Title: Merlin's Family Jewels
Summary: Harry has heard the stories and read the books, but even the chance to reclaim Merlin's Family Jewels doesn't justify sending him out on a mission with Malfoy... does it?
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): EWE, Creature!Fic, Explicit Sex, Parselsmut, and kind of fluffy too.
Epilogue compliant? EWE
Word Count: 7,400
Author's Notes: Thank you to my wonderful betas A, B and P, and to the Mods for their help. I hope you enjoy this, katerina_black, I had a lot of fun with your prompts, and tried to satisfy a fair number of your requests.
"…and Potter, you'll be grabbing Merlin's family jewels."
Choking on his coffee, Harry tried to be inconspicuous in wiping the coffee that had spurted out of his nose off on his sleeve, but the look on Kingsley's face told him he'd been rumbled. "Yes, I will be."
"Potter, do you have any idea what I just said?"
Opening his mouth to reiterate the part of the instruction he had tuned out of his daydream to hear, Harry decided against it and instead shook his head.
"Luckily for you I haven't gone into the details. However, pay attention. We've received intelligence that Merlin's family jewels, stolen over a hundred years ago, are back in Britain. You will be one half of a stealth team sent in to where we believe they are being kept, to reclaim them for the Ministry."
Turning automatically to Ron, Harry opened his mouth to suggest they go straight from the meeting to planning, but was cut over by Kingsley speaking again.
"No, Potter. We're sending you in with someone from the Department of Charms. We have no reason to believe the jewels will be heavily guarded in the window of time you will make your move, but they will be under spells and charms. In fact, your partner should have been here by now. I'll just send a memo and…"
"Sorry I'm late, Auror Shacklebolt."
For the second time – having just brought the cup back to his lips for a daring sip – Harry choked on his coffee. Putting the cup down and not even bothering to hide having to wipe his chin, Harry questioned, "Malfoy?"
"Yes, Potter. I hope your wandwork is more skilful than your coffee-drinking. Auror Shacklebolt, I got stuck on research spells, please excuse my lateness."
"That's fine, Malfoy. As you already know the drill, you can use our board room to catch Potter up. Everyone else, I'm done for today."
No one spoke up, and Harry accepted the sympathetic pat on the shoulder Ron gave him in a state of semi-shock. Of course he knew Malfoy worked at the Ministry – he even grudgingly respected the work Malfoy was doing in bridging the gaps in Charms knowledge and bettering existing charms for the benefit of patients – but that hardly prepared him for being sat across the table from him, and suddenly landed working with him. "Malfoy…"
"You have no intention of working with me, this has all been a hideous mistake, you're the Chosen One, damn it! Yes, I realise you object to this, but I honestly do not care. These jewels are in Britain for a day, a day and a half tops. We get them back tonight or we don't get them back at all. Your choice."
Slightly taken aback, and incredibly lost for words, Harry stood up and exited the boardroom, jogging down the hallway and rapping his knuckles on Kingsley's door.
"Come in, Potter." Harry obeyed the voice, sitting down in the chair Kingsley gestured to and staying quiet as Kingsley spoke to him. "You may not like it, but to get these jewels back we need Malfoy, need his abilities. Just suck it up and tolerate him."
"I don't understand. A department full of trained Aurors, and we need Malfoy? Why?"
"We just do. Bring the jewels home, Potter, and then you won't have to work with Malfoy ever again."
Harry knew he wouldn't be able to argue his way out of this, and truthfully he respected Kingsley too much to even try. The only option he had was to stand up and walk back into the boardroom with as much grace as he could muster. That wasn't much, but at least he took his seat opposite Malfoy with his head held high. Gesturing to the plans and papers Malfoy had spread over the table Harry asked, "What are we doing?"
"The Merlin family jewels were stolen from a Ministry delegation in 1906, and we haven't seen them since. They're incredibly valuable, and obviously a large part of the Ministry's history and Wizarding Britain's history. Late last night we received word that the jewels would be in Britain, being handed over in a sale to new owners."
"How did you find that out?"
"There's a massive reward for return of the jewels; someone in the operation is after more money. While we've been tracking the jewels since we lost them, we've only had a vague idea of where they were at any one time. This is the most concrete lead we've had."
"They're tracked by a charm placed on them by Merlin himself. It can be dampened so it's harder for us to follow, but never completely blocked out. Every few years, the charm breaks through the dampening spells on it and we go haring across the world after the jewels, always arriving after those in possession of the jewels have moved on."
Harry nodded, processing the new information as Malfoy crossed to the coffee pot and poured himself a cup. When Malfoy tipped the pot in his direction Harry shook his head, remembering he still had a cup and lifting it to his lips. This third attempt was much more successful, and as Harry swallowed he mused over this new assignment. He was no stranger to raids thrown together in a day because the intelligence they needed just hadn't been available to them before then, but going into a situation with Ron by his side was far different to having Malfoy there.
Merlin's family jewels were something he'd only really half believed in. Everyone knew the story of them being stolen from the carriage of a noble wizard while he slept, with not one of the thirteen armed wizards riding guard around the carriage noticing a thing, but Harry had always suspected that to be an embellished version. Some said the jewels were stolen by a Werewolf, some by a Veela, and some said it was a Troll, and the wizards were all so terrified they lost their memory. Having faced a Troll and retained his mind, Harry thought the Troll theory was more than a little dubious, but it was a way for children to scare each other in the night. As the jewels were nothing to do with him, he'd never really thought about them being reclaimed and yet here he was, about to go on a reclamation mission with Malfoy. "Listen, Malfoy, how much experience do you have of being in these kinds of risky situations? I don't want to be watching out for the both of us all the time."
Malfoy looked at him, and Harry remembered. Remembered the demands to identify him, the refusal, the months lived in a house occupied by a madman. He remembered the aftermath and the trials and the month in Azkaban Malfoy endured before he was cleared of all charges. Opening his mouth to retract the statement, Harry closed it when Malfoy waved his hand.
"I know enough to be able to watch out for myself. I'm not going to be the hero, that's your role and I'm happy to let you take it. I'm being sent along because I know the kind of advanced charmwork we'll be facing and there isn’t time to teach you said charms."
"I'm good with charms," Harry felt the need to defend himself from the implication of ineptitude here.
"That isn't in dispute. But can you remove the Penna charm?" Harry's look of confusion must have made the answer to that question clear because Malfoy continued, "Can we just go over the schematics of the building the jewels are being kept in, form a plan, and then never speak of this day again?"
The day had flown away on a flurry of building plans and blueprints, but the speed of the operation at least meant that the information was fresh in Harry's mind. The jewels would be under heavy charm protection, but the number of witches and wizards guarding them would be relatively small. Malfoy had been a little taken aback by that until Harry explained that the more people they had, the more attention they would draw to themselves. They had been so focused on work that they hadn't even found time to snipe at each other, and Harry was actually impressed with how dedicated Malfoy was to getting the jewels back. He spoke of them with a quiet reverence that Harry put down to having grown up hearing the tales, but even Ron had never spoken about them with such awe in his voice. The battle with the Trolls to steal the jewels – now that he spoke about with awe – but not the jewels themselves.
They each had their wands, and Harry had borrowed a back-up wand from the Auror stock, sliding it inside his boot in case he was disarmed. The tip-off detailed a specific landmark in Cumbria, and they Apparated together to avoid getting lost. Though Malfoy sniped about having to Side-Along, he didn't refuse, and Harry grabbed a hold of Malfoy tightly as he took them to their destination. As soon as he had his bearings, Harry spun around in a circle, searching the surrounding woodland for any signs of life and casting a heat spell. His wand didn't vibrate, and he relaxed at the knowledge there was no one in proximity to them. He could see light through the trees, and tipped his head in that direction. Malfoy nodded in agreement, looking nervous as he fell in behind Harry to follow him.
Creeping to the edge of the wooded area, Harry crouched down behind a bush and gazed at the large building in front of them. It looked like an old mill – remembering where they were, he'd guess it was an abandoned steelworks – but to get there they had to run across a painfully open stretch of land. The light had come from the night sky, and the mill looked completely lifeless. "You're sure this is the place?"
"Okay; I can't see anyone, so once I've cast a few spells to search out any potential enemies, we'll make a break for it."
"Are Disillusionment charms beyond your abilities?" Malfoy drawled, already drawing his wand as if to cast.
Shoving Malfoy's hand back down, Harry bit down his ire at being spoken to as though he were stupid, and growled, "No, idiot. But they'll have wards up to detect magic; if we just run for it, we could be mistaken as shadows or animals, or not even seen at all, but if we cast spells we'll set off the wards. I know Malfoys are thick, but are you really that thick?" Harry finished spitefully, seeing Malfoy's mouth fold into a thin line of anger.
"Excuse me for not wanting to be seen," Malfoy retorted sarcastically, his bored tone infuriating Harry immensely.
"Excuse me for not wanting you to get us killed," Harry snapped back, waving his hand at Malfoy before he could respond. He really didn't need this additional stress on a raid, and whatever special skill Malfoy had that a fully-trained Auror couldn't replicate had better be damn worth the irritation he was putting Harry through.
As he opened his mouth to suggest they make a break for it, light flooded out from the mill and a group of six figures streamed out of the front gates and to the grassy area that Harry had just been about to run over. Wondering how they'd managed to trip a ward without noticing, Harry flung his arm out and grabbed Malfoy's arm, getting ready to Disapparate them should the situation get too dangerous. But the group was not walking towards them; as Harry held his breath he watched them start a roaring fire. The minutes crept by as Harry stayed perfectly still, watching the group settle around the fire and begin to cook meat pulled from a large duffle bag. "Crap, they're eating outside."
"Why?" Malfoy hissed, shaking his arm impatiently out of Harry's grip. Harry had quite forgotten he had a hold on Malfoy, trained as his attention was on the enemy in front of them.
"We'll have to use the back entrance then."
Harry really couldn't help himself; the high-tension of raid situations always made him highly-strung, always made things seem ridiculously funny. Malfoy's words just tickled him the wrong way, and Harry stuffed his fist in his mouth to silence a snort of laughter.
"Oh, grow up. The Prophet makes enough allusions to your back door antics in the society pages without you doing the same now!"
Harry shook his head, taking a few deep breaths to calm himself down. It wasn't at all funny – the whole situation was about as far from funny as it could be – and he calmed down as quickly as he had lost composure. Malfoy was still sneering at him, and Harry snapped, "At least I keep the pictures of my backdoor antics out of the press. And find a better back door than Colin bloody Creevey."
"He altered that photo!" Malfoy hissed, pulling off the magnificent task of managing to visibly blush in the dusky night. "Trust you and your gross stupidity to not know the difference between real and fake. I expect you thought all those people queuing up for your bed were doing it because they loved you, and not so they could say they shagged a celebrity!"
"At least there are people queuing for my bed!" Harry snapped, stung by the jibe and wondering if he could get away with punching Malfoy without giving away their position. Sadly, he doubted it, and instead he gave Malfoy a dead leg, causing him to double over in pain.
"Shut up. We'll have to use the woods for cover and get in the back way." Standing up, Harry kept low enough to stay hidden from view and hissed at Malfoy, "Are you coming or what?"
Whatever Malfoy said in response was too quiet for Harry to hear, and once he'd made sure that Malfoy was up and following him, he set off at a quick jog, constantly checking the bonfire to see if the people around it had spotted them. But they remained unseen, making it around to the side of the building and breaking out from the cover of the woods as soon as the corner of the building protected them from sight. It was easier to run over the open ground, and Harry sped up, hearing Malfoy behind him as he skirted the edge of the building to where he knew the back entrance was.
Falling still at the gates, Harry drew his wand as Malfoy bent double, panting, and began casting spells to disarm the wards. It took him almost twenty minutes to not only disarm the wards, but to set up a reflection of them so that if any member of the group checked on the wards, it would appear they were still in place. Harry couldn't stop himself preening when Malfoy was impressed with this – Harry had been on the team that developed the spell. As soon as he was sure they could enter the mill without tripping any wards, Harry beckoned Malfoy forward and opened the door, pausing. There was no rush of magic, no visible or audible alarms going off, so Harry led the way into the mill and pulled the door closed behind them. "Give us some light, Malfoy."
The tip of Malfoy's wand lit up, giving Harry enough light to see by. They had a choice of three corridors and Harry held his wand flat in his hand, holding it in the direction of each of the three corridors and repeating his heat-seeking spell. The corridor that peeled off to the left contained someone or something alive, and as rats wouldn't register enough heat to send his wand vibrating across his open palm, Harry decided the left corridor was a good bet. Ending the spell he turned to Malfoy and narrowed his eyes. "You shut up, follow me, and touch nothing. No spells, no charms, no noises, nothing."
"No spells? So I'm to let you be killed if someone surprises us? I can live with that."
Ignoring the sarcasm, Harry lit the end of his own wand and began walking down the corridor, keeping his back to the wall and all his senses on high as he strained to catch any sign of life. There was nothing, not even the scurrying of rats, and the further along the corridor Harry walked the more nervous he became. As they followed the corridor around the corner an office door stood open, an ominous rustling coming from its depths.
"What's that?" Malfoy hissed, having bumped into Harry when Harry stopped abruptly. Shaking his head, Harry held up his hand to show Malfoy he was to stay still, and crept into the office.
"Who goes there?"
The deep hiss sounded from below the desk, and Harry lowered his wand, meeting the snake's eyes. "Friend."
"Of those that keep me here?"
Snakes didn't have much in the way of inflection in their voice, but as the snake hadn't referred to the people as his masters, Harry took a chance that the snake was at least ambivalent towards them. "No. I am their foe, but I have no reason to stand against you."
"Then tell me, how can I escape here?"
Thinking, Harry mentally walked back along the corridors, looking at the memories for any way a snake could vacate the building. "There is an air vent close to the floor along this corridor, can you raise yourself to climb in?" Harry held his hand up off the floor, gesturing the height the snake would have to scale. It nodded its scaly head at him, and Harry asked, "Can you tell me where they are keeping the jewels?"
"The bag they protect is in a large room I left. One stays with it, the others have left."
The large room had to be the floor of the mill itself, and with only one wizard to take on, as long as they retained the element of surprise it should be incredibly easy. "Thank you, friend."
"Thank you. And be careful – there is something here dangerous to Creatures."
Confused – did the snake think Harry was a Creature because he could speak Parseltongue? – Harry stepped back and watched the snake slither past him. It hissed up at Malfoy before gliding past him too and disappearing out of their wand light along the corridor.
"What was all that hissing?" Malfoy asked, cheeks coloured slightly. Harry didn't realise Malfoy was afraid of snakes.
"He told me where the jewels are being kept, and I told him how to get out of here. The idiots obviously thought a snake would be a good guard, not realising the snake is smarter than they are, and only acts in its own best interests."
"They were obviously Hufflepuffs. Or Beauxbatons." Malfoy shuddered, as though either were a fate worse than death, and Harry couldn't stop himself smiling a little. Malfoy caught it, and arched a brow smugly. "Laughing at my jokes? Potter, why not just hit your knees now."
"Sod off. You've regained yourself pretty quickly after wussing out over the snake."
"I wasn't afraid." Malfoy answered simply. "Are we going, then?"
Nodding, Harry walked past Malfoy and squeezed through the door, making sure to elbow Malfoy in the ribs as he passed. They resumed walking the corridor, following it around until it ended in a set of double doors. Harry Noxed their wands with a wave of his own and crept up to the doors, Malfoy in his wake. There was a handy glass pane and Harry peered through, trying to get his bearings of the large mill floor. At the end directly opposite them he could see a man sprawled over a chintz armchair that looked hideously out of place against the dark, dusty machinery. By his feet was a large box, and Harry turned to Malfoy. "Is that them?"
"Probably, yes. What's the plan?"
"I'm going to count to three, and then I'm going to hex my way in. You stay here until I've Stunned and bound that bloke. I'll call you in when it's safe."
"A trained Auror, last I checked. This isn’t trying to one-up you; it's trying not to get both of us killed. Just wait here."
Grudgingly, Malfoy nodded, and Harry turned his attention to the task at hand. Taking a deep breath, he held his wand in front of him, counting to three before running forwards in a burst of speed. The doors crashed open, startling the wizard in the chair so much that he fell from the chair, landing in a heap on the floor. Taking the opportunity given to him, Harry cast a strong Stunning spell as the man tried to get up, not bothering to cushion the floor as the man fell back onto it. Binding him with unbreakable rope, and fixing a gag in his mouth in case he woke up and started screaming, Harry took the wand that jutted out of the wizard's pocket and slid it into the lined pocket of his robes, which would prevent the wizard Summoning it back to him.
Pointing his wand up, Harry sent a burst of magic above him; ten little gold streaks that shot off around the large mill. All ten returned to him, and Harry turned around to the doors, beckoning Malfoy in now that he was certain they were alone in the room.
Dropping to his knees, Harry held out his wand and began feeling out the wards on the black box. They were strong and woven together in an intricate manner. This was almost more than he could handle, and Harry knew that had they been just the slightest bit more complicated he would never have been able to undo them.
"Can you manage them?"
"Yeah," Harry confirmed, feeling Malfoy kneel down next to him as he began moving his wand over the box, muttering counter-charms and slowly un-weaving the net of wards. It took him almost half an hour, all with Malfoy breathing down his neck and hissing unhelpful comments, but Harry finally removed the last ward. Sticking his wand between his teeth he put his hands on the lid of the box and pushed it up.
"Bastard!" Harry grunted through his clenched teeth, straining against the box and making not a breath of difference to its closed state. Taking his wand, he cast a ward spell again, confused when it registered no spells or charms on the box.
"Move, I'll open it."
"It won't open, Malfoy."
Malfoy just elbowed him out of the way, and Harry crowed in triumph when the box wouldn't open for him either. The noise died in his throat when Malfoy removed his hands and there were golden handprints where he'd been holding. "What the hell?"
"Damn it. They did use the Penna charm."
"Penna; feather. The damn box needs an offering to open it. The bastards know how valuable it is."
"They're jewels, of course they're valuable! Look, I'll go find a pigeon and… what are you doing?!"
Malfoy had stood up, dropped his robe to the floor, and was now pulling his shirt over his head. Harry stared open-mouthed at him as Malfoy dropped his shirt to the floor and looked up at him. "Malfoy…"
"I don't suppose there's any chance you'll turn around while I do this?"
"Do what? Malfoy, what the hell are you playing at?"
Sighing, Malfoy ignored the question and closed his eyes. Harry waited, and when nothing seemed to happen he opened his mouth to berate Malfoy for wasting time. But, before he could find the words, something washed over Harry. It was hot and prickly, and gods but he wanted Malfoy so badly. He was beautiful, all lean and angular, pale and perfect and so very alluring. Harry wanted to run his fingers through Malfoy's hair and kiss each silky strand. He wanted to worship every inch of Malfoy's skin and never do anything else.
As suddenly as the bad romance novelist had moved into his head and taken over his thoughts, they moved out to be replaced by a horror writer. Because as soon as the unbidden lust had come, it was gone and had left sheer terror in its wake. What had been angular was now razor sharp, and though his expression hadn’t changed at all, Malfoy was suddenly the most terrifying thing Harry had ever seen.
He'd taken a step forward when he was captivated, but now Harry staggered backwards, wanting to put distance between himself and the thing in front of him. Just as he was considering running, Malfoy tossed his head back with a look of pain on his face, and Harry's mouth dropped open. Apparently from nowhere, two huge wings had appeared, arching up almost a foot above Malfoy's head and draping down to sweep over the floor. The thick, white feathers lay perfectly next to each other, for the moment appearing soft enough to touch but Harry knew, knew somehow, that those wings could turn deadly in a heartbeat. If a swan's wing could break an arm, Harry had no doubt those wings could break his neck. "What the hell?"
"Vested interest." Malfoy answered a question that Harry was sure he hadn't asked, and offered no further explanation for the fact he had just sprouted wings. Instead, he closed his eyes and clenched his teeth as he reached up to grasp a feather in his left wing. Harry winced as he watched Malfoy's grip tighten before his arm jerked down and the feather pulled free. "Fuck."
"Are you okay?"
"Go pull out a clump of hair and tell me if you're okay!" Malfoy snapped, elbowing Harry out of the way once again to lay the feather on top of the black box. For a moment, nothing happened, but then the gold that had marked Malfoy's handprints began to spread out, covering the whole box as the feather twitched on the lid. Harry watched in awe as the feather seemed to sink into the box itself, and the gold glowed so bright he had to close his eyes.
But he heard the soft pop, and when he opened his eyes the box was open. Leaning forwards, Harry whistled through his teeth as he caught sight of the ornate jewellery box nestled on a velvet cushion. Vaguely aware of a rattling above them, Harry ignored it in favour of reaching down and taking hold of the jewellery box. Lifting it out, Harry was about to open it when the rattling got significantly louder.
"What the hell?"
Malfoy shrugged, looking up. Harry gazed upwards too as the rattling got louder and more violent. He could see pipes that ran along the ceiling shaking, and he followed the rusted metal to see where it went. As he opened his mouth to reassure Malfoy that it was just the sprinkler system, Harry swore instead; the sprinkler system had kicked in, and he was suddenly drenched in water that smelled like almonds. The sickly scent must have been a result of the rusted pipes. Turning to suggest to Malfoy they get the hell out, Harry swore again as he saw Malfoy sway, and then hit the ground. "Malfoy! This is not the time to worry about your hair!" Harry snapped, kicking Malfoy for good measure.
But Malfoy didn’t rouse from his faint, and his skin seemed to be getting very red. Stuffing the jewellery box into his robes, Harry bent over Malfoy and shook his shoulders hard. "Malfoy! Malfoy, wake up, come on, we have to get out of here!"
Malfoy didn’t respond, and sickness twisted in his stomach. The snake hadn’t thought Harry was a Creature. He'd known that Malfoy was. Worse still, the sprinklers must have alerted those outside to their presence because Harry could hear banging at the doors. It wouldn't be long before they realised the wards were just a façade, and broke through the doors instead of taking the wards down. Shaking Malfoy again, Harry cursed blue murder as he hauled Malfoy into a standing position. He doubted Malfoy would have been so heavy if it weren't for the large wings, still beautiful even though they were soaked with water. Harry couldn't throw Malfoy over his shoulder fireman style because the wings obstructed his view. Instead, he had to brace Malfoy's arm around his neck and his arm around Malfoy's waist, and just hope for the best.
Dragging Malfoy along with him, Harry swore each time the heavy jewellery box swung against his body, but he kept running. Making his way back the way they had come, Harry dragged Malfoy down the corridors, ears straining as he listened to the sound of the thieves getting back into the mill. His wards weren't such a smart idea now – there was enough substance in them to prevent him Apparating out. He had to get back outside before he could Apparate to St. Mungo's. Because Malfoy needed a Healer badly – whatever had happened to him was affecting him at an alarming rate; Harry could smell vomit, and he could see the angry red rash breaking out over Malfoy's skin.
He turned the final corner, just a few hundred feet from the door and freedom, but the shouting voices were just behind him. Harry threw his all into running forwards, feeling a curse whiz by his ear as the first wizard rounded the corner behind them. Just five feet more, just three feet, just one foot…
Harry swore as he felt a hex hit him, slicing his calf open and throwing his balance. He just managed to swing them out of the door, using his weight to force it open. Staggering, Harry held onto Malfoy and his balance just long enough to think of St. Mungo's and step to the side.
Of all the places he'd imagined visiting; Harry had to admit that Malfoy Manor had never made the list. But a week after their successful raid he was stood on the doorstep waiting for someone to answer the door.
As the heavy oak swung open, Harry lowered his gaze to smile at the House Elf, but found himself looking at a pretty coral-pink dress. Dragging his eyes up, Harry blushed and tried not to look too shocked to see Narcissa Malfoy opening the front door.
"Mrs Malfoy. Is Draco home?" Harry hated how he sounded like a child asking for a friend to come out and play, but he couldn't really think of any other way to ask. Narcissa didn’t seem to mind though, and beckoned him into the entrance hall.
"I'll go and find him for you."
As she swept off up the stairs, Harry tried to find something to do with himself. Being back in Malfoy Manor made him nervous, and when a door opened behind him Harry hoped it was Draco.
"Who is that?"
Harry's mouth hung open, but he doubted Lucius would mind. Eyes which had once been cold and sharp were now almost completely white, and the cane which had once been nothing more than a way to carry his wand and intimidate others was now sweeping in front of Lucius as he walked across the hallway. Bringing his jaw up, Harry swallowed, searching for something to say.
"It's Potter, Father. Mother has gone to the conservatory, you should join her."
To hear Draco talking to his father in such a kind but commanding tone was shocking, but Harry successfully fought to keep his jaw closed. Lucius shuffled past him, and Harry watched him disappear around the corner before he met Draco's eyes.
"His illness is what kept him out of Azkaban. How can I help you?"
"I just… I wanted to make sure you were all right; you haven't been at work."
Draco shrugged and walked into the room Lucius had come out of. Harry followed, sitting down on the sofa when Draco took the armchair. "I'm fine. A little sore, but fine."
"Draco, what… I mean, what happened?"
Draco looked at him, a measuring glint in his eyes that made Harry want to look away. But he didn't; he'd been thinking a lot about what happened and wanted to know the truth.
"You've probably figured out that I'm not like other wizards."
"You never were," Harry quipped, raising a small smile from Draco.
"Well, that is as it is. I got sent along with you because the jewels are more than they seem. The one part of the story that never got told is that Merlin fell in love with a Veela and he watched her die. It broke his heart, and he devoted much of the end of his life to finding a way to cure the illnesses that afflict Veela in their old age. Our bodies just shut down; each sense fades far sooner than it would in a normal wizard. Merlin discovered a way to cure that, and he hid the spell in the centre of a large diamond given to him by a fey. But he died before he could tell anyone how to extract the spell – simply breaking apart the diamond would destroy the spell inside it. When the Merlin family jewels were stolen, the Ministry had just worked out how to extract the spell in its entirety; that's why the jewels were being moved.
"The spell was never spoken of, because the Ministry didn't want the thieves to realise just how valuable the jewels were. It's why the Auror Department never knew; if you had an open case file on it, your records could be stolen. When this tip-off came, I was sent with you in case the thieves had worked out the power held in the diamond, and protected the jewels in a way only a Creature could break. That's how they were protected originally, and it was a Veela that lifted the protection so that the jewels could be moved."
"You're a Veela."
"The wings didn't give it away?"
Harry felt his cheeks heat, and shook his head at his own stating the obvious. "Why did you pass out?"
"They must have linked the Penna charm to the sprinklers. The charm could only be removed by offering it a Veela feather, and they took a chance that the Veela who gave the feather would be stood there. The water was laced with a poison that only affects Veelas."
"That almond smell, right?"
Draco nodded that Harry was right, and silence lapsed between them. Thinking about what Draco had said, Harry looked around the room idly, his eyes resting on a portrait of Lucius. "Your father, is he…"
"He's dying, yes. Unless the spell can be understood and used quickly, he has about a year to live."
Draco sounded resigned to that fact and Harry reached out, resting his hand over Draco's arm and squeezing softly. "There's a huge team of witches and wizards working on the spell. They'll figure it out in time."
Draco just rolled one shoulder, standing up and gesturing to the door. Harry followed him, stepping out of the front door when Draco opened it and turning around to say his goodbyes.
"Thank you. You should have just taken the jewels and made sure you got them back to the Ministry, but thank you for getting me out."
"I wouldn't have left you." The answer was simple yet honest, and Harry could see in Draco's expression that he had taken it as such.
"Thank you." Nodding, Harry held his hand out, closing his fingers around Draco's when Draco took the offered gesture and shaking slowly. As their hands drew apart, Draco chuckled. "You know, you're not quite as insufferable as I believed."
"I get better the more you're around me," Harry joked.
"Perhaps I should test that theory then. Goodbye, Harry." Draco slid the door closed and Harry stared at the wood for a moment.
Somehow, this didn't feel like an end, even though by rights it was exactly that.
It felt like a beginning.
Six Months Later
"Sorry I'm late." Harry shook his head, leaning forward to kiss Draco softly and show him that there were no hard feelings. When he pulled back Draco looked a little less flushed, and smiled at him. "Now he can see colours again, Father is being a menace about letting me out of the house until he thinks I look good enough for the Malfoy name."
"More than good enough," Harry confirmed, actually taking the time to sweep his eyes over Draco's dark blue dress robes, tight without being obscene and enhancing the natural flow of Draco's long limbs.
After the raid they had bumped into each other at work more often – something that must have been subconscious on both their parts as they'd never crossed paths before – shared lunch together in the large cafeteria on occasion, and traded cheerful memos to avoid doing real work. Harry had suggested they perhaps share a pint after work when the news had broken that the team had finalised usage of Merlin's hidden charm and were ready to begin trials with willing volunteers, and Draco had agreed. Things had rocketed from there, and Harry was being ribbed mercilessly at work for sitting with a dopey smile on his face, lost in the excitement of a new relationship.
"So, how was your day?"
"Not so bad. I got sent to intercept an illegal shipment of snakes, which was a struggle; the witches were cheeky bints and it took me over an hour to explain the situation to the snakes because they wouldn't stop talking over each other." Harry glanced at Draco and added, "Sorry, forgot you don't like snakes."
"I can tolerate them."
"I bet you can do much more than tolerate snakes, Draco."
"I'd like to be aroused, but I'm certain you just made a bad pun about snakes."
Harry laughed at Draco's dry put down, confirming he had done exactly what he was accused of. Taking Draco's hand in his, he listened to the tour guide they were following. When Merlin's family jewels had been returned, the Ministry had decided to make them the centrepiece of an exhibition titled Britain's Magical Heritage. The jewels, minus the important diamond, were on show with other artefacts such as Cyprian Youdle's last whistle, and a feather from Falco Aesalon's wing.
As the tour went on, the pain in Harry's ribs got greater with each instalment of Draco's whispered counter-commentary. When they got to the main exhibit and Draco commented on how the long, thick, rounded piece of emerald showed that Merlin was obviously a man of good taste and exotic pastimes, Harry got a filthy glare from the tour guide for his snort of laughter.
As the rest of the tour moved on, Harry and Draco hung back, staring at the jewels inside the glass display case.
"Do you think they were worth all the risk?"
Squeezing Draco's hand, Harry nodded. "A hundred times over. Besides, I was talking to one of the Healers on the research team, and he thinks they'll be able to modify the spell to help other Creatures."
Draco made a noise of approval, and Harry followed the line of Draco's gaze to the large emerald. Sidling behind Draco, Harry pressed himself against Draco's back and whispered, "What would you say if I said I had my own big emerald stick?"
"I would tell you to see a Healer immediately," Draco's quip was in counterpoint to the way he pressed back against Harry, arse fitting perfectly against Harry's groin and making the gentle arousal heat up rapidly. "Harry, we can't."
"Security spells," Draco pointed up, alerting Harry to the small stone gargoyle perched on a ledge near the ceiling, watching them intently. Cursing under his breath, Harry thrust his erection against Draco's arse one final time before grabbing Draco's wrist and leading him off in search of someplace more secluded.
As they walked the corridor between one exhibition room and the next, they passed a velvet curtain and Harry pulled it back, whooping quietly when he discovered a little storage alcove. Pulling Draco behind the curtain, Harry silenced any protests by sealing his lips along Draco's, kissing the objections out of Draco as his hands worked on undoing their trousers. Freeing both their cocks, Harry thrust his hips forward, moaning at the feeling of Draco's heated flesh rubbing against his own. "Hell, Draco."
"We're going there, you know," Draco gasped back, his hands clenched in Harry's hair and his face a picture of pleasure.
"Then let's enjoy the ride," Harry answered, conjuring up a handful of lubricant before he jammed his wand into his robes. For all his complaining, Draco turned around and braced his arms against the wall, leaving Harry with the stunning view of Draco's robes swept to the side and his trousers down around his knees. Harry reached out, kneading Draco's buttocks as he used the other hand to smooth lubricant over his prick. When the hard flesh was slick and shiny, Harry stopped kneading Draco's arse and instead pushed two lube-slick fingers into it, making Draco bite down on his sleeve and whimper desperately.
Harry twisted and flexed his fingers, fucking Draco on them as he prepared him for something larger. Leaning forward, he licked a line up to Draco's ear and whispered, "Do you know how good you look, rocking back against my hand?"
"How good you feel, hot and tight around my fingers?"
Draco gurgled, wanton in his arousal as he pushed himself back on Harry's hands. Aware that they didn't have all that much time – and already aching to be inside Draco – Harry pulled his fingers free and shifted his hips into place. Holding his shaft, he teased the head of his cock over and around Draco's rim, loving the way the slick, wrinkled skin felt against his exposed head.
"Potter…" Draco's warning tone was no laughing matter, and as Harry didn’t want to find himself tied up and with a severe case of blue-balls – as he had been left the last time he'd teased Draco for too long – he moved his hands to rest on Draco's hips and sheathed himself in one smooth, swift movement. He swore at the impossible tightness, Draco swore at the breath-taking intrusion, and they both shushed each other to avoid being caught.
Harry could see that Draco had a mouthful of his sleeve, and he busied his own mouth kissing and marking Draco's neck to stifle his moans. He let his fingers creep around Draco's side, stroking through tight blond curls to wrap around Draco's shaft. It fit perfectly in Harry's hand, thick and hard and just begging for him to flick his wrist and stroke up and down its length. Adding a little twist at the end that made shudders run through Draco's body, Harry had to sink his teeth into the back of Draco's robes to keep himself quiet as the tension and pleasure built. Pressed up against the wall of a storage alcove, balls deep in Draco Malfoy and so close to orgasm he could almost taste it over the expensive velvet, Harry had never been more aroused.
Draco keened into his sleeve, and Harry felt the hot strings of come fall over his fingers, smearing underneath them and dropping to the floor as he worked his hand faster up and down Draco's shaft, keeping it in time to his frantic thrusts as he sought his own release.
Tensing against Draco's body, Harry came with a muffled shout, almost choking himself on Draco's robes as he sucked in air to feed his desperate lungs. Spitting out the velvet, Harry dropped his head between Draco's shoulder blades and gasped to catch his breath.
"If you've slobbered on my robes, I'll hex you."
"Oh shut up," Harry sniped back, eyes closed as the aftershocks of pleasure ran through him. "You'll be the one alerting the tour group to where we've been when you can’t walk straight."
Draco's arse squeezed down around his softening cock, making Harry curse and shudder at the delicious pleasure-pain as Draco purred, "Who said anything about rejoining the tour guide? I was going to take you upstairs and introduce you to my desk!"