Blaise always had an agenda. Draco, at the moment, didn't have one at all. When Blaise invited him for a clandestine night out, he said yes. He might as well.
They were having a drink that would have been quiet anywhere else, but this was Nice in the middle of summer, and Blaise had chosen the venue, because his family practically lived here and Draco had never been before tonight. So it was one of the hippest bars on the coast, full of beautiful young things wearing very little. Draco was terrified they were going to be age-tested, or whatever the Muggle equivalent was, and he was trying not to show it, because Blaise was, as always, all long-limbed elegant slouch and not a smidgen of concern.
They'd been talking about Quidditch, or girls, or anything other than why Draco had had to sneak out and needed to be back before dawn. Whatever they were talking about, Blaise had gone vague mid-sentence, and his head had turned, and when Draco, smirking, turned to look, he caught a glimpse of blonde hair and a truly fine denim-clad arse disappearing into the crowd.
"Focus!" Draco chided, and Blaise laughed, and signalled the waitress for another round.
Half an hour later, Draco was washing his hands in the men's room when the door opened and someone walked in. Paranoia had Draco's head turning before he remembered that there was little reason to be afraid here. He changed the startled look into the merest glance at the new arrival.
That was enough for him to realise a few things all at once:
1) It was the person from before. Jeans, white shirt, palest honey hair.
2) It was a bloke.
3) His hair was only a shade or two darker than Draco's.
He didn't know why, actually, it surprised him. It was a favourite commonroom joke that Blaise fancied everything, but especially himself.
It did surprise Draco. He went back to his stool at their tiny high table and his knees bumped Blaise's and Draco thought, "He fancies me," and felt dizzy.
But maybe that was the daiquiris.
To say that Blaise always had an agenda was to grossly oversimplify the matter. Blaise always had four agendas, at least, and two back-up plans. Draco knew it. Knew that if you couldn't see how things fit together, it was possibly because you were looking at parts of different plans. They weren't always complementary. In fact, sometimes they seemed diametrically opposed. But everything he did always had a place in at least one of them.
Of course, thinking about it just did your head in. For instance, the situation in which a tipsy Draco realises an equally tipsy Blaise fancies him.
Blaise was the one who invited him to Nice, who bought the drinks (well, the first round, anyway). Blaise was the cause of this state - tipsiness, confusion, the works. This could, in a way, be the aim and end result of his Plan. Sometimes they were just that small; keeping people off-balance.
Draco knew, now, that Blaise fancied him. But he knew because of something Blaise did, which means it was calculated, a message delivered, so was it even real at all? Was Draco supposed to think that Blaise fancied him, when actually that was not the case at all? Was this all part of some other Plan?
Either way, Blaise, sitting opposite Draco, inscrutable black eyes, the arrogant smirk below the sharp line of his nose... he knew that Draco knew, or was at least in receipt of the message. That was the other thing: Draco knew Blaise, and Blaise knew that, so Blaise knew that Draco knew that Blaise always had an agenda.
And that was even before you got to the part where Blaise was drunk - possibly not as drunk as Draco, damn his heritage and the practice he'd had at this - but drunk nonetheless, and maybe he hadn't intended to be distracted, to give that away. But the drinking had been his idea, so that was part of a Plan too, and maybe he wasn't that drunk. Maybe Draco was just supposed to think he might be drunk enough to not mean it.
That was the thing; you never knew where you fit into Blaise's plans.
The secret was not to care. To have your own plans.
Blaise said, "Another drink?" and Draco heard himself say, "How about some air?"
Blaise's family was from Nice, Draco remembered. They lived in England now - the infamous Mrs Zabini liked it there or something, it hardly mattered why - but they came to Nice every summer. He looked like a native by the neon-lit sea, leaning against a palm tree, dark skin shadowed to black against the white of his shirt. Draco, only arms-length away, felt inescapably British. A tourist.
He was, wasn't he? He was on holiday from his life. For one night.
"Sod 'em," Blaise had said. "Come down. Get away."
And Draco had.
He'd come down here despite the fact that Bellatrix would almost certainly do a reasonable impression of killing him if she found out about it, and he'd got drunk, and he was tired of thinking. All he'd been doing since that last night at Hogwarts was thinking.
He stopped short, of course. Hesitated with his hand on the palm beside Blaise's head and their faces so close he could feel Blaise's breath against his lips. Even and unhurried, which meant Draco had just flashed into anger when Blaise tipped forward and made it happen.
So Draco kissed him hard, jamming him back against the tree, which should have been impossible given that Blaise was a good few inches taller, but he was slouching, on an angle, so Draco was sort of half over him. He was reclined, at ease, taking all of the anger that Draco pushed against his teeth.
It's always an exercise in futility, being angry with Blaise. He doesn't care. It's easier to give over, easier to give in to his tongue sweeping in. Draco tilted his head, angled his mouth against Blaise's.
Blaise's hand came up into his hair, and Draco had a flash of how they must look, moonlight turning Draco's hair silver and Blaise's knuckles black. He leant, pressing down on Blaise. The tree held them both up.
The kiss didn't so much end as Draco just dragged himself off. He was on his way to becoming hard, and at least the grip of Blaise's hand against his hip as Draco staggered a step away suggested he wasn't alone.
Or that's what Blaise wanted him to think.
Draco shook his head, hair swinging. Looked over to Blaise, who was pushing himself off the palm with one elbow.
Nice at night was dazzling and foreign. Full of things Draco had no clue about. Blaise always had an agenda. Draco hadn't even been sure of what he had done.
As Blaise hit vertical, Draco turned back to face him across the smallest slice of night. "Your place nearby?" he asked.
Blaise's grin reflected neon. "Yeah," he said.
Draco doesn't know where he fits in Blaise's plans.
The secret is to have your own plan.
For tonight, at least, he has one.
Second-guessing Machiavelli by dee