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TBDH : The Snape Circle

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PART ONE : JUNE 1996

"…that bloody miserable, manipulating fool!" Severus snarled. "Bastard of a-!" The rest of the curse was muttered beneath his breath in latin, as he stalked down the corridors in the Riddle Mansion.

The Death Eater mask chafed along the side of his face, particularly along one sensitive spot near his left ear, where he'd been in a hurry with the shaving spell. He was loathe to cast any healing spells as he knew fully well that a certain, sadistic dark lord, took great satisfaction in undoing any spells reeking of healing energies, just to see his followers squirm, if the urge struck him.

The Potions Master fairly few through the corridors, his robes billowing impressively behind him as his mind worked in overdrive, a singular goal in mind. He was sure, somehow, that he could tie this all back to that meddling fool by the name of Albus Dumbledore—sodding bastard!

Severus whirled to a halt outside the boundary for the far left wall. He could see the sentries exchanging whispered words, apparently news traveled quicker than he'd liked. His heart clenched painfully tight as he recalled a certain conversation he wished he hadn't been present for.

Lucius, you bloody idiot….

His friend hadn't dragged Narcissa into the mess, but Severus strongly suspected it was because the vain witch was just as smart as she was vain. Meaning, she would have secreted herself away and begun to put together a contingency plan of sorts.

Begun, he was sure, because if it had been complete, then Draco never would have been dragged into the meeting along with potential new recruits and forced to stand in line to wait for that wretched mark. Narcissa was vain, vapid and vicious—when she had a mind to be. Draco and Lucius were her sole reasons for existing at all, if it were within her power, then she never would have allowed Draco anywhere out of her line of sight, no matter what Lucius said.

Severus knew the blond well enough to note that no matter what Lucius said and did, his wife and son were everything to him—sort of. Lucius had always been something of the self-serving kind and if giving up Draco would let him keep his own miserable life and possibly Narcissa, then he'd give up Draco. After all, he was a wizard barely into his mid-life moments and there would be time and opportunity to produce another heir and romance his temperamental wife again, if Draco was a necessary sacrifice—then that was all there was to it.

Well, for Lucius anyway.

Severus knew a few things that his stupidly brilliant friend didn't. Something that Narcissa would certainly kill him for daring to breathe a hint or hair of such things. Something that meant that if he didn't use every single one of his little grey cells—his favored and only godson would die.

Lucius would be as good as dead if Narcissa still lived to know what a cowardly way out he'd taken. Severus swallowed the bile welling in the back of his throat. No, he took it back, Lucius hadn't been that weak, but at the business end of a wand—his strength or weakness hadn't mattered a whit. His only protest in Draco's defense—albeit late and half-hearted—had earned him a bloody death.

The talking guards at the far end separated and Severus drew himself up. He still held a high enough ranking that he could take his leave as he pleased, so as long as he had a good reason for doing so. His chest clenched tight, painfully so—he did have a good reason—the kind of reason he most certainly could never tell them.

When they looked up at his approach, he weighted his words with a touch of old magic he hadn't accessed in decades. "I am searching for a runaway recruit." He made as if to pass.

One of the guard's hands snaked out and caught him by the arm. "There are orders for no one to leave the grounds during-"

Severus calmly pulled away and walked past. He heard them draw their wands and he felt the words hanging in the air, the ones that would be spoken to give life to the spell that would certainly take his. He drew in a breath and blew it out.

He stepped over the boundary.

No alarms went off.

Two bodies fell to the ground in synchronized sound.

Severus did not turn back.


The thing about old magic was how it was more than just an old friend. The Potions Master relished briefly in the feel of drawing his natural talents around him. It fit like a glove, well-worn and perfectly sized, curling around him easily with every breath he took.

It was a half-gulp of air before Severus transformed into a swirling mass of blackness, stretching out and snaking through the bleak greenery. Draco had always been quick and light on his feet and of his wit. Severus hoped that was a talent that had continued to serve him well. Narcissa probably had something to do with it, but the secret shared between them was so deep and precious, that he never spoke of it and neither did she.

He could only hope for Draco.

He had yet to see him since the boy's sixteenth birthday—to see him properly, that is.

Lucius had seen it fit to drag him off as soon as possible.

Severus hadn't been able to determine what exactly his charming godson had become. If he'd had a little more time, he would have known, but a five minute chat via floo, was not exactly helpful nor productive. He'd sent his gift ahead of time as Albus had refused to give him the day off. Draco had called to offer his thanks—right as his father had dragged him off.

It was scarcely a handful of minutes later before Severus had received the summons for the meeting. Summons that he was both glad and horrified to have answered. Glad, because then he had been present to witness the reigning Malfoy both at his best and worst—and because he'd been able to see Draco. Horrified, when he'd learned why both Malfoys were present and then when he'd realized what would happen.

With a flicker of his mind, Severus cast his senses out, as far as he could safely manage in his altered form. He drew on the winds to bring to him any snippets of sound, scent or magic and closed his eyes while disjointed images filtered through as the spell searched frantically according to the castor's orders.

A blur of white-silver-blond caught his eye and Severus felt his breath catch in his throat, along with several swiftly approaching dark shapes. The Potions Master came back to himself as the spell abruptly ended and he redirected the magical energy into propelling himself forward and faster towards the spot he had seen.

He willed himself to move like the element that was burned into his very being.

Lucius, you bloody, selfish fool…


Draco was injured, clutching his wand arm, his eyes wild and wide. He could not run and hide, it was much too late for something like that to happen now. He had run as far as he could manage, before the blood loss had begun to register.

He'd cast healing spells hastily and clumsily as he tromped through the woods, aware that he knew nothing of where he was and that appartition was out of the question unless he had a plan beyond where he wanted to pop into.

Of course, Severus was his first choice, but he could have sworn that he'd sensed his godfather's magic somewhere nearby in the Riddle Mansion. His hands shook, his wand arm hanging uselessly at his side. He'd either broken it or dislocated something, the pureblooded heir grimaced. Whichever it was, it hurt a great deal more than he'd bargained for.

But the exchange of his arm for his life was not a trade he was about to question—granted that he could think his way out of this newest mess. Severus had always taught him to use his mind in every situation, no matter how trivial or complicated—constantly reminding him that his mind was his best weapon, even before his magic and money.

Something snapped and cracked off to his right and Draco forced himself not to react straightaway. To whirl about would give away that he was aware of how close his pursuers were. He also had no desire to see their eerie, masked faces. They were killers, the lot of them, and he would not face them nor death today—he had no such desires.

Checking his magic, Draco stifled another painful grimace. His reserves were low and erratic, his inheritance had come in scarcely a week ago and it had left him drained and confused. His mother had helped as she usually did, but something else had her distracted and so he'd been forced to spend some time with his father, a pastime that had once made him jump for joy, until he'd discovered just how heartless his own father could be.

He hadn't seen concrete proof for sure, until today. He had almost thought that he was wrong, but then his father—no, Lucius—had done it. He'd sold him off as if he were not his heir, but nothing more than another worthless asset that no longer held his interest.

Draco had realized in short order exactly how wrong everything was, when his father had tried to salvage the glaring moral error pointed out to him by a certain Rowle. A thread of conversation picked up by Voldemort that ended in Draco staring as the spell was cast and unable to turn to see what his ears confirmed. He'd heard the flare of power, the wet sound of flesh tearing and blood squelching and that had been enough.

He'd ran with everything that he could. He heard the yells and shouts after him, but his mind had switched gears.

Survival.

Something snapped again, nearby and Draco willed himself to continued forward, taking up refuge behind a tree trunk large enough to shield him. It would hold up for maybe a spell or two, if fired directly at him. He pointed his wand to his arm, about to cast another healing spell and stopped himself.

A little pain was nothing new. He should conserve his energy and his magic for when he would need it—most likely in the next few seconds.

His mind whirled and stalled and for a moment, he felt hot tears burn at the corners of his eyes that perhaps all of his struggles had been for naught. His left hand shook, the tremors coming over him as he realized that he only knew one possible spell that would kill him.

Silver grey eyes blinked away the possible tears and Draco squared his shoulders, mentally slapping himself into a ready position. If it did come down to suicide, he knew it was a better option than allowing Voldemort's minions to take him back. If they didn't torture and abuse him first, they would and then they'd kill him. And he really didn't want to die.

The only two people who would possibly miss him would be his mother, the esteemed and highly dignified Lady Malfoy and his godfather, one dark, brooding and terribly misunderstood Severus Snape. Draco sighed.

One could not cast an Avada Kedavra at oneself, but he did hope that perhaps it wouldn't come to that. He wasn't looking forward to his other options.

A blur flickered to his right and Draco turned and fired off a spell with startlingly accurate precision. He twisted and threw another spell over his shoulder, before the first Death Eater's body had hit the ground. He dropped to a defensive crouch, his limp arm cradled close to his chest, nestled in the shreds of what remained of his gifted birthday robes from his mother.

He drew in a shaky breath, feeling an ache deep inside of his chest. A familiar hollow feeling he'd discovered the night he'd turned sixteen. How strange and odd it was. His mother had told him a long time ago—since he was about six years of age—of what would come and when it would happen. She'd told him that it might not happen at all, since Lucius wasn't one of them. But she'd admitted that there really wasn't any way that she could tell.

Draco didn't know how to tell her how relieved he'd felt when the changes had begun on his birthday. He'd wanted it to happen. Being a dragel sounded like fun. It meant that he would be loved and cared for, even if he wasn't a Submissive. His mother told him that there would be clues to tell him what rank he was and that he'd have to keep an eye out for them.

He'd been thrilled. It had sounded so wonderful that he hadn't expected the giant ache and loneliness that had come with it. It had caught him by surprise in the start of his summer holiday and there was not much he could do about it. He hadn't wanted to stay normal. The mask of a Malfoy hadn't fit him at all and he'd seen confirmation of that first hand when his father had first laid eyes on him the following morning.

His mother had immediately disappeared after fawning over him for a handful of minutes. She'd insisted that he eat plenty of fruit and allowed him a single glass of wine in celebration. It was the last time he would see her in the capacity as his mother, she'd sent him a message via her patronus a few hours earlier in the day—something in her voice had been off and she sounded scared, even though it appeared that she was trying not to let it show.

It had made his heart hurt.

And he hadn't known what to do about it.

She had once told him that if he ever needed help in any way, shape or form at all, that he was to go directly to Severus. She'd told him there was a reason she'd agreed with Lucius' decision to make the honestly dangerous man his godfather. She'd warned him to be careful as he grew, to be aware that there would be many things he may never know of the man.

Things that one day might make sense.

Draco turned the mental puzzle over in his mind, preparing himself for another attack. He was not holding up as well as he had hoped. Pain continued to radiate through him and for one moment, he felt his resolve tremble, before he drew himself up again.

He needed to do this—he had to. He did not want to die.

Not today.

Chapter Text

Severus took form again by brushing up against a tall tree and latching on with claws and magic. His round dark eyes flickered out to dark, cat-eyed pupils. He tracked the wizards tracking Draco with expert accuracy and ill-temper.

The moment his natural instincts homed in on Draco and then the vibes filtering out from the blond, the Potions Master knew that he would have to be careful—so very careful. So he began.

With a graceful leap from the slender tree branches downward to the ground, Severus cast the killing curse without a second thought. He strode forward in a blur, snapping the neck of the next Death Eater and viciously stabbing the third, before spelling the life out of him.

Feral beauty and grace surrounded the man in black as he struck again and again, rendering over a dozen lower-ranked Death Eaters very dead and 'death-eaten'. There was no remorse or regret. Especially when he heard Draco's pained shout and he shot forward, a few seconds too late to prevent further injury, but early enough to deal a deathly blow.

"…Sev'rus?" Draco licked bloodied lips and glassy grey eyes focused on him with that blond head lolling to the side.

"Draco!" Severus dropped to a crouch beside him, already forcing his dragel instincts backward and reaching for the clutch of highly expensive and effective potions he always kept on his person. He cradled the slender upper body in one bony arm and bit off the waxed cork from the potion vial, wedging the glass lip at the edge of Draco's mouth. "Drink it. Swallow." He coaxed, keeping his thumb in just the right place to keep the blond's mouth open as he emptied the potion's contents down Draco's mouth.

Long, elegant fingers gently stroked and massaged the pale column of throat, urging Draco to swallow the liquid that would heal him. Severus bristled, turning at the sound of more feet approaching. He really did not have the time to spare for dueling. Draco needed more than an emergency potion and the cold forest floor.

"Well, well, look here. It's little ol' Snapey!" a whiny Death Eater cackled. "Saving this one? Want 'im for your own?"

Severus saw red or rather, more aptly put, black.


"…you want me to take it where?" Terius nearly shouted. As it was, his hands clenched at his sides, a sure sign that his day had gone from bad to worse and his temper was bristling close to the surface. "Can't you take it to Shawna and have her-"

The conversation was cut short and a rather disgruntled Councilman Terius found himself standing outside of the law firm, a briefcase of neatly printed parchment in hand. He looked from the weather-beaten case to his immaculate shoes and resisted the urge to sigh.

Today was simply one of those terribly boring and horribly out of sync days. He'd been having them more regularly than usual. It was something of a mental itch that served to irritate him further as he turned on his heel and strode down the Nevarean sidewalk.

He would have to find a public transportation hub, as it seemed even his own assistant was conspiring against him. He did not have many issues, save for, well, he never did relish stepping into the wizarding world, no matter what the issue was. It was always too strict, too bleak and too bloody frustrating!

Terius slipped into the growing queue, gathering up his energies for the portal. He would have to pick someplace unobtrusive and sufficiently out of the way of wizarding civilization. From there, he could 'port to his usual place and begin preparing for the wizengamot case arguing against changing the rules for magical creatures and their social interactions among the wizarding world at large.

The line inched forward and Terius checked his watch. He would be delayed by at least an hour to be sure the new injunction was accepted, properly filed and would be available should his firm require it. There were downsides to being a lawyer and a councilman, downsides he had studiously ignored until he had successfully achieved both titles. Now it seemed that they sought to antagonize him in alternate turns. With a sigh, Terius shuffled forward, straightening out his shirt cuffs and toying with the shiny cuff links he'd chosen for luck this morning.

Luck that seemed to be swiftly running out.

The dragel before him stepped into the small, rectangular room and the white light flashed as his portal was activated.

Terius drew up his energy around him and tugged on a pale strand of his elemental gift—air. It swirled faintly around him and when it was his turn, he stepped into the glowing white room. It was more of a cubicle than anything, yet, still big enough for him to tuck the briefcase under one arm and cast out the other, level with his shoulder. "Temptrificus Orus!"

A tremendous burst of air whipped through the white room and in a burst of whitness, Terius' form distorted, bursting into a million fathomless particles before disappearing altogether.


Terius' body reformed via 'portal of Orus several minutes later and he stood, somewhat unsteadily on his own two feet, cursing the portal, the errand and the star he was born under. He could have added a few other things, but decided it took too much effort.

It really was one of those days.

He didn't move for another handful of minutes, unsure as to whether his feet would work properly in terms of carrying him forward. Thankfully, they did. He stomped his feet a few times to work some feeling back into them.

'porting when he was upset always left him somewhat unsettled and very much off-kilter. It was one reason he'd opted to 'port into a place with zero populace and recognizable landmarks. Terius checked the briefcase a moment later, somewhat belatedly. Everything was intact and he was glad for that small mercy.

Starting forward, he began to count to fifty paces, the acceptable distance between an arriving 'portation stamp carved into the ground—the exact spot where he'd landed—and then the site of a new one. There were a hundred and one nuances to 'porting directly from the signature of where one had landed in the first place, but he was not about to deal with that just yet.

It was simply easier to count his steps and 'port again from the new place.

A grimace registered on his face as Terius caught sight of the smattering of scales decorating the sides and back of his hands. He huffed a sigh, feeling upwards along his face and neck. He was more agitated than he'd thought, if his dragel attributes were fighting to be visible in his human-wizard form. He closed his eyes and concentrated on breathing in and out and in and out and in and out and—something crashed off to the left.

Sea-blue-grey eyes popped open in surprise and his head whipped to the side. Spell damage. His brain translated and explained, when Terius found himself staring at singed leaves and a large gash in the earthen ground.

Oh by Arielle's virgin-! The words spluttered out in his mind as reflex had Terius diving to the side as another spell sheared off just a hair's breadth from where he'd been standing. He lay on the ground, twitching for a moment, vaguely annoyed and somewhat gratified to know that yes, indeed, his day was proceeding to turn out quite horribly.

It took him a half-second to pull one of his Halfling dragel forms to the front and he drew on the instinct to know how to react. Instinctively he settled into a crouch and cast a charm over the briefcase, allowing him to stash it away in one of his personal 'spaces' for later retrieval. He then loosened the fastenings on the front of his embroidered macfarlane. He would likely need to move freely in the following minutes.

Sure enough, more spell fire came his way. Terius took refuge behind a tree and tuned in an ear with the help of his gift, to see if he could determine who was fighting whom and for what purpose. It didn't particularly help, but he could make out two distinct magical signatures similar to his own.

One with powerful magic and the other with a fading lifeforce. Both were younger than his own century and a half.

Terius scowled. He really did not have the time to waste to spend saving children. With a huff, he moved out from behind the tree and brushed off flecks of dirt and forest debris from the shoulder cape. He would simply have to retrace his steps and start counting in the opposite direction.

He was almost to the original 'portal stamp when another stray spell shot through the air and cut the smallest of slits in the edge of the shoulder cape of his macfarlane. The distinguished dragel pinched the bridge of his nose willing himself to let it slide this once. Surely, whoever had cast the spell did not know of him or about him and to unleash his simmering rage upon them would surely be a display to be frowned upon.

Well, at least until he heard the cry.

Weak, soft and so very low, if his element were not air, Terius could have sworn that he had imagined it. Except for the air element never lied. It was the very life-giving essence of breath and he had heard that. A heartcry, the softest, pleading, broken call of a dragel Submissive that he had ever heard.

And it burned.

Unmated as he was, that was a call he could not refuse in the least. Terius did not even bother to try withholding his temper.

In a spectacular whirl of official robes, elegant cords of office and pure rage, the esteemed councilman lashed out with a vicious spell of razor-sharp wind.

"Razecor Insomnius!" The incantation left his lips with a low snarl as Terius blurred forward, his dragel-self only seeking retribution for an unintended slight.

He burst into a fight between several wizards in long, black cloaks, flinging various dark curses at each other in quick succession. The scent of blood hung thick and heavy in the air and Terius attributed it to the fading signature he'd sensed, a young man laid out on the ground, pale, shivering and glassy-eyed. His dragel was newborn and fresh—barely a week, perhaps—and it was suffering, using the last of its energy to call for help and comfort.

Terius' earlier irritation surfaced as he snapped his attention to the wizard's duel continuing in before him. A few of the dark, oddly-masked wizards had thrown a few spells in his direction immediately upon his arrival, but he'd waved them aside with one hand. Now, he could see that one of the wizards in black seemed to be defending the fallen youngling and that was good enough for the moment.

He drew in a single sharp breath and put two fingers to his lips, then blew it out, with the incantation muttered beneath his breath. The reaction was instantaneous. With a sudden scrabbling at their faces and throats, the black-cloaked figures dropped to the ground.

A scowl still on his face, Terius turned to see a long, dark wand pointed ominously at him. He blinked, once and then his eyes narrowed. "Oh do put that away before you hurt someone." He snapped, testily. "I could have left you to deal with it on your own as I do have other places to be and things to be doing." He straightened his cuffs and cast another glance towards the fallen youngling.

He could feel the faintest of tugs towards the young man and it both thrilled and frightened him. He had begun to wonder if perhaps he would never take an interest in a circle at all, when his first century had come upon him. But now, he could feel the first stirrings of interest and instinct towards the injured Submissive.

A wordless snarl came from the lips of the other still standing wizard and Terius found himself moving backwards when the wand was jabbed forcefully into his neck. For a moment, he contemplated breaking it and then decided that he had no particular urge to be so cruel at such an early hour in the day.

"If I had wanted either of you dead," he snapped. "Believe me, you would not be standing. If that is yours, then kindly go tend to it!"

The wand jabbed harder.

Terius felt the change beginning, scales creeping up and over his body, the pale skin melting away to show red and grey scales that covered his body. He bared his teeth, fangs curling over the edges of his lips. He took a careful breath, searching out the scent and seeking the rank of this wizard.

Ah, the other dragel signature he'd noticed. Eyebrows danced upwards when another, sharper scent caught his attention.

"Alpha?" The title dropped from his lips in puzzlement.

To Terius' surprise, the wand retreated. Dark eyes surveyed him from behind the ridiculous mask and then a soft, silken voice came from the wizard. "What are you?"

Terius stared for a moment. That was a lovely voice that did not suit the vision before him. He held out his hands, peaceably. "Dragel, as yourself." He said, simply. "Pareya, if that is what you ask." He frowned. "You are—muted. I do not understand." His brow furrowed and he took a half-step to the side when the injured youngling whimpered and cried again.

"Stay!" The dark wizard growled, meaningfully. "I do not have the time for this!" The words were spat out in a near hiss and he stalked over to the prone figure.

Terius tugged lightly on his gift to hear their words, miffed when a privacy bubble was charmed over them. He scowled and turned away, unsure as to why he was actually staying and not particularly inclined to leave at present.

Chapter Text

Of all the things in the world that one Severus Snape had ever expected to encounter in his lifetime, it was most certainly not the fact that his godson was a dragel Submissive, nor that said godson would release a heartcry in his vicinity and that it would also draw in an honest-to-goodnes pureblooded dragel—and a protective Pareya on top of it.

The Potions Master was torn between wanting to shake some sense into said empty-headed godson and the rest was torn between the fact that of everything and everyone, Draco had called out while he was nearby.

Surely the young man could not have known that Severus was a dragel Alpha—a very well hidden one, mind you, as he had constantly slaved in his lab over the years to produce potions and results that would keep his creature nature well-hidden and carefully masked.

Apparently he hadn't managed it well enough, because the newcomer—the Pareya—had sniffed him out at once. Severus scowled. That was not how he'd ever envisioned his first encounter with a natural-born dragel to proceed, but then again, his life had always been a wretched mess at fate's hands. He snuck a glance over one shoulder as he cradled Draco close to him, uncorking another vial of healing potion to pour down the lad's throat.

The newcomer was someone of importance and wealth, if his rich, lavish clothing was anything to reason by. He held himself with a practiced air and Severus was still deciphering what spell the man had cast to defeat their attackers so single-handedly. It something to do with sleep and air, as far as he could make out with his muted instincts, Severus knew that man shared the same elemental gift as he did—air.

What a lucky coincidence. He thought, darkly. "Draco…Draco! Do not fall asleep on me, brat." He growled, worry tearing at the corners of his consciousness. He could not lose this boy, not just because Narcissa would eat him alive, should she actually still be living, but because the pale, golden-haired child had been the only sliver of light in his dark life.

Surely his darkness was not so tainted that it had to swallow up Draco as well. Severus fussed over the weak wizard for a few more minutes, checking as the pulse seemed to strengthen very, very faintly and watching as a pale sheen of sweat came over those pale features. He had once grimly prepared himself for the probability of something like this coming to pass, but he had hoped against everything that it never would have.

A movement out of the corner of his eye drew his attention and Severus involuntarily clutched Draco to his chest as the Pareya drew closer, restlessness evident in his movements, but a hint of worry etched on his face. The Pareya would be fighting his own instincts as well, both to stay back—seeing as Severus was identified as an Alpha—and then to draw near, seeing as he'd most likely heard Draco's heartcry as well.

Severus tried and failed to place the dragel's age, before scowling and belatedly realizing that with that wretched mask on, the idiot could not see his face. He rather wished it was off so that his scowl would keep the stranger at bay. He really did not want to read anything into the reality that was before them. He'd worked very hard for quite some time to keep his creature nature hidden and perfectly under control, and yet, this stranger had seen through it in a heartbeat.

The Potions Master mentally rolled his eyes and turned back to Draco when the young man moved with a soft whimper. Draco was not supposed to be moving, at least if he had a shred of sense in his near-empty head. Severus frowned, casting another spell to check the necessary vitals. He'd need to move Draco as soon as it was physically possible. He needed dark, quiet and time to whip up the potions to restore his godson to the shining specimen that the Malfoys claimed as their own.

"Stay back!" He warned the newcomer.

The Pareya snorted. "I mean him and you no harm." The word was stressed. "Believe me, if I had wanted to…" The words trailed off and the blue-grey eyes darted back to the fallen Death Eaters. "How is he? Not worsening, I hope"

Severus opened his mouth to speak when Draco feebly licked his split lip and repeated the sound that shook him to the core.

A soft, quiet, heartcry.

His heart clenched tightly in his chest and Severus was profoundly grateful for the potions he'd stuffed himself with the past week. It was the thinnest of threads connecting him to his sanity and his creature side. It helped him to hold his control and not succumb to the instinctive urge to silence the heart-wrenching cry and stake his claim on the unmarked Submissive.

He could not.

He would not.

He absolutely should not.

Draco was his godson, almost like a son he'd never had, like an apprentice of sorts. Yes, an apprentice. Definitely not a Submissive and definitely not Submissive material as far as Severus was concerned. He'd taught Draco everything that he could, of potions and magic—whatever he was able to, when Lucius and Narcissa had allowed them to spend time together.

At first, he'd never known what to do with a child so pure and innocent, worried that his own darkness would find a way into that light and ruin it, taint it and destroy it, as his touch so often seemed to do. But somehow, Draco had made it.

Until now.

Severus felt himself tremble, aware that the potion aided him in fighting back his own instincts that swam dangerously close to the surface. He could not stake a claim on Draco, not on someone that absolutely would not be able to withstand his horrible temper, atrocious habits and ridiculously dangerous life—even if he'd fleetingly considered Draco—and he never had—it could not happen. They were the very worst of matches. His tortured thoughts were interrupted by an shocked statement.

"You cannot be serious." The Pareya's voice came from his life and it sounded unbelievably incredulous. "He isn't yours? My word…do you mean to tell me that he isn't yours?"

There were a few muttered curses in the tongue of the Dragel, a language that Severus hadn't heard in some time. He felt his eyes ache, burn and change as his halfing form warred within and his dragel-cat-eyes remained. Draco was his—in every sense of the word, save for the intended dragel meaning of being his Submissive mate. He would never do that. He couldn't. Not to Draco, anyway. Surely the boy would find it to be repulsive and demeaning to be tied to a wretch of a wizard as he was himself. If Draco knew that he could search and find far more suitable dragel mates than a temperamental Potions Master torn between two masters of a pointless war, surely he'd take that chance. Draco certainly deserved better.

A chill swept through the air and Severus felt the hairs along the back of his neck begin to stand on end, prickling with unease. Something was wrong enough for him to notice it over and in spite of everything else. He shifted and then yanked the Death Eater mask off, irritated at the way it obstructed his usually sharp vision. He needed to be every inch of himself that he once had been in order to guarantee Draco's safety. They would both emerge from this experience as unscathed as he could possibly manage—absolutely.

"Arielle's heart." The Pareya muttered beneath his breath, the blue-grey eyes darting to Severus and then back. "I would ask who you are to have wagered that, but quite frankly, I am not entirely sure that I wish to know." The blue-grey eyes flickered back, a faint gleam of appreciation in them as he took in the determination and new resolve pouring off of the dark wizard.

Severus followed the line of sight to see something that made his blood run cold and empty. Black, wispy, feathery shadows, and fiercely glowing red eyes that screamed of one thing he was entirely unprepared to handle right then. He swallowed hard and rose to his feet, careful to put the tree at his back as he took in the approaching evil.

Vampires.

Bloody wretched creatures of-!

The thought was abruptly cut off as Severus strengthened his Occulumency shields and subtly checked Draco's own as well. So Voldemort had brokered a deal with them after all. He hadn't been able to verify it for Dumbledore, but he'd had his suspicions and while the light side hadn't wanted to think anything of vampires and dark creatures being useful beings with intelligent minds, Severus knew better. He'd known. If there was any truth to a powerful and wise creature of the dark, it was surely the vampires and they were so shunned and scorned by the wizarding world, that he knew they would take whatever Voldemort offered them, so as long as it was worthwhile.

And if Voldemort allowed them to take their fill of violence, blood and torture—then they would gladly storm whatever castles and walls behind him. There were certainly too many circling around them and now that he was aware, he could sense them. His inner creature screamed inside, clawing to be released. It did not like the way the odds were stacked.

The Potions Master braced himself, searching for his wizarding magic beneath the roiling emotions and energy churning about inside of him. He'd depended too much on his dragel side just now, out of sheer desperation for Draco and it had weakened his walls holding his creature at bay. He could not afford a lapse like that now. It would be far too costly and he would be entirely unable to keep control of the situation should that come about.

"Friends of yours?" The Pareya rolled his neck to the side and then set his shoulders back, an unconcerned air settling around him. "I must protest if they are—and as you have yet to offer me a suitable answer for the Submissive in your arms, I feel obligated to remain. Please do not think anything of it." The smile was bland and entirely too judgmental to be anything other than the veiled accusation that it was.

Severus swallowed back the curse on the tip of his tongue. He could read between the lines there. The man was calmly stating that he'd felt a pull from Draco's heartcry as well and intended to pursue it unless there were some specific reason declaring his intentions to be unnecessary otherwise. The dark wizard bristled for a moment, indignant, before he realized that he had no grounds to do so. Draco was more than old enough to make such a decision on his own, in the matter of mates and just a moment ago, he'd bemoaned the fact that there were no dragels about for said godson.

The mental gymnastics brought a spectacular scowl to his face and Severus shifted the armful of Draco very carefully.

"Sev'rus…?" The voice was weak and whispered. Draco's head lolled to the side. "…can…stand." He managed to mumble.

Severus hesitated. That would be good, it would free up one hand at least, for the moment and perhaps it would be best, but he could feel the slender thrum of life and magic sparking madly inside of Draco and it pained him to a degree he hadn't thought possible at all. He did not want any sort of harm to come to this young man. But he would not insult him either by asking whether he could or not. Instead, he merely shifted, one arm holding tight around Draco's shoulders and upper body, allowing his legs to swing downwards to the ground.

Draco's arms wound about his waist and he nestled his face into Severus' dark robes, with the softest of pained gasps as he manipulated the sore arm—properly set with Severus' help—into a position where he could safely grasp it from behind and ensure they would not be separated from their positions.

Chapter Text

RECAP: Terius's arrival serves to confuse and irritate Severus as he does his best to quickly heal and help Draco as best as he can. They are interrupted when Vampires with pledged allegiance to Voldemort begin to surround them.


Severus did not have a chance to complain or negotiate.

Terius did both of them for him. The Pareya smoothly stepped in front and manipulated the conversation as if that's the way he'd meant for it to go all along.

"Begging your pardon, but you are not needed at the moment, if you would kindly move along." He informed the vampires, briskly, as if he were doing nothing more than speaking about the weather and as if there was absolutely nothing to be concerned about.

The vampires had begun to fan out in a hunting circle, a movement used to intimidate and herd their prey and now, it was brought to something of a screeching halt, when Terius spoke and directed his words at the tallest red-eyed dark creature at the head of the march.

"…and why pray tell, should we?" The words were breathed as a hiss.

Terius yawned as if in answer, but as he did so, stretched his jaw called his fangs to the front. They surged upwards from his gums at once, sharp, pointed and gleaming in the cool air. He closed his mouth with an audible click and folded his hands before him in something of a salutation. The moment he did so, his hands bent and curled forward, taking on the characteristic claws expected of an adult dragel.

The smile the Pareya offered was wide, bland and fanged. A smattering of pale grey-blue scales flickered along the sides of his face, but they did not settle toward one form or another. The stormy blue-grey eyes grew steely with resolve. "Need I explain myself, vampire?" He inquired, frostily. "Or have your enhanced senses failed you?"

The leading vampire bristled almost at once. "I can see more than you would like, perhaps." He growled. "What is one of your kind doing here?"

"I could ask the same of you and it would still be none of your business no matter what answer you gave me." Terius returned, smoothly. "Try again."

"Those two you are protecting, we have rights to them."

"You have rights to nothing. They have done nothing wrong."

"They have betrayed those who have been merciful to them."

"Merciful?" Severus' words came out as a barely controlled snarl. His magic surged and flared wildly about him, for a moment, as his iron control faltered, then reasserted itself. He could do this. Surely he could do this. It would only be a matter of persuasion and negotiation. He was familiar with both. He'd employed that and more in the years he'd been spy to two masters. What was one more instance? "I am owed nothing and I ask nothing." He forced the words through clenched teeth, understanding the ancient law he was now referring to.

The Vampires worked by their own code of honors and ethics, never mind how dark and twisted they might be. Voldemort had promised them something, but Severus was sure that above that contract, the dark creatures would in turn, revert back to their natural customs, given the opportunity.

As it was, the lead vampire looked up sharply, blood-red eyes piercing into onyx depths. "You claim such old traditions, wizard?" It hissed. "You know not that which you speak."

"Perhaps he does not, perhaps he does." Terius's gaze flickered back to the black-clad wizard and then to the restless line of vampires. "Will you hear it?"

The vampire head was quiet for a moment. Then a wicked smirk painted itself across his face, the smug features carrying a vaguely sadistic inclination. "But of course, if you will answer me this."

Terius frowned. Instinct told him that the question would be vital.

Severus clutched Draco tighter to him and kept his wand half-raised at his side, ready to cast at a second's notice. Something in the back of his head warned him that this question was important. He couldn't think of a reason why, but knew that they had to answer, especially if the possibility of a peaceful retreat was still an option. He glowered at the band of red-eyed bastards. "And what question would that be?" His voice dripped venom and disdain, punctuated with one of his standard glares.

"Simple, very simple, oh wizard." The vampire head bobbed in answer, still smirking. "I understand that this one," he nodded towards Terius. "Is Dragel, but that does not answer for you two." He now nodded towards Draco, eyes trained on Severus. "In fact, I am almost certain that I scent an unclaimed Submissive." The red eyes gleamed. "Is this true? How very fortunate."

For one agonizing half-second, Severus felt his heart nearly freeze. No… The implications behind those words were too horrible to comprehend. He could not answer that. They would know if he lied, there were too many of them, even if he could have bluffed his way around a handful, there were twenty and more still gathering.

This was very bad.

He could not subject Draco to this. The insinuation of an unclaimed Submissive meant that as an unclaimed Creature of a non-dominant nature, any dominant creature could attempt to claim or court it. At least by law of all Magical Creatures.

Dragels were known for accepting other creature-kinds into their Bonded circles, but this was ridiculous. Vampires for Draco's first? Even if he had no prejudice against them, he most certainly did now. How dare they presume such things about the injured blond clutching at his robes to keep upright.

Severus took a deep breath and straightened. He mentally prayed that Draco would forgive him for this. Perhaps it was necessary, perhaps it was just selfish. But he would not let his godson die here. Not here, not now and not at the hands of arrogant bloodsucking leeches!

"He is claimed." Severus tightened his grip on Draco's trembling shoulder. He knew his godson was liking suffering from bloodloss, fatigue and his Submissive instincts likely throwing him off.

"By you? Your hesitation leads me to wonder." The vampire purred. "Can you show proof of your claim?"

Severus bristled. "Proof? What kind of depraved monster are you?" The insult tumbled out as he felt his Alpha-dragel nature surging to the forefront, thrilled at the thought of finally claiming a dragel Submissive for its own.

A series of hisses, growls and snarls sounded out from the woods and Severus realized, belatedly, that they were completely surrounded. The situation seemed to be deteriorating by the second. He swallowed.

"It is a perfectly harmless question. No matter where you've placed the mark, I'm sure you have one of your own in plain sight, if you do not wish to show off your Submissive." The vampire leered. "Unless of course, there is no…truth to your tale."

And Severus' heart fell. There was no way he could fake a dragel's claiming tattoo. Even claiming marks were hard to conjure in some rare situations, but a full, true claiming tattoo? That was absolutely out of the question.

They were most certainly doomed.

"Well?" The vampire leader seemed to be laughing with his grim eyes. "Surely it is not that difficult to produce some evidence that the Submissive is yours? If he is, then we shall leave our quarrel for another day."

Before Severus could answer or even begin to formulate an answer, Terius spoke up.

His voice was low and furious, his blue-grey eyes swirling with visible emotion. "I do not appreciate being ignored, master vampire." The respectful title was all but spat. "And I do not appreciate your interrupting my courting!" The sheer vehemence in his voice immediately arrested the attention of everyone present.

Severus blinked. Years of practice and training as a spy helped him to keep his reaction muted and inward. He forced himself to keep regular breaths and not a single shift in his facial muscles. He did not dare breathe. This was an unexpected development of a very useful kind.

"Your…courting?" The vampire eyed him with something akin to aversion. "You…lay claim to those two?"

Terius merely lifted his chin, a glower settling on his features. "I do." He said, stiffly. "And I was barely beginning to explain myself before you and your kind appeared to disrupt our moment of privacy."

"Privacy?" The vampire head snorted. "You call this," he gestured to the woods. "A moment of privacy? May the darkness swallow us whole for spreading such lies." The red eyes burned bright. He took a deep, pointed breath. "I scent nothing of-"

The sound of ripping, tearing, fabric filled the air as Terius's magnificent wings burst free from their confines. Shredded bits of shirt and robe flew through the air as the broad wingspan unfurled to a very respectable height and breadth.

A sudden rush of a faint, musky odor dispersed into the air as Terius's lip curled, fangs peeking over the edge, in a half-snarl. "You were saying?" his voice was guttural. "Please, do carry on."

Severus half-staggered back a step, hindered by Draco's grasp on his waist. It nearly threw him off balance, but he tried not to breathe, even as he felt the last strands of his Alpha nature clawing inside of him.

It was likely too late already.

A strong, proud and fairly good-looking Pareya had all but just physically propositioned him. His inner Alpha was already preening, whispering useless drivel of what magnificent wings the strange dragel had and what powerful magic was present in addition to that lovely, inviting scent.

Severus focused with all his will to cast a silent, small wind charm in hopes of clearing the air. It was a basic charm that parents sometimes used to help their children fly kites, to blow out a dusty basement in the absence of house elves and to occasionally stir stagnant air.

He was one moment too late, as Draco suddenly stiffened beside him and opened his mouth in a very obvious, very audible, heartcry.

Severus swore.

Chapter Text


Terius merely chirred in answer. A soft, clicking rumble of a sound, as he rolled his shoulders back and his wings shifted, curving forward with the action. It was a deliberate movement on his part as he reached into the magic hovering inside of him.

There were only a handful of ways that this encounter could end without causing significant headache and heartache to himself and the two dragels behind him. He was somewhat resolved into it not causing any sort of ache at all, but realized the futility in trying to make it so. He would simply have to rely on instinct and cunning gained from his rank of Pareya and his noble title of Councilman.

He could play one of the cards, closely kept to his chest, or he could spin another tale that might buy him enough time to think of a better way to trick the vampires.

Or, he could simply entice the Alpha to break his fragile trance and claim both him and the weakened submissive.

An enraged Alpha had nothing on mere vampires, at least, not vampires with barely a few decades between them, much less a century. The old vampires, the Elders, as they were known, were wise, vain and powerful creatures, with centuries of existence behind them and an appetite for lust, power and blood that made the turned vampires before him, look like a necromancer's apprentice experiment gone wrong somewhere.

Terius sifted through his thoughts with quickness and darkness, drawing heavier on his Pareyic nature and deeper on his experience in bargaining with vampires. He would prefer to refrain from sullying himself with the stench of such unworthy, low-ranking bloodsuckers, but he supposed he could stomach it, this once, for the sake of the heartcry that he'd heard behind him.

He would have to answer that.

There was no way he could not.

Something had stirred inside of him, the moment he'd heard it and he had a feeling that perhaps they were destined for each other, at least, for the present moment. He would have to stake his claim, preferably after the Alpha had done so.

Terius twitched, faintly. Unable to keep that from showing through, he shuffled backwards a step, realizing that he would have to place a claim on both the agitated Alpha and wounded Submissive—beneath the bloodsuckers hungry eyes.

He did not appreciate that at all. A claiming between dragels was meant to be private, personal and intimate in ways that had very little to do with a physical coupling and very much to do with souls, hearts and love over lust.

The Pareya swallowed, feeling his magic finally answering him, as if it had only just figured out how to work within the confines of this new earthen realm. He'd never expected his first encounter with such things to happen in a forest out in the midst of nowhere, because of a transportation portal gone wrong.

"If you mean to claim them, then why do you hesitate?" The vampire leader hissed, blood-red eyes darkening even more, a hint that bloodlust was beginning to tear at rational thought. They could respect this, somewhat, if it was true, otherwise—well, there was nothing wrong with taking and claiming some things of their own.

Terius fluttered his wings, faintly and took another shuffling step backwards. He could practically feel the Alpha's inner turmoil as an unseen battle raged inside. "Hold him," he murmured, softly, speaking out of the corner of his mouth. "And do not let him go, lest this transportation fail." He would have to show proof of their claims-his claims at least-and then he would have to 'port them out of here in a hurry.

The Alpha's angry musings flickered to neutral and then to a hint of confusion when Terius finally turned to meet those dark eyes set in such a proud face. "This will be difficult," He continued, quietly. "I will trust you to take him to safety."

The dark man's brow furrowed into two deep rows just as Terius smiled in apology. "I feel that I should apologize in advance," he said, calmly. "For it pains me to think that you would see naught but trickery in this…and you would be right."


Severus understood a split-second before the mysterious new dragel held up lengthened claws and drew them downward in a deliberate slash across his neck. There were a thousand and one things he wished he could answer to that, but he was entirely speechless when the rich, thick scent of dragel blood touched his nose. The forest fell silent.

A muted groan slipped through his lips and seemed to rattle in his bones as he felt the last tendrils of control snap, releasing his dragel-Alpha. He could only feel his thoughts sharpening to surprising clarity and control as he read the situation in dragel terms.

Wounded, willing, but young Submissive in his arms, proud, willing, but anguished Pareya standing in front of him.

Hm.

Severus prided himself on the reality that he had always been a Slytherin to the core, even when he'd learned of his other heritage and such. He'd preened at the thought that Slytherins were better than any others that walked the halls of Hogwarts and beyond.

He had, because Slytherins were everything good that he wanted to be. Smart as a whip, dark as the night and swifter than death by revenge with a silver, honeyed tongue that was just as much a weapon as their own twisted brand of magic.

Above all, they were jealous, possessive bastards with cold, calculating minds, some things that were sometimes called character flaws of which Severus knew he'd had in abundance.

So when he realized what was being offered to him, it only took the other half of that split-second to react. He'd managed a lifetime of quick thinking in the space of a heartbeat. Suddenly, the man's instructions to hold Draco close, made sense.

He could already see how this would end and while he did not like it, it did not mean that he had to fight it. This would be a good test to see if the touchy Pareya was all that it claimed to be, for he could smell no battle on it nor see any visible proof of wagers won. While Pareyas did not parade their battle scars, he knew what to look for as proof that one was well-seasoned.

This one bore nothing whatsoever and he would like to know why, perhaps, because it spoke as if it had such experience.

His jaws ached as his fangs fully lengthened and without ceremony, Severus lunged forward and buried his face in the sticky, bloody wound on that pale neck. He was careful to hold Draco to him with one hand, to sandwich him protectively between them. He relished the scent and taste of fresh blood that could only come from a dragel source.

It had been years since he'd had such a taste.

He drank deeply and greedily, cutting off the Pareya's instinctual whine with a low growl. He made a rumbling sound in his chest, feeling those slender fingers knotting in the fabric of his robe, two hands resting on his chest, boxing in Draco and clutching him for support.

Severus poured his intent and magic into the bite, turning it from a mere feeding into an Alpha's claim upon a worthy Bonded. He had sampled enough to know all that he needed to. When there was no way to examine magic, blood spoke.

This man, had said much, in the space of several stomach-filling pulls of life-giving blood.

Draco whimpered between them and Severus withdrew, licking his lips and laving over the slowly healing cut to urge it to heal faster. He then turned his attention to the pained blond and gave a few short, kitten licks to the dirt-smeared face.

A soft, mewling sound from Draco was Severus's gift for his attentions and he hummed, pleased, now pushing back enough to brace Draco against his newly claimed Pareya. It was only a temporary claiming mark, a true claim could not be made until they were of agreement and a matter of dominance settled between them, but for now, it would do.

Severus pressed hasty, open-mouthed kisses along the cool column of Draco's neck before he licked once, twice and bit down harshly.

Draco's keening cry was swallowed by the kiss of his Pareya, when the newly claimed dragel took his own chance to place his own mark upon their shared Submissive. While Severus had proudly taken the neck, the Pareya had quieted Draco with a few consoling kisses, then bit delicately into an exposed bicep, courtesy of a torn robe sleeve.

When he'd made his mark how he'd liked it, Severus withdrew, licking his lips and laving over the mark to urge it to heal as he done before. Then, he took his own turn at kissing those parted, slightly swollen lips and willing his magic to heal, help and share warmth with the chilled body pressed against him.

A contented sound, that might have been a purr, slipped from Draco's lips as his head lolled backwards to rest on their Pareya's chest. He hadn't initiated anything, but Severus understood it for what it was worth.

This was the first step. He would not take things any further until they were all clear-headed and coherent.

The Pareya whined and Severus reared back, his dark eyes flashing, the air whipping about them for a moment as he processed the request. The Pareya appeared to be quiet serious about the initial claim, asking to place his own claim mark.

Severus scowled, darkly, ignoring the nervous shuffling of the vampires and taking in the Pareya's lowered gaze and protective hold on Draco. He reached forward and felt his shoulders ache and burn with a sensation he hadn't felt in years.

He grimaced as his wings burst from his back in a flurry of fabric, magic and a hiss of pain. They were broad and heavy, just as he remembered them to be and they had come out to ensure that he was the most powerful being present in the forest circle. This was important, it always was whenever Bonding was to be, but this time, this time, Severus did not push away the instinctive urge to preen.

Stretching his neck to show the unmarked skin and rolling his shoulders to show off those impressive wings, Severus gave a haughty glare to the bright red eyes of their vampire audience. He would allow no one to witness what he would grant this Pareya.

His wings curved forward, impressive and dark, temporarily shielding them all from view as he traced a shape on his newly bared torso. Here, he prompted, mentally.

A ripple of surprise washed over him, but Severus ignored it, realizing it was a reaction from the newly initiated mental link between them. If you must, then here.

The Pareya hesitated, then inclined its head in a gesture of respect and controlled submissive. I must and I request.

The age-old phrases seemed awkward and clumsy, but Severus remained still and unmoving as he felt a tentative lap along his collarbone, then the sharp, piercing pain of fangs notching in his skin. He felt the draw and pull of his blood being taken and understood what it meant.

A moment later, he growled, to halt any more than three mouthfuls of his own blood.

The Pareya whined, then withdrew, mouth bloody and fangs gleaming in the speckled light of the forest.

Pure lust shot through him and Severus growled, reaching out to grab that head of dark brown hair and yank it closer for a ravishing, dominating kiss. He felt the Pareya's hands scrabble lightly at his chest, then still, closing carefully around Draco once more.

He rumbled reassuringly in his chest and then stiffened, feeling the vampires drawing closer. He jerked, instinctively to the side, his wings parting to show their audience once more, now that the privacy was no longer needed. He snatched Draco back to him, on principle. Pareya or not, Submissive or not, there were some things that instinct could not quite override.

The Pareya blinked, dazed and content, almost, before blue-grey eyes turned completely grey. A feral hiss escaped his lips as he took in the new positions of their fanged would-be attackers.

"Stay back!" He warned, half-hiss, half-voice. "Or I shall not be held responsible."

Ripples of dissention moved through their ranks and the vampire leader wrinkled his nose, a pale imitation of human snobbery, before his head tipped forward—the final signal.

Severus screeched in fury, recognizing the signal for what it was just as his new Pareya twisted fully to stand to protectively in front of him and Draco. He hissed his displeasure—he was Alpha, he would not stand behind his Pareya like a frightened-!

The Pareya turned enough to give him a truly surprising roar of disapproval.

Severus made a disgruntled noise in answer, too surprised to reply immediately. This Pareya had dared tell him to stand down.

He saw why, a second later.

Eyes… Severus heard the Pareya's voice in his head, a single word, a single command. There was more weight in it than he'd ever known in his life, up to now. This was asking trust on little more than pure instinct.

Severus closed his eyes and turned Draco's face directly into his chest, feeling the soft, faint puffs of breath on his bared, scaled skin.

Chapter Text

Terius moved.

Like a demon possessed, he tore into the forest with wrath in his mind and rage burning in his very soul. Carving up the ground into nothing more than clumps of barren dirt, he made his mark in a way that the vampires would understand.

Necks snapped, bones broke and screams were silenced in the fierce, reckless wind that he commanded at his will. This was what it meant to be an Air elemental. This was the very embodiment of Air itself.

When he was finished, the air was thick with the scent of blood, the entire clearing was ruined beyond recognition and there wasn't a trace of life to be found, apart from their weary dragel trio. Strips of tree bark and splintered wood were littered along the muddy, now grassless floor, corpses upon corpses were strewn liberally atop the wreckage. Lingering magic gathered itself up and slithered back to the Pareya had had cast it.

Standing in the midst of it all, looking inordinately pleased with himself, was Terius. For an instant, he looked rather ghastly, blood-spattered and crimson-stained as he was, then it vanished. As if he'd simply stepped out of a glove, peeling away the gruesomeness one single layer at a time.

He'd drawn a barrier of air around him to act as a protective cloak of sorts, allowing him to retain his pristine appearance when he'd released his hold on the invisible strands.

Head held high, shoulders back, a look of relief on his face, Terius turned back to where he'd left the Alpha—no, his Alpha, and Submissive. He preened inwardly at the barely concealed shock on his Alpha's face and the relieved slump of the Submissive's shoulders.

Even though his Submissive had to be in great pain, his instincts were still sharp enough for him to know that he'd gained a new Bonded and that there was no longer a threat present.

That was good. He'd made the right call after all. Striding towards them, Terius began to set the network for a one-way portal to a dragel safehouse within this realm. He would take them there first, only after being entirely sure that there was no way they could be traced. He could not risk multiple transportation portals, for that would surely be too stressful on the young, injured dragel and he would not start out on the wrong foot for something that should've been obvious.

He put a finger to his lips, signaling for silence as he approached them. There would be time for conversation later. He would not risk speaking when there was the faintest possible chance that someone might overhear them.

He'd protected them before he'd cast his protective defense and he could tell it had been worth in the bloodied pile of ashes that made a lumpy border before the twin frozen figures. Stepping over it with a grimace, Terius took stock of his surroundings. He wanted to be away and out of here as soon as it was magically possible.

The portal he'd been prepping for, sprang to life beneath their feet, as he came into range with his Claimed. He looked straight into the pitch black eyes of his new Alpha and willed him to see what he didn't dare speak just yet.

There was a long moment between them and then a single blink of acceptance.

Terius didn't need more than that.

"Temptrificus Orus!" The portal rang out from his lips and the magic invoked answered accordingly. Blinding white magic with silver accented runes spun to life on the forest floor, illuminating the grisly scene before them.

In a heartbeat, warmth and raw energy washed over them in a single breeze, before the light was too bright for any eye to comprehend. A second later, it dimmed and then a fresh breeze blew through once more.

When their surroundings settled, Terius waited a beat, before showing any outward signs of relaxation. This was a standard safe house, he could recognize it by the standard issue furniture and the stale scent in the air meant that no one had used it for some time. That was good. It provided a better chance to remain safely hidden than if there'd been recent traffic.

"Safe house." He said, quickly. He could accurately read the expression on his new Alpha's face and knew that he'd have to tread very carefully in the next few minutes, never mind the following hours. "The wards are dragel-cast here. We should have enough time to properly plan for our next destination."

Severus inclined his head, stiffly and then looked down at the bundle of pained Submissive protectively cradled in his arms. "How long?"

"Four hours, maximum." Terius answered, promptly. "This is a temporary stopping point."

"Where do you intend to take us?"

"Wherever you would wish to go." He answered, evenly. "I only thought to bring us here first, because I knew it was secure and there are wards to keep any magic cast within these walls from reaching the outside."

Severus did not answer that, but a new light had flickered briefly through his pitch black eyes. "Are there any healing potions?" His sharp gaze roved about the room, taking in the modest, but clean furnishings. He would need to begin working on Draco as soon as possible.

"There should be some. I'll check." Terius shrugged out of his formal robes and draped them over an empty hook on the coat rack that stood a few feet away from the front door. "Would you like some tea?"

"The potions." Severus snapped. "Do I look like-!"

"I meant for him," Terius nodded towards Draco's still form. "Or if not tea, something to settle his stomach before potions? He didn't take any blood."

Those black eyes narrowed ever so slightly and then he sniffed. "Potions." He repeated. "Go."

Terius bit back a sigh and turned away, heading for the bedroom. He found the medicine cabinet and rifled through it to find the potions he thought would help. He found himself wondering about his new Alpha's disposition.


When Terius returning to the sitting room, Severus had shed his torn outer robes in favor of spreading them over the settee before easing Draco down onto the surface. He'd immediately shredded the blond's fancy silk robes in favor of checking a pulse and using his wand to direct the steady stream of healing spells falling form his lips.

Terius stood off to the side, just within sight, but not close enough to be considered a threat. He could tell that suppressed instincts would likely react far more severely than an average Alpha dragel. Severus would be on edge for some time.

Draco mewled softly when one healing spell seemed to twist something inside and his eyes, tightly screwed shut were accompanied by a pained grimace. A flicker of regret flashed through Severus's eyes and he shifted the hand holding Draco's wrist for a pulse to briefly brushing over the small, sweat-sheened forehead.

It took some time before Severus would let him approach and when he did, the dour man kept up a constant stream of sarcasm as he inspected the potions and sniffed them in turn. Terius only watched, amused, not sure if he ought to intervene yet or not. The last thing he wanted to do was intervene and inadvertently earn said new Alpha's ire.

Only when Severus had finally enlarged the fat pillow behind Draco's head to better support his upper body, did Terius react. He'd seen three potions administered to the deathly pale blond and could no longer hold his peace when he realized that the remaining potion was about to be given in the same fashion as the previous three.

A quiet, strangled sound in his throat that said more than his mouth could have.

Severus turned sharply, but didn't speak.

After a moment, Terius did. "Shouldn't you spike it first?"

Thin, dark eyebrows knotted together—whether from confusion or irritation—Terius couldn't tell, but he continued on when it seemed that Severus would not speak.

"He is a natural-born dragel, is he not? Now that you are his Alpha, blood-spiking his potions in addition to the occasional feeding will do him more good than you could ever imagine."

"How?" The single word, pronounced with perfect articulation and dripping with disdain, was punctuated by Severus's mild glare.

Terius unbuttoned his shirt cuffs and began to slowly roll up his shirt-sleeves. "Dragels practically invented blood magic," he explained patiently. "The blood that runs through our veins is magic, in its purest form." He offered a rueful smile.

"Blood magic?" Severus swallowed. "Those are forbidden arts-"

"To those who know nothing of them." Terius interrupted, smoothly. "For us dragels, it is as commonplace as the common casting you did with those healing spells. We don't think anything of it and of course, there are some of us that are better at it than others."

"And you would be one of them?"

"Naturally." Terius flashed a grim smile. "I won't bore you with the why or how, only to say that I had absolutely no doubt that the moment I drew my own blood, you would be unable to resist."

Dark eyes flashed angrily.

But Terius met his gaze without wavering. "It would help Draco much quicker and faster than you can imagine, if you would spike those. The Alpha's blood or the healer's blood in a Circle, is naturally the strongest." He lengthened his fingers into claws and made a neat slash on one arm. "Except in the case of blood casters, of which, I am."

A moment passed between them.

Then Severus held out the phial.

Terius held out one hand, watching his blood dribble out and spill into the murky potion, changing the color to an indiscernible brown-burgundy hue. A few seconds later, he wiped his thumb down the red slash, healing the wound and circling around to support Draco from behind. He was pleased to note that Severus did not seem to mind this.

With great care, Severus coaxed the potion down Draco's waxen lips, keeping up a comforting rumble in answer to the occasional protesting whine from the weakened blond. The young man seemed to be running entirely on instinct, his pointed dragel ears having already come to the forefront, along with blunted claws.

"If you would permit me," Terius murmured, a few long minutes later.

With some reluctance and no small amount of suspicion, Severus inched to the side. He watched with a hawk's eye as Terius strengthened the warming charms cast on Draco's bared torso and then bit his own finger for the resulting bead of blood.

Expertly tracing a series of neat runes in a circular fashion, Terius looked to Severus. "Some of your blood would not be amiss." He said, conversationally. "If you wouldn't care to replicate this," he gestured to one simple rune. "Over here," he pointed to Draco's unmarked shoulder. "It would help." He straightened from his position over the settee and stepped back. "I'll clear the floor." He turned away and began to use his magic to move the furniture back against the wall.

Clearing a decent-sized space in the room, he drew a piece of chalk from an inner shirt pocket and turned the white stick a brilliant shade of red with a single drop of blood. Using the newly recolored item, he knelt in the floor and immediately replicated the same runes he'd inscribed on Draco's stomach.

Straightening to stand to his full height, he threw the piece of reddened chalk to his right and with a flicker of magic, set it to completing the rest of his casting Circle.

"You would move him now?" Severus half-growled. But worry showed in his eyes as he looked between Terius's casting circle and Draco's barely breathing form. Some color had begun to creep back into the pale blond, but not enough to settle his riled instincts.

"The results will be more than worth it." Terius watched the stub of chalk rubbed itself out. "He needs it and this is the best I can do for the moment."

"The potions aren't working."

Terius regarded him for a moment, then gave a careful shake of his head. "They probably won't. I didn't realize you weren't spiking them until you'd already administered those three." He sighed. "He is dragel now, even if he may have been Wizard-born and raised. Regular potions and wizarding spells likely won't do much for him anymore."

Severus bristled, faintly.

"And until you're fully bonded with both of us, your Alpha status won't be solidified. Because of that you won't be able to use your Alpha abilities to their full potential."

"What are you saying?"

"I'm saying that if you were to bond with him now—preferably after I'm through casting—his first feeding, the Bonding magic alone from initiating and sealing our Bonds will be more than enough to sustain him." He frowned. "You were wizard-raised, weren't you?"

Thin lips pressed tightly together and Severus did not answer.

Terius sighed. "I am not asking to hold it against you, but I am dragel-born and dragel-raised. You need only ask if there is something you wish to know. Following your instincts will likely help more than you can imagine for the time being."

"…he's too weak."

"He's stronger than you think."

Severus almost smiled. "He has always had to be."

"We can't move him with magic, it will do more harm than good at this point." Terius moved to stand at the far end of the settee. He waited until Severus finally came to stand opposite of him and together, they lifted Draco and set him down carefully on the prepared floor, taking care to be sure the matching runes were properly aligned.

"You had best be careful." Severus warned, his voice dark and dire.

Terius found himself unable to keep from smirking. "You underestimate me."

Chapter Text

 

Severus was not very happy with the way things were turning out. No, he didn't have a problem with Terius using his grand magic to help Draco—and he could tell that it was helping Draco—no, that was not his problem.

It was more so the necessary reality that the self-assured Pareya had just reminded him of. A act of dominance that he could only see as a duty to be fulfilled—at least, until Draco was back to his senses, a reality that didn't seem like it would be forthcoming any time soon.

There was absolutely no force on the face of this wretched earth that would move him to take advantage of the very youngling he'd sworn to protect with his life. He could not follow through on this, not without Draco's express permission. He would not ruin the blond's future with his own selfish desires.

Feeling a pair of eyes lingering on him, Severus fixed his scowl in place and sent a meaningful glare to Terius. He guessed that the Pareya was at least a handful of years younger than his own age. At any rate, he seemed to be a decent enough Pareya, settled into his rank and of good stock, definitely suitable for Draco's refined tastes.

That was good.

The blond whimpered again as Terius knelt beside him, one hand pressed to the flat of his pale abdomen, the other to the floor. Powerful, rich magic was being cast here and Severus was struck by the unnatural beauty of it. Just being near the Pareya's aura was almost intoxicating. Even beside Dumbledore and the famed Dark Lord, he'd never felt such exhilarating feedback. Terius was practically teeming with raw, unbridled energy and it seeped freely from his fingertips, channeling through Draco and feeding into the earth, before returning back to him, recharged by the very usage.

He'd never seen such a thing before. It stirred the first pangs of longing and want inside of his grim, dark soul. There was no earthly reason for Terius to be helping them, the temporary claiming aside—alright, the practically permanent claiming aside—but still. He was Slytherin and he did not like it when he could not neatly explain the motives behind others' actions.

This would definitely bother him.

Surely someone of Terius's caliber had received better proposals or offers, at least if one judged by the sheer, raw power of his magical presence. It was an aura that he could recognize as proof that Terius had never once in his life even thought of suppressing his natural inheritance.

The longing inside of him morphed to birth a twinge of regret, because at one time, Severus had once known that thrilling feeling. To be filled to the brim with such potential, powerful enough to wield the power that was his by birthright had been nothing sort of mind-altering.

It wasn't until he'd let his thirst for magical knowledge overshadow his better judgment, leading to the first argument between him and Lily Evans that eventually gave way to the first frays of their tentative friendship. It was only after that fateful day, the time where he'd blurted out that awful, terrible phrase and seen the look in her brilliant green eyes that he understood what exactly it was that he'd done.

Pride had done it, too much power had driven him to it and stubbornness had kept him from outright groveling for beg for her kind hand of friendship once more. He shouldn't have had to, his nearly non-existence conscience whispered that if she'd been his true friend, then surely she would have known the true side of him. But it wasn't meant to be.

Consumed by self-loathing and several darkened strands of despair, he'd gone willingly to Voldmort's arms, giving into Lucius's honeyed words.

Lucius, who had been the closest thing he'd had to a friend, beside young Regulus and Narcissa, had been a shadow of a friend in the midst of a viper's nest. He'd lost Regulus soon enough though and then Narcissa had taken a fancy to Lucius. Everything had begun to crumble around him then. He'd come crawling back from the pit of his own making to pleading at Dumbledore's feet.

The wizened old wizard and famed defeater of Grindelwald had made him beg for it. Then he'd granted it, reluctantly, promising to do the one thing that Severus had realized that Voldemort would not grant him.

To save Lily.

But in spite of his own sacrifices and desperation, it hadn't been enough to save Lily. Even when he'd hated her—briefly—for marrying that wretched James Potter, he'd still cared for her. He'd done all that he could to save her life. Seeing her as a beacon of light in his shadowed world, her death had been the final blow.

Because even after all of that, he had loved her. Loved her with a love so fierce and deep that he had all but bequeathed his spirit to her existence. To know that they shared the same type of creature beneath their skin had brought him a special kind of solace—for a time. He'd hoped that it would give him an edge over Potter.

But it never did.

And then it was too late.

He'd given in to the vestiges of bitterness that now chained his soul. From that terrible night, he had personally sealed his dragel inheritance. Blaming it as the reason why his life had turned into such a mess, he had used his genius mind to craft a potion that would help him maintain the seal and siphoned off his power to strengthening and reinforcing it.

He had never tried to touch it or use it again—not until the day that Narcissa had gently dumped Draco into his arms without warning. That first day, the moment when he'd held the squalling infant, staring down at wrinkled pink skin and recognizing the dragel genes buried deep inside, he'd felt something inside of himself shift, turn and click.

It was as if someone had simply reached into the dusty, murky cogs of his heart and turned the key that would make him sing once more.

He did not sing, of course. Severus Snape was not a man easily given in to such frivolities. But he had allowed the barest strand of magic to reach out and fasten itself to the crying babe that had quieted within minutes of being placed in his arms.

Him—Severus Snape!

Of course, he hadn't altered his seal, but he had made sure that he could access a portion of said magic, should he ever have need of it again. If only for Draco's sake. If only because Draco deserved better. Lucius hadn't been a proper father in any interpretation of the word, but he did have a few good points and thankfully, Draco had inherited those.

Severus thanked all the powers that were—if there were any—for Narcissa's pureblooded upbringing that had raised a little blond waif into the Slytherin Ice Prince that walked the halls of Hogwarts with his royal airs wrapped around him.

When Lucius had named him Godfather, Narcissa had only sniffed in answer and after Lord Malfoy had left the room, she'd pinned him with a look.

"You'll do," was all that she'd said.

But Severus had known that she'd looked at him, seen more than he'd wanted her to and judged him by what his actions had said. The warning in her face had prompted him to swear his protection for her child.

He'd never regretted it.

From that moment, he'd taken that brilliant, fierce love for Lily and turned it into the care and devotion that perhaps, it always should have been. That protective, possessive, manic love—he'd shifted to Draco. Always taking care to hide it, often behind his acerbic manner and sarcastic words, Severus had done all that he could make his mark on that innocent life.

He would die before he let Draco follow the same darkened path that he'd taken upon himself. Perhaps he would die anyway, taking all of his secrets with him, but once, just once, he would have liked to know what it felt like to have a single sliver of happiness one more time.

Surely a single sliver could sustain him for the next grim war to come.

A great, heaving gasp brought Severus out of his depressing thoughts and he felt pure relief flood him from head to toe as Draco sat up of his own accord, hacking and coughing, fingers splattered with blood, eyes wild, wide and grey.

"Severus-!" Was the first word out of his mouth and then his smooth, slender hands were reaching out, grasping.

"Easy," Terius murmured, gently supporting him, a look of concern on his expressive face. "You've just been through quite a shock both of your physical and magical health has been through significant trauma."

Draco blinked owlishly at the stranger beside him. He visibly gathered himself together. "Who are you?"

Terius looked at him for a moment and a slow smile settled on his face. He rose swiftly to his feet and turned on his heel, heading for the kitchen. "Since you two are so close, I'll allow you to offer the explanations. I'm sure there's some tea in there somewhere. Take your time."

Severus was torn between wanting to strangle the man and relief that at least Draco wasn't reacting in a negative way—yet. He sent a glower after Terius and then directed his thinly disguised worry to the fretting blond that now stared down at his naked torso, running his fingers through the fine collection of burgundy dust and then rubbing the result between two fingers, looking puzzled.

A lump formed in the potion master's throat and he swallowed hard. He would not be telling Draco that the dust was dried blood. Not yet, anyway. "Draco," he began, stiffly. "It seems there is a great deal we have to discuss."

The wide grey eyes shuttered and the impressive Malfoy mask crept over his expressive features. "Of course, Severus." He said, calmly. "I would, however, like to have a shirt and a cup of that tea that fellow went to find."

"The shirt is acceptable." Severus simply pulled the desired object out of thin air, handing it over with an air of impatience. "The tea can wait." Something bumped his elbow and Severus turned to see a silver tea service floating at his elbow. He bit back the words on the tip of his tongue and waved the tray to the low table in the corner. "But if you must indulge."

"Thank you," Draco said, primly. He slid the silken shirt over slender arms and did up the buttons with a charm he'd mastered early in life. It was immediately followed by the necessary charms for body odor and immaculate hair, in addition to the freshening charm.

Severus fought the urge to roll his eyes at the blond's necessary primping. One of Draco's chief faults was his vanity, but considering all other vices the boy had avoided while in Lucius's care, he could not complain. "What is the last thing you remember?"

A bittersweet smile teased at Draco's lips and he seated himself grandly on the settee, pouring tea for both himself and Severus. "Let me see," he took a sip, eyebrows raising in approval at the strong brew. He pretended to think back and flinched when Severus turned his blistering glare on full-force. "The woods!" He blurted out, hastily. "We were fighting in the woods. Vold—the Dark Lord," he corrected, quickly. "Wasn't happy. He said—he." Draco choked, a particular memory fading out in the back of his mind. He didn't want to think of it and his fingers tightened around the fragile cup. "We were running, you found me?" He tried, at last.

Severus sniffed and accepted the cup and saucer, his tea fixed just the way he liked it. "I did." He confirmed. "And then the Vampires found us."

Draco paled. "W-what happened?"

"Something troublesome," the dark man ground out. "You are aware of your inheritance, yes?"

Draco nodded slowly. He wasn't really sure what that had to do with anything. He did hope that his deepest secret—wanting Severus for his Alpha—hadn't somehow come to light. He was sure if it had that he might not have a Godfather at all. Severus was far too dignified to bother with someone as young as his mere sixteen years.

Everything he knew of the reserved, powerful wizard had always been painstakingly calculated to the smallest degree—even the few touches of affection between them, such as a hug on his birthday or a gift at Yule. He chanced a careful breath, doing his best to keep his face as expressionless as he dared. "I am."

"You are not yet in control of them," Severus began.

Draco felt his heart sink. He was in control—thank you very much! He simply didn't see a reason to broadcast it. His mother, the esteemed Lady Malfoy had been a champion of restrained emotion and he'd learned from her own to form and maintain the Malfoy mask that he could now call up at a moment's notice.

She'd once told him it was a good exercise for handling his dragel inheritance. He understood what she had meant when he had first discovered that aching loneliness on the dawning of his inheritance. It had nearly torn him apart when he'd finally felt the first thread of connection to Severus, it had taken all of his control and then some, to keep from propositioning the only admirable male figure he'd had in his life.

There was no one else, only Severus.

There could be no one else, but Severus.

Of course, he was not naïve enough to think that he could change the older man's mind, after all Severus was a force to be reckoned with whenever he chose to make a stand—not that he did it often, but still. He wanted to be the one that Severus chose of his own accord. As absurd as that reality seemed, the ache in his chest eased when he thought of it.

Now, Draco found himself frowning into his teacup as he distracted himself with the lovely brew once more. The ache in his chest had vanished almost entirely and he could only recall a handful of hazy, befuddled moments in which he'd experienced something close to pure bliss. One hand reached up to absently scratch at a faint itch on the side of his neck and he stopped when his fingers encountered faintly ridged skin.

He understood the significance when his gaze flew to Severus's dark eyes and he accurately read the near-panic that resided in them. A tiny spark of hope blossomed in his chest and Draco set his cup down on the matching saucer, replacing it on the napkin spread before him on the low table.

"It would seem," he began, carefully, with more ceremony that he really had the patience for. "That I am missing something here."

Severus muttered something beneath his breath, then set down his own cup. "How do you feel?" He asked.

"Better," Draco admitted, after a moment's thought. "Complete. Whole. Refreshed. Why?"

Severus made a complicated face. "It is the side effect of an unavoidable consequence."

Draco stiffened. "What consequence?"

"Due to the danger of the situation, I was forced to lay a formal claim upon you for the sake of your virtue."

Silvery-grey eyes narrowed to points. "Exactly what do you mean, godfather?" There was a steel edge to his voice.

"I am a Dragel Alpha and I claimed you, starting the formal rites for a complete bonding." Severus said, bluntly. "Clear enough?"

Draco blinked. He opened and shut his mouth, then picked up his teacup and took a long draw. When he'd drained it, he set it down, refilled it and took another hasty swallow. The still steaming brew nearly scalded his mouth, but he took some satisfaction from it to compose himself. "I see." He said, at last, because it seemed as if his Godfather was waiting for some sort of response.

What kind of response, Draco didn't exactly know. Perhaps a tantrum? He mentally shrugged that off, because this particular set of lucky circumstance was not something that often came his way, it would take too much energy anyway and why would he want to protest such a wonderful thing? He would have to be sure he made the most of this and did not spook Severus.

If his understanding was complete, then once they formally completed the bonding, they would be inseparable. He'd have to see what he could do to speed the process along. It wouldn't do to leave Severus with any kind of an out, because the disgruntled man would be sure to take it. He never believed that he deserved anything other than the dreary lot that life had settled upon his shoulders.

"I see?" Severus burst out. Dark eyes flashing, temper flaring dramatically, he all but sprang to his feet. "Is that all you have to say? Do you understand what this means?"

Draco calmly sat back, fighting to keep the smirk from his face that so desperately wanted to surface. Smiling in any sort of way would not be well received right now, but it was extremely difficult to remain an expressionless in the face of one of the famous Severus Snape rants.

First, his godfather began to empty the torrent of bottled up words that he'd obviously been rehearsing since the moment he'd been forced to 'take charge of the situation' and then his long, skinny arms began to wave about, causing his flowing black robes to flare out in typical dramatic fashion.

Several minutes—and carefully timed nods later—Draco, watched as the rant progressed to the second stage where his godfather began to subconsciously pull on his magic to change the tension in the room to a stifling, gasping atmosphere where breathing was decidedly difficult.

A few minutes after that, Severus began to wind down, the magical pull easing as he folded his arms and punctuated every single vehement sentence with barely concealed fury in every line of his stiff posture. By the time the magical pull had vanished, Severus now pinched the bridge of his oversized nose, face half-hidden by the potion-stained fingers of one hand.

When he was sure that it was safe to speak, Draco set his cup and saucer down on the table. "More tea?" he inquired pleasantly.

Severus looked as if he might strangle him.

Draco mentally counted it as a success.

 

Chapter Text

 

Terius stifled a bark of laughter as he listened to the interplay between Alpha and Submissive. He had absolutely no worries of their temporary claims remaining temporary, the pair he'd left in the sitting room was far too well-matched to be anything other than likely soulmates. He would give them an hour, tops, before that bond was anything but temporary. Permanent would be far more fitting.

The Bonding was sure to be quite a passionate affair. He wondered if he would be allowed to participate or witness it. On second thought, it would most likely have to be a private moment of exclusive intimacy and he would not begrudge them that. Severus was far too private a man to allow anything otherwise. Draco was also aware of that and fairly sensitive as a Submissive, so he would be sure to find a way to make sure that Severus was comfortable and overall, neither of them could afford the luxury of all three of them guided by natural instinct.

He'd have to watch out for the cues. With what he knew of those two, they would be very subtle ones. On the other hand, someone would need to keep watch while a Bonding was taking place and as the only other one present, the duty fell to him. Terius mentally checked his magical reserves and his current pull with his natural element.

Technically, dragels needed to recharge in Nevarah ever so often, if they chose to live outside the realm. But he traveled often enough that it wasn't a problem and he'd learned to draw on other realm-sources of magic. He'd hardly used much in the fight either, but he had poured a goodly amount of energy and emotion into the healing that now rendered Draco in nearly perfect, if somewhat cautious health.

Soulmates.

The idea scrolled through his head and Terius stifled a laugh. He was curious how long it would take them to realize it. They complimented each other in the best of ways, their magic holding startling similarities that he was sure they had yet to notice. That alone had let him know they were a perfect match for each other.

The very fact that Severus had lasted so long on his own until his other half had come into existence was a testament to the wizard-raised dragel's power levels.

Terius smiled to himself at that. He was lucky. Soulmated triads were often the most powerful and well-balanced and with an Alpha and Submissive this strong, it certainly suggested that there was a third soulmate between them. He wondered who they would be drawn to for a Beta, but mentally brushed that thought away for later. For now, he would just focus on them as a Bonded pair, whoever their Beta was, they would come together in their own time and it would likely happen very fast.

At least, so he hoped.

It was never good to start building a Circle until the triad was in place. It was acting selfishly and pretending there were no others to take into consideration. Granted, he was a likely exception, seeing as he'd been present during their claiming moment and if they hadn't accepted him, instinct would have demanded they kill him or come fairly close to it.

He had already felt himself drawn to Draco though and knew that there were underlying soul threads in there. Even if they were never actively called out, they still existed. It would subtly influence them for the remainder of their lives, calling for a deeper intimacy and sharpened intuition.

Now, he busied himself in the kitchen, throwing together a simple, quick meal and a significant side of desserts. Pure sugar would be quite helpful in raising their magical levels back to an acceptable nature by nurturing the dragel nature inside of them. Blood or sugar was the best way to restore any dragel's health.

From the too-cautious interaction he'd seen between them, though there were hidden hints of affection, he knew that bloodsharing would be a significant way off, at least for the present moment where the two of them needed it most. While he did not mind being a primary source, he was not used to it and so he was settling for the next best option—sugar. He'd taken care to eat a portion of all of the sweets that he'd eaten so far, washing it down with plenty of strong tea and mint water. His body would convert it into the necessary fuel that he would surely need when either Severus or Draco made their first move.

He was relieved to see Draco taking the news as calmly as he had, because it was proof that the Submissive was mature enough to understand the depth of their present situation. He smiled to himself and turned up the heat on the magical stove, channeling his magic through the appliance to keep it at an even temperature.

Still, was a bit of a surprise when he realized that a privacy ward had been thrown up for the sitting room. He realized it the moment that the tingle of unfamiliar magic wisped around him. He was able to identify it as Draco and though his Pareyic nature hissed in displeasure, he made himself ignore it.

Whatever was happening between Alpha and Submissive was entirely private and between them. He would not disturb them unless he sensed that something was amiss. At present, he could vaguely sense that they were both irritated—most likely with each other—but fine.

He was entirely unprepared for when he turned around with the hot pot in hand and nearly collided with the slender, pale Submissive standing perfectly still beside him. He blinked back his surprise and quickly held the pot out of reach so it would not burn him.

Draco's lips quirked into something of a smile and while hints of sadness showed in his muted grey eyes, he took a step back, gracefully, to keep himself out of harm's way. "I did not mean to startle you." He said.

Terius eyed him for a moment, then turned and set the pot on the counter, casting the necessary charms to keep it safe and at the right temperature for serving. "Think nothing of it. It is my fault, I should have been paying attention."

"Oh?" Draco said, curiously. He turned to survey the kitchen and the current state of their midday meal. He saw more sweets than the usual fare and vaguely recalled his mother's absent mention that sugar was a very divine thing to have. He'd always seen her eating sweets after a day of heavy casting. Perhaps there was something in that. "I doubt you would have noticed me even if you had."

Terius bit back another retort on the tip of his tongue, even as his Pareyic nature twisted inside. He would have noticed. It was in his nature to notice. A Pareya that could not keep tabs of eyes and ears everywhere was not worthy of the title and rank that embodied them. "Perhaps," he allowed. Maybe Draco was testing him—or teasing. He couldn't be sure yet. "If you're hungry, the food is almost done."

"I am," Draco admitted. "But not that kind of hungry, just yet." Grey eyes darkened accordingly and he took a hesitant half-step forward.

Terius felt himself relaxing almost at once. Now he understood the situation and it almost made him smile. Instead, he calmly pushed out another wave of magic to have it finish up the simple tasks he'd been overseeing in preparing their meals. "I see." The initial burst of magic hadn't been to separate them, but rather to keep the scent of blood from spreading further than necessary.

"Severus mentioned that I hadn't placed a claim on you as yet."

"…you did not." Terius scooped up a spoonful of chilled custard and held it out, invitingly. "Taste for sugar."

Draco gave him a look that clearly said he was humoring him, but then leaned forward and tentatively licked the yellow confection. He offered an approving nod two mouthfuls later. "It's sweet enough." He licked at the corner of his lips, searching for more of the sweet that he was not to have just yet.

"Good." Terius helped himself to a spoonful of his own, then set the utensil down in the sink. He turned around in time to find Draco's arms threading around his waist and that beguiling pale face blinking innocently up at him. The blatant attempt at seduction was so obvious, he knew there was no reason to draw it out for anything other than his personal amusement.

There was absolutely no reason to deny him either.

So he wrapped one arm around the smaller figure and cupped the back of his head with one hand, bending down to teasingly kiss that pinked mouth. Draco trembled against him and Terius tightened his grip, feeling the exhaustion practically radiating from the younger dragel.

That was not good at all.

He'd known that the ritual would draw heavily on all of them, but he had not counted that it would be so draining for Draco. It tugged out a few strands of sadness as he recognized the signs for what they were, in addition to the lack of regular feedings. He would have to be sure to see that both Alpha and Sub were sharing enough between them.

They would also have to solidify this bond soon.

Very soon.

Four hours of time in a temporary safe house was not nearly enough for any of them, but it would have to do until they could agree on where to 'port next. In the meantime, he would simply have to do what he could help both Alpha and Sub.

Sugar would not do in this case, it would help, but not as fast as blood would. He leaned back, bracing himself against the counter, trading soft, gentle kisses with the pouting mouth beneath his. Guiding Draco down to crouching on the floor, Terius reached up to undo the buttons around his neck, exposing his collar as he kept Draco distracted until he was properly situated.

When he was ready, he drew back with a few light touches of his lips, biting back a smile at Draco's soft whine. He knew Draco would understand in a moment, as he tilted his back to rest against the lower cabinet doors. "Severus took the right side," he murmured, voice low. "The left is yours."

Draco's eyes fluxed to nearly pitch black and he lunged forward with undisguised hunger. His inexperienced fangs dug harshly into the proffered neck and he drank desperately, delicate hands clutching at Terius's shirt lapels, scrabbling in the silken fabric.

"Easy," Terius crooned, rubbing a soothing hand up and down Draco's quivering spine. "There's no rush. Take all you need."

The answering, plaintive whine echoed in the nearly quiet kitchen.

As he drank, Draco's tremors gradually lessened and his body grew soft and pliant. The moment he'd noticed the change, Terius stopped his soothing strokes and instead, calmly moved them until a more comfortable position, so he could cuddle his new Submissive. Draco was small and compact, as most submissives were and he fit quite nicely on his new Pareya's lap.

When he was sure that Draco had taken enough, Terius chirred softly, encouragingly, to gain his attention and reached up for the pot of pudding he'd left on the edge of the counter. A few minutes later, a beautifully dazed Draco sat contentedly cuddled into his side, as Terius guided his tired hand around the spoon and made sure that the younger man ate a decent-sized portion.

What the blood couldn't fix up just yet, the sugar would coax his healing body to continue. Some sleep probably wouldn't hurt either.

He'd just finished removing the spoon from Draco's slack hand, when Severus finally ventured into the kitchen to see what was happening. Terius remained perfectly still, watching as several tightly restrained emotions zipped across the potion master's face in rapid succession. He hoped that Severus wouldn't take it personally.

He wondered if he would have a chance to address that—preferably after the Bonding—and if that didn't soothe the jittery Alpha's nerves, he wasn't sure what would.

Severus remained riveted to the doorway, so with slow movements, Terius replaced the spoon in the pot and nudged it away from him. "He fell asleep. I let him have some blood. You should eat that, it will help to balance you out. He'll want to take from you too when he wakes." Terius stopped himself from speaking when his sharp, blue-grey eyes caught on to the clenched fists and the white-knuckles. He waited a beat.

The Alpha did not move.

"If you'd like to take him to guest bed," he offered, carefully gathering Draco up in his arms. "It's more comfortable than the-" he stopped. He wasn't even allowed to rise when Severus crossed the kitchen in two wide strides, bending down to pluck Draco from his arms.

Terius stared in surprise as Severus swept from the kitchen in a flurry of thick, black robes, his footsteps silent. He looked down at his empty arms and then half-shrugged, rising to his feet. He picked up the pot of pudding and set it on the counter. He went about finding a bowl and a clean spoon. Severus would eat that pudding—so help him.

A faint wave of dizziness had Terius clutching the edge of the sink. He grimaced. Draco had taken more than he should have. He would need some pudding as well—and to be very, very careful until he returned home or found an alternate blood source. Magic might not be an issue, but blood certainly would be.

He knew quite well that neither Severus or Draco would—or could—give him what he needed just yet.

It would be too much to ask.

Stretching his neck and turning to the side, Terius swallowed down the dryness and opted for pouring himself a glass of water and gulping it down in large swallows. He refilled it a moment later and downed it again.

It helped, minutely, and he mentally pushed the problem aside, focusing on the current issue at hand. Instinct made it easy and he was back to finishing up his dinner plans, leaving Severus's pudding out on a corner of the counter where it could be discreetly retrieved, should the silent man return for any reason at all.

Terius was almost certain that Severus would stay to watch over Draco. He didn't blame him. He also hoped that Draco did not sleep for too long. He'd already begun the mental countdown in his head of how long they could hoverin the safehouse. As much as he'd like them to leave though, it meant that their bonds would have be forged and acknowledged—only a new bonding would have enough magic to see them safely to a new haven.

Chapter Text

 

Severus eased Draco down onto the soft bed, noting that the room was clean, if somewhat spartanly furnished. It held the same wooden interior as the rest of the secluded cabin and the bed was neatly made, though quite oversized. It looked as if it had been made to hold at least five people within its borders and Draco looked quite small on it by himself.

At that thought, Severus scowled. He couldn't quite tear his eyes away from the young face that was nearly relaxed in sleep. He'd almost lost that precious beam of light. His darkened world might have come crashing down around his ears if he'd been any later than he was. His jaw clenched and Severus stubbornly pushed those thoughts away. He could 'what if' himself to death and it wouldn't have made any difference, he would simply count this rare bit of luck as a mistake and trust that it would never happen again. It likely wouldn't. Not where he was concerned.

Draco twitched, faintly and Severus perked up, sharp eyes tracking every single movement, the rise and fall of his chest with each careful breath. The blond was fast asleep, not even twitching at the newest change. He curled into a tiny ball at the center of the bed and burrowed his face into the covers as if seeking some semblance of warmth.

The very action made his heart clench and Severus made himself step away, only to find that one of Draco's hands had tangled in the side of his Death Eater robes and refused to relinquish it. A scowl decorating his face deepened a few lovely shades of grey and Severus reached down to give it a sharp tug when Draco shifted on the bed with a sound that might have been a whimper or a whine. It had the effect of rooting his feet to the floor and directing every ounce of his willpower to staying exactly where he was.

As an Alpha, that sort of noise was dangerously close to a Submissive's distress call and was meant to indicate some form of distress or worry. This sort of warning sound was a hint that something was amiss and needed to be fixed. A content Submissive usually purred, cooed or chirred, even all three if they were so inclined. A content Submissive was a happy Submissive and they tended to be more physical than vocal about their apparent happiness, preferring kisses, cuddles, hugs and intimate affections. Severus had vague memories of learning this information, but he had never expected to have to recall it or put it to use.

In his head, he knew that the reason Draco clung to him was some sort of logical association either magical or physical, based on instinct, but his heart claimed that his Submissive simply wanted him close. Severus made himself shake his head to dislodge those thoughts. No. He really couldn't think of Draco as his Submissive, it wasn't meant to—the image of Draco cuddled on Terius's lap, blond head tucked beneath the Pareya's chin made him bristle all over.

If it came down to that, well then, he didn't know much about Pareya but Terius at least seemed somewhat competent and perhaps he would be alright for Draco. Perhaps. The little voice in the back of his mind whispered that Draco would be happier with an Alpha and a Pareya rather than just a Pareya. A well of frustration started up in him and Severus reached out to yank his robes free from Draco's grasp. He didn't want Draco's innocence tainted by the darkness that came with what those robes represented.

Agitation made him hasty and the moment his hand brushed over Draco's, Severus realized it was terribly counterproductive move for his exit strategy from the bedroom. He'd taken great care to pick up Draco without skin-to-skin contact, aware that it would wake him, due to the magical currents that thrummed beneath the skin's surface in any magical individual. That first contact would be electrifying by dragel standards.

The reaction was instantaneous.

From lightly sleeping, Draco's grey eyes flew open and he lurched upwards into a haphazard sitting position, the hand clutching Severus's robes pulled towards him as if to draw them closer together. For a moment, they stared at each other, neither saying a word. Then Draco's grey eyes blinked sleepily and his shoulders slumped, relaxing with the ease that came from being half-awake. He managed something of a smile in Severus's direction and then began to ease back down towards the bed.

Severus opened his mouth to speak and shut it when his mind short-circuited, his inner dragel happily chattering away at how adorable Draco looked sleep-rumpled and half-awake with his messy blond hair and wide grey eyes. In that unguarded moment between them, everything about Draco was innocent and hopeful.

"…Severus." Draco yawned. "I thought…" his voice trailed off and he curled up into the same, defensive little ball from before, knees to chest and face half-hidden in the fat fluffy pillow. "Ev'rything alright?"

Severus made himself nod. He did not trust his mouth to speak and not say something stupid, even with all the years of carefully controlled emotions behind him. He hadn't felt this sort of instinctive urge in years. He would not make a fool of himself now.

"Good." Draco gave another yawn and his eyelids drooped half-way shut. "Stay?"

"What?" The word burst out before Severus could help himself. He was itching to just yank free of Draco's grasp, but something in those grey eyes kept him from moving a muscle.

"Stay." Draco repeated. "Want to…sleep." He shivered.

Automatically, Severus twitched his wand, casting a standard warming charm over the smaller figure. He felt his ears tingle with the warmth of a suppressed blush as his mind caught up to what his instinct had already seen to. "You will be fine," he said. "This is a protected safehouse, if we trust his word," Severus's dark eyes flickered to the doorway that opened into the hallway that led to the kitchen. "And for now, you are safe. Rest." He paused. "Will you require a potion? A few sips of dreamless sleep will only last a little while, an hour maybe."

Draco nibbled on his lower lip and then turned his face into the pillow. "No." he said, voice muffled. "No potion." The distrust was clear in his voices.

Severus felt something twist inside of him and he reminded himself that Draco was rejecting the potion and nothing else. It was a good choice, actually, because in the event of something happening, he would not have to administer a counter potion if he was unable to rouse Draco in time. A faint tingle rippled over him and Severus stared down at his hand. The spot where he'd brushed against Draco now tingled, as if the newly forged bond between them had just discovered how close they were and yearned for them to close that distance. He felt an inexplicable urge to satisfy the incomplete bond and his earlier self-control reasserted itself as he spoke up once more. "I will wake you in an hour. Rest until-"

Pale peach scales rippled along the sides of Draco's cheeks, silver scales followed almost at once and his features began to shift from human wizard to dragel Submissive. The sharper angles, the wider eyes with a brighter light inside of them, pale skin becoming even more impossibly pale as the sound of stretching, tearing fabric gave way to Draco's wings. He didn't seem to be conscious of them at all, but the ease in which they stretched out to their indoor wingspan spoke volumes of his comfort level with being dragel.

The moment his dragel attributes surfaced, Severus felt the final strands of his control fading away as his Alpha-nature made itself known. He could only see the trademark Submissive colors of peach scales with silver accents and a pale vision of beauty framed by those gorgeous, petite wings. He grimaced as his fangs surfaced and his fingers tingled with the telltale hint of claws wanting to be out. He fought those back for practical reasons—he had no desire to hurt Draco in any way and he'd always kept his claws sharp, the few times he'd taken notice of his dragel heritage.

As if sensing his internal war, Draco merely sniffed the air and stretched forward, almost on hands and knees, the pose innocent, the encouraging trill burbling out of his throat anything but. A seductive siren call, Severus jolted when he felt Draco's warm hands clasping around his own. He forced himself to meet those shimmering grey eyes and felt his throat tighten as he read something in that gaze that he'd never even dreamed of hoping to see.

When Draco stretched up and kissed the corner of his mouth, Severus couldn't breathe.

For one entire agonizing minute, the moment stretched between them.

Severus could feel the warm puffs of breath ghosting over his cheek and the tremor in Draco's half-exposed body, his replacement shirt already ruined, sliding off one angular shoulder and showing off the pale expanse of skin beneath. His breath was caught somewhere between his heart and his head, Severus was sure, because he had to be dreaming and then those lips had touched him. Draco had kissed him. Draco had kissed him first.

Had. Kissed. Him.

Him! Severus Snape!

A tremor of his own threatened to overwhelm him and Severus held himself absolutely rigid as Draco's softness molded into him, the hand that had been clutching his robe now released it and traveled upwards to join the other in winding around the Potion Master's neck. Severus swallowed, finding his breath.

"Draco…" there was a hint of want, longing and warning in the way he said this. As if every single protest and plea were rolled and packaged to fit into that one word. "Be absolutely sure you want this, you dunderheaded child."

Defiant grey eyes snapped with emotion as Draco leaned back to weather the full effect of the patented Snape stare. He let Severus have the moment and then he leaned in close and ghosted his lips across the stubbled cheek as he pulled Severus down to a height more his liking. "I'm not a child anymore…Severus." He whispered. He smirked at the shiver he received in response, then licked the outer shell of his soon to be permanent Alpha's ear and bit down sharply.

Chapter Text

 

Thin spikes of pain shocked him into the present moment and Severus realized, belatedly, that there was little he could do without directly manhandling Draco, seeing as the younger dragel currently had his little fangs embedded in his rather large ear. Before he could so much as voice a protest of any sort, Draco had decided that he didn't prefer that spot after all and sucked on it for a moment, before pulling away and taking another dainty bite out of the sensitive patch of skin just beneath his ear.

A definite mouthful, this time.

Severus stifled a groan. Bloodsharing was one of the most intimate pleasures between Bonded dragels, depending on the depth and type of bond, whether it was familial or spousal. At this particular moment, Draco taking the initiative had successfully lifted a burden from his troubled mind, while saddling his heart with another slew of worries and apprehensions.

His churning mind was silenced when Draco sucked on the new bite and disengaged his fangs only to bite down again—just an inch away from the first site. Severus's mind blanked and his dragel rushed to the surface. No Alpha could remain perfectly calm under such a sensual onslaught. A Submissive's attempt to be dominant was rarely appreciated unless said dominant enjoyed it. Severus had absolutely no delusions about where he stood on that particular spectrum.

Having already situated his hands along Draco's newly bared torso, he growled, and inwardly congratulated himself at the answering whine and Draco's wriggle to push himself closer.

That was all the permission Severus needed.

It didn't take any effort at all to tumble Draco to the bed, using one hand to cradle the blond head, so that his feeding would not be interrupted, while the other hand held the smaller body against his own. Severus took a short, sharp breath, letting Draco's scent wash over him. He had too many regrets in his life to let another one come forward.

He wanted this. Draco, apparently wanted it as well. That made two of them and that was the confirmation that was necessary.

Draco was old enough to choose for himself and their dragels had already apparently considered them to be suitable bonding material or else the temporary claiming marks would not have taken hold. He could feel a soft ache building in his chest, a hint that their magic was already intertwined. He would be foolish to pretend that nothing was happening and if something obviously was happening, then he'd just have to make the best of it. After all, wasn't that the philosophy he'd lived his entire existence with up to this very point?

Another innocent bite had another growl building up in his throat and Severus turned his face directly into the new warmth of Draco's neck, he took a full breath of the scent that was all Submissive and all Draco. He nuzzled, instinctively, along the mating mark he'd placed earlier. It would be unbearably sensitive, but suitable retribution for the ravaging of his own neck, he felt. Selecting a point to tease with his tongue, Severus licked, nipped and sucked until he felt Draco shudder beneath him.

Small fangs left his neck once more as Draco stopped feeding long enough for a plaintive mewl and forgot to take another bite. He squirmed on the soft duvet and let his hands fall from Severus's neck to fist in the fabric around his neck, using it as leverage to pull him closer. He'd already lost the ability to speak as another series of whines filled the air.

Severus smirked into his neck before he bit down with painstaking care. The bite was gentle and practiced, fangs slipping into newly aroused skin with just the right amount of pressure to coax an encouraging sound from Draco. Severus tightened his grip on Draco's smaller form, keeping him still as he drew the first mouthful and prepared for the reality that came with it.

A fantastical rush of raw magical power flooded through both dragels almost at once. Magic was half intent and this time, there were no half-hearted protests or unshared worries to cloud the moment. This time, it worked.

Draco held himself perfectly still, eyes squeezed shut as he focused on the hot mouth and warm lips working sensuously at the side of his neck, those calloused hands splayed along his exposed upper body. Something inside of his chest seemed to shift and click into place, relief washing over him as he understood that something important had just happened.

The starting ache in his chest faded away as Severus felt a shift and click of his own, a note of surprise registering as he acknowledged the Bonding's beginning and entertained the thought that such an obvious change meant that perhaps there was more to their bonding than he could have known.

Soulbonded? Maybe. Perhaps. That was far too much luck for him though. He would not think of it. If it were true, then he'd discover the truth in due time anyway. He could feel Draco's short pants along his neck and the death grip on his collar. That wouldn't really do. It would be much easier to continue things without the hassle of clothes in the way.

Draco's hands patted alongside the fabric of Severus's trademark black, even in Death Eater robes. He tugged at the handfuls he could gain purchase on and tried to communicate his desire to have them removed. He wanted to touch and feel Severus, a wish that was granted when Severus whispered the words for the spell that banished his everlasting black elsewhere.

A soft gasp escaped as Draco lost his grip and half-fell back to the bed before he caught himself by bracing on his elbows. Hazy silver eyes took in the sudden, vast expanse of pale, scarred skin. A glamour? He wondered, tentatively reaching out to run his fingers over definite ridges and valleys on Severus's chest.

Somehow, he had expected Severus to be scarred, even though he instinctively knew that dragel healing should have covered and healed the worst of things. A dreadful realization curled in his gut and he reached up, looping his arms around Severus's head with care, before giving a very definite jerk to pull him back down to his neck. He wanted to feel those fangs in his neck and he didn't want to look at those pitch black eyes that were still so very guarded.

He didn't think he could bear it. Using one arm to keep Severus close, Draco explored with his other hand, relying on his photographic memory to help him remember what he'd seen. The worst of the scars were surely caused by sadistic spellwork, he'd seen a few imprints that reminded him of his mother's signature when she was unhappy with the house elves. It made a lump catch in his throat and he forced himself to fight the instinctive haze that would draw his emotions to the surface.

He needed to be strong for Severus—and himself. He could not let emotions rule or ruin this moment. Maybe later, they would be appreciated, maybe later, he could seek revenge—his dragel certainly wanted it—but for now, he would simply touch, feel and be. That was all Severus would want from him, anyway. Draco pressed a hot, wet kiss to the sluggishly bleeding line of bitemarks along his Alpha's neck.

In all honesty, he'd just been a little irritated upon discovering that his ability to speak was slipping away—and would vanish until their bonding was complete—so he'd tried to make his point, perhaps a little more viciously than necessary. But then again, Severus hadn't complained. Draco licked at the tender wounds, trying to ignore the very minute flinches he could feel when he touched a particularly sensitive spot.

Severus's shoulders were taut and rigid, like the rest of him, but Draco could appreciate the image of lean, tight muscle that was now forever burned into his mind's eye. He would never have guessed that Severus could be this chiseled underneath those flowy teaching robes. If only the girls at school had known—he smirked, letting his wandering hand travel absently up to Severus's hair. They would never have the chance to see—or even guess at it—if he had his way now. He'd make sure that Severus always wore those robes now, for this body would be for his eyes alone.

In spite of the lean, slender frame, there was definite muscle beneath the almost unnaturally pale skin. Potions, Draco mused to himself, as Severus was just self-sacrificing enough that he would have tested his own potions on himself. That spurred another thought and he paused in his thoughts when a warming charm wrapped around them both.

A full-throated purr of delight filled the room. Draco squeezed his eyes shut, knowing fully well that he was blushing as bright as Pansy's ridiculous new shade of lipstick. He felt Severus shake above him, a deliciously dark chuckle doing things to his body that he hadn't yet learned to control. He had no time to puzzle through that when Severus's large, calloused hand reached between them and all coherent thought successfully fled.

From there, it blurred.

Draco could only formulate snatches of coherence as Severus's talented hands, lips and tongue successfully brought him to completion—twice. His mind tortured him with the fact that Severus was very well-endowed—a reality he could believe, when Severus opted for a slow, leisurely thrust that nearly drove him mad with such precise, exquisite pleasure. He did not let himself dwell on the fact that Severus must have had other partners to be able to perform so flawlessly.

Instead, he focused on the fact that Severus's hair was definitely not greasy, but rather incredibly soft and fine—as well as spell-cleaned. He had a ridged scar on the back of his neck as if someone had attempted to hack his head off and failed—a detail that Draco was most grateful for—and in those brief moments of clarity, Draco found himself reassured by the crooked beak of a nose that reminded him this was definitely no dream.

Only Severus could have a nose like that. Draco kissed and nuzzled it, hoping to show his appreciation for his Alpha's uniqueness and unconventional looks. Severus would probably never be beautiful—to anyone, but him and that was just fine. When he saw stars again, before his vision when black, Draco finally found his voice, screeching his unadulterated pleasure to the ceiling and whoever else was around to hear.

And then, he knew nothing at all.


When Draco woke again, it was to the dark velvet tones of Severus's quiet chuckle from beneath him. The laughter, however muted and tempered, caused his chest to vibrate and the movement brought Draco to full awareness. He blinked owlishly at the face beneath him, the harsh lines that somehow seemed to have softened by a few fractions. Dark eyes sought his face and took in every uncontrolled expression until he roused himself enough to school his features into some semblance of his Malfoy mask.

He watched as Severus's own features began to sharpen and rearrange themselves into something indescribable and with some effort, he pushed himself forward to bump noses and nuzzle along that strong jaw. Draco didn't even bother to stop the pleased purr that slipped out as he relaxed, realizing that he was carefully draped over Severus's front, snugly wrapped in the sheets and blankets. His guess was correct, because Severus froze, then mirrored the same relaxation.

There was no real need for words and so Draco chose to keep his silence, basking in the knowledge that he was irrevocably intertwined with Severus now and there would be no way for the lone wolf wizard to deny their bond. He thought they were decently matched, as far as dragel instincts, anyway and the lure of Severus's potent magic was merely a lovely addition to things. Pillowing his head on Severus's chest, Draco shifted so his left ear rested directly over Severus's heart.

He listened to the beat that was too familiar and regular, realizing that the steady, calming beat was yet another thing that Severus could control—the man was a master of secrets and perfection, least of all being the magnificent control he had over his body. Control that Draco had enjoyed just minutes ago. He sighed, softly. "Do it again," the words slipped out.

Severus made a questioning sound in his throat.

"That last one," Draco yawned, snuggling in for a good nap. He'd be happy to indulge again as soon as he'd rested enough to be able to keep his eyes open.

"Oh?" Severus was amused. "Enjoyed that?"

"Immensely." Draco sniffed. He patted what part of Severus that he could reach without having to move too much. That last round had been quite inventive and even if he had blacked out from the sheer pleasure of it, he fully intended to enjoy a second round. After all, practice made perfect and if he practiced, well, that remained to be seen.

"Draco…" Severus began.

Draco lifted his head and one finger was pressed to Severus's thin lips. "If you ruin this," he said, warningly. "We'll need to repeat everything."

Severus's lips twitched in that faint approximation of what he always did instead of smiling outright. He opted to nibble on Draco's fingertip instead. Draco wrinkled his nose and withdrew his finger, slipping from lying atop Severus to cuddling close at his side. A faint twinge in his lower back reminded him of certain aches in certain places and he resolutely closed his eyes, resolving to sleep it off. His mother had said that was the best option for a first time, anyway.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Draco was fast asleep and Severus found his mind growing restless. He'd processed the fact that he'd acquired a Submissive and Pareya, had claimed said Submissive and now the instinctive itch to lay claim to his Pareya was making itself known. He didn't see how Draco could sleep through the infernal nagging, because the moment their bond had sealed, his Alpha nature had immediately stretched towards the blue-greyed dragel, Terius.

The reality both irritated and frustrated him, because while he understood the instinctive need and the natural inclination to build a Circle as soon as possible, he was almost certain that it was Draco who should've been sorting through those things. He could sense Terius just at the edge of his consciousness and knew the man was still in the kitchen, cooking or—Severus's thoughts came to an abrupt halt as his brilliant mind connected the dots to another spot of reality he hadn't yet considered.

Terius had given Draco blood.

Draco had taken blood from him as well.

Severus frowned. He'd taken some back from Draco to complete their Bond, but he'd known not to take too much, because Draco needed it more than he did. Then he'd realized that Terius had been using his own blood quite liberally. When the knut dropped, Severus bit back a growl and gently eased himself away from Draco, knowing he would have to rise and check on Terius. He didn't have to be a Medic to know that power had very little to do with blood.

There was only so much a full-grown man could spare and there was only so much Magic could do.

If Terius had compromised himself for sentimentality, Severus would kill him.

Draco whined faintly at his movements and Severus reached out with the Alpha authority in mind, silencing Draco's protests with a gentle squeeze to the shoulder and tucking the covers around the small form as he slipped out from the bed's warmth. The Alpha nudge would ensure that Draco remained sleeping and safe. He knew there was nothing to worry Draco and resting would be good—there were sure to be running the moment the time slot changed on the safe house.

He made a note to check for a pain potion on Draco's behalf to help with any lingering discomfort from their Bonding and tried not to think about how wonderful it had been to claim him in every way possible.

Summoning his robes back to him, Severus dressed in a rush and exited the room in a decidedly darker mood than when he'd first entered it. He mentally rifled through his private potion stores and was relieved to note that he'd packed additional blood replenishers in addition to his pain potions, more than usual, due to the recent slew of bloody punishments Voldemort had been handing out. As it was his duty to tend to some of the weaker Death Eaters and be sure that they would survive to carry out their duties for another day, he'd learned to walk with a good stash of healing potions.

The safe house was eerily quiet, but Severus could appreciate the silence for what it was—a calm, empty silence that meant everything was alright for the time being. His instincts told him that they were safe and he'd learned to trust that part of his dragel-self years ago. It had saved him on more than one occasion.

Making his way to the kitchen, Severus froze when he caught sight of Terius sitting on the kitchen floor in nearly the same position as where he'd left him. Clenching his jaw, he strode forward, taking in the detail of an empty glass atop the corner, the half-eaten pot of pudding and the lack of signs of a struggle.

Ha. So Draco had taken too much blood. Severus suppressed an oath when he reached the slumped figure and realized that Terius hadn't even reacted to his presence. He'd expected some sort of reaction, especially having seen Terius in action just hours earlier and he did not like what this reality meant. If Terius was this weak, then there would certainly be trouble if trouble was to be had.

The Pareya was very, very pale, his breathing shallow, eyes closed, body limp. His magic sparked feebly around him, light protections meant to keep him safe from things such as fire or frostbite—nothing strong enough to protect him from physical assault.

Severus immediately shoved the pot of pudding to the side and cast a basic healer's diagnostic over Terius, his scowl deepening even more. Surely the man had more sense than this. The usual symptoms registered, rapid heart rate and low blood pressure, along with the signs of shock, which had him grinding his teeth together as he reacted with years of training that was now second nature.

Easing Terius down to lie on the floor, he tore off his black robe and wadded it up to elevate the man's legs. Terius stirred faintly, the same, soft, heartbreaking whine that Draco had given when Severus had left the bed. Severus bit back the urge to growl and instead, briskly felt along Terius's forehead and neck, feeling for a temperature and pulse. His touch seemed to have a soothing effect as Terius relaxed minutely, body growing pliant.

There was no sign of vomiting, which was good, and Severus cast a warming and stabilization charm next, as he reached for the slender dragonhide pouch that he always wore. This was a Potion Master's trademark. Opening the small potion pocket case, he peered at the waxed seals atop them, denoting each phial as his own. The pocket case was charmed to be unbreakable and it also had an expandable charm on it, allowing him to store the phials without affecting the contents. He found the necessary blood replenisher, Pepper-Up and a basic reviving draught.

It would have to do for now.

Biting the top off of the first phial, he yanked it out with his teeth and immediately, he pried open Terius's jaw, to upend the contents of said phial into the Pareya's mouth. He spat the cork on the floor beside them and covered Terius's mouth with his free hand, massaging the throat to coax him to swallow. Spelling potions into a patient's stomach was tricky and Severus preferred to avoid it whenever he could. Improper use and application of potions and salves could be just as dangerous as haphazardly throwing random ingredients into a cauldron.

He repeated the process two more times, before using his wand to cast a very carefully controlled augamenti, to help rinse out the last dregs of the potion from Terius's mouth. It was almost a full minute before the reviving draught worked and when it did, Terius's body grew even more lax, as if he had no motor control at all.

Severus furrowed his brow, he did not like what that meant. Either Terius had nearly exhausted himself or he could be having a reaction to the set of potions. Mentally reviewing the ingredients in each of them, Severus tried to pinpoint anything that might have caused the most common of allergic reactions. He did not find anything that matched up with the current situation and so he settled on the fact that Terius had likely overdone it. For a moment, he wondered if spiking them with blood would have helped, and then he recalled the fact that Terius had not spiked Draco's potions, but rather asked him to do it instead—something about proper ranking channels. Perhaps, their incomplete bond would have changed the usefulness of the potions. Severus rose, carefully, intending to carry the Pareya into the sitting room when the man woke.

"Sev…rus?" He licked his lips with some difficulty, his eyelids fluttering halfway open, but still halfway closed.

"Who else could it possibly be, you dimwitted dunderhead! A first-year knows that excessive blood loss can lead to-"

"Magical…drain…" Terius gasped out. "Was—a—magical—vampire—present…" He coughed and then seized up as if he were choking.

Severus immediately eased him back to the floor and helped him sit up, thumping him generously from behind to help with the hacking coughs. A moment later, Terius shuddered and seemed to curl in on himself. That was a new development and Severus's dark eyes narrowed even more. He was somewhat out of his depth, but did not see the point in admitting it. "Tell me what you need," he said, brusquely.

Blue-grey eyes flickered up to fix on him, looking a bit too vulnerable for Severus's liking. The blue gradually faded until nothing more than deep, penetrating grey orbs stared back at him. "Blood." Terius said. Another hacking cough wracked his body and he lurched forward to brace his forehead on Severus' thin shoulder. "Sorry…"

"A bit not good," Severus muttered, half to himself. He swooped up the younger man in his arms and headed for the bedroom. He'd feel safer knowing that all three of them were together and it would give him a moment to think about Terius' request. Kicking open the bedroom door with one foot, Severus tugged on Draco's bond, a bit apologetically, considering that he'd all but pushed Draco into dreamland minutes ago.

The petite blond roused himself almost at once, sleepy grey eyes blinking open to take in Severus and then Terius. Draco's eyes grew wide with a mixture of worry and distress, before he scrambled up from the tangle of sheets and duvet, pulling them back to make room for Terius. "What happened?" He asked, his voice raspy.

"I do not know." Severus said, stiffly. "He said something about a magical vampire and then—he's in shock."

"What do we do?" Draco's hands fluttered nervously over Terius' sweating form and he bit his lip as his magic sparked visibly between them. "Is he—we have to—claim?" He stammered. That was what his instincts were clamoring for, but it did not mean that was what he was most comfortable doing at that precise moment.

"What?" Severus glowered at him.

"Claim him." Draco steeled himself, meeting Severus' dark eyed glare quite steadily. "He was using a lot of magic—did he-"

"…blood." Terius gasped out again. His grey eyes seemed to be darkening and his pale skin grew even whiter.

"Alright, it's alright." Draco soothed. He reached up to his neck with one hand, claws coming out—only to be caught by Severus, who glowered at him. "Severus-!"

Severus gave him a Look, and then reached for a blood replenisher potion from his pouch. He downed it himself and then tossed another one to Draco. "Drink it." He said, brusquely. "And you'll have to help." A Pain Potion was produced almost at once, knowing that Draco would appreciate it, even if he didn't exactly need it.

"With what?" Draco wiggled the waxed cork out of the phial and drank it down with a grimace, before handing it back. He did the same with the proffered pain potion and felt himself relax a bit as the slight soreness from earlier, faded away to a tolerable state.

"With this." Severus reached down and began to reposition Terius. He waved Draco to sit back up at the headboard and transferred the weakened Pareya to rest in Draco's lap. "Hold him." He tugged roughly at the dressy formal wear, popping off a few buttons in his haste.

A flicker of fear passed through those grey eyes—so fleeting, that if it had been anyone else, they would have missed it—however, it was Severus Snape and he knew and saw all. What he'd seen made his stomach churn and his brisk hands slow a fraction of their hurried pace. Draco was the one to smooth it over though, for he bent down and smoothed his thin fingers over Terius' sweaty forehead.

"It's alright," Draco murmured, softly. "He's gentle. Very gentle." He leaned further down and pressed a kiss to Terius' forehead and then to his eyes. "Thank you for choosing me—for choosing us." He stretched his jaw, feeling it pop as his fangs surged up from his gums, aching with the need to be buried in warm, willing flesh.

Severus paused in his task of undressing Terius and then waved his hand, sharply. The clothes were banished to a neatly folded stack at the foot of the bed on the floor. Draco's words had hit him right where his rational mind met his muted emotions. The blasted boy would be the death of him-no, not a boy anymore, a Submissive, his Submissive. A Submissive with an excellent point and a very, very subtle reminder. Severus took it to heart. He did not mean to be rough or brusque, it was simply in his nature to be a bit more abrupt than most others and it wasn't his fault when others took it the wrong way.

Still, Draco was right and Severus did not want to start this off on the wrong foot. At least, between him and Draco, there were the years of interaction between them, Terius had no such buffer and as such, Severus allowed his hands to finally gentle-just as Draco had claimed. It might be rushed and he knew that logically, they didn't really have enough time for this, but his instincts wouldn't calm and Draco's magic was beginning to show signs of strain. This was simply the best solution for the time being. They'd have to make do.

"Right," Severus warned, a moment before he settled himself over Terius and bit sharply down on the right side of the man's neck.

Terius keened softly, trembling beneath the deceptively warm, sturdy weight. He felt Draco's hands running up and down his sides and arms, rubbing with firm, deliberate strokes meant to reassure him, as a soft purring sound soothed the ache he felt inside. He waited as the seconds passed, each moment feeling like agonizing torture, until he was being shifted and Draco's fangs claimed the left side of his neck. His cry was weak, but not one ofprotest as his body finally surrendered, instinctively understanding that he was safe, even in such a vulnerable state.

The magic was so subtle at first, that if he wasn't quite so depleted, Terius wouldn't have felt it at all. But then it started as a tiny ripple, building up into a wave that that unleashed a maelstrom of magic, emotion and rawness in his very being. He heard Draco's surprised whine and Severus' irritated growl—with a hint of uncertainty in it—and knew that this was a bonding that would last forever.

Everything blurred together and he was lost in such a pleasant, pleasurable haze that it didn't matter where Severus started and where Draco began. He only welcomed their talented hands that fairly worshipped his body with tenderness that seemed so unexpected in contrast to their personalities. Gratefulness welled up inside of him and Terius hoped they felt his answering passion and appreciation in every shared kiss.

Chapter Text

 

"You know, when Gwen told me that an odd trio of wizards caused a ruckus with a bunch of rogue nightwalkers, I wasn't expecting it to be you, Severus Snape. I sincerely hope you have a very good explanation for your involvement in the matter, because it would be a pity to have to deal with you otherwise. I have enjoyed our verbal spars quite a bit, you have remained one of more amusing humans in over a century. "

Severus jolted upright from restless sleep, his Alpha senses screaming on high-alert. He went from half-asleep one second to wide-awake the next. His second wand was out and pointed at the intruder, even as he registered several unwelcome, unearthly presences, within the Spartan bedroom. From the warmth pressing up against his sides, Severus knew that Draco was on his right and Terius was on his left—he was also very much aware that they had overslept and thus missed the changeover time of the safe house.

Just like he knew they would.

Bonding magic wasn't something to be trifled with and often times, a bonding night meant a very late day, because all newly bonded dragels would sleep as deeply as they could for as long as they could, until they woke naturally. It was the precursor to resetting the Submissive's internal rhythms that would result in a proper start of their Realignment Cycle.

Severus let his scowl speak for himself. His dark eyes were drawn to the speaker and he found himself staring into familiar ruby red eyes, set in a perfectly pale face. Even a first-year could tell who or rather, what it was. "Weston Aldridge." He said, scorn dripping from his voice. "How—kind of you to drop in." He'd had his dealings with the secretive vampire, after all, he was a Potions Master and sometimes he needed ingredients and sometimes Weston needed a Potions Master. They often engaged in witty exchanges, the Vampire's way of amusing himself and verifying that Severus was worthy of his assistance. "Unannounced."

"Oh come now, Severus." There was a lilting purr to the Master Vampire's nearly musical words. "You didn't really think that you could manage to slip away after something of that magnitude. Tell me, was it you or one of your new little pets? If it is you, I might be inclined to overlook it. All those vampires—dead—that's a bit, how do you say, 'a bit not good' eh?"

Terius shifted beside Severus and the Potions Master didn't dare look down. He hoped that the Pareya would not speak, but that was instantly forgotten when he remembered that Terius was a Councilman. He hoped that meant that he had a good grasp of politics, because they were quite nicely landed in a significant heap of trouble and it would take a great deal of effort to emerge unscathed.

"Whose treaty did you sign?" Terius interrupted, his voice gravelly from sleep. He looked a fright, his hair every which way and his stubble already forming a rather decent short beard. His eyes were back to a blue-grey and his lips were twisted into a rather ugly scowl. "And by whose name do you enter here?" He slowly sat up from his place beneath the warm covers. The duvet

Severus looked down at him, sharply. Not about to ask, but also not happy for the interruption. His other hand, hidden beneath the covers, lightly squeezed Draco's shoulder, hoping to convey that said blond ought to remain quiet and still until the matter was settled—or at least until they all had some clothes on.

Terius didn't seem to be the least bit worried about his state of undress, but from the very dark look on his face, he wasn't very happy with their bedroom guest either. He looked around their bed, quickly, scowling a few times. "I won't be ogled like some show pony," He snapped. "Call off your guards and wait outside with them in the sitting room."

"Oho." Weston lifted his chin, quite amused, his grey-white-pale hands folding delicately on his lap. He looked every inch the vampire lord with his three-piece suit and silver accents. His black fingernails gleamed in the low light of the room, the same shade as his pristine heeled boots. Blood-red eyes glittered with excitement. "And if I don't? Pray tell, who do you-"

"My name is Terius Baronsworth, favored son of the Baronsworth Estates, Honored Councilman of the Inner Courts, holder of the Lindell Bloodstone and certified Caster of blood magic, endorsed by the Interrealm Association of Masteries." Terius squinted, reaching up to scratch at his neck, head tipped to the side, showing off the two, fresh bonding marks on his person. "I have other titles, if you would care to hear them." His smile was sickeningly sweet, but it didn't touch his eyes. "Out! I give you my word we will grace you with an audience as soon as we are properly attired to receive you."

"That is rather impressive, Councilman." Weston inspected his fingernails with an air of disdain. "However, I'm afraid I know Severus a bit better than you do at present and seeing as you've only just bonded, well, you're not quite the authority figure here now, are you?"

Terius bristled visibly, but Severus growled softly and the Pareya subsided at once, instinct demanding that he surrender to the higher authority, especially since they were so newly bonded.

Weston smirked. "That's right, down boy." He mocked. The smirk grew wider as he took in Terius' dilemma, torn between showing his official colors or playing the part of a good Pareya. Dragels could be so amusing sometimes, at least to him, Vampires had their own oddities and quirks, as well, but some things were simply too funny to witness. "You do know why I am here, don't you Severus?"

"Snape," Severus growled out. "Snape to you." He'd never appreciated the vampire's familiarity, but he did understand the unique position that it put him in. He squeezed Draco's arm a bit tighter when the blond made as if to move. It would be best if Draco continued to pretend to be asleep. Weston wasn't paying attention to Draco as yet and Severus wanted to keep it that way. Terius could handle himself if it came down to a quick and dirtyfight—physical or verbal—but he'd prefer that Draco stayed out of it for the time being. "And if you think I'll sit here and have this conversation while I am-"

"I am not stopping you from dressing." Weston said, calmly. He tilted his head, inky black hair swishing about his shoulders, silver cross earrings twinkling with the movement. "By all means, you needn't put yourselves out to accommodate-"

"If you think that I would let my Submissive dress in front of your tainted eyes, you have another think coming in that undead brain of yours." Severus sniped. "The same for our Pareya."

The tacked onphrase at the end brought a pleased gleam to Terius ' blue-grey eyes and he gracefully subsided, slipping back beneath the sheets, tucking himself close to Severus, the smirk on his face not quite visible—unless you were looking for it. His position was both provocative and predatory—a Pareya that was now on the prowl.

A flicker of shadow passed over Weston's face and with an exaggerated bow, he gracefully exited the room, pausing just outside of the doorway to give a signal with one, now-gloved hand, in which a slight sucking sound preceded the rush of wind where his invisible guards exited alongside him. "I'll be in the sitting room," He said, haughtily. "You know I don't like to be kept waiting."

Severus growled, lips curling back to show his wicked fangs.

Weston left.

Chapter Text

 

Severus did not particularly care whether Weston hated to be kept waiting or not.

In fact, the prissy vampire's preferences were the very least of his actual worries. The keyword term of 'rogue nightwalker' had set the tone for exactly what kind of discussion was likely to follow.

So, instead, Severus locked and warded the door, the moment he knew the vampire was past the threshold.

There was a mild feedback from Weston's retaliation—a slight, deliberate poke to let Severus know, that he knew he'd been warded from the room and didn't appreciate the petty slight.

It drew an inward flinch, but nothing that he wasn't capable of handling. He'd been through much worse, after all. And there were far more important things to focus on, than whether he'd hurt a vampire's feelings.

He listened until he could sense that the rest of Weston's entourage had accompanied him beyond the hallway just outside of the room and hopefully deeper into the house.

"Up, quickly," Severus snapped at both of his Bonded. This was definitely not the time to be lounging around and the fact that he'd have to negotiate with said vampire, without being able to track both Draco and Terius at the same time—frustrated him. It didn't help that he'd likely have to do the same with Albus Dumbledore sometime in the very near future as well, another irritating detail that was giving him a headache.

He'd handle it when the moment came. As he did with everything else, but it wasn't something to look forward to.

"I didn't know you were friendly with the Vampire Clans," Terius said, mildly. He slid out from between the sheets and gingerly eased upright to stand on his own two feet. His original disgust had been for the low-ranked vampires that had crawled out of the woodwork—for such kind were never allowed in Nevarah and he'd never had the displeasure of interacting with them—but their base reactions and the filthy aura surrounding them, had been quite telling.

He was sensitive enough to make out what they'd wanted with Severus and Draco, and from what he'd read in their blood, it'd been plenty to help his decision along. There'd been no remorse for what he'd done. Not in his rightful rank, anyway.

The true Vampire Clans policed their own, with strict and bloody measures for all. In exchange, they were fairly civilized. Of course, they'd been more formal when their Queen had walked among them, but it had been centuries, according to lore, since she'd done so. Naturally, the Vampire Clans kept to themselves, and kept their secrets.

There'd never been much reason to need to know more.

At least, not in his current line of work.

Terius twitched his fingers, wondering if it was worth the hassle of spelling in a fresh set of clothes from home or if it would be simpler to repair what he'd worn earlier. Inter-realm transportation spells for a single outfit was rather silly.

On the other side of the bed, Draco's progress was somewhat hindered by the appreciative look for Terius' naked form. He'd absently figured that he'd have to wear the same outfit again, but was curious to see what he hadn't the clarity or strength of mind to properly process hours before.

Terius was certainly quite lovely to look at, with his fairly neat hair, soft blue-grey eyes and decently muscled form. It spoke of the detail that he must do something to keep himself in shape and that his meticulous care of his appearance could be attributed to his line of work.

Draco hummed, appraisingly. He had all sorts of questions that wanted to be asked and yet, this was not the time for them.

Severus resisted the urge to roll his eyes and promptly nudged Draco all the way out of the bed, ignoring the indignant squawk that came his way.

"We don't have time for that," he snapped.

Draco huffed, but obediently straightened up and began his usual barrage of primping spells. Terius seemed quite amused by it and watched, curiously, as he summoned and repaired his own clothing with a series of silent spells.

"Is there anything you want from us?" Terius asked, when Severus took up pacing the length of the room, having dressed and settled himself in a single fluid spell.

Dark eyes flashed, dangerously, before Severus gave a short, stiff shake of his head. He'd considered it, but it was best not to have either of them interfere.

Whatever it was that Weston was after, he'd have to hear it first and then decide.

It bothered him more, that the vampire had actually breached the safe house without some sort of alert triggering to let them know that they weren't alone.

As if guessing what was on his mind, Terius cleared his throat, softly. "The protections on the house only allow those who mean us no harm," he said.

"It's a vampire," Draco said, darkly. "We don't trust those."

"It is a he and he is an upper ranked vampire," Severus corrected. "Mind your manners, Draco."

A look of puzzlement flickered over Draco's face, but he nodded once, to show that he mostly understood.

"Vampires are well respected in Nevarah," Terius offered. "Not the rogue ones, but the others. The natural-born. We don't keep much with the made ones, but those that are usually made, tend to be controlled by the naturals—as they are usually the one to turn them."

"Respected how?" Severus wanted to know.

"We usually parley with their respective Clan leaders or the Elite Council members." Terius explained. "They are welcome, so as long as they pass through the gates to the realm and not some back way and keep the rules as a visiting guest."

"Really?" Draco hummed, checking that his shirt was neatly tucked in and his robes hung the way he liked them to. They did.

"To your father, they were nothing more than vicious mindless beasts," Severus said, tersely. "And that is largely what the wizarding world tends to think of it too. Both thoughts are very misleading. They're smart enough to know what they get into and how to get out of it."

"Mother didn't speak of them much, but she always looked—upset—when father mentioned them," Draco said. Upset had been an understatement, but what he'd heard of vampires and what he actually knew, were two different and contradicting things. Part of him had always wondered if they were such mindless, vicious beasts, while another part, wished that perhaps they weren't. Sort of. Maybe. He didn't know. It was too big of an idea to square up with neat, textbook explanations. "If that one meant no harm, then that's why he made it all the way into here?"

"No," Terius said, quickly. "The house would have admitted him, but he made it—here—on his own." The bedroom hadn't been warded—at least, not by him. He hadn't the magic to spare for it, after the draining energy and Severus' intervention. He'd been too out of it to care.

A slight inward tick let him know that he was annoyed at Severus for not quite catching that. Granted, his Alpha didn't seem to be in the usual calmed state of one in tune with their instincts, but at the same time, it irritated him to think that Severus had not thought that far. The man seemed brilliant enough at first glance—at least, if he was a potions master, that meant something.

"And that's the part that worries me," Severus growled. "He shouldn't have been able to enter the room."

Like Terius, Severus was mostly irritated, if he was being honest with himself. His own personal set of spells had been kept active around him, which meant that the bedroom should have stayed private, even if others had sought the sanctuary of the safe house.

Then again, this was Weston.

Weston was not like other vampires, but that did not mean that Severus could relax. Yet. He occasionally felt the urge to destroy the vampire, but yet, had always held back in time for said vampire to prove himself rather useful or invaluable.

The working relationship as it was, gave enough leeway for the current situation. They'd parted on good terms for their last interaction, so this one simply meant that Severus would have to play it by ear.

There was always something at stake and until he could find a moment's privacy somewhere, either in his labs or his private quarters, then they would have to stay on their feet and keep their wits about them.

"How do you know him?" Terius asked, cautiously. "If you don't mind my asking."

"Work." Severus said, brusquely. "We've worked together in the past."

"…I see."

"Nothing more than a passing acquaintance," Severus scowled, turning to Draco. "Would you stop primping already? You look perfectly fine, as you always do and there's no need to improve upon what already works." He'd already spelled on his darkest robes and squished all happy emotions back into the tiny little box that allowed him to handle disturbing matters with the ruthless efficiency that experience had taught him.

The last thing he needed now, were extra distractions—specifically, Terius still fussing with his hair and Draco still fussing with his robes.

Draco blinked. Belatedly, a slight blush stained his cheeks. He lifted his chin.

Terius beckoned for Draco to draw closer, unperturbed. He'd only been taking a few minutes longer, to allow Severus more time to gather himself together. Apparently, he'd lingered a few seconds too long. "We'll flank you," he said, to Severus. "I'll stay to your right, if that's preferable?"

"It's fine," Severus herded them towards the door. "Don't interrupt anything."

Draco gave a slight shrug. Terius simply nodded in agreement. This was not his deal to negotiate after all.

 

Chapter Text

 

"Locking me out of the room, Severus?" Weston drawled. "It isn't as if I'm some sort of peeping Tom." He sat in the far corner of the room, draped over the armchair was if it were some sort of throne. His blood-red eyes gleamed with a flicker of what could have been curiosity.

Severus growled in answer, ignoring the feigned hurt in the cheerful vampire's countenance. This sort of conversation always made him want a potion to fast-forward the entire mess. "What is you want, Aldridge? And don't tell me, you've come all this way, for some potion."

"Some potion?" Weston echoed, eyes comically wide and jaw dropped to show pearly white fangs. "Goodness me. You really are a bit off. I take it that's the instinct talking and all that?" The sarcasm fairly dripped from his voice, the sharpening gaze suggesting that he wasn't really in the mood to play word games.

"I doubt you would insinuate such things, if you did not believe you had something of significant value to bribe me with," Severus threw back. "What is it you want? You've come all this way."

"A potion isn't exactly what I had in mind," Weston said, checking his pale, clawed hands. "And this is about the rogues, but before we get to that, I thought I'd mention something of interest?"

The not-quite-a-question made Severus click his fangs together in annoyance. He was not going to ask what it was. He wasn't!

Weston's eyes darkened a few shades more. "I was thinking more along the lines of acquisitions of a sort—not finished goods, so to speak, but rough ones. Tell me, do you craft gems?"

Severus' eyes narrowed. He'd never mentioned any such thing aloud in years. He'd taken great pains to keep any inkling of interest muted and away from the public—and private—eyes of those around him.

Alchemy was not outside his realm of talents, but he preferred not to have that mentioned in any sort of company. And not anywhere that would result in someone trying to hold it over him as some form of blackmail. The Ministry was not overly fond of Alchemists as it was.

Not to mention that relying on or even testing his skills in that particular area usually wound up causing the kind of trouble that took forever to extract himself from. He'd taken great pains to be sure that Voldemort did not catch wind of that particular talent.

And he'd be damned if he let some bright-eyed vampire try and weasel a specific answer from his disproving lips.

"You need not answer," Weston said, quickly. His smile seemed to sharpen. "I was only asking. I know that some Elite Potion Masters supposedly have the ability and I thought that perhaps you might be one of them…?"

Severus simply stared.

Weston sighed, dramatically. "If you were, it'd be well worth your time in whatever currency you preferred," he said, lightly. "I was in the market for bloodstones. Quite a large quantity, actually—and rather than the synthetically crafted ones, I thought it would be suitable to seek out a few alternative options. I would be willing to pay anywhere from twenty to thirty times the value of a raw, unfinished bloodstone." Slender shoulders quirked upwards in a shrug. "We stock our storehouses every so often and it is about that time."

Severus didn't answer. Instead, he let his dark eyes wander to the left of the seated vampire, trying to make out the faint, barely visible shimmer of his invisible bodyguard.

Gwen was usually close on hand, wherever Weston was. She was short, deadly and dark in all the ways that a vampire could be. And likely the only reason that he was lounging so comfortably and openly in front of them, instead of his usual more refined self.

The silence stretched out.

Terius swallowed, silently reminding himself to keep his words to himself. Severus was more than capable of defending and explaining himself, should he have to and right now, it would be best if he focused on Draco.

At least, considering the odd conversation from a few minutes ago. Vampires were intelligent creatures, but they were rather vain in their own right—almost as much as Fae.

If Weston chose to take some slight from something that Draco did not quite mean to say, then there'd be problems. Terius silently rifled through his list of whisper-light spells, trying to remember if there was one for selective speech.

At the very least, he should keep it in mind to cast at a moment's notice…

Even if Severus hadn't said anything, Terius could sense that the house was completely surrounded. And not by a mere dozen or so, Vampires—oh no. High-ranked vampires. Trained, classed and eager vampires, that would, of course, answer to whoever controlled them.

The vampire, Terius was sure, happened to be one Weston Aldridge, currently drawing out an awkward conversation for every last drop of drama that he could manage.

"…that is not why you are here," Severus allowed, at last. He affected a look of supreme disinterest. "And I am not in the habit of crafting—gemstones. Blood or otherwise. I am a Potions Master and at present, I am not accepting special orders."

"Of course not," Weston said, lightly. "I said I was here about the rogues—fairly sure I've mentioned it twice." He ruffled his dark, wavy hair, twitching faintly when one claw snagged in a perfect curl. "I only thought I'd ask because your quality of work is acceptable to the inner clans." He dipped his head and cast a glance about the room. "Of which, that leads me to the next question—because I do so hate to see you when I'm in my official capacity, it just isn't the same, is it?"

"Your point, Aldridge?"

"It is just you three, isn't it?" Weston flapped a hand at them. He shifted in his seat, drawing Gwen's attention.

"And isn't it your entire legion outside?" Severus snarked.

"Point," Weston allowed, brightening once more. "I am only asking. Honestly, you'd think I was here to tear you from limb to limb."

Severus scowled.

Weston beamed. "I'm not." He said, happily. "You did us a favor by taking out some of those nightwalker ones. As such, some of the rewards are owed to you—there were three magical signatures in play, so the reward will be divided into three shares—or simply given to you unless there are others…?"

Severus gestured to the table.

Weston laughed. "Always the same, aren't you, Severus?" he hummed. "I'll just set it on the table here then." He rose from his perch in the armchair in the corner, his movements fluid and seductive. "A few potions ingredients, then? If that's your preference, as usual?"

"No reason for it to chance," Severus returned, smoothly. He mentally reminded himself not to mind the casual use of his name. Dumbledore did it all the time, after all.

"As you like." From the folds of his tailored jacket, Weston drew out five slender phials. He set them carefully atop the polished wooden surface of the coffee table. "I'm sure you can figure the exact value, but we thank you for the assistance."

"…should I be grateful?" Severus couldn't help but notice that Gwen had soundlessly glided a few steps closer. Her eyes were bright, glittering red—with enough of a sparkle to suggest that she'd recently fed. Then again, he guessed they'd all come hunting. There was no reason for so many of them to be present, after all.

Weston tended to move as the eye of a hurricane. Unbothered and unencumbered, but with an entourage that breathed death and destruction in his wake. He usually obeyed whatever his Sire dictated, with only a few detours here and there.

Severus could not keep from glancing over at the phials. He was itching to examine them, especially at seeing that there was one particular glimmering liquid in one of them.

In spite of their interactions, Weston had always taken great care to bring him rare ingredients in excellent condition. He'd never had a bad batch or damaged sample.

"I don't think you could manage it," Weston said, amused. He backed away from the table. "But, since you're asking it that way—then no. There are no others and so we'll take our leave. I would suggest that you not linger here, because my legion and I were not the only ones dispatched. I find you to be amusing and so I see no need to demand anything more from you."

Gwen flickered out of existence—briefly—at his elbow, before materializing again. She was obviously in some long-distance mental conversation, having fluxed in and out of the current space, to complete it and return with some useful bit of information. Leaning forward, she stood on tiptoe to whisper something that made Weston's red eyes glow eerily bright.

"Any particular places to avoid?" Severus inspected the phials, checking to be sure that it was exactly what he'd expected.

Three rare poisons, leviathan scales and a shimmering dust that could only be fairy dust.

How delightful. He was almost worried as to how the vampire had managed to obtain them and then immediately thought better of it. This was merely business after all.

"Everywhere," Weston said, blandly. He didn't care where they wandered after leaving the warehouse. They'd only stopped by on his whim. "Try not to linger, eh?"

"I will endeavor to hurry," Severus drawled.

Weston laughed. He snapped his fingers, twice and a great rustling of feet sounded outside. He nearly smirked. This had been almost painless. "Congratulations on your bonding, Severus Snape." He inclined his head, formally. "It is good to see that fortune favors even the darkest of the dark." He vanished into wisps of shadow, before Severus could growl after him.

Chapter Text

The congratulations hung in the air as Weston slipped out from the room, taking most of the forced gaiety along with him. There was the faintest hint of sincerity in his words, but still, this was Weston. There was no real way to be sure.

Severus didn’t move, however, he simply stayed where he was as if waiting for some cue that Weston was indeed gone. His aura, muted and spread through the entire house, crackled faintly along the edges, unsure of whether there was still another threat present.

They really did need to start moving again. They’d lingered here for far too long.

When he was reasonably sure that he’d taken his Legion and left, Terius broke the silence by shuffling closer in the room. He wanted to be sure they were alright, but from the faraway look in Draco’s eyes to the darkness in Severus’ it was clear that such a luxury was not exactly an option.

Personally, he wanted to remove the looks of uncertainty and muted distress on both their faces—again, a luxury he was sure they would not yet grant him. His Pareyic instincts clamored for attention and use—for him to make himself useful in the most natural way possible—taking charge of the immediate circumstances and allowing both Alpha and Sub to focus on their respective selves and responsibilities.

It was practically his right—and yet—! Terius swallowed. That already felt like an uphill battle that he was ill-equipped to fight.

“They’ve left,” Draco murmured, half to himself. He caught sight of Terius inching into the room and was surprised to find that a slight tendril of relief washed over him almost at once. Somehow, it felt better to know that both Terius and Severus were present, no matter how twisted up everything was just then.

Severus looked to him at once, a flicker of surprise in his pitch-black eyes. “You can tell?” There was hint of interest in his tone. That was definitely a useful skill.

Draco shifted, uncertainly. “I can feel that they aren’t here?” he offered, instead. “It’s kind of an absence of a feeling?” 

“Hm.” He’d have to think about that later. Severus stashed the gifted phials in his master potion’s pouch. They were indeed of some decent value and it’d help in the next few weeks before Hogwarts started up.

He was pleased to note that the phials were free from spells and the sorts of things that he usually had to worry about when purchasing certain ingredients in places like Knockturn Alley. With this ingredients, perhaps he could experiment a bit more.

Weston, for all of his faults, had always been meticulous like that and it was that reason alone, that allowed him to do business with the vampire. It was rare enough to find someone who treated potion-making like the deadly and beautiful art that it was.

“Is he always like that?” Draco wanted to know. He rubbed his hands along his arms, unable to banish the distinct lingering feeling of unease. It almost made his skin crawl, which immediately shifted the safe house from a ‘safe place’ to a ‘time-to-go-now’.

Terius frowned and moved closer, gently pushing his Pareyic aura out into the room. He was careful to direct more of it to Draco than Severus. It ached to watch Draco hugging himself, shoulders hunched forward, instead of instinctively seeking comfort—and yet, there wasn’t anything he could say to that.

Future conversations would be awkward and confusing, Terius was was sure. He’d found both of them running from vampires and dark magic, to begin with—on Earth, of all places. He wondered, briefly, if they’d ever been to Nevarah—and immediately knew the answer when Severus turned so his back was to the wall and Terius was within his line of sight.

Ah.

Instinct could and would override habit, a detail that should be far more pronounced now, given their recent bonding. And yet, Severus clearly didn’t trust him enough to turn his back to him in a room where it was just the three of them. Terius gently pulled his aura back, drawing on his element to hurry it along. He would definitely have his hands full.

“Like how?” Severus tensed, feeling the safe-house’s energies shifting again. It was almost time for another changeover and in the same vein, it irked him. His control wavered, faintly, as if it hung from a thin thread, that was somehow half-frayed.

“Like—that,” Draco gestured to the window for lack of a vampire to point at. The feeling was simply a mishmash of everything that could not quite pinpoint. “So—?”

“Normal?” Terius offered.

“No!” Draco twitched. The odd feeling was slowly dissipating and it was nice to feel his arms again.

“Odd?”

Draco gave him a withering look. That was far too mild a term for what he wanted to say. His arms fell back to his sides. “They’re just—he’s so—familiar with you.”

Severus swallowed back his surprise. That was not what he’d been expecting, but he should have thought it through. He studied the expression on Draco’s face, noting that it was half-curiosity and half-worry. Interesting. “I have worked with him in the past,” he said, at last. “He is nothing more than a client. He pays well—else I would have nowhere to take you two.”

“The house is about to changeover,” Terius said. “We really should leave in the next few-”

“I know. I can tell.” Severus growled. “Just—clear the house—and leave the food. We need to hurry, there won’t be much time, and we shouldn’t linger.”

“The food-” Terius began.

“If he had any sort of access to it—which he did—it is no longer safe. Throw it out.” Severus said, tightly. “Leave everything else. We’ll stop on the way, if you think you need something that badly.”

Terius hesitated. They hadn’t even had a chance to touch anything that he’d made, beyond the little bit of pudding in the pot, that he’d fed Draco. Neither Severus nor Draco seemed to care about that particular detail though.

Or at the thought of throwing out all of that good food. It made his stomach clench into knots and his hands disappear inside his robe sleeves. Before he could offer an alternative suggestion, Severus gave a sharp jerk of his head to the kitchen, irritation showing plainly on his pale face.

Unhappily, Terius slipped away to do as he was bid. He doubted that Weston would have done anything to the food—and even if he had, there were spells and protections for that. The vampires had nothing to gain from simply dropping in at a safe house.

They’d come hunting. Specifically, to verify whether it was worth leaving them alone or if they were part of the general scuffle that had taken place.

Fighting the urge to bang the pots and pans, Terius set his household spells in motion—directing them to dump the food, clean the utensils and sink, before finally erasing any inkling of their presence in the house.

It was really common courtesy for the next group passing through, but he was irritated enough to take his time doing it. His Pareyic instincts would pick up on any approaching danger, after all—new as his bonds were. He’d have time to move them.

Maybe.

He sighed, softly, shoulders drooping. Somehow, he’d expected something—happier—upon bonding. Even the claiming, he’d expected to be sweet and complimentary.

Fishing him his robe sleeves, he touched the small corded bracelet with the simple golden coin. There was sure to be a transaction square somewhere—ah. There it was. In the corner near the sink, where most Pareya were sure to look for it.

Terius pressed the golden coin to the fancy carved wooden block. A soft flare of blue-gold magic rippled over it, along with a flash of warmth to confirm that the payment had been processed. He’d have to be sure to make a note too look at the receipt later.

He reached up to tug on the ends of his hair even as his excellent hearing picked up on the conversation that hadn’t started until he’d been out of human-hearing range.

Curious. Draco acted almost as if he was more human than dragel…


Draco watched him duck through the doorway and disappear towards the kitchen. The nice feeling seemed to vanished along with Terius and Draco wondered what kind of spell the older dragel had used.

Whatever it was, he’d liked it. The feeling had been more than welcome, now that the Safe House was starting to worry him. Whether from the energies gathering up for another changeover, or something else, Draco couldn’t tell. He didn’t really know what else to do to speed the process up, so he stayed where he was and waited.There was no harm in observing after all. 

Severus was checking the state of his remaining potions and stashing the new ingredients in a way that said he’d done this sort of thing before.

“Where are we going now?” Draco asked, when he grew bored of watching the phials being shuffled and rearranged.

“Somewhere safe,” Severus muttered.

Draco swallowed back the second question that wanted to follow the first. Of course they were heading somewhere safe! He knew that Severus wouldn’t take him anywhere that wasn’t. He was more so wanting to be prepared for what they were going into, than the actual location.

He also had a few questions of his own that he wanted to ask, some of them, while Terius was out of the way. Granted, the taller dragel hadn’t seemed too troublesome, but Slytherin habits died hard and Draco couldn’t help it. Even if instinct demanded it, he would have to take his time in learning to trust him.


 

Terius made a final clean sweep of the safe house to be sure that there was nothing left differently than when they’d arrived. He was mostly stalling, because the longer they waited, the calmer Draco became. Still, it was time to leave and he didn’t exactly care to pay for another time slot.

Draco had continued to keep an eye out from the front window, barely moving in comparison to the rest of his Bonded. His soft, silvery eyes clouded over by suppressed emotion. His magic, however, had finally stabilized, a steady, constant hum that fed strongly through their shared bonds.

He moved at once into the center of the room, as Severus beckoned them close. He looked for a portkey, not the least bit surprised when Severus produced one from nowhere.

“You need to hold onto it,” Draco instructed when Terius frowned at the worn leather cuff in Severus’ palm. He reached out to pinch the end with two fingers. “It’s a portkey.”

Uncertainly, Terius touched it with two fingers. He didn’t have time to process more than that, because Severus muttered something under his breath and it all spun away in a flash of light and wind.

 

Chapter Text

 

Gwen zipped through the forest, keeping up with Weston's punishing pace. She hadn't expected him to leave so violently, but perhaps she had underestimated the entire situation. She hadn't expected that he was still on such good terms with Severus Snape.

That was troublesome.

Still, the grim set of his jaw and the swiftly darkening hue in his eyes, suggested that his ill-tempers were due to make an appearance soon. That was not the most welcome development, but she'd weathered her years at his Sire's courts and knew better than to bring up such a topic.

Perhaps they'd be lucky and a few rogues would catch his attention. A bit of bloodshed never hurt…

He threw a glance her way, when cutting by her left, veering far enough off course that everyone else had to realign themselves once more. His shortcuts made no sense, even to the two trackers that flanked him.

He didn't even stop for a breath.

Some of it was deliberate—most Legion Masters did put their crew through a fair amount of testing, depending on their mood—but the rest of it, was too easy.

He was distracted and to her, it was all too easy to tell.

She cast a glance back in the distance where the Safe House had vanished. Her undead heart grew heavy. This was not the kind of knowledge she cared to know.


"…was it wise to spare him?"

"I do not believe my Sire wished for me to kill his favorite potions master," Weston said, tightly. He'd wondered if she would hold her tongue, but that had been too much to hope for. He should have slipped away while they were culling the rogues. No one would have missed him for a few minutes…

"He said to leave none alive."

"And should I have done as he requested, then I would have to spend the next decade banished to the edges of the realms, while trying to find a new potions master and simultaneously atoning for committing such a grievous sin." Weston threw back.

"He will be angry."

"How bold of you to presume."

"…I have had many Legion Masters and yet, I have never cared for any of them."

The implied meaning made his fangs ache. He did not want to get into this discussion any time soon. It would add another layer of consideration on his already overworked brain. There was too much to manipulate at the moment and this would complicate things.

He twitched. Best to nip it in the bud. The words tumbled from his mouth before he could help it. "And I am the exception?"

"You will be a very dead exception."

Weston huffed. "Haven't you any tact? It is my cross to bear. You need not trouble yourself."

"Your very existence troubles me," Gwen snapped.

Weston bit back the growl in his throat. "Are you questioning my decision?" he inquired, softly.

"Never, Legion Master. I only see and observe and ask questions to settle what lingers in my mind."

He scoffed. "…too much lingers, then."

Gwen merely nodded.

They continued to blur through the woods, when a hiss rattled out among them.

Ah more rogues.

How lucky. He was just in the mood to ruin a few things.

"Legion Master?"

Weston smirked. He slowed enough to zero in on the first rogue that burst through the trees. "Hunt." He projected the command through their shared links. The auras of their prey finally registered. Weaklings, the lot of them. Weston tossed his head as his eyes glowed red. "Kill."


ALDRIDGE ESTATE : MAIN HOUSE : MASTER SUITE


"Ah, Weston, you're back," his Sire, Ricardio Aldridge, turned gracefully from his position near the veranda windows. His shadow fell across the pretty trio of companions that had entertained him in the absence of his childe. The expected goblet of blood in hand, was charmed to suppress the scent of the contents and he swirled it, lazily almost as if it were habit.

From the careless way he held it, Weston could guess that the goblet was empty, in spite of the willing trio in front of him. In fact, the trio, though lithe and pale in their own ways, were unmarked and unscarred. His insides churned. That was not a good development. He resisted the urge to clasp his hands and silently hoped that he'd drank enough from the rogues on the way through.

He'd need every drop if the glower on his Sire's face was to be believed.

"I expected you sooner." Ricardio murmured. "What took you so long?"

"There were complications, Sire."

"Of course, of course—but you handled them?"

"As I always do."

"Good, good," Ricardio purred. He flapped a hand at the three young men he'd been arranging by the window. "Leave us. Return when I call for you."

With subservient murmurs, the trio of tall blonds, bowed their way out of the elegant room. None of them dared to meet Weston's eyes or that of his Sire.

Ricardio seated himself on the newly vacated window lounge. He thumped the goblet on the windowsill at his elbow. "Strip." His eyes glittered. "So I can be sure that the—complications—were not too taxing?"

Weston gritted his teeth. He gave a slight jerk of his head to Gwen, dismissing her. He told himself to ignore the fact that the glower in her face was meant for him.

She bowed deeply, before vanishing from sight.

Ricardio chuckled. "You spoil her so. She is a woman. She might enjoy the sight of a little striptease."

"…my body is but for your eyes only, Sire," Weston said, lightly. He began to undo the buckles of his dragon hide armor with careful hands.

There was a derisive snort from his Sire, before the curtains fell, cloaking the room in renewed darkness. "You always did have a way with your words," Ricardio hummed. "Though it rarely ever amuses me."

Weston didn't answer. He stepped out of the half-bodysuit, and methodically stripped down to his bloodstained outer garments.

"Did you catch them?"

"All of them, Sire. As per your order."

"Mmm, and no survivors?"

"None, Sire." Weston answered.

"Very good," Ricardio continued. "Perhaps I'll reward you—tomorrow."

"…if you wish."

"If you are good tonight…"

Weston didn't answer. He shimmied out of his underwear and tossed it with the rest of the clothes and armor on the bloody heap on the floor. There were faint prickles of discomfort as vampire healing caught up to rogue-vampire injuries. Their blood did little for his healing, but it would keep him alive, if things went a bit too far.

The fight had been welcome. He'd been quick enough, most times, and a bit slow at others. This was simply the price to pay for his existence.

Ricardio offered a noncommittal nod, rising from the lounge, to come and inspect him. It angered him to see any mark inflicted upon his childe by another's hand. He poked and prodded, testing muscle and joints, frowning a few times, before leaning in to lick a few splatters of blood along Weston's neck.

Obediently, Weston held still.

A pair of tiny shorts were handed over at the end.

To which, Weston sighed and wriggled into them. They were tight and far too showy for his tastes—with the soft sky blue material and the glittering threads shimmering at all angles.

But, it was Ricardio's favorite color and the slit in the back made it easier for other activities.

"Ah and a ribbon to match," his Sire hummed, red eyes alight with dark amusement. He drew out a pale blue sparkling ribbon to match and wound it about Weston's neck, trying it into an absurdly flouncy bow. "There we are." His smile flickered, a hint of fang showing. "Oh come now, childe—no need to be so stiff."

Weston swallowed. He held himself still at the clawed hand that scraped lightly over his arm and up to his shoulder and lingered. The lie in his chest burned softly, even as the image of Severus' face flickered in his mind's eye. It was worth it, he told himself.

"Tensing up only makes it hurt—so—much—worse." The claws gleamed and slashed viciously downward, tearing strips into the softness of his chest and stomach. What a lovely sight.

Ricardio's free hand slid over Weston's mouth, fingers tapping warningly on his cheek. "Not a sound, hm?"

Chapter Text

 

Severus Snape did not like agreeing with disagreeable sorts, in his line of work. It was, however, an inevitable part of playing the double agent that worked so well in his favor at times.

Of course, to do so, meant concessions had to be made and one of them, naturally, was the dilapidated mansion crumbling away in front of them. The portkey had deposited them directly in front of the rickety wooden gate.

Their destination was met with absolute silence on behalf of both of his newly Bonded. Draco was currently speechless in the way that meant he’d have a lot to say about everything later. Severus mentally made to a note to ward off any chances of a temper tantrum. Terius, on the other hand, had gone completely blank, from the faintest glimmer in his blue-grey eyes, to absolutely nothing—and a flat, expressionless face that gave away little.

Curious.

Severus had not expected that, given the man’s penchant for speaking up at the worst possible times. He resisted the urge to rub his forehead, furrowing his brows until the feeling passed.

Pareya—the term was familiar—and he was reasonably sure he remembered exactly what the rank meant and what sorts of adjustments and compromises would be required.

So much for his quiet existence.

Well, quiet enough.

He hadn’t exactly made an effort to stop such complications from spilling into his life, so perhaps, if he took good care of them, it wouldn’t turn sour.

Maybe.

Severus stretched his magic out a bit, checking to be sure that there was nothing lurking about around the lot. He hadn’t been here in several weeks—he hadn’t been able to spare the time—but nothing should have happened in his absence. 

It wasn’t a bad part of the town, it wasn’t even in the worst part of town, but it was certainly in a fairly dark point, at the outskirts where the wizarding world merged to the muggle one.

At first glance, it was nothing. At second glance, it could be something and if there was ever the chance of a third glance—well, he was a Potions Master and a Wizard. There were spells and potions for that.

He’d purchased the mansion—no, he’d won it—in a game of chess, with a drunken dunderhead that had almost managed to play a decent game. The spoils of his win—the ruined and supposedly haunted mansion—had been one single bright speck of hope in the midst of everything that was so awful in his life.

He learned enough to cast basic wards and then to purchase the warding stones that would keep out unwanted guests, without giving away that he actually owned the property. Consequently, he’d sunk the rest of his winnings into making sure that no one would ever know that it was his.

A bit of blood and magic had corrected any necessary legalities there and of course, he’d erased the memory of his drunken chess partner.

He studiously did not look back, as the rickety gate swung inward to admit him, quivering on its hinges as he paused to hold it open, while Draco inched through and Terius came up behind him. He twitched faintly, as both of them seemed a bit more on edge than he cared for them to be.

Didn’t they trust him?

Newly Bonded as they were, he wouldn’t lead them into harm’s way.

At least, not knowingly.

The thought stabbed at his heart, drawing an unhappy scowl as he stomped up the walkway and towards the front door. The sooner they were inside, the better it would be. His instincts were all over the place with no chance of settling down anytime soon, thanks to the shifts in magic and body.

He needed some time and space to sort things quietly in his own head—and possibly a very strong cup of tea.

Alright. An extremely strong cup of tea.

Brewing a few potions wouldn’t be amiss either.

There was always something infinitely soothing about stirring things in figure-eights and adding each carefully prepared ingredient. A calming ritual, perhaps. Severus twitched. He could think about such things later.

Much later, if his two anxious Bonded were anything to measure it by.

Draco twitched, faintly, his silvery eyes darting about the overgrown yard and the rotting wooden accents on the murky windows. He’d expected something far more impressive than this rundown hole. Of course, he hadn’t expected a personal estate—after all, The Prince name had once been something, before it’d run to the ground, selling off everything to cover the kind of debts that no one wanted to dig too deeply into.

There were at least three floors to the mansion from the outside—two floors and an attic, perhaps? Draco guessed. There were windows, with broken decorative shutters and drooping siding. Twin gnarled trees framed each side, enforcing the overall eeriness of the lot, with the dried vines stretching down from the upper branches to the tall grass below.

A few broken windows were on the upper floors—as if rocks had been thrown through the dirty glass panes. Scorch marks were hidden beneath some long, twining vines of greenery.

Nothing of the house or the property seemed vaguely livable.

“It’s…different,” Terius allowed, when Draco seemed likely to burst into a deeply detailed monologue of what was currently in front of him. The location certainly left something to be desired, but he could appreciate the fact that the middle of nowhere was safer than the middle of everywhere.

He could sense no immediate danger and that was more of a relief than he cared to admit. Perhaps he ought to give Severus a chance, at least, for the time being.

After all, any self-respecting Alpha would not force his Bonded into any kind of stressful situation without some sort of explanation and promise that said situation would be temporary.

“Different?” Draco echoed in disbelief. He turned to stare at Terius.  His previous thoughts fled at once. There was precious little he could coherently string together to explain the difference between the idea in his head and the reality in front of them. There was nothing good about what he saw in front of him.

Not to mention, he really didn’t want to set foot in the house.

It didn’t feel magical.

In fact, he couldn’t even sense a single strand of magic connected anywhere to the house. The absence was more jarring than he’d expected, after all, Malfoy Manor always welcomed him home. Even if he didn’t care for the occasional side-effect of wayward hair and throbbing headaches.

His mother had once mentioned that the manor loved him and so it paid particular attention to his comings and goings. Eventually, he’d grown to love the soft touch of magic that whispered about his face and shoulders every time he flooed in or out.

“Draco?” Terius prompted, wondering whether he ought to reach out to him.

Draco shuddered, even as Terius soothingly slid an arm around his shoulders. The simple touch was surprisingly calming and comforting. It made him want to give into the feeling he couldn’t yet name. “Tell me it’s a glamour?” he asked, plaintively.

Terius sighed. “I don’t think it is.” The faint strands of magic that were present, seemed to be few and far in between, somewhere up by the front of the house. Perhaps a simple locking spell, he mused. Which meant that Severus had brought them some place—different.

Very different.

“Terius…!” Draco tried not to whine. Tried, but wasn’t entirely sure he succeeded when Severus didn’t turn to face him. His chest throbbed. He definitely didn’t want to be a nuisance or a burden.

Severus pinched the bridge of his nose. “It’s a glamour?” he snarked, from where he stood halfway up the front walk. “If you’d prefer to stay there, then suit yourself. Don’t say I didn’t invite you in.” He skirted around them, continuing on up to the front door. It opened for him as the rickety front gate, banged shut.

Terius perked a brow at that, casting a glance back to the disarray of the yard and everything else around him. “It’s not a glamour,” he said, at last, with a shake of his head.

Draco groaned—as politely as he could manage, he was a Malfoy after all—but the sound grew stuck in his throat. The entire aura of the place seemed to reek of danger and disaster. “It’s a glamour, it’s a glamour, I’m seeing things and ugh—smelling them, what is that?”

Terius gagged a moment later, when the musky scents of the house seemed to radiate from the newly opened front door. He whisked the edge of his traveling cloak over Draco, effectively trapping him in the flexible protective bubble of his Pareyic rank. It would mute all sound, light and scent, as long as Draco stayed under his arm and within the cloak’s reach.

Severus did roll his eyes this time when he caught the flutter of movement out of the corner of his gaze. It didn’t smell that…terrible. “Uncivilized populace,” he muttered, half to himself. “Uneducated consumers of the—”

“A potion?” Draco said, weakly. That was the most likely answer, now that he thought of it. Though, granted, he had always taken care not to concoct anything too terrible, as far as potions went.

Then again, this was Severus.

Geniuses rarely had such restrictions.

Draco gently nudged Terius’ arm aside, even as his own charmed handkerchief was held to his nose. He had a slight inkling that a freshening spell would earn him a conversation more troublesome than it was worth. Magic and certain potions didn’t mix well, after all. He knew enough to keep from drawing his wand.

“More than one potion?” Terius guessed, his face turning a rather amusing shade of grey. He took a tiny breath and seemed to keep on holding it, as he followed behind Draco up to the creaking front porch. 

“A private brewing laboratory,” Severus snapped. “If you’re through on the commentary of the sight and smell, perhaps you could step in and shut the door?” He wrinkled his nose, discreetly casting a few freshening charms about the place. Such mild magic shouldn’t affect anything, then again it reeked worse than the last time he’d left, so the potions were most likely all ruined.

Pity. He’d been looking forward to results of at least three of his experiments.

Still, he’d meant for it to be a brewing space.

Not a living space.

He didn’t clean often—there’d never been a need to—and for the most part, he spent all of his time either reading or brewing when he was here in the tiny bedroom that was properly warded. No house elves meant that he could set things wherever he wanted to and experiment without having to leave a manuscript worth of instructions every time he stepped out for a day or two.

Still—it was a bit embarrassing. He’d never meant to show this place to anyone, after all. Severus glided through the house with the ease of someone who was finally comfortable in their own skin. He led them through the front half of the mansion up to the point where it was divided by a rather obvious shimmering ward.

“…the laboratory is beyond here,” he said, gruffly. A discreet glance over one shoulder showed that Draco looked ready to puke and Terius apparently hadn’t stopped holding his breath.

Lovely.

Severus pretended not to notice, as he stepped through the faintly iridescent wall and into the first of the eight brewing station sections he’d constructed.

Ah.

So that was where the stench was coming from.

The entire cauldron was ruined, the putrid potion having solidified and bubbled over, before somehow molding into a rotting lump of—well, Severus wasn’t exactly sure what it was. Not to mention he hadn’t thought that mold would actually grow on something that toxic—hmm. He’d have to take notes.

There was surely some interesting data to be gathered from such a curious failure. Maybe even some part of it could be used for something else…?

Draco inched past the barrier, his shoulders hunched forward, his scent-charmed handkerchief still pressed to his delicate nose. He peered around Severus, a glimmer of horrified fascination at the sight that met his eyes. There were some things he desperately wished he could unsee. “Severus…?” his voice wobbled.

His notes would have to wait then, Severus thought, regretfully. He swirled around, ushering a gagging Draco back through the protective ward and into the first half of the house. Terius had stopped just short of the ward and was studying the walls and ceilings as if he were seeing something more than mere wood and faded draperies.

Severus forced himself to ignore the flicker of longing that made him want to ask how the house had measured up. It didn’t really matter to him anyway.

What difference would it make if Terius approved of the house?

Besides, he’d almost chosen something else, but this option had felt better. Safer, somehow, even if he didn’t know exactly why.

“Water?” Draco choked out, a few coughs later. 

“Kitchen,” Severus said, leading the way. He didn’t bother to check if Terius followed.

Chapter Text

The house, Terius was pleased to note, did look a bit better on the inside. It was still falling apart at the seams and there was definitely nothing charming or inviting about it—but it was mostly intact, no gaping holes in the floor—at least not ones big enough to fall through—and some mild protection spells on what meager food supplies were gathered in a circle at the kitchen table.

He hadn’t bothered to follow Severus and Draco into the brewing area—it would have set his instincts on edge to see a mess that he most likely wouldn’t be allowed to clean. Just seeing the interior had set his hands to twitching. He wanted to dig his claws into the mess and clear it up straightaway.

If magic wasn’t allowed—then perhaps he could do it the old-fashioned way. Soap, water and elbow-grease.

A great deal of soap, water and elbow-grease.

It made his fangs ache just thinking about it. How annoying.

Terius bit back a groan. Sometimes, his rank felt like more of an annoyance than an actual help. He wanted to help them so much right now, it hurt to think that they wouldn’t appreciate it.

And he knew they wouldn’t.

Not Severus, anyway. Draco probably wouldn’t mind, though from the way he’d kept a handkerchief pressed to his face through the entire not-quite-a-tour through said mansion, Terius had a feeling that his lovely Submissive hadn’t lifted much of a finger to help himself in his life.

Ah. That would be another headache for sure, wouldn’t it?

Terius pushed the thoughts aside and silently breathed through the rippling waves of instinctive urge. He’d have to stay in control of himself, especially if he wanted this to work with minimal frustration and emotional upheaval on all of their parts.

A Pareya’s duty was keep peace and harmony in the home—namely, to make it a warm and welcoming place for himself and his Bonded. He would thrive on being needed and appreciated by them in equal measure. His efforts would be pointless, if it wasn’t what they wanted from him.

Still, he’d have his work cut out for now.

There definitely wasn’t much to start with. The more he took stock of the basic appliances and supplies contained within, he had a feeling that he’d also be digging into his personal savings to cover a few gaps. That was yet another conversation that would have to happen at some point and from the ever-present scowl on Severus’ face, Terius was not looking forward to it.

He’d followed Severus and Draco to the kitchen, taking note of everything as he went. The growing list of necessities was quite alarming.

He could see that what little was present, was exactly for one person. It wasn’t prepared like a safehouse, so Severus had been using it for something else, though Terius couldn’t quite guess what.

Surely the man hadn’t dedicated an entire mansion to brewing smelly, experimental things? Then again, it wasn’t as if he knew enough about Severus to make that sort of guess. Perhaps the man did find something—interesting—in the midst of something so—well, Terius wasn’t really sure what to call it, but he was sure he’d think of something soon.

It was true that most Alphas did have some sort of obsession with their current careers—but not to this sort of degree.

Terius bit back a sigh. He wondered if Severus would mind if he looked through the rest of the cabinets. The thought passed almost as quickly as it had registered, because if he couldn’t do that much, then what was the point?

He began to rifle through the first few cabinets and drawers, mentally cataloguing what he could see and imagining what sorts of things needed to be there in the first place.

It took a few minutes, but he was eventually able to round up the entirety of the edible items on the rickety wooden table.

The shock of seeing one large cabinet to the upper right of the stove, with only a single dented tin of tea—well, that had been troublesome enough.

Terius had plucked the offending item from the cabinet and thunked it down on the table with a glower. He’d then not-quite-banged-and-bumped his way through extracting the remaining items from the kitchen.

When he was through with the first half of the kitchen cupboards, the grand total wasn’t much of anything at all—there were a few other odds and ends. Some tea, some biscuits, a few tinned things—vegetables and beans, with a tin of potted meat. 

Enough for a potion-obsessed genius to subsist without too much fuss. Practically nothing for any genuine guests. At least, not for the living kind. The thought of consuming any of the items on the table made his stomach rebel at once.

It didn’t help that there were no dishes either. So that meant they were either in storage, or there was only the plate, cup and bowl that rested in the drying rack by the sink.

His fangs throbbed again. Terius silently recounted his list of favorite constellations and the reasons for invoking them in various incantations.

The mental exercise helped—but not as much as it usually did.

Damned instincts.

He wanted to grab the not-exactly-glowering Severus by the throat and bite both of his ears off.

Alright.

Not both of the ears.

Maybe one.

No. Both.

Definitely both.

A slight tremor passed over him and Terius hissed softly to himself. Ears or not, he did want to bite something—no someone—and only the someone responsible for said feelings in the first place.

The thought of his fangs buried in Severus’ neck sounded like an excellent idea. His claws in him sounded even better. What kind of an idiot didn’t take care of themselves?

Not that his dark wish would be happening any time soon…

Terius perked a brow. He mentally added grocery shopping to his mental list, wondering if he ought to simply write an order out and have one of his sisters bring it over. He could ask a secretary, but it was probably best to stick with family for the time being.

His siblings would help without question—just as he’d done for them in the new stages of their bondings. There was something of a sibling pact they’d kept through the years and now, he was grateful to realize that it was his turn to call on it.

Even if Severus didn’t mind if he left the place, he doubted the instinctual pull would actually allow him to leave, having seen what was there or not there. He didn’t know anything in the area, which was more frustrating than he’d expected it to be. In Nevarah, a few spells and message bubbles would have taken care of the necessities, like stocking a pantry and ordering out dinner.

This is a new situation.

Terius paced from one end of the kitchen to the other and frowned. Exactly how much magic was too much? Surely the man didn’t exist without some basic spells—he’d seen him cast a few cleaning and freshening charms after all. As far as he knew, magic didn’t matter if it was properly cast and layered wards, blood partitions and other measures would certainly clear up the entire mess.

This prompted another scowl, which Terius wholeheartedly directed to Severus, who had somehow managed to stay out of the way near the entrance of the kitchen. He had an arm hooked around Draco, who nursed a glass of water, with barely any color in his face.

The scowl deepened.

Draco flinched, turning away to hide his face in the glass with another large sip.

Terius crossed his arms over his chest, already feeling a wave of tiredness over the necessity of simple conversation. He had a feeling there would be nothing simple about the conversation that they desperately needed to have.

He didn’t want to deal with this any more than the two of them appeared to—at least, at first glance. But they would have to talk, if only to keep from deliberately stressing each other to a breaking point.

Silence stretched out.

Draco coughed. He clutched the glass with both hands, staring down into it, as if all the answers lay there. They didn’t.

More silence passed.

“It isn’t stocked,” Severus began, uncomfortably. “It isn’t a place that—this is just a-” the words lodged in his throat. He didn’t know what to call it exactly or why he’d even brought them there, really.

Except for—he did.

It was his place.

The one place he could know they’d be safe.

A place away from prying eyes and big ears. Somewhere that secrets could possibly be shared, if that’s what it took for this to work.

And oh Merlin, he wanted it to work.

Wanted so very badly for it not to turn out horribly. There was a tiny hope inside of him that perhaps, if he’d managed to give them enough space, that maybe—they wouldn’t leave at the first opportunity. Severus knew Draco would stay—the young man was stubborn, if nothing else and with their Bonding, they were now, effectively, stuck with each other.

Terius was a different story. He seemed capable on the surface and there was something dependable about him. As if he’d simply take things in stride without any complaint, a sort of unflappability that Severus had once yearned to have.

He’d settled for a permanent scowl, however, and a menacing aura that had served him well in his years as a Spy and done nothing for him anywhere else in his life.

“What are you looking for?” Draco asked, watching as Terius finished inspecting the cupboards with a solemn manner.

“Dishes.” Terius said, turning his attention to the drawers next. He rummaged through the handful of cooking utensils with a considering hum.

“…we have house elves for that,” Draco said, at last. He frowned. “Right?” He looked to Severus.

“No.”

Draco blinked. “No?”

“Potions,” Severus said, simply, as if that explained everything.

Draco smoothed his hair. He supposed that did explain everything, as Severus was a man of few words and consequently fewer needs—at least, the times that he’d spent at Malfoy manor, he’d tried his best to pay attention to Severus’ preferences, only to realize that there was very little to actually remember.

“House elves?” Terius repeated. “For what? Cooking and cleaning?”

The vaguely offended expression on his face, had Draco rethinking his words. “Something like that,” he said, carefully. A sharp spike of disapproval had raced through their shared bond and he did not like it one bit. He hadn’t thought something that uncomfortable could be transmitted through this new connection.

“I am a Pareya,” Terius huffed. “That would be my responsibility.”

“…without magic?”

“Magic is of no consequence,” Terius shot back. He wasn’t about to answer that he would clean the entire thing with his own two hands, regardless. “Besides, what’s wrong with the magic?”

Now it was Draco’s turn to stare in disbelief, with Severus’ own dark look to echo it. “It disrupts the potions?”

“It does not.” Terius said, irritated. “That’s what wards are for.”

Draco twitched.

“Wards do not contain the magical signatures that may affect numerous potions in various ways, subtly or otherwise,” Severus said, quietly. “Please refrain from using magic while we are here.”

“Wizard wards or dragel ones?” Terius countered, irritated. “There’s a difference you know and I’ve never known for dragel wards or blood partitions to interfere with any kind of spell crafting or potion-making. The strength of the ward would depend on the caster, but the intent holds. If such things weren’t invented there’d be a burial every other hour.”

“I would prefer neither.”

“That’s not a fair request. I have work to do. This place is filthy!” Terius began to roll up his sleeves, whisking his travel robes off and floating them to a hook in the corner of the dusty kitchen. The conversation would have to wait. He was far too irritated to speak calmly and rationally. At least, not while the kitchen looked as if a dust devil had blown through.

Severus scowled from the doorway. “The house is not in imminent danger of being-”

“It needs to be cleaned as soon as possible, if we’re all to stay here. I was, however, actually referring to the reason I am here in this realm,” Terius snapped. “I came on work-related business and I cannot complete it without extensive magic, considering that it would require extensive inter-realm connections, portals and other communications until the original matter is resolved. That is, of course, barring any complications that may arise.”

“Er—that’s fine, right, Severus?” Draco tried. “I mean, you have to clean the brewing stations right now—there’s nothing to be-”

“It is not a one-time deal. This is a regular occurrence.”

“We’ll think of something,” Draco said, quickly. “You’re a Councilman, right? You probably have plenty of work to catch up on without—Severus!”

“I have worked in this mansion for the past seven years without a single drop of magic beyond a basic air freshening charm.” Severus growled. “That is not changing any time soon, simply because-”

“Because?” Terius snapped. “Because it’s unlivable for more than one person?

Silence stretched out again.

Draco took a deep breath. Before he could speak, Severus turned away, retreating to the hallway.

“The front yard and the back garden are options.” He said, stiffly. “Perhaps you’d find that more to your liking. I would prefer that you didn’t cast anything inside of the mansion.”