AN: Big thanks to everyone who reviewed, and welcome to the first chapter of my Veela story for 2008! Hope you all had a good new year, and sorry about the cliffie last time...

About A Boy And His Veela: Chapter Seventeen – Acceptance

Thursday, September 18th – 8:00am

The first indication for Pansy that her plan hadn't exactly succeeded came when she was waiting for Draco and the other Slytherin boys to emerge from their dormitories.

Crabbe and Goyle emerged first, deep in discussion about whether pancakes or muffins would be better for breakfast. They only paused in their frightfully inane conversation to spare her a brief nod of acknowledgement before they continued on their way.

Nott arrived next. Pansy wondered at how he seemed to have gotten even paler, if that was even physically possible. Come to think of it, she hadn't actually really talked to their rabbit-like friend for a few days, as all her attention had been focused on Draco.

"Morning, Theo," she greeted him with a smile, but the smile she received was perfunctory at best.

"Pansy," he said quietly, avoiding her gaze as he brushed past.

Perturbed, Pansy barely had time to wonder what that had been about before Blaise emerged from the door, alone.

And there it was.

"Where is he?" Pansy said sharply, cutting off any explanation Blaise might've tried to make as he opened his mouth.

Blaise glared at her resentfully. "Well, clearly you know what's going on better than I do," he huffed. "He's refusing to get out of bed. Flat out refusing. He's cast every ward known to mankind on his bed and he won't tell me why."

"Crap," Pansy swore, rubbing her eyes tiredly.

Blaise was still glaring at her. "If you had something to do with this, Pansy, then you should be the one who straightens it out," he snapped.

Pansy squared her shoulders and set her jaw. "Right." She muttered. "So sorry to inconvenience you, Blaise."

Blaise's frosty demeanour dropped suddenly, and he reached out to grab her arm in an appeal. "Pansy, what is going on? You can tell me," he pleaded. "I hate not knowing."

Pansy shook her head regretfully. "I can't, Blaise. I'm sorry. You'll know soon enough."

Blaise nodded, his eyes cool. "Right," he said, doubt creeping into his voice. "Let me know how it turns out, would you?" He brushed past her and strode away towards the common room exit before she could say another word.

"Blaise," she called after him, but he didn't turn his head, and it wasn't until the door had slid shut behind him that Pansy turned her attention back to the task at hand.

Within minutes she was next to Draco's bed, the green hangings of which were definitively and irrefutably closed shut.

"Draco," she called, "Open up, it's me. It's Pansy."

"Go away," came the muffled reply.

"Draco, it's breakfast time. We have class starting in an hour and you haven't even showered yet."

"I don't care."

"And why don't you?"

"Because my mate has practically rejected me and I want to spend the rest of my life here, where I don't have to endure the shame."

Pansy let out a low hiss through her teeth. "What do you mean,practically rejected you?"

"He ran away, Pansy!" the voice of her best friend coming through the curtains took on a hysteric tone. "I was about to actually ask for his acceptance, and he RAN AWAY!"

Draco's voice had risen to a shriek, and Pansy winced. Oh dear.

"And now it's over, Pansy! Over! He has rejected me, he will never want me and so therefore I am not going to leave my bed ever again, because I just can't face the humiliation, I can't!"

Pansy sighed. Whoever thought it would be fun to combine the infernal Malfoy pride with the Veela tendency to over-dramatise would pay dearly if she ever came face to face with them.

Still, she felt guilty for technically being the reason why her best friend was so upset. Although, he didn't seem to be in the depths of inconsolable despair that Pansy knew was associated with 'The Madness,' the term given to the condition Veela entered into if they resisted the bond for too long or after being rejected, which eventually lead to insanity.

Therefore, Pansy guessed that since Potter didn't technically verbally reject Draco, it was nothing but the aforementioned Malfoy pride that was keeping Draco bed ridden this morning.

"Come on," she said soothingly, "it'll be alright. He hasn't rejected you outright, you know, and until that happens, there's hope."

"Ha!" His laugh was furiously derisive. "He doesn't need to, Pansy. If he loved me, and wanted to be with me forever, he wouldn't have run away after I kissed him."

"He's probably scared, Draco," Pansy said reasonably. "Wouldn't you be? If you found out that your arch rival was a half-Veela, and that you were said arch rival's mate for life, you can't tell me you wouldn't be feeling even a bit uncertain about the whole thing."

There was a sudden silence, followed by a sullen, "I guess."

Pansy nodded, satisfied. Maybe she was finally getting somewhere.

Until, at least, Draco spoke again; "But that doesn't give him the right to just run away from me, without an explanation!" he exploded with anger. "I'm a Malfoy, Pansy. How dare he treat me this way!"

Inspired suddenly, Pansy nodded along. "Yes, how dare he." She agreed. "You should get out of bed and get dressed and give Potter a piece of your mind!"

Draco snorted derisively. "Nice try, Pansy. I'm not moving. I am going to stay here because he clearly hates me and I would rather die than face him ever again."

Pansy rolled her eyes heavenward. Stupid Veela and their melodrama.

He wouldn't be convinced. Nothing Pansy could say would get him to get out of his bed, and not a single spell she tried could break through the wards he'd set up. Finally, it reached 8:30 and Draco was clearly still set on wallowing in his own misery, so Pansy gave up.

"Fine," she yelled through the bed hangings. "That's just fine, Draco, you stay there. If you won't listen to reason then I'm not going to try anymore."

"Good!" he yelled after her as she left the room, slamming the door behind her.

Pansy allowed herself a moment to rest her head against the door and wonder why things were going so badly.

HPDM

Hermione's indicator, meanwhile, was the look on Harry's face when he came downstairs into the common room that morning. It was the very visual of anguish.

Ron, oblivious as always, smiled cheerfully at her. "Morning, Hermione!" he greeted. "Did you sleep alright?"

"Fine, fine," she waved him off, looking at Harry with concern. "Harry, why didn't you come back with that book?"

"It wasn't there, and I had to search for it," Harry said tonelessly, "and by the time I found it and came back here, you'd gone to bed. Sorry. It's upstairs if you want me to get it, though."

"No, that's alright, Harry," Hermione said quickly, smiling reassuringly at him. "I managed to get them finished, so no harm done."

"Let's go to breakfast, I'm starving!" Ron complained, already inching towards the portrait hole.

Hermione nodded and followed Ron's example. Harry seemed to kind of wander along aimlessly behind them as they left the common room, heading for the Great Hall many floors below.

After they had reached the Great Hall and were seated and beginning to eat, Hermione glanced over at Harry to see his brow furrowed as he stared at his breakfast, a look in his eyes that suggested he was very deeply conflicted. She could practically see him mentally arguing with himself.

Hermione craned her neck to look over at the Slytherin table, only to see that neither Malfoy nor Parkinson were present.

Oh dear.

She didn't know for the life of her how to proceed now.

HPDM

9:05am

Their first class of the day was Defence Against The Dark Arts. As they filed into the classroom, Malfoy's absence was once again extremely noticeable. However, this time, at least, Pansy was present.

She and Hermione exchanged a look that conveyed that each knew something had gone wrong with the plan. Hermione looked pointedly at Draco's empty seat and back again, receiving a shrug from Pansy before taking her seat towards the front of the classroom with Harry and Ron.

Tonks walked in, smiling tiredly at them as she set her things on the desk. "Morning, everyone," she greeted, looking around at them all. Her dark eyes halted and rested on the empty seat beside Pansy where Draco was meant to be.

"Where is Mr Malfoy today?" she enquired curiously.

Hermione watched Harry's shoulders tense at the mention of the name. Pansy wasn't oblivious to this either as she answered the question. "Please, Professor, he feels himself incapable of getting out of bed today," she said imploringly. "He's unwell."

Tonks looked slightly taken aback, and then nodded. "Very well. As long as you catch him up with today's class work, Miss Parkinson."

"Yes, Professor."

"Good." Tonks turned back to the class at large. "Well, wands out everyone. Let's see if you've all improved on the counter-curse we practised last time…"

HPDM

12:25pm

Much later, the Charms double Ron and Harry had before break had just ended. Harry had done his best to try and make it seem to Ron like everything was fine, but he wearied greatly of the charade. Besides, he'd spent nearly the whole of class making his mind up, and now he'd made the decision and needed to be free of Ron's company.

"Ron," he said to the redhead, "you go ahead and meet Hermione in the usual third-floor break class room. I have something I need to do."

Ron regarded him curiously. "Something like…?"

"I'd…rather not talk about it," Harry said, pained. He hated lying to his best friend like this, but what else was he meant to do? "I'll see you in Potions, alright?"

Ron frowned. "Alright, whatever you reckon, mate," he said, "but you know that if you need help with anything or whatever I'm here for you, right?"

"I know, Ron," Harry said softly, meaning it. Ron was loyal to a fault, and he didn't doubt that the redhead would do his best to help Harry in any other situation.

Unfortunately, Harry thought as he sped away in the opposite direction, this problem was probably a little out of Ron's depth.

Harry managed to catch Tonks just before she left the DADA classroom.

"Tonks!" he called out, hurrying up to her.

She glanced up, confused and a little surprised to see Harry barrelling towards her. "Harry," she greeted, blinking at him as he stopped in front of her. "What's going on?"

"I really need to talk to you," Harry said in a rush. "Do you mind if we go back inside?"

"Oh!" Tonks continued to look thoroughly perturbed. "Um, of course." She pushed the door back open and gestured him inside.

Once the door was closed behind them, she walked over to her desk and sat down. "Please, sit," she invited, pointing to a nearby table. Obediently, Harry sat, and Tonks watched him in silence, waiting for him to speak.

"I just…I didn't know who else I could ask for advice," Harry began, rubbing his eyes tiredly.

"Advice about what?"

"Advice about…um…" Harry searched for the right word, "relationships."

Tonks' eyebrows shot up. Way up.

"I see." She cleared her throat delicately, and studied him more closely. There were bags under Harry's eyes, and he looked slightly paler than usual. His eyes themselves, behind his glasses, were wild, filled with a myriad of emotions.

"Harry, are you alright? You look like you haven't had a decent night's sleep for a while."

"Actually, I haven't," Harry admitted. "And that's why I need to talk to you."

"Okay." Tonks wasn't really sure how to proceed from here. Fortunately, Harry continued on without prompting.

"I recently find out that, um, someone…unexpected…sort of has feelings for me." Harry said. "And I haven't been handling it very well, and I don't know what to do."

Tonks flashed on her own current romantic situation, and someone else who was in Harry's position. "Well," she said carefully, "you have to think long and hard about whether you could ever reciprocate this person's feelings, and let them know the answer as soon as possible."

"I've tried," Harry said, sounding miserable. "It's just that…when I said it was someone unexpected, I mean it was someone reallyunexpected. I, um, didn't really like them very much before everything happened."

"I see." Tonks nodded slowly. "So you're conflicted, trying to figure out if you're capable of putting the past behind you or not."

"Yes, exactly," Harry confirmed. "It's doing my head in, because they're just so different now, but all I can think of is what it used to be like."

"Do you trust them, Harry?"

"I…I don't know."

"Because the thing is, if you can trust them enough to believe that what they're feeling is real and they're serious about it, then you might find yourself capable of giving them a shot." Tonks looked at him grimly. "Unrequited love is a serious thing, Harry."

"I know," Harry said. "I've just…I've been so horrible to him, I don't know if he'd be able to forgive me…"

He trailed off, shaking slightly, and Tonks blinked in surprise. He.It was a boy. Harry had let it slip and apparently hadn't realised yet. This explained it a bit more.

Tonks got up and moved to comfort Harry, putting a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Love comes in many shapes and forms, Harry, usually when we least expect it," she told him carefully. "And sometimes, you don't realise how good it actually is for you until you open yourself up to its possibilities. Remember that."

HPDM

12:45pm

"Today," Snape said, sneering around at them all, "We're going to be working on a Mind Altering Potion, a very difficult potion which will require your utmost concentration. Instructions are on the board, and ingredients in the cupboard. Begin immediately."

There was a sudden ruckus as everyone moved at once. Pansy gritted her teeth and walked over to where Hermione was sitting.

"Pair with me, Granger?" she asked, trying to keep her voice as indifferent as possible. "I seem to be without a partner today."

Granger looked startled, and then as though a light had flicked on in her head, she nodded coolly back. "Of course, Parkinson."

A few minutes later they were at the back table that Pansy usually shared with Draco, preparing ingredients.

"Where's Malfoy today? What on earth happened?" Hermione hissed under her breath.

"Like I said in Defence, he's taken to his bed," Pansy replied quietly, keeping a wary eye on Snape, who was prowling the classroom as usual. "He refused to get out this morning. From what I gathered, he kissed Potter last night and Potter ran for it, again."

"Oh dear." Hermione sighed. "That could have gone better."

"You think, Granger?" Pansy snapped. "Potter's done the next worse thing he could have besides outright rejecting Draco; he's wounded the Malfoy pride. Draco's something of a coward, and he's feeling humiliated and terrified at the thought of emerging from the bed and possibly having to endure something similar with Potter again."

"So how do we fix it?" Hermione asked.

"Well, first we need to get Draco out of bed. Nothing is going to happen if Potter's out here and Draco's still in his bed."

"And how do you suggest going about accomplishing that?"

"Don't worry," Pansy said, eyes flicking to Snape, "I've got that figured out…"

HPDM

1:35pm

Potions class ended, and there was another ruckus as students packed up their equipment in a hurry to get to the door. Once the room was empty, Pansy cautiously approached the front desk.

It was a rule of thumb used by Slytherins for several years now; if you need help with something and don't want to turn to Dumbledore, go to Snape.

"Sir?" Pansy ventured once she was standing in front of the desk. Snape glanced up, his black eyes cold and calculating.

"Miss Parkinson," Snape greeted, frowning.

"I need your help, sir…with Draco."

At once, Snape straightened. "What has happened, Miss Parkinson? Where is he?" he asked, somewhat urgently.

"He's in his bed, sir. He refused to leave it this morning. Things…aren't going as well as hoped with his mate."

Potter,Snape thought with a grimace. Out loud, he said, "Very well, Miss Parkinson. I will assist you in removing him from his bed."

"Thank you, sir," she said gratefully, and they set off together for the Slytherin rooms.

"As you are Mr Malfoy's particular friend, Miss Parkinson," Snape ventured carefully as they walked, "would you say he has succumbed to the Madness?"

"Oh, no, sir, it hasn't gotten that bad yet," Pansy assured her head teacher. "But I'd say it's only a matter of time if things continue."

Snape nodded grimly, reflecting again on the promise he made Narcissa. If it was the last thing he did, he would make sure he upheld that promise.

HPDM

Meanwhile…

"Um, Hermione?"

Hermione glanced at Harry, who had sidled up to her while they and several other Gryffindors were heading upstairs for the Gryffindor common room during free period.

"Yes, Harry?"

"I really need to talk to you," Harry blurted, and glanced warily in front of them, where Ron, Dean, Seamus and Neville were laughing together. "Alone."

"Oh." Surprised, Hermione nonetheless felt relief. There was nothing else Harry would want to talk to her alone about besides the situation with Malfoy. "Do you want to go to the library?"

"Yeah, that would be good." Harry looked relieved too.

"Hey guys," Hermione called, drawing the attention of their friends. "Harry's realised he has extra stuff to research for Transfiguration after lunch, so I'm going to go with him to the library to help him, alright?"

Ron immediately looked slightly suspicious, but the others shrugged. "Alright," Neville said, waving to them. "See you at lunch, then."

"Bye!" Harry and Hermione called as their friends disappeared around a corner ahead, Ron still looking at them suspiciously as they went.

They redirected their steps towards the library, which mercifully had very few students in it. Hermione automatically lead Harry to her usual table, and they took seats opposite each other.

Hermione cleared her throat and looked at Harry seriously. "What did you need to talk to me about?"

"Well…there's no easy way to explain this," Harry began, running a hand through his hair. "You know all of those strange things that have been happening to be recently?"

"Yes?"

"Well, I think I know how they're all connected."

Hermione nodded encouragingly. "Yes?"

"Um…well, Hermione, you know Malfoy, and how he's been acting kind of…different, this year?"

"Yes…"

"I know why. He's a Veela, and he's just come into his inheritance so he's looking for his mate, and I'm pretty sure that I'm his mate," Harry said in a rush, with the air of someone who was desperate to get all the information out quickly. "I'm so sorry I didn't tell you, but on the first day of term on the train, I saw Malfoy there, and I was the only one who could remember what happened, and I didn't want to say anything because…well, it wasMalfoy. And then the day after that, I was confronting him about the train, and then he kissed me, and…"

"Harry, Harry, Harry," Hermione interrupted, holding up her hands and looking at him pleadingly. "It's okay, you don't need to tell me. I know."

"You…I don't…" Harry frowned at her, disconcerted. "What do you mean, you know?"

"I'm so sorry, Harry," Hermione apologised. "On Tuesday, when you came back from the library and went to bed early, I saw the stuff you'd been researching and figured things out on my own. I already know."

"You already…I don't…" Harry seemed to have lost the ability to speak properly. He took a few deep, calming breaths. "Of course you know," he said to himself, and then smiled weakly up at her.

Hermione smiled weakly back. "You're not angry?"

"I have slightly bigger things to deal with, funnily enough," Harry answered. "Well…this will make things faster if you already know most of it. Look, last night, when I went to get you your book, Malfoy was here. He gave me the book back, and then it was like…he jumped me." Harry drew a deep, shuddery breath. "It looked like he was going to ask me something, and I don't know, I just freaked out. It was too weird, it was just too intense." He looked at Hermione with desperate eyes. "I don't even know how I feel about him being a boy yet."

"I see." Hermione considered for a moment. "Well, did you mind it when he kissed you, either time?"

Harry blushed deeply. "Not at all," he murmured embarrassedly.

"There's your answer."

"But I'm not attracted to any other guys like that," Harry protested.

"Maybe you're not meant to be," Hermione said. "Maybe it's just Draco you're attracted to, because he's your soul mate."

"I…I guess…" Harry trailed off. "I couldn't believe it when I saw him sitting here though."

Hermione looked at her best friend with a pained expression. "About that…um…Harry, I have something else to confess. I made you go to the library last night because I knew Malfoy would be there."

"What?"

"Pansy Parkinson approached me yesterday, and she told me that Draco is a mess, Harry." Hermione said in a rush. "She knows about the whole situation as well, and she's worried about her best friend. She told me that Draco was terrified at the thought of approaching you, in case of rejection, and well, she convinced me to join her in a plan to try and get you two together."

Harry merely gaped at her.

"Obviously it backfired," Hermione went on, "because now you're terribly conflicted and Draco apparently simply refused to get out of bed this morning in a bid to avoid seeing you again, and I feel terrible about it, Harry, I do."

"He wouldn't even get out of bed because he wants to avoid seeing me?" was all Harry said, however. "My God, he must hate me."

"No, he doesn't," Hermione reassured her friend quickly, "he loves you, Harry. The only thing he hates is the idea that you might still hate him."

"But that's just it!" Harry said, burying his face into his hands in frustration. "He only loves me because of the stupid Veela thing, which is why it's too weird! You can't change your opinion on someone that quickly, Hermione, you just can't."

"Actually, if you're a half-Veela, where your mate is concerned, you can," Hermione corrected him. "Think about it this way, alright? You wouldn't be his mate if you weren't practically perfect for each other. That's point one. Point two," she barged on as Harry opened his mouth, "the bond wouldn't have activated at all if Malfoy didn't already have some kind of feelings towards you."

Harry stared at her. "Are you serious?"

"No, Harry, I'm joking around with you," she answered sarcastically with a little smile. "Of course I'm serious. It's not like his Veela side is forcing him completely against his will into loving you, you know. The feelings were already there, it's just that his Inheritance has activated them and made him conscious of them."

"Oh." Harry considered this. "Well, that helps a little…" he mumbled, "…but, I don't know. I keep changing my mind about whether I think I can do this."

Hermione smiled gently at him. "What is there to do, really?" she asked. "All you have to do is open yourself up to the possibility of loving and being loved unconditionally for the rest of your life."

Harry smiled slightly as well.

"Pansy told me that the rumours are true; Draco is on his mother's side now, not his father's." Hermione told him.

"Really?" Harry looked stunned.

"Yep," Hermione confirmed. "You're being given the opportunity most people spend their whole lives looking for, Harry."

"Yeah, I guess I am," Harry said slowly.

"I'm not saying it's all going to be completely perfect," Hermione went on, "because it isn't. But if you're with a Veela, it's going to be pretty much as close as you can get to it."

"I think you're right," Harry said, seeming to gain confidence and conviction in what he was saying with every second that passed. "I think I can do this."

Hermione smiled at him, feeling tears begin to well in her eyes. She got up and moved over to hug him.

"It's going to be okay, Harry," she assured him. "Ron and I will be there for you every step of the way, you know that."

"Oh god, Ron!" Harry winced. "How on earth…"

"Don't think about that yet," Hermione said, releasing him and absently wiping her eyes. "Think about telling Draco first."

"You're right, as always." Harry said, and then groaned. "But how am I meant to tell him anything when he's in his bed, avoiding me like the plague?"

Hermione grinned despite herself. "Lunch is going to be soon. How about I meet up with my Slytherin contact to discuss a few things, and I'll get back to you?"

HPDM

7:30pm

"Butwhere is he, Pansy?" Draco hissed at her again as they got up to leave the Great Hall, dinner having just finished. "He hasn't been here at all, and I didn't see him at lunch either."

"Maybe that's because you were being a coward and eating in the kitchens," Pansy pointed out helpfully.

Draco levelled her with a glare which clearly said, 'That's not the point.'

"Look, why don't you try not worrying about Potter for a while?" Pansy suggested. "You wanted to avoid him, and you were clearly very successful at ignoring him during Transfiguration…"

He actually hadn't been. The second he saw Harry, Draco had become a puddle of goo, dripping all over Pansy in the back row as he avidly watched Harry's every move.

"…and I know you're probably sick of everyone fawning around you, asking about your wellbeing."

Draco wrinkled his nose, which Pansy took to mean agreement of some description.

"Why don't we go somewhere to do our homework where we know no-one's going to disturb you?" Pansy went on, willing her best friend with all her might to fall for this final plan. "Do you know the Come and Go Room?"

"The Room of Requirement?"

"That's the one. We can make sure that everyone else leaves you alone for a few hours. What do you think?"

"I guess…"

It was close enough to 'yes' for Pansy. "Alright!" she said cheerfully. "Let's go get our stuff and then we'll go!"

As they were leaving the Hall, Pansy glanced behind her, her eyes searching for Blaise. Upon sighting him, she winked, and he winked back. She'd finally managed to catch him up on what was happening, and he knew what the aim of tonight's plan was. In fact, he would be providing the cover story, in case anyone questioned Draco's whereabouts.

Granger was watching them exit from the other side of the Hall as well. They exchanged discreet thumbs-up before Pansy left the hall, dragging her half-veela friend behind her.

HPDM

7:45pm – Room of Requirement

Harry was pacing. He couldn't help it. He'd skipped dinner in the Great Hall in order to wait here, and although he wasn't hungry, thanks to the service of Dobby and the other Hogwarts house elves, he felt slightly squeamish from the combination of his relatively small meal and his excessively large amount of nerves.

Waiting was unbearable. He'd gone over in his head what he was going to say so many times in the past hour or so that the words just didn't make sense anymore.

Parkinson, Hermione had told him, had recruited Snape's help to get Draco up and moving around again. Apparently desperate not to seem so weak to the Potions Master, Draco had obeyed without question, although he hadn't been in the Hall during lunchtime.

Transfiguration had been difficult, purely because Harry could feel Draco's gaze the entire time and had wanted to just tell him already but knew he had to adhere to the plan.

Hermione had told him, when she'd said goodbye to him at the entrance to the Room just before dinner started, to expect Pansy and Draco any time after 7:30, when dinner officially finished. If they hadn't arrived by about 8:00, he could consider the plan failed and officially abort it.

Harry checked his watch. Fifteen minutes to go.

He'd barely resumed pacing, however, when he heard the soft whoosh of the door opening, and spun around.

Draco walked in, talking over his shoulder to someone. "…not being unreasonable, Pansy!" he was saying. "Maybe you're the one being unreasonable! Did that ever occur to…to…"

Mid sentence, he'd turned to face the room he was entering and his gaze had landed squarely on Harry, causing his sentence to trail off into nothingness.

He slowly turned back around to glare daggers into Pansy, who was standing in the doorway, smiling innocently.

"I am going to kill you," Draco ground out.

"We'll see, darling," Pansy said cheerfully, and before Draco could move she'd grabbed the door handle and pulled it closed.

Draco lunged at the door, rattling the handle and pounding on the wood. "Let me out, you evil bitch!" he shrieked, but received nothing but a cackle in response.

"Sorry, Draco dear, but I couldn't even if I wanted to," Pansy said, her voice muffled through the wood. "Have fun and all that." The sound of her retreating footsteps was audible, and then…silence.

Wincing, Draco turned slowly back around, only to suck in a breath when he realised he was locked in a room, alone with his mate…

And his mate was currently staring at him with the most curious expression on his face.

Draco tried to push down the multitude of urges that rose up inside him at the sight, but it wasn't even possible anymore; his Veela side was tired of being suppressed.

"Here to reject me again?" he asked quietly, in physical pain at the very thought.

Harry cocked his head, as though studying something mildly interesting. "Nope," he said simply.

"Yeah, right, Potter," Draco said scornfully, although his heart soared at his mate's statement.

Harry moved forward quite quickly, taking the steps required until he was standing directly in front of the Veela.

"Shut up for a second, would you?" Harry asked him. "I want to try something."

Draco barely had time to raise an eyebrow before Harry swooped, his mouth finding Draco's and his hands curling into Draco's hair.

Oh.Draco moaned desperately, reaching nearly unbearable levels of lust at being – there was no other word for it – claimed like this. He kissed back, automatically tugging at Harry's waist to draw them closer together, and then his hands floated up into that damnably soft, messy hair. Out of his head flew any reason why he'd been avoiding Harry, because now he couldn't imagine why he'd ever stayed away from his mate.

Harry broke the kiss but didn't step away from him this time, and although Draco saw his mate's eyes were darkened with lust, as they had been the night before, this time they held no trace of fear.

"I know what you need to ask me, Draco, so go ahead and ask," Harry said, a smile creeping onto his face.

Draco stared at Harry, hardly daring to believe he'd heard him correctly. "Are…what…are you sure?" he managed.

Harry grinned, and it made Draco's knees tremble. "Positive."

"Harry, I am a half-Veela…" Draco began shakily, "and you are my mate, my life partner, and I ask you for acceptance of me and us as a unit, from now until the day we die."

Harry brushed a hand over Draco's pale cheek. "I accept you," he said softly, "and us, as a unit, from now until the day we die."

Both boys felt a rush of warmth from somewhere within, spreading outward and seeming to feed upon itself until it was all consuming.

Harry and Draco gave a unified gasp of shock when they felt something burning on their skin, just above where their heart would be.

Harry took off his robes and pushed the side of his shirt until a tiny silver snake, no bigger than a few centimetres, was visible, looking like it had been tattooed there.

Luckily Draco was too focused on the tiny golden lightning bolt that shone on his chest to be distracted by the first sighting of his mate's bare chest he'd ever received.

"They're like tattoos," Harry said in wonder. He prodded the little snake with a finger and yelped. "It's hot!"

At once, Draco had seized Harry's hand to inspect. "Are you alright?" he asked fretfully, examining the finger obsessively.

"I'm fine," Harry said, smiling at the Veela's protectiveness and gently taking his finger back. "I'm more than fine, actually."

Their eyes met and it was enough for hands to slide into hair and mouths to meet yet again, and this time, as Harry's mouth was ravaged by his new life-partner and he felt the soft burn of the snake tattoo on his chest, he couldn't imagine ever wanting to run away.

AN: Yay! Well, I tortured you all for 17 chapters, but finally, they're together. Mini wave in celebration of me for dragging it out as long as humanly possible, which is what I set out to do.

UPDATE 07/06/2012: So I'm leaving the story here. I originally wrote this about 5 years ago and I'm not a fanfic writer anymore. At least I didn't leave it just before they got together? Lol thank you for reading it though, I've been constantly amazed for years at how much people love this fic, considering I read it now and think it's garbage. Thank you.

bleedingxheart