Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Chapter Five: The Peace
A/N: This chapter has been edited for sexual content. I cut out about 2 and a half pages of explicit details. If you want a link to the full version, see my profile.
Draco woke slowly. A strange lassitude suspended his body, his limbs drained of strength. He cracked open one eye, and noted by the angle of the sunbeam that it was much later in the day than he had ever slept before. He supposed he should feel some guilt at his laziness, but he couldn't seem to work up the effort.
He rolled over and examined the sleeping bundle of warmth next to him. Her hair was even wilder than usual- soft curls turned into frizz with snarls tangling her hair into a mat around her head. Her skin was marred with scratches, love bites and was sweat stained. Her eyes had dark circles under them, and her figure was limp, boneless with the deep sleep of a child.
She looked exhausted.
Draco's blood started pumping hard, and he caught his breath at the swift rush of desire that filled him at the sight.
Mine, his beast purred lazily. It was slumbering happily, for now, curled up around Hermione's place in his soul. Draco felt the bond, and mentally tugged at it with sharp teeth. The sweet tang of magic filled his veins, and a sense of deep peace emanated from the small thread that connected them.
It is sound, Draco thought, relieved. It just needs a little strengthening.
Draco grinned at the thought, slowly, wickedly.
Hermione woke smiling.
Her body was aching and she was exhausted, but Lord was she relaxed.
She was also covered by a mountain of furs and blankets. They were piled so high she could barely move. I know that it is approaching winter, but this is ridiculous. Hermione thought as she battled the down and wool. Throwing off some of the covers, she scrambled for enough leverage to pry herself up with tired arms.
Glancing around, she noted no signs of recent Dragon-like activity. The fire had burned down to coals, the piles of treasure were still untouched, no food seemed to be strewn about, and the kitchen area was un-destroyed.
It seemed her Dragon was out.
In all honesty, Hermione was a bit relieved. She loved him, she lived with him, slept with him and now she did… other things with him. Their relationship had taken a gigantic step forward last night, and Hermione was glad of a bit of peace to reflect upon it.
She flopped back onto the pillows and scooted back down into the heated warmth under the mound of down, fur and wool. She burrowed deep, until her fingers grew toasty again. Once warm, she stretched leisurely, taking up as much room in the huge bed as possible, splayed like a starfish.
I should get dressed. Or start breakfast. Mmmmm, the bed is so warm... Ten more minutes.
She woke again to the sound of wings.
I must have fallen asleep again, Hermione thought groggily. Rolling over onto her belly, she buried herself in the pillows. It's too bright in here…
She must have drifted to sleep again, because she woke suddenly to a hand caressing her shoulder.
"Draco?" She muttered, eyes still closed.
"Who else?" Draco replied, amused.
"Mmmm…." Hermione stirred a little and flipped onto her back, but decided that sitting up required too much effort. "What smells so divine?"
The mattress of the bed bowed, and Hermione mustered enough energy to crack open her eyes. Draco was sitting on his side of the bed draped casually in an eye-popping cerulean robe. He was currently balancing a tray in his lap piled with all sorts of foods. Most were dishes that Hermione knew and loved. Some of it was food that Hermione had never seen before. She didn't particularly want to know how Draco had managed to obtain it and was certainly happy to lie abed this morning rather than preparing breakfast.
Hermione smiled brightly and stretched her weary muscles. Too late, she caught sight of Draco staring with fascination at her bare arms and shoulders peeking out from the bedcovers. Hermione flushed brightly, conscious of her nudity, feeling vulnerable. Why didn't I get dressed while he was gone? As she quickly made sure that the critical areas of bare skin were not on display, Draco settled onto the pillows, the tray on his lap.
Hermione narrowed her eyes. "Draco, are you eating in bed?"
In reply, the Dragon raised a brow and popped a sausage into his mouth. As he chewed, he smirked slightly.
Hermione's lips curled into a sneer and the happy fog of sleep dissipated from her mind. Pushing a few layers of blankets off of her, she sat up and glared at him. "You're making a mess. Crumbs in the bed attract all sorts of nasty parasites. And I will be the one to clean up the mess." She raised one naked arm imperiously, her wild hair spilling around her bare shoulders. "Eat at your couch."
Draco cocked his head slightly. "No." He deliberately plucked a bit of yellow, crumbly cheese off of the gold platter, popped it in his mouth and chewed deliberately, slowly.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "You're impossible. It is a perfectly reasonable request, in fact…"
"Fig?" He interrupted. He delicately popped the sugar-encrusted fruit into her open mouth.
Hermione closed her eyes as the sweet sugar glaze melted in her mouth. She chewed slowly, enjoying the lovely combination of the tart fruit juice mixing with the sugar. Blinking slowly, she swallowed and said, "Oh my. What was that?"
"That was a fruit from the Greek islands. One of the Lords nearby has an insatiable sweet tooth, and imports food from all over the world. I take advantage whenever I need a taste of sugar."
"My Father always says that such luxuries are sinful, and a waste of the cost to import."
"Hmm. To him, perhaps. Would you like more?"
Hermione could practically feel the smugness radiating from him, but chose to keep quiet about it for the sake of her stomach.
There were standard foods- kippers, sausage, breads, and cheeses- that Hermione had broken her fast with for most of her life. There were very expensive things, dishes her mother reserved for special occasions, like apples and pears preserved in sweet syrup. Then there were exotic things, things Hermione had only seen while at court – like oranges, plums, marzipan, and rolls so light and fluffy they must have been cooked by magic.
Tentatively, Hermione began to choose various delicacies that she liked and thought Draco might also enjoy. She brought a particularly sugary date to his lips and presented it for his inspection. He smiled slowly, widely, before opening his mouth. Hermione's heart skipped a beat.
I wish he would smile more often…
He fed her tangy apples preserved in sweet, sticky honey-syrup. The messy food wasn't particularly conducive to bed-snacking, and the syrup drizzled down mouth and onto the high curve of her breasts. Draco's eyes followed the golden trail and flared bright silver.
Hermione froze in the act of licking her lips and suddenly remembered to be self-conscious. She felt her face grow hot and flushed, and she dipped her gaze to the half-empty tray. Bravery, Hermione. Be brave. Embarrassed but determined, Hermione lifted her eyes to his, and was lost.
Carefully, he leaned over the tray and cupped her jaw, running callused fingers gently over smooth skin. She closed her eyes and sighed in delight. She felt his weight shift on the bed.
His hands traced soothing patterns on her back and arms as his lips concentrated on the raw, red bite mark at the juncture of her shoulder and neck. He hummed in contentment, and the vibration on her tender skin made Hermione's breath hitch. His clever tongue darted out to taste the salt of her sweat mixed with sweet honey, soothing her abused neck.
As he continued to suckle her throat, he relished the little moans and whimpers that escaped from Hermione's throat. He stroked her back, gentling her and coaxing her to be more responsive. He pulled back slightly and assessed the bite mark. Angry and red, it stood out lividly against her pale skin, edges deep where his fangs had sliced into her soft flesh. On one hand, his beast was eminently satisfied that his possession of her was so blatantly displayed. The other more human part of his psyche felt guilty for marking her so brutally.
He was not a gentle creature, but for her… he could try.
Quelling the urge to dominate her, to possess her, to make her scream out for her true master, he gently, gently began to trace the full contours of her breasts with the sensitive pads of his fingertips. Lightly raking his nails over the peach-colored tips, he smirked as they hardened.
Dipping his head, he lapped along the trail of honey slowly dripping from her collarbone to her breasts. He savored the mixed flavor of sweetness and salt, as well as Hermione's startled reactions.
She still isn't used to any of this. Go slow, go slow. He repeated the mantra over and over, willing his eager beast down, wanting this experience to be more than the mindless rutting of last night, more than the pleasurable joining of their bodies. She will love me. She will.
Mentally, he inspected the tiny string connecting Hermione to him. The small bond thrummed with life, vibrating with their emotions. He forced himself to pull back, to respect the slow speed at which the mating must take place, lest he break what fragile hold he had with her already.
As he nipped and licked and sucked, Hermione's instinct was to turn away and cover her nudity. Last night when she was caught up in the sensual fury of her Dragon, she did not notice her nudity or the sinful liberties Draco took with her body. This morning her Dragon was being so wonderfully gentle, and while her tired body appreciated it, it gave her mind a lot more time to think, to analyze.
The intimacy was wonderful, scary, overwhelming. It made her want to hyperventilate.
The modesty drilled into her from childbirth seemed a blockade to true happiness with her Dragon. And she did want that happiness, so badly. Her parents had a lovely marriage, and she has always dreamed of finding something like that with her husband. But her husband was not... normal. Yet he was changing for her. Had he not gone to her parents when she asked? Had he not stopped when he was on the verge of slaughtering Ronald?
Hermione's fair soul would not let settle for anything less in herself. If he is making the effort to change, to make me happy, than I will do the same.
Swallowing her trepidation, Hermione reached for the bowl of honeyed fruit. Draco's glowing eyes watched her intently, tracking her movements like a predator, but doing nothing. Dipping her fingers into the sticky mixture, she offered him a small slice of apple.
Deliberately, she smeared a bit of honey on the corner of his mouth as he bit into the juicy fruit. His eyes widened as he caught her intention, but he remained still.
She chose another apple, this time trailing it over his body, letting warm, golden droplets fall onto his alabaster skin, creating a trail of stickiness from his neck to sharp hipbones. Draco squirmed as she brought the fruit to his mouth, deliberately holding it a few inches from his face. Growling, he moved his head suddenly, capturing the fruit, and her fingers with it. His silver eyes burned into hers as his hot, wet tongue slid over her fingers, sucking hard to get the syrupy sweet honey.
Hermione swallowed and her mouth went dry. This might be easier than I thought.
Hermione licked her lips and took her fingers from Draco's mouth. Again, he was still as stone, watching and waiting to see what she would do. Tentatively, she traced sticky fingers over his smooth, soft lips.
Fortune favors the bold, Hermione, on impulse, did something she had been fantasizing about all morning. She leaned forward and kissed him.
It was just as good this morning as it was last night, possibly even better. Draco no longer was shadowed by rage and Hermione's senses were no longer clouded with fear and confusion. Their lips met softly at first, sweet and tart, tasting of apples.
The kiss was tender, heart-wrenchingly so. Unlike the animal-like passion of last night, he was exquisitely restrained. He was the perfect lover, letting her tongue trace the crease of his expressive mouth, patiently letting her suck his honeyed lips clean. When her tongue dipped into his mouth to tangle with his, he let out a strangled moan. His hands stopped tracing soothing patterns on her back, and he curled them into fists, as if restraining himself from touching her any more than necessary.
Her lips slanted over his, again and again, frantic, and a jolt of heat struck her to the core and a realization hit her. She wanted more. She wanted the passion of last night, wanted the animal as much as she wanted the man. But did the beast inside him care for her as much as she cared for him? She was unsure. His animal side scared her as much as it fascinated her. Nevertheless, it was a part of him, perhaps the biggest part of him, and this eddy of confusion and fear couldn't last if she wanted to be his forever.
She was loath to break the kiss, but she needed to know the answers, needed to know before she gave even more of herself to this fascinating creature. Huskily, Hermione whispered, "What am I to you, Draco? What is a mate? A plaything? A trophy? A treasure? A lover?"
Draco was quiet for a moment. He gently gripped her wrist turned his head to place a kiss in the center of her palm. He slanted her a wicked glance, then scraped sharp teeth over the vulnerable pulse at the juncture of her thumb and wrist without breaking her fragile skin. Hermione gasped, but remained obstinate. "Just answer the question, Dragon."
A part of him was angry. How many times must he explain himself? Didn't she realize what she was to him? Couldn't she see how much he cared for her? Finally he said, "How many times must I reassure you, woman? I will say this once more only because I wish for peace and not your endless questions. You are the companion of my life, and I will never take another." Suddenly his eyes narrowed to slits of silver. He bared his sharp teeth and squeezed her wrist tightly. "Are you having doubts? Because I vow you will never, never leave my side while I still breathe. You are mine."
Hermione could somehow sense his anger, his intense frustration. And underneath it all… hurt?
Hermione caught her breath. He was angry and wounded, but this time it was her fault. How to soothe the beast? Hermione thought rapidly. Well, there is the tried and true method.
Hermione untangled her fingers from Draco's long platinum hair and began to run her hands up and down his back, lightly grazing his smooth skin with her short nails. Draco growled a little, but began to relax.
"Hmmm... A little more to the left... Right there." Draco's eyes rolled back in his head and his tilted up his chin, his mouth curling in contentment. Hermione grinned widely. It really is simple to tame the beast. Just scratch him like a kitty and he'll purr!
Laughing a little to herself, Hermione leaned forward, nose burrowing into the warm skin of his neck. There was a droplet of honey lingering on his collarbone, and Hermione, without a thought, extended her tongue to lap it up.
This time, Hermione was not afraid. With her newfound, fragile confidence, her tongue darted out again to taste Draco's skin. She worked her way up the long column of his neck to the shell of his ear.
"What would you like, Draco?" She whispered.
"Kiss me," he rasped. "Kiss me again."
Hermione rose onto her knees so her face was level with his, leaned forward, and lightly brushed his lips.
Draco was very still, very restrained. Yet in some way, she could feel the beast in him yearning to break free. The good girl inside of her wanted to stay away from that predator, to enjoy the lighthearted exploration she was taking with his body. But the other part of her, the wicked troublemaker, wanted to test those chains, to see how far they would go before they would break.
No contest, Hermione thought. With a naughty smile, she swept her tongue into his mouth. At his groan, she gave an internal shout of triumph. In a burst of inspiration, she captured his bottom lip between her teeth, and worried it between them.
It was like pouring oil onto a fire.
Suddenly, his hands were everywhere. Running down her back, squeezing her breasts, pinching her nipples, caressing her neck or thighs. He grabbed her by the waist, covers and all, and pulled her into his arms until their bodies were plastered together, chest to chest. Hermione threw her arms around his neck for stability as her balance was pulled off-kilter. The movement of the mound of blankets caused the tray to clatter to the floor, food spilling everywhere.
Hermione tsked. "Now the food is all over the floor."
Draco fisted a hand into the hair at the nape of her neck. "Fuck the food," he growled.
Hermione closed her eyes and threw back her head as a wave of intense bliss tingled up her torso, the feeling centered on the point of intimate contact between her and her Dragon. As Draco's hands did amazing things to her breasts, Hermione became aware of something not quite right.
In her mind, there was something... other.
Something inside of her whispered dark dreams, whispered wicked suggestions Hermione had never before contemplated. It wasn't a voice, per se, it was more of a... presence. One that apparently was very naughty. Images, stray thoughts whispery impressions of emotions floated through Hermione's consciousness, all amplifying her need, driving her body into a frenzy.
A bestial growl rose in her throat, unexpectedly. Mine!
Hermione gazed at her Dragon with heavy-lidded eyes. His glowing eyes were trained on her breasts and abdomen, intensely focused. "Draco."
His head snapped up, and he raised a brow haughtily.
Something inside Hermione snapped. "You are mine, Dragon. As much as I am yours. And I'm keeping you." His eyes widened, shocked, but Hermione gave him no time to react. Her mouth latched onto his with dizzying ferocity, their teeth clacking together in her haste to consume him, to make him her own.
She's Beautiful. Mine.
He needed to be inside her. Now. There was no stalling it anymore, no matter how slow Draco's human side wanted to take her. His desire to be inside her had started when he rose this morning and smelled her scent next to him in the bed knowing that she was finally his mate. Now that she was here, aroused and ready for him, Draco's self-control was in shreds.
Draco groaned at the picture of wild abandon Hermione made. The small female was beautiful, her face and chest rosy, her dark hair wild around her head and back. He plunged one large hand into it, willing back the urge to control and dominate.
As Draco suckled her neck, his eyes rolled back into his head at the sudden tightness, and his mind went black. Rolling over swiftly, he crushed Hermione's small body with his own, the instinct to dominate taking over the coupling.
He thrust into her welcoming wetness frantically, his beast glorying in Hermione's frantic moans. He burned for her, burned for release, and as he felt his balls tighten in anticipation he bit the mark on her breast. Hermione moaned his name as he spilt his pleasure into her, and the beast was roaring in triumph.
Draco collapsed on top of her limp form, lungs heaving.
Hermione, crushed by his weight, elbowed him in the ribs. Draco reluctantly rolled off of her with a groan.
I need a bath. Hermione frowned as she took inventory of her sticky body and hair. Desperately.
Hermione glanced at her very relaxed Dragon and suppressed a giggle. She delicately plucked a piece of honey-covered cheese off of his back and arched a brow.
Draco eyed it and then grinned cheekily. Snatching it from her grasp, he ate it in one bite. "I'm hungry."
Hermione's joyous laughter echoed in the cavern.
The forest was very old. Ancient and twisted, the branches of the trees wove together creating a twisted canopy of bare branches and shadows in the scantly beams of late afternoon light.
The man picked his way through the maze of dead branches and decomposing leaves surely, feet swift and silent on the half-frozen ground. Although the darkness was creeping in through the trees, he showed no sign of stopping his journey to make camp.
He led a sturdy bay gelding piled high with oddly shaped parcels by the reins as he dodged the worst of the early spring mud. Every so often he raised his face to the dying sunlight, enjoying the last of the day's scant warmth.
He stopped, suddenly. The plodding horse slipped on the slippery leaves and mud, startling the poor creature. Digging its hind legs deeply into the soft earth, it gained some leverage on the slick ground. It reared up, forelegs flailing, sharp hooves coming within inches of the man's skull.
The man did not move. His annoyed gaze pierced the animals deep brown eyes, and the animal went preternaturally still. The man placed a hand on the bridle for a moment, pulling the horses' head level to his own. Man and beast stared at each other for long moments, until the bay started to tremble.
Seemingly satisfied, the man let go of the bridle. He turned his face to the southerly wind, his sharp brows scrunched up in thought.
A white cloud of frozen breath surrounded his face as he inhaled and exhaled deeply through his nose, bright eyes closed.
Suddenly, the man opened his eyes and smiled. White teeth flashed in the gathering darkness, and the man pulled on the reins of the cowed gelding, veering sharply to the south.
One day, at the first melting of spring, their peaceful life was disturbed again by the thrumming of wings.
Draco had coaxed Hermione into the hot spring with him, teasing her relentlessly about her fascination with modesty until she cracked. Currently, they were sitting in the hot pool, sitting on the wide bench. Hermione sat behind Draco, her back to the wall, washing his back.
"So… When are you going to stop biting me?" Hermione asked casually as she dipped the sponge into the water again, wetting it. "Certain areas are getting rather tender."
Draco slanted a wry glance at his mate, "When the bond is complete, the urge to mark you will subside," He chuckled lowly. "But you've never complained before."
Hermione wrung the soapy sponge out over his head.
Draco sputtered, indignant, as Hermione giggled. "You'll pay for that!"
Mid-lunge, Draco froze.
Hermione, expecting a dunking, blinked in surprise. "What is it?"
"Someone is coming." Draco said, stone-faced and tense. "Get dressed. Now."
Hermione scrambled out of the steaming pool and tossed the sponge to the side. Cursorily running a towel over her soaked skin, she wicked off most of the excess moisture. Hurriedly, she pulled on her robes, fumbling with the fastenings in her haste.
As she dressed, she watched Draco for any signs of aggression. If this was going to be a bad visit, she would rather go into it prepared. Draco's powerful muscles were coiled, tense and ready to spring. Hermione could practically taste the magic and brimstone in the air as Draco prepared to change into his Dragon form. His nostrils flared, scenting the charged air, searching out the identity of the intruder…
Draco slid, boneless, into the hot water. "It's alright Hermione."
Hermione stared at him, hands frozen awkwardly whilst wrestling with the damp silk gown she was desperately tugging into place. "Oh."
As she had definitely heard wings, she had an inkling of what was to come. Please don't be who I think it is. "Why's that?"
"My father has just arrived."
Hermione's formerly nerveless fingers flew into action. Damn, damn, triple damn.
As she hurriedly fastened the ties of her gown, and in general make her appearance other than that of a scullery maid, Lucius emerged from the piles of treasure.
He was clothed haphazardly in one of the spare robes, so loosely tied that Hermione could clearly see a broad expanse of heavily muscled chest.
Draco bowed his head formally in greeting, an act that was oddly incongruent with his nudity and his casual pose. "Good morning Father."
Lucius bowed his head slightly in return.
"Care for a soak?"
Lucius' steely eyes brightened considerably and he disrobed without warning. Hermione was stunned with mortification but found that she could not look away. He was shorter and more compact than his son – Draco leaned towards grace instead of the heavy muscle of Lucius but they were clearly from the same brutal mold.
Lucius stepped into the steaming water and sighed contentedly. "I loathe flying in this weather. It is still too bloody cold out."
Belatedly, Hermione felt her cheeks heat, sure that her face was a bright scarlet. She turned away sharply and quickly finished fastening her gown.
Draco, his eyes caught by her swift movements, chuckled. "I do believe you've shocked my mate, father."
Lucius slowly blinked and looked at Hermione as if she were a bug marring his pristinely silver wing. "Humans. I had almost forgetten their modesty," he sneered. "How… quaint."
Hermione flushed brighter as she toweled her mass of hair dry. Losing her temper, she snapped. "I wasn't aware that Dragons were prone to senility. Perhaps you should see a healer?"
Against all expectations, Draco's father did not disembowel her for her sass. Instead, he simply smiled wide, showing sharp teeth. "Your mate grew a spine, son."
Draco laughed, his face relaxed and happy. "You have no idea at all, Father. None."
Hermione frowned sourly and pointedly ignored Draco. Instead, she asked Lucius politely, "Will you be joining us for supper?"
Lucius took his time, leaning back into the steamy water, wetting his hair into a silver streak down his back. "I do believe I will," he sneered, showing sharp teeth. "Now go and leave me with my son." He nodded curtly in dismissal.
A muscle in Hermione's jaw spasmed and her hands clenched the soft Egyptian cotton of the towel tightly. Abruptly, she turned on her heels and stormed off in the direction of the living area.
Draco groaned and glared at his father.
Lucius just smirked.
Luckily, the supper Hermione had planned for that evening was elaborate. She had been in a culinary mood recently, and had planned to cook a rack of lamb, rubbed with oil, garlic, mint and mustard. A cheesy potato soup was simmering in a pot on the coals.
With the addition of a cheese and bread course, fruits and a cake Draco had brought that morning, she was moderately certain that Lucius would not ridicule her table.
So, when Draco returned from the spring earlier than Hermione expected - naked, hair wet, skin flushed - Hermione was in a frenzy of industry. She screeched at him to put some clothes on and he pulled on a robe, chuckling.
While she diligently stirred and seasoned, chopped and sliced, he disappeared into his piles of treasure. When he returned, he was carrying a giant table, made from a dark, deep cherry wood. It was polished to a mirror shine, and carved with scenes of Dragons razing a village of screaming peasants.
Well, Hermione thought dryly, Perhaps that will put His Highness in a good mood.
Draco dropped the table with a careless bang and turned back to meander through his horde again. A few more trips, and three mismatched table settings appeared.
The table was set, the food was ready. All was waiting until His Dragonness decided to grace them with his presence.
When Lucius finally showed himself, it was actually rather anticlimactic. He sat without waiting for the Lady to be seated. He waited, silently, patiently to be served. When the soup was poured, he ate without comment. He barely glanced at the elegantly appointed table, nor did he comment on the amount or quality of the food. He certainly did not compliment his hostess.
Hermione fumed silently as she sipped their hot soup. Remember, Dragon customs are very different from Human customs. Perhaps he doesn't mean to insult me. Even if their manners are bestial, at least they don't eat like animals.
By the time they were halfway through the entrée, they group had yet to speak a word. Hermione, sick of the silence, decided to distract herself by utilizing the one weapon at her disposal – her wits.
"My Lord, what brings you to our home today?" Hermione delicately sliced her lamb with a practiced grace. Bringing the small bite to her mouth and chewing slowly, she arched a brow in the older Dragons' direction. I will not be intimidated!
Lucius's impeccable silver eyebrows lifted slightly, but otherwise he made no outward sign of surprise that Draco's human mate broke the silence. Swirling ruby-red wine in his golden Roman goblet, he slanted a glance at his silent son.
Draco studiously ignored his father and continued to eat, efficiently putting away as much food as he possibly could without sacrificing his dignity.
Lucius took a long slow sip of his wine, pausing dramatically, letting the tension build. Finally, he leaned forward, body held tight and still. "I have been charged to tell you of a Gathering."
Draco stilled, fork poised mid-bite. A growl rose, unconsciously, from his throat. Silver eyes took on a subtle glow, his massive frame practically vibrating with strain.
Lucius stiffened and bared his teeth at his son, shifting his weight smoothly in his chair, poised to spring. Draco's growl subsided, barely.
Hermione, alarmed by this strange interplay of body language, tried to distract the Dragons from their strange, mostly silent confrontation. "What is a Gathering?"
Eyes never quite leaving Draco, Lucius smiled at Hermione, lips pulled back from sharp fangs in a razor edged mockery of a grin. "It is a meeting of Dragons."
"So I gathered," Hermione said dryly, annoyed and not caring that her attitude was not helping an already strangely tense situation. If the lizards were going to posture vaguely about a meeting of other lizards, than it was their business, not hers. Until they decided to de-mystify themselves, Hermione was going to find out as much information as possible.
"Tell me more about it," Hermione said.
Draco was on the edge of his chair, his hands gripping the edge of the table so hard he was leaving claw marks in the hard wood. "No need. We're not going."
Hermione raised a brow, "Come again?"
"We are not going." Draco spat out, jaw clenched.
"The last time we had an argument like this, I believe we came to an arrangement about my freedoms in exchange for my agreement to mate." Hermione narrowed her eyes threateningly. "You aren't going back on your word, are you?"
Draco rolled his eyes and sneered, "Yes, and look how well that worked out."
"Well, if you had just left Ron alone, we wouldn't have…"
"Left that prick alone!" Draco screamed, interrupting Hermione's rant." His hands were all over you!"
"Ronald is just my friend…"
"Children!" Lucius lifted a hand, effectively silencing the duo. "As entertaining as this is, I'm afraid you don't have any choice in the matter. The Gathering is being held in your honor."
Hermione shot Draco a triumphant look while grinning.
Lucius caught Hermione's gaze, and pinned her with an intense stare, his face gravely serious. Slowly, Hermione's smile faded and a strange sense of dread pooled in her belly.
Finally, after a long, uncomfortable silence, Lucius spoke carefully. "The community is very… anxious… to greet you."
Hermione smiled weakly as the implications of an extended amount of time around other Dragons began to sink in. Why does that sound like I'm being offered up for dinner?
It was late and the fire had burned to embers. Hermione had fallen asleep hours before to the soothing rumble of Dragon baritone.
The two silver Dragons sat underneath the cloud-streaked night sky, the weak moonlight reflecting eerily off of their strange skin.
The leaner Dragon curled up onto itself, his head resting heavily onto his forelegs. The larger, heavier Dragon sat on its haunches beside its son. After awhile, the younger Dragon grumbled softly, It is too soon Father.
The older Dragon turned its head sharply towards the younger. You will be ready. I've made sure of that.
But my Prime is not for another five years. How can I defend her?
Lucius was silent for a moment, his wedge-shaped head tilted towards the sky. He looked at his son out of the corner of his eye. Would it be so bad to lose this mate? After all, her blood isn't of the highest nobility.
Draco growled and lunged at the larger Dragon without thought. The two Dragons wrestled on the hard ground fiercely. The younger Dragon viciously clamped onto Lucius's neck, blue fire spilling from his nose and mouth, pinning him.
Lucius chortled dryly from his position beneath Draco. You're ready. Even if you haven't yet grown into your full power, you're ready.
Father! Draco released Lucius's throat, turning away from him in disgust.
Lucius preened prissily, rubbing at the spots of dirt on his hide. It is an honor to fight and be proven worthy of your mate, if necessary.
She's mine, Draco hissed. The beast inside Draco rebelled at anyone touching his mate, at anyone thinking of coveting what was his. I won't let anyone have her!
There can be no formal challenge for your mate issued at the Gathering, Son. But you know as well as I that the wily ones who covet her will find another way to steal what they want.
Draco moodily stared at the gathering clouds, pondering this sourly.
Your bond is strengthening. Even I can feel it. It should be strong enough to test against other males. Lucius spread his wings, stretching them to their full span, the diamonds lining the inside sparkling in the faint light. Now I will leave you- I will take you to the Gathering place in two weeks.
Lucius launched himself in the air, wings beating powerfully.
Draco sat at the edge of his cavern, his home, and stared after his father moodily. Huffing slightly in frustration, blue smoke spilling from his nostrils, he sat in silent thought.
Suddenly, defiantly, he bared his teeth and roared his displeasure, blue fire erupting from his throat. Training begins tomorrow, he thought grimly, I will be ready.
The hunter smelt rain.
The rain would cover up the trail he was following, rendering the week-old scent useless.
The hunter did not care. He prey never escaped once he was on their trail. He was patient. He was ruthless. He was clever.
He was Harry Potter.