Author's Note: Well, this is the end, the final chapter (I got he music to Final Countdown stuck in my head just then, and now I'm all doo doo doo do do *headdesk) This is the last of my big WIP stories, so you'll just be seeing some shorter stories and Faerie Tales from me for the next little bit while I work on some of the bigger stories a bit more. Many thanks to Deb and Laurel for their beta work on this chapter and story, and many thanks to my loyal readers for their patience while I finish this one. I hope it's been worth the wait.
Chapter 19 For Better or for Worse
Harry stared at the vial in his hand, green liquid resting placidly inside as if it couldn't possibly be the cause of all his misery. Just when he'd finally felt like he had understood and accepted the connection between he and Draco, the prat had ruined everything by swallowing his potion and severing the bond between them.
It had been over a week since he last felt the unnerving presence of Draco inside of his mind; a presence he'd grown to find soothing in their last moments together. The Slytherin still accompanied him to class sometimes, talking about Potions, or future jobs they might hold, or Quidditch games to be won, acting as if they'd never been more than close mates.
But Harry knew better.
Maybe Draco could no longer feel the pull of the Incubus inside him, but Harry could still feel the gaping hole in his chest where Draco had resided, leashing and taming his beast. Now the pain accosted Harry with blinding force once more, driving him mad and making him think horrid thoughts.
His flesh burned, his veins ached and his mind was constantly buzzing and whirring, seeking out someone – anyone - that could quench his thirst. But there was only one person he wanted. "Just once," Harry whispered huskily at Draco's side. He wasn't paying any attention to the substitute professor they'd brought in to replace Snape, who now rested comfortably under house arrest pending a full investigation and trial.
"No," Draco hissed. "You don't know what you're saying. That's just your Incubus talking."
"Please, Draco. I need you. I need to feel you again," Harry pleaded.
Draco glanced at Harry, their eyes locked for a singular moment in time and Harry thought he saw the blond's resolve waver for a second before Draco bit at the inside of his cheek and shook his head. "No." The word was low and firm and Harry nearly whined in frustration, but he knew from previous experience that the Slytherin would not fold to his demands.
"Fine," he huffed. "I'll just have to find someone else."
"Whatever you like, Potter," Draco answered haughtily, but Harry could see the hurt his words had caused in those gray eyes and regretted it immediately. "Or, you could simply stop being a stubborn arse and take the antidote."
Harry looked back down at the vial and Draco went back to reading his textbook. Harry carried the antidote with him everywhere these days, just in case an epiphany might suddenly occur to him; he wanted to make sure the potion was close by so that he could act on his whim before he lost his nerve. Hermione had done extensive research using the Cambions' notes on the potion and felt confident that they had told Harry the entire truth about what it did and what the possible side effects might be. Draco still seemed fine, better than fine, actually. He seemed content, almost happy. Although on most days, that knowledge only served to irritate Harry.
He didn't even know what they were to one another anymore. Were they friends? Were they more? Less? Without the help of Draco's consciousness mixed with his, Harry had no idea. 'Sort of like a normal relationship,' he thought in a voice that sounded suspiciously like Hermione's. Probably because that was exactly what she'd said to him the night before when he'd been complaining to her about Draco.
"But I don't want a normal relationship," Harry said aloud, startling Draco out of his reading beside him. "I want what we had before."
Draco gave him sorrowful eyes and nodded softly, grabbing Harry's hand within his. "That's gone now, Harry. It wasn't healthy and it's over. You need to move on."
Harry yanked his hand away and glowered down at the table. "So that's it? I'm just supposed to forget everything that happened? Forget the hurt, the power, the pain? I'm supposed to forget that I love you?"
Wincing, Draco looked away as well and remained silent. Harry waited, waited for Draco to answer, waited for the lies, because Harry knew Draco wouldn't be able to look him in the eyes and tell him that he'd forgotten all of it. He knew from the way the blond stared at him sometimes that Draco remembered it all as clearly as he did.
As much as he would have liked to blame Draco for all of this – his attraction, his Incubus nature, his father's sick attitude – Harry knew he couldn't. For the first time in a long time, Harry wanted to take control of his life, and he was going to start with finally drinking the antidote that he probably should have ingested a week ago.
"Well," Harry said when Draco didn't say a word. "I suppose there is only one thing for it then." Draco didn't look up until Harry uncorked the vial in his hands. Gray eyes went wide as Harry lifted the glass to his lips and tipped it, swallowing every last drop.
He felt as if he'd stood up too fast, only he was still sitting down. The wave of spinning nausea that attacked him almost sent him running for the loo, but it faded as quickly as it had begun. He thought perhaps that was it, but the strange sensations continued, with his fingertips suddenly feeling icy cold. The chill spread from his fingers and toes up through his limbs and torso until it reached his heart and he realized it wasn't cold at all. It was simply returning his body temperature to normal and banishing the burning heat that had become an unwanted companion over the last few months.
He blinked rapidly, wondering if that was the end of the shift, flexing his fingers as if his mobility would somehow be affected. "It's gone," he breathed.
"It's not gone," Draco corrected. "It's just sleeping. If you search deep within yourself, you can still feel it purring."
The Slytherin's voice was reverent, almost wistful as he spoke and Harry imagined that he was petting the beast somewhere inside of himself. Harry tried to do the same, but every time he felt like he was getting close, the Incubus seemed to slink further into the dark, as if it was purposefully hiding.
"It takes time," Draco said, seeing the frustration on Harry's face. "I think it has to come to terms with its new place in your life before it will let you find it again."
"It's just a gene," Harry huffed. "A disease of the blood."
"You and I both know differently," Draco whispered.
"Yeah," Harry muttered, feeling utterly abandoned. Now the beast, the only thing that had reminded Harry of his connection to the lovely blond beside him, was avoiding him as deftly as Draco was. Both of them were just stubborn gits.
"You did the right thing, Harry. Now you can move past all this and do whatever it was you wanted to do before," Draco sighed.
Harry opened his mouth to speak again, intent on changing Draco's mind. Now that his Incubus wasn't overwhelming him with need, he wanted to find out if Draco would be willing to try and see if they could have a go at a normal relationship, as Hermione was fond of calling it. Unfortunately, the Professor chose that moment to dismiss their class and Draco stood up and gathered his things hurriedly. "See you at lunch?" he asked, and Harry nodded lamely, his entire speech dissolving on the tip of his tongue.
"Alright, Harry?" Ron asked, clapping his friend on the back as he and Hermione took their usual flanking positions on either side of their best friend. Harry wanted to laugh at the sheer complication of that question, but he refrained.
"I took it," he announced instead.
"Took what?" Ron asked, his ginger brow set in a deep frown.
"The antidote?" Hermione guessed and he nodded. "When?"
"During class just now," Harry admitted.
"You took a controversial antidote to a genetic disorder during Potions class?" Hermione clarified, looking as if she didn't know whether to be impressed or smack Harry over the head for being reckless. It looked like she was leaning toward the smacking, so Harry shifted to Ron's other side, further away from the book-wielding harpy.
"You told me it was perfectly safe," Harry reminded her. "And you've both been riding me to take it for days now. You should be pleased."
"I'm pleased you took it, Harry," she yielded, "I'm just upset you decided to take it where no one could monitor you just in case."
"Draco was there," Harry pointed out.
"Right," Ron assisted. "Draco wouldn't let anything happen to Harry." Ron had grown rather fond of the Slytherin since their kidnapping. For some reason, the de-Incubused Draco Malfoy seemed to be much more tolerable than the pre-Incubused Draco Malfoy. Harry had a feeling that rape, kidnapping and witnessing the death of his father had contributed to Draco's new attitude and outlook on life, not to mention the fact that his body was no longer burning alive with desire.
"I suppose not," Hermione agreed, placated for the moment. "But it was still dangerous," she added with a huff.
"Well, how about this," Harry began. "What if I promise to never take a potion to suppress my Incubus during Potions ever again?"
"Clearly your sense of sarcasm has been unaffected by the antidote," she replied blandly. "What did Draco say?"
"Nothing, really," Harry sighed, feeling rejected all over again. It wasn't as though he'd expected Draco to leap into his arms and snog him the moment he'd swallowed the potion…but it would have been nice.
"I'm sorry, Harry," Hermione offered, slipping around her boyfriend to comfort her friend. "He'll come around. The events of the past few months would be hard on anyone. I'm sure he just needs time."
"Maybe," he sighed, hoping she was right.
"You did sort of kill his father," Ron pointed out unhelpfully and then winced as he realized what he'd said. "Sorry, Mate."
Harry took a deep breath and let it out slowly, willing himself to try and forget about the beautiful blond Slytherin he was still madly in love with, despite everything. "I just need to do like he said and move on. I'm sure Narcissa is already interviewing dozens of beautiful women to present to him after graduation. He can be the Malfoy he was always meant to be now that I'm out of the way."
"Harry," Hermione started, sounding like she was about to object, but Harry just shook his head.
"It's alright, Mione. I'll be fine." And for a single fraction of time, Harry believed his own words, but then he saw Draco sitting at the Slytherin table in the Great Hall and his heart broke all over again. He tore his gaze quickly away from the chattering blond and instead watched the steady thrum of his trainers on the stone floor. It was comforting to know that he could control their pace and where the rubber would connect with the cracks - that he had control over something, anything.
He took his place at the Gryffindor table, silently thankful for his Headmistress once more when he found no odd glances or whispered gossip following him. With quick action, she'd set the Gryffindor tower to rights and slightly modified the memory of every student that had witnessed Harry's capture. Still, there were rumors on the back pages of the Daily Prophet, but without McGonagall, there would have been a front page story featuring the details of Harry's condition, his capture and likely the fact that he'd been discovered nude hiding under a bed from an equally nude Severus Snape and a scowling Lucius Malfoy. His reputation would have never recovered from that. Now all they had was speculation that he was up to something during the time he'd been away, which had only amounted to just over a day when all was said and done.
"Hullo, Draco," Hermione said, and Harry fought every urge within himself not to follow her gaze where he could now feel the blond standing behind him.
"Mind if I sit?" he asked, and she looked to Harry, who remained mum.
"Harry," she prodded when his silence didn't seem to have an end.
"He'd probably be more comfortable with the Slytherins," Harry said at last, shoveling a bite of food into his mouth. He didn't even know what he was eating, just that it kept him from having to say anything else. He caught the apologetic glance Hermione shot Draco, but he still didn't look up.
"A word, Potter," Draco said lowly behind him.
"I took the antidote, Malfoy. You won't catch me bothering you anymore," he replied.
"A word," he repeated. "Now."
Harry rolled his eyes but got up and followed the blond as he stalked from the Great Hall and rounded the stairs to a small, quiet alcove.
"What is your damage, Potter?" he stopped and hissed. "This morning you were begging for a fuck and now I'm not good enough to eat lunch with?"
"I wasn't begging," Harry corrected, narrowing his eyes.
Draco pursed his lips and gave a mocking glare. "You said 'please'," he reminded him.
"You've made it clear that you're not interested in me now that your Incubus is asleep," Harry said, giving up the other argument.
"I what? I said no such thing!" Draco exclaimed.
"I'm supposed to forget everything," Harry echoed from their earlier conversation. "Move on, do whatever it is I wanted to do before I was saddled with a sex beast and fell in love with you."
"You weren't in love with me," Draco grumbled. "You were bonded to me with ancient magic and an Incubus."
"Do not dare try and tell me how I feel," Harry growled, shoving the blond until his back hit the wall.
"Feel?" Draco repeated.
"Yes, feel, you idiot. As in present tense, as in still do, as in what the fuck am I supposed to do now?" Harry shouted, pushing his hands into ebony locks and tugging, hoping that physical pain might drown out the pain he felt in his heart.
He wanted to scream at Draco, and at the world, for the unfairness of it all; to shout that after everything he went through he at least deserved to be with the man he loved. But before he could start shouting again, he found his lips rather preoccupied. With Draco's. The blond leapt at him, gripped his red and gold tie and pulled him close, their chests heaving together as Harry tasted the most wonderful flavor in the world, something he thought he'd lost forever.
Frantically, Harry's hands sought purchase in Draco's robes, scrabbling until he found curving hipbones that he used to anchor himself to that place and that moment. The feel of Draco's tongue in his mouth, battling for dominance, was sheer bliss. Nimble fingers flew up and feathered in Harry's wild mane, massaging the scalp that Harry had just abused and leveraging them even closer together.
Harry's fingers, however, went a different direction, grazing over the growing erection beneath Draco's robes until he hissed in pleasure. "I've missed you," Harry groaned, pulling back just enough to breathe the words into Draco's mouth.
"I just had to be sure, Harry," Draco whispered. "I had to know that you wanted me, not just the Incubus."
"I do," Harry assured. "I love you, Draco. That hasn't gone away."
"Will it?" Draco asked, his eyes sparkling with lust.
"I don't know," Harry said honestly. "But then, I suppose that's normal."
Draco chuckled and latched onto Harry's bottom lip, nipping and sucking and rejoicing in the guttural moans Harry rewarded him with. "I'm not going to last," Harry announced, his erection rutting against Draco's through their infuriating clothes.
"Neither am I," Draco panted before thrusting one last time and shuddering against Harry, who came in the next moment.
Forehead to forehead they stood there panting, sweat accumulating on their brow as each tried to form words between tender, breathless kisses.
"I take it you've made up then?" Hermione called from down the corridor, pulling the boys' attention away from one another.
"I think that's a safe assumption," Draco noted, pressing a firm kiss against Harry's temple.
A warm glow settled over Harry as he felt everything clicking into place. He didn't need the Incubus or the bond or his friends to tell him that Draco made him happy. He just knew, and whether or not that was normal, Harry didn't care. He was giving up on searching for normal and he was now focused on just living his life the way that he wanted, and hopefully Draco would remain at his side for every adventure.
"I love you," Draco whispered in his ear, low enough that only Harry would hear him, and all Harry could do was smile.
Author's Note: I debated back and forth about the end for a while, add an epilogue, don't add an epilogue, but I really loved the juxtaposition of the heavy smut throughout the entire story until you reach this last chapter, where it's frantic and sloppy and sweet. I also thought about reforming the bond without Snape, but the boys fought me on that. They don't want to be forced into anything, and I think the bond will be for later in their long lives.