Chapter 1: Prologue
The screams come without warning.
Narcissa jolts from sleep, her heart in her throat. She knows that horrid sound, knows its origin and its pain. Flinging the bed curtains back she tears from the room, running at a speed she hadn’t thought herself capable of until that very moment. The doors to Draco’s room fly open without the need for her wand or even a whisper of a spell. She’s on him in an instant, dragging him back from the broken mirror, through the loose shards scattered across the floor. Their bare feet leave red smears over the ornate carpet as she pulls him away.
“Draco,” she says, over and over, attempting to console him but finding her own tears mixing with the blood pouring from her boy’s beautiful face. “Draco, please!”
He thrashes in her grip, continuing to howl an unearthly cry that reverberates through her very bones and shakes the window panes in their sills. Behind them, a candelabra crashes to the floor and a shock of blue flame licks up the gilded frame of an oil painting. Narcissa screams at the fire as if the very timbre of her voice could halt its progress. Draco spasms in her grip at the sound, his fingers digging into her delicate arms like talons on a hawk, clawing at her as if her skin were no more than the flesh of a fish. She holds him tighter on instinct, unwilling to let go, refusing to concede to the madness overtaking her precious son—the only person she has left.
“Please,” she repeats, the strength in her waning like the sinking moon outside the window. “Please, Draco.”
The piercing cry of his broken howl is the only answer she receives.
. . .
. . .
Some years later
“Over here!” Luna calls, her blonde head poking out from a rocky outcropping near the cliff’s edge like a morning dove appearing from its nest.
“What’d you find?”
Hermione sighs, and begins her ascent up to Luna’s newest discovery, which won’t turn out to be a discovery at all, just some moss she thinks is magical on an errant rock. Nevertheless, Hermione gathers a glass vial from her satchel and hands it over to Luna for collection.
Luna beams with pride. “It’s a perfect specimen.”
Hermione nods and jots down the notes Luna dictates, biting her tongue with every addendum.
“We ought to head back,” she says, snapping her book shut. “We’ll lose the light soon.” Hermione did not fancy hiking back to the Apparation point in the dark, no matter how prepared she was with Muggle headlamps and torches.
Absentmindedly, Luna hums an agreement, then freezes, and turns to face Hermione, eyes coloured with concern. “But we have to get to the ruins.”
“We can go tomorrow.”
Luna shakes her head, adamant. “It’ll rain tomorrow.”
Hermione refuses to believe this because every time she insists they return the next day to see whatever important thing Luna must see today, no matter the occasion or quest, the weather forecast inexplicably and suddenly looks dire.
“Luna, it won’t rain.”
“It will. Dean said so on the Wireless.”
“Dean’s including Crete in his weather forecasts now?”
“He always does.”
Hands on her hips, Hermione sighs in the good-natured sort of way someone who has spent any amount of time with Luna Lovegood learns to sigh. She tips her head in acquiescence and is immediately overcome with an armful of a very happy woman, vibrating with joy over getting her way.
Luna kisses Hermione on the cheek, eyes shining and then spins on the spot, her Muggle Safari hat twirling askew on her head. “Not impossible. Just hopelessly positive.”
Grabbing hold of Hermione's hand, Luna drags them away from the cliff’s craggy edge, and the cornswallow silk, and down into the valley below.
The ruins are hidden from Muggle view, but the magic that lingers within supposedly keeps the climate at a perfect temperature year-round, ensuring that the surrounding animals and flora never fall ill or meet an untimely end. The wild theories Luna spun of the soil holding magical properties that could perhaps help heal were the only reason Hermione agreed to visit in the first place.
Luna leads Hermione wherever she fancies, and Hermione follows along without complaint. She takes pleasure in viewing the untouched landscape of the island through the lens of her Muggle camera and happily captures countless images of Luna’s beautiful white-gold ringlets peppered with wildflowers blowing in the wind on film.
“This should be it,” Luna says, after a half hour of hiking across rugged terrain. She’s breathless, and takes a moment to drink deeply from her canteen before handing it over to Hermione. They’ve come to a stopping point just shy of a rolling stream. Hermione knows instinctively that Luna’s right, she can sense the magic in the air and feel the rolling tension in the ground beneath her feet. The wards of ancient magic surrounding them shimmer in the setting sun like a veil of gossamer curtains billowing in a breeze. When Hermione first notices the rippling sheen of iridescent magic, she gasps.
“Told you,” Luna sings. She plants another kiss on Hermione’s cheek and skips towards the borderline near the stream, her waist-length hair flouncing along behind her. When she reaches the edge of the water she halts and holds herself very still. Hermione steps up beside her and twines Luna’s hand with hers, giving it a gentle squeeze. Luna grins but, otherwise, remains motionless—her eyes closed and her face serene. She inhales deeply and then releases the incantation of a spell her father sang to her as a little girl. An ancient summoning passed down through the generations as a lullaby that will allow anyone singing its tune entry to a long-hidden place. Hermione looks on, mouth open in awe as the gossamer curtains part, leaving a chasm in the landscape. Just beyond the seam lies what remains of an ancient city.
“It worked!” Luna claps her hands, practically vibrating with excitement at Hermione’s side.
“It worked,” Hermione repeats, astonished. She didn’t think it would work. She had been indulging Luna, as she always did, she didn’t actually fathom that “the ruins” Luna talked about for so long would be… real. Sure, she’d researched with her, planned and prepared with her, rerouted an entire leg of their expedition to include this very island where the ruins were rumoured to be for Luna, but Circe help her, Hermione never actually considered that they’d ever be standing here staring at something Hermione was certain Xenophelius had made up as a bedtime story.
Luna’s off before Hermione can even nod in agreement, bouncing down the stone steps of a circular forum that leads to what must have once been a bathing pool for the inhabitants of the city.
The sun sits low in the sky, slicing thick beams of golden light through decaying columns and caryatids, casting the ruins in a molten glow of tangerine light. Hermione snaps image after image on her Muggle camera, cranking the shutter with eager fingers. Luna is resplendent before her, her soft pale skin tinged pink with the setting sun, the white gold of her hair backlit in a flyaway halo around her lovely, awestruck face.
Grinning, Hermione lowers the camera and steps forward, picking up Luna’s bangle-covered wrist to tug her close.
“You’re missing the dusk wisps!” Luna says just as Hermione closes the distance between them, kissing Luna until her willowy arms wrap themselves around Hermione’s shoulders and hold her back. It’s a perfect, solitary moment in a perfect, solitary place.
The scream comes without warning.
Hermione and Luna break apart, eyes darting all around them, frantic and panicked.
Another cry interrupts their question. Immediately, their wands are in their hands, their backs to each other.
“I can’t tell where it’s coming from,” Hermione whispers. “The echo is bouncing off every surface.”
“He’s in pain.”
“What? He?” Hermione whips her head around, only to see that Luna has lowered her wand and is standing still, eyes closed.
“Shhhh,” she says, face turning slowly back and forth, searching, listening. “He’s in pain.”
Luna points, eyes still closed, and murmurs a spell. A beam of golden light erupts from her wand, pointing far across the forum, towards a looming structure in the distance. The sun has fallen behind the mountains now, leaving slashes of ominous red streaks against a hazy purple sky. Swallowing her nerves, Hermione pulls out her headlamp, straps it across her forehead, and allows Luna to guide the way into uncertainty.
Hermione hates uncertainty.
. . .
“Harry!” Luna shouts as she bursts through the door. “Harry, get up!”
Harry, who hasn’t heard Luna raise her voice for any reason in close to a decade, jolts from his relaxed position on the couch and promptly trips and falls headlong over the coffee table.
“Fuck!” He bounces on one foot in the general direction of the kitchen. “Luna, what’s wrong?” he calls.
“Everything! Nothing! It’s all just—hurry!”
Harry is seriously concerned now. Luna is never this upset.
“She’s with him!”
“Harry, we don’t have time for this. Do you have your wand?”
He rounds the corner into the kitchen just in time to see Luna throwing a box of ginger mints and a smudge stick of sage into her satchel. Her clothes are dust-covered and sweat-stained, and there’s an angry scrape across her cheek. Harry rushes forward, alarmed at her appearance.
“He’s alive!” is all she says before she’s pulling Harry into Side-Along Apparation with a twist of her wrist, and Harry’s world turns black.
They land hard in a dark valley. Harry looks up, thankful for the full moon as his eyes adjust to the sudden absence of light. He blinks rapidly, regretting that he wasn’t wearing shoes when Luna oh-so forcefully transported him across the island without his consent.
Harry scoffs and transfigures two nearby sticks into a pair of trainers and slips them on. Luna is already jogging down the hill, assuming he’ll follow, no doubt.
“Luna!” He calls, his concern now shifting into panic. “Is Hermione okay?”
Harry halts, not soothed by that answer in the slightest. Luna has come to a standstill as well, her head held high and eyes closed. To Harry’s astonishment, she begins to sing.
A ripple of black velvet air shifts and slides open before them, revealing not the quiet, undisturbed valley of greenery and nighttime peace that he thought was in front of them, but a city of grey stone and marble, painted deep purple in the moonlight.
Luna turns back and grins at him, a mischievous smile he knows well. It lasts only a moment before she’s tugging him along again, the Muggle hiking boots Hermione gifted her for their trip echoing loudly off the hard surfaces all around them.
It takes him several minutes to realise what he’s hearing, but when he does he bends at the waist, a sick feeling rocketing through him.
Luna is rubbing soothing circles in his back. “I know. I felt it too.”
“What is that?”
“He’s in pain, Harry. He needs us.”
Harry holds tight to his stomach, fearing he’ll be sick, but Luna presses a ginger mint into his palm, encouraging him to take it.
He pops the mint into his mouth, rubbing his tongue against it hard, hoping its flavour will soothe his nausea.
“Better?” Luna inquires after a few moments, and Harry nods, trudging forward in the direction they’d been heading.
“Why do I feel this way?” Harry asks, his hands pressed hard to his stomach where the pain is greatest.
Harry grunts, considering this to be a rather thin explanation as he follows Luna to wherever she’s leading him. He focuses his attention on the mint in his mouth, finally feeling his stomach begging to settle. Only then does he notice that the ground beneath their feet is vibrating slightly.
“It’s the earth,” Luna says, reading his mind.
“Why? What’s happening?” Harry asks, as they ascend the stairs of a temple-like building, its pediment looming large and dark above them. Harry doesn’t feel welcome here at all and he’s sure to tell Luna.
“We’re not supposed to be here, no,” She agrees.
“Then why are we here?”
Harry doesn’t get an answer to this question, either. He hears footsteps running towards them as soon as they’ve entered the main hall and turns in time to see Hermione flinging herself down a grand staircase, face shining in the dim light.
“I’ve stabilised him,” she pants when she reaches them, pulling Harry in for a quick hug before grabbing hold of Luna’s arms and pulling her back up the stairs. “He’s sleeping—I think.”
“We still felt his pain,” Luna tells her. Harry grunts in agreement, though still having no idea who they’re talking about and why he’s in pain.
“I know,” Hermione sighs, shaking her head. “The entire place has been practically vibrating around us since you left. I’m terrified it’ll cave in, but the wards are holding.”
“The wards will always hold. That’s why he’s here.”
“What wards? Who is he?” Harry interjects.
“What do you mean?” Hermione asks Luna, ignoring Harry. They’re hurrying down a narrow hall flanked with torches embedded into columns that light their way as they pass.
“It’s what makes this place so unique and so peculiar. The wards guard its inhabitants against harm. Even from themselves.”
“Yet, it’s a lost civilisation.”
Luna nods, beaming at Hermione. “Exactly! No one knows what could have happened to make them leave.”
“Great. So, the building is not going to fall in on our heads, right?” Harry adds, which earns him a frown from both of them. He huffs and trudges on, wondering why he’s been dragged along if only to be ignored and glared at. He was perfectly happy with his couch and his raki, planning out their hiking adventure for tomorrow in peace.
They round the corner and Hermione and Luna come to a skidding halt, leaving Harry to stumble into them at their sudden stop. He starts to apologize but then chokes on nothing but air at the sight before them. Without conscious thought, he steps forward past his two friends.
“Careful, Harry!” Hermione says.
Harry barely registers her warning before the large sleeping form of a feral Veela tenses and springs at Harry as soon as he’s within arms reach.
There’s a screeching, ear-splitting cry as the Veela lashes out at him, its powerful wings kicking up dust and debris from the floor as they expand out wide in the enclosed space. Harry sees the slash of blackened, razor-sharp talons tear through the air, swiping past Harry’s face, yet no blood or pain comes in their wake.
Harry stumbles backwards, pressing his hand to his cheek. The skin feels whole, unharmed. “What the—”
The Veela has fallen back in on himself, wings curled in protectively around the human body it possesses. Harry couldn’t see his face, only the ash-blond tangles of overlong hair before the large silver-white wings, soiled with dust, shutters him from view.
Hermione shoves Harry hard, away from the creature, scolding him while simultaneously searching him for injury. Luna ensures that none of them can be harmed in this place, but Harry can only focus on the Veela in the corner and the pain emanating from him. On instinct, Harry presses his hand to his belly, feeling an echo of those emotions reverberating inside him.
“Why is he in pain, Luna?”
Luna smiles at Harry; a sad, heartbroken smile that means she doesn’t have an answer for him. He touches a hand to her arm in understanding before curiosity gets the better of him, and he steps around Hermione to approach the Veela once more. This time, there’s no lashing out, no painful cry, just a prickling of feathers as the creature’s entire body tenses at Harry’s presence, like a string pulled to the breaking point. Without thinking, Harry whispers the incantation to a spell he’d been taught a few years after the war, when he was desperate to forget his grief. He watches the spell take hold as the Veela’s feathers unruffle and the massive wings fold themselves into a more relaxed position against his body, revealing the man beneath them.
“What’d you do?” Hermione asks quietly behind him.
“It helped,” Harry says, proud that it had worked.
Luna gives his shoulder a reassuring squeeze. “Do it again, Harry.”
Harry does. This time, the Veela melts further into a relaxed state, his inky black, taloned hands falling from his face and his shoulders slumping into a boneless posture as if teetering on the edge of sleep. He’s on the floor, leaning heavily against the wall with one shoulder, the wings protruding from his back in a position that looks incredibly uncomfortable to Harry. But the stomach-churning ache has lessened, which can only be a good thing.
Harry moves closer.
“Careful,” Hermione whispers, cautious as ever.
Ignoring her, Harry crouches down. He wants to get a look at this man, to show him that they mean to help him, and he can only do that if he can see the man’s face. There’s something there, something covering his skin. It shines in the torchlight and Harry ducks his head closer, reaching out with curious fingers to push the man’s hair back over his shoulder.
There’s a hiss and a spiking of feathers when Harry makes contact with the man’s skin. Harry sits back, hands up in placation, ready to tell him that they mean him no harm. But then, the man raises his head up to look at Harry with an instantly recognizable quicksilver gaze, and for the second time that night, Harry is rendered speechless. His shock dies in his throat, unable to be voiced. He lands hard on the stone floor as he falls from his balanced crouch, the torch he carried clanking onto the marble and rolling away, out of sight.
Harry has dreamed of those eyes, their memory has haunted his thoughts for the past four years. He would know that face anywhere. Even half-covered in a grotesque mask made of bone and carved with ironically delicate details that contradict the brutal reality of its horrifying existence on Draco Malfoy’s face.
“He’s alive,” he says, repeating what Luna had told him in the kitchen.
There’s a consoling hand at his back. He violently shrugs it off and turns, glaring at Hermione.
“You couldn’t warn me?”
He scrambles to his feet. “Why did you bring me here?” he asks Luna. She does not seem phased by his anger and this only angers him more. He runs his hands through his hair, practically ripping it out at the roots. “Gods, Luna, why!?”
“You know why, Harry.” Her voice is filled with a sadness Harry didn’t expect, and he blinks at her, inexplicably wanting to cry.
Behind them, Hermione gasps. They turn to see her hand placed over her mouth, eyes wide and staring at Luna as if betrayed. “You knew,” she says, hiding the words behind her palm. She lets her hand fall. It balls into a fist at her side. “You knew,” she repeats, voice rising.
Never in his life has Harry seen Luna look indignant, but she does in that moment, with her arms crossed and eyes stern. She holds her head high and stares back at Hermione with a defiance that startles him.
“This was never just a detour, was it?” Hermione accuses. “You planned this.”
“You planned this,” Luna retorts, voice flat.
Shaking her head, Hermione steps forward. “No, you did. You specifically wanted to come here. And your father sings that lullaby when he’s making tea. You knew what this place was, you knew—” Suddenly, Hermione is furious. “Tell me you didn’t know he was here!” She crowds Luna, getting in her face, “Tell me you haven’t lied to me for all these years.”
Harry isn’t sure who he’s more worried for at that moment, Draco or Luna.
Luna stands firm. “I did not lie to you.”
“Then what is this?” Hermione snaps, gesturing to the room around them, with its painted columns, torn up cushions, stained carpets, and Draco Malfoy, feral and forever altered on the floor at their feet.
“A place to hide.”
Hermione opens her mouth to shout once again but stops herself before she can; her brilliant mind rushing ahead and leaving her emotions behind. “Wait, hide?”
Luna turns and crouches down to run a hand over Draco’s feathers. “She did this.”
Harry wants to ask who, but the ‘she’ Luna mentions can only mean one person. The only person left in Draco’s life: Narcissa.
“How?” he asks instead.
Luna continues to stroke Draco’s feathers, her golden hair falling in a curtain over her shoulder, hiding her face from view.
“He can’t harm himself here. He can’t harm others. He’s the safest he’ll ever be,” she tells them.
Harry boggles at the ignorance of such a statement when compared with the state they found Draco in. “This is a prison!”
“No, it’s a mercy,” Luna replies, sad and resigned.
“Who the fuck for?”
Once again, Hermione tries to console Harry but he steps back, shrugging off her attempts at comfort. How can he allow himself comfort when Draco’s wrapped in a sheet on the floor, barely existing? It does not escape Harry’s notice that he’s yet to speak a single word to any of them. And if he was trapped here to prevent him from doing harm to himself, Harry doesn’t even want to imagine what’s behind that horrible mask. A pang cuts through the mania of his thoughts at the idea of Draco’s achingly beautiful features, so perfectly his own, somehow marred. The crystal clear memory of the last time Harry saw that face, eyes twinkling with promise as he dashed out the door, flashes through Harry’s mind without warning, and it’s as if the wind has been knocked clean out of him.
Harry swallows and stares down at Draco, heart racing just at the mere sight of him breathing.
He was dead. Draco was supposed to be dead. Harry’s hard-won friend who had made a home for himself inside Harry’s heart was dead. There’d been a funeral, newspaper articles. Narcissa had written him a letter stained with tears. Harry had visited his grave, apologized to the black stone, cried over the freshly turned earth; cursed the sky and all the world for taking yet another person from him too fucking soon.
It all had been a lie.
“I’m going to kill her.”
Two sets of hands immediately descend on Harry, holding him back.
“She didn’t do this out of malice, Harry,” Luna says.
Harry practically erupts at such a statement. Magic ripples through the air around them and Hermione and Luna both yelp in shock and spring back from him, eyes wide.
“Sorry,” he grunts, not feeling apologetic in the least at his unchecked display. “We have to get him out of here.”
“I agree,” Hermione says, much to Luna’s dismay, judging by her sharp intake of breath. “But we need to plan first. We need to make sure he’s stable and strong enough to make the journey.”
“I’m not leaving unless he comes with us.”
Hermione nods, her hands held up in a placating manner. “Yes. I know that. But you need to calm down Harry, or you might just make the building collapse on top of us.”
Looking up, Harry sees the drastic vibrations have increased. The frescos and columns all shifting violently in place and there are cracks forming along the marble. He’s not sure of the source of such unstable, volatile magic, but he’s certain it isn’t him alone.
“I’m not doing that,” Harry says.
“I think you are, Harry.” Luna adds, watching a pebble bounce violently off the ground with growing concern. “Hermione’s right.”
He scoffs. “She’s always right.”
Hands on her hips, Hermione says, “I’m going to pretend that’s a compliment.”
. . .
Hermione allows herself several long deep breaths in order to not send a stinging jinx Harry’s way. After the day she’s had, she’s closer to throttling him than she’d like. They had brought him here to help, not to fly off the handle and break the ancient wards with his uncontrolled magic. Hermione keeps telling him to practice meditation to help with his moods but does Harry listen? No, of course, he doesn’t.
His response to seeing Draco Malfoy for the first time in close to five years was not unexpected. Hermione had considered the very probable scenario in which Harry would simply walk right out the door from the shock of it all, but she hadn’t predicted this particularly violent reaction. Harry was physically hurt, seeing Draco this way. Hermione hurt too, as did Luna. To see someone they’d all thought long dead now alive and imprisoned like this was not something one could easily digest. It was barbaric, and Hermione wholeheartedly agreed that they absolutely could not leave Draco Malfoy here for one more hour, let alone a condemned lifetime. Yet, seeing Harry react so intensely to the sight of him, so much more pained, as if he too had been wronged in some way, sparked a curiosity that ignited a fire inside Hermione’s mind.
She turns at the sound of voices.
“He isn’t speaking,” Harry was saying, his face morose and miserable-looking as he stares at Draco still slumped against the far wall.
“He seems to have forgotten how,” Hermione tells him. “It’s the Veela.”
“What about it?”
“Well, birds don’t normally have the power of speech.”
Draco’s feathers spike at Hermione’s statement and she cringes in response. “Sorry,” she says to him, and then adds, “he can understand us perfectly well, at least.”
“It’s freezing in here.” Harry curses as he rips off his hoodie and transfigures it wandlessly into a cloak for Draco. He drapes it backwards over Draco’s shoulders, careful to avoid his wings. Hermione wonders when it had become so cold in the temple. It felt balmy and even humid when they’d entered earlier in the evening.
She watches Harry, reckless as ever, inch closer to Draco, who shies away, feathers puffing out in warning. Harry hesitates, and licks his lips, before tentatively reaching towards him with his hand. Hermione holds tight to her wand, ready for Draco to lash out again, but the violence she expects doesn’t come. Instead, Harry brushes the back of Draco’s inky black, taloned hand with his fingertips and Draco shudders, his eyes falling closed. Harry smiles, encouraged, and shuffles closer. He runs his hands up and down Draco’s lanky arms to warm him, and Draco melts into the touch, a small sound of pleasure escaping him. Suddenly, the vibrations in the room stop.
Hermione takes in the abrupt stillness of the place that had been like a live wire since they’d first set foot inside the fabric of the ruins all those hours ago, then back to Harry and Draco. They’re huddled on the floor in an awkward half-embrace, Harry’s hands having stilled on Draco’s arms, their bodies arched toward each other like two half-moons on the precipice of becoming whole.
Luna’s hand twines its way through hers, and Hermione feels her squeeze reassurance into her palm. Hermione holds tightly back, witnessing something far more intimate than she’d ever expected between two men she’s only ever thought of as hard-won friends.
“I knew he’d help,” Luna says softly into her ear. Hermione feels the brush of lips against her cheek, leans further into Luna’s side. She wonders what other plans Luna has made for them that Hermione had so thoughtlessly tossed aside in her mind, considering them frivolous. Her entire world view is rearranging itself as they stand there, waiting with bated breath for whatever comes next.
. . .
I have this story (almost) fully written. You can ask Sly, she'll back me up.
I'm going to establish a posting schedule of Mondays and Thursdays, which means the final chapter of this story *should* be posted on my birthday, April 30th. Yay!
. . .
. . .
“This is madness!” Narcissa shouts to Xenophilius over the rushing wind as they fly over the hills on a single broom, too small for the two of them. It belonged to Draco when he was a schoolboy; his first Nimbus.
“Mad, yes. But it's the only way.”
They come to a hard stop on the soft ground near a gurgling stream. Narcissa tosses the long plait of her blonde hair over her shoulder, taking in their surroundings and wondering how this vacant valley will ever help her son. Beside her, Xenophilius is standing very still, singing a soft lullaby into the hazy, humid air. Narcissa grabs his arm in shock as soon as she sees the fabric of the valley rip open before her, revealing the ruins of a once magnificent ancient city.
“Yes, my love,” Xenophilius says, raising her arm to kiss her wrist. He cups her hand between his palms, holding tight. “What once was lost is now found.”
“How did you—”
“Research. Endless, endless research.”
They step through into another world, landing on the marble steps of the city forum, surveying the splendour around them with matching expressions of awe. Xenophilius guides Narcissa to a sprawling, gleaming temple along a river, showing her the way as if he were giving her a tour of his own lands.
“My mother would sing to us about this place at bedtime,” Narcissa says, remembering the haunting lullaby and tales of the utopia far across the sea that she and her sisters loved to listen to as children. She’d thought it a mere fairytale. “No one can be harmed within its wards.”
Narcissa’s blood grows cold in her veins as all the puzzle pieces suddenly slot into place.
“You think this is best?” she asks, lip quivering on the words. She looks around her at the marble columns and mosaic floor, hands wringing.
Xenophilius folds himself around her, wrapping her tightly in his arms. She allows the comfort, soaking in the feeling of being held and selfishly never wanting it to end. He pulls back only to place kisses on the long scars running the length of her forearms, bowing his head in reverence to her past sorrow.
“He didn’t mean it,” she whispers to him, the words echoing in the cavernous space. “He wasn’t himself.”
“He’s in pain, ‘Cissa,” Xenophilius pleads. “He won’t be able to hurt you here. Or himself. Ever.”
“He never hurt me,” Narcissa says, voice fierce. Xenophilius wipes away the tears on her cheeks with the pads of his thumbs.
“I know, my love.”
“It’s not his fault.”
“Shhh,” Xenophilius halts her from speaking further on the topic, and she allows the censorship, not wanting to think of her husband and the torture he’s inflicted on them all, even in death. Yet, the memories come without her consent, flooding her mind with visions of a life lived long ago, before the world came crumbling down around them.
Lucius, mad with pain, contorting and thrashing on a bed in St. Mungo’s, the wings protruding from his back a hindrance to the healers reluctantly trying to quell his spasms. Draco and Narcissa in the corner, terrified and feeling useless with their grief.
They’d been warned so many times over, of the madness that could overtake the Malfoy line, of the genes that could taint their so-called ‘pure blood’ and drive them to ruin. Narcissa had once loved the idea of her breathtakingly beautiful husband having Veela heritage. She’d romanticised the idea of him being more than just her partner in life but her destined mate, a true match of love, not just a betrothal amongst patriarchs of two long-established wizarding families. Her love for him always felt like an act of rebellion against her own father. The pride she once held for how intensely she loved Lucius felt like she was spitting in the face of pureblood traditions, rather than bowing to them.
She’d easily ignored the naysayers. Plenty of families with French ancestry had links to Veela blood, and plenty of families never fell into the madness that sometimes overtook the bird-like creatures. Rumours of mental instability were passed down along with rumours of the extreme power such a heritage could yield. And when her boy was born, fair and blond and just as beautiful as his father, with the same silver eyes and cornsilk hair, she cried with joy over her fortune. Two perfect men, devoted to her and to each other. A family of the highest esteem with an ancient magical ancestry boasting beauty, grace, and a fierce loyalty to round out the picture.
She had been an utter fool. Beauty and grace, yes, but loyalty and power had certainly skipped a generation. Lucius’ mind was weak, and his loyalty to his wife and son even weaker. She’d anchored herself to a man who destroyed the world she so idolised as a child, and now her son was succumbing to the very same fate.
“He’s not like him,” she heard herself say. “He was never like him.”
“Of course not, ‘Cissa.”
“He isn’t!” She shouted, feeling slightly unhinged at the thought. Everyone always used to say how much like his father Draco was, but Narcissa had seen the break between the two men when Draco turned fifteen. She saw the chasm that bloomed between them that summer and only grew larger as the war loomed and Lucius fell further into the prejudiced ideologies of a demagogue. The darkness that Lucius coveted in his own soul was never reflected in Draco’s eyes, only the darkness that had been inflicted upon him. Draco’s resemblance to his father ended at the length and colour of his hair. This didn’t stop people from flinging you look just like your father at Draco like an Unforgivable every chance they could. If Narcissa could have protected Draco from such a fate she would have, she would protect him against anything—even himself.
Nodding into Xenophilius’ shoulder, she hears herself agreeing to his plan. They will bring Draco here and set him up in the beautiful temple on the river with Mipsy for his constant care.
“We must visit him,” she says, adamant.
“Every week,” he repeats her words. She doesn’t know if he’s placating her but she accepts the consolation at its face value, needing to believe him, even if it’s a lie.
“And we’ll continue to search for a cure.”
“Of course. Always.” He presses his lips to her hair.
“Always,” she echos, feeling hollow even as she says it.
“He’ll be safe here, ‘Cissa. He will.”
She nods again. Safe. The one word she holds onto with her last remaining strength. She’s willing to endure anything as long as he’s safe.
. . .
. . .
Harry can’t bring himself to move. He knows he should; knows he should sit back and give Draco some space, allow him time to acclimate to the sudden invasion of his horrid prison where he’s been left to rot, but he can’t move.
He wishes Draco would speak or even acknowledge him beyond staring at him with those large, glassy eyes that shine like silver and hold his gaze with unnerving attention. He hasn’t seen Draco look this withered and haunted since sixth year, since he witnessed these same eyes looking out at him from a cracked, faded mirror with tears streaked beneath them, and instead of offering to help someone in pain, Harry lashed out.
Harry has no desire to lash out now. He only wants to help. He wants to help figure out why someone he long thought dead and buried is alive and sequestered in an ancient fairytale land, left alone and in pain.
“So much pain,” he hears himself say, only to see Draco flinch in response.
It breaks the moment between them. Draco looks away, retreating into himself. He pulls the cloak around him tighter and shifts against the wall, one large wing extending to hide his face from view. Harry halts its path, then smooths down the ruffled feathers with a gentle, sure touch—an apology in a gesture.
Draco’s shoulders spike, his eyes fierce and brimming with tears. Harry continues to stroke his feathers, feeling useless.
“We need to get him out of here,” he says to Hermione and Luna without looking away from Draco.
“He needs St. Mungo’s.”
This is, apparently, the wrong thing to say because as soon as the words leave Harry’s mouth Draco is rearing back as if burned, crying out into the cavernous space. As quickly as they stopped, the walls begin to vibrate again, sending an ominous shiver down Harry’s spine. He grits his teeth, feeling the shift of magic within his very bones. Something is most definitely wrong.
There’s a sudden crash behind them.
“Shit!” Harry shouts, jumping out of the way of a falling bit of marble. “It’s breaking.”
“The wards!” Hermione calls, “They’re not holding.”
Harry springs forward, grabbing Draco round the middle, and drags him away from the crumbling wall, Draco screeching his discontent as they go. Draco stumbles as they run, but he runs nevertheless, and Harry holds onto that reassuring fact while they flee. Massive booms like cannon fire sound behind them as the columns fall this way and that. Harry casts Protego after Protego and hears Hermione and Luna do the same, dodging stray bits of stone with each running step.
They burst out into the night in a cloud of marble dust, stumbling down the temple stairs only to land in a heap at its base. When Harry looks back, he sees the pediment violently crack and fall inward, collapsing onto the mouth of the opening they’d just run through not seconds earlier.
“Fuck,” he says, chest heaving. He’s on his back, leaning on his elbows as he looks up at the literal ruin they’ve made of an ancient temple which, according to Luna, was supposed to be indestructible. Draco is flung across Harry’s body, head buried in his neck, his wings spread out over all three of them. He’s protecting them. Harry grins down at Draco’s messy head, feeling bewildered and a little punch-drunk at the realisation. He flops back onto the ground, and heaves a relieved sigh only to choke on the dust-filled air a moment later.
“Fuck!” he says again, wiping his eyes. Luna quietly casts a Scourgify and Harry feels the dust disappear from his face. He grins at her in thanks.
“Fuck, indeed,” Hermione agrees, looking up at the mess of the temple.
“The rest of the city is okay,” Luna points out.
Harry looks over to see her staring out beyond the forum in the distance. All the other buildings are still standing, and the vibrations of ancient magic in the ground feel stable beneath him.
“Still, I’d rather not experience a repeat of whatever the fuck just happened,” Harry says, voice raw from the dust.
“Yes,” Luna agrees, crawling out from under Draco’s wing and casting another cleaning charm as she comes to stand. “That was not pleasant.”
. . .
Coughing into her fist as debris settles around them, Hermione scoffs at Luna’s assessment of their current situation. Considering the havoc they’ve managed to wreak within an hour of stepping foot in this ancient place, not pleasant is a bit too meek of a phrase.
“Understatement,” Hermione says, stepping up to Luna, scanning her body for any sort of injury, but they’re all remarkably sound, another indication that the wards are still (mostly) in place. She squeezes her hand, a quick gesture of affection, before turning back to Harry and Draco, who remain on the ground, though Harry seems to not have a say in the matter.
Draco’s wings are held wide, despite Hermione and Luna having freed themselves from under them, and his body is tense as a spring about to snap over Harry. Hermione looks down at him, brows furrowing with worry. Harry shrugs back at her, seemingly at a loss. He brings an arm up to stroke at one of Draco’s wings, but all that does is cause his feathers to spike and his shoulders to hitch higher, his arms wrapping tighter about Harry.
Luna crouches close to them and coos at Draco, a soft gentle trill of a sound that Hermione has never heard her make before.
“That’s it, Draco,” she soothes, cooing once again. Draco’s shoulders slowly unfurl from their taut state at her bird-call. “Harry, do the spell again.”
Harry blinks at her and then says, “oh, right,” and whispers the relaxing incantation to Draco’s head, still buried in Harry’s neck. The reaction is instantaneous. Draco goes limp, his arms giving out beneath him, and he collapses atop Harry in a puff of marble dust.
“Oof!” Harry says, then laughs lightly. “Kay, that worked.” He rolls Draco slowly to the side, mindful of his wings, and extracts himself from underneath him, only to pull him up by the torso a moment later.
“There we go,” Harry says, bringing Draco to stand on unsteady legs as if he were a newborn fawn. Harry takes the time to right Draco’s conjured cloak. Draco’s eyes emote a myriad of emotions: fear, anger, confusion. None of them are reassuring to Hermione but they’re out of the temple, and Draco’s standing, not howling in pain, and capable of understanding them. That’s all she can ask for at that moment.
She pulls Luna aside, a thought occurring to her. “What happens when we take him out of this place?”
“That is not comforting,” Hermione hisses.
“We can’t leave him here.”
“Of course not.”
“So, then we cross that bridge when we come to it.” Luna leans in and kisses Hermione’s dusty cheek.
Hermione sighs and hangs her head, weary beyond measure. Luna’s right, Hermione knows she’s right, but that doesn’t stop her from catastrophising every possible scenario that could happen as soon as they step through that gossamer curtain between worlds and leave the wards behind. There’s a strong hand in hers and Hermione looks up to see Luna, sure-footed and resplendent before her, covered in dust and sweat and glowing in the moonlight. It’s the easiest thing in the world to follow along with her when Luna looks at her that way and so, Hermione does.
. . .
Thanks for reading! See you Monday!
. . .
. . .
“You can’t mean that,” Narcissa says. “There has to be an alternative.”
The healer shakes his head, looking not the least bit sympathetic towards Narcissa’s situation. She wants to glare. She wants to threaten this man’s life, his children’s lives, but she doesn’t. She holds back, keeps her head high and her shoulders straight, and nods to him in acceptance of his damning diagnosis. Then turns towards her son, strapped down and covered to his neck in a white sheet and sits at his side, ignoring the healer’s very existence. If he can’t help her son, he means nothing to her.
She does not thank him and the man sees himself out. She places a hand on Draco’s arm, squeezes oh so gently, bows her head, and cries.
. . .
. . .
The three of them have a rather perplexing conundrum on their hands, one Harry is certain Hermione never considered planning for despite her endless lists and lengthy itineraries. The conundrum being the transport of a (somewhat) feral Veela across an entire island via Apparition.
“We can’t risk it,” Hermione says, her hand to her chin, face pinched with concern. “He can’t even consent to a Side-Along.”
Behind them, Draco huffs.
“He didn’t exactly consent to us barging in on his prison either, but freeing him from that place doesn’t leave me feeling guilty, Hermione,” Harry adds, eyeing Draco over her shoulder.
She agrees. “Still, we need to think.”
Harry glances back again at Draco who’s sitting morosely on a small mound of dirt that Luna shaped into a seat for him, complete with night-blooming jasmine growing along the footrest. She said the scent would ease his nerves. Despite his stillness, his haunting eyes still look out at them from behind the unsettling mask of carved bone. Harry has no doubt that he comprehends their every word. When he sees Harry staring, he locks eyes with him, the eagerness of his gaze intensifying. Harry can’t help but move closer, as if those silver eyes were trying to communicate with him through sight alone.
It only takes a second, but as soon as Harry is within arms reach, Draco lunges. He grabs hold of Harry’s arm and pulls him in, tucking Harry’s head just under his chin as his wings spread out wide and full at his back.
The shocked gasps of both Hermione and Luna sound behind them as Draco bends at the knee and leaps from the ground in one smooth motion up into the sky, his impressive wings pressing down on the humid air of the night with surprising force. The power Harry feels emanating from Draco as he holds him tight and close to his body is staggering. He’d barely been able to stand in the temple.
Harry curses as he looks down, the outlines of Hermione and Luna already nothing more than tiny specks frantically waving at him from the blackened landscape below.
“Draco! Holy fuck.”
Eloquent as ever, Potter, Draco says, and Harry turns his head upward to look at Draco’s face, alarmed at hearing him speak. But the mask is still in place and those silver eyes of his stare out ahead of him, and Harry wonders if he somehow imagined the words.
“You can talk?” he asks.
Draco looks down at him, his eyes calculating and somehow amused. No, he hears but Draco’s jaw does not move and no sound comes from behind his mask. But I know you can understand me.
Harry boggles, realising that Draco’s voice is only in his mind.
Tell me where to go, Harry hears again, and he shakes himself as a shiver runs down his spine.
Maybe it’s the chill of the thin night air this high above the ground, or the sensation of Draco somehow being inside him and Harry not minding, but the thrill of flying quickly encompasses any semblance of Harry’s self-preservation. He manages to swallow his initial unease and directs Draco to where they’re staying on the island. Harry finds himself very thankful that the inhabited areas of Crete peppered between its many mountains are easily seen from above.
The pressure of wings flapping down hard behind him lessens as Draco coasts on a wind current and soars closer to the ground, allowing Harry to easily spy the streetlights and the warm glow of the windows lit up from below. Harry points to where he’s almost certain their rental flat is on the far side of the island, recognising the jetty just beyond its front gate. Draco swoops down low and smooth towards the rocks, landing softly against the earth with only a slight bend to his knees.
Draco doesn’t let Harry go when they’re on solid ground. Instead, his arms tighten their hold, and his cheek presses gently against Harry’s hair. Harry assumes this is some sort of bird-like instinct and doesn’t move to stop him, though he feels rather awkward the longer they stand there.
“Harry!” He hears Hermione call, and he shifts in Draco’s arms. Draco releases him, his shoulders tensing at the sound of Hermione’s voice. His wings slump and he sulks off toward the jagged rocks of the jetty, back turned to the approaching women.
“Oh thank Circe, Harry.” Hermione flings herself at him, holding on tight. A second set of arms joins the first as Luna, much more gently, embraces the both of them, her soft, lavender-scented hair tickling him just under his nose.
“This is nice,” Luna sighs, sounding sleepy.
“He kidnapped you,” Hermione whispers into his ear. “I managed to cast a tracking charm on you before he got too far.” She pulls back, looking him over. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Hermione.”
“Hermione, it’s okay. Draco brought him back. We’re all safe and sound,” Luna says, petting Hermione’s hair. Harry watches as Hermione relaxes into Luna’s touch and is grateful for his friend’s ability to quell Hermione’s near-constant anxieties.
Harry turns, making sure Draco is still standing nearby. The moon, freshly risen, hangs low in the sky, sending a cascading shimmer of silver light across the water. Harry can’t help but compare the glow of the water’s sheen to the colour of Draco’s hair, which so closely matches the shade of his wings. His fingers twitch at his sides, wanting to feel the shiver of Draco’s feathers under his touch once more. The thought startles him and Harry clears his throat, running his hand through his own hair instead.
“I’m starved,” he says, à propos of nothing. “Let’s head inside. I’ll cook.”
. . .
Luna looks out on the moonlit sea from the balcony of their rental flat, head tilted to the side like an adorable and inquisitive crup, surveying the two men below. “They’re not coming inside.”
“Yes, I spotted that,” Hermione says, handing Luna a cup of tea with a splash of firewhisky. They’re both freshly showered, hair twisted up in towels and clothed in matching silk robes. It’s been nearly an hour since Harry suggested they head in.
Luna smiles at Hermione in thanks as she takes the cup from her and eagerly sips.
“So much for Harry cooking for us.”
“I’m sure he’ll cook when he’s able.”
Hermione grins at Luna’s hopeful perspective. “What do you think they’re doing?” She asks, feeling the grip of tension in her shoulders.
“Talking, of course.”
Blinking in surprise, Hermione looks at Luna sideways. “Draco can’t talk.”
Luna nods and takes another sip of her tea. As if that explains things.
“Luna, he’s forgotten how. You saw him.”
Another nod, another sip.
Hermione huffs. “Luna, what on earth could you possib—” Hermione cuts herself off, her brain running ahead again towards a conclusion. Beside her, Luna smiles into her teacup.
“Do you think he’s—”
“I do,” Luna says.
“Wow.” Hermione slumps against the railing, eyes unfocused in the middle distance, contemplating the possibilities of a feral Veela being able to communicate mind-to-mind with someone else. But that person would have to be rather intimately connected to that particular Veela, and isn’t that curious? Harry and Draco (to Hermione’s supposed knowledge) were just friends before his untimely death. She turns her head, squinting at the two men on the jetty, brow furrowed.
“You knew Draco best back then.”
“You could say that, yes.”
“Do you know if—were Harry and Draco—do you think they ever. . .” she trails off, contemplating the correct way to word her question.
“Fucked?” Luna offers and Hermione jerks back from the railing, smacking Luna on the shoulder.
“Rude,” she scoffs, but then sobers. “You think, though?” she asks, her body a sudden live-wire, reassessing everything she’s ever known about Harry and Draco post-war.
Luna shrugs in response to Hermione’s eager question, and Hermione slumps again, though her mind won’t settle anytime soon with this new theory.
She taps a finger to her lips, considering. “Draco protected all of us, but flung himself over Harry.”
Luna nods, sagely. “That he did.”
“He flew Harry back here.”
“He held him afterwards like a precious thing. We both saw it.”
“Luna, this is infuriating, stop repeating everything I say.”
“But I agree with everything you say.”
Hermione huffs out a laugh and pushes off from the railing. She needs another drink.
. . .
Thanks for reading! See you all Thursday!
Warning for this chapter: gore/blood
. . .
“How are you doing this?” Harry asks, boggling at the fact that Draco can communicate with him in this way.
Draco doesn’t answer. He simply shrugs. The movement looks awkward on him since his wings shift with his shoulders. Harry shakes his head and begins to pace. Draco crosses his arms and leans against a lamppost, one leg bent at the knee, foot resting against the base. He’s tied the cloak Harry gave him about his waist with a bit of fisherman’s twine and it hangs like a tunic over his thin frame. Under the golden lamplight, he looks like a fallen angel from one of Mrs Weasley’s Muggle romance books that no one is supposed to know she reads, let alone lends Harry once she’s finished them.
The silence between them grows and every time Harry turns, he catches sight of Draco, posed with a casual grace with the wild waves of Crete crashing behind him. It’s unnerving—knowing he’s here, alive and breathing, within arm’s reach. The hairs on the back of Harry’s neck haven’t settled, his mind whirling a mile a minute as he contemplates what the hell happened to Draco to land him in such a prison, especially by the hands of his own mother, a woman who Harry knows from first-hand experience loves Draco more than the world itself. He can’t bring himself to believe she’d be capable of such a thing.
Another circuit, another passing glance at Draco. He still wears his hard-won confidence like an amour, Harry notes. No amount of time sequestered in an ancient prison could take that away from him, and Harry’s glad of it. The mask, on the other hand, is disturbing.
Stop pacing, you’re drawing attention.
Harry snorts and looks around at the remoteness of their location. “From who?”
“Your wings aren’t attention-grabbing enough, then?”
My wings aren’t visible to Muggles.
This information makes Harry pause. “Interesting.”
Draco raises his chin just a tad higher. Harry takes that to mean he agrees. He then resumes his pacing, ignoring Draco’s request. He needs to think and to think, he needs to move.
“You were in so much pain,” he says, running a hand through his hair.
Harry halts and realises that he’s spoken that thought aloud. “Shit. Sorry.”
“I dunno.” Harry folds his arms across his middle, feeling the ghost of the nausea that had overcome him earlier. He looks up, concerned for Draco. “But wait, you’re not in pain now?”
Draco shrugs again, his wings hitching with the movement.
It comes and goes.
“Draco, we can’t help if you don’t tell us what’s wrong.”
This time, Draco laughs, or at least Harry thinks he does. A harsh bark of a cry erupts from behind his mask as Draco throws back his head. He steps away from the lamppost and moves towards Harry in one fluid motion, crowding him, his wings curling in around his back, cocooning them and blocking out the hazy lamplight. Harry stands firm, not willing to back down from whatever this is, and looks up at Draco, chin held high.
“Trying to intimidate me?” Harry asks.
Draco quirks an eyebrow. Not yet.
It happens so quickly, Harry barely registers the movement. In the blink of an eye, Draco vanishes his mask and swoops down, his mouth latching onto Harry’s neck and his teeth sink in deep. Harry gasps out a shocked breath, feeling every nerve ending in his body spark with pain, and he shoves hard against Draco’s chest, sending both of them careening back from each other. He feels a sickening rip of his own skin as Draco’s teeth take flesh with them and he curses loudly as he falls onto the uneven ground, skidding his hands against the granite and pebbles.
“Fuck!” He presses a hand against his throat, applying pressure. There’s blood. So much fucking blood. “Draco, what the fuck?” He shouts.
The nausea hits him then, the overwhelming nausea from earlier comes back to him like a wave crashing over the shoreline and he bends at the middle, afraid he’ll be sick. He can hear footsteps running up behind them and is relieved when he sees Hermione and Luna come into his line of vision, which has gone blurry. He must have lost his glasses in the scuffle.
“Fuck,” he repeats, wandlessly Accioing his glasses. They fly into his hand and he shoves them back onto the bridge of his nose before searching out Draco, who is curled into himself on the rocks, his wings hiding his face from view.
“What happened?” Hermione asks, her hands hovering over Harry’s neck, healing spells flying from her wand as she assesses the damage and stems the flow of blood.
“He bit me,” Harry rasps, realising his voice has gone hoarse.
Hermione looks alarmed.
“Fuck!” he says again, just for the sake of saying it.
Harry hadn’t expected it. Draco wasn’t a threat to him, hadn’t been, not since the war. Not even before the war. At worst, Draco had been a nuisance during school, an ignorant bully, but in the years following his trial, Draco had simply become Draco: a man Harry enjoyed getting a drink with every now and again. They’d play pool in Muggle pubs and Harry would show him things like how to use a Muggle mobile and how to open up a Muggle bank account. They were friends.
Harry had always been a little bit proud of himself for befriending Draco—properly chuffed that the two of them had successfully put their past behind them. He’d considered it a sign of his own maturity, and that the sessions with his mind healer were leading to progress in his everyday life. And if, after a few pints, Harry would find himself watching Draco from across the pool table with more than just a look of friendly pride, but instead, a hunger. Well, he liked that too. He liked the way it felt, that tingle of attraction licking through his veins. It was warm, like the burn of firewhisky on his tongue, and Harry eagerly soaked in the sensation whenever it came over him, despite never being quite drunk enough to act on it.
Draco often did the same. He’d strike in a pretty pose over his cue stick, hovering low and lean over the red felt of the table, hair dangling past his shoulders and his eyes locked with Harry’s. He’d pull his arm back and shoot without even having to aim, sinking the ball he wanted every time. It infuriated Harry, and also made him harder than the pool stick in his white-knuckled hands, watching Draco do that. Harry would bite back his arousal and shake his head on a forced laugh, calling the bartender for another round because that was what they did: they played games with each other.
That’s what Harry thought they’d been doing. He thought Draco was challenging him with an innocent flirtation, a dare, like how it was before. Circe, how wrong he’d been.
“Harry, you have to let me look,” Hermione says, and Harry removes his hand from his bloodied neck. She hisses at the sight of it and Harry winces, figuring what it must look like.
“That’s going to scar,” she says, sounding frustrated. “I don’t have enough Ditanty.”
“It’s fine,” Harry grunts.
“It’s most certainly not fine.”
Harry stands and steps towards Draco, ignoring Hermione’s protests not to move as blood drips from his fingertips. It stains Draco’s feathers as Harry shoves aside his wing, revealing his maskless face to Harry for the first time. Draco looks up, eyes wide and filled with tears.
All the wind leaves Harry’s lungs in an instant. He breathes out Draco’s name soundlessly and sits down hard on the rocks, his knees having given out on him. What the mask had once covered is now visible under the lamplight, and what Harry sees breaks something inside him. He feels it happen, a clean snap right through his heart.
There’s a gash. A long, jagged slash that starts at Draco’s right cheekbone, just under his eye, and runs the length of his face, through the far side of his mouth. It gives Draco’s expression a sort of pulled quality, like a knife dragged through treacle. It’s as if the sneering smile of his youth has now been permanently painted over his adult face, his aristocratic features made imperfect in some horribly ironic twist of fate. It’s jarring in the extreme, like seeing a slice cut through the Mona Lisa, or the shattering of a stained-glass window. Its violence shouldn’t exist on such a face, and yet, Harry can't help but stare, overcome by what it represents.
“Draco,” he says again, voice rough with emotion, “what did you do?”
. . .
No warnings for this chapter, except angst.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
. . .
Hermione could kill Harry, she really could. He’s always been a bit of an idiot, but it’s truly shocking to realise just how much of a daft prick he can actually be, considering the man brought down Voldemort at seventeen. Why on earth would he ever let Draco get that close to him? Turning that line of questioning on herself, she wonders why she and Luna ever thought leaving them alone together was advisable? The answer seems obvious enough, considering Harry can usually handle things, and Draco’s little flight of fancy earlier hadn’t ended in bloodshed. She curses her own idiocy at letting this happen as she runs towards Harry’s fallen form on the rocks, wet hair slapping against her shoulders and bare feet stinging from the harsh pavement. Draco’s a cowering mass of feathers and limbs just beside him and she ignores him in favour of assessing Harry’s wound.
She hisses, seeing how deep the bite is, and curses once again. Draco’s no better than a feral animal judging by this bite. No matter how well they all grew to know Draco after the war, and how generous and good-hearted that man turned out to be, that version of Draco no longer exists. And if it does, he’s currently trapped inside the mind of a creature that’s had years to alter Draco’s state of being. They’d been fools to trust him. Utter fools.
Harry’ stands and stalks away from her before she can do much more than stop the bleeding and send a disinfectant charm his way.
“Harry,” she calls, but he’s shoving at Draco with bloodied hands, pushing aside his wings, revealing his face and suddenly, everything stops.
Hermione watches as Harry sits down hard on the ground at Draco’s feet, all the fight leaving him in an instant. She sees Draco peering up at him, broken and small and horribly scarred. Clasping a hand over her mouth, she holds in a sob at the sight of him, reconciling the posh, prim, and pristine man she once knew with the one she sees before her now.
“Draco, what did you do?” Harry asks, his voice a shattered, terrible thing, and it cuts Hermione to the quick just to hear it.
In a flash, Draco is standing, wings spread, eyes dark, and teeth bared as he leans down over Harry. Hermione scrambles to her feet, holding him at wandpoint before she can even blink.
“Draco,” she warns. He ignores her.
Harry quickly gets his feet under him, hands held out in a placating gesture as he stands, his wand nowhere to be seen, but Hermione knows better. Harry has been able to cast wandlessly since he was nineteen.
Draco makes a fierce picture before them: bloodied teeth, black nails like talons, practically hissing with his anger as he glares at Harry. Hermione feels useless standing just behind Harry’s shoulder, completely overlooked by the pair of them, save for Draco’s eyes darting every now and again to the wand in her hand.
The waves crash against the rocks, sending up sea spray, and the wind whistles past their ears so loudly, it takes a moment for Hermione to hear it, but eventually, she turns, and yes, there, caught on the breeze is a song. Familiar and yet indistinguishable, being sung slightly off-tune.
A mewl, which sounds so much like sorrow that Hermione wants to cry in sympathy, causes her to spin back to find Draco curling in on himself, taloned hands covering his scarred face. Harry’s eyes dart to where the song is coming from and shouts, “Luna!” before crouching at Draco’s feet in an attempt to console him, only to be shoved backwards by one of his wings. Harry stumbles but remains standing.
Draco flicks his head up from his hands, pinning Harry with his preternatural gaze. A suspended moment of understanding seemingly passes between them, and Hermione wonders if what Luna said is actually true: that they can communicate without words.
Harry abruptly stomps his foot and growls, “Fine!”
Hermione blinks at him, her number of concerns growing by the second.
There’s a gentle hand on Hermione’s shoulder, giving her a squeeze of reassurance. Hermione sighs and places her hand over Luna’s, relief flooding her along with the melody of Luna’s lovely song. In one hand she holds a bundle of burning sage, and in the other, a necklace of amber beads. The song she sings flows over all of them like cool, running water. It sends shivers down Hermione’s spine. When Luna reaches Draco, she swirls the sage smoke over his feathers, and their spiked, agitated appearance settles under the influence of the herb. She gently lays the necklace over his silver-white head. It rests heavily on his shoulders and he slumps with their weight.
“Something to cleanse and something to soothe,” Luna says after she’s finished her tune.
“Aren’t those for teething babies?” Hermione asks, referring to the necklace.
Luna nods. “And misunderstood, emotionally unsettled Veela.”
“We can bring him inside now.”
Harry and Hermione exchange a look over Luna’s shoulder, wondering if they heard her correctly.
“That song is meant to lull Veela to sleep,” Luna says with an encouraging bob of her head. She walks over to Draco and guides him to stand with a hand to the back of his elbow, smiling at him encouragingly. “There now, Draco. We’ll keep you safe.”
Draco simply stares at her, his eyes glassy and unfocused.
“Did you drug him?” Harry asks. Hermione tilts her head, wondering if there was more to the herb bundle than she first suspected. Harry scratches the back of his neck in thought, then hisses when he comes too close to his wound.
“Drugged is a strong word, Harry. And besides, entering an altered state of mind can do wonders for one’s outlook on life.”
Hermione and Harry lock eyes over Luna’s shoulder, eyebrows raised in mirrored looks of bewilderment.
They slowly make their way off the jetty and through the front gate, Luna guiding Draco with gentle coos and soft hums of the melody she’d sung to him earlier. To Hermione’s astonishment, Draco goes willingly, nodding his head along with her words, and at one point, Hermione spies a little smile at the scarred corner of his mouth. His right cheek dimples with the gesture, giving him a roguish appearance, as if he were a pirate Luna had lured into shore with her siren song.
Despite the turmoil and violence of the day, Hermione finds herself grinning at that thought as they head inside.
. . .
. . .
Narcissa is startled by a hand on her shoulder and she jolts out of her slouch at her dressing table, eyes wide.
“My love,” Xenophilius says, coming to his knees before her. “You’ve been crying.” He brushes a thumb over her cheek.
She crumbles at his kindness and leans into his touch. “Draco,” she says, voice hitching.
Xenophilius pulls her into his arms, tucking her head against his shoulder. “Shhh,” he soothes. “Shhhh, my love.”
“He’s not getting better.”
“He’s not getting worse,” Xenophilius offers. Narcissa shoves him, glaring.
“How is that any consolation? He’s an animal!” She pushes back the chair from her dressing table and moves to the window to look out the warbled glass. The Manor grounds are covered in a layer of frost. The trees bare and grey in the distance. “He’s just like his—” she bites her tongue before she can finish. She bites so hard she tastes the metallic tang of copper in her mouth and hangs her head.
“Mipsy is with him. She won’t let us down, ‘Cissa. I promise.”
Narcissa tuts. “A house elf. What was I thinking—”
“A loyal house elf. Their magic is quite clever.”
“What good is clever magic if it can’t heal him?” She tugs on her sleeve, itchy in her own skin. “I feel useless,” Narcissa admits, bringing her arms up tight across her middle as if she could keep herself together by sheer force of will. She bows at the waist, overcome. She’s so tired.
Xenophilius is there, holding her steady, keeping her from falling to the ground in her exhaustion. She allows his support, sinking into his arms, his heat and his reassurance, no matter how uncertain it truly is. His presence in her life since even before her husband’s death has been one of the few bright spots of recent years. She turns her head into his shoulder and breathes in his warmth. Everything in the Manor is always so frigid, except Xenophilius. He is always warm.
“Shall we go visit again tomorrow?” he offers and Narcissa’s shoulders tense in his embrace.
“It’s too painful. I ca—I can’t,” she stammers.
“But Draco needs you, darling.”
She’s shaking her head against the soft velvet of his robes, hating herself more and more. “It’s been two years. He doesn’t even know me anymore.”
“But surely you—”
“I can’t!” she cries into the crushed velvet. She quiets herself, hides under his chin. “I can’t.”
“Whatever you wish,” Xenophilius consoles, petting her hair and holding her close. “We’ll get through this together, my love. We will.”
All Narcissa can do is cry.
. . .
. . .
Thanks for reading! Comments are love. <3
I don't quite know how to quantify the warning for what's below. Perhaps: mild gore combined with sexual content
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
. . .
Hermione waits at the threshold, ear pressed against the door, listening to Luna sing Draco to sleep. She’ll need to ask Luna about this bewildering ability of hers to influence Veela. Hermione can recall several pieces of Luna’s from The Quibbler on Veela that she researched thoroughly, but Hermione has always taken Luna’s writing with a grain of salt. She’s brilliant and imaginative, can weave a wonderful, wild tale and lace it all together with astounding prose, but as for the reliability of her words, Hermione has never been fully convinced. Hearing Luna soothe Draco with such unwavering ease has her questioning her long-held prejudices. Perhaps it’s time for Hermione to start putting more stock in her partner’s chosen profession.
She steps back from the door, biting her lip, feeling horribly guilty. She’s alone in the hallway, Harry has already collapsed on his bed for the evening.
Once they had gotten Draco safely inside, they wasted no time warding the house. Luna wove several charms into those wards to help Draco remain calm and stable throughout the night in the spare room they’d set up for him.
Looking over her shoulder to the pendulum wall clock softly swinging back and forth in its gilded box, Hermione laments what little night they have left. By the time they’d all gathered in the kitchen, seen to Harry’s awful bite wound, admonished Draco for administering said bite wound, scrambled a few eggs for supper, and figured out a place to keep Draco, it’d just turn 2.
Luna slips out the door, a finger to her lips.
“He’s asleep,” she whispers and Hermione nods, taking her hand in hers.
“How’s Harry?” Luna asks quietly, kissing Hermione’s wrist then wrapping an arm about her waist.
“Out cold. I don’t blame him.”
“Yes, it has been a rather adventurous day.”
“I’m exhausted,” Hermione sighs, leaning heavily on Luna.
“Oh, well then what I had planned can wait till morning, I suppose.”
“What did you have planned?” Hermione asks, instantly more alert.
Luna steps in front of Hermione with a sly smile, pulling at the silk tie holding her robe in place. It slips open easily, revealing the bare skin beneath. Luna’s eyes are cast downward, staring at the soft triangle of light blue fabric covering the apex of Hermione’s thighs. Hermione’s breath hitches, her heart suddenly racing.
“Should we?” she whispers, looking back at Draco’s room.
Luna doesn’t answer, but instead steps closer and moves her hand between Hermione’s legs, softly stroking. She brings her lips to the shell of Hermione’s ear and then bites down on the lobe, a gentle sting that causes Hermione’s knees to buckle.
“Okay, alright,” Hermione squirms free and quickly opens their door, hurrying Luna inside, and throwing up a silencing charm as soon as she can reach her wand.
. . .
Harry’s eyes stutter open at the dull thud of a door closing. He looks around, feeling unmoored and uneasy, suffocating under the weight of the blankets. He’s up in an instant, reaching for the door.
He stumbles from his bedroom, hand pressed against the bite on his neck, gasping. It’s too hot in his room, but the living room isn’t much better. The air is stagnant and thick, entirely too humid to breathe properly. He’s practically panting as he makes his way to the kitchen. Leaning over the sink, he pours himself a glass of water and gulps it down, spilling most of it over his throat and chest. The rivulets run into the dressing of the bite and he hisses at the sting, pressing his hand once again to the bloodied bandage. The feel of the gauze is like sandpaper dragging over his hypersensitive skin.
With blunt fingertips, he rips off the sodden bandage and tosses it into the sink. It lands with a sickening thwack against the white porcelain, vibrant with fresh blood. Harry blinks at it bleary-eyed, wondering why he’s still bleeding. Hermione healed it, didn’t she? He can’t remember now.
He refills his water glass two more times, chasing a thirst he can’t satisfy. He’s only in his pants, yet he’s sweltering from the heat radiating off his own skin. He can feel the wetness on the back of his neck, soaking into his hair.
Grabbing a stray pen off the countertop strewn with collection samples and drying herbs, he twists his hair up into a bun atop his head, feeling too overheated with it lying over his shoulders. He runs his arm across his forehead; his skin is searing.
The balcony doors swim into his vision and he shuffles over to them, drunk from the heat. They open without warning, magicked by either himself or some other unknown force, but he’s grateful for the blast of cool sea mist that washes over him as he steps out onto the landing. He breathes in deep gulps of salt air, revelling in the high winds coming off the water. In the distance there’s a storm cloud rolling in; Harry can see the forks of lightning curling within its depths, sending shocks of purple light out across the velvet veil of the nighttime sky.
He finds the railing and leans heavily onto it with his forearms, allowing the relief of fresh air to soothe his feverish skin. He looks out over the water, letting the swirling clouds and the electrical storm hypnotise him into a lulled sense of normalcy. None of today had been normal. And what Harry feels right now, the prickling sweat on his skin, the shivers running up and down his spine, is definitely not normal. He should be more alarmed at what’s happening to him, but he’s too exhausted to bother.
Soon, his attention is pulled away from the flashes of light on the horizon and down to the unmistakable shape and breadth of Draco’s wings out on the jetty.
Harry lifts his head ever so slightly, wondering why Draco is not in his room, why the wards they’d placed on his door and the house didn’t work. Harry had checked them himself before he’d turned in for the night, and they were strong, secure.
Too startled to look away, Harry watches as Draco sinks to his knees on the rocks in a single, fluid motion, as if he were nothing more than a feather floating to the ground on a breeze. Harry’s brows furrow, feeling sluggish with fever and unable to truly react the way he should. Harry should be doing something, saying something to make Draco come back.
He rubs at his eyes, the heavy blanket of sleep taking its hold on him, despite needing to keep watch over Draco. He stumbles back, his knees coming into contact with something behind him, and bends, landing heavily on the chaise lounge, melting into the cushions. He tries to keep Draco in his line of sight but he’s suddenly overcome with exhaustion and, without warning, his lids fall shut. The roar of the wind and the crash of the sea below all fades to black.
. . .
Harry blinks and he’s on the jetty, feeling jittery, like a live-wire poking free of its socket. He shouldn’t be out here, he knows, but the tension in his shoulders is lessening with every inhale of the salt air and the rumbling in his gut has settled into a mellow tumble. He presses a hand hard against his abdomen, feeling the whirling within, like the storm cloud on the horizon. He’s shaky in a way he hasn’t felt in years and needy with an urge he can’t overcome. He had to escape the house, the smells of those terrible humans, and the oppressive heat.
So much heat.
White light strikes the water and his head snaps up, revelling at the vibration it sends through his bones. He’s free. Blessedly free and for the first time in years he’s breathing in fresh air and not the stagnant, humid press of ancient magic that constantly restricted his power and his instincts.
Rolling his shoulders, he sinks to the ground, fluid and smooth, bringing his palms into contact with the cool dirt and rocky pebbles. There’s blood there, fresh and fragrant. He brings his nose towards the reddened earth as strands of silver-blond hair fall across his vision and inhales.
Yes, he thinks, brimming with satisfaction. That’s what he’s after, that scent. It’s a memory, a tantalising tingle on the edge of his mind, something close yet stubbornly elusive. To have it within his grasp now is intoxicating. He shifts his weight, sits back on his heels, throws his head back, and crows. He runs his hands up and down in his thighs, curiously not minding that their normal muscled, and dark brown, and covered in thick hair appearance has now shifted to long, and sinuous, and pale as bone against the damp moss of the jetty.
That is the last contradictory thought Harry has before his instincts take over. He allows his body to move, slow and serpentine, his wings stretching and contracting with every roll of his hips. There’s a want, a need, bubbling inside him. He can’t remember the last time he’s felt such a carnal craving. Without conscious thought, he brings his inky black hand up to his mouth and spits.
The warm slick slides down his palm and, not willing to waste it, he grips himself where he’s hard and needy between his legs, careful to fold the long line of his nails over his fist. The heat of his fingers shocks him compared to his cooling spit and he gasps out into the night. The relief at touching himself is short-lived, he needs more. He tosses his head back on a cry, speeding up the rhythm of his hand, seeking a sensation he can’t quite name.
Lightning forks across the sky over him and he breathes out at the shock of it, as if its charge had somehow electrified his blood from within. He falls forward on one taloned-hand, panting into the dirt, the need inside him building with every desperate drag of his palm over his aching prick. There, just underneath him, is the ripe scent of blood he sought earlier. He looks down at it, grinning with all his teeth as he watches a pearlescent drop of liquid release from the tip of his swollen cockhead, landing on the reddened earth. The combination sizzles, releasing a plume of silken smoke that he eagerly inhales.
“Fuck,” he curses, drunk with it. His voice sounds foreign to his own ears, his voice box not used to being utilised. Another surge of lightning touches down over the water, drawing his attention, and he arches with the pleasure it sends through him, his wings stretching out wide.
There’s a presence nearby. He’s felt him all this time, has known exactly where he’s sat on the balcony above him, but now he can smell him, smell his arousal and his need for release, a scent much stronger than his fever. He squeezes his cock, pulling a harsh gasp from his throat. The tide’s coming in, the water surging along with the delicious build-up of tension between his legs. Grinning, he closes his eyes and concentrates on who’s behind him, thrilled at the knowledge that he’s not alone, even if his voyeur is still too far away to claim.
Then he remembers the bite.
Pushing up from the ground, he brings his left hand to the sensitive skin of his neck, applies pressure, and hears a responding hiss on the wind. His opposite hand speeds up on his cock, so close to climax his toes are curling with the need to finish. He presses again, and this time, it’s a moan that echoes out across the water. That moan reverberates all along his skin, leaving gooseflesh in its wake. Another flash of light, another moan, and with a strangled cry, he comes.
He collapses after his release, landing sideways, cushioned by the curve of his wing. He lies there, heart racing and shivering with aftershocks as the sky continues to ripple with lightning above and the waves sound out a cacophonous yet soothing rhythm all around him. His vision begins to swim and he lets his heavy head fall to the side, blinking slowly. Only then does he see it, there, just ahead of him, the pool of his come mingling with the blood on the rocks.
. . .
See y'all Monday! Comments are <3
. . .
“No judgement, Harry, but you might want to clean up before Hermione comes out here and sees your manhood.”
Harry wakes with a start, feeling the sun’s rays, hot and heavy on his skin. He puts a hand up to block the light, only to realise with a shock that his cock is out of his pants and there’s a telling stain on the fabric of his shorts.
“Shit,” he says, quickly tucking himself away and apologising to Luna. She sends a cleaning charm his way, then winks.
“It’s nothing I haven’t seen before,” she says, grinning. She hands him an espresso before floating back inside, and Harry stands, feeling stiff and awkward in his own skin. The bite on his neck is bothersome, like a dull ache that leaves him feeling shivery and strange.
“I think it’s infected,” he tells Luna as he enters the kitchen.
“Yeah. I’m feverish. And I had an odd . . . dream, last night.” He gestures out towards the balcony.
“I noticed,” she hides a grin behind her teacup and Harry huffs a laugh at his own expense. “Your neck looks fine to me.”
Startled, Harry puts down his mug and walks over to the mirror above the mantel. The wound that felt so inflamed and painful last night now looks like nothing more than a shiny, pale scar. He touches a finger to his skin and hisses at the instant reaction it causes in him. He bites down on a moan, and clamps his hand hard over his neck, looking away from the kitchen and Luna’s inquisitive stare.
He nods and heads for the bathroom. “Yup. Fine.”
Slamming the door behind him, it takes a second for Harry to realise that he’s barged in on Draco, who’s curled up into as tight a ball as he can manage in the empty bathtub. His wings cascade out over the sides, too large to fit.
“Shit, sorry,” he says and begins to turn, but Draco’s on him in an instant, pressing him into the door and inhaling deeply against the skin of his throat. Harry feels the hard length of Draco against his abdomen and that knowledge does not help his current predicament. He arches his back, straining against Draco’s hold, all the while aligning their bodies more fully together. Harry’s spiralling, wanting to shove Draco away and pull him closer all at once.
“This is wrong,” he grits out through his teeth. He balls his hands into fists at his sides in an effort to keep from giving in to his instincts.
Draco nods, dragging his nose repeatedly over the scar he caused. The sensation is entirely too much and not nearly enough. When Draco presses his lips to the sensitive skin, Harry bites down hard on his own cheek. Draco does it a second time, lingering and possessive, and Harry can’t take it. He slams his head back against the door with a grunt for lack of a better thing to do.
“We need to talk first, Draco.”
There’s a halt in Draco’s movements as if he’s holding his breath. I don’t deny that.
“Then step back.”
Harry hears a whimper at his request, feels another press of lips against his scar, and Harry’s knees almost buckle. He unfists his hands, reaching—
There’s a knock at the door and Hermione’s muffled voice shouting at them through it.
“I know you’re both in there! Whatever you’re doing, stop.” She sends a stinging jinx through the door and all it does is cause Harry to flinch, bucking his hips. Draco growls and bares down harder, grinding back in a sinuous roll, pressing his entire body against Harry’s. It’s only now that Harry realises Draco is blatantly and unfortunately nude.
“You’re not helping, Hermione,” Harry calls out, hating himself a little. He grips Draco by his shoulders and pulls him away from his neck and his body, feeling the loss of his heat and breath against his skin and immediately wants them back.
Harry tries to tell himself that these are just natural reactions to have when an attractive man willingly presses close to him. He tries to tell himself that discovering Draco alive after all these years has compounded with his long-held feelings for the man, and now everything has jumbled itself into one big fever dream of a cluster fuck, and that’s why he so badly wants to shove Draco up onto the sink and suck his cock down his throat in one swallow.
The knocking comes again, this time with the added thud of a bare foot. Harry curses and forces himself to calm down, inhaling deeply then exhaling, long and slow. His attempts at willing his erection away are not helped by Draco watching him so intensely he wants to crawl out of his skin.
“Fuck,” he curses, and hangs his head.
He tosses a towel at Draco and tells him to cover up, which Draco pointedly does not do before he rips open the door.
“We’re fine!” he barks, then quiets his voice. “See?” Harry steps back and runs a hand through his hair, allowing the women to witness Draco, fully nude and erect behind him.
Hermione immediately sends her eyes towards the ceiling. Beside her, Luna is smiling, once again, into her teacup.
. . .
. . .
Luna looks up at the flickering neon sign of the Muggle pub, smiling a sad smile at the promise of Cold Beer. She wipes the bottoms of her Wellies on the welcome mat just inside the swinging green door and searches for a head of messy black hair amongst the murmuring midday patrons.
She spots him easily enough, ensconced on a barstool near the pool table, draped in his godfather’s motorcycle jacket. Luna had always loved the smell of the faded leather that warmed against Harry’s skin whenever he took her out on Sirius’ flying motorbike. The memory feels far off and otherworldly now, just another bit of joy left to the past, inappropriate when paired with today’s fresh grief. She wonders if Harry ever took Draco out on the bike, and then smiles at the fleeting thought, figuring that Draco would probably have hated the mechanical Muggle beast.
Coming up behind him, she foregoes a proper greeting in place of engulfing Harry in a large, bone-cracking hug, the leather of his coat creaking under her embrace.
“Harry,” she breathes into his hair.
“Oof!” Harry grunts, giving Luna a weak laugh, gripping her arms tightly in his large hands. “Thanks for coming.”
She kisses his cheek and wipes away the remains of his tears with her thumbs. “Of course.”
“It’s not . . . this isn’t—”
Luna halts his miserable attempts to explain. “I know.” She pulls out a stool beside him and nods to the bartender for another round. There are several empty pints lined up in front of Harry already, but they both know tonight is a night for drinking.
After a lager and a shot of ill-advised tequila, Luna gestures behind her to the still empty pool table.
“Teach me?” she asks, and Harry huffs out a laugh. Luna smiles at him. “What? Worried I’ll beat you?”
He shakes his head. “No, it’s just,” he swallows the rest of his pint and drops his glass to the bartop. The sound of a wet thwack echoes off the gleaming wood. “I taught Draco to play pool on that table.”
Luna looks at the faded red felt glowing warm and welcoming under the spotlight above. She easily pictures the two of them, laughing and drunk, enjoying each other’s company in this Muggle place where no one knew their names or history. The image makes her want to cry. She wraps an arm around Harry and rests her head on his shoulder. A small sniff escapes her and Harry’s hand comes up to stroke her hair. After a few moments, he drops his hand, balling it into a white-knuckled fist atop his thigh.
“I never told you,” Harry says, sounding hesitant.
“You never have to.”
Shaking his head, Harry squeezes Luna tight to his side. She hopes her closeness is giving him the strength to admit the things he needs to share, though she’ll never be the one to push.
“I think I wanted him for myself,” Harry explains, his voice slightly slurred. “This place. This was ours. It was safe.”
Luna nods against his shoulder in understanding. The mental image she conjured feeling more real the longer she stares at the pool table before her, as if she were looking at their ghostly impressions through a Pensieve.
Harry shifts, digging in his jacket pocket. He extracts a folded bit of parchment, worn and badly creased, and hands it to Luna with a nod of encouragement.
“Open it,” he says, and she does.
It’s a letter from Narcissa Malfoy explaining her son’s untimely death. Luna scans it quickly, noting the warmth in Narcissa’s words. It had been apparent to even Draco’s mother that he and Harry were close, and acknowledged the importance Harry played in her son’s life, going so far as to extend her condolences to Harry. It was overwhelming.
The letter falls to her lap like a dried leaf. She looks up at Harry, bewildered. “My father is courting her.”
Harry blinks. Luna wonders if he’d noticed Xenophillus at the funeral, but then figures that perhaps Harry didn’t think much of his presence considering Luna was there.
“That’s . . . interesting.” He shifts in his seat and Luna knows how he feels. She wants to be happy for her father, for Draco’s mother too, but it’s all just a jumble of messy emotions in her mind. Her father had made his intentions known even before Lucius’ death. She remembers Draco telling her that he’d visited the Manor to help Narcissa with her potions garden late last spring.
Thoughts of parental figures with burgeoning, semi-adulterous sex lives help to distract her from her grief, but it’s fleeting, a mere blip on the tide of pain quickly rising over the dusty, black and white tiled floor.
Beside her, Harry jerks and she looks up in time to see him squeeze his eyes shut on a trail of fresh tears.
“Fuck. I want him back, Luna.” His voice cracks on the words, filled with anguish. She closes her eyes at the sound, hating the world for taking yet another person from her Harry—for taking Draco from him.
“Teach me to play pool,” she repeats, nudging his side, needing to distract him from such dark thoughts. She and Harry know better than most that you can’t bring back the dead once they’re gone, no matter how much you’re willing to sacrifice for such power.
She stands from her stool, stepping between his legs to rub at his shoulders, to get his blood flowing once more. She ducks her head, seeks out his gaze, and smiles at him, encouraging and earnest.
Nodding, Harry stands, wiping his eyes and digging out some Muggle coins from his pockets.
“On one condition,” Harry says, holding up a finger, the ghost of a smirk haunting his face.
“You lose, you have to take a shot.”
Grinning, Luna agrees, if only because it has Harry smiling.
Harry sets up the table using a funny little wooden triangle to collect the colourful balls as Luna orders another round, and for a while, Luna makes sure that Harry focuses only on the game and not their mutual loss. For a while, they pretend he’s still there.
. . .
. . .
Sigh. See y'all Thursday! Comments are always appreciated.
. . .
. . .
Harry slams down his third shot of tequila, the glass hitting the bartop with a dull thwack. He most certainly should not be having a third shot of tequila on top of the countless lagers from earlier, but he had lost the last game of pool, and this is Draco’s preferred punishment. So, down the hatch it goes.
He exhales hard through his nostrils, feeling the stinging burn down his throat.
“Disgusting,” he grunts, then bows his head to suck hard on the lime Draco holds aloft in his hand. If Harry accidentally pulls Draco’s long fingers into his mouth with the lime, well, neither of them are willing to acknowledge it.
Draco leans one elbow on the bar, watching Harry with hooded eyes. He’s had his fair share of shots too, having lost his fair share of games. They’ve been ensconced inside their favourite pub for hours, celebrating the beginning of their holiday break. Outside, snow falls softly onto the pavement, set aglow by the neon light of the pub’s logo pulsing in the window.
“So,” Harry says, shoving back from the bar and attempting to stand. He stumbles into Draco’s shoulder, who laughs and holds Harry steady with his large, beautiful hands that are always so, so warm.
Harry has a thing for Draco’s hands.
Leaning in close, Harry rests his forehead against Draco’s. “Tell me, Draco. . .”
He trails off without finishing his thought. Minutes pass with nothing but the two of them huddled close, breathing each other in and smiling. The silence blooms between them, familiar and comfortable, like a warm blanket for two, before Draco snorts, inelegant and oh-so-human. He pulls back and prompts, “Tell you what, exactly?”
“Hmm?” Harry shakes his head. “Oh, right.” He stands straight as best he can, and clears his throat. “What do you want for Christmas?”
Draco grins at him, good-natured and kind. Harry loves that grin, loves when Draco's warmth shines through his prim, posh exterior. He’s seen more glimpses of Draco’s relaxed, true self tonight than in the whole of the past year combined. That thought bolsters Harry’s courage as he waits for Draco’s answer, toying with the gift he’s already got him in his coat pocket.
Harry watches as Draco taps a finger to his lips and looks at Harry with a mischievous glint in his eye. It sends a zing down Harry’s spine.
Draco smirks as he leans in to press his mouth to Harry’s ear.
“A kiss,” he whispers.
It feels like a confession, like a literal gut punch, which is why Harry’s breath pushes out hard from his nose at the words. Draco doesn’t linger in the moment. He slips away in one smooth motion, sliding off his stool and walking backwards, holding eye contact with Harry the entire time. He might as well be beckoning Harry with a crook of his finger.
Harry watches him go—throat dry, mouth open. Before Draco can round the corner out of sight, Harry is following him, desperate with a hunger he’s not let himself fully experience until this very moment, tequila be damned.
They burst through the swinging door of the gents, laughing as they stumble into each other. Draco shoves Harry against the tile wall, his smile looking a little wild. His hair tumbles over his forehead, glinting silver in the low light, and Harry likes that it's no longer perfect. Placing his hands on either side of Harry’s head, Draco grins down at him, eyebrow raising in question. Harry answers by arching his back off the cold tile, bringing his hips into contact with Draco’s, feeling bold and reckless and so turned-on he’s afraid he’ll combust.
“Harry,” Draco sighs, dropping his head to Harry’s throat and inhaling deeply. Harry tilts his neck to the side, letting Draco breathe in his fill, his hands running over the smooth fabric of Draco’s perfectly tailored shirt, wanting nothing more than to rip it open with his teeth to reach bare skin.
There’s a buzzing coming from Draco’s pocket and he curses against Harry’s throat, nipping the skin there, causing Harry to jump. He pulls back and fishes his Muggle mobile out of his jacket pocket, while his other hand falls to tangle in Harry’s hair.
Heart racing and feeling slightly unhinged, Harry looks down at the glowing screen, entirely distracted. “What is it?”
Draco’s brow is furrowed, his eyes dark, despite the illumination of his phone. “My mother.”
Sobering, Harry stands from his slouch, concerned. “Is she alright?”
Draco looks up at him, his face the picture of remorse and suddenly, Harry knows the night will no longer go the way he’d hoped. Draco steps back, his hand moving from Harry’s hair to his face, his thumb rubbing across his cheek.
“I’m sorry,” Draco says, and Harry shakes his head, eagerly leaning into the heat of Draco’s hand.
“You’ve no idea,” he whispers, pressing his forehead against Harry’s and closing his eyes. They stand there for a few stolen moments, breathing each other’s air. Draco’s hand still on Harry’s face, the heat of his palm searing into his skin like a brand. Harry never wants the feeling to fade. They’ve danced around this for so long—so many pints, pool games, and phone calls—and now, on the precipice of something so new, something so precious, they’re interrupted before they can even begin.
“I’ll text you,” Draco promises, pressing a kiss against the side of Harry’s mouth. Harry chases it, wanting more, but Draco pulls back, the roguish smile Harry finds so irresistible firmly back in place.
“Merry Christmas, Harry.”
“Merry Christmas, Draco.”
The gift Harry bought Draco hangs heavy in his pocket and just before Draco slips back through the loo door, Harry grabs hold of his arm. Draco smiles and quirks an eyebrow.
“Here,” Harry says, laying the small parcel in his palm. “Wait till Christmas to open it, yeah?”
Draco lights up at the sight of the gift. He looks at Harry one last time, eyes full of promise, before tearing himself away and slipping through the door. Harry lets him go, watching the swinging door swish back and forth over the hexagonal tile of the floor, getting lost in its movement. He’s smiling, feeling giddy at the lingering sensation of Draco’s lips on his skin.
How was Harry supposed to know then, that in four short months, Draco would be dead? That one small kiss, given so freely during a drunken night in their favourite pub, would turn out to be the only chance Harry would ever get to love him.
. . .
. . .
“We have a problem,” Hermione says, pacing back and forth across the living room throw rug. Luna notes that it’s of Turkish origin, and how lovely the colours are.
“Do we, though?” she asks, tilting her head inquisitively.
“Yes!” Hermione shouts, before apologising and resuming her pacing. “Sorry, but yes, we do. Draco and Harry can not be left alone together. There’s too much . . . happening there.”
Luna grins. “Hmmmm, I agree.”
“Luna,” Hermione admonishes. “This is serious. He’s feral.”
“He’s claimed him.”
Hermione halts mid-step. “What?”
“The bite,” Luna repeats, dragging a fingertip along her neck. “I wouldn’t consider it morally correct of Draco to just bite Harry without his consent, but I assume Harry isn’t too torn up about it, given their history—“
“Wait, Luna, what history? You alluded to them fu—“ Hermione cuts herself off, which Luna smiles at, “—being intimate. And we were just speculating. Have they actually. . . “
Luna lifts one shoulder, “Who’s to say?”
Hermione points an accusatory finger at her. “There. That! That face! You made that face last night. What do you know that you yet again aren’t telling me?”
Her initial reaction is to place a hand against Hermione’s cheek, appreciating the beautiful blush of her skin when she’s flustered and chasing information. Instead, Luna takes pity on her, and leads her to the kitchen table to sit down. “I owe you an explanation.”
Nodding, Hermione’s eyes look a little wild, her expression just a tad manic. “Yes! Yes, you do.”
“And you’ve been so patient with me,” Luna hedges, squeezing Hermione’s thigh.
“Mmm,” Hermione hums, biting her lip. Sadly though, she places her hand over Luna’s and moves them both deliberately to the tabletop. “Don’t change the subject.”
“I wasn’t,” Luna says, eyes cast down at the high slit of Hermione’s robe.
“No, thank you.”
“Luna! Harry won’t be at the shops forever.”
Sighing, Luna stands, deciding that a bracing cup of peppermint tea will keep her hands occupied elsewhere.
“I’ve heard my father speak about the place we found Draco since I was little. He’s always been very passionate about his projects, whether it be his garden of Dirigible Plums, or his constant research on everything from the phases of the moon to the biological makeup of magical creatures.” Luna magicks the kettle to heat on the hob. “But several years ago, he stopped.”
“Talking. Researching. All of it. Even the plums were abandoned and have since gone to seed,” Luna says with a sigh. “‘Shame. They make the best jam.”
Hermione looks uneasy and Luna leans across the workbench to twirl a finger through one of her curls. “It’s alright,” she assures her. “I love your elderberry jam. And my father found a new project, don’t you see?”
“I’m afraid I don’t.”
Luna cuts the heat under the kettle. It had begun to whistle.
“Right. You mean his courtship of Narcissa.”
Nodding, Luna adds a fair bit of morning-glory honey to her cup. “Yes. And I’m happy for him.”
“My father would be very bad at poker.”
Hermione closes her eyes and gives her head a little shake of confusion. Luna always adores when Hermione’s willingly vulnerable. She floats a cup over to her at the table and settles herself against the workbench before taking a sip of her own brew.
“He has many tells. One of them being the blatant changeover from one obsession to the next.”
“You play poker?” Hermione asks, brow furrowed.
Luna smiles into her tea. “Focus.”
Hermione tuts and crosses her legs, sending the slit higher up her thighs. Luna sighs at the sight, but stays put.
“Once he’s moved on, the previous project is left behind. He never starts something he can’t finish, so if he’s found something else—“
“Then he’s satisfied his obsession?” Hermione offers.
“That’s right. So, the magical ancient land with its protective wards and its charming lullaby that he sings while he’s making tea. . . or I should say, that he sang up until about four years ago—“
Hermione gasps, her teacup clanging hard against its saucer. “No!”
“Yes. He found his utopia.”
Hermione drops her hand from her mouth, a look of awe on her face. Then confusion. “But, how does Draco—“
“Draco,” Luna interrupts, voice slightly higher than she intended, “was always stronger than we ever gave him credit for.”
Luna puts down her cup and stares out the window at Draco with his curled, ruffled wings and bowed head out on the jetty, huddled in on himself with a shame he shouldn’t have to feel. “He’d sneak down to the dungeons at night to bring me food, cast warming charms, use magic to help us, even though he wasn’t supposed to—it was terribly dangerous for him. He earned my friendship even in the darkest moment of my life.”
Luna hears the scraping of a chair right before she’s engulfed in an armful of warmth and silk and curls.
“I’m so sorry that you lost him,” Hermione whispers.
“Only for a little while, as it turns out.”
“You never truly believed he was gone, did you?” Hermione asks, kissing Luna’s hair.
“But how did—” Hermione’s interrupted by the slamming of the front door, then the shouted call of Harry apologising as he comes up the stairs.
“The wind! It’s fucking bonkers—” he halts when he sees them so entwined. “Erm.”
“It’s alright, Harry. We were just making some tea.”
“Oh, great.” Harry brings the canvas totes over to the table. They thunk down softly with the promise of potatoes and squash and a glass jar or two hidden inside. Luna hopes one of them is marmalade. “Want help?”
Luna smiles at him. You deserve happiness, she thinks, and untangles herself from Hermione to give him a kiss on the cheek. He grins down at her, blushing.
“I’ll go see if Draco wants to come inside,” she says and trails out the way he came. The wind rips past her as she shuts the door and makes her way out the front gate towards the jetty. Her hands shake in her coverall pockets. She hadn’t explained all of her suspicions to Hermione and knew it’d been cowardly of her.
She trills a little tune as she steps up behind Draco on the rocks, alerting him to her presence. Her whistling carries on the wind, being drawn out to sea with the retreating tide.
A heaviness settles on her shoulders when Draco turns towards her; his scarred face is as haunted as ever, though blessedly free of the terrible mask. She crouches before him, combing her hand through his beautiful hair, only a shade lighter than her own.
“It was his idea, wasn’t it? He brought you there?”
Silver eyes, so worn and weary, turn fierce as Draco nods and Luna’s heart sinks down through the rocks at their feet.
Ignoring the prickle of threatening tears, Luna pulls Draco in, tucking his head beneath her chin. Draco wraps his arms tightly around her, and Luna smiles at the strength of the embrace.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispers into his hair, hoping the apology isn’t lost to the roaring wind.
. . .
I love Luna.
See y'all Monday!
Chapter warning: mild peril that's quickly resolved.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
. . .
. . .
Harry and Neville slump down on the floor behind the wide mahogany front desk of their shop, entirely sauced. It’s been a triumphant opening day, the celebrations having lasted long into the evening.
“We’re completely sold out,” Harry sighs, grinning.
“Well, there’s mandrakes, still.”
“S’right, but who wants those?”
Neville snorts. “Too right.” He raises his champagne flute, missing Harry’s glass completely as he tries to cheers him. “Salute!” he calls, nevertheless.
“Proost!” Harry retorts.
“Sláinte,” Harry attempts, though hiccups through it. “Eh, fuck it.” Then downs the rest of his drink. Or rather, tries. His glass is suspiciously empty. He frowns at it. “Hey, s’gone.”
“What?” Neville asks, his head leaned back against the wall.
“Unacceptable. Another round!” Neville exclaims and tucks his long legs beneath him, only to stumble into the cash register upon standing. It dings and opens with a pleasant pop. Neville twirls around, beaming down at Harry. “We’re rich.” He gestures back at the machine but it’s already shut itself with a Safety first, my good man! warning.
Harry laughs. “Help me up, would’ya?”
Neville tries admirably to help Harry to a standing position, but there's a rather lot of flailing and giggling involved in the process. Harry shoves his hair off his forehead for the twentieth-eighth time that night, lamenting its length, just as the bell chimes above the front door.
“Draco!” Harry grins, arms spread wide. “You’re back!”
There’s a devilish smirk at the corner of Draco’s mouth. Harry licks his lips at the sight. Draco raises up a canvas tote that clanks with the inviting sound of glass bottles held within. Both Neville and Harry cheer.
“My hero,” Harry says, stumbling forward. His hair falls into his face again.
Draco catches him, holding him steady by the upper arms. “Careful there, you’ll break that pretty nose of yours again.”
“Ha! Still wouldn’t be m’fault if I did.”
Draco tucks Harry’s hair behind his ear. Then combs the tangles back off his forehead for him. Harry tries his best not to sigh and lean into the touch, but his eyes fall closed without his say so.
“Your hair is getting long, Harry.”
“You said you liked long hair,” he protests, then bites down hard on the inside of his cheek, having given himself away.
Silver eyes twinkle down at him with amusement. “I do.”
They stare at each other, Harry swaying slightly. Behind them, Neville coughs.
Draco shifts his eyes over Harry’s shoulder, then steps back, gesturing to the room at large. “Let us continue the celebrations of this delightful new venture of yours back at mine, hm?”
“Brilliant idea!” Neville says. He Accios his coat; it thwacks him in the face. Harry snorts, then trips, falling into Draco’s shoulder.
Behind them, Ron and George emerge from the storeroom. George is carrying a carved out pumpkin in one hand and a bottle of peach schnapps in the other.
“What’s the pumpkin for?” Neville asks.
“Right.” Neville directs a finger gun at him and winks. George cackles at him.
“More supplies?” Ron asks of Draco, eyebrows raised.
Draco solemnly nods, forcefully polite. “Of course.”
“Marvelous. Where to then?”
“I was just inviting Harry and Neville to mine.”
George whistles. “That posh flat you’ve just bought out in Kensington?”
“That’d be the one.”
George’s returning smile is frighteningly eager. Harry feels it’s his duty to warn Draco of what he’s getting into but feels entirely too content leaning into his side for support at that moment to pipe up.
“You need water,” Draco is saying into his ear and Harry turns, noting how close they are to each other.
Draco mouth quirks. “Lots and lots of water.”
“Good thing you have a pool, then.”
Draco’s smile is wicked and Harry feels the stirrings of an embarrassing situation in his pants. He swallows his primal urges and steps back, clumsily moving to help Neville gather the troops and lock up for the evening. They can deal with the mess in the morning—or afternoon. They’re their own bosses now, he thinks happily. They can open whenever they damn well please.
Just as they’re pushing through the door to head to an Apparition point—George, Ron, and Neville boisterously singing a ballad they heard on American Muggle radio—Harry turns to Draco and puts his hand to his chest. Draco halts, looking down at Harry, one elegant eyebrow raised.
“Thank you,” Harry says, suddenly feeling entirely too sober to be so earnest.
Draco grins at him. “For what? The wine? You know I don’t trust any of you to properly pick—”
“Not for the wine. For this,” he hurries to say, gesturing to the shop. The carved wooden sign swishes in the balmy evening breeze. A dragon twined round an elderberry vine emblazoned in gold leaf glinting in the lamplight of the alley.
“I didn’t—” Draco begins to say, but Harry rushes to interrupt him.
“Yes, you did. You helped. More than you realise.”
To Harry’s delighted surprise, Draco blushes. He nods and encourages Harry forward. “Come on, Potter,” he says, sounding entirely too posh. “Must not let the wild beasts get too far ahead.”
. . .
. . .
Draco thrashes, spasming uncontrollably on the bed, his wings knocking over everything within reach in the small room. Hermione considers the very real possibility that she won’t be able to get him stable and they’ll have no choice but to emergency Portkey him to St. Mungo’s. She says as much but is met with a wall of adamant refusals.
“He said no,” Harry grunts, trying to keep Draco still through yet another seizure. Luna sits at the head of the bed, waving a smudge stick of questionable herbs through the air and doing her best to hum a soothing song for him.
It isn’t working.
“I can’t, in good conscience, allow him to seize like this. It could cause lasting damage. He needs more help.”
“No!” Harry growls, holding Draco tighter. “It’s his choice.”
“Harry, look at him!” She gestures to Draco before taking in the state of Harry. His hair is soaked through, his skin pale and his eyes bloodshot. Suddenly, she’s furious.
“Harry James Potter.”
Harry looks at her, startled. “What the—”
She knew something was amiss with that bite mark. “You’re experiencing his symptoms, aren’t you?”
Harry’s lips thin. “No.”
“Don’t you dare lie to me.” She presses a hand to his forehead and he jerks back. “You’re burning.”
She tosses her head back in frustration. “None of this is normal, Harry. We need to go to St. Mungo’s!”
He grunts as Draco arches halfway off the bed, his body twisting in a grotesque manner. Harry settles him then looks to Hermione with pleading in his eyes. “Look. You’re a Healer, I’m a Herbologist. We can handle it.”
“I really don’t—”
“We can!” he says, earnest and desperate, and endlessly stubborn. Leave it to Harry Potter to weather the storm in the most difficult and perilous way possible. He never did learn to ask for help when he needed it most, damn him.
Hermione slumps, putting her head in her hands, too exhausted to argue. It’s been hours with no change. To the best of her knowledge, what Draco is experiencing is something akin to a detox, but she can’t fathom from what. She’d noticed nothing in the temple that resembled any sort of drug or potion. Draco barely had clothes, let alone medicine.
She spells the sweat-soaked sheets beneath him dry and runs yet another diagnostic. Harry looks up, reading the numbers that hover in the air over Draco as Hermione weaves her medical spellwork.
“They’re the same,” she says, referring to his vitals.
“Which means?” Harry asks.
“Not great. Not bad, either.”
“Good.” He looks down at Draco, eyes fierce, as if he could magic him better by sheer force of will. Hermione’s half convinced he might try. Draco’s bite stands out stark and pale against Harry’s damp brown skin. Hermione momentarily focuses her worry on the mark, convinced it connects them in some way. She’s quickly pulled away from that train of thought because all of a sudden, Draco’s thrashing ceases, and everything falls quiet in the room.
Luna opens her eyes, coming out of her trance. “Oh?” She looks down. “Hermione, what happened?”
“I don’t know.”
Harry’s leaning over Draco, brushing his wet hair back from his forehead.
“He’s sorry,” Harry says and Hermione boggles at him.
“He doesn’t mean to be such a burden.” Harry curses and shakes his head. “You’re not a burden,” he whispers to Draco.
“Harry, is he talking to you?”
“Yes,” Harry spits, then looks back over his shoulder, remorseful. “Sorry.”
Hermione’s too startled to care about his tone. This confirms their suspicions that Draco can communicate with Harry. This changes everything.
“Draco,” she implores, squeezing his hand. “Were you taking anything? Eating anything with regularity that we’ve failed to provide you here?”
He tosses his head once on the pillow, still panting from his seizure, his chest heaving under the sheet.
Harry’s brow creases. “What?”
Draco looks at him, his hair flopping back into his eyes. Hermione can practically feel the disdain through his expression at having to mentally repeat himself.
“There was a house elf that tended to him. Brought him food,” Harry tells them. “Shit, really?” He sits back, then turns to Hermione, eyes wide. “Do you think—”
“Oh, dear.” Luna gasps, coming to the same conclusion. “The collapse.”
“We have to go back,” Hermione says, adamant, and Harry knows she’ll accept no argument against it.
Except Draco rears on the bed, his wings extending and knocking hard into Luna, whose head snaps back and hits the plaster wall. She slumps, dazed. Hermione and Harry call out her name in the chaos, but Draco has pulled himself free of the sheets and engulfed Luna in the cocoon of his wings.
“Don’t bite her!” Hermione shouts, clawing through his feathers.
Harry puts a hand to Hermione’s shoulder, stilling her. “He’s apologising to her,” he says, watching them, listening. Hermione sits on her heels, eyes darting back and forth between Harry and the feral Veela that holds the love of her life in his terrifying claws.
Several agonising seconds pass before the seam of pearlescent feathers part, revealing Draco and Luna beneath. The inky black talons of Draco’s hands laid gently over Luna’s arms stand out in stark contrast to her pale skin; her complexion is so similar to Draco’s. He’s holding her in his lap, her head tucked under his chin. He’d done that to Harry, Hermione notes, after he’d brought him back here. He made sure Harry was safe, he’s doing the same now for Luna.
“He cares about her,” Hermione says, shocked at her own realisation.
“Of course he cares,” Harry retorts, clutching Hermione’s hand. “He’s Draco.”
Hermione bites her lip, willing away her instinct to drag Luna as far from Draco as she can while he rocks her as if she were a child. So she holds Harry’s hand instead and tries not to cry.
When Luna opens her eyes, sleepy and smiling softly against Draco’s bare chest, what she says is not what any of them expect.
“I think you should bathe, Draco. Your musk is rather alarming.”
Draco’s lips quirk into a grin and he snorts out what can only be a laugh. It startles both Hermione and Harry, but it strangely warms something inside Hermione to see Draco smile. It proves to her that he’s still human.
Two hours later, after a perfunctory bath that Luna insisted she help him with, Draco is sleeping soundly atop freshly cleaned sheets while Harry keeps vigil on the window seat. His knees are tucked up under his chin, his arms wrapped tightly around his legs. He looks like the child he never got the chance to be and Hermione wonders if she should stay with them—if perhaps, Harry doesn’t want to be left all alone.
Luna tugs on her arm. “It’s alright,” she tells Hermione, whispering in her ear.
“What if Draco—”
Luna kisses her cheek. “Shhh, just let him sleep.”
Harry doesn’t acknowledge them as they step out of the room. The last Hermione sees before shutting the door are Harry’s eyes, steadfast and fixated, as always, on Draco.
. . .
Harry needs a hug.
See you all on Thursday! Comments are much appreciated. <3
. . .
Hermione hasn’t stopped peppering kisses all along Luna’s head. They’re soaking in the tub, Hermione at Luna’s back, her arms wrapped tightly about her. She keeps checking the spot where a lump has formed at the back of Luna’s skull, casting soothing little anti-inflammatory charms at it every ten seconds.
“I’m fine,” Luna sighs, sinking further into the warm water. “I really am.”
“You didn’t have to watch it happen,” Hermione says, whispering into Luna’s hair.
They sit quietly for a while, Luna swishing her hands back and forth over the multicoloured bubbles. She conjures a rubber duckie for a bit of levity and feels Hermione smile against her scalp.
“We need to go back,” Hermione says, and Luna sighs. She knows Hermione’s principles would never allow for them to leave the elf behind, even if the poor thing had already succumbed to its fate. So she listens as Hermione plans, and nods her head at the appropriate moments, all the while warring with the knowledge that her own father had birthed the idea of leaving Draco in that forgotten place. She wonders how far gone with grief Narcissa must have been to agree, and how much of a danger Draco posed to even fathom abandoning him to such an existence.
“He did that to himself,” Luna says, thinking aloud.
Hermione halts reciting her checklist for the journey back to the ruins; she’d been ticking them off one by one with a pop of a soap bubble for each item. “What?”
“The scar on his face.”
Hermione stills behind her. The air suddenly feels uncompromisingly heavy in a room already filled with the humidity of the bathwater and the burning incense of Luna’s choosing.
“But Draco was always so vain.” Hermione’s voice is strained as she speaks and Luna knows she doesn’t mean to sound cruel. “Why would he scar his own face?”
Hermione sits up, water sloshing around them in the tub. She tugs gently on Luna’s shoulder, willing her to turn to see her. “You’re not making sense. Or at least, you aren’t making sense yet . . . ”
Luna squeezes the rubber duckie. It honks in a forlorn sort of way, and Luna doesn’t blame him. She lets it go, watches it float through the bubbles.
“They’d say it all the time. You look just like your father, Draco. So much like your father. Don’t you remember?”
Hermione watches Luna’s hands worrying in the slowly cooling water. “You think—”
“Why else would they leave him in a place where he couldn’t harm himself?”
Hermione’s silence is as much of an answer as any. Luna turns towards her, only to find her face a mask of horrified realisation.
. . .
“No,” Harry states. “No way.” They’ve been having the same discussion for fifteen minutes now, but Hermione isn’t budging.
Luna is the obvious first choice for their journey back to the ruins. Only she knows the lullaby (sung in some unintelligible Elvish tongue her father taught her) that gained them entry. Yet, Hermione insists that Harry go along with Luna, and that she stay with Draco, which just isn’t going to happen. The fits and spasms wracking Draco’s body occur every two to three hours and are then followed by violent shakes. They’ve taken turns holding him steady, keeping him wrapped up tightly in as many blankets as they can find to combat the frigid temperature of his skin. He’s called out in his mind continually for Harry, and because of this, Harry’s been reluctant to leave his side.
Which is why, setting aside her regular acts of brilliance, Harry thinks Hermione’s plan is fucking ridiculous.
Hermione sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose. “It’s not that I don’t agree with you wanting to stay, Harry, it’s just . . . you can’t be left alone with Draco.”
Beside him, Draco’s wings spike upwards at Hermione’s insinuation. Instinctively, Harry puts his hand to Draco’s knee, giving it a reassuring squeeze. Draco jumps.
“Sorry,” Harry says, not feeling sorry at all because Draco is blushing, which is so wonderfully human that Harry can’t help but bask in the normalcy of the moment. Draco notices Harry’s grin and leans into his side like a cat seeking affection. Harry happily obliges by making room for Draco’s wing to encircle his shoulder. He runs a finger down one long feather and feels the resulting shiver in Draco’s body next to him.
Harry swallows, his pulse quickening at the insistence of that single word command. He doesn’t have it in him to deny Draco anything in that moment and moves to stroke the wing again—
Looking up, Harry frowns. Hermione’s arms are crossed, face stern. “This is why you two can’t be left alone.”
Hermione made her stance very clear regarding the secret discussions between the two of them—that is, she adamantly forbids them from happening without her inclusion. (As if she truly has a say in the matter.) She eyes Harry’s hand on Draco’s knee like she wants to hex it off, and Harry reluctantly removes it to his own lap, if only to keep the peace. Out of the corner of his eye, he swears he can see Draco pout.
Luna walks by humming and pats Hermione on the bum as she goes.
“Excuse you,” Hermione says to Luna.
“No, I’m fine.” Luna waves away the look of annoyance on Hermione’s face, hands Draco a cup of tea, and sinks onto the loveseat.
Draco inclines his head in thanks and makes an awkward little choking sound after taking a sip. He turns to Harry, looking terribly offended, and terribly guilty for being offended, simultaneously.
This tea is awful.
Harry peers into Draco’s cup, studying the yellow hue of the brew.
“Luna, what kind of tea is this?” he asks.
“Cornswallow silk tea. It has healing properties.” She runs a finger down her face, mirroring the line of Draco’s scar. “It’ll help. I’ve added plenty of honey,” she tells Draco, her voice soft, almost pleading.
It’s poison. She’s poisoning me.
Harry snorts. “Draco thinks otherwise.”
“Don’t you trust me?” Luna sounds so sincere, Harry’s aches. He realises then, his heart stopping for one painful, terrible moment, that he’s not the only one to have been reunited with a lost friend. Suddenly, Harry has an undeniable urge to hug her.
Draco stares across the coffee table at Luna. The bags beneath his eyes and the sallow appearance of his skin speak to how hard the past few days have been on him. He watches as Draco raises the cup to his pale lips and takes another sip of Luna’s tea, an apology and acceptance in a single gesture. Luna smiles, pleased.
Hermione claps her hands together as if calling a meeting to order. “Great. Well, Harry and Luna will be off then.” She collects their satchel and places Luna’s safari hat atop her head over her bun, adjusting it to a jaunty angle. Luna looks up at her from under the brim.
“Hermione,” Harry sighs, dropping his head in his hands.
“Oh, that reminds me,” Hermione fishes a letter out from the front pocket of her overalls. “This came for you while you were at the shops this morning.” She hands him the letter and Harry feels something twist inside him at the sight.
“Thanks,” he tells her, his voice hollow. Draco turns towards him, and Harry can feel the curiosity radiating off of him. A pang of nausea hits Harry like a wave against the shoreline and he swallows thickly, pushing it down.
“I’m sure Max will want to hear how the trip is going,” Hermione says, hands on her hips. Luna is watching her closely from her perch on the loveseat. She doesn’t look at all pleased.
Harry opens his mouth to respond, but Hermione barrels on, ignoring him. “You haven’t fire-called him once. I’m sure he misses you. He must feel terribly curious by now. And you’ll have so much to tell him!” she exclaims, her voice rising considerably as if anticipating Harry’s attempts to stop her from talking. “Quite an experience we’ve all been through,” she adds, gesturing to Draco, who’s curled his wings about himself on the sofa, no longer leaning into Harry’s side.
Harry hears Max’s name echo in Draco’s thoughts and he looks back up at Hermione, imploring her without words to shut the ever-loving-fuck up. He rubs a hand across his abdomen, attempting to settle the sudden upset.
“You’re right,” she says, sounding remorseful. “You’re right. I shouldn’t pry. You can respond to him whenever you want. Of course.” She tuts and steps over to Luna, kissing her quickly on the mouth before pulling her up by her arms. “Besides, you have an elf to rescue. Come on, Harry!”
She hurries down the stairs to the front door and opens it with a flourish. The wind she lets in bustles up the stairwell and into the living room, sending several moulted feathers floating about them.
Harry plucks one from the air, remembering how the soft down felt against the bare skin of his arms. “Fucking hell, Hermione.”
Luna looks to Harry, her face the picture of sympathy. “She’s a force to be reckoned with.”
Hermione calls up the stairwell, “you don’t want to lose the daylight!”
Harry listens to her and then rolls his eyes, answering Luna. “She’s something, alright.” He runs a hand through his hair and dares to look back at Draco, whose wings have puffed to twice their normal size, completely hiding him, and most of the sofa, from view. Harry’s stomach aches.
“Hey,” Harry says, petting down a ruffled patch. Draco flinches and shoves up from the couch, more feathers floating to the floor around him. “Draco,” Harry tries again, following him by crawling over the back of the sofa to reach him, but Draco’s already wrenched open the balcony doors, hopped up onto the railing, and soared down onto the jetty below.
“That’s impressive.” Luna cranes her head to see beyond the railing.
“Draco!” Harry calls.
“I want to explain!”
Draco spits over his shoulder.
Harry blinks at how crass that act seems coming from Draco’s posh mouth, then bends at the hip with a grimace, a cramp forming in his side. Luna places a hand on his shoulder and hands him a ginger mint.
“Perhaps some time out of the house will be good for us, huh?”
“What?” Harry says, distracted.
She gestures to Draco down on the rocks, her hair blowing the sea breeze. “I’d rather not leave him either, but perhaps, in this case, some time apart is best.”
“Because of Max?” Harry asks. He’d thought Luna was on his side.
“No, because of Draco. Look at him.” Harry does and sees only the thorns of his armour firmly in place. “He needs time.”
“I’m not leaving him alone, Luna.”
“You aren’t.” Luna points, and sure enough, Hermione is walking towards Draco on the rocks, having abandoned her post at the front door where she was no doubt waiting to see Harry and Luna off on their reluctant journey.
She stops several feet behind him, staring out at the waves. They crash, loud and large against the shoreline, sending up white cascades of foam. Harry has the odd thought that the tempestuous tide perfectly reflects his mood. Luna gives his shoulder another squeeze and he hangs his head, turning from the railing, and Draco below.
“Eat the mint.”
Luna hands him another one. “Hermione will be with him,” she reassures.
Harry’s not feeling particularly warm towards Hermione but he agrees. “Fine. But let’s be quick.”
“Of course, Harry.”
. . .
*clears throat* So yeah, are you excited about Max?
. . .
. . .
The bell chimes above the shop door and Harry looks up from studying his mobile to see George come through with takeaway cups in hand.
“What’s this?” Harry asks, sitting up a bit straighter.
“Cappuccino,” George says, over-enunciating the final ‘o’.
“Ah, ta. I need a pick-me-up.”
“Yeah, that’s what Nev said when he firecalled us from the back room.”
Harry turns and yells, “Traitor!”
George laughs, then leans on the counter, crowding into Harry’s space. He twirls the mobile towards him, peering down at its glowing screen.
“Ooooh, he’s pretty.”
Harry snatches the mobile back, scoffing. “Please, like he’s even your type.”
Shining his nails on his sleeve, George says, “He could be,” and then winks.
He’s being ridiculous, but it works, Harry’s laughing. He takes a swig from his cup and holds it aloft to George. “Cheers.”
“Cheers!” George clinks his cup with Harry’s. They share a smile and then he points to the phone again. “Seriously, though, who’s the twink with the dark eyes, eh?”
“Your crup’s named Max.”
George nods. “Exactly.”
The bell chimes above the door again and this time Harry looks up to see Ron walking through with a greasy bag of what Harry hopes are chips. He turns back on his stool and calls another “traitor!” through the heavy curtains that hide the stockroom.
“It’s for your own good, Harry!” Neville replies. “You’re moping.”
“‘Am not,” he says, glowering into his coffee.
“He’s looking at hot guys on his Muggle. . . thing,” George supplies, raising his voice.
“Why are we shouting?” Ron asks.
“Nev’s in the back,” George answers.
“Right.” Ron plops down with the bag of chips. He pulls out one of Molly’s silver serving platters from his oversized Chesterfield coat, shines it with the edge of his sleeve, then dumps the chips out onto it with a flourish.
“Such class.” George slaps Ron on the back.
Ron holds up a finger and dips his other hand into his breast pocket to extract a bottle of malt vinegar, smiling broadly. George gasps in mock delight.
“Tuck in, gents. Chips are rubbish when you use a warming charm.”
“Too true,” George mumbles through a mouth of fried potato, then nods to Harry. “So, you gonna sweep left, or whatever, on the crup?”
“What crup?” Ron asks. They ignore him.
Harry looks down at his mobile again, scrolling through Max’s profile. The word casual stands out in startling contrast to the way Harry forms attachments. He’s intense and tactile, loyal to a fault, he’s never done anything casually in his life—except maybe schoolwork.
So why shouldn’t he try something different, just to see? That’s the entire reason he downloaded this stupid app in the first place. Anton wasn’t going to firecall him anytime soon. Luna was smitten with Hermione. Cameron was back in Morocco, happily photographing models for Muggle magazines, and Draco—Harry cuts off that train of thought. Draco had been a non-starter. A missed opportunity in every imaginable sense of the phrase. They had formed a fierce connection that would forever be remembered but ultimately unrealised, and therefore, idealised in a way no other person could ever hope to compete with.
Is that the crux of Harry’s hesitancy? He plucks a chip from the silver tray and taps it to his lips, the salt crystals falling onto the glowing screen.
Maybe Harry could do casual. He should at least try.
. . .
. . .
Harry kicks yet another rock, sending it skidding down the mountainside, crashing into the local flora and fauna below. Luna sighs, feeling worn out.
“Something on your mind you’d like to talk about, Harry?” Luna offers, magicking the bent and bumped ferns and heather targeted by Harry’s rocks back into their proper states with a swish of her wand.
The only response her polite inquiry receives is a grunt. Harry kicks another rock.
“What aspect of the day is bothering you most?” Luna tries again. “The letter Hermione delivered in an oh-so-timely-and-manipulative manner? The fact that you had to come back out here with me? Or was it the painfully awkward way you were forced to leave Draco, miserable and melancholy out on the jetty?”
“First off,” Harry says, stopping mid-stride and holding up a finger. “Getting to go anywhere with you is never a hardship.” Luna smiles and reaches out to give his hand a squeeze. “And second, you already know everything that’s bothering me, so can we drop the pretence and just . . . not talk about it?”
Luna squints at him. “That’s not how I thought you’d finish that speech.”
Sighing, Harry nods and kicks another rock. “I’m just tired.”
“We all are.”
“I know.” He holds back so he can wrap an arm around Luna’s shoulder, pulling her close. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. You didn’t do anything.”
Harry grins at her. “None of us deserve you.”
Harry laughs. It echoes through the brush, carried off on the wind. Luna likes to hear that laugh, likes to see the lines that form at the corners of Harry’s eyes when that laugh pushes past his smile. She wishes she heard that laugh more often.
“Are you happy, Harry?”
Harry frowns. “What do you mean?”
“It’s a simple question. I’m happy.”
“Erm . . . ”
They walk on, their boots crunching the grass, sticks, and rocks underfoot. They’re almost at the valley stream, and Luna feels time is running out for certain conversations. She knows the answer to her question, but she wants to hear Harry confirm her assumption. Perhaps it’ll help him realise how stagnant he’s become and how badly he needs to break free of the shell he’s built around himself.
Harry’s still quiet and contemplative by the time they reach the stream. He looks past the water, into the middle distance. “Is it wrong to have a full life yet still be unhappy?”
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting more.”
“But I have everything I need.” He sounds so incredibly sad Luna wants to hold him. So she does.
She lets the moment linger. She hopes the gurgling trickle of the water will soothe and settle the tension Harry’s carrying around his shoulders. When Harry moves to pull away, as she holds him tighter.
“I never let go of him either,” she whispers.
Harry slumps into her embrace. “You’re the only one I ever told,” he confesses to her.
“What the fuck am I supposed to do now?”
Luna shakes her head and puts a hand to his cheek. “We take care of him.”
“No, no. Too soon for ifs,” she says, smiling. “We only have time for certainties.” Her words hang between them, drawing out the moment. Then, “We should also probably look for the elf.”
Harry blinks. “Right.”
Luna turns to the stream, closes her eyes, and begins to sing, only to be interrupted seconds later.
She turns and feels as if something very strange has happened because her father shouldn’t be standing in this valley, should he?
“Mr Lovegood,” Harry says, sounding just as odd as Luna feels.
“Children!” Xenophilius exclaims, voice boisterous and jarring in comparison to the pleasant gurgle of the stream. Luna shakes her head of her silly thoughts and steps forward to hug him. Xenophilius gestures for Harry to join. Luna can feel the flapping of her father’s arm as he encourages Harry, and then there’s another body behind her as Harry huddles close for the embrace.
“This is—” Harry begins.
“Unexpected,” Luna finishes.
“That too,” Harry adds.
“My dear Luna,” Xenophilius says, pulling back and holding her by the arms a little too tight. He always was a bit overzealous. “Sweet, wondrous Luna, you’ve found it!”
“Brilliant! My child is brilliant.” He twirls on the spot, his buttercup yellow robes billowing in the wind. There are blue stains dotted all along his front. Luna wonders what concoction he’s been brewing.
“Father.” Luna tugs on his sleeve, feeling as if she’s five years old trying to get his attention because she’s hungry and he’s neglected to cook dinner again. “But, Father. Draco.”
Xenophilius stops his celebration, eyes going wide with wonder. “Draco?”
“Yes. He was here.”
“Was?” One pale blond eyebrow raises at the question.
Unsure of how to proceed when suspecting one’s father of barbaric decision making, Luna dares to ask, “Were you unaware that Draco has been imprisoned here for the past four years?”
Her father stares blankly at her for several moments before his face creases with an abrupt sadness. He steps close, whispering to her in a desperate voice. “Luna, dear. We had no choice.”
“He was in so much pain—”
“Yes! Exactly! You can’t imagine the pain.” He pulls Luna close, petting her hair. “He was a threat to himself and to his mother.”
“Draco would never hurt Narcissa,” Harry states, defiant.
“I beg to differ, my boy. The scars on her arms from his talons prove the exact opposite.”
“He hurt her?” Luna asks, feeling awful inside.
Xenophilius tucks his chin and holds her face in his hands, staring down at her. “He didn’t mean to, of course, you realise. He wasn’t in his right mind. He’s a good son, I know he is. I do.”
Luna nods for lack of a better thing to do when faced with her father’s sincerity.
“We have to find the elf,” Luna says, her eyes filling with tears.
“Mipsy?” her father asks. “She’s not with him?”
“No. We didn’t know anyone else was here when we found him. We’re afraid she was caught in the collapse.”
“The collapse?” he says, eyes widening.
“The temple where you put Draco,” Harry adds from behind them. Luna hears the edge to his voice and wishes he’d hold his temper. All around them, the leaves of the trees and brush start to quiver.
Xenophilius spins ‘round, eyes narrowing on Harry in disbelief. “The wards wouldn’t fail like that.”
Harry’s arms are crossed, his face stern. “They did.” A branch snaps in the distance.
“Impossible,” her father breathes. He swallows, tilts his head towards the sky, closes his eyes, and sings out the lullaby.
The fabric of the world ripples around them, revealing the hidden city in all its twilight coloured splendour. Xenophilius is off like a shot as soon as the image solidifies before them, robes billowing out behind him like the unfolding golden petals of a sunflower. Luna chases him, eager to keep up, wondering at his strange behaviour. She hears Harry call out behind them, but she ignores him in favour of following her father.
They enter the ruins of the temple as the sun sets in a blaze of tangerine light over the forum. Xenophilius levitates rocks and column pieces into forced, organised piles as he practically ploughs through the debris.
“Mipsy!” he calls, voice ringing out in the cavernous space.
More neat piles line up beside the first, along with a small collection of mosaic tile that Xenophilius explains would be lovely in the guest bath at the Manor. Luna turns to Harry with raised eyebrows, only to see a mirrored look of surprise on his own face.
“You’re redecorating?” Luna asks, as her father flicks his wand, sending a crumbled column back to a standing position, albeit a rather crooked one.
“Of course, my dear! We must.”
Taking this in stride, Luna nods and tries to feel happy for her father, despite the pang inside her that laments this news. She never thought he would ever leave their ancestral home, yet watching her father collect lapis tiles suggests otherwise. When Xenophilius sets his mind to a new task, all the others in its wake are left to languish in the dying grass, abandoned and mourning the light her father once bestowed upon them. Luna knows from experience.
Harry’s climbing over a toppled statue, casting wandlessly to assess if there are any living creatures hidden beneath the chaos when Xenophilius shouts from the opposite side of the ruins, his hair a chaotic halo of burning pink in the setting sun.
They run to meet him, kicking up dust and coughing at the sting in their throats. Xeniophilius has disappeared beneath the rubble, shouting assurances to them that he needs no assistance as they skid to a halt nearby. Harry takes the opportunity to splash water from their shared canteen on his face and then hands it to Luna, encouraging her to drink. When she lowers the canteen, she spots them.
“Oh no,” Luna breathes, seeing the broken little figure of an elf in her father’s arms. He’s cradling the creature to him as if she were a baby, and Luna’s heart breaks at the sight of her father’s gentle reverence. He always loved magical creatures.
“She’s still breathing,” he whispers, approaching them both. “Where are you staying? We need to get her warm.”
Nodding, Luna guides her father by the elbow through the cleared path he’d made for them as Harry follows close behind. He’s been terribly quiet the entire time, but Luna can’t dwell on his behaviour too closely at the moment; she’s too anxious over the reaction Hermione will have at seeing the poor elf in such a state.
. . .
Hermione sits on a magically cushioned rock, knees tucked up under her chin, and waits. And waits, and waits, and then sighs and waits ever more.
Draco hasn’t moved since Harry and Luna left. Hermione had hoped to have a chance to speak with him, but knows better than to approach a creature, let alone Draco, in such a volatile state. She wants to apologise for how she had manipulated the situation and reassure Draco that Max isn’t a permanent fixture in Harry’s life. He’s rather the opposite, which has always bothered Hermione, considering Harry’s need for constant affection, but that hadn’t been on Hermione’s mind when she’d blatantly handed Harry the letter.
Biting her lip, she considers for the hundredth time if it’s her place to tell Draco such things—to meddle at all. She knows what his behaviour means. She can read him easily, as could anyone. His head is slumped between his shoulder blades, wings lax and trailing on the wet rocks behind him, tinged a steely green from the algae of the jetty. Every few minutes, the sharply defined muscles of his back contort with the movement of his wings, rising and falling, as he breathes in a deep sigh.
He’s dragging his hand back and forth across a place on the rocks where the water doesn’t seem to reach. His fingers are still talons, stained an ominous black. The pigment trails up his forearms, like an over-dipped quill, soaked to the quick, blending harshly against the stark paleness of his alabaster skin. Only now does she notice that his Dark Mark is no longer visible.
Draco only wears a pair of Harry’s pants to protect him from the elements. Hermione shivers at his lack of clothing, wondering how the chill of the air and the fast-approaching evening tide doesn’t affect him.
She sighs, watching him stroke the reddened dirt beneath his inky fingertips. It’s then that she realises what that reddened patch is: blood. Harry’s blood. From when Draco bit him that first day. Her mouth drops open on a gasp, feeling uneasy and voyeuristic for reasons she can’t quite explain. Logically, she knows Draco is more creature than human in his current form, and animal instincts run deeper and more base than any human equivalent, but the shock of the image he paints before her doesn’t stop her from swallowing hard on her discomfort and tucking her knees more firmly under her chin.
Draco looks back over his shoulder, his preternatural silver gaze latching on to hers, and she knows, without question, that he can sense her disquiet.
Awkwardly, Hermione waves, sending him a strained little smile. Draco huffs in response and in a single fluid motion stands from his crouched position to his full height, wings spreading in an impressive display. Hermione scrambles to stand, watching the wind whip Draco’s hair over his shoulders, the sun painting his pale features in pinks and golds and the scar on his face standing out in sharp relief. He’s beautiful and terrifying, and Hermione’s chest feels too tight at the thought that this creature ‘claimed’ her Harry. Luna had said so. That bite on Harry’s neck marks him as something the creature inside Draco considers his own. Yet Hermione had gone and declared in front of them both that there was someone else in Harry’s life.
Cursing at herself, Hermione very determinedly decides that she is a first-class, fucking imbecile.
She steps forward, mouth opening on an explanation. Draco launches himself off the rocks and Hermione ducks, yelping at the sudden movement. She feels the harsh press of humid air all around her as his powerful wings carry him back to the balcony behind her, kicking up dirt and sea spray along the way. She turns, watching him retreat to the house, hands hovering uselessly in mid air.
“Draco!” she calls, but the French doors slam shut on her cry.
Hands balling into fists, she grimaces, hating being ignored. She marches at a fast clip towards the ground floor back door of the property, murmuring to herself, “communication is important, dammit, and temper tantrums and hissy fits are not welcome in this household, Draco Malfoy,” the entire way.
When she arrives on the upper level, surveying the sitting room and the still shut French doors to the balcony, everything appears undisturbed. Hermione exhales. Then the rattling sound of the ancient pipes vibrates through the walls, startling a little shriek out of her. She turns to find the bathroom door shut and the ripple of ward magic hovering over the threshold.
“That’s fine,” she calls over the din of the running water. “You’re mad at me. I understand. But Draco, Max is not Harry’s partner!”
If anything, the sound of the rushing water grows louder, and Hermione rolls her eyes. Such drama.
“He’s a convenience! And between you and me, I am not a fan!”
Abruptly the water shuts off. Hermione bites her lip, considers for a split second at how wildly inappropriate it is to be discussing Harry’s personal life with anyone other than Harry himself, but shakes her head free of guilt and ploughs on.
“They met on a Muggle dating app. Max comes and goes as he pleases and has never promised Harry anything. It’s been two years and still! It’s infuriating. He’s just a . . . “ she worries her lip further, looking for the right word before settling on convenience once again.
The air around her fills with a static silence, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. She waits, lip bruising from her own teeth as she anticipates what could happen next.
The sound of the water turning back on was not what she expected. She releases a frustrated sigh and turns to the kitchen. She deserves a glass of wine, goddammit.
. . .
We all could use some wine.
I'm a day late, I know, forgive me.
I'm going to be pushing my posting schedule to five days between chapters. The last few chappies need finesse and I need time to tweak.
So, I'll see y'all on Sunday for my next update!
Thanks, as always, for reading. Comments are <3
. . .
. . .
“Who’s that?” Max asks. He’s pointing to the picture of the opening night celebrations for Harry and Neville’s Herbology shop that hangs on Harry’s kitchen wall. It’s been magicked still for Max’s visit, along with every other photo in the house.
“Hmm?” Harry licks his lips and raises an eyebrow, turning away from taste-testing the pan sauce he’s simmering.
Max points again, leaving a smudge on the glass. Harry steps forward and wipes it away with the towel draped over his shoulder. “That’s Draco.”
“Draco,” Max repeats, nodding. “Great name.”
“Yeah,” Harry agrees, smiling as ice runs through his veins.
“Is Draco the kinda guy who’d fancy joining us some time?” Max says, coming up behind Harry and wrapping his arms low around his waist. He fits himself along Harry’s back, the bulge in his jeans speaking to the kind of activities Max has on his mind. The suggestion sits like a lead balloon in Harry’s stomach.
Max’s arms drop. “Shit, I’m sorry.”
Harry turns off the heat on the hob. “Don’t be. You didn’t know.”
Stepping forward once again, Max tucks his chin over Harry’s shoulder. Harry can see his exaggerated pout out of the corner of his eye, and decides not to torture himself with Max’s blunder. Harry forces himself to relax into Max’s embrace, not wanting to let the moment sour and turn dark. Harry wants this evening to go well. It’s the first time Max has agreed to spend the night. Brooding over the loss of Draco would most definitely interfere with Harry’s plans. He swallows down his pain, closes his eyes and lets his head fall back on Max’s shoulder, pressing his ass into the hard jut of Max’s hips. Harry tries his best to clear his mind of everything except the feeling of a warm body caressing his, and the heady scent of the lamb roasting in the oven mingled with Max’s cologne.
His pulse is racing but for all the wrong reasons. Harry gulps down air, willing everything inside him to settle, needing to distract himself from the inevitable spiral of his own dark thoughts. He looks around him, feeling slightly unhinged then spots the liquor bottles stashed to the side on the cooktop.
“Hope you like Limoncello,” Harry breathes, voice harsh. He rocks back against Max, eliciting a moan of approval.
Lifting his head from mouthing along Harry’s throat, Max says, “I do. Why do you ask?”
“I’m going to lick it off you.” Harry shoves hard, sending Max stumbling away from him. He turns, thrilling at the shock on Max’s face before grabbing the bottle off the counter and advancing. Max’s eyes flash and he walks backwards until his thighs meet with the arm of the sofa. Harry puts a hand to Max’s heaving chest, grins, and pushes, watching him fall. He lands on the cushions, eager and smiling—hungry for it. Max is always hungry for it, it’s why he won’t commit to Harry and insists on playing dick roulette three nights out of the week. I refuse to buy into societal norms, he’d told Harry on their first date. Monogamy is a construct.
Growling at the memory, Harry grabs the stoppered cork of the bottle with his teeth and yanks. It slides free with a lewd pop and Harry spits the cork clear across the room. Max groans beneath him, his hips undulating against the leather cushions.
“Open up,” Harry instructs, moving over him, wishing he could simply vanish Max’s clothes. He places his knees carefully on either side of Max’s ribs, allowing him to shift and make room, before settling his ass on his chest. Gently, Harry gathers up a pile of Max’s brown curls in his fist and tips his head forward, aligning the bottle with his lips. “I want you to taste lemons as you suck me.”
Max’s eyes close as he obediently swallows a dribbled sip and Harry feels the sting of Draco’s ghost retreating to its place within the frame on his kitchen wall. Harry places the bottle on the table and undoes his flies, relief flooding him along with a spike of much-welcomed lust as he pulls out his half-hard cock.
“Take it,” he tells Max, and Max does.
Later, as they eat the rack of lamb, which despite having been left in the oven for an hour too long, still reveals a perfectly pink centre once sliced, Max insists that Harry’s Aga must be magic.
“There’s no way. This should be burnt to a crisp,” Max says in awe, helping himself to a second serving.
Harry slides a bite of tender meat off his fork, dragging his teeth harshly along the tines. “You’re right. It should be burnt.”
Shaking his head, Max stares bewildered at his neatly cut slice of lamb. “But it’s not. It’s fucking delicious.”
Harry nods. “I’m a good cook.”
Max takes another bite. “Fuck, you are.”
“Perhaps you should come over more often, then,” Harry says, stabbing an asparagus spear.
“Will you write me a formal invitation?” Max asks, smirking. Harry sighs through his nose, the candle in front of him flickering out.
“I like receiving letters,” Harry says, shrugging.
Max leans close and squeezes his bicep. “I know.” He then sits back, scooping up a forkful of mash, assessing it, and curses. “Fuck, if you keep cooking me meals like this, I’m moving in.”
Over the rim of his wine glass, Harry grins.
. . .
. . .
Hermione’s curled up on the couch, nodding off with an empty wine glass beside her and a travel book in her limp hands when the front door slams open, filling the house with a howling wind. The papers on the kitchen table documenting their new collections of flora and fauna scatter everywhere, along with the dried specimens that Luna hung up along the rafters. With a wave of her wand, Hermione arrests their momentum, coming to her feet in an instant and running down the stairs towards the chaos below.
“Did you find the elf? What happened? Luna!” She hurls herself at Luna, grasping her tightly and breathing in the scent of lavender that always lingers around her. Behind the bloom of her blonde hair, Hermione sees Harry in the foyer and throws out a hand to him, gripping his forearm like a ship finding anchor in a storm.
“Such love,” Hermione hears someone exclaim and turns to see Luna’s father stepping through the door holding a small bundle of rags close to his chest.
“Mr Lovegood.” Hermione pulls away from Luna and Harry, stunned. “What—”
“No need to extend me such pleasantries, my dear girl, no need. I am here to help.” He flicks his wand over his shoulder and the front door slams shut, taking the roar of the wind with it and leaving a chasm of silence in its stead.
Blinking away her shock, Hermione tries again, “But, sir—”
“I came across these two,” Xenophilius says, gesturing to Harry and Luna flanking him, “at the clearing near the stream. I was planning to check in on Draco when Luna, much to my surprise and delight, told me of his fortune at having you three liberate him from the safety net in which his mother and I had so lovingly placed him.”
Hermione has no idea whether she’s being reprimanded or praised, but then, exactly what Mr Lovegood just said hits her, and everything Luna hinted at the other day at breakfast comes crashing down on Hermione’s shoulders like a ceiling made of stained glass.
“Wait. You put Dra—”
“Not wanting to hinder their plans,” Xenophilius boisterously continues. “I instead threw myself into action! Lo and behold,” he holds out the bundle to Hermione, whose eyes widen at the sight.
Swallowing her own words, she takes the little elf from his arms and rushes back up the staircase to the sitting room.
“I still have questions for you, Mr Lovegood,” she calls back down the stairs. Their conversation is most certainly not over.
She hears the rest of them making their way upstairs, but Hermione focuses all her extensive energies on assessing the state of the elf. She’d been left for three days under piles of rubble and dust, without hydration, food, or medical care all because Hermione, Luna, and Harry were so concerned over Draco, they hadn’t the presence of mind to consider if there were others left behind.
Luna’s at her side in seconds, her lavender scented hair and gentle fingers steadying Hermione’s nerves. “What can I do?” she asks, voice quiet in deference to the elf’s closed eyes.
“Potions.” Hermione kisses her nose. “Get my kit.”
“On it,” she says, and is off to their bedroom in a swirl of blonde hair. Hermione laments the loss of her heat beside her but then, Harry is there, arms crossed, face stern, staring down at the elf with a mixture of concern and suspicion.
“Mr Lovegood found her,” he tells Hermione, nodding his head in the direction of the kitchen, where Xenophilius has made himself at home brewing a pot of tea for everyone. Harry’s eyes are hard as flint as he looks at him. “He did it,” he says, voice low yet full of unrestrained emotion.
“I know.” Hermione reaches out a hand and squeezes his forearm. “I’m sorry.”
“He left him there, Hermione,” Harry repeats. His knuckles are turning white as he presses his fingers deeper into his own flesh. He’s sure to leave bruises. The shells on the tabletop nearby begin to rattle and the fire in the hearth ignites into life without warning. Hermione jumps.
“Harry,” Hermione whispers a warning.
Harry spares the fire a glance then unfolds his arms and rolls his shoulders. “I need air.”
Hermione knows he’s attempting to remove himself from the situation to keep from accidentally hexing Xenophilius into the next century, but she still wishes he’d learn to keep better control of his temper. Beside her, the candlesticks burst into flame, their wicks spluttering and burning down entirely too quickly towards the base.
“Draco’s on the—” Hermione begins to explain, but Mr Lovegood is floating a silver tea service into the living room, singing all the while, and interrupting her yet again.
“Have you run diagnostics, my dear? Luna says you’re incredible with medical spells.”
“She’s a brilliant Healer,” Harry grunts over his shoulder as he wrenches open the balcony doors.
Hermione becomes acutely aware of a low rumbling. She darts her eyes around, looking for the source, worried Harry’s unchecked magic has truly taken a turn, when she spots a flash of dusky feathers and blond hair in her peripheral vision heading directly for Harry. She moves to stand, but Xenophilius is throwing an arm out in front of her and pulling her behind his billowing robes as he draws his wand.
“No!” Hermione screams from behind his arm, just as ropes of angry red vines erupt from the end of Xenophilius’ wand, hurtling towards Draco on the balcony.
Harry’s eyes flash at the sight of the binding spell, and he slashes his hand through the air. The vines singe into ash instantly and fall to the carpet like flakes of heavy grey snow. All of Xenophilius’ bravado leaves him as he witnesses firsthand what Harry is capable of, his shoulders lowering along with his wand. His expression of alarm melts into something more benign—an aged deerhound with its tail between its legs, told not to eat the bones of the roast dinner.
“Father,” Luna says, standing at the end of the hall with Hermione’s medical bag in hand. She appears cautious, her face filled with a worry Hermione rarely sees in Luna. It makes Hermione’s heart break. The tension in the room has reached its zenith, causing her own throat to tighten with the strain of quivering magic hovering in the air. Draco and Harry are standing at an arm's length from each other on the balcony, their combined powers of creature and wizard colliding and creating a strange limbo of indecision. Hermione can practically see it simmering across the evening breeze.
Stepping out from behind Xenophilius, Hermione gathers herself and claps her hands together, hoping the loud snap of sound will draw together both her wits and the attention of those around her.
“Okay! Everybody, take a deep breath.”
. . .
I totally forgot about posting yesterday and I am so sorry, y'all. I hope this update satisfies. More to come in five days! Sooooo, that'll be . . . Friday! See you then!
Comments, as always, are <3
No warnings for this chapter.
I may be late in posting but I can promise that this is a doozy of a chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
. . .
“Thank you for the tea,” Luna says to her father, in an attempt to restore a sense of normalcy to the room. She places Hermione’s Healer bag down on the table and steps forward to hug Xenophilius. Hermione doesn’t waste a moment, pulling the bag close and digging around in its extendable depths for what Luna suspects to be a reviving potion for the elf. Luna also sees Hermione pull out a soothing draught and takes a hasty sip of her own before tossing it to Harry. He snatches it out of the air but doesn’t partake. Instead, he hands it back over his shoulder to Draco, who also refuses. Luna shakes her head at both of them.
She turns back to her father, who’s squaring his shoulders and brushing the hair off his face—regaining his composure after Harry’s startling display of wandless magic. The tension in the room has not dispelled since her father drew his wand on Draco, and Luna wishes she could burn a smudge stick to help with the vapours of negativity swirling about them like gnats in the summer heat. Such energies are not good for healing.
Moving in close to her side, Xenophilius kisses Luna’s hair. “Of course, my dear. Dandelion and mint, just like you always preferred.”
Luna buries her nose in her father’s yellow robes, smelling the strange scent of the blue splatters she noticed earlier. She wants to ask about them, but for now, enjoys the feel of her father’s arms holding her near. It’s been too long.
“Draco isn’t dangerous,” she whispers to him.
He speaks softly to her hair. “He’s not himself, dear.”
“But he is,” she assures. “He’s Draco.”
Sighing, her father squeezes her tightly. She feels his disbelief in her very bones and her resolve strengthens further to figure out why he’d ever think Draco was such a danger in the first place. She turns her head to see Harry and Draco hovering near the balcony doors, Harry’s hands splayed at his sides, ready to duel at any moment, ever the protector. Draco holds Luna’s gaze, his quicksilver eyes harbouring a sadness and a fear she wants so badly to extinguish.
“Father, why,” she pulls back, “why did you leave Draco in such a place?”
She sees Draco’s wings spike at the question and she aches at the thought that her words have hurt him. She looks, once again, towards him and sees the inky black of one long-fingered hand holding tight to Harry’s hip, possessive and protective all at once. She smiles sadly at them both, hoping beyond hope that her father hasn’t done this to Draco out of any form of malice.
Large, warm hands engulf her face and pull her attention back to her father as a prickle of fresh tears escape her eyes. They run down her cheeks, blazing a trail over her skin. Xenophilius leans in close and stares at Luna with endless kindness and remorse in his deep blue gaze.
“My sweet girl, it was out of desperation that we made this decision. Please understand.”
Luna’s nodding without thought, too overcome with emotion to question his words.
Harry does it for her.
“Narcissa would never let this happen,” he states, fierce and firm from across the room. Xenophilius looks up at him, his face soft, expression resigned. He drops his hands from Luna’s face and stands tall.
“But she did, son.”
“I’m not your son,” Harry says. “And I don’t believe you.” He holds his head higher as if he could somehow look down on Luna’s father from across the room despite his height disadvantage. “Narcissa would never allow Draco to remain in such pain.”
Bowing his head, Xenophilius pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs. “I know. She never meant to.”
Harry scoffs and then fixes Xenophilius with his narrowed, verdant gaze. Luna sees the matched look of self-righteous anger mirrored on Draco’s face behind him and, despite everything, she smiles at how matched they are at that moment: a perfect tempestuous pair.
“Explain,” Harry barks, the flames in the hearth growing along with his temper. Behind him, Draco steps closer, the inky black hand on Harry’s hip moving to encircle Harry’s shoulder in a fierce grip. Harry turns his head as if listening, and Luna knows a silent conversation is passing between them. This does not go unnoticed by her father, whose eyes widen at the sight.
Harry presses his cheek to Draco’s hand on his shoulder, eyes closing for the briefest of moments as their skin touches. It’s a sign of reassurance, Luna’s learned from extensive experience—a wonderful, loving act of affection. Harry is a tactile man, always has been, but Luna isn’t prepared for the reaction that this single gesture elicits in Draco—it’s drastic and devastating. He melts behind Harry, his wings drooping low along the deck boards, his eyes fluttering shut and his entire body losing the spike of agitated tension he’s held onto since Harry’s wrenched open the balcony doors to reveal his hiding place amongst the potted ferns.
“My word,” Xenophilius breathes, watching this exchange. “He’s improved.”
Hermione looks up from tending the elf. “Of course he has,” she defends.
“Draco,” Xenophilius says, stepping forward with outstretched arms. “Draco, my boy.”
Draco flinches and steps more firmly behind Harry, his wings encircling Harry and pulling him back against his body. Ink-stained fingers press possessively against Harry’s chest and Harry, seemingly without conscious thought, lets his head fall back on Draco’s shoulder, mouth dropping open at the feel of Draco against him. The picture they create is so beautiful in its power and presence in the room, Luna bites her lip hard, wanting to pull Hermione close.
“It’s okay, Draco,” Luna says, hands spread in a placating manner.
“No,” Xenophilius tells Luna, taking a step back. “Don’t worry, I understand. He’s . . . he’s formed an attachment with Harry, has he not?” This question is directed at Hermione, who nods, tight-lipped, her shoulders tense as she shifts her focus from the elf to others around her.
“Fascinating,” Xenophilius breathes and tries, once again, to move closer to Draco. “Human connections do wonders for your sickness, Draco. You brilliant boy, finding someone to leech off of.”
No one reacts well to Xenophilius’s choice of words, especially Harry, whose nostrils flare at the insinuation that he’s nothing but a host to a parasite.
“How dare you,” he growls, advancing forward, only to be pulled back hard against Draco’s chest.
Everyone turns. Hermione’s head is tilted back on her shoulders, her eyes are closed and the frustration writ across her face is blatant and telling. She punches out a sigh, shakes herself, and looks at everyone in the room one by one.
“We’re all going to sit down like proper, well-adjusted adults and talk this through. No one is going to growl or hex or set things aflame without prior warning,” she says, shooting Draco and Harry a glare. “And I am going to need some fucking wine to get through this.” Hermione stands, steps around Luna and her father and heads to the kitchen to grab a fresh bottle, dousing the roaring flames in the hearth with a swish of her wand. Luna appreciates the gesture, the temperature was getting rather hot.
“Anyone joining me?”
Only Xenophilius dares to raise his hand. With a huff and a sharp nod, Hermione summons two wine glasses and floats them to the table.
“Fine.” She pours, hands a glass to Luna’s father, takes a deep sip of her own and swallows. “Now then,” she says, collecting herself, “Mr Lovegood. Please, explain.”
And so he does. His voice lowers to a whispered hush as he tells of the Christmas from four years back when Draco first took a turn for the worse, how quickly he deteriorated into his sickness, and what a toll it took on his mother. Despite the reverence of his tone, Xenophilius gesticulates wildly as he speaks, his hair flying about his head in errant wisps, catching the light. Luna’s always thought there was a bit of a mad professor inside her father, and it’s moments like these when he’s truly the centre of attention that those same thoughts arise.
“But that horrid mask?” Hermione asks and Xenophilius covers his face with his large hands, gasping at the memory.
“It was barbaric,” Harry spits.
“It was a mercy, I swear. Dear ‘Cissa didn’t want any more harm to come to Draco’s beautiful face.”
Luna sees Draco tuck himself away behind Harry at that statement, and her heart breaks for his once proud vanity, now so tarnished and quelled. To Luna, Draco would always be as he once was, devastatingly sharp and posh and porcelain-fine. She only hoped he could come to realise the same one day.
. . .
No, no, no, Draco thinks, holding Harry close to him, the scent of his adrenaline and anger tainting the air around them like an acrid smoke Draco is desperate to inhale. He breathes in deeply, wanting the toxic burn in his lungs to obscure the tantalizing smell of Xenophilius’ experimental potions wafting off his robes and drifting towards him on the sea breeze. Draco has learned to hate the smell of those potions and tonics, no matter how alluring they might be. They remind him of an uncertain time when his mind was divided between sanity and the animal that now consumes him so completely—together they exist within one flesh, bird and human.
The past few days have been a special breed of torture with the seizures and the pain, but his head has cleared, and his mind has settled. He knows each and every scent in this house. He knows when Luna and Hermione are coming together in their bedroom, when Harry is pissing in the loo, when he’s thinking of Draco in his sleep, when his arousal clouds his own better judgement—Draco scents it all. His senses feel released and renewed, so much so that he knows exactly what those blue splatters on Xenophilus’ robes mean for him: his potion. Draco can smell it on him, knows he’s brought a vial with him, and once more, knows he doesn’t want it.
Harry’s breathing is laboured, his body held taut with a heady mix of frustration and power. Draco can feel his heaving breaths against his chest and it causes a shiver to run down his spine with every inhale. He pulls Harry tighter to him, growling at the audacity of this man’s very existence—how dare Harry come back into his life in a blaze of heroic glory and consume his every waking thought. Just to add insult to injury, the mother-fucking-tease that Harry is drops his head back onto Draco’s shoulder, his breath pushing out harsh and sweet and addicting from his full lips. Draco stares at them, the dusky pink colour, and the wet sheen his tongue leaves behind after Harry licks them, causes Draco’s body to react on the most base level imaginable. He swallows and aligns his erection with the crease of Harry’s arse, letting Harry feel what he’s doing to him in front of all these people, blatant and bold and in the open.
You’re mine, he thinks, pressing his hips tight to Harry’s backside, staking his claim. Harry’s breath hitches and Draco can smell his arousal release into the air around them.
Yours, Harry echoes back. Even in his mind, he sounds helpless and needy, the little slag. Draco’s body sings at the supplication and what it means for the two of them. Everything else falls away in Draco’s lust-filled, animal-driven mind. The man who sends Harry letters, the screaming chasm of lost time that yawns wide and black before them, Hermione’s disagreeable frown: none of it matters anymore. Harry was his that night in the pub, he’s his now, he’ll be his tomorrow. Always. Draco shifts his hips, thrusting his point and Harry presses back, a heady confirmation.
Movement from across the room draws Draco’s attention. Hermione, the determined bint that she is, has managed to revive the elf from its stupor and Draco, knowing what Mipsy’s presence means, buries his head in the sweet heat of Harry’s neck, hiding behind the fall of his hair.
I don’t want it, he tells Harry, running his nose along the bite mark he’d left so many days ago. Harry shivers in his arms, rolling his shoulders in reaction to Draco's affections. It only makes his dick harden more.
What don’t you want? Harry asks, turning his head towards Draco’s hair, his lips brushing his forehead.
Don’t make me take it.
Harry lifts his head, Draco can feel the warm loss of Harry’s lips against his skin and whimpers at their retreat. He’s asking Xenophilius what Draco means, why he’s saying he ‘won’t take it,’ and Draco can hear Xenophilius spouting his reasons, knows them by heart: he must take the potion or end up just like his father.
His father, wild and crazed and dead, now buried in the family crypt in an unmarked tomb. Draco’s mother wasn’t feeling very generous the day she had his remains magically processed, considering he’d run the family into disastrous ruin by following the rambling teachings of a demagogue, and then went and developed himself a case of Veela sickness, which isn’t a sickness so much as a debilitating curse.
A curse that has been Draco’s burden to bear ever since they put his father in the ground.
“You’ve come so far, Draco. You can’t let us stop now,” Xenophilius is saying, his hands held out as if Draco would walk into the embrace of his own free will, as if any of his so-called ‘progress’ were thanks to Xenophilius’ attentions. In retaliation, he holds Harry to him harder.
Mipsy is rubbing her gnarled, ancient hands over her waxen forehead, her ears drooped low. She’s mumbling a litany of tasks she’s fallen behind on, her job forever at the forefront of her mind. When she spots Draco, her ears shoot towards the ceiling.
“Master Draco!” She croaks and hops down from the coffee table on wobbly legs. “Master Draco, you’ll be needing your potions.”
Shaking his head, Draco folds his wings tight around himself and Harry, keeping her at bay.
“But you must, Master Draco. You must takes them.”
“What potions, exactly?” Hermione asks and Draco watches as Xenophillius pulls a vial from his robe pocket, just as Draco had guessed. The liquid glints blue-silver in the candlelight, alluring as ever.
“Essense of Valerian, crystalline silver, and lapis dust, a concoction the Seraphim angels who bred with wizards created over a millennia ago.” He bows, handing it to Hermione, who takes it with curious fingers.
“Seraphim and wizards,” she repeats, quiet and solemn. It’s not a question but Xenophilius answers her anyway.
“Correct, my child. The creation of the species! The only known enemy of the Veela is, unfortunately, their own kind. Multiple mutations have occurred from extensive inbreeding. The spoiled blood passes down through the generations, cropping up like a virus whenever it sees fit. That potion is meant to keep Draco alive. He is a slave to his own creature’s mutation, after all. Without it, I’m afraid he will rapidly deteriorate, succumbing to the same fate as his father. Has he experienced any seizures since you brought him here?”
Hermione gasps and Draco feels Harry flinch in his arms. Everyone in the room knows too well of the seizing fits Draco’s suffered over the past days.
You’re not a mutation, Harry tells him, and Draco lovingly runs his nose along the protruding tendon leading from Harry’s throat to his shoulder.
But I am. I’m a creature with spoiled blood, just as the old man says.
“You aren’t,” Harry grunts aloud. Everyone looks to him, and he swallows, standing firm.
“You talk about him as if he’s some rabid creature.” Harry’s hand comes up to grip Draco’s forearm that lays tight across Harry’s chest. “You’re wrong. He’s not a fucking mutation. He’s Draco.”
Xenophilius tosses the bottle in the air and catches it in a firm grip. “Too right!” He points at Harry and winks. “Of course, my boy. Look at him now! So altered. So . . . tame.”
“Father,” Luna chides just as Draco’s wing’s puff out in agitated warning.
Tame. Draco hates the word.
I like you a little wild, Harry thinks, then Draco hears him curse at his own internal bravado. Draco grins into his throat, wanting to nip at his skin, work at the bite mark he placed on Harry’s neck like a brand, just to bring Harry to his knees in front of them all, but he holds back. He’ll show Xenophilius tame.
“I have no doubt that his vast improvement is due to the attentions and energies that you three have shown him over these past days. Such news will certainly boost Narcissa’s spirits.”
Draco looks up.
My mother. He stares at Xenophilius. What’s wrong with her?
“What’s wrong with Narcissa?” Harry asks.
“Oh, she’s as well as can be expected. But when I arrive home with such news! She’ll be up and sparkling once more! Mark me.”
Xenophilius stands, brushing back his hair and righting his robes before fixing Hermione with a fierce look. “You must understand, my dear, he needs to take that potion.” He hands her the vial.
“But, if he’s been improving—”
“A placebo effect,” he nods, putting a hand to her shoulder. “I am certain of it. The novelty of being amongst friends once more. It is only a balm placed upon an open wound, I’m afraid. He needs the potion. I shall send more soon.”
Hermione reluctantly takes the tiny bottle and holds the vial tight to her chest. She bites her lip. Draco can tell she doesn’t want to disobey the man but he can smell the disbelief coming off her, and something inside Draco sings.
“I’ll be leaving Mipsy in your care, my dear. She’ll want to look after Draco. She’ll be a great help, I assure.”
“Oh, that isn’t necess—”
“I insist, my dear! I insist! Why, isn’t this supposed to be a holiday, after all?” He looks between Luna and Hermione and winks. “Wouldn’t want to keep you from enjoying yourselves.”
“I really don’t think that’s—”
“I mustn't keep you a moment longer. Between my spoutings of the past and my ramblings of Draco’s dire future if he were to not take that potion, I am sure I’ve outstayed my welcome.”
He attempts to walk towards Draco, arms outstretched as if he were coming to embrace him, but Draco hisses, causing Xenophilius to falter in his steps. His arms fall to his side, a kicked puppy without a bone.
“I’m sorry, Draco,” he says, turning from them back to his daughter.
“You’re always welcome to visit us, Father,” Luna says, moving to hug him once more. “Remember that.”
“Thank you, my Luna.” He kisses her hair and steps back. He bows deeply to Harry and Draco across the room, salutes Hermione as if he were a soldier addressing a general, and with a flourish of yellow robes, Apparates away.
The vacuum left in the wake of his presence is deafening. Hermione slumps in exhaustion on the couch and Luna follows suit, laying her head on her shoulder. Together, they summon the wine bottle.
“I don’t believe him,” Harry says, voice filled with a self-righteous conviction Draco hasn’t heard since their school days. When he realises it’s on Draco’s behalf, he preens, his feathers filling out just a tad.
Sighing, Hermione rolls her head on the back of the couch, dropping her hand from her eyes and accepting a filled glass from Luna. “He did what he thought was best, Harry. We have to give him the benefit of the doubt.”
Draco sees the sting Harry’s words cause in Luna and he frowns. Hermione reaches out a hand to her and squeezes her arm, giving her comfort. Draco likes when Luna is given comfort by Hermione, they are good for each other.
Mipsy, undeterred by Harry’s words or her own injuries, bounces around the barrier Draco had made with his wings, repeatedly saying he must be taking his potion, he must be taking his potion. Darco’s eyes close on a growl, hating the squeak of her very voice, let alone what she’s asking of him.
Harry grunts in his grip and it sounds like pain. In an instant, Draco releases the firm hold he’d unintentionally had on Harry’s hips and apologizes into the knot of hair tied at the back of Harry’s neck.
No need. I don’t break easily.
Does Max? Draco asks. Harry flinches in his arms, a splash of concern tainting the air.
“Anyone hungry?” Luna speaks up, interrupting their silent exchange. She swirls her wand in front of her, causing multicoloured bubbles to erupt from the tip.
Draco’s stomach rumbles at her words and he feels Harry chuckle, awkward and forced in front of him.
“Erm. Draco is,” he says, and they all look at him, still hiding behind Harry.
“What would you like, Draco?” Luna asks.
Harry, he projects, and feels heat instantly flash across Harry’s skin. Draco hides a grin in his dark curls.
Clearing his throat, Harry grunts, “Kebabs.”
“Splendid.” Luna comes to stand. “I’ll get started.”
The bubbles float along behind her as she trails into the kitchen.
. . .
Luna closes the door behind her after she finishes singing Draco to sleep, smiling as she approaches Hermione at her makeshift lab in the bedroom's magically extended closet. The fumes from her work smell sweet, even alluring.
Sighing, Hermione pushes her glasses to the top of her head. “No.” She looks at the mess she’s made spread out before her on the desktop and then returns her gaze to Luna, suddenly fierce. “This has nothing to do with not trusting your father.”
“I know,” Luna assures.
“I cannot, in good conscience, administer any form of medicine to a patient without knowing its exact contents and uses.”
Luna presses a kiss to her forehead. “I know, love.” Luna also knows that her extensive, hard-learned knowledge about Veela, their ailments, and biology, would be most helpful in aiding Hermione’s exhaustive efforts. But stepping on Hermione’s toes when she’s on the scent of discovery is not something Luna is fond of doing. She has faith in Hermione and her endless need to find the reasoning behind all things, she just wishes she could offer help without hurting her love’s pride.
Hermione’s rubbing her temple with one shaking hand. “It’s just . . . did you see them, Luna?”
Luna nods against the soft curls of Hermione’s hair. “I did.”
“They’re like a damned matched set.” And they had been, standing there bold and fierce, so wrapped up in each other Luna sometimes thought that it was Harry who’d sprouted wings. Luna even found herself wondering when Harry was finally going to give into Draco’s needs because the sexual energy in the living room was driving her to highly-inappropriate distraction with her father present. They’ve both been so miserable, so broken and pained for so long, they deserve to have their happiness.
“Harry can’t lose him again,” Luna says, pulling back to look Hermione in the eye, startling her.
“It’s already gone too far, hasn’t it?” she asks, sounding astoundingly sad while commenting on something that should bring them all joy.
Luna nods, knowing the reason behind Hermione’s emotion even if Hermione doesn’t.
“I shouldn’t have shown him that letter.” Hermione drops her head into her hands, tears of exhaustion spilling from the corners of her eyes. “I tried to explain to Draco afterwards. I just don’t know if he fully listened.”
Luna slowly extracts the many Muggle pens and pencils holding up Hermione’s hair and combs out the curls, allowing them to float around her face in a dark halo.
Hermione shakes off her attentions, though not unkindly. “I did try!” she exclaims, then gathers herself. Inhales. “I didn’t—I just didn’t want Harry to be left alone with him. You see how they are with us in the room. With your father in the room! Imagine if we weren’t even there?”
Luna looks off into the middle distance and pictures it, the rich colour of Harry’s skin entwined with the porcelain china of Draco’s, their heat and intensity finally allowed to blossom together as one—mingled sweat and clashing mouths, hips moving in tandem and hands gripping fierce and hard, holding their bodies tight together. She smiles, breath hitching at the vision she’s painted for herself. Hermione slaps her gently on the wrist, pulling her back to earth.
“You told me to imagine.”
Laughing, Hermione rubs at her eyes. She looks as tired as she no doubt feels, and Luna wants nothing more than to take her to bed and make sure she relaxes herself into a good night’s sleep.
“Can you leave this?” she asks, nodding to Hermione’s work. Tomorrow, over tea, she’ll attempt to tell Hermione what she knows. Breakfast is always the best time of day to share new information with Hermione.
Looking forlornly at her desktop, Hermione nods, and waves her wand. Luna sees the stasis charm take hold, the bubbling and fuming pausing in their constant upward cascade into frozen suspension. Hermione stands and shuts the closet doors, hiding the day’s toils behind it.
“Distract me from my racing mind?” Hermione asks, pulling Luna to her.
They kiss, sweet and chaste, until Luna’s hands drift down to grip hard at Hermione’s backside and Hermione yelps into the kiss. Falling with a giggle, she lands on the bed, pulling Luna with her and wrapping her legs tightly around her hips.
“Fuck my mind quiet,” Hermione demands against her mouth, needy. Luna kisses away her desperation and snakes a hand down past Hermione’s quivering stomach.
“I’ll make it so good,” Luna tells her, pressing between Hermione’s thighs. Hermione’s breath hitches at the contact and Luna smiles against her neck, trailing magic vibrations from her fingertips, coaxing and relentless until Hermione cries out.
Grinning at how quickly she’d managed that, Luna springs to her knees, placing them on either side of Hermione’s hips and ducks down to place a kiss to her nose. “That’s one.”
Throwing her head back, Hermione blushes as she laughs. “How many am I in for tonight?”
“How many can you handle?” She leans in and brushes away Hermione’s smile with her lips. She knows that this is what Hermione needs, and even more, it’s exactly what Luna craves. The chance to exude power over Hermione soothes Luna’s nerves to something shimmering and pearlescent in her mind. It leaves her irrevocably calm, and leaves Hermione’s non-stop brain suspended at a much-needed intermission between acts of brilliance, allowing her to rest.
The final tally of orgasms Luna teases out of Hermione lands somewhere around twelve. She only realises this much later, as she rests against the warm curve of Hermione's back on the bed, watching her sleep. Not that she can be entirely sure; they’d both given up counting around nine.
. . .
I wish Ao3 had an option to just preload a chapter and schedule the update, but I can only backdate a chapter, not set one up for future posting. Sigh. I've been very busy lately and just haven't had the time to keep up with a proper posting schedule, despite having these chapters written! I'm sorry for making y'all wait. Thank you for sticking with me (if you're still here) and, as always, I'm so appreciative that you're reading along!
Warning for this chapter: brief mention of self harm
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
. . .
Harry wakes to a knocking at the front door. He rises from his tangled sheets, darkened with a telling stain that speaks to the vivid dreams he’s been plagued with since Draco’s arrival. Rubbing a hand through his over-long hair, he looks around, blurry-eyed for his glasses and Sirius’ pocket watch. It reads 8:40 AM and Harry shrugs, figuring he can’t be mad at whoever is at the door if it’s solidly past eight in the morning. That’s just the harsh reality of adulthood. He Scourgifies the sheets and climbs out of bed.
Shuffling down the stairs in pants and a silk robe Luna gifted him as a break-up present, Harry pulls open the door, yawning, only to choke on air the second he realises who’s on the other side of the threshold.
“Mrs Malfoy,” he says, stunned.
Narcissa Malfoy peers at Harry’s bare chest with narrowed eyes, and Harry quickly wraps the robe tightly around himself, knotting its tie with so much force, he grunts. Narcissa nods her approval.
“Good morning, Harry. And please, it’s Narcissa. Is my son here?”
Her words are clipped and impossibly polite, but there’s an edge to her tone, and a razor-sharp slice to her appearance. She seems to have become more angular and exacting in the years since he’s seen her last—if that were possible. Her hands are nothing but porcelain skin pulled taut over lean bones, tipped with shiny, pointed nails. Her face is gaunt, eyes sitting too far back in their sockets to appear healthy. Harry mentally wrestles with the need to look away from her emaciated frame and the desire to immediately hustle himself to the kitchen to cook her a much-needed meal to help combat her malnourished state.
Remembering his manners seconds too late, he steps back and invites her in, holding his arm out in greeting. She nods again and steps through, eyeing the staircase as if it were a bomb ready to explode.
“He’s upstairs?” she asks, looking more nervous than Harry has ever seen her. She wrings her hands, knuckles grinding together under a sweep of dark, brocade silk. Harry has the urge to reach out and stop her, but doesn’t dare.
“I’m actually not sure, he—” Harry cuts his explanation short when he turns to see Draco standing at the top of the staircase. His windblown hair falls across his forehead, his chest heaving and nostrils flared. Long, inky fingers grip the bannister so tightly Harry hears the wood creak.
Harry nods, though Draco isn’t looking at him. He can see the internal war behind Draco’s eyes; the urge to descend and greet his mother and the desperate want to flee. Harry wonders which instinct will win in the end, but before Harry can find out, Narcissa is brushing past him and advancing up the stairs faster than Harry thought possible for someone in floor-length robes. She moves towards Draco, a single arm outstretched, long fingers reaching as if possessed.
Draco turns and runs.
“Shit.” Harry follows both of them, cursing the whole way. “Draco,” he calls out, watching him jump over the sitting room couch and make for the balcony doors.
Draco halts at the sound of his mother crying his name, his hands on the doorknobs, his back heaving with struggling breaths. His wings are full, puffed out in agitation and his head is bowed.
She left me there to rot, Harry hears. He bites his lip and looks to Narcissa, notes the pain on her weathered face, the tears in her too-large, wild eyes.
I don’t think she meant to, Harry responds, hating how much it sounds like a platitude, even in his mind.
Draco laughs, harsh and loud, a punch of breath out through unused lips. He turns and glares at his mother before his face falls, all the fight melting out of him at whatever he sees reflected in her eyes.
“I’ll make some tea.”
Harry stars, noticing Luna sitting at the kitchen table for the first time, a backdated copy of The Quibbler in her hands. Narcissa and Draco ignore her, but she isn’t deterred. She stands and moves to the kettle on the hob, magicking it to boil.
“Two sugars, Draco?” Luna asks, not even bothering to look over her shoulder.
Yes, Harry hears him snap in his mind. Harry clears his throat. “Erm, yes, please.”
Draco gasps, a small exhalation of surprised breath. Harry aches at that precious sound and he’s terrified to examine why. He closes his eyes against the tumultuous tide of thoughts rushing through his mind at having to hear that surname again after all these years. He always forgets that Sirius and Narcissa were cousins. It’s as if his brain blocks the connection on purpose.
Luna accepts the interruption with a small incline of her head and puts together the same silver tea tray her father had utilised last night, complete with milk and sugar cubes, lemon slices and sprigs of fresh mint. As she carries the tray to the sitting room, a jar of jasmine honey floats along behind her, wanting to join the mix.
“Ms Black, how do you take your tea?”
Narcissa, not having looked away from her son for a single moment since her arrival, lifts her chin at the question and offers, “No milk. Lemon.” She finally slants her eyes towards Luna, adding a belated, “please,” to her request.
Nodding, Luna sets two cups with fine china saucers atop the sitting room table, a shortcake biscuit placed on each rim.
“Harry, shall we?” Luna asks, and Harry blinks at her, confused.
“Let Draco and his mother have a visit.”
Draco tenses and he takes a step in Harry’s direction. No!
Harry looks at him.
Exhaling, Harry almost wants to smile. I wasn’t planning on it.
Luna clears her throat. Harry watches her delicate fist cover the sound, and rolls his eyes.
“I’m staying,” he tells her, squaring his shoulders.
“I appreciate your loyalty to my son, Harry, but if you don’t mind—”
“But I do.” The embers in the hearth spark.
Narcissa’s mouth snaps shut, her lips thinned into a harsh slash across her face. Harry knows that expression well and it does not intimidate him in the slightest. To prove his point, he bangs open the cupboard doors with a flick of his wrist, summons a coffee mug, and then proceeds to pour himself an obnoxiously large cup of tea, ladened heavily with milk and sugar.
Across from him, Luna tries her best to suppress a smirk, but doesn’t move to stand. Harry assumes this reaction to be her approval and he sits in a leather Eames chair in the corner, crossing his legs. He takes a sip of his tea, adjusts his seat, and stares at Narcissa, waiting.
There’s a moment where they watch each other, breath held, the air rippling with tension before Narcissa crumbles, her impeccable posture slipping. Her teacup clangs on its saucer as she places it hard on the table and drops her face in her hands.
“I can’t do this,” she whispers. “I knew I shouldn’t. He was right, I can’t.”
She pushes herself to a standing position. Her hands are shaking. “I’m sorry, Draco.”
She turns to leave, but then Draco is there, an inky hand on her shoulder, holding her in place. Narcissa is bent in on herself like the curl of a parenthesis lingering at the end of a sentence without proper purpose, while Draco is as prickled as an exclamation point at her side, his wings adding emphasis to their visual grammar.
Narcissa’s breaths come quickly, sounding harsh in the quiet room when suddenly, she gasps on a sob. “I can hear you,” she whispers. She looks over her shoulder at him in astonishment.
Behind them, the teapot explodes.
“Shit! I’m sorry,” Harry says, waving a Reparo through the air with his hand and syphoning off the spilt tea with a conjured rag. “Sorry. Fuck.”
Harry didn’t hear anything come from Draco, and yet he managed to communicate with his mother. He curses once more as he sets the repaired teapot to rights on the tray, pretending that whatever connection he and Draco share not being wholly unique doesn’t cut him to the quick.
Narcissa closes her eyes, no doubt taxed by Harry’s excessive language.
Luna, looking perfectly content ensconced in her favourite chair, simply grins at the chaos over the rim of her teacup.
. . .
That voice, its timbre and depth sounds so much like Draco’s father, and yet, it belongs to her son. Her precious child, speaking to her through a connection deeper than words can convey. She hasn’t heard that voice in over three years and its sudden resurgence throws her equilibrium to the wind. With shaking hands, she staggers where she stands, clutching at her skirts for lack of a solid surface to grab onto, a dull headache throbbing at her temples. She barely takes notice of the incident with the teapot nor the Potter boy making a fool of himself. It’s nothing new. Draco and Harry never could help acting ridiculous whenever they were near each other.
She sits back down, forcing a smile as her heart pounds so hard in her chest that the corners of her vision begin to blur—the result is that the only thing she can focus on is her son. “Talk to me, please.”
Draco blinks at her, stunned. His expression is so startling, it throws her resolve. She ducks her head and fiddles with a teaspoon left on the silver tray, her manners slipping. She feels the ghost of her mother reprimanding her for slouching at the table and hunches further at the thought.
You can hear me.
Draco’s words cut through the fog of anxiety in her mind and she nods. Daring to look up, she catches her son’s fierce, preternatural eyes glaring at her and sits straighter on instinct. “I can.”
Good, she hears and smiles, right before Draco adds, then tell me why.
His voice is like acid in her mind, slicing all the wounds of her guilt afresh, and laying her bloody and exposed in the grass. Shaking her head, she wrings her hands, feeling adrift on an open sea, powerless and terrified all at once. She hadn't prepared for this conversation. Her only thought after Xenophilius told her what happened the previous evening was that she wanted to go to Draco. Immediately.
“I didn’t mean to leave you there for so long, Draco.”
Not good enough.
“We were going to find a—”
There is no cure.
“It was Xenophilius’ idea! He’d discovered the city just before we buried your father. He told me only after your illness came upon you.”
I am not ill, mother. I’m a Veela.
“Exactly,” she cries, burying her face in her shaking hands. “My sweet boy. I always hoped that this curse would never touch you. That such a fate would skip over you—” Her eyes sting as tears spill down her cheeks and she tucks her chin to hide them. “I never wanted you to end up like him.”
She listens but no voice comes as she clutches the napkin in her lap, in desperate need of one of Xenophilius’ calming draughts. When she looks up, Draco has retreated. He stands by Harry’s chair across the room, one soot-black hand clasped possessively on Harry’s shoulder. Harry looks up at her son with an awed expression and reverence in his eyes. She opens her mouth to comment but a pop sounds beside her and suddenly, there’s an elf jumping up and down, poking at her skirts.
“Mistress, Mistress! He must be taking his potion. He must!”
Looking to her son, she shifts in her seat and away from the creature, attempting to block the elf’s insistent babbling. “Draco, you haven’t been taking your potion?”
Draco hisses, his hand clenching harder at Harry’s shoulder. Narcissa sees Harry wince in response.
“He must! He must!”
Narcissa shushes the creature. “Yes, yes, of course. Whatever Xenophilius says. Draco, you know this.”
I refuse. It clouds my mind.
“But what if you harm yourself—” she starts, then halts when she notices the look of shock come over Harry’s face, followed curiously by comprehension, as if he has just slotted a puzzle piece into its proper place. He turns, staring at Draco as if seeing him for the first time.
“You didn’t,” Harry says. Draco removes his possessive hold on his shoulder and backs away from him. Harry reaches out and grabs Draco’s arm, keeping him from retreating. “Your face. You didn’t.”
Draco’s wings curl around him as shame paints his features. Narcissa stamps down the raw, gnawing need to run to him, knowing her words have caused him pain. She feels the betrayal in Draco's expression reflected back at her as if it were her own, as if she were peering through a looking glass, watching her own suffering. She wants to take the anguish from him, wants to rip it free from his soul and bundle it away where it can no longer touch him, but the time for such precious coddling has passed. Narcissa knows that it is far too late to ease Draco’s pain.
For Draco's sake, for all of their sake, Narcissa comes to a decision. She stands, the world swaying slightly in front of her, and moves to untie the laces that keep the brocade sleeves of her silk robes in place. One by one, she plucks at the crisscrossed ribbon, feeling the fabric loosen around her forearms. She notes that Xenophilius' daughter is beside her, watching her intently, but this does not change her mind. She too needs to know the consequences of Draco's freedom.
Mother, what are you doing?
“I think you should all know the severity of Draco’s condition.”
Harry spares Narcissa a glance, his eyes falling to the parted fabric on her right arm, and then to Draco before returning once more to what Narcissa has revealed. Under her perfectly tailored robes lies a secret that she’s kept hidden these past four years.
Holding her breath, she releases the final tie, allowing both sleeves to split at the seams. The fabric pools at her elbows, exposing the jagged lines of the raised skin along her forearms, put there by the taloned hands of her beloved son. She does not blame him, she knows these scars were not Draco’s doing, but the creature that poisons his mind and his blood.
Narcissa does not shy away from the disbelief and anger that casts a heavy shadow over Harry’s face. Seeing his hand drop from Draco’s arm emboldens her further, and she steps closer, brandishing her forever altered appearance under the boy’s fool-hardy nose. As if the slash across Draco’s face wasn’t enough to confirm the danger Draco poses to himself, she lets the boy see the damage he’s done to his own mother.
“No,” he says, turning from her. “I can’t—“
“You can, and you must. You must understand.” She steps closer still, taking his arm while reaching out with the other towards Draco. Tethered together, they create a disjointed circle: mother, son, and Saviour.
Tears slip down her cheeks as she holds them both in her frail hands. Once strong enough to bring grown men to their knees and delicate enough to guide Draco through his beautiful childhood into tumultuous adolescence—these hands that have seen and done so much, now tremble without warning, ache when it rains and curl in on themselves in arthritic pain. She despises how weak she’s become in the past few years, yet seeing Draco so calm and lucid before her, leaves her breathless with an unspoken joy. A hand touches her cheek, flushed with the heat of her tears. Draco’s wiping away the wetness on her skin with the soft black pad of his thumb, his sharp nails held purposefully out of the way. With her heart breaking apart in her chest, she raises her chin and leans into his hand, swallowing her emotions in favour of accepting her son’s gentle touch. In that moment, her floundering strength seems tangible once more.
Seeking, and finding within herself, a sense of courage she did not feel at the beginning of this day, she catches her breath and says, “I love you,” to her son.
Draco’s eyes close at the words, his throat working.
She feels his voice before she hears it in her mind, tinged blue with sorrow. I’m so incredibly sorry that I hurt you.
“There is no need, Draco.” Narcissa lets go of Harry to put a hand to Draco’s cheek, mirroring his pose. His skin feels warm and alive beneath her palm. “Take your potion. For me.”
Draco nods, head bowing low, tucking his chin. Narcissa slips into the open space between Draco’s curled wings to hold him close. They were not always such a tactile family, but Narcissa’s need to feel her son, solid and whole, outweighs the stilted strictness archaic pureblood parenting dictates. She can feel his hesitation, the hovering of his hands just above her back, but then, warmth surrounds her as he gives in and embraces her. They stand together as one. It’s as if a part of her soul—once ripped so completely from her—has been returned. It’s only once she pulls away to see the wetness on her son’s cheeks, does Narcissa realise that the warmth she felt against her hair was from Draco’s tears.
. . .
Thank you for waiting for this update! Life on my end has gotten even more insane than what we've already all been living through. The chapters are written. I shall persevere with posting them.
Thanks for sticking with me! Kisses to you all <3
Pretty sure y'all will enjoy this update.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
. . .
Draco feels Harry approach even before he scents him on the wind. There’s a whirling in his belly, a brewing tempest of emotion that matches the storm gathering strength just offshore along the purple horizon. The sun has just slipped behind the endless blue of the sea and Draco breathes in the crisp air of dusk as night quickly approaches, along with Harry’s footsteps. He takes the final sip of the tea Mipsy brought him and looks over his shoulder.
Can’t stay away, can you?
Harry halts. “Do you want me to?”
Draco huffs a laugh, too exhausted to truly put up a fight. His mother’s pleading voice still echoes in his head. The sound of her blatant desperation is so foreign he doesn’t know what to do with the memory, now forever trapped inside his mind. Even through the darkest days of the war, Draco never heard his mother reach such a level of raw emotion. Malfoys never let their emotions slip. He was raised to keep it all inside, buried and contained, never letting the vulnerability show on his face. He’d never fully comprehended the importance of such resilience until the war, when his mother became the only truth he could follow.
Today, all of those childhood teachings were Reductoed into dust. Seeing his mother so altered from her normal state of poised perfection, brought to the point of tears and pleading declarations, has left Draco shaken. He feels oddly hollow, now that she’s gone.
He escaped to the balcony for peace and to organise the crescendo of his thoughts in solitude. Yet now that Harry’s here, he can’t bring himself to send him away. He wants Harry near—always. Not just to stake his claim over him, but to be soothed by his companionship. It’s a terrifying realisation, and he is unsure whether it’s sparked from the instincts of the territorial creature swirling inside him, or the memories of their friendship. Those memories, so solid and fiercely beloved, weigh Draco down like bricks upon his shoulders—a constant reminder of what was lost and now so tentatively rekindled.
A warm presence settles to his right and Draco automatically curls a wing around Harry’s shoulders, blocking him from the encroaching wind.
“Thank you,” Harry says, a small smile on his full lips.
Draco nods, his eyes focused on that generous pout. It serves as a pleasant distraction.
“You’re staring, Draco.”
Am I? He asks, swaying towards him. Harry leans away and Draco dips, resting his forehead on Harry's shoulder instead. Wanker, he tells him.
Harry laughs and tucks his chin over Draco’s head. They’re curled into each other like seashells collected on a beach and clasped tightly in someone’s hand, not quite perfectly aligned, but connected just the same.
Let me kiss you, Draco says without conscious thought. He can never think when Harry is this close, it’s infuriating.
“We shouldn’t. Not yet,” Harry whispers into his hair, dropping a kiss against his scalp.
Yet? You tease.
Harry smiles. Draco can feel it press into his hair. He nuzzles closer, running his nose along the scar he’d placed on Harry’s neck. The resulting shiver this gentle movement elicits burns a fire through Draco’s veins and he pushes closer still, his mouth falling open and his tongue running flat and wet along the scar. Harry’s head tilts to the side, allowing him more access as his rough fingers squeeze Draco’s thigh.
“Draco,” he grunts, his voice thick. “We shouldn’t.”
Impatient, Draco nips the scar, shifts his body, and straddles Harry's lap, encircling them both with his wings. It blocks out the roar of the waves against the rocks behind them, allowing only the dim light of the house lamp above the balcony doors and the smell of the salt air to permeate the soft shield of his feathers.
Tell me why, he demands and presses his erection into Harry’s hip, feeling Harry’s own against his thigh.
Harry bites his deliciously full lower lip and closes his eyes, allowing the attention. Wrapping his body as tightly as he can around Harry’s, Draco drops his head to Harry’s neck once more, mouthing at the scar with his tongue and his teeth, hungry for it, needy to the point of wanting to beg. He’s achy and unsettled, itchy in his own skin. He needs this so much more than he can explain, he’s terrified of his own wanting.
Tell me, Harry, he says, rocking against him. He feels Harry swallow, his throat working over the press of Draco’s lips, and Draco grins, liking that he’s rendered Harry speechless. He lifts his head, placing both hands reverently against Harry’s face, and stares down at him, savouring Harry’s submission. He takes the time to run his hands through Harry’s hair, the long curls cascading through his fingers like silk. Four and a half years Draco has waited to kiss Harry—longer still that he’s waited for Harry to realise how much he’s wanted—
“Your mother,” Harry blurts, his eyes going wide.
Draco sits back in Harry’s lap, his hands falling to his shoulders.
Harry nods, distractedly pulling Draco close once more, though the touch feels off, almost endearing in its tenderness. It’s not the kind of affection Draco is currently seeking and he squirms in Harry’s lap, his body unused to such gentility. Harry shushes him like one would a child and runs his thumb along Draco’s cheekbone. The rough pad of his finger catches on the ridge of his scar and Draco flinches, suddenly understanding the shift in Harry’s emotions. Harry drops his hand, his face solidifying in that horribly self-righteous martyr expression Draco had found so deplorable in their youth.
Don’t you dare, he says, ripping himself out of Harry’s lap, his wings flapping hard to propel him backwards and away until he hits the railing.
“Draco, I just. . . you’re too important to—”
Anger bubbles up inside Draco so quickly at Harry’s audacity, he’s surprised fire doesn’t erupt from his fingertips.
How fucking dare you! He turns and leaps off the balcony, his wings taking him higher and higher into the howling winds of the fast-approaching storm. He hears Harry calling out his name from below but he ignores him and pushes south, away from the electrical bolts touching down along the water and igniting the land beneath him. He chases the clear sky ahead of him, his mind going numb to the memory of his pain, even if his body shakes with the aftershocks of his self-inflicted trauma.
Fuck you, Harry Potter, he curses out onto the biting wind as the waves crash along the rocky shore bleow, sending up sea spray to meet him on the breeze. He hopes Harry can hear him back on the balcony, left all alone with his erection flagging in his jeans, and his pouting lips mumbling over what he suspects he did wrong.
. . .
That night, Harry can’t sleep. He can barely breathe from the heat of his room and the humidity hanging heavy in the air. It feels like it did the first night Draco arrived, with his fever-slicked skin and his blurry, lust-filled brain. On instinct, Harry brings a hand up to his throat and presses against the bite mark on his skin, hissing as his body arches off the bed at the sensation.
He remembers Draco’s tongue running flat along his skin and drags a finger across his neck, hoping to recreate the feeling. His magic sparks white hot against his throat and he moans, wishing it were Draco ripping these sounds from him. He pounds the bed with his fist, his frustration overriding his lust.
“Fuck,” he breathes out, and stumbles to a standing position. It’s like reliving a dream, walking on unsteady legs out to the living room and through the open balcony doors. The deja vu is palpable and his mind reels along with his vision.
Draco is there, crouched on a chaise lounge, holding his head in his hands, his abandoned teacup from earlier sat beside him. He’s shaking. Harry goes to him, like a magnet sliding along metal—steady, electric, and inevitable.
Sitting down hard on the chaise, Harry reaches out to Draco, only to feel him tense under his touch. Draco doesn’t look up. Instead, he drops his blackened hands from his face and threads them together, elbows on his jittering knees.
What are you doing here?
“I can’t sleep.” Harry sounds drunk, his voice slurred.
Take a potion.
“I’m too dependent on Dreamless Sleep already.”
Harry sees Draco’s pale eyebrow lift past his hairline. Interesting.
“Not really. I’ve lived a nightmare. I close my eyes and my brain likes to . . . remind me.”
I wonder what that’s like?
Harry opens his mouth to elaborate, and then notes the sardonic expression on Draco’s frowning face. “Right. Sorry.”
“But I am, Draco. For all of it.” He squeezes Draco’s thigh once more.
It isn’t your fault.
Harry has heard that expression repeatedly since he turned eleven. Ever since he became The Boy Who Lived, as opposed to the thorn in the Dursley’s side. The consequences for his actions have always been justified as beyond his control. It turns out that nothing is ever Harry Potter’s fault, except for his horribly timed decision to bring up Draco’s self-inflicted scar earlier in the evening. Shaking his head from the memory, Harry stands and moves to the other chaise, away from Draco’s heat, his jittering knees, and his acceptance of Harry’s presence—Harry doesn’t deserve the kindness. He needs to lie down, needs to not be vertical in this particular moment. His vision is swimming.
Hoping to stop vertigo from bearing down on him, he removes his glasses and covers his face, hiding it behind the bend of his elbow. Shrouded in darkness, he feels bold enough to say, “Draco, I’m sorry. It was wrong of me to—”
Just forget it, Potter. Let it be. Draco scoffs, the sound foreign yet so familiar. Harry jumps from the surprise of hearing it.
Swallowing hard, Harry attempts to speak, fails, and swallows again. He drops his arm and turns his face to find Draco staring at him. The world is fuzzy around him but Draco’s perfectly in focus, as if Draco has willed his appearance to be seen by Harry at all times, lenses be damned. The sensation of perfect sight is so extraordinary, Harry doesn’t dare look away.
“I just wanted to explain why—”
I know why, you idiot.
Eyes widening, Harry nods, though he doesn’t understand. “Then how could—”
Draco holds up a hand, his nails looking sharper than Harry remembers, his skin black as tar. You’ll think less of me.
“I think the world of you.”
A soft blush blooms across Draco’s skin—he's smiling, soft and small and secret, hiding such sweetness behind the fall of his hair. It sends a thrill through Harry, seeing that reaction, and he shifts where he lays, wanting to be closer to that smile on instinct. Draco seems to know Harry wants his attention and turns back to watch him. Time slows, and Harry breathes deeply as the seconds melt into minutes, willing his erratic heartbeat to calm.
Draco’s gaze is unrelenting, his body a live wire, ready to spark. His wings are pushed out high and arched behind him, backlit by the moonlight looming heavy and low over the water. Nothing outwardly changes about his appearance, yet Harry witnesses the exact moment Draco makes the decision, though he’s not sure what decision it is that he’s made. Harry can practically feel the sense of impending victory staring out at him through those wild, mercurial eyes. A bead of sweat slips from Harry’s hairline to his brown and he shivers.
“Draco,” Harry whispers, questioning his choice to join him out here with the summer heat pressing in on them from all sides. He needs to rise, needs to sit forward and put his elbows on his knees like Draco, but he can’t move. He’s been rendered utterly inert by those penetrating, predatory eyes. Another second passes with Draco watching him and suddenly, Harry isn’t sure he wants to let this limbo of indecision end—the anticipation is too sweet not to savour.
Touch yourself, Harry.
Harry’s eyes close unbidden at the words, their meaning coursing through him like the rip of a curse cast through a wand. He moans, his back arching off the cushions.
Do you feel that?
“I can feel you.”
Because I’m already inside you.
Harry’s hands ball into fists at his sides. He feels it the moment Draco presses a hand against his own throat, the spot mirroring the bite mark he’d left on Harry so few days ago, claiming him. An unnecessary animalistic instinct on Draco’s part; Harry has always been his.
Warmth spreads from that phantom touch, and Harry stretches towards it, yearning for more. He knew coming out here was a terrible idea. He could never control himself around Draco, he never wanted to.
Without another second of hesitation, Harry does, fisting his erection through his pants, biting his lip at the instant relief and simultaneous pain of his harsh grip. “Fuck,” he curses.
His eyes are closed but he can sense the shadow that looms above him, knowing that Draco has moved from his seated position beside him. He blinks, his eyelids heavy from the heat. Draco stands over him, naked and shamelessly holding his cock—the shining head flushed red and surrounded by Draco’s long, inky fingers, glowing blue in the moonlight. Harry stares boldly, his mouth open and hungry. Draco twists his wrist and a strangled groan passes his lips, the sound causing Harry’s erection to twitch against his fist. Harry reaches out his free hand, wanting to touch, and Draco lets him.
The picture of Harry’s blunt brown fingers curling over Draco’s pale, pointed hip has Harry quickly releasing his own cock, needing to dampen the sensations coursing through him, lest it all end too quickly.
Perhaps it should, Harry thinks, but then he pushes down that single encroaching thought and focuses instead on the sight of Draco’s hard, leaking cock dripping before him like a quivering tap, ready to burst forth with cool water, and Harry’s been left outside all day in the sun.
Draco is burning up, his skin almost painful to touch, yet Harry can’t stop himself from exploring further. Now that he’s allowed himself this, he doesn’t want to ever let go. He rubs his thumb over Draco’s protruding hip bone, grinning at Draco's resulting hiss of approval.
Harry tries to sit up, his body reacting as if moving through water. He pulls Draco closer as he slowly rights himself, swinging his heavy legs over the side of the chaise to flank Draco’s long, lean calves. Draco grunts and he crowds Harry, his hips jutting forward in blatant invitation. Licking his lips, Harry drags his gaze up from Draco’s hard prick to the blunted triangle of his perfectly pointy chin. Draco’s watching him, staring down past the sharp blade of his nose, his chest heaving, his cock so tantalisingly close to Harry’s salivating mouth that he can feel the heat radiating off his skin.
“I want to suck you.”
Draco’s head falls back on a moan. I’ve been waiting for years—
Harry takes Draco's cockhead into his mouth, sucking hard and cutting off Draco’s internal thoughts just as a strangled gasp pushes its way past his pale lips. Harry hums around the girth of it, his eyes closing to the taste and smell and feel of Draco finally filling him. All consideration for the consequences of such actions is washed away with the retreating of the tide as Harry swallows him down whole.
If Draco has been waiting for years, it feels as if Harry has been waiting for centuries. He thinks back to mourning the loss of never having the chance to be with Draco before his death. And now, here Draco stands, solid and perfect; his wings unfurled wide at his back, head tossed skyward as he crows. Harry squeezes his hips, encouraging the pace of Draco’s thrusts as he takes him deep, needing Draco to fuck Harry’s mouth with all the abandon Harry currently feels. He can sense it mirrored in Draco. It echoes between them, tingling just under their skin.
Pulling off, Harry heaves in a breath, resting his head against Draco’s hip. He kisses the underside of Draco’s cock and drags his nose through Draco’s pale hair. It’s soft and slick with sweat and his own saliva. Harry grins at the feeling of it and inhales the rich musk of Draco’s skin, hungry for its scent to fill his lungs.
“I wanted you that night,” Harry confesses as he presses his face against the taut muscle of Draco’s abdomen. “Fuck, I wanted you so badly.”
Draco’s hand finds Harry’s hair and pulls. Harry lets his head be guided backward, allowing Draco to stare down at him.
You’ve no fucking idea, Harry hears, right before Draco’s hand twists, driving his frustration home.
Tears prickle the corner of Harry’s eyes, and he savours the sting. It lets Harry know that he isn’t dreaming. Draco’s here; alive and real and filled with an electric heat that sparks over Harry’s skin like static shock and sends shivers down his spine. Blinking slow and heavy, Harry takes Draco’s cock once more, watching him as he brings up a hand to work what he can’t naturally fit inside his mouth.
Make me come, Harry, Draco demands, and Harry moans, exceedingly eager to oblige. He moves in tandem with his hand, twisting as he pulls back and dragging down as he sucks deep, finding a rhythm to match the thrusts of Draco’s hips.
The waves crash against the rocks, the breeze whips past their faces, and Draco remains steadfast above Harry, holding tight to his hair, guiding his head where he wants him. Harry’s own erection is ignored in his desperation to make Draco feel something good.
He fills his mind with images of that night in the pub, the teasing way Draco leaned over his pool stick, the lick of his lips after he had taken each shot, the taste of the lime on Harry’s tongue, and his desire to taste it on Draco’s. Harry closes his eyes and pushes all that long-held yearning on to Draco as he sucks him, wanting him to feel it, and to know that none of this is born of a fever, but from a deep well of affection Harry’s harboured for Draco all these years.
It’s a rasp. A broken cry of a word, but Harry’s eyes go wide at the sound. He looks up, and sees Draco biting his lip, his face tense with concentration. Harry wants to pull back, to ask him if he spoke, but Draco’s holding tight to Harry’s hair, guiding him along his cock as he pumps faster and faster, reaching closer to that cliff’s edge of release.
“Harry,” Draco whispers, and this time, Harry’s eyes are open to see it. His body shivers with the realisation that Draco is speaking to him, his neglected cock leaking at the sound. He removes his hand, swallows Draco down to the root, and hums.
Draco crows, his head flying back as his hips stutter with his orgasm. Harry feels the rhythmic pulse of it as Draco releases into Harry’s mouth, the sea-salt tang of his come coating his tongue.
Harry doesn’t let a single drop spill, even as he chokes from the force of it all. He pulls back only for a moment to catch his breath and wipe at his face before swallowing Draco’s still-hard cock back down. He’s greedy for it, hungry with a need he can’t extinguish. He sucks and licks and massages Draco’s cock with gentle strokes of his tongue until it goes soft and slips free from his lips. All the while, Draco rocks above him, head still thrown back, throat exposed and eyes closed, lost to sensation.
Placing a kiss against the tender skin of Draco’s hip, Harry looks up at the man above him in a daze. He feels drunk, his vision blurred at the edges as the moment ebbs into something less frenzied, more quiet.
The silence doesn’t last. Draco’s serene face, canted towards the sky as if in offering, turns down, his eyes locking onto Harry’s with an intensity that causes Harry’s stomach to drop.
“Draco,” he says, voice raw.
There’s a hand on his cheek, cool and black, cupping his jaw. His thumb rubs over Harry’s swollen lower lip, dipping into his mouth. Harry pulls it in with his tongue, tasting the salt of his skin. Draco smiles at him, sweet and small, an unexpected expression of tenderness that burns in Harry’s heart.
The moment lingers as the waves crash just beyond their cocoon of intimacy. Feeling sluggish and weighted by the heat of the night, Harry struggles to stand from his seat on the chaise, his legs unsteady. Draco’s wings wrap around him, collecting at the small of Harry’s back, helping him up. Draco’s looking down at him, his eyes dark and coaxing. Harry’s drawn in by them, by a magnetism he’s never been able to name.
Black hands flank Harry’s face, and Harry tilts back as Draco leans in, mouths open, breath mingling. They hover together, lips barely touching, feeling each exhale as it passes between them.
Please, Harry hears and the air around them crackles. He closes the distance, pressing his open mouth to Draco’s, his tongue pushing forward. Together, they moan. Draco’s hands tug through Harry’s curls and Harry wraps his arms tightly around Draco’s waist, their bodies flush. Sweat-slicked skin and desperate hands pull and twist and press as Harry allows Draco to devour him with his mouth. Their kiss is endless, born from a lifetime of longing, and a reignited spark once extinguished by grief, now alight once more.
I need. . . please, I need.
Harry can’t think, he only knows that Draco is talking to him, begging him through their connection for more. He’s ravenous with an urge to please him, but he can’t pull himself away from the sweetness of Draco’s mouth to breathe, much less give him more of something he can’t even name.
“Whatever you want,” he finally answers, mumbling against Draco’s lips. “Anything.”
Feeling a sudden tug, Harry breaks the kiss and curses as he’s swept from the stone tiles of the balcony and lifted into the air. Draco’s flying, floating them down over the railing towards the rocks of the jetty.
“What the—” Harry begins, but is cut off by the heat of Draco’s mouth once more, and all his thoughts are dashed to the wind.
Let me have this, Draco says, sounding desperate even in Harry’s mind.
“Anything,” Harry repeats.
I need this. I need you.
Harry nods, agreeing to it all.
Draco lands, holding Harry tight. They’re farther out than he’d usually venture, far beyond the pebbled sand and the stubborn moss of the rocks near the beach. Instead, Draco’s brought them past the break of surf, amongst the treacherous, sea-slicked, rounded boulders of the jetty that only reveal themselves at low tide. The lights of the house and the gas lamps seem otherworldly and far off. Harry blinks, realising that his glasses have been left behind, his vision hazy, only leaving Draco in focus.
Lie back, Draco tells him, right before he plucks him up and lays him down across an elongated boulder, sodden and frigid to the touch. Harry’s skin practically sizzles against the coolness of the granite as he settles, his head tilting back past the curve of the rock’s edge. Draco hovers over him, wings spread, hair a glowing halo of silver light surrounding his face. The waves crash around them, sending up sea spray, only to fall back down on them like rain.
Harry closes his eyes and revels in relief as the fat droplets pepper his overheated skin. Wet hands press down hard and smooth along his chest, dragging teasing nails over his torso and tugging his pants off his legs.
Lifting his head up, Harry begins to ask, “what are you doin—” but Draco shocks him silent by opening his mouth and running his wet tongue up the length of Harry’s cock, laying fat and heavy on his stomach.
Arching his back, Harry curses as a wave crashes into the rocks, sending up white foam all around them. He’s overwhelmed by the cacophony of sensations bombarding him, and Draco’s barely even touched him.
Looking down, Harry sees a wicked grin cross Draco’s scarred, roguish face and Harry knows he’s done for the next second when Draco slowly slides his lips down over Harry’s length.
“Fucking hell,” Harry curses to the sky. The heat of Draco’s mouth is dizzying. The two of them are a powder keg, ready to combust. Something must be wrong. They shouldn’t both be this overheated, but all Harry can focus on is the pulsating rhythm and suction of Draco’s mouth on him.
“That feels . . .”
“Cocky,” Harry grunts a laugh. He runs his hands through his wet hair, pushing it off his face.
Harry can’t argue, he’s too lost to the sensation of the cool rock at his back, the soft rain of the crashing waves, and the intense heat of Draco surrounding him, teasing him fully erect and cresting on that knife’s edge within moments of touching him.
“This is going to end embarrassingly quickly,” Harry whispers to himself.
We will never end, Draco answers. His tongue is flat against the underside of Harry’s cock, his nose buried in his black curls, and when he drags his nails down along Harry’s thigh, Harry growls at the delicious sting.
A crashing wave sends a cascade of water over their bodies as Harry’s orgasm rips through him like a violent curse erupting through the tip of a wand. His hands fly to Draco’s head, holding him down as his hips surge upward, over and over.
Gentle hums echo in Harry’s mind. Soft notes of satisfaction and contentment course over Harry like fingertips trailing down his skin, tickling and teasing him into smiling. His body melts into the rock beneath him from the attentions, and the heavy blanket of sleep threatens to pull him under.
“Not yet, Harry,” Draco whispers. Harry feels himself being pulled up and away from the water and into the air. His eyes have closed, his limbs piliant and limp.
“You’re talking,” he mumbles, too exhausted to fully form the words.
“So astute, Potter.”
Harry’s smiling. That’s the only part of his body he’s aware of; his idiotic, sluggish smile as soft wings wrap around him, and a warming charm passes over him, drying his damp skin.
“Thanks,” he says, nuzzling against the feathers. Draco shushes him in response, dragging his nails gently through his hair, coaxing him to sleep. But before Harry can fully succumb to the tempting charms of such a void, he turns his head up, his lips seeking out Draco’s once more.
One more, he thinks, pressing his mouth to Draco’s, tasting himself on his lips. Just one more.
. . .
Was I right? Did y'all enjoy?
Thanks for waiting for this update. Ciao, bebs.