Heya all! I'm sort of back from being gone a long long time...
I've written a few stories a while ago for the Veela fest and decided enough time had past to be able to share them here!
There are 3 of them, 2 Drarrys and one Lucius/Harry...
The Drarrys were lovingly BETAED by the amazing Harrytwifan, whom you have all grown to adore as much as I do (I hope), the Lucius/Harry one was BETAED by cheshiyre on Livejournal
As always, I do NOT own Harry Potter or anything even remotely close to it...
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost - The Road not Taken
Harry took a calming breath before he opened the door to Grimmauld place for the eleventh time that day. It wouldn't do to let his frustration run away from him. They shouldn't have taken down the dozen charms and wards that kept the place hidden during the war, but Molly had said the Fidelius was not a proper house charm for a proper Wizarding home.
Harry was positively sure Molly had never been called upon at least sixty times a day.
He would tell her that next time he visited the Burrow, whenever that would be, and ask Bill to help him weave some wards around his house to keep unwanted visitors from reaching the front door.
"What?" he asked before he saw who was standing so forlornly on his doorstep. "Oh, it's you."
He frowned, shifted his stance, and glanced up and down the street, making sure the man standing there was alone.
"What do you want?"
"Potter," his visitor said with only a hint of a sneer. "I need your help."
After another glance at the seemingly empty street, Harry motioned the man to come in.
"This better be good," he said and walked into the Living room. "Because I think I paid my debts to you and your mother both at your trials, Malfoy."
Draco fidgeted. He never fidgeted. He hadn't in the seven years they'd known each other.
"You did, it's not that, it's-"
He stammered and hunched his shoulders. Draco never hunched his shoulders.
"It's my father."
"No," Harry replied calmly.
Draco bit his lip and made an awkward move forward, like he'd been about to kneel at Harry's feet.
"You don't understand," he begged. "He's my father!"
Harry shook his head and looked away. "No," he repeated. "Even if I wanted to, I couldn't speak up for Lucius Malfoy. There's too much at stake."
He turned back and Draco froze beneath his piercing stare. "To say your father didn't deserve a sentence in Azkaban would be to say that the Death Eaters weren't that bad after all. It would send out a message that it's perfectly fine to go about raping, torturing and killing Muggles or invading castles inhabited by schoolchildren."
He stopped and frowned at the incredulous look on Draco's face.
"I'm sure you won't let yourself think badly of your own father, but you're not naive enough to think Death Eater meetings involved tea and beauty treatments."
A touch of the old Draco shone through for a second as he scrunched up his nose and narrowed his eyes. "I was there, wasn't I?"
Harry just stared for a moment as Draco tried to regain his composure. Of course Draco had been there. It still left a bad taste in his mouth that he'd told the entire Wizengamot the man shouldn't be punished for his crimes.
It wasn't like he was forced to say it. No, he'd made that decision all by himself, despite his friends' loud protests. A life for a life: Draco's for his.
At least with Draco Harry didn't have to worry he'd fall back into old patterns.
"Right, anything else?"
Draco once again showed he wasn't above begging. "Please, Potter. You saw him at the end; you saw he was just following out of fear. You know he deflected!"
"All I know is that your father is a coward, Draco. You repented; you renounced Voldemort, his ideas and the means he used to bring them to fruition. Your father cowed under the rule of a mad man, but whole heartedly stood beside him while he was valued by his Lord. He only deflected when he saw old Tom hadn't managed to kill me, again."
Draco looked up at him, his silver eyes shining with unshed tears.
"He's all I have. Everyone else is gone," he said. His words were barely more than a whisper.
"Is dead," Draco interrupted him. "The Aurors ruled her death a suicide this morning."
Breathing in deeply, Harry turned and looked out into the garden through a grimy window.
He felt a slight pang of sadness to hear of Narcissa's death. It's not like they had any sort of bond between them, but he envied the love she had shown for Draco. That night in the Forbidden Forest he'd felt it by proxy.
That slight pang disturbed his hard fought calm, forcing his controlled emotions to the surface, and that, more than anything, made him decide.
"Fine, I'll speak at his trial," he whispered and turned back to face Draco. "But I won't lie for him. I'll testify that his mental state at the end of the war was compromising his ability to make rational decisions, but I'll not be asking the Wizengamot to pardon his crimes. Not like I did for you."
"Thank you, Pot-." Draco shook his head and opened his mouth again. "Harry. Thank you, Harry."
Then he did the most peculiar thing. Like seven years previously, Draco held out his hand.
This time it wasn't with a haughty look on his face, telling Harry he should feel lucky to be accepting a Malfoy's hand in friendship. No, this time he seemed to be nearly nervous about the gesture.
Harry reached out and shook it.
"Thank you," Draco repeated. "It'll be November 16th. I'll see you there."
"Yeah, sure," Harry replied.
Once the door had closed behind Draco, Harry was again left alone in the entryway. He breathed out while he slowly, almost painfully lifted off his shirt. The air behind his shoulders shifted with movement like there was something there, but not entirely. Harry's head twitched to the side a few times and he breathed in through his nose. He pressed a steadying hand to the door, nails digging into the wood slightly as his forehead rested against the hallway wall. The air shimmered once more and a pair of folded scaly wings appeared at his back. In an oily metallic grey color just shy of silver, they shone iridescent in the light glinting through the little window above the door.
A ripple almost like a shiver ran through them, and Harry focused on releasing a controlled breath as the sharp colour faded to a creamy white in feathers as soft as silk. A ruffle and another shiver forced them to unfold just a bit, hinting at the sheer size of those wings.
Harry took off his glasses and threw them on a side-table while rubbing his eyes with his other hand. He really needed a pair with non-prescription lenses if he was going to keep up hiding what he was. His old pair now only managed to make his eyes hurt.
The Floo flared and a familiar voice immediately called out.
"Harry? Harry!" Hermione yelled loud enough to be heard back at Hogwarts. Her voice annoyed him more than was warranted, and he breathed in through his teeth, trying to stop his feathers from turning back into silver grey scales.
"Harry? Are you home? Oh!"
She rushed to his side and ran a small hand down the center of his back, grounding him in a way she'd learned to do in the past three months.
"What happened?" she asked.
Sweat beaded on Harry's forehead and he reached up an arm to wipe it away, ashamed of this clear display of his lack of restraint. He'd never been good at controlling his emotions. There was only one reason this big secret wasn't splashed across the front page of the Daily Prophet, and the irony of wanting to kiss Snape for teaching him to use the little bit of Occlumency he knew under great emotional stress was not lost on him.
"Malfoy," Harry ground out through his teeth.
Hermione nodded seriously. "What did Draco want?"
He kept quiet for another minute and slowly his wings shimmered and disappeared. Then he picked up his shirt and wormed back into it.
"For me to help his father," he said and made his way to the kitchen, avoiding her eyes. If she was going to scold him for giving into Draco's pleas, he'd best fortify himself with a cup of strong coffee.
"So he provoked you when you refused him?" she asked, shaking her head as he held up the coffeepot to her. "Is that what happened?"
"I didn't refuse him," Harry started, but before he could explain, his friend was all over him.
"Harry! Are you insane?" she yelled. "I understood you helping Narcissa and I even accepted you wanting to save Draco, but how can you stand up for Lucius after all he's done?"
He sat down and waited for her to stop huffing about. "I said no, but before I could get rid of him I lost control. I'd rather speak up for Lucius on my own terms than be blackmailed with Draco's knowledge of my current predicament."
She sank into the seat next to him and looked at him with concern. "Oh, Harry, why won't you just tell everyone? Imagine the amount of good you could do for other non-human creatures everywhere? If they knew you were a-"
"No!" he jumped up, sending his chair flying across the kitchen. The only thing that distracted from its thump against the wooden cabinetry was the sound of fabric ripping. His wings were back, grey and menacing. Merciful Merlin! He wouldn't have a shirt left come Christmas. The razor sharp tips of his wings unfolded, aiming at Hermione as if she were a threat that needed to be dealt with.
He breathed heavily, trying to concentrate on clearing his mind and calming down.
'Clear your mind, Potter. Let go of all emotions.'
Taunt wings softly vibrated as they expelled waves of menacing hatred. It was a vicious cycle that fed back more emotion to egg him on and enforce his offensive stance.
'You're not doing it, Potter. You will need more discipline than this. Focus, now.'
He thought of things that made him happy: His friends' smiles, the smell that drifted through his open window in the morning when it rained, flying high up in the air.
He wondered briefly, if these wings would carry him, if he could fly without his broom.
Slowly his wings turned soft and white.
"Sorry, Mione." He sounded young even to his own ears. "I can't. You know I can't. I won't be that freak again, I can't."
"Harry, you're not a freak," she tried.
"I am every bit the freak my uncle told me I was. I'm a male Veela. How am I not a freak?"
Hermione slowly approached him and again rested her hand between his shoulder blades. Making the wings shimmer and disappear. It was disconcerting how quickly he'd come to feel naked without them.
"Just because it's rare, it doesn't make you a freak."
"Parseltongue is rare. The Sight is rare. Hell, even the colour of my eyes is rare. Male Veelas, however, are wrong," he replied, directing all his concentration to fight off the surge of emotion that threatened to overcome him once more. "I'm a freak of nature, a mess of faulty genetics. I'm not supposed to even exist."
"Even if that's true, you're going to have to live with it, Harry," Hermione said and picked up the chair he'd sat in. "Sit."
He did so, immediately, and felt a little stupid when he looked up into her hazel eyes.
"Hiding away in this house isn't going to make a difference. You need to accept who and what you are and move on. Live your life, Harry. You've earned that at least."
"How?" he demanded. "You know what could happen? Bloody hell, you told me what could happen! How can I take that chance? What if it had been Draco? Have you ever thought about that? What if Draco had barged in here and I would've recognized him as my mate? He would've been forced to spend the rest of his natural life with me, Hermione! How can I go out, knowing that I'll eventually push someone into that role?"
She hopped up on the table and swung her legs as she gazed down on him. "Is that why you won't return Dean's owls?"
Harry hated the sympathetic look on Hermione's face. He didn't want her pity.
"No. Yes. I-"
She sat down in the chair closest to his and took his hand between hers. "Harry, you were good together. You like him, don't you? He might even be the answer to your problem. If you just talked to him, maybe you could get bonded. Don't you want to be with someone?"
Harry didn't respond. He wasn't sure what to say, not really. Yeah, he wanted to be with someone, and he liked Dean. But bonding? Now?
"Don't hide yourself away, Harry. You're not fit to be a recluse."
Harry flushed, heat rushing through his body. His already tense muscles put in some extra effort. "I'm not that bad!"
Biting his lip and looking away, he took another deep breath. 'Clear your mind.'
"I can't bloody well ask him to bond with me, Mione. I don't even know if I like him that much."
Hermione sighed and leaned back on her arms. "Well, think about it this way: What if it had been Draco? You cannot stop from seeing other people, even in your own house. You will probably not have the time to have a long relationship before you bond, but at the moment you at least have a choice. If you wait too long your heritage will make that choice for you, and there's no telling whether you will even like your mate."
"I know," he said dejectedly. "I know, alright?"
She slid off the table and patted his shoulder. "Think about it. Talk to Ron. He's been worried about you, and that goes for the rest of the family as well. It will be okay if you just tell them, Harry."
"What if it's one of them?"
"Would that be so bad? They're all either bonded or single. You could do worse, a lot worse. And they all love you dearly."
The Floo flared before he could respond, and he was once again alone with his thoughts.
The morning of the 16th Harry had trouble getting out of bed. As he dragged himself off for a shower he barely managed to swallow back the bile that rose in his throat. In the bathroom, he had to grab the sink to stop himself from falling unceremoniously to the floor.
He'd been feeling a little weak and listless for a while now, but he'd pinned it on his ever growing depression over what he'd become. Now, however, he had to accept the fact that it was something else, something he stubbornly forced to the back of his mind.
He should go to St Mungo's, he really should. They might have a short-term solution. But that would mean telling the Healers what he was and there was no way he was going to set himself up to be ridiculed by the likes of Rita Skeeter. Not again, and there was no way she wouldn't find out.
Instead he dressed like a Wizard should, in loose dark purple robes that almost seemed black in the right light, and forced his feet into a pair of low-heeled boots.
The official witness summons had said two o'clock. It was almost time.
The Floo was even more nauseating than normal as he whirled his way to the Ministry, and he stumbled into the Atrium, landing on all fours. Harry swallowed back the bitter taste in his throat and looked up to see if anyone noticed his less than gracious entrance.
Great! Malfoy was standing a little to the right of the large hall, staring right at him. The prat stood right beside the larger than life statue in the middle of the fountain that Harry had vehemently voted against. Not that his protests had made even the slightest bit of difference. The thing reminded him of a picture he'd once seen in a children's Bible portraying Jesus holding hands with children of all ages and colour. Instead, it was an eerie likeness of him, hands magnanimously joined with a plethora of different creatures and beings.
He couldn't hold back the almost hysterical laugh at seeing the stone carved Veela staring admiringly up at her 'Saviour'.
"Harry!" Draco yelled. "Over here! You're just in time!"
He dragged himself to his feet and crossed the Atrium.
"Malfoy," he said with a curt nod.
"Your testimony is last," Draco said and looked away. "I want to thank you, Harry. The trial's a mess. They used Veritaserum on him this time around, and the prosecution has already managed to overturn my father's acquittal for his role in the first war."
Harry's eyes were drawn to the jerky movement of Draco's fingers tapping against the dark burgundy of his velvet robes.
"I'm not going to lie," he reminded him softly.
"I know," Draco said as he smoothed out some non-existing creases in his clothes. "I'm not asking you to. I'm just saying that I'm thankful that you came. After listening to all of the testimonies, and hearing what he's done from his own mouth, I'm not sure your words could even make the slightest bit of difference. I've resigned myself to the possibility that I'll lose my father today, Harry, but I'm still thankful."
He was trying to look brave, but Draco couldn't hide the wet shine in his eyes as he looked up. Harry felt a knot form in his throat.
This wasn't the first time he'd seen Draco without his aristocratic mask, but it was the first time he realised the bond between father and son wasn't just one of blood. He'd never considered the possibility that Draco loved his father.
They made their way to the lifts together in silence after Harry turned over his Wand at the front desk.
Draco fidgeted with the hem of his sleeves the entire way down, while Harry tried his hardest to not get sick all over the floor. He had the rest of his, possibly short, life to feel sick. He just needed to get past this day unscathed.
The courtroom they entered was even larger than the one that held his trial in back in fifth year. Only this time the eyes of the Wizengamot didn't look down on him in disgust when he took a seat in the middle.
Lucius Malfoy wasn't there yet, though it wasn't uncommon for the accused to be absent during witness statements. Maybe it was better this way because Harry wasn't sure he could've said anything to help the man if he were staring him in the face.
Minister Shacklebolt stood up and smiled kindly at Harry. "Let the record state that Mr Harry James Potter is a witness to the defence. Mr Thripple, you may start."
A short pudgy man stepped down from a small platform and made his way over to the chair Harry sat in.
"Mr Potter, in your opinion, was the accused, Lucius Malfoy, mentally capable of making decisions regarding his orders from He Who Must Not Be Named?" he asked with a pleasant smile on his face.
"I'm not-," Harry started and cleared his throat. "I'm not entirely sure I can answer a question as general as that one, Sir, as the answer is rather complicated."
"I'll specify," the man said. "During your short visit to the Malfoy Manor last year, how would you describe the accused? What was his psychological state at the time?"
Harry sighed. He didn't want to, but he'd promised. "Mr Malfoy seemed erratic, afraid even. I don't think he was making his decisions rationally but rather in fear of himself and his family being murdered by Voldemort, if he wouldn't comply."
"Thank you, Mr Potter. That is all." Thripple said and stepped away, clearing the floor for a large blond man.
"Mr Smith, the witness is yours." Kingsley said.
The prosecutor seemed even larger up close.
"Mr Potter, what are your professional qualifications?" he asked.
"I'm not-," Harry started again. "What?"
"Qualifications, Mr Potter. Have you got any? I'm well aware of your current political standing as the Saviour of the Wizarding world, but what are your actual qualifications in the field of determining one's state of mind? Did you secretly obtain mastery in Mind-Healing during your Horcrux hunt? Did you apprentice under Madam Pomfrey while at Hogwarts? Do Muggles teach their children psychology in pre-school perhaps?"
"N-no?" Harry swallowed thickly. His knuckles were white with the strain of clenching his fingers around the seat of his chair. Yes, this was a lot more like the last time he was in here, being charged for the use of Underaged Magic.
"So, you've been asked by the defense to provide testimony on a topic that is quite frankly out of your area of expertise?" the man leaned into him so far, Harry was forced to lower his eyes to avoid the piercing stare.
What did he ever do to the man?
He cleared his throat before answering in a soft voice. "Quite."
Damn it! Calm the hell down! He felt the unmistaken signs spread over his back. Tingling, like an army of ants crawling up his spine. It would be just a few more second before his wings would force their way out of him.
Clear your mind! You're safe! You are not threatened. Deep steady breaths.
The tingling subsided and Harry unclenched his jaw and looked up at the prosecutor, Mr Smith, calmly and seemingly unphased.
The man frowned and back up just enough to take the uncomfortable edge off.
"Mr Potter, in your honest, but clearly unprofessional opinion, do you think Lucius Malfoy is responsible for the crimes he's confessed to committing in both the first and second war?"
Harry imagined the look on Draco's face when he answered. Yet, this wasn't about him, or about Draco. Lucius deserved punishment, and Harry had warned that he wouldn't lie.
"From what I could tell Lucius Malfoy wholeheartedly supported Voldemort both times. Yes, he was afraid of a madman, but I think most of the crimes he committed with a clear state of mind."
Again, the man leaned close but this time the dark whisper was for Harry's ears alone: "Hypocrites disgust me."
Harry closed his eyes again. He figured he deserved that. He was here as a witness for the defence of one of the most hardcore Death Eaters in the service of Voldemort. Third only to Peter Pettigrew and Bellatrix Lestrange, both who perished before the end of the war."
"Thank you, Mr Potter."
Harry didn't look over to where he knew Draco was sitting. He wasn't sure he would be able to keep his calm if he did. Not now that he figuratively signed his father's death warrant.
"Redirect, Mr Thripple? No? Then you're free to go, Harry," Kingsley said. The mention of his first name was a small comfort, as had probably been intended. "We will be back here in an hour for the verdict."
When everyone in the room stood up, Harry planned on quickly getting home, but Draco caught his arm just before he reached the lifts.
"I know this is a lot to ask," he said softly. "But I would truly appreciate it if you could sit with me when they read the verdict."
"Why?" Harry gently shook off the hand on his arm. He could feel unease rise up inside him. "I didn't help his case a single iota. If I did anything, I dug his grave deeper than it already was."
"No. No, he dug his own grave, and a fine job he did of it too."
Draco looked away and closed his eyes.
"I can't believe I'm about to tell you this," he muttered, and sighed before looking back at Harry. "Right now you're the closest thing I have to a friend, and if it's not too much, I could use a friend when they sentence my father."
Harry laid a hand on Draco's shoulder, feeling surprised and a little touched by the man's words.
"I know you'd rather see your father free, but Azkaban isn't the end of the world. You'd still be able to visit him, and with the recent changes, it isn't the horror it used to be."
Draco's eyes widened. "You don't know? He won't be sentenced to Azkaban, Harry. The prosecution is demanding the Dementor's kiss."
Harry took a step back with widened eyes, shocked more than anything else. It made sense in a way, but even the infamous Rodolphus Lestrange received a life sentence in Azkaban.
He didn't know what else to say, and Draco shrugged without uttering another word. Still, Harry stayed and sat down beside Draco. Leaning his head against the wall and hoping the hour would go by swiftly.
Reporters descended upon the unlikely pair like hungry sharks, but Harry glared them off as best as he could. It was subtle, barely noticeable and hardly polite, but Harry didn't care. At least something about being a Veela was useful, even if it was only to radiate a bit of menace and scare people off. It helped with the nausea that kept plaguing as well, though he really didn't want to think about why.
Lucius looked horrid when they all but dragged him into the courtroom and shackled him to the chair Harry had been sitting in an hour earlier. His hair was lank and dirty, and the little skin Harry could see from his position behind the man was scratched and raw.
He felt a strangely protective anger rush through him, but he managed to breathe it away. They'd broken the once proud man. They'd hurt him, treated him like a dog, and judging by the way his head lolled to the side, they'd probably kept him awake for the entire duration of the trial.
He'd have another word with Kingsley about the treatment of prisoners by the Ministry. They were human-beings, despite the vile crimes they'd supposedly committed, and they should be treated that way.
"We're gathered here for the verdict of Lord Lucius Malfoy of Wiltshire," Kingsley said in a grave voice. "Mr Malfoy, is there any last statement you wish to add before we proceed?"
Harry couldn't hold back a smile when the man lifted his head, stuck his nose in the air and straightened his shoulders. Not broken at all.
"No." The voice sounded ragged, but still held the richness and darkness it previously had.
For some reason, Harry felt proud.
"Very well. Ms James, if you would read the verdict?"
A beautiful witch, only a few years older than Harry, stood up and unfolded a piece of parchment. "By unanimous vote, the Wizengamot finds Lucius Malfoy guilty of all charges. He is hereby sentenced to receive the Dementor's kiss before the end of the week."
Draco grabbed Harry's hand and squeezed. Harry squeezed back, unable to find words of comfort.
Kingsley caught Harry's eye and held it for a few seconds before he looked back at Lucius.
"Lucius Malfoy," he said. "By ruling of the Wizengamot, your sentence will be carried out Friday, November 20th 1998. Until then you'll be placed under house arrest by request of your son and heir, Draco Malfoy."
Everyone spoke up at the same time with those words. It was unheard of, and the response outraged.
"Furthermore," Kingsley bellowed, and the room quieted down. "From this day forward, you will be stripped of your title and fortune."
The grip of Draco's hand became fractionally tighter.
"However, I've been petitioned by young Mr Malfoy's council on this issue, and in light of the arguments he has made on your son's behalf, I will allow your title to be passed on to your heir. As for the Malfoy fortune, a total sum of 1 million Galleons must be paid in reparations. The remaining fortune will also be allowed to be passed on to your heir."
Lucius turned his head to look at his son, but his eyes fell on Harry instead.
Something happened as their eyes met. Harry's heart rate sped up dramatically and his skin flushed with heat. Before he could even consider a response, he felt like something punched his chest from the inside out. He gasped and tried to will his body to move, but it was like he was frozen under Lucius's gaze.
He closed his eyes, squeezed Draco's hand and breathed in through his teeth. Was Lucius breaking into his mind? Was that what this was? Without a Wand even?
His stomach lurched and he shuddered, bringing the familiar feeling of ants crawling up his spine.
He had to escape. Now! If he didn't, the entire Wizarding world would know what he was.
He stood up and ripped his hand away from Draco, who tried to hold on to him. Kingsley's voice murmured indistinctly in the background, but he couldn't concentrate on the words.
Instead he rushed to the lift and rode up into the Atrium. He did not bother to repress the snarl aimed at the Ministry employee who just couldn't manage to produce his wand as fast as Harry would've liked.
Within five minutes of Lucius's verdict, Harry was back at Grimmauld place, his silver-gray wings prominent and unwilling to budge.
He tried Occluding, breathing exercises, even meditation, but nothing worked. When he Owled Hermione, she rushed over, but she couldn't even get close enough to touch him. Her attempts only resulted in a few nasty cuts.
He curled up in a corner of his living room and she sat down in one of the armchairs, offering silent comfort by just being there.
The night was restless. His wings were uncomfortable, and the moment he did fall asleep it was only to be met with dreams plagued by visions of Malfoy. He could almost smell the man's skin and feel the silky touch of the blond hair. He startled awake more than once, making a sound close to a screech that scared both himself and Hermione.
By morning Harry was exhausted, and his wings had slowly turned from grey to white.
"Harry, what happened?" Hermione asked when she was finally able to approach him. Though when she tried to touch him, his wings started darkening back to grey.
Harry closed his eyes again. "I don't know. Malfoy did something to me."
Hermione furrowed her brows and sat down on the soft rug next to her friend, bringing her hand within an inch of his and caressing the floor the way she would've liked to caress Harry's fingers. "What? How?"
"I don't know. He was sentenced to be kissed and then he turned around and looked at me. It's like he broke into my mind or something. Like something broke inside. I rushed home as fast as I could, but I can't get my wings to go away any more," he said in a small voice. "Do you think he knew? Is this his twisted way of revenge?"
"Oh, Harry," she said and swallowed thickly. "I'm so, so sorry."
She looked down at their hands almost touching, her fingers twitching to touch. It wasn't the worry, but resignation in her eyes that unnerved him.
"What? What did he do?" Harry said, and stood up. His wings ruffled and started to shift again, a knot forming in his gut.
"I think-," she started, then stood up as well. Taking a step away, she gripped onto the back of one of the dining chairs. "Harry, what do you feel when you think about him? About his sentence?"
Immediately his heart rate sped up while the knot in his stomach gave a vicious yank. He keeled over and nearly cried of frustration. "What did he do, Hermione? Tell me! How do I stop this?"
"I'm sorry, Harry, you can't," she said. "I'm so sorry."
She shifted on her feet and reached out before pulling her hands back. "We need to talk to Kingsley, to overturn the verdict. We need to stop Malfoy from getting kissed."
"I'll get on it right away, Harry. Don't worry. They've got to overturn the verdict. They can't take his soul now."
Harry's voice almost shook the house. "Hermione! What did he do to me?"
"Nothing," she said softly. "He did nothing. It's you."
She paused and took a hesitant step towards him. He knew that look on her face. It reminded him of the way she'd been looking at him during the year they searched for Horcruxes. Looking back, those were the times he was sure she was realizing the darker truth about his scar but didn't want to say it out loud. Not wanting it to be real.
"Harry, he's your mate."
He stood there for a second as her words hit him. Then he stumbled and fell, the scales of his wings digging painfully into his thigh.
"No." He can't be.
"I'll make an appointment with Kingsley right away. Harry, it's going to be okay."
She grabbed his arm, but he pulled back with a snarl. Lucius Malfoy. God, no! Anyone but him!
Year after year he had barely survived the horrors that Malfoy and his band of snake-worshipping, arse-kissing, Muggle-torturing Death Eaters dished out to him. Even then, he'd let Draco persuade him to help out and then to stay with him. He acted like a Godforsaken Gryffindor for one more time in his miserable life, and this is what he got for it?
This was his reward?
"Harry, talk to me, please," Hermione tried. "We've got to stop them!"
He finally looked up at his friend, who was watching him anxiously.
"No," he said, firmly. "Leave it."
He shook his head. "I'd rather die."
"But Harry, don't you get it? You will die if he gets kissed! It's his soul you're connected to, not his life!"
Harry stood up and unfolded his wings. They felt so natural in a way, though at this moment he had never hated them more.
"I don't care, I won't spend the rest of my life with Lucius Malfoy," he said, staring at the small window in the corner of the room. The pane was too dirty to look out through. "Please go. I'd rather be alone now."
"Harry, don't be ridiculous!"
"Get out!" he yelled.
"All right! But don't think this is the end of it, Harry Potter!"
Harry turned his back and with a little sigh Hermione left through the Floo, leaving him to destroy the living room in his desperation.
The next day Hermione attempted to come back, of course, but he'd warded the Floo against her. Still, it was only a temporary measure. Harry knew she wasn't going to give up. He wished she would just leave him alone, at least for now.
He should've guessed she'd pull out the big guns though, and she did, but Molly's owls returned to the Burrow, their messages unopened. But it wasn't until Ron came by, banging on the door like an Ogre, that Harry knew for sure Hermione had betrayed his trust.
"Harry! Open up! I know you're in there!"
He rested his head in his hand and waved his wand in the general direction of the door. "Accio Scotch," the muttered command was followed quickly by a crash in the kitchen. Unsympathetic to the plight of the kitchen cabinetry, he dropped his wand just in time to snatch the bottle out of the air before it collided with his head.
"Come on, Harry! I thought I was supposed to be your best mate! How could you not tell me?"
He took a large gulp straight from the bottle and winced at the taste. He'd never been a heavy drinker, preferring a beer or a glass of wine on special occasions. He hadn't even bought the Scotch himself. It was likely a remnant of one of the bottles Sirius had Mundungus Fletcher sneak into the house during Harry's fifth year.
"Harry! I'm not leaving until you talk to me!"
Picking up his wand from the floor, he flicked it at the front door then sat up straight and summoned two drinking glasses.
"Get in, shut up, and allow me to get pissed before we talk about this," he instructed preemptively and shifted on his chair to allow his white wings more space.
"Whoah," Ron exclaimed, his eyes roaming over the destroyed living room before coming to rest on a half naked Harry. "What happened in here, mate?"
Harry sighed and filled the two glasses. "Did I not just tell you to shut up?"
Ron landed heavily in one of the chairs and took the glass Harry offered. He made a noncommittal sound before he winked at his friend and took a sip. "The wings look kind of good on you."
"Ha, bloody ha."
"You should've told me," Ron said, his voice turning somewhat rough. "I mean, I get why you didn't, but you should've."
Harry drank half his glass in one go and set it down with a bang. He watched his friend press his nails into the tiny decorative holes of the tablecloth, until Ron looked up with a surprisingly non accusatory look in his eyes.
"Bloody buggering hell. I mean, Lucius sodding Malfoy. What are you going to do?"
"I was going to get completely shitfaced and attempt to forget the reality that is my existence," Harry replied with a sardonic chuckle.
Ron held up his own glass in a silent toast and swallowed down a large mouthful.
"Seriously," he said after putting his glass down again. "Lucius Malfoy."
Harry sighed. "Yeah."
Ron's gaze made another sweep through the room, ending on Harry. "The wings do look good though," he reaffirmed with a grin.
Harry really had no reply to that, so he took another swig of Scotch and awarded his friend the two-fingered salute.
They drank and talked about nothing important. Ron made a point to curse every so often, always followed by the words 'Lucius Malfoy'. Harry couldn't say anything against the language as he would've been right up there with him, swearing like a bloody fisherman's wife, if there was a chance it would have made the slightest bit of difference.
It wouldn't. He was completely fucked. Not a single way out of this.
He only had two choices, both equally unsatisfying. He could bond with a man who until recently had made a career of trying to draw Harry into a painful and agonizing death; a bond which required a certain level of intimacy he couldn't imagine sharing with the other man.
Or he would die.
They were going to take Malfoy's soul on Friday morning. If Harry's calculations were correct, he'd maybe have a day or two before he'd lose consciousness. By Tuesday next week, he would no longer be the Boy Who Lived.
It wasn't a choice he wanted to make. Not now, not ever. Why hadn't he just died that night in the Forbidden Forest? He'd made his peace back then. It wasn't that he had wanted to die, but he'd resigned himself to the fact that it was inevitable.
Then he'd lived, only to become a freak a few months later.
"It's all genetics, innit?" Ron said at some point. "Well, I always thought you were a bit feminine."
Harry glared at his friend, who didn't seem to notice.
"I mean, you've got to be a bit of a poofter to have your genes confuse you for a woman. Though I always suspected with the way you ogled after Malfoy. Junior, of course."
"Ron," Harry warned threateningly.
"Bit ironic though, that you'd be stuck with his father through some Veela instinct that just wants to safeguard the next generation, while you will never be able to produce offspring together."
Harry deflated. It was ironic, to say the least, this whole mating thing.
Male Veela weren't supposed to exist, but every decade or so there would be one. Ironically, they were almost identical to their female counterparts. A Veela matured at the age of 18, and if they hadn't found a mate by then one would be chosen by instinct. An ideal mate would be strong enough to defend the nest and fertile enough to father a new generation of Veela. The mate would always be male.
"To be bonded to Malfoy, though." Ron visibly shuddered. "You're going to have to let him fuck you, aren't you? I mean, the first time and all that rot? To complete the bond?"
Yet another thing Harry really didn't want to think about, he mused with a shudder.
"Maybe we should go out, you know? To get you laid?"
Harry sighed. "I can't."
Ron stood up and reached out to a piece of wallpaper hanging loose, bringing it back up before letting it go and moving to a wooden shelf that dangled vertically from a single plug in the wall. "Of course you can. You should go and lose your virginity to some nice bloke, not Malfoy." He looked back at Harry over his shoulder with a gentle smile.
"I literally can't, Ron," Harry replied, and filled both their glasses with more scotch. "Apart from the fact that I look like a decidedly more depressed version of Sesame Street's Big Bird-"
"Whut?" Ron turned around, looking completely confused.
"There's also the little problem of the link. This whole Veela mating thing is like a chemical castration with anyone besides the chosen mate."
"Whut?" Ron repeated, gaping at him like he'd gone mad.
"Can't get it up," Harry confirmed, staring morosely at his glass. "Couldn't even wank if I wanted to."
Ron's eyes widened. "Whoah, you mean-"
"There's a reason Veela mate for life," Harry said, deadpan. "They are physically unable to do otherwise."
"Yeah, but girls don't have knobs though, I mean Fleur could-"
"Ron, as much as I don't want to talk about your brother's wife's sex life, no, she couldn't. The Veela endocrine glands won't activate the proper hormones to cause arousal without their mates. It's actually the reason I would need to complete the bond."
Ron shrugged. "Yeah, I figure a lifetime without orgasms is a bit bland, innit?"
"Oh, it's more serious than that," Harry replied ominously. "Without a bond, the whole Veela endocrine system will eventually fail completely, causing certain death."
"How long would that take?" Ron asked. He seemed decidedly less inebriated than five minutes prior.
"Weeks, months," Harry answered. "Early symptoms are nausea, listlessness, insomnia and an inability to control one's mood."
"Which I have been experiencing increasingly over the past few weeks."
"Fuck!" Ron slumped back down in his chair; taking the full glass Harry held out to him and nearly downing it in one go.
Harry copied him, wincing as the scotch burned through his esophagus. He couldn't blame Ron for the way he averted his eyes.
"Hermione didn't tell me about that," Ron said.
Harry sat up in his chair. "I don't think Hermione knows. She's only been researching Wizarding texts. I found a reference from a Squib scientist who did research on Veela in the 80's."
"Why didn't you give it to her?"
Harry raised an eyebrow. "How do you think he researched the effects of the absence of a bond in Veela?"
"Huh?" Ron said and scrunched his brow. "Oh."
In any other situation, watching the struggle of Ron's expression from confusion to understanding would have been funny. "But that's horrible!" he exclaimed when he finally reached his destination.
Harry rolled his eyes.
Eventually the light of dawn forced its way through the meager, grubby windows of Grimmauld Place. Ron stood up and stretched his muscles.
"So it's a choice between Malfoy and death?" Ron asked sadly.
"I'm not sure which is worse."
"No," Harry said and pulled his best friend into a hug, not caring for the fact that his wings immediately turned a silvery grey.
"Well, I'll be there for you. All of us will be, whatever you do."
Ron's breath tickled against Harry's bare skin. It's not like he could wear a shirt right now.
Ron gave him a weak smile and took a handful of Floo powder from a bowl on the mantelpiece. "Even silver, the wings still look good."
Harry chuckled and watched his friend disappear in a burst of flames.
On Thursday Harry made sure no one would bother him. As if it were not enough that he'd spend half the day crying, he'd also grown dramatically long nails overnight. His hands looked strangely claw-like with the sharp, black, steel-like talons protruding from the tips of his fingers.
A strange sense of calm had washed over him when the alcohol finally faded from his system.
Harry Potter was going to be bonded to Lucius bloody Malfoy.
He was going to allow those pales fingers to run caressingly over his skin. To let the older man mount him, taking the one thing that was supposed to be reserved for that special someone.
Harry chuckled darkly at the romance lacing his own thoughts. In all honestly he hadn't been saving his virginity, he just hadn't had the time to get rid of it in between staying alive, chasing Horcruxes and killing Dark Lords. But for the angst filled story of the wronged Boy hero it did seem strangely fitting.
Still, the idea that he would share something so intimate, so personal, with a man that hated him, was horrifying.
Those revelations, more than anything else, was what kept him from calling Minister Shacklebolt by Floo until very late that evening.
"Harry, what a lovely surprise!" Kingsley said. "Why don't you step through?"
"I'd rather not, if it's all the same to you, Minister. I'd prefer it if you could visit me here at Grimmauld Place."
Kingsley raised his eyebrows, but stepped away from his desk and moved closer to the Floo. "Any particular reason? Are you in some sort of trouble, Harry?"
The laugh that left Harry's mouth was anything but humoured. "Please, I'll explain when you get here."
The Minister nodded and motioned for Harry to clear his fireplace.
Within a few seconds the impressive man was standing in the remains of what was once a functional living room.
"What the devil happened here?" he exclaimed, surprised at the level of destruction. "I'll call in the Aurors, dear lad. There will be an investigation. How did they break through your wards?"
"No one broke in, Minister," Harry replied tightly.
Shacklebolt waved his hand dismissively at Harry, though still without looking at him. His old Auror training had kicked in as his eyes scanned the room, trying to figure out what could've done this. "It's Kingsley, you know that."
"Kingsley then. No one broke in, I did it myself."
The Minister finally turned to face Harry, only barely managing to stifle a gasp at the sight of him. Silence reigned for what felt like an eternity. "You're a Veela," he finally spoke, the casual tone from earlier gone.
"Uhm, yes, I thought that much was obvious," Harry replied with a straight face.
"Right, yes," Kingsley said and sat down in one of the chairs that wasn't ruined. "So you didn't call me here to look at the ruins of your home?"
"No, it's just this room anyway. I have a problem with the execution of Lucius Malfoy's verdict tomorrow morning."
Kingsley frowned and tensed his jaw. "I assume you have a reason for this request.?"
"It's not a request, Minister-"
"Kingsley." Harry sighed. "It's not a request, Kingsley. I'm not asking, I'm demanding the execution to be postponed until further notice, on the account of the Classification Act of 1811, section 4, clause 65."
Harry was rather proud of the way that came out: calm, collected, and very mature.
Kingsley narrowed his eyes and stood up. "I beg your pardon?"
"I die with him now, so by Wizard Law, you can't execute him without trying and convicting me for the same crimes."
Kingsley's normally deep calming voice sounded a bit strained when he next spoke. "I don't believe it. You bonded with Lucius Malfoy?"
Harry shook his head and rolled his eyes. "Don't look at me like that. Do you really think I would voluntarily bond with a Death Eater?"
Kingsley saw the sincerity in Harry's eyes and relaxed his stance.
Harry sighed. "I didn't. That was just another surprise to fuck up my already fucked up life. I didn't bond with him. He's my mate. Apparently."
Harry squared his shoulders. "Don't 'Oh, Harry' me. I don't need your pity. I just need to you to stop Malfoy getting kissed in the morning, so I can complete the bond and live unhappily ever after with a man who wouldn't think twice to kill me."
Kingsley gave a single curt nod and took a step towards the fireplace. "Have you registered with the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures?"
"No," Harry replied. "But it wouldn't surprise me if Hermione's put my name in the registers already. She's known for quite some time now."
Another nod. "I don't expect the Wizengamot will want to put The Boy Who Saved Us All up on trial for being a Death Eater. We don't enjoy making fools out of ourselves. I'll send over someone to adjust your Wards tomorrow, and you can expect Lucius Malfoy by noon on Saturday. You will have full responsibility for him: Where he goes, who he sees, etc. Though you will also be held accountable for his actions."
Harry nodded in reply and averted his eyes. He'd figured as much.
"Oh, and Harry?"
Harry looked up and met concerned eyes.
"I will recommend his Magic be restricted for a minimum of one year. After that, it'll be up to you."
The man sighed and shook his head. "This was not the outcome I had hoped for," he said. "It seems like Malfoy's being let off easy."
Harry chuckled at that. "Somehow I don't think he will agree to that. Being bonded to a half-blood who ended his dream and all?"
"You have my sympathies, Harry. Good luck!"
Hermione came banging on his door very early in the morning on Friday and stumbled most ungracefully when the door suddenly opened under her brutal fists.
Harry chuckled from his place at the other side of the hallway.
"Stop laughing. It isn't funny."
Harry turned to hide his smile. "Of course it isn't," he said and gestured for her to follow him into the living room.
"Well." Hermione coughed lightly. "Are you sure redecorating your house is the right way to deal with your current predicament?"
Harry shrugged. "Certainly helped at the time."
Hermione nodded and made her way to the kitchen briskly. "Tea?" she called over her shoulder as she left the living room.
Harry followed her but remained standing in the doorway to the kitchen, his hands sliding into the back pockets of his jeans. He watched her with a guarded expression as she bustled around his kitchen in her quest for proper cups and a teapot.
"I got an Owl late last night with a message I would've liked receiving from you, before I pulled all my hair out in distress over your possible demise." She sounded angry, but he could feel there was more to it than that.
His wings darkened a fraction and inched protectively around his shoulders, shielding his arms a little.
"Still, I'm positively relieved that you've decided to pull your head from your arse and accept reality."
She turned and carried a tray with a purple teapot Harry hadn't known he owned and a pair of Royal Albert teacups to the table.
Her hands shook as she poured tea into the cups and sat down.
"Aren't you going to join me?" she asked with a raised eyebrow, but Harry remained where he was.
"Fine," she whispered, following the grain of the heavy wooden table with the nail of her finger.
She took a deep breath and looked back up at him.
"Why do I have the feeling I did something horrible?" Harry asked, pushing his shoulders forward, making himself just a fraction smaller.
Indignation flickered in Hermione's eyes and her nostrils flared just before she opened her mouth. "You impossible prat!"
Harry took a step back, but remained more or less standing in the doorway.
"I've been the one to support you through all of this for months! Months, Harry!" she stood up from the table with watery eyes, a flush forming on her cheeks and neck. "I've been here through your moaning, and whining; your obvious depression! And that's all right because I'm your friend! But then you just throw me out and leave me hanging, leaving me to think you're about to do something really stupid, or better yet, stupidly do nothing!"
Harry blinked. "Er-"
"Do you have any idea what it's been like to be your friend all these years? To know that you were going to be the one who had to face down the most powerful Dark Lord of all time? And don't even mention the revelation that you were a bleeding Horcrux, Harry!"
"I-I," Harry stuttered as Hermione took a few steps towards him, finger sharply pointed in his direction.
"But through all of that, I was there. I stuck with you and you bloody talked to me!" Her shoulders trembled under the sheer force of her emotions and she squeezed her eyes shut, unable to hold back the tears.
Fidgeting uncomfortably, Harry crossed his arms over his chest halfway, before shaking his hands slightly and shoving them into the front pockets of his jeans. He released the breath he'd been holding as quietly as possible, his gaze casting down to the floor.
"You confided in me," she whispered. "Not Ron, not Dumbledore, nor anyone else. When things got bad, you always used to come to me."
Harry's shoulders slumped, heavy with guilt. He wanted to reach out and hug her, but he didn't dare move.
"I love Ron with all my heart. He's the man I want to spend my life with. But you and me, Harry, we've got something special, don't we?"
It was hard to look at her. She was right. He'd pushed her away this week. It was something he'd never done before. He'd done it to everyone else, but not to her.
"Yes," he answered. "I-."
She closed the distance between them and took his head between her gentle hands, bringing his forehead to rest against hers. "I honestly thought I was going to lose you," she said softly. "Don't ever do that to me again."
He folded his arms around her and nuzzled his nose into her hair softly, breathing in the familiar scent. She smelled wrong somehow. Her smell no longer caused snap visions of comfort and feeling at home. He wondered briefly what Malfoy would smell like, but pushed the thought away as fast as it'd arrived.
Hermione stepped away from him with a tiny smile and sat back down at the table. "Pull up your wings, Harry. Your feathers are getting dirty."
He looked down and noticed the tips of his wings were dragging on the floor.
Taking a step into the kitchen, he spread them as wide as they would go. "I think it's a little too late for that," he snarked.
"Oh my gosh, Harry!"Hermione whispered in wonderment. "They are beautiful!"
Harry grimaced. "They are dirty," he said. It was true. Dust coated most of the plumage and tiny splinters of wood were sticking out from in between. Oddly, some of the feathers in his wings didn't seem to belong to him; they looked suspiciously like the goose feathers from the cushioning of the ruined chairs in the living room. "How on earth do I get them clean?" he whined. Hermione chuckled and shook her head.
As the clock loudly struck twelve in the study upstairs, which Harry was sure was somehow magically altered to be much more obnoxious than necessary, the doorbell rang.
Harry dried his sweaty hands on his jeans and stole one more glance in the hallway mirror before opening the door to a serious, but smiling Kingsley Shacklebolt. He was accompanied by a quartet of bored looking Aurors and one sneering Lucius Malfoy.
"Harry," Kingsley greeted and shook Harry's claw-like hand.
"Kingsley," Harry replied and nodded politely at the Aurors, avoiding Malfoy's gaze. "Do come in."
Two Aurors preceded Malfoy, the other two remained outside.
He fought the urge to touch the man, biting his lip painfully with the effort, but ended up laying a hand at the small of Lucius's back anyway.
The man pointedly glanced down to where Harry's arm disappeared behind him before looking him straight in the eyes. His expression left no doubt of what he thought of the touch.
Harry pulled back quickly and stared at the floor as the others made their way to the living room, which had thankfully been repaired with the help of Hermione's excellent skills in Charms and Transfiguration.
When he looked down at his hands, there was no mistaking the absence of the hard nails. Huh!
"The general response is one of outrage, Harry," Kingsley said solemnly, cutting straight to the point.
One of the Aurors, a rather short but fit bloke with raven coloured hair, narrowed his eyes, his upper lip curling into a snarl. His female counterpart nudged his shoulder lightly and frowned at her colleague, before smiling apologetically in Harry's direction.
Harry tried to focus on the Minister, but his eyes tended to drift towards Lucius.
"We haven't released your identity as the Veela who claimed Mr Malfoy, but I urge you to send a statement of your own to the press soon."
Harry winced. "If you think it necessary," he answered.
The male Auror snorted, earning him a glare from his colleague.
"I'm under heavy fire, having signed off on your claim without a trial. The Ministry is under heavy fire," Kingsley said.
"And you think having the people know I'm the one who made the claim will calm everyone?"
Malfoy was steadfastly ignoring the conversation going on beside him, like it was no concern of his, like he was above it all.
Harry's wings shuffled and he barely held back the need to brush against his mate again. The urge to touch and be touched was as strong as it was confusing. He huffed, disgusted with himself. He hated Lucius. He was sure he would hate his touch.
"It might mitigate some of the general anger," Kingsley replied, delicately. "The public would be hard pressed to deny you something that could save your life."
Harry nodded tersely. "Fine."
Smiling and shaking his hand again, Kingsley turned back toward the hallway. "Well, I think everything's in order here. I trust you agree with the terms as set by the Wizengamot to take full responsibility for the convicted, Mr Lucius Malfoy?"
Something jerked in Harry's stomach. This was it. No turning back after this. "Yeah," he mumbled, but collected himself when Kingsley raised an eyebrow. "Yes, I do."
Didn't that sound like a Muggle marriage vow? Ugh!
"We'll be going then," Kingsley said and offered him another smile, this one warmer than the first. "Good luck, Harry."
The Aurors followed the Minister out the door, and then he was alone with Malfoy.
In the past, being alone with him would've meant he was in mortal peril. An old survival instinct nagged at Harry to watch his back. Constant Vigilance!
Another part of him couldn't believe, or much rather, didn't want to believe that this was what his life had come to. It wanted to scream, and rip and tear. It wanted to close its eyes and pretend this was all a horrible, horrible nightmare.
A third, much larger part, however, needed nothing more than to press up against the person that was his mate, just to soothe the wrenching discomfort his absence had caused over the past week.
Harry shook it off and instead made his way back to the hallway. "Follow me."
He didn't stop for the silence that followed him, nor did he turn around. When he'd passed the first few steps of the stairs, he heard footsteps sound against the wooden floor. The corner of his mouth curled up minutely. First battle won without trouble. Hopefully that would set the precedent, and not the exception.
He led Lucius to a small bedroom on the third floor, furthest away from the Master bedroom he occupied since he'd officially moved in after the Final Battle.
Malfoy looked decidedly out of place next to the simple double twin sized bed with white cotton sheets.
"I'm not here to punish you for your past misdoings. As of today, I am responsible for your physical wellbeing, and that's a responsibility I intend to take seriously.
"However, that's where my Gryffindor heart stops. I'll not deign to make you happy, as I don't believe you deserve it.
"We'll go over the rules at dinner."
With those words Harry left the room and slammed the door behind him.
He didn't care what Lucius would be doing for the next couple of hours, as long as he stayed in his room and out of Harry's way.
He didn't hear another sound from Malfoy until he called him down to the kitchen six hours later.
He sat down and waited until Lucius joined him at the table.
"The rules," Harry said, taking a sheet of parchment and a quill. "I will provide the meals, but you will wash the dishes after dinner."
"Have your elf do it." Lucius replied with a sneer that made his distaste for lowly housework very clear. They were the first words he'd actually said since arriving at Grimmauld Place.
Harry answered his sneer with a blank face. "Kreacher's been assigned to Hogwarts for supervision, as not being able to complete his dying master's last order for over sixteen years has driven him insane.
"Besides," he continued. "I'm loathe to force an elf, any elf, to ever call you their Master again."
"Hire a maid."
Harry silently stared at Lucius across the table, who stared right back at him. After a minute or so Harry stood up, pushing the chair away from the table with a loud scraping noise.
Lucius flinched minutely, but it was enough for Harry's overtaxed awareness of his mate to notice.
"There's no need for a maid when two unemployed men such as ourselves are perfectly capable to keep up a house this size. So you will do the dishes, and you'll do it without complaint.
"You will also clean your own room and the bathrooms on the second and third floor once a week."
Harry turned to the kitchen counter and filled two plates with leftover cottage pie, using a Charm to heat it up. "It would be fair for me to do the rest, since I'll have the use of Magic to help me. However, you will clear up any mess you make."
He looked back over his shoulder. "Questions so far?"
Lucius shook his head.
"Good," Harry said, and brought the plates to the table, ignoring the way Lucius looked at the meal in disgust. "You will not talk to me, look at me or even be in my general vicinity throughout the day. Any dire needs can be discussed at dinner. You'll find the owls will not deliver your mail, the Floo won't connect for you, and you won't be able to leave the Wards. You will, however, have access to the garden."
Harry sat down again and picked up his fork.
"If you need anything, you may ask."
Lucius's eyes flared with anger, humiliation and a thirst for revenge. Harry ignored it.
"Finally, the reason you are still in possession of your soul. I need to bond. More precisely: I need to bond with you. This means we need to have sex, and soon."
Harry paused and made a point of taking a bite of his dinner. "Besides that, we need to have sex on a semi-regular basis. I have no illusions that you don't find this as distasteful as I do, but there really is no other option. I will try and make the experience as painless and as quick as possible, and you will not fight me on this."
Daring him to object, Harry stared at Lucius. He didn't, but his upper lip curled in a silent snarl and he left the kitchen without another word.
Wincing at the slamming doors upstairs, Harry put down the parchment and let out a stuttering breath. He hadn't been hardly as calm as he feigned to be during that conversation.
How on earth was he going to live like that?
He felt betrayed by his own body. He saved the Wizarding world with the idea that he'd finally be able to be left alone. He could finally be normal. But no, all that hard work, all that fear and angst, only to be saddled with a convicted Death Eater for a mate.
When would anything ever go his way?
He waited until late that night, hoping he could drag it out until the following day. Losing his dinner heaving over the downstairs toilet proved to him differently; he really couldn't wait any longer.
That's how he found himself knocking on the door to Lucius's room at half till midnight.
There was no reply.
Harry opened the door softly, hoping Lucius wasn't sleeping. He wasn't, he was reading a book that had probably been in one of the drawers of the night table.
As the he didn't look up, Harry took a moment to just stare.
Lucius was beautiful; there was no doubt about it. If only he weren't so ugly on the inside. If only the person he was didn't rot the alabaster skin and soft golden hair.
Still, Harry's libido didn't seem to mind the person inside the package. No, his prick was getting hard inside his jeans as he thought about what he was there for. It didn't really do any harm that Lucius's skin had been hot and fragrant when Harry had laid his hand against his back that afternoon. He closed his eyes and tried to clear the more cognitive thoughts from his head. If he was going to have to fuck Lucius Malfoy on a regular basis, he was going to have to use his primary drives and leave his more coherent desires at the bedroom door.
Only this first time he wouldn't be the one to fuck Lucius.
In all honestly, he was more scared than his arousal wanted to admit. He had no doubt his mate was going to make him suffer through this. He could always take his revenge the next time they'd have sex, but Harry didn't really have it in him. He'd meant it when he promised Lucius he'd make it as quick and as painless as possible.
"Are you going to be standing there for the foreseeable future?" Lucius asked sarcastically.
"I'm sorry, but it's time," Harry said, stepping into the room and closing the door behind him.
Lucius sighed and laid the book on the night table. Standing up from the bed, he unbuttoned his robes and undid his trousers. Harry couldn't help his jaw dropping slightly as he stared.
"Well?" Lucius asked, looking at him challengingly.
Harry toed off his trainers and kicked them into a corner before opening the zip of his jeans. By the time he'd stripped them off, leaving him in his tented boxer briefs, Lucius sat down on the bed in a white shirt and a pair of silk dark blue shorts.
He seemed calm and collected, like he was used to having sex with near strangers.
He probably was.
Harry rubbed his hands against the sides of his thighs and took his wand from the pocket of his robes before he approached the bed with a sense of dread. He was going to have sex. Actual sex. Actual prick up his arse sex.
With Lucius Malfoy.
"There uhm," he mumbled. "There's a Spell. I've looked it up."
He cast it on himself and felt an uneasy tingle at his arse. It burned a little as the magic stretched him enough for sex and slicked him uncomfortably. Next he shoved his briefs down his legs, blushing wildly as he uncovered his obviously erect prick.
"You, er-," Harry said and waved his hand in the general direction of Lucius's groin, who slid the shorts down his thighs with a roll of his eyes.
The man was completely flaccid, not even a twitch.
Harry was mortified. "I-I thought Veela instinct only chose men who are attracted to men."
Lucius raised an eyebrow. "Yes."
"But-," Harry started, but nearly bit his tongue when he realised the cold hard truth. Lucius was attracted to men, just not to him.
"I remember you specifically saying you'd make this quick," Lucius said irritably, and Harry felt his own erection wilt a little.
"But-," he said again, this time intending to point out that it was damn near impossible to penetrate a body with a flaccid penis.
"Potter, if you want to accomplish anything in this lifetime you are going to have to convince my body to participate."
Lucius sat back against the headboard of the bed and looked up at the ceiling, his expression one of indifference.
Harry kneeled next to him and reached out a trembling hand. Merlin! If only he'd done this before. With Dean, or anyone else really.
He could tell from the limp cock in his hand that Lucius was substantially larger than he was himself. It was going to hurt. A lot.
A shiver rippled down his spine and ruffled his feathers. He spread his wings a little to accommodate them as he sat back on his heels.
He slowly squeezed and fondled the foreign flesh and bit his bottom lip, shifting his weight from one leg to the other. It was a struggle to keep his weight balanced on the lush mattress.
Lucius batted his hand away with huff after a minute or two of uninspired fondling and took himself in hand. Pulling back, Harry felt his face flush in embarrassment.
He watched as the cock in Lucius's hand slowly became erect. The purple head slid out from his fist with every stroke, a drop of precome forming steadily at the slit. A warm sensation started in Harry's gut causing a gasp he couldn't have held back if he'd tried.
Lucius pulled his gaze away from the ceiling and looked at Harry. "I suggest you lie on your back for this, if your wings will permit it."
Harry just nodded stupidly and lay down, his wings spread as wide as they could to avoid any discomfort from lying on top of them. He closed his eyes as his mate stretched out above him, angry with himself for the way his back instinctively arched to push himself flush against Lucius's clothed chest, his hands grabbing onto the sheets.
He breathed in deeply, taking in Lucius's scent, learning it, feeling how his body responded to it; relaxing as the scent surrounded him.
He could cry from the paradoxical feelings coursing through him, but he decided he could hate himself later. If there was anything that could turn this experience into something bearable, he'd take it.
Breathing out slowly, Harry gave himself over to the physical sensations that had him burning for more.
Lucius stroked a hand from Harry's hip down to the inside of his thigh and lifted the leg, hooking it in the crook of his elbow before shifting the other leg to accommodate himself between Harry's spread thighs.
Harry felt the blunt end of Lucius's cock push against his entrance and gritted his teeth. He could've sworn he'd heard the man mumble 'Quick and painless indeed.' as he pushed through the virgin muscle.
But Merlin, it burned. Harry's first reaction was to scoot up the bed, away from the erection slowly but steadily penetrating him deeper and deeper. The movement caused him to clench his arse as he tried to find some leverage for his feet to kick off against.
Lucius laid a hand on his shoulder and forced him to stay right where he was, though he stopped the slow intrusion into Harry's body.
"Breathe, Potter," Lucius leaned forward and whispered into his ear. The sudden strain on his thigh made Harry whimper. "Breathe and bear down."
Once fully settled deep within him, Lucius stilled in a surprisingly thoughtful attempt to allow Harry to adjust. After a moment his mate began to move again, the push and pull reigniting the painful burn that had only just begun to fade
"Wait," he moaned without much breath as Lucius pulled and pushed a second time. "It hurts."
A hand came up to lightly caress his cheek bone. "Open your eyes," Lucius said softly.
Harry shook his head and tightened his grip on the sheets.
"Open your eyes, Potter, look at me."
Harry blinked, once, twice, before focusing on Lucius's steel blue eyes. One of them was a few shades darker than the other one. He'd never really noticed that before, though he'd never been truly looking. The minor imperfection was fascinating.
"Good, now breathe."
He kept studying that face, as it seemed so different from what it usually looked like. Less… severe. Lucius seemed almost relaxed as he started to move inside Harry again. It still burned a little, but it was decidedly less painful than a minute ago.
When Harry relaxed a little more around him, Lucius sat back on his heels and pulled Harry with him by the hips.
He gasped when Lucius's hand suddenly closed around his neglected cock. Long aristocratic fingers teased the head with this thumb and stroked up and down the shaft. Startled, Harry stared, his eyes widening almost comically at the considerate touch. Dean had once pressed a hand against his groin and they'd frotted until they'd both come inside their pants, but this was the first time another man actually touched his naked cock. A warm hand, hot even, distracting him from what was going on inside his arse.
Harry let out a pleasured moan and Lucius's eyes darkened.
"That's it," he whispered, and leaned down to bite at Harry's shoulder.
"Merlin!" Harry shouted, and came abruptly over his own chest and Lucius's hand.
Leaning forward again, Lucius's strokes inside his arse sped up and seemed to go a fraction deeper, leaving Harry panting, not only from his afterglow, but the breath being fucked out of him as Lucius chased his own orgasm. By then the feeling of someone fucking him had become bearable, if not enjoyable, despite the lingering burn.
Harry didn't actually think when he folded his wings around the pair of them, cradling their bodies inside a cocoon of silky white feathers.
Sharp teeth bit into his skin once more, muffling a cry against Harry's flesh as Lucius erupted deep inside him with a few sharp, stuttering thrusts.
Neither man moved as each caught their breath and allowed the cloud of passion to fade.
After a while Lucius slowly drew away his hips. "Kindly let go of me."
"W-whut?" Harry replied dazedly. "Oh!"
Shimmering for a few seconds, the wings disappeared and Lucius unceremoniously removed himself from Harry's person. He sat up, swinging his legs to rest over the edge of the bed as he reached down to reclaim his shorts.
Harry drew up his knees, taking silent inventory of the surprisingly lack of protest from his body. And everything taken into account, the soreness in his arse wasn't that bad at all. He studied Lucius as the man got dressed, unsure of what had just happened on this bed. Lucius's considerate actions had definitely not been expected.
"You're surprised," Lucius said. Harry didn't respond to the obviously rhetorical statement.
The man raised his chin slightly and pulled his robes back over his shoulder. "I'm not a sadist, Potter. I do not enjoy inflicting unnecessary pain."
"Could've fooled me," Harry muttered, more to himself than anything else.
Lucius narrowed his eyes. "Don't delude yourself into thinking you know me, Potter. You've a schoolboy image of all that life entails. Good and evil, black and white. Such a simplistic way of thinking; how very convenient that must be."
Harry left the bed quickly, not even bothering with his briefs before he put on his jeans.
And we're back to hating each other.
"Clothes, Potter," Lucius said as Harry opened the door to leave.
Lucius sighed and averted his eyes. "I will need you to provide clothing. The Aurors did not allow me to bring any personal effects."
Harry nodded once and closed the door quickly before making a beeline for the Master bathroom, dead set on scrubbing the night off his body, both physically and mentally.
He shivered, wrapping his arms around himself in an effort to feel warmth.
So now he was bonded. No Fireworks. No magical sensations. No spells. No vows. Nothing. Harry would've thought there would be more to it than that. Anything that would memorialise such a life-changing moment.
He stood in the shower for almost an hour before he dried himself off and slipped naked between the sheets of his bed. The headlamps of the passing cars outside played a mysterious game of light and shadow on the ceiling. Staring at it he thought about what Lucius had said to him.
He'd been right. Harry had always been pushed to see the world in black and white. A person was normal or freakish, good or evil, hated or revered.
Friend or foe.
He'd ignored and denied any blurring along those lines because he wasn't ready to face the alternative. It was not until he saw Snape's memory and realized Dumbledore had known all along he would need to sacrifice himself that Harry'd been forced to acknowledge the truth.
But acknowledgement was not acceptance.
His breath hitched and his throat tightened painfully.
If he was being honest with himself, he still struggled with those revelations. His world had been turned upside down that night, not only because of the battle and seeing so many people die, but because what he'd thought he knew turned out to be a mere illusion.
Life at Hogwarts had always been so simple. Snape was a bastard, Draco was a spoilt brat, and Dumbledore could be trusted unconditionally.
Harry rolled onto his side and plucked at the wool pills of the knitted counterpane covering his sheets.
Life had actually been a lot more complex then it seemed. He'd simply casted Severus Snape aside because of his less than friendly attitude, never once trusting him, ultimately leading to the death of his Godfather.
Well, hindsight was 20/20, and Harry now felt a partial responsibility regarding Draco's sordid choices. He'd never been able to see past boyhood feuds and personal dislikes. He'd never even tried to look past the arrogant facade to see the struggling boy underneath. He regretted that now. If Harry had simply remembered that Draco was human too, perhaps he might not have taken the Dark Mark.
And Dumbledore, Merlin, Dumbledore. It still hurt to think about the man who had been so important to him. He'd been his mentor, his guide; the one person he'd trusted unwaveringly. Then he found himself sitting in the Forest of Dean, cold, his body tired and his wand broken. That was when he had realized he'd never truly known the man at all.
And yet, even when he'd doubted the bond they had shared, he still did as Dumbledore had instructed. His faith had held true, only to be betrayed in the worst possible way.
Oh, he understood why. Harry no longer had any illusions about what he'd been to the great Albus Dumbledore. How important his role was, how essential it had been that he'd die by Voldemort's own hand.
For the greater good. Everything, always, for that greater good.
How transient the greater good had turned out to be. How at one time Dumbledore had believed 'the greater good' meant conquering Muggles by force. How the meaning of 'greater good' was solely dependent on one's morals and beliefs. How for Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy 'the greater good' meant retaining the purity of blood. How it had been important enough for them to kill, fight and sacrifice their families.
Sacrifice. Draco certainly had been a sacrifice to those he had trusted. Adult figures he had admired and looked up to. Didn't that sound familiar? Hadn't Harry himself been sacrificed in the very same way?
Was evil a truly unchangeable thing, or was it merely defined by those who were victorious?
Good or evil, black or white. How much had Harry missed because he'd rigidly held on to that way of thinking?
It wasn't until four o'clock in the morning that he finally fell asleep.
Harry froze dead in his tracks when he entered the kitchen and saw Lucius sitting at the table, staring intently at the wand he was twirling in his hand. Holly, 11 inches, phoenix feather core.
Mentally kicking himself, Harry realised he must've left it next to the bed the night before, having forgotten it in his haste to leave. How could he have been so stupid? So bloody careless?
His entire body tensed up, his heart trying to hammer its way out of his chest. Lucius looked up, his steely gaze locking with Harry's panicked one, and took proper hold of the wand. Harry fought his hardest to conceal the tremor in his hands, his knuckles colouring white as he grabbed a hold of the doorframe as if the anchor could save him from certain death.
He could almost picture the expression on Hermione's face at the moment she found his cold and lifeless body. He figured it would take at least a few days, having asked his friends to give him some space to get used to having his mate around. Lucius would be long gone by then.
He was shocked out of his raging thoughts when Lucius raised his hand and threw the wand at him.
"W-what?" he asked, but Lucius just narrowed his eyes. The cold stare unnerved him.
Harry cleared his dry throat. "Why didn't you-,"
Lucius interrupted before he could complete the sentence. "Why didn't I what, hmmm? Kill you? Run?"
Averting his gaze, Harry nodded.
"Yes," Lucius sneered. "It would have been so easy to slit your throat while you slept. I wouldn't have even needed a wand for that, just one of those sharp kitchen knives. I would know how to make you bleed out slowly, to make you suffer, would I not?"
The fact that Lucius sounded like he was mocking him only partially calmed Harry's nerves. He thrust his chest out a little, recognizing the tingling sensation at his spine. "So what stopped you?" he asked defiantly.
Lucius sighed. "What good would it do me, if I cannot go beyond the wards of this hovel? Your little friends would take one look at your dead body and lynch me before the Aurors could arrive."
"You tested the wards," Harry said flatly. "And I'm only alive because you couldn't break them."
He saw Lucius's eyes darken as he lowered his head slightly and curled up his upper lip.
"Could you even blame me? Leopards don't change their spots, Potter, it is you who should have been more careful. But no harm done, you were once again lucky."
Harry shook his head, turned on his heels and left the kitchen. He wasn't hungry anymore.
He couldn't let Lucius win though, not if he wanted to maintain the status quo. He was master of this house. He'd be the one who made the rules. Only he would decide what was and was not acceptable behaviour.
When Lucius had asked for clothes the night before, Harry had briefly considered buying him a new wardrobe in Diagon Alley. It would even be the quality clothing befitting a Malfoy, a sort of 'thank you' for his gentle treatment during the bonding.
Harry rushed up the stairs for the fourth floor. He'd stripped and changed almost the entire house over the summer, but he'd left the top floor the way it had been when Sirius was alive. The one door still read SIRIUS, but it was the other door he pushed open.
Kreacher had taken almost everything in his despair, holding on to his dead master's favourite items. Luckily he'd left Regulus's wardrobe alone, and it was filled with soft silks and rich cottons. The designs were dated and the colours faded by time, but high quality nonetheless.
Harry folded enough of them into a rough pile to last a week, and stuffed them under his left arm. He was not going to let himself be lulled into a false sense of security again. Lucius was a Slytherin, and he had years of experience over Harry.
He held onto the railing as he rushed downstairs, sliding down the last two steps, almost falling flat on his ass.
Lucius wasn't on the third floor, so he quickly dropped the pile of second hand clothes on the bed in the smallest bedroom, and retreated to his own room on the first floor. Maybe space and time wasn't what he needed. Maybe he just needed to pick up his life where it had left off before Malfoy.
The new week brought very few issues. Lucius didn't mention the origin of the clothes and wore them without complaint, which prompted Harry to make a second trip to Regulus's room, and Owl an order of a dozen silk shorts.
Lucius stayed out of his way as requested. He only showed up for dinner, after which he grudgingly took up a scrub sponge. They didn't really speak at the dinner table, apart from Harry's polite 'good evenings'. At least, not until Saturday.
"Potter," Lucius said. "I'd like to be permitted to use the Black Library."
Harry looked up from his meat and two veg, only to see the unreadable expression Lucius always wore on his face.
"Uhm, no," he replied and took another bite of carrots.
"I will not spend my days in my room, waiting for one to blend into another, boy. I have read that book on Magical arts and crafts seven times already. And let us not even mention the fact that I have no interest in crocheting Charms to start with," Lucius couldn't hold back the indignation from showing through his iron mask.
Harry smiled to himself. So that was what that book had been about.
"That's all very well, but I'm not allowing you into a library that's filled with a million ways to cause mayhem without a wand," Harry replied, staring into the distance for a minute, his fingers resting on his bottom lip. "I will pick some books for you to read."
"Magnificent," Lucius muttered. "How I look forward to sampling your literary palette."
"I do promise there will be no books on magical knitting or embroidery."
The glare Lucius shot at Harry only made him chuckle lightly.
Harry cheated. It wasn't because he wanted Lucius to have reading material that would interest him, not at all. He just didn't want to lose the battle. Lucius was certain that Harry would come up with wildly uninteresting books, and he was going to prove the man wrong.
He owled Draco.
The reply was a rather large package, heavy too, if the way the black owl was struggling with it was any indication.
When Harry opened it, it proved to be a small stack of books on topics varying between English Poetry, Scottish Deerhounds and Rose-Breeding.
It came with a short note:
"I'll be over for tea at three."
Harry sighed. He'd known that at some point he would be entertaining Draco as a guest. He was worried about how the man would feel about his father shacking up with his former adversary. He was also worried that the two Malfoys together would prove more than he could handle.
Harry wasn't entirely sure why, but he didn't tell Lucius his son would be over for tea.
Still, when the doorbell rang at three, he called him down into the living room.
"Harry," Draco said immediately when Harry opened the door. "How are you?" His face held a combination of concern and apology.
"Er, what?" Harry asked stupidly.
"My father," Draco went on. "This can hardly be a welcome arrangement for you."
"Draco?" Lucius asked before Harry could respond.
"Father." The younger Malfoy had thrown up his aristocratic mask as soon as he noticed Lucius coming down the stairs. His voice was calm and collected. Cold even.
"Tea's in the living room," Harry muttered, moving around the two. "Follow me."
"What a pleasant surprise, Draco," Lucius said as he sat down in one of the wing-backed leather armchairs. "You are looking well."
"I am, father. The house-elves have been taking exceedingly good care of me."
Harry didn't understand the conversation between father and son. Had they always been like this? No wonder Draco had turned out the way he had.
"You appear to be in reasonable health, father," Draco said. "I trust you are being treated well."
If there had been any trace of concern in Draco's voice, Harry imagined he'd feel insulted. However, the words seemed to be nothing more than a dutiful pleasantry.
"I have little to complain about," Lucius replied before looking at Harry. "Though I could do with better clothes."
Harry rolled his eyes, but couldn't contain a smirk when he saw the corner of Draco's mouth curl up in amusement.
When Lucius looked back at his son, Draco managed to look completely stoic again.
"I could have an elf deliver your wardrobe if you wish."
"If Mr Potter allows it," Lucius said.
Harry intupted before Draco could say anything. "I have no objections."
Draco raised an eyebrow in his direction, but Harry ignored it. "Milk? Sugar?" he asked, and picked up the purple teapot he seemed to favour ever since Hermione had unearthed it from the chaos that was the kitchen cabinets.
The entire conversation was strained. Harry could see how hard Draco was trying to earn his father's respect, though Lucius kept his cool demeanor, never letting any affection shine through.
It wasn't as if Harry had any experience with having a father, but the Malfoy family certainly didn't seem like a warm nest. It surprised him a little, because he'd seen the way Lucius had behaved during the final Battle. He'd seen the man running around, screaming for his son and ignoring the fight that was going on all around him.
Lucius clearly valued his son dearly, and Harry didn't quite believe it was only because Draco was his heir.
When Draco eventually left, Harry showed him to the door.
"You're always welcome to visit your father, Draco. I want you to know that," he said.
Draco shifted uncomfortably on his feet, giving Harry the impression he wasn't at all relieved to hear that.
"I mean it," he continued. "All I ask is that you let me know you're coming, and that you do not use magic inside my house when I'm not here. Wards and all."
Draco finally smiled hesitantly. "He's allowed visitors without supervision?"
"No," Harry said, a little more briskly than needed and Draco's face fell. "Not any visitor, but I guess I trust you not to try and do anything stupid."
"Fuck no," Draco said with a chuckle. "I'm rather fond of my freedom."
Harry gave a slight nod.
"Thank you again, Harry. I'm sure you would never have chosen this of your own volition, but I am grateful you spared his life."
Harry wanted to say he just saved himself, but held his tongue and accepted the gratitude.
Lucius didn't say another word after Draco had left, and after dinner he retreated to his room with the stack of books Draco had sent. Meanwhile, Harry took a seat in one of the leather armchairs in the rich library on the first floor, comfortably curling up, hoping things would soon settle down.
Weeks passed quickly. Harry started going out again. Meeting up with friends like Ron and Hermione, but also friends he hadn't spent time with for a long time. He saw Neville, Luna and even Ginny.
Once in a while Harry would run into Draco as he came home, and every so often they would end up in a cafe somewhere. Sometimes Harry would complain about Lucius, but more often Draco ended up telling Harry about his plans for the Malfoy fortune. Some of those plans involved scholarships for Muggle-borns with the intent of integrating them into Wizarding society. Harry was sure Draco hadn't told Lucius about those plans.
When Harry Owled Dean, his ex had at first been angry. Still, after he found out why Harry had been ignoring him since summer, he came around. In all truth, Dean was a bit relieved. He'd come to find that even though he genuinely liked Harry, he wasn't ready to settle down. At least not in a 'forever and ever' kind of way.
Harry also started to attend Sunday brunch at the Burrow again, where Molly would only let him go home when his arms were filled with several days' worth of food. For one.
It wasn't as if Harry talked about Lucius to his friends and chosen family, and they, in turn, didn't ask. Everyone seemed very ready to ignore and forget the fact that Harry was bonded with a convicted Death Eater.
Harry himself was very happy to pretend nothing had changed, but he was slowly feeling worse and worse.
Four and a half weeks after the original consummation of the bond Lucius looked up from his book and watched Harry stumble into the kitchen, his face pale with black circles around his eyes.
"Potter?" he asked, but Harry just slid into a chair and closed his eyes. "Potter, are you ill?"
"I need to fuck you," Harry said and leaned his forehead on the table.
"I beg your pardon?" Lucius replied, raising a single eyebrow.
Harry lifted his head, green eyes catching grey, and blushed. "Are you honestly going to make me repeat that?"
"Let me make one thing very clear," Lucius said, his eyes unwavering. "I am aware of your need to copulate, but nowhere is it stated that you would need to penetrate me."
Harry opened his mouth, but Lucius cut him off.
"I would be willing to accommodate your needs the same way I did last time, but I will not be mounted like a bitch."
Harry sat up, folded his arms over each other on the tabletop and glared at Lucius. "I don't think you fully appreciate your position. If not for me, you'd be a soulless shell by now."
Lucius waved him off with his hand. "If not for me, you would not even be alive," he said haughtily.
They stared at each other across the table, neither one willing to budge.
"I could force you," Harry said, his eyes narrowing with a smirk playing at the corner of his mouth.
Lucius tilted back his head and laughed, a strange sight if Harry ever saw one. "Are you honestly capable of that sort of thing, Harry Potter? Saviour of the Wizarding World?"
"I could make your life miserable though."
There was really nothing Lucius could say to that, still he did not back down.
Finally Harry sighed, leaning back in his chair. "How about switching?" he said, looking at the other man hopefully.
"Equally?" Lucius asked and Harry nodded.
The man stood up from the table and left the kitchen. "Give me half an hour and then you will come to the first bedroom on the second floor. We are not sharing my bed again," he said without looking back and walked up the stairs gracefully.
Harry was thankful for the extra time. Somehow he didn't imagine sex was supposed to be like this. He wasn't supposed to feel a rising sense of dread at the thought entering a lovers bed only to be criticized for his every move.
Not that Lucius would say it aloud. Oh no.
If Harry had learned one thing about his mate in the past few weeks, it was that Lucius was very self-preserving. Harry had seen him bite his tongue on more than one occasion.
It wasn't as if Harry would treat Lucius any other way, but he was happy to let him believe he needed to earn the reasonably good treatment of his person, especially if it meant less arguments.
It certainly meant a more peaceful life than he had imagined when they bonded.
When Harry entered the bedroom, Lucius was laying face down under the covers.
"Make it quick, Potter," he said and lifted himself up on his elbows.
Harry quietly undressed and approached the bed on shaking legs. "Do you need the spell?"
Lucius rolled onto his side and reached out and picked up a small vial from the nightstand and threw it at him. "I have prepared myself sufficiently," he said and cocked an eyebrow while dropping his gaze down to Harry's groin.
Harry flushed a little when he saw a smirk cross the normally expressionless face at seeing the proof of Harry's ready arousal.
"Use it, liberally," Lucius said and rolled back on his front.
"Right," Harry muttered. The vial turned out to contain a lubricant, and Harry couldn't help but wonder whether Draco had supplied Lucius with it.
Shaking the thought off, he let some of the lubricant dribble onto his fingers and stroked his erection with it. He had no doubts about being able to comply with Lucius's demand to make it quick. The excitement and anticipation rushing through him despite his obvious distaste for his unwilling lover put him right on the edge. The little control he was capable of could only barely hold back his wings from making an appearance.
Harry lifted the sheets and settled between Lucius's parted legs. When he first tried to thrust into the man's ass, he slid past the loosened rim and bumped against Lucius's tailbone.
Lucius huffed and shifted a bit to lift his hips a little more, and Harry tried again, this time making sure to guide his eager prick with his hand.
The feeling was incredible. Lucius felt tight despite the preparation, and the heat enclosing him made him catch his breath. Harry dug his nails into the mattress on either side of Lucius's hips and bit his lip.
He thrust forward, not entirely sure how slow he should go. The grunt from beneath him made Harry pull back a little. He really had no intention of hurting Lucius in any way.
Slowly, but steadily, Harry built up the pace, his breaths growing more labored by the second. It felt so good. So good!
"Gods!" he cried. "Can't believe this!"
As he felt his orgasm build, his thrusts became sharper and faster. Harry unclenched a hand and tried to slide it underneath Lucius, not wanting to be selfish and chasing his orgasm without any consideration for his lover.
"Don't you dare," Lucius said with strain.
Harry stilled for a second. They weren't lovers. Hell, they weren't even friends. They just had sex to keep him alive, nothing more. The realisation washed over him like a bucket of cold water, but his orgasm had been too close, and with one final thrust Harry's came.
He felt awkward and wholly unsatisfied as he rested his head on Lucius's back to catch his breath.
"Get out," Lucius said almost immediately.
Harry got out of the room as fast as he could and all but ran across the landing without even bothering to get dressed. When he reached his own bedroom, he sat down with his back against the door and locked it with the flick of his wand.
Halfway through January, Harry found himself a job. There was no way he could become an Auror as a Veela. When Hermione told him he'd have to turn down Kingsley's offer to enter training without his NEWTS, it had stung. He'd wanted to become an Auror ever since he'd learned his father had been one.
Looking back, he only felt relief. He'd had enough of chasing Dark Wizards in his youth, and he'd be happy if he could just push papers for the rest of his days. Easy, relaxing, and most of all, very unlikely to cause loss of life and limb.
Draco came with a welcome offer. He needed someone to organise his scholarship fund and decide which Muggle-borns were in the most need of assistance. Harry knew the main reason Draco wanted to hire him for the job was because of his name, though he hoped their budding friendship was part of it as well.
The news of Harry's heritage had gone over surprisingly well, though he could do with much less sympathetic looks from well-meaning Wizards and Witches as he went about his day. He was very happy to forget he had a disgruntled Death Eater waiting at home. At least while he wasn't there.
The hours were long, and most days Harry would heat up something Molly had prepared, and curl up in a chair in the library for the rest of the evening.
He didn't care what Lucius did all day, as long as he did his chores and kept to himself.
Harry had been surprised to see Lucius take to his tasks without complaint. True, he would leave the dishes in the sink after dinner, but when Harry would come home the next day, they'd be back in the cabinets, clean and polished.
Apparently the rich and haughty could be taught.
A week into February Harry found out he'd been mistaken though. He came home early from work only to find out a ragged looking house-elf in his kitchen, polishing away at his wine glasses with abandon.
"Whut?" Harry said, shocked.
The elf turned around wide eyed and dropped the glass it was holding.
"Harry Potter, Sir!" the elf squeaked. It rushed to its tiny knobbly knees and started to pick up the shards of glass as fast as it could. "Tilly is sorry, sir."
"What are you doing here?"
Tilly snapped her fingers and the remains of the glass disappeared. "Tilly is serving Master, but- Oh!"
The elf turned and used the door of a cabinet to slam herself in the face repeatedly.
Harry rushed to pull the elf back from the evil cabinetry of the undeserving kitchen counters. "Stop it!"
Tilly fidgeted with her fingers and looked down with slumped shoulders.
"Why did you do that?"
She hooked one of her legs behind the other, clasped her hands behind her back and glanced up with shiny eyes. "Tilly must punish herself, sir. Tilly was very bad to have been here."
Harry breathed in deeply through his nose and crouched lower so he wouldn't be looking down on the frightened elf.
He tried to keep his voice gentle. "Tilly, why are you in my house?"
"Master ordered Tilly to stay. Master told Tilly to keep the bathrooms and wash the dishes. Master told Tilly to clean without magic and stay out of sight."
"Lucius!" From the corner of his eye he saw Tilly shrink back as he turned and dark grey wings shimmered into existence. It didn't make him any less furious though. "Lucius! Get in here!"
Tilly took a step back when her Master entered the kitchen and glared menacingly at her. She turned around and started slamming her forehead against the edge of the countertop.
When the elf didn't seize the insistent banging, Harry turned to Lucius, who looked back defiantly.
"Tell her to return to Malfoy Manor," Harry ordered, his voice as cold as steel.
When Lucius didn't respond, Harry pulled his wand and felt his left eye twitch. "Now."
"Tilly," Lucius said calmly, without even looking at the elf.
With a loud crack, Harry and Lucius were the only ones remaining in the kitchen. With a lot of effort, Harry controlled his emotions and forced his wings to disappear.
"The bathrooms on the upper floors are your responsibility, as are the dishes," Harry said and sat down at the table tiredly.
"And I have made sure they were done. I do not see a problem," Lucius said.
Harry threw his hands over his head. "Yes, you do! If you didn't think I'd object, you wouldn't have ordered the elf to stay out of sight and do everything without magic!"
He brought down one of his hands on the table with force. "I've asked you to do a few very simple things, but instead of just doing as you're told, you force one of your old elves to do it for you!"
Crossing his arms over his chest, Lucius just stared at him, seeming completely unphased.
"You will pick up a bucket, and clean those damned bathrooms right now," Harry said. He could feel the anger inside him well up again.
"I will not deign to act as your maid, Potter," Lucius replied and sat down on the other side of the table. "If you will not allow my elf to do the work, you will do it by yourself."
"Stop acting like you're still Lord Malfoy, living comfortably in your Manor in Wiltshire. You're not. You are only here because you're my mate and I'd like at least a small quantity of consciousness in the person I am bonded to for life. However, if you keep trying to get on my nerves, I have no issue with Obliviating you for all you are. Even I would be able to fuck a corpse-like body for the sole purpose of my survival."
"Do it," Lucius sneered. "I dare you to."
"One last chance, Malfoy. I'm not a boy anymore, you have no idea what I'm capable of doing," Harry replied, narrowing his eyes. "I'd hate to have to tell Draco what happened to his father."
Something flashed behind Lucius's eyes before he stood up from the table and took out a bucket from underneath the sink.
"Malfoy," Harry called after him as he left the kitchen. "The only one making your life miserable is you. Think about that while you're working."
Once Lucius was out of sight, Harry opened the clasp of his cloak and held it up to the light. Fuck! He'd not only ripped a good set of robes, he'd ruined the best cloak he'd ever owned.
The already strained relationship between Harry and Lucius only worsened after their argument. They would sit across the table at supper and steadily ignore one another. Even Draco seemed to notice the change during the sparse moments he would see the two of them in one room, though he was too polite to mention it.
Not until spring came, together with the announcement that he was engaged to be married.
"Look," he said. "I know that I don't have to ask my father's permission now that I'm head of the Malfoy family, but this is one of those things I want to do right."
Harry leaned back in his chair, and put down his quill. He'd been evaluating the scholars' academic achievements when Draco came into his office.
Harry would've gladly given Draco a number of things to congratulate him on his upcoming marriage. Hosting the requested dinner party so Draco could introduce Lucius to his fiancé was not one of them.
"I just don't understand why I'd have to be there," he complained. "It hasn't got anything to do with me."
"It's one of those pure-blood things," Draco reasoned, as if using Harry's own terminology would somehow sway him. The 'you wouldn't understand' remained unspoken, but Harry heard it anyway. It irritated him that Draco would still distinguish them by blood purity sometimes, even if he knew Draco didn't mean anything by it.
"Enlighten me," he replied, tonelessly.
"Fine, but you won't like it," Draco said and picked up one of the little knick knacks on Harry's disorganised desk. "Had my father still been Lord Malfoy, I would have needed his approval before taking Astoria as my wife."
Harry didn't miss the way Draco seemed completely unexcited with the prospect of marrying Astoria Greengrass. He wondered why.
"I would also need the approval of the Lady of the Manor," Draco continued, eyeing him pointedly. "Which would be you."
Harry frowned and opened his mouth to speak.
"I did warn you that you wouldn't like it."
"No," Harry said, squaring his shoulders and sitting up straight. "I don't. That's just ridiculous. I'm not your stepmother. Stepfather. Whatever."
"Ugh, spare me," Draco replied with a grin. "Being friends is already quite the hardship."
"Can't I just give my approval now and leave the three of you to your pure-blood customs?"
"Harry, please? I know things are difficult between the two of you, but this is important to me and to our family. Would it really be so much to ask that you were civil to each other for one night? For me?"
Harry sighed and yielded. "All right. Would Friday night suit you and your betrothed?" he asked with a grimace.
Draco laughed and made a comically exaggerated bow. "Friday night would suit us just fine."
"Now give me back my dragon figurine," Harry said.
Draco looked at the item in his hand and threw it to Harry with in a mock huff. "As if I would want a mass-produced piece of cheap plastic."
"I'll have you know that that was given to me by Gina Jameson when I approved her scholarship," Harry replied, placing the trinket back where it came from.
Draco took a step forward and reached towards it again. "If that is the case, should it not be mine? Technically I am providing the funding for the scholarships."
Harry shook his head and chuckled. "Hands off my gift! I'll ask her to buy you one for Christmas."
Harry's first impression was that Astoria Greengrass was a snobbish pure-blood hag. Harry wasn't often right with his first impressions, but he was fairly sure this one was spot on.
She was certainly beautiful, and he had no doubt Draco was attracted to her, but she also seemed to have a nasty demeanor.
Opening the door to the pair, he'd let them pass before lightly kissing her hand.
"A pleasure to meet you, Miss Greengrass," he said like a gentleman, only for her to look at him with barely concealed disgust.
"I'm sure," she responded distantly before turning to Draco. "Help me with my cloak, would you, darling?"
Draco gave Harry an apologetic smile before taking his fiancé's cloak and handing it over to Harry, who promptly levitated it to hang in the small cloakroom just left of the door.
Harry preceded the couple to the living room and tried to make small talk. "I trust the preparations for the wedding are going well, Miss Greengrass?"
"Hmm," her reply managed to be noncommittal and dismissive, and Harry gave up. He really didn't know what her problem was, apart from being a pompous little bitch. Still, he'd promised Draco to be civil and he would be just that.
Lucius stood up as they entered the room, and Astoria's mouth curled into a wide smile.
Draco rested his hand briefly against Harry's arm, a simple way to indicate he was thankful for Harry's restraint. Lucius, however, noticed the small gesture. Harry wasn't entirely sure whom the resulting glare was aimed at.
"Father, let me introduce to you my betrothed, Miss Astoria Greengrass."
Lucius smiled pleasantly. "Miss Greengrass," he said and kissed her hand in very much the same way Harry had. "A pleasure."
Astoria giggled annoyingly and held up her free hand in front of her red painted lips. "Mr Malfoy, I assure you, the pleasure is all mine."
Harry rolled his eyes.
"Do sit down," Lucius said and gestured her to the loveseat Harry liked to sit on. "May I offer you a drink?"
She nearly pulled Draco with her so he'd sit down next to her. "Thank you, Mr Malfoy. I'd like a brandy if at all possible."
Draco's eyes shifted from his father to Harry and back. "That would be lovely, father. Thank you."
Lucius half turned to Harry without really looking at him. "Three brandies if you will, Potter," he said dismissively before turning back to Astoria and asking after the wellbeing of her family.
Harry turned on his heels and all but stamped out of the room. He would've loved to say what he'd thought of his mate right there and then, but he'd promised Draco. Though the small reprieve he had while fixing drinks in the kitchen was hardly enough to calm his fury.
He was almost sorry he'd cooked dinner that afternoon and had everything ready to serve under perfect stasis Charms. He was certain he would wish himself in the kitchen within half an hour.
Harry was wrong. He wanted to disappear back into the kitchen the second he returned to the living room.
"Father was indeed very pleased to hear of our intent to marry. There aren't many men of sufficient standing left in Britain, and I couldn't marry a half-blood of course. He was quite worried he'd be losing me to one of the continental Lords."
"Oh, yes, I could understand his concern easily. I find myself very pleased that Draco has found a lady so obviously well bred. Witches from the continent simply lack the British elegance you clearly possess."
Harry placed the glasses of brandy on the coffee table and sat down in the remaining armchair. Draco nodded his thanks, but the other two ignored him completely.
"During my own courtship of the late Lady Malfoy there were far more eligible Wizards than there were Witches. She had first been promised to the Nott family, however, Cygnus Black thought a merger with the House of Malfoy far more desirable."
Lucius was clearly in his element. Harry hated it.
"Oh, yes," Astoria agreed eagerly. "My father was offered a hefty dowry for Daphne's hand by the elder Nott before the war, though he turned it down without hesitation. Too much inbreeding in that family, if you ask me. Besides, they're not hardly as well to do as yourself, Mr Malfoy."
Harry nearly chuckled. 'Well to do, my arse,' he thought, but managed to keep a straight face.
"Now, now," Lucius said. "Such topics are hardly appropriate for polite conversation."
"Of course, Mr Malfoy," Astoria simpered. "It's such a shame so many of the old families have disappeared. Just look at The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. Such a shame indeed. Who has inherited the Black title, if I might ask? Wouldn't that be you, Draco darling?"
Harry cleared his throat. "That would be me," he said.
Astoria snapped her head around. "You?" she asked too loudly. "What kind of claim would you have? As the son of Narcissa Malfoy, Draco would be next in line, surely."
Draco tried to calm her down with a pat to her arm, but failed completely.
"I was the sole heir to Sirius Black," Harry replied, wishing he'd never even opened his mouth.
"How utterly preposterous!" she replied indignantly. "Isn't there some requirement stating only a blood relation may inherit the title?"
"He is," Draco inserted, much to Harry's surprise. "Your paternal Grandmother was Dorea Black, was she not, Harry?"
Harry blinked stupidly. "I have no idea," he answered truthfully. All he knew about his Grandparents on either side was that they'd passed away before his parent died.
"That's perfect," Astoria huffed. "That's just perfect. And they still don't understand why we are superior to the lower classes." That last part was aimed at Lucius, who raised an eyebrow.
"No respect for family lines," she continued. "It's the Muggle blood, I'm sure. That's exactly why I'm trying to persuade Draco to give up on his silly Fund."
"What Fund?" Lucius asked and Draco averted his eyes.
"What Fund?" Astoria replied. "Why, his little Muggle charity, of course."
Harry hurriedly stood up, trying to save what was left of the relatively polite mood. "Time for supper, I should guess."
Lucius wouldn't be sidetracked. "Draco, what Fund is she talking about?"
Draco stood up. "Could we discuss this at a later time? I believe Harry wishes us at the dinner table."
"Yes, please. If you would follow me?" Harry said before either Lucius or Astoria could respond.
Lucius's mouth drew into a tight line, narrowing his eyes as he stood up. "Very well."
The atmosphere at the table was far from friendly. Trying to be a good host, Harry tried for polite small talk.
"How is your veal, Draco?" he asked.
Draco smiled minutely at him, clearly making an effort. "It's perfect, Harry. Thank you."
Harry nodded. "Miss Greengrass?"
"Veal? Is that what it is? I would never guessed," she replied with a sneer.
Harry wisely abandoned the attempt after that and was thankful when everyone at the table had finished their dessert.
"If you would retreat to the living room, I'll be right there with coffee," he said, happy to be by himself for a minute.
He wasn't halfway through his preparations when the yelling started.
That had been Lucius. Clearly.
"I'm trying to rebuild our family name, father! The one you've so exhaustively sullied, remember?"
Yes, that was what Draco had been doing over the past months, though it seemed more of a welcome consequence than a premeditated goal.
"Rebuild the Malfoy name? By giving away our fortune to Mudbloods?"
"I regret to be the one to shatter your delusions, father, but you no longer have any rights to the Malfoy fortune. It is my inheritance now, and I will do with it as I bloody well please!"
Harry contemplated intervening, but did not really want to impose himself on a family fight.
"Get out of my house!"
"But it isn't your house, father. If anything, it is your prison!"
Harry heard the door slam against the wall when Draco opened it and hurried through. "Astoria! We're leaving."
Light clicks followed Draco as he walked into the kitchen.
"I apologise , Harry, but I think it would be best if we left. Thank you, though, for the excellent dinner," Draco was obviously strained, even as he held out his hand.
Harry took it and pulled the shocked man into a light hug. "I'm sorry the evening turned out this way," he said softly, letting Draco go as soon as Astoria's aristocratic nose appeared in the doorway. "I'll see you Monday?"
"Yes," Draco replied.
He made to follow them to the door.
"It's all right, Harry." Draco said. "We can find our way out."
Before he disappeared into the hallway, Draco paused to face him again. "I hope I haven't made things worse between you," he said with a sad smile. "I do hope the two of you will be able to come to some sort of understanding."
Harry had no idea how he should reply to that, so he shrugged and listened to the front door close behind Draco and Astoria.
He had no intention of putting up with Lucius's rage, so he made himself a cup of tea and sat down at the kitchen table.
He doubted that his bond with Lucius would ever be more than a reluctant partnership, but to his surprise that filled him with sadness rather than relief. It wasn't as if he wanted to have a more intimate relationship with the man, but he did want the sense of belonging that Hermione and Ron seemed to have.
Harry had never really belonged anywhere, or to anyone, not really.
Maybe he could make more of an attempt to break the status quo. There must be something that could foster at least an iota of respect between them. They didn't have to love each other, or even like each other, but this lingering hostility was anything but welcoming to come home to.
Lucius had to have some redeeming qualities. After all, Draco truly loved his father, the recent fallout notwithstanding.
Over the course of the next two weeks, Harry subtly watched Lucius. He found ways to 'accidentally' pass the rooms his mate was in, doing whatever he was doing.
Lucius had something of a routine. After breakfast he would read in the living room. He always sat on the loveseat, resting the book on his knee and leaning in closer whenever he seemed particularly absorbed in the content. Usually he read monographs on a wide variety of topics, but every now and then he would indulge in novels. It surprised Harry that some of them were even by Muggle authors.
After lunch, which was always taken at precisely one in the afternoon, Lucius would either go into the garden, or retreat to his room, depending on the weather.
Harry himself never went into the garden; it just never really felt like he was outside. He loved the wide stretch of fields and the freedom of forests. The narrow enclosed green space behind Grimmauld Place always gave him the feeling of being cooped up, imprisoned.
The garden was the only place Lucius ever took off his robe. He would roll up the sleeves of his shirt and start working on the rose bushes. He would collect pollen from the flowers and remove their stamens.
Harry had wanted to know what on earth Lucius was doing with his rose bushes every day, and remembering the books Draco had sent over back in December, Harry had ordered a few books on rose breeding. He now fancied himself somewhat of a theoretical expert, though he kept himself far away from Lucius's work.
In the evenings Lucius would quietly finish the dishes and disappear into one of the smaller studies upstairs, where he'd found an old chess set willing to play him.
One evening Harry walked by the room and paused. After a moment of hesitation he knocked on the open door and went in.
"Is it time again?" Lucius said without looking up.
Harry walked around and laid his hand on top of the empty chair across from Lucius and smiled tentatively.
"No, it's not," he said. "I was just wondering if maybe you would like to play a full grown opponent for a change."
Lucius looked up and just stared at him, not giving Harry any indication of what he was thinking.
"I mean, I'm not very good," Harry went on valiantly. "Ron always used to beat me. Ron Weasley? He's bloody brilliant at the game. I'd play though, if you'd like. If not, that's fine, I just wanted to ask whether you maybe did. Want to. You know. Play chess."
"Potter, stop babbling and sit down," Lucius said calmly and looked back down to finish setting the pieces. "You may play white. Do you require a handicap?"
Harry shook his head, but Lucius removed both a rook and a bishop anyway.
They played for a while without speaking. Well, in all honesty, Harry was simply moving pieces without much strategy, and Lucius was slowly, but steadily, slaughtering him.
The white pieces had stopped arguing ten minutes into the game, and now only sighed heavily each time Harry ordered them to move.
When Harry moved his knight to capture one of the white pawns through sheer lack of inspiration, Lucius stopped him.
"If you move your knight away from there, I could move my bishop to check your King," he said.
Harry studied the board before looking up at Lucius. "Couldn't I just take your bishop with my rook?"
Lucius smiled, but didn't remove his gaze from the board. "You could, but that would leave your queen open to mine, like so" He picked up the indicated rook and waited for Harry to frown before placing it back where it was.
"What would you suggest I do then?" Harry asked.
Lucius chuckled softly. "Build your presence in the centre of the board, but keep your important pieces covered. King, queen, rooks. Bishops are useful, but limited to only half of the squares, and while your knights are useful in attacks, their limited maneuverability makes them hardly worth sacrificing your other pieces for."
Harry stared back at the board, tongue peeking through his lips as he tried to figure out what to do.
When he finally ordered his queen to a square that at least had more escape routes than her last position, he looked up at Lucius again.
"A very respectable move," Lucius said with a nod, before ordering his knight to take one of Harry's pawns, placing it in a position that directly attacked his queen.
"But-" Harry started with clear indignation.
Lucius pointed at the gap the knight left in the nearly impenetrable defence. "Don't be distracted by the obvious."
Harry tried to solve the puzzle Lucius had set him, and after several minutes he excitedly moved his second knight, giving the rook that covered his queen a straight line to Lucius's king. He'd only need to take out a pawn that was in the way.
"Thanks!" he said, sure that he'd finally found his way to victory.
"Well done," Lucius replied, but continued to order his remaining rook to a new position. It covered the pawn, but didn't seem to be attacking any of Harry's pieces. "Checkmate in one move if you do nothing of consequence."
Harry's eyes widened and he frantically searched the board to try and see the cause of his impending doom. He'd placed his king in the corner after an early castling in the hopes of being able to defend it more easily.
He could see the problem with this tactic though. It gave his king very little maneuverability, and the only options were now covered by Lucius's pieces. The man only needed to take one of the pawns on the third row and he'd be screwed. Lucius had several options.
"Ugh," Harry said in frustration, moving his queen to an adjacent square.
Lucius ordered his bishop to take out one of the pawns. "Mate."
Harry hung his head slightly. He'd known he wouldn't be any sort of match in chess, but he'd figured after years of outrunning Ron on the board, he'd at least be able to put up a respectable struggle.
"Are you going to sit there and sulk, or are you going to try again?"
Harry looked up in surprise. "You want to play another game?"
Lucius smiled. He genuinely smiled at Harry. "Well, I have to admit that beating you is more fun than beating a chess set with a limited vocabulary. At least my set used to be more imaginative with swear words."
Harry grinned and stood up. "Great! Why don't you set up the board, and I'll get us something to drink?"
Things changed for the better. At least, if you asked Harry. He had no idea what was going on in Lucius's head. They never really talked about anything important. The differences were in the details.
Lucius would no longer get up and leave if Harry came into the living room during the weekend and settled in one of the armchairs with a book. He didn't complain about the meals any longer, and on one occasion had even complimented the taste.
Another thing that changed was the sex between them. Harry couldn't quite put his finger on what really caused the shift, but it was different all the same.
Maybe it was the touches that lingered a fraction of a second longer, or the way Lucius would look into Harry's eyes almost the entire time when it was his turn to top. Maybe it was even the tone in which Lucius ordered Harry out of the room afterwards, or that he sometimes closed his mouth over Harry's skin in a way that was close to, but not entirely like a kiss.
Draco and Lucius were still not on speaking terms, and Harry could see it hurt his friend deeply.
One night at the cafe, Draco confessed he'd broken it off with Astoria.
"What? Why?" Harry asked. Sure, he didn't like her, but Draco had been adamant about marrying her.
"I chose her for all the wrong reasons," Draco replied.
Harry knew there had to be more than that. "Such as?"
"I knew father would be pleased with her. She's everything I'm not. A pure-blood supremacist, top of her class, graceful..."
Draco trailed off and stared down at the brandy sloshing in his glass as he sat it down briskly.
"Oh Merlin," Harry said. "You're still angling for his approval, aren't you?"
Draco sighed. "I just want to make him proud."
"Draco," Harry said seriously, throwing one arm over his friend's shoulder and pulling him a little closer. "Lucius is a stubborn fool. Just keep going in your own direction. Become who you want to be. He might not agree with you, but when push comes to shove, he'll at least respect you for it."
"Hmmm," Draco replied and took a swig of his brandy. "You're probably right."
They sat together in silence until Draco turned to face him with a mischievous grin. "When did you become so wise, anyway?"
Harry chuckled and gave Draco a weak shove. The conversation lit up after that, but the remaining sadness in Draco's eyes bothered Harry.
He asked Hermione what he could do to act as a bridge between them, but she only told him he was better off staying out of it. He finally had a reasonable relationship with both of them. Did he really want to jeopardize that?
Lucius never asked about his son, though he knew about the nights Harry and Draco would go out for drinks together. More precisely, those nights were the only times since that game of chess that they ever really argued.
Harry figured Lucius was still angry with his son, and let it be. Still, he really wished it would sort itself out over time.
However, halfway through June Harry figured out it wasn't at all about Draco. Well it was, but not in the way he thought.
When he came home late on a Saturday night Lucius was sitting in the dark living room. Harry was somewhat startled by his appearance as he lit the room with a flick of a wand.
"Did you have fun?"
Harry could've thought it was just interest, had it not been for the vicious snarl on Lucius's face. He was clearly ready for another one of their fights.
Harry was tired and a little bit drunk. In all honesty he wanted nothing more than curl up in his bed and sleep well into the afternoon.
"I did, thank you," he said, and turned for the door.
"Does he scream your name, when you fuck him?" Lucius called after him.
Harry spun on his heels, not believing what he'd just heard. "Excuse me?"
Lucius didn't back down. "Or does he fuck you? I imagine he does. I cannot think of another reason why my son would spend so much time with you."
That hit Harry like a punch in the gut. "For your information, Draco and I are friends. Just friends. Though I have no idea why I'm even defending myself against your ridiculous accusations."
"Do not lie to me," Lucius said.
Harry threw up his hands and let out a frustrated growl. "Where did you even get that idea?"
"Astoria Greengrass paid me a little visit this afternoon," Lucius said, and hurled an old Prophet at Harry's chest.
Harry unfolded it and saw the headline screaming up at him. 'MALFOY SCION JOINS POTTER'S HAREM'. He quickly scanned over the article that promised more on page two and three. It had some widely unsupported misconceptions about Veela in it that would normally have made Harry laugh. The whole thing had undoubtedly been written by Rita Skeeter.
"Since when do you believe anything written in the Prophet? You know just as well as I do that it's nothing more than a gossip rag," Harry said calmly and threw the thing down on the coffee table.
Lucius picked it up and opened it to the next page. "Since it holds a highly revealing photograph of my son and the person I am bonded to only moments away from engaging in an intimate kiss."
Harry looked down and saw a moving picture in which he had his arm around Draco, pulling him closer and burying his nose into the blond hair.
"That?" Harry nearly screeched. "That picture is honestly the reason you're down here, waiting to bring down the fires of hell on me?"
"Give me one alternative scenario for this picture!"
"Oh, I don't know," Harry replied sarcastically. "How about 'Draco was depressed over being unable to live up to his father's expectations, and I pulled him closer in a gesture of comfort, and to tell him he should earn your respect by setting his own course!'
"Is that a good enough explanation for you?" Harry nearly wanted to rip out his hair when he saw Lucius shake his head. "It should be, because it is what was actually going on!"
"Hold your tongue. I know my son despises me, and excessive claims on your time only prove that he is doing it to spite me!" Lucius replied.
"You incredibly obtuse bastard," Harry yelled. "Draco doesn't hate you at all. He might not always agree with you, but he loves you dearly, despite your obvious lack of approval!
"Why do you think he took that bloody Mark in the first place? Did you ever think about that? Or about the reason he was so adamant to ask you for permission to marry that Greengrass bint? He didn't even like her!"
Lucius stood up from his chair and sped forward so fast, Harry took a step back.
"I can't believe you would think that he and I are- Hmmmpf!"
Harry's raving was cut off by a pair of lips pressing roughly against his. His eyes widened dramatically and he pushed Lucius away, opening his mouth to protest.
Lucius, however, took the opportunity to try for a deeper kiss.
Harry shoved him off again. "What the hell?"
"Be quiet, Potter," Lucius muttered and attacked his mouth for the third time, grabbing the resisting hands and constraining them at the small of Harry's back.
They were fully pressed up against each other, and Harry could feel Lucius's arousal press into his stomach through the loose robes. He moaned despite himself.
His wings shimmered into existence and reached out to fold around the both of them.
Lucius bucked his hips and backed Harry up against the wall.
They rutted against each other, their lips never once breaking the connection. Harry came in a ridiculously short amount of time, grunting into Lucius's mouth. Lucius threw back his head and groaned loudly with one last thrust of his hips.
When Harry felt Lucius loosen his grip on his arms, he pulled them from the man's grasp and clenched them into fists. He didn't dare open his eyes for fear of what he would see.
Lucius rested his forehead on Harry's shoulder and murmured something Harry didn't understand. He didn't care though. He only wanted to bask in the afterglow of one of the most intense orgasms he'd ever had.
That was nothing like the inexperienced rubbing he'd engaged in with Dean, nor was it anything like the unsatisfying sex he usually had with Lucius.
When his panting turned back to breathing, and his heart rate finally calmed, Harry's wings shimmered once more and disappeared.
Lucius pulled away from him and walked away without another word, leaving Harry leaning against the wall in a dimply lit living room with a ripped set of robes and a wet patch forming at his groin.
Harry's knees buckled and he slid down the wall, ending up on the floor with his head buried in his arms. If this wasn't completely screwed up, he didn't know what was.
They didn't talk about what had happened afterwards, following their usual depressing pattern of shying away from any meaningful topics. They were both just happy to pretend the whole thing had never taken place.
Still, the changes were palpable. Lucius would no longer cause any problems when Harry would go out with Draco. They would have sex more often than they used to, and probably the most indicative, was the fact that Lucius started to allow Harry to bring him off when Harry was on top.
Harry had no idea what it all meant though. He liked spending time with his mate, that was for sure, but it could simply be because he longed for some sort of connection. At least, that was what Ron thought the last time he mentioned it at dinner with his friends.
Hermione was sure to voice her encouragement of anything that would make Harry more accepting of his fate, and maybe even happy. He thought the possibility of ever finding happiness with Lucius to be laughable. Ron agreed.
Draco simply smiled whenever he would bring up his confusing feelings in conversation.
A week before the start of the new school year, the Floo flared up in the living room.
"Harry? Are you there?" Draco's face appeared in the fire.
Harry stood up and kneeled down next to the fireplace. "What can I do for you, Draco?"
"You were supposed to leave the list of accepted scholarship applicants on my desk this afternoon, but I cannot seem to locate it," he said, shifting his gaze to look past Harry.
"Father," he said, coolly.
"Draco," replied in very much the same tone.
Harry rolled his eyes and sighed. "Right, I'm sure I dropped it off, but if you come though, I'll check whether I have a copy lying about."
He'd started working at home more lately, though he really didn't want to overthink the reason he liked having Lucius in the room with him as he worked.
He waited until Draco had fully stepped through before he left the room. "I'll be right back."
He'd quickly found the list he was looking for. Not a copy, the original. Oh!
When he got back he lingered outside, not wanting to interrupt the first, if awkward, conversation father and son had in a long time.
"I understand you have broken off your engagement to the Greengrass girl?"
"Yes, father," Draco replied with a sigh.
Harry could feel the tension that filled the silence from way out in the hallway.
"Perhaps that is for the best," Lucius said. "She certainly did not possess the grace and decorum one would expect in a lady of her standing. To disrespect her host in such an obvious manner, not to mention she clearly lacked any true loyalty to you."
"Clearly," Draco replied.
"I'm glad we agree," Lucius continued. "I trust you to show better judgment next time, Draco."
Harry cringed and could have sworn he heard Draco mutter 'Merlin', before quick footsteps approached the doorway.
"Harry? Oh," Draco said. "I was just coming to find you. Did you find the list?"
"Uh, yeah," Harry replied and glanced into the living room where Lucius stood facing away from them. With an embarrassed flush Harry handed over the thick piece of parchment. "I guess I must've forgotten to drop it off before I went home."
"It doesn't matter," Draco replied. "I'm glad to have it now."
He turned and walked back to the fireplace. "Will you be in tomorrow?"
"Yeah, I'll see you there," Harry said, eyeing Lucius as he turned with a shockingly pained expression.
Draco took a pinch of Floo powder and took a breath to call out his destination.
"Draco," Lucius said.
Draco froze, but didn't turn.
Harry motioned for Lucius to continue.
"Draco, I hope you know that I am proud of you," he said.
"Malfoy Manor," Draco said clearly, and disappeared in a roar of flames.
Lucius sat down heavily on the loveseat and dragged in a labored breath. "I have no idea on how to talk to my own son."
Harry sat down next to him and rubbed his back. "I think you did just fine at the end there. He'll come around. Give it time."
Lucius slowly faced him and stared into Harry's eyes. "You are quite extraordinary," he said and leaned in for a kiss.
It was a different kiss from the ones they'd shared before. Slower, more gentle. It filled Harry with warmth and made his breath hitch against Lucius's lips.
He let himself be pulled up and led upstairs. When Lucius led him to the second set of stairs, Harry pulled back. "No, in here," he said, and opened the door to his own bedroom.
Lucius kissed him again with a slow burning passion that set him on fire. He pulled at lover's robes while trying to shrug his own outer robe off his shoulders.
Not being able to contain his frustration with the buttons separating him from Lucius's skin any longer, he grabbed the fabric over the firm chest with two hands and ripped them open.
"Fuck," Lucius moaned, and quickly got rid of the remaining tatters of his clothes while Harry latched onto his nipple with abandon.
It wasn't long before they both fell, naked, onto the bed.
Harry straddled Lucius, letting his eyes feast on the expanse of pale skin while his hands touched and explored. He couldn't believe how sexy Lucius really looked when he gave himself over and arched his back to meet Harry's eager caresses.
When Harry bent backwards to remove his wand from his discarded trousers, Lucius opened his eyes. "No, no Spells," his words breathless with arousal. "Not this time."
Harry smiled and dropped the wand back on the floor.
After another heated kiss, Harry crawled further up the bed and reached out to the little drawer in his bedside table. Lucius rolled onto his side, watching.
"What?" Harry asked.
"Nothing," Lucius replied with a smile.
Harry turned back to search the drawer for the lubricant he hadn't used in almost a year. He shivered as Lucius trailed a hand down his stretched side to rest on the curve of his thigh. Lips then followed the same path in opposite direction pulling a moan from deep inside Harry's chest.
He finally found what he'd been searching for by the time Lucius lips nipped at the skin under his arm. There was no way Harry could've ever imagined how incredibly sensual a kiss like that would feel.
He readily rolled on his back and handed over the vial of lubricant.
Lucius frowned as he took it. "It's your turn, I-"
"I don't care," Harry said. "I like it better this way."
Lucius's eyes darkened a fraction before they completely closed. "Harry," he whispered, and pounced.
His mouth steadily traveled down Harry's chest and stomach, not hesitating for a single moment before he sucked the head of Harry's prick into his mouth.
Harry moaned and threw his head back.
With a swirl over the sensitive slit Lucius let go of Harry's erection and dragged his wet tongue down to Harry's balls. One after the other he sucked them into his mouth, teasing the skin between his teeth. The feeling was so intense Harry forgot to breathe for a moment.
Harry slid his fingers through Lucius's soft hair and eagerly bucked up to try and rub his cock against his lover's face.
Lucius opened the vial of lubricant and slicked his fingers liberally. As he ran his tongue back up Harry's shaft, Lucius teased his fingers between the taut cheeks.
Harry was certain he was going to come shamefully fast when a hot mouth slid over his entire length. That same mouth started moving up and down in a quick pace, and Harry could feel the tension building at the base of his prick.
He tried to hold it off with everything he had. His toes were curling and his hands turned into fists gripping Lucius's soft locks.
"Not yet," he panted. "Please, not yet."
Lucius chuckled around his cock, sending pleasurable waves to resonate through Harry's skin. When one of those long fingers pressed against the rim and slid into his arse, and Harry was done for. His shoulders lifted clear off the bed and he came violently into Lucius's willing mouth with a cry.
Falling back against the pillows, Harry tried to catch his breath.
Lucius watched him through hooded eyes, his finger steadily pumping Harry's arse.
"I knew you were still trying to kill me," Harry said, with a silly smile on his face. Gods, if only things could always feel this good.
"Ah," Lucius said. "La petit mort."
Harry had no idea what his lover had just said. He didn't particularly care either.
Lucius added a second finger to his arse, making his breath catch slightly before he moaned.
"You like that?" Lucius asked, looking down on Harry with a predatory gaze.
"Fuck yes," Harry hissed while Lucius added a third finger and sucked a red mark onto his chest.
Then the fingers disappeared and Harry whimpered at the loss.
Lucius raised his legs to his shoulders and pressed his cock against the loosened rim of Harry's arse.
"Gods," Harry panted. He couldn't keep himself still, rolling his hips in eager anticipation.
Lucius caught his eye and held it. "Are you ready?"
Harry nodded and closed his eyes to brace for that first burning sensation.
"Look at me," Lucius whispered, waiting for Harry to comply.
When the green eyes looked up at him again, he pushed his cock inside.
Harry winced a little at the slow burn, but Lucius leaned in, peppering tiny kisses on every inch of his face as he stilled his movements.
The burn faded quickly and Harry rolled his hips.
Lucius started thrusting at an agonizingly slow pace as he looked down at where they were connected.
"I wish you could see this," he said softly. "I wish you could see the way you clench around me when I pull back. The way my cock disappears inside your tight greedy hole."
Harry gasped with wide hungry eyes. "More, please," he begged.
Lucius's thrusts sped up more and more, not holding back as he started to pound into Harry. He turned his hand to the side and grabbed one of Harry's ankles, pressing his mouth against the toned calf.
"Gods," Harry whimpered.
As he reached up his arms to grab the headboard of his bed, Harry felt the tell-tale signs of ants crawling up his back. He tried to turn his body sideways a little, knowing his wings would feel very uncomfortable if they appeared squashed underneath his body.
Lucius noticed the squirming and let down Harry's legs before rolling them both over, landing on his back with Harry straddling him. He gripped his lover's hips firmly and started fucking up into him.
"Gods," Harry said again. He closed his eyes and started moving with Lucius, slamming his arse down each time the man thrust up.
The wings unfolded at the same time Harry reached for his reawakening prick. "So fucking good," he cried out without thinking. "Gods, I love this. Love you!"
Lucius grunted and tightened his grip on Harry's hips.
"Oh, God. I'm gonna- Gonna come! Lucius!"
Harry shot thick ropes of semen all over Lucius's chest, and the combination of his clenching muscles and the expression on his face pulled Lucius over the edge, lifting his hips high to try and inch just a little bit further inside.
Harry collapsed on top of Lucius, who wrapped him in his arms and kissed the top of his head.
For the first time, they lay together, basking in the afterglow without any thoughts of either one leaving the bed any time soon.
"You told me you love me," Lucius whispered into Harry's hair. It took a moment to sink in before Harry pulled away with a start.
He had said that. Had he meant it? "I-"
Harry ran his hand through his hair, completely confused by the realisation that he had meant it. But he couldn't have.
There was no way he could've meant it. It didn't make any sense.
"I hate you," he whispered.
"No, I'm serious! I absolutely despise everything you are; everything you stand for."
"You are a half-blood."
Harry stood up from the bed and turned his back on his lover. "Are you trying to push me away?"
He could hear Lucius stand up as well and slide his legs into his trousers. "No, I am not. I'm trying to explain to you that I understand the ambivalence you feel. I feel it too."
"W-what do you mean?" Harry asked as he quickly turned back to face Lucius. "What did I ever do?"
Lucius raised a single eyebrow and just stared at him for a moment. "I have not changed, Harry. I'm truly sorry for the things I did under the Dark Lord's rule, but not for the reasons one might think. I'm sorry because of what they represent in our relationship, a wedge that stands between us."
Harry crossed his arms over his chest, as if it could protect him from the cold that washed over him.
Lucius reached out and placed his warm hands on his lover's shoulders, waiting until those emerald eyes looked up into his. "I cannot honestly say I wouldn't make the same choices under similar circumstances. I still believe in the same ideals; I am still the same man."
"So," Harry said, his gaze dropping to Lucius's still bare chest. "What you're saying is that I can't trust you?"
"What I'm saying is that while my beliefs tell me you are beneath me, you've become more important to me than my ideals."
Lucius paused with a sigh. "What I'm trying to explain is that though you don't agree with my moral compass, you can trust the fact that I would never willingly do anything to antagonize you again."
Harry sat down on the bed and stared at the floor. "I'm not sure that's enough."
Lucius nodded, even though Harry couldn't see it. "That is a decision you will have to make on your own."
When he turned for the door, Harry called him back. "Please stay," he said. "Just for the night?"
Lucius lifted the covers on the bed and waited for Harry to lie down before he removed his trousers and lay beside him.
Harry curled up against him, and arm and a leg resting on top of Lucius's chest and thighs.
It wasn't until Harry's breaths deepened and his body relaxed completely, that one of the soft white wings followed.
When Harry arrived at work the next morning, Draco was sitting behind Harry's desk. His normally pristine robes seemed rumpled and sooty. He looked like he'd been crying.
Draco stood up and tried to smooth out the obvious creases in his robes with both hands. "Harry," he said. He looked down, his eyes lingering on the little plastic dragon figurine before he turned away completely. "I'm sorry."
"None of that," Harry replied. He rubbed the back of his neck roughly, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. He could handle angry Draco, bitter Draco and even panicked Draco, but sad Draco was not something he'd ever really known how to deal with.
He felt like a horrible friend when he caught himself hoping that Draco would pick himself up like he always did. Wishing he would just raise his walls, put on a brave face and go back to making sarcastic remarks about all the idiots in the world.
Unfortunately this time Draco didn't pull himself together. Instead his shoulders slumped and shook in rhythm with the loud hiccupping breaths he tried to rein in.
Harry didn't know what else to do, so he rushed forwards and pulled the sobbing man into a hug. "Come on," he encouraged gently. "Talk to me."
"I-it's nothing." Draco tried to pull away from Harry, but when the arms wouldn't let go, he allowed himself to lean a little against his friend's strong chest. "I… Fuck, I don't even know… why I'm… It's just that I've been waiting my whole bloody life… just to hear those words… And when it finally came… it just feels so… so empty, meaningless."
Harry buried his nose in Draco's hair and rubbed his back as the man calmed down. His breathing slowly grew steadier, the tremors felt from his body quieting.
Draco rested his head on Harry's shoulder, giving no indication he wanted the embrace to end.
"Not even a year ago, I would have believed him without question. Now though… I cannot help but wonder what he was trying to achieve.'
"He's trying to reach out," Harry replied softly. "He loves you."
Draco pulled back to look into Harry's eyes. His cheeks were still damp from tears, but his eyes were no longer shining with them.
"I wish I shared your faith, Harry."
"He does, Draco," Harry replied solemnly. "You've got to try and read between the lines with Lucius. When he says he trusts you to show better judgment next time, that's actually his way of saying there are plenty more fish in the sea."
Draco sighed. "Why doesn't he just say that?"
Draco sat back down in the chair, crossing his arms on top of the desk and resting his chin on top of them. He stared at the little dragon.
"I don't think he knows how," Harry said. "But are the exact words really important?"
There was a sadness of an old wound etched in Draco's face. "Not the exact words, no. But how can I put any credence to a statement of pride when spoken immediately after a criticism?"
Draco glanced up. "I am his son. Why can he not just tell me that he loves me?"
"But he does love you. Remember the final battle? Winning the fight was the last thing on his mind. He spent the entire time looking for you, wanting to keep you safe.
"Maybe he doesn't use the right words, but he shows his love when it really counts."
Draco huffed and buried his face in his arms. Harry laid a supportive hand on his shoulder and squeezed.
"Draco, words are just words. Astoria had no trouble calling you her darling."
The sound of Draco's chuckle was muffled, though easily heard.
Harry decided his friend was ready for a final push. "Lucius was rather upset after you left last night."
Draco tilted his head a little and peeked out from underneath his fringe. "Was he?"
"Oh, yes," Harry said and chuckled when he saw the dubious look on Draco's face. "He was completely out of it. Called me 'extraordinary'."
Draco just stared at Harry for a long moment, his lips slightly parted and his eyes a fraction wider than normal. Then his features shifted slightly. It was subtle, like the outer corners of his eyes tightening a fraction or the barely visible dimple in his right cheek deepening.
"You?" he said. "He called you extraordinary? He must've finally lost his mind!"
"Oy, you prat!" Harry replied, giving Draco a little shove. "If you're back to insulting me, you're clearly done brooding. Go back to your own desk and write yourself some love letters, or whatever it is you do while pretending to be useful."
"I should fire you for that, Potter," Draco quipped as he stood up and started for the door.
Harry chuckled. "You could, but you won't. You need me."
Draco continued without pause, but managed to throw a two fingered salute over his shoulder.
'Oh, and Draco?" He picked up the dragon figurine and tossed it to his friend as the man turned around. "Keep it."
"What for?" Draco asked.
Harry smiled. "To remind you that all that glitters is not gold. Or rather, that all that is gold does not glitter."
When Harry arrived home later than usual that night, he found Lucius in the living room with a book.
"Hey," he said.
Lucius lifted his eyes from the pages with a frown. "I hear you're telling tales about me," he said coldly.
Harry frowned. He'd hoped Draco would reconcile with his father, but by the sound of it, that hadn't gone according to plan. He should've listened to Hermione and kept out of it.
"Nothing I don't believe is true," Harry said and started for the door. After the prior night he really wasn't ready to deal with any Lucius's acidic criticism.
Harry spun around on his heels, his eyes wide and his jaw halfway to his chest. Lucius was smiling. Smiling! Admittedly it was barely more than a tightness around the eyes and a minutely pulled up corner of his mouth, but in the case of the controlled aristocrat, it almost looked obscene.
"So, it went all right then?" he asked stupidly. No, you idiot! He's smiling because everything went tits up.
Lucius gave a regal nod. "I was absent during much of his younger years. It was convenient to leave him in the care of Narcissa and the elves while I focused on my political pursuits. I did not take him for his first ride on a broom, nor did I explain to him about the hardships of life. It never occurred to me he would miss such things until our conversation this afternoon."
"Now I've come to the realisation that I truly do not know my own son at all. I care for him a great deal, but I have never taken the time to observe the man he has become."
Sitting down on the edge of the low coffee table in front of Lucius, Harry looked deeply into the steel-blue eyes. "I think that's a mutual problem between you, but things can change. You can change them. Spend time with him. Just throw propriety out the window and talk to him. Make up for old times."
Lucius breathed a sigh in relief. "I am pleased you agree, because I would like to share more of myself with him. I want to show him the gardens and the roses; the little things that makes Malfoy Manor a home, and not just a legacy."
Harry stood up. "Er, no."
Lucius blinked, a frown distorting his handsome features. "What exactly is the problem?"
Harry felt Lucius's intense stare following him as he started pacing the room.
"I won't allow you to leave the wards. I can't take the chance of you making a run for it."
Lucius made an annoyed sound. "I can assure you I have no intention of 'making a run for it' as you say. Did I not tell you just last night that I would not wittingly do anything to antagonize you?"
Harry turned to face Lucius and took a step towards him. "How do I even know that you're not just playing me? Didn't you also tell me that leopards do not change their spots?
"I know the kind of man you are, Lucius. Maybe you're being sincere. Maybe you've come to care for me the way you say you have. But I don't know, do I?
"Look me in the eyes and tell me you wouldn't manipulate a person into giving you what you wanted! Swear on your son's life that you would no longer use a person's weakness against them for your own selfish needs!"
Lucius averted his gaze without answering.
"I can't trust you, and it's not just about my life anymore. As long as I keep you here, I can try and pretend there are no doubts in my mind. I could quite easily trick myself into becoming happy. But if I would let you leave and you bolted, it wouldn't just be a case of chasing you down and bringing you back. If I gave you my trust and you betrayed me, it would break me, Lucius."
By the time Harry finished with what he had to say, Lucius's entire face was unreadable. Without uttering a single syllable he stood up and left the room. His tread heavy with whatever emotion he was hiding behind that famous stone-cold mask.
Harry slumped down into one of the leather chairs and buried his face in his hands. How had he become trapped in this inescapable paradox? Why couldn't things just be as they had been before? Why couldn't he just completely disregard Lucius's wishes without feeling like the most horrible person in the existence of the world?
Because he'd fallen for his mate, that's why. Not only that, but he'd actively reached out to Lucius to try and end the loneliness that resided in every corner of his soul.
Now he'd gone and ruined the tentative connection they'd managed to build and it wasn't even his fault. One couldn't just expect him to naively agree. He wished he could believe Lucius had no alternative agenda; that he was a trustworthy man.
Lucius didn't come down for dinner that night. In fact, Harry didn't see him leave his room for almost two days.
When he did reappear, he came to stand in front of Harry who looked up from the desk in his study and raised a questioning eyebrow.
"I understand," Lucius said. "I might not like it, but I will respect your decision. For now."
Harry didn't know what to say, so he said nothing.
After a moment Lucius turned and made for the landing. In the doorway he paused and addressed Harry once more. "I do hope for the chance to convince you of my sincerity."
"Yes," Harry whispered once Lucius had left the room. "That's what I hope for as well."
Life at Grimmauld Place became decidedly more agreeable over the course of the following months. It wasn't even just the fact that Harry felt like he finally had someone to come home to at the end of the day.
When Lucius had asked him why he never really had any visitors besides Draco, Harry had to admit he hadn't wanted any of his friends to feel uncomfortable by having to decline an invitation.
With a little urging Harry finally decided to ask Ron and Hermione over for dinner, and it had gone surprisingly well. Apart from a barely mentionable spat when Ron decided to display his childish flaw of being a sore loser after a game of chess against Lucius. (( ::snickers:: ))
Luckily Ron hadn't pursued his belief that his opponent had been cheating, and Lucius was wise enough to let Ron's little tantrum just fizzle out.
Next, Harry invited Draco and all the male Weasleys for a men's night of cards.
Ginny was not amused, but she was quickly placated when Harry owled to include her husband Neville in the invitation. Hermione was not that easily satisfied. She made a point of telling Harry exactly how sexist she thought the whole exclusion of women was.
"She doesn't understand," Ron said as Lucius shuffled the cards like a Muggle croupier. "She's not the kind of woman that has spa days and beauty treatments with her friends, or any of that girly stuff."
"Oy!" Draco protested with a slight huff.
The corner of Lucius mouth twitched in amusement as the rest of the men burst out in laughter. They all knew Draco spent more money on clothes and salons than any of the women they knew.
It had surely broken the ice, and took away some of the bite of having Arthur polite decline the invitation with the assurance it had nothing to do with Lucius. The fact that he'd mentioned it at all made Harry believe it most certainly had been the primary reason.
Nonetheless, the evening was an unexpected success.
After two positive experiences, Harry had owled Andromeda Tonks. While Teddy was not allowed to spend the night, she had brought him over a few times to spend the day at Grimmauld Place.
Lucius had taken to the role of playful great-uncle in a way that had shocked Harry at first. He would join him in games of hide and go seek Teddy, laugh as the boy showed him all the pretty colours he could change his hair into and helped Teddy play tricks on an unsuspecting Harry.
Well, perhaps he wasn't so surprised with that last bit.
When Andromeda came to pick up her grandson the fifth or sixth time, she'd found the three of them in the study. Harry was quietly reading a book while Teddy lay cuddled up to a sleeping Lucius.
As she sighed and smiled, Harry looked up and felt something ease up inside him. It was a relief to know that he would not be ousted from his godson's life.
So yes, life became definitively more pleasant for Harry and Lucius. The true foundation of their relationship hovered over the calm like an indecisive raincloud, but they ignored it as best as they could.
At the end of October Harry found himself lingering at a window display filled with Halloween decorations in Muggle London. He liked to shop outside of the Wizarding world where he enjoyed the freedom of not being recognized and accosted by anyone.
That's why it took him a moment to notice that someone was calling his name. He turned around and when he saw who it was his expression turned stony.
"Miss Greengrass, I would not have expected to run into you here," he greeted, more politely than she deserved.
Her smile was anything but pleasant. "Well, that might be because you didn't run into me," she said. "I followed you here from the Leaky Cauldron."
Harry couldn't hide his annoyance when he left out a sharp breath. "And why would you be following me at all?"
"What a simpleton you are! You cost me my engagement," she snapped. "You did not think I would simply let that pass, did you?"
Harry rolled his eyes. What was she going to do in the middle of a Muggle street? Start a duel?
"I honestly have no patience left for you," he replied, his hand clutching his wand inside the pocket of his coat just in case. "I had nothing to do with your breakup, and I'll thank you not to drag me into your issues."
He turned away, hoping the alley just up the road could provide him enough cover to Disapparate.
She let out a frustrated cry, but the passing of a heavy truck masked the words she yelled next. Harry could feel the hex hit him in the back though, and he instantly started sneezing.
'Steleus, how very mature,' he thought sarcastically as he spun on his heels to face his opponent. However, the street behind him was empty. Astoria was gone.
He quickly returned home, almost splinching himself when a violent sneeze broke his concentration. It would pass. Depending on the strength of Astoria's magic, it couldn't take more than an hour for the hex to fade.
By midnight the sneezing let up a little, but it had caused him a painful headache, and a runny nose to go with it. Annoying as hell, but he thought he would feel better by morning and curled up against Lucius, who had permanently moved into his bedroom by mutual, though silent, agreement.
When Lucius woke up the next morning he ran a hand over Harry's back. The skin felt wrong, and the moan he was rewarded with was not one of pleasure.
Lucius opened his eyes and gasped at the sight of Harry. He was covered in small festering boils the size of cigarette burns.
He carefully shook his lovers shoulder, but Harry didn't respond. His breathing was laboured and his face pale, his skin an unhealthy yellowish hue.
Lifting the sheets only revealed more boils, ones that had rubbed open against the sheets. The smell that reached his nose nearly made Lucius vomit.
He didn't know what to do. He couldn't contact anyone, not with the Floo warded and the owls unwilling to obey him.
He grabbed Harry's wand from the night table and hurriedly cast every healing spell he could think of. Either he was out of practice, or his healing knowledge was insufficient, because all he accomplished was causing a few more of the boils to burst.
Lucius had to do something, anything. He quickly slid into a pair of trousers and picked Harry up from the bed, careful not to disturb him more than he had to. He was going to break through those bloody wards even if he had to bring the whole house down.
He braced himself and Disapparated.
He nearly fell to the floor when he appeared in the Emergency Room of St Mungo's. He was shocked to find the wards had let him through without even tiniest bit of resistance. It had felt like kicking into thin air.
Harry's wand clattered to the floor, but Lucius couldn't care less about the thing.
One witch screamed and suddenly everyone was staring at the pair of them, though no one made any move to help the man in Lucius's arms.
He caught the eye of a robust witch in lime green healer robes. "Don't just stand there! Help him!"
That seemed to move everyone out of their stupor. A bearded healer levitated Harry and two other healers rushed to his side, one of them the robust woman. They rushed him through an open archway, Lucius dead on their heels.
"What happened?" the original healer called over his shoulder. "Curse? Poison?"
"I have no idea," Lucius answered. "He was ill last night, but nowhere near the condition I found him in this morning."
They began to examine Harry in earnest. One healer reached out and checked the inside of his mouth. "No pustules on his tongue," she informed the others.
"What are you thinking?" the third healer asked. He was young, maybe a year older than Harry.
The woman glanced sideways at her colleague. "A curse is the most-likely cause, but there are a number of poisons I can't rule out at the moment."
They had reached a door and the bearded healer levitated Harry through, following him with the woman in tow.
When Lucius made to enter the room as well, the third Healer stopped him. "You can't come with us, Sir."
Lucius tried to push past him, but for a man his size the boy was very strong. "Please go back to the waiting room, Sir. We'll inform you as soon as we know anything."
In the past Lucius would've never backed down from anything he'd wanted. Cunning, threats and sometimes even brute force had always been sure ways to reach his goals. However, he had no wand, no one to back him up and he was fairly certain Harry would not condone him threatening someone for no good reason. He likewise didn't think Harry would consider this a good enough reason.
With a resigned sigh he returned to the main waiting area, where he was met with no less than six Aurors immediately pointing their wands at him.
'Ouch,' was the first thought on his mind when Harry woke up. His second was that Lucius was making an awful racket in the bathroom. He could hear something falling on the tile, the door opening, footsteps approaching the bed and a voice talking softly.
"Oh yes, those scars are certainly fading, aren't they, Mr Potter? You should wake up any day now."
That wasn't Lucius.
Harry's eyes snapped open and focused on the woman beside the bed, his hand unconsciously reaching out for the wand he usually kept on the bedside table. She let out a cry and almost fell over herself as she backed away, clutching her heart.
"Merlin!" Her chest rising and falling rapidly in the rhythm of her shallow breaths.
"Ah, Mr Potter," a tall older man said from the doorway. He had a short white beard and a gentle smile on his face. "Awake I see? And frightening poor Healer Robbins already."
"Caught me off guard," the woman said, and only then did Harry notice the telling lime green robes she was wearing.
"Healer?" Harry's throat felt dry and raw.
"Yes, Mr Potter," the man said. "My name is Gregory James, and this is my colleague Jennifer Robbins."
"Pleasure, Mr Potter," she called from behind Healer James. "We've been keeping you alive for the past two weeks."
"Lucius," Harry said with a moan and tried to get up.
Healer Robbins rushed forward and pushed him back gently.
"Don't worry, Mr Potter," Healer James said. "Mr Malfoy has been taken into Auror custody after he brought you here. He won't be cursing you again anytime soon."
Cursing? He'd been cursed? By Lucius? That didn't make any sense.
Something started nagging him in the back of his head. A Muggle street with pumpkins and skeletons. He'd been sick. No, that wasn't right. He'd been hexed by-
"No," he muttered tiredly. His head felt like a huge ball of cotton was trying to swallow him down. "Greengrass, Astoria Greengrass."
There was a soft hand stroking his forehead and cheek. That was nice.
Harry could feel his mouth curling up into a satisfied smile. He thought he could spend the rest of his life like this; enveloped by soft, warm blankets and being caressed so sweetly.
"Hmmm, Lucius," he whispered. Wasn't that a perfect way to wake up? Harry pursed his lips for a kiss.
A chuckle tickled his lips when Lucius obliged him. The kiss was over far too soon.
"Harry, wake up," Lucius said softly.
Harry tried to move closer to his lover, but he was suddenly saved from falling to the floor by a pair of strong arms. His eyes snapped open. "Whut?"
"Careful now," Lucius said.
Harry didn't really hear the words. He was staring at the bruise on Lucius's right jaw. It looked only a few days old. "What happened?"
Lucius shook his head. "He barely survives a murder attempt and is worried about a simple bruise."
Harry looked down at the unfamiliar sheets covering him and started to remember. Healers, and- Something. And Lucius, who was with the Aurors.
"They thought you cursed me," he said and reached out his hand to touch the nasty looking bruise. "Did the Aurors do this?"
"Hmmm," Lucius replied and traced a finger over Harry's bottom lip. "But do not concern yourself with that. I have been cleared as of yesterday morning. They've arrested Miss Greengrass and she confessed everything."
"Yesterday morning," Harry repeated. "You came here?"
Lucius leaned in and kissed Harry's chapped lips before running his tongue over them soothingly.
"Where else would I go?"
Harry smiled tentatively. "You didn't run."
Lucius kissed him again. "No," he replied, the words reflecting the promise shining in his eyes. "I'm not going anywhere."