It was…creepy. She was, rather—his Mum. All that fuss over a ring, as if most Malfoy heirlooms, jewelry included, didn't come as a package deal, complete with numerous enchantments. What was the big hoorah, anyway? As long as Harry liked it, who cared?

Draco only shook off his feeling of vague foreboding with effort as he stepped out of the Three Broomstick's capacious hearth and made his slowly back to Hogwart's grounds. At least he had the ring in his hot little paw, though, as well as his Mum's hearty (terrifying!) approval, and he supposed that was all that mattered in the long run. He was now officially able and ready to tackle the hugely daunting task of asking Potter to bestow a lifetime of sharing upon him and that was something amazing, at least.

Very amazing, really. Astounding. Considering all that passed between them before the death of the Dark Lord.

Amazing, however, though descriptive and apt, did not by any means confer either dignity nor oratorical skill upon a supplicant when one was placed in the peculiar position of begging one's hugely significant other to accept one's hand in marriage. But, heedful of his Mum's warnings about wasting no time in slamming that ring of Grandme're's upon Harry's finger, it was the very next evening Draco went down on one boney kneecap and proposed. To his Harry, like a proper Wizard. He made a right mash of it, naturally, but at least it was accomplished.

After a fashion.

Draco Malfoy—master of the verbal cut-and-slash, commander of snark and banter, the very epitome of all that was ornately verbose and pointed—stuttered, mumbled, gagged and gasped. Was completely inarticulate—was a right berk.

"Could you-I mean would you—might you even consider, ah—ah—ah?" Draco fumbled at the very start, his hands shaking as they crawled over and about the slippery velvet box, his tongue tied in a variety of knots unrecognizable to the most savvy of Wizarding Boy Scouts. "Er, Pot—um, Harry—possibly? M-Me? M-Marry?"

He gulped, waiting anxiously for word of his fate. Eyed Harry pleadingly, his hope for a merciful release rising with every blink of those green eyes. But, no. Not that easy.

"Draco?" Harry, clearly perplexed, regarded Draco with huge green orbs behind kiss-smudged lenses and a succulent mouth pinkened and damp from their oral activities. "Draco? What's that you're mumbling at me now? And get up off the floor, dolt—it's likely filthy! We were snogging, remember? Why'd you stop all the sudden?"

For they'd been ensconced happily and peacefully in Gryffindor's untasteful-to-the-extreme Common Room, which was thankfully deserted due to the lateness of the hour. Draco had snuck through a window in the Tower, secretively flying up to meet Harry as per their agreed-upon assignation. The ring had been burning a hole in his trouser's pocket for nearly a whole day at that point; Draco couldn't wait a moment longer to get his torment over with and done. He'd a plan. He'd snog Harry into pliability and then execute the Burning Question. And Harry would agree, blinded as he was by both Draco's love and Draco's Veela.

"Marry-me-p-p-please?" he squeaked, though his throat had closed tight, like a porthole against the rushing sea of emotion pouring up his esophagus. "H-Harry? M-Marry?"

Harry only stared blankly in return, not replying instantly in the affirmative as he should do, and Draco, dropping his gaze in an excess of accumulating panic, discovered the floor was a fascinating locale; nay, even the box the ring had come in was a deeply mesmerizing object—and truly, if he were forced to meet Harry's eyes again whilst he pleaded the case for a hasty bonding Draco was positive he'd expire on the spot. His poor heart was pounding so...as were his wings. Whuff...whuff...whuff, they went, contrapuntally.

He didn't understand at all why Harry was only blinking at him, and not saying that much-wanted 'Yes, Draco—I will!'

This was so ruddy important to him—this was all the remainder of his life at stake. He wanted it to be perfect. Perfect timing—perfect ring—perfect in every way. Harry simply must respond favourably—there was nothing else to it! But all the urgency in the world did not a blasted thing for Draco's faltering ability to enunciate clearly at that precise moment—or at much above a croaky strangled whisper. Harry leant closer, puzzled and apparently having trouble hearing him.

"Um, what? What's that you're saying, Draco?"

"M-M-Marrying m-m-me?" Draco attempted again to spit it out. "You, Potter? M-Me?"

Absolutely the most difficult thing imaginable, a miserable Draco determined, asking Potter to plight his troth eternal to his eldest school rival, Veela attraction or no. Worst. Thing. Ever. Now he'd be required to ante up an explanation, if only because his beloved Harry was losing that well-snogged look. Asking pointed questions, too, which was exactly what Draco was hoping to avoid.

"Because—because I find I—I cannot c-continue to exist without—" he forged staunchly onward, gathering his Malfoyness about him like an impervious cloak of assurance and all the while aghast: at his feeble words, his foolishly pink face—and the stupid Veela wings that came ripping madly out from his robes unexpectedly, creating a huge fuss and flutter—and so much extraneous noise! Hades, he could barely hear himself speak above the windy rush of feathers—no wonder Harry was having troubles! "You. Potter. I mean to say, I—I love you—you, always, and I would be most honoured if you'd accept this token of my affections—"

Feathers, for all their inherent softness, were amazingly loud things when they were flapping. Draco winced.

"Draco!" Harry seemed frustrated, leaning forward with a palm cupping his one ear. "Draco, I can't hear a word you're saying, git. Stop that infernal flapping and do get your arse up off the damned floor now—come on!"

"H-Harry! Harry, wait!"

Potter blinked down at him, all long lashes trembling with curiosity and green, green, green as the fields in May, and Draco nearly lost himself in the sea of jade bordered by inky spikes, delicate as his own downy feathers. Those eyes—that face—that odd little half-grin-not-scowl he affected!

"Oh, Harry!"

Oh, but his Harry was ever so fit—and ever so fanciable! Draco, entirely derailed by manly beauty and awestruck by a clear gaze that seemed to pierce right through his heart, was certain he couldn't possibly be more ecstatic it was Harry his Veela Fate had chosen for him. Ah, to marry Harry and spend a lifetime in the git's company would be all the good things life could ever provide him—and more! Certainly he'd a job of work to do before him, a task that would consume years, restoring the Malfoy name to some sort of respectability, fashioning himself into a person Harry could be proud to have on his arm—but if Harry was with him, all along the way? Oh, bliss!

Oh, bliss. Draco smiled beatifically at his inner vision, lips parted and grey eyes hazy and soft, seeing only Harry, forever and after.

"Um." The young man in question scowled a bit more than he smiled, peering down at Draco with a distinctly perplexed set to his dark eyebrows. He poked Draco's upper arm with a hard forefinger. "Draco, um. Are you…are you alright, mate? You look funny, git. Do come up. This is weird."

"Oh—er?"

Draco, coming to himself with a snap and start, recalled exactly why he was in the midst of making an utter arse of himself, here on the cold flagstones of the enemy Common Room. Potter was ever so his! His, his, his! Undeniably and no one must forget that! The ring, then. Right! He needed it. Needed to ensure it was attached to its proper place in the universe: Harry's finger.

"…Sorry," he murmured, glancing away, for he knew he was mucking up, more than a little. Time for the dénouement then, the killing blow. "I, uh—I brought you this." He popped open the tiny box and rare gems and diamonds blazed in the reflected firelight, dazzling both of them momentarily.

It struck Draco again, the force of his requirement. Harry needed to agree, preferably right this moment. And he must wear Grandme're's lovely ring to prove it. To show the rest of the wankers in Hogwarts and the world that Harry Potter was Draco's own. His-his-his! For there were a great many people who professed to loving Harry—who wanted him for their own. All people whom Draco hated on general principle and whom he was horribly jealous over…and fearful of. For some, he knew, were likely far more suitable for Harry than he ever was: more powerful, more learned, more…Gryffindor.

Well…perhaps there weren't that many, but Harry might not know it. He might not see that Draco was key to his happiness. Prat was not all that difficult to seduce, after all. Draco had accomplished it and it had only required a little effort—and his wings, of course. Harry really was quite fond of them.

He hoped to Merlin Harry hadn't considered that aspect of the matter when they'd, er…hooked up. He hoped desperately Harry wasn't actually thinking about what went on between them—only feeling, as he was. Thinking on Harry's part would really just bollix the situation up completely.

"You!" Draco yelped abruptly, impelled by a growing sense of urgency and swallowing down what felt like boulders jamming up his windpipe. "You, Harry—you need me, don't you? Y-you want me? I know you do, damn it!" He jerkily got on with what was, hands-down, the absolutely most alarmingly humiliating, most crucial moment of his entire life—the final act of proposing. "I mean I do, Potter, and don't you forget it! Want to—with you, git! Only you. Don't you dare not know that, Harry Potter—don't you dare forget!"

"I-I, er, won't, Draco," Harry replied hastily, blinking rapidly and with some bewilderment. He peered at Draco as if Draco were some stray nutter, come to call: gingerly and with caution. "I mean of course I wouldn't forget, you git! You've made it very clear—um, singularly clear, really, that I'm not to. But, er, Draco? What exactly is it I'm not s'posed to be forgetting? Because you haven't said—that. Yet, really. Exactly. Um…could you, maybe, perhaps…clarify?"

"Potter!" his lover howled. His wings beat up a gale force; he'd heard maybe half of Harry's response and that only in dribs-and-drabs, but none of the words he could make out were the much-hoped for 'Yes!'

Whuff! His wings thrummed, setting up an eerie echo off the walls. Whuff-whuff-whufff!

Draco talked through it, the throbbing sound; 'round it, below and above it, desperately. Listing reasons, trotting out data, talking up Veela and Malfoys and the many positive attributes he could boast of, despite being only nineteen years of age.

"—so you must marry me, Harry, and this is the ring, right here," he galloped on with his massive fail of a proposal, thrusting the box at Potter's half-curled hands and scowling his darkest ever, his wings pounding air a mile a moment. There was a steady shower of down filtering through the atmosphere of the garishly scarlet Common Room; it looked like early snowfall had come overnight, rather. "My Grandme're's—very important. Special, Harry. And you'll place it on your damnable finger right now, won't you? For—for me? Harry? Won't you? Say you w-will!"

Whuff-whuff-whuff!

"Ur?" Harry jerked back in his perch on the edge of an armchair, eyeing the velveteen clad box and Draco both with great wariness. "Uh, huh? Fingers? What about them? And—and what's this?"

"So I—and you—I mean to say, won't you, Harry?" Draco entreated, not noticing, but half his words carried no solid sound—and hadn't. His powers of speech had deserted him. His voice, what there was left of it, was reedy and atonal; half-mutter, half-squawk, with much Veela evident. "Harry!"

"Look, er—Draco?"

Draco quailed. Why now did he have to be overcome with such debilitating fear? Why now, when what he needed most was the fine art of gentle persuasion?

"I'm not really sure…I mean, what the feck? Is this a joke?"

Harry gulped, blinking at him with lips parted—Draco lost another second or two to useless reverie over the gorgeous way his lover's throat moved when he swallowed—and then grinned down at Draco's upturned face, with none of the respect for the momentous occasion Draco was fully primed to expect. The git giggled—or, rather he snorted, a tiny little huff of rueful laughter Draco found entrancing and irritating, all at once.

"You're joking with me, right, arse?" He laughed, almost helplessly. "This—this is some sort of prank…maybe? Because I didn't quite catch all of what you were saying, Draco—but—"

"Potter! Take it, you sod!" Draco ordered, scowling ferociously. This really was not how he'd ever imagined becoming engaged, but then, this was Potter, wasn't it? Enough said. Of course it was bollixed up; he'd just have to get through it. "And stop with that infernal chortling, twit! Of course I'm not pranking you, idiot," he added, snarling, "I would hardly consider this a joking matter. Merlin! I'm proposing here! To you! Take me seriously, for fuck's sake!"

"Um…" Harry slumped back, flummoxed. "Ah, I. You're serious? I-I don't know quite what to say, Draco—I mean—I didn't expect you to…well. Well."

"Potter—now! Get that damned ring on your damned finger right this minute!"

"But—but it's so sudden, Draco," Harry protested. "Um, really very sudden. Are you sure?"

He smiled hesitantly at Draco and his teeth were pretty and white and his lips were pink and moist. Draco, off-balance by leagues already, was enthralled by the curl of silky hair that tumbled down upon his scarred forehead and the glint of uncertain glee in Potter's green eyes—as if the barmy git would like to laugh but wasn't sure if he should.

Draco winced, subject to an entirely new surge of sheer fear. He'd assumed any number of things, recently, but….what if Potter—what if Harry really didn't feel the same as he did? He could rant and insist all he liked but if Harry wasn't in the same place as Draco was, it wouldn't matter a whit's worth, would it?

"It's only a few weeks, right? We've only just—um, you know," Harry shrugged, flushing. "I mean, I'm flattered, but—"

He'd been counting on Harry being in the same place. Rather. Draco had.

His face fell. His shoulders slumped. His kneecaps were full of the strangest sensation…and his wings slowed finally: whuff…whuff…whuff. A sad little refrain of air currents, trembling into stillness.

"Um, let me think?"

His jaw dropped in consternation. Draco rocked back on his heels, the jewelry box slipping unnoted from suddenly numb fingertips.

"Do you—um, are you even sure…does your Mum know?" Harry was honestly at sea, Draco realized. Harry was clueless.

And why was that, precisely?

Draco bit his lower lip, catching it between his teeth as he considered.

What if this was just a passing interest—a fling of sorts for Harry? The Boy Who Lived was hardly the Boy Who Dated, now was he? Harry's experience had not been great when he and Draco had first come together. He wouldn't know, necessarily, when the other's persons affections were truly engaged? And—and Harry might simply think of what they'd done so far as dating. What if—what if this was all merely a flash in the pan, on his part? If Draco had misjudged the depth on both sides—if he'd guessed wrongly—

"You know, Draco, I really do think you should get up off the floor now. That looks to be really uncomfortable."

If it wasn't—Harry didn't.

Draco's internal organs twisted painfully—he gasped soundlessly, awash with pain. His ears buzzed. He'd made a grievous error, apparently, literally flinging himself at Harry's feet, pouring out his heart, offering up his trinket—he'd assumed far too much on the basis of far too little and now he'd made an absolute fool of himself.

Harry was still meandering on through his rejection. Draco forced himself to listen closely, though it was the absolute last thing he wished to do.

"…likely we should talk this over. Not that I'm good at talking things over—rather pants at it, really, but—"

A fool. A fool in love. By himself, in love.

The world, which had been a brilliant if slightly anxiety-ridden place just moments before, turned a dull sullen grey as Draco considered that alarmingly reasonable possibility. His heart, which had previously resembled a soaring, swooping lark caught in the contains of his chest, turned a leaden object, thudding slowly behind the sheltering ribs that caged it. A deathly moribund object; a struck-hopeless one. It didn't have much purpose if Harry didn't want it, did it now?

"Draco? Draco, do you even hear me? Draco!"

It would be…it would be the worst thing ever, Harry not wanting him. It would be…the Draught of Living Death.

"No!" Draco closed his eyes. "I—forget it, Potter! Just forget I ever said a word!"

He'd mucked it up—the most crucial moment of his life and he'd more than stepped wrongly; he'd hared off completely into a fantasy world, by himself. Delusional. All by his lonesome.

There was nothing he could do, either, to make Harry feel for him what he felt for Harry: no Love Spell that would last long enough, no Potion would be strong enough. He could but retreat, then. Find a nearby bolthole; sort through his stratagems; regroup. Do no more harm to what he held most dear.

"I," Draco muttered dully, his chin dropping, his formerly overly eager hands clenching uselessly in search of the comfort of the little velvet box that contained the family ring that would've tied Harry to him irrevocably. It was gone—he'd hardly noticed its absence. He didn't care much now. "I…understand. Well…right, then. I am…I am sorry to have troubled you. Trust me when I say I shan't be doing it again, Harry."

"Oi!" Harry, startled, lost his little puzzled half-grin. "What're you on about now, Draco?"

It had been, of course, too good to be true. Draco wasn't meant to feel this sort of enchanted happiness, this level of content. It was too late, as well—he'd never impressed Harry as being particularly worthwhile, before; he'd never succeeded in keeping his attention for all that long a time in all the days they'd spent challenging one another. Why would it be any different now? Materially?

No—no, he'd erred. He'd committed a grave error, proposing. Failed.

"I-I'm very sorry, Harry," Draco mumbled, coming up from his knees in a rush, his face paler than the finest all-linen pressed parchment, "for assuming you—you'd want—this." He scowled, looking anywhere but the face that was his joy. "Me. I'm sorry. I apologise. My mistake," he bowed just the barest amount, head and neck only: a mockery of his usual inbred arrogance; a gesture that was as strangely formal as Draco now felt. The camaraderie they'd shared, the closeness—it was ended. "Please excuse me. I really—I must go. Now, I mean."

"What the fuck?"

"Yes, now. I'm going. I—I'll see you, alright? Um…sometime. Sometime soon, yes! Right?—right…well."

"Wait!"

Harry sprang to his feet as well, a hand outstretched to stay him, but Draco was already fled, putting to use the horrid wings his Veela Grandme're's blood gift had conferred upon him—a gift, yes, but more a scourge, the Veela. They flapped and twisted, propelling him at a break-neck tumbling pace right though the Gryff's Common Room portal and then subsequently right through the arrow-slit sized window that opened at the end of Gryffindor Tower corridor, sideways and scraping skin off his flexing shoulders. Feathers flew, stained grey at the tips.

"Draco! Draco, hold up!"

For he couldn't bear to stay a moment longer—not if Harry.

"Oi!" Draco heard faintly behind him, the anxiety and surprise in the beloved voice clawing residual trails across his bruised heart. "Git, what in Hades are you doing? Come back here this instant!"

It wasn't at all as he'd foolishly thought it was. Harry didn't—Harry wasn't.

Harry didn't feel the same as he. Demonstrably. It was only the chill of the night air nearly stunning Draco mid-swoop that stopped the inevitable tears in their tracks.

"I'm sorry," he murmured to the moonless night and the empty breeze, and then a warm wind rose up beneath his flying feet, his woefully slow wings, and bore him off, thankfully. For of all things Draco required right then it was a safe place to tend his wounds. "I—I'm so sorry. Harry. I'm sorry."

He was bleeding internally or that's what it felt like; he was mortally wounded and this, at least, could not be recovered from. He'd fucked it all up, bollixed it totally, and it was hopeless, and Harry—oh, Harry!

He'd never meant to have it end this awkwardly. He'd not meant to pressure his love—but then again, he'd read every clue incorrectly, hadn't he? Every snog, every caress, every smouldering glance: all misinterpreted from the get-go. He was a fool—and worse than that, an arrogant self-consumed idiot, completely caught up in what he'd been feeling and never sparing a moment's thought to what his Harry must be thinking.

Yes, they'd been intimate. They'd shagged; they'd conducted themselves just as any of the others of their age group did, sneaking about and snagging opportunities to shag in corners, giggling themselves silly over the secrecy of it—the deliciousness. As if it were some great joke they were pulling on the universe—a palpable hit to the accepted and the usual. And Harry had likely been having some fun, too, which was perfectly natural. He'd never had much of that before and Draco knew that; didn't grudge him a bit of it, either. But that was all.

That was all it had been, for Harry. Fun. Good times. Shagging.

"So dreadfully sorry," Draco told the Lake water skimming his toes as he dipped down, lower and lower, his slow dolorous wing beats carrying him far too close to the wavelets lapping the shore.

He closed his eyes, for there was one place he could go—one location that was entirely secluded, a sanctuary of sorts.

Harry didn't love him. No, Harry didn't. It had all been but a mad dream and a silly lovestruck idiot's fancy.

Nothing more.

It's fucking cold…figures, Harry heard in his head. He jumped two feet straight up, startled. That was…Draco? He was hearing Draco, clear as a bloody bell?

I hope he's alright…I can't go back there, he heard next, echoing. I'm such an arse—such an arse! He'll never forgive me!

Harry regarded the ring on his finger nervously. What was this all about, then?

He'll never forgive me, will he?

He didn't have the faintest idea of what had set Draco off. One moment they'd been snogging comfortably, all wrapped up together in an armchair before the hearth, the next Draco had slipped sinuously down the length of Harry's very relaxed person and ended up on the floor. He'd gone through a little gyrating dance balanced upon his kneecaps, digging through his pockets madly for a little box, and then stared up at Harry as if he—Harry- were something strange—something frightening, and enough to terrify even the most doughty of Wizards.

Er, what? Harry recalled thinking, vastly surprised. What's going on?

And then Draco had started with this rapid mumble-whisper drone, his voice barely audible. Harry had only caught bits-and-pieces and all throughout his strange little fit Draco only seemed more and more wild and odd. Mad, maybe. Possessed b y that mysterious box he kept turning over and over in his hands.

I-I hope, Harry heard wafting through his befuddled memories, the sighing breath of it desolate. I hope he forgives me. Because what if he doesn't?

Please, Harry!

Harry gulped. Forgive him? Forgive him for what, precisely? Draco hadn't done a thing but mumble, froth a bit over something, shout about rings and-and leave as if the demons of Hades itself were chasing him—oh, hey!

Now that Harry recalled, Draco had mentioned…well, he'd mentioned a very startling topic. Harry had rather blanked out on that bit, he'd been so startled.

It was too soon; I should've known better—and why would ever want me anyway? The voice in Harry's head wailed. I'm so fucking—

Why would he? the voice demanded, after a telling pause. Harry detected a distinct sob at the end of it, tacked on like punctuation. I'm-I'm useless. I've so little. He's got money—he won't be wanting that. And he hates the Manor—and who could blame him? And I've so much to do before the name means anything again—thanks a fucking bunch, Father, you arsehole! The voice suddenly ranted. Burn in hell, you old git! Burn forever—good riddance!

"Er?" Harry asked the empty room. The fire crackled. "Oh! Oh, fuck! That sod—that git! What is he thinking?"

I can't go back. I can't look at him, the voice lamented, sighing heavily. I can't bear to not touch him and he won't want it, now. He won't want it. I've ruined it…bollixed it all up again. As usual…

"No, Squidhead!" Harry growled, rushing up the spiral staircase to the room the Eighth Year boys shared. "You've got it all wrong-way-'round, as usual!"

Harry.

He tore open his trunk, grabbing at broom and cloak haphazardly—and then halted, eying the ring glinting on his finger. He'd stuffed it on in his hurry and now it tingled oddly.

"You," he addressed it suspiciously, "are very bloody weird—but helpful. I wonder if he meant to…?"

If I—if I can talk to him, though, the voice pondered hesitantly after a long silence. I mean, he'll likely give me another chance, right? One more chance. I could—I can take it very slowly. Woo him.

"Oh, my gawds," Harry gulped, closing his eyes tight in sheer frustration. "You barmy sod! Woo me? Like you'd actually have to! Merlin!"

Harry and his unShrunk replacement Nimbus just fit through the Gryffindor corridor's widest window; it was tight squeeze but he managed. A feather was caught in the rusty iron hinge, Harry noticed. He plucked it out in passing, admiring the opalescent loveliness of it, the shade of silvery grey that tipped the edges, exactly a match for Draco's eyes. Tucked it into the breast pocket concealed on the inside flap of his robes with a secretive grin.

Lovely. No—fucking gorgeous. Like everything else about the maddening git.

It had been his eyes that had gotten to Harry in the first place. They'd followed him. Everywhere, always, all the time. And the persistent lusty dreams he'd been having, interspersed within the more familiar nightmares. Sex in midair—fucking Merlin! And then the voice. He'd spent years hating the very sound of that voice, all smarmy and better-than-thou and nasty. To hear it without overtones of anger and underpinnings of blind hatred was a bleeding revelation.

It was the Veela, too. Those wings, that scent—that intensity of desire, as if there was nothing else that existed for Draco Malfoy but Harry Potter. Harry didn't kid himself. He might not be as susceptible as everyone else was, but Draco Malfoy was already someone special. He took up centre stage in Harry's brain—always had.

Always had, the git. Ruddy bastard!

It doesn't have to happen all at once, the voice reassured itself. I can work this…I can, if I try. There's a way to go about it, yet. Even if—I mean, we've the shagging, right? He likes that, at least, yeah? My cock's alright. So…so.

"Yes, you git," Harry chuckled, from his vantage point high up over the grounds of Hogwarts. He peered about him. Draco was nowhere in the Castle, so he must be elsewhere—and Harry could practically feel him close by. "He does indeed like the shagging! And your bloody cock!"

I was too impatient, the voice berated itself. And Mum—Mum, why'd you have to go and push me? I was planning on waiting a bit longer. Give Harry a little more time—oh, who the fuck am I kidding?

Harry, spinning on his broomstick, laughed aloud. Same old Draco Malfoy, always impulsive, yeah?

I just wanted him to myself—it's the bloody truth, isn't it? The voice was sharp and snappish-rueful. I've always wanted him to myself, from the very first day. Sodding Hero! Why'd you have to be Harry Potter, anyway? I would've been happy if you'd been anyone else, you arsehole! But no! NO, you had to have a Past and a bloody Prophecy! You have save the whole freakin' world and me with it! How the hell am I supposed to compete with that, Harry?

Harry.

"Oh, you fool!" Harry told the wind, grinning like a loon. "Just wait half a tick—I'll be there, I swear. Idiot!"

Harry. Harry, maybe…maybe tomorrow? I'll try again tomorrow, okay? At—at luncheon. We…we can talk. We can at least attempt talking. Weather—no, um. Quidditch. Quidditch is better. And lessons. Very safe topic, lessons. And I've still got your Potions essay in my bag—that's as good an excuse as any, right? So you'll have to speak to me, right, Harry? And…and then, maybe, after supper, we could meet up again? I wouldn't kiss you unless you wanted it.

"Idiot!" Harry exclaimed, and halted his spin. There! The tiny hillock that rose from the far end of the Lake—the one he'd discovered quite by accident when he'd first flown on Buckbeak.

I'll just put Grandme're's ring aside for a bit, Draco's voice was musing, and concentrate onOH BLOODY FUCK! WHERE IS IT?

"Shite!" Harry yelped and dove, disApparating mid-plunge. "Enough already!"

I've gone and lost it! Draco wailed soundlessly. Mum'll skin me alive!

Blinking and rolling with the drunken sideways stumble Apparation always left him with, Harry found himself standing on a huge sloping dolmen-shaped boulder, atop a number of other huge boulders in the midst of the Lake, and all of a yard away from one very sorry looking Draco Malfoy.

His wings were drooping, dragging dolefully over the scree. He was sitting Indian-fashion upon it in a scraggly unkempt mass of feathers and damp torn cloth, scraped moss and lichen staining his trousers . His face was streaked with thin silvery trails and his nose was red and runny; Draco wiped it with a swipe of his bare wrist even as Harry pounced upon him.

"Right here, git!" he announced, and promptly took over Draco's lap. "Arsehole! Bloody yes, you snot-nosed git-faced-cowardly yellow-bellied git-of-all-gits!"

What-what-what? Harry heard the shout in Draco's head, resounding. What the bloody fuck is going on? How'd he find me?

"Fuck!" Draco's hands came up to fend Harry off and he made as if to scoot himself out from under Harry's sudden bulk pressing his folded legs into the smooth rocks. "Fuck, Potter—what in Merlin's Arsehole are you doing? Where'd you even come from—?"

Harry?

"Shut up!"

Ooooh! You arse! Draco huffed.

"Fucking make me—mmph-ngh!"

Snogging as if he would die if he didn't, Harry proceeded to halt all the silly thoughts and notions occupying Draco Malfoy's whirling head.

Mmmmm….Harry…Harry, was the next comment he heard in his head, accompanied by a moan of delight in his ears.

"Next time, Draco, wait for a reply, alright?" Harry smirked, drawing back and favouring his idiot fiancé with a superiour stare. He felt he'd a right to; not everyone could shut a Malfoy up so thoroughly when one was in a full spate of temper—nor would everyone care to, either. It took a special kind of Wizard—a real Hero—to accomplish such acts of bravery. Clearly, he and Malfoy were meant for one another. "It's not done to leave without one, dumb arse!"

"Harry?" Draco blinked at him, grey eyes wide in the reflected starlight coming off the lake water.

I don't understand—don't understand much of anything! Draco's mind was a whir and blur. But you're here—thank gods you're here!

"Yes," Harry grinned, triumphant. This was brilliant, this. He couldn't have imagined better if he'd schemed for a thousand years! "I am here, thanks. And yes. The answer to your proposal is yes, Draco Malfoy. I would be honoured. I hereby accept. Thank you—the ring is lovely and I'll always wear it as a sign—of—stop kissing, git!—I'm-not-quite-finished!—ohgawds!"

Harry-Harry-Harry! The blur of Draco's hidden thoughts were all at once golden-and-silver; they bloody sparkled with brilliance. Harry felt a great wave of what could only be the essence of 'happy', crashing across the conduit the magical ring had laid open.

Draco growled possessively—wordlessly—and shoved Harry over, a quick arm and wing sliding 'neath his head and back even as the tables were turned. He found himself laid out flat, Draco hustling between his parted thighs, tearing Harry's clothes off as he went with talons flashing. Shreds of cloth were flung hither and thither.

Harry, I love you—I can't believe this is happening—Harry!

"I love you, too!" Harry vowed sternly, not caring a hoot about his clothing, as his cape was safely out of the way. He blinked up at his Veela; Draco looked quite fierce—and rather pointy—Veela-ish, and very handsome indeed, bearing down upon him. It was…thrilling—in a very good way.

"Mmmm…come a little closer, why don't you?" he purred, liking all of it. Draco scowled at his cheek and took a second away from stripping Harry to poke him sharply in the chest.

"I do love you—don't ever forget it, Potter!"

"Oh—no!" Harry gasped, for he was abruptly rendered starkers and it was chilly, out there on the tiny isle in the midst of the lake. "I—w-won't!"

Gods, how I love you—you can't leave me, Harry! You can't because I'll bloody well curl up and die! It was a torrent of words, and this time articulate indeed, assaulting Harry from within and without.

"I love you and you're mine, Harry—all mine, please—please?" Draco stopped in the midst of shoving Harry's bared knees over his shoulders and grabbed at his chin. "Harry—please? It is true, right? You're not lying, are you? Having me on or anything? You wouldn't—would you?"

"No! Not—lying," Harry grinned, very much at ease despite the chill damp off the water. This was more like! He preferred his Malfoys feisty and demanding "Oblivious twit, to think I would! Ungh!" he gasped. A cock poked at his arsehole pugnaciously and it smarted. "Um-ah! A little—a little lube there, Draco? Er—now?"

"Oh—oh, yes!" Draco flushed and paled instantly, wincing at his hurry. "Sorry—sorry, I wasn't thinking." His snapped his fingers and Harry's arse went from chilled and flinching to toasty-warm and almond-oiled in the blink of a Squid's One Great Eye. "Harry? I—is that alright?"

"Umm," Harry sighed as two fingers roughly twisted into him, as Draco didn't wait for a reply. They knocked up against his quivering prostate almost immediately and he jolted into an arch of sheer bliss. "Umm, yessss…that's—that's brilliant! That would be—precisely—brilliant, Draco!"

Oh-Merlin-oh-Merlin! Draco's moan was nearly audible; he thought so, too. Harry groaned at the degree of want conveyed by the voice in his head and couldn't help but respond. He spread his legs, settling his bum at the bend of Draco's waist, and clamped his thighs murder-tight round Draco's waist. Draco's cock lay throbbing against his well-lubed crack and Harry smiled.

Yeah! Draco heard, for the conduit went both ways. Much more like!

Frantic hands hauled Harry's arsecheeks up higher, digging in cruelly as they were pried wide open and spread as far apart as they could go; the prick and the oily fingers performed an awkward bumbling battle at the rim of Harry's fluttering sphincter—and huge sleek wings came down and around them both with a rush of wind, raining tiny feathers.

They were private and cosy-warm, within. Harry caught a glimpse of sizzling grey eyes as Draco gnawed his way across his throat and simultaneously pumped his hips. Harry lost track, his expression twisting into mindless glee as he was wrestled about, legs flying. A hungry snarl sounded in his ringing ears—but more in his head, or perhaps his chest.

I love you; would die to have you—Harry!

"Harry." Draco's actual voice was no more than a whisper—

Must have you! Mine—MINE!

"Harry!"

—and then a roar.

"Now? Gods yes—now! Now, Draco!" Harry commanded, spitting out a few stray wafts of down. "Don't wait, git. Do it now!"

The prick overcame the fingers at last and plunged in, true to the mark. Harry was grasped and fumbled upright, a fold of wing and a spare arm encircling him in heat, till he was suspended above the hard unforgiving granite and slumping thankfully onto Draco's lap. Draco sat back on his haunches, Harry riding the slicked up skin and cartilage spine of his cock like a jockey. Harry.

The voice in Harry's head was tranquil and serene. Harry grinned, for the cock quivering deeply within him was decidedly not; it took breath clean away. He could only shudder as Draco lunged up, flexing his thighs beneath Harry's bum.

"Oh! Ooooh!"

Harry!

There went serenity, out the bloody window! Then there was mouth scorching eager mouth—a hard ridge of jawbone, a poking nose, a wet slurp of tongue and chapped lips—and Harry could barely inhale through it, nor care if he did. It was all about being taken roughshod and forcefully—claimed, then, was it?—and Draco's hips thrust up methodically, joggling Harry's insides to jelly.

Fucking brilliant! That was one or the other of them but neither was certain which.

"Ah-ahah!"

Love—you! Harry's mind contained very little of import. Three words, max. A gift from his lover.

He couldn't manage words in return, really, not real ones, said aloud, and barely thought—but feeling. He could send his feelings: through the ring, through his cells—arcing through the shrinking gap till there was none.

Love. You, Draco.

Love. You. Harry felt it on an array of levels; without and within.

Mine!

They humped atop the mount of their small kingdom; the scruffy little islet Harry had introduced his paramour to but a few weeks before. A fine and private place, he'd said to Draco that day, unconsciously quoting someone Mugglish and famous, but there it was—his special place and he'd wanted to share. His retreat, his sanctuary. Theirs, now.

And Draco was shaking all of him about like milk in a churn; likely they looked utterly ridiculous, as rutting animals so often did, what with their mouths glued half-arsed together and slipping on saliva and Harry jouncing about constantly across Draco's lap with each short, sharp thrust. Likely, too, this was why Harry hadn't wanted to die—why living was important. He'd needed to find this one person—

Harry!

This person who was his 'other', his shadow, his rock.

"Guah, aah...ah!" Harry gurgled, at the bitter edge of coming, and clung with fingertips and teeth to Draco's shoulders, his nose stuffed into a storm of feathers and sweaty muscle moving under smooth alabaster skin. "Mnn-mnngh-mm-narhh!"

Ha—Har—! Draco had no real voice at all; nothing left but the one from his mind and that roared at Harry.

Harry—mine-mine-mine—Harry, Draco's internal monologue chanted, over and over in an off-key litany, enough (between the short deep jabs that rocked him on his bearings, the lips that slid continuously over ear and hair and cheek and eyebrow) enough to send Harry flying high—

Unbound.

Harry!

Draco—my Draco…

Together.

And free. At last.

…It was much later Draco explained it all, as he understood it, at least. His Grandme're's ring, the spell upon it, what it meant and what he wanted of Harry in exchange for it.

Or rather, what he'd already given, freely and of his own will.

"You will, won't you?" The pleading edge to his voice—so unfamiliar and wrong—was long gone, replaced a very determined steely glint. Give a Malfoy a scant inch to run with and they'd parlay it into a lifetime. "After we matriculate, Harry, naturally. Mum will organize it for us, you know. In fact, I don't think I can stop her. She adores events such as weddings. Really, it's her forte."

"Uh-huh."

Harry snuffled his sly amusement against the shoulder he leaned upon. He was warm and nicely resting, wrapped in the wings Draco always whinged over—silly git; the wings were beautiful!—and completely sodden and soaked still with various sorts of stickinesses and stuck-on down. His arsehole was deliciously sore; it felt plundered and likely he'd be feeling it still on his broom when they eventually returned to Hogwarts.

"Mmmph." He considered Apparation as a way of returning. Draco, of course, could simply fly.

"That's not a yes, Harry," Draco chided him. He was jiggled again; his cock twitched limply in trained response. "Give me a yes, git. Now, please."

"Mmmm," Harry mumbled lazily, not really wanting to be roused. He was comfy, but that damned Draco wouldn't let up; he knew that. "'M'kay. Whatever. Yes."

"Brilliant."

Harry…my Harry, his brand-new invisible friend purred contentedly from inside his mind. I just knew it would work out the way I wanted.

Harry snorted with laughter.

You did, did you?

He was squeezed abruptly, uncomfortably tight, and had to wriggle about fretfully to gain enough leeway to be comfy again.

"Stop that," he mumbled aloud, taking random whaps at Draco's chest with limp wrists and floppy fingers. "Grabby. And you didn't, either. You didn't know it at all."

"I did!" Draco protested from above him. "I did so, Harry. You're my mate, remember? Of course it would work out—that was just a small blip in communications, easily handled."

"Hmph!" Harry muttered, not bothering to glance sideways at the sure to be indignant stare he'd meet. "Bollocks. You're so convinced of it you were just bawling over it, remember? Tell me another, then."

He'd his messy hair tugged by clacking teeth for his insolence.

Grrr! Harry! No—Potter!

"Shut up," Draco snapped in his ear. "I did not bawl, Potter. I did no such thing."

Berk! What utter bosh!

"Hmmm?" Harry smiled sleepily. He was so very comfortable—wouldn't hurt to have a little snooze right here, either. Their private island was very private indeed. "I beg to differ, prat. You cry at the drop of a hat."

"I do not!"

How dare he? Little git.

"But thass alrigh'," Harry added slowly, his eyelids very much stuck together. "I don' mind it."

There was a tiny pause, internally and externally. Harry could practically feel Draco's mind, ticking over.

Oh?

"Mmmm, no," Harry pressed his swollen lips against the side of throat that warmed his cheekbone, his scarred forehead; nibbled gently at the fragrant skin while he was at it. Draco's naked body shuddered beneath him. "M'here, aren't I? Can look after you now. Will."

"Harry!"

Oh, yeah. Promise. Harry smiled. Mmm. You feel good, Draco; think I'll keep you.

Maybe…just perhaps, he wasn't quite so tired after all?

Really?

Both cocks were perking up and taking notice, as per the resilient nature of the young and hale. A wave of returning desire swept through Harry; he luxuriated in it, hearing the answering echo in his mate's mind.

Draco? Um? He sent a curl of enquiry towards the soul linked to his. D'you think…maybe?

Yes.

Finite