Title: The Long-Desired

Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.

Rating: R

Pairing: Harry/Draco

Warnings: Creature!fic,(vampire Draco), angst, violence, profanity, sex, bloodplay, past canon character death, dark (arguably insane) Harry. DH spoilers, but ignores epilogue.

Summary: Sequel to 'Viper.' Harry is more determined than ever to prevent Draco from taking Harry as his lover and Long-Desired, which Harry sees as slavery. Draco turns to Harry's friends for help as Harry spirals down into self-destruction.

Author's Notes: This is the third of the 'Two Hunters' series, which begins with 'Mongoose' and continues in 'Viper,' and it will be the last one. Reading this one isn't recommended if you haven't read the others. It is also a dark story, and not very fluffy. This one will probably be between nine and thirteen parts long, updated irregularly.

The Long-Desired

There had to be an answer.

In fact, there was an answer. Harry was certain of it. He had seen the book, and he had read the answer in the back of it, amused and impressed by the lengths that some vampire hunters would go to to prevent their prey from hurting them. He hadn't thought he would ever need this particular trick. He had modified his body in ways that others might find startling, but those modifications were meant to provide strictly temporary effects. Harry wouldn't need them to last a long time, because his innate skill would ensure that he had another way to kill the vampires.

But now…

Now he needed it, and he couldn't find it.

Harry flung another book across his drawing room and watched without emotion as the pages ripped and frayed from the binding, drifting across the desk and shelves in a flurry of paper snowflakes. It couldn't help him. It didn't deserve the gentle treatment that he knew Hermione would always advise for books.

Why am I thinking of Hermione at a time like this? She certainly wouldn't think of me. She would probably advise me to do something stupid like surrender to the Long-Desired bond and "think about the future."

Harry sneered and turned towards the pile of books that he hadn't investigated yet. He refused to contemplate a future as a slave, which surrendering to the Long-Desired bond would mean. No one understood him but himself—and Ginny, but she was gone. They would all advise him to do things that he didn't want to do, his friends and his fellow Aurors and the Head Auror and the rest of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and the Minister and the public and the reporters and everyone else who thought they had a right to interfere in his life.

And so would Malfoy.

Harry felt a shudder rip up his spine. Malfoy was the only one of the lot that was worth wasting a thought on, because he was the only one who had the power to hurt Harry. He would make him into his slave. He would feed on his blood and make him feel physical pleasure from it. He would force Harry to share his magic with him when he drank that blood. He would try to make Harry forget Ginny and the reasons he had become a vampire hunter in the first place, and come to bed with him.

He would change the very core of what I am, and in the end he would steal my mind and my will, the way that the Collector did to Lucy. That's what a vampire does to a Long-Desired. I know, because I saw it happening. He can't convince me otherwise.

But still he tried, and that drove Harry closer to the brink of madness than anything else had so far. Didn't he realize he had no right, and wouldn't succeed?

Harry took up another book. A glance was sufficient to tell him that this was the right one. He smiled and sat down on the couch to read it with hands that shook. How could he have forgotten? This was about the history of vampires, and the strategies that had been used during that history to control them and keep their numbers down like the vermin they were. Predators who preyed on humans could not be allowed to continue existing.

He hated how necessary that mantra had become to him since the confrontation in the Collector's tower. Once, he would simply have carried it as knowledge in the back of his head, undeniably part of his world, but with no need to articulate it aloud.

Now he had to articulate it. Now there was too much chance that he would slip if he let himself, and start thinking of the pleasure there was to be found in Malfoy's fangs plunging into his neck, or how they had cooperated to kill the most dangerous vampire he had ever faced.

Not the most dangerous. The most dangerous is Malfoy, because of the power he has over you.

Weak, that is what you are. Weak.

Harry blinked away desperate sweat and tears of pure anger. He didn't have time for them now. He had to concentrate on learning and executing the one method that was guaranteed to make Malfoy leave him alone, because it would destroy the thing that made Malfoy desire him.

*

Draco leaned an elbow on the white stone that marked the boundary of Harry's property and gazed steadfastly at the house hidden behind its wards.

The wards were too powerful, even for a vampire like him, made into a master vampire by the death of his sire and connected by a Long-Desired bond to the occupant within. Harry had spent years learning how to defend a place against his prey. Draco could not even find a beginning or end to the wards, and that was an impressive thing.

He licked his fangs. He had fed tonight, of course, and the night before that, and the night before that. He could not exist if he did not drink blood, and his existence was his highest priority.

But the blood did not taste of the adrenaline and the magic that he had learned to savor, and with his belly full, his priorities rose to leading the most powerful and brilliant existence he could. That was one ambition that had not died with his mortal body.

The key to that ambition, that existence, hid in the house behind the wards and tried to pretend that nothing had changed, that they had not found pleasure together, hunted together, or conquered together.

That Draco had not said he would burn for Harry.

He pulled his arm away from the white boulder and began his patient prowling along the wards. There was always the possibility that he had missed some small hole. True, Harry knew even more about vampires than he did, who was one, but Draco had access to a library full of books about vampires at Malfoy Manor and the patience of the undead. If a flaw existed, he would find it.

Meanwhile, he knew the wards that formed the outer shell of Harry's defenses, the simplest warning wards, were transferring news of his presence to Harry. He could lie in his bed and stare at the ceiling all he wanted; he could hunt through his library; he could go to work by day and pretend that nothing was wrong. But Draco would still be walking along the edge of his property, and he would still use his body to give the simplest message he could.

I am here. Waiting for you.

*

"Harry. I need to talk to you."

Harry sighed. He hadn't spoken with Hermione since their last argument, when she had tried to break him of his obsession with vampires, and thus proved that she didn't understand the need to avenge Ginny and the driving force of Harry's life at all. Harry had assumed that they would drift slowly apart, ending with him isolated in a world of darkness and probably dying at the fangs of a vampire, as he had always known he would.

But Hermione was too determined to let it go. Harry knew she would stand there and repeat the same words for hours, if need be, until he talked to her.

She and Malfoy are rather alike in that respect.

Harry scowled. He didn't want to have that insight. He spun his chair around to face Hermione and raised an eyebrow. "What?"

Hermione sat down in the chair next to his, which was usually Ron's. Her face was pale. Her eyes looked like stones. Harry shot a glance around the office and groaned when he realized that Ron was gone and his desk was empty of paperwork. They must have planned this between the two of them, he decided, and glared at Hermione, hoping to make her back away with the sheer force of his wrath.

Of course she stayed where she was. Harry hadn't yet discovered the expression that could make Hermione back down. "I went past your house last night," she said. "Harry, why was there a vampire near your wards?"

"A little souvenir of my most recent adventure." Harry put a sneer into his voice. He had been right that a vampire was behind the murders of two men, McFadden and Gowan, but his superiors had refused to acknowledge that. They were still officially listing the cases as unsolved. Ron and Hermione, of course, knew that Harry hunted vampires and knew what it meant when he vanished for a day or so and no more murders happened. "A member of the nest the master vampire commanded. I killed the others, but he got away." Harry sighed. "He probably wants revenge on me, but I don't think he'll get to take it. He's a very young vampire."

"And?" Hermione spoke the word with a soft drawl that reminded Harry of nothing so much as the way Malfoy had talked to him in the Collector's tower.

You are going to forget that, he told himself, and raised his eyebrows. "And what? I'm still recovering from that adventure of mine, and I've been meaning to try out some new strategies that I still need to research. I'll take care of him when I'm ready."

There has to be a way for a Long-Desired to kill the vampire who wants to enslave him. There has to be.

"When were you going to mention that it's Malfoy?" Hermione looked him in the eye with that inconvenient piercing gaze that wouldn't let him look away.

Harry barely kept from digging his fingers into his trousers. Even though Hermione knew the vampire was Malfoy, there was no indication that she knew about the special ability Malfoy had to irritate and hurt Harry. He was a good liar. He could tough this out, too. No need to panic and get caught. He sighed. "Yeah, he took me by surprise. For some reason, I didn't want to kill him. Sentiment, I reckon, and that he's so young. And I didn't want you to think I was getting soft, so I didn't mention him."

"Getting soft." Hermione repeated the words with a peculiar undertone in her voice that Harry couldn't make out.

"Yeah." Harry raised an eyebrow at her and chuckled. Maybe he could keep his friendship with Ron and Hermione after all. If they would leave him alone, and come close again only after he'd found a way to make Malfoy back off. The cure for that problem was more complicated than he had anticipated. There was a high chance that he could die while he was performing it, and he wanted to live to destroy more nests. "Hard to believe of me, isn't it?"

Hermione grabbed his shoulders. Harry gaped up at her. He couldn't remember the last time she had shaken him so violently, or leaned forwards and spoken to him the way she did then, with her heart in her eyes.

"I think 'getting soft' would be the best thing that could happen to you. Harry." She swallowed the way a new vampire would try to swallow its first mouthful of blood. "You're not a hunter, you're a murderer. Your obsession has taken over your life. It's not about Ginny anymore; it's about blood and death. And if you really did spare Malfoy because you remember who he used to be, that's the most hopeful sign…" She let out a shivering breath. "It means that you could be healed again, that you might become sane."

"I am sane." Harry's voice made Hermione look at him with real fear on her face, and he felt, distantly, bad about that. But he was so irritated about the way that everyone was treating him, and so fucking tired of being misunderstood again and again. "I can restrain myself when I need to. I plan out my kills. I leave those vampires who registered with the Ministry alone. That doesn't suggest to me that my obsession is taking over my life."

Hermione shook him again, this time hard enough that Harry's teeth rattled in his head, and her fear turned back to anger so sharp Harry was afraid it would cut him open. "When was the last time you had a conversation with Ron about something other than work? With me about anything that didn't involve your work or vampires? When was the last time you saw the rest of the Weasleys? Or went shopping? Or went on a date?"

Her words made Harry felt as if his skin had broken out in hives. He pulled roughly free of Hermione's grip and stood up, sending the chair sprawling backwards. He was taller than Hermione, but not by much, and she glared up at him, showing no signs of turning tail. So Harry would just have to make her.

"How dare you?" he said. No need to shout. He made his voice low, the kind of lowness that should vibrate in Hermione's bones and steal her breath if she had any sense at all. "How dare you suggest that I should go and see the Weasleys again when I got their daughter killed? How dare you suggest that I should date someone when they would die in turn and that would be a betrayal of Ginny's memory? How dare—"

"Ginny is dead!" Hermione had a howl that Harry had never heard before, as well as he knew her. "She's been dead for years, and the way you talk and think about her, it's as though she died yesterday! Harry, she wouldn't want this. None of us want this. I am going to make you change your mind."

Harry shook his head. He could feel his control slipping, and he tried hard to hold onto it. He didn't want to hurt Hermione with wild magic, no matter how much he hated her at the moment for saying things that couldn't be true. "No, Hermione. I'm sorry, but if you try to do that, then our friendship is over."

"It practically is over already," Hermione said, and her eyes were full of terrifying gentleness. "I'm sorry, Harry. I won't let your protests keep you from getting the help you need."

I'll need a different kind of weapon. Harry turned away from her and made his voice muffled. "I see. So you'll do what some people suggested doing to me in fifth year and shut me up in St. Mungo's because you think I'm mad and it's for my own bloody good?"

"Yes, I will," Hermione said, unfazed. Harry stared at her. She was supposed to feel betrayed when I accused her of being one of my enemies. What happened? "If that's what it takes. You're slipping off the edge of sanity, Harry. I told you that."

She turned and walked out of the room while he was still staring.

You should have anticipated this, a dark voice taunted him. No one loves you or will stand by you. They are only interested in making you do what they want.

Harry turned around swiftly and snatched the essential paperwork off his desk, then ran out the door as soon as he thought he wouldn't meet Hermione in the corridor. If Hermione and Ron were actively working against him, he didn't have much time. Malfoy could still come to him in his imprisonment and try to break Harry's will.

He needed to complete the ritual that would change his blood and make it undrinkable by Malfoy as soon as possible.

*

Draco sighed. This was the fourteenth time he had been around Harry's wards tonight, the fortieth in the last two nights, and so far he hadn't detected a single hole or weak place in the defenses.

Again he paused next to the white boulder and gazed wistfully in the direction of Harry's house. If he would only see me and talk to me for a single minute, then I might manage to convince him. If I could send an owl to him, even better. Of course, there's no guarantee that he would read the letter.

Resigned for the moment, Draco started to turn away. He could survive on the blood of others, though it would never taste as good as his Long-Desired's blood.

Perhaps you will always have to survive on the blood of others.

Draco frowned and shook his head. No, he could not believe that. More, he could not accept it. Someday, he would have what his body and his mind hungered for. He didn't yet know how he would achieve it, but then, he hadn't known if the bond would strengthen at all a week ago, before they went hunting the Collector. At least since that time, he had come to understand the depth of the pull that bound him to Harry and they had shared pleasure.

Perhaps the securing of the bond must happen in a series of such small steps, with my having to prove to Harry again and again that I can offer him something, and his pulling back so that he can consider whether that gift is worth the sacrifice of his independence.

Light blazed in front of him. Draco dropped to a crouch, his eyes shielded, and used his other senses to decide which way he needed to move. He had finally stopped being such an idiot as to rely only on his eyes when he was startled.

The scent in front of him was female, unfamiliar on the surface, but tantalizing under that; Draco knew that meant it was one he had smelled before without paying attention to it at the time. The sounds included loud breathing and the rustling of robes, which told him it was a witch. Not that he would have expected a Muggle to surprise him on this lonely moor so close to wards, but stranger things had happened to him, most of them within the past month.

She Apparated in, he decided, and leaped straight up in case she aimed a curse at him. Her gasp revealed that she hadn't expected that, and so she didn't know much about vampires. Draco opened his eyes as he came down, and saw that his instincts had sent him flying to the right place. He landed behind her, one arm wrapped around her neck, his fangs laid against the skin of her throat.

She tried to twist her head. Draco locked his arm more firmly in place, to emphasize why this would not be a good idea, but not before she managed to turn so that he could see her face.

"Granger," he drawled, mostly to cover his own surprise. "Do you have a reason for sneaking about in the dark outside Potter's wards?" It would not be a good idea to call Harry by his first name in front of one of his friends, no matter how often Draco privately referred to him that way. Besides, he saw no need to let anyone else know how he felt about his Long-Desired.

"Malfoy," she breathed. "I reckon that clears up any questions of whether you really are a vampire."

"You thought I might not be?" Draco let his fangs scrape along her skin teasingly. Granger stood motionless in his embrace, but didn't smell frightened, and her heart only sped up a little. Draco had to give her credit for that. "Do you regularly encounter another kind of pale-skinned creature that's abroad by night?"

"Harry was the one who said you were a vampire," Granger muttered. "He sees vampires everywhere, including under the bed. I couldn't take his word for it." Then she turned her attention back to him. "And is it true that you're from the last nest he destroyed and looking to take vengeance for your sire's death?"

Draco paused to consider for a moment, unconcerned as to what Granger might think now. He could destroy her, after all, and there was no way that she could know the meaning behind his silence unless he chose to reveal it to her.

His first instinct was to feel admiration. Harry can lie when he needs to. It's doubtless a skill that he learned in his hunting, and I have to admit that I'm impressed.

But his next instinct was irritation. Harry would deny their bond in front of his friends. Likely he hadn't told them about sparing Draco's life when he destroyed Caspar's nest and freed Draco from his domination, either. Granger must have caught a glimpse of Draco and necessitated the lie.

And that meant Granger and Weasley were unlikely to know anything about the Long-Desired bond.

Draco made a swift decision. If it was the wrong one, he could always use his thrall on Granger and command her to forget what had passed between them. The chances that she would be immune to it, as Harry was, were small.

"I'm from another nest," he told her. "One that Harry destroyed before he destroyed the last one—which he did only with my help, by the way. And I hunted with him, and I'm waiting for him to acknowledge me, because he's my Long-Desired."

Granger assumed an intense listening stance, and her heartbeat increased. "What's that? I haven't heard of them."

"A wizard whose blood and magic are exactly to my taste," Draco said. Granger made a small movement towards her wand. Draco laughed and flicked out his tongue to brush her throat, reminding her exactly who was in charge here. "I don't intend to eat him up, Granger. I want to have him by my side, to wield his magic—which I can only do if he gives me permission to bite him, as he has several times now—"

"Harry would neverdo that." Granger's voice was growing shrill.

"Come now," Draco said with some disapproval. "I can't believe it's escaped your notice, observant as you are, that he wears a glamour on his neck to disguise the puncture wounds."

Granger was silent for long moments. Then she said, "He let you bite him. Why?"

"Because without his magic, we wouldn't have escaped the master vampires who were trying to kill us." Draco yawned and let his left fang rasp on her collarbone. "He was wise enough to see that it was in the interests of our survival. But the last master vampire we destroyed, the Collector, had a Long-Desired, too. She convinced Harry, as she was dying, that she had controlled that woman's mind and that the Long-Desired bond is solely a leash for a master to hold a slave on. Harry went mad and refused to let me near him."

Granger muttered, "It sounds as if you love him. And one thing I know well enough is that vampires can't love."

"Not ordinarily," Draco agreed. "But the tie between Long-Desired and vampire is different. And if I can't offer him love, I offer him the next best thing. Sanity. He's lost his, Granger, and you know it. I have an interest in preserving his life, which means that I intend to end his obsession with hunting. One way or the other."

"How do I know that won't involve killing him?"

"He dies and my perfect source of blood dies." Draco paused, and then decided it could be a diplomatic move to let some of the honest longing he felt fill his voice. "And I want him, Granger. He's meant to be at my side. He'll derive enough benefit from his part of the bargain, don't worry—not only power, but pleasure at my hands. The link between us is already taking hold, or he would have killed me. He's tried," he added, thinking of that moment in the Collector's tower when Harry had flung a Blasting Curse at him. "I'm his best chance to have something to think about besides the murder of Ginny Weasley. Did you know that he had to slay her to make sure she wouldn't rise again as a vampire? That takes enormous courage, but it twisted something in him. I want to undo the twisting."

Granger stood still longer than Draco had thought a mortal could. Then she said, "I need to think."

Draco leaped back, out of cursing range, and bowed to her as she spun around and stared at him in shock. "Ask him about the Collector," he said. "And Caspar, my old master. And the Long-Desired. Mentioning that word around him might evoke the strongest reaction."

"I'll do exactly as I want, Malfoy," Granger said haughtily, but her scent told of her interest and her determination.

Draco smiled and sprang into the darkness, more hopeful than he had been in many nights.

Thalia was right. The Long-Desired is meant to be with his vampire. Something will always happen to make sure the bond gets its chance.