Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe and all its characters, creatures, places and incantations belong to J.K. Rowling. By writing this story, I mean no offence to her or anyone else, nor do I make money with it (though that sure would be nice *lol*).

Author's Note: Happy Halloween!
Wow! Everything changed! Has it really been that long since I finished posting my last story?
Anyway, I had some problems with this story and I still think that it isn't the best I've ever written. But then again, I'm not that fond of my first story anymore, either, and there seem to be a lot of people who enjoyed that one, so maybe some people will like this story as well. (I can hope, can't I?) I started it at about the same time as
Winter and Ice and then stopped writing to focus on Winter and Ice, then I started again, and now I'm rewriting it, which is quite annoying at times. What I'm trying to say is that there might be some differences in writing, though I hope that at least the plot will be consistent.
"Crepererum" is the Latin word for "twilight", but it also means "uncertain".

Warnings: Slash (M/M), AU (though it shouldn't be so obvious for a while), violence (mostly in the first few chapters, I think), molestation (also mostly in the first few chapters), OOCness (because I can never quite stop myself, e.g. submissive Harry), and everything else I might come up with.
Oh, yes, English is not my mother tongue so don't expect too much from me.

Beta(s): jharad17, thanks for your first corrections and your suggestions, even though you don't like the story :-(
Adah Eyes, thanks for your help, your encouraging words and the explanations of things I should by now know. I hope you're feeling better by now and a toast to a hopefully successful teamwork.
Blaithin-mae, thank you for another opinion and the kind greeting in German.

General Information: I'll try to update between once and twice a week, but I don't promise anything.
I think the story will grow to have between twenty and thirty chapters, but that depends on my muse and my motivation, I guess.
Saying that I like reviews would be a bit of understatement. Thus, at the end of every chapter, I will nag you to press that nice little button and to tell me if you liked the chapter. Just consider it an extra service *grins*


1. REVELATIONS

It was close to midnight, nine minutes until midnight to be exact, and Harry lay on his bed, staring at the grey ceiling in absolute and complete boredom. You would think the life of a nearly seventeen-year-old-wizarding boy-hero would be more interesting, but alas, it was one of those illusions Muggles have about wizardry and heroes. In reality, his life really wasn't that interesting; annoying, nerve-wracking, sweat-inducing and very dangerous, yes, but far from interesting.

Now, the reason he lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling in absolute and complete boredom, was the fact that in three more minutes he would turn seventeen and thereby come of age: his one-way ticket out of his so-called home. He had already arranged everything with Ron, who would meet him the following day for lunch in the Leaky Cauldron. They would do their shopping for school, then go home to the Burrow where Harry's real holiday would begin. A slow grin spread over Harry's face. No more Dursleys. No more chores. No more insults. Just the people he considered his family.

Dumbledore had also proposed he spend some time at Hogwarts, likely for additional training. Harry thought the offer had sounded strangely like a threat, but he didn't want to dwell on his suspicions any more than absolutely necessary. Besides, he understood the extremity of the situation: Voldemort was still at large, gathering more and more followers, attacking randomly and generally spreading fear and terror. Not to mention he still made a point of trying to kill Harry at least once a year. Harry, Ron and Hermione had barely scraped by with their lives and limbs intact at the end of last school year, when Voldemort launched an attack on Hogsmeade and had cornered them near the Shrieking Shack, which now looked even more dilapidated.

The last seconds of Harry's seventeenth year ticked off. In that moment, the moon sent a silvery stream of light through Harry's barred window and into his room, Hedwig hooted softly from her cage, and a searing pain shot through his whole body. Harry gasped in agony as every part of his body exploded in fire while shards of ice thrust into him. His bones and ribs cracked, reforming, as if his insides went through a shredder. The skin all over his body broke apart, then mended immediately, just to tear open once more.

The pain.

Harry squeezed his eyes shut, desperately clawing at his skin, clawing at his chest, in a vain attempt to alleviate the pain. A high-pitched scream tore from his throat before he surrendered to the reprieve of unconsciousness.

*_*_*

The scream must have woken his relatives, for moments after Harry had fallen unconscious, the door banged open by his voluminous uncle, whose complaints and angry screams died on his lips as he saw the state his nephew was in. His horse-necked wife peeked over his shoulder, still in her night gown, with curlers in her blond hair. A curious expression between disapproval, horror and interest appeared on her thin face.

Before the couple could exchange a word, and before Vernon had a chance to slam the door shut on his nephew, they were joined by their son. Dudley, as it turned out, had not come out curiosity or anger at his cousin, but simply because he was returning from a jaunt for a little midnight snack, the remains of which were smeared over the front of his pyjamas.

"What's wrong with the freak?" Dudley regained his voice first since he was rather used to seeing people lying in their own blood.

"Some disease of his," his father grunted, herding them back out of the room and pulling the door shut behind him. He snapped all the locks back into place for good measure. "We have to keep away from him or we'll catch it too."

Petunia gasped, horrified, and pressed her thin hand to her chest, offering in a whisper, "Maybe we should contact that school of his, I don't want him in my house if he'll endanger my Duddy!"

Vernon nodded in agreement and, after a bit of to and fro and a lot of encouragement and demonstrations of adoration from his family, the big man went back into Harry's room to fetch the boy's white owl, Hedwig, who was still locked in her cage, trying desperately to reach and help her human friend.

*_*_*

Two hours later, the snowy white owl glided over the black surface of the Great Lake of Hogwarts, her white feathers shimmering in the light of the full moon. She broke through the wards, thereby rousing the Headmaster from his sleep. When she flew into his office, the Headmaster was waiting, already sucking his first lemon drop of the day.

"Ah, Hedwig, my dear," he greeted gently. He offered her an owl treat before taking the short letter off her leg. "I see my assumption was correct, then." He read the note, nodded pensively, then composed an answer and handed it to the owl, who took off immediately.

Dumbledore debated for a moment whom he should Firecall first. Maybe Remus? No, it was the full moon, and the werewolf would not be much help to Harry now. Remus would have to wait a bit longer. Severus wouldn't thank him if he was roused from his sleep because of his archenemy's son, and Dumbledore doubted Harry would take kindly to it, either.

It was really a pity so few of them were left, and even fewer he could trust with Harry's safety and wellbeing. He would have to call the Malfoys, though neither Harry nor they would be thrilled. But Lucius would help him, he hoped. Lucius would understand the utmost importance of keeping Harry safe and protected and at least remotely happy. The old wizard sighed deeply. Harry wouldn't like the new situation at all. Life just wasn't fair to that boy. But still, something had to be done, and if young Draco was like his father... well, this could turn out to be a good thing. Maybe this was the last necessary component to vanquishing the Dark Lord? But Harry wouldn't like it at all when, once again, he was allowed no choice in his life.

With a heavy sigh, one that made him feel each and every of his 156 years, Dumbledore rose from his comfortable, old-man-friendly armchair. After taking floo powder from the conveniently placed box on the mantelpiece, he kneeled down in front of the fireplace to make a floo call, feeling the joints and his bones protest against the hard floor and the uncomfortable position.

"Malfoy Manor." He waited until his head stopped swirling, and his eyes focused on a luxurious but tastefully furnished study.

"Lucius?"

He was time and again amazed by how magic enabled his voice to reach the person he was calling for without waking anyone else; he was also amazed at how human Lucius looked immediately after rising from sleep.

Lucius Malfoy's long blond hair, though not exactly dishevelled, was not quite as perfectly in place as usual. He wore black silk pyjamas with a silvery bathrobe over it, and his bright grey eyes squinted tiredly into the green flames around the older man's head.

"Albus, what's the matter?" The tall blond kneeled down next to the fireplace. "Was there an attack?"

"No, nothing of that sort, Lucius." Dumbledore smiled and twinkled, despite himself, and he had to sternly remind himself that he couldn't offer the blond a lemon drop with his head stuck in the fireplace and his body still kneeling in his office. "But it seems my assumption considering Harry was right. His relatives contacted me moments ago. Could you fetch the boy tomorrow? If my other assumption turns out to be right as well...

"Yes, I know, Albus." Lucius sighed, running one hand through his hair. "I assume you want my son to take care of him."

"If Harry is what I think he is..." Albus sighed as well, which once again made him feel nearly ancient. "This will not be a problem, will it?"

"Albus..." Lucius hesitated a moment. "You know people would kill for this privilege... and that is what I'm afraid of. Draco is..."

"Draco is your son, Lucius." Dumbledore gave him an encouraging smile. "He will take good care of Harry. You raised him well, I have no doubts about that."

"Is there no-one else? You know the boys don't exactly see eye to eye, and if you give Draco so much control over Harry..."

"I know, but there is no one else, as you well know. I had hoped Cedric Diggory would be able to take care of Harry, but, sadly, Voldemort robbed him and us of that possibility," Dumbledore returned softly. "Draco will do what is right and put personal feelings aside for as long as it takes, either to find a more suitable person or for him to be caught by Harry's charm."

"And what if we find someone for Harry after Draco 'has been caught by his charm?'" Lucius echoed derisively. "You can't just play matchmaker with no regard for Harry's feelings! Draco will still have a way out, but for Harry it will be too late."

"I know of the dangers," Dumbledore reproached, "but as much as I wish for Harry's happiness, I value his life and safety more. I will not allow him to fall into Voldemort's hands, and if protecting him means sacrificing his happiness, I'm prepared to do that as well."

"And what about my son?" Lucius demanded, his voice rising in anger. "This will put him even more into the Dark Lord's focus, as you well know. You might be willing to risk Harry's life and happiness, Albus, but I have other plans for my son..."

"Plans, I'm sure, that can be realised, if the Light side wins the war," Dumbledore replied, "and if the name of Malfoy will still sound as nice, after the last word is spoken."

"Do not presume to threaten me, Albus," Lucius hissed. "Two can play this game, and I'm nothing like Severus."

"Why would I threaten you, my boy?" Dumbledore chuckled. "We both know how essential Harry is for this war, and how essential Draco is for Harry. All of us have to do our part."

"They are both children." Lucius shook his head. "Children, Albus; concerned only with their childish rivalry, crushes, and how to keep secrets from us adults. I don't find war a suitable extracurricular activity for my son. He's not mature enough to make the right decisions."

"But Harry is, Lucius. Harry will-"

"Harry won't stand a chance against Draco. What good will it do if the one who's capable of thinking like an adult is made to listen to a child."

"You underestimate your son, Lucius. He has matured much in the last years, Severus would confirm that." Dumbledore could almost see how the veiled accusation hit its target, how the protest died on Lucius' lips.

It hadn't been a fair move to remind the blond of how little time he actually spend with his only child, how little he knew him, but in this case, Dumbledore thought, the end justified the means.

"Just be sure you do this for the right reasons, Albus," Lucius murmured lowly. "For the children's safety and not the outcome of this war. If Draco hurts Harry, and you are putting him in the perfect position to do so, Harry won't be able to fight."

"I know." The old wizard inclined his head. "But, unlike you, I have faith in your son and your methods of upbringing. The Malfoy family has always been true to the saying that blood is thicker than anything."

"I'll fetch him tomorrow," Lucius agreed reluctantly, standing up again. "We'll bring him to Hogwarts afterwards so you can explain everything to him."

"Be careful, Lucius," the Headmaster warned the younger man. "He will resent this new development even more if you scare him away."

The blond sneered. "I know how to deal with such situations, Albus. I've not been married to Narcissa for the last eighteen years for nothing."

"Just wanted to make sure, my boy." The white-haired wizard's eyes twinkled, before he pulled his head back and left the Malfoy patriarch to his own thoughts and the darkness of his living room, while the flames died with the Headmaster's disappearance.

*_*_*

While Hedwig was still on her way to Hogwarts, and while Lucius and Dumbledore were still blissfully asleep, dreaming of a sunny day in spring with birds chirping and the first flowers breaking through the ground, and a paradise of sweets respectively, Harry slowly regained consciousness, feeling more or less like nothing had happened. In fact, he wasn't sure if anything had happened, since nothing seemed out of the ordinary. He was ready to dub the flashes of memory as a figment of his imagination, or the remnants of a strange dream, when he noticed not everything was as it used to be.

Something prevented him from rolling over. Something sprouting from his back. He cautiously craned his neck, but in the dim light he couldn't make out much of anything, so he reached with his hand behind his back, carefully gliding his fingers over his shoulders until they connected with the weird something protruding from his shoulder blades. It was hard, but covered by something extremely soft, like the fur of a newborn kitten, but not quite, more like... feathers?

Harry shot up, the unfamiliar weight on his back almost costing him his balance, and ran to the small mirror that was part of his rickety cupboard where he had stored his few belongings that the Dursleys didn't deem to dangerous for him to have. He couldn't really see much in it, but it was enough for Harry to find out that he indeed had wings. Large, feathery black wings.

He had wings. As in wings! He had wings, damnit!

He was pretty sure not even wizarding boy-heroes were supposed to suddenly grow wings when they turned seventeen. He didn't want wings! He had a broom, a Nimbus 2000. Admittedly, it was not the best broom on the market, not even as good as Malfoy's broom, but on the other hand he was a much better flyer, and he hadn't lost a game yet, even though Cedric had been a tough opponent...

Cedric. Thinking about him still made him swallow hard to hold back the tears. It just wasn't fair a boy with so much potential and so many good qualities should be killed just because he had been there. Just because of Harry. Cedric had been so unconditionally good, it had been hard not to like him - or to like him too much. Harry shook his head to rid himself of these thoughts. Right now he had more important things to deal with, like his wings, for example, and that he most definitely didn't need them.

He felt a sudden tingling feeling in his back, and when he checked the mirror once again, the wings were gone. Not just invisible, but really gone. He could not feel them when he carefully touched his shoulder blades again, nor did he feel their weight on his back, nor did he notice any air resistance when he spun around on his heel till he was facing the mirror again.

Well, one problem less. Excellent.

Maybe this really was just a dream. Yes, that was it; he was still dreaming. It would be best if he just went back to bed now and slept it off.

But as he turned back around, he caught his reflection in the mirror and halted in shock. He scarcely recognised himself. The youth in the mirror was pale and delicate-looking, and though Harry had certainly always been on the scrawny side, he prided himself on having acquired some muscles over the holidays from his chores, and quite a nice tan. But now the only colour in his face was in his lips and eyes, which were far larger than he remembered or had ever wished for. They seemed to glow in the dark.

He barely had time to acknowledge that he could see all these changes quite clearly without the help of his glasses, before something else made him gasp. His ears. His ears were pointy; the tips of them peeked through his pitch-black hair.

Damnit, what was going on here? What was wrong with him?

But it was not only his appearance. Something else was wrong, an indefinable feeling had possessed him, something strong and desperate and sinister and which almost felt like fear.

Why would he be afraid? There was nothing to be afraid of! What was he afraid of, anyway? An image of his uncle briefly flashed in front of his eyes, and a shiver ran down his body. He had never been afraid of his uncle before. Why would he be now? Was he afraid of him now? Something seemed to be missing... No, someone was missing, someone who would protect him...

But he was not in any danger. Well, okay, that was not completely true, after all Voldemort still hadn't given up on the idea of killing him, but he had never been fearful of that. And now, he wasn't afraid because of that either. It was more like a general angst...

*_*_*

His son, Lucius concluded, was an ungrateful little idiot. It wasn't so much Draco's reluctance to comply with Dumbledore's wishes, seeing as he himself had been and still was rather skeptical, but rather his attitude. It was acceptable and even understandable for him to be annoyed and upset, but Draco was acting like it was all Harry's fault, Harry's newest plot to get the best of him, and that just wouldn't do.

Draco should know better than to put the blame on Harry or let his anger out on the other boy, but he feared Draco would do exactly that, and Harry was vulnerable and burdened enough without Draco adding to it. Where was this supposed maturity Dumbledore had spoken of? Lucius certainly couldn't see it.

Lucius was annoyed, certainly, but he was also in perfect accordance with Draco's doubts. This wasn't a good idea, it wasn't even an acceptable idea, it was utter nonsense. He had always tried to keep himself and his family out of harm's way, but Dumbledore's newest plot would put Draco in the middle of danger with a bull's eye painted on the back of his robes. Everyone knew Harry attracted danger, and though Lucius felt sympathy for the teenager and even a certain urge to help him, he would rather he be doing so from the backlines.

Draco didn't see the danger, he knew. He saw the inconvenience of being stuck with his school enemy, being isolated, being watched and guarded. Draco didn't see the danger, and some part of Lucius was proud of that. It was his job as a parent to watch out for dangers and protect his son's innocence and naivety for as long as possible. Maybe he had spoilt Draco, he had thought so more than once in the last hour alone, but it was the only way he knew of to show how much he cared. He had hardly burdened Draco with duties, had always given without expecting anything in return. It was normal, he reasoned, that Draco didn't like these changes.

"... and what about my friends, father? Do you expect me to take Pothead with me? You know I already accepted the invitation to Pansy's birthday ball. Everyone will be there, everyone who's important that is, and if I don't go-"

"Draco, if you want to go to that ball it won't be a problem. We'll find a solution for this one evening-"

"But it's not only the evening, father. It's a sleep-over party, and we wanted to go to the spa the next day. Mother already agreed."

"That too won't be a problem," Lucius sighed, resisting the urge to massage his temples.

"And what about Quidditch?" Draco's voice raised a pitch in agitation. "Potter won't be able to play, of course, right, father? I won't allow it."

"We will discuss this with the Headmaster. I'm sure there is a way to accommodate both of you. I don't think it will be necessary for Harry to stop playing."

"Whatever, when we play Gryffindor I'll just tell him to close his eyes, or something." Draco smirked.

"You certainly will not, Draco!"

"Father, you told me to see the good of this situation, didn't you?" The younger blond was still smirking. "Besides, if I allow Potter to beat me at Quidditch, he will be the one to suffer from my bad mood, and you wouldn't want that."

"Draco, this is no joking matter." Lucius scowled at his son. "And such an easy win would hardly be worth mentioning."

"Potter always has easy wins. It's like he's bathed in Felix Felicitas," Draco complained. "And I bet his broom is somehow tuned, it's not normal that he should be so fast."

Lucius suddenly had an idea, probably not the brightest or the pedagogically most valuable idea, but it was an idea typical of a Malfoy and the way his family solved problems.

"I could be convinced to get you a better broom, and raise your monthly allowance," Lucius offered. "We might consider Harry a 'job', like when you help your mother sort through her dresses or me with the finances, and if you do this job well you are certainly entitled to a little bonus."

Draco narrowed his eyes in calculation. "Fifty percent more and a Firebolt."

"Thirty percent and a Nimbus 2003," Lucius bargained.

"The Nimbus 2003 isn't any good, father," Draco answered derisively. "I might as well take your old Comet."

"Very well, twenty-five percent, a Firebolt and new gloves, but only if you treat Harry with care and respect and put your rivalry to rest. You'll get the raise immediately and the Firebolt at the start of term if I haven't heard any complaints about your behaviour until then."

"Deal." Draco grinned, holding out his hand. "I'll treat Potter like the bloody princess he now is."

"Language, Draco," Lucius admonished reflexively, but relaxed. "I know this is not how you planned to spend your holidays, but it is not Harry's fault, as I think you know."

"Yes, father." Draco sighed. "And I agreed, didn't I? Potter won't be able to wish for someone better. I just hope this situation won't be permanent..."

"Albus and I will be trying to find someone else as soon as possible, but you must be prepared to take care of Harry for some time," Lucius returned.

"Joy!" Draco muttered. "Are we there yet, father?"

Lucius sent him another stern look before he nodded, pointing at the small one family house with a white fence surrounding the too neat garden. He went up to the door and knocked imperiously, completely disregarding the door bell. Who knew what kind of sound the Muggles had installed? He didn't fancy having some annoying jingle grate on his already frayed nerves.

A booming voice sounded from inside the house through the door, "Open the door, freak!"

The older Malfoy arched his brow in surprise while his son merely snorted, giving the Muggle garden gnome peacefully decorating the stairs a vicious kick, sending it flying into the garden.

Harry, meanwhile, was trembling in fear. He fled from the kitchen and his red-faced uncle to open the door. When he had almost reached the door, he slowed. That smell, on the other side of the door. Strange, he couldn't remember ever smelling something like that before. He sniffed suspiciously and cautiously approached the door, but he couldn't refuse his uncle's orders; that went against his nature.

His nature? What was wrong with him?

The door handle felt cold under his sweaty hand, and Harry opened the door a crack. Heart hammering for some unknown reason, he carefully peeked through the gap, staring up at two tall, regal blonds he knew only too well.

"Mr. Potter, we've come to bring you to Hogwarts," Lucius Malfoy said. Foregoing any greeting as he gently pushed against the door, forcing Harry to step back. Harry really wanted nothing more than to shut the door in his and his son's face again; he took a half-step towards them to do so, raising his hand, when the older Malfoy's voice stopped him. "Leave the door open, Mr. Potter."

"Okay." Harry nodded, guiltily shrinking away from the door as if he had done something wrong, while his mind was screaming at him to do something, anything, like draw his wand or at least lift his head and look at them. Against his will, he heard himself whisper, "I'm scared..."

Draco started laughing at this confession. "This is almost worth it, Potter."

Harry whimpered, huddling into a corner, not even noticing as Lucius glared at his son before crouching down next to him. "Harry, it's all right. Dumbledore will explain everything once we're back at Hogwarts." Lucius carefully lifted the small youth into his arms, scooping him up with utmost care and rocking him lightly; Harry's weight was but a small burden. "You don't have to be scared."

"What is wrong with me?" Harry sobbed.

"Not now, Harry. When we are at Hogwarts," Lucius said patiently but firmly. "Draco, pack his things."

Draco scowled, but accioed Harry's things, pushing them into his trunk without much care. "Can we go then? It smells awful in here."

Lucius had to silently agree. The smell of burnt bacon and disinfection spray was strong in the air.

Harry whimpered, and Lucius turned his attention back on him. "Harry, try to relax. We'll be in Hogwarts soon."

"How can I trust you?" Harry asked while he happily snuggled into Lucius' chest.

"Dumbledore sent us," Lucius murmured soothingly, cradling Harry to his chest and taking a calming breath as Harry nuzzled against him. "Now close your eyes."

Harry did so immediately, and Lucius held out a delicate silver chain to his son. He activated the portkey as soon as Draco had taken a hold of it, and the three of them were whisked away to Hogwarts. The portkey deposited them in the Headmaster's office, where the Headmaster and his Deputy, Professor McGonagall, were already waiting.

Harry felt strangely safe in Lucius' arms, but even that couldn't quench the panic that rose in his chest. Everyone was staring at him! He whimpered quietly.

"Harry, my dear boy," Dumbledore's cheery voice startled him out of his misery, but when Lucius put him down on the sofa, he couldn't help but start to tremble piteously, tightening his grip on the blond man's expensive black robes. "I imagine you have some questions."

When Lucius just gently pried his hands from his robes and then turned away to take a seat in a nearby armchair, Harry curled into a tight ball. "What is wrong with me?" He sniffed. "Why do I have wings? Why are my ears pointy? And why am I so scared?"

"Ah, those are interesting questions, Harry." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "Lemon drop, perhaps?"

Harry shook his head mutely.

"Well then, perhaps I should just tell you what has happened." The Headmaster leaned back in his chair, pensively twirling his beard. "You see, Harry, I've suspected something like this would happen, but with James and Lily dead there was no-one to confirm it, and I thought it best not to worry you unnecessarily. I'm sure you will soon get used to the new situation and see the advantages. You truly are your parents' son."

"Why?" Harry whispered nervously. "Am I ill or something? Do I have some genetic disease?"

"No, nothing of that kind, my dear boy," Dumbledore chuckled. "Quite the opposite actually. Though, of course, it always depends on how you look at it-"

"For Merlin's Sake, Albus," McGonagall interrupted. "Just tell the boy what has happened to him. This is not the right time to be cryptic."

"I thought I should ease him into the situation, my dear. No?" Albus replied, shrinking into his chair when faced with her glare and hard mouth. "No, I see. Perhaps that isn't the right course of action in this situation." He turned back to Harry, his eyes crinkling in worry and sympathy when they locked onto the boy's quivering form. "So I will be blunt. Harry, you are a magical creature, an elf to be more exact."

Harry merely stared at him, his mouth a small O, so he continued, "Your father was, as well. Most old, pureblood families have some creature blood running through their veins. In some families, it has been dormant for years, while in others the percentage of creature blood is so low it is no longer noticeable, which reduces the number of creatures very noticeably. But you, my dear boy, have inherited your father's heritage as well as your mother's."

"But she was Muggleborn..." Harry trailed off uncertainly; to him his current state didn't make any more sense after the Headmaster's words. Sure, now he knew why he had pointy ears and wings, but it did not explain in the least why he was so afraid of nothing: the few things Hermione had told him about elves always pictured them as strong warriors and wonderful artists.

"That is true, Harry." Dumbledore sighed, not even he was sure how he should explain this to Harry. "Lily was Muggleborn, however she was still a submissive. Harry, creatures are either submissive or dominant and while the dominant ones, like your father, look for a submissive to complete them, the submissive ones need a dominant to protect them and to channel their abilities. Since submissive creatures are rare, the dominants often bond with humans with a natural submissive inclination, like your father and your mother did. You are however not only a elf but a submissive elf..."

"But..." Harry couldn't believe it - no, he didn't want to believe it; he was supposed to defeat the Dark Lord! How was he going to fight Voldemort if he was scared by the presence of the people in this office?

"Being submissive has nothing to do with the power you hold, Harry," Dumbledore answered his unasked question. "Submissive elves are even rarer than other submissive creatures, like veelas or vampires, as that race is very dependent on a mate. Submissives in general, though, are more powerful than dominants, but to be able to control their power they're in need of a dominant creature to bond with them. Until you have bonded to a dominant you will feel frightened and lost. You will have to obey the commands of all dominants, regardless of their race, whether they be human or creature."

"But..." Harry said once again, feeling the panic inside him grow to a new height. He couldn't bond to someone he didn't know, because bonding, he knew, entailed sex, and he wasn't ready to have sex yet, as strange as that sounded from a seventeen-year-old.

"It is very important that you bond to a dominant creature, Harry," Dumbledore repeated, even more urgently, "but for another reason, as well. If someone should force you to bond with them, you will never feel safe, but you will still have to protect them. That is what I fear Voldemort will do if he finds out about this; he will try to force you to bond with him. I understand this is a lot to take in, but it's very important for your own safety that you bond as soon as possible to prevent Voldemort from using you. Do you understand me?"

Harry nodded obediently. "Yes, Professor Dumbledore."

"You can't ask a question like that, Albus," Professor McGonagall scolded. "You know he can hardly refuse you, least of all in a situation like this." She turned, her features softening somewhat, when she took in Harry's expression. "Mr. Potter, do you have anymore questions?"

"Can't I just take a potion like Remus to neutralise the effects?" Harry asked hopefully.

Dumbledore sighed deeply. "No, Harry, I fear that is not an option. You're an elf all the time, not just once a month, and, even if there was a potion, it would eventually kill the elf and therefore you. Concerning Professor Lupin, there is something else you should know. He is, as you know, a werewolf. Submissives, submissive elves in particular, have excellent perception when it comes to telling dark creatures from light. Elves are amongst the purest creatures, while werewolves are dark. As such, I fear you will be even more afraid of Professor Lupin than you are of other dominant creatures."

"But, Remus is my family," Harry begged desperately. "I can't be afraid of him. I know he would never hurt me. Why should I fear him?"

"Knowing something and feeling something are two entirely different things, Harry," the elderly wizard stated softly. "Depending on how much your mate trusts Professor Lupin, you will be able to overcome your fear, but at the moment you will have to accept that fact."

Harry sent him a weak glare. "Why, if I'm supposedly so powerful, why should I depend on someone else? I don't want to be a submissive, I'm not like that. I'm not weak-willed, and I don't want anyone to protect me. I can look after myself, I don't need someone who tells me what to do!"

"Harry, I understand your concerns, but in this case your nature is stronger than your character. You cannot decide whether you want to be submissive or dominant."

"The hell I can't!" Harry exclaimed, jumping up, his hands tightened into fists. "Who is to force me if I'm as powerful as you say?"

"Harry, please calm down, and we will try to explain everything to you." Dumbledore appeasingly raised his hands. "Would you feel better if young Mr. Malfoy sat next to you?"

"No!" Harry all but shouted. "Why would that make me feel better?"

"Simply because Mr. Malfoy is a dominant veela and will take care of you."

"Fat chance!" Harry hissed. "Why does he get to be a dominant? If one of us is a sissy, it's him."

"Mr. Potter, I will not tolerate such language from one of my students," Professor McGonagall rebuked him, her eyes narrowing in disapproval. "I expect to hear an apology or Mr. Filch will have some help with cleaning out the toilets."

"I'm sorry, Malfoy," Harry pressed out. "What I meant to say was that it doesn't make much sense to me Malfoy here would be a dominant, if I'm not."

"Harry, please take a seat," Dumbledore prompted, and Harry reluctantly sank back onto the sofa. "I cannot tell you why you were chosen to be a submissive, but I don't think I have to convince you that it is the case. A dominant creature would not feel as afraid, not as insecure, and would not long so much for someone to take care of them."

"But I don't need anyone!" Harry protested. "This is stupid. How would Malfoy be able to protect me, when I'm stronger?"

"I think, Harry, it was nature's way of assuring that so much power would not be abused," Dumbledore stated. "You have to learn how to serve before you can rule, or you become like Voldemort."

"Serve?" Harry echoed incredulously. "I'm supposed to serve Malfoy of all people? I think I'd rather live in fear, thank you very much."

"Not serve, Potter," Draco said in a surprisingly civil tone. "I will merely help you to channel your abilities, take away the fear."

"Yeah, right, and Voldemort is a really nice guy," Harry rolled his eyes, drawing his knees up to his chest in a protective gesture. Somehow, it didn't feel right to contradict Malfoy, and now that he had calmed down he felt the familiar panic settle back in his chest. "Why would you do that? There's nothing in it for you."

"In fact there is," Draco offered neutrally. "Father promised me a new broom."

"Oh. So you didn't even find someone who would do it willingly, huh? I'll always be a burden to someone?" Harry asked sadly.

"No, Harry, you misunderstand us," Lucius intervened, pulling Harry into his arms to offer him comfort. "Submissives have a soothing influence on dominants, they bring out our protective instincts. Draco and you simply don't complement each other. I guess too much has happened between you. But I can assure you anyone would want a submissive elf as their mate."

"But no-one wants me," Harry stated bitterly. "They might want me because I have powers they want to control and because I will have to protect my mate. They don't want me."

No one had a reply to this and so Harry struggled from Lucius' embrace and slipped out of the office to find a quiet place where he could think things over.

"I had hoped he would take it better," Dumbledore mused. "But with your help, Mr. Malfoy, he will surely settle into his new life."

"I will do what I can to help him, Headmaster," Draco answered evenly.

"I'm sure you will, my boy, though your motivation may not be the best." Dumbledore looked at Lucius in disapproval.

"You knew the doubts I had and still have concerning this arrangement, Albus," Lucius replied. "In the long run, I think it will be better that Draco is motivated thus, than not at all."

"Indeed, Lucius," Dumbledore admitted. "But this does not prevent me from wishing it were different."

"With all due respect, Headmaster," Draco spoke up, "but if you want someone who wants Potter for himself, you had better find someone else. In fact, I would appreciate it, if you found someone else regardless."

"I will, certainly, my boy. But with so few creatures left, and even fewer who are firmly and loyally Light, it might take a while," Dumbledore answered. "Harry must not fall into the hands of a Death Eater. Besides, I'm sure, Lucius will support you, won't you?" The elder Malfoy inclined his head. "Excellent. Maybe you could explain everything else to him, Lucius? He seemed to feel rather more comfortable in your presence, and you know more about these things, anyway. Perhaps Narcissa could speak to him too, and tell Harry things from a submissive's point of view?" Dumbledore clapped his hands happily at his own suggestion.

"Yes, Albus." Lucius sighed; damn, why had he ever changed sides? The Dark Lord would never ask something like this of him - no, he would only torture you within an inch of your life - Oh, yes, that was why he had converted.

Dumbledore once again clapped his hands before declaring he had business at the Ministry to attend to, and vanishing through the floo network, leaving the two Malfoys and Professor McGonagall in his office.

The Transfiguration professor stared at the two Malfoys disapprovingly, as if she blamed this whole situation on them, before she too strutted from the room.

After he had put up several privacy spells (the Malfoy family had a reputation to uphold, after all) Lucius turned furiously on his son. "Draco, this is not what I would consider taking good care of Harry. Our deal was to be between us, and not a way for you to demonstrate to Harry how little you care about his well-being."

"Since when is honesty no longer the best policy, father?" Draco asked innocently. "Potter is many things, but stupid is not one of them. He would only have been suspicious if I had told him that I was doing this out of the goodness of my heart or for his sake. At least, now we both know what we're at."

"Harry is going through a difficult time, Draco-"

"I'm aware of it, father, but he's still Potter, as he just demonstrated."

"From now on, you will treat him like any other submissive: with respect, care, and consideration. Otherwise, you can forget about that Firebolt."

"I plan to," Draco answered testily. "Who died and made you Potter's keeper, anyway? You're awfully concerned about his well-being."

"He is a submissive, Draco, and you well know that the Malfoy family has always prided itself on the way we treat submissives. It is our duty, our privilege to be the perfect dominants. No one ever dared to question this, and even if I supported Voldemort I would still do my best to protect a submissive in need. I will not break with this tradition and neither will you."

"Yes, father." Draco sighed.

"But Potter is not like a submissive should be. He's so... totally unsubmissive." Lucius' lips quirked. "I want a submissive like Mother, beautiful and classy and submissive to me."

Lucius chuckled, clasping his son's shoulder. "Your mother is not quite as submissive as you might think, though I admit Harry and Cissa are quite different in regards to looks and manner."

"See," Draco answered triumphantly. "Then why are you forcing me to do look after Potter, when I could be looking for my own mate?"

"You have not felt your mate yet, have you, Draco? Chances are you will not feel the pull for a couple of years as your mate has most likely not come of age yet. Think about this experience as training, or as a way to polish up your reputation, if that pleases you more. Harry will be grateful, too. The sooner he feels comfortable and regains his self-confidence, the sooner he will be able to face the Dark Lord and end this war. We cannot loose this war, Draco."

"I won't lose the war, father," Draco replied in a strange tone of voice that sounded almost like a threat. "Shouldn't we look for everyone's favourite hero?"

"I will look for him while you fetch your mother, Draco." Lucius motioned to the fireplace dismissively, while walking towards the door. "I'm sure she will have something to say about your attitude."

Draco groaned, and Lucius chuckled, closing the door behind him.

Draco slowly took floo powder from the box on the mantle piece and let the powder trickle into the fireplace before he suddenly moved very fast, grasping his left arm, and murmured something under his breath, disappearing in the green flames. The only one who noticed this curious behaviour was Fawkes, who had watched everything unfold with something akin to suspicion in his eyes. Sometimes his human was far too trusting.


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