In another month it would be spring, but the temperatures at night could have fooled everyone into thinking the winter could last forever. As cold as it was, Draco could withstand it better than any human. He his coat and clothes in preparation to shift form.
Transforming into his true form was one of the best feelings ever. It was like removing something constricting. Bones and muscles stretched and rearranged. Skin hardened into scales. Teeth and nails sharpened into fangs and talons respectively. Tail and wings emerged.
Potter was there and shape shifting with him. Potter's black scales brought back Draco's memory of the dream he'd had the night before. It was the same person who was always in his dreams, Draco was sure of it. This time, however, instead of smooth skin, there had been rough scales. Black scales. There was no denying whom it was Draco had been dreaming about.
The pain Potter had been feeling had lessened and eventually disappeared. Draco was glad, because it had worried him. Frustratingly, Potter had stubbornly refused to go to the hospital wing the entire time.
Potter joined him a few seconds later, already in shifted form. His head was ducked, reminding Draco of the time when Potter couldn't look him in the eyes.
Before Draco could ask what was wrong, Potter mindspoke, "Malfoy, I—I think I just discovered something about myself today. I'll understand if you don't want to be around me anymore."
"What are you talking about? Do you understand that I'm your alpha and I'll take care of you?" Draco tried to move closer to Potter, but the other dragon moved away.
Potter fidgeted his wings and tail and flexed his talons. "There's no easy way to say this—I'm pretty sure I'm gay."
Draco blinked. That was it?
"You hate me don't you?" Potter mindspoke.
Draco could clearly feel Potter's hurt and shame. This time, he moved swiftly so Potter didn't have a chance to escape and nuzzled him along his jaw and neck.
"No, I don't hate you. In fact, I'm kind of relieved. This means I will never have to fight with you over the females."
"You don't have to sound so happy about it."
Draco laughed. "You don't want me to be angry, but I'm not allowed to be happy either?"
Potter showed his fangs in a dragon grin. "Not that happy."
Draco couldn't get enough; he kept nuzzling Potter, who had started to return the gesture. "You smell so good," mindspoke Draco, nostrils flaring.
"You're not supposed to smell good. Only girls are supposed to smell good." Without quite knowing why he was doing it, Draco experimentally tasted the black scales in the soft patch where jaw connected to neck.
Potter jumped back. "Malfoy!"
Draco snapped out of whatever trance he'd been under. "Erm, sorry." He quickly debated whether it would be acceptable to call off their usual dueling and go back inside. Maybe it would be better to let Potter decide. "Do you still want to duel?"
"Can we go flying instead?"
Draco liked that suggestion. "We can."
They flew until they were exhausted. Chasing each other and racing. Draco may have been the stronger of the two, but Potter was faster than he was in the air. They played a game, seeing who could fly the highest straight up and then dive the fastest.
When they landed, Draco immediately shifted back into human form and pulled on his clothes. When he turned around, Potter hadn't shifted form yet. "Aren't you coming, Potter?"
"I'm stuck. I'm trying to change back, but I can't! I'm not doing anything different, but it's not working."
"Potter, clam down.I can try and help you, but you have to be calm." Once Potter was calm, Draco said, "I'm going to enter your mind like I did when teaching you how to heal. Remember, think open thoughts."
Last time Draco had entered Potter's mind, they had both closed their eyes; this time, they held eye contact, Draco's human eyes with Potter's cat-like ones. The magic he found in Potter's mind was already the right type of magic for transformation, but it was moving slowly, like a thick liquid made thicker when the temperature drops. He would just have to warm the magic up, so to speak, so it could move properly. Pushing his own magic at it, he tried to do just that.
When he pulled back out, Potter's green eyes were human, as was the rest of him.
Draco wasn't expecting it when Potter gratefully flung his arms around him.
"Thank you, Malfoy."
Potter's hair smelt of shampoo—it was pleasant, but not the same as the scent that Draco had been strongly attracted to earlier.
"Anytime," Draco replied.
The next day, Harry felt that if he had told Malfoy his new secret, he should also tell Ron and Hermione.
For their free period, Harry suggested they take a walk outside. It had snowed that morning so the grounds were covered in a thin layer of white.
They had been walking around the grounds aimlessly for a while, going around the castle, following the edge of the lake and the Forbidden Forest. They were circumventing the Quidditch pitch when Harry said, "Ron, Hermione, you guys are my best friends and I don't want to keep anything from you."
"You can tell us anything, Harry," said Ron.
"Thanks." Harry paused. He still couldn't come up with any other way to say this other than being extremely blunt. "I'm gay."
"Harry," Hermione said, "this doesn't change a thing; we'll always be here for you."
Ron said, "Yeah, this changes nothing between us. I would say that this means less competition to get the girls, but I already have my girl."
Harry smiled. "Malfoy said something like that, too."
"You already told Malfoy?" Hermione asked. She didn't sound jealous, just interested. "You two have gotten pretty close, haven't you?"
"How long have you known you were gay?" she asked.
"I suspected I might be since around Christmas."
"Do you have a crush on Malfoy?" Ron asked.
"What?" Harry wondered what would have given that impression.
Ron scratched his nose. "Well, you've said his name a couple times in your sleep."
He blushed as he answered, "Maybe, but it's a very recent thing."
Charms, the next day, Harry was trying to take notes while at the same time prevent his fingers and toes from turning into talons. The bones in his hands and feet ached with the effort.
Maybe Malfoy would know what was going on.
"You smell it too?"
"You don't smell it? I could smell the pheromones since the beginning of class."
"I don't smell anything, but I do have another problem. My body wants to transform on its own. I don't know how much longer I can hold onto my human form. Do you know if it might be a dragon of the blood thing or an animagus thing?"
"Maybe we can ask Professor McGonagall after lecture if she's ever had the same problem. Can you hold out 'til then?"
"I think so."
The lesson drug by, but thankfully came to an end.
Harry shoved his things into his book bag and practically ran over to Malfoy. "Let's go."
"Hold onto your form, Potter. You've already got claws."
Harry looked down at his hands in surprise. He hadn't noticed it earlier. Malfoy was right, the nails were thick and pointy, not quite talons, but definitely claws.
They found McGonagall in her classroom sitting behind her desk. She looked up as they came in. "Boys, what is it?"
Malfoy pulled Harry along. "Professor," Malfoy said, "we have a quick question about animagi."
"Is it possible to get stuck in one form or another? And is it possible for your body to change without you telling it to, consciously or subconsciously?"
"There are talismans that can be worn or potions drunk to prevent transformation in either form. There are spells that can force a transformation. Otherwise, getting stuck in one form or another or transforming without wanting to is impossible."
"Thanks, Professor," said Malfoy, and yanked Harry right back out the door, leaving Professor McGonagall slightly stunned.
"So it's a dragon thing," said Harry. "It that a good or bad?"
"I don't know yet. Are you sure you can't smell the pheromones?" Malfoy asked worriedly.
Harry shook his head. "I don't smell pheromones at all." Malfoy had led him out onto the grounds and they were walking swiftly towards the Forbidden Forest.
"Well, I smell them. It's been the same intensity since Charms, and it hasn't gotten any stronger or weaker since stepping outside. Don't get mad, but I think it might be you, Potter." Harry was quiet, so Malfoy explained, "Dragons of the blood are unique. We're shape shifters. That's why we can take a human form. If we wanted to, we can shift into the opposite gender. You're gay, so your body is changing to attract males. That's why your body wants to transform—you're going into estrus."
"Actually, that makes sense. You remember when I was feeling sick not too long ago? Well, I did have the nurse examine me."
"What was wrong?"
Harry blushed heavily. This was extremely embarrassing. He tried to keep his voice low as he answered.
Malfoy gave him a sideways glance. "What was that, Potter? You're mumbling."
"I grew a uterus, okay!" There, he'd said it. His face was burning with embarrassment.
Malfoy stumbled a bit, but kept walking toward the forest. "No wonder you're giving off pheromones."
They reached the forest. Just being there made Harry want to take dragon form, but before he could start, Malfoy shoved him roughly against a thick tree trunk. Harry was being kissed before he knew what was happening. Harry had just started to melt into the kiss when Malfoy pulled away, leaving Harry leaning against the bark.
"Two things can happen, Potter. One, we wait just long enough for another male to come along and claim you, or two, I can claim you right now."
Harry hesitated, breathing deeply as his body strained to keep from transforming.
"Potter, make a decision or I'll make it for you."
I need more time to think! "Can't I wait until I can make a decision based on love?"
"Dragons of the blood don't make this decision based on love; the decision is based on instinct."
Both of their bodies were shuddering as they tried to hold off the transformation. Harry's spine was burning with the effort. It reminded him of the way his lungs burned when he held his breath. The pain built, becoming so unbearable that his vision was starting to go black. He could feel the bark pulling at his clothes as he tipped sideways before losing consciousness for just a second. But a second was all it took for the magic to take control and shift him from human to dragon.
Malfoy had been standing close when they transformed, and as a result was pressed side to side with Harry.
If Harry wanted more time, he'd have to run. Leaping up quickly, he took to the air, wanting to get as far away as possible. He could hear Malfoy following him, but he wasn't worried because he was faster than Malfoy in the air.
The white dragon roared. "Potter, come back here! Do you even know where you're going?"
"Away from you." Harry pumped his wings even harder for emphasis.
"Eventually, the forest will end, and you'll come upon muggle towns and cities. What will you do then?"
"I'll keep flying."
Harry frantically flew away from Malfoy. He really didn't know where he was going.
After about fifteen minutes of flying, Malfoy sounded much calmer as he mindspoke, "If you keep going this way, we'll come across my father's estate."
"You mean the Malfoy manor?"
"Yes. We shouldn't fly that way though—it's my father's territory."
Harry very slightly tipped his wings to the right, changing his course. "Is this better?"
"We should be all right now," Malfoy assured.
A female voice interrupted them. "Draco, is that you?"
"Mother. Potter and I are flying close by."
A voice that Harry assumed was Lucius's mindspoke, "Is this anything to do with the pheromones?"
"It is everything to do with the pheromones," Draco replied.
Narcissa mindspoke, "Another female coming into estrus so soon. Hopefully, one of you will be very lucky."
"I'm not a female!" mindspoke Harry, angrily.
"Mum, Dad, Potter's gay," Draco explained.
They could practically hear Narcissa blushing as she mindspoke, "Well, then hopefully you'll both be lucky. Let us know how it turns out. See you later, sweetie."
Harry and Malfoy flew long enough that Harry was wondering if Lucius and Narcissa could still hear them when they mindspoke.
A new voice mindspoke, "I thought I smelled something. Looks like the party already started."
Malfoy growled. "I recognize your voice. You're one of the monsters who helped kill Emily."
"It wasn't like we were trying to kill her," the hidden dragon said defensively. "I'll get the girl this time."
"I'm not a bloody girl!" Harry mindspoke.
"Either way, it makes no difference," replied the other dragon.
Malfoy mindsoke, "We'll not have the same thing happen again. You duel me first. That's the rule, or did no one ever teach you that? No one touches him until there is a definite winner. The winner of our duel is free to chase after him."
"Fine, a duel. I'll kill you the same way I killed that green dragon. Duel starts NOW!" A gold dragon shot out of the trees at Malfoy.
"Malfoy!" Harry mindspoke, but he needn't have worried because Malfoy swirled out of the way, avoiding the attack.
The gold dragon roared and Malfoy returned the roar, not intimidated.
"Malfoy," mindspoke Harry, "what do I do?"
"Keep flying, but stay close."
Harry flew up higher and started to glide in a wide spiral around the area. He watched anxiously as they attacked each other. This was actually the worst form he had ever seen Malfoy have during a duel. Instead of precise maneuvers, he was simply attacking with claws, teeth, and heavy blows. He seemed to be controlled by anger and frustration. Harry now understood how Malfoy had come back so beat up the time before.
As the duel wore on, Malfoy calmed down. Relaxing, Malfoy started using some maneuvers Harry recognized. Malfoy became more aware of openings in the gold dragon's defense, landing more blows. His attacks and dodges became more fluid.
A strong hit from Malfoy winded the very battered gold dragon, and in the moment where he was struggling to take a breath, Malfoy came at the dragon from just the right angle to clamp his teeth on the gold's neck and let his momentum, body weight, and gravity swing him around, breaking the dragon's neck. The gold's wings crumpled and Malfoy let the body fall.
Malfoy had been impressive. Harry found the display of strength and intelligence very attractive.
Malfoy came up to glide alongside Harry. "Harry, will you be my mate?"
"Yes," mindspoke Harry, "but you'll have to catch me first."
Harry flew off. Malfoy didn't catch him for almost an hour. When he did, it was the most satisfying victory.
A/N: Thank you for reading and thank you so much for all of your wonderful reviews! Every single one of them made my day. :)