Thanks again for all the reviews! This is the last chapter of Eyes That Can See in the Dark. I hope that you enjoyed the story and that it tied up some of the loose ends left from Rejoicing in Their Strength.
Chapter Four—The Year's Moon
"I still think it's strange."
Once, those words would have frozen Draco. Now he could give Weasley a serene smile, secure in the fact that Harry's best friends would leave him and Draco would remain, and stretched out behind Harry, propping his chin up on his lover's shoulder. Harry reached back and stroked Draco's hair.
Granger, who had been more accepting than Weasley, nodded to them both and then turned back to Harry and launched into the subject that was obviously dearer to her heart than whether her best friend was sleeping with a Malfoy. "To answer your questions, Harry, there hasn't been any rumor that yours might have been the pack that killed Lucius Malfoy." She shifted on the moss-covered stone she'd chosen as a seat. Draco sniffed, and picked up only concern in her scent. He relaxed slowly. He didn't know what Harry had told his friends about the way Draco had joined the pack, but it was obviously enough to content them and yet not make them report the pack to the Ministry. The revelation of the trust that Harry shared with his friends humbled and awed Draco. "But anti-werewolf prejudice is still strong. I tried hinting the secret to a few people I thought I could trust, and they all leaped back like I had a catching disease." Granger looked disgusted.
"Lycanthropy is a catching disease," Harry said quietly, stroking Draco's head still, as though he thought Draco was the one who required soothing. "We won't win converts by trying to treat it as anything else."
"But it's not as though it's catching when you're in human form, and we would take precautions for what would happen when you were wolves." Granger shook her head so hard that her hair bounced away from her eyes. "I know why they're frightened, but there's no way to control it or fight it if you allow fear to rule you instead of reason."
"She's right, mate." Weasley's voice had a heaviness that Draco had never heard in it during their years in Hogwarts. It was the voice of a man who took his life seriously and had persuaded others to take him seriously at the same time. "You're going to have to come out of the woods sometime if you want anyone to treat you like a human."
"I'll do that," Harry said. "But not until I know that someone won't simply murder me because I'm a werewolf. How is the deal for Ministry protection going?"
"Slowly," Weasley said. "Kingsley knows, of course, but he's still half-reluctant to believe that werewolves can ever be anything but monsters."
"We'll keep fighting, though," Granger said at once. "As long as you're willing to come and show yourself off when necessary, and show that you aren't dangerous."
Draco snorted, though he didn't realize it had been aloud until the rest of them turned to look at him. Then he had to clear his throat and explain what he was thinking, which was much harder than he had thought it would be with Granger and Weasley staring. "It's stupid to say that we aren't dangerous. Of course we are. What we have to do is show what kind of dangerous that is, and what we're willing to do to safeguard our privacy and freedom and what we aren't willing to do."
He stopped, embarrassed and not at all sure that he had conveyed his point. But Harry was looking at him with the quiet approval he most valued, and Granger nodded as if her head were about to fall off.
"Of course, of course," she muttered. "That's part of it, too. We can't deny reality any more than our opponents should be able to deny reality if they see that you don't run after people trying to mouth their limbs in public. We have to remember that werewolves are dangerous and be ready to admit that—as long as we can qualify what we mean."
"Yeah," Weasley said, though with a dubious glance at Draco, as if he thought someone else should have made the suggestion.
Draco opened his mouth, but Harry pushed down a bit with his hand and shook his head. Understanding the message, Draco dropped back into silence and listened as Harry and Granger began to plot out ways that they could bring werewolves into the public eye without scaring potential supporters off.
Draco laid his nose next to Harry's back and closed his eyes. He had an interest in the conversation, of course he did, but it was near the full moon and his restlessness had kept him awake most of the night last night…
Besides, he had an important battle to wage tomorrow. Hyacinth didn't know it yet, but Draco did, and he had watched her carefully in preparation for it.
As he drifted off to sleep, he wished that he already had a tail, so that he might wag it and express his excitement that way.
The clearing was full of the cresting waves of power, as it usually was when the pack gathered before a run. Draco slipped out of his house and stood in the middle of it, absorbing it through his fur, feeling as if he were an integral part of it rather than a stranger as he had been before his first hunt.
Leila saw him and wagged her tail in greeting. Draco accepted her nip on the jaw with regal aloofness. They had planned the gesture, knowing that it would catch Hyacinth's attention. Draco was stronger than Leila, everyone agreed on that, but Leila usually showed such deference in wolf form only to Hyacinth and Harry.
A moment later, a growl rumbled across the clearing, cutting through the waves of power like a Muggle's motorized boat across the surface of a lake.
Leila lowered herself to the ground and flattened her ears so that she could look ingratiating and like a coward. Draco didn't mind. The whole point of the demonstration was to pin Hyacinth's irritation on him and not Leila. So he turned around with his head lifted at an angle that would have made Weasley splutter about Malfoy attitudes and his chest puffed out, his ears straight and proud.
Hyacinth trotted towards him, a vision of scarlet power that was no longer nearly as frightening as she probably assumed she was. Draco had watched her carefully down these months as she grew more and more overbearing and confronted the other members of the pack—always with the exception of Harry—when they'd done nothing but be around her. Celia and Josh stood together, and could outface her. Leila always yielded. Draco had done his best to ignore her, while giving her the impression of someone who couldn't ignore her.
So she was underestimating him, just as she underestimated everyone who didn't outrank her. And Draco, as he half-lowered his head to protect his throat and growled a return to her challenge, knew it would cost her.
Hyacinth halted five feet away from him, her ears slowly flattening in anger rather than an attempt to placate him. Despite how often she'd tried to provoke him into a fight, her stare was wide, and her scent brewed with astonishment. She hadn't ever expected him to face up to her, Draco decided.
A moment later, her scent changed to include more anger, but there was no caution that Draco could sense. Just anger that prickled the fur on his spine and made him want to tilt back his head and howl his challenge to the moon.
But there was no need for that, given that everyone in the pack knew what was happening by now. Harry, always the last to come out, was sitting next to Celia, his eyes bright and his ears lifted in interest. He bobbed his head when he saw Draco looking at him, and though Draco would have fought with or without his permission, he was grateful for it. He understood now why Harry had done no more in the last few months than temper Hyacinth's worst excesses. He knew that little he said or did as a human could have an impact on Hyacinth when their wolf sides would demand a strict pack hierarchy every full moon.
But if someone defeated her and made her assume a lower place in the pack as a wolf, then she would stop acting like quite such a bitch in any form.
Hyacinth was already prowling around to the side as though she intended to try a shoulder rush. Draco had noticed that her first attack was always a feint, however, when it wasn't a straight-ahead charge. So he balanced lightly on the tips of his paws and waited for her to try something other than the obvious.
She did. She leaped over Draco, and tried to scrape at him with her nails and snap a piece of fur from his ear on the way.
Draco dropped to his belly and let her soar over him. Then, when she was still stumbling about and trying to recover her balance when she'd been braced for an impact, he popped back up and bit her tail.
It was the perfect tactic, as he could see from the gleam in Leila's eyes and the way that Celia's tongue lolled out of her mouth. It humiliated Hyacinth and said that Draco could do anything he wanted, but had been refraining out of misplaced respect. This fight was a game to him and not a deadly serious duel.
That wasn't the truth, of course, since if he lost this fight, Hyacinth would probably make his life miserable for the next month because he'd had the temerity to challenge her. But the attitude and the impression were as important as the reality. Hyacinth had taught him that.
She will not like how well I have learned my lessons, Draco promised himself as he danced back and waited for her response.
Hyacinth didn't spin around snarling, and Draco admired the effort it must have taken her to control herself. She bared her teeth instead, and her breath came out in a deep huff that probably hurt her chest and her lungs. When she turned, it was with a scrape and stamp of her paw on the earth like a bull's hoof.
She stretched her jaws wider and wider, every hair around her neck bristling on end like a lion's mane. Draco knew the display was meant to intimidate him into falling over and showing his belly, and he did feel a shiver pass through him. Hyacinth looked in that moment like the monster she had been when she stepped into Malfoy Manor and attacked Lucius. He retained his human thoughts under the influence of Wolfsbane. He retained his human fear of monsters.
But he didn't intend to let that fear control him, the same way he wouldn't let Hyacinth goad him into attacking her as she had during their first fight. He was the master here, the stronger one psychologically as he might not be physically. He sat down and stretched his own jaws back at Hyacinth, in a yawn.
Hyacinth snarled, provoked beyond endurance, and attacked.
That was what Draco had waited for. He could use her own tactics against her, though he would not try to throw her; her weight was too much for him, and he might well break his neck. Though his werewolf magic could keep him alive even through such a wound, he would certainly lose the fight.
He whirled around and pretended to flee before her. They reached a tree at the edge of the clearing, and Draco swerved out of the way, using his lighter body to full advantage; he could change directions much more quickly than she could.
Hyacinth plowed into the tree.
Nothing in the world could have muffled Leila's high, delighted yip. Draco glanced at her and found her leaning forwards, her body straining from her position, trembling. She would have liked to leap in and help him, he knew, but battles like this had to be strictly private between the wolves involved, in case the beasts turned vicious at being interfered with and the hierarchy of the pack on the full moon nights became confused.
Harry watched with grave reserve. Draco knew that he would do what he had to do and come down on the side of the wolf who won the battle.
He turned to face Hyacinth again, yipping himself, light sounds that infuriated her. At least, that was the only explanation for why she turned away from the tree, shook herself, oriented on his voice, and charged in another display of blind rage that she should have known better than to make.
Draco leaped and rolled as if he was chasing his tail, turning around three times before she reached him, a display of grace and skill that wouldn't be lost on his audience. He completed his final round just before Hyacinth reached him and then clashed with her, paw to paw and fang to fang.
Leila whimpered. Once again, though, this fight was not as it had appeared. Draco had had a chance to brace his paws. Hyacinth had not, and her nails tore up the dirt as she struggled to get a better position; Draco had forced her onto her haunches before she realized what was happening.
Draco held onto his advantage, shifting back and forth so that Hyacinth would find it all the harder to close with him, lifting his paw so that it clasped her ears and wrenching sideways, dropping the paw quickly before she could do more than cry out in pain, and digging it into the dirt so that his claws would have a firm grip once more. Hyacinth staggered back, the blood from her torn ear running into her eyes and blinding her.
Draco snarled at her and forced her into a skitter backwards. Her instincts were operating now, and she was trying to guard her vulnerable throat and belly while she couldn't see. She shook her head furiously to get rid of the blood, but Draco darted in and tore another gash, faster than he had believed he could move. Then that wound bled into her eyes too, and she almost danced away from him.
She tripped over the tree root Draco had been guiding her to, and sprawled on her back. Draco was on her in a moment, the flash and gleam of a minute, his teeth pressed to her bared throat, his growl rising when she tried to move.
His teeth asked a question: Do you yield?
A natural wolf would have. But if Draco was a combination of human and wolf, Hyacinth was much the same. She tried the tactic that Draco had once pictured himself using and raked his belly with her hind legs.
Draco had anticipated that and locked his legs into place, hunching over with his mouth on her throat—he had to do that anyway, as he was smaller than Hyacinth—so that he could protect his belly. Her nails raked nothing more than tough fur and flesh over his leg bone. Draco growled to help himself through the pain, and then wrenched his head sideways, hearing the shrill outcries from the pack. They feared he was killing her.
Draco didn't intend to. He only wanted to introduce some fear into Hyacinth's arrogance and make her realize what she was dealing with. Draco could have killed her. He wanted her to appreciate that.
The wound ripped across her throat was shallow, but bled even more than the gashes in her ears. Draco shifted lower and tightened his grip like a bulldog. When she opened her eyes and stared at him with scarlet motes swimming in the gold, Draco looked back. He didn't know exactly what his face looked like.
He judged her reaction based on the tremor that raced through her body and the fear in her scent.
She tried to heave herself out from under him. Draco let his weight fall and held her pinioned. He was smaller than she was, yes, but not by so much. He should have remembered that in the first fight. He knew now that her bulk had been so effective because he had been overly impressed by it and had let it be so effective.
Hyacinth snapped and snarled at him. Draco didn't flinch back the way she wanted him to. He ground down with his teeth, sawing his head back and forth to rip another small chunk of flesh free.
Hyacinth kicked and squirmed, trying to roll them over so that she was on top. But Draco had all four feet dug in on either side of her now, and she might as well have tried to move a tree, complete with long branches, that had fallen on her. She'd probably have better success with the tree, as a matter of fact.
Hyacinth stared at him.
She should have known better. Draco retained more of his human mind than she, and humans didn't mind stares in the same way wolves did. He looked deep into her eyes, and went on looking. Hyacinth, meanwhile, trembled more the longer she looked.
Finally she looked away from him and let her body fall limp. Draco waited, his teeth still locked in place, though he would have let Leila or Celia or Josh go at once. But he was too wise to her tricks to expect her to abide by the rules.
Hyacinth ran her tongue around her teeth, snarled, and then leaned up and nipped at his jaw.
Draco accepted the signal of submission for what it was, and leaped off her. He felt the bite she had given him on his leg paining him, joining with the old wounds from his torture. He had actually been hurt worse than Hyacinth had by their fight, at least in body. Draco was sure he had given her pride a beating.
And yet, he had won. He was the one the others looked at with awe.
Draco pranced up to Harry's side and accepted the way Harry leaned on him. He was still the leader of the pack. Of course he was. Draco would not have wished to challenge Harry even if he had the physical and magical power to do so. He couldn't take the place in the pack that Harry had, as comforter and guide and constant source of strength.
But he could rejoice in his undisputed right to run at Harry's side over logs and bracken.
"Hyacinth's gone into the woods so that she doesn't have to see you for a while, you know."
Draco opened his eyes. The pack usually spent all day sleeping after the night of the full moon, to recover, in part, from the incredible experience the night always was. When he looked up, he saw the light of sunset falling through his door and understood why Harry was awake. They had spent all day sleeping.
"I don't care," he murmured, and yawned, fully parting his jaws like a wolf. He half-felt covered with fur still, and his legs ached as if he could ease the pain only by running on all fours.
"Neither do I."
Draco paused. That tone wasn't Harry's usual one. He took the part of no members of the pack; he didn't interfere in fights unless someone was bullying someone else; he favored no one in pack business.
But now he was offering a warm voice of unqualified approval to Draco. It was a gift, Draco knew, and he rolled over to accept it with a pounding heart.
Harry leaned on the doorway, his arms folded and his legs crossed and his eyes bright with amusement. The wind from outside ruffled his hair. He straightened and came forwards, the glow of his power all but visible around him.
Draco leaned up from his bed to kiss him, unable to remember what he had felt like a year ago when he wasn't yet Harry's lover, when he wasn't yet turned, and didn't have this. Oh, he could think about it, if he concentrated enough. But the emotion was gone from that life; it was only a painted picture in his memory. This was the reality, and felt as if it always had been the reality.
The life of the wolf.
Harry took off the shirt that had been all Draco had tossed on after the run with grave fingers. Then he used his tongue before his wand to prepare Draco, though in the end conjured lubricant came out, as it always did.
Long before that point, Draco lay still with his eyes shut and harsh puffs of warm breath emerging from his lips, now and then writhing when his pleasure broke his control.
"I love you so much," Harry said, his voice as worshipful and warm as his tongue. He gave Draco's arse one more lick before he pulled back and slicked his own cock. Draco lay and listened to the noises that he knew so well after a year, and then arched his back and groaned in welcome as Harry sank into his body.
He lay on his bed facing away from Harry, draped on his stomach, and Harry rocked above him, motions gentle, steady, regular. Quite often they made love face to face, but they were so at home now after a year together that they didn't have to look at each other to know each other's expressions.
Besides, there was the scent.
Harry smelled of lust so intense that it made Draco dizzy, and obscured every other smell in the small house for quite some time. Draco made no special effort to keep track of the time, since Harry filled him and raked him and squeezed him with pleasure. But he forced his eyes open at last and sniffed delicately, when he had grown used to the drifting cloud of passion.
Wild, soft as paws in the forest, keen as eyes that saw in the dark, there was the smell of love.
Draco whimpered at the sense of it, and Harry whimpered back, and then shoved forwards with several thrusts that Draco relished, because they meant that Harry had ceased to think about whether his strength would hurt Draco and was only thinking about their pleasure. Pleasure entwined, mounting, racing, turning and twisting and braiding into itself as their voices braided at the full moon—
And Harry came, and Draco came a moment later, hunching and pushing into the cushion beneath him, and they howled like wolves when they found release, and the smell of release was salty and sticky and wonderful.
Harry collapsed over Draco's back, kissing his shoulder blades. Draco hummed under his breath and turned over to embrace him, though that made Harry slip out of him and the bed creak alarmingly.
"You were the best decision of my life," Harry whispered.
Draco wished he had something to say that was as profound and simple as that, but he settled for wrapping his arms around Harry and kissing him instead, sloppily and with lots of tongue, trusting his scent to speak for him.
When he passed into dreams with Harry asleep on his chest, he dreamed mingled dreams of racing legs and whipping tails and gleaming teeth, and waving human limbs and teeth showing in a smile and skin gleaming with sweat.
And no matter where he ran, no matter how he danced, Harry was at his side.