Title: The Elusive Mate
Prompt: # 21
Summary: Harry had done it (a) to save lives and (b) because the idea of him being Malfoy's mate was clearly ridiculous, but now he had to tell Malfoy.
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, very brief Draco/Astoria (if you blink you'll miss it)
Warning(s): creature!fic, a supplementary drawing of a sexual situation
Word Count: ~26000
Disclaimer: All recognisable Harry Potter characters and settings in this work of fanfiction are
the property of J. K. Rowling and her associates. No copyright infringement is intended. No profit is made from this work.
Author's Notes: To the prompter, lomonaaeren I used the term Alpha but not in the a/b/o sense, so don't worry when you see it, and thanks for the lovely prompt. Thanks to my beta A as well! I hope you guys enjoy it.
(Wondered why I'm so absent? Fest fics are killing me slowly. Also this has art so if you want to see that you can check it out on my LJ or DW account)
It was over.
The battle the werewolves had waged on the Wizarding world was at an end, their driving forces done away with and their surprisingly large numbers dwindled. The beings had planted themselves within society well before the full moon and too many were taken off guard when they had transformed into their beast state.
Harry had known this would happen. He had known for months now and so had the Ministry, though they had been sceptical at first. The Ministry was never one for believing warnings of imminent danger, but if Harry was to be honest, he had not believed it at first either. Who would when a blind old woman, claiming to be a lycan, had told him a prophecy about werewolves? He had thought them to be the same, after all.
He had encountered her at St Mungo's in late July as she sat in Draco Malfoy's room. It had been just after visiting hours and he had been checking to see if the blond had finally regained consciousness. Harry worked in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures - Being Division and had gone to begin the process of registering Malfoy as a werewolf. Malfoy, as well as Neville, had been attacked at the conservatory they worked for and it had been reported that Malfoy had been in a wolf state when the Aurors had arrived at the scene. There had also been a large black wolf that had refused to let anyone near Malfoy when he had reverted to human form.
Neville was fortunate enough not to have incurred any direct attacks from the werewolves.
The old woman, Tiresias, had seemed odd to Harry. She had known who he was the moment he entered the room, which would have been normal were she able to see him. She had had no affiliation with Malfoy and when she had told Harry she was a lycan, he had automatically assumed she meant werewolf. Therefore, when she began to tell him of an old species of magical creatures called lycans, from which the werewolves derived, he had not believed her.
She had then told him that Malfoy was descended from one of the first lycan Alphas and that it had been prophesied that his lycan blood would awaken on the blue moon of his twenty-fourth year, that Malfoy was destined to help them reintegrate with wizarding kind, destined to help bring an end to an upcoming war against werewolves, destined to have a recklessly heroic mate that rivalled him in stubbornness, who would drive him to distraction in battle because of it and who could cause the war to be lost. That mate was none other than Harry.
Harry had scoffed at the thought of it. He had wondered briefly if she was from the Janus Thickey Ward. He had disregarded the magic he felt coming off of her as she told the prophecy and disregarded the images that had swirled in her cataract eyes because the idea was completely mad. The entire story was mad.
But then he thought about the way Neville had been stressing to him that Malfoy had not been touched by the werewolves in the attack, that they had both kept ahead of the werewolves before Malfoy had turned and that he had changed before Greyback had got a scratch on him. Then there was also the fact that werewolves did not turn on their first moon and that Malfoy's strange diagnosis results had both baffled and intrigued his Healer.
But when had something involving either of them ever been normal?
Harry had then summoned security to escort Tiresias from the building. They had got her out of the room only after the old woman had forced him to take her memories of the prophecy and a phial of blue-grey potion that had shimmered like mercury, saying that he would know what to do with it 'once he had seen'. He did not know why he had taken them from her. It was likely his soft spot for the elderly and the doubts he wanted to disprove. Except the memories had not disproven them and Harry had wound up taking the potion without a second thought as his mind replayed both possible outcomes of the prophecy.
He would not allow the Wizarding world to begin to crumble so soon after Voldemort had been defeated, and just because Malfoy wascompelled to care about him no less. So Harry had drunk it and it had tamped down on any signals that he would have otherwise sent out to the blond, and would continue to do so unless Harry found himself in bed with the man.
In the first few months after the war Harry had been more than occupied with registering new werewolves rather than completing his report on the lycans. Since it had turned out that Malfoy was not a werewolf the Ministry had reassigned Harry to observe and report on lycan behaviour so that they would have a better understanding of them and could determine whether or not they needed a beast label when in their wolf form. The only reason he was helping with registering werewolves and helping them to acclimate to their new changes was because of the overflow in the department. He would still check in with the lycans, note how the war was also affecting them and, now that lycans were interacting with wizards to some extent, he had to steer some of his attention to the semantics of lycans and their human mates since they had begun identifying them now that they were not in hiding.
All in all, Harry's hands had been full. Later on though, he had more time to focus on the lycan assignment. It seemed that they had registered most the infected and had helped them acclimate as best as they were able, with the help of a campaign Hermione had started for werewolf support. The conservatories had begun to cultivate more wolfsbane and practised brewers had increased the amount of wolfsbane potions that they brewed and kept in stock. Things were far from perfect but people were trying and the Ministry, for once, was stressing the fact that these werewolves were victims of the war and that many of them had sustained injury in an effort to keep citizens safe.
With less of an overflow in the department, Harry then moved on to having his hands full aiding with the negotiations between Wizard and lycan society. After having gone through the war and witnessing the lycans efforts to help end it, it had not taken long to agree to give the lycans Being status. What had taken long was the ironing out of the details for the treaty.
With all that done, Harry had little to nothing to do with himself now, and that also meant that before Tiresias went back to her home, she had ample opportunity to remind him that he was Malfoy's mate and that Malfoy should know it. But lycans did not suffer the extreme physical and psychological torment that Veelas did when kept apart from their mates. Harry did not see why he should not allow both of them to pursue the people they were attracted to.
Now, if he could just manage to avoid Tiresias at the gala tonight, then he would not have to worry about sitting through a lecture when he could spend his time pursuing the bloke over in Beast Division that kept eyeing him; Davis, he believed the man was called. Harry needed a shag now that he had the time and energy for it.
For the first time in generations, the Manor was lively with people that were not there for some sort of function or party. His pack had moved into the Manor with him, because despite his initial reservations, he accepted his role as one of the Alphas and the fact that he was guaranteed to become the head of a pack because of it.
There was more than enough space for everyone considering his pack was small and the Manor house sported ten bedrooms, four of which were suites, and the grounds still held a few small flats that had been used as worker's quarters before the Act of Secrecy prevented having Muggle workers.
The pack contained five others, two of which were a bonded pair, while the other three had been lone lycans. The bonded pair, Elma and Ludolph, would eventually bear children and either use one of the suites in the Manor or a flat on the grounds. The other three would stay within the Manor until they too found their mates and did much the same thing or eventually moved out.
Draco was still waiting for the moment he could feel his mate's existence.
The pack system that the lycans had was unlike that of actual wolves. Rather than a pack being the usual breeding pair and their immature offspring, it was more of a community system, where he was the head and the members of the pack that were unrelated to him had devoted their loyalty because they recognized him as such.
If any of the pack were to move outside of the Manor, it would likely be because they had a human mate that wanted them to have a home of their own, as had been happening since the treaty. They would still be part of the pack but would simply live apart from them, joining them on full moon runs, on hunts and at gatherings.
There was a strong familial dynamic that Draco did not quite understand the origins of but had come to feel after he had gone to the temporary training camp subsequent to his awakening. He supposed it was why he had acclimated to the lycans so quickly and had fought so steadfastly in the war. Not to mention that as one of the Alphas, and not just the head of a pack, he felt a strange obligation to help maintain the wellbeing of not only his pack but lycans over all.
"This is exciting, yeah," Garrick said, as he turned and twisted to look at his robes, his light brown plait swishing as he moved, "Never been to a proper wizard gathering."
"Have you not been to a wizard pub?" Elma asked, still sporting lycan attire.
Elma was not at all a fussy woman and honestly he would have been shocked if she had worn anything other than the wrapped tunic, although it was more formal than usual. She tended to dress simply and cleanly and kept her dark hair in a pixie cut that required little to no styling. Elma was all about efficiency.
"Nope," Garrick said, "those were Muggle. But that was when I was travelling through cities to get to other lycan communities. Besides, this is an actual event."
"Where are you from, anyway?" Cleo asked, as she slipped on her flats. She was the only Irish person Draco had met who was actually a ginger. Like Elma, she was not used to witch's fashion and decided to forgo any attempts at wearing heels.
"You can't tell from my accent?" Garrick teased.
"You don't have a particular accent," Ludolph said.
"Well, Berlin Boy, one of us has to be the mysterious figure in the pack and I nominate myself," Garrick said.
Ludolph frowned at that but then dismissed it almost immediately.
"Are you all ready yet?" Draco asked, as he finished straightening his sleeves.
"Yes," Elma said.
"Likewise," Ludolph nodded.
"Yep," Cleo said, as she stood. "Robert's in the loo though."
"If I didn't smell the hair potions, I would have thought he was taking a shit in there," Garrick commented, "He never should have learned about those."
"He takes longer to do his hair than Draco does." Cleo smirked, as he heard the door to the loo open.
Draco gave her a flat stare and Garrick chuckled. "It's true, mate," the man said. "You spend way too much time pampering that mane of yours."
"My hair isn't lustrous all on its own, you know," he said. "I have to maintain it."
"Ready!" Robert announced, walking up to them. "Sorry I took so long."
"If Pansy starts nattering on at me about punctuality, I'm going to send her your way," Draco warned him, before turning in the direction of the floo.
Pansy had always been brilliant at throwing just about every sort of social gathering one could think of and had made a name for herself doing just that for a career. This time she was in charge of the more than unnecessary gala that the Ministry was holding in honour of the wizard-lycan treaty, and since Draco and his pack were large contributors to the ending of the war, they were considered special guests - special guests that were scheduled to be introduced to the gala very soon.
He hoped that Ulrich, another of the Alphas and someone who had helped train him, and his pack had already arrived, in the event that they were actually late for their introductions.
"I doubt that's the best way to get her to like the pack," Robert tried.
"You mean like you," Ludolph said.
"Well then, let's hope that we aren't late to the gala," he said, before he tossed some powder into the fireplace and stepped inside. "Ministry Ballroom."
Hopefully Draco would be able to pull someone tonight. He was tired of wondering when he would gain an awareness of his mate so that he could search for them instead of run about aimlessly. He was also tired of worrying over whether the lack of awareness was a result of them not having reached puberty or because they were already deceased. Both were not particularly good options in his opinion since he would either have to wait until they were age appropriate, and still be over a decade or more older than them, or he would wonder which of the two it was until he finally accepted that they had probably already died.
The first scenario was less likely to have happened so Draco was not at all optimistic about it. He reckoned he should carry on with his life and find someone for himself, assuming he could ignore the need to learn that he actually had a mate.
It seemed that avoiding Tiresias was going to be more difficult than Harry had anticipated, and not because she had excellent hearing and a sense of smell that would allow her to track him down despite her lack of sight. It was because Pansy Parkinson had decided that all the guests of honour would wait in the same general area to be announced to the party, something Harry had tried to decline doing except he had soon found out that a displeased Parkinson was very much like a displeased Hermione and he did not want to see how she would have convinced him to do it if he had outright refused.
"Mr. Potter," Ulrich said, with a nod. His usually loose, salt and pepper hair was tied neatly into one and and he wore a long, formal, lycan tunic, rather than wizard's robes.
"Ulrich," he smiled, looking up at him. "How've you been?"
"Well," the man said. "And you?"
"Still catching up on sleep but I'm doing all right," he shrugged.
"Tiresias tells me you've still not told him," Ulrich said, raising his brows in question.
Harry sighed and glanced at the old woman, knowing she was behind this. "Is it really necessary?" he asked. "I mean we're still referring to one another by our surnames and we might get along, sort of, but I spent more than half a year with you all, and a couple months in negotiations, and we're nowhere near actually being friends."
"You've saved one another a number of times and have had more than amicable conversation," Ulrich argued. Harry did not miss the way Tiresias seemed to nod at what the man said, despite not being in the conversation. "I heard you two bonding by the fire that night. You have a more amicable relationship than you think."
"When we what?" Harry sputtered. He was completely aware of having not done any sort of bonding with Malfoy.
"Speaking," Ulrich clarified, with an amused glint to his eyes, "about your lives and your pasts."
"Was that when we were drunk?" he asked quietly. "Because bleary, drunken conversations don't really count in my op-"
"Does anyone know where Draco and his pack are?" Parkinson asked grumpily. As if on cue, the floo roared and shone green. "That had better be them."
"Just think on how you would feel if you were him," Ulrich said. "Knowing you should be able to feel that someone is out there for you but not having any sense of them."
"Apologies for being late, Pansy," Malfoy said, as he stepped from the floo. "Robert was pampering himself."
"All right everyone, you're aware of the order you'll be announced in and they'll begin introducing you in about a minute now that we've got everyone," Parkinson said loudly, pre-empting Robert's likely denial. "Potter, I know that you're still painfully awkward when in the fairy light but please do try to look as if you're used to it by now."
"Um... okay..." he nodded, as Ulrich's last words lingered in his mind.
"Good," she said, before turning to Malfoy's pack, all of whom had filed in during her speech. "Now, which one of you is Robert?"
After plastering a hopefully pleasant smile on his face and bearing through the speech about bravery, togetherness and whatever else the Minister had said that mashed both the war and treaty together, Harry was glad to step down from the stage. As usual, Hermione was waiting nearby with a glass of wine or champagne, whatever they had serving really, for him to swallow.
They've got wine this time. Parkinson really does go all out.
"You really need to get used to these events, Harry," she said, and not for the first time. "Any chance of your celebrity dying down soon went out the window with the Werewolf War and your helping to bring the lycans back into society."
"I still don't see why I'm getting attention for this. All I did was my job," he pointed out, as he glanced around for the Davis bloke.
"Except the part where you were an active participant of the war, again," she countered, frowning at him. "Who are you looking for?"
"I don't know if you know him," Harry said. "Tall, blond, fit, works in the-"
"You're not describing Draco, are you?" Cleo asked, popping up at his side with far too little warning and causing him to start.
"No, and I thought I told you to stop doing that," he said. "And, Garrick, don't you try it. I know you're there."
"Mood killer," the man said, stepping up to them.
Hermione cleared her throat and looked pointedly at Harry.
"Hm? Oh, right, introductions," he nodded. "Hermione, this is Cleo and that's Garrick. They're part of Malfoy's pack and they like to give trouble."
"That's not entirely true," Cleo denied, with a shake of her head.
"It is," Garrick admitted.
"And this is Hermione, one of my best friends-"
"The one with the non-profit?" Cleo asked.
"Yes, that's me," Hermione grinned, before holding out her hand. "Nice to meet you."
"Nice to finally meet you too," Cleo replied, shaking Hermione's hand and holding eye contact a bit longer than was wizard appropriate, but was more than normal for lycans when first meeting. "Harry's told us about you and... Ron? Granted he was sloshed when he was telling-"
"And don't forget Garrick, Hermione," Harry interrupted. He shot a quick glare in Cleo's direction as the two greeted one another.
"You aren't really upset at me." She smiled innocently. Cleo was adorable, and she knew it, so it was difficult to actually get upset at her sometimes.
"Why is it that you keep harassing me?" Harry sighed in defeat.
"You make it easy," Cleo shrugged.
"Plus, Elma and Ludolph are no fun. They just look at you like they don't understand the point of it," Garrick added. "And Robert will throw a hissy fit."
"And Draco will give you that glare," Cleo continued, narrowing her eyes in an over-exaggerated imitation.
"Annoyance doesn't smell good on him," Garrick said, shaking his head. "And it's like you can feel it rolling off of him."
"You don't need lycan senses to know that," Harry chuckled. He spotted Davis and then nodded to the group. "I'll be right back, maybe. Hopefully not."
"Good luck," Cleo and Hermione said simultaneously, as he walked off. Something told him that having the two of them meet one another was a bad thing... for him.
Less than half way through the night, Draco had learned who he should avoid if he did not want to find himself perpetually discussing the war and the differences between lycan and wizard life. He had already answered some questions far too many times and was getting more than tired of them, like how he felt to finally be able to redeem himself after the Second Wizarding War. If he could have used Elma and Ludolph to feign an important conversation, he would have, but the two of them were more communicative in lycan form. Otherwise they were far too pithy. Cleo and Garrick had run off to the bar at some point and then he would catch glimpses of them either harassing Potter or harassing Blaise - likely about Draco's childhood days when it came to the latter - so they were not an option. Merlin knew where Robert had disappeared to.
He stopped when someone that was walking past hissed and quickly stepped in front of him. Draco raised a brow and looked down at one Astoria Greengrass, who seemed more concerned with peering discreetly around him than anything else.
"Astoria," he said politely.
She blinked and looked up at him with a surprised gasp. "Draco, hullo," she said, flashing him a quick smile.
"What exactly is it that you're doing?" he asked. The woman smelled of anxiety.
"I'm hiding from Daphne," Astoria said, stepping slowly around to his side as she covered her face by pretending to fix her hair. "She's trying to fix me up with Theodore."
"Does Theo know that?" he asked.
"Yes, why?" she asked.
"Well, he's coming up behind you," Draco said quietly, before smiling politely at the man. "Theo."
"Draco," Theo nodded, before looking at Astoria. "Astoria, I was wondering if you'd care for a dance?"
"I'm sorry, Theodore," Astoria said, looking every bit as if she really was. She touched a hand to Draco's arm and stepped closer to him. "But Draco's just asked me and I don't quite think that'd be fair."
"Theo I-" he began.
"Perhaps next time," she said, as she steered him to the dance floor.
"Perhaps," Theo said, as he shot Draco a glare.
"You must be related to Pansy," he muttered, when she turned to him.
"I'll take it as you calling me clever," she smiled, before glancing at him expectantly. Her anxiety seemed to have faded into relief now.
Draco pursed his lips but stepped back into a polite bow and held his hand out to her anyway. She gave a curtsy and took his hand before they began to dance.
"By the way, I wasn't saying it to call you clever," Draco said, as they went through the steps. "I was shedding light on how devilish you are."
"It's still a compliment, Draco," Astoria smiled.
"If you keep smiling like that, Theo and Daphne will believe that I'm trying to charm you," he said, catching glimpses of both his former classmates watching them.
"If I want them to leave me alone, then that would be beneficial, wouldn't it?" she asked, raising a brow at him.
"And what about after the gala?" he asked, because it would not hurt to try.
Astoria was intriguing enough for him to consider pulling and, seeing as he doubted his mate would be revealed to him any time soon if at all, he thought he might as well. He was doing better than Theo after all.
"What about after the gala?" she asked playfully, her green eyes glinting mischievously. He could feel the interest that was beginning to come off of her. It had a hint of something more underneath it.
"Well, if you really want Daphne to stop playing matchmaker, don't you think this is a tad too temporary of a situation?" he asked her, as the song ended and they came to a halt.
"Are you proposing I go home with you?" Astoria asked, before they bowed to one another.
"I'm proposing you spend the rest of the gala with me," he said, once they were upright. He then held his arm out for her. "And then you may decide on whether or not you want to join me on a date some other time. I've no objections to you coming home with me though."
Part of Draco was not quite pleased with his decision to see where things went with Astoria, even if they were to only to have a one off, but another part of him was aware of the fact that if he had not awoken to his lycan blood, he would have found Astoria to be an appropriate prospect, so he ignored it.
"All right then," she said, as she took his arm. "I'll make sure to give that date sufficient thought."
"That's all I ask," he smiled, before leading her off of the dance floor.
"Well, go on then," Astoria challenged, her scent letting him know that she was more than simply interested now. "Charm me."
He was on the way out of the Leaky when he spotted Malfoy, sitting at a table with a pint in front of him. It was odd for Harry to see the man without Astoria or someone from his pack, so he was a bit curious as to what was going on. He stopped, told Seamus and the others that he was going to stay a bit longer and then headed over to Malfoy.
"Potter," Malfoy said, before Harry reached the table.
"You know, the fact that you can smell me coming makes catching you off guard a bit difficult," he said.
Malfoy shrugged. "I can hear you too," he said.
"Where's your extended family?" Harry asked. "You aren't usually by yourself nowadays."
"I wanted a moment alone," the blond said, giving Harry a pointed look before he took a swig of his drink. Harry reckoned it might have been more effective if Malfoy's cheeks were not flushed.
"Right then, you're brooding," he said. "I'll just leave you to that I guess."
"I'm not brooding," Malfoy denied.
"Okay... sulking then," he amended.
"Don't you have a life you have to live, Potter?" asked Malfoy. "I'm not your responsibility anymore. You don't have to check up on me."
"I know," he nodded. "I just happened to notice you over here getting yourself sloshed."
"Weren't you going to leave me to it?" Malfoy asked, taking another swig and sliding lower in his chair.
"I was going to leave you to the brooding you apparently aren't doing," he clarified. "Malfoy, how much have you had to drink?"
"What's it to you?" the blond asked.
"I'm trying to decide if you're sloshed enough for me to have to notify someone," Harry muttered. "Astoria or someone from the-"
"Someone from the pack," Malfoy interrupted, as he slapped his hand on the table. "I've left Astoria so that wouldn't be ideal."
"Oh, is that why you're the one in the pub drinking your weight in alcohol?" he asked.
"You're an arse, Potter," Malfoy muttered, grabbing his drink. "An absolute arse."
"Sorry," Harry apologized, just then realizing what he had said. Even though it did not happen quite as often as it used to, it was still easy to slip into the old habit of throwing insults at the man.
Malfoy narrowed his eyes at him, sniffed a bit and eventually nodded in acceptance. "You don't have one of your infatuated fans to go on a date with or something?" he asked.
"None of my dates seem to have worked out yet." Harry shrugged, taking a seat. "And I try to avoid the infatuated lot."
Malfoy snorted and went back to his pint.
"So..." Harry began, after a moment of silence, "what happened?"
"Nothing," Malfoy said, shaking his head. "Everything was normal."
"I'm hoping that's not what you told Astoria..." Harry commented.
"I really think that would have gone over better than my telling her she simply wasn't right. Something along those lines," Malfoy said, before finishing the pint. He hailed the waitress and the glass re-filled with a swish of her wand.
"You said what now?" Harry asked. For a moment, a memory of Ulrich flashed through his mind. He had told him once that Malfoy might be able to find himself a partner, but that it would never quite feel the way it should.
"That she was inadequate basically, not in bed mind you," the blond said, gesturing with his pint of firewhiskey. "I just... something wasn't right about it. That restlessness was still there."
"The one that makes you want to keep running on the full moon?" Harry asked, as he recalled the man's first moon after his awakening.
He was supposed to observe Malfoy's behaviour so he had rode on Elma's back as she followed him through the woods. He had not thought they would stop running and his muscles had begun to protest quite painfully. That was the night they first realized that the werewolves had been infecting Muggles to build their numbers.
It was also the night Malfoy had first saved Harry during that war, and then berated him for running into the fray. Apparently, when a lycan gestures vaguely at him with muzzle and paw, he should understand that it meant to stay put.
"Yes, that one," Malfoy nodded. "Bloody annoying, that. I'm running around fucking aimlessly because of it. I'm looking for something but I'm clueless as to what it is, so I've just got to keep on running until I find it."
Malfoy stared distantly past Harry for some time before he shook himself and began to down his pint. Harry could just hear Tiresias in the back of his mind as she told him to confess. He did not quite think Malfoy would appreciate that being thrown at him all of a sudden, and while he was drunk too.
Harry also did not want to have to deal with that entire scenario just yet. If he told Malfoy, he would need to think it through first.
"Maybe you should take it easy," Harry grimaced, pulling the man's pint from his mouth. "You aren't exactly sober right now."
"Again I say, I'm not your responsi-" Malfoy stopped speaking and leaned forward to sniff at Harry. "Your scent is... I can't quite remember what that is right now but Potter, you don't smell right."
"... I don't?" he frowned. Malfoy probably smelt the bit of guilt that had hit him.
"No... you don't," Malfoy murmured, watching him closely. "You sound a bit different too."
"Maybe I should get you home," Harry said, to change the topic. "Pay for your drinks Malfoy, let's not have you get so sloshed that they have to throw you out."
"I'm a civilized drunk, Potter," Malfoy said, brandishing a finger at him. "And you know it."
"Nevertheless," Harry said, as he rose from his seat and gestured for Malfoy to follow suit.
The blond squinted his eyes at Harry some more and then knocked back his drink before throwing down a couple galleons and standing with more purpose than necessary."Something's off about you, Potter," Malfoy said. "I'm not sure what it is, but once I've sobered up I'm sure I'll figure it out."
"How about I get you back to the Manor so you can mull it over there?" Harry asked.
"You all right, Malfoy?" Longbottom asked, as Draco paused in his pruning to yawn once more. The two of them had been getting along ever since Draco had saved him the night of his awakening.
He nodded and resumed his task, slowing down so that he did not make any mistakes. The dittany required precise pruning so that it grew with quality healing properties. A few wrong snips and Draco would find himself with a useless plant.
"Tired," he said, once he had pulled away from the dittany he was tending. He had taken a hangover potion that morning but it did nothing for the tiredness.
"Late night?" Longbottom teased.
"Yes," Draco admitted grudgingly. "But not for the reasons you're thinking. And just so you know, that double date that I didn't agree to definitely won't happen now."
"No?" Longbottom frowned, sparing Draco a glance as he re-potted a bouncing bulb.
"We broke up," Draco said, as he turned the pot and inspected the plant. He set a marker on it so that he would know it was already seen to and moved to the next one. "So, my late night involved a few pints."
"You two seemed to get along well though," Longbottom commented.
"We did," he nodded.
He thought about how true that was and how easy it had been to fall into a relationship with Astoria once he ignored the restlessness. It was not something he would have been able to keep up though.
Longbottom nodded but did not comment.
"Hey, you didn't apparate drunk, did you?" the man asked.
"No, do I look like I splinched myself?" he asked. "Potter spotted me and decided to play hero."
Longbottom gave a short laugh. "Sounds like Harry," he said. "It's like once he starts he can't stop with someone."
"I'm not a pity project, Longbottom," he said.
"No, but you've both had a few meaningful experiences together," Longbottom shrugged, "saving each other, going through two wars. How do you think Harry made half his friends? Some sort of life threatening situation is usually involved. You've gained importance, Malfoy."
"You Gryffindors are mad," Draco said, with a shake of his head. Clearly they did not know how to be normal people. Then again, he doubted he did either.
There he was once again, standing under the full moon and feeling antsy. The further down the sun had gone, the more his nervousness had settled in. That bloody anxiety, that restlessness. He wanted to head out into the woods that began at the back of the Manor grounds but he waited for the last of his pack to join them outside instead.
Tonight they would follow Cleo. She could feel that her mate was closer than normal and wanted to search for them. She could have done it outside of the full moon, but why wait? The urgency to find your mate was heightened on these nights and there was something comforting about having the pack run with you, they all had an idea of how the other felt.
Except they aren't feeling the restlessness that I am, he thought. They've got direction for their longing.
Cleo snorted and shook her head impatiently when the last of their numbers had finally joined them. Draco turned to her and rested a hand on her neck to appease her.
Lycans were larger than wolves and their eyes retained something near human. In her lycan form, Cleo was almost at Draco's shoulder height. She would be a bit taller than him if she lifted her head. From what Potter and his mother had told him, Cleo's fur was red-brown, Elma's was black, Ludolph's a few shades lighter, Robert's a dark brown and Garrick's was a light brown that faded into white. Draco himself was a light grey, almost white wolf.
His colour perception was a bit muted ever since his awakening so he couldn't quite see for himself what they looked like to others.
"Go on," he said.
Cleo turned her muzzle to the sky and let out a howl before sprinting off into the woods. Draco and the pack followed after her, shifting into their lycan forms with a fluidity that their werewolf brethren had lost after devouring the vampires in an effort to gain their immortality.
They wove through the trees and dashed across the land. Cleo kept ahead of them, pausing every now and then to figure out where the pull felt strongest, before running off again. They eventually ran out of the woodlands and onto flat fields. They ran on the outskirts of Muggle areas and through Wizarding communities. On a few occasions, they had to detour around a Muggle village but they kept on running.
Draco was not sure how far they had run, or for how long, but it was far and a few hours were sure to have passed. He did not quite care though, so long as he was moving. At least tonight he was moving towards something, even if it was vicariously. For him, the running had no end goal, only the slight relief of his anxiety, the burning of energy that wanted to be spent in search and the burn of his muscles once his body realised just how much exertion it had been through. He would be sore in the morning but that was fine. He always was.
When they reached a small hill, Cleo slowed down, panting as hard as the rest of them if not a bit more. She stopped to pace as she looked ahead. She was nervous, scared, unsure and excited; Draco could smell it. He stepped up to her and nudged her encouragingly with his head before licking her face. Garrick came up on her other side and nuzzled her neck. Behind them, the others hopped and barked encouragingly before Ludolph and Elma nudged her forward.
Slowly, Cleo moved forward of her own volition and they all stepped with her. She sprinted off and they trailed after her until she reverted to her human form. They waited in the field around the property as she walked up to a rather lopsided house.
Draco sniffed at the air and found that he recognised the scent coming from the house, or rather, the scents. They were at the Weasleys' home, the head Weasleys.
Cleo paused at the back door and shook her head before walking around to the front. Draco and the others kept hidden in the grassy field and moved quietly to somewhere that they could see from. He could hear their hearts pounding from the run and the sounds of their panting. He could smell the nervousness and the hope of the pack. He still wanted to keep on running, to pace or do something until he felt some sort of direction but he lay in wait instead. Cleo was part of his pack and he would stay there for her in silent support. She would need him if this did not work out.
As she walked up to the Weasleys' doorstep, Cleo straightened her winter tunic. It was lycan-made and would unwrap itself and vanish during phasing, and was summoned when necessary. Draco was not sure how long it had taken lycans to figure out how to do that but it was impressive, especially since wizards had yet to accomplish it with wand magic.
She reached out to knock on the door but turned away abruptly to take a few breaths. Garrick snorted in frustration and Robert growled at him quietly. Cleo glanced at them and smiled in amusement before she turned back around and knocked on the door.
Waiting for the Weasleys to open the door was more stressful for Draco than he had anticipated. As the seconds ticked by, he could feel the tension growing, both from Cleo and the pack. He was on alert and did not dare move, as if he were stalking some sort of prey and was worried it might scamper off if he spooked it. The human part of him reminded him that it was the middle of the night so logically someone might not come down. He doubted any of them would have had the patience to wait until daybreak now that they were here though, least of all Cleo.
The door opened and Cleo shifted nervously. The pack tensed as they watched.
"Whoever you are, you do realize its 3am, right?"
Draco thought the voice sounded like the twin that had survived. He was proven right when he saw the man in the doorway.
"I- No. I mean, I know it's late but I didn't-" Cleo stopped herself and took a breath. "Sorry. Hi, I'm Cleo and I... I'm not entirely sure who I'm here to see. I just- I... I um..."
"You what?" the twin asked.
"I..." Cleo licked her lips and stared past the person at the door. She had spotted her mate. They could all smell the excitement on her and had frozen in anticipation.
"Who is it?" someone asked from inside.
"I'm Cleo, Cleo Flynn," she said distractedly. "I um... I'm a lycan and I was looking for my uh... my... my mate..."
"Did you just hear what I heard?" the twin asked the other.
"I know I probably should have waited until morning or at least around lunch-"
"Do you know who you're here to see?" the other Weasley asked.
"Y- you," she said.
If Draco could grin he would have, but he settled for letting his tongue dangle out of his mouth. He could hear a few tails beating the ground as they wagged excitedly. It was terribly awkward but Cleo had found her mate. The restlessness in Draco stirred in response and he tamped down on the bit of jealously that flared inside of him. It was a bittersweet moment for him and he got a similar feeling from Robert and Garrick as well.
"Me?" the other Weasley asked, shocked. The twin turned to the person inside with wide eyes before looking back at Cleo.
"Um... I'm sorry could you just... change?" the other Weasley asked. "So I could know that you're really..."
"Yea," Cleo nodded. "Sure, I'll just..."
She stepped down from the porch and dithered a bit before shifting.
"Merlin, she's telling the truth, isn't she?" the other asked, as he stepped outside, folding his arms because of the cold. Draco had never seen this Weasley before. He was tan and muscular compared to the others, with short, cropped hair.
"Seeing as we're staring at a giant wolf... I'd say yes," the twin said, peeking outside. "... Should I go upstairs?"
"I dunno," the other Weasley said.
"I could come back later in the afternoon or something if you need some time," Cleo said, after reverting to her human form.
"That would... yes," the other Weasley nodded.
"Um... do you mind giving me your name?" Cleo asked.
"Right, uh... Charlie," the other Weasley said. "Name's Charlie. Charlie Weasley."
"Weasley? Are you related to Hermione's husband?" Cleo asked. "... Ron?"
The man seemed to visibly relax at the mention of someone he knew.
"Yeah, he's my brother," Charlie nodded. "You know Hermione?"
"Sort of," Cleo nodded. "We were introduced by a mutual friend."
"Harry worked with the lycans, yeah," the twin piped in. "I reckon it was him."
"It was," Cleo smiled.
"Right, well, later then I suppose," Charlie said. "How's twelve at the Leaky?"
"Whenever and wherever you want is fine," Cleo grinned, the nervousness no longer wafting off of her. The pack was fidgeting excitedly in the field and Garrick even rolled over a few times.
"Okay, uh, good night then," Charlie said.
"Yeah, 'night," Cleo said, still grinning. "Um, just one more question."
"Yeah?" he asked, shivering from the January cold.
"... Where exactly am I?" she asked sheepishly.
"You don't know...?" Charlie asked.
"Well, I sort of ran over here to find you," she explained.
"In this cold?" Charlie asked.
"Well... yeah," she nodded. "Fur helps."
"Otterbury St Catchpole," the twin said.
"How far is that from Wiltshire...?" Cleo asked.
"Maybe you should borrow our floo," the twin suggested, while Charlie gaped her.
"Um, I'm not exactly alone though," Cleo said, glancing over at the pack. "The pack followed me."
After their reveal, they tentatively stepped out of the field. Cleo grinned at them and Robert barked happily at her while Garrick ran forward to lick her face and nuzzle her.
"Mum would have a heart attack if she saw this right now," the twin said, peering at them curiously.
"Do all of you need to floo back?" Charlie asked.
"Uh," Cleo turned to Draco in question.
He shook his head and walked up to her and did much the same as Garrick had. He looked at the Charlie bloke for a while before he turned and ran in the direction of the Manor. He still wanted to run and, while he was glad for her, witnessing Cleo find her mate made his want feel more like a need. The others could floo home if they felt like it but he would run until the feeling passed and apparate home if he thought he could run no further.
On Saturday night, Harry flooed over to the Burrow. Charlie was staying in Britain for a while so Molly had planned a big dinner for that weekend. Even Ginny had a few days off from travelling with the Harpies, so the entire Weasley brood would be present.
When he stepped out of the floo, he went to the kitchen and gave Molly the mulled wine he had brought before heading to the set up in the backyard. Warming charms were set up all over, as well as floating flames that were well out of reach of the children. It looked as if Percy and George had yet to arrive with their families, but with Bill and Fleur's children running around already, it was hard to notice that anyone was missing.
With all the Weasleys and their red hair surrounding him, Harry took a while to notice that there was an extra ginger in the bunch. If Cleo had not popped up beside him and scared the shit out of him, again, he would have passed her by. Tonight she had opted for leggings and a thick, burnt orange sweater dress so he had not even had lycan attire to use to differentiate. Really the only thing that distinguished her from the Weasleys was that her hair was curly and her eyes were green, and that she had an affinity for scaring the pants off of him.
"Sorry, didn't actually mean to scare you this time," she apologised.
Harry blinked at her before frowning. "You're at the Burrow," he pointed out.
"That I am," Cleo nodded, glancing over to Bill and Charlie.
"Anyone else from the pack here?" he asked.
"Not this time, no," she said, shaking her head.
"Not this time?" he frowned.
"Well, I ran here a couple days ago," she said. Cleo looked as if she was trying to hint at something but Harry did not seem to be catching on. "On the full moon... Ran all the way over here from Wiltshire... In the middle of the night..."
"Charlie?" Harry gasped, as he looked over at the man. He was the only one who had not been in relatively close proximity to the Manor before and would prompt her to run here. Well, there was Bill but that was unlikely. "Your mate's Charlie?"
"Yep," she nodded, looking over at him.
"Congratulations on finding him," he smiled.
"Thanks," she said, with a little bow. "And Harry, when Charlie said he had a lot family I think I underestimated how much he meant it."
"They're not a small bunch," he agreed.
Cleo grabbed his arm and looked at him with that Oh-Godric-don't-I-know-it and I'm-definitely-freaking-out-because-of-it expression. He could not help laughing a bit at it and she thwacked him on the arm.
"This isn't funny," Cleo said, glancing around. "Look, it's bad enough that I'm just meeting Charlie and I have to worry over him liking me, but just look at how many people are here. He's got as many siblings as I have pack members, and then there are nieces, nephews and other relatives. Plus, I've no clue what I'm doing-"
"Whoa, Cleo, calm down," he interrupted, as he steadied her. "I think that the first thing you need to do is breathe."
"Harry, I've no protocol for this," she said, which was not breathing at all.
"Protocol?" he asked, a bit amused by the term. "You're making this sound so much more complex than it needs to be. Cleo, just go about this the same way you would any other romantic interest."
"I can't do that, you idiot," she said, as she poked him. "He isn't just some random bloke I'm trying to convince myself to settle for. He's... gods, I'm going to sound so bloody... cliché? Is that the term? He's the one, Harry. I don't want to fuck it up but I don't... lycans haven't been able to pursue human mates in a long time. We're really out of practice."
"Calm down, yeah?" he said, rubbing her arm soothingly. "The Weasleys are pretty friendly and Charlie's a good bloke, so I don't think you have to worry too much."
"Right, easy for you to say," she muttered, before looking over at Charlie again. "I didn't think I'd ever get to find him. I've known about him since I started bleeding until now, and that's a long time to lose hope in having a chance at him."
"Cleo, you're fantastic," Harry reassured. "And you should take it as a good thing that you're at dinner with us."
"Right, a good thing," she nodded, finally breathing. "I'm glad you're here by the way. You're the closest thing I have to pack member right now and Draco didn't think it was a good idea for him to come represent me. I think it's hard for him to see this right now, Garrick and Robert too. They need a little time to get used to it. And Elma and Ludolph aren't particularly social."
"The Malfoy and Weasley families have a lot of bad blood between them. I reckon he didn't want to hurt your chances," Harry said. "And get used to what?"
"He told me," she sighed. "And well, Garrick and Robert are still searching; Draco's running around like a lost puppy and doesn't even know where to look right now. It's hard to watch someone find their mate when you don't already have yours. And I remember the feeling so I won't push them."
"Apart from his family's issues with the Weasleys, I don't see why Malfoy couldn't come," he said. "From what I understand Malfoy isn't going through the longing that Garrick and Robert are."
"I've never felt it, so it's hard for me to explain," she frowned. "Some of us have to wait a bit after we've reached... was it puberty you lot called it?"
"Yeah," he nodded.
"Yeah, some of us have to wait a bit after that because our mate hasn't hit puberty so they wouldn't have started sending out any cues. Charlie's older than me so I never had the problem but, I know lycans who have and it's... unsettling, frustrating, a bit hopeless, they feel sort of lost. At least, that's how it's been described to me. And at Draco's age, he should be able to find them by now. Mates aren't usually born so far apart."
Harry swallowed as he felt the guilt well up in him again. He was extremely close to convincing himself to tell Malfoy and be done with it. It was causing the man more trouble than Harry had expected it to and even though Malfoy still would not be able to... feel him, he would at least know and then they could sort things out from there. Harry did not want to up and jump into becoming a pair bond so they would definitely need to sort it out, and even then the idea of bonding was terrifying.
"That makes sense," he said.
Cleo frowned at him and leaned closer. "You smell... guilty... worried..." she said quietly.
"I really hate that I can't deny that," he sighed. "Explain it another time?"
"I'll remember to ask," Cleo warned. "No time to press you anyway. Charlie and Ginevra are heading this way."
"You lot and your bloody senses," he muttered, right before the aforementioned approached them.
"Harry, Cleo's here so that the rest of us can get to know her," Ginny teased. "Not for you to monopolize her."
"Was I doing that?" he asked, plastering a smile on his face and giving her a hug. He pushed thoughts of Malfoy away for the moment.
"You were," Charlie nodded.
"Just a bit," Ginny said, pinching her fingers together.
"Well, I reckon I should let you all get to it," he said. "I'll go and find someone else to monopolize."
"You know, maybe you should start taking the day off after the full moon. That way you can catch up on your sleep so you aren't such a wreck the rest of the week," Longbottom suggested.
"I'm actually considering it," Draco said, with a stretch. His muscles were still a bit tender from all the excessive running he had done some days prior.
"Don't just consider it, Malfoy," Longbottom said, resting a hand on Draco's shoulder. "Do it. You look like shit. If you weren't already so meticulous then you'd probably have already lopped off a bloom or re-potted the plants in the wrong soil or got burned from searing sap."
"Good to know you've such faith in my skills," he drawled.
Longbottom laughed and grabbed his things. "So you decided if you're following us to Peterson's? I hear they're going to air the conference on Liam's new findings over the wireless," Longbottom informed him. "We're going to listen to it over some drinks."
"It's a real shame that we do that for fun here," he muttered, as they headed out of the building. "I read the paper though. Don't think I want to listen to him ramble on about it."
"I don't know how you sat through his writing," Longbottom grimaced.
"I didn't have much else doing at the time," he shrugged, pulling his hair out of the neat bun he kept it in during work. He looked up as he caught a familiar scent and saw Potter heading towards them.
"His papers always put me to sl- Harry, hey," Longbottom said.
"Hey, Neville," Potter replied. He turned his attention to Draco. "Malfoy."
"Potter," he nodded, as he eyed the man suspiciously. Potter smelled apprehensive and his breathing sounded a bit off.
"You wouldn't fancy a drink right now, would you?" the man asked.
"I beg your pardon?" he asked.
"I've got something I have to discuss with you," Potter said.
"Er, I'll leave you two to that," Longbottom said, before apparating away.
"I haven't even had supper as yet, Potter," he said.
"There's always pub food," the man said. "So, Leaky?"
"Fine," he grumbled. "But make this quick. I want to get some rest."
When they got to the Leaky Cauldron, Potter went to a booth that would provide them a spot of privacy. Draco ordered bangers and mash and Potter got himself an order of fish and chips. While they waited for the food to arrive, Potter refused to tell him what it was he had wanted to discuss and had insisted that it wait until after supper. Draco was admittedly curious about what the man wanted to speak to him about but he reckoned it was either some sort of important lycan business or had something to with Cleo and the Weasleys.
He had yet to speak with the bunch and as Cleo's pack leader, he reckoned he should at least welcome the Charlie bloke, perhaps when things were smoothed out a bit more between the two. Things seemed to be going fairly well though, if the way he caught her dancing once she had flooed home from dinner was any indication.
"So, what's it like being back in Wizarding society?" Potter asked, as their food and pints arrived.
"You really aren't going to get to the point of this until we've eaten, are you?" Draco asked, picking up his utensils.
Potter shrugged and ate a forkful of his food. He seemed to get a bit uncomfortable whenever Draco mentioned the mystery topic, and Potter had never been one to get particularly anxious when he had spent time with them at the camp so it was strange.
"It was strange at first," Draco sighed, resolving himself to waiting. "But then I got back into the motions, to some extent. Clearly some things are different now."
"Hmph, yeah," Potter nodded. "Going back to my house was weirder than I thought it'd be. I was glad for an actual shower though. That river was bloody cold."
"Cold is an understatement," he said. "And you weren't required to sleep at the camp outside of the full moon."
"I would have missed quite a bit if I'd gone with the bare minimum," Potter said.
"Nothing of import," he said.
"Not true," Potter disagreed. "I got to see pack dynamics and the social behaviour of lycans in general. You communicate on more levels than we do and it wasn't always apparent during the day because you would be training, Ulrich would be reviewing scouting reports or figuring out how to deal with the Ministry. Everything was more natural outside of those working hours."
"I don't quite think the Ministry sent you to the camp to observe the nuances of our social behaviour," Draco said.
"Well, not the nuances, no. But it was interesting," Potter shrugged. "I don't think you realize you're doing it, but when you're with other lycans, especially your pack, you're a lot more open. I don't just mean in terms of what you say to them, but the way you are around them. I think it has to do with the fact that you communicate via scent as well. Lycans are more aware of one another than Wizards are."
"For instance, how I can smell your apprehension?" Draco asked. "And how it tells me that whatever you have to say bears a certain amount of weight and will possibly be upsetting to me?"
Potter blinked at him with parted lips and then nodded. "Yeah..." he said. "Like that."
"Well, seeing as you and I are both aware that I'm able to pick up on the shifts in your behaviour fairly easily, how about you get to the meat of all this?" he asked.
With a sigh, Potter sat back in his seat and pushed his half finished meal aside. He looked at Draco and the apprehension became smattered with guilt and fear. He would have been able to tell that much from the man's expression alone though.
"What did you do?" he asked.
"Well, I..." Potter paused and cast a privacy charm on their booth before turning back to Draco. "Look, I probably should have told you this after the war ended but it didn't seem like such a big deal at the time. You were doing fine and you were well adjusted to your new life and I really didn't think it was going to cause you any trouble."
"What are you on about, Potter?" he asked, as he tried to think of something the man might have had a hand in.
"I... took a Concealment potion. If you had known about me, then the war would have ended terribly and I couldn't let that happen, Malfoy," Potter said.
Draco froze at the mention of the potion and felt a slow burning fury begin to bubble inside of him as Potter continued to speak. If the man was confessing what Draco thought he was, then he was not sure how he would react to it. "Just spit it out, Potter," he said with a clenched jaw.
"I'm your mate, Malfoy," Potter confessed. There was no hint of a lie in the scent of the man, and in his voice was the bit of relief one got from letting go of some constricting burden.
All Draco could do was stare in response, glare. He tried to keep his breathing controlled, tried to hold back the anger that made his fists clench and his body tremble with the force of it. All those moments Potter had seemed off, all the times he had seemed overly concerned with Draco's life, they made more sense now. Guilt had been riding on the man's conscience.
He closed his eyes so that he was less tempted to grab across the table for Potter and scream at him or shake him until the anger dissipated.
"Malfoy-" Potter began after long moments passed but Draco shot him a glare.
He did not want to hear the man speak just yet. Not when the nights he had spent running aimlessly were flitting through his mind, the soreness, the exhaustion, the ache that was still in his muscles and the fact that Potter had known all of this and had waited so bloody long to tell him. Draco had begun to think his mate was dead for Merlin's sake.
"You had no right," he ground out, once he thought his anger would not get the better of him. "None."
"We would have lost the war otherwise," Potter defended himself. "You would have died, Malfoy, and then everything would have been for nothing. You would have died and it would have been because you were too distracted worrying over me to give the battle your full attention!"
"Then why the fuck did you wait nearly a year after it ended to tell me?" he snapped, reaching across the table and grabbing Potter by the collar. "You saw me, Potter! You saw how I was on the nights of the moon and when I was near established pair-bonds. You can't tell me you didn't know the reasons behind it!"
"I-I didn't realize how much it was hurting you," Potter said.
"You've seen me, Potter. You've heard me," he growled, shoving the man back into his seat.
"... You can't expect me to be able to accurately interpret everything you do in your lycan form," Potter said. "I can't. And I'm sorry, Malfoy. I didn't mean for you to-"
"For me to what?" he practically barked. "Run the entire night until my legs give out? Howl for you until my throat was sore?"
"Malfoy," Potter said, looking stricken and stinking of guilt and... a different sort of fear. Draco pulled back. "I never-"
"I don't want to hear it," he interrupted, getting his things and sliding out of the booth. He wanted to run his anger off, train with Ludolph or Elma, anything but sit around Potter. He was past furious and he was terrifying the man.
"Malfoy, where are you-"
"Just fuck off, Potter," he spat, before leaving.
The moment Draco was out of the pub, he apparated to the Manor and then ran for the woods.
A week had passed and Malfoy had not said a word to him. Harry had waited two days to allow the blond time to cool off before he had sent him an owl. He had got no response. He tried the other days as well and the letters came back to him unopened.
Harry groaned in frustration and glared up at his ceiling. There was no point in send more owls, not unless he wanted to start endangering the creatures. He was going to go to the Manor and he was going to talk to Malfoy and apologise for the deception and for... making decisions for him.
Now, if only Malfoy would come downstairs to see him, so he could do the apologising part of his plan.
"Mate, whatever it is that you did, I suggest you give him time to cool off," Robert advised. Harry gave him a look. "More time."
"I honestly didn't expect him to react this badly," he muttered, as he glanced upstairs.
"What did you do?" Robert asked.
Cleo and Garrick peeked inside at that and Harry all of a sudden had an audience, a curious and possibly slightly angry audience.
"Um... I really don't think I should be the one to-"
"Harry," Elma called, stepping into the room. "A word?"
"Sure," he nodded, as he started after her and away from the others.
They walked in silence for some time before Elma spoke.
"The others have stopped following," she announced.
"Or they've got better at tracking," he muttered, glancing around.
"I take it you have told him," she said. He nodded and sighed. "I will tell Tiresias and Ulrich. They will be pleased."
"Not with the part where he won't talk to me, or look at me even," Harry said.
"Draco is upset and confused," Elma said. "He needs time to acclimate. He will come to you once he is ready. Do not badger him. He does not react well to it."
"That bloody prophecy was right," he snorted. "We're both stubborn."
"You are," she nodded.
A few more days passed and if Harry did not know the man would want to get rid of his uneasiness then he might have started to wonder if he would ever be spoken to again. He had considered possibly asking Ron or Hermione for some advice but that would involve getting a lecture and explaining the entire situation before he managed to get any help and he was not in the mood for either of those right now. Maybe if he could find some clever way to disguise the-
There was a chime from the floo before it roared and flared with those ugly green flames. Harry looked up from the report he had been blindly flipping through to see Malfoy step out of the hearth. He blinked in surprise and then realized Malfoy was not supposed to know about Grimmauld or be able to find it unless someone from the Order had told him. One of the minor security flaws of the building due to Dumbledore's Death.
"Malfoy, hi," he greeted. "Did Hermione give you my floo address?"
"Potter," Malfoy said, with a stiff nod. "And yes, Cleo managed to persuade her. I suspect Granger-Weasley will have all sorts of questions for you now."
"Brilliant," he sighed. "Listen, Malfoy, I really am sorry. I didn't mean to control your life or anything like that and I definitely hadn't intended to hurt-"
"Let's not revisit that conversation, Potter," interrupted Malfoy. "I don't have the tolerance for it and we have other things to discuss."
"Um... okay?" Harry frowned. "Have a seat then, I suppose."
"What do you intend to do now that you've told me about... us?" Malfoy asked, taking a seat in the nearest chair.
"Well, I uh, I was thinking we would get to know one another better," he said, tossing the report on the coffee table. "And I mean actually get to know each other."
"To what end?" Malfoy asked. From the moment he had stepped out of the fireplace, he had kept his eyes trained on Harry with a calculating gaze and a guarded look about him. It seemed to intensify now. "Am I to take that as an acknowledgement of the situation and a guarantee that you'll... agree to it?"
"It's an acknowledgement but not necessarily an agreement," Harry said carefully. "I'm not exactly decided..."
"Not exactly decided?" Malfoy repeated.
"There's a fair chance I'll end up agreeing to it in the end, Malfoy. I just- I can't just jump into the mindset for it," Harry explained. "I need time to get used to the idea of-"
"You had time, Potter," Malfoy said, a bit more calmly than Harry would have expected but just as effective, due to the bite behind the words. "Quite a lot of it actually."
"I'll admit that I could have told you sooner," he conceded.
"Potter, you do realize that I'm still not able to feel you, right?" Malfoy asked, leaning forward. "Even with knowing that it's you. And I contacted Tiresias, so I know it's you."
"I know," Harry nodded.
"Is there any way we could remedy that?" Malfoy asked.
"Well," Harry began, "we would have to consummate the bond. And I do not want to just jump right into that."
"What do you propose we do then? Date one another until you feel you know me well enough?" Malfoy asked, with a scowl on his face.
"Basically, yeah," Harry shrugged. He did not know how else they could go about it without him and Malfoy having to suffer through an awkward shag that no one was particularly enthusiastic about. "We already know we can be civil towards one another so it won't be thatdifficult."
"That's not what concerns me," Malfoy mumbled.
"Then what?" he asked.
The blond glanced at him and then rose from his seat. "What are your plans for Saturday evening?" he asked, effectively avoiding the question.
"Sat- Saturday?" Harry frowned. "As in, this Saturday?"
"When else, Potter?" Malfoy retorted.
"Uh, nothing, I'm not doing anything," he said, shaking his head. "Could we have lunch instead of supper? I can do without the fancy, expensive restaurants."
"I'll keep that in mind. See you at eleven then," Malfoy said, turning to the floo. "I'll come for you here."
"Twelve," Harry said, he liked to sleep in.
"You were never an early riser on the weekends," Malfoy muttered, before he flooed to the Manor.
Harry blinked at the fireplace. It seemed he was not the only one paying attention when they were at the camp.
Saturday came around quickly enough. Draco opted for a dark jumper that looked to have traces of blue, khaki trousers and, what he recalled as brown, dragonhide boots with a dark outer robe. He was contemplating investing in a grey wardrobe that had a few muted colours. Everything would match and he would not have to rely on house elves to tell him the colour of something or try to work from memory when dressing.
He grabbed his money pouch and wand before heading down to the floo. On his way there, he wrapped his hair into a loose bun.
He found this process of getting to know one another fairly tedious. Draco did not particularly want to go through a few more cycles of the moon before Potter felt himself ready to form the bond. It was not as if he was exactly keen on spending the rest of his life with the man, but he was tired of feeling like he was missing something and of the pointless running.
He enjoyed runs. He just did not enjoy the ones during the full moon, not yet at least.
"Draco, where are you going?" Narcissa asked.
"Lunch, Mother," he replied, as he straightened his sleeves.
"Smells more like a date," Robert said, walking past the parlour. His mother raised a brow in question.
"It's a lunch date," he admitted.
"You're dressed awfully casual," she commented, her eyes barely flickering over him.
"It's a casual lunch date, Mother," he said.
"Are you going to tell me who it is you're meeting with?" she asked.
"If I do that, I highly doubt I'll be on time," he said, grabbing some floo powder. "You'll find out who it is once I've got home and you'll have ample time to hear an explanation."
"I see," she nodded. "Just remember that the Weasley boy is coming for supper later."
"It won't slip my mind," he promised. "Cleo would have my head for it."
It was around a minute to twelve when Draco arrived at Grimmauld Place. He could hear Potter moving about hurriedly upstairs and soon enough the man arrived in the parlour, wearing what might have been an orange jumper, a pair of Muggle... denims, sneakers and possibly a black cloak that he was now clasping. The only colour Draco was able to pick up on easily was green, which was odd from what he understood of colour blindness.
"Hullo," he nodded.
"Hi," said Potter. "Sorry about the waiting. I got up a bit late."
"You didn't keep me long," he said. It was a conscious effort on his part to forgo pointing out that times were set for a reason. Since he was living with Robert and Garrick, he had learned how to be less finicky about punctuality.
"Good," Potter nodded, and kept on nodding.
"We should ..."
"Yeah, yeah," Potter nodded, still. "Where are we uh..."
"Luciano's," he said. "Have you been?"
"No, I haven't," Potter said, shaking his head.
"All right," he nodded. From what he could tell, Potter seemed to feel just about as awkward as he did and was definitely a bit nervous as well. "They don't have a customer floo channel so we have to apparate."
"Right, okay," Potter said, turning for the exit.
They headed out the house and Draco proffered his arm. "Side-along?" he asked.
"Yeah, it's not as if we've never done this before," Potter said, as he took Draco's arm with a fairly solid grip.
Draco disapparated and they soon found themselves at the apparation point of Luciano's. It was a relatively casual Italian restaurant that had a terrace as well as the usual indoor seating. The decor was simple and from what he could recall the colours were warm and inviting. Potter let his eyes roam as they approached the entrance, his hand having left Draco's arm the moment they had arrived. His gaze swept over the interior and lingered on the terrace, simple, wooden tables and chairs and a matching canopy for shade. There were always warming charms set up underneath it so that customers could sit there if they wanted. It was only ever closed if the weather was particularly nasty.
Draco led them to a table there.
A waiter promptly walked up to them to fill their water glasses and introduce himself before leaving them to contemplate the menu. Draco already knew what he wanted but he spent some time looking through it anyway so that he could have an opportunity to coax himself into treating Potter as someone he wanted to familiarize himself with. He was not pleased with the waiting that had to happen but in the end he would, hopefully, have his mate and he would not end up feeling absolutely deplorable after his runs. He needed to focus on the long term results and not the short term discomforts, which included the part of him that was still not convinced Potter was the one for him.
They ordered their food once Potter had decided what he wanted.
After an extended silence, he commented on the relaxed nature of the restaurant and that prompted a bit of small talk that did not last any amount of time. After another silence, Draco proposed to Potter that they should go about their lunch as if it was just that rather than a lunchdate.
By the time the food arrived, they were discussing something that pertained to them both, Cleo and Charlie. Draco would have expected any Weasley discussion to take a wrong turn when he and Potter were the ones involved but they had somehow landed on the topic of how Potter had met them. It was when he was searching for the platform in first year. He had not known how to get to it and they had shown him. Draco had to scold himself for finding it ridiculous that Potter had been clueless at the time. He had grown up with Muggles who might not have known the details of transportation to Hogwarts after all.
There was not much more to say after that. They ate, commented on the food and generally avoided unnecessary eye contact. Draco set about finishing his ossobuco in bianca and Potter set about finishing his carbonara.
"So," Potter began. Draco looked up from his food. "Have you ever dated a bloke before?"
"I have," he answered.
"So you're bisexual then?" Potter asked.
"If you need to categorise it then I suppose I am," he said with a nod.
Potter nodded and went back to his food.
"Were you worried?" Draco asked. As far as Potter had known, Draco was straight, which would have added more complexities than either of them needed in this situation.
"Honestly? Yes." Potter nodded. "You don't look as if you're particularly interested in blokes."
"You know, you shocked a few people when news broke that you were bent," Draco said. "I never understood why you and the girl Weasley hadn't wed one another until then."
"All right, I shouldn't judge. I'm surprised you even gave that any thought, though," Potter said, before he had the last of his meal.
"Everyone thought the pair of you were going to get married. It's no surprise that I would too," Draco shrugged. And it was true. The two had clung to one another quite a bit near the end of sixth year, or so he had heard, as he was fairly preoccupied then.
"It's probably a good thing I never did settle down though," Potter said, leaning back in his chair.
"How do you mean?" he asked.
"Think about it," the man said. "I'd be in a relationship and eventually I'd have told you about us and then what? Carry on with my life and have you watch me be with someone else? Or leave my spouse just so you wouldn't suffer?"
"Who's to say all three of us couldn't get along?" he asked. "Lycans aren't as temperamental as Veela so it's possible it could work, so long as the spouse did not feel threatened by the bond."
"Of course they'd feel threatened," Potter said, rolling his eyes. "Anyone would. Plus, you seem the jealous sort."
"I can be a bit territorial at times, yes," he admitted. He was an only child after all. Sharing was not his strong suit.
"Hmph," Potter snorted. "Maybe this-" He gestured vaguely at himself and Draco. "-is why none of my other relationships worked out."
Draco shrugged one shoulder and carried on chewing the last of his meal. He had no clue if intended bonds affected the human involved. As far as the lycans knew, they did not. But it had been a long time since they were out of the Wizarding world so who knew. The Charlie bloke had been single as well, but those were only two people.
"Bloody prophecies always dictating my life." Potter sighed, sipping on the wine they had ordered and pulling Draco from his contemplations.
"It's not just your life," he pointed out. Draco was not exactly pleased that the last year and a half had been laid out for him.
"That's true," Potter said, as he watched him. "Does it bother you? That it's me that's supposed to be your mate?"
"Yes," he answered truthfully.
"Brutal honesty, I'll keep that characteristic in mind," Potter muttered.
"You've repeatedly been somehow connected to the major events in my life. So in some ways it isn't surprising," Draco expounded. "They aren't usually pleasant either. So it's bothersome."
"They really aren't," Potter noted. "The war, both of them I reckon, your moon cycles... I suppose gaining a pack is considered pleasant, but I don't really think I had anything to do with that. Well, apart from having been there when they came to you."
"It's true. You're nothing but trouble, Potter," he said. "And you'll continue to be so for as long as I live."
"Did you really just say that?" Potter asked, cocking his head to the side.
"It's not as if I'm lying," Draco said. "I reckon I'm used to it though."
"How am I going to be trouble if we consummate the bond?" Potter asked, not at all smelling as if he was pleased.
"I'm no seer. I can't predict that," he shrugged. "But nothing's ever easy when you and I are involved. Hopefully you'll be the good sort of trouble."
"You're a bit of trouble yourself you know," Potter said.
"I know," he nodded. "It's one of the things we have in common. Prophecies only ever come with trouble."
Potter blinked at him before laughing. "I suppose you're right," he agreed.
Things seemed to get a little better from there.
Despite the slow start, the date had not been terrible. Draco learned that even under the premise of a date, he and Potter could enjoy poking fun at one another; they simply were not harsh in their intent. Mostly. They had forgone dessert and Draco had paid the bill, seen Potter home and returned to the Manor.
Their next date would be some time in the coming week and Potter had decided that it was his turn to choose the venue. Draco had no qualms so long as they were not going to a pub.
He removed his outer robes and made his way to his rooms. Robert spotted him on the way there. It was amazing how someone always managed to run into him despite the size of the Manor. He supposed he should ask them to stop sniffing him out.
"Oh dear Aleph," Robert smirked. Draco was still getting used to the pack using the names of the original Alphas as their version of 'Merlin' or the Hogwarts founders. "Your date was with Harry, wasn't it? I can smell him on you... nowhere interesting though. You two are boring."
Draco gave him a flat stare. "Kindly mind your own business, Robert," he said. "What I do on a date has nothing to do with you."
"So it was him?" Robert grinned.
"I never denied it," he said, as he continued walking to his room.
"Glenda," Robert yelled, summoning a house elf. He did not seem to believe that they could really hear him no matter the loudness or softness of his voice.
"Yes, Master Robert, sir?" the elf piped.
"Tell the others that Draco's back, please," Robert said, before Draco heard a pop of disapparation.
"Really?" he asked, stopping to look at the man.
"Yes, really," Robert nodded.
By the time he managed to get to the room and change his jumper, there were footsteps making their way to him. The pack smelled overly excited, and Elma smelled overly pleased. He would not put it past her to have known about Potter the entire time. Tiresias did favour her, after all.
"Harry?" Cleo asked, almost before reaching the door. "You went on a date with Harry?"
"Why?" Garrick asked.
"What's changed?" Cleo continued.
"Did you two realize that all the hate was really unresolved sexual tension?" Garrick asked.
"You two ask a lot of questions," Ludolph commented.
"Shhhh, let him talk, Ludolph," Cleo shushed.
"Yes, let him," Garrick nodded.
"You two are ridiculous," Robert sighed.
"No one asked you to comment," Garrick said.
"Clearly because I need your permission," Robert muttered.
"We should all stop talking if we want to hear him say anything," Elma said.
Draco was sitting on the bed nodding in agreement with her. The group muttered and mumbled a bit before finally quieting down and waiting, some of them now sitting on the edge of the bed.
"Yes, I went on a date with Harry," he confirmed. "I refuse to address Garrick's question. The date was a result of my finding out that Harry's my intended mate. He-"
"He's what now?" Garrick asked, blinking in shock and sitting down.
"You heard what I said," Draco said, before continuing. "He had taken a concealment potion, for reasons relating to the prophecy, and he told me about it the evening I came home in a fairly sour mood."
"Hmph, fairly sour," Robert snorted. "Furious as a werewolf with nothing to hunt was more like it."
"Before Robert distracts us," Ludolph started. "Does this affect your lack of awareness of him?"
"It doesn't," he answered.
"Ouch," Garrick winced.
"Awe, you smell like you need a hug," Cleo said, opening her arms towards him.
"Cleo, I don't- oof!"
He fell back on the bed as she hugged him. When Garrick and Robert decided it was a good idea to join in, Draco decided he might as well give up on getting away. Besides, it was not completely unpleasant. Elma and Ludolph even sat closer in the bed with them.
"So, how did the date go?" Ludolph asked, renewing the original fuss.
Ron opened the door on Harry's second knock. Apparently Harry had interrupted supper. He had sort of lost track of time after leaving the date so he was not sure how long he had spent alternating between actually doing work and staring at his ceiling thinking "Bloody hell, I went on a date with Malfoy."
He said exactly that to Ron and Hermione, minus the bloody hell bit. It was fine though, because Ron said it anyway. Harry explained the very important "I took a potion to hide the fact that I'm Malfoy's mate so that Wizarding society wouldn't go to shit and also because I don't think we make sense together, but I've told him now so he knows" part of the story.
"That's a lot of information, Harry," Hermione said. She still had the same piece of chicken on her fork from before he had started speaking.
"How'd Malfoy take it?" Ron asked, undeterred from his meal now that Harry had gone over the shocking details.
"Pretty badly," he said.
"He doesn't want you to be his mate, does he?" Ron asked.
"Well, he was more upset over the fact that I hadn't told him sooner," Harry said. "Furious would be more accurate... enraged... offended."
"Oh?" Hermione frowned, slowly going back to her supper.
"Threw a bit of a tantrum and refused to talk to me for over a week," he shrugged. He could shrug about it now that he was not wondering what was going on. "It's not exactly easy for him, not knowing."
"But he knows now. So everything should be fine, yeah?" Ron asked.
"The potion's still in effect. So no, not really," he sighed. "We've started dating so we can get to know each other a bit better before..."
"Before?" Ron asked, pausing in his eating.
"You're going to do it, aren't you?" Hermione sighed. "Harry, lycan's can live without their mates, can't they? They aren't like-"
"I know, I know," he said. He was getting tired of the 'they aren't like Veela' thing. "Look, it's different for Malfoy. He can't even feel me. He knows about me but he doesn't know about me."
"That sounds creepy," Ron muttered. "Feeling you."
"Different how?" Hermione asked, after shaking her head at her husband. "And is this why they wanted your floo address?"
"It was. And different like he won't be able to stop looking for me even though he knows who I am," he said. He was not quite sure how else to explain it and he did not quite think he fully understood it either.
"I feel like you shouldn't sacrifice your own happiness just so the bloke can have his, you know," Ron said.
"Ron's right," Hermione nodded. "But I also don't think Harry would want to live with that sort of guilt, hence the dating, correct?"
"Correct," he nodded. "And Malfoy's a bit of all right sometimes. The date was... amicable enough and we did spend about half a year in close company and nothing terrible happened."
"It's not as if you two even shared a tent though," Ron argued. "Being around each other and being together are completely different."
"I know that," he nodded. "Which means it doesn't hurt to have a trial-run."
"It'll hurt Malfoy, if you decide not to go through with it," Hermione pointed out.
"I will," he said. "Just not yet. I think it's possible it can work. He wants it to, so he's going to try. Plus I already get on well with the pack."
"Are you saying this to convince us or yourself?" Ron asked.
"... A bit of both I think..." he admitted.
The full moon had come again all too soon. Draco had left Elma in charge of the pack a few hours in and had started towards Potter's home. He could not feel the man the way he wanted to but he could sniff his way to the house, shifting when he was unable to avoid Muggle spaces. He did not know what he was expecting to happen when he got there but it was the destination he had been searching for all this time, except he was not going to be able to acknowledge finding it.
That made this moon worse than the others.
Draco knew his mate. Things were different, yet still the same. Everything his instincts should have been pointing him at, he had found. But still he yearned to know of them, of Potter. The man was the one but Draco could not feel him so it did not feel right. The lycan in him rejected the idea of Potter while his mind knew it would pay off in the long run. He knew he could tolerate it for a while, he had dated Astoria after all, but it was only a matter of time until he began to feel the same way he had with her. There was nothing he could do about it either.
Nothing but wait.
When Draco finally found himself in Potter's back yard, he did not know what to do. He stood, panting, and watched the building. He waited a while and still nothing. He knew coming here tonight would not change anything, yet he had still looked forward to some sort of glimmer of awareness since it was the full moon. He had hoped that, since aspects regarding his mate were stronger, the potion would be at least slightly overpowered. He was aware that it made absolutely no sense since Potter had been around him for so long at the camp and nothing had happened.
Draco could feel himself getting more and more agitated as the seconds ticked by, restless. He had already deciphered where in the house Potter was. He brushed his hair back with a hand and took deep breaths.
Potter was in a ridiculously Muggle area so Draco had had to run in his human form for some time. This body was not cut out for the cold in the same way his lycan body was. He had his winter fur to help keep him warm when he was a wolf. Now the air was too sharp in his lungs and too cold on his skin. He was there in the freezing cold simply staring at the bloody house and Merlin alone knew why. He supposed he was still waiting for that glimmer.
It was not forthcoming.
Abruptly, he ran. He made his way to the outskirts of the Muggle area as quickly as he could and transformed the second he was within the anti-Muggle wards.
For some reason Draco felt near panicking. He reckoned it was because he had stopped for so long when he felt more like running than he could ever recall, because he had begun to wonder what would happen if Potter decided that he could not go through with the bonding and because it was so fucking frustrating knowing who he needed but still having him feel so wrong. He had wanted to howl at the bloody house so that Potter would hear him and remember this was still happening to him.
Draco ran and ran and had no idea where he was running. Every now and then he stopped somewhere to howl at the sky before dashing off again. He reached a point where he could not really feel his legs carrying him and his howls were pitiful noises in the back of his throat, yet he kept on at it.
He knew he needed to apparate home when he felt the sun on his muzzle and could barely resist the tremble in his muscles.
His body ached.
Draco had been awake for a while now and was of the opinion that it was because of the pain. Pain that was not even prompted by movement. It was just there and annoying the shit out of him.
He called for Glenda and had her bring him some food and tea with honey and lemon. A lot of tea. His throat was raw from excessive howling and he needed to soothe it. He made his way through his breakfast, or dinner to be more accurate, slowly and nursed his tea. He was sore to the point that he apparently needed both hands to hold the mug somewhat steadily; he reminded himself that it was near the size of a bowl, and was therefore heavy, to appease his pride. He had Glenda set a stasis charm on it and then carefully and painfully made his way to the loo. The bottoms of his feet were unbelievably tender, as were his palms.
While he had been eating Glenda had drawn him a warm bath with some salts and essential oils that he had extracted from a few of his plants. Once he sank into the warmth he let out a sigh. Draco did not often use the household magic that could scrub and wash him but he did now. He was going to avoid any excess movement if he could, and right now he thought washing himself really was a bit of a bother that he did not have to go through, and he doubted he had enough range of motion to do a passable job anyway. He let the bath water relax his muscles and seep into his skin. Invisible fingers rubbed his scalp and lathered his hair. They were not quite as good as having someone else do it but they were more than good enough right now. When he was done, he rinsed off and had a number of drying charms cast on him before wobbling back to his room. Hopefully Glenda had changed the sheets because he had gone directly to bed when he had got in that morning and brought in some dirt with him.
As it turned out, Glenda had changed the sheets.
And for some reason, Potter was standing in the room. He looked extremely out of place.
"Your mother owled me for some reason," Potter said.
"Mother," he sighed, before he continued walking slowly over to the bed. He would need to have words with her later.
"You all right?" Potter asked, watching him carefully. "You look, and sound, like you've seen better days."
"I have," he grumbled.
"Need help?" Potter asked.
"No, I don't," he refused. He could get to his bed just fine on his own. It was simply going to take more time and effort than usual.
Potter sat on the edge of the bed and watched as he clambered in. He practically collapsed onto the mattress.
"I've never seen you look this bad," Potter said. All Draco could smell now was the stink of guilt, bitterness of remorse and the sourness ofpity.
He rolled away from the man and refused to groan aloud. No one but his pack and his mother needed to see him in such a state.
"Is it going to be like this every time?" Potter asked quietly. "Is this what it's been like recently? Malfoy?"
"Go home, Potter," he rasped. He needed more tea.
"You didn't answer me," Potter said, ignoring him.
With a sigh, a grimace and too much effort, Draco sat up. "No, it's not been like this," he said. He settled himself against the headboard and glanced over at the tea. It was so far.
Potter noticed the movement, removed the stasis charm and got it for him. "Here," he offered, as he sat beside him. Draco stared at the mug. "Unless you want me to feed it to you then maybe you should-"
"Give it here," he said, holding his hands out. Potter handed him the mug and Draco winced at the weight of it.
"Okay, never mind that," Potter said, as he snatched the mug away from him.
"What are you doing?" Draco sighed, letting his hands fall. The impact made his thighs ache a bit more.
The man shifted closer and held the mug up to him. "Here," he mumbled.
"You're not serious," he said incredulously. Potter smelled serious, but maybe Draco's senses were acting up as well. He had been in the cold all night and part of that night he had been in his human-
"Just drink, would you?" Potter pressed.
"Potter, you don't-"
"Malfoy," Potter sighed in frustration. "Do you want the bloody tea or not?"
Eventually he conceded and put his lips to the mug so that Potter could feed him the beverage. The stasis charm had kept the tea warm and Draco closed his eyes briefly as it soothed his throat.
"Thank you," he mumbled.
"Yeah," Potter nodded, setting the mug back on the bedside table.
There was a bout of silence wherein they looked anywhere but at one another. Eventually Potter let out a sigh and turned to look at him.
"What?" he asked.
"Is it always going to be this bad?" Potter asked. "You never answered that."
"How am I supposed to know that, Potter?" he asked. He would have shrugged as well but he thought better of it. "I don't think it will. I can't say for sure though. It was fairly bad when Cleo found Charlie and then last night was my first moon since I've known about you. It seems the intensity is affected by my... emotions."
"Malfoy, if you..." Potter sighed and scratched his head. "If you don't want to... to wait, I can- we could forget about the dating for now and-"
"No," he said. Really it would be easier for him if they just got on with consummating the bond, but not like this.
"What?" Potter blinked. "I thought you wanted-"
"I do," he nodded. "But what I don't want is to have to suffer through you reeking of guilt or pity or unwillingness the entire time. It's terribly off putting and- Apparently I want you to want to do this. So, no."
Potter gaped at him a bit before shaking himself and looking at Draco as if he could not quite understand him. "You're a glutton for punishment, aren't you?" he asked.
"Clearly I'm not the only one," Draco said.
"I suppose not," Potter agreed. "So, you really want to wait until I'm ready for this?"
"Apparently I do," he admitted.
"Do you... still want me to go home?" Potter asked.
"... Only if you want to."
"So, why is it that you were so early for our date?" Draco asked, as the charms he had cast unfolded the blanket and unpacked the picnic basket.
Harry had got them a portkey to somewhere sunny and grassy to get away from the lingering March cold.
"Garrick and Robert wanted to ask me about a couple of people," Harry shrugged.
Not to mention that Narcissa had sat with him for a bit of tea first to let him know that she would in no way be pleased if Harry backed out of this relationship last minute, which he decided to take as a threat. He did not need her telling him that though. He and Draco had been getting along fine in the past month and the blond's last moon had been far less strenuous than the previous.
"Ernie McMillan and Alice Spinnet?" Draco asked, haphazardly pinning his hair up.
"Yeah" he nodded, as they both sat. "They seemed really interested in them."
"Longbottom said those two have been on internships... somewhere-"
"Australia," Harry provided.
"Australia, doing Merlin knows what-"
"Healing apprenticeships I think," he said.
"Yes, those details aren't pertinent to what I was going to say though," Draco said with an annoyed sigh. "What is, is that they're back after, I'm estimating, four or so years."
"Oh, oh, I see," Harry said, as he opened the food containers. "Have they approached them yet?"
"Do they seem like they have?" Draco asked, looking at him flatly. The blond took up a spoon and started dishing out rice for both of them. "All they've done so far is... well essentially they're stalking the two of them. McMillan and Spinnet are always together when they aren't working. Even then, they both work at St Mungo's."
"Well, they both spent a fair amount of time in a foreign country together," he shrugged, while he dished out Draco's chicken. "It makes sense they would."
"Did you make all this?" Draco asked, with a frown.
Harry blinked at the sudden change in topic. "Yeah, I did," he nodded, before getting some chicken for himself.
"I thought your culinary skills were limited to bacon and eggs," Draco commented. "And this smells good."
"Are you complimenting me or not?" he asked. "I can't quite tell."
"It's a grey area," Draco admitted.
"Well, I live alone. I sort of have to be able to cook," he pointed out.
"Not at all true," Draco disagreed, as he pulled out a bottle. "Millicent can't cook to save her life."
"That's pumpkin juice," he pointed out. Draco immediately set the bottle down. "The other one's the lemonade."
"Yes, as I was saying," Draco continued, as he got the lemonade for himself, "Garrick and Robert are trying to learn about the two before they approach them."
"Why don't they just... approach them and then learn about them?" he asked. Mates or not it was what people usually did in these situations. Harry had never taken those two for the types that would watch first and then approach after.
"Because they're idiots," Draco said. "Or, as Cleo's said, they're creeps."
"Wait," Harry said, sitting upright. He had to wonder why it had taken him so long to realize he did not know who the intended mate for whom was. "Ernie's whose mate? Robert?"
"Garrick," Draco said. Harry froze with his fork mid way to his mouth. "We were shocked too. I'm confident Garrick was as well."
"I would have expected it to be Robert..." he frowned. He reckoned he should not have jumped to conclusions again though.
"This is actually good," Draco said, looking at his food. "Where'd you learn to cook?"
Harry smiled and shrugged before eating some of his own food. He had made a lemon garlic chicken stir fry and some rice to go with it. "Thanks, and I just checked out recipes really," he said. "You're terrible at keeping one conversation today."
"This is only happening because I really hadn't expected you to be able to make anything other than breakfast," Draco said.
"Prat," Harry muttered. "And I make breakfast so often because I don't just enjoy having it in the mornings."
"I thought you rarely ate breakfast," Draco said, after he finished swallowing. Merlin forbids he ever speak with food in his mouth.
"Even more reason to have it whenever I want to," he said.
"I won't comment on your logic," Draco said.
After they were done eating Draco pulled out whatever it was he had made Harry put in the basket for dessert. Harry had been expecting something he had either never had before or had trouble pronouncing on his first try. What he saw instead was an assortment of sliced citrus fruits.
"What, no fancy dessert?" he asked, reaching for a mandarin but having the container snatched out of reach.
"If you don't appreciate the citrus, you don't need to eat it," Draco said.
"Who said I don't appreciate it?" he asked, as he stretched forwards.
"You didn't sound too appreciative to me," Draco sniffed, stretching further away.
"Prat. Give it to me," he demanded.
"I really don't think insults will help you here," the man said.
"Draco," he said warningly.
"Those two are right. You do make this fun," Draco smirked. He pulled the container back into reach and plucked a slice out before holding it away again. "You can get this one."
"Tosser," he said, pinching the blond despite his own amusement.
"I was joking before," Draco said, looking at him pointedly, "but now I'm serio-"
Harry pounced. Draco was too preoccupied worrying over whether or not the container would fall, or tilt and spill its contents to stop him.
"I forgot what a brute you were," Draco said, twisting to glare at him. In an effort to save the fruits, the blond had wound up on his side and underneath Harry.
"You were being a pain in the arse," he said, as he sat up and finally partook in the fruits.
"You didn't seem genuinely annoyed to me," Draco teased, as he shifted onto his back.
For a moment the blond looked as if he would complain about their position, or as if he would rather Harry move, but he seemed to decide otherwise. Every now and then Draco would have moments where his inability to acknowledge Harry as his mate would conflict with his knowledge of the fact more intensely than usual. Harry had mostly learned to ignore it.
"How would you know that?" he asked. Draco gave him a flat stare before tapping his nose and then taking a slice of grapefruit for himself. "Your nose really is a disadvantage on my end."
"Mine as well at times," Draco said.
"How so?" he asked.
"It's not always pleasant knowing so much. What if I don't want my nose to tell me how you're feeling?" Draco asked. "I really don't think it's necessary for me to be so aware of that sometimes."
"Like when?" he asked, grabbing an orange slice.
"... Like whenever I mention something from my childhood, you tend to get a bittersweet sort of smell about you," Draco said. "Mentions of Severus and Dumbledore elicit a sort of... it's as if you're not sure how to feel about then. And I'm certain you don't want me noticing some of that."
"I'd rather you didn't," he agreed. He prompted Draco to spread his legs so that he could sit back on the blanket.
"I understand how Severus and Dumbledore are touchy subjects," Draco said, sitting up. "But what is it about the childhood stories? I don't think my younger self warrants such emotive reactions."
"Wow, I really didn't expect us to touch on this topic," he said, rubbing his scar out of habit. Draco pulled Harry's hand from his face and raised his brows in question.
In all honesty, Harry had not intended to talk to Draco about the Dursleys at all, which he should have at least considered if he was planning to spend his life with the bloke. It would explain why he was so loyal to the Weasleys, something Draco did not seem to fully understand, and why he could not stand small closets and had taken the door off of the one in his room. There were probably a number of other things that Harry did not really notice about himself that were a result of the Dursleys treatment of him as well.
"Do you remember what you said in first year?" he asked, "Before we went on Christmas hols."
"I'm going to assume it was something insulting since you still remember it," Draco said.
Harry chuckled. "Yeah, but I remember it because it was accurate," he said, picking at the blanket. "You'd said something about the kids that weren't wanted at home having to stay at Hogwarts for the Christmas. It's not as if I had wanted to go back though." He added, just in case Draco thought that.
"Is it too late for me to apologise about that?" Draco asked.
"I don't know that I need you to," he shrugged. "We weren't friends or anything."
"Either way, I'm sorry," Draco said. "And I won't pry if you don't want to discuss it with me."
"Thanks," he nodded.
He would need to properly speak about it with Draco at some point in time but he was glad that Draco knew that time was not now. He was also glad that Draco had decided to start telling him random things about the plants around them so that he could not linger on thoughts of his past.
"Never in my life did I imagine that I'd see the Weasleys at Malfoy Manor," Harry said, as he looked behind them. "And of their own volition too, most of them. I know Ron and Hermione weren't too keen on coming back here after, you know... And considering Molly... well, the Bellatrix thing. I didn't expect her and Narcissa to do anything other than glare across the table. Apparently I was wrong."
Draco snorted at that. His aunt Bellatrix had gone from family to threat long before the end of the war. While his mother had not been ecstatic about her sister's death, she definitely had not been heartbroken either.
"Is that a snort of agreement?" Harry asked.
He nodded and continued to lead Harry across the grounds. The Manor was full of raucous Weasleys and the women in the pack were irritable at the moment and he did not want to deal with either of those, so he had suggested that he and Harry take a walk. He reckoned the Weasleys would not mind getting to know the rest of the pack a bit better without him or Harry there.
"You know, when you suggested we get some fresh air I didn't assume you'd be on all fours," Harry said, glancing at him up and down. "It's a little weird talking to you like this. It's sort of like talking to a pet, except I'm still expecting worded responses from you."
He let out a displeased growl at that and Harry rolled his eyes at him. Draco did not take too well to being compared to a pet. He considered shifting back but he had wanted to walk in his lycan form. He enjoyed doing it and Harry would have to get used to it eventually.
"I didn't say you were a pet," Harry pointed out. "But I'm talking to a large wolf right now. It's the only comparison I have."
Draco looked away from Harry.
"You're so dramatic," the man said.
This time, he swatted Harry with his tail.
"Bad wolf," Harry scolded teasingly. Draco snorted and began to walk ahead of him. "Thank you for proving my point," Harry laughed.
When they were a fair distance from the Manor, Draco stopped and stretched, before he lay in the grass, his head on his front paws. Harry sat beside him and rested a hand on his head, stroking his fur. It felt good. Draco closed his eyes and allowed himself to enjoy it, even if Harry was petting him.
As they relaxed Harry asked Draco basic yes or no questions about the stories his mother had decided were appropriate to tell over dinner, much to his chagrin. He grunted, snorted and nodded as appropriate, or simply dismissed the question altogether. As it went on, Harry slipped into a sort of sadness that made Draco wrinkle his nose and look up at him.
Harry smiled at him and shook his head.
"It's nothing," Harry said. "I was just wondering what it would have been like if the Dursleys had come and met you."
Draco's ears twitched at the mention of Harry's Muggle family. He did not know much about them. Harry usually made vague comments if he ever mentioned his childhood but he never gave Draco much to go on. All he knew was that they disliked wizards and that meant Harry as well, which also meant he had not been treated very well. He had not got any details though.
He had no interest in meeting them, and it was not because they were Muggle.
"It would have been terrible is what. The meeting would have to have been complete happenstance and they likely wouldn't have wanted anything to do with us. I reckon they might have just walked by me. I told you once that they weren't fond of wizards. I think hate would have been a more accurate description of how they felt though..." Harry continued. He absently switched between stroking Draco's fur and running his fingers through it. Draco had not fully shed his winter fur as yet so he was still fairly... fluffy.
"Dudley didn't actually seem to hate me though. Not at the end. I think by then he'd realised Vernon and Petunia were being ridiculous and... I suppose he thought them a bit unfair towards me. He left some tea at the door for me once," Harry said, shaking his head in sombre amusement. "Almost tripped on it when I got let out to use the loo. Merlin knows why he didn't just slide it through the cat-flap."
It took a moment for Draco to move past the way Harry was petting him to realise what had been said. He flattened his ears and adjusted himself so that his body curved around the man. Harry's relatives were worse than he had initially expected them to be, locking him up like he was a prisoner. The only doors that had cat-flaps, aside from the ones for actual pets, were the ones for holding cells, like Lucius' in Azkaban.
Harry did not deserve that sort of treatment. No child did.
"I wonder what Sirius and Remus would have said if they were here," Harry murmured.
Draco pawed at him to pull him away from the longing that was beginning to overwhelm him.
"I don't think Sirius would have been too happy about the nature of it," Harry said. "Remus might have been more understanding about it though."
Harry sighed and stared up at the night sky.
"You know, it's abnormally easy for me to talk to you when you're like this," he said, absently rubbing Draco's neck with slightly trembling hands. Draco moved so that he could rest his head in Harry's lap. He got a smile and another head rub for his efforts. "That's weird, right? Because I think I should be able to speak to you when you're human too."
Draco growled softly. He did not think they were at a point where it would be easy to open up about some of the more complex aspects of their pasts just yet. Plus, Draco could not help holding himself back a bit. He could only commit himself so far without feeling his connection to Harry.
"I suppose not," Harry agreed. "I did spend my Hogwarts summers talking to Hedwig you know, so maybe that's why it's so easy."
At the mention of the owl, Draco smelled the longing creeping back. Draco had never got attached enough to his hawk-owl to really be able to understand the feeling and the mix of emotions that came with it. Harry's scent provided him an adequate simulation though. He found that the man's emotions tended to affect him at times, especially when he was in lycan form.
He turned his head to lick and nudge at Harry's palm.
"Thanks," Harry smiled. He rested his hand on Draco's muzzle and began to pet him there. It was a bizarre tingling sensation that Draco did not think he could stand for very long. He twisted his head away and wrinkled his nose as he snorted. "Didn't like that?"
Draco shook his head and pawed at his muzzle for emphasis before he rested his head in Harry's lap again.
"I'll keep it in mind," Harry nodded, smiling.
Harry used both his hands to scratch along Draco's neck and around his ears in wonderful motions. Draco could not help the way his tail beat happily against the ground, or how his tongue lolled out of his mouth and his eyes kept drooping closed.
Harry gave a chuckle and continued with his affections. "If the Hogwarts Draco could see this now, I think he'd have a heart attack," he smiled.
Draco ignored the comment and rolled onto his back and Harry took the invitation for what it was and rubbed his chest and stomach. He used one hand to scratch behind Draco's ear and Draco felt as if he was in heaven. He could not say he was particularly pleased about his hind leg kicking about of its own accord but he could not help it. He felt like he would melt away if Harry kept this up and the human part of him was more than welcoming to the touches.
"You should see yourself," Harry said, with a chuckle. "You're adorable when you're like this."
He could not take anymore. He rolled over and reverted to his human form to climb on top of Harry. All the petting had got to him. When was the last time anyone had really touched him? Astoria had been the last person Draco slept with and he and Harry had mostly avoided intimate interactions. Either Harry would start worrying about the permanence of the bond – it was as if he was expecting future betrayal and did not want to find himself trapped - or Draco would be too conflicted to do anything despite wanting to.
Right now he did not even care that Harry had called him adorable. Draco was randy. It did not help that the women of the pack were almost in heat either. It was not so distracting when they stayed in their human forms but once they went lycan pheromones were almost all you could smell on them, it was what had been making them so bloody irritable recently, well if you were not their mate that is.
Draco kissed Harry before he got him lying down properly and pressed his erection against Harry's leg, grinding and rubbing and-
"Draco, what- Hey, wait a sec-" Harry tore his lips away from Draco's and pulled back to look at him. "What's got into you?"
"Nothing," he panted, ducking his head to lick Harry's neck as his hips-
"Draco," Harry said sternly.
"I'm randy," he said, pressing his erection more firmly against Harry's leg for emphasis. "All the petting and rubbing and scratching..."
"Draco, we're in your yard and I really don't think now is-"
"I've no intention of claiming you prematurely," he assured. "No one from the pack is going to come near here once they smell us and I doubt the Weasleys are going to go traipsing around the grounds just because they feel like it."
He could smell Harry's arousal building but there was worry lying underneath it. Draco managed to convince himself not to rut against the man's leg as he waited. "Please?" he begged, ducking his head into the crook of Harry's neck and nuzzling him.
"Fuck it," Harry sighed, as he finally gave in and pulled Draco into a fierce snog.
He gladly slipped a leg between Harry's and ground into him as they snogged and nipped and grabbed at one another. They had never managed to get further than some heavy petting but Draco did not think that would do tonight. He let his teeth scrape gently along Harry's tongue and Harry moaned before plundering Draco's mouth once more and arching against him. Draco deviated from Harry's lips and began to make his way down his neck as he rucked up the jumper that stood in his way. He pinched and rubbed Harry's nipples and quickly made his way down his chest, kissing and laving and biting at skin.
Harry seemed to enjoy the biting quite a bit.
By the time Draco got to Harry's trousers he was heady with the scent of his arousal and need. He made quick work of the buckle and deftly undid the trousers. He tongued Harry's navel as he slowly pulled the trousers and pants down. Harry was panting underneath him and Draco could smell the anticipation and the need building.
His cock twitched in reaction.
Harry gasped and thrust upwards when Draco took hold of him and squeezed. "Please," Harry breathed, his eyes half-lidded.
Draco stroked Harry and licked at his head before sucking it into his mouth, hard. He kept it up as he pumped his fist and Harry groaned and squirmed. He began to make his way down the man's cock and used his free hand to palm his own erection. Draco did not waste any time teasing Harry. He just got to it and had Harry writhing and on the ground in no time.
He had to stop him from ramming his cock down his throat.
He rucked up his tunic and began to tug at himself as he bobbed his head and fondled Harry's balls. Harry's orgasm was building and Draco could almost feel it, he was not sure if it was a smell or not but it did not matter. It might even have been the heat emanating from Harry's body for all he knew.
"Draco, I'm going to- Oh, fuck yes," Harry grunted, before Draco felt him pulse into his mouth.
He watched Harry's body arch as he pressed Draco's head impossibly closer to him. He inhaled Harry's euphoria, listened to his grunts and his breathing, felt him writhing and pulsing and tasted him on his tongue. He was observing Harry's pleasure with all of his senses and it did not take him more than two strokes to spill himself onto the grass, moaning around the cock in his mouth and prompting Harry to mutter obscenities at him. Draco found his heightened senses very advantageous at times.
"If your younger self could see you now," Draco said playfully, once he had finished lapping at the man.
"I think he'd be petrified that I let you anywhere near my cock," Harry chuckled, as Draco rested beside him.
"I think if you went back to when you were even younger he would just be happy that things worked out exceptionally well for him," he said.
"Are you referring to us?" Harry asked, tugging up his trousers and pants. "Because, no offence, but I don't think we're quite there yet."
"We're not," he agreed. "And I was referring to the fact that you have family and friends that care about you. That includes the pack."
"He probably wouldn't believe it," Harry said. "It'd sound too good to be true."
"I think that if he saw you, he would know that it was."
"And what would childhood Draco think if he saw you?" Harry asked, rolling over and curving his body against Draco's.
He thought about it for a while and dismissed the nagging that told him he did not need to share it with anyone other than his mate. "If you go back far enough, I think he'd be pleased to know that he wasn't lonely anymore," he admitted. "And that his friends were his friends because they chose to be."
Working with Veela was almost never fun. Not for Harry anyway. He never enjoyed helping through the mate registration process when the mate was already involved with someone. It usually got a bit ugly.
The only reason Veelas and their mates had to come in for this was because of the side effects that were caused should the mate refuse them. It was a bit drastic but Veelas tended to regress into severe depression when rejected by their mates and would suffer physical trauma that at most times lead to death. As such, it had become mandatory for mates to accept their Veela and so the pair bonds were kept on record. In the event that any Veela were abandoned and left to suffer, as sometimes happened within the first year, they knew who to approach.
Some mates would be frightened away by the possessiveness brought on during mating season, some of them seemed to convince themselves that everyone must be exaggerating about the side effects and others really just did not care.
The pair bonds that did work to get to know one another were always happy with their bonds though. It simply took a little time and effort, like any relationship.
At the moment, he was trying to convince one Hank Holden that while he loved his wife and wanted to be with her, it was not going to help the current situation, especially not right now. Jessica Holden, on the other hand, was far more understanding of the situation and was willing to stay at her mother's for a week.
It was spring time now and the mating season for Veela in Britain had begun, an inopportune time for Bartholomew Rogers to finally come across her. Since the two had yet to become a bonded pair, Rogers' instincts prompted not only the excessive possessiveness but also the flamboyant courting behaviours that Mrs. Holden's husband was not at all receptive of.
"I don't see why we need to be separated just for his comfort," Holden said, gesturing wildly at Rogers. "We've already got to get a divorce because of this. Can't we be allowed what little time we have left until all the legal issues are sorted?"
"Hank, it's only a week," Jessica said exasperatedly. Harry had to refer to her by her given name so as to not upset Rogers. He did not appreciate her being referred to as Mrs. Holden. The woman reached over and grasped Holden's hand. "After that, I'll move back in until we've settled the terms of the... the divorce."
Rogers twitched at the mention of Jessica returning home with her husband and shifted to crouch in his seat and curl into himself, his eyes turned away from their clasped hands. Veela were sensitive about their mates showing romantic affection to others and the soft expressions and delicate touches Jessica really could not prevent herself from doing were not at all pleasant for him.
Harry wondered how lycans would behave if they were as outwardly expressive about their mates, aside from the running that they did amongst themselves. He wondered what his relationship with Draco would have been like had the blond been allowed to know about him the natural way.
"We shouldn't even have to do this, Jess," Hank said.
The man looked as if he was about caress her face and Harry cleared his throat to interrupt them. Rogers had started glaring at Holden the moment he had begun to speak. Watching a mate touch someone and watching someone touch your mate were two completely different things for Veela. One elicited pain and rejection and the other elicited anger and protectiveness.
Harry did not want the latter happening in his office. It would be way too much trouble and he did not have time to file a ridiculously long report about another Veela lashing out because he was supposed to go to some get together with Draco and his friends not too long after work. The blond had tolerated an entire evening with Harry's and now it was his turn to do the same.
Unlike Draco though, Harry did not have a Neville to make things easier.
"Listen, Mr. Holden, it's safer for everyone if Jessica's away from you right now," he said. "As I've already explained, it's the Veela mating season and that means that Mr. Rogers is going to feel an increased protectiveness towards her and knowing that you're with her will set off those instincts and behaviors. What we want to do here is to get through this with as few incidents as possible, hopefully none at all."
"Oh, yes, because this is all about the bloody Veela," Hank snapped.
"Hank, there's nothing we can do about it," Jessica said. "Please, just calm down. This is already difficult enough without the arg-"
"You're my wife, Jess," Holden said. "My wife."
"And she's my mate," Rogers said.
"Gentlemen," Harry said calmly.
"So what?" Holden asked, ignoring Harry completely. "All that means is that you can't live without her and you've got to rip her away from her marriage and someone who actually loves her!"
"I'll grow to love her too," Rogers said, leaning forwards from his chair.
"And who says she'll ever love you back?" Holden argued.
"All right, I'm separating you," Harry said, moving around his desk and drawing his wand. Rogers was bristling at the other man's words and his talons had grown out. It was only a matter of time before Holden pushed him too far. "Mr. Holden, come with me."
"Come on, Jess," Holden said, reaching for her arm. Harry stepped between the two and stopped the man.
"Hank, I don't think that's safe right now," Jessica interrupted, pulling herself away.
"So what, I can't even touch you?" Hank snapped, surging forwards.
Harry held the man back from his wife and Rogers began to screech at Holden, his beak and plumage now out and his wings flapping threateningly.
"Oh Merlin," Jessica breathed, slipping to the other side of the room from Rogers.
Harry kept himself between the spouses and had his wand at the ready as he addressed the upset Veela. "Mr. Rogers," he said calmly. "Bartholomew, you need to calm down. You're frightening Jessica. You don't want to do that now, do you?"
"You crazy fucking bird!" Holden yelled.
Harry shushed the man and brandished his wand at Rogers when he snapped forward. The Veela had paused when Harry had mentioned that he was frightening his mate but Holden had thrown that out the window the moment he opened his mouth.
"Mr. Holden, you need to leave the office," he said, keeping his eyes on Rogers.
"And leave Jess with him?" the man objected. "Are you mad? I'm taking her with-"
Rogers went mad as Holden, rather stupidly, went for his wife. Harry barely had enough time to cast a shield charm and after that Rogers was moving so wildly that it was difficult to land a solid hit. The Veela screeched loudly and Harry winced at the sound.
It took him a moment to get his bearings and by then Rogers was heading for Holden, who had also been stunned by the noise, but more so than Harry. He cast a stunner at the Veela and it turned on him and attacked. Veela were more resistant to magical attacks than wizards and Harry reckoned his spell had not exactly been one of his best since his senses were a bit muddled. Talons locked onto his neck and his left shoulder as he was shoved to the ground.
The pain was good for pulling Harry out of the daze but he did not want any more of it. He quickly bound Rogers' beak shut before he got his eyes pecked out of their sockets. It caused the Veela to thrash his head about in an effort to release the bonds.
"Bartholomew," he gasped. "Pull yourself together."
The Veela paused and blinked at him before trying to screech. He cast a full body bind but it only managed to bind one half of the Veela's body. Thankfully the talons choking the life out of him were attached to that side so he could finally breathe. The talons in his shoulder however, tightened and possibly fractured some bones. Harry swore before casting a Confundus and an Incarcerous, in what he felt was quick succession. Rogers crashed down on him, thrashing, and he groaned at the impact, the Veela's beak way too close to his face for comfort and he tried to wriggle free from underneath it.
Rogers soon stopped moving and Harry wondered what had happened until he noticed the Veela was being levitated off of him. Security hadfinally arrived. They reinforced Rogers' bonds and carried him away.
It seemed Jessica and Holden were still woozy from Rogers' screech but they were otherwise fine. Harry on the other hand was being hauled off to St Mungo's. The wounds he had sustained apparently warranted it. He did not complain though because he was getting a little light headed and suspected that those talons had gone deeper into his shoulder than he had thought.
He definitely was not going to make it to the Manor tonight.
"Are we really so intimidating that Potter can't come and socialize with us outside of public?" Blaise drawled. "Or did Pansy scare him off the last time she spoke to him?"
It was long past time since Harry was supposed to have arrived at the Manor and Draco was not being finicky about punctuality this time. Three hours was not finicky. Three hours was late. He had flooed both Grimmauld and Harry's office and got no reply.
"Something likely came up," he said, pouring himself some more wine.
He was somewhat worried about Harry but the part of him that was not committed to the relationship was throwing so much doubt his way that he did not think he could do much more than think about it until the doubt died down a bit. His conflicts were getting more persistent as of late.
"Mhmm," Pansy hummed. "Does this happen often? It's rather suspicious."
"Pansy, not every bloke is slagging around, you know," Millicent said. "They aren't Blaise."
"Oi, I don't slag around," Blaise objected. "I just haven't settled down."
"Then explain my last three boyfriends, Mills," Pansy said.
Draco could not help but chuckle at that.
"What?" she snapped.
"You've got dreadful taste in men," Blaise said bluntly. "Dreadful."
"It's true," Millicent agreed.
Draco nodded absently before turning to the door. Someone was coming towards the room.
"Draco," Garrick called, poking his head inside, the scent of worry wafting in from his direction.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Ernie's just flooed. Harry's at St Mungo's," Garrick said.
Draco blinked at the man before shooting out of his seat and opening the floo in that room.
"We'll see ourselves out," Blaise said, before Draco flooed to the hospital. "See Pans, Potter wasn't-"
Draco felt like an idiot for letting the doubt override his worry.
When Draco got to St Mungo's, Harry was lying in bed mumbling to Ernie, who was permanently suppressing a smile as he nodded or shook his head.
"I mean it's really nice to see Garrick happy," Harry mumbled. "I feel like it was... only yesterday that he kept asking question after question about you... Do you remember when I stalked Draco in sixth year?"
Ernie's brows rose and this time, he shook his head.
"Well I did, because he was being suspicious and I needed to know why," Harry explained. "Ron and Hermione thought I was being crazy- Did I change topics again?"
"Mhmm," Ernie smiled.
Harry paused and frowned as he seemed to try remembering his original line of thought.
There were dark bruises on his neck as well as a few on his arms. His shoulder looked to be bandaged and the corresponding arm was in a sling. That was about all Draco could see in terms of damage. And all he could smell from Harry was a concoction of potions that had him ridiculously relaxed, that and a small amount blood Draco tried not to worry about.
He reckoned he should speak up before Harry started talking about how Garrick had basically stalked Ernie though. He figured that was where the man was going earlier.
He knocked lightly on the door.
"Hm?" Ernie turned. "Oh, Draco, there you are. Did you know that Harry apparently doesn't like hospitals? Which led him to telling me about all sorts of things. Did it really take Garrick an entire hour to walk up to me?"
Ignoring the fact that it took Garrick over a week to walk up to Ernie, Draco nodded. "It did, maybe even a little longer," he said.
"Draco," Harry smiled, waving at him weakly.
"Hullo, Harry," he waved, before he turned back to Ernie. "How is he?"
"He's fine," Ernie shrugged. "He just needs to get some rest. We've mended any fractures he sustained and his shoulder wounds really only need one or two bandage changes until they're closed up fully, but he doesn't need to stay in hospital for that. He's just got a few doses of potions to take tomorrow and the day after, plus some balms to apply to the bruises, and then he'll be good as new. You can check him out if you'd like though. I, or Alice, can stop by and do it if you really want to."
"I'll take him home," he said. "And I'm adept enough at bandaging to change them myself."
"Home, yes," Harry nodded.
"Just don't hover too much," Ernie said, shaking his head in amusement at Harry. "Don't be a Robert."
"I'm not as eccentric as he is, so even if I did hover, it wouldn't be quite like that," he said, as he recalled the time Alice had got ill.
"That's true," Ernie nodded.
"What happened anyway?" he asked.
"Did Garrick not tell you everything I said?" Ernie sighed. "I swear on Rowena's diadem that any messages I need sent I'll leave with the house elves. A Veela Harry was dealing with at work got more than a bit agitated by his mate's spouse and well, this is what happened. He fractured some bones in his left shoulder, there was severe bruising to his neck and then some minor bruises from the tussle."
He sighed and nodded. "All right, what do I sign?" he asked.
After getting Harry to Grimmauld, Draco floated him up to the bedroom and into the bed. He rolled up his sleeves and got some pyjama bottoms from the drawer before carefully helping Harry out of his clothes. The man was under enough pain potions that he was not feeling any discomfort and that made things easier than they would have been otherwise.
"You're good at this," Harry commented drowsily, as Draco helped him lie back in the bed.
"Yes, well, it's not the first time I've had to do it," he said, helping Harry settle in.
"You've never tucked me into bed before," Harry frowned.
"I know that," he nodded, pulling up the sheets.
He had been referring to the time when the Dark Lord had lived in the Manor and he had occasionally had to help one of his parents to bed. Bellatrix had not really had any qualms about who she hexed. She had simply refrained from doing any permanent damage to family members.
"So, why've you done it before?" Harry asked with yawn.
"How about I tell you another time?" he asked, getting off of the bed. He did not want to have that conversation and he did not think he could yet. "You're tired and you need to sleep."
"Stay," Harry mumbled.
"I will." Draco nodded.
"Stay here," Harry said, flopping his hand on the bed.
Draco sighed and slipped his shoes off before he started at his wizard's clothes. Harry tended to feel more comfortable sleeping beside him in his wolf form and these clothes would only rip if he shifted.
"No, stay like that," Harry said with another yawn.
He stopped and stared at Harry a bit before making his way under the covers. Once he was there Harry kept tugging at his shirt until he was flush against his side and he could feel Harry's mess of hair tickling his forehead. It was almost too intimate for him right now but he decided to bear with it.
Draco wished Harry would hurry and consummate their bond. He had not told him, but his May moon had been a bit harsh now that things began to feel so serious. He did not think he could take much more of his internal struggles.
"You really are trouble," he whispered quietly, once Harry had fallen asleep. His fingers hovered over the man's brow for a moment before he was able to trace along it.
He sighed and tried to go to sleep.
When Harry woke up, he felt sluggish. He absolutely hated the way he felt after having to take a variety of potions. He grabbed his glasses and trudged to the bathroom to empty his bladder and brush his teeth. He checked the mirror and his neck was bruised and tender but if he had suffered any puncture wounds there they were healed. Harry did not bother trying to look at his shoulder. It was sore and peeking underneath the bandages would be more trouble than they were worth right now. He sighed and washed his face with one hand before heading down to the kitchen for a bite.
He was still tired but he was hungry too.
Why is the kitchen below the first bloody floor? Harry grumbled mentally, as he made his way down.
He reached for the kitchen door and started when it swung open before he touched it.
"You could have stayed in bed you know," Draco said. He was standing in the doorway of the kitchen. It took Harry a moment to remember that Draco had been here when he had fallen asleep. It was more along the lines of knocking out if he wanted to be technical about it. "How're you feeling?"
"Tired. Did you sleep here?" he asked. He gave Draco a good look. He was still wearing what Harry thought were the same clothes. Draco was frowning at him when he looked back up. "You did. You didn't have to."
"Didn't I?" Draco asked.
"Is that a trick question?" he asked.
"Never mind," Draco sighed, going back in the kitchen. "I fixed some oatmeal, by the way."
"Thanks," Harry said, blinking.
"If you don't want to eat it-"
"No, I do," Harry said, yawning as he made his way to the table. It made his neck ache a bit but it was tolerable. "I just- You cooking caught me off guard."
"You were doped up on potions last night," Draco pointed out. "No one in their right mind would let you cook after that."
Harry shrugged and winced as the pain in his left shoulder flared a bit. That one was not quite as tolerable but he had felt worse.
"How bad is it?" Draco asked, as he got Harry his food.
"Not that bad," he answered. He propped his head up on the table with his good hand and watched Draco walk over to him.
The blond looked nice with a bit of bed head. He also looked nice in Harry's kitchen.
"Here," Draco said, as he set the bowl in front of Harry and took a seat across from him.
"Where's yours?" he frowned, taking up the spoon.
"I just ate," Draco said. He nodded towards the food, "Your turn."
Harry was hungry so he got to it. He also wanted to get back to bed and the sooner he ate, then the sooner all his immediate problems were solved. As he ate, Draco perused the Daily Prophet. He did not seem too interested in it though. Actually, he looked as if he were falling asleep.
"When did you go to bed?" he asked.
"Finish swallowing before you speak, Harry," Draco said, with a grimace.
He gave Draco a flat stare before swallowing his food. "Well?" he continued.
The blond shrugged. "Some time after you," he said. "I wasn't exactly concerned about the time."
"Did you sleep?" Harry asked a few minutes later.
"I did," Draco nodded.
"You look tired," he pointed out. He set the spoon down in the bowl and shoved it aside once he was done.
"I can get some rest later," Draco said. "You still look tired."
Harry nodded. "Can I sleep in the parlour?" he asked. "My room is far."
"It's your house," Draco reminded him.
"Good," he said, getting up. "You come too. I wouldn't mind a giant wolf to keep me warm."
Draco looked at him oddly. "It's not cold," he pointed out.
"Well then... maybe I just want the company," he admitted. "And maybe some help getting up the stairs. Going down is one thing but-"
"It's mostly the company you want," Draco smirked, as he set down the paper. "And if I'm going to help you, you might as well go all the way to your room."
Draco helped Harry to his room but before he could go back to sleep, he had to take a pain potion and a blood replenishing potion. He reckoned the last one explained why he was still tired. After that, Draco changed his bandages and applied some sort of slave to his nearly healed wounds and some butterfly weed balm to his bruises.
Draco was delicate in his motions and meticulous in the way he applied Harry's bandages. It reminded him of the way he handled his plants. It might have just been Harry's imagination, but he thought Draco somehow managed to make being a herbologist look sexually appealing.
The man helped him to lie back in the bed, which he thought a little unnecessary... maybe... all right, it did irritate his wounds a bit when he had started on his own. Harry vaguely recalled Draco helping him the previous night as well.
"You're good at this," he said.
"So I've heard," Draco smirked.
"From whom?" he frowned.
"You," Draco said.
Harry did not remember when he had said that, but oh well.
He watched as Draco began to pull at his clothes. "Thanks," he said, before Draco was ready to shift. "For coming to get me... And for staying and everything."
Draco nodded and gave him a slight smile before he climbed into the bed and Harry found himself with a lycan cuddled beside him.
The blond did not voice it very often but Harry could tell that part of Draco had been nagging at him more often than it did previously. He could see it in the sad smiles, in the distant looks and in the moments Draco would hesitate towards him.
Harry thought he might be at that point where he wanted to consummate the bond. He reckoned he had been there for a while now, and not just because blow jobs and fingers were not cutting it for him anymore. He wanted Draco. The idea of forever was still terrifying to him but he felt as if he preferred it to when he could spot Draco's conflictions holding him back.
Right now though, he was going to go to sleep and when he woke up, Draco would still be there beside him, conflictions or not.
"Harry?" Draco called, as he stepped from the hearth.
For some reason, Harry had insisted on him stopping by. His wounds were all healed and he only had some minor bruises lingering on his shoulder so Draco was not too worried about his injuries acting up.
"Upstairs," Harry answered.
Draco made his way upstairs and paused before he reached Harry's room. There was nervous excitement wafting out into the hallway.
"Harry?" he called, wondering what he was up to.
When Draco reached the door, he stopped and looked at Harry curiously. He was sitting in the middle of the bed with nothing but the sheets pooled around his hips to cover him.
"Hey," Harry smiled nervously.
"Hi," Draco said. "Are you-"
"Just come over here, would you, please?" Harry beckoned.
Draco walked over to the bed and Harry motioned for him to get in. He toed his shoes off and climbed into the bed. Before he could ask Harry if he was doing what Draco thought he was, hands had pulled him down and lips were pressed against his. Harry started at his clothes and Draco had to pull back and look him in the eyes.
"Please tell me this is what I think it is, Harry," he breathed. He did not think he could take it if it was not.
"It is," Harry nodded, leaning forwards to kiss him. "Claim me, Draco."
For a moment all Draco could do was breathe and stare at Harry with parted lips.
"Draco?" Harry said.
He sat back on his heels and began to peel his clothes off, watching Harry all the time. He did not think he had any words at the moment and he needed to do something to indicate that he had heard him. He also needed to occupy himself until he thought he was actually able totouch Harry. He got up to get his trousers and his pants off. He even peeled off his socks just for the time.
With a ridiculous amount of anxiety pooling inside of him, Draco got back into the bed and sidled up to Harry. His hands stilled and hovered over skin and he froze with his lips less than a centimetre away from Harry's.
"Say it again?" he asked. "I need to hear it."
Harry closed the distance between them, all resolve and arousal and affection, and spoke against his lips. "Claim me, Draco," he said. "I want you to."
Draco thought it was the last bit that finally got him to move, to claim Harry's lips, to rip away the sheets that covered him, to pull him up and onto his lap. Harry held onto him and rolled their hips together as they snogged. He was hard against Draco's stomach and blood made its way to Draco's cock with every movement, Harry's need helping him along.
He whispered a lubrication charm and Harry gasped and bucked. Draco pressed a digit into Harry's heat and began to prepare him. A second finger joined the first and Draco nipped and sucked at Harry's neck as he rocked and hummed. He slipped his fingers out and snogged Harry as he adjusted him and lined himself up.
"Please, Draco," Harry breathed, pushing his hips down and teasing at Draco's cock.
He kissed Harry and then nuzzled his neck. "Go on," Draco said, because he needed Harry to do it for him.
"I want you to-"
"I know," he said, biting the skin below Harry's jaw. Harry shivered above him. "I will. Trust me, I will. But I need you to do this part first." He pulled his head back and looked at Harry.
"Okay," Harry nodded. He cupped Draco's face and pressed their heads together. "Watch me."
"Of course," he agreed.
Slowly, Harry lowered his hips and Draco felt his muscles parting for him, allowing him in. Harry was tight around him and he let out a staggered breath as he was enveloped in heat and moisture. Draco felt a number of things happening all at once. It was as if a veil had been lifted from some part of his mind and all of a sudden he could feel Harry, feel what he had known all these months and finally know it to be true. His scent was the same but it was different, something more important. Draco was vaguely aware of the fact that he was buried inside of Harry and that it was absolutely astonishing but he was still reeling from the sudden awareness, and the validation.
"Draco?" Harry called, barely keeping still. As if Draco was the one that needed to adjust, maybe he was.
Once he could properly focus on Harry, he was grateful that green was the one colour he was able to see properly. Harry's eyes were the most vivid things he could see.
He let his fingers trace along Harry's jaw before he kissed him, uninhibited. His hips surged upwards and Harry moaned into his mouth. Harry tasted brilliant on his tongue, he felt brilliant, smelled it. Draco was all desire and arousal and he was not sure how much of it was because that was what Harry smelled of.
Pleasure pooled inside of him as they moved and he could smell Harry getting close, smell their arousal mingling in the air, he could hear Harry whimpering and gasping and goading Draco on, the way his breath hitched, the way their bodies came together again and again and the constant creaking from the bed. Harry was flushed, his neck, his chest, his face. His hands gripped Draco tightly and he met him thrust for thrust.
"Draco," Harry moaned.
He clamped his teeth into Harry's shoulder because he had to and Harry swore and bucked and arched as he came. He scrabbled at Draco's back and arms and his legs kicked out erratically. Harry could not seem to decide where he wanted his hands to go as the pleasure spiked through him. His muscles clenched around Draco spasmodically and it did not take long for Draco to join him in his release, thrusting hard and pulling Harry impossibly closer as the pleasure swelled within him so much that he had to let it out. He shuddered and moaned and pumped into his mate, into Harry. He did not need to ride it out, not with the way Harry pushed him along with his scent and his sounds.
He felt like he had given Harry everything he had with the way his climax rocked him.
When it was over, he lay Harry back on the bed, careful not to slip out until his cock had softened. He wanted to stay there, inside of Harry. He had finally found him and he wanted to savour it because Harry was his and every fibre of him knew it and sang with a joy he had not known he would feel. Draco held onto him and nuzzled his neck and kissed him.
Harry was still shivering in his arms and fluttering around him, panting.
Draco licked the mark he had made. It would stay there as evidence of his claiming Harry. Harry whimpered and squirmed.
"Sensitive?" he asked, kissing Harry's neck.
"Yes," Harry breathed. "Fuck. That went straight... to my cock."
Draco chuckled and nuzzled him. He could not seem to stop himself.
"If it's always like this... I'm going to die," Harry said. "Fuck."
"It's not," Draco reassured.
"Fuck," Harry repeated, his breathing more normal now.
"That is what we just did, yes," he murmured.
"Prat," Harry smiled, before turning his head and kissing him.
Draco wanted to howl with joy.
0O - FIN - O0