Forget them, Harry," Draco murmured. "We have a bed to break in, don't you think? I'll let you suck me some more."

Being a vampire, Harry decided, was not going to be so bad after all.

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