Thank you again for all the reviews! This is the last chapter of A Year's Temptation. There will be no sequel or epilogue, as all the plot I can think of for the Veela fic is contained in this story. However, I do plan to keep writing; my first priority is finishing up Building With Worn-Out Tools, and after that you can check my profile to get an idea of what I plan to do.
"I can't help it," Draco murmured into the back of Harry's neck. He gave a sharp lick, and even though it had come nowhere near the claiming mark, Harry felt his knees nearly give out. Only Draco's arm, smartly curled around his waist, hauled him back to his feet in time. Harry shivered convulsively, and tilted his head to the side in spite of himself, so that Draco had more access. As the time of their bonding grew closer and closer, the simplest sensations were amplified, and Harry found he had less and less will to move out of the bed that they shared.
Today, though, he had to. He was meeting Ginny—and Ralph—for the final signing of the divorce papers that would leave him a legally free man. Besides, he'd already had sex with Draco a few hours ago when they both woke early, and then endured some foreplay in the shower and had to turn down Draco's offer of a blowjob with more will than any wizard should be required to display. If he didn't go soon, it would all be for nothing.
"I want to know something," Draco told him. "Just one little secret, and I'll let you go."
"Yes," Harry said breathily, and then wondered if he should be saying, "No," instead. God, it was hard to think with Draco's arms around his waist like this, even though the wall he pressed against, a cold tiled one in the Manor's front hall, wasn't the most comfortable place to relax. He coughed and tried to stand upright, pulling at Draco's embrace as he did so. "What did you want to ask?"
"Why are you so afraid to let me take you?" Draco whispered, and turned him around at the same moment.
Harry froze, then snorted. "Take me? Draco, no one uses medieval language like that anymore."
"It's not medieval," Draco snapped, stormclouds gathering in his gray eyes immediately, "it's accurate."
"You sound like a ponce."
"I'm a Veela." Draco had withdrawn in his anger, but now he shifted back, hands rising to clutch at Harry's shoulders as if to demonstrate that a bit of a row couldn't make him relinquish his mate. "And you're mine. And you know that the first time, to consummate the bonding, I have to take you."
"Could you please use some other word?" Harry turned his head to the side to nuzzle Draco's knuckles, in hope of distracting him. He probably didn't have to leave that soon to be on time for his meeting with Ginny and Ralph. He had an hour, after all, he was Apparating, and it couldn't take that long to search out one particular room in the Ministry.
"You don't want to hear what words I'll start using in a moment if you aren't honest with me," Draco said darkly.
Harry sighed. "All right." He still remained silent for a moment, though, while debating whether he could trust Draco.
Well, of course he could.
But he trusted Draco not to betray him and not to break his heart, and not to do things that Harry considered morally wrong after Harry had talked very, very sternly to him about it. He wasn't sure he trusted Draco not to laugh at him.
On the other hand, Draco was getting the look now that he got when there would be blood flying about in a moment.
"All right," he repeated. "It's—well, part of it's fear of the pain, Draco."
Draco made a low, purring sound in his throat, and his wings materialized with startling speed and swept around Harry's shoulders. Harry relaxed, inevitably, and was grateful for it. He waited until the sound of his own breath had slowed so that he was no longer in danger of hyperventilating.
"I'll be soft and slow and gentle," Draco whispered. "It might hurt a little, but you know I can make you feel good, Harry. Didn't it feel good that evening in August when I used my fingers?"
"Yes," Harry breathed. He was feeling light-headed, and if Draco had asked him to go to bed just then, he wouldn't have resisted.
"What's the rest of it?"
Like this, it was impossible to fear anything. Harry met his eyes in absolute trust and said, "I don't know how it will make me react, since I've never done it before. I don't know if I want you to see me that uninhibited."
Draco draped Harry's face with kisses, drawing him close until Harry's face sank into his shoulder. Harry went along with it, managing to slip his arms around Draco's waist and clutch him tightly, but nothing else. His breathing had deepened to just this side of sleep.
Of course Draco should have guessed it would be something like that. Harry had held back with the little Weasley, been careful and delicate around her in the bedroom, and he would have done the same thing with Draco, if he could, except that Draco had never given him a choice from March on. He was a private person. He'd said that once before, when he first hinted at the truth about his Muggle relatives. He disliked the idea of not being able to hide something if he chose to, or felt he needed to.
It wasn't that Harry foresaw any particular need for privacy in their sex lives, Draco knew. But it might be there, and if he couldn't have it…
"I promise not to laugh at you," he whispered into Harry's ear. "You can't be undignified to me, no matter how loudly you scream or what you look like on your back. You'll only look beautiful. I know that the way I knew you were my mate." His hands and his wings stroked Harry, and he manipulated the large primary feathers nearest Harry's neck to curl up and brush the hair on his nape. "Hush. I promise."
"Thank you," Harry whispered, and Draco knew another barrier was down between them.
He retracted his wings, curious, for a moment, if Harry would straighten in outrage and demand that Draco never do that again. But Harry only looked wry, though his cheeks immediately turned the shade of plums.
"I have to go," he said, and kissed Draco, and ducked out the door of the Manor.
Draco let him go with a smile. He was convinced, now, that it wouldn't be long before he could get Harry to agree to the bonding.
A good thing, too. He was about to go mad with longing. The desire to touch Harry had grown to the point that he found himself reaching out in the evenings and running one finger down Harry's claiming mark or his leg before he became conscious of it. He had to owl him almost constantly throughout the day to assuage his fear of being left lonely and wanting. The mere thought of someone else near Harry, never mind touching him, made Dark hexes dance on his tongue.
Just a little longer. Just a bit more.
The Veela had blended with him and was no longer a separate creature, but that meant its feelings and traits were Draco's own, including its knowledge. He knew the intense need to have his mate, to possess him, would calm down after the bonding.
But it did nothing to calm him now.
Draco went back to the law books he'd begun scouring. He still wanted to play Quidditch if he could. To that end, he'd been looking up what material he could find on the ban against any winged magical creature playing on a Quidditch team. He'd manage to change the law—purely for his own benefit, of course—see if he didn't.
And when he thought about flying, it was a little harder to think about how Harry tasted.
Now if only he hadn't thought about the word harder.
"Ginny." Harry greeted her with a slow nod of his head. He was relieved that she no longer looked as devastated as she had three months ago, when she'd laid down her wedding ring on the table in Number Twelve Grimmauld Place and walked out of his life.
He was also relieved that his broken relationship with her hadn't disrupted his bonds with the rest of the Weasley family. He still visited Molly and Arthur—though Ginny disappeared every time he did—and he was still welcome at Fred and George's shop in Diagon Alley and Bill and Fleur's snug little house in Calais. Of course, if they could accept him back after he had been present at Ron's death and done nothing to stop it, they could probably accept him after this.
The room they were meeting in, called, rather too neatly, the Separation Room, was a small one, with portraits of stern witches on the walls, but it had a large table in the center, so that the divorcing couple could sit well apart from each other. Ginny sat in a sea-green dress on the side furthest from the door, her head bowed and her long red hair hanging around her dark eyes as she watched him without expression. Ralph stood behind her, one hand on her shoulder, now and then shooting hostile looks at Harry, apparently because he thought Harry wouldn't notice. He'd started dating Ginny last month, from what Molly had said, or at least appeared at her side as her constant comforter in need.
Harry sat down on the other side of the table. Since they'd both agreed to this divorce, and agreed as well, with a speed that he could tell the counselors found startling, on the fact that Ginny would get their little house and a small sum of money while Harry retained everything else, they waited only for the solicitor with the official papers to arrive.
Harry found himself watching his wife with an expression he knew was both wistful and fond. He wondered if the room had ever before seen a divorcing couple like them, as resigned as it was possible to be, their marriage torn apart by no force they could oppose.
Then he wondered if he was the only one who felt that way. Ginny might not.
He clasped his hands under his chin and studied her. She still looked beautiful. He could still look at her and remember moments they'd shared together late at night, in early mornings, at shops in Diagon Alley where Ginny was fond of making double-edged remarks in front of dimwitted clerks. They'd catch each other's eye then, and Harry would struggle with all his might not to burst out laughing, which would surely have told the clerks something was up.
He could wish things had been different, but he couldn't really regret the choice. Ginny was a good woman.
Just not the right person for him.
"I need to speak with you when this is over."
Ralph's tight voice took Harry by surprise. He glanced up at once, but his former partner showed no sign of joking. He simply stared at Harry with a mouth pinched so furiously small Harry thought sucking on a lemon would have improved it. He nodded, and looked back at Ginny. She had her head bowed as though studying her own reflection in the fine polished wood of the table.
The solicitor appeared in a few minutes, a tall witch with honey-blonde hair pinned back in extravagant curls which briefly reminded Harry of Rita Skeeter. She pushed the documents to the middle of the table, smiled at them both with a professional air, and then started separating the papers and explaining them.
"There's a paper for both of you to sign saying that you agree with the terms that you have set—there's another for you, Mr. Potter, giving you no claim on Mrs. Potter in the immediate future—and one for you, Mrs. Potter, no claim on him—and one stating that neither of you had a child in the marriage who must be provided for—and one stating that the cause of the divorce is exactly what you said it is—"
It was all remarkably simple, Harry thought, as he signed, pausing after each free-flowing shaping of his name to cross the two t's in "Potter." So clean, so soft, so light a procedure for something normally as bitter as divorce.
He had thought he would find it painful. But he didn't. The thought of finally completing the bond with Draco was more frightening.
Maybe not so frightening now, but—
"Mr. Potter! Will you pay attention, please?"
Harry shook his head and concentrated on the forms; he'd nearly snatched one meant for Ginny. He glanced at her again, but this time she had the excuse of squinting at the parchment in front of her to avoid his eyes. He hoped she was happy. Maybe she could be with Ralph; maybe it would have to be with someone else. He wished she felt free to share her doubts, her emotions, and her concerns with him, but he understood why she wouldn't. This divorce, resigned though it was, hadn't been voluntary on her part.
Ralph had a muscle jumping in his jaw as he watched him. Harry raised his eyebrows at him and signed one last form, this one stating that he relinquished all property claims to the house they'd shared. He had no reason to keep them. He had the house at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place and the other Black properties if he ever ran short of shelter.
Assuming that Draco would let him live in them at all. He had already insisted, several times, that Harry move into Malfoy Manor. So far Harry had put him off, because he liked to have a place where he could sit and think without the risk of Draco's intrusion, but Draco had promised him an entire wing in the Manor if he'd like it. And now that his bodyguards gave up at the door of the Manor as well as at the door of the Ministry, Harry found it more and more tempting.
His body responded predictably to the thought of Draco. Harry forced away the burgeoning erection with immense focus, and handed the last parchments to the solicitor, who gathered them up with tidy, economical motions.
"It's been a pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Potter, Miss Weasley," she said, and she sounded sincere. Considering some of the cases she must see, Harry could understand why. "Please consider us in the future for all your divorce needs." She gave a small bow and swept out of the room, her dark purple robes rustling behind her.
Ralph immediately bent over Ginny's chair, and murmured something into her hair, or maybe her ear. Ginny lifted a hand and then let it fall back against the table, in a gesture so expressive of weariness that Harry wondered he'd never seen it before. Then she stood and followed the solicitor, never once looking at him.
Harry stood. Ralph advanced on him, and Harry hoped he didn't intend to attack. Draco would come if he felt the call from the claiming mark, and he would probably hex Ralph before Harry could explain he wasn't in any serious danger.
"You child," Ralph said. His voice was soft, but shaking. "Do you realize how much of a wound you inflicted on her? She can barely stand to hear your name. She flees her parents' house whenever you come over. What kind of man are you?"
"Someone who didn't love her as much as you do," Harry responded honestly. Ralph drew a bit back from him, eyes narrowed, as though hearing this kind of thing from Harry were a new experience. "She should have a chance with someone who can make her happy. I suspect you might be that man."
"She wanted you," said Ralph, trying not to look pleased at the compliment. "She should have what she wants, don't you think?"
"You think that because you're in love with her," Harry said. "It's nothing to be ashamed of. I think the same way about Draco." Then he hesitated, and further honesty forced him to add, "Well, most of the time."
"I've heard of parents staying together for the sake of the children." Ralph's fingers twined tightly around one another. "I've never heard of a husband who should have stayed with his wife for her sake, but this situation fits that."
Harry sighed. "And I'm trying to tell you that it doesn't," he said. "Ginny made me a speech in June about how she didn't deserve a husband who treated her like a sacrifice. And she's right. She doesn't. She's reeling beneath the wound right now, but that doesn't mean she will forever. In time, she'll remember her strength."
"It would be better if you could look a bit more torn up, you know." Ralph hovered over him menacingly.
"But I' m not," said Harry. "Besides, if I went around brooding, that would distress Draco."
"And his mental health matters ever so much more than Ginny's, doesn't it?"
"It does to me." Harry met Ralph's gaze evenly.
Ralph stepped back. He seemed stunned for a long, hoarse moment. Harry stood with his arms folded and checked the distance between himself and his former friend. He had to hope it would be enough not to bring Draco charging in.
"Have you always been gay?" Ralph asked at last.
"I don't know," Harry said. "I've been in love with two people, one of each gender. That's so confusing I've decided it's better not to worry about it." He risked a grin. "Besides, the papers will have much more fun thinking up what to call me if I don't give them any clues."
Ralph shook his head. "And taking up with a Death Eater—someone you hated in school, Ginny said. Why?"
"Because it happened."
"And Harry Potter is always so obedient to the rules."
"Not that," said Harry. "But reality and rules are different things." He gave Ralph a curt nod and turned away. If he stayed here talking much longer, either Ralph would directly insult Draco or one of Draco's owls would show up, and either would probably start a fight.
He walked out of the Ministry with Ralph calling after him. It was obvious Ralph wanted Harry to feel as miserable as Ginny did, and couldn't understand why he didn't.
They always did say that love is blind.
Harry blushed violently and hid Draco's latest letter from Melinda's sight. He wasn't sure she was old enough to read the words he'd written, even if she was twenty. He wasn't sure he was old enough to read them.
The bundle of flowers a second owl had brought now stood in a vase of water on the edge of the desk. Harry couldn't make out what kind they were. They resembled roses in shape, but their color varied dramatically every few seconds, from deep red to green tinged with silver to violet and back to red again. Some magical breed, obviously.
Yesterday, Draco had somehow convinced a troop of fairies to follow Harry around all day, whispering obscene suggestions into his ears as he passed. To everyone else, it merely sounded like buzzing, but they took great interest in Harry's blushes anyway—especially Melinda, who seemed to have decided it was her duty to tease him since Ralph had departed.
The day before that, Draco had cast a spell before he left the Manor that made Harry feel a warm hand sliding up the inside of his thigh at inconvenient intervals.
It was all driving him quite, quite mad. And that Harry knew these things were happening because Draco, himself, was a Veela going mad with the need to properly claim his mate didn't really make it much better.
Harry let loose a sudden, explosive breath, shoved his report away, and reached for a new piece of parchment. He had to do something about this, and since what he could do was limited, he might as well do it right now.
He wrote a short letter to Draco, then stood and went to find an owl.
When he came back, he found Melinda regarding him curiously. "What did that say?" she demanded.
"Let's talk about something other than my love life for once, why don't we?" Harry suggested sweetly. "For example, what would you do if you were confronting two Dark wizards and one of them had just cast the Cutting Curse at you?"
"Uh." Melinda blinked at the sudden change of subject and gnawed her lip for a moment before doing her best to retaliate. "Is the second Dark wizard in front of me or behind me?"
"One in front, one behind."
"I suppose I'd rely on my partner to take care of the second one, then, since he's just standing there uselessly, while I dodged or blocked the Cutting Curse." Melinda gave him a challenging look.
Harry grinned. Melinda should work out just fine.
He would, of course, make it a point to harass her and shepherd her around overprotectively the first time she went into the field on a test raid. It was tradition.
Draco chuckled at Harry's letter. It demanded that he divorce Pansy, since Harry didn't fancy bonding with someone who still had a legal spouse. The whole tone of the letter was triumphant, as though Harry had just come up with some insurmountable reason outside himself why the bonding couldn't take place. Draco could practically imagine the expression on his mate's face when he'd finished writing it; he would have sat back with his eyes gleaming, and though he wouldn't have rubbed his hands together, he would have wanted to.
Filled with affection, it didn't take long for him to owl his solicitor and ask for the divorce papers he'd already prepared. He'd held off on divorcing Pansy only because he wanted her mentally competent to make the decision and conscious enough of what his Veela allure had done to her to actually agree. According to the private Healer he'd hired, though, distance from him had done wonders for her. She still went a little misty-eyed at the sound of his name, and they couldn't meet again without his presence doing her great harm, but she could at least hate him in the abstract now. Draco was fairly sure she'd sign the divorce papers.
And then perhaps he and Harry could do something about the bonding.
Draco didn't want his mate to feel pressured to, well, mate because of the Veela's instincts. But the fact remained that he was the Veela now, and that the pressure was affecting Harry just as strongly. The moans he made even when he was asleep caused Draco to be sure of that.
Abruptly, he straightened and glanced around the room thoughtfully. He was currently in the library, filled with the Dark Arts books his father had collected over the years and the straight and angular lines of old furniture that Harry had often curled his lip at and never sat in. His reaction to most of the rest of the Manor was the same, Draco knew. He liked their bedroom, but all they ever really did there was have sex and sleep.
Perhaps Harry would feel more comfortable in different surroundings.
Draco smiled narrowly and stood to search for a book that detailed house-decorating glamours. He could just tell the house-elves what he wanted and they would be happy to change the appearance of the Manor, of course, but it felt—important—that he be the one to do it. Perhaps that was the Veela instinct, again, with the idea of presenting a suitable home to its mate.
Draco couldn't rebuild the Manor from scratch. But he could make Harry think he had.
Harry had expected some response to his letter about Pansy before he came home that night, but there had been nothing. In fact, there had been no more teasing owls, either, or small gifts, as though Draco had suddenly grown bored of the whole game.
Perhaps he had taken the letter about Pansy more seriously than Harry had thought he would. Harry frowned. He had wanted to make Draco think, the way he always did when they were in the middle of an argument, but that was something very different from putting him off.
And now the Manor was silent and dark from the outside, though the wards still recognized him and the front door still swung open, unlocked to his touch, when he tried the knob. Had Draco had to go somewhere else to see about divorcing Pansy? Of course, he wasn't supposed to be anywhere near her, but—
And then the door opened completely, and Harry stopped with his mouth hanging slightly open.
Subtle glamours, better than any he'd seen one of the Aurors or even their Dark wizard opponents manage, crowded the entrance hall. Harry knew they had to be glamours because it seemed so much changed from this morning. And yet, there were few changes he could point to. The shadows seemed shorter and softer, the lines of the walls and windows more curved, the floor to whisper like silk rather than with a disapproving hiss as he strode across it. Harry squinted, trying to make out the magic, and couldn't.
He looked into the study that opened off the entrance hall to the right, and found it changed the same way. It had been a bleak, cold room before, with green walls that made it resemble an icy cave. Now Harry could see the color the way the painter had probably intended it, with the warm blue tinge of a Mediterranean sea. There was a fire on the hearth, further projecting mystery and welcome into the corners, but no one he could see in the room.
"Draco?" Harry called out, his voice softer than before. He was not sure if he wanted to see his lover just now, or stand in solitude a few moments longer to enjoy the new effect.
"Right here, Harry."
Harry turned, banging his shoulder against the doorframe with the speed of it. Draco arched an eyebrow, as much to say that he found Harry's reaction interesting, and came a few steps closer. He wore cream-colored robes that Harry couldn't remember seeing before, and his wings spread lazily from his shoulders, now and then wavering in and out of existence as if Draco couldn't decide whether he wanted them.
"Why?" Harry asked, with a gesture meant to encompass the glamours.
"I thought the Manor might make you uncomfortable," Draco murmured, stopping in front of him and tracing a finger down his cheek. "You do leave here quickly in the mornings. And you're never comfortable in any room but one with a bed."
"I," Harry said, and then stopped and considered that. He was about to say it wasn't true, but it did come close. He'd always felt more tense around Draco in the Manor than in his own house, where he didn't have to worry that he was about to ruin something priceless and hundreds of years old at any moment.
And even if Draco had misinterpreted his behavior around the furniture as the cause of his reluctance to complete the bonding, the fact that he'd noticed, thought of what might make Harry more at ease, and then done it…
It meant—more, somehow, than if Ginny had done it, as she had plenty of times. More, because Ginny had simply chosen to be with him, while Draco had chosen to against other pressures. And more, because Ginny was naturally a giving person, and Draco had had to learn how to be.
A warm bloom of feeling in Harry's chest seemed to blind him for a moment, and then he moved forwards, looped his arms around Draco's shoulders, and kissed him deeply. "I love you," he murmured against his lips.
Draco kissed him back, and then moved away. Harry, who had reached to remove Draco's robes, frowned at him, not understanding, particularly when Draco took a series of parchments from his pocket and dangled them in front of Harry with a smug expression.
"Divorce papers," he prompted.
Harry felt a deep shiver move up his spine. "Pansy signed?" he asked, and his own voice sounded quiet and hushed and far away.
"She did. She can think rationally about what I did to her now—well, sometimes—and she signed them in a moment of lucidity." Draco waved his wand, and the papers floated away from his hand to hang in the air between him and Harry.
"Is this going to be enough?" Draco's face was direct, questioning.
Harry stood there in silence for long moments. Well, perhaps it was silence to Draco, but his own ears were filled with the sounds of his hurrying heartbeat.
Holding Draco's eyes, he reached up and began to unbutton his robes.
Draco let out a soft hiss of relief, and then crossed the space between them so fast Harry couldn't blink before he was pressed up against him, kissing the side of his neck and taking over the buttons. "If you don't want this," Draco whispered into his ear, causing warm, moist puffs of sensation that made Harry want to tilt his head to the side and whimper helplessly, "then tell me. I won't force you, however much I want this."
"I'm sure," Harry whispered back.
He still felt as if he had fallen off a cliff and were depending on Draco to catch him, but—well, he could depend on him to do that. He might be vulnerable, but Draco wouldn't hurt him. He might be trusting insanely, but Draco was worthy of that insane trust.
Harry closed his eyes and let himself relax.
Draco's worry that Harry was only yielding for his sake was squashed flat when he saw the sudden calm expression on Harry's face, and felt the erection brushing against his own. Perversely, that made him have to slow, so that his hands wouldn't tremble. He brushed Harry's face with air-kisses, just above the skin, and Harry turned to follow them, murmuring happily now and then but not ever opening his eyes.
Draco could imagine nothing further from the hard-eyed Auror who had declared back at the beginning of the year, in January, that he didn't like men and never would. The Veela inside him surged one more time, and then his head swam with thoughts, his and its, human and magical being.
He couldn't tell them apart anymore. They were truly one.
As he and Harry were about to be.
Not caring even if Harry somehow read his intensely sappy thoughts, Draco drew Harry's robes off. At one point, Harry stirred and reached up as if he would help, but Draco pressed down hard on his left wrist and forced his hands away. Harry blinked up at him once with sleepy green eyes, then nodded and let Draco do it.
He had to do it. He wanted to do it. Draco was not sure why, just that it was as imperative that he alone reveal his mate's nudity as it had once been that he wrap Harry in his wings and hold him there.
Once Harry was down to shirt and trousers, Draco urged them both in the direction of the bedroom. Harry went willingly, following the direction of Draco's hands on his neck and hip. Now and then he tipped his head back, to steal a kiss and give Draco a glimpse of his amused smile both, but Draco didn't mind. Now he wanted to guide his mate, so he did. Now he wanted to lean forwards and fasten his teeth lightly in the skin next to the claiming mark, so he did. Now he wanted to spin Harry towards him and steal a kiss hard enough to make Harry's knees weak, so he did.
At last they were next to the bed, and Draco could lower Harry flat. Harry rolled onto his back, shamelessly showing off his shoulders and his neck. Draco licked a long trail up to his ear before he could convince himself to pull the shirt off.
"You," he whispered to Harry, "are temptation personified."
"Shouldn't I be saying that to you?" Harry murmured, opening his eyes just once as the sleeves were tugged around his arms. "Since most people are inclined to say it about Veela, after all, and not one rather scruffy Auror."
Draco snarled at him. "I don't like to hear you call yourself that."
Harry didn't look angry; more and more warmth came into his face instead, leaking from God knew what reservoir. Draco only knew he was lucky to have him. "All right, I won't," he said, and sat up to watch in interest as Draco removed his shoes, his socks, and his trousers.
For long moments, Draco left the pants on, staring at Harry as if something irrevocable would change when the final barrier of cloth between him and his mate's skin was removed. Harry was the one who smiled at him, put his hand on Draco's wrist, and drew the garment down.
Draco licked his lips so that he wouldn't start doing something as undignified as drooling, and smoothed one hand up Harry's thigh and then his cock. "You really are beautiful, you know," he said.
"Yeah, yeah," Harry said, and arched his back. "When are you going to get around to doing something that will make me forget any nervousness I still have?"
Draco smiled, and stepped back to undress.
Now that he was here, in this bed, in this moment, Harry was finding it hard to remember why he had ever been afraid.
Oh, he could still blush if he thought about it. But worries and fears were both dead, burned, fallen away. He was much too intent on watching the way Draco casually undid the robes, revealing himself naked under them save for his own pants. He pulled those off, too, and suddenly they were equal.
I do believe that, Harry told himself. He might be the one fucking me tonight, but that doesn't mean he belongs to me any less than I belong to him.
Draco crawled on top of him, bearing him down in just that way Harry liked, and avoiding sticking his elbow into Harry's stomach this time, which was even better. Harry stretched up, and they kissed. Harry let his tongue take its time in a leisurely exploration of Draco's mouth, and Draco let a hand trail down, around, and over Harry's hip, flank, ribs, and cock.
The last shreds of the calmness Harry had felt were burning away now, too, revealing intense excitement underneath. He had started to pant a full minute before Draco did, and his vision raced and swam with colors he wasn't sure were real. He slid his palm over Draco's face, the only way he could think of to express his full feelings, and kissed him again and again, trying instinctively to roll him over, because then Draco might do something instead of just lying on top of him and kissing back.
"Ah, not this time," Draco whispered, and rearranged himself so that he lay like a dead weight on top of Harry, too heavy to move.
So warm. And beautiful. Harry still wasn't sure if he would have found any naked man attractive, but Draco did very well. There were scars scattered here and there on the pale skin, and he knew he was responsible for causing some of them, but if any blame for that lingered in Draco's brilliant, focused gray eyes, Harry couldn't find it. He let Draco pull his glasses off—somehow, they had forgotten those—and things went even softer, even blurrier. He turned his face and nuzzled into blond hair.
"There was something about making you forget your nervousness, wasn't there?" Draco breathed, and then his hand closed around Harry's erection.
"Yes, please," Harry gasped, and he couldn't even feel embarrassed that he sounded like some needy kid. He kissed Draco frantically, rutting against his hand, now and then whining impatiently when he didn't find the pace fast enough. All too soon, though, the tight fist became a loose ring of fingers, and slipped off him. Harry groaned in frustration. "Draco—"
"Not yet." Draco licked his cheek. "I went you begging by the time I'm done. Just because you're mine, and I want it."
Harry swallowed, and managed to nod acquiescence, as Draco set to work to play with his nipples, then the places on his chest that weren't quite ticklish but made Harry need to move with the sensations they inspired, and then the similar places on his arms. He felt as if Draco were teasing him, but there was also something satisfying in his wanting to take his time like this, when they'd both been desperate for days.
Draco felt a moment's sadness that, if he told Harry he was beautiful at this moment, Harry would probably only think it was passion or the Veela instincts talking. He would have to say it sometime during an argument or in a simple, everyday context, such as when they ate a meal together, and watch those green eyes widen in surprise and delight.
And probably denial, too. He still doesn't accept that I think about his appearance the same way he does mine.
But it was true. Harry wasn't some god. He didn't need to be. He just needed to be what he was: medium height, muscled enough to catch Draco's attention, possessed of a pair of long legs that couldn't quite decide where to settle themselves and a head of hair that could successfully have thatched a cottage. His face was warmed and softened with his own passion, and he tried to move into Draco's hand again, or arched his back to get closer to his mouth, with an absolutely lovely impatience.
And he's mine.
Draco indulged his possessive instincts by biting another claiming mark into place, this time on Harry's left shoulder. Harry's eyes drooped shut and his head rolled limply to the side as Draco marked him. Like the first one, this resembled a pair of lips, but it was white instead of silver when it blazed and the magic settled into it.
"What does this one do?" Harry asked, his voice slurred and his eyes glazed with pleasure as he struggled to keep them open. "Turn me into a statue for you to play with at your leisure?"
"That's something to remember for later," Draco murmured, and then laughed at the anger struggling to surface through Harry's pleasure. "No. It simply shows anyone who asks that the bond is complete. And it's part of the process that will make you unresponsive to any sexual touch or attraction but mine." His voice descended into a snarl on the last words. He couldn't help it. He was a Veela. Jealousy was part of his nature.
"And will you still be able to respond to someone else?" There was a corresponding note of jealousy in Harry's voice, which made Draco smile.
"Not at all," he purred. "The magic affecting me doesn't take hold until I take you, that's all." Harry made a face, perhaps to complain about Draco's "medieval" language again, but Draco stuck a hand under his chin and stopped him, tilting up his face so they had to lock eyes. "Not that I would need magic. I'll never want anyone else again, Harry. You're all in all to me."
And here it came, the intimacy he had been afraid of, twisting around his insides like a fishhook. Harry shuddered a bit, and put a hand on Draco's wrist.
What was he going to say, though? No, don't say that, I don't want to hear it? He did. And he was more afraid of his own desire to hear it than he was of Draco's saying the words in the first place.
"Harry?" Draco's face hovered just above his, his eyes concerned. Probably by the green color my face's turned, Harry thought distantly.
"I'm fine," he muttered, and then kissed Draco to distract himself from his own thoughts. It was not soppy. Draco was not about to laugh at him, since he was the one who had made the declaration in the first place. As Harry came to believe that, strength he hadn't known he had firmed his hands and made him lie back again. "You can continue what you were doing now," he said, with a grand wave of one palm.
Draco narrowed his eyes and glared at him, as though he knew something other than mere eagerness for sex lay behind Harry's permission, but couldn't figure out what it was. In the end, he shook his head, and began to kiss and lick his way down Harry's chest again.
Harry closed his eyes, and for long moments let himself simply drift, feeling. Sharp shocks of sensation cut through him, scored his flesh as though they would leave scars. He gasped and panted and outright moaned when Draco's teeth and tongue found his most sensitive places, and he could feel Draco's pleased smile against his skin, though he never said anything aloud about it.
Then Draco moved away altogether. Harry would have opened his eyes and asked him where he had gone, but he needed a moment to recover strength for either.
And then, just as he had on an evening a few months ago when Harry had come to him more for the sake of rebellion against Ginny than for anything Draco could offer him on his own, he put his mouth around Harry's cock and nudged slick fingers against the area between his legs, behind his balls. Harry let loose a shaky breath and parted his legs, attempting to concentrate on the pleasure instead of his fear.
He won't hurt you. He won't laugh at you. That would scare you off, and his Veela is dying for this.
It went deeper than that, though, and he knew it.
He won't hurt you or laugh at you because he loves you.
The remembrance traveled through his body like a calming spell. He forced his muscles to relax, loosed a tense, trembling breath through his nose, and then arched into Draco's mouth, trying an experiment: he loosed the complicated mixture of groan and mutter that he had wanted to give, but hadn't before because he felt too embarrassed.
From the enthusiastic response of Draco's fingers, his vocalization had been anything but unwelcome.
Draco could tell the moment when Harry gave in and stopped acting as though he would have more fear than pleasure from this. It was all there in his voice and the way he finally gave himself over, letting down any barriers that remained.
Draco felt the first of his fingers glide into Harry's body at the same moment. He kept it there, circling gently. He still felt the same burning ache to join and bond with his mate that he'd felt all week, but it had settled so deep now that it felt like lava burning underground. Its time to erupt would come, and it could wait.
In the meantime, he could feast his eyes on the sight of Harry's movements growing less steady and more uncoordinated, his throat rippling as he let little gasps of delight go like birds from their cages. He hesitated once, when Draco's second finger eased into him, and then he spread his legs further. Draco was so proud that he nearly forgot to pick up his wand with his free hand and cast another set of lubrication and cleaning charms.
Harry felt free to do this with him. Felt able to relax this much with him.
It was oddly humbling. Draco found himself promising, silently, to be worthy of this amount of trust, instead of simply feeling smug and proud that he'd beaten the little Weasley in yet one more thing where Harry was concerned.
Slowly, his two fingers pressed deeper and deeper, and this time, as he couldn't be sure he'd done in August, he knew when his fingers found Harry's prostate. Suddenly, Harry convulsed and wailed, the astonished noise of a child who'd seen his first house-elf.
"Like that, love?" Draco asked, taking his mouth from Harry's cock to do so. Harry nodded, his eyes tightly shut in what looked like pain, though Draco knew it was anything but.
"Good," Draco whispered. He could feel the Veela welling through him, light and heat in his skin, passion in his eyes. Harry writhing, Harry on the verge of begging, Harry helplessly turned on…this was what he had once vowed he would have, back in February, and he had underestimated by approximately a factor of a million how good it would feel to have it.
He introduced a third finger, and then, when he thought Harry could tolerate it, a fourth. Meanwhile, he'd cast another lubrication charm, and he ran his hand up and down his own erection. He shivered and arched his back slightly at how good it felt, but he knew he wouldn't come yet. He couldn't, not until he was taking his mate—which was a fine word, no matter what Harry thought about it.
And then Harry said, "Draco, I think I'm ready," in a surprised voice, as though he had never thought he would speak those words.
Draco didn't question him. He stooped forwards instead, bent over Harry, kissed him, and then gently rearranged his body on the bed so as to have easier access to where he needed to go. His heart was beating enough to make his chest throb; his whole body seemed to be twitching in response to it.
Harry had given up.
There was no more fear in him, no dignity, nothing but pleasure. He still knew he'd felt those emotions, but he left them behind on the shores of the maelstrom, and ventured deeper and deeper into the whirling chaos of the new emotions around him. He was gasping silently, parting his legs, begging for it, pleading. It was amazing that he found the strength in his voice to say what he did to Draco. He was such a mass of want that he'd thought Draco would have to interpret his desire from nothing more than the light in his eyes, the flush to his cheeks, the expression on his face.
But Draco had heard him, and probably read some of the other signals too, and now he was gently entering him.
There was some pain. Harry disregarded it the same way he'd disregarded his fear when he faced the dragon in the Triwizard Tournament. He knew he could do this, just like he'd known he could fly when riding his Firebolt. Everything else was unimportant right now; no one in the world could demand more of him than what he was doing.
He wondered, hazily, why people thought of any part of sex as being a passive act. It took immense concentration, was what it took.
He could feel Draco's arms trembling, and setting up answering quivers in his own body, as he slowly pushed himself deeper and deeper, not trying to hurt Harry but not going backwards either. Harry let his legs fall open further, took a deep, huffing breath, and opened his eyes in the moment when Draco finally stopped moving.
Draco stared down at him with a dazed expression. Just behind the haze in his eyes, though, was that deep and self-interested possessiveness that Harry had never confessed to anyone he loved. He smiled and lifted a hand, trailing it up and down Draco's elbow, since it was the easiest part of his body to reach from the way he lay. Except the part buried inside him, of course. Harry suspected he might get the giggles in a moment, but no, they wouldn't be the giggles, they would be the deep and wholesome laughter he'd collapsed into the first morning he realized Voldemort was really dead, really gone, and a dark and loathsome part of his life was over.
The part he'd shared with Ginny wasn't dark and loathsome, but this was a change, a rebirth, so grand and dazzling that it seemed to throw the past into shadow. More than the pleasure, he'd conquered his own fear and distrust, and learned to let himself be taken care of.
"Well," he said to Draco, who was panting and sweating and trembling like a horse on the verge of a race and staring at him like he was a revelation. "Are you going to move?"
Those words snapped the control that Draco had been clinging to, a desperately thin thread in the first place.
He shifted backwards, and then threw himself forwards. Harry's eyes opened a bit wider, and he grunted, but if there was pain there, he hid it well, or transformed it into material for a challenge. His gaze on Draco remained steady, and the grip of the nearly-too-tight skin around Draco just seemed to grow tighter, as if he'd deliberately clenched down.
A spark in the green eyes made Draco sure he had.
Oh, if that was the way it was going to be, then!
Draco began to move in earnest, his strokes growing faster and longer as he realized he really wasn't going to hurt Harry, that he was just hitting a stride as strong and inevitable as the whole progress of their bond. Harry gasped and laughed beneath him, and sometimes uttered wild bursts of breath, as if he would swear if Draco would just give him the time and the room.
Draco didn't intend to give him the time or the room. Never again. He wouldn't allow that much room to come in between them.
His vision began to alternate in dizzying pulses: half the time he saw the room in front of him, half the time he saw a glittering white-silver light that danced around his head like wings and flowed down his face like honey. But between each strobe, each flash, was Harry's wide-open, trusting face, the green eyes like some glimpse of an unconquered country, the claiming marks shining out Draco's possession and declaring it to the world.
The possession Harry had agreed to.
Fierce tenderness rose up in Draco, along with the desire to keep Harry safe and vulnerable and alive and argumentative and happy and angry forever, and he bent, pressing his lips to his mate's. The Veela magic went on building in him. The light grew thicker, and the bedroom and the haze traded places faster and faster.
Draco felt his body's tension and gathering speed, and knew the end was as inevitable as anything else they'd done, and closer.
Harry suddenly went still beneath him. Draco shook his head, blinking, trying to see his face, but not in fear. He knew this was nothing bad, knew it as surely as the Veela had ever known its mate.
Sure enough, Harry cried out beneath him, a sound like epiphany, and then he was coming, his eyes wide open in shock and surprise, his muscles coiled tight with joy. Draco let himself drop forwards, so that their chests nearly touched but not quite, and joined him.
Magic kicked him in the back at the same moment as orgasm kicked him in the stomach. Thorn-sharp memories of Harry followed him into the middle of a forgetfulness so amazing and so complete that Draco swore he could feel pieces of himself break and shatter in front of it.
And of course they had, he realized a moment later. This was a breaking, a reforging, so that the Veela and the mate could become one instead of a separate two.
It was, quite literally, the best he had ever felt.
He dropped limply when it was done, and kissed Harry, and kissed him.
"Draco, I want to go."
"No." Draco clenched his hands into fists and turned away. "Absolutely not. I refuse. I forbid it."
He could feel Harry rolling his eyes behind his head. "Fine," he said then, his voice clipped. "I'd hoped to persuade you, but that I can't hardly bothers me." Of course it bothered him; Draco knew that from the sharp sounds as Harry pulled his cloak on, if nothing else. "But I will spend New Year's with the Weasleys, even if you won't come."
That was not on. Draco spun around, grabbed Harry by the shoulders, and pinned him to the wall of the entrance hall in the Manor. "No," he spat.
Harry gave him a deeply unimpressed look, arched his back and twisted his leg at the same time, and hooked Draco behind the ankle, sending him into an uncontrolled stumble. Harry extricated himself, neatly, and said, with some heat, "You little wanker. You don't control me. If I want to spend New Year's with my friends, that's exactly what I'll do."
Draco got to his feet, scowling. "I'd rather spend it in the Manor with you," he said. "That's all." They'd spent a quiet Christmas that way, and though plenty of gifts had arrived for Harry from the Weasleys, he hadn't mentioned a thing about wanting to spend the holiday with them instead. Draco had counted on that success to hold him here when the last day of the year came. What did Harry care about those twins who'd always played pranks on Draco in school, or the overfussy Weasley matriarch and her mad husband, or the Weasley bint climbing all over her new boyfriend and displaying herself to Harry with sly glances? He was supposed to care about Draco more.
"Yes, I understand that," Harry said, with a glare. "Because you dislike the Weasleys."
"I shouldn't have to change that." Draco closed his hands into fists at his sides again. "I know you think they're completely innocent of the argument with the Malfoys, but if you would just let me tell you the history—"
Harry put up a hand. "I'm not interested in it. And I'm not asking you to change who you are. Wanker."
"Not with you around," Draco tried. Another glare was his reward.
"Tonight," Harry said, and flipped his scarf around his neck with a final twist, "you most assuredly are. As I was saying, I won't ask you to change everything about yourself. But I have to be who I am, too, Draco, and they're my friends."
Draco stared at the floor. Harry had made his way towards the front entrance, and he wasn't looking back, though he had loudly told one of the house-elves not to hold dinner for him, since he wouldn't be back until after midnight.
"They make me uncomfortable," Draco said.
He mumbled the words, and if Harry hadn't heard them and had simply gone through the door, then he could have pretended he didn't say them. But apparently all Aurors went through some sort of training where they sharpened their ears to unnatural proportions. Harry stiffened, and then turned around and regarded him in silence. "What?" he asked. His voice had gone soft. Draco hated that voice. He had no defense against it.
Yes, I really hate that voice.
"They make me uncomfortable," Draco told the open door of the study. "I could deal with it if it was just that they were your friends and not mine. But I'll feel them glaring at me all the time."
"They will not—"
"Yes, they will." Draco lifted his head and smiled at Harry. He made it a sad smile, because that was what it had to be. "They did when we went the day after Christmas. You didn't notice, because they didn't treat you any differently. But they don't like me, and if they have to blame someone for your marriage not working out, they blame me."
"Well," Harry said, and his voice had turned startled, as though he were remembering all sorts of little things that had happened on that day which he'd ignored. "I—but it wasn't anyone's fault. Things just happened."
"Yes, but they love you, and they love Ginny, and they don't love me. Yet, at least," Draco added, because there was always the possibility that it would happen sometime in the far future, at the same time as all the flying pig farms let loose their secret experiments in avian-porcine breeding. "I understand, I really do, I'll give them whatever time they need to get used to me, but—just this once, could you spend New Year's with me instead of them, Harry? I'd really like to have you here."
He didn't dare look to see how well it had worked until he heard footsteps next to him, and then a hand cupped his cheek. He glanced up, and met Harry's eyes, and was almost destroyed by the tenderness in them.
"Now, see," Harry whispered against his lips, "that's all you really had to be. Honest. And it's a perfectly good reason." His hand came up and tangled in Draco's hair. "And the answer is yes, by the way."
Then he started kissing him, and Draco was too happy to feel any real sense of triumph.
Harry was aware, even through the kiss, that Draco might, might just possibly, have used honesty as manipulation, to get Harry to agree to something he'd been strongly opposed to at first.
He didn't care.
He was aware, even through the kiss, that there would be more arguments ahead, not settled so easily, and that Draco's selfishness and coldness towards other people would doubtless cause problems with the Weasleys in the future, and something would have to change so they could accept each other, because Harry wasn't leaving either his adopted family or his lover out of his life.
He didn't care.
He was aware, even through Draco's hands rising and tangling back in his own hair, trembling as they touched Harry, that there were plenty of people in the wizarding world who still didn't like them and wouldn't want to see them together, that Draco would have trouble finding a Quidditch team who would accept him the way he wanted to be accepted, that there would be wide wastes of bitterness and regret to cross before things could be truly congenial between Harry and Ginny again, instead of careful and polite.
He didn't care.
He could see Draco's eyes, soft and filled with awe, as though he saw something much more important than one wizard, the center of his life, or of his soul.
He could feel his own face looking the same way.
Harry didn't care about the other things right now, because he was happy.