If anyone would have told Ron a few days ago that he would become involved with Narcissa Malfoy, that she'd moan when he touched her and reveal levels of sexual zeal that he hadn't realized he'd had, he would have said simply, "You're barmy."

Yet, here she was, in his room at the Grimmauld Street house, which he'd very recently given a sophisticated makeover, banishing all of his Chudley Cannons paraphernalia to his closet.

She straddled him, her hips bouncing in time with him, gasping wildly until she sensed that he was ready, then allowing herself a second, or maybe her third, release, then collapsing on his chest.

He laid his hand on the back of her head, as she began a trail of licks and kisses from his sternum to his adam's apple, where she bit, eliciting a groan from him.

Ron then rolled her onto her back and used his fingertips to follow her ivory curves.

"Cissy," he panted, as his heart rate was returning to normal, "you are just what the healer ordered."

She smiled up at him. "You've been good for me too, my gendarme."

He leaned closer to her. "Don't say it like that."

"Like what?"

"Like it's the last time." He raked his fingers through her hair, pushing damp tendrils from her face. "You don't want it to be over yet, do you?"

"No," Cissy answered, running a light hand over his sweaty back. "It's almost...cleansing...to be desired by a good person."

He guffawed in the hollow of her neck. "Well, as good, I suppose, as any bloke with a married woman, who happens to be the mother of his sworn enemy."

She slapped his hip. "You should get over your animosity towards Draco."


"Because it's obvious that Hermione couldn't have satisfied you for a significant period. She pointed a finger in his face. "You're insatiable, Ronald Weasley."

He grinned in response. "True. And the things I've learned from you...," he said, shaking his head slowly. "I went out lots after she dumped me, but no one made me feel like you."

Narcissa giggled. "That's because you didn't need a date; you needed a woman."

"Mmm, and what a woman," he said huskily, moving on top of her with purpose, his hand sliding up her leg. "I think it's time for a little more healing, don't you?"

"There they go again," Harry grunted in disgust from his room on the lower floor. Privacy charms might block out noise, but couldn't do anything about the shaking of the rafters, as Ron pounded into whomever the energetic woman was. Oh well, at least he'd gotten over moping about Hermione.

And he'd made quite an impression at work lately, leading the investigation on the assassination attempt of Malfoy's mum. He'd uncovered the accomplice, a disgruntled employee in Magical Maintenance, who had secreted the invisibility cloak in a special compartment in an adjoining room.

Things seemed to suddenly be going so well for Ron, especially at work, in fact, that Harry had felt compelled to volunteer for extra duty, to maintain his position as top rookie.

It really wasn't fair to blame Ron for that though; he didn't know what an odious assignment Harry would be given...

"Any time that he's in the Ministry, Harry, he'll be your responsibility. I don't care what happens to him anywhere else, but I won't have a former Death Eater transformed to a martyr by being killed within these walls. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Minister," Harry said.

Shacklebolt leaned back in his chair, his patterned dashiki offering the only contrast in the drab environs of the beige-based office. "I know he's an insufferable ass, but he's the most charismatic of Voldemort's supporters, and his occasional presence here helps reinforce the idea of reconciliation."

Harry inwardly cringed, knowing what was coming next.

"And the visual of the two of you together, given your history—especially with your protecting him, showing good is ultimately stronger than evil—"

"I understand, Minister," interjected Harry. "Nothing will happen to him while he's here." Thus, he became Lucius Malfoy's permanently-assigned Ministry bodyguard.

Today, Malfoy wanted to avail himself of the Ministry's sports facilities and challenged Potter to a one-on-one contest on the Quidditch pitch.

"Well, it's good to see I haven't lost my gifts," said Malfoy, grinning broadly in his shiny, flushed face. "I knew a Gryffindor Seeker would be no match for an old Cup winner from Slytherin. I really flummoxed you out there, didn't I?"

"Actually," corrected Harry, rubbing the tender spot on his side, "you flew directly over me until you saw that I'd spotted the Snitch, then dove straight down on me, gouging me in the ribs and knocking me off my broom."

"A perfectly acceptable strategy in my day," Lucius said, his voice still high with excitement. "Your generation has become so soft, you've reduced the most noble Wizards' contest to little more than a Gobstones match—a consequence, I suppose, of having witches on your teams."

Harry refused to rise to the bait. It's almost over; he'll be gone soon, he consoled himself.

"Well, now a shower," said Malfoy, removing his robe with a flourish and heading for the adjoining locker room.

"What?" Harry yelped in surprise, following his charge reluctantly. "Wouldn't you prefer to hurry home and clean up there?"

Lucius turned to him with a look of disgust and sat on a bench to remove his shoes and clothes. "Really, Potter, is such a deviation from proper hygiene a product of your Muggle upbringing, or has Gryffindor generally sunk so low? I know Draco would never leave from a Quidditch match in such a state. Perhaps that's why your sole success with women is one milk-faced, impoverished Weasley."

He stood tall and naked, pulling out the string that held back his silvery, blond hair, and strode to the showers.

Harry stalked after him, fuming. "Ginny is my choice," he said emphatically. "But if I'd wanted other girls, I could have had them, sweaty or not."

"Don't flatter yourself, Potty," Lucius said with a smirk, standing in the tiled enclosure.


"Well what?" Harry responded, hunching his shoulders and turning out his palms in confusion and impatience.

"What I hold in my hands, Potter, while impressive and powerful, will not, unfortunately, activate the water. I am a wandless wizard, and therefore, require the assistance of those who, in the past, weren't fit to utter Aguamenti in my presence. Now, if you would be so kind..."

Harry's green eyes glinted with anger and mischief, as he aimed his wand at the shower head, causing a beading spray to push its way out of the nozzle.

"Yes, yes, the icy blast of retribution—quite predictable, Potter," Malfoy said, nonplussed. "Now adjust the temperature to a more honorable level, please. A bit more heat...just a tad more...no, no that's too much..."

Harry's arm became tired from holding it in the same position as he sought the optimum combination of temperature and spray to satisfy the finicky patrician.

"There, that's adequate," Malfoy finally said after Harry's third sigh of exasperation.

The younger man lowered his arm in relief.

"Oh, Potter, fetch my soap from my bag."

"There's soap right there," Harry protested, indicating the dispensers on the side wall.

Lucius turned a disdainful eye on him. "My own soap, Potter. It's an exclusive formula."

"Of course," Harry said snidely. Then under his breath, he snarled, Accio Malfoy's bloody exclusive-formula soap.

The vial of scented, blue liquid flew into Harry's hand and he passed it on to the despised man, who accepted it with a nod.

"And Potter, could you nudge the heat again? I like it warmer when I wash my hair."

"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" Harry noted, as he again employed his wand to accommodate the man's fickle wishes.

Lucius snickered in response. "I've accepted my situation. I have less wealth and prestige than I did before the Dark Lord's return. My son, for whom I had such expectations, is hopelessly besotted with that Mud—" (Harry glared.) "—forgive me, Mug-gle-born Granger girl."

Harry stood uncomfortably at the threshold, on the lookout for anyone who would tease him unmercifully, as well as for possible threats to the most charismatic former Death Eater.

Malfoy closed his eyes and massaged the lather into his scalp. "My lovely wife has appeased me for months, with promises that I would have a new wand soon, only for me to learn, very recently, that I must show proper obeisance to the Minister and participate in his ridiculous 'Magic Knows No Status' campaign, before I may be allowed to possess one again."

He opened his eyes and dropped his arms, looking unknowingly comical with his sudsy helmet and shriveled, nude body. "So, yes, Potter, I take my small pleasures, such as making the celebrated 'Chosen One' do my bidding, where I can find them."

Harry squinted. Did he really expect him to feel compassion for him? How much pleasure did the Muggles at the International Quidditch Tournament feel when Malfoy and the other Death Eaters tormented them? Or Hagrid when Malfoy had him sent to Azkaban? Not to mention Ginny, used by Voldemort in his Riddle incarnation when Malfoy slipped the teenager's diary to her in her first year.

No, he'd get no sympathy from Harry Potter...never, and Harry would hate every moment of this assignment and resent anyone who had a part in it.

Malfoy rolled his eyes as he stood directly under the shower head to rinse his hair. "You actually do look terribly ragged, Potter. Do you want your superiors to see and smell you in that condition?"

Harry self-consciously raised his arm to sniff under it. "The other showers are out of order."

Malfoy pointed out the other two shower heads in his stall and continued his lavations.

Harry considered for a moment, then gave in to the temptation and common sense , shedding his clothes and commanding the shower head opposite Malfoy to pour out it hottest possible water, the way he liked it, turning the space into a steam bath.

Ohh, it did feel good. He kept his eye on his protectee while he summoned his own soap from his locker.

"Well, that's enough," said Lucius, just as Harry was beginning to lather himself. "Turn it off, Potter; the Minister is expecting me."

In disgust, Harry shut off all the water and watched as the dripping Malfoy stood on the robe that Harry had left on the floor.

"Oh, Potter, my wife has a Witches' Auxiliary meeting here tomorrow and the Minister wants security for her as well. I suggest that you ensure that the other milk-faced Weasel isn't here for that purpose. He struck me as more attentive than protective during their last encounter, wouldn't you agree?"

Revelation came to Harry with that statement and he stood stock-still in the steaming shower room.

Malfoy raised an arm and, in an oily voice, grinning at Potter, he summoned a towel for himself, then padded back to the lockers.

Harry picked up his wet robe and followed him to the larger room, mentally connecting the dots. He twisted the robe tight to wring out the water, realizing that Ron could be blamed in part for what he'd endured.

He squeezed the damp garment more tightly, imagining it to be the neck of his infuriatingly satisfied best mate. "I'll kill him," he promised himself as he rejoined the insufferable ass, "I'll kill him."

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