Title: Silence, Fury, Laughter
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters; I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Pairings: Harry/Draco, Ron/Hermione
Warnings: Creature!fic (Draco is a Veela) and AU after HBP. Angst, mentions of torture, violence, OC character death, bloodplay, sex, very slight D/s dynamics.
Summary: Sequel to 'Blood, Flesh, Silence' and 'Fear, Silence, Wisdom,' and the last in the Silence Trilogy. Harry and Draco move on with their lives, in darkness and in light.
Author's Notes: Written for severkarogeuova, who made a generous donation to help_japan, and asked for a sequel to 'Blood, Flesh, Silence.' Since I'd already started writing an immediate sequel, this is the third one in the trilogy. I hope you like it, severka! This really won't make sense if you haven't read the previous two stories.
Silence, Fury, Laughter
"You're doing what."
Harry smiled a little at the expression on Ron's face. He could understand what had put it there, and a few weeks ago, he would have felt the same emotions. He reached across the table and gripped his best friend's hand.
Good job that Draco agreed to give us privacy for this meeting, he thought with a slight grimace. Otherwise, bits of Ron would probably be all over the floor already, for daring to touch me.
"Sorry," he said. "I know it comes as a shock. But—Ron, I don't want to stay here. All the people staring at me. No, it's not that I think Draco has the right to hurt them for looking, but I don't like it. I want to go somewhere I can retreat to when things get tough, and breathe, and think, and just be."
"But you'll have him with you." Ron's mouth twisted when he said the word "him," as if one of the most basic English pronouns had become suddenly foul. "How much relaxing will you really be able to do?"
"I accept him as part of me now," Harry said simply. "As part of my life, like my scar or the fact that Voldemort is dead. And he'll be with me. He's willing to give me silence and space when I require it. See?" he added, gesturing around the room where he and Ron sat alone.
Ron snorted. "I wouldn't trust him to give you a backrub," he said.
"I might not, either, with those claws," Harry said, and smiled. Ron continued frowning at him. Harry sighed and leaned back in his chair. "We only have about five more minutes before he comes back. What is it that you really want to say, Ron?"
"That's it!" Ron snapped, exploding from his chair. "Mate, you didn't get a choice about being a bloody hero, or about having to fight V-Voldemort, or about having a Horcrux in you. And then it turned out that you could survive having the Horcrux taken out of you, and you didn't have to die after all."
"Because of Draco's help," Harry said evenly. He tried to hide the shudder that ran down the middle of his spine. Having Draco chew apart his scar and then swallow the Horcrux didn't count as one of the most pleasant experiences of his life.
"But that's it," Ron said. "You talk about accepting him and all that load of bollocks, but he's just another thing that was forced on you, just when you were getting the chance to live your life properly, of your own free will!" His eyes glinted with the passion of his argument as he leaned forwards. "You resented him so much at first, and wanted him to go away, and wanted us to find ways to break the bond. And now—what? Because he fucks your brains out once, you're committed to him for life!"
Harry narrowed his eyes, but made sure to keep from rising from the chair and keep his voice calm and level. That would be carrying the argument onto Ron's ground, and Harry didn't want to do that. He had learned a fair bit about manipulating arguments from Draco, and he didn't mind using it against his friends when they were having a row with him about something like this. Draco couldn't change, and he wasn't going away.
Of course, he couldn't really blame Ron and Hermione, either, given how long it had taken him to accept that at first.
"Actually, he only fucked my brains out once I ordered him to. He does what I tell him, Ron. As witness he actually left us alone for once."
Ron's face turned the color of wine. "Merlin, Harry," he whined. "I didn't need to know that."
Harry laughed and shook his head. "Then next time, don't ask me!" He softened his voice, because Ron really did look unhappy, and, well, Harry would have felt the same way if a Veela had claimed his friend against his will, except perhaps more so, because Ron had Hermione to live with and love. "I'm okay, Ron. Really. I won't pretend that I'm in love with him, yet, but I trust him to obey orders and listen to me when I say that I really can't endure any more hugging right now. That's an improvement over a few weeks ago."
"Yeah, yeah, but don't you want to marry someone you chose?" Ron looked at him imploringly.
Harry hesitated. He knew this was important, and he had come to terms with it himself, but he wasn't sure that the words that made so much sense in his head would actually make sense when he voiced them to someone else.
Ron stared at him, though, so Harry nodded and muttered, "I thought about that. But—surviving when Voldemort wanted to kill me changed things so much. I had to think about what I wanted. And I never had a clear vision of what I wanted after the war, because I thought I'd be dead. Now I know it probably isn't going to be a normal family life and kids—not the kind of life that you have with Hermione, anyway."
"Will have," Ron said, suddenly ducking his head, and this time Harry could see that the flush went all the way down his neck. "No kids yet."
Harry grinned at him. "Good. It's nice to know that I wasn't quite that oblivious."
The door rattled abruptly, and Harry got up and turned to face it. His hands were shaking, he realized, and he jammed them into his pockets so that he could hide that a little from Ron. His face was bright with emotions that probably couldn't be hidden, but that was okay, he could deal with that. Ron wouldn't want to look.
Draco stepped through the door, crouching so that his wings wouldn't tear splinters out of the frame. His gaze was fastened on Harry as though he had kept his eyes in the same place even before opening the door, which was the case if Harry knew anything about his Veela. His claws were twisting and flickering up and down like blades even before he caught sight of Ron, and then he bared his teeth. The same ones that had eaten Harry in the dungeons, they bristled with sharper points than human teeth would.
"It's all right," Harry said, and stepped forwards with his hands held out. Draco ducked his head and licked a stripe up his right wrist, then grabbed it and hauled Harry against him, surrounding him with his wings. Harry leaned back against them, enjoying the slight scratch of feathers on his spine, and nodded in response to the way Draco stared at him. "I'm still yours."
"He touched you," Draco said. His voice bubbled and boiled with sharp, sweet sounds that ran out in hisses. Harry reached up and gripped a handful of his fine hair, letting it trickle slowly out between his fingers.
"I know," Harry said. "But not sexually, and not for long."
For a moment, Draco's hand tightened on his wrist so hard that Harry thought he might break it. Then he said, "As long as you know you're mine," and bent down to grip Harry's mouth in a kiss.
Harry gave in willingly, reaching up so that he could rake his fingers through Draco's hair and leave scratches on his scalp, as good as he got. Draco pulled back with glazed eyes, panting, his gaze fastened on Harry's face.
"Now," Harry said, and nodded to the floor. Draco started to pull him down.
Ron coughed, so loudly that Harry thought people probably heard him in Brazil. Then he forced his way past them. Harry laughed, and Draco, after a moment of staring after Ron as if he couldn't believe that Ron had almost touched his wings, laughed as well.
He turned back, though, and his mouth was soft and his eyes were hungry and his claws hovered over Harry's groin, as though he wanted to shred the trousers but didn't quite dare. "Permission?" he whispered.
"If you do it gently," Harry replied. "And don't tear the cloth."
Draco wanted to, he could see that, but the bunched tension in his shoulders melted after a moment, and he nodded obediently, pulling Harry's cock out as though it was fragile. Well, in some senses that's true, Harry thought, as he lay back on the floor and spread his legs, and Draco lowered his head and lashed his tongue on the place along the head where it felt most brilliant, keeping his claws well back. Draco's control over his claws and how much damage they could cause Harry came and went, though it was much better since Harry had stopped resisting him so strenuously.
Some things are worth putting up with, Harry thought, and wondered for a moment how Ron would see it, whether he would think constant sex and having someone who would always be with him, always put him first, was worth the other demands of having a Veela in his life—
And then Draco licked and sucked hard, at the same time, and Harry gasped and stopped thinking about Ron.
Harry was happy.
Draco knew that from the way he turned, slowly, around in the middle of the house that Draco had found for them, shaking his head and biting his lips as though he assumed he couldn't grin without Draco taking it the wrong way. Draco stood back in the doorway, for once wide enough for his wings, folded his arms, and watched.
"I'll bite," Harry said, turning around, and Draco half-closed his eyes so that he could hide the automatic response in his body when Harry said things like that. "How did you find a place like this?"
"A house that another Veela had lived in at one point, and that no one wanted since then." Draco reached out and stroked Harry's arm. The constant need to touch him, casually, was one of the more annoying parts of his condition, but Harry rolled his eyes tolerantly and let him do it. "For the excellent reason of how high off the ground it is."
"I noticed that," Harry said, and slipped across the room to stare out the window. "I rather like it."
Draco did, too. It meant that it wouldn't be easy for someone else—even another Veela, once they had the place properly warded—to sneak up on and seize his Harry.
The "house" was more like a pair of simple rooms, enlarged on the inside with wizardspace, sitting on a platform cradled in the branches of a huge oak. The floor and ceiling were wooden planks, the walls made of branches trained to grow together and close gaps. The firepit was in the center of the floor, beneath a hole that Draco knew they would have to ward carefully so that smoke could escape but wet and cold couldn't come in. Not to mention the wards that the firepit would need not to burn the house down. The windows, deliberate gaps in the branches, were rough and ungainly in shape. Draco knew there would be disadvantages to living here, and it was certainly nowhere near as beautiful as the Manor.
On the other hand, he no longer belonged in a place like the Manor, and he didn't think Harry did, either. And where he was, Harry would be.
Harry turned towards him. He was trying to keep calm, but Draco could see the pulse jumping in his throat and the way that his hands flexed as if he wanted to take hold of something. Draco slipped towards him. He would be the thing that Harry held if he needed to grip.
"Thank you," Harry said. "I know that we talked about a place like this, but I never imagined that you would manage to find one."
"All the more reason for me to look, then," Draco said, and buried his face against Harry's throat, his teeth nipping gently. Harry took a breath and reached up to cradle the back of his head. His fingers dug deep and then held still. Draco smiled. Harry might not know what he wanted, and that was all right. Draco would help him figure it out. "I do so enjoy proving you wrong."
Harry shoved him away, and then they were wrestling, tussling across the floor, Draco concentrating so that he wouldn't hurt Harry with either claws or wings. Harry came up sitting on his chest, his face flushed and his hands knotted in Draco's shirt the way he sometimes knotted them in his hair.
"Bastard," he said, eyes bright and laughing. "I want you to do something for me." He tugged suggestively on the shirt, one of the special ones that Draco had modified so that it would cover his chest but leave his back free, with room for the wings.
Draco smiled and let his head fall back. This was something he had never thought he would have in the wake of Harry's refusal at first to stay with him or even put up with the idea of the bond between Veela and human, and which he thought he would never tire of now that he had it.
"Your wish is my command," he said.
"Yeah," Harry said, his eyes sparking. "Yeah, I like that."
"Mr. Potter." McGonagall's voice was soft and harsh, and she reached up to push her white hair back with a hand that shook. "What you are telling me is—welcome news. But I will only discuss it with you alone."
Harry studied her for a long time before he replied. McGonagall was the one who had kept Hogwarts safe and sheltered as much as possible, a sanctuary alive in what had looked like the ruins of the school. It turned out Dumbledore had planned better than anyone knew, and the wards around the school would cast the complicated illusion if enough destruction was rained on the walls. Some students, some professors, and a few of the bravest refugees had huddled there until Ron and Hermione brought the news that Voldemort was dead.
But as Ron had predicted, no one believed the rumors without proof, so Harry came himself, holding a Pensieve with the memory swirling inside. And McGonagall seemed prepared to accept his word.
But she wasn't prepared to accept Draco. Her eyes kept sliding sideways to him, and her hand would grip her wand. Meanwhile, Draco had heard the suggestion that he leave Harry alone with someone else, and his claws already held Harry's shoulder.
"Once you see the memory, you'll understand," Harry said. He kept his voice as gentle as possible. McGonagall had seen and suffered a lot, and the people crowded behind her, tense and unhappy and still afraid, wouldn't be benefited by a loud argument. "I wasn't the one who killed him. That was Draco."
McGonagall's face paled, and she took a step away from him as though she thought he had madness and it was catching. "Then how can you be sure that he's dead?" she whispered. "We've all heard the prophecy by now."
"We figured out what it meant," Harry said, "and Draco removed the last guarantee of his immortality from me. It was something in me that was keeping him alive." He had agreed with the rest of the Order that they wouldn't mention the word "Horcrux" unless they absolutely had to. "Once that was gone, anyone could kill him. And Draco did."
"Why?" McGonagall turned and stared at Draco with blank eyes. Her wand rose, and this time, it didn't waver. "Why would someone on You-Know-Who's side turn against him?"
"He did this to me," Draco said, baring his fangs at her as Harry opened his mouth to explain. Harry shut his mouth again and smiled. It was occasionally good to be reminded that Draco could speak for himself, could decide for himself. "Transfigured me into a Veela because my work wasn't good enough for him. I would have died of starvation in a pit if not for Harry. And he would have laughed."
McGonagall shook her head, eyes still unfocused. "We can't have him in the sanctuary with us. We can't have anyone in the sanctuary with us except those who have served and suffered in the wake of the war.'
Harry shivered as he watched her. He had thought Sirius reckless, yes, but if this was what hiding away from the war did to someone, then he could understand his godfather's need to be doing something active on the battlefield instead of cowering and waiting for the war to pass overhead. Harry was glad, for a moment, of the prophecy. Hiding had never been a option for him.
"Then we'll speak out here," he said.
"No. I don't want him in my domain."
Harry glanced over his shoulder and shifted a step away from Draco. Sometimes, he would let Harry get further away from him than at other times.
This wasn't one of the permissive times. His claws closed down hard enough that Harry heard his shoulder blade creak in warning, and Draco bowed his head, whiffling out a harsh breath as he nuzzled against one of his marks on Harry's neck.
Harry nodded. He could have asked permission to go with McGonagall and likely forced his point through with Draco, but frankly, he didn't want to. Draco had put up with enough already without this.
"We'll speak out here or not at all," he said. "I could leave the Pensieve, and you could look at it at your leisure." He held the Pensieve out.
McGonagall's eyes focused, and she looked honestly surprised. "You would leave us without your direction and guidance? Without your direct story?"
"Yes," Harry said. "Because you refuse to acknowledge that I'm partnered to a Veela now, and that makes a difference. If you won't acknowledge that, then it doesn't surprise me if you would miss the implications of the story I could tell you, too, even if I spoke with you face-to-face."
For the first time in this meeting, McGonagall looked like the woman he had known who gave Harry and his friends detention for being out of bed at the wrong time. "Mr. Potter," she said coldly. "I don't think you know what we have endured, the ones who had to wait for the war to finish instead of doing something to stop it."
Harry met her gaze as gently as he could. "I don't," he said. "But you don't know what I endured, either. And Draco is part of me now, his life entwined with mine. I understand that you don't like that, but you have to put up with it."
"He'll scare the children," McGonagall said.
"Because of who he used to be?" Harry asked. "Or because of who he is now?" He hadn't heard that Voldemort had used any Veela in attacks, but it could have happened, and it would make sense, the way they flinched from Draco's wings and claws.
"Because of who he used to be," McGonagall said, putting paid to that theory. Her voice softened when Harry raised a doubting eyebrow. "Please, Mr. Potter. Please try to understand our point-of-view. We've lived for what feels like centuries with the fear of Death Eaters finding their way through our glamours, and although You-Know-Who is dead, they haven't gone. I know it."
Harry glanced back over his shoulder, to see if Draco could understand their point-of-view. Draco smiled back at him, a gentle expression for being made with lips redder than human normal around a mouthful of what was essentially fangs.
And didn't move.
Harry shook his head. "I have someone else to look out for now, and please, and consider as part of myself," he said. "Make up your mind, Headmistress." He thought addressing her that way might remind her that she would have to be more than the guardian of this band of refugees, if the school was ever to recover. "Speak to us here and now, or not at all."
McGonagall remained still, as though not believing that she'd lost the battle. Then she raised a glamour charm that hid the terrified people behind her and sat down on a piece of broken stone from one of the outer walls of Hogwarts, the one structure that Voldemort and the Death Eaters had managed to do some damage to. Her mouth was a line that rocks could have cracked on.
"Talk, Mr. Potter."
Harry did, avoiding her eyes. He knew that he would find forgiveness here difficult, if he found it at all. But in the end, he'd made his decisions, and he wasn't going to spend the rest of his life looking over and regretting them. Others would get used to him being with Draco, or they would continue to stew about it.
Either way, Harry refused to make it his problem.
Draco spread his wings and soared upwards.
The ground spun below him, dizzily far away. The enormous tree that held their home lingered a little closer to him, a little longer. The branches reared as if they would like to pierce his wings, although Draco knew that attributing such emotion to pieces of wood was folly. And in the house, Harry lay cradled, sleeping.
Draco could feel him like a silver chain binding him to the earth, to a life that he loved, to a life that he had to think about and make preparations for. He had once believed that he would die in the oubliette. Then he had believed that he would die because Harry was so determined to ignore him. Both fears had passed. He had survived the way a Malfoy should, under difficult conditions.
But he was more than a Malfoy now, more than any Malfoy had ever been, if he embraced the chances handed to him. And he was more than just Harry's Veela.
High above the tree, when its branches faded to only one more black blur among the rest below him, Draco held his wings out and began to practice flying.
He most often had Harry with him when he flew, either because he wanted to fuck him on the wing or because he delighted in showing Harry what the world looked like without a broom. Or else his mind remained with Harry; he patrolled in the air, and he had made sure that all the approaches that someone might make when flying or coming on a broom to their house were covered with glittering midair wards.
This, he did for himself.
He flew backwards first, testing the strength of his wings, learning to love the sound of the wind as it traveled past the enormous primary feathers. His body tilted and balanced against the breeze. He tipped over and flew parallel to the ground, noting that it was the easiest position, and then spread his arms to stretch alongside the wings and measured the distance between his spread fingers and the earth.
He had to know all of it. To defend Harry, yes, and because he suspected that someday he would face a person or a creature who flew better than he did. But also because the wings were part of his body, not something that he only possessed some of the time the way that natural-born Veela did, and he refused to be helpless in the face of them or feel them as a dragging weight on his back.
The war had cut across his consciousness and the flow of his life, damming it like a river. Draco knew that he hadn't really dealt with the damming yet. There had been the sudden, unstoppable flood that was Harry's arrival in his life, and since then, he had had enemies to fight. Harry's friends, who didn't want them together. Harry, who didn't want them together. His own Veela instincts, that sometimes made him a danger to his beloved.
Draco smiled wryly into the darkness. All that effort, simply to prevent one Veela and one beloved from being together. He thought that ordinary Veela, if they knew what he was going through, would laugh.
But he wasn't ordinary Veela, and so he had to learn. He paddled forwards a bit, and then folded his wings and fell towards the trees beneath him.
The one that contained their house loomed up with alarming force and speed. Draco's body shivered with intense fear and exhilaration at the same time. He could barely open his wings against the pressure of the wind, but that was what made it fun. He knew that he could end up a hanging corpse on those branches, like a butcherbird's cache.
But he did not wish to, and when he used a pulse of magic that left his wings outlined in silvery light, they opened. Draco wheeled back up from the reaching branches and towards the stars, which exerted their own kind of pull.
He screeched at the top of his flight, and wheeled over and over again, flipping upside-down, teaching himself the ways that this was different from doing barrel-rolls on a broom. The sky was his. The cold air no longer burned his lungs the way it once had. He only used Warming Charms when he flew for Harry's sake. Even the currently bare skin of his chest—he had taken off his shirt so that there was no chance the cloth would restrict the movement of his wings-only tingled and smarted a bit, rather than freezing.
This was the way he was now.
Draco looked back at his reflection in the mirror of the night and the world, and found it good.
"Mr. Potter! We wanted to speak to you about your sudden change of heart as regards You-Know-Who."
That was the voice that made Harry turn around. The rest of the reporters' questions had been normal: questions about Draco and how he had become a Veela and how Harry had become his lover, accusations that he had turned his back on the wizarding world because he wasn't personally guiding the effort at rebuilding, shouted demands that he explain when he had become bent. But this was a new one.
Harry turned slowly enough that he wouldn't trigger Draco's defensive instincts, and smiled as he felt Draco shift to stand at his shoulder. That ought to be close enough to handle anything these people did, while not close enough to be immediately threatening to those who were looking for it. "What do you mean?" he asked the woman who'd spoken. "I hated Voldemort until the end."
He was pleased to see it made her flinch. But she straightened her shoulders in the next instant and forged forwards. She was a small woman with bright brown hair and collarbones that for some reason stood out, pressing against her skin. Harry didn't see anything that would indicate her name, but her notebook had the logo of the Witches' Voice, a small paper, on it.
"I mean that you didn't kill him," she said. "Despite the prophecy that said you should and the large number of people who thought you would." Harry restrained a scowl, but did think that he would have to speak with Ron and Hermione and ask who in the Order had leaked the news about the prophecy. "Why did you leave it up to Draco Malfoy to do so?"
Draco's claws scraped Harry's shirt. He nodded to him and leaned back against him so that he could keep Draco's arms busy, as well as removing himself from the conversation so Draco could answer the question.
"That sounds like something you want to ask me instead." Draco fixed dazzling eyes on the woman and smiled, sweet and slow. His allure flowed out in a blast of summer air, and for the first time, Harry got to see it affect other people. Draco had been too focused on making Harry agree that they should stay together to use it on members of the Order.
He watched the dazed and blinking eyes, the way that hands faltered on quills and went to the collars of shirts, and the lips that parted as their gazes focused on Draco.
And for the first time that he could remember since seeing Dean and Ginny together in sixth year, jealousy poured over him in molten waves.
Behind him, Draco drew in a slow, satisfied breath. Of course, he could probably smell Harry's emotions by now. Harry held himself ruthlessly still, and watched as the brown-haired woman, the one nearest them, sniffled and whimpered and stuttered before she managed to recover. She had pulled herself together with impressive speed given that she'd received a full blast of the allure, Harry had to admit, but at the moment, he didn't really want to be rational.
"I—I meant," she said, "that you must have had some motive for killing You-Know-Who instead of letting the Chosen One do it. Why did you?" That was as much as she could get out. She shut her eyes and swayed on her feet, and Harry set his own feet so that he wouldn't swat Draco's hands from his shoulders and punch her. Draco's allure was meant to be for him alone.
Then he realized that the jealousy sliding through him, clear and strong as some of the wine that Draco had tried to introduce him to, really had no place in this situation, either. Harry did his best to hold still and bite the corners of his mouth so that he wouldn't say something juicy for the reporters to write down. This was the situation as Draco had chosen to handle it, for whatever reason, and Harry had to trust him.
Draco's hands caressed his shoulders, claws rippling up and down in minute strokes, and Harry relaxed with a small sigh. At least there were parts of their bond that Draco had chosen to keep between them, where they belonged.
"I didn't choose it," Draco said. "It was instinct, to protect my beloved by doing whatever I could to eliminate his enemies. At that particular time and place, his enemy was Voldemort."
The crowd that wasn't so much under his allure swayed backwards in fear this time. Harry smirked at them. Yeah, he went through the dungeons and the Transfiguration and all the torture that the bastard could inflict on him, and he's still less afraid of saying the name than you are, who never saw him.
Hermione's voice sounded briefly in the back of Harry's head, reminding him that these people had been frightened like everyone else when the Order of the Phoenix fought their war, and that he could try to be more charitable to them. But Harry didn't feel like it.
"Then—does that mean—" The reporter in front of them was fighting off the effects of the allure. She took a deep breath and then said, "Then you would do the same thing to any enemy of your beloved that you found?"
The silence that flowed into the alley after that made Harry want to chuckle. He didn't, because that would also spoil some of the effect that Draco was trying to create, but he had to stare at the sky and bite his lips hard so that he wouldn't do something stupid.
"Yes," Draco said, and his voice had gained a resonant undertone that Harry didn't know how to describe, because he'd never heard it before. It wasn't an effect of the allure. It promised conquest, though. "Harry is my choice and my responsibility. And we all know that he has enemies left." He lifted his head and turned it slowly from right to left, his eyes sweeping all the faces in the crowd as though he was trying to determine who among them would be the rogue Death Eater.
Someone must have been, because someone panicked.
A bright violet curse cut towards Draco from the back of the crowd. Harry pushed backwards with his elbows, instinctively, hurling both of them to the ground so that the curse went over them and struck the side of a shop. He heard a sharp crackle and hiss, and glanced over his shoulder to see that it had fused several separate bricks together.
Draco came back up with a roar, and opened his wings so that they loomed against the sky. Harry snarled and tugged at his arm, wanting him to get down. Standing like this, he was too easy a target for anyone who might want to cast at them.
Draco shook off his grip and lifted his wings higher still, until they reached the top of their curve and arched towards each other. The space between them began to glow with brilliant, eye-watering light.
He's meant to protect you, Harry reminded himself, past the fear that was threatening to make him incoherent. And his wings are weapons.
Draco brought down his wings then, and the light brewing between them crackled like lightning away from them and into the portion of the scattering crowd that the blow had come from—or at least, Harry thought so. It was hard to keep track of where people had stood seconds ago with the way they were screaming and running. Still, he also trusted Draco not to harm an innocent.
He turned and started to brace an arm beneath him so that he could climb back to his feet—
And Draco was there, hauling Harry up so quickly that he twisted his arm behind his back. Harry hissed in protest, but Draco ignored that the way he had ignored Harry's demands to be alone when they first came out of the dungeons, nuzzling him on the back of the neck and muttering in what sounded like Parseltongue. Harry couldn't understand it, though, and reckoned it was just the normal series of noises that Veela made when they were upset.
"You killed him!"
Harry looked up swiftly. The reporter who had confronted them before was crouched over a steaming, well-cooked body, her hand resting on its shoulder where some of the cloth had escaped the flames, staring at Draco as though his allure couldn't charm her now. Her eyes were wide, and edged with tears.
"Turner," she whispered. "Mr. Turner. He was the one who taught me how to meet deadlines. How dare you do that?" And then she whipped out a wand of her own and stood up, aiming it between Harry's eyes.
Harry managed to raise a Shield Charm ahead of her just in time. Once again, the light sprang from Draco's wings, and it would have roasted the woman the same way if it hadn't met Harry's magic. Draco hissed in his ear as the shield flexed and bowed and ultimately stood up under his assault, raining the light down like drops of molten iron on the cobblestones.
"Let me through, Harry. Unless you're protecting her because she's more important to you than I am?" And his claws were on Harry's throat now.
Harry closed his eyes and concentrated on calm breathing so that he couldn't panic and stir Draco up further. Of course, compared to what they had survived when Draco was eating the Horcrux out of him, Harry thought, he might as well be calm for the rest of his life. Nothing else was ever going to be as bad as that again, which meant everything else had to be better.
"No," he said. "I'm protecting her because of you."
"Explain that," Draco said, and nuzzled into his neck, his claws scraping up and down now, so tender that they shaved off only small peelings of skin.
"You could get into trouble if you hurt her, or someone like her." Harry tilted his head back and let the claws slide over him, caress him, touch him, flex as if they would pierce a vein. His trust for Draco only made that possible. Three weeks ago, before he had accepted what he and Draco had, inevitably, to mean to each other, he couldn't have done this. But this wasn't three weeks ago. He reached up and squeezed Draco's wrist, then turned around and looked up into his eyes. "Are you going to listen to me?"
There was a long pause, and then Draco nodded jerkily, his wings rattling around them like clashed pieces of armor.
"Good." Harry kissed his chin, and Draco ducked his head so that their foreheads rested together. Good, Harry sighed again, in his head this time. He had more confidence that he could actually persuade Draco to listen to him when he was acting like this. "We have to live in a world full of wizards that don't like you, don't understand me, and think you should act like any ordinary Veela—not so attached to your beloved that you would murder someone who attacked him."
"Other Veela would do the same," Draco muttered, but Harry knew that he didn't really believe it. Draco had just begun to do research into what differences there might be between Transfigured Veela and natural-born ones, and he was finding more and more disturbing, profound things than he had thought existed.
"I don't know that," Harry said. "But the point is that we can't exile ourselves completely from the wizarding world."
"Why not?" Draco asked, and his face shone like a crystal lit from behind. "We have our house, and you can Transfigure clothes for yourself out of anything, and I can hunt for us—"
"Because," Harry said, "I don't want to."
His words acted like a charm on Draco, who turned his head to the side and rubbed his cheek along Harry's forehead, above the scar that looked like a wing now.
"Then you should have what you want," Draco said simply.
Harry sighed in relief, gripped Draco's arm once, and then turned towards the crowd. "I'll defend anyone from my chosen, if I know that he intends to attack in time," he said. "But he'll defend me from anyone. Do you understand? It's useless to try and claim that that bloke wasn't trying to kill us. I know he was."
They stared at him with blank incomprehension. Harry knew why. They had looked upon him and Draco as a diversion, a good story, or sometimes a source of truth (those were the ones who thought there was some grand conspiracy about Voldemort's death and they would find out the truth if they kept close to Harry and Draco). But the diversion wasn't supposed to turn dangerous. They weren't supposed to find themselves analyzing the light in a Veela's eyes and wondering whether his claws could rip them apart.
No Aurors came; the Ministry was still pulling together the remnants of that particular group and using them, right now, for only the most serious matters, like reported sightings of Death Eaters. Harry knew that trying to finish their shopping would be useless right now, too. He turned to Draco and nodded. "I'd like to go home."
Draco gripped him under the arms and rose with him, so fast that several of the people in the crowd flinched and a few fell. Draco Apparated the moment they were above the tallest buildings. He would have liked to fly home, Harry knew, but there was too much chance that someone could track them, or bring them down with a well-placed curse. He was getting good at Apparating mid-flight, though.
When they were home again, Draco nuzzled Harry's shoulder for a long moment and closed his eyes. "Stay safe," he said. It was as much plea as command, which made it a lot easier for Harry to tolerate. He had learned to hear the nuances in Draco's voice.
"I know," he said. "I'll try."
Draco made love to him with violent, desperate frenzy that night, but he was much better about controlling his claws now, and Harry had no injuries. He was grateful for that.
Draco stepped out of the house's largest window, which he regularly used as a launching area, and then twitched his head to the side and sniffed. Then he flew above the house and sniffed again. His final stop was the clear air on the far side of the trees, where the wind was blowing and could bring him the scents.
Yes. There was no mistaking it. The scent of another Veela lingered around the tree and their house.
Draco was in a calm mood after Harry had spent the night with him and talked with him about killing the man yesterday, and made it clear that he didn't blame Draco. So he didn't immediately screech to proclaim his ownership of Harry, or assume that the other Veela was hunting for a beloved. Instead, he landed on top of the house and brought his wings together, brewing light between them.
"You do not know what you are doing, little brother."
The Veela appeared a good distance above Draco, held back by some of the midair wards. She was in human form, with long silvery hair and a chiding expression. She floated on a broomstick rather than using her own wings, and Draco controlled the impulse to spit in contempt.
"The way you live, the way you hold your beloved, the way you cling to what you have been instead of what you have become..." The Veela stretched out along the broom. "You did not learn our ways, the way you should have. If you had come to us when you changed, we would have taught you, and you would be stable."
I'm more than stable enough to knock you out of the air. But Draco didn't think it was a good idea to reveal that. In Voldemort's dungeons, he had learned to hide his strength. He pulled his wings in closer to his body, and the light brewing between them grew more intense.
"You do not even respond to me." The other Veela's voice sharpened. "Have you become so much like an animal that you forget human speech?"
"How should I address someone who does not give me her name?" Draco dragged the words, bouncing and rattling like stones in a tin can, out of his throat. He had no desire to speak to her, that much was true, and he wanted her to underestimate him, but he needed to learn how she had discovered their location. That merited a faint effort at politeness.
"True," said the woman, and flashed him a smile. "My name is Vasya." The smile slid off her face as though it had been painted on. "And in the meantime, you should tell me how you, a Malfoy with only faint traces of our blood in his, became a Veela."
"Your remarks implied that you knew already." Draco dropped his wings down again; her eyes had focused on the light between them, and he doubted that he would be able to take her by surprise the way he had the man in Diagon Alley. "I was Transfigured by Voldemort. He meant me to die, but I survived and found my beloved."
"Not in the right way," Vasya whispered. Her eyes were narrowed, and she moved her head from side to side in snake-like movements, as though gulping his scent through different sets of nostrils. "Not in the way that you should have, if you were going to take a beloved at all. The traditions of our kind are different. We offer a choice to the humans who associate with us. You did not."
"I was starving," Draco said, and estimated the distance between her and him. Not close enough, he thought, if he was going to destroy her. She would have to come nearer, and he would probably also have to destroy the wards to get at her. "Dying. Would you have been noble enough to resist the call of your instincts at such a time?"
"You are not dying now." Vasya sat up on the broom, her long purple robes shifting around her. "You could have surrendered him when you were conscious of the world again. You could have come seeking us. We would have changed you, instead of letting you linger in this pitiful, half-human state."
"I don't find it pitiful." Draco flexed his hands and looked down at the long claws that adorned his fingers. Let Vasya think he wasn't paying attention for just a few moments. "I can fly, and I have the human features that let me fuck my beloved. Yes, I am satisfied with this."
"Is he?" Vasya whispered. "Can you be sure? Or does he merely say yes to please you?"
Draco had to laugh at that. It was more than plain that she didn't know Harry. "He's the one who makes demands."
"It is a partnership with us," Vasya said, and shifted as if she would jump off the broom and grow her wings for a moment. Draco remained still, waiting, watching, and she settled back again. "Not a relationship with someone who can demand something of us."
"I do as he asks," Draco said. "Fuck him like he asks. It's what he likes, what I like, and it's more than that. I found this house for him. I've killed for him. He's overcome his own fears and his friends' disapproval for me. You don't understand."
Vasya gave him a tolerant smile. "The cry of every adolescent and child down the centuries." Again the smile melted from her face. "My grandmother felt the disturbance of our magic when you entered the world, and again when you took your beloved. That spell used to Transfigure you has not been used in centuries. It should not have been used now. I came to redress that balance." Her hair began to glow.
"How?" She had still not attacked him. Draco rustled his wings into a more flight-ready position.
"By charming your beloved free of the chains you have put on him," Vasya said simply. "Then I can take you back to my grandmother, and she can free you from the spell. You can be normal, human again." The glow spread down her hair and began to work her features into something else, something polished, beautiful.
Draco sprang at her and soared through the wards, which shredded like cobwebs around him.
Vasya turned to him and flung fire-real fire, not the white light that Draco had conjured to burn Harry's enemy. It flew towards Draco, and he opened his mouth and spread his wings wide to embrace it.
It bounced from a shield before it could touch him, though. Draco turned his head to the side, and saw Harry hovering on a broom behind him, his face twisted into a snarl of the kind Draco thought he must have worn when captured by Voldemort. He lifted his wand again, and a tight series of glittering shields began to spin around Draco, a strong one replacing a potentially weaker one every few seconds.
"You cannot do this," Vasya said to Harry, voice low and shocked. "Do you not wish to be free? Do you not wish your Veela to be human again?"
"I would only want that if Draco wanted it." Harry spun his broom closer to her, his wand tip glowing red. "And he's made it abundantly clear that he doesn't."
Joy burst through Draco like the white light between his wings. Harry finally trusted him. Instead of hesitating, declaring that he needed Draco's decision, making him confirm again that he wanted to be where and who he was, Harry had accepted that he'd already made the choice.
He stared at Harry, because he couldn't not, and so Vasya's next blast that arched over the shields caught him by surprise in the chest.
He heard Harry shout, and smelled feathers burning. At that point, he became aware that he was on fire, and his first thought was that the flames might catch the house and burn their home down. He dived into sheer air, his wings swimming around him, and turned upwards as he fell so that he could see Vasya's next strike.
Harry was flying against her, screaming in fury, his wand swinging to create a myriad of lines of bright light as he cursed her. Vasya continued to dodge at the moment, the expression on her face tolerant. Draco remembered that she had said she wanted to charm Harry away from him and "free" him from Draco that way.
The combination of outrage from the memory and comfort that Harry was defending himself allowed Draco to focus on putting out the fire in his wings for the moment. He beat them hard, sending up gouts of white light from the edges. The white light ate the fire, and grew stronger and brighter for his efforts, so that it gleamed and sparked like light would from the edge of a blade.
Draco smiled, and glanced up, and sent the light at Vasya.
The two brooms twined and whirled high up in the air, barely distinguishable from each other except by a Veela's eyes that would always find the form of his beloved first, but Draco's aim was true. As he straightened himself out a few feet above the ground, the flames curled around Vasya and cut into her at the same moment as they burned her.
Her hair stood straight up from her head like a flame itself. She spat as her shape began to shift, and a great bird turned and clacked its beak at Draco. Draco, already soaring back to the battle, spat in response. He would defend Harry to the last of his blood, and the other Veela who might consider him low or common for it could go hang.
Or burn, as Vasya would if she didn't counter his fire soon.
She seemed to realize that at the same time, and broke away with a long, upset, shivering screech. The fire part of the blast died away-sensible, since it was her own magic to command anyway-but the white light kept shining, digging claws into her that emerged bloody. Vasya tossed her whirling hair out of her face and let her eyes dart back and forth between them as if she really believed that she should have won the battle.
"You will regret this," she whispered. "You will regret this all your lives."
"Not if we kill you before you can report back," Harry said, and his spell this time was nonverbal. Vasya's chest began to bulge. Draco felt a surge of vicious satisfaction. Harry was cutting the heart out of her, summoning it to his hand, where he could hold it and crush it at his leisure.
Vasya stopped the spell with a sharp movement of one hand, but after that, she had evidently had enough. She vanished with a star-like burst of light that shrank in on itself, and swallowed both her and the broom. The only sound left to them was the rushed panting in and out of Harry's lungs, and the soft creak and snap of Draco's wings keeping him aloft.
Then Harry turned and flung himself at Draco.
"Draco," he whispered, cocking his head back and staring at him hungrily before his mouth began to devour him.
Draco lifted his hand to cradle the back of Harry's head, fanning his wings forwards around them and folding them back as little as possible so that he could create a privacy screen for them. Of course, that meant they began sinking slowly towards the house, but that didn't matter much, not when Draco's wards detected no other enemies.
Then they were inside the house, and Harry, ignoring the stink of burned feathers and hair, shoved Draco backwards onto the bed, ripped down his trousers, and got his mouth on Draco's cock, all the time providing a running commentary of fury only interrupted by his sucking.
"Thought you were dead-can't believe how stupid she was-why did they think they could interfere-you're mine-mmm-Draco-can't believe how protective-mhmh-wonderful-I'm glad you're alive-caa-I don't want to leave you, never want to leave you-"
Then he settled down to serious sucking, and Draco flung his head back on the bed and stroked Harry's hair with his claws folded like reeds, his breath lifting in and out of his lungs and turning the smoke-ripened air fresh and clean again.
When he came, it was with a force that made Harry choke, but he scrambled up beside Draco in the next moment and kissed him breathless, so as to share the experience. Draco turned over and enfolded him in wings and arms, kissing him back, and pushing his silvery power into Harry's body at an appropriate moment, when he was sure that Harry was thoroughly distracted.
Harry arched and came at his silent command. The pleasure rippling through him made Draco feel sated, almost too full, as he fell back to earth. It was Harry, more than Draco, who arranged them into a loose pile of limbs and closed his eyes with a sigh.
There would be consequences from this battle and from refusing the invitation, Draco knew. He ought to be up and thinking of them, thinking of ways that he could guard Harry from the inevitable explosion.
But he wasn't, and when he closed his eyes and let himself drift away, the only thing he could think of was that Harry had fought to defend him, too.
The Veela wouldn't have succeeded in separating them.
"Harry, he could be arrested for murder."
Harry checked over his shoulder to make sure that Draco was really out of the house-it wasn't that he worried about him attacking Hermione, now, but he thought overhearing this conversation would be hard for him-and then faced his friend again. "Yes, he could," he said. "If I would testify against him, and any of the other witnesses could remember anything other than the overwhelming desire to touch him."
Hermione closed her eyes. She looked tired. He hadn't thought the rebuilding was that much work, but then, he mostly only contributed physical labor and the story of Voldemort's death as many times as people needed it told. Hermione was doing the much harder work of persuading audiences to believe that story and spending time around all sorts of people traumatized by the war. "We know that they're dazed because he used his allure," she said. "And he killed that man, Harry. You know he did."
"He was trying to kill us. Or possibly only Draco, but we have no idea what that curse would have done," Harry said.
"Which means that you don't know it was a curse."
Harry let his lip curl up in silent response.
Hermione shook her head. "It was still a killing," she said. "To show people that we take justice seriously, we need to arrest him."
"Are you going to arrest every Veela who uses allure for using the Imperius Curse?" Harry asked calmly. "Are you going to arrest members of the Order for the spells they used on people we thought were Death Eaters during the war?" He paused. Hermione still looked stubborn, so he played his trump card. "Are you going to arrest Ron for that woman he killed last week?"
Hermione closed her eyes at that, looking sick. It had been a hard war, Harry thought. "She was attacking him," she whispered.
"Like this man was attacking us." Harry lowered his voice when he saw how distressed she appeared. "Look, Hermione, I'm sorry it happened, too. I would have preferred to leave him alive." If only to discover what in the world he thought he was doing. "But this is the way it happened."
Hermione blinked at him again. "And I can't convince you to testify."
"Not against Draco, no. If someone insists, I can describe the curse he used and the conversation before that. And the way Draco killed him," Harry added. He thought the image of that would never leave him.
But even then, he was still more concerned about Draco than anyone else. Once, that hadn't been his reality. Now it was.
"If we're to set up justice after the war," Hermione said slowly, brow wrinkled as she fought her way through the puzzle that Harry had set for her, "then we have to try everyone. Including those who did things we don't like."
"Including people who killed in self-defense?" Harry asked. He shook his head. "You know that the Wizengamot doesn't convict people who used the Killing Curse in defense of their own lives, because the shield charms that their attackers used were too strong. That was in those documents we read when we were researching Horcruxes. And you'd have to try Ron, too." He hated it, but he would keep driving in the knife for Hermione for as long as she did it for him.
Hermione visibly swallowed. "Harry, do you know how bad this is going to look? Everyone and their grandfather is going to be after you for murder."
"I know." Harry kept his voice as gentle and serene as possible. "But we can fight this any number of ways. By playing up my status as hero. By saying that we were both still paranoid after Voldemort's dungeons, and that we tend to react badly when startled. By concentrating on Draco's Veela heritage-"
"He doesn't have any Veela heritage! It was all Transfiguration!"
"But a lot of people refuse to believe that," Harry said calmly, "the same way that they refuse to believe that I wasn't the one to defeat Voldemort. We have to use what we have, Hermione. Because I wouldn't trust Draco to be judged by a jury of his fucking peers, not when there's no one except me who sees him as one." And even that wasn't true all the time, he had to admit. Not when he commanded Draco in bed, and reveled in it. "And I won't give him up."
"There are sacrifices," Hermione whispered, but she already looked as if she'd given up. Weary, so weary that Harry couldn't help but lean forwards and pat her hand. He knew that he would pay for that later when Draco smelled her scent on him, but, well. He'd pay.
"I know," Harry said. "And I think I've made enough. I should get to enjoy the fruits of my labor. It'll take forever to pay all the debts that the wizarding world thinks I should owe them, if I start. So I'll stay out of it, help when I can and when I don't think it'll cost me too much, and enjoy Draco."
"You weren't like this before he ate the Horcrux," Hermione said. "I wonder if that changed you somehow-"
Harry laughed harshly, recognizing a theory taking root in her mind. He had to crush that out of existence as soon as he could. "Hermione. The Horcrux always needed to go if I was going to live or if Voldemort was going to be defeated, since we didn't know the first was possible at the time. And consider what Draco did to me in the dungeons. Do you really think I could be the same after that?"
Hermione gave him another unhappy look, then turned her neck away like a bird's. "Not the same. But I didn't realize you would change so much," she whispered.
"Neither did I." Harry shrugged. "But I have no particular anxiety to change back, and I like the person I am now, Hermione. If you don't, then will you tell me?" He held her eyes.
Hermione swallowed. Then she said, "I still like you, Harry. I'm still your friend. It's just that, it's hard being a hero."
Harry gave her a gentle smile. "That, I think I never denied."
Abruptly, Hermione leaned forwards and gave him a hug that practically enveloped his whole body. Harry hugged her fiercely back, glad that he was apparently forgiven. "Thank you," she whispered. "Thank you for being you, whoever that person is now, and thanks for the reassurances and help you've given so far. You're right, you do deserve a holiday. We'll handle this somehow."
Harry nodded at her and leaned back. "There's no reason that you have to handle it, either. Just say that you're not living with me in the Order headquarters anymore and they'll find someone else to bother."
Hermione hesitated. "But that could be worse for you and Malfoy. What happens if they attack here?"
"The wards tear them to shreds," Harry said. "The same thing that would happen if someone attacked Hogwarts right now."
"But that'll earn you more bad publicity." Hermione looked at him anxiously.
Harry nodded. "I know. But one's the same thing as the other at this point. The only thing I could do to satisfy them is something I'm not willing to do: give up Draco and my life to come back and be their hero. Even then, you know there's people who would hold out and mutter about how I got away with murder the same way that there were people still muttering that I was the Heir of Slytherin in my fifth year. I don't care anymore, Hermione. I'm tired of them. The way the world is now means that I can protect my privacy and be with Draco. So I am."
"All right," Hermione said, climbing to her feet. "If you're sure."
"I am," Harry said. "Please come to me if you're in danger, though. I couldn't stand that."
Hermione smiled so brightly that Harry pretended to wince and hold his hand over his eyes, and she laughed and hugged him again. "I told Ron that you couldn't have changed that much," she whispered. "I know that you still care about us."
"I always did, even when the rest of you were stupid," Harry said, and Hermione snorted. "I don't care about you more than Draco, just in different ways. You know that, right?"
"I always did," Hermione said. "I just needed a little more proof for Ron."
She left after that, and Harry leaned back against the wall and said aloud, not glancing at anyone in particular, "You saw it all. The only times she touched me, it wasn't sexual. She doesn't care about me that way."
"She touched you." Draco's voice was a soft snarl. Harry heard the scrape of his claws against wood as he grabbed the side of the windowsill and climbed up. The next moment, he slung himself into the room and crouched down in front of Harry, his wings bulging behind him. "Why would she want to do that if she doesn't want you?"
"If you hugged your mother," Harry asked, "does it mean that you wanted her?"
Draco's face shut down. "You weren't going to talk about them," he muttered, and turned his head away.
Harry reached out and put a gentle hand on his shoulder, above the beginning curve of the wing. "I asked you a question," he said. "That's all."
Draco grunted, and his wing stirred forwards enough that the curve brushed Harry's fingers. "I can't be sure," he whispered. "What happened to them. I hate that."
Harry nodded in silence. Draco had thought his parents had been killed for failing Voldemort, but the Death Eaters who'd supposedly seen them tortured and executed had had contradictions in their stories. Likewise with Snape; some people had said that he had died near Hogwarts, others that Voldemort had killed him months ago, or that he'd been locked into a secret underground lab to complete his potions and hadn't been seen in those same months, or that he'd fled England the night of Voldemort's death. There were clues, but the clues showed up too much and too often and contradicted each other.
Harry thought both Snape and the Malfoys had probably used Memory Charms on their enemies to make their flight safer. Of course, that didn't mean they were safe now, but it did make tracking them bloody difficult.
And when they heard that Draco was alive, that he had survived the transformation into a Veela instead of starving to death the way Voldemort had intended him to, would they come back? Harry didn't know. Draco sometimes talked about his parents with furious love, sometimes with violent rage. He could see them rejecting Draco or accepting him or living in some sort of strange in-between state where they kept Draco panting for their approval.
Until they visited or an owl came from them, though-or they received some confirmation that the Malfoys were indeed dead-Harry didn't think they should worry about it.
Draco took a few deep, shuddering breaths, and leaned back on the table. "I know that she just touched you to comfort you, or comfort herself," he said, to Harry's surprise. "But I don't like it. Can I have you now?"
Harry smiled, in helpless agreement as much as anything else, and opened his arms.
The message came borne on the wings of a large white swan. As the bird wheeled around their house, carefully avoiding the wards, Draco saw the silver scroll it carried, clutched securely in a black beak. He snorted. He reckoned it was safer than trusting a swan to carry it in webbed feet, at that.
The swan settled on the pond a good distance beneath their tree and sailed serenely for a moment. Then it came to a stop at the bank and looked up.
Who but Veela would use a swan for their messenger? Draco set his wings straight and glided down to a landing on the grass beside the water. The swan nodded, wriggled its bottom as though to spread the magnificent tail it didn't have, and bowed its neck so that the scroll dropped safely into Draco's hands.
The scroll shone the moment it did so, and then unfolded. Draco found himself rolling his eyes. Of course they would present it that way, and use a spell that would trigger only when someone with Veela magic touched the scroll. It would probably destroy itself any other way. Draco shook his head. If Harry had touched it, would they have blamed him for keeping their message from reaching Draco?
He scanned the scroll. The top half was in Bulgarian, but the bottom provided what Draco assumed was an English translation of the original. In a lot of language that badly wanted to be legal terms but was too strained and flowery to do so, it proclaimed that Draco Malfoy had been judged and exiled by the Veela community from attending its rituals or having his choosing of his beloved officially recognized by them.
Draco turned the scroll over, frowning. Then he drew his wand and cast several spells to determine whether it bore writing concealed under a charm. Nothing resulted. Draco had to close his eyes and sigh until he ran out of breath before he could express the depth of his disappointment.
Why would they assume that I would care about such a thing when I wasn't born into the community and they know that? I thought Vasya came to try and turn me back into a normal human anyway. Accepting me was never a choice.
Draco tore up the scroll and cast the pieces to the ground like snow. The swan spread its wings and hissed at him as if it disapproved. Draco flicked his fingers at it and spread his wings back when it didn't move. The swan lowered its neck and seemed to debate charging him for a moment before it turned its back sulkily and sailed away across the pond, then turned again and began flapping to gain height. Draco kept his wings raised and the light glowing between them until it was safely gone.
"Are you all right?"
The quiet question startled Draco, which showed how much more absorbed by the Veela's scroll he had been than he should be. Normally, Harry couldn't have descended from their home without alerting both Draco's ears and his Veela senses that he was on the move. Draco turned around and swept his wings forwards to embrace Harry. "Of course," he said. "They chose exile. A neat way of refusing to acknowledge that I was never part of them or wanted to be, and that you acting with me showed that we had rejected Vasya's claims of your enslavement."
"Not what I meant," Harry said, and put his hands on Draco's arms, steadily meeting his eyes. "Would you have wanted someone you could talk to about this? Someone to exchange information with? That's the chance I regret you losing. And if I lost it for you-"
"You didn't," Draco said quickly. Grand changes or not, Harry still carried far too much guilt for random things. "I could have spoken to Vasya in a more reasonable tone and tried to arrange something less violent and coercive with her if I had truly wanted to be free. I didn't. I promise," he added, when Harry sounded as if he was drawing in breath to object.
Harry paused and looked at him, apparently searching for something in his eyes that Draco wasn't sure existed. After a moment, he relaxed and nodded. "All right. If you say so."
"I do." Draco seized his hand and kissed him just above the pulse. "I'll learn more about Veela from books. I'll talk with experts under an assumed name. I'll take classes where I can find them. And you forget, I can do some of my research just by feeling out the way my body reacts and what's good and what isn't. It's not like I'm trying to study Veela without being one."
Harry smiled, but there were subdued shadows of anxiety along his cheekbones. Draco wanted to kiss all of them away. "I know. And I'll help you."
"Good," Draco said. "That means a lot."
He escorted Harry back into the house, and they spent a few hours eating, making lists of the kinds of books they should look for, and writing owls to order them. It was the calmest morning Draco could remember since he'd changed, despite the news the swan had brought him.
Vasya had gone to such lengths to make the point that he did not belong with her kind, and ordinary wizards would reject Draco if they could. Well, then, Draco would make his own place.
At least he knew that he would never stand in it alone.
"I never knew you were good at that."
Harry jumped, and the stick of charcoal in his hand blurred across the parchment. He laughed nervously and stretched; he had got so involved in the drawing in front of him that he hadn't heard Draco's approach. But he couldn't be embarrassed with the way Draco's arms settled around him and his chin came to rest on Harry's shoulder.
"I didn't know I was, either." Harry shrugged, and then laughed when Draco turned his head with expressive slowness to look at him. "I mean, I drew when I was a kid, but it never seemed to matter, and it wasn't something I kept up. I don't know why I bought this." He toyed with the edge of the parchment. "Interest, I reckon. Curiosity."
"The best motive to do anything," Draco said in approval, and the bottom of his wing brushed Harry's hip. "Except desire."
Harry batted the hand away. "You would always think something like that."
"If I always think it, that makes it right," Draco responded, crowding closer to him and spreading his wings so that they completely surrounded Harry's head. "No one can be wrong so consistently."
"You'd be surprised," Harry muttered, thinking for a moment of the Dursleys, and then pushed at one of Draco's wings, making sure to keep his hand in the middle of the feathers and away from the edges that, depending on Draco's mood, could either bend too easily and hurt him or cut like icicles. "Back off for right now. I want to finish this."
Draco hummed under his breath the way he did when he was thinking of sex, but backed away obligingly, and Harry returned to the scene he was drawing. It was an image of Hedwig, perching in the branches of their tree with the house looming behind her. Harry didn't think it was a very good drawing, since he had never been in that part of the tree with Draco and had to only imagine what the angle would look like, but Draco was absorbed and silent behind him, and that was increasingly less likely to happen except when he really thought Harry's efforts at something were good. Draco loved him, Harry knew, but he had never been slow with criticism and wouldn't be now.
"You really are good at this," Draco murmured, when Harry had finished shading in Hedwig's eyes the way he wanted and had paused to consider his next move.
Harry shrugged. "I never thought that much about it, like I said. Little kids are always drawing."
"But you're not little anymore," Draco said, and this time it was his hand that sneaked around Harry's hip.
Harry batted it away, and Draco rumbled a purr and leaned his head on Harry's shoulder, heavily enough that Harry had to shift his weight to the side to balance it. But he didn't get angry about Harry's refusal. That was a change, too. Harry had to conceal a smile when he thought of what Ron and Hermione would say if they could see them now. They might be a little less convinced that Draco was bad for him and only wanted to fuck him.
Which Draco wanted, of course. But he wanted other things, too, and Harry was getting better at knowing when his refusals would inspire arguments, when they would inspire sulking, when Draco was only teasing, and when Draco would accept them and go on.
"No, I'm not," Harry said, and then said something he'd been thinking about for a while, trying to decide how to say. But Draco was a good audience for that kind of thing. Draco would respond. If he thought it was stupid, he would say so. Harry didn't mind that as much; he knew he could argue back, even get into a blazing row if he had to. He just didn't want his audience to sit there in embarrassed silence. "It's strange. I'm thinking I never got a normal life. A weird childhood I thought was normal sometimes, the knowledge I was different according to the Dursleys but not the knowledge of why, seven years of fighting a war, and now this. Maybe I'm finally learning to do things I would have done if I'd been normal."
"You're better than normal," Draco hissed, and his wings tightened protectively around Harry. Harry had told him more about the Dursleys now, and he hated the words "normal" and "freak" and would stare hard at Harry when he used them. At least Harry had talked him out of flying to Privet Drive to claw Dudley's eyes out.
"Fine," Harry said. "Just like everybody else, then."
"Not everyone else is better than normal." Draco's claws shone like knives from the corner of Harry's eyes, always a bad sign. Most of the time, they curved and bent like reeds.
"I meant," Harry said, "that I'm learning to be like everyone else."
"Not everyone else has a Veela for a lover." Draco seemed to think about that for a bit, and then added, "Or should. I would have had more competition for you."
"And all those Veela that don't exist probably wouldn't be as fantastically childish together as you can be all by yourself," Harry muttered.
That received an offended hiss and Draco actually drawing back from him and leaving Harry to contemplate his charcoal pictures in peace for a time. But Draco didn't go far, and Harry knew that was another thing about this life that was different from the way he had pictured it being: they could have an argument and not worry that it would break them apart for no reason except that they were arguing.
Harry would never have imagined that his life could turn out this way, no. But he was glad it had.
Draco was awake in seconds, his heart beating so hard that memories of the dungeon assembled themselves around him and wouldn't release him for long moments. The impression only increased when he saw the silver deer Patronus standing at the end of the bed. He flung out one arm and confirmed that Harry was still curled up beside him. He relaxed with a little hiss of air and leaned back on the bed, staring, wondering why Harry would need to send him a Patronus when he wasn't in danger.
Unless that wasn't Harry. But a bit of silver light shining on the ends of his fingertips lit Harry's face and the wing-shaped scar-a detail that most people didn't know about and would find hard to fake-and Draco relaxed. He refused to think that someone could have sneaked through the wards and into the house and used Polyjuice without him knowing it.
Then he turned back to the Patronus and noticed the lack of antlers.
The voice did cast him back in time into the dungeons, and for excellent reason. He'd last heard it from Professor Snape, declaring that he didn't care what Voldemort did with Draco.
Draco swallowed, and prickling cold swallowed him in return, creeping up and down his hands and freezing his wings. He huddled closer to Harry, as if his beloved could somehow protect him from the nightmare come back to life. Draco had assumed he would never see Snape again, and was more than happy to have it that way, despite curiosity over his fate. Snape had shown no such concern over him.
"Follow me, and I will lead you to your parents." The Patronus turned and walked away from the bed, aiming for the doorway of the house.
I should have put up wards against Patronuses, Draco thought, and clutched the blankets until they shredded beneath his claws.
The silver doe halted again at the door, and stood waiting.
Draco closed his eyes. He wanted to turn over and go back to sleep, choosing his future with Harry over the past. It was the only sensible decision, now that he had come so close to having what would content the Veela and the human halves of him alike.
But the curiosity would eat at him, and he reached out and roughly shook Harry's shoulder. Harry was up in seconds, a relic no doubt of war-raids, his wand held high. He started to speak a Lumos charm, but Draco shook his head and gestured at the silver doe.
It bounded out the door. Without a word spoken, without a thought needing to be exchanged, Draco seized Harry by the shoulders and followed with an easy, heavy wingbeat.
The Patronus hardly touched the ground as it leaped away to the west, hooves soundless, coat shining like a star. That confirmed for Draco that Snape and his parents-if actually alive and with the professor-knew about his transformation. He wouldn't be able to keep up on foot.
They almost certainly hadn't intended for Harry to come with him, whatever they knew. But Draco didn't care. If they hadn't planned for Harry to accompany him, then they were about to have a needed revelation.
The doe came to rest a long time later on a flat patch of grass that looked almost burned, at the foot of a rocky hill. Draco glanced around, but couldn't tell where they were off the top of his head. They had flown for less than an hour, but he hadn't explored for that long in all directions from the house yet.
The stone trembled in front of the Patronus's hooves, and faded, at the same moment as the doe herself did. A good illusion, Draco thought, the kind that his mother was skilled at casting. He choked on hope and landed. Harry kept a steady hand on his shoulder as they moved towards the cave.
His mother stepped out of the entrance.
Draco broke. He surged away from Harry and leaped into the air, coming down with a chop of his wings right in front of her. She had started when he moved, but now she saw him and her face shone. She opened her arms, and Draco embraced her, winding his wings around her shoulders at the same time.
A tentative hand rested on the primaries of the right one, and Draco looked up to see his father watching him over his mother's shoulder.
"Son," Lucius said, a word that hummed with acknowledgment of what hung between them. "Welcome."
Draco couldn't speak. He lowered his head back into his mother's shoulder, but twitched his wing out to include his father as well. He could feel Harry's watching, silent presence behind him, and knew that he would wait as long as needed, and then do what was needed. Whether that turned out to be introducing himself or staying quiet, he would do it.
It was wonderful, Draco thought, to have someone he could depend on the way he could depend on Harry.
Especially because it seemed likelier and likelier that his parents would ask for things he couldn't grant them. He sensed, at one and the same time, his mother's warmth and the painful strength of her hug, his father's steady touch on his wing and his pride, and the cutting glances his father gave Harry.
Professor Snape stepped out of the cave then and moved towards him. Draco turned to face him and restricted the aggressive stretch his wings wanted to make. His mother let out a slight gasp, and Draco realized why: his claws had sharpened at the same moment, abruptly slicing through the cloth of her robe. He removed his hands and held them harmlessly high, smiling at her before he returned his glance to Snape.
"You abandoned me to die," he said.
Snape shook his head. "I would have been unable to do so," he said. "I swore too many Vows to defend you no matter what happened." He was calm as black ice, which made Draco want to rage, but the rage was already there, and he would gain nothing by indulging it. "I judged that the best chance for your survival at the moment was as a Veela. I knew, if the Dark Lord did not, how long it took a Veela to starve to death, and guessed that he was likely to cast some other prisoner in as entertainment before long. You would have bonded with anyone introduced under such circumstances." His eyes flickered to Harry.
"Harry is not anyone," Draco said, and he knew that his teeth must look more like fangs than ever now. He dropped his hands and lowered them into position where he could claw Snape apart-if it hadn't been for his mother standing between them.
"Of course not," Snape said, and his voice had a low, vicious charge to it that Draco didn't understand and could only attribute to Snape's hatred of Harry. "He is your heart's desire, the partner you always would have chosen if you could have of your own free will. Of course he is."
"He is my beloved."
"A Veela term only." Snape, his eyes fixed on Draco as if he could ignore Harry even though he was speaking of him, reached into his cloak. Draco tensed to spring if he tried to fling a combat potion at Harry, but Snape only drew out a slender glass vial filled with a bright green potion that Draco didn't recognize. It looked like moss and smelled like summer. "I have the solution here, Draco."
"A potion to reverse the Transfiguration," Draco said, and his voice was high and thin and reedy. He hadn't meant it to sound that way. He had meant it to sound flat and rejecting. He glanced over his shoulder at Harry. Harry only smiled at him gently, which Draco didn't find that reassuring.
"Yes," Snape said. "I did not wish to contact you until I was certain that it would work."
Draco frowned. "How do you know it will?"
Snape looked at him silently, and Draco swallowed. Of course. Snape was silently telling him not to be stupid. Snape had Transfigured test subjects and then reversed the Transfigurations with the help of the potion. And if some of them had died in the research, Draco knew that would not have bothered the professor. He had none of Harry's code of morality; if he had labored to get rid of Voldemort, Draco thought it had depended more on personal motivations than an abstract sense of ethics.
Draco looked over his shoulder at Harry. Harry shook his head at him. Draco swept one wing down hard enough to almost strike his mother, hissing softly. Harry nodded and started talking.
"Fine. I think you should do whatever makes you most comfortable, Draco. If you want to be a Veela, or if you don't, then you know I'll stay with you, no matter what." He gave a smile, and Draco could see how thin it was stretched over the emotions brewing under the surface, even if he didn't know as well as he should have what those emotions were. "You have to make the decision."
"That's bollocks," Draco said.
His mother gasped, though perhaps more from the term than from the declaration. Draco could feel the increased tension from his father and Snape pressing against him like a heat wave.
He never turned around, never glanced at them. This was between him and Harry right now, and if they had wanted to have a place in it, then they should have contacted him earlier. As soon as they found out that he was alive would have been favorite.
Harry blinked once. "What?"
"You're involved in this," Draco said. "You're not going to dump all the decision-making on me so that you get to be a little martyr. You're going to make the decision with me, because you are part of me. Now stop being such a coward."
Draco had never seen the smile Harry gave him then, dazzling and wide and delighted. He nodded and said, "All right. I don't think that you should take the potion. For one thing, we're happy the way we are, and I think that you'd have to go through another tormenting process of accepting yourself if you drank it." He took a deep breath, and his eyes darkened for the first time. "Second, if Snape wants to protect your life and doesn't care about how much pain you'll go through as a result of it, who knows what that potion might have as consequences?"
Draco turned back to Snape and raised his eyebrows in question, ignoring the abrupt motion Snape made, as if he would cast a spell at Harry. Harry was well-prepared for that. He, too, had chains tangling and tying him to the three people here, but they were much slimmer and less complicated than Draco's.
"What are the side-effects?" Draco asked, when the silence had settled into a great tension like that before a thunderstorm and Snape still hadn't answered the way he should have.
The man's black eyes fastened on what seemed to be Draco's collarbone. Then Draco twitched a wing automatically to relieve a cramp, and his gaze followed it. As if becoming a Veela were the worst fate anyone could ask for.
Draco bared his teeth. He was less sure now that the test subjects had survived. Professor Snape was a wonderful brewer, and he might not let personal emotions affect him much in making the actual potions, but he could let them prejudice the way he reacted to a test.
"Well?" Draco asked.
"Draco," his mother whispered, and leaned forwards. Her lips came into contact with his cheek like a whisper, as if she had wings of her own. "Don't you want to be human again?"
"I am human," Draco said. "In all the important ways. I've got hands that can hold, and a tongue that can speak, and a brain that can think, and a prick that can fuck."
His mother went white. His father, strangely silent all through these proceedings, made an aborted movement. Professor Snape shifted carefully to the side. It was a better position from which to strike at Harry, but Draco was heartened to see that Harry realized the same thing and pointed his wand without hesitation.
"If you name those the most important qualities one can have," Snape murmured, "then you have indeed changed."
Draco laughed. He couldn't help it. He spread his wings and fanned them up and down, incidentally bringing one of them into the path of any curse Snape might try. "Of course you would say that," he said. "Because of course I shouldn't have changed after I was Transfigured into another species, and left in the darkness, and had to eat parts of Harry to escape, and learned how to fly and how to defend him and how to be with him. I should still be the same student and son that you left behind."
"If we had come back for you," Lucius said, "with the Order of the Phoenix hunting enemies and the countryside still unsettled, we might have been condemned to death without a trial. It would have accomplished nothing except to hurt you."
Draco nodded to his father. "Believe it or not, I am glad to see you," he said. "But I would have hoped-I would have wanted you to send me a message to me earlier. If you could use Professor Snape's Patronus, and did it late at night, then no one else would have intercepted it."
"If you are glad," Snape said, "why not take the potion right away?"
"Because I'm not the same," Draco said, exasperated. "Months of hiding changed you. Everything I named changed me. And I don't want to change back."
"Even if I asked you to?" His mother reached up to stroke his cheek. "Even if I said that I wanted to hold my little boy again without his wings getting in the way?"
Draco met her eyes, not tempted anymore to reveal how much her words hurt, and nodded. "Because it was your little boy who died in Voldemort's dungeons," he said, and watched the flinch sweep through them all as someone watching an alien terror. "I survived. If you can't accept me the way I am-something Harry did, even though we used to be enemies-then maybe we shouldn't be together anymore."
It was amazing how calmly he was able to accept this. Or maybe not amazing, exactly. He had fought his way through to his epiphanies partially by, as he explained it to Harry, realizing that there was no "real" him separate from the Veela. And there was no "real" Draco separate from the memories of the boy he had been. They were his, still, but they didn't define him anymore.
Anymore than his relationship to his parents did.
"Draco," his father whispered. His mother merely took a step away, her head turned to the side. She said nothing, but her shoulder could reject in a way that her face alone couldn't.
"You can't mean that," Snape said, but his voice was so flat that Draco doubted the professor was commenting on the way he would push his parents away if they didn't accept him. He was commenting, instead, on Draco's happiness with who and what he was.
Does he think that being human is so much better than being Veela? I wasn't aware he had any creature prejudice. Or maybe he can't accept that I wouldn't want to rely on one of his new, experimental potions.
The thought tugged Draco's mouth up into a sharp smile, and Narcissa exhaled loudly. "Draco," she said, and then again, "Draco. Please. Listen to yourself."
"I am," Draco said. "Since no one else except Harry seems inclined to. It's the rest of you who need some lessons in how to hear."
"I will not be lectured to by my son," Lucius said, in a haughty tone that sounded so out-of-place here Draco felt Harry's eyebrow rise.
"The time is past when you had authority over me," Draco said, and paused. When no one said anything, he added, "I notice that you haven't yet refuted my suggestion that you could have told me where you were at any time, by means of Professor Snape's Patronus."
"That was impractical for reasons that you do not understand," his mother said.
"Then explain them to me." Draco tried to drop his wings and put on his best attentive, willing expression, but only the last part was possible. His instincts stiffened his wings into immovable barriers in front of Harry. Well, so be it. "What were the considerations?"
"We had to see where you would settle," Professor Snape said.
Draco thought about that. It sounded reasonable, actually, given that the Order had had spies on him during those first days. Perhaps someone would have seen Snape's Patronus arrive after all. He nodded. "So you waited until we showed no signs of moving from our new home to send to me?"
"That's not what he means."
Harry stepped forwards to stand next to Draco, and Draco moved his wings to cover him. Harry ducked under them and stood within the circle of his embrace, but where his view of Snape wouldn't be blocked. Now Draco could see Snape's loathing for Harry more openly, and it made him hiss silently in warning. Snape never looked at him. "It means something else," Harry said. "Not simply place. They could have figured something out. Sent an owl to me and had the letter addressed to you. Sent you your parents' Patronuses. Sent a signal with an owl that no one else would recognize but you would."
Now that he thought about it, Draco realized that he could come up with two or three such signals easily. He looked at his parents.
"What does he mean, then?" he asked, and although he turned his head partially towards Harry, he was asking anyone who would have been willing to answer.
"He means," Harry murmured, "that they wanted to see where you would settle, human or Veela. Happy with me, or not happy with me. Mad or sane." He paused, then added, "I think they acted when they realized that you actually seemed to be living with yourself, not furiously trying to get rid of the changes. That's not what they want. They want to swoop in and rescue you from me and from your fate." His face held clear disdain as he glared at Draco's mother and father. "At least I gave up playing hero when I realized that he didn't want me to, you know?"
"I want to know whether that's true," Draco said. His voice had gone soft, he thought in wonder. His father had sometimes done that with him, but it seemed-well, odd for him to do it in return. But his father flinched the way Draco had in the past when Lucius confronted him with that tone, so he was doing something right. "Did you think that I needed you to take me away from the big, bad Potter?"
"How can you stand being less than human?" his mother murmured back. "Less than pure-blood?"
Draco shook his head. "I'm still human in the important ways. I told you. And as for the blood...Mother, do you think this change somehow made me into a Muggleborn?" He nearly used the other word, but a glance to the side, to make sure Harry was safe, also revealed Harry's elbow poised neatly in place beneath his ribs. Draco smiled and focused on his parents. "I want to know what you think. I want straight answers to my questions."
"There are no straight answers to something as complicated as this," Lucius said, and that at least sounded like truth to Draco. "We wanted to wait until we thought we wouldn't be killed as traitors or Death Eaters. Then we wanted to wait until we had a way to make you a Malfoy again." His eyes swept bitterly up and down Draco's body, lingering on the claws and the wings, since they were the two most visible markers of the change. Draco wondered if he saw the others, too, like the wing scar on Harry's forehead and the few holes in his body patched with feathers. "You refuse us now."
"One spell," Snape said, his voice exquisitely neutral.
Harry sprang and whirled towards him, ending up almost beyond the range of Draco's protective wings, his eyes so hot with fury that Draco shuddered in appreciation and his parents started. "You cast anything," Harry said, "and I'll kill you."
"You think you can," Snape said, and his voice descended into hatred that made Draco twitch with the lust to kill. "You think you can cut through the defenses of the Dark Lord's most successful potions brewer, the Order's most complex spy-"
Draco called and cast a ball of white light from his hand without hesitating. It struck the vial of green potion that the professor held, and it heated until it exploded. Harry had prudently ducked back inside the embrace of Draco's wings, and Draco held him, curving his feathers so that the bits of glass bounced off them. Snape, with a myriad of small cuts on his hand and his face drained of blood, took a step back, watching Draco in shock.
Draco bared his teeth at him and snarled. The snarl seemed to rip out part of his lungs, it traveled so deep into his body. "Leave my beloved alone," he said. "You only get this one warning."
"We're trying to help you," his mother whispered.
"A lack of answers to questions doesn't help me," Draco retorted. "Endangering my beloved doesn't help me. And now you lack the potion that would have changed me, and you can't force it down my throat, or bind me with a spell and do that, or whatever it was you were planning." He felt an ache deep in his chest, in the same place where he had hidden the knowledge of how much his parents' disappearance affected him, but he refused to show that on his face. "If you want me for myself, I'm willing. If you only want me changed, then it's best that we walk away from each other now."
His mother looked as if she was holding a bird with beating wings near her heart, her breath came so fast. She leaned back as if she wanted Lucius to support her, but he moved away, his back turned as though this was something they could not share. Narcissa stumbled and then stood upright again, her face bright pink with embarrassment.
Draco smiled in spite of himself. It made her seem more human, and he was happy to be reminded of that right now.
But perhaps his smile wasn't the best expression he could be wearing when his mother was looking for reassurance. She went pale, then fixed, and turned her back, stepping away to join his father.
Draco turned to Snape. Harry moved with him, tensed ready to protect. Draco draped a wing around his shoulders and raised an eyebrow in silent question at his old professor.
Snape stood looking at him as if he hoped to find the answer in Draco's eyes, then made an eloquent, twisting gesture with one hand. "You are not the boy I trained and taught any more than you are their son," he said.
"That settles that, then," Draco said, while his heart grew heavier and his wings grew lighter. "I'll thank you not to contact me. And if you try to set up a trap for either Harry or me, I'll consider you an enemy." He released his hold on his scrabbling instincts long enough for Snape to see what was really brewing in him at the moment, what he would have done to the man if he wasn't still a mixture of human and Veela rather than purely Veela.
Snape looked openly and honestly bewildered, for a lightning bolt of a second. Then he sneered and said, "I have known connections and bonds for which I made sacrifices, Draco. Be careful that you do not wake one day to find yourself a drained husk, and Potter gone, having obtained what he wanted from you."
"I was the one who had to chase him to get him to agree to this," Draco said. "And if he were so stupid as to try slipping off, I would simply chase him down again."
Harry laughed silently beside him. Snape stiffened as though the laughter was a sword through his guts, and Draco joined in. Snape ended up fading after Draco's parents into the cave, although he never turned his back on Draco and Harry as the elder Malfoys had done. The glamour of stone over the entrance sealed itself silently behind them.
Draco sighed and shook his head. "That's enough of that," he said. "Let's go home."
"If you want to," Harry said, leaning back and looking up at him. "If you think that's all we need to do here."
Draco considered forcing the glamour away again, forcing a confrontation with these people who were only determined to accept him without his wings or not at all. He had persuaded Harry to his point-of-view, after all. He might manage to persuade them.
But the truth was that he still remembered Snape betraying him to Voldemort, claiming Draco's fate did not matter to him. And he still remembered his parents sending him no letter or other secure message for weeks, because of their fear.
Of being captured, yes, but also of what he had become.
"I think it is," he said, and folded his arms and wings around Harry again for another brief embrace before they took to the air.
"This is actually a privilege that you get to do this to me," Harry said. It took him almost a minute to get that sentence out, panting and forcing the words into being around a moan.
Draco bit the back of his neck, hard enough to make Harry bleed, and then lapped it up in silent response. His hips flexed, and Harry staggered forwards, nearly shoved from his knees and elbows by the simple strength of that thrust.
"Yes, it is," Draco said. His voice was blurred with lust, with need, with blood. He shoved again with his hips, and Harry cried out in pleasure that spiraled up abruptly into painful, blinding light. Draco's magic had hit him at the same time.
After that, Draco settled down into a steady pattern of fucking him: pulling back slowly, thrusting hard on the forwards motion, and hitting his prostate at the same moments as the Veela magic poured through him. Harry whimpered and whined and in general probably sounded like someone in extreme pain.
Well, that was what stopping the sex right now would have felt like to him, so in some ways it was an accurate depiction.
Draco mumbled some words into the back of his neck and bit him again, and Harry flew apart from the inside out, until all that was left was a small center of sensation, locked around Draco's body like a silver ring. As if from a distance, he felt Draco press closer to him, murmuring and crooning and wordlessly speaking, until he came with a battering of wings about Harry's head that would probably have hurt him if he was less relaxed.
Harry yawned and rolled over, feeling Draco slip out of him and hearing the squelch. Draco growled, moved with him, and slid back inside. Harry rolled his eyes at the ceiling. "Fine, then you get us into a comfortable position," he said.
With a lot of rolling and adjusting of his wings and pausing to make sure that his claws wouldn't scrape down Harry's sides-which sometimes happened when he was excited, as his Veela instincts reacted to it like they did to rage-Draco managed. In the end, he was lying on his stomach, the pillows and blankets piled more around than under or above them, and Harry cradled beneath him, drawing all the warmth he needed from Draco's own body.
Harry closed his eyes and listened to Draco's slow breathing. "Any time you want," he mumbled sleepily, "we can track your parents, you know. They might be more reasonable if we got them away from Snape."
Draco hesitated, wings caught in mid-extension. Harry was sure that he was about to say something else, something that would change the conversation in a new direction, and he tried to sit up and open his eyes.
But Draco soothed him again with his claws on the back of Harry's neck, his tongue darting out and smoothing the skin up and down. Harry groaned as more sluggish pleasure rolled through him, and his cock twitched. Draco settled down again, though, so Harry did his best to do the same, and ignore the way his body quivered.
"Not right now," Draco said. "Later, maybe. I still haven't thought of any good answers for why they didn't try to contact me. Why did I have to join everyone else in believing they were dead until they had a 'solution' to my 'problem?'" His voice was dusty with bitterness.
Harry reached back and squeezed Draco's hand. "I know," he said. "There are reasons that I'm grateful I never have to see my Muggle family, either, and one of is because they didn't want to accept me unless I changed what I was."
"You never did tell me in detail about that," Draco said.
"Later," Harry said, "maybe."
Draco tensed enough that Harry thought he would insist, but in the end he offered Harry a soft laugh, and they lay down again in silence. Harry closed his eyes and gave a sigh of contentment that seemed to travel up from where his legs lay locked with Draco's, through his arse and Draco's cock, to his shoulders embraced by Draco's wings, and finally out his mouth.
Here. This is where we're supposed to be.