Title: Blood, Flesh, Silence
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Warnings: Violence, gore, sex, angst, torture, bloodplay, cannibalism, profanity. AU from the end of HBP. Creature!fic (Draco is a Veela).
Summary: For Draco's failure to kill Dumbledore, Voldemort Transfigured him into a Veela and cast him into an oubliette to die slowly. When he captured and then discovered he had no use for Harry Potter, he thought it fitting that he should share Draco's fate—though his death would probably be a little quicker. Voldemort should have remembered that he didn't know everything.
Author's Notes: This is a dark fic. All the warnings are important. Please don't read this if you're squicked by any of them. It's also probably the first in a series, but can be read alone.
Blood, Flesh, Silence
Lightning flashes of hunger cut across his mind and died away again. His mouth opened and closed on empty air; his claws reached for warmth and then tore his own blood from his eyes and cheeks, because that at least bore heat on his fingertips for a few seconds before cooling.
His wings rustled and spread to their fullest extent, strove to wrap around a body that wasn't present, and then collapsed like spent sacks of skin against his back. His head lowered and he shivered, and then he bit into his hands again to keep the blood flowing, to mimic the touch that he couldn't feel.
Now and then he heard sounds, voices. He cocked his head towards them and chirped, an odd sound that sickened his throat as he made it. But the voices never came to him; there were never hands to go with them, or the endearments that he needed. He would slump back again and close his eyes.
But he would open them a moment later, because searching the absolute blackness for a sign of someone he could touch and be with was better than giving up.
A human voice in the back of his head shrieked at him, telling him that it was useless, that he was acting like an animal, that he would die soon and that death would be a blessing. And the part of him that was no longer human might have believed that, if not for the fact that he was dying alone.
Anything was better than that. Even the months of agony that he felt he had already endured.
When the door opened at last and they cast a body in beside him, Draco sprang forwards, his wings open, his claws yearning, because the body was still alive, and it was someone.
"I must admit that I didn't think you would be this clever."
Voldemort drifted somewhere behind a haze of pain. Harry knew that. But it seemed unimportant. All he knew was that, if the Order was going to rescue him, they would have done it by now, and that there was no part of him that didn't hurt. He thought they had broken his skull. He knew they had cracked his ribs. They had twisted one leg so badly that Harry wasn't sure it was still connected to his body. He had broken fingers, and the sight from his left eye drifted in and out of focus, and they hadn't touched his face only because Voldemort had insisted they leave that alone, thinking to read his mind through his scar.
Voldemort couldn't read his mind because of the potion that Harry had downed before they captured him. Nor could he force Harry to talk, no matter the pain, because the potion froze the answers within his mind even as it raised Occlumency shields of pure ice. Magical means to read his memories, such as Pensieves, couldn't crack that ice. Voldemort had cast an incredibly painful spell that Harry thought was meant to flush the potion from his body, too, but he had taken it too long ago, as all members of the Order did, and it was now irredeemably dissipated into his blood and flesh.
Which meant that Voldemort didn't know the plan moving forwards even now. The last of the Horcruxes would have been destroyed as long as one member of the Order was left free. And whoever had done that would send the news that Voldemort was vulnerable winging on owls all over the country.
That had been Hermione's great discovery, her greatest next to the potion. Harry didn't have to be the one to kill Voldemort; in fact, he couldn't, because he had to die to get rid of the Horcrux behind his own scar. But once all those other pieces of Voldemort's soul were gone, anyone could kill him.
He's sealing his own doom by killing me and he doesn't even know it, Harry thought drowsily, spitting blood. I hope he hurries up, though. This hurts.
The word wasn't adequate to the pain he was feeling, but then, nothing was, so Harry doubted it mattered what words he used to think about it.
He could feel Voldemort staring at him, because somehow, despite all the agony in his body, the scar on his forehead still blazed through that and reminded him it was there. So he was half-conscious when Voldemort snorted and turned away from him.
"I tire of someone who will only die from the pain," Voldemort said in his high voice. Harry had become quite familiar with it over the past three days. Or however long since they'd had him. Harry only thought it was three days because he'd seen the sun through a window in the same position three times. "Give him to the monster."
The Death Eater who responded was visibly startled. "Lord? Are you sure—"
"Oh, yes, yes, I promised him to Severus at one point," Voldemort said, and Harry felt the pain in his scar lessen as Voldemort moved away from him. "But he has displeased me in the matter of the Time-Sorting Potion. Give him to the monster."
Hands grabbed Harry beneath the arms and the head. He moaned as they lifted him, and wondered for a moment which "monster" Voldemort meant.
He grinned a little. If it was Nagini, Voldemort would get a surprise soon. No snake would come slithering to his call again.
They carried him for what felt like a long time, and then they dumped him into darkness. Hands grabbed him and drew him closer. Harry was confused for a moment, until he felt the claws at the tip of the fingers. Probably a werewolf.
As long as it's quick, and kills me, he thought, and closed his eyes.
There was someone here. There was someone here.
Draco grabbed it and rolled his cheek against it, opened his wings and let them fall. His wings cradled something. It was the body. There was warm skin against his claws and his cheek, and there was saliva in his mouth, and he could feel magic reviving, pulsing through his body as though it was connected to the sea.
With the awakening came the hunger.
But it must wait, it must be soothed without destroying the one he held. The one he held was important. Draco knew that. He moved further away from the door, dragging the body with him, because it was important and someone else might try to take it away. He bowed his head and breathed across the nearest wound he found, then put out his tongue and began to lap.
The blood tasted like lightning and thunder and light. Draco chirped, a sound that would have embarrassed him if he had been a different sort of person, and then rubbed his cheek even more soothingly against the nearest wound. It sighed and disappeared.
The person was important. The person was wounded. Draco let his claws and his mouth move gently over the body, his tongue tasting of the blood, his fingers scrubbing the wounds closed, making them sigh and disappear. The body in his arms moaned, and a head rolled over so that the eyes were pointed towards him.
Draco bent closer. He hadn't been able to see in the absolute darkness, but he could see when the person was this near. It was the warmth of the body and the companionship and the blood that soothed his hunger. He had to be able to see someone so important.
"Who's there?" the dry voice whispered. "What are you doing?"
The darkness extruded black hair, and then green eyes. Draco licked the skin beneath one eye. The body started and tried to get away, but Draco curled around it and licked again. The eye fluttered shut. Draco crooned. He knew some of his warmth was traveling into the body, as the body's warmth of blood had traveled into him, and he was glad for it.
"Where the fuck am I?" whispered the body.
"Here," Draco said, because there was no other answer, and the body jolted in his arms.
Draco hissed, not because of the name but because of the disgust the body spoke it with.
"No," he said. "Close. Here. Hold." He arranged the body's arms so that they were around him, and discovered more wounds on the fingers of the nearest hand. He bent down and licked them. The fingers writhed and straightened.
"Malfoy, take me to the monster," the body said impatiently. "Voldemort said that he was throwing me to the monster. Where is it? I have to die."
"Monster," said Draco, but he couldn't think about that. He had just seen that the body's leg was limp and dragging along the floor, and he knew that was the most important wound and he would have to heal it. But he would need more than blood to do that. He rolled over, feeling the hunger coil for a new assault. The blood could soothe him, but the closer he was, the more he needed, the more he wanted, the more he had to have.
"Where's the monster, Malfoy?" the body insisted.
"No monster," Draco said. "Stop calling me that." His mouth watered, and he licked it. He could feel his teeth changing, and he had to wait a moment.
"Don't call me Malfoy," Draco said. "Call me beloved." And he rolled over and dug his fangs into the body's arm, prizing loose the flesh that he needed to eat if he was going to heal the body's leg.
And he would. The body was all his, now.
Harry hadn't known that he could still recognize pain when he felt it.
It was because of the tenderness before that, he thought, struggling to breathe through the intense sensations that rushed downwards. Only when he knew that Malfoy was above and around him, because of the voice, had he started to struggle, because it seemed absurd that Malfoy would heal him when Voldemort had decreed that Harry would die at the claws of a monster.
He had to die at the claws of the monster. The Horcrux in him wouldn't safely dissolve otherwise, and Voldemort couldn't be killed.
And since Harry had no way to get word to his friends, it was entirely possible that, any moment now, they would decide he had been gone long enough and risk everything in the attack that was designed to bring Voldemort down. They couldn't kill him then. They would die.
Harry struggled and demanded to be taken to the monster, the only things he could do and a request that he thought Malfoy would be glad to comply with—and then Malfoy bit into his arm.
Harry shrieked. He could feel the piece of flesh parting company with the rest, the skin dragging and then slicing, the jagged slash of fangs not far from the veins and then through them. He could hear Malfoy's chewing, a ragged sound in the silence. He shuddered, almost believing Malfoy now when he said there was no monster, just him.
Or maybe Malfoy was holding him while the monster fed. The bloody darkness was so thick around Harry that he couldn't see a damn thing.
He curled his head into his arm, breathing fast, trying to understand, trying to recognize, trying to endure. The thought came to him that he could give up, if he wanted. It wasn't as though he would survive what the monster, or Malfoy, or whatever this was, was currently doing to him. He wanted to die, and this would accomplish it. Why did it matter when he let his head fall lax and his limbs surrender?
Except that it did. It did, to him.
And so Harry endured, struggling away, flinching back, when the monster's teeth closed in his arm and took a smaller chunk of flesh. By now, based on the lack of anything close by other than arms around him and the harsh breathing, Harry thought it was Malfoy and not a beast.
Maybe Voldemort starved him. Knowing that Malfoy had failed the task Voldemort assigned him, to kill Dumbledore, Harry thought it more than likely. He was only surprised that Voldemort would use such a slow punishment.
Malfoy rolled away from him. Harry found his body twisted around, and cried out despite himself as his leg was jostled.
Malfoy came back again. Harry braced himself for Malfoy to take a bite out of his leg. Truth to tell, he was almost looking forward to it. Any strong pull would remove the limb from his body entirely, and then he would surely die in the rush of blood that followed. He sighed and waited.
Instead, Malfoy breathed out over the strips of dangling flesh that surrounded the wound, and then bent and licked it. Harry shuddered. "What the fuck are you doing?" he gasped.
"Call me beloved," Malfoy whispered.
Nothing else happened and he didn't move, and Harry felt his heart beating harder and harder at the thought of his friends attacking. "Bite me and get it over with!" he hissed.
"Call me beloved." Malfoy's voice was inhuman. For the first time, Harry thought what should have been obvious earlier, that Voldemort had given him to a werewolf after all, but it was a werewolf in human form. As far as Harry could remember—the thoughts grown dim and tattered behind a veil of blood—it hadn't been anywhere near the full moon when he was captured.
"Call me beloved."
"Fine," Harry snapped, exhausted beyond what he had thought he could be, soaked with sweat and blood, saliva and urine, and other bodily fluids that probably came from liquefied muscle. "Beloved."
Malfoy roared, a primal sound that Harry knew heralded death. He tried to brace himself for it, reaching steadily with his mind towards the anticipation of seeing his parents and Sirius again. He had made his farewells to everyone who still lived when they had found out about the Horcrux in him.
It was here. The moment was here. The body had called him beloved.
Memories clicked in Draco's head like the tumblers of a lock. He knew this was Harry Potter, and he knew that he had hated him when he was human, and he knew that he could heal him, and he knew that he could throw him away.
None of it mattered. He had been starving, and Harry had come to him and rescued him.
Harry had called him beloved.
Draco's wings spread, inflating with air and love and nourishment, growing feathers that he could hear scraping against the edges of the pit, so sharp was his hearing. His mind blazed and leaped, thoughts like light from signal fires. He laughed, and felt Harry shudder. He probably thought Draco was going to eat him.
"Only a little," Draco whispered. "Only a little, beloved."
He lowered his head, and spread his wings further, and channeled the hot air of magic from his feathers to his mouth. It sped past his lips and fell on the tattered wound that confronted him.
Magic blossomed and took root. Threads of silver spiraled across Potter's flesh, and then snapped tight, tugging the wound shut. Draco breathed again, carefully. This wound could not simply sigh and disappear. It was too large, and his magic was different when he had fed on flesh instead of blood.
Down and through and inwards he sent the cold, and it changed the nature of Potter's flesh, making it crump and sprout—
The feathers twitched and creaked, and then grew, seeking sunlight. Draco could give them none of that, but he could give coldness, which came through his breath, and then a blast of heat, and then another blast of cold.
The damage to Harry's body was too deep to repair in the more normal ways that he knew a Veela would use on its beloved. (And how did he know that? But the question was unimportant compared to so much else, and Draco stored it for later). He would have to change Harry partially into a Veela to ensure that he could survive.
So that was what he did. He made feathers grow over the wound, and he moved up and healed the wounds he had bitten in Harry's arm the same way, and then returned to Harry, or rather Harry's head. Draco could never think of one part of Harry's body as lesser than the other, and that included his magic and the subtle aura of presence that he projected beyond his body, which Draco could sense in the same way that any other Veela could and which he knew would comfort him when he woke up and thought he was alone.
"Rest," he whispered, licking the tip of Harry's nose. "You'll heal now, beloved."
Much to his surprise, when they had called each other by the right name and Draco had accepted of Harry's blood and flesh to heal him, Harry responded with a flailing arm that could have broken Draco's nose if he'd let it. He wrapped his wings around Harry so that couldn't happen. They bound Harry's arms to his sides like chains, but they didn't keep Harry from screaming into his face, all the wild fire of summer in his eyes. Draco, staring at him, thought that he couldn't miss sunlight when he had this.
"I have to die!" Harry hissed. "What the fuck are you doing healing me? I would think you would want to kill me if anyone would!"
Draco brought Harry closer. He hated the thought that Harry would talk about killing, or at least about Draco killing him. Draco would feed on his emotions and his blood and his flesh—only until he was stronger, and could live on Harry's presence alone—but he would never kill him. Where his beloved was, there was life. He had been starving to death until Harry came along, and he would never forget that. The healing was just as much for him as for Harry.
"Why do you have to die?" Draco asked, which he thought was a reasonable question under the circumstances. He didn't expect it to win him bitter laughter that he could see as a greater darkness against the dark of the pit.
"Like I would tell you." Harry tried to yank free again, and then seemed to realize he couldn't and settled. The flutter of his pulse made Draco's throat ache. "Voldemort could be listening even now. And you'd probably turn against me the moment you knew."
Draco ignored such ridiculous talk. If Harry knew anything about Veela, if he had the common sense that Merlin had given him, then he had to realize it was stupid to think Draco would betray him. Harry's life was his, Draco's life was Harry's, knotted together, with no separation. "I won't betray you," he said. "And Voldemort doesn't bother listening here. He left me here to starve to death. He won't care."
"He could have started listening since I was cast in here." Harry tensed again. Draco wondered how in the world he kept doing that. The sensation of being warm and held, the pleasure of being healed, ought to have relaxed him.
Ah, but other Veela do not have a beloved as strong as mine.
"I would have felt it if he did," Draco said simply, and licked at the air to taste Harry's presence. Yes, he was close, but it would take Draco a long time to overcome the memories of loneliness and starvation. Until then, he would need to use his tongue and his hands to learn him, and he would need to heal Harry, and he would heal himself in that healing. "I would feel any magic used here now."
Harry went still. Draco licked the air again and wondered what for. He would grow used to reading Harry's emotions in time from the flicker of an eye or the turn of his head, but he was young in the ways of his beloved yet.
"Does that mean that you can use magic yourself?" Harry demanded. "Could you kill me painlessly without using your teeth?"
"No," Draco said patiently. He would repeat it over and over until Harry understood, although if they were in sunlight and their bond less new he might have flown away to let Harry stew for a time. He needed Harry to stay alive, and Harry needed him. "I can't, because I won't kill you at all."
Harry leaned close to him and lowered his voice to a whisper. Draco's pulse fluttered faster. He wanted to caress Harry's face, but he could read enough of him to know that Harry wasn't ready for that yet and it would probably only earn him bloody fingers.
"The key to defeating Voldemort once and for all is for me to die," Harry whispered. "Without that, my friends will attack and die, because he'll still be immortal. Kill me, and the problem's solved."
"But not my problem," Draco said, and ducked his head to rub his brow against Harry's chin. "I need someone else to survive."
"You'll be strong enough with the magic you've swallowed to burst out of here and choose someone else," Harry said.
Draco leaned forwards and breathed into his face for that, briefly making feathers grow over his nostrils. Harry leaned backwards, swatting with one hand that Draco graciously allowed him to lift. Then he caught and imprisoned the hand at Harry's side again. He felt a bubbling, sweet content growing in him, like sugar water. Harry had gone still again, but this time, the stillness came not from tension but from respect. He had learned not to be dismissive, Draco thought, to acknowledge that in Draco's body lived someone else, another subjectivity, that he had to respect. That was good.
"I am not yet strong," Draco said. "Nor are you. We must remain here, feeding on each other, until we are."
"I don't want to."
Harry's voice held a depth of poured terror that it hadn't when he spoke of Voldemort. Draco stroked his shoulders and asked, "Is it so terrible to survive?"
"Yes," Harry said, voice taut. "When I've dedicated my whole life to battling Voldemort, and you're my last chance for death."
Draco licked at the air near his mouth and hummed. "There may be other things I can do. A Veela's magic is remarkable." He watched as the last of the frozen feathers fell away from Harry's nose, unable to sustain themselves without a wound to grow in or magic to nourish them, and smiled. "Tell me about this connection you have to him."
"I never said it was a connection."
"What else could it be?" Draco was glad that his wings were holding Harry, because otherwise he would have beat them about in sheer anger, and he might have hurt his beloved. "Tell me."
Harry locked his lips shut. He could be thinking about it. That was the only thing that kept Draco from attempting to brain him with the heel of one hand.
As he could, now. His bones were lighter than before, but his muscles stronger. He was a new being.
He still had his memories of the time before Voldemort had Transfigured him, and he knew that the consequences once they left the pit might distress him. But he had also acquired a new sense of priorities, rather like his new sense of someone else's presence. The future was less important than the now.
And everything was less important than Harry's survival and their needs.
Harry closed his eyes. Malfoy remained close to him, and it wasn't as though shutting his eyes made any difference in all this darkness. What Harry really needed was to shut his nose and ears and the pores of his skin, so that he couldn't smell the congealed sweat and heat of him, or hear his breathing, or feel the coolness of his touch.
Questions circled and brewed in him, beating against the inside of his skull like his own private wings.
What the fuck should I do? Are they attacking already? Is Voldemort listening? Would Malfoy agree to destroy me even if I did tell him about the Horcrux? How much can I rely on him? How can I tell him anything? Would he think that I was crazy, or would he demand some proof of the connection?
But the most urgent question was the one about his friends. Harry had already given up his life when he allowed Voldemort's Death Eaters to seize him. The only thing he could do now was further that goal, which meant taking a series of wild risks.
"All right," he said, lowering his voice. If Malfoy really was a Veela now, then Harry had no worries about him hearing a whisper. Hermione had taught him, during the period when they had been considering magical creatures as allies for the Order of the Phoenix, that a Veela's every sense was keener than a human's. "When Voldemort tried to kill me the first time, when I was a baby, he implanted a piece of his soul inside me."
Malfoy pressed close, his hands and whatever else was wrapped around Harry and keeping him immobile—wings?—fluttering wildly. "You can't!" he blurted into Harry's ear. "You can't be doomed like that!"
Harry smiled. At least Malfoy understood the danger now, which might mean that he would agree to kill Harry and choose some other "beloved" who would stay alive to help him. "Yes, I can," he said. "We don't really understand how it happened, but we're certain of what we found. As long as I'm alive, he can't die. I need to die, so that he can be killed by anyone else who comes along."
Malfoy pressed close to him, snuffing the crook of his neck, as though learning Harry's scent would provide a way to alleviate Harry's fate. "No," he whispered.
"Afraid so," Harry said. "Now, can you kill me? If you're worried about what will happen immediately afterwards, I think the blood and flesh I can give you should allow you to burst down this door. Then you can flee elsewhere in the chaos. No one is going to hunt you down for this crime. My friends all knew that I was coming here to die."
Malfoy was silent for so long that Harry allowed his hopes to rise. It was at least possible that Malfoy was considering a request that must seem stupid to him.
"I chose you," Malfoy said at last. "I fed on you. You brought me to life and mind, kept me from dying. I can't kill you."
Harry hissed. "But you can choose someone else once you're out of here! You only chose me because you had no choice, basically. But once you're free, you can go elsewhere. Isn't that what you want?"
Malfoy's voice was more guttural, and he sounded as if he was losing part of his thinking process as his mind drained out of his skull. Harry hissed again, under his breath, and tried to speak sweetly. "Right now, yes," he said. "But you can find someone better. Someone who would be honored to be the choice of a Veela. Someone who doesn't have to die. Don't you see?"
"Not you." The Veela's claws shifted restlessly on his back.
"Yes, not me," Harry encouraged. "Go away from me and live a long and happy life." He paused, Malfoy's panting echoing around him, and then said, "You'd be doing me a favor by killing me."
"I'd rather do myself a favor," Malfoy said. "There has to be a way."
Harry closed his eyes, exhausted, his head reeling again. No matter how he concentrated, of course, he couldn't hear anything beyond the walls of the pit, but he had almost convinced himself that he could, that his friends were attacking now and that he had failed them by arguing with Malfoy instead of just getting on with things. "Fine. Think about it, and in the meantime, let me rest."
He had no idea what he would do if Malfoy didn't kill him, he thought. He had given up so much, including the hope of continued survival for himself, because he had simply expected that he would die. He hadn't worked out an alternate plan because he hadn't thought he would really have to have one.
If his sacrifice was for nothing…
Harry didn't think he wanted to live in a world where that was the case.
Harry's heartbeat accelerated and then calmed, accelerated and then calmed, in such a regular pattern that Draco could track his thoughts by it. He smelled the air again to reassure himself of Harry's presence, and thought.
Veela magic didn't usually touch the soul, because it didn't have to. Being close to a beloved's body was good enough. Tasting their skin, their scent, and their sex, mating them, made the exchange of blood and flesh unnecessary.
But Draco also knew that his eating from Harry was necessary at the moment, because the bond was too new to feed him any other way. So he would have to use the magic and the strength from that to sever the link to Voldemort's soul.
Where would the soul-piece be buried? Draco wasn't sure for a moment that that was a relevant question, because a piece of soul wasn't physical, but then he smiled. He reached up and ran his claws across the scar on Harry's forehead.
"What the fuck are you doing?" Harry hissed.
"Locating the piece of you that needs to die," Draco said, and felt a surge of strength pass through him at the assertion. Yes, this would work as long as he focused on the fact that Harry hadn't agreed to have this connection to Voldemort in the first place. It wasn't hurting him to take it away. It was like healing the wounds, or removing a sore.
He opened his wings, letting Harry go for a moment. Even so recently wounded and disoriented as he was, Harry tried to take the chance to scramble further away on his elbows and heels.
Draco sighed and recaptured him, holding him lower down this time, so that Harry's forehead was next to his sternum. He considered him as well as he could in the darkness, bending his head back and forth and readjusting the angle until he knew it was the best he could achieve. He nodded to no one and asked, "Harry, will you give me permission to bite you?"
"Not in the face!" Harry tried to struggle again, but he only managed a few thrashes before Draco's wings clamped down and held his arms motionless. "Don't take my eyes!"
"Only a few moments ago you were ready to give up everything, even your life, to be rid of Voldemort," Draco couldn't help taunting him softly. "And now you think that it would be such a horrible fate to be blind?"
Harry went still. Then he laughed, so harshly Draco winced. He would have to do something about that when they were free and a proper bonded pair, he thought, as well as about his own tendency to insult Harry. "Fine. Go ahead and bite whatever you want. Go deep enough and the shock and pain will probably kill me, anyway."
"Oh, Harry," Draco murmured, and closed his teeth down with as much care as he could, over the handful of flesh on his forehead that bore the scar, and pulled.
His fangs didn't cut this skin as easily as they had the skin and flesh on Harry's arm when he wanted to eat that. Draco didn't know why. He also knew that he wasn't going to let that stand in his way, and so he locked his fangs and yanked with a pull to the side.
Soundless darkness burst around them like a flare of reverse sunlight, and Draco found himself flailing about in that deadly radiance.
But he kept his focus by thinking of his beloved. Harry had already consented to be his. That meant Draco was responsible for defending them both so that they could get out of here and he could continue feeding.
Harry was both beloved and prey, but neither meant anything if he wasn't strong.
Harry had never imagined that anything could hurt so much.
Then again, he had never imagined having the center of his forehead torn away. Carved away, perhaps—Harry wouldn't have blamed Voldemort if he had wanted to remove the scar that was the sign of his first failure to kill Harry—but not bitten.
Yet it went, and he was left with the hole and blood rushing down over his face, mantling him with its stickiness, and the pain that struck so deep he hoped, without being able to hope much, that it would kill him.
He could feel something else coming with the mouthful of blood and flesh that Malfoy had stolen, something as thick as curtains, as clinging as cobwebs. He coughed and gagged and was sick, but he never felt the vomit dripping down his clothes or heard its impact with Malfoy's clothes; the darkness swallowed it. Darkness would swallow everything from now on, Harry thought dimly, as blood covered his eyelids and stuck them shut.
The blood flowed, and then slowed and hardened. Claws fluttered around his cheeks. Harry imagined Malfoy sculpting his face into the mask that he wanted it to be, twisting his skin and altering his eyes, and shuddered. Yes, he had come here to die, but he had imagined that it would be in a way he at least understood. His mind halted at the brink of what Malfoy was doing and would give him no images that would let him make sense of it.
Malfoy's tongue scraped around the corners of his eyesockets and slurped on something that made Harry flinch. Malfoy's laughter rumbled in his ears, and then he was eating something, his fangs closing with the same lush, wet sounds that Harry had heard before when Malfoy devoured the meat he'd torn from Harry's arm.
Malfoy is eating me.
It hadn't really hit him before, probably because he was more worried about his friends than his eventual fate, but now it made him shudder with a chill that nothing could remove from his bones.
Malfoy's tongue touched him again, this time on the ear. Then he slid it between Harry's lips. If Harry had been less in shock, he might have tried to bite, but Malfoy didn't wait for that to happen. He rasped his tongue sideways instead and seemed to find whatever he was looking for, since he pulled away from Harry's mouth after a moment.
Then he spat.
Harry felt the liquid sliding down along his face, and the only good thing that happened where it touched was that it seemed to liquefy the hard-set blood. He gasped in relief as the blood dripped and fell around the corners of his mouth, and tried to yank his eyes open. But Malfoy reached out and held them closed.
"I don't think you want to see this," he said.
Harry fought furiously to open his eyes since he couldn't move his body thanks to Malfoy's wings. He thought death was coming for him now, and he would at least face it with a steady gaze. He had always meant to look into Voldemort's face when the bastard killed him.
"If you wish," Malfoy said, and then a burst of gentle light seemed to touch Harry.
He couldn't be sure that he'd opened his eyes; he couldn't be sure of anything except the pain. Even if he had opened his eyes, he remembered, he wouldn't be able to see in the darkness of the pit. But he could see anyway, because the light was there, welling from the back of Malfoy's throat and around his teeth.
His full mouth. He was holding thick and dripping darkness in his mouth. The darkness was blood, and the darkness was a soul, and Harry could hear faint shrieks emerging from between the fangs. The shrieks were in the voice of a terrified, enraged child, the kind of thing Harry had heard a lot of when Dudley was younger.
He stared in sick fascination, shivering, trying to understand and not doing so, until Malfoy opened his mouth wider and Harry could catch a glimpse of more darkness sliding down the back of it, towards his stomach.
The blackness was a pattern of scarred flesh, with a lightning bolt repeating over and over on it. Harry knew it couldn't actually be the flesh that Malfoy had torn from his forehead, or at least, not just that flesh. But it looked like it, and his world seemed to reel, to grow light. He reached out for something to brace himself against and found nothing but stone and wings and darkness.
And the pain. The pain was always there, and Harry shut his eyes again. It made more sense that he wouldn't want to see this. It wasn't death, but something worse. That had been inside his head.
"I told you," Malfoy said, with not a trace of the smugness Harry would have thought it was impossible for him to avoid in that situation, and swallowed. The noise of it was choking, overwhelming, and went on for so long that Harry began to shiver again.
"It's all right," Malfoy said, and his voice was almost a croon. He nudged at Harry's cheek and licked his eyelid. The light had vanished. Harry was glad for that. He bowed his head and wondered vaguely if Malfoy had ripped part of his skull away with the scar. "I've eaten him now, and he's dead."
"You can sense his death?" Harry whispered. He hadn't meant to, because Voldemort could still be listening, but he had passed beyond certain worries to such an extent that it was laughable to keep them up.
"No," Malfoy said. "I only meant that this part of him is dead, and will trouble you no longer." Again he swallowed, and there was silence for a moment, until he added, "I don't know what he will do to me, of course. He might give me great power, or he might change me and corrupt me in some way from the inside. I don't think so, though. The flesh that I eat is dissolved and changed in the way of all food."
"You don't know," Harry whispered. "You did that, and you don't know." He struggled to be free again, but this time in disgust. "So he could go on living, and we would never know if the pain you made me endure was for nothing?"
"Not for nothing," Malfoy said. "Your scar is gone. That has to be worth something." He seized Harry's throat in gentle claws and tilted his head up again, then breathed on the hole in Harry's brow. Harry flinched at the cold-warm rush of air.
"Don't give me more feathers," he said, pathetic, but the only defiance he could muster right now.
"I'm not going to," Malfoy said. "The scar goes too deep. You need more than feathers to cover the wound." He breathed again, and then seemed to suck in more air from Harry than he had given. Harry flinched, worrying that Malfoy was going to take another bite of flesh and blood from him, but instead, Malfoy extended a hand. Harry started at the sudden prick of claws against his eyelids.
"Don't move," Malfoy whispered. "This is delicate, and I need you to hold still so that I can get it right."
"As if I could move anyway, when you're holding me like this," Harry said bitterly, but he shut his eyes, because this part, he didn't want to face. His soul jangled, and he tried and failed to feel a difference without the presence of the slice of Voldemort's soul.
Things had changed, but he still didn't know how, or what the consequences would be.
Something deeper than feathers was needed, yes.
When he thought about it, Draco realized that he knew what Potter had to have, the same way he had known so many other things since the formation of this bond.
He reached back and pulled a single feather from his left wing. It felt full and glossy in his fingers, not at all the straggly thing that it would have been so short a time before. He smoothed it out, learning the veins and the fuzzy edges.
Then he placed it over the torn hole in Harry's head.
"I thought you said no more feathers," Harry said, and glared at him.
Draco smiled. Although he knew the magic had gone out and Harry couldn't see him, he shivered as if he could. Draco bent down and kissed those fruitlessly staring eyes shut.
"Feathers are only the base for what I'm doing, not the whole," he said, and then he drew in one more breath and released it in a harsh wash of air, along with a loud chittering croon that flowed out of his throat of its own volition.
Harry gasped as the cold sank into his body, into the flesh, twisting back and forth and seeking a way to join up the torn edges of the wound that Draco had left in both body and soul. Draco massaged the feathers and the cold and the flesh that he had transformed and enchanted and made into something other than flesh, merging them all into a mass like the dough that he would use if he was making a cake. His fingers were covered with it. It didn't matter, although he knew that at one time he would have disdained to touch it. This was his beloved, and he would do what he had to to make sure they both survived.
The clay mixture—Draco thought of it that way after a few moments, because it was the color of clay—spread across the hole in Harry's forehead, and then began suddenly to freeze in lumps, resisting the way his fingers wanted to probe it. Draco gazed at it for a moment, wondering what had happened, and then snorted. This had been the site of a curse scar, a powerful one, in a symbolic shape. No doubt Voldemort hadn't meant to create that shape, but he had, and both Harry's belief and the belief of others had fed on it, making it more important than a randomly-shaped scar would have been.
The skin that Draco was patting back into place still had the lingering taint of magic, and it wanted a design.
Once Draco understood the problem, it took him no time to choose which picture he wanted Harry to bear on his forehead. He breathed out again, and picked up one of the lumps to spread it out in a new direction. The frozen clay melted at once, running down Harry's brow in thick streams. He made a noise of distress.
"I know that you don't like this," Draco murmured, the way he would soothe an animal. "But it's necessary."
"Don't—talk to me like I'm a fucking child, Malfoy." Harry's voice was low and choked with pain.
Draco tightened his wings to almost crushing pressure. "Call me beloved," he said.
"Why—do you want a name that mocks everything about what we are to each other?" Harry took a heavy breath at the end of that statement, as though he was losing air from his lungs. But Draco knew exactly what he had to do to keep Harry alive right now, and he wasn't about to fall for that.
"Because I want it," Draco said, and let his claws slice along the edge of the hole that he was covering, until Harry winced. "That ought to be enough for you."
Harry hissed beneath his breath, wincing so many times now that Draco didn't think they were individual movements anymore; it was just a series of continuous ripples across his body within the shelter of Draco's wings. "I—don't understand you," he said. "And I don't think you did everything you were supposed to."
Draco didn't bother answering that. He knew he had got rid of the piece of Voldemort's soul, and Harry would know the same thing if he bothered to check the enhanced senses that he should have, now that a Veela was part of him.
He finished the smoothing out of the design and leaned back to look at it for a moment. He nodded, and then he began to sing.
Harry cried out, but Draco drowned his voice with the song. He knew that the sound was painful to Harry, like shards of glass being jabbed into his ears; that was the point. He couldn't do this without pain. That was the state of Harry's body when he began to form the new scar, and it had to endure.
So he sang, and the song rose and fell in waves that traveled in through Harry's ears and into his brain and up behind the forehead, and gripped the design that Draco had made from the inside and sank it into the flesh. In a few seconds, Draco could stop singing, because the danger had passed and Harry had a new scar where the lightning bolt that contained the dark Horcrux had been.
A scar in the shape of a wide-spread, feathered wing.
Harry still hurt, but now he could feel the twinges of pain beginning to recede.
Which meant he had to decide what happened next, and he didn't know what that was and he didn't know that he could know.
Had his friends attacked yet? Had they managed to destroy Voldemort? Or was that something still left for him to do, since he had survived yet again for no reason?
He turned to face the door of the pit, but of course he couldn't see anything, as he hadn't been able to see anything except for that faint moment of light when Malfoy had swallowed the piece of his forehead. He had touch and hearing and, to some extent, smell in this dark little hole, and that was all.
Harry grimaced. All right, I do know what I have to do, but I don't have to like it.
"Malfoy?" he asked as meekly as he could.
"Hmmmm." Malfoy responded with a snuffle into his ear and that single long, hummed word, making Harry flinch in case he started singing again.
"Can you get us out of here?"
Malfoy paused for a moment. Then he said, "Not until you accept me."
"I already have fucking accepted you," Harry snapped. "I've let you eat from me, for fuck's sake, and called you beloved when you asked, and—"
"Acceptance involves a certain level of willingness, Harry." Malfoy's voice when he said his name was the most disgusting thing Harry had ever heard—no, wait, perhaps the sound of Malfoy's teeth closing in and crunching on his flesh surpassed it. "I want you to tell me that I can drink from you. I don't technically need to feed from your flesh at this moment; I've eaten enough. But I would like some blood."
"Nothing I read about Veela ever said anything like this," Harry said, although he knew how ridiculous it was to retreat behind the protection of books he mostly couldn't remember anyway.
"You've never met a Veela who was starving."
Harry winced away from the pain and the hunger in that word, and then wondered why he bothered. Since Voldemort had thrown him in here, he'd already endured things that he wouldn't have said he could survive just a week ago. Why flinch when he knew that Malfoy was right and—
Then Harry gripped himself and shook himself, hard, with the technique that Hermione had taught him when he'd started feeling so guilty over the deaths in the war it almost crippled his ability to hunt for Horcruxes. He peered closely, critically, at the swimming thoughts in his mind, and he recognized that most of them didn't make sense. He took a couple of deep breaths and bowed his head.
"It's not my fault that you starved," he said. "And what you've done proves that you're—evil. A beast."
"An animal can't be evil." Malfoy's tongue licked along his cheek, scraped at his ear. Harry winced, and not because Malfoy's breath stank, either. He could feel the teeth behind that seemingly gentle gesture all too well. "I'm not human anymore, but I know what right and wrong are. I know that right is survival and wrong is dying. And since your needs are bound up in my own, since you have to survive for me to survive, I know that I don't want you to die here, either."
"That's not what I meant," Harry said. "That's not true. Right and wrong mean different things."
Malfoy laughed at him, and his voice seemed deeper than it had a moment ago. Even though he didn't want to, Harry pictured the lump of scarred and dripping flesh disappearing down his throat again. "You argue with me about this while you're lying in a pit that you don't have a way out of, except for me?" Malfoy murmured. "You deny me something fairly simple and basic, for—what? The sake of your moral code? Is that so revolted at the notion of becoming mine?"
Harry swallowed. He had come here to give up his life, hadn't he? And if he gave it to Malfoy, then that wasn't so different from giving it to Voldemort, with the subtle difference that he might prevent his friends from dying in a new way.
"Fine," he whispered. "Drink."
"Accept me." Malfoy's hand grew crushingly tight around his throat. Harry drew courage form the pain and glared at him, sure that Malfoy would see the expression even if Harry wouldn't have been able to, in the darkness that surrounded them.
"I don't know what else I can do," he snapped. "I gave you permission. Isn't that enough?"
Malfoy's hand left his throat suddenly, and he moved, rolling Harry over so that he lay on his stomach on the floor of the pit. Harry tried to heave himself up with one arm, but Malfoy wrapped his arms and wings around him and held him still. His teeth were a few inches away from Harry's throat. Harry shuddered, hyper-aware of their sharpness, although he couldn't feel them actually touching his skin right now.
"Not enough," Malfoy whispered. "This is what I want you to say. Drink from me, beloved." His voice dropped so low that Harry had to work to distinguish the words, and then he wanted to ask Malfoy if he was one of those mad vampires who wanted their victims to act as if the whole exchange of blood was romantic, instead of a violation. Hermione had told him about those, too, the ones who didn't just want to accept the blood of willing donors but hold them in their arms and hear them moan.
But on the other hand, Harry had hesitated long enough. To find his friends, he had to get out of here, and so did he if he wanted to win the war and perhaps help them kill Voldemort. He swallowed and said, "Fine. Drink from me, beloved."
Malfoy moaned at him and struck. Harry closed his eyes against the pain. He had endured so much already, this wasn't as bad as he'd thought, especially because he trusted Malfoy to stop drinking in time. He had to keep Harry alive, per his little speech.
Malfoy guzzled the blood. Harry shuddered when he felt the bastard's lips and tongue scraping against him along with the teeth; he would have expected the rasp of stubble, too, but Malfoy's hair seemed to have stopped growing when he was transformed into a Veela. The tongue was bad enough, darting everywhere, getting beneath the surface of the broken skin and dripping some sort of saliva that kept the blood flowing long after it should have clotted.
Finally, Malfoy licked the wound and blew on it, and the blood stopped flowing. Harry hated the instant scab, too, since it was as unnatural as everything else that had happened. But he had to admit, he could accept it more easily than either Malfoy leaving the wound to heal on its own right now, or a continued drinking.
Malfoy rolled him back over. Harry reached out and felt along the stones of the wall, trying to find one he could use as a handhold.
Malfoy was on him then, kissing him.
Harry reacted on instinct when he tasted that copper-coated tongue stabbing into him, followed by still-sticky teeth. He bit down.
Malfoy didn't react the way Harry expected. He pulled back with a hiss of pain, certainly, and Harry felt the air move as Malfoy raised his hand to his mouth. But then he chuckled, and licked Harry's cheek, probably painting him with dried blood.
"The fuck?" Harry asked him, and the universe in general. He would probably go into shock if he thought too much about it.
"That's good," Malfoy whispered. "I need your acceptance, not your passivity."
"Fine," Harry said. "Can you open the bloody door, please?" He spat blood from his mouth, where it had got from Malfoy's tongue or Malfoy's teeth, and tried once more to stand up. But this time, Malfoy's wings spread, muffling him in a restraining cover, and then Malfoy turned around so that he was the one standing nearest the door.
"I won't let you go into danger," Malfoy said.
Harry felt laughter bubble up from his lips and lungs, and he couldn't have stopped it if he tried, so he didn't. The great whoops of sound seemed to echo in the pit although Harry knew the acoustics weren't that good and the pit wasn't that big, and Malfoy tensed, his wings ruffling around him. "Danger," Harry said, and tried to add something after it, something sarcastic, but the laughter took over and made him stagger, only avoiding a fall because Malfoy's wings gripped him, while he sobbed and cried and choked.
"Shut up," Malfoy said in his ear.
It was as though the sound was connected to Harry's vocal chords and the source of his saliva, because suddenly he was both silent and dry. He touched one hand to his throat and then to his eyes, which had been watering with tears a moment ago. The tears were still on his face, but he couldn't feel any even moistening the inside of his eyes.
"What did you do to me?" he whispered, and his whirling emotions turned the corner and settled on fear. "What the fuck did you do to me?"
"Calmed you down and made you shut up," Malfoy said, and then he drove himself backwards, so hard that Harry was distantly surprised the building didn't rock on its foundations.
"What now?" Harry asked, as stone dust drifted into his hair. He listened, thinking running footsteps would sound outside—and he felt rather stupid, now, forgetting the Death Eaters, as if Voldemort would be the only danger even if he was still alive—but he couldn't hear anything. The walls of the pit were probably too thick.
"Now I break us free," Malfoy said, and rammed the wall with his back again.
The world and the wall blurred and shook. Harry swore in shock, and Malfoy echoed him in what sounded like a sneering croon. But he did it again, and again, and Harry eventually ducked his head to get out of the fall of dirt and sheltered under one of Malfoy's wings. He had thought a lot about dying, but had never thought he would do it because the ceiling had collapsed on his head.
A dim gleam of light.
Harry noticed it at once because it was so much the opposite of the darkness around them. It was stray and hard to see, it was small, but it was insistent, and Harry stared at it, feasting his eyes and his memory on it. He knew that he could only have been in the pit a few hours at most, but that didn't matter. In that time, he had gone through several instances of being sure that he would never see the sun again.
Malfoy cried out, a rising, ringing sound that made Harry want to claw his ears off to get away from it. But at some point Malfoy had shifted so that he was pinning Harry's arms down with his own, and Harry couldn't raise his hands. He glanced up and saw the light playing off the edges of immense, vague shapes like stormclouds. It took him a moment to realize those were the edges of Malfoy's wings.
The wings flapped, and Harry felt a great wind rush past him and into the center of the pit. This time, there was no doubt the building shook. Startled shouts did reach them, and Harry almost sobbed: if there were other human voices still in the world, then that meant there were other humans, and he stood a chance of seeing and being with someone again besides Malfoy.
If Malfoy was even human anymore. Harry didn't know if he himself was, after the holes Malfoy had bitten in him and the feathers he'd patched his wounds with.
For a moment, Malfoy didn't move, and Harry wondered if he had given up and would wait for the Death Eaters to free them of the stone walls that still stood. But then Malfoy cried out again, and this sound was loud enough to wake the dead.
And he lifted his wings and flapped, once.
The wind swept past Harry again, and this time his feet lost contact with the ground. He felt Malfoy's legs dangling, too, and then tangling with his as if Malfoy found some relief in the close contact. Harry twisted and tried to kick them away. They wouldn't leave. Malfoy's arms clamped tight around his chest, and Harry grunted as his ribs were bruised. He clenched his hands down into fists and concentrated on breathing and maintaining silence, as well as watching for the moment when he could get free.
Malfoy stroked up and down with his wings. As far as Harry could see in the crazy configuration of stone blocks and light roaring past them, they were only a few feet above the ground. Malfoy could fly, maybe, but Harry didn't think he could do much but hover while carrying the weight of two adult men. Harry envisioned Malfoy dropping him to the pit floor and had to close his eyes in the intensity of his relief.
Malfoy screamed a third time. This scream was less painful than the others because it was less human, the cry of a raptor and nothing else. He shifted his clawed fingers over Harry's skin, and Harry waited for them to dig in and pierce to the core, ripping off bloody pieces of himself to offer up at Malfoy's altar.
And then the blocks shuddered above them, shrugged aside, and fell, and Malfoy soared out of the hole with Harry in his arms.
Harry, who had observed the layout of the Death Eaters' headquarters as well as he could when he was brought in, had no idea where they were now. Malfoy shouldn't have been able to splinter through a roof right there, or so he thought. He should have brought more blocks down on them if he did, or so Harry thought. They should be underground, not out in the open air, or so Harry thought.
But the cold wind that rushed past them was real, and Harry coughed and choked and then looked up. The first thing he sought was sunlight, but overhead was nothing but a panoply of stars, ashine, agleam, so brilliant after the darkness that Harry had to close his watering eyes a moment later.
"There he is."
Harry turned his attention back to Malfoy, since it seemed that he wasn't going to be given a reprieve. "There's who?" But he saw a thick black glimmer from Malfoy's left arm then, and guessed.
Beneath them, human shapes moved. Harry could make out that much, though the blurriness induced by darkness and the stars meant that he couldn't see who they were. But there was one who was taller than most, and his cloak blew behind him, and he sent out beam after beam of green light. The people touched by the light didn't move again, and he never missed.
"That is Voldemort," Malfoy said, and it struck Harry suddenly that he'd said the name, rather than any cute conning that would tell Harry who he was referring to without it. "Shall we kill him?"
Harry couldn't have spoken if he wanted to, but he nodded, and he knew that Malfoy, attuned as he was to every movement of Harry's body, felt it and knew what he meant.
Malfoy's wings spread wide, across the distance between him and Voldemort, and seemed to spend a moment caressing the back of Voldemort's head. Then he stooped like a hawk, flashing forwards, and Harry had to shut his eyes.
But he was as sure of one thing as he'd ever been: When they hit Voldemort, then Voldemort would die.
Draco could feel his body surging and changing in the living air, adapting itself to the jerking muscles that drove his wings. He had never flown before, but he knew what to do.
First, keep his beloved safe. He would tear off one of his own wings before he would drop Harry, and he would make sure, when they struck Voldemort, that Harry was part of the kill but cushioned from the impact.
Second, kill the one who would enslave or destroy his beloved if he could. And that one lay at the end of his fall.
Third, twist out of the way as Voldemort heard them and aimed his wand at them. The Killing Curse was deadly to a Veela as well as a human if it touched them, but it could be dodged. Draco began turning, a tumbling, corkscrew fall, one that carried him closer and closer to the one who had enslaved him and tried to destroy his beloved while still meaning that Voldemort didn't know what way to aim his wand. Green light passed by them so constantly that Draco began to find it boring.
Voldemort was staring up at them, and then he vanished abruptly behind a shimmering black dome of energy. Draco knew he would die if he smashed into it at this speed, and worse, so would Harry. He pulled up a few inches from it, the way he would if he were diving after the Snitch on a broom, and lashed out with his left hand. The right arm still clutched Harry close, and he checked simultaneously that Harry's dangling feet wouldn't brush the dome and on the progress of his claws across the dome.
The black energy parted in front of them. Voldemort stepped back and lifted his wand again.
Draco never knew what spell he would have cast. The claws of his right hand cut into Harry's skin, soaking his fingers with blood, and from that blood, he drew the strength that he required, the magic that Harry could give him, and gave them both the part in the killing that they needed.
A blast came out of his mouth, as precisely-aimed and as widespread as dragonfire, but made of cold and heat and breath and blood and poison. Thick globules of liquid soared through the air, black and red and silver as Draco's feathers, and struck home. Voldemort staggered, blinded across the eyes and imprisoned across the nostrils by them. He opened his mouth to shout some order.
The globules landed in his mouth.
It didn't matter if he swallowed them or not; on flesh as vulnerable as the tongue and the gums, they could do their work. They sank downwards, smoking, more vivid than fire to Draco's dark-adapted eyes, more destructive than acid. They writhed, and they ate Voldemort's mouth and then ate into his body.
Voldemort cast a spell that Draco knew would be nonverbal; even now, he was not panicking, and he was strong enough that he might survive a Veela's magic. But Draco resumed his interrupted dive then, and he and Harry dropped on top of Voldemort.
Harry was screaming hysterically, pummeling Voldemort with his fists as if his hands had claws themselves, his wing-shaped scar flaring with cold white light. Voldemort was making the high-pitched noises that were the only thing he had left now, and flailing with his wand.
Draco took his wand away, and broke it.
The Dark Mark on his arm burned fiercely. His claws were soaked with blood and flesh, and if he ducked his head, he could feel Harry's presence, breathing hard against his nose. His wings arched above them, flapping and dropping and avoiding any stray spells that might come their way from Death Eaters desperate to save their lord.
Harry's hands, given strength by Draco's magic as well, charred and blackened the remains of Voldemort's face, and then the venom Draco had spat sank deep enough to reach the monster's heart.
It was ended.
The shouts were in familiar voices, but it was endless minutes before Harry even noticed them, much less felt prepared to respond to them. He was trapped beneath Malfoy, for one thing, who wouldn't stop leaning on him and wouldn't let him up. Harry turned over as much as he could and pushed at him with both hands, wanting some distance from Voldemort's stinking corpse, but Malfoy only snorted once and then remained in place. Perhaps he was tired, too, Harry thought. He didn't know how much magic it had taken to break out of their prison, but no numbers would have surprised him.
Yet Harry's friends wouldn't wait for Malfoy to recover, and they wouldn't understand the situation unless Harry explained it to them. In fact, they might try to kill him, because they would think Voldemort would return from the dead if he was still alive. Harry squirmed and kicked, gritting his teeth when that only made Malfoy's grip on his arms tighten to the point of pain.
"Malfoy," he panted. "You need to listen to me."
Malfoy cocked his head towards Harry, but said nothing. He was examining Voldemort with one eye, Harry saw, and felt faint. If Malfoy started eating from Voldemort's corpse, then he really was going to be sick, and to hell with what that would do to Veela or half-Veela or whatever monster Malfoy was now.
"My friends don't know what you did," Harry whispered. A few Death Eaters were still standing around in dazed fashion, although most of them had fled and the nearest ones looked to be in no shape to attack. Harry didn't think Bellatrix was there; she would doubtless have tried to kill them already. "They'll think that I still have the connection to Voldemort and they need to destroy me. Do you want that to happen?"
Malfoy shook his head and seemed to return from whatever dark world would make him consider eating Voldemort. "No," he rumbled. "While I live, nothing will harm you, nothing will happen to you. I swear it." His hands came to rest lightly on Harry's arms, claws spreading out and prickling as though he thought slicing through Harry's flesh would be necessary to defending him.
"Great," Harry said quickly. "But you need to let me up so I can tell my friends what happened and you can defend me from the Death Eaters."
Malfoy finally seemed to understand. His wings stretched once, lazily, and then flapped down. They floated into the air and away from the corpse, landing on their feet not far from it. Harry stretched out his hand and Summoned his wand silently with all the strength left to him, hoping Voldemort hadn't snapped it.
Malfoy didn't seem inclined to care about such paltry things as wands. He spread his wings and turned his face towards the Death Eaters. In his mouth shone another spurt of the same dark liquid that had destroyed Voldemort. Harry didn't know what it was and didn't particularly care to. His wand was soaring towards him, and for the moment, Malfoy was holding the Death Eaters at bay.
"I don't think that's Harry!" It was Neville's voice.
"It is me!" Harry yelled. His wand was coming, and he seized it and spun to face his friends. Neville was the closest, about three yards away, staring at Harry as though he didn't understand how he could be there instead of a ghost. Well, Harry couldn't blame him for that when he had gone into Voldemort's clutches intending to die. "I didn't—I found out some other way to get rid of the Horcrux. Voldemort is really dead!"
Hermione and Ron were behind Neville now, running up to flank him and aim their wands at Harry, and in spite of the hostile expressions on their faces, Harry felt his heart swell. He hadn't ever expected to see them again once he left camp, and he had to resist the urge to simply reach out, gather them into his arms, and never let them go.
"There's no way that we can tell it really is him." Ron's voice was a shaken collection of pieces, grief and hope and denial all combined. "Can we?"
"There's something that we can do," Hermione said, her eyes locked on his forehead as if she was trying to see his scar. Harry winced as he realized it would look different now, after the chewing Malfoy had done, and that he didn't know how his friends would react when they saw it. "Wait with him an hour and see if the Polyjuice wears off."
Harry closed his eyes in relief. "And cast glamour-ending charms on me, so that you can tell that I'm not just using an illusion?" he called.
"Yes. Of course." Hermione sounded miffed. "That was going to be my next suggestion."
"Are you sure that's Harry?" Ron asked dryly, but with the hope much more prevalent in his voice than it had been. "He sounds too smart."
Harry laughed and stepped forwards to go to them—
And found himself brought up suddenly by the pressure of clawed hands around his ribs. Until that moment, he had genuinely managed to forget about Malfoy, who had stood there not making a sound, as if the interplay between Harry and his friends were utterly foreign to him. It might be, for all Harry knew. He had never cared to know what Malfoy's innermost heart was like, and it would have become stranger than it had been since he'd changed into a Veela.
"You're mine," Malfoy whispered into his ear. "You don't go anywhere without my knowledge and permission."
"Get away from him, Malfoy!" Ron had dropped into a battle-crouch, and Harry could guess what curse was coming next from the way his wand tip turned red. The war had done dreadful things to them all, but Ron's learning that spell was one of the worst. "Imposter or not, we're taking him."
"Ron, wait," Harry said quickly, but Malfoy sneered then and swept his wings up.
Harry hadn't got a good look at them before, but the space around them was filling with light now as his friends came near with Lumos charms on their wands, and he could make out both color and size. Malfoy's wings were ash-grey near the tips and the huge feathers that Harry doubted he could span with a hand; towards the middle they turned silver, a disturbing metallic color like the flat of a sword, and then pure and pitiless white. They didn't carry a single crack or wound from their flight or the stones that had come down on top of them, not even a bent feather. Malfoy held the wings towards Ron, and murmured, "A Veela can defend his beloved with these and no other weapon. And can kill."
He scythed the left wing towards Ron.
Harry had known something like that would happen, because he had become familiar with the tone in Malfoy's voice during their imprisonment, and he turned around and flung himself into the path of the wing. It touched him harmlessly, of course, the outermost primaries bending and breaking, the middle slamming against him with a dense but soft impact, as though someone had hit him with a pillow. Harry grabbed hold of the wing and held onto it, as much to balance himself as to make Malfoy keep still, while he glared at the idiot. "Are you going to kill me to get free?" he asked.
"I'll never hurt you again." Malfoy's eyes were wide and wild, the pupils drowned in the center of an expanding ring of grey. "I'll never let you be hurt. And they're talking as though they're going to interrogate and torture you."
Harry snorted. "That only proves you've never had normal friends in your life," he said. "Seriously, Malfoy, we're out of prison now. I gave you everything you needed to escape. That ends the debts between us."
Malfoy laughed. The sound was soft, quick, and cold, but it chilled Harry far more than it should have. "The debt between us is never done, never over," he said. "You carry my mark on you now, and I have your blood and flesh in my veins. Because I cannot hurt you does not mean that I will stand helplessly aside and watch my life walk away from me." His eyes fixed on Ron again, and the look of madness grew more pronounced.
Harry wasn't completely taken by surprise when Malfoy leapt, but he knew that Ron wouldn't have had the chance to scramble out of the way. He dropped to his knees on the ground, still determinedly holding Malfoy's wing, and Malfoy's neat leap turned into a pinwheel around the central part of his wing. He crashed to the ground and came up with an eerie cry that sounded like that of the largest owl on earth.
"Confringo!" The spell Ron bellowed wasn't the one that Harry had feared he would use, thank goodness. He aimed the blast along the bottom of Malfoy's wing, trying to give Harry enough time to avoid it, which Harry appreciated. He still felt the spell's passage like a cruel wind along the edge of his nerves, and winced from the clarity of Malfoy's scream as the spell broke his wing.
And then there was a sharp, snapping crunch, and Harry screamed as his left arm dangled, useless.
"Ron, no!" That was Hermione, and from the sound of it—although Harry was rather occupied with the pain in his bone just then—she had planted herself between Ron's wand and the two of them, Harry and the Veela he was wishing he had let die. "If you cause one of them pain, the other feels it! They're the only ones who can fight each other without the injuries rebounding on them."
Useful information to know, Harry thought, gritting his teeth in pain and fury. That I'm the only one who can kill him.
Malfoy rolled smoothly to his feet. His left wing was as useless as Harry's arm, but his right was still functional, and he used it to pull Harry so close to him that he choked, suffocating on softness, the feathers tight around his mouth. Malfoy's right arm wrapped around him beneath the wing, and his free left hand aimed at Harry's friends.
Malfoy screamed, and ice particles swept out of his mouth and towards the cluster of Harry's friends.
"Finite Incatatem!" Harry barked; at least his wand arm wasn't the broken one. The ice melted in midair before reaching Hermione or Ron, or Neville, who was standing beside them and studying the situation with a battle technician's expert eye. Harry sagged in relief. He didn't know what the weapon would have done to them, but he'd had enough reminders in the last short while of what Malfoy's breath was capable of to know that he didn't want to find out.
He cried out with pain a moment later when Malfoy tugged him around so that they were face-to-face, bound in Malfoy's wing, their foreheads pressed against one another. Malfoy huffed into his ear and bit the lobe so hard that Harry thought for a moment it had come off.
"This bond is permanent," Malfoy said. "This exchange of pain and pleasure. I need not live on your blood and flesh now that we are free, but I will live on you. Or I will kill all your friends, even if I need to wait years to do it. Do you understand me?"
Hatred heated the inside of Harry's chest and bubbled around his heart. He had made peace with the concept of sacrificing his life to stop Voldemort, but he couldn't give up his friends' lives, not when they had a chance to live normally.
"I understand," he hissed back.
No, he didn't understand, Draco thought. He could hear that much in Harry's voice. He tightened his arms fiercely around Harry, but saw the Weasel and Granger giving him long, steady looks. Besides, by now the pulse of pain from his broken wing and Harry's broken arm was consistent, constant. He moved reluctantly back and let Granger see Harry's arm, although he snapped his mouth at her when she glanced at him as if she would try and tend his wing. He had opinions about Mudbloods touching him.
He had opinions about them touching his beloved, too, come to that, but he had already known, by the time that he could think rationally about feeding from Harry, that he would have to put up with it. Harry wouldn't abandon his friend. He would fight too hard if Draco tried to force them away, and that would destroy them both.
Draco licked his teeth, rejoicing in the taste of blood, and watched Harry for a moment. Despite the joy of being back with his friends, his teeth were gritted against the pain of his snapped bone, and he couldn't stand on his own. He couldn't have had much to eat for the past few days as he was being tortured, Draco thought critically. And no one else seemed to be suggesting a meal.
Well, I knew that I would have to take on the role of his caretaker.
"Harry needs to eat," he said aloud, turning to Longbottom, who so far had lingered on the edges of the crowed instead of trying to come closer. Perhaps he knew more about Veela, which Draco wouldn't put past him. He was pure-blood, after all. "What do you have?"
Longbottom blinked, but straightened his shoulders. War had hardened him, Draco was pleased to see. He would have hated to try and threaten the hapless boy he remembered from Snape's classroom, who would just have stuttered and perhaps fainted at Draco's nearness and his teeth. "I don't have any on me," he said, and turned to Weasley. "Are you still carrying a crust or two?"
"I'm fine," Harry piped in then, his tone so blithe that a growl ripped from Draco's chest before he could help himself. Of course Harry would say that. Of course he would refuse to care for his own needs. "I can wait until we get back to camp."
"Harry, mate," Weasley said, and part of Draco's mind that was adapted to keep track of things like that noted that the Weasel seemed to have decided this was his friend instead of someone using Polyjuice, "you have to know that we can't take both of you back to the camp. I mean—he can't go where you go. He would betray too many of our secrets."
"He helped kill Voldemort, Ron," Harry said wearily. "There's no way he could go back to the Death Eaters after that. And for whatever reason, I don't think he'll betray me."
"If I betrayed you, I would begin starving to death again," Draco said. "You wouldn't have been my first choice for someone to spend the rest of my life with, but you were what was there. We won't be parted now."
Weasley snorted. "That's what you think," he said, and his wand began to glow again. "There are ways to break a Veela bond."
Draco straightened, ignoring the way his broken wing tugged towards the ground. He still had more than enough strength to handle someone like Weasley, who seemed to be under the mistaken apprehension that Draco would fight fair.
"Ron, no," Harry said, and put his body between them. Draco appreciated and resented the gesture both at once. He should be the one protecting his beloved, not the other way around. "I don't want you using that spell. You know what it does to you."
Weasley moved his hand in a wide gesture. "Nothing as bad as having him stay with you forever," he said.
"I'm not a normal Veela," Draco said, and lifted the right wing into a better position to cut Weasley's head off. He could do it if Harry shifted a little to the side. Unfortunately, Harry seemed to know that and refused to move. Draco scowled at his back and wished that his beloved was as attuned to his actions as he was to Harry's. "I came to my magical maturity unnaturally and in starvation conditions. Voldemort was the one who Transfigured me and left me to die. That means that I had to recover a lot of strength at once, and now I'll have to maintain it with close contact. If someone hurts me, then you hurt Harry. I thought you understood that by now."
Weasley stared at him with a cool calculation that impressed Draco despite himself. It seemed Weasley had changed somewhat over the year of the war. At least, Draco thought it had been a year. He didn't know how long he had spent trying to survive Voldemort's displeasure before he was changed, and he didn't know how long he had spent in the oubliette, either.
"That was a reasonable objection, Malfoy," Weasley said. "Who knew that you could be reasonable? But there must be some way of breaking you two apart, and as soon as we return to camp, we'll find it." He loped away, calling to the mass of men and women clustered behind them. Longbottom followed him, with a glare or two at Draco, as if to say that he agreed with Weasley despite knowing better.
"That's the best I can do, Harry," Granger said. "I think your arm will be all right if you don't move it far or fast."
Harry nodded. Then he glanced at Draco and grimaced. "What do you need to heal your wing, Malfoy?" he asked in a voice thick with distaste.
"Why would you want to do that?" Draco asked, out of a roaring stillness at the center of his heart which hated that people around him simply did not listen to him. No one had tried to get food to Harry, either, although his hunger was now a persistent itch at the side of Draco's consciousness. "Much better to let me suffer."
Harry stalked towards him. His eyes were wild and bright and grim, and for the first time, Draco felt a surge of the sexual pleasure that other Veela practically lived on from their beloved. He kept his hands at his sides with an effort; he wanted to reach out and drag Harry closer with his claws.
"Because your wing will slow us down, and I could feel the pain," Harry said. "Tell me what you need."
Draco thought about asking for blood, but aside from that probably weakening Harry to the point that he would need extensive rest and food before a feeding, he didn't want to do such an intimate thing in public, in front of people who wouldn't understand and who would plague Harry with irrelevant comments and arguments. This ought to be more acceptable for everyone except perhaps Harry, but he would learn to live with it, too. "This," he said, and dragged Harry into the kiss he'd been craving.
Harry opened his mouth, probably to shout, and Draco's tongue dipped in. His knees weakened at once. He felt so good that he wanted to bellow or shriek his pleasure to the world, but that would have involved breaking the kiss. He pulled Harry closer instead, locking his claws behind Harry's head, in his hair, so that he would find it difficult to move.
Harry didn't struggle past the first moment. He stood still, with a contempt so perfect that Draco laughed into his lips. He would enjoy having a beloved like this, someone who might have to submit physically to Draco's greater strength but who would never give up fighting. He lapped at Harry's gums, sucked his saliva down.
His body softened and warmed as though his bones were glass that someone was holding close to an open flame. His muscles surged, and his wing shimmered; Draco could see the shadows that the light cast even though he didn't turn his head away from Harry. He closed his eyes against it and laid a hand over Harry's, forcing them shut. The rest of the watchers cried out, and Draco laughed again. It served them right, staring like the gape-mouthed idiots they were at a sight never meant for mortals.
Well, except for one mortal. Draco leaned closer and pressed his cock into Harry's thigh. He didn't think Harry would allow him to mount yet, especially in public, but it caused another surge of strength to enter his body, this closeness to the one he had chosen.
No, not what I would have chosen if Voldemort had transformed me and set me free to hunt, he thought, opening his eyes and looking into the furious glitter at the heart of Harry's. But not as bad as it could have been.
"You're quite done, I hope," Harry said, stepping away from him with his chin high and his lips kiss-swollen.
Draco inclined his head modestly. His body buzzed with contentment; his veins burned and foamed. Yes, he would have liked to have knocked Harry to hands and knees so he could take what he needed, but his wings were whole again. "For the moment," he said. "Where is this headquarters of yours?"
Silent messages flew back and forth between Harry and his friends as they stared at each other, but in the end, Weasley turned his back and led the way without a protest. Harry followed, and of course Draco followed Harry, letting a casual hand rest on his shoulder, his fingers toying with the collarbone.
He hoped that Harry knew both that Draco could break his collarbone with a single, savage twist, and that he would never do such a thing. Draco did not mean to bring more pain to his beloved.
At least, not pain that could not be countered with intense pleasure.
"What are we going to do?"
It was the question that was hovering over everyone in one form or another, Harry thought, silent or not. He leaned back in his chair and sipped at the tea that Hermione had put in front of him, giving her a weary smile when she sat down next to him. Behind him, Malfoy sat in place, silently flexing his wings so that they cast violently moving shadows over Harry. Harry wasn't sure what point he was making, and had determined to ignore him insofar as that was possible.
He felt—burned, broken, battered, new. He was realizing only now how intensely he had believed in his own death, how much he had never expected to live past the fall of Voldemort. If his death was a necessary price, then he would pay it, but he hadn't come up with any scenarios in which it wasn't.
He saw Ron glance at him, but Harry just shook his head. There were many other people crowded into this room—Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny, Mad-Eye Moody, even Luna—who probably had better ideas than he did. He had been leader and general of the war in many ways, but the war was over, except for the cleaning-up.
It was strange to think about that. Bewildering. Harry shivered and sipped once again at the tea.
"Well, Malfoy can't stay here, that's plain," Ron said, leaning forwards and speaking aggressively. (Actually, Harry didn't know why he bothered to add that description in his mind anymore. He hadn't heard Ron speak gently in months). "And we have to find some way of breaking the connection between him and Harry."
"Try," Malfoy said, in a voice like the inside of an iceberg, "and they'll still be finding shards of your bones buried in the ceiling of this room a century from now."
"Control your Veela, Potter," Moody said, whipping out his wand and leveling it at Malfoy as if that would solve the problem. "Of course, if you can't, I'll be more than happy to help you…"
"Enough," Harry snapped, reluctantly accepting that it was up to him after all, or at least some things were. He stood up, putting a hand on the back of his chair to stop himself from swaying. His bones ached, he thought. They weren't broken, not even the arm that had snapped earlier, thanks to Hermione's healing spell, but they ached. "I'm bound to him. So far, I don't know how to undo it."
Malfoy extended a wing and ran the longest feather on it down the middle of Harry's spine. Harry shivered and lost track of what he was saying. A moment later, he gritted his teeth and shook his head. He hated the way Malfoy could make him do that.
But hatred wouldn't change anything. It had to be lived with, or brought down and destroyed. And Harry suspected that doing that to Malfoy would be much more difficult than it looked.
"Listen," he said, working spit into his mouth to take care of the sandy dryness that seemed to have accumulated there. "Why don't you discuss other things for a while? The end of the war, what we're going to do about the Death Eaters, how we should tell people that Voldemort is gone. Anything but Malfoy for right now."
"He's the first issue we have to settle," Moody said, and the tip of his wand began to glow red.
Harry bowed his head and resisted the urge to bury it into his hands. He wanted to groan. "No, he's not," he said sharply. "Even if he wanted to betray us to Voldemort, he couldn't, given that he's dead. The lot of you watched him bring Voldemort down and destroy him. Can you still say that he's not loyal to us?"
"To you," Malfoy whispered, though Harry thought he was the only one close enough to hear. "The rest of them, I couldn't give a fuck about."
Harry turned his head and stared wearily at Malfoy over his shoulder. He wasn't sure why, but something in his expression seemed to make Malfoy sit up and take notice, almost literally. His eyes narrowed, and he tilted his head forwards as if sniffing something suspicious about Harry's breath. Harry shook his head and wearily faced the front again.
"Can you argue that?" he repeated.
Eyes turned towards him and then away. Fingers scrabbled in sleeves and locked there. People muttered. Then Luna smiled brilliantly.
"I know what's wrong," she said. "You need time alone with him. I ought to have seen it right away. Daddy would be ashamed of me."
Harry gave her a faint smile. He had sometimes been able to find refreshment in Luna's mixture of strangeness and practicality where no one else could do anything for him. "What do you mean, Luna? Why?"
"Mated pairs need time alone to refresh their bond," Luna said, and nodded wisely. "Snorkacks do, and even wolves. It's just the way nature works. You and Malfoy should go up to your bedroom and lie down together."
Harry felt his face flush hot as everyone around the table stared at him, but he resented it less than he would have from anyone else. He shrugged at Luna and said, "As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I'd like you to make the decisions by yourself is because I need to rest. I need to think. So, good-bye for right now."
Some of them tried to reach out for him, to talk to him, but Harry avoided hands and words alike and trudged through the headquarters towards the stairs. He had once been uneasy over the fact that he had a room to himself when most of the rest of the Order didn't, but right now he was glad.
Then he realized Malfoy was following him.
Harry turned around and stared. He couldn't muster more than a stare, but as before, that seemed to be all it took. Malfoy shifted, wings lying flat the way that Harry had once seen a depressed bird's do. Harry shook his head to get the weird comparison out of his brain and sighed. "Well?"
"I need to come with you," Malfoy said. "If I stay down here, we'll only fight. And you need something to eat," he added.
Harry stared some more, blinking, then said, "Fine, order whatever you like. I only want to sleep. And you can come into the room, but don't touch me or talk to me."
"It doesn't work that way." Malfoy's voice was gentle, or at least gentle compared to the brutal way he had spoken in the oubliette and the screech Harry had heard from him when he was attacking Voldemort. "It never will, as long as we're both alive. But I can hold back on the talking, if not the touching."
Harry waved one hand behind him in a gesture that he didn't think had a name and continued trudging up the stairs. Malfoy came behind him, soft-footed, the loudest noise the one that seemed to be made by the outside feathers of his extended wings trailing up the walls.
Harry didn't know what to say, so he simply curled up on the bed and closed his eyes. Malfoy clapped his hands and said something to the house-elf who appeared, incredibly and for no reason, when he gave the call. Harry didn't rouse when Malfoy climbed into the bed with him, although it wasn't made for two people and he wasn't used to someone so large and heavy and hot—or, really, anyone at all—lying beside him.
Malfoy looped his arms around Harry's waist and sighed into his ear. "You're so vital," he said softly. "So alive. So strange to think that you came to Voldemort to die. I think you would have survived even if I hadn't cut the Horcrux out of you."
Harry shook his head, not opening his eyes. "I wouldn't have. The Horcruxes in the other objects had to be completely destroyed before he was mortal. The only way I knew of to destroy one in a living being was to die."
Malfoy was silent longer than Harry had expected after that admission, long enough for the house-elf—where had Malfoy got it?—to appear with a tray that steamed and smelled delicious to Harry's nose. Malfoy said something sharp and low, and the elf squeaked, put the tray down on the floor, from the sound, and vanished again. Harry kept his eyes shut, seeing no reason to open them.
Malfoy's claws were gentle on his temple, running around and through his curls of hair, descending to snag and tug, circling his ears. Harry tensed, thinking Malfoy would bite him again, but Malfoy only went on touching, and slowly, Harry relaxed.
"I wish you would go," he whispered.
"I won't," Malfoy said. "Not permanently. I could give you some space, but that would only postpone the inevitable." He paused, then added, with the first touch of real uncertainty Harry had seen from him since he was flung into the oubliette, "You do know what the inevitable means?"
Harry turned over with a sigh that made a louder noise in his ears than the creaking of the bed. Malfoy watched him with large eyes. They had flecks of silver in them now, Harry thought, which he was almost sure had never been the case before. His wings had torn his shirt to shreds. Harry hadn't noticed until now. He reached out with a grimace, enfolding Malfoy's shoulders in his arms, and Malfoy let his head descend until his nose rested in the crook of Harry's neck.
"Yes, fine, feed from me," Harry said. "Do you eventually stop eating blood and flesh, though? I think I'll get weak if I lose too much blood, and I don't want to carry feathers all over my body to cover up the scars."
Malfoy froze as though Harry had accused him of rape, and held there, shaking, for long minutes. Then he pulled away with a furious swipe of his head. "No," he snapped. "I didn't—I wasn't talking about that. I meant that we need to have sex. It's the primary way Veela feed, the way I would have fed if I could have met you under more normal circumstances."
"You would have chosen someone else if we met under more normal circumstances," Harry whispered, and hated the way that his hands shook. He fisted them so they wouldn't, but they still did, so he hid them down by his sides. Malfoy found and took them, smoothing his fingers along the backs as though that would somehow make this more comfortable for Harry when nothing could.
"Perhaps." Malfoy's gaze was deep and fathomless. "But it feels like it still would have been you. Take that for what it's worth. I made the choice, and I can't back out now." He paused and went quiet again. Harry waited, his despair so still and perfect that it felt as if a glaze of ice had settled over his face.
Malfoy said softly, "You don't know what to do. It's the end of the war, you weren't meant to survive, and you did. You said you wanted to be alone to think, but I can feel your mind working. You're trying to drown thought."
Harry laughed hysterically. It was hard to gain control of himself, but he did with a giggle and a gulp. His lips still twitched, though. Malfoy was the one who understood best what he was feeling, rather than his friends. It was dismal, wretched, stupid, uncomfortable.
"Yeah, that's it," he agreed. "I don't know what you can do except make it worse, though."
Malfoy leaned forwards and placed his lips on Harry's in answer.
Harry felt as though he was alone in the center of a ring of dusty lights. His back twitched the way his lips had a moment ago, and he wondered if he would grow wings. If his scar had turned into one, why not? Anything was possible.
He reached up and grasped Malfoy's face, pinching his cheeks, gripping and pressing inwards until Malfoy pulled away with a gasp of pain. Harry felt the ghost of the agony on his own face, but that didn't make him back away. He had a pretty high pain tolerance.
"Please," Malfoy said, taking Harry's wrist.
Harry stared at him dimly, and let Malfoy move his hand away. It was the word that had shocked him, more than anything else. Malfoy shot his tongue out—longer than a normal human's, Harry was sure it was longer—and licked the side of his cheek, the corner of his mouth, where food would have landed if he'd eaten any.
"We're both lost," Malfoy whispered. "So different, so distant from what we would have been. I have no Veela blood. Voldemort transformed me, made me into something else. And he transformed you, too, when he cast you in with me. We're both different, and it's going to be hard, and we don't know what we're going to do. Let me love you, for a little while. It might help." His hands slid up and down Harry's sides now, fingers curling as if he wanted to find his way beneath the clothes and didn't quite dare.
Harry shook his head. There were tears in his eyes, which he hated, but at least they didn't fall. "You can't help me," he said. "I don't think you can help yourself."
"That's why it's different if we stand together." Malfoy's voice had deepened. He leaned down and captured Harry's mouth again, and this time, Harry didn't stop him, even when Malfoy rolled on top of him and his wings cast a shadow over them like night falling.
He was battered and worn and tired beyond belief. He didn't want to think right now. He didn't want to rescue anyone. He let go.
Draco leaned closer and licked the insides of Harry's mouth, carefully learning what his flesh tasted like when it was left in place. His hands arched with the need to touch; his bones would have erupted through the skin if they could, to brush Harry's knuckles and his wrists and other places that his bones rose close to the surface.
Harry kissed back, but with a languid, slow motion that said he was going along with it because he couldn't be bothered not to. One of his hands rose and clenched in Draco's hair. Draco shuddered with the force and the feel of it and ducked his head, rubbing the crown against the wing-shaped scar on Harry's forehead.
He would have known what was coming if he had paid attention to it, but he was caught up in the sensations of Harry's fingers on his scalp, and he didn't notice until it was too late.
A roaring wave of pleasure crashed over them, so intense, so deep, that Draco jerked and cried out, and then cried out again as Harry's fingers sank deeper and he felt the nails scraping on pure skin. He twisted his head to the side and flashed tongue and then teeth over Harry's throat, though he kept the teeth covered by his lips. He doubted that Harry would appreciate a bite just at the moment.
Harry's body twisted in turn. Draco could feel the pleasure throbbing in him like a wound. He smoothed the backs of his fingers down Harry's shoulder and shoved so that his ragged shirt came off, torn by his claws.
Harry looked briefly startled, and then some other emotion that Draco couldn't put a name to crossed his face. As it turned out, Draco didn't need to put a name to it, because Harry lifted his head and kissed Draco again, and at the merest scrape of their tongues against each other, Draco went rigid.
The orgasm tore through him in two different directions, as if he were caught in cross-currents. He whimpered, or thought he did, but the sound was small, distant against the enormous roar of the waves. He dropped limp over Harry's chest, panting, his body still vibrating as though someone had hit him with a hammer made of air. He couldn't remember the moment when he had come. He touched the memory in his mind gingerly and winced when his bones ached. Yes, he had felt good, but the pleasure had climbed incredibly close to pain for a moment.
Harry fussed beneath him and reached for Draco's hand, then hesitated. Draco knew why. If Harry wanted to wank off using Draco's hand, he would be wary of the long claws.
"They could never hurt you, they won't hurt you," Draco whispered, and he folded his hand down, shredding away the trousers and pants at Harry's groin, to close his claws like a handful of whispering leaves around Harry's cock. It was warm and blood-burning, and he rubbed it up and down, watching as the stars burst in Harry's eyes. "Come for me."
Harry arched at the mere suggestion, and then came with no more than another stroke and squeeze or two.
He hurt, in the aftermath. His wounds and the places where Malfoy had bitten him and filled the wounds with feathers ached. But the worst part was the knowledge that he had come because Malfoy had commended him to, and for no other reason. He hadn't been close enough to the edge before to get there so fast.
"Is it going to be like this?" he asked, through a throat hoarse with a cry he couldn't remember. "Doing whatever you tell me, because I have no choice?"
Malfoy kissed him, a sweep of his lips down Harry's temples and to his throat, where he paused to lie and suck lazily. Harry hissed in disgust as he felt a twitch in his groin. He couldn't get hard again this fast, but his cock was making a good attempt at it.
"I don't know what it's going to be like," Malfoy said, twisting his head a little, back and forth, as if he was looking for clues to the future in Harry's skin. "That's the point of this. If we both knew exactly what would happen next, I doubt that we would be together." He pulled back and stared at Harry with those intense eyes, resting one hand on his chest. Above Harry's heart, Harry noticed, as if he couldn't stand the distance that might open between it and his palm. "You didn't expect to live. I didn't expect to change. I think we should both do what we can to survive, and to continue."
"I didn't ask for this," Harry said.
Malfoy laughed, but it was such gentle, warm laughter that Harry couldn't believe, even though he tried, that Malfoy was mocking him. "Neither of us asked for anything," Malfoy said. "To be a Horcrux, to defeat Voldemort, to be a Veela, to be bonded. But there are certain things that we can't change. Foremost among them, this bond." He went still and stared at Harry. "I can live within the limits and do my best to find happiness inside them. Can you?"
Harry grunted and dropped his head back on the pillow. "I don't have much choice, do I?" he asked.
"Not about this," Malfoy said softly, and arranged himself on Harry's chest so that his claws were shielded by the bedsheets, which confirmed Harry's gloomy impression that he didn't really know how to control them. "Maybe about other things. We can try to find out."
Long moments, long beats, of silence passed, while Harry thought about that and Malfoy listened to his heart. In the end, Harry shook his head, feeling the same dull, dry surprise and helplessness that he had when he allowed Malfoy into the bed with him. He had decisions to make, but they could wait for tomorrow.
Harry closed his eyes. "I'm too exhausted for this right now," he said
"Likewise," Malfoy said softly. "But when you wake up, you are going to eat."
Harry didn't bother answering. He felt the heavy softness, like snow, above him as the wings came down, and wondered for a moment if he could get used to it.
In the morning. I'll see in the morning.
And for all the days after that…
That there were going to be days after that…
Hesitantly, Harry wound his fingers in Malfoy's hair, and the silence flowed back over them.