Title: The Clinical Trials [& Sundry Tribulations] of Case VLA-101 (Malfoy-Potter)
Prompt Number: #192 by nursedarry*
Summary: Auror Harry Potter has another service to perform for the Wizarding world and this one quite specifically involves that Unspeakable, Draco Malfoy.
Pairing(s): Draco/Harry; implied R/Hr; LM/NM
Warnings: Veela; forced bonding; talkative firsts and rambunctious seconds; small rebellions and much banter. AU & EWE? Very much so, thanks.
Word Count: 65,500+/-
Author's Notes:This prompt! Woooot! Made for me, really, given the Pythonic reverb in the Veelic equation. I hope I managed , darlin' nursedarry*, to distill the essence of your desire, though I truly fear perhaps I may've skewed the view a bit, in the very end, and strayed from the marvellous blithely flavour I so wished to convey. Forgive my inadequacies and trespasses, and my verbosity, too. But I did provide you charts of sorts...and a little Latin tossed into the pot, for authentic flavour! [No, not salsa; pardon!] Beta'd by the wonderful , patient, and madly skilled demicus*, lonerofthepack and mijeli*; my love to all of them, and to vaysh11*, Mod Extraordinaire! You are purely wonderful to endure me, I so swear. Please note I have fiddled with the bloody fic after they performed their magic; all remaining errors are solely mine own.
Week 6 (B-Day Plus 42)
"We have a situation, gentle Wizards and Witches of the Ministry."
Kingsley's tones were just as deep and Cadbury fruity nut bar-rich as always, and Harry reflected that Kings could say fairly anything he wished to anyone in the world and they'd want to stop stock still and listen. Even if it were something as nape-prickling alarming as the flaming crimson code word 'situation'.
"I'd appreciate it if you, Harry, and you, Unspeakable Malfoy, would remain seated. The rest of you may leave, but please stay on high alert status. We will likely be requiring the cooperation of all departments and details will be provided you on a need-to-know basis. That will be all. Thank you, everyone, and good morning."
In a few moments the executive conference room, located deep in the subterranean levels of the rebuilt and restructured Ministry building, had emptied of chattering employees. Only the three of them remained: Kingsley Shacklebolt, the Minister; Harry Potter, a mid-level Auror despite his scant years of service; and Draco Malfoy, a brilliantly talented Unspeakable and the one permanently attached to the Auror Department as an ongoing liaison-cum-consultant.
"Now, I've no doubt you, at least, are wondering what this is all about, Harry. I've asked a certain guest expert to visit with us today and explain further our thinking as to the most expedient resolution, but first, Unspeakable Malfoy, I believe you've a very pertinent fact you need to impart to Auror Potter?"
Harry turned to look at Malfoy, seated across from him, and garbed in his customary Unspeakable black matte robes. The only real color to him were his lips, which were a rose pink. The plump lower one, Harry noticed, looked to be slightly chewed on and maybe there were a few violet shadows under those grey eyes. All the rest was monochrome and bloodless. Like a fish belly, but not scaly, Malfoy.
Harry, had someone asked his random opinion, would've said he preferred Malfoy in Slytherin Quidditch attire, as at least that didn't leave the poor sod looking like he might have keeled days ago and no one had noticed it yet. The Unspeakables, however, though not a bad group when out at the Leaky after hours (could knock back pints with the best of them, Malfoy) were adept at appearing highly severe. This one example had it down to a bloody art form.
Malfoy thinned his already taut lips and sat up straighter under Harry's inquiring stare, and that led Harry to wonder how that was even possible: bloke had a poker stuck up his arse, twenty-four seven. Pretty frosty, Malfoy was, most days, but nowhere near the little shite he'd been, back in the day.
"Yes, Minister," Malfoy nodded sharply, and returned the cool grey eyes to meet Harry's mildly puzzled ones.
No, Harry decided, not cool at all - burning. Today, they were very intense, those nearly colourless eyes. He blinked, his curiosity whetted further by Malfoy's obvious (to Harry) upset.
Malfoy hadn't changed much, physically, from his years at Hogwarts. Still standing tall, still poised and composed, even under great pressure, he was, and Harry had noted that even when seated he had the habit of towering unapproachably. Git had filled in across the shoulders, perhaps, and gained back the stone or so he'd needed to cease aping a starving Thestral, though. Not too shabby, overall, when it came to the looks department, but very 'touch-me-not'.
The very epitome of 'cool blond'. Harry liked the type, true, but Malfoy? Knew him too well, really, for any sparks to ensue. And Malfoy certainly didn't engage in office romance...or possibly any sort of romance, according to rumour.
"Potter," he said, and Harry instantly snapped back from his musings. "This may be unpleasant to hear, and I realize you'll likely have some...additional issues, as you grapple with the many ramifications, but I ask you to please bear with me. Keep an open mind. This affects me on a very personal level and it is only with the greatest reluctance I'm sharing the information with you, at all."
Harry nodded, curious gaze darting from Malfoy to Kingsley - who appeared as gravely kind and reassuringly monumental as always - and then back to Malfoy, who was a prick and a minor nuisance, true, but a damned fine addition to the Aurors, what with all that Unspeakable knowledge. He nodded again, amiably enough. This was clearly a delicate case, if it involved the Unspeakable department from the get go. He'd no choice, either, not if the Minister himself was involved and requesting it of him personally, so might as well be civil over it, despite the addition to his already overweight caseload. Besides, there'd not been any single situation he'd not been able to handle, not since he started Aurors, straight out of Hogwarts. He was good at his job and loved it, besides. Lived it and breathed it, and hated going home, really.
As Malfoy was damned good at his; Harry admitted that readily enough. One word: Helsinki.
"Of course, Malfoy," he replied, taking up his magically replenished mug and waving the other hand carelessly at the git's terminally pinched expression. Who should really loosen up, before he had a bloody heart attack. "Fire away. I'm all ears."
Malfoy winced, but then Harry's colloquialisms often had him looking as though lemons were a steady part of his daily intake. And recently Harry, in particular, had seen a great deal more of Malfoy than he ever had before, here at the Ministry.
The git would pop up unexpectedly in the Auror staff's microscopic kitchenette, when Harry was fixing his morning cuppa, and then stick around long enough to mouth a few polite words of greeting; he'd slide into the spare seat at Harry's table in the café, at luncheon, completely uninvited, and converse with Harry's mates in the Aurors, also sparingly. And with Ron, too, when he was eating in - Malfoy and Ron had settled their issues long ago.
He'd attend the few strictly Auror department planning meetings that had no direct bearing on the Unspeakables, sitting off on the sidelines by himself but never too far away from Harry's usual seat in the pecking order; observing all the while and making notes on the horrid Quik Quills notebook he always carried. Then, too, he'd be found more and more often firmly ensconced in the Staff Gymnasium, shirtless and stripped down to black nylon running togs and doggedly burning his way through endless, uncountable miles on the jogger thingbob when Harry went down after hours to work out his own frustrations, hauling oar on the rowing jig.
In fact, everywhere Harry looked recently, there was now Malfoy. Every time he turned 'round, the git was lurking - or rather, hovering. Over Harry, actually, as he had that undeniable inch or two on Harry's respectable 5' 7'', curse him.
It was a bit unsettling, to feel Malfoy's constant cool gaze trained on him, but Harry ignored it well enough. He and Malfoy had nothing between them now - certainly not as they'd had back in the days they were but hot-blooded schoolboys! All the bitter, smoldering fires had burnt down to cold ashes and been swept clean away. And it had been a clean, healthy break from the in-fighting and even pleasantly handled all round, mostly thanks to Arthur Weasley and Poppy Pomfrey. She was the key, really. The lynchpin.
For, after Hogwarts had administered their final NEWTS, a great many 'war heroes' and 'disadvantaged but brilliant youth' had immediately applied to the Ministry for positions, and in particular to the much thinned-down Auror Department. Harry, obviously, had fallen squarely in to the first category; Malfoy, though not as obviously, had met all the stringent requirements of the second - though he'd not fetched up in Aurors with Harry and Ron and a host of others; no, not in the end. Not, Harry knew, that the git had lost much in the way of the material and he was certainly not an orphan, as Harry was, but it was fairly universally agreed by both the Governors Board of Hogwarts and the Wizengamot that he, Malfoy, in company with any number of other Hogwarts students whose parents or guardians had been part of Voldemort's Dark forces, had had a certain nefarious advantage taken of them. Their active involvement in the War had amounted to nothing more nor less than child abuse. They were 'disadvantaged youth', the poor things.
The Wizarding World had been in the mood, after the fall of Voldemort, to feel very socially conscious. Everyone seemed to be casting about for a good cause, a personal way to play Hero, as Harry had with Voldemort. And it was pointed out with great fanfare, at precisely the right moment, that Wizards, on the whole, had but little care for their children.
The average Witch or Wizard, it seemed, did not make for a decent parent - or guardian, for that matter.
Harry Potter's plight as a young Wizard essentially abandoned to uncaring Muggle relatives for his own greater protection had most definitely played into that, much to his ongoing humiliation. And Lucius Malfoy, though he'd definitely recanted and further - at his soon to be ex-wife's urging - had admitted under Veritaserum during a routine interrogation that his father, Abraxas Malfoy, had placed undue pressure upon him in his youth to pursue the Dark Arts - further, he had confessed that his own son had been reduced to being regarded as but a pawn and plaything for the deceased Dark Lord.
Oh, not in any sexual sense, thankfully - Harry shuddered when he'd read the excepted transcript in the Prophet - Voldemort, if he had any of that most powerful instinct remaining in him, had no interest in either boys or girls in a purely pedophiliac way. That was perhaps the one, and the only one, point in his favour. But, still, Draco Malfoy, by nature of his very existence, had been viewed very much as the Death Eater's own private 'social experiment'.
To put it bluntly, as Hermione insisted on explaining it, insistent as always on talking over all these fascinating details of the motivations that drove people's behaviour, Draco had been regarded as being on the level with a Muggle guinea pig or lab rat, and was ultimately just as humanely treated. He suited the Dark Lord's convoluted plans perfectly: he was Pureblood in as much as that his forebears genetically were only ever either Wizards, Witches or Veela mixes with same. That was fact; the Black and Malfoy genealogies bore that out. Second, he was 'the' ultimate example of his Pureblood cohort: wealthy, titled (technically so, as the Malfoys ranked amongst the Muggle aristocracy in Wilts, although they had long regarded that honour as both dubious and highly immaterial), springing nicely gifted from what was an immensely powerful family magically to begin with - and, of course, he was the Seventh Son of his line. Seventh Sons, Harry had gathered, were rather considered a big deal amongst the Purebloods.
Rather naturally, to Voldemort's somewhat convoluted method of logic, Draco Malfoy had been the perfect raw material to manipulate at will. Harry shuddered again; poor sod. He knew; he'd been forced to watch.
Regarding the powerful 'Seventh Son' aspect and its Arithmantic significance, that was fairly obvious, or so Hermione claimed. For the Malfoys, like many other ancient Pureblood lineages, had produced but one child only per pairing and that a male. Flint, Goyle, Crabbe, Zabini, Longbottom - all were 'end-of-the line' male children, but none were as firmly entrenched in the history books as the Malfoys. Their ancient and honourable surnames would die out and be extinct if not continued, true. But only Draco happened to be the seventh of such instances in his line, patrolineally. His magical essence, by the concatenated Eleventh Law of Arithmancy, was logically exponentially enhanced to high degree. Draco was a Wizarding force to be reckoned with, for all his native inability to kill in cold blood or perform certain other instances of Dark Magic.
Harry had a serious contender for his unwanted title of 'Most Powerful Wizard', but thankfully, Malfoy showed no signs of wanting to make something of it. Really, he never had. The git had really only wanted that damned Snitch.
Voldemort, though he had been greatly displeased with Draco for his failure to murder Albus Dumbledore, had retained him, after, despite that little stumble on the road to pure Evil. He'd his plans for Draco and though he himself had no sexual interest, he was well aware of the fabled Veela Allure. Lucius Malfoy, proving once again his utter gittishness and lack of decent paternal instinct, had all but offered his son up on a solid silver platter when he confessed the high percentage of Veela blood his son boasted - enhanced to half again or more by virtue of that Seventh Son equation.
Draco was promptly plopped down on the Dark Lord's books to star in Harry Potter's angsty teenaged sexual downfall - as nothing else had been at all effective - and, if not capable of subverting Harry himself, or so went Voldemort's thinking, he'd serve admirably as the instrument of the certain destruction of his less resistant followers, the Mudblood Witch and the Weasley Nuisance. Fortunately, it had never come to that, likely due to Severus Snape, the greasy (and still largely unsung) 'other' Hero of the War.
Arthur Weasley, when he'd read the Prophet's transcripts of that particular interview with Lucius, had practically stroked out at his own breakfast table. His wife had been incensed. They loved children (which was apparent) and this abuse on the person of Draco Malfoy was an outrage.
In any case, back in Harry's non-existent Seventh Year, Draco had been returned to Hogwarts under the supervision of the Carrows in order to implement this very plan. And Lucius Malfoy, so deep in Death Eater politics by then as to be entirely incapable of discovering an exit when his only child and heir's very existence was thus threatened, had proved a monstrous weak link when it came to fatherly instinct. He was a lousy dad, Lucius. He'd done nothing...and more of nothing, for the longest time.
The elder Malfoy's last moment about-face at the final battle was deemed insufficient to forgive him, even though he'd taken a somewhat half-hearted stand to protect his family, AK'ing a few stray DEs. It was Narcissa Malfoy, Draco's mother, who'd marched quite bravely - for a scheming and wily woman - into the fray, metaphorically, and pulled every string she could twist to prevent her husband's Lord from using Draco as planned. More than once, she'd done this, without Draco ever realizing it 'til much later.
Or Harry, who, as Hermione pointed out to him, had a great deal to admire Severus Snape for; rather significantly more, even, than he'd ever imagined.
Too, it was the unhappy fallout of Lucius's many shortcomings, after the battle and during the Trials, which drove Narcissa Malfoy to openly divorce the temporarily Azkaban-imprisoned Lucius, an unheard of event amongst Purebloods. And It was Draco's quite nebulous standing in the Death Eater ranks, however, which proved most interesting to the Wizengamot, the Hogwarts Governor's Board, the Pediatric staff at St. Mungo's and Madame Poppy Pomfrey, in particular. Young Malfoy bore the Dark Mark, certainly, but he'd never chosen it freely, no matter that he believed he had - and therein lay the crux.
Enter Madame Poppy Pomfrey, long accredited MediWitch at Hogwarts School, and a tour de force when it devolved to the weedy subject of the rights and responsibilities owed to minors. She had remained in her tenured position at Hogwarts, heading up the MediStaff (now expanded by two interns, a second Mediwitch and an on-call St. Mungo's pediatric chirurgeon), but she also lectured widely, published numerous articles and had a most visible hand in any cause that furthered the eradication of misuse of minors. Headmistress Minerva McGonagall was in full support of Madame's activities.
Harry Potter, as Pomfrey wrote in a ground-breaking open letter to the Prophet and the other media, had been the classic poster boy for the abused youngster, and it was clearly the fault and the responsibility of the adults in his life that his abuse had continued unabated for nearly two decades. It was more than time to change that, she argued logically, if only because Tom Riddle, though undoubtedly a special case in the annals of the genetically amoral, had also been abused, directly and through neglect, as had the deceased former Hogwarts Headmaster and Potions Instructor Severus Snape. And Sirius Black. And Remus Lupin, Auror Alistair Moody, Lucius Malfoy, Albus Dumbledore, Regulus A. Black - and the list went on and on, most eloquently in its printed simplicity, and featured a great many well-known Wizarding names.
It was a dirty blow to the foundations of Wizarding culture, Poppy Pomfrey's list. The world rocked on its axis.
It included nearly all the Malfoys, but in particular Draco, the very last of them, and the one who'd been played unwitting pawn by both his own sire - acting as a trusted lieutenant to Voldemort - and by the long revered ex-Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. For (and this made Harry's lips tighten when he read of it) the then Headmaster had, quite deliberately and according to his notes in the diary he'd left behind in his desk drawer, consciously decided to allow the rivalry and bad blood between Harry and Draco to continue unabated and without interference, years and years previous. This, solely for the purpose of providing Harry Potter, the would-be Saviour, with a recognizable, accessible, flesh-and-blood enemy and a fine focus for his ever-increasing hatred of the Death Eaters.
Harry had nearly become a murderer, merely because of that one deliberate choice on the part of his trusted Headmaster Dumbledore. The end did not justify the means...at least not for Harry, but no one asked him.
Essentially, though, that unfortunate git Draco Malfoy had been both a lens to distill hatred and a puppet for the dancing, employed by both Dark and Light, and for purposes that an untried youngster had no hope of divining nor escaping. He was as much a victim of those who should have been minding his better welfare as Harry Potter had been and thus the Wizarding world was inclined to be exceptionally lenient with him.
Same held true for Parkinson, Zabini, Goyle and many others, who'd followed blindly in their elder's footsteps, though to a lesser degree, naturally. Theodore Nott, too, now in rehabilitation in James Thickey Ward, was one such example. He'd be a well-kept Ward of the Ministry for the rest of his life, his mind set adrift under the load of monumental emotional abuse. There was a host of other 'disadvantaged youth', too, culled from all of Hogwart's Houses, who'd all been, to a one, diverted, subverted and funneled into behaviours that were not of their own volition, without their knowing consent. In a word, they'd been elected the infantry in their parent's war - and thus demonstrably abused.
Hermione had been 'specially excited by this revelation of Pomfrey's, as Harry recalled. It fit right in neatly with her SPEW crusade.
Pomfrey's initial article had quickly become an international media sensation. The attention to the cause of children's rights had spread like Fiendfyre, and soon it was all the Wizarding world could speak of - their own horrible lack. In logical backlash, focus soon zeroed in what was best for the generation most affected by Voldemort: how they could rehabilitated and re-assimilated and, too, how they might aid in the quest to eradicate any possibility of such a monster as Riddle arising unchecked in the future? Laws and regulations were hastily enacted; foundations and child protective services popped up like sodding mushrooms, overnight.
Harry Potter, chin well tucked, had sidestepped clamours for interviews and free therapy sessions and kept to his mandated Auror training after NEWTS.
Draco Malfoy, despite his long-term recuperation from stress-induced illness, in the interim sailed through his NEWTS with top marks and was accepted readily when he applied to the Ministry, same as Harry had been. He'd been instantly assigned to the Unspeakable Department, despite his application to Aurors, and placed under the wing of Undersecretary Arthur Weasley, who'd proved a capable and stable elder male influence in Draco's life. That extended well beyond the parameters of the Ministry, apparently: Arthur Weasley had a soft heart for children of any sort, as did his wife, Molly. A very soft heart.
Draco Malfoy was promptly introduced to the Burrow, Merlin forbid, and asked to make himself at home there. As Ron had remarked to Harry, way back when, 'the world itself has turned itself on it's bloody ear, mate! Bloody outrageous!'
Fate and Mr. Weasley dealt another high ace: Harry, as defacto son of the Weasley family, and Ron, as the one Weasley child most often in direct conflict with Draco, had each received intensive counseling, in the company of the young Malfoy heir (which oftimes included an eager and somewhat horridly overly-eager Hermione Granger), in both group and one-on-one settings. This at the elder Weasleys's urgings, which meant there was no polite avoidance possible, not even for Harry - or rather, especially not for Harry. Poppy Pomfrey even sat in on many of their sessions, possibly to referee. But...it was essentially effective, all that talk, talk, talk and Muggle psychoanalytic jibber-jabber. Eventually all overt hostilities between the three - or four, actually - thankfully ceased.
Seven solid years of rivalry bit the dust without a whimper; generations of Malfoy-Weasley feuding did the same, with nary a protesting squeak.
Thus, at the ripe old age of twenty-four, Harry and Draco got along swimmingly, both in work and out. Which said much for the idealistic changes wrought in the New Era, more for the crusading Healer Poppy Pomfrey, and absolute gobs for their remarkable similarities in certain key characteristics: single-minded to the point of obsession, determined and stonily dedicated to their chosen paths. That stated, it was also true they'd little to do with one another on a day-to-day basis and both were absolutely jammy with it. All was polite as could be when business required and very much 'hands-off, git' when not.
'Til very recently, as Harry had begun noticing, all because Draco Malfoy had begun to pop up as a regular fixture in Harry Potter's daily topography. He was ruddy everywhere Harry was and right at the moment he was calmly peering at Harry as though he were a challenging, near-unsolvable Arithmetric equational proof.
Harry blinked, setting his jaw. Bring it, git, he urged mentally...and then had to battle the impulse to laugh.
"I am, Potter," the git stated calmly enough, and Harry leant forward, vastly intrigued despite himself, "what amounts to a half-blood Veela. To wit, I require a Mate to thrive and, sadly, that is not in my hands nor of my choosing."
"Er...okay?" Harry nodded, unsure of what exactly he was supposed to be replying in response to this unwanted information, but game enough.
"Potter, that would be you," Malfoy stated baldly. "I'm sorry, but there it is."
Harry gulped, and nearly dropped his mug in his lap. His eyes - gone wide, intensely emerald and quite honestly bewildered - swiveled immediately from Malfoy's grave mien to Kingsley's broad dark one, which smiled at him, and then nodded, reassuringly.
"Kings?" he squeaked. And instantly cleared his throat, after. "Ahem! Minister?"
"What this means to you, Harry," the Minister stepped up to the perceived breach immediately, sending a second reassuring glance Malfoy's way, "is that for the good of the Aurors, the Ministry, the Wizarding world's interaction with other magical Species and, of course, Mr. Malfoy here, you'll be needing to cooperate with each other to the very fullest extent, in the intricate process of establishing the Life Bond Mr. Malfoy's exceptionally strong Veela instinct has initiated. It is, in fact, quite crucial you do so, Harry. Imperative, really. There's no breaking a Bond once it's started, sadly. And, as much as I do hate to ask this of you when you've given so much already, Mr. Malfoy's very existence depends upon this Bond, as does the fragile goodwill we Wizards have cemented with the other magical nations. Harry - I'm sorry, but - "
"Nah-urr?" Harry was a bit boggled by the list of people - Hades, not just people: institutions! Nations! - he'd be disappointing if he didn't cooperate - and, oh yeah, Malfoy would die.
Malfoy would die.
His mug cracked, spidering a tree-like webbing up the opposite side from the handle yet separating only by a smidgeon of a fissure, which was a measure of Harry's learnt self-control, really. He'd regularly sent the conference tables to careening 'round the room and blow out the wall sconces when he first made Aurors, before. This was an improvement, all 'round.
Well...the sugar packets were exploding, in little bursts of crystalline spray. That was not so good.
"Potter - " That was Malfoy, who'd sat as far forward as he could, Harry noted out of the corner of a rolling eyeball, and extended one of his white, manicured paws in Harry's direction. Likely a gesture of mutual sorrow, Harry decided, while the greater part of his head continued to chant: 'Gah! Gah! Gah!'
He could appreciate that gesture. Decent of Malfoy, really - but.
Harry shoved his chair back, instinctively; he wanted to run. Bolt; out of the room, the Ministry, this life of his, which was quite suddenly overwhelmingly removed from his control - again. Fuck it, again.
"Harry, there is no choice in the matter, we know that for certain now...but, well, we'd like to make every effort to smooth the way as much as possible for the both of you," Kingsley's voice rumbled on, a counterpoint to the pounding of blood at Harry's temples. "You two deserve our fullest consideration - our care and our protection. Everything we can do for you, in essence. So...if I may?"
Malfoy's fingers finally latched onto Harry's one flailing wrist and tightened. He frowned at Harry, who frowned back.
"What the bleeding fuck, Malfoy?" he mouthed, grimacing insanely, but the git only shook his manicured head sharply, fine hairs instantly falling back into place.
"Settle, Potter. It's not that bad; you'll see," he commanded in the cool, decisive voice of his - his Unspeakable voice. "Belt up."
"Hah! So you say!" Harry could hear his voice, going higher and higher, and didn't care a whit.
"Mother-fucking, father-fucking, Merlin -fucking situations I find myself in! It's not fucking right, Malfoy! 'Belt up', my fucking arse!"
"Bloody fuck, Malfoy!"
Harry hissed and huffed, wavering, but after a long breathless moment, he relaxed infinitesimally. But only by the smallest of measures. True, he did trust Draco Malfoy; after all that sodding time spent divulging secrets and trading confessions, how could he not? Not to mention, the arse had covered his arse quite competently, more than a few times. In a word: Helsinki.
But on the job, that was. Nothing more.
Kingsley meanwhile had swiveled his chair sideways and turned his leonine head to stare piercingly at a nearly invisible door set in the beige-panelled walls.
"Madame Pomfrey? If you would be so kind as to join us now?" he called out, waving his wand at the soulless beige-taupe all conference rooms seemed to be afflicted with.
"Ah," Harry managed, staggered, and swallowed repeatedly, licking his suddenly arid lips. "No - I - Malfoy, look - no offense, but - Kingsley! Why Pomfrey? Is he sick? Am I infected?"
But his plea was cut short by the quick opening and closing of the discreet door, and Madame Pomfrey herself bustled into the hushed room, smelling of starch, muscle liniment, Skelegrow and breezy sunshine. They all took a long breath, involuntarily, each of them, and in the space of a split-second, the burning fug of tension had subsided by steady degrees, almost imperceptibly. There was just something about Madame Pomfrey; something most amazingly positive. She was a fucking hub of cheery sanity in a mad, mad world, Harry thought. If anyone could 'fix you right up, Harry', it was Pomfrey.
Good old Pomfrey. Everything would be just fine; he knew it. He wanted very desperately to know it, Harry did.
Malfoy gripped his limp wrist all the tighter, meanwhile.
"Hullo, Harry. Good morning, Draco," she nodded, smiling broadly, and took the huge hands Kingsley Shacklebolt stretched out to her with a semi-deferential bob and a wide maternal grin, stopping just short of bussing him familiarly on the cheek. "Kingsley, my old friend, how very nice to meet with you again, and so very soon again. I trust you've briefed the boys?"
For Poppy Pomfrey, any man below the ripe age of sixty was a 'boy'. Harry grinned, despite the knowledge the git still had his wrist firmly leashed. He could feel the faint thrum of magic crackling where his flesh met Malfoy's, right at the bony knob above his hand, but that wasn't so bad, either. Gave him something to focus on other than outright panicking.
A good thing, really. Thoughtful. Malfoy wasn't such a bad chap, no.
"Poppy, a pleasure," the Minister intoned, on his feet - as were Malfoy and Harry, politely, though yet linked across the table, thanks to Malfoy - "and, no, sorry, I haven't quite finished it. We were actually just getting to the heart of the matter. Mr. Malfoy here has just now informed Harry of his Mate status and I was about to - "
"Just frighten the pants off poor Harry, here," chuckled Madame. "I'm sure." She twinkled at Harry and, oddly, that small gesture allowed him to at last swallow normally and fall back into his chair with a grateful thump. His compromised mug tilted at an alarming angle, but he hung onto it with a death grip. Malfoy, in turn, hung on to him.
"And how are you, Harry?" she asked, cheery as sodding anything in the midst of furor. "Everything going along alright?"
"Oh," he said, blankly. Malfoy remained on his feet, rigid under his severe black garb. "Um, er," Harry added, feeling at a distinct loss. "No, really..." But Pomfrey was looking to Malfoy instead and so it didn't matter that there was no good response to her question.
"Oh, Draco, dear - do sit, now. I'm sure you must be anxious to have this sorted," Pomfrey waved a lined but very capable hand at her other ex-charge from the old school Infirmary. "Really. Too much. At ease, gentlemen. Please."
Harry was visited by the sudden thought that Pomfrey must have seen to Malfoy's injuries nearly as often as she'd seen to his, in their respective boyhoods. Malfoy had been Seeker too, of course (as if Harry would ever forget that!) and had suffered just as many mishaps in practice; too, he'd been at the mercy of the elder Slytherins for any number of years and who knew what they'd gotten up to, the sadistic brutes? Marcus Flint came instantly to mind and Harry shuddered. Flint and a few others had been considered 'unfixable' after the Wars and had been summarily exiled - stripped of their magic and sent off to the Muggle world with numerous restrictions. Last he heard, Flint drove a lorry for a living somewhere in outer Antipodes and was happy enough, he supposed.
But that was not the issue at the moment. Malfoy's startling revelation was.
"Potter," Draco said quickly, quietly; leaning slightly forward over the shiny wooden surface between them and barely murmuring, under the cover of the scrape of Madame's chair. He'd not yet released Harry's hand. Harry had actually forgotten for moment he was even holding it...which was really very frightening, in a way!
"I'm extremely sorry - really, I am. I didn't mean for this to happen - "
"Of course you didn't, Draco, dear," Madame cut in kindly, proving that age had nothing to do with the ability to pay proper attention to one's patients. "Now do be seated and let me tell Harry all about it. You men have likely made this out to be far more frightening than it needs to be, I'm sure. With a little common sense we'll have it sorted; not to worry. Isn't that right, Kingsley, dear?"
The Minister sat back with a huge sigh, one that stirred the very air currents, nodding eagerly. He was apparently more than joyful to have someone capable at hand to whom he might pass off the proverbial Galleon. One of the many positive attributes he demonstrated as Minister: knew his limits, Kingsley did.
"Exactly so, Poppy, and I'll leave this to your excellent devices." He turned his dark eyes to the stunned ex-Hero and the cast-in-marble Unspeakable, smiling his obvious relief. "Harry, Draco, make sure to listen closely, as Madame here has conjured up a most viable plan of action for you both - and one I'm sure we'll all be pleased to follow." Harry blinked at him, not at all sure of that. But the Minister was clearly champing at the bit to flee the scene of the crime. He rose, duly imposing in his robes of office. "Now, if you'll all pardon me, I'll leave you to it. Other duties call and those silly Muggles are creating something of ruckus in Cardiff. Harry, you know about that one, right?" He sent a knowing twinkle Harry's way. "Besides," Kingsley continued, nodding to himself, "this is truly a Veela matter and the Ministry is very much hands-off, as is only proper. You know our policy."
"Just so, Kingsley," Pomfrey nodded. Malfoy did as well, after a tiny pause.
"Yes. Just so, sir."
"Ngh," Harry gulped. He gathered himself, finally - finally! - shaking off Malfoy's grip, and sat up straight, spine reforming itself from the jelly it had been reduced, but a few moments previously.
He was a man, not a mouse, he informed himself sternly. An Auror - an ex-Gryffindor. Whatever being a Veela Mate meant, he could likely manage to do it. Or die trying.
"They'll be fine, Kingsley dear. Off you go," Pomfrey smiled.
"Right, er...yes. Alright there, young Draco?" Kingsley asked kindly, clearly itching to depart. "You're a bit squiffy 'round the gills. Greenish."
"Sir," Malfoy replied, hesitantly, and cast his eyes back to the smooth surface of the conference table. "I'm...tolerably well, thank you," he added quietly, "for allowing me the privacy of informing Potter of this here, in your offce," and Harry cocked his head at him, curious.
Hmm...very thoughtful. A strange reaction from a Wizard who normally didn't pull his punches.
"Harry? How are you holding up?" the Minister wanted to know, edging toward the beige door.
"Ah...fine. Super, Kings, Madame." He found himself shugging; unhappily enough, true, but for the first time since Draco mentioned the word 'Mate' and Kings brought up the word 'situation', he let his shoulders fully ease out of their habitual fight-or-flight response. "Just...great, really," he added weakly. "Super...once we work this out, I'm sure." He swallowed. "Sir."
'Common sense,' Madame had said. If Harry knew Pomfrey, there was a spell to sort this out. Or a potion. Or a...something magical he'd just not heard of yet. Whatever it was, he'd nothing to be concerned about, really. Or, if he did, there was Hermione. And Ron. And even Malfoy, who wasn't to be sneezed at, not when it came to dealing with magical crapola that zinged a person sideways and backwards and tossed him peremptorily off his pins.
"Oh? Really 'alright', Potter?" Malfoy had his eyes on him again - had actually not ceased scanning him except for the very briefest of moments - which left Harry's nape prickling with an electric sort of feeling. Now he knew why, exactly, Malfoy had been so intent.
But that could be fixed up. Pomfrey was here, a Valkyrie in a starched cap.
"I'm fine," he repeated, tersely. "Thanks, though."
"You're welcome," Malfoy replied, his pupils a pansy-velvet dark, and Harry blinked. There was something nagging at him...nagging, nagging, in the far corners of his mind. What was that sodding thing Veelas had, again?
His sister-in-law (honourary, but who minded that?) had it in bags: Allure. Oh, yes... that. Like an Imperio, but more insidious, Allure. It was all about sex. Sex, sex, sex and reproduction. Survival of the fucking fittest, no lie.
Oh, sodding joy - but Madame was present, right? All would be well. A potion - a spell - something, right?
Harry sat back with a tiny huff and cradled his half-full and slowly dribbling mug, still Charmed to steaming heat; absentmindedly mended it with a quick word, and, purely as an afterthought, reached for a heavily iced pastry from the tray left on the conference table. Sugar would likely be a good thing for sustained shock, though he'd prefer chocolate. He'd be gagging for every boost he could get, likely, given Malfoy's bombshell.
"Right, then," he said briskly, addressing only Madame Pomfrey, as Malfoy was folded in upon himself again, the git, and the Minister had departed at last, "what exactly is it you need of me?"
Date of First Treatment
Pertinent Additional Data
24, 9 months
Male; eye colour: grey; hair colour: blond; height: 5'9''; weight: TBD; Magical Stats: see Ministry notes, Unspeakable Files, Health Personnel Contact
April XX, 20XX
(Veelus domesticus X H. sapiens, Wizarding)
Middling to Fair
Poor to Dire, if not Mated
Seventh Son; History of prior abuse; Mate: Potter, Harry, Auror
It is recommended that Mr Malfoy and Mr Potter become more intimately acquainted stat, given the known data on UnMated Male Veela. Diagnostics are called for, as is an additional, in-depth consult with the Leader of the Veela Nation, Madame Priscilla D'Argent. Material provided thus far insufficient for long-term planning of treatment, other than establishing need for an arranged Bonding as soon as can be scheduled.