A/N:I always refused to put a dead line on when a new chapter would be published, and then did it...promptly missed the deadline.
I love veela stories, but there aren't enough out there that deal with the darker aspect of the thing-the potential for disaster that might loom if two totally unsuitable people somehow wind up together. Also, like vampirism, I'd like to see some exploration of the bio-chemical reasons a person might react as a veela.
I have taken some liberties with human biology and apologise profusely. My dear Countess Black is lovely as alway.
The Malfoys are still very much here, so expect them to pipe up sooner or later. This piece probably won't have as much CP in it, if any. Title is a reference to Thoreau.
Hurrah for beginnings!
Madea, feeling slightly giddy.
"Decyded in Privy Councell of ye Wizongamott this daye, that a mann or womyn, havynng vela bloode, and fonde a personne, either wizorde or wyche, and havynng made claime of themm, and lyde in bedd togeder in thare small cloes, and presynce of a wittnesse, they shalle be counted as be trotthed, whetther the oder woude or noe."
March 5, 1538
April 30, 1998
Draco was currently giving exactly as much thought to veelas as a cat does to dancing the schottische, which is to say, none whatsoever. He was giving rather more thought to betrothal, and was currently engaged, so to speak, in trying to convince Parkinson to let him touch her thigh through her skirts.
"Pansy, I'm desperate. I simply must touch you." He pouted playfully and Pansy swatted his hand, not as hard as she might. "Not until we're married, Draco." He huffed and she, laughing, gently pecked his cheek.
"I can't wait for July." Draco nodded and gently laced his fingers through hers for a moment. "Mother's ecstatic, you know. Always wanted a daughter, that sort of thing." Pansy giggled with pleasure and they sat like that, in a quiet corner of the Common Room, until Amycus burst in, panting as though he'd just run a marathon. "Draco, go now!"
"But my Mark didn't-" Amycus gave him a shove and Draco ran for the man's office, where the Floo would take him home. He never said goodbye to Parkinson-he rather regretted that later, because, although they were in proximity from time to time, he never really saw her again.
For want of a pin, the kingdom was lost. Which is to say, the third worst day of Hermione Granger's life began with waking to cramps which made her teeth ache. She didn't bleed anymore—too much lost body fat—but she could cramp, and did. She moved on and tended to the day like a farmer in a dying garden, which is to say, she grimly soldiered on.
The day only got worse, and ended with being thrown over Fenrir Greyback's shoulder and taken to Malfoy Manor. The three of them were dumped into the atrium. Hermione made herself stand up straight, despite the way her head was spinning and black spots kept appearing in front of her eyes.
"What an opportunity this is." They all recognised the Dark Lord's voice and turned. He was smiling. Beside him, Draco Malfoy was studying his shoes, trying not to attract any attention to himself. "Put the two boys below the floor, for now, and take the mudblood upstairs to young Malfoy's rooms. Draco, go with Snape and take the potion he gives you."
As two Death Eaters grabbed Harry and Ron and dragged them off, Hermione heard Lucius Malfoy say softly "Wouldn't my Lord prefer to finish Potter here?"
The Dark Lord laughed. "No, Lucius. We'll take him to Hogwarts and let them all see what happens to rebels. But first, an experiment." If this new potion proved a success, the Dark Lord would have his Death Eaters start administering it to the students at once, to start the next part of his plan.
Snape handed Draco a phial and Draco downed it, having no choice in the matter. It tasted of peppery windelwort leaf and something musky and vaguely fur like, perhaps, thought Draco clinically, costus root infusion.
The door opened and Draco dropped to his knees and kissed the Dark Lord's hem. "Well, Draco, you've passed the first test."
"You didn't die. It confirms my theory, wouldn't you say, Severus?"
"Yes, my Lord."
"May I ask what my Lord means?"
The Dark Lord lifted Draco's chin and smiled down at him. "You failed me once by not killing Dumbledore. I've found a way to be useful, after all. Are you grateful?"
Draco nodded immediately. "I am my Lord's most faithful-"
"Enough. Have you ever wondered, Draco, why your mother is a blonde and her sisters are not, nor Sirius Black, nor any other Black in living memory?"
"My Lord, my great grandfather, Damocles Black-"
"Was a half veela. Read Duns Caledonius' 'Historie of Wizording Englande', it's all in there."
Draco's jaw dropped. He was shaking his head mutely, but the Dark Lord pressed onward. "And this veela trait was passed through the bloodline, until it culminated in you. There have been rumours for centuries, but the fact you didn't die just now proves it true."
Draco couldn't have talked if he'd wanted to. He was trying not to sick up, not to scream. They'd given him a potion that shook the foundations of everything he'd ever thought to be true. His hands were clutching his wand with convulsive tightness, and he gave a strangled little moan after a moment.
"And now for the second test. Take him to his rooms, Fenrir, and we'll see what he does." Draco hardly felt himself being lifted to his feet and half dragged down the corridors by Greyback. 'Like I don't have enough bloody problems, playing nanny to a baby aristocrat. You must've been a good boy, young Malfoy, is all I can say, getting a treat like this. Thought I'd get first go." Still grumbling, the werewolf shoved him in and was off again.
Hermione stiffened when the door opened and someone was shoved in and the door slammed shut too quickly even to think of escape. She recognised the familiar shock of white blond hair and Draco Malfoy stood shakily.
"Malfoy?" Draco spun as he heard the mudblood's voice. He was preparing to say something when a painful cramp hit his stomach, doubling him over. He gasped and dropped like a stone, clutching his belly and groaning, vomiting convulsively and not caring.
Hermione's body reacted before her brain, which remembered this was Malfoy, after all. She went to him and dropped to her knees, moving him from the puddle of sick and yelling for an elf. None were forthcoming.
Draco felt everything and nothing. A change was coming over him, every sinew and muscle, every bit of bone, as DNA which had nestled harmlessly in his cells for his whole life suddenly activated all at once, a sort of great awakening.
He didn't know that, of course, only that he wanted to die. He took the hand the mudblood was offering him and gasped, pain tears dripping down his cheeks. It was a blessed brief process, as his body absorbed the changes and found homeostasis again. He finally felt the agony receding, and sat up, drying his eyes.
"Malfoy? Are you all right?"
Draco was preparing to tell her he'd be loads better if he wasn't looking at her ugly face, but he couldn't, because he realised, almost absently, that she was the best smelling person he'd ever encountered. It wasn't something he could quantify, exactly, only that she was. She smelled…ripe.
Something nagged his brain. It told him that he hated mudbloods, and this was the arch-mudblood, his sworn enemy. And why could he smell her? That wasn't normal. He thought about what the Dark Lord said and shuddered. Was this how animals felt? A world limned for them in scent, painting the wind?
He tried to rise to his feet and felt his limbs, so recently cramped, yowl protests. He finally managed it. That smell. Metallic but warm, with an earthy undertone like the smell of some of the girls after Quidditch practice. He found it incredibly appealing, in a way none of his female teammates had ever been.
He wondered if someone else would be coming up to check on them, and as soon as he'd articulated the thought, a wave of anger swept through him, sharp and hot. He wondered why he cared; he had enough to deal with right at the moment, and he'd always hated Granger. But he'd never smelt anything more compelling than this, and every fibre of his being was demanding he explore this.
He didn't want to. He wanted to get out and get away from Granger and her disturbing smell, find Father and ask him what to do. But he wasn't capable. Ever part of him, every bit of his heart and every breath he took, was propelling him toward the mudblood, toward her smell.
Wandless as she was, she wasn't acting the slightest bit afraid. He came and studied her and she studied him straight back, tense but not seemingly full of dread. He bent and smelt her more closely.
Hermione stiffened and instinctively tried to push Malfoy away when he put his face against the her neck. "Stop that!"
Draco ignored her. Stepping back, hr grabbed her face none too gently and studied it from every angle. "What've you done, Granger?"
She tried to shove him again and he loosened his hold enough for her to get away. "What do you mean?"
"Your smell. You never used to smell like this."
"I don't have a smell."
"Yes, you do. Is it perfume or something?"
Hermione looked level. "Malfoy, where would I have got perfume? I was living in a tent, for pity's sake."
He shrugged and then grimaced delicately. "You're filthy." A fine layer of dust had rubbed off on Draco's finger, and blood. He could smell it, rich and with a tinge of iron. And the slight wet earth of mushrooms, and...he jerked his head away, more disturbed by the second.
"Living in a tent, remember?"
Reason reasserted itself, and Hermione stepped back and said "Anyway, where are Harry and Ron? Why am I here?"
"I neither know or care."
The dirt smell was bothering him. Draco drew his wand and pointed it at her face. 'Scourgify'. Hermione yelped as the spell took all the dirt off her face, leaving it pink and glowing. Draco stepped closer and sniffed. Clearer now, and with greater nuance, like wine.
"A bath." Was he speaking aloud? Did it matter? He rather thought not. His mind was a place of deep quiet, at the moment-the human part of him, the wizard part, had receded, perhaps for the nonce and perhaps forever. His instincts were riding him, and all he could do was go along with them.
Hermione's heart rate was going up. She took a step back, and then another. Malfoy was moving with a sort of singleminded calm. She'd once seen footage of a tiger stalking a deer and the comparison felt a bit too apt to her. He was closer..closer...closing on her...smiling...closer.
Hermione, like Daphne pursued by Apollo, wanted to run. She couldn't. Instead, she lunged for his wand, hoping to knock him off balance and...what? She didn't know, only that he'd not hurt her without a struggle. She never even saw him move. One moment she was on him and the next he was pinning her arms to her side and laughing.
"No, Granger. Not going to happen." He was more than a head taller than she, and had the reflexes of a born Seeker. Draco picked her up lightly by the arms and took her to the ensuite bathroom, still chuckling.
Hermione fought him every step of the way, kicking and trying to claw. Malfoy ignored her. "Tibby' and an elf appeared, bowing 'undress Granger for me. Watch her, she's tetchy at the moment."
"Don't you dare!" Hermione didn't want to hurt the elf, who was only doing it's job. She lashed side to side, and Draco finally said 'Stop it this instant, or I'll undress you myself, and then invite my uncle and Wormtail to watch you bathe."
Hermione stopped, breathing hard, and let the elf guide her filthy blue jeans and ripped jersey off. When the elf reached for her bra, she flung her arms up and went rigid. "Malfoy, please."
He smiled. His human mind was reasserting itself, and he was contemplating leaving out of loyalty to Pansy. And he had no urge to see the mudblood's bubs, thank you. But he could see a way to get her at disadvantage, and he would spring.
"What'll you give me?"
"I've not got anything, they took it all."
"That's your problem. I suppose if you'd stop fighting the elf, I should leave."
Hermione bit her lip. "Fine."
Draco left and began to ward his room thoroughly, making sure no one but him could possibly get in. He wasn't exactly sure why this was so important but it was. The idea of another man in his room-possibly talking to Granger -was infuriating. Suppose she should like him better, this other man? Suppose she should think to share her smell with him, go away with him?
Well, Draco would have to kill him, if it came to that. Coming into his room, trying to steal the mudblood away-his mudblood, the Dark Lord had given her to him, and that made it law. Draco grimaced fiercely and then made himself calm down.
A weaker part of himself protested that he didn't want Granger, and would gladly send her away. He didn't exactly want her dead, per se; but he had no illusions about what he would do to insure his own safety, and his parents.
The door opened and Tibby brought the mudblood out, wrapped in two towels. "What is Tibby doing with the lady's clothes, young Master?"
Draco wrinkled his nose. "Burn them. They're rags."
Hermione spun around. "No! I haven't got any others!"
Draco huffed. "Yes, because clearly, we've absolutely nothing here for you." He waved Tibby away. 'Get a nightdress for her, Tibby, and some stockings."
Dressed in a borrowed nightgown and stockings, Hermione found herself stewarded toward the bed. "NO!"
Draco was irritated by her stubbornness in all this. "Granger, stop it." He spared a thought for Parkinson, but it lived only a moment. She was fine, of course, but she didn't have the smell. And she wasn't here. Granger fulfilled both.
"You stop! This isn't right!" She'd promised not to fight the elf, not Malfoy himself. He clamped down on her wrist and marched her to the bed, using magic to spell the covers back and then lifted her in, dodging her kicking legs easily.
"Granger, enough. I can still invite Rodolphus, and he won't be content just to look, believe me." Draco shuddered a little, horrified at the thought of his uncle at the moment, and then forced it down to concentrate on the matter at hand.
Hermione finally found herself petrified, nearly against the wall. Malfoy stripped to his shorts and undershirt, climbing in after her. He wouldn't undress totally until she'd indicated she was receptive to him.
"Tibby, food. Some of that cold meat and bread, and pumpkin juice. Hurry, idiot!" The elf brought them a tray and Draco carefully bent over Hermione. "I've got some food for you. You act up and you'll live to regret it, understood?" She couldn't exactly reply, but Draco gave it a moment to sink it, and then carefully unspelled her, sticking her legs to the bed and her hands to her thighs.
"Open up, Granger." Hermione shook her head. "You are NOT feeding me."
"I am. Now, open up and you'll have some of this nice bread, hmmm?"
Hermione shook her head. "Sod off."
"I was going to have the same brought to your friends, but I don't care if you don't. Bet they'd like something to drink, at least."
Hermione hated him with her whole heart at the moment. "Fine."
"Too late. Now you have to ask me." He'd break this stubborn streak, that was the first thing. As long as she was here, she'd behave nicely or pay the price. It might set them back a bit, when it came to...what? Draco realised at some level that he was revolted by the mudblood and being close to her.
Then he caught her scent again. She smelled divine, warm and yeasty, faintly iron like. He dropped his head and smelt her hair, breathing it all in. He could hear her heart beat and she swallowed dryly. 'Need to get her re-hydrated. Send Tibby for more pumpkin juice, at least.'
"Please, Malfoy, would you send my friends some food?"
"No, ask me to give you some."
If eyes could kill, he would have been so much crow's food. Instead, she reminded herself that this was so Harry and Ron wouldn't go without and said 'Please may I have some food?"
"Of course. Juice first, hmmm?" She opened her mouth and swallowed the sweet, creamy juice. She'd not had anything sweet for months. It tasted wonderful. Before she realised it, the glass was empty.
"Better." He flicked his wand and cautiously let her hand free, giving her the piece of bread. "Slowly, there's more where that came from." She ate it all in a couple bites and then made herself look away from the cold roast beef on the tray. Draco handed it that as well, and it, too, was gone in just a few bites.
Draco felt a strong sense of-accomplish? Pride? He tried to shove the feelings away but couldn't. It was making him happy, watching her wolf down the food. Intellectually, he was appalled. He'd never seen a woman eat like that. But it wasn't bothering him at emotionally level. It was good to see her eat.
And her smell was changing slightly. It was gaining warmth and richness, deepening. He wondered what it would be like if she weren't so hostile. If she felt safe here. She ought to-he'd warded the room tight as a boomslang's eyelid.
Hermione's stomach was roiling. Draco could smell the sour, bileish odour and wrinkled his nose. "Told you not to eat so quickly." He eased her back and laid his head on the pillow beside her, inhaling her scent. Oh, it was so good.
Someone knocked. Draco pushed Granger under the covers and then went to the door. "Go away!"
"It's Father, Draco. May I come in?" Lucius hadn't been there for whatever had happened, but he was determined to see if his son was well. Draco slowly opened the door. "Perhaps I'd best come to you, Father."
Lucius stepped aside so Draco could cross. Draco quickly did a final ward and then closed and spelled the door locked. He was in his shorts and undershirt, and seemed either unaware or uncaring of his near undress.
"Sorry, Father. I had to make sure she was safe."
"Of course...she's not dead, then?"
Draco shook his head, eyes wide. "No. Was she supposed to be?"
"His Lordship sent me to check on you. Has anything happened, Draco?"
Draco looked down. 'Something's different, Father, but I-it's not something to put into words.' He did as best he could anyhow, and Lucius listened, nodding thoughtfully every so often.
"I've no idea what to tell you, Draco." He wanted to take his son into his arms and hug him,and promise he'd make it all better. But he couldn't, and the look on the boy's face told Lucius that he knew that.
"Where are Potter and Weasley, Father?"
"Being kept under the floor, for the moment. If his Lordship's experiment should prove successful, he'll take Potter to Hogwarts and dispatch him there." Draco was nodding thoughtfully.
"I want them kept away from Granger. They'll try to take her."
"Take her where, Draco?"
"Away. They want it for themselves."
"Her smell. Don't you notice it?"
Lucius inhaled as subtly as he could. He shook his head no. "I can't say I do, Draco."
"Just as well. It's not-it makes it hard for me to remember that I hate mudbloods. Isn't that...this is...' Draco's eyes filled and he looked away. 'It's hard, Father."
"No doubt, but I know you'll handle it brilliantly, Draco." Lucius gave the boy an encouraging smile and a squeeze on the shoulder, wondering how to explain this to his master.
Hermione laid on her back beside Malfoy, who looked edgier than he had. "Malfoy?"
"Did your father have news of Harry and Ron?"
Draco looked down at her. "Yes, but it doesn't concern you. Go to sleep." Hermione didn't think she'd ever sleep again.
Unsurprisingly, the Dark Lord was not happy. "Severus, I rather thought the potion would have more effect than this."
"My Lord, I don't know what to say. Perhaps I could go and speak to the two of them?"
The Dark Lord nodded wearily. "Do, and have an answer for me by the time you're back. If he isn't going to do anything useful, we'll give the girl to Greyback."
Snape was wondering whether Albus would tell him the girl was a worthy sacrifice. Miss Granger herself would probably bare her own throat for the wolf if it would keep the nuisance and the moron safe, but he wanted to get all four of his former students out of this alive.
He knocked. "Malfoy?"
"Malfoy, open this second." Snape used his Head of House tone and expected it to work. What he didn't expect was a hissed obscenity and the door to come open a crack. "I can't let you in."
"Really, Godfather, please." Draco had always admired Snape, had known him since he was a tiny baby and even loved him. But he couldn't let the man in or something might happen. "I don't what might happen if I do."
"This is life or death, Malfoy, open the door."
Draco guided him over the wards ands immediately trained his wand on him. "No farther."
Snape froze, hands where Draco could see them. "Malfoy, might we talk about how you are feeling?"
"I-no. I don't-this is-I'm scared, Godfather. This is-I could hurt someone."
"That's what we're going to prevent. May I speak with her?"
Draco blocked him. "No."
"Draco, this is vital. The Dark Lord will give her to Greyback if you don't. He's not happy you didn't maul her to start out with."
"Why does everyone keep saying that?" Draco was torn between tears and rage. Why would he maul Granger? On the other hand, if they couldn't smell what he could smell, she'd be safer from any who would take her away.
"Because male veela are territorial to a murderous degree. I believed his Lordship thought that having a stranger in your rooms might bring forth those impulses."
"Well, it didn't."
"Obviously. And you've not tried to...hurt her?"
Draco held onto his normal mind, his human mind, with every scrap of self control. "I would not do that." The thought of someone trying, the thought of Granger being hurt...his hands were knotting into fists again.
"Calm down, Malfoy.""You calm down! First I have to drink some potion that turns me into an animal, and then no one tells me anything, and now you tell me to calm down!"
"Stop it at once. The important thing is saving everyone involved. Let me see Granger."
"Malfoy, I'm trying to help you." Snape wished his godson had recently come into some sort of veela blood, because the boy needed some sense smacked into him. He settled for his famous death glare. "Draco Lucius."
Draco jumped, not having heard that from Snape in what, seven years? He swallowed and tried to control the impulse which screamed at him to attack his godfather for trespassing and trying to steal Granger from him.
"I-I'm sorry, Godfather. Everything is-different."
"Then come with me while I speak to her, Draco, and we'll see what we can do to put it to rights."
Draco could see the sense of this in his mind, even as that part of him waxed and waned at the same breath. He let Snape approach.
"Miss Granger, is there anything about yourself that's recently changed?"
Hermione shook her head. "No, sir." Snape waved his wand and briskly ran a diagnostic spell on her. His eyes widened gently. "Miss Granger, you did not tell me you should be menstruating."
"I'm not accustomed to blurting it out!"
Snape's mind was working at a dazzling clip. "This changes everything."
"So you see, my Lord, it would seem the potion did work, after all. Draco was exposed to the fertile female entering his domain, and claimed her for himself."
"Then why has he not…"
"She wasn't indicating willingness, and he apparently perceives those around him as a threat to be guarded against. I suspect he would have done, had he felt more secure."
The Dark Lord brow was beetling. "You mean to tell me that just because the mudblood is…that Malfoy Jr. has somehow bonded to her?"
"That's correct, my Lord."
The Dark Lord sucked in air. "Then we'll dispose of the girl and try again. Some good may yet come from all this. But, Severus, I would try very hard, were I you, to see this sort of failure doesn't happen in the future."
Snape bowed low. "Would my Lord permit me to go and ease the girl from young Malfoy's hands? He might prove violent, otherwise." The Dark Lord waved him out, and Snape, wracking his brain, tried to figure out how to get them out alive.
Draco wouldn't hear of it. "You aren't going anywhere, Granger. I'll protect you here."
Snape snorted. "Draco, it might have taken Rosier and three others to take down the Prewitts, but there were two of them and only one of you. You'll have to let her go."
"Malfoy, please!" Draco felt a flash of deep hate in his heart for the Dark Lord for having separated him from Granger, exposing her to all sorts of other males. Potter could defeat the Dark Lord...but Potter was slated to die the next morning. If Draco helped Snape free Potter...
"Come on, then." Hermione didn't question his sudden change of heart; as mad as he was acting, she was just glad to have had a chance to get them out alive. She made no note of her own attire, and though the history books would hymn Hermione Granger as the second Circe, none would mention the strange fact that she fought in a nightgown, and smelt of expensive soap and powder.
For want of a pin...