Title: Wolf in the Making
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Pairing: Harry/Draco preslash, heading towards slash
Warnings: Profanity, angst, slavery, dark!Draco, violence, torture, non-major character death.
Summary: Sequel to "The Mark of the Fox." As Harry and Draco plan to take down the man who betrayed both of them, Harry struggles against the slavery that Draco's Mark imposes on him and Draco struggles to make Harry submit to him. Neither struggle is going to turn out as they expected.
Author's Notes: As noted above, this is the second in what I'm calling my Fox and Wolf series, which will eventually be four stories. This follows "The Mark of the Fox," and you really should read it first or you won't know what's going on in this one. This particular fic will be either eight or nine parts long; I'm not sure yet.
Wolf in the Making
Chapter One—Before the Storm
Harry knew there were eyes on him. There always were.
He hadn't yet seen why he should change his behavior to accommodate that fact.
He stood beside a small pool towards the northern edge of Fox Valley, practicing the exercises that he had gone through every morning for three years, when he was still an Auror trainee. He had taken them up again since Draco Malfoy, the bastard who called himself the Fox, had put a Mark on his arm and bound him here. Harry wanted to be prepared for anything that might come along, and staying alert and flexible would help with that.
He stretched first, extending his arms over his head and his legs in front of him, then lunging and twisting to the side to force his bones and muscles to their limits. Then he did several push-ups and spinning kicks, followed by a few moments of quiet staring in each direction. The theory his Auror trainers had taught him was that, with his blood up and adrenaline surging the way it would be in the middle of battle, he was more likely to teach his eyes to notice small details.
He wasn't sure it always worked, but the smallest advantage could help here.
The smallest advantage is what you have.
Harry snarled silently to himself, and could have sworn that he felt a chuckle in his head. He didn't pay attention. He forbade himself to care. He went on twisting and kicking and stretching, making the boulder beside the pond the center of his activity. As long as someone didn't force him to stop, he wouldn't.
That was the whole philosophy of his stay here, the philosophy by which he intended to survive subjection to a man who could control him with pleasure and pain, summon him with a thought and make his arm burn with the image of a stylized running fox. He was not going to give up. He was not going to give in.
Malfoy wanted him whole and willing. If he broke Harry, he would destroy one of his dearest desires. On the other hand, if he tried to slowly coax Harry around to his side instead of coercing him, he would leave Harry capable of rebellion.
Either way, Harry was going to win.
Draco leaned against the side of the small house he'd had built here, as shelter for Potter when he realized that Potter preferred this meadow above all others. Probably because this place was at the very edge of Draco's domain and he wanted to get as far away as he could, pretending indignantly all the while that he wasn't a slave.
You could be more than a slave, Draco whispered in his mind to Potter.
If Potter felt the thought, he didn't let it distract him. In fact, the way he leaped into the air and aimed a kick at the air just then was more graceful, more attractive, than anything he had done so far.
Draco shook his head. He thought Potter was trying to make himself look dangerous, too dangerous to bother trying to tame. He believed Draco would let him go if he seemed like a bad enough servant.
It is too bad that all the methods he uses to try and convince me not to bother show off his strength and beauty and power, and make him all the more desirable to possess.
Draco waited until Potter sat down on the boulder and began to stretch his legs again, a sign the show was over. Then he approached, gliding over the grass, the pale cloak that he had chosen to wear today flapping behind him. The meadow was a pretty enough place, he had to admit, cloaked with thick spiky green and a wash of pure yellow grass, but he could have offered Potter far more inside the walls of one of his houses.
Potter lifted his head and stared at him, as unimpressed as always. Draco smiled back. He got hard when Potter looked at him that way: steady, bright, hateful. Potter hadn't yet seemed to notice. Draco hoped he would soon.
"You've done enough for today," Draco said. He kept his voice soft, because Potter always reacted badly when it was the chiding or bullying tone that worked best with his other Marked ones. "Come with me and have something to eat."
Potter showed the barest hesitation before he nodded curtly and moved forwards to walk beside Draco. Draco considered whether he could take that as a sign of yielding, and decided, regretfully, that it wasn't possible. Potter had a grain of stubborn sense in him. He had decided not to pick a fight over something so trivial, that was all.
"You're doing well conditioning yourself, my wolf," Draco said. "Did the Ministry teach you all of that?"
Potter's shoulders tightened, as always, when Draco gave him the pet name, but he answered, "Some of it."
"I doubt that all Aurors can do it as gracefully as you can, even if they know the majority of the moves." Draco kept his voice as feathery as the stroke of magic that he sent through the Mark. Potter resisted the brutal assaults of bliss Draco had counted on to tame him at first. But it was possible, just possible, that he might not notice the gentle pleasure Draco gave him this way. It would sneak past his defenses and become an accepted part of his mornings, of his days.
Draco knew what the alternation of pain and pleasure could do to a human mind, but Potter had known too much pain to be as affected as some of Draco's other Marked ones. Kindness was the way to reach him, caresses and praise and words about his "crimes" not being his fault.
All human beings, in Draco's experience, wanted to believe that they were good people, unless they had Draco's rare strength of mind and iron will. Potter thrived on a martyr complex, but offered the chance to accept something else, he would.
And then he would be Draco's.
Potter gave him a hard smile. "You should remember that Aurors often know more than they seem to, Malfoy. That will be a hard lesson for you to learn until someone arrests you, I should think. Some people never manage to absorb that they aren't the best at a particular skill."
Draco controlled his immediate angry reaction. "Remember that we're raiding the Ministry soon, Harry," he said at last. He didn't think of Potter by his first name, but saying it had two advantages: it ought to open him up and it made Draco seem softer than he really was. "You ought to tell me everything you know, so that we stand more chance of surviving the raid in the first place."
Potter turned his head away and said nothing, his dark hair acting like a curtain for his expression, in much the same way that Professor Snape's often had. Draco smoothed his feelings down into a ripple of dark water. Really, he had dealt with harder challenges than this, especially when he had possessed a new Marked one for less than a week. He should not lose control of his temper so quickly or easily.
But there was the fact that he had never possessed someone he desired so much, or someone who could resist him so easily.
Patience, Draco told himself. There were many chains that someone like Potter wore, chains that he could tug on even as he tried to build the idiot's self-esteem up and lessen his martyr complex. Potter could have fled the valley when Draco had first started attacking him, but he had stayed because he wanted to save the people in the resort that Draco drained magic from, and perhaps his other Marked ones. As long as Draco held that power—and he had no interest in letting it go—Potter would ultimately bend to his will.
But I want so much more than that.
His mother would say that he was whinging. Draco focused his gaze on Potter again and asked, "Is there any weakness in the Ministry wards that you feel like mentioning to me?"
A muscle relaxed in Potter's jaw and then hardened again. He had a particular nervous little jerk of his head that he used when he was trying to get out of answering, and he used it now. Draco sent another imperceptible trickle of magic through the Mark, this time using it to soothe Potter, calm his mind and urge it towards obedience.
"You could bypass them other ways to get into Robards's office," Potter said at last, lowly. "You don't need the information about the wards."
"But I want it," Draco said, smiling, giving his voice an edge.
"You don't get everything you want."
There it was, the flash of challenge in the green eyes that never failed to make Draco hard and angry at the same time. He flicked his fingers, and Potter flinched before he could stop it. He knew Draco used that gesture to send pain through the Mark, usually the pain of a broken bone.
It took him a moment to realize that nothing had happened this time. He straightened up slowly, his face bright with its flush. Draco turned his head to the side in acknowledgment and mockery, and then said, "Oh, I may have to wait for what I want. But it comes to my hand like a tame dove. Eventually."
Potter's face was passionate with hatred. But he said, as slowly as if Draco had truly tortured the words out of him, "Fine. I'll tell you how to get through the wards around Robards's office. But you don't get more than that."
"I know how to wait," Draco said, sketching a little bow before he turned and loped to the edge of the meadow. He had business to conduct; not every moment of the day could be spent on trying to ruffle Potter or smooth away his peculiarities. He did pause and say over his shoulder, "Make sure you eat."
The force of Potter's eyes was like a refreshing wind against his back as he left for the office.
"I don't understand why you resist him. You must know what it will come to in the end."
"Hello, Lisa," Harry said, not bothering to look over his shoulder as he tucked his shirt in. He had hated, at first, the habit the other Marked ones had of entering his rooms without knocking, but he had discovered he hated Malfoy too much to spare more than irritation for them. Besides, none of them had ever tried to hurt him since Malfoy had started his attempt to commit slow suicide. He turned around and took the plate of food from her hands, giving her an even look. "And no, I don't know."
Lisa Baines shook her head and sat down on the chair beside Harry's bed. Harry sat on the bed itself, keeping an eye on her as he began to work his way through the porridge, strawberries, and toast thick with butter that she'd brought.
Lisa was the first of Draco's Marked ones that he'd met—she'd been sent to escort him in when he first came to Fox Valley—and the one he got on best with. She had a lightness in her limbs and her balance that never left her, the coordinated grace of a trained fighter. Harry had had time since his enslavement to learn that she was deadlier with her hands and feet than a wand. She was probably the most intelligent of the Marked ones, too, and the only one besides Harry who sometimes looked at Malfoy with hatred.
For all of that, she was resigned to her position here, and it drove Harry mad.
"He will break you," she said now, and her voice was quiet but her eyes sharp. "The resistance only makes the process takes longer, and makes it hurt more in the end."
Harry refused to respond. He had a mouthful of buttered toast, and it broke crisply and covered his tongue with sweetness and warmth. There was no reason for him to hurry through his food. One of the few pleasures he had discovered in the last week was that he could linger when he ate, since he had no need to tear through a meal on the way to the next case, as he would have if he still worked in the Ministry.
"You're intelligent," Lisa said. She leaned forwards, which made her sheaves of brown hair tumble past her ears. Impatiently, she tucked them back again. She used spells in battle that made her hair stay still, Harry remembered. "You have a sense of humor. And you're a good fighter. I would hate to lose your company as soon as I've found it."
Harry shook his head and finished one of the strawberries, absently wishing that he had some cream, before he responded. "You won't. He's not going to let me go that easily. If you were right and I'd break, the process would still take a long time."
Lisa sighed. "Do you ever stop thinking of yourself as special, an exception to the rules that pertain to everyone else?"
"I don't know," Harry said. "When I find a way that I'm normal, I'll let you know."
He saw the reluctant smile Lisa produced before she turned her face away and stood. Harry concealed a smile of his own with another piece of toast. He didn't hold out much hope of encouraging the other Marked ones to rebel—they'd had plenty of chances before he'd come along, and it wasn't as though he was a natural leader—but even a bit of company in his ambitions made him feel less alone.
And he had been alone, not only in Fox Valley but before that, after Ron and Hermione had moved to Australia. And the Head Auror had hated him without Harry even realizing that he did so, enough to send Harry off to Fox Valley with no warning about what he would find there.
Harry moved his shoulders in an impatient shrug. He wasn't going to get closer to the goal of his freedom by thinking bad thoughts about his best friends, and he always thought bad thoughts about Robards, encouraged by Malfoy.
Then he paused, in between one spoonful of porridge and the next.
An idea had come to him, a fragile, fluttering thing. At the moment, Harry saw no way that he would put it into operation. But it was still more than he'd had before.
And there was a way to make it work, wasn't there? Harry licked his lips, his heart pounding. Yes, that way was dangerous, but Harry thought he could get what he wanted if he was careful and patient and worked at it.
If he pretended to give Malfoy what he wanted.
"What's that look on your face? You're turning something over in your mind, and it's probably going to hurt you."
Harry blinked and glanced over. "Have you got that used to me?" he asked lightly, to cover the way he immediately tensed up. Lisa might pity him, might like him, but Harry couldn't forget that she was one of the ones broken to her long slavery and to obedience to Malfoy. "My best friends had trouble telling when I was about to go dashing into a risk, or I wouldn't have been able to do it as often."
Lisa's eyes were narrow, and she didn't smile. "I told you that I value your presence," she said. "And I have seen ways in which Lord Malfoy can torture us and yet not make us die."
Harry snorted. "I've felt the pain through the Mark, and I've survived. I told him that I would fight it if he used it again, until it drove me mad, and he hasn't used it since."
"This isn't pain," Lisa said.
"Oh? Tell me what, then."
Lisa hesitated for long moments. Harry wondered if she was loyal enough to Malfoy to protect his secrets, but when she finally bowed her head and her cheeks flushed, with her voice dropping to a mumble, he understood. She was embarrassed.
"He's a Legilimens," she said. "He possesses the ability to tuck us into our worst memories, to make us live them over again. I think that's a combination of his Legilimency and his Mark. I would not wish that on anyone. I woke from my worst moment with wetness spreading around me. I will leave it up to you to imagine what the wetness was."
Harry set the tray aside and went over to touch her shoulder. She started back, and then looked at him with narrowed eyes again.
"Thank you for telling me about that," Harry said, trying to convey with his gaze and voice that he knew how hard that had been for her. "I'll be prepared for the tactic, but—can't you see? Can't you see that you need to resist someone who would do that to you?" His voice soared, and Lisa looked over her shoulder, though Harry knew Malfoy wasn't looking out of the observation lens on the wall right now. There was always a flicker of magic about it, no matter how subtle, when he was, and it was dead.
"I'm a survivor," Lisa said. "I would rather continue living than do something that I know would get me killed."
Harry shook his head. "I don't think he would kill me," he said with dull certainty. He bit his tongue so that he wouldn't say something he didn't mean to, and then continued, "He wants me too much."
Lisa tilted her head to the side. "Yes, and it's personal, isn't it? He claimed the rest of us because we had unique talents that he thought could serve him, and he believed that we weren't being ambitious enough in the use of those talents. But no one could argue that you were doing something small or unimportant by serving in the Aurors. He wants you for other reasons."
Harry nodded. "And if my only choice comes down to suicide before I serve him, then that's what will happen." He raised an eyebrow at Lisa, who looked shaken. "Tell him that, if you're spying for him."
Lisa sighed and left the room without saying another word. Harry returned to his tray, although the porridge had grown cold.
He would have to play this carefully, he thought. He would say the things he really felt but act as though the constant attempts at seduction and gifts by Malfoy were ruining his resolve. Malfoy would fall for the pretense if Harry did it well enough. Harry had discovered down the years that people were always more vulnerable to deception if it confirmed their prejudices, and Malfoy wanted to think of Harry as weak—or, at best, strong enough to make a good prize, but not strong enough to resist him.
Dangerous. But there was no course open to him now that wasn't, except to do exactly as Malfoy wanted, and that would be dangerous to his soul and his morals.
Harry smiled and took a spoonful of porridge. He knew the perfect first step to begin.
Draco lifted his head and frowned, touching the place on his arm that would bear a Mark if he had one. He had been working late in his office, drifting in that trance-like state where he could get more paperwork accomplished than in any other. This was mostly handling reservations for Fox Valle. The process Draco used to drain the magic of his guests and store it for his own use would addict them to the place, and keep them coming back for as long as it pleased him to offer them room. When they had been away long enough, their magic would have replenished itself, and he could drain them again.
A self-sustaining power source. That had been the part of his scheme that he was the most proud of, second only to trapping Harry Potter, an opportunity he couldn't have foreseen would arise when he began this.
But now a tingle of anxiety rang through him, as though he were hearing the echoes of a distant gong. That had happened before when one of his Marked ones was in pain or trouble and Draco hadn't known it right away because he hadn't already been following them.
He closed his eyes and paid more attention to the resonance. The Mark didn't exist on his skin, no, but it was made by his will as well as the wooden fox he had constructed to represent him, and that made it the easiest way to contact and pay attention to his subordinates.
He understood almost at once. Someone was having a nightmare, one bad enough that they were twisting in mental anguish.
The chance was too good to resist. Draco stood up and glided out his door.
When he reached Potter's house, he could hear the muffled cries that escaped the Silencing Charms. Draco took a moment to cast a spell that would prevent Potter from casting any more of those, and then stepped inside.
Potter had refused most of the luxuries that Draco had tried to offer him, for no reason that Draco could discern. His sleeping room held only a bed, one table, and a few chairs as well as the observation lens. He had thrown off the blankets and was writhing with short, yelping cries that reminded Draco of a kicked dog.
Draco held out his arms and embraced Potter, running a tingle of pleasure through the Mark at the same time to wake him up. "I'm here," he said softly, as Potter started back to wakefulness.
"What?" Potter whispered. "Where's the fire?"
Draco nodded. He understood now. Potter had come to Fox Valley in the first place at Robards's instigation, but he believed he had come because of a Ministry-mandated holiday. He had accidentally caused a roof to fall in on two people he was trying to rescue from a fire, and then Apparated out because of his training and instincts instead of staying to rescue them. Potter blamed himself unnecessarily for it, and obsessed over the guilt in quite a tiresome fashion.
But Draco could use it now. "There's no fire," he whispered. "There's only me." He rocked Potter back and forth, slowly, wondering as he did it how many times Potter had ever had this done for him.
Potter's pain, flowing through Draco's arm, eased, and he sighed. Then he whispered, "I want these nightmares to go away."
Draco closed his eyes as sweet triumph flooded him. Potter must be only half-awake, or he would never have said something so revealing, but Draco had every intention of taking advantage.
"They don't have to," he said soothingly. "I can put a guard in your mind against such things. It will block all such images and only allow through the dreams that your mind can produce which have nothing to do with memories."
Potter went rigid in his arms, and then began to push free.
Draco released him, unable to keep the content look off his face. "Do let me know if you change your mind," he said, and bowed, and left the room at an unhurried pace.
Potter had resisted, yes. He had tried to be independent, as was expected of him.
But he had hesitated first. It was a pause of five seconds that no one else might have noticed or known how to interpret if they had, but Draco did.
He was thinking about it. His pain torments him.
He is yielding.
Harry lay back down, his heartbeat calming. As it turned out, the fear he had felt that Malfoy would discover what he was up to was an excellent substitute for the fear Malfoy would have expected if he'd really had the nightmare, and he only had to think about his memories to produce pain and guilt strong enough to summon Malfoy.
He had pretended to consider Malfoy's offer. And Malfoy had fallen for it. It was there in the lazy way he smiled, in the way his hand had lingered on Harry's shoulder for an instant, in the slowness of his bow.
He's falling for it.