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Time to Eternity

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Malfoy has wings.

Harry's tried coming at it from all angles, slantways and longways and sideways, but incorporating it into his wealth of Malfoy-specific knowledge is proving to be a bit of a task.

Dark orange hair falls behind the lens of Healer Fairtree's glasses and she huffs it away, throwing an exasperated look his way for good measure.

Abruptly, Harry realizes Malfoy having wings isn't nearly as urgent as Malfoy's going to die and has wings.

Fairtree's kept her wits about her - scary professionalism will do that for a person - and she and Malcolm are the first in the room. Harry's still digging round in his pockets for his wand and where the bloody hell has he put the damn thing when Malfoy's reshuffled and his left arm lolls off the edge of the cot. Malcolm doesn't even have the good grace to hide his disgust.

He sniffs and leaves the room without so much as a word. Fairtree's glare follows him out. Something as inconsequential as a tattoo wouldn't stop her doing her job. A pack of wild Nundus would hardly slow her down. Harry only realizes he's stopped moving forward when the glare snaps over to him. He almost yelps as he scrambles over to her side. Malfoy could have the Dark Mark tattooed on his bloody forehead and Harry would still help him, which is not something he's about to share with anyone, let alone the woman who trained him.

This close Harry can hear the wounded animal noise Malfoy is making, starting low in the back of his throat and coming out as a whine where it hits his teeth. His wings - his mind-fuck wings - are giving constant jerking motions. They're weighed down by Malfoy's back but still actively trying to curve around his shoulders like a protective embrace.

Harry knows once he gets past holy-fuck-wings, he's going to realize how madly beautiful they are. He can't quite pinpoint their color. He thinks they might be an amber sort of brown but it's impossible to know for sure. The individual feathers seem to soak in and refract all the light in the room. They sparkle back a light golden color that beckons Harry's hand to touch.

Fairtree's finally given up on the readings she's been taking with her wand and reaches out a hand for Malfoy's shoulder so she can reposition him. The constant whine Malfoy's making drops to a low growl at her touch and -

"Holy fuck."

Fairtree whips around on him, one eyebrow pouncing up. "Healer Potter?"

"He's -" Harry swallows and points down at Malfoy's hand. "Those are fucking claws."

Fairtree breaks away from Malfoy entirely. She's curled her hands in to press at her ribs. "I know next to nothing about Veela lore," she breathes.

Harry stares at her, feeling the word sink into him. There's nothing else it could be, of course. It's obvious to anyone who looks at him for half a second. Given away by the fucking wings. Malfoy's a Veela. Of course he is, because that's just Harry's fucking life. He almost wants to congratulate Fairtree for the deduction but it's clear knowing isn't half the battle in this case. The way she's biting her lip is not exactly inspiring confidence. He shakes his head. "I didn't even know there were male Veela."

A whoosh of air leaves Fairtree, something that might have been a stolen laugh if the situation were light-hearted enough for that. "Neither did I."

Right. So. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. They don't know what to do. They don't. Know what. To do.

Malfoy chooses that moment to arch his back and make a low keening whine that carries up through Harry's body like an electric shock. The twist of that pale torso as the pain takes over is almost too much to bear and Harry presses his hand to Malfoy's sternum to push him back onto the thin cot. He can feel the hard line of bone under the heel of his palm, the heat of Malfoy's skin like a furnace and he's struck by the raw strength beneath him. Almost as soon as the fever of Malfoy's skin greets him, it starts to cool and the noise Malfoy's making shifts and Harry would almost call it - but it can't be - except that it definitely is. Malfoy's bloody purring.

Harry pulls his hand away as though he's touched fire.

Fairtree straightens and the air of defeat falls away with the hunch of her shoulders. "Do that again."

Harry can tell from the fierceness around her eyes that it is not a request. This time Harry lays his palm over Malfoy's scrunched brow and it immediately smoothes, the purr welcoming his touch. Fairtree motions for him to remove his hand and then she does the same with her own. Malfoy's jaw tightens and snaps at the feel of her and she moves away.

She smirks. "Special all over again, Healer Potter."

Harry gives her a cringing grin as he slides his hand under Draco's neck, trying not to think of this as some twisted fulfillment of an age-old wish even as Malfoy turns into his touch with a sigh of purest relief. Smooth feathers are crowded up against the back of his hand and Harry tries not to press into the silk-soft feel. How many times had he seen Malfoy and thought: if only I could touch him, if only he'd let me? Too many to count, that was for sure.

He could remember right after testifying for him at the trials, trying so hard to get him alone, to see if what he was feeling held any merit but he couldn't seem to hold Malfoy's attention long enough to decide. He had even asked him for coffee - which Hermione and Ron had both assured him was universal for 'this is a date' - but Harry had been awkward and nervous as hell and Malfoy had been quiet and impossible and then Ginny had come along and Malfoy had seemed to remember in that split second that he wanted nothing to do with Harry after all. Harry'd gone home in a daze and put a hole in his couch when he finally stopped wringing his hands.

Harry shakes himself to find Fairtree taking Malfoy's readings. He's relieved to see that they are slowly normalizing. He looks down at where his fingers are cradling Malfoy's skin. It's cool to his touch and the nasally whine Malfoy has been making seems to be gone for good, replaced by that low rumble of contentment.

The doors open and the floor's administrative Healer glances between the three of them. "His parents are here. They're eager to see him if you're ready."

Harry shoots a look at Fairtree but her focus is on the Healer at the door. She bites the inside of her cheek and says, "I'll explain his condition to them, as much as we know about it at least, and then I'll bring them in. Are they in the waiting room?" The interloper nods and Fairtree sighs. "Stay with him, Potter. I'll be back in a moment."

Harry waits until she leaves to pull up the visitor's chair so close that his knees are butting up against the metal frame of Malfoy's cot. He tightens his fingers around the back of Malfoy's neck, resisting the urge to dip them into the golden feathers below. He'd assumed all Veela wings were white and inherently untouchable but Malfoy's had flipped that on its ear. He can't deny that he finds the honeyed hue of these much more fascinating, though that could have more to do with who they're attached to than their coloring. He'd also thought all Veela were female so clearly he's far from expert at all this.

He glances to the door and shifts his hand down to squeeze Malfoy's shoulder, a snuffling noise greets the movement and Harry smiles. "You're more creature than man right now, aren't you?" Malfoy's face contorts into confusion and he bares his teeth. Harry sighs and uses his free hand to smooth the hair off Malfoy's forehead. It instantly relaxes. "You can't understand me then, can you?" Malfoy gives no response to this, only pushes his cheek more firmly into Harry's palm.

Harry stares down at the place where his fingers are spread out over Malfoy's shoulder, not quite touching the arch of one still extremely perplexing wing. It's only a matter of time before his gaze is tracing the impressive span of them. The urge to touch is almost overwhelming and Harry has to crush his free hand under his thigh just to resist the temptation.

He snorts to himself, wiggling his trapped fingers. "Only you would show up like something out a fairytale, Malfoy." He lets his thumb stroke across the soft skin at the base of Malfoy's neck. "How am I meant to resist that?"

Resisting is not something Harry has been very skilled at in the past and now that Malfoy looks like a bloody angel that only happens to respond to his touch, he's not really sure where to leave himself. He's definitely getting pulled even further into this though, and he'd already let this little infatuation determine so much. And it was only a crush really. Barely anything.

Harry let his head fall into the metal railing of Malfoy's bed with a groan.

Only a three-year long obsession that had determined not only where he lived but also what he had chosen for a career. It was utterly pathetic. He was utterly pathetic.

Harry had been so desperate for a moment alone with Malfoy back then. He'd stupidly exerted far too much energy into trying, and failing, to get his attention. Even after testifying at his trial and his mother's, he'd gone a step further and madly kept Lucius Malfoy out of Azkaban - though the place was practically built for evil arseholes like him. That one still galled him to this day. But he'd been sure Malfoy couldn't ignore him after all that. Only Malfoy would barely give him the time of day, not that that'd cooled his affections any. Malfoy was just busy and dealing with a lot besides. Harry only had to find a better time to approach him.

It hadn't been difficult to find out about Malfoy's living arrangements after everything was over and he was given probation for his role in the war. His every move was well documented and, as a trainee, Harry had access to all the Auror files that mattered. It turned out that Malfoy had moved out of his gigantic Manor and relocated to a smallish flat just outside of Diagon. Harry had waited a week after gathering the information before going flat hunting himself, claiming Grimmauld simply held too many memories when Hermione and Ron looked at him with perplexed expressions.

He'd found a nice one, with the rent priced a bit too high, only a few streets over from Malfoy's.

He'd feigned his surprise rather well when he accidentally-on-purpose bumped into Malfoy in the Misty Swamp Café. Malfoy had stared at the shoulder Harry had run into for a long moment before he'd refocused on Harry's mouth, where he was spilling out some nonsense about not knowing Malfoy lived around here. Malfoy had nodded slowly, looking almost shell-shocked, and somehow - somehow - Harry had pointed to a table and the question, "Would you like to join me for coffee?" had fallen out of his mouth.

He immediately tried to sputter out a retraction but Malfoy was already agreeing before he could wrap his tongue around the words.

Later, he'd had assurances it was definitely taken as a date and it had certainly felt like a date. At least until he was actually on it. Malfoy had spent the whole of it looking mightily uncomfortable and staring down into his coffee like he wished he could dissolve into it. Harry had tried to make conversation but Malfoy hadn't even seemed to be listening, let alone interested in responding. Ginny had walked in halfway through and Harry had jumped at the opportunity to escape the tension between them. His voice was strained while he talked to her, a bundle of nervous energy. Ginny's gaze had slipped to Malfoy, sitting awkwardly at the table, and she had taken pity on him and even tried to involve Malfoy in their conversation but Malfoy was even less inclined to talk to her than he was to Harry.

By the time Ginny had left, it was obvious that Harry had completely blown it. Malfoy was wearing a deep-set frown and he fished a few Galleons out of his pocked and barely mumbled a "Goodbye," before he left.

Harry let his head fall onto the table, swearing at himself under his breath. The woman behind the counter eventually came over and offered him a free muffin, saying something about how awful it was being dumped. Harry didn't bother correcting her, only hummed his agreement.

In the intervening months, Malfoy would still nod and even smile at him sometimes when their paths crossed so at least Harry knew he wasn't Public Enemy Number One with him anymore. Harry had still been in Auror training the next time Malfoy deigned to speak to him and that was only so he could offer a derisive, "Good to see your Auror pals are just as vindictive and evil as the people they're locking up." He'd sneered and Harry had noticed a dark bruise on Malfoy's jaw when he'd turned away, his breaths coming in short pants as though he didn't want his chest to expand too far.

Harry had tendered his resignation from the program that afternoon. He didn't want to be a part of anything that would hurt Malf- people, no matter what they'd done in the past.

He'd taken a month off from everything before he'd decided that he wanted to help. Though on a much smaller scale than the whole 'Boy Who Lived' business. Healing had been the obvious choice and he was accepted only two days after he applied.

Harry thinks he's made the right choice all over again as he firms up his grip on Malfoy's shoulder. That's how Malfoy's parents find them.

Harry immediately backs off to give them time alone with their son. Malfoy breaks out in a cold sweat and writhes a bit, his wings growing with each beat of his heart until they're a hulking shadow behind him. Harry's attention snaps to Lucius as he makes a broken noise and flocks to Malfoy's side. Harry is clearly wrapped up in bird imagery.

He seems to be restraining himself from touching Malfoy and Harry watches as his shaking fingers form into tight fists at his sides. Narcissa has no such composure and her hands fly to him and start petting his face. Even unconscious, Malfoy manages to pull away from her and Lucius holds her back by her shoulders. "Let him go," he says and there's an ache to the words. "We can't keep him any longer." Harry has no idea what he means by that but Lucius seems broken down by it and Harry has the feeling he understands more about Malfoy's condition than anyone else in the room. "Just... let him go," he reiterates when it looks like Narcissa might reach for him again.

Narcissa, with her eyes rimmed red and her hair wild behind her, looks like an avenging Fury. "Don't you dare." Her voice is low and foreboding and Lucius looks resigned to her every command. "Don't you dare let my son die."

Harry doesn't think that's what Lucius meant by 'letting Malfoy go' but he doesn't say as much. He still feels the need to step in and he lets his fingers brush the inside of Malfoy's wrist as he steps closer and says, "I don't plan to." It's almost unconscious now, touching Malfoy, and he wonders how he'll possibly be able to wean himself off it when the time comes.

Narcissa and Lucius don't leave Malfoy's side and Fairtree leaves it to him to explain what they know of Malfoy's condition. Harry sighs and says, "His vital sings seem to respond to -" here, Harry pauses, because clearly it's only his touch that seems to have any effect. At least of the positive variety. But it still seems egotistical to say so. He clears his throat and finishes, "touch."

Narcissa's reaction is immediate. "I'll do it then." Her eyes are still red and it's clear she's looking for anything to occupy her, anything to make her feel useful while her son lies in a hospital bed walking the line between life and death. At the first brush of her fingers though, Malfoy flinches away, making a sound that conveys nothing but purest agony.

Lucius' eyes widen as they stare at the place where Harry's fingers have been unconsciously curled around Malfoy's wrist, calming him. "Narcissa," he says softly as she pulls away, her lower lip barely trembling, "wait." She turns into her husband without touching him and he shifts in front of her protectively. It's instinctual the way they move. Harry's frowning, puzzling it out as he realizes there's a lot more than bigotry and arrogance between these two people, when he catches Lucius glaring at him. "It isn't just simple contact that he requires," he spits out, like the whole thing is somehow Harry's fault.

Harry's eyebrows draw down at the suggestion and his grip on Malfoy tightens.

Lucius lowers his voice and brushes the hair from Narcissa's cheek. "There's more to the Veela inheritance that I haven't told you." He sighs and his gaze resettles on his son. "More than just wings and allure."

Narcissa looks up at him and there's no sign of her uncertainty. Her posture is straight and her gaze is strong as she nods. This is the woman who'd lied to Voldemort's face. Lucius leads her out of the room and Harry lets them go, even though he feels he has just as much right to know what Lucius has been hiding as his wife.

Harry can't bring himself to leave Malfoy's side so Hermione comes to him. He hopes he didn't sound as panicked as he felt when he had Floo Called her, the seconds he spent outside of Draco's room adding up. She gave him all she could, tipping books onto the empty chair next to him while Harry's fingers brushed up and down the soft skin of Malfoy's forearm. Hermione mercifully pretends not to see. It would have led to far too many questions that Harry had the feeling she knew the answer to, and had for years.

He's still leafing through all the Veela lore he's managed to get his hands on by the time Narcissa and Lucius arrive. A quick Tempus tells him it's half six. Which is something like thirty-eight hours without sleep. Harry shoves the books out of sight as he rises to greet them, momentarily pulling his hand away from Draco's to shake theirs.

Narcissa Conjures a seat on the other side of Draco's bed rather than upsetting the books in the chair next to Harry's. Lucius stands behind her, a stoic sentinel to his son's condition. They sit in a somewhat easy silence while Harry fills in patient charts along with the rest of the administrative drudgery that comes with his job. It isn't until three hours have passed, Harry's trainer pressed under Malfoy's calf, that Narcissa moves. Her head shoots up and she leans into Malfoy. "Draco? Draco, can you hear me?" Harry and Lucius both stare at her in confusion before turning their gaze to Malfoy. His eyelids are definitely fluttering. "He opened his eyes, Lucius..." she turned to Harry, something like awe in her tone, "Mr. Potter, please."

Harry bolts upright and places his hand on Malfoy's cheek, turning his head towards him.

Malfoy's mouth parts and Harry only now notices how cracked and dry his lips are. He should've been more vigilant. He should've gotten ice chips, he should've - Malfoy's brow furrows as if in pain and he gasps out, "Harry," against his palm, his lips moving slowly against the sensitive skin. Harry can see the way his mouth works, trying to say more but all that comes out is a choked sob.

A shiver rocks Harry's entire frame at the knowledge that Malfoy knew who was here with him. Even so, he can't help the fear that rushes out to meet his pleasure as he wonders how much Malfoy's heard. And he's said 'Harry,' not Potter. Harry tries, and fails, not to feel warm all over because of it.

"Draco, can you hear me?" he asks softly, realizing only after it's out of his mouth how horribly unprofessional it sounds. For fuck's sake, he's never even thought of him as 'Draco' and now he's calling him it in front of his parents. Even Lucius takes to staring. Malfoy nods against his hand. Harry clears his throat and struggles to pull off some sort of detachment he absolutely does not feel. He keeps his sentences tight and to the point. "You collapsed in Diagon Alley and were brought to St Mungo's. I'm your healer. Your parents are here as well and we're trying to help you the best we can."

Malfoy hisses, drawing in air through his teeth, but he seems to understand what Harry's saying. He turns further into Harry's palm and says something like, "Only you."

Harry is certain the words are meaningless, the result of crossed wires caused by the pain that is coursing throughout his body. It doesn't stop him blushing to the roots of his hair.

It takes a lot to get Narcissa to leave her son's side after he's lost consciousness again but at least there's been no permanent damage to Malfoy's speech or comprehension. Harry knows he'll sleep a little easier knowing it, when he finally gets around to sleeping that is. He stays with Malfoy, content to do research and occasionally press his palm to Malfoy's cheek.

He doesn't wake again until he feels something slipping away from him. He blinks his eyes open and he's fallen asleep in his bloody glasses, the left arm of them dug deep into his temple. He rearranges them so they settle properly only to see Malfoy trying to sneak out of the ward. His hand clenches on empty bed sheets and he loses precious seconds as he tries to force his mouth into working.

"Mal- Draco, wait." His voice is sleep-scratchy but, to his endless surprise, Malfoy actually does wait. His back is a tense line and, when he finally turns, he looks like he's frozen there entirely against his will. Harry scrambles to his feet and swallows hard. Malfoy is wearing nothing but pajama bottoms and moonlight and it takes everything Harry has to keep his eyes on Malfoy's face and not the muscles of his chest or the definition of his abdomen. "I can help you if you'll let me."

Malfoy shakes his head with a rueful snort. "You can't." Harry feels a lump form in his throat and Malfoy sneers. "I don't have some magical malady that can be cured with potions and spells. Even by you."

That last comment hurts. He'd never thought Malfoy viewed him that way, like he was better than anyone else because he was the Harry Potter. He doesn't want to be that to anyone, but especially not to Malfoy.

"I know," Harry says. He raises his hands a bit to show he's not in this fight. "Your father explained to me what this is, and I can help you." It's true to some extent. Lucius had said Malfoy needed his help specifically, but he'd refused to tell him anything more. Despite quite a bit of prying on his end.

Malfoy laughs and it's a cold, lonely sound. He shakes his head. "You don't know what you're offering," he says with a snort.

Harry doesn't tell him that it wouldn't matter either way. That there is so very little he wouldn't offer. Instead he stares down at the rumpled sheets on Malfoy's bed and says, "Then tell me." He takes a careful step toward Malfoy.

Malfoy shakes his head minutely and stares down at the floor with his lips pursed. He looks as if he'd like nothing more than to run away from Harry as fast as his feet will take him. Harry watches him tamp down the impulse and his hand reaches out for Harry's arm like he's not in control of it.

Harry doesn't stare at the place where Malfoy's fingers curl around his forearm and instead clears his throat. "Your father says you need me, but he told me it isn't his place to say any more." Harry tilts his head to the side and tugs a little, leading Draco back to the seat on his bed. "What is it you need from me, Draco?"

"I don't know," Malfoy grits out and everything in his body contradicts him.

Harry tries not to feel disappointment over the fact that Malfoy doesn't feel he can be honest with him. He moves to stand in front of him and settles his hands around Malfoy's wrists where they hang at his sides. He can feel the uptick in Malfoy's pulse. He can only hope it's not from fear. "Well, this seems to help," he says, his voice almost sticking. Maybe he's lost a bit of that professional edge but it's worth it to see Malfoy scowl at him as he's proven right. Malfoy's complexion rosies and his breathing comes easier. "I'm just going to check your vital signs, all right?" he says carefully. He remembers how like a wild animal Malfoy had been when they'd first brought him in, responding to everything on instinct rather than logic. Harry's afraid he might somehow revert to that. He raises his wand. Malfoy's vitals are as stable as they were before Harry fell asleep. "How are you feeling?"

"I feel..." Malfoy swallows and his throat clicks. Harry watches as answers swim to his lips only to be tossed aside. He finally scrunches up his face and says, "like I'm still alive." It's clearly the bare bones of the truth.

Harry nods, letting out a sigh. It's the answer he expects even if it isn't the one he wants. It's only a reminder that, despite his attempts, they are hardly friends. He waves his wand to turn on the overhead light, pressing Malfoy to lie down, and runs a few more diagnostics, as much to fill the silence and busy his hands as anything else.

Malfoy doesn't seem amused. "I'm not sick," he growls.

Harry frowns. "Your father says you have a small amount of Veela blood in your line. Of course, he didn't need to tell me that since you actually had wings when you were brought in. I like to think I could have come to that conclusion on my own," Harry feels the need to put in. He knows he's not Hermione-levels of brilliant but he doesn't want Malfoy thinking he's a moron either. He curls his fingers back around Malfoy's forearm when his eyelids flutter. Malfoy blinks and his eyes look clearer. "Do you have any idea why you respond to my touch, but when your own mother puts her hands on you, your vital signs drop dangerously low?"

Malfoy hitches his shoulders and looks away. "I'm not the Healer," is what he finally mutters.

The animosity is starting to climb in his tone and Harry tries to diffuse it with a joke, "Well, this is the Department of Spell Damage, and clearly that isn't your issue."

"Clearly," Malfoy agrees, sardonic.

"Turn over onto your stomach," Harry says, partly because the weight of Malfoy's gaze is getting too heavy to carry and partly because he has an actual job to do. Harry removes Malfoy's bandages with deft fingers and he lets his hands glance across the scabs on Malfoy's back where his wings had been. "You may have some scarring here." Malfoy makes a soft sound beneath him and Harry takes his hand away, afraid he's caused him pain. "I couldn't use Dittany," he explains, "because I wasn't sure how that would work on skin that is meant to break open that way, and we couldn't get a specialist in for a few more days. Apparently a male Veela isn't common at all. You stumped quite a few Healers that I've consulted with here."

And Hermione, he doesn't say. He's afraid Malfoy might find that to be some violation of his privacy when really Harry only wants to understand what's wrong with him so he can fix it. Half the books Hermione had brought him on Veela lore didn't even mention male Veela and the ones that did were only interested in them so far as they affected female Veela.

Harry frowns over the marks on Draco's back. "I used to wish I had wings when I was younger." He snorts softly. "Plenty of times I wanted to fly away."

He hasn't even realized he's spoken until Malfoy grunts out, "Mine aren't good for anything but decoration." Harry starts a bit and is about to apologize for blurting out personal nonsense when Malfoy goes on, "If I had more Veela in me I'd be able to fly but, as it is, they aren't really strong enough. I prefer a broom anyway."

Harry can't imagine what that might be like and Icarus is the first thing that comes to mind. He finds himself nodding. "Me too. I did get a kite one year when I was seven. It was the closest to flying I ever thought I'd get; the wind whipping through my hair as I stared up at it from the ground below. Of course, it was my cousin's before it was mine, which meant it was patched together with tape and gum. Didn't take long for the breeze to rip through it again and send it crashing down."

Harry stares at Malfoy's back in horror. Just because he wants to shag Malfoy does not mean he needs to bore him with idiotic childhood memories. Harry's not even sure why he's thought of that. He hasn't in years. Feeling horribly, horribly embarrassed, he struggles for a subject change. "How often do your wings come out?"

Malfoy grunts. "They don't."

Harry rolls his eyes because really? "Obviously they do," he counters.

Malfoy props himself up on his elbows, annoyance in his tone. "I'm usually able to control myself, keep them restrained." He rolls his shoulders and Harry feels his mouth go dry at the shift of muscle while Malfoy gets out angrily, "I was too weak, though."

Harry nods even though Malfoy can't see it and traces down the contours of Malfoy's back with his finger, hovering an inch or so above his skin. "And this weakness doesn't occur often, I take it?"

Malfoy shifts uncomfortably and Harry can tell there's something he's not saying. He stares down at the cot like it's offended him somehow. "How long have I been here?" It's a poorly done subject change but Harry lets him get away with it.

"Two days," Harry says and, if it seems like longer, Harry's sure that's only because he's gotten forty-eight hours where he's not only allowed to touch Malfoy as much as he likes - but he's encouraged to do so.

Malfoy's shoulders draw in and Harry wishes he knew what he was thinking. "Where are my parents?"

"They left for the night. I'm sure your mother will be back early in the morning, though," Harry says, hoping it's somewhat reassuring.

Malfoy turns over, pushing his shoulder blade up under Harry's now not-hovering hand. He squints up at him with something like suspicion. "Why are you still here, Potter?"

Malfoy says it like he can't imagine anyone should care if he lives or dies. It makes Harry want to break things. "I'm here, Draco, because of this." Harry lifts his hand to punctuate the words and he watches as something that can only be described as cold swifts through Draco's body. Harry replaces his hand and Malfoy trembles with relief. It's an answer even if it's not the truth. Harry would be here even if his touch made Malfoy break out in boils. He would have worn one of those Muggle hazmat suits if he'd had to but he knows, far from believing that, it would only make Malfoy even more apprehensive.

Malfoy turns away from Harry's knowing gaze with a sneer and Harry sighs, pulling up his blanket and extinguishing the lights before replacing his hand on Malfoy's shoulder. "Get some rest," he says tiredly. "We'll sort this out."

Malfoy stares at the place where Harry's skin meets his and says thickly, "Potter, how many Healers have been in here?"

Harry furrows his brow. He can't imagine why Malfoy would care about such a thing. "Just my trainer, Healer Fairtree. She only stayed long enough for me to get you settled in and for you to come to and retract your wings, though."

Malfoy shifts and turns his face into his pillow. "Why didn't you just let me die?" he says, huffed out on a defeated breath. "All of the others would have. How did I end up in the care of the one person who doesn't know how to accept defeat?"

Harry freezes and a wave of pure hate rocks his frame. Who the fuck had made Malfoy think so goddamn little of himself? Harry sucks in deep inhales to calm himself and says on a shaky breath, "You obviously don't know me very well." He clamps down on the angry thing that wants to leap up inside him and take over. "I don't always win, Draco. But I refuse to give up without trying."

Malfoy watches him as though he isn't quite sure what to make of him. They remain locked in a staring match until Malfoy finally rolls over and Harry hears his breathing even out, the skin under his hand soft and sleep-warm.

Relief tentatively begins to trickle in as Harry checks the readings for a third time. "His temperature has finally regulated. I may be able to allow him to be discharged today." He lets his palm rest more firmly against the cool skin of Malfoy's bicep. It feels like a triumph, even if it is somewhat tainted by Harry's selfish desire to keep him here forever.

Malfoy doesn't even look at him. Harry doesn't know if it's because he's become so accustomed to Harry's touch that it's lost its novelty or if he's simply ignoring him. "Where is father?" Only when Harry's hands leave him to reinsert his IV does Malfoy look over at him. Even then, it's only so he can stare intensely at Harry's left hand.

Harry perks a brow at him but Malfoy doesn't notice as his mother chooses that moment to respond. "Lucius isn't comfortable being here. He thinks you may have a better chance at efficient care if he does not come back for the time being."

Harry stares at her. How the hell would Lucius Malfoy's presence affect Malfoy's level of care? Surely Lucius doesn't think Harry's petty enough to hurt his son just to get at him? He can't believe that, especially after Harry testified for him all those years ago. While it doesn't make sense to him, it's clear by the ugly look on Malfoy's face that he understands his mother's words perfectly.

"Draco," Narcissa says with impressive command. Malfoy's gaze is wary as he looks up at her and her eyes flick between him and - to Harry's surprise - Harry himself. "I know what it is that you need. Your father told me everything, and if you don't tell Mr. Potter, I shall."

Tell me what? Harry barely keeps from exploding.

Malfoy actually gulps. "Mother - "

What could be so horrible that Malfoy feels he can't tell him? Is Harry making Malfoy sick somehow? Harry honestly can't imagine anything worse than that and while, yes, it will hurt to hear, he can at least start acting accordingly.

"Draco." Narcissa's voice is hard enough to cut glass. "I will not watch you die out of sheer stubbornness."

And neither will Harry. He'll shove Veritaserum down Malfoy's throat before he lets Malfoy wither away. It will make him feel like scum to do it but at least it will keep Malfoy breathing.

Malfoy's glare follows her out. The door has barely closed behind her before questions are tumbling out of Harry's mouth. "What's going on? What is it you aren't telling me?"

Malfoy clenches his jaw and looks away from him. Harry watches his fingers twist up in his bed sheets. "I need you," he growls and it's barely audible.

Harry is one hundred percent certain he hasn't heard correctly. It was simply fantasy and reality colliding to make him seem crazy. He clears his throat lightly. "Excuse me?"

Malfoy glares up at him, nostrils flaring. "You. Just you, and I will quite literally die without you." His cheeks are bleeding red and he's obviously mortified - like Harry's purposefully extending his humiliation - but he keeps talking. "How's that for a fucking predicament?"

But it's so not a predicament. It's actually extremely close to Harry's wildest fucking dream come true and he just cannot process the words. "I don't know what you mean." And he barely manages not to stutter. "I'm here. I told you I'd do everything I can." And what he really means is: You don't have to trap me into anything. I'd already do anything - everything - for you.

Malfoy laughs, actually laughs, and shakes his head. "I don't need you to be my Healer, Harry. What I need from you is far more than I'd ever dare to ask." Harry watches Malfoy's lip curl and he knows he's cursing his mother over backing him into this corner. He hangs his head. "More than you'd be able to give me."

Thankfully Harry manages to stop himself from blurting out, I'd give you anything, but he thinks Malfoy sees it all over his face anyway.

His large hands lift to frame Harry's face and all Harry can do is stare at the cracks in his dry lips and all he wants is to wet them. With his mouth. He doesn't realize he's decided to lean forward until he's gently sucking on Malfoy's lower lip, rolling it between his teeth, coaxing his mouth to part. Harry slips his tongue in only to have Malfoy push it out with his own and chase it back into Harry's mouth. With the first sweep of Malfoy's tongue comes warmth and passion and love. Harry lets Malfoy lead him, too broken with happiness to care about the hands tilting his chin and the tongue making Harry's rock and swell in tandem with it.

It's Malfoy who pulls away and Harry is almost grateful because he's sure he never would have managed it on his own. Malfoy looks dazed and Harry's heart plummets to his shoes. Malfoy is a patient. That's the very fucking definition of 'taking advantage.'

Malfoy swallows and Harry watches his throat bob with trance-like appreciation. "I'm sorry," he croaks.

Harry blinks and shakes his head. Harry's the one who's fucked up here. "That wasn't very professional of me." Understatement of the fucking century much? Malfoy licks his lips and Harry's eyes are instantly drawn to his mouth. Malfoy's hands are curled up in his lap and he looks small and vulnerable. Harry winces. "I'm the one who should be apologizing."

Malfoy looks up at him with wide, devastated eyes. "I have to leave, Harry. I can't be here any longer."

Harry understands, of course, and it's easier than he thought it would be to pretend his heart isn't shattering into jagged little pieces, cutting up his insides while he stands there and pretends that he's not broken. So much for 'needing' him. He's still standing too close when he asks, "Will you be all right if I let you go home today?" His feet just won't move.

Malfoy nods, looking eager to get away.

Harry deflates. He still has a job to do and at the very least he can read off the script. "Will you be staying with your parents in Wiltshire? Will you have someone to take care of you? And will you come back in for me to check you in a few days' time?" He says it all quickly, knowing Malfoy wants nothing more than to leave him and his inappropriate actions as soon as possible.

But, to Harry's amazement, Malfoy actually smiles at him. "I'll be staying at my own flat. In case you hadn't noticed, my father and I aren't exactly on friendly terms anymore."

Harry frowns. He hadn't noticed anything of the sort. Lucius had seemed to intensely dislike him, maybe even more so than he used to, but he'd seemed nothing but concerned and caring when it came to Malfoy. Though Malfoy had been mostly unconscious for it.

He hasn't realized he's failed to respond until Malfoy says, "Please, Harry." And he's still 'Harry.' Harry resists the urge to fist pump. Barely. "You can come to my flat and check on me. I promise I won't do anything stupid," he tacks on with a wince. "I just need time to think before I can talk to you about this."

Harry nods, trying to be understanding, but it's hard when he can't get past the fact that Malfoy has actually invited him to his flat. It's better than anything Harry could have even imagined. Some sensible part of his brain tries to tell him it's only as a Healer checking on his patient but it's drowned out by the impossibly loud celebration going on in the rest of his mind.

Harry doesn't even last out the day before he's taking Malfoy up on his offer. Technically, without a proper diagnosis, Harry shouldn't have let Malfoy be discharged but, knowing they're no closer to one with him there, Harry had decided to err on the side of compassion. Fortunately, it also gives him extra license to be an overprotective nuisance. Malfoy doesn't even seem irritated when he opens the door and finds him on the other side. Harry grins at him, still feeling a bit winded. "I was on my way home and thought I'd come check on you." He leaves out how they only live a few blocks away from each other by design. "Are you drinking a lot of water? Have you eaten yet?"

Malfoy glances off to the side uneasily and that's answer enough.

Harry scowls. "You promised you would take care of yourself if I sent you home today. You're going to have to do better than that."

Malfoy rolls his eyes. "It just hadn't occurred to me yet," is his excuse. "I'll make something. I'm fine, Harry. Really."

Still 'Harry.' All-fucking-right. "I'm sorry," Harry says, sounding anything but. It's hard to express anything beyond his giddiness. Malfoy hmphs and Harry frowns. "I don't mean to nag you, but it's sort of my job to take care of people. I can go out and get you something if you'd like." Harry leans forward eagerly as he says the last, then he could come back and they could maybe eat together and then maybe get married and have babies. Totally realistic expectations for the evening.

Malfoy perks a blond brow at him. "That's a bit above and beyond, isn't it?"

Yes. Harry clears his throat. "Well, it isn't every day I allow one of my patients to sneak out of the hospital without a proper diagnosis. I'd rather you didn't kill yourself the second you got home."

Malfoy looks at him like he's an overdramatic arse. "First of all, Harry, I was hardly sneaky about leaving. And secondly, as a Healer, you should know that it takes quite a bit more time than a half day for one to starve to death." But he's still 'Harry' so he'll take it.

He tries to look stern and reprimanding because Malfoy's health is important to - Well, it's just important. "That isn't funny. I'm going to get you something. Would you like to come with me, or should I bring it back?"

Malfoy manages to repress the eye roll this time. "Let me get my coat," he says, managing to cut back the exasperation by at least fifty percent.

Harry leads him to an Italian bistro he fancies and manages to convince Malfoy to dine out with him. Which is totally a date. Malfoy may not be so much 'in' on the date. But it's definitely a date.

He thinks Malfoy might have somehow cottoned on to the 'date' message because he suddenly seems to have lost his appetite and there's simply no way he's not ravenous after living on potions in Mungo's for the past few days. Maybe he thinks the date won't count if he doesn't eat? Does he really hate Harry that much? He had kissed back, hadn't he?

Harry scowls down at his pumpkin ravioli. He'd promised himself he wasn't going to think about that stupid kiss anymore. Otherwise he was likely to drive himself mad. "I told you, you're going to have to try harder," he says, stabbing at his food. "You need to eat to keep your strength and immunity up unless you'd like to end up back at St Mungo's."

For reasons Harry doesn't understand, Malfoy laughs. His mouth twists and he says, "How much do you know about Veela, Harry?"

Which just confirms that Malfoy does know more about his condition than he's letting on. Harry can't understand why Malfoy would keep something that could help him get better from his Healer but Harry badgering Malfoy about it isn't going to get him anywhere. He'll just have to try to be patient. "Not enough, apparently." Harry snorts. "Bill Weasley's wife is one quarter and I've spent some time around her. Don't remember learning much about them in school. I suppose I was a bit occupied at the time."

Malfoy shakes his head. "You didn't miss much, I don't think. Veela aren't exactly a large part of the curriculum at Hogwarts."

Harry had suspected as much since even Hermione had had to go searching for more information on them. Harry remembers a story he'd overheard Fleur telling Ginny and Hermione years ago. "There is a story that Fleur told us... well, told Hermione, really." He leaves out Ginny after remembering how Malfoy had bolted the last time he'd seen her. "I think it's mostly some Veela folklore or something, though, passed down through her family."

Malfoy perks up, looking genuinely interested and Harry notices he's actually picking at his plate now. Score one for Harry! Harry's brow scrunches up as he tries to remember how the thing goes. "Supposedly, there was a once a woodland spirit." Was it spirit? Was that right? Or maybe it was a sprite? Wait, what was that word Fleur had used? "Umm... a nymph? Yes, a nymph. She had magical powers over the Earth's elements. She was the only one of her kind... lonely and sad and her heart ached with the desire to have someone."

Okay, so he didn't have to tell it exactly like Fleur with all the girly romantic bits thrown in. Then Malfoy would really think this was a date.

"One day, the nymph saw a young man - a wizard - walking through the woods. He was alone and wandless, wandering aimlessly as though he was lost. She was drawn to him by some powerful force of magic, unable to stay away from him. The nymph followed the man for a while, observing his growing desperation as the sun began to fall behind the horizon."

Malfoy looked utterly enthralled and Harry silently congratulated himself on picking the right topic of conversation.

"Not wanting to frighten the man, the nymph took the form of a young woman before approaching him. She didn't know much about humans other than what the sprites had told her, she hadn't realized that she wasn't really supposed to have wings. Female sprites have wings," Harry explains, probably completely unnecessarily.

"Yes," Malfoy confirms, obviously eager for him to continue.

"The man thought she was an angel who had come to take him to his death. She assured him she would never hurt him, and was simply there to help. The nymph escorted the man through the forest to his home, and along the journey, she fell desperately in love with him..."

Or maybe he really can't keep all the girly, romantic crap out of it and suddenly he wonders about the brilliance of telling Malfoy a romantic story without more alcohol in him.

"Surely that isn't how it ends?" Malfoy prods.

Harry shakes his head. "No, of course not. I just feel a bit foolish telling you some fairy princess love story over dinner. I'm not sure that I've had enough alcohol for this." In fact, he knows he hasn't.

Malfoy disagrees without hesitation. "It's fascinating, really. Please don't stop." He actually looks like he might start pouting and Harry's torn between wanting to see it and wanting to spare him the childish gesture.

Still Harry can't refuse him when he's actually pleading with him to continue. "The nymph never wanted to go back to her inherent appearance so, to lock her spirit into the form of a young woman, she plucked a single hair from her head, causing her magic to freeze her appearance. She made a wand for herself of a twisted twig of birch, sealing the hair inside. When she saw that the other women didn't have wings as she had thought, she cast a Glamour spell to hide her own before following her love into the village.

"Soon after she'd arrived, every man in the hamlet was fawning over her, begging her hand in marriage, but there was only one she truly desired. The man seemed to be the only one who didn't fall all over himself in her presence, always respectful of her, grateful that she had saved his life, but never more than a distant friend. One day, the girl was bathing herself by a waterfall in the river. She was crying... so emotionally distraught, she didn't realize that her Glamour had faded. Some witches from the village happened upon her and saw her wings. They accused her of bewitching all of the men with dark magic.

"She tried to reason with them, but they didn't want to listen. They intended to kill her, and when they tried to grab her, her temper flared and fire came from her hands. The girl didn't want to hurt anyone, though. The witches were frightened and so she was able to barter with them after that. They agreed to allow her to stay, but she was to choose one man to marry within a fortnight. They cast a spell on her so that when she was claimed, all the man had to do was pluck a feather from her wings to completely bind her to him. But one of the witches was scornful and within just a few nights, she had spread word of the girl's enchantment. Before the girl even had a chance to find the wizard she was in love with, another man discreetly approached her, plucking a feather from her wing and therefore binding her to him and claiming her as his own.

"She didn't last long after that. Heartbroken without her love, she was unable - or unwilling - to survive without him and passed away just after the birth of her daughter."

Malfoy leans back in his chair, pushing his plate away with a frown. "Why didn't the man want her? The one she was meant to be with, I mean."

"Well," Harry says carefully, tapping his fork on the table, "according to the legend, he did. He just never saw himself worthy of her."

Malfoy's mouth twists and he crosses his arms over his chest protectively. "And she never had the nerve to approach him for that same reason." It's not a question but more like a certainty.

Harry nods anyway, watching Malfoy carefully as he takes a sip from his wine glass. "Foolish self-doubt on both their parts."

Harry insists on walking Malfoy home. Because it's a date. Even if it's not a date it's still totally a date. Harry shoves his hands in his pockets and searches around for a topic of conversation as they come up on Malfoy's door. "So, how is it someone like you lives in such a modest flat instead of a manor?"

One look at Malfoy says he's chosen the wrong thing to comment on. He's stiffened and it's obvious Harry's plan of striking up a conversation that would naturally take them both indoors has backfired horribly. Harry rubs the back of his neck. "I'm sorry." He gives Malfoy an abashed grin. "I mean... that was really just my smooth way of asking what it is you do these days."

Malfoy still looks prickly when Harry follows him inside. Which. Yeah. He hasn't really been so much invited in but he also hasn't been forbidden from it either. Happily, Malfoy doesn't seem surprised he has a shadow. "What I do these days," he says as he hangs up his coat, "Well, before I... before all of this happened, I was working as an investment banker at Gringotts."

"Really?" And, really, it's the last thing Harry would have guessed. Though, with the whole wings revelation, he'd kind of imagined him working at a magical zoo as a trainer of some sort. He doesn't even know if magical zoos exist but he'd still spent the last few hours of his shift imagining Malfoy in puffy khaki trousers, slick boots and a safari hat. But that was only the business of his clearly diseased brain. "I'd always figured you'd be doing something with potions." At least he had before he'd become certain Malfoy was a zookeeper.

Malfoy smiles a little and Harry really likes that on him. "I was good at potions," Malfoy agrees, "but I loved money. It was the logical choice." Harry doesn't know how he can say that and not sound like the arrogant little shit he'd been in school but he doesn't. He sounds playful and funny and Harry wants to taste the wine on his tongue. Malfoy shrugs and Harry tries to stop staring at his mouth. "Actually, it started as a hobby. When I turned seventeen, I inherited my portion of the Black family fortune. I spent a lot of time learning how and where to invest my Galleons. Sometimes it paid off, other times, well... let's just say I learned fast."

Harry's lips quirk a little at that. It's such a harmless way to get involved in all that and he never would have thought that Malfoy would have come to it on his own. "It's really a remarkable place," Harry tells him, looking around the room from the armchair he's settled himself in. "It suits you, I think. Not exactly what I would have expected from the Draco Malfoy I went to school with."

Malfoy's easiness stutters a bit and Harry fears he's put his foot in it again when he says, "Yes, well, I've had time to examine the more important aspects of life and have come to realize that material things aren't as crucial as I once thought."

"Oh?" Harry asks, brows raising. "What is then?"

Malfoy smirks. "Friendship, life... love. All of that Hufflepuff rubbish."

Harry huffs out a laugh and Malfoy gives him a warm look. "I suppose time changes a lot of things."

Harry really tries not to show up the next morning before his shift. He does. But then the coffee shop girl says, "Just the one?" and Harry opens his mouth to say 'yes' but instead he says, "No. Can you get me a cinnamon-flavored latte too?" He thinks Malfoy'll like it.

Malfoy doesn't even seem surprised to see him and Harry grins on his way in and maybe, maybe Malfoy's gaze lingers on his arse before he turns and hands him his coffee. Though that could just be wishful thinking on Harry's part.

He plops himself down at Malfoy's kitchen table, dumps down the books under his arm and buries his nose in the topmost one. Malfoy makes toast and they drink in silence until Harry narrates what he's thinking. "There should be some way to sort of freeze the effects of the progression of your condition." Malfoy sits down across from him. "See, the thing is, that with such a small amount of the Veela's genetic material in your line, the effects are slightly different than that of an actual Veela, or even a half."

Malfoy does not look impressed. He takes a sniff of his coffee and says, "I know this, Harry."

Harry waves a hand at him. "Also, being male doesn't exactly make things easy as all of them on record so far have been female. It says here that a mature Veela will crave physical contact from a mate, and that, if such requirements aren't met, she'll begin to take on a more bird-like form until she is unable to change at all and, eventually, she'll die. You aren't exactly taking on any bird-like characteristics - I mean, besides the wings - and other than occasionally being angry enough to throw fire, you don't possess any of the other traits. We're basically starting from scratch."

Malfoy's shoulders droop. "I know. I'm sorry."

Harry stares at him. It seems like a non sequitur but Harry thinks Malfoy might be apologizing for not telling him what he knows. Which he should do. This is frustrating enough without Malfoy withholding potentially life-saving information from him. "If you came back to the hospital - " Harry starts.

Malfoy almost snarls and Harry sees his fingernails go from short to long. "If I go back to the hospital, they will treat me as a human experiment. Come on, Potter, you said yourself they don't have enough information on Veela at all, let alone the males." Back to 'Potter' then, Harry thinks morosely. But he can't deny that it wasn't a great suggestion. Malfoy curls his fingers around his cup. "I won't be put in some observation tank and prodded by the Healer trainees of St. Mungo's. No offense."

"None taken," Harry says with a sigh, looking back into his book as though it will provide the answers he's so desperate for. "So, assuming you've only taken on some of these other inherent traits as well, and knowing that the physical contact does sometimes help, perhaps there's a potion we can use to sustain you."

Malfoy groans but his nails are no longer in danger of poking through his coffee cup.

"I know it would be a pain in the arse to have to take a potion every day for the rest of your life," Harry relents and somehow refrains from adding, but at least you won't fucking die as you seem bound and determined as fuck to do, "but I'm sure once we've had more time to observe the effects, we can come up with a more permanent solution."

Harry turns back to his books, sure he saw something on a potion that might help. He's still flipping through pages when Malfoy says as though the very idea is ridiculous, "You're really taking this very seriously, aren't you?"

Harry's first instinct is to say, 'Well, duh,' and go back to his reading but then he realizes Malfoy is serious. "It's your life, Draco." And, yeah, if he can be 'Harry' then Malfoy can be 'Draco.' Especially when he's wondering why Harry might care if he lives or dies. "Did you think I wouldn't take it seriously? Do you expect..." Harry rubs a hand over his face, realizing exactly what Malfoy expects. "Do you expect me to just let this go because of our... our past?"

Malfoy's jaw clenches but he doesn't answer and Harry can feel himself getting more and more hacked off.

"I'm a Healer, Draco." Malfoy snorts as though it's the answer he's been waiting for and Harry grits his teeth. "And even if I wasn't, I thought we..." He snaps the book shut in front of him. "Look, I know we didn't exactly have the same beliefs in school, or support the same side during the war - "

Malfoy actually has the audacity to scoff at him. "That's all? We just didn't support the same side?" He hitches his shoulders up in a laugh. "I thought we had tried to kill each other."

Harry's eyes narrow. "You and I discussed this during your trial, Draco." Which, kind of. More like Harry had said it at Malfoy's trial rather than to Malfoy himself. But this is one thing he doesn't mind repeating. "You didn't try to kill anyone. Not even when your own life was on the line. Both of us did what we had to do, and if it weren't for you, I would have died at the manor that day."

Malfoy seems so reluctant to believe that, despite the fact that Harry's been desperately hammering it into his head ever since it happened. "I wish there was more I could have done," Malfoy says quietly, staring down at his hands. "I should have gone with you. I could have helped."

Harry feels a shiver race down his back as he allows himself a moment to imagine it, traveling in a tent in the Forest of Dean with Malfoy, hunting Horcruxes with him, crawling into a bunk with him at night and letting himself lose all his worries in him for a moment in time, knowing that Malfoy was at his back. It's a tired fantasy now but one Harry never minds indulging in. He shakes it off and says firmly, "You did help. You did what you had to do to keep your family safe, and still managed to help me in the process. You have no idea how much I appreciate what you and your mother did for me."

Harry stands and tosses his cup in Malfoy's rubbish bin. Malfoy watches him grab up his cloak with gauging eyes. "I'd better get to the hospital. My shift starts in less than an hour and I'd like to see about that potion idea." He means to ask Healer Fairtree and Healer Kwan about it as soon as he gets in. He lingers at the door and winces. "Can I come and check on you again?" he calls back down the hallway.

There's a pause and then, "Of course."

Harry's grin is so wide it's embarrassing.

Talking with Fairtree and Kwan help him finalize an idea for the potion. Talking with Hermione tells him all the ingredients he needs, not to mention illuminates Malfoy's problem completely. She's been doing her own research, never content to not-know, and she's figured the whole thing. Malfoy needs a mate and he's dying without one.

A mate.

Which definitely isn't Harry. Because, hey, Harry's been right there and all Malfoy would have to do is poke him in the shoulder, say, "Hey, mate?" and Harry would have been all over that. And he figured anyone else would have too. Which means Malfoy hasn't found his mate yet. Harry can only hope he's looking. Diligently.

Even if it means Malfoy is actually destined to be with someone else.

Harry isn't sure he'd want to be with someone who was only in it for creature instinct anyway. He goes home and buries his head in his pillow rather than stopping off at Malfoy's and thinks, 'Yeah, right, he'd take Malfoy, creature genes and all.'

It's late by the time Harry gets off work but he's told Draco he was coming. Sort of. Yesterday. He holds out a steaming cup of coffee while Malfoy raises a brow at him. "I brought you coffee," Harry says, rattling the cup a little. "It's decaf," he adds, letting Malfoy know he is aware of the time, "so it shouldn't keep you awake. A warm drink just sounded nice on a cold evening." Which. Yeah, hot chocolate or tea would have been better probably. He's an idiot.

Harry steps inside and follows Malfoy into the living room. In the light of the room, Harry can see that Malfoy looks worse. A lot fucking worse. His skin is ashen and there are dark circles under his eyes, not to mention his wings are out again and they don't look half as healthy as they did at the hospital. He meets Malfoy's gaze to find it focused intently on him. Harry clears his throat and jerks an elbow towards Malfoy's back. "I thought you never let your wings out."

It says here that a mature Veela will crave physical contact from a mate, and that, if such requirements aren't met, she'll begin to take on a more bird-like form until she is unable to change at all and, eventually, she'll die.

He winces as his own words come back to him and he really hopes Malfoy's searching for his stupid mate. Who isn't Harry. And stupid.

Malfoy shrugs. "I usually don't, but since the hospital, I have more often. It takes up more of my energy to contain them."

Harry nods his head and reaches his fingers out over Malfoy's shoulder, wondering if they're as soft as they look, before his brain catches up to his hand. He thinks he hears Malfoy's breath hitch and he snaps his arm back down at his side, clenching his fingers. "They're very..."

Malfoy glowers at him. "If you say pretty, I'll punch you in the bloody jaw. Coffee and house visits notwithstanding."

Harry laughs at that. "No. I think 'pretty' isn't exactly the word I was looking for." But only because 'pretty' hadn't quite encompassed it. Gorgeous, more like. Magnificent maybe. Harry rubs the back of his neck as Malfoy sinks into a chair, popping the top off his coffee and holding it up to his face. "You aren't well then?" Malfoy glares at him and Harry keeps up his nervous rambling. "I knew I should have come last night. My shift ended late though, and I didn't want to bother you." All of which, Harry congratulates himself, is true. He was also wallowing in self-pity but Malfoy doesn't need to know that.

Malfoy simply nods and presses his feet into the cushion beneath him. Harry comes over to kneel in front of him and slides a hand over Malfoy's forehead and he's no longer feverish but nor is he pleasantly cool. He's like ice. Harry stares up into grey eyes with a frown. He realizes his hand has smoothed down to rest on Malfoy's neck and his other is placed on his knee. Harry swallows and says awkwardly, "Am I making you uncomfortable?"

Malfoy looks genuinely thrown by the question. "No, of course not. Why would you think that?"

Harry sighs and leans back so he's sitting on his heels, taking his hands with him. "The other day, in the hospital... the kiss." The kiss he is resolutely not thinking about. Except for most every waking moment.

Malfoy squeezes his eyes shut, his grip around his cup tightening dangerously. "Always trying to be the martyr," he says with a quirk of his lips. "If you'll recall, it was actually I who kissed you," and Harry does recall, has recalled repeatedly, and Harry kissed Malfoy first. He's about to say as much when Malfoy says, "and though I've already apologized, I must say, I'm really not very sorry at all." Harry's jaw drops. He's not? So he's wanted - he's attracted - he meant - "I mean, you aren't surprised, are you? You've known for some time now how I feel about you."

He's not surprised? He's known? Who the fuck does Malfoy think Harry is? Mr. Notice-Everything-Ever-Man? The few - few - looks he has seen Malfoy cast his way, Harry had been sure were imagined. "Mm," he tries, "I suppose you're right. I have noticed you looking at me a time or two." Literally two. But he might as well let Malfoy think he's a little more attuned to things than he actually is. He leans forward again and says boldly, "Can't say I mind."

Malfoy's whole face goes slack. "You don't?"

So apparently he's missed the fact that Harry has been showing up at his door at the barest invitation at all hours, or the fact that he testified for Malfoy's bloody father, or the fact that Harry invited him out for coffee - which was a date, damn it. He'd even tried to ask him out again during that disastrous get-together which Malfoy hadn't even deigned to respond to. The big pining idiot - and even Ron had picked up on the pining - had apparently managed to hide the pining idiot bits from the one person he was pining over. Harry isn't sure whether to feel proud or pathetic.

He tries to come off nonchalant and suave, two things he's never been when it comes to Malfoy. "Of course not. Haven't you noticed how often I try to get you alone?" Like showing up at your flat at all hours? "Even as far back as your trial with the Wizengamot," when you blew me off, "I've been trying to get you to go out with me."

Malfoy blinks at him. "You didn't think to ask me?"

Harry balks at that. "I did... once." Well, twice really, but only one was officially meant as a date. "At the Misty Swamp Café when I saw you there. I asked you to join me - which really doesn't count," except for how it totally did, "but then, after we'd talked for a while," or not-talked as the case may've been, "I also asked you if you'd like to have dinner with me some time." Harry throws out his chest a little because it had been one of the hardest things he'd ever done - asking Draco Malfoy out on a date - and he'd be damned if he was going to be told that it'd never happened.

Malfoy looks like he's trying to remember what the hell he's talking about. "You mentioned a restaurant," he says slowly, "and then Ginevra Weasley walked in." There's a sour look on his face. "I thought you two were an item at the time, so I didn't bother hanging about."

Harry wants to call him a fucking idiot as Malfoy's gruff goodbye comes to mind. Instead Harry says, "Ginny and I haven't been together since school."

Malfoy huddles in closer to his knees. "I honestly don't recall you asking me to dinner, but I suppose the other night counts then."

Harry grins and doesn't say that he'd thought so too. He smirks a little. "So, when you're weak and unwell and I force you into sharing a meal with me, you count that as a date?" Because Harry did!

Malfoy's mouth twists. "If I say yes, does that make me terribly desperate?"

Harry doesn't say, you'd be in good company. Instead he places his hands back on Malfoy's legs and frowns. He pulls Malfoy to his feet. "You're cold. You need to go back to the hospital."

Malfoy yanks his hands away from Harry's and Harry tries not to feel gutted by the look of betrayal on his face. "What? No." He takes a step back and growls, "There's no point." His wings fluff up a bit. "I don't need a Healer, Harry."

Harry's at the end of his rope and finally, finally he spits out, "Then why don't you stop being so damn evasive about it and tell me what you do need?" Malfoy takes a step back but Harry only closes the distance again. "I'm doing my best to help you, but you don't seem to want me to. You won't tell me what you know or what your mother was talking about at the hospital. It's like you want to die!" And that's the crux of it, isn't it, that Malfoy won't help him even knowing his own life depends on it? Because he doesn't care enough to try - to try to find a mate or whatever the fuck it is he needs to do.

Harry expects Malfoy to come back at him with his usual snark. What he doesn't expect is for Malfoy to grab him, pull him close and crash their lips together in a kiss that makes him warm all over. Malfoy's lips are a desperate slide against his own and it takes Harry's brain a moment to kick in and then his hands are on Malfoy's sides, smoothing down to rest on his hips.

Malfoy's fingers find his hair and he pulls, making Harry's mouth open further and then he's feeding Harry his tongue and the wings are gone and Harry's hands are digging into his back, pulling him closer, and it's everything - everything - he's wanted. Malfoy turns them around and pushes Harry down onto the couch. Before Harry can even get his bearings, Malfoy is sliding onto his lap and he's hard. He's hard for Harry.

Harry stares up at this angelic thing atop him, a predatory light in Malfoy's eyes and his lips wet and swollen and red. He's beyond beautiful. His chest is heaving with the force of his breaths and he uses a hand on Harry's stomach to steady himself. "Do you regret the kiss in the hospital?"

And Harry thinks now? He's going to ask that now? He doesn't regret anything right now. It takes a long moment for his brain to be capable of rational thought again, because Malfoy's cock is resting heavy against his stomach and he's still blissed out, his pupils large, and Harry wants him so badly he could scream. He swallows, his hands on Malfoy's hips, his throat still dry when he croaks out, "Not really, no."

Malfoy's lips quirk, a smile that isn't, like he can't decide if it was the answer he was looking for or not. Before Harry can ask after it, Malfoy seals their mouths together and Harry groans as Malfoy's cock pushes up against him and Harry's fingers dig into his hips, urging him on. Malfoy's hands slide up under his shirt and one hand thumbs a dusky nipple. Harry arches into him with a whine and the head of Malfoy's cock is sticky even through his pajama pants, catching on Harry's balls and dragging up to his stomach and he feels so fucking good.

Harry shifts his hands down, his fingers dipping beneath the band of Malfoy's pajamas until he can feel the swell of his arse cheeks. Malfoy grinds down hard in a circle and Harry's wet, open lips slip away from Malfoy's to mouth down his neck. Malfoy's cock is a pleasurable slide against his own and Harry shifts his legs open so Malfoy can fall between them, angle his thrusts up.

Harry's eyes roll back as he pushes and pulls, urging Malfoy along in the rhythm he's found, while they kiss messy and deep and lust-fueled. Harry wants to flip them, to push Malfoy's thighs apart and bury himself inside of him and it's to that image that Harry loses it. He bites down at the juncture where neck meets shoulder while Malfoy whimpers and humps him in little rabbiting motions.

Harry grabs his arse and he pulls him in harder and rougher and Malfoy's eyes look brighter, his skin healthier and his wings - his fucking wings - explode out of him as he rips into his own orgasm. He looks like a goddamn avenging angel. Malfoy collapses onto him, kissing the side of his mouth before he stumbles onto the center of them. They kiss for a long moment until Malfoy pushes his head into Harry's neck and presses soft kisses there at random beats.

Harry's forced to move away before too long. "That tickles," he whinges.

"I'm sorry," Malfoy mumbles, lips still pressed to Harry's neck.

Harry rolls his eyes, letting his fingertips finally trace along the edge of Malfoy's wing. It's bony and strong and slip-soft. "Stop apologizing for everything. It's unsettling. Makes me feel like I'm taking advantage of you."

Malfoy looks torn between laughter and disbelief and Harry's tempted to point between them and say, 'Exhibit A: Patient. Exhibit B: Healer.' "You?" Malfoy squeaks out. "I'm the one who's left wondering if I've inadvertently drugged you with Veela allure."

Harry snorts. "Allure doesn't really work on me." Which is when he realizes Malfoy is dead serious. He really thought he'd had Harry under some sort of thrall. Do you regret the kiss in the hospital? He must've had his allure turned off when he'd asked... or however that works. Harry doesn't pretend to know. "I assure you," he says gravely, kneading Malfoy's hand with his own, "it's all me, clear headed and fully aware."

Malfoy eyes him warily. "What do you mean it doesn't work on you?"

Harry shrugs. "I don't know exactly why, but since my first encounter with Veela, I've always been somewhat resistant to their allure. Could be I've built up some sort of guarded awareness since that summer spent at the Weasley's with Fleur there." Harry's never been real curious as to why. He wasn't about to look a gift-horse in the mouth by questioning it.

Malfoy presses his hands to Harry's shoulders, pinning him down, and his gaze takes on an eerie sort of intensity as he stares at Harry. He goes so long without blinking that Harry starts to squirm under him and he finally says, "Nothing?"

Oh. Then that must've been... Harry shrugs. "I still want you just as much now as I did three minutes ago..." when I came in my bloody pants, "and three years ago." When I changed my whole bloody life around just to be near you.

Malfoy smiles at him in pure relief and it's the first one Harry's seen that's involved his whole face, his cheeks, his eyes, the brackets around his mouth, and Harry falls madly and instantaneously in love with it.

So Veela feed on sexual energy and the best way to replenish Malfoy's power stores is for he and Harry to have sex. Lot and lots and lots of non-penetrative sex. Harry decides he can suffer through that. Needs must and all. Only maybe he's getting a little antsy for the whole penetrative sex bit. But every time he makes a move for Malfoy's bottoms, or his fingers slip too low, Malfoy pulls away from him and blows him until his brains are leaking out his ears.

Harry meets Malfoy at the Misty Swamp Café, the previous scene of their first date - which totally was a date. Malfoy smiles at him as he eases into the chair across from him. It's not a full-face or even a full-body smile (as Harry's gotten once or twice) but it'll do. "I brought you something," Harry says happily. He slides a battered book across the table towards Malfoy. "I only borrowed it, so we'll have to give it back eventually."

Malfoy picks it up in his long-fingered hands, turning it over carefully. He sees him mouth the title, Myths of Mythology: The Truth behind the Folklore, by Faleena Roakin.

His eyes flick up to Harry's. "What is this?"

Harry bounces a little in his seat. "It belongs to Fleur. It's been in her family as far back as they can remember. Fleur is a direct descendant of Faleena," he says, pointing at the author.

Draco frowns, staring down at the cover that's held on by magic and little else. "I don't understand. What's in this, and how on earth did you get it? It looks as if it's going to disintegrate if I look at it wrong."

"No." Harry sniggers a little and reaches across the table to brush his hand against Draco's. "Effective preservation charms were only invented a couple hundred years ago, so it's perfectly safe now. All of its aging was done before they protected it." Harry flips the book open in Draco's hands and finds the section he's looking for: The Love of Seraphina. "It's the story I told you in the restaurant... the story of the first Veela girl. Her name was Seraphina."

Malfoy looks a little shell-shocked. He stares up at Harry with wide eyes. "Did you know that I've been searching for this?"

He had been? Harry had done so fucking well! He resists the urge to high-five himself. Barely. "Not really," he says nonchalantly, accompanied by the shrug of a shoulder. "I mean, I've seen you reading books of folklore and fables, so I hoped you would enjoy it." That probably knocked his cool points down by a couple hundred thousand, admitting he'd been stalking Malfoy's reading choices. "But really I just wanted to find this for you because you seemed genuinely interested the night I told you the story."

"I was." Draco swallows, staring down at the scrawl on the open page. He shifts a little uncomfortably. "Part of the reason it was so enthralling was because it was your voice telling it."

Harry's mouth goes dry and he scrapes out the words, "I can read it to you if you'd like." Later that night, curled up on Malfoy's couch in front of his crackling fireplace, Harry does. When he finishes, Malfoy says his name with so much emotion behind that Harry's heart tries to squeeze itself into a raisin. He catches Harry's palm in his hand and presses a soft kiss to it, whispering the word, "Perfect," against it.

Harry squeezes his eyes shut tight against the wave of lovetrusthope that rises up inside him. Fuck Malfoy and his stupid mate. Fuck them sideways.

Malfoy looks like he's about to set the thing on fire when Harry intervenes. "It's easy once you get the hang of it," Harry says carefully while Malfoy scowls at him. The pots and pans on the stove burble behind him. Harry takes the toy from Malfoy's hands. "It's all about skill and patience."

Malfoy glares at it. "It's impossible to do without magic," he says cattily, crossing his arms over his chest angrily.

Harry chuckles at Malfoy's pouting. "No, it isn't. Watch. First you have to pick a starting point to focus on. We'll go with blue this time." Harry shows Malfoy and he looks curious despite himself. "The middle color never changes. It's only the rest of it that you shift around."

Malfoy's still glaring at the thing in Harry's hands as he shifts it around. "Rubbish box," he huffs out.

Harry rolls his eyes. "Rubik's Cube."

Malfoy sniffs and raises his nose in the air. "It's dark magic."

Harry sighs. "It's a Muggle toy." Malfoy shoots him a venomous look as if to say 'same difference.' Harry gives the cube a few more twists and set it on the table next to Malfoy, each side a solid block of color. He flicks his wand at it as he turns back to what he's cooking and the cube jumbles itself once again.

Malfoy catches it on its way back down.

"Give it another try," Harry encourages. "You want a solid T of color on each side and then you can begin to work on the remaining corners.

"I'll give you a solid T," Malfoy mutters as he twists the cube about with no skill whatsoever.

Harry laughs. "I'm not even sure what you mean by that," he doubts Malfoy is either, "but I imagine it would probably ruin dinner, so maybe later, yeah?"

Draco ends up Charming the stickers off until they rearrange themselves in proper order when he thinks Harry isn't looking. Harry just grins and calls him a cheater.

Harry contemplates leaving at the end of the night, curled up in bed with Malfoy, when Malfoy thankfully asks, "Stay with me?"

Harry lets out a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding and says, "Of course."

Harry's near the edge of sleep when Malfoy's fingertips dig sharp into his back. He looks fucking panicked. "Hey," Harry says, heart in his throat, his own fingers like claws on Malfoy's biceps, "are you all right?"

Malfoy nods but his breaths are coming in too shallow and too quick. "I just... I need..." and Harry wants to say 'anything, anything' but Malfoy seals his mouth over Harry's like he's afraid it won't be there when he pulls away. He arches back and presses his lips to Harry's jaw, his neck and lets his cock thrust up against Harry's thigh like a hot brand. Harry's own body responds almost instantly.

Malfoy pushes him onto his back, his lips sliding up to Harry's, his tongue surging in between them, his leg moving over his waist to straddle him. He's a whirlwind of motion and he nudges his thigh between Harry's open legs, keeping it tight to Harry's cock so Harry has no choice but to press down against it, using his grip on Malfoy's arse to hold him steady while he grinds into him. When Malfoy finally pulls away from his mouth, Harry pants, "What do you need?"

Malfoy's voice is low and it scrapes out of him, animal and not quite his. "I need to fuck you."

Harry barely hesitates a moment before he says, "Then do it." He nudges his nose into Malfoy's cheek and lets out a hot breath to say, "Fuck me." He's always imagined it the other way but he wants anything and everything Malfoy will give him.

Malfoy's hands dig into his shoulders and his claws just barely pierce into his skin. "I can't," he says, voice rough, face twisting away. He shifts off of Harry and eases down to lie next to him.

Harry watches him carefully, skimming his fingers over every bit of him he can reach and so hard it hurts. He waits until Malfoy's stopped trembling to say, "I respectfully disagree. I think you could fuck me quite nicely if you tried." He lets his fingers curl around Malfoy's still hard cock as proof.

Malfoy gasps but shakes his head. He rubs his palm over the head of Harry's cock and breathes out, "Just let me touch you."

Harry nods against Malfoy's cheek and they bring each other off easily, Malfoy's cock familiar in his hand now as he spreads his precome down the length of him and twists his hand when he reaches the head the way Malfoy likes. When it's over, Malfoy finally sleeps peacefully next to him and whatever had kept him from it earlier has clearly been pushed to the back of his mind.

Harry's not so lucky.

He wakes a few hours later with his arm around Malfoy's middle, more comfortable than he can ever remember being. "Good morning," he says with a sleep-scratchy voice, his lips brushing against the hollow behind Malfoy's ear.

"I'm normally not a morning person, you know," Malfoy warns. But his eyes are clear and warm and he's turned in Harry's arms. He smiles one of those full-body smiles. "But I think I could get used to this."

Harry presses his lips to Malfoy's forehead. No fever today. "How are you feeling?"

Malfoy rolls his eyes as though he'd cottoned on to exactly what Harry was doing. "I'm fine, Harry. You worry too much. Give the Healer in you a day off."

Harry yawns. "I can't help it." He shrugs. "It's what I do."

Malfoy stretches out next to him and Harry loses all ability to think. "How did that happen, anyway?" Malfoy's saying. "Everyone was so sure you'd go on to be an Auror or an Unspeakable. How did you end up at St Mungo's?"

You. Harry doesn't say it though, instead he tells Malfoy the same thing he'd told Ron when he'd dropped out of Auror training. "There was just so much fighting throughout my life. So much abuse and violence and war. As far back as I can remember. It was all I knew, but I was sure there was more. I wanted to help people, rather than tracking criminals, and becoming a Healer sounded perfect for that."

"Well, you're really good at what you do," Malfoy says and what a crock of shite that is coming from a person he can't actually heal. "I think you made a wise decision."

Harry tosses off the bed covers and says angrily, "Don't say that." His voice softens as he gets his legs over the side of the bed. "I haven't been able to fix you yet."

Malfoy presses his lips to the back of Harry's neck and says, "But I'm not sick, Harry."

Hermione catches him on the Floo before he's set to leave for work and on one of the rare days he's home to grab a change of clothes and a shower. Harry forgets all about both when she tells him the potion is ready. It's barely changed hands before Harry is racing off to Malfoy's. If this goes smoothly enough then maybe Malfoy won't need to find that stupid mate of his and Harry can continue living in his polite little land of delusion where he and Malfoy's relationship has a one hundred percent success rate.

Harry practically bounds through Malfoy's door the second he gets there, foisting the vial of yellow potion at him. "Unfortunately, I can't be touching you all the time," and Harry does genuinely lament that, "so, here. We're going to give this potion a try."

Malfoy accepts the thing from him with a quirk of his brow and, before Harry can stop him, uncorks it and takes a deep sniff. He stoppers it as fast as he's able. "What is it?" he says, pulling a face. "Smells horrid."

Harry snatches the vial back. "Yes, well, you aren't supposed to smell it. Just drink it. It's Contineo Tangere Potion. Yarrow flower roots, boiled dragonfly eggs, diced tongue of newt-"

Malfoy grabs it away from him and scolds, "If you expect me to drink it, stop telling me what's in the bloody concoction." Which, you know, point. Malfoy eyes the sluggish liquid warily. "What exactly does it do? I haven't heard of Contineo Tangere before."

"No," Harry agrees, "I imagine you wouldn't have. It isn't exactly medicinal. It'll give your body the sensation of being touched constantly. Normally, you would just put it in one particular spot."

Malfoy cocks a brow at him. "But this is a drinkable version?"

"You can drink it if you'd rather not smell like that - which I assumed you wouldn't - or you can just apply a bit of it topically. Your arms, for example, or your shoulders. Really anywhere that you might need a comforting touch." All this talk of touching - touching Malfoy that is - is really beginning to give Harry's cock ideas.

Malfoy levels him with a questioning look and Harry tries not to snigger as he says, "Yes, even there if it suits you." He's a Healer, not a schoolboy.

Thankfully Malfoy can't seem to hold back his giggles either. He schools his face back into a neutral expression. "What about adverse affects? I can hardly stand when my mother touches me. What if it's like that?"

It's a valid question and Harry is more than pleased that it's Malfoy asking it. It lends a lot less credence to the whole 'wanting to die' scenario. "It shouldn't be. If you drink it, it will work its way from the inside out with your own body chemistry. Should provide a perfect balance. If it's used on your skin, it will mimic the touch that applies it. My professional opinion is that it would work more effectively that way."

Malfoy smirks at him. "Topical it is, then."

Harry means to go to work, really, he does, but instead of saying, 'I'll be off then,' he's easing the potion out of Malfoy's hand and saying, "Here, I'll help you." He means to pull himself away, he means to do anything other than pin Malfoy to the ground and blow and rim and finger him within an inch of his life. But that's still what happens. And if he does the last of it with the potion on his hands, well, that's just his and Malfoy's little secret.

And if he gets possessive somewhere towards the end and says, "Mine," well, it's only a slip of the tongue because Malfoy's got a mate and Harry's known that for far too long to get pissy about it now.

Harry lets himself in to Malfoy's flat to find him sitting on the edge of his sofa closest to the fireplace, his knees drawn up under his chin and his wings wrapped tightly around him. Harry tires to pretend like it doesn't scare the ever living shit out of him but he fails miserably. "I'm guessing the potion didn't work all that well," he says gloomily.

Malfoy shakes his head and Harry's close enough now to see that he's shivering.

If Malfoy's been holding off because of him then - Well. Now would be the time to stop being selfish if ever there was one. Harry rubs a hand over his forehead as though he means to sand it down. "Look... I know what's going on. You need to find your mate, Draco." And if his voice sounds wrecked, he hopes Malfoy will have the decency to ignore it. He swallows hard past the lump in his throat. "You can't put it off any longer."

Malfoy's head snaps up. "What? You mean - "

"I have endless resources at my disposal," Harry says tiredly and, really, Malfoy should have guessed he'd known because even without all the rest he has Hermione. He's always had Hermione. "Libraries of books, friends all over the world, people who are willing to tell me anything I want to know. I never take advantage of any of that, but I couldn't just let you die. Did you think I wouldn't try to gather as much information as I could?"

Malfoy eases off the couch to stand in front of him. "So, this whole time," he says carefully, "you've known I needed to find my specific mate, and you were okay with that? Touching me, kissing me, being with me just for now until I find the one I'm supposed to belong to?"

Way to rub it in, Malfoy. "I'm willing to be a temporary thing for you if it means I get to be with you sometimes," Harry says and he's trying hard not to outright shake. "And when you do find your mate, you won't need me anymore, but I'll still have the memories of what it was like to have you for a little while." Which, yeah, depressing. But better than nothing.

Malfoy clenches his fingers around his bony elbows as he hugs himself. "So, you don't know then?"

Harry hunches his shoulders inward. He's just told Malfoy that he does. "I know that you need to find your mate soon or you'll die. I know that, as much as it will hurt me to hand you off to someone else, I'd rather you were happy and alive." At least that much is true, even if he's not as much of a self-sacrificing bloke as he would like to be. He's still going to be a miserable bastard to be around as soon as Malfoy figures out who he's meant to be with.

Malfoy steps up to him and places his hand on Harry's wrist, pulling lightly. "It's you, Harry." Harry's face snaps up to his. "You're meant to be my mate. It's always been you." It can't - that can't - why wouldn't Malfoy have just said? "I'm sorry I didn't tell you before. I tried... in the hospital."

Harry swallows and shakes his head. "That's what you meant when you said you would quite literally die without me?" Malfoy nods. "I just... I thought it was just a sexual thing. That you just needed something, not me specifically."

"Only you," Malfoy says and Harry remembers hearing the same in the hospital. He'd chalked it up to crossed wires but Malfoy had really meant it. It was him. It was them. "And, to put even more pressure on you, you should also know that I'm completely, stupidly, madly in love with you. I can't live without you. I can hardly even breathe when you aren't here. And even if it weren't for this Veela rubbish, I'd still feel the same."

And Harry knows Malfoy has no authority to say as much but it warms his heart anyway. He crosses the room in three strides and pulls Malfoy into his arms, slotting his mouth over his and kissing him until they're both short of breath. He's barely pulled away before he's saying, "You know I love you, too, right?" He presses his mouth to Malfoy's jaw, cheek, chin, too much of a mess to make them into true kisses. "Oh god." Harry's hands smooth up into Draco's hair and he's laughing, giddy and stupid. "You have no idea how fucking relieved I am. I thought I was going to lose you."

Malfoy shakes his head, looking as dazed as he feels. "No one else. Touch me, Harry. I need you, please."

Harry catches his eyes. "Where?" is all he can bring himself to ask.

Malfoy pushes into him, says, "Everywhere."

There is nothing that can compare to the feel of being inside Malfoy. Harry watches him break apart beneath his hands, watches him moan and beg and knows that it's all for him. That somehow this is just his. Forever. Malfoy even says so, before Harry's inside, before he's felt Malfoy in ways that have scorched him from the inside out. He'd pressed a hand to Harry's chest and said, 'This is forever. For me, this is forever.' Harry can't promise forever but the words spill out of his mouth regardless because he can't imagine anything that might make him give Malfoy up now, not when he's pressed into him and felt Malfoy's pulse beating in his own head.

This is forever and it's terrifying and comforting all in the same breath.

Malfoy's gotten him a kite. Granted, it was three months ago, but this is the first day it's been nice enough to fly. Malfoy insists that there are enchantments on the thing to make it fly in any weather but Harry's intent on doing it the right way. He watches as the wind catches it just right and lofts it into a gentle glide. It fluctuates a bit, diving down a hair before soaring back up and Harry turns to catch Malfoy's disinterested glare. "See that?" He jerks his eyes up. "It's all about skill."

"Yes, you're very skillful," Malfoy drawls.

Harry holds out his hand with a pout. "Please?"

Malfoy rolls his eyes but still clambers up to press his chest to Harry's back and wrap his arms tightly around his middle. He rests his chin on Harry's shoulder and his scarf tickles Harry's neck. "You're ridiculous, you know," Harry points out. "The scarf is entirely unnecessary. It isn't that cold at all." He looks back up at his still-flying kite as proof.

Malfoy sniffs and his arms tighten a little. "That's a matter of opinion."

Harry leans back into Malfoy, content to be disagreed with for the moment and watches his kite get caught on an updraft and curve into it. "See?" Harry says with a smile that hurts his cheeks it's so wide. "Worth waiting for."

Malfoy leans his face into Harry's neck, his lips pressed light against his skin, and says, "It certainly was."