The next few days were better than any Draco could ever remember experiencing before.

True to his word, Harry had spoken to Granger. Whatever he had said certainly did the trick, because Draco found himself on the receiving end of a very begrudging apology.

The Weasel had been keeping an extremely low profile. Harry had confided he was still mortified over the whole licking incident.

There was a level of closeness building between him and Harry that Draco had never really had before, not even with Pansy. As Slytherins, there was always a certain amount held back; revealing yourself emotionally was like laying bare all your weaknesses.

With Harry though, it was completely different. Not that they spent vast amounts of time discussing their feelings, but there were looks, and brief touches, and even the odd little comment, all of which taught Draco to hope as he had never hoped before.

Harry knew he was a Veela but he hadn't been repulsed or turned his back on him. In fact, the only reference Harry had made to it, since the revelation of his heritage, was to comment how lucky his mate would be to have him.

Draco's instincts had cried out for him to confess at that point, but he had clamped down on them. Draco might have changed from the arrogant boy he had once been, but he still had his pride. He didn't want Harry's pity. He just wanted Harry.

When she took time away from her rather relentless pursuit of Ron Weasley, Pansy nagged at Draco constantly. She was convinced that Harry was already halfway to being in love with him, and that he needed to take a risk and tell him the truth.

Intellectually, Draco knew she was right. At some point, Harry would have to be told. Unless Draco planned to die young, alone, and insane. But there was an insistent nagging doubt in the pit of his stomach that left him feeling queasy every time he contemplated it.

The constant demands of being round Harry, fighting his attraction to him, and the urge to confess all, began taking its toll on Draco. He wasn't sleeping as well at night, and was left with faint shadows under his eyes. It was nothing too alarming, but for someone used to physical perfection, Draco was horrified.

He was somewhat grateful, then, when the weekend came round and he was able to escape from the confines of Hogwarts for Hogsmeade.

"Come on, you two! The day will be over before we even get started." Ginny banged furiously on the boys' dormitory door as she spoke.

"Hang on, Gin," Ron grumbled. "We'll be out in a second."

"You've got two minutes," she retorted. "If you're not out by them, I'm coming in. And I don't care if you're dressed or not."

"Good grief," Ron muttered. "She's worse than mum."

Harry grinned at his friend, before tugging a thick jumper over his head. "C'mon, mate. We'd better get a move on. She won't give us any peace 'til we're done."

Ron muttered unintelligibly to himself as he laced up his boots.

"Could be worse," Harry said. "At least it's not Hermione we're keeping waiting."

Ron shivered a little. "That's true. Why isn't she coming with us again?"

"Dumbledore asked her and Anthony to help supervise the first years. The perks of being Head Girl, I s'pose."

"Rather her than me," Ron replied, tugging on his cloak. "Come on then. Better not keep her waiting any longer."

Harry grabbed his own cloak and gloves, and followed his friend out of the dormitory and down into the common room, where a very impatient Ginny Weasley was waiting for them.

"At last." She huffed. "You two take longer that Lavender and Parvati do."

With a little more good-natured teasing, the three friends made their way down into Hogsmeade. They had all wrapped up warmly as it was cold out, and there was the definite prospect of snow in the air.

Despite enjoying himself with the two Weasley siblings, Harry couldn't help feel like something was missing. He did wonder if maybe Hermione's absence bothered him more than he realised, but then he caught a glimpse of a familiar white-blond head in the distance, and he knew. He missed Draco.

It was so pathetic that Harry could have laughed at himself. It had only been a matter of hours since he had spoken to him last, but nonetheless, there was a persistent ache in the vicinity of his heart every time he thought of Draco.

Over the last few days, Harry had tried his hardest to come to terms with his feelings for his onetime rival. He was perfectly comfortable with the knowledge that he found another boy attractive, and was even okay with it being Draco. But the problem was Draco's heritage.

Harry wasn't stupid, he'd had crushes before, and he knew that what he had come to feel for Draco was far more intense than anything he had ever experienced. He wasn't in love yet, but Harry knew he was in very real danger of falling.

It was pointless, he knew. In a week's time, Draco would find his mate, and the two of them would live happily ever after. Leaving Harry to pick up the shattered pieces of his heart. But no matter how many times he tried to remind himself of this, of how much it would hurt, Harry just couldn't help himself.

"Earth to Harry!"

"Huh?" Harry pulled himself from his daydreams to find Ginny waving a hand in front of his face.

"Wake up, mate," Ron added. "We've been trying to get your attention for ages."

"Something on your mind?" Ginny teased. "Or someone?"

Harry flushed and shook his head. "I was just thinking," he muttered defensively. "Why have we stopped?" He looked round and noticed that they had drawn to a halt in the middle of the street.

"We thought we'd go in the Three Broomsticks for a warm," Ginny replied.

"And a drink," Ron added, grinning cheekily. "Firewhisky should do the trick."

Nodding his agreement to this plan, Harry followed his friends inside the pub, revelling in the pleasant warmth that spread through him instantly.

"That's much better," Ginny commented as she began stripping off her scarf and gloves. She scanned the busy room briefly. "Looks like everyone else had the same idea. You two go get the drinks, and I'll go grab us a table before they're all gone." With that, she disappeared into the bustle of the room.

Ron shrugged and grimaced at his friend. "I guess that means I'm stuck paying for hers too. Crafty cow."

Harry turned to the bar and reached into his pocket. "I'll get these." Then, seeing his friend about to argue, he added, "You can get the next ones, if it makes you feel better."

Satisfied with this arrangement, Ron nodded his agreement and then turned to place his order with Madam Rosemerta.

Harry had only intended to have a butterbeer, but after some cajoling from Ron, he found himself in possession of a large Firewhisky also.

"Your mum would have a fit if she saw this," he commented.

"Well she's not here, is she? What she doesn't know…Now, where's Ginny? Can you see her?"

After a few moments spent scanning the crowd, Harry spotted a familiar head of red hair. He was about to point this out to Ron, when he noticed that she was sitting right next to an even more familiar head of white-blond hair.

He gave Ron a nudge and then headed eagerly over to the table, praying his friend wouldn't kick up a stink when he realised who their drinking companions were.

He placed his and Ginny's drinks down on the table and grinned at the assembled group. They shifted round slightly to create space for the newcomers.

"Merlin, it's busy in here," Harry commented, as he slid gratefully into a space at Draco's side.

He looked up and saw that Ron was still standing, a horrified expression on his face as he took in the table's other occupants.

Before Ron could open his mouth to protest, Ginny reached out and grabbed hold of his arm. "Don't start," she chided. "Just sit down."

"Yes, Weasley, sit down. I've been keeping a spot warm for you." Pansy leered slightly in the redhead's direction.

Ron gulped visibly as he took the proffered seat. "Bloody hell," he muttered.

"You're welcome, Weasley," Draco answered wryly. "Just so long as you keep your tongue to yourself this time."

A chorus of laughter erupted around the table at this comment, breaking the ice nicely. Ron, however, flushed a deep red.

Harry felt the tension ease out of his body at the press of Draco's thigh against his. Thinking the touch accidental, he looked at the other boy to see if he had noticed. When he saw Draco smiling shyly at him in return, Harry felt a tightening in his chest.

"Drinking in the day, Harry?" Draco teased, indicating his Firewhisky.

"Ron's idea," he explained.

Draco looked over to where the redhead was now being subjected to Pansy's overtures and chuckled. "I think Weasley may be in need of a few more before this day is out."

Harry glanced over the table. "I don't think he's as bothered as he looks. He's always had a thing for forceful women."

"What, like Professor McGonagall?" Blaise enquired, deciding to enter the conversation.

Ginny choked violently on her drink at this comment. "Thanks for that," she gasped. "That's a mental image I could have lived without."

Blaise just grinned in return and patted her back. "Oh, I don't know. I bet she was quite hot in her day. She's certainly a feisty one."

"Do you mind?" Ron interjected. "I am here, and I'm not deaf."

"I wish I was," Ginny muttered.

Blaise slid an arm around her shoulder. "Ah, ignore them and finish your drink. I'll get you another when you're done, to make it up to you."

The delicate tinge of pink that coloured Ginny's cheeks did not escape Harry's notice. He turned to Draco with a questioning glance.

"You know as much as me," Draco muttered. "But there must be something there, because Blaise is not renowned for putting his hand in his pocket."

Harry's gaze drifted from Ginny and Blaise, over to where Ron and Pansy were sitting closer to each other than was strictly necessary. Mind you, Harry thought, with the way Draco was pressed snugly against him, he was hardly one to talk.

"This is very cosy, isn't it," Draco whispered in his ear.

Harry tried to hide the shiver that ran through his body; Draco's breath against the sensitive flesh of his neck was doing very strange things to him. Not quite sure he would be able to form a coherent reply, he just nodded.

"I'm going to have to ask you to move, though," Draco continued.

Harry's heart sank at that; Draco had seemed to be enjoying the closeness as well, so what had changed? He just stared at the other boy with confusion in his wide eyes.

"I need the bathroom," Draco muttered. "I'll be back in a minute."

Harry let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding. He sat back in his chair and allowed Draco to get past, trying his hardest not to let his eyes linger too obviously on the blond's arse. Apparently, he had failed in that, because when he looked back at the table, he found both Ginny and Pansy grinning back at him.

Harry flushed at being caught and busied himself with finishing his drink, deciding to avoid all further eye contact until Draco returned.

By the time he had drank both his Firewhisky, and his butterbeer, Draco had still not returned to the table. By Harry's reckoning, he had to have been gone almost ten minutes now. And while he didn't want to embarrass the other boy if he really still was in the loo, something just didn't feel right about it.

Harry pushed his chair back and got to his feet.

"We said I'd get the next round." Ron was on his feet as well, reaching for his moneybag.

"I'm not going to the bar," Harry explained.

"Oh." Ron's defensiveness faded. "Well, where are you going?"

"The toilet," Harry muttered, flushing slightly.

"Going to offer Draco a hand, Potter?" Blaise asked teasingly. All he got in return for this comment was a sharp dig in the ribs from Ginny, and a rather fierce glare from Pansy.

Ron, Harry was relieved to notice, did not seem to have understood the real meaning of the remark; sometimes his best friend's obliviousness really did come in handy.

Harry pushed his way through the crowds, in the direction of the toilets. As he neared the door, he could hear raised voices, or, more precisely, a raised voice - Draco's. He strode through the door at speed, his wand already in hand.

"Like it rough, do you, Malfoy?" Terry Boot had Draco pressed against the wall, both his hands pinned above his head, and was grinding against him in a most disturbing fashion.

"I'm warning you, Boot," Draco snarled. "If you don't get off me right now, you're going to be in some very serious pain."

"You're a feisty one." Boot began licking trails along Draco's jaw line. "I'll tell you what-"

Whatever else he had been planning to say was lost, as he crashed to the floor. That was when Draco noticed a furious looking Harry Potter, standing in the doorway, wand trained on the unconscious Ravenclaw.

Draco stepped over the prone body, giving it a kick for good measure on the way. "My hero," he said, smiling at Harry. "What did you use on him?"

"Just a Stunner," Harry replied tersely, still struggling to get his anger under control. "Did he hurt you?"

Draco shook his head. "Not really. But what is it with people and licking me? Do I look like a lollypop or something?"

Harry couldn't help but smile at his indignation. "Come on," he said, sliding an arm around the other boy's shoulders. "It's probably best if were not around when he wakes up."

"We could go for a walk round the town," Draco suggested tentatively.

"You want me to come with you?" Harry's heart skipped a few beats at this.

"I think you'd better. Who knows what trouble I'll get into without you to save me."

"Harry, I'm cold." Draco tried his best to keep the whine out of his voice, he really did, but it was bloody freezing.

"D'you want to go back up to the school?" Harry asked in concern.

"No." Draco shook his head causing a curtain of blond hair to fall over his face. "If we go back, then you'll have to go back to your tower."

Harry realised this was as close as Draco was going to come to saying he wanted to spend time with him. But considering the short time he had left to savour moments like this, Harry was grateful for whatever he got.

"Come on then. I know where we can go."

Draco followed without protest, until he saw where they were heading. He stopped in his tracks. "I'm not going in there," he stated firmly.

Harry stopped and turned round to face him. "Why not?"

"Why not? Are you crazy, Potter? It's haunted."

Harry let out a chuckle. "I'm glad you find it amusing," Draco snapped. "But I'm still not going in."

Harry walked the few steps between them, until he was almost toe-to-toe with Draco. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have laughed. It's just… it's not haunted, Draco, I swear."

"Oh really." Draco raised one eyebrow and did not sound at all convinced.

"Yeah," Harry continued earnestly. "It wasn't ghosts, it was Professor Lupin. That's where he used to go during the full moon. Dumbledore just let everyone think it was haunted, so that they would stay away."

Draco eyed the Shrieking Shack warily. "If you're sure," he said, uncertainly.

Harry nodded. "Come on. I won't let anything bad happen to you." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Harry realised how true they were. The thought of anything happening to Draco made his guts twist, and he knew he would do anything to protect him.

Draco was about as impressed with the inside of the Shack as he was with the outside.

"It's not exactly clean, is it?" He turned up his nose ever so slightly.

Before he could process what he was doing, Harry reached out and gently tapped Draco on the nose. "You're so cute when you do that, you know," he said softly.

Normally Draco would have taken great offence at anyone terming him in this fashion. But that it was Harry, his mate, saying it, well, that just caused a great swell of affection to grow in his chest.

Throwing caution to the wind, Draco stepped closer. "You think I'm cute, Harry?" he asked, his voice slightly husky.

Harry's eyes grew impossibly wide and he just nodded. Almost trance-like, he reached out his hand slowly and traced his fingertips along the edge of Draco's jaw.

"Beautiful," he murmured.

Draco's Veela senses were screaming at him to do something, to not let this moment pass. This was his mate touching him, looking at him with desire in his eyes.

Closing the final distance between them, Draco raised his hands to rest on Harry's shoulders, gripping lightly. Sliding one hand to cup the back of Harry's neck, he allowed his eyes to flutter closed as he leant in.

Time seemed to stand still for Harry as he gazed at Draco's face. Even the rundown surroundings did nothing to detract from the sheer beauty of the boy in front of him. He noticed for the first time, the thick, dark lashes that fanned out against pale cheeks, the perfect cupid's bow of his lips, the way that silky hair curled behind his ears.

Hesitating for only a moment to absorb this overload of sensations, Harry slid his hand up to bury in the silken strands of Draco's hair, and wrapped the other around his slender waist. Tugging their bodies flush against one another, he leant in and sealed his lips over Draco's.

Harry had kissed before. Not hundreds of times, but enough to know that this was the most perfect kiss ever. He felt the soft warmth of Draco's lips moving against his own, the tip of a tongue trailing over his bottom lip before probing the depths of his mouth, and everything just felt so right.

He could feel his own heart beating so fast that he was sure it would explode from his chest, and his breath was coming so quick that he feared he might pass out from lack of oxygen. None of this, though, could persuade him to stop.

When he felt Draco's lips pull away, Harry let out a soft mewl of discontent. But it was short lived, however, as he felt the delicious sensation of tender kisses trailing down his neck and onto his throat. When Draco began to suckle gently just above his collarbone, Harry couldn't help but thrust against the warm body so close to his own.

The feel of Draco's erection pressing against his own, caused Harry to pull back in a panic.

Draco gazed at him through heavy-lidded eyes, and reached out to smooth along his cheek. "Harry? What's wrong?"

"I'm so sorry, Draco," Harry choked out. "I shouldn't have…"

Draco stared in dismay as Harry turned tail and ran. "Harry," he called desperately, his voice breaking slightly, but there was no reply.

The ache in his chest was unbearable. He had had his mate in his arms, willing and eager, and then something had gone wrong. But no matter how hard he racked his brains, or replayed the memory, Draco could not figure it out.

Heartbroken at the thought his mate was rejecting him, Draco Malfoy sank down onto a dirty floor, and began to cry for the first time since he had been a small child.

Meanwhile, Harry ran at full speed all the way back up to the castle. His lips were still tingling from that kiss, but all he could feel was sick. Sick that he had taken advantage of Draco, just like all those other people; he was as bad as Snape.

Draco had trusted him. Harry had promised that he would not let anyone harm him, and yet he had been the one to do it. He had betrayed that trust in the worst way possible.

Harry hurried up to Gryffindor Tower, extremely grateful that everyone was down in Hogsmeade, so that he didn't have to answer any awkward questions that his appearance would doubtless cause.

Unfortunately for him, as he scrambled through the Portrait hole, he ran into the last possible person that he wanted to see at that moment.

"What can I do for you, Miss Granger?"

Hermione looked into the kind, twinkling eyes of Professor Dumbledore, and prayed that he would be able to make this alright. For Harry's sake.

"It's about Harry, sir," she began.

"Indeed." Dumbledore leant back in his chair and regarded his Head Girl thoughtfully. "I do hope Mr Potter isn't in trouble."

"Not yet, sir, but he could be." Hermione paused here and tried to work out the best way to phrase what she wanted to say. "I think he's Malfoy's mate, and we have to stop him from finding out."

Dumbledore frowned slightly. "Harry is not aware of this development, then?"

"No. I haven't told him." Hermione shook her head earnestly. "Only Malfoy's being trying to get friendly with him, and it can't be long before he finds out, and we have to stop it."

"And you don't think that Harry would be receptive to the news?"

Hermione paused thoughtfully. "I think that Harry would feel obliged to accept the bond, whatever his personal feelings on the matter were. And it's not fair to him, Professor. Harry's had to sacrifice enough of his life fighting Voldemort, and now he's going to be expected to throw away his chance of a future as well."

"I wonder whether it could be throwing away his future?" Dumbledore mused, leaning forward to pour his tea. "I'm told that being the mate of a Veela is a most wonderful thing. This could be Harry's chance of happiness that you are wanting to stop."

"But Malfoy's a boy," Hermione cried. "And Harry's not even gay. He'll end up wanting to be with Malfoy just because of his allure, and it's not right. It's like being under a Love Potion or something."

Dumbledore settled his cup carefully back in its saucer. "I think it would be best," he said quietly, "if we let matters run their own course."

"You're not going to do anything about it?" Hermione demanded incredulously. "You're just going to let the Malfoys get their hooks into him?"

Dumbledore stood and smiled kindly at the Head Girl. "I wouldn't worry your head over it, Miss Granger. I have a feeling that everything will work out for the best." He gave her a gentle pat on the head. "Now, if you don't mind, I have a governors' meeting to attend."

Hermione eyed the Headmaster incredulously. But she retained enough sense to know that there was no moving Dumbledore once his mind was made up about something.

"Of course, sir," she said, through clenched teeth. "Thank you for your time."

Dumbledore watched her go, a faint smile on his face. "I think someone has a little crush, Fawkes," he mused, gently stroking the phoenix's head. "I fear our Head Girl is in for a rather unpleasant surprise."

"Harry! Are you in here?"

Ron came bounding up the steps and burst into the dormitory. "There you are. I've been looking all over for you.""I've been here all the time, Ron," Harry replied. "Where exactly did you look?"

Ron shook his head. "Never mind that. What happened in Hogsmeade? Did you and Malfoy have a fight or something? He seemed really upset. Oh, and Pansy says to tell you that she's going to kick your arse next time she sees you."

"It's nothing," Harry mumbled.

"Oh, come on. I might not be the most observant person, but even I can tell something is wrong. What did that git do to you?"

"Draco didn't do anything, it was me. I really don't want to talk about it right now." He sat up and faced his friend. "How was your day? You and Pansy looked like you were getting along."

Ron coloured a little. "She's okay," he admitted reluctantly. "Not at all like I thought she would be. I mean, she's still quite scary, but in a good way."

"You like her?"

"Yeah, I think I do."

Harry smiled despite his own problems. "That's great, mate. I'm really pleased for you."

Ron looked up, a faint frown on his face. "It doesn't bother you, then? That she's a Slytherin?"

Harry laughed a little bitterly. "Why would I mind that? Look at me and Draco."

Ron got up and began to change his shirt, trying to ignore the awkward silence that had descended on the room. Pulling a clean jumper on, he walked over to his friend's bed, and perched on the edge of it.



"If I ask you something, will you promise not to get mad?"

"I promise to try," Harry replied. "But it rather depends on what you're about to say."

"Okay." Ron took a deep breath. "Don't take this the wrong way or anything, but are you…"

"Am I what?" Harry asked, a small smile quirking at his lips.

"Gay." Ron blurted out. "Are you gay?

Harry just stared at his friend, a stunned expression on his face. Of all the things he had expected Ron to ask, this had not even been on the list.

"It's okay if you are," Ron continued hurriedly. "It's not like it is in the Muggle world. Wizards don't really care about that sort of thing."

Harry looked at his friend and just knew that he couldn't hide the truth any longer. He figured it must have taken a lot for Ron to actually work up the courage to ask, and the least he could do was repay that with honesty.

He nodded slowly. "Yeah, I am."

Ron clapped a hand on his shoulder. "Aw, mate. Don't look like that. What did you think I'd do? Turn my back on you?"

Harry reluctantly met his friend's gaze and shrugged.

"I don't care who you sleep with, just as long as you're happy." Ron paused here and then added quickly, "and as long as it's not my sister."

Harry couldn't help but laugh at that. "I think I can honestly promise you never to sleep with your sister, Ron. Your brothers on the other hand…"

Ron clapped his hands over his ears. "I don't want to hear that!"

Harry chuckled loudly and tugged his hands away. "Relax, I'm only teasing."

"I guess this means you won't be marrying into the family then," Ron said, a little despondently. "Mum was always hoping you'd marry Ginny one day."

Harry smiled sadly. "I'm afraid your mum's going to be disappointed. But it's okay. I've always thought of you guys as my family. Nothing's going to change that."

Ron beamed at these words, but then a frown came over his face. "So what's going on with you and Ginny, then? Why are you taking her to the dance, if you're not interested in her that way?"

Harry shook his head. "I told you at the time, Ron, we're just going as friends. Ginny knows that. Merlin, it was her idea."

Ron's frown relaxed instantly. "That's okay then, I suppose. I just didn't want to have to hit you for messing with my little sister."

"You've got no worries on that score from me," Harry reassured. "Blaise Zabini, on the other hand…"

"What!" Ron exploded. "What's that snake been doing with my sister? I'll bloody kill him."

Harry put a restraining hand on his arm. "It was just a joke, Ron. Ginny's got a bit of a crush on him, that's all."

Ron raked a hand through his hair. "That wasn't funny. Bloody hell, what is it with us lot and Slytherins lately?"

Harry didn't say anything in reply to this; he didn't want the topic of Draco to come up again.

"Ron, can I ask you something?"

"Sure, anything."

"How did you know? That I was gay, I mean. Don't take this the wrong way, but you're not usually the most observant of people, and even Hermione hasn't worked it out yet."

Ron shrugged. "I just figured you'd have to be, you know? What with you being Malfoy's mate and all."

No matter where he went, who he was with, or how hard he tried to forget, Harry could not concentrate on anything other than those few simple words that Ron had said to him. Simple to his best friend, but earth-shatteringly, life-changing for him.

Following that conversation, and the very real, near heart failure that he experienced as a result, Harry had gone in search of Hermione. He was shocked when she admitted, albeit reluctantly, that she had already suspected he was

Malfoy's mate.

Harry had been outraged that she had kept something so important from him. That, once again, people were making decisions regarding his life, without consulting him.

Listening to Hermione's reasons, Harry began to feel slightly guilty. One of her main objections seemed to stem from her belief that he was straight, and Harry knew, however much he wanted to keep that part of himself private, that he had to disillusion her.

It had been a very uncomfortable conversation. One that was not helped at all by Harry's sneaking suspicion of Hermione's feelings for him. In fact, it had actually taken some convincing to get her to accept it; she had been convinced it was all part of some brain washing technique of Malfoy's.

Once she had finally come to terms with his sexuality, Harry had then pressed for more information surrounding the whole Veela mate situation. Hermione had explained it simply for him, but had taken care to point out that he was under no obligation to agree to anything.

She had encouraged Harry to take some time away from Malfoy to think about what was best for him. Though she had been at pains to point out that, in her opinion, forming a lifelong bond with a Malfoy was a definite bad idea.

All of this left Harry more than a little confused. He understood the mechanics of what was involved in being a Veela's mate; Hermione had supplied him with more than enough literature to make sure of that. These books were full of facts and figures, but there was nothing on feelings or emotions. There was nothing in them that helped Harry whatsoever.

It was stupid, really, when he thought about. He was attracted to Draco, very attracted, and for the last few days had been sulking over the fact he would lose him once the Veela found his mate. Really, this was the perfect solution to the problem.

The only thing was that Harry no longer trusted what he felt. He couldn't be sure what part of his attraction was real, and what part of it was controlled purely by Draco's allure.

After having other people keep secrets and make decisions for him, for so many years, Harry hated to feel out of control. And that was exactly how this situation felt. If he gave in to this, if he accepted his 'destiny', then it would be like giving away his power over his own life. And he just wasn't sure he could do that.

Rationally, Harry knew that none of this was Draco's fault. That, in some ways, he was just as much a victim of circumstance as Harry had ever been. But none of that stopped the resentful feelings that bubbled within him every time he laid eyes on the blond.

Since the events of the previous weekend, Harry had been doing his utmost to avoid Draco. He stayed away from the Great Hall, having Dobby bring him food in the dormitory instead. He rarely strayed outside of Gryffindor tower unless it was for lessons. And during those, when he was forced to interact with Draco on some level, Harry was polite and civil, but would not be drawn further.

Despite Draco's best efforts, Ginny's constant nagging, and several threats of bodily harm from Pansy, Harry would not be swayed. He was afraid that being around Draco, coming under the effects of his allure, would cloud his judgement. And apart from the very real confusion he was experiencing, Harry felt it would not be fair to Draco to give him any false hope, when he had yet to decide whether or not to accept the bond.

Even Professor Dumbledore had tried to discuss the issue, but Harry had resisted all of the old man's attempts to open a dialogue. He was determined he would not be manipulated any longer. Whatever he decided, it would be because it was what he wanted.

Draco was heartbroken; there was no other way to put it. He did his best to put on a brave face, to act as if nothing was the matter, but those closest to him saw straight through it.

Pansy had extracted the full story of what had happened in Hogsmeade within minutes of seeing his stricken face. When they had got back to school, she had banished the other boys from the dormitory, summoned numerous house-elves, who provided an endless supply of chocolate, and had then proceeded to pet and cosset Draco to such a degree that he had, inevitably, broken down.

If he had though things couldn't get much worse, well, he had been deluded. Draco heard, via Pansy, that for once in his life, Ron Weasley had employed his sense of observation, and had seen fit to inform Harry of his mate status.

It had been bad enough to think that Harry was running away from their kiss, but this…well, to Draco's Veela senses, this felt like rejection.

He tried his hardest to see Harry, to talk to him so he could try to explain. He sent owls, which were returned unopened. He waited patiently outside the Great Hall at mealtimes, hoping to catch Harry on his way in, only to wait in vain when the other boy failed to appear. Draco had even tried going up to Gryffindor tower with the idea of forcing Harry to speak to him, but he hadn't even made it past the portrait guarding the entrance.

The strain was starting to take its toll. Draco hadn't slept more than a few hours a night since Harry had kissed him. And when he did finally manage to fall asleep, his dreams were plagued with visions of what he had lost, a future he could never hope to have.

His hair lost its lustre, and the ethereal glow faded from his skin. His appetite virtually disappeared, and faint purple bruises appeared under his eyes. Only Pansy's incessant nagging caused him to make any effort whatsoever with his appearance.

She insisted he dress his best, style his hair, Glamour his face, and not let that 'bastard Potter' see that he was in any way affected.

The problem with that plan was that, secretly, Draco had wanted Harry to see how much he was hurting. A small part of him hoped that the other boy would take one look at his fading appearance, and would relent towards him. However, as Harry was doing his utmost to avoid Draco, and was refusing to make eye contact, this plan was doomed to failure.

As Valentine's day approached, Draco's allure went into overdrive. He could barely leave his bed without having a string of drooling, glazed-eyed fools following wherever he went. To his absolute horror, even Filch had taken to lurking around the dungeons in the hopes of coaxing a kiss from the beautiful Veela.

By the time the day of the dance rolled round, Draco had taken more than he could handle. It was bad enough that he had had to experience some very traumatic gropings over the last few weeks, but now he didn't even have the prospect of a mate at the end of it all. He was going to go on being hounded, lusted after at every turn, until the allure slowly drove him crazy.

He evicted his roommates from the dormitory, and barricaded himself inside with the use of several Locking Charms. Dressed only in his favourite, but slightly threadbare, pyjamas, Draco settled down under his duvet, closed his eyes, and tried to will the ache in his heart away.

To have been so close to his mate, to actually have him in his arms, and then to lose him, it caused a pain in Draco's heart that made the Cruciatus look like a hangnail. His Veela half was screaming out for its mate, but the rest of him ached for Harry as well.

It was the little things he missed the most. The way Harry's eyes would crinkle round the edges when he smiled, how he had always laughed at Draco's jokes, no matter how lame or corny, the effort Harry had made to get along with his friends, even though they were people who had made his life miserable for years. And then there was that way he had of chewing nervously on his bottom lip; a habit that made Draco want to grab hold of him and suck on the much-abused flesh.

Draco tried his hardest not to think of these things, not to tease himself with what he would never have, but it was easier said than done. Harry was under his skin and in his blood now, and there was no going back.

Harry stood in front of the mirror, trying his best to straighten his tie. He hated wearing dress robes; they always made him feel uncomfortable and out of place. But there was no getting out of going to the Ball. He had made the barest suggestion to Ginny that he had better not go, and the resulting outcry had probably been heard in Hogsmeade.

So, not wanting to incur her wrath further, he had relented. Despite his fears over seeing Draco, Harry was slightly more afraid of Ginny's temper; that girl had perfected the Bat Bogey Hex into an art form.

Giving up on his tie, Harry turned away from the mirror, muttering to himself. He looked up and found that Ron was stood, staring at him.

"You alright, mate?" he asked.

Ron nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine. You, on the other hand, look like shit."

Harry grimaced. "Thanks for the compliment." He rubbed tiredly at his eyes. "I've not been sleeping well," he admitted.

"Harry, can I say something?"

Harry eyed him warily. "Depends what it's about."

"Malfoy," Ron replied shortly.

"Then no." Harry's tone was firm and left no room for argument.

Ron shook his head and turned as if to leave the room. He got halfway to the door before stopping and turning back to face his friend.

"No. You know what? You need to hear this, because Hermione's been filling your head with all sorts of nonsense, and it's time someone told you the truth."

Harry looked startled at the vehemence in his friend's tone. "Okay. So what is the truth?"

Ron raked his hands through his hair and though furiously. "Look, I don't pretend to see what you like about the ferrety git, but there's obviously something. You really like him, and I'm okay with that."

"I never said…" Harry protested.

"Mate, you kissed him," Ron answered simply.

"H-How did you know about that?" Harry flushed bright red.

"Pansy, of course. But that's beside the point."

Harry walked over to his bed and sank down on it. "So what is the point?"

"Malfoy's a mess right now. He thinks you're rejecting him, and he's pining away something fierce. Now I've never claimed to be his biggest fan, but even I feel sorry for him."

Harry looked up in surprise.

"Don't look at me like that," Ron defended. "I'm not a completely heartless git. He's in love with you, and you won't even look at him. How do you think he feels?"

Harry just shrugged. Ron reached out and put a hand on his shoulder. "I know you're scared. Hell, I would be too. Bonding yourself to someone is a huge thing. But I think you're missing the big picture."

Harry didn't say anything; he just stared at Ron waiting for him to continue.

"He loves you, so much so, that he'd probably die for you. This bond that you're running away from, it's the kind of relationship that most people would give their right arm for. People wait their whole lives to find someone who feels that kind of passion for them. But you've already got it.

Yes, it's forever, and there's no getting out of it afterwards, but why is that such a bad thing? You're his mate because his Veela senses, or whatever they are, chose you. It's not just a random thing, it's because you're compatible. Out of everyone in the world, you are the person who will make him happiest, and he you."

Finally having run out of breath, Ron sank down onto the bed at this side of his friend.

"I'm scared," Harry croaked, so quietly that Ron barely heard him.

"Yeah? Well so is Malfoy. Look, don't make me defend him anymore than is strictly necessary; it's not good for my health. Just pull your head out of your arse."

"I can't believe you just said all that." Harry looked at his friend in almost wonder.

"I'm not the insensitive git that everyone thinks I am," Ron replied. "But if you tell anyone, I'll deny it."

"You'd really be okay with this?"

"It'd take some getting used to, I'll admit. But, Harry, you're like a brother to me. I care about you, and I want you to be happy. Merlin knows you've had enough crap happen to you in the past."

"And you think that this will make me happy?"

Ron nodded. "I know it. You wouldn't be his mate otherwise."

Harry stood up. "Could you do me a favour and apologise to Ginny for me?"

"Why? For what?" Ron stood up, a puzzled expression on his face.

Harry was already heading for the door. "Where you going?"

A wide smile broke out across Harry's face. "I've got a Veela to find."

Ron crossed the room and clapped him on the back. "Good man. Though I think I'd better come with you. You might run into Pansy, and let's just say you're not her favourite person at the moment."

By the time the two friends made it down to the Great Hall, the dance was already underway. They came skidding to a halt in the doorway, their eyes scanning the crowd.

"There's Pansy," Ron shouted, trying to make himself heard over the noise of the band. He grabbed hold of Harry's sleeve and dragged him over in her direction.

The dark-haired girl turned to smile at Ron, but it froze on her face when she saw who he was with. "You've got a nerve, Potter," she snarled.

"Not now," Ron muttered, placing a hand on her arm. "We just need to find Malfoy. Where is he?"

Pansy laughed bitterly. "You think I'm going to let him near Draco after how he's treated him? What do you want him for any way?" She turned and glared fiercely at Harry. "You planning to rip the last bit of his heart out and stamp on that too?"

"You've got every right to be angry with me," Harry said earnestly. "And when this is sorted out, you can hex me as much as you like. But right now, I just need to get to Draco."

Pansy gazed at him for what seemed like an age. Her narrowed eyes inspected his face for some sign of…well, whatever it was, she obviously found it.

"He's locked in his dorm. Has been all day, and refuses to come out. The password to the common room is Serpentia." She stepped closer so that she was toe to toe with Harry. "Don't make me regret this."

Harry resisted the urge to hug her, wisely deciding that would not go down at all well. "You won't. I promise."

With that, he turned and began running at full speed out of the Great Hall.

Draco had slept fitfully throughout the course of the day, and now lay, wide-awake, curled around a pillow, feeling very sorry for himself.

Pansy had tried her hardest to persuade him to attend the dance still. She had coaxed, begged, and even made some very alarming threats. But Draco would not be shaken from his misery. The last thing he wanted was to be surrounded by people. Apart from the rather high odds of him getting molested, Draco just wanted to be alone.

The way he saw it, was that now his mate had rejected him, he was going to be spending what was left of his life alone, so he had better start getting used to it.

He sniffled miserably, and burrowed further under his duvet, before a banging on his door had him sitting bold upright. Then, the most amazing thing happened.

"Draco! Draco! It's Harry. Open the door please. I need to talk to you."

As much as his rational side was reminding him how much the other boy had hurt him, and demanding that he tell Harry to go away, Draco's Veela side had other ideas.

Before he realised what he was doing, Draco had his wand in hand, and was casting the counter charms to the Locking Spell he had used.

Harry tumbled into the room and Draco's heart leapt into his mouth. In dress robes, his mate looked even more stunning than usual. "What are you doing here?" he managed to croak at last.

Draco watched as Harry shuffled his feet and blushed slightly. "You weren't at the dance," he blurted out. "And I…I…"

Harry stepped nearer to the bed, and Draco forgot to breathe.

"I wanted to ask you to dance," Harry finished softly, holding his hand out.

Draco gaped at him for a moment. "But I'm not dressed," he said, taking that strong hand and allowing himself to be pulled from his bed.

Harry's eyes ran down his pyjama-clad body, and smiled. "You look perfect." He pulled Draco closer to his body, and slid one arm around his waist. The other he brought up to tangle in the sleep-mussed strands of Draco's hair.

"There's no music," Draco protested weakly, allowing himself to be held close.

"Doesn't matter," Harry murmured, his breath ghosting over Draco's cheek, causing tiny shivers to course through his body.

Draco pulled back slightly and stared up at Harry with wonder in his eyes. "Are you sure?" he whispered. "Because, I don't think I could stand it if you…"

Draco's words trailed off here as he saw the love shining in Harry's eyes. "Shush." Harry pulled him close again, and began moving them slowly, as if to the strains of a song that only he could hear. One of his hands cupped Draco's cheek. "It's okay. I'm sure," he replied, before leaning in and softly pressing his lips against Draco's.

Lost to the sensation of having his mate at last, Draco slid his arms around Harry's neck, his fingers burying in the short hair at his nape. Harry's lips were soft against his own, and the pressure was so gentle, so tender, that he thought he might cry.

Harry broke the kiss and pulled back to gaze at Draco. "I've never wanted anything more."

When Harry's hands came to rest uncertainly on the buttons to his pyjama top, Draco looked into his mate's eyes and nodded his permission. He ached to feel Harry's hands on him, touching him, caressing him, bringing him to completion.

Harry slowly undid Draco's top, his eyes drinking in the sight of his bare torso. He slid the top off over Draco's shoulders and allowed his hands to trail over the pale flesh. Unable to resist any longer, Harry lowered his head and began to suckle on the tender skin just below Draco's collarbone.

Draco guided Harry's hands to the waistband of his pyjama pants and then gave an encouraging wiggle. Taking the hint, Harry quickly began sliding them down over his hips, until they were pooled around his feet.

Stepping out of them, Draco pulled back slightly and looked at his mate with uncertainty in his eyes. He had never felt so naked before, and not just because he actually was naked now, but because this person, Harry, his mate, had the power to hurt him like no one else. Standing there, with Harry's intense gaze raking over his body, it felt to Draco like every secret, every insecurity that he had kept closely guarded, now lay exposed.

"Beautiful," Harry murmured finally.

Draco smiled shakily and closed the distance between them. He reached out with trembling hands and began to divest Harry of his robes. It took longer than he would have liked, mainly because his hands were shaking too much to handle the tiny buttons on his shirt. But eventually, Harry's body was revealed to him in all its glory, and trailing a finger down his mate's well-defined abdomen, Draco was convinced he had died and gone to Veela heaven.

Harry led him slowly towards the bed, and eased him down on it with such care and tenderness. Then there was that amazing feel of skin on skin, and Draco was whimpering, begging for more, without a care of who might hear him.

Harry kissed and nibbled his way down Draco's torso, paying particular attention to his pert, dusky nipples, and the hollow of his navel. By the time he reached his destination, Draco was already writhing on the bed, certain that it would all be over the moment Harry actually touched him.

When Draco felt the warmth of Harry's mouth engulf his aching cock, his hands twisted in the bed sheets, knuckles turning white, and it took every ounce of self-control for him not to thrust wildly into his mate's enticing mouth.

Harry sucked eagerly, revelling in the musky smells, and the sounds of delight that were coming from Draco. He trailed his fingers between Draco's willingly spread thighs and gently teased the nub of skin just behind his balls.

He pulled back for a moment and glanced up to enjoy the effect his ministrations were having. Draco was writhing, slack-jawed, in pleasure, his fingers now teasing and twisting his own nipples. "Please," he whimpered. "Don't stop."

Harry grinned and then licked a stripe along the underside of his cock. "I won't," he promised. "Not ever."

Then, after whispering a Lubrication Charm, that was a friend to teenage wizards everywhere, Harry trailed his fingers further down, until they were slowly circling Draco's puckered opening.

By the time Harry had two fingers inside him, stretching him in preparation, Draco was whining desperately.

"Harry, please."

"Shhh," Harry soothed, adding a third finger slowly. "Just relax."

Draco hissed slightly at the burning sensation caused by having three fingers inside him, but his brain was too full of what was to come to complain. Just the thought of having Harry inside him, of them joining together, was enough to make him sob with desire.

Finally, Harry slid his fingers out and sat back on his heels. One hand smoothed along the silky pale skin of Draco's thigh, while the other slowly massaged more lubrication onto his straining erection.

As he felt the blunt head of Harry's cock nudging against his entrance, Draco reached down and hooked his hands under his knees. He pulled his legs back against his chest, displaying his stretched opening.

"I'll be as slow as I can," Harry whispered, gently pushing his way inside Draco's tight channel. Once he was fully sheathed inside, he stopped moving, and looked up at his partner with concerned eyes.

"You okay?"

Draco nodded. He wriggled experimentally, feeling the width of Harry stretching him, filling him completely. "Move, please."

"So fucking tight," Harry groaned. "You feel so good."

As Harry began moving in long, steady strokes, Draco reached out with one hand and tugged his mate down for a kiss. "I love you," he whispered, just before his lips met Harry's in a searing kiss.

The feel of Draco's muscles tightening around his shaft was too much for Harry. "You keep doing that," he gasped, "and I won't last much longer."

Draco smiled lovingly. "That's okay. We have the whole rest of our lives to do this."

Harry grinned suddenly. "We do, don't we." He gave a particularly forceful thrust, hitting a spot deep within Draco that caused him to mewl with delight.

Draco began stroking furiously at his own cock, only to have Harry bat his hand away.

"Mine," he growled, and that voice alone was enough to have Draco arch of the bed, shooting pearlescent drops of come all over his own chest and Harry's hand.

Harry gave a few more deep thrusts before burying his head in the crook of Draco's neck and almost sobbing his completion.

After a few moments, Harry reluctantly slid out of Draco, missing the sensation of tight heat almost instantly. He pulled Draco to him so that they were spooned, back to chest, and began nuzzling the damp strands of hair at the nape of his neck. "That was amazing," he murmured.

Draco nestled further into the warmth of his mate's body, twining their fingers together. "I know. Now I get what all the fuss is about, we're definitely doing that again."

Harry chuckled at this. "Give me ten minutes or so, and I should be good to go." He finished up with a suggestive thrust against Draco's buttocks.

Draco gave his thigh a playful slap. "Sex fiend."

The two boys lay wrapped in each other for sometime, just enjoying the closeness.

"Harry," Draco whispered.

Harry lifted his head from where he had been nuzzling Draco's shoulder. "Yeah?"

"You're really okay with this? Me being a Veela?"

Harry tugged at Draco's body until he rolled over to face him. Reaching out with one hand, he brushed strands of hair tenderly off Draco's face.

"You're not just a Veela," he said firmly. "You're my Veela."

"I like that," Draco said, nuzzling against Harry's chest. "I like being yours."

Harry stroked Draco's hair lovingly. "And I'm yours, too."