Title: Conformation Change
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, in many different guises
Summary: The story changes, but the characters remain the same.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Crossover with lots of SF universes.
Epilogue compliant? EWE
Word Count: ~4500
Author's Notes: Happy hd_holidays, grey_hunter! You asked for plot and wizarding-style SF – a read-over of Transfigurations totally put me in the mood. Here's some sciencey plot, and a whole lot of literal SF crossover. I hope you enjoy! Thanks to my beta and the mods, who are as always beyond patient.
”Are you sure about this? You don't have to go.”
“It's my project.”
“We could do it without you.”
“It's still my bloody project.”
“Are you sure that's a good idea?”
“Look, we have to get this right. And I'm the best there is.”
The lift doors whooshed shut behind Kirk as he strode onto the bridge.
“Report, Mr. Spock.”
He dropped into the Captain's chair, and spun to stare at his science officer. The Vulcan looked up from the science station, and cocked one pale eyebrow at him.
“Preliminary analyses are inconclusive, Captain,” he reported. “Our sensors are unable to penetrate the cloud surrounding the Enterprise.”
“Can we inspect the planetary surface directly?” Kirk asked.
“Attempting to beam down would be inadvisable,” Spock replied, turning back to his viewer. His left hand moved swiftly over the controls, and a shifting black fog appeared on the main screen. A series of red arcs flashed on and off in seemingly random locations.
“As you can see, the local gravitational field is fluctuating wildly,” he continued. “It's not clear that a stable planetary surface could exist under these circumstances.”
“How are we supposed to study anything, much less fix it, if we can't even find the damned planet in the first place?” McCoy asked as he stepped out of the lift and walking forward to lean on the rail. Three robed figures followed him onto the deck, and stood behind him, staring silently. “Wrap your logical blond head around that.”
“Our close proximity to the presumed planet enables more thorough analyses, Doctor,” Spock said without looking up from his viewer. “I am reconfiguring the close-range sensors to circumvent the cloud's interference.”
“Carry on, Mr. Spock,” Kirk said, and turned to face the new arrivals. “Bones, I thought I told you to keep these people in Sickbay?”
“They're observers, Jim,” McCoy said waspishly. He ran a hand through his red hair, which was sticking up even more than usual. “And there's nothing to observe in Sickbay – all of the action is here.”
The visitors looked around, clearly taking in every detail of their surroundings. One fingered a thin wooden rod as she stared at the viewscreen.
“I'm not interested in their convenience,” Kirk snapped. “I won't have them up here bothering my crew.”
Kirk put his thumb over the comm button. “Escort them off my bridge at once or Security will do it for you.”
“Didn't that go well.”
“Fine, we need you. Did you learn anything?”
“Maybe. I'm almost getting through.”
“But not fast enough.”
“Then it's time to try something else.”
“I'm going alone.”
“You can't, you'll get sucked into the narrative.”
“I can do it. I have to.”
He was sitting at the base of a tree, watching sunlight play through the branches, as Legolas approached.
“Well met, Frodo.” Legolas bowed lightly, and settled on the grass beside him.
“I wish that it were,” Frodo said with a sigh. “But despite the lightness I feel here in Lothlorien, I can still sense the looming shadow.”
“Does the ring weigh so heavily upon you, even here?”
Frodo eyed him suspiciously, but Legolas's elven face was wide and open.
“The ring, yes,” he answered, finally. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and shivered, sinking down further against the tree. “But the Nazgul wound is cold, and pains me still more.”
“I think I'm onto something.”
“How as the narrative?”
“Functional, though just as ridiculous.”
“Where does he get this stuff?”
“His cousin, I suppose. It's all Muggle nonsense.”
“But you're making it work.”
“Of course. Set me up; I'm going back in.”
Luke could barely see the damned remote as it zipped around him, and now he was supposed to fight with a blast shield over his face? Obi-wan was crazy.
“Your eyes can deceive you. Don't trust them.”
Luke closed his eyes and crouched, listening warily. The remote shot him in the ass.
“Reach out with your feelings.” He could hear the smile in Obi-wan's voice, and forced himself to stillness again. The lightsaber in his hand was grounding, and he focused on its hum.
The higher-pitched whine of the remote was easy to separate, and in the stillness he tried to visualize its movements through the dark mists around his body. He raised his lightsaber, then twirled and parried twice in quick succession.
One shot hit him in the thigh, the other in the shoulder. He hissed in pain and frustration, and yanked the helmet off with one hand as he shut down the lightsaber.
“I can almost see it,” Luke said, flopping down next to Obi-wan and adjusting his glasses. “But it's like I'm looking out through a terrible black fog.”
“Describe the fog.” Obi-wan's gray eyes peered down at him intently from under the now-familiar white-blond fringe.
“It's cold.” Luke leaned against his mentor as he paused, thinking. “Dark. Nothing like I thought the Force would feel – it's almost soul-sucking.”
He could feel Obi-wan's startled twitch against him.
“Tell me more about this feeling.”
“It's as if...” Luke closed his eyes, and tried to reach out again. “As if I'm fighting through all the terrible things that ever happened to me.” He shivered.
Obi-wan put a comforting arm around his shoulder. “But how does it make you feel?”
“Like millions of people are crying out in terror,” he answered, leaning further into Obi-wan's comforting warmth. “Depressed. Like I could never be happy again.”
They both sat for a moment, silent.
“Am I feeling real people?” Luke asked.
Obi-wan paused before he answered. “Almost certainly.”
“I should be able to help them,” Luke muttered. “Somehow, if only I could get past this fog.”
“I've found a potential source.”
“Out with it.”
“The emotional component makes it almost certain.”
“We need to know more.”
“I can do it.”
The door chimed. Kirk hastily tucked the towel around his waist, and grabbed for his glasses.
The door swooshed open, and Spock stepped into the room.
“Captain.” He looked pointedly at Kirk's naked torso, eyebrows raised. “Would you prefer to postpone this discussion?”
“Of course not, Spock.” He sat on the bed, and gestured towards the chair in front of the Tri-D chess set. “I believe it's your move.”
Spock sat, looked at the board for a moment, and moved a pawn.
“Captain. I have a...” he looked up in a way that could almost be described as shy, for a Vulcan. “...a rather unusual request.”
“I've made a comprehensive study of the phenomenon surrounding the ship,” Spock said. “And have come to the conclusion that I must pursue an alternative strategy.”
“You have my permission to conduct whatever studies you deem necessary, Mr. Spock.”
“But this request is of a more personal nature,” Spock continued. “I believe it is necessary to perform a mind meld with you.”
“Why?” Kirk asked. “How can this possibly help solve the gravitational anomalies?”
Spock looked even more uncomfortable, and spoke slowly, pronouncing each word with extreme precision.
“Evidence suggests that the cloud and gravitational anomalies the ship is experiencing are a manifestation of internal conflict,” he said. “A mind meld could enable me to pinpoint the source.”
“But why would my brain be the source of these anomalies?”
“I do not suggest you are the only source,” Spock replied, staring at him again. “Rather that you as Captain are the logical candidate for a mind meld.”
“Fine.” Kirk gave him a wry smile. “We've done this before, and I trust you. Let's get it over with.”
He scooted over a bit, and patted the bed beside him. Spock sat down gingerly, and raised his hands.
“With your permission, Captain?”
Spock placed his hands on either side of Kirk's head, pale fingers carefully splayed to avoid touching Kirk's glasses.
“My mind to your mind.... ”
Kirk closed his eyes, and shivered as he felt the Vulcan's mind begin to slide into his own.
“...my thoughts to your thoughts.”
He could feel the smooth surfaces of Spock's mind probing around the edges of his consciousness, and tried to relax into the meld.
Their combined consciousness skimmed through his brain, replaying recent memories. He saw Spock and the Enterprise crew, then another ship with another blond man next to him, before slipping through a conversation with a tall, blond man in a forest, and through the Enterprise again. Then things really turned strange.
He saw robed men and women flying through the air, swirling and weaving, throwing and dodging airborne missiles. He saw a castle full of children, a dark closet, crowded medieval streets, offices, rooms, faces, dark blotches, and blindly bright colored sparks flying by at ever-increasing speed.
Time swirled, and resolved itself: he and Spock stood on the street in front of a rather shabby looking old-Earth-style pub. Robed humans swarmed around them, oblivious to the fact that a man wearing only a green towel was standing next to a blond, blue-uniformed Vulcan. He raised his eyebrows in silent question.
“This may be a relevant memory,” Spock told him. He opened the door to the pub, and stepped aside for Kirk to enter. “Tell me if you experience a strong negative response to anything you see.”
The pub was just as old and shabby-looking inside, but a roaring fire and the buzz of conversation made it quite pleasant. He followed Spock to a seat at a side table where they sat with backs to the wall, watching as people came in, greeted friends, and ordered drinks. Sometimes the fire went green, and people stepped in or out like it was some sort of transporter. Kirk shook his head and adjusted his glasses.
“Butterbeer?” Spock suddenly had two mugs in his hand. “It appears to be the local mildly-intoxicating beverage of choice.”
“I don't remember any of this,” Kirk said, tugging the mug across the table. “Are these really my memories?”
“Yes. But they are inaccessible without the meld.”
“This doesn't feel like any mind-meld I remember.”
“Ah.” Spock went paler, if such a thing were possible. “Given the circumstances, I have been forced to alter standard protocol.”
Kirk cocked an eyebrow, but Spock was carefully watching the crowd. He took another pull from his mug. “Are you sure this is only mildly intoxicating?”
Spock continued to ignore him, staring rigidly ahead. He followed the other man's gaze to a table in the center of the room.
A young, bespectacled man with tousled brown hair sat alone, nursing what looked like another of the strange local beers. After a few moments, a tall, slender man with a dark cloak and short-cropped white-blond hair approached him, and after a few moments of conversation slid into the other chair.
Spock inhaled sharply, but when Kirk turned to investigate his face was impassive.
He returned to the table that was occupying Spock's attention. The two young men were deep in an earnest discussion, which was clearly growing more heated. The newcomer slammed his hand down on the table, and Kirk instinctively grabbed for his phaser just as the dark-haired man reached for his pocket.
His hand closed over towel, and he glanced guiltily over at Spock, who was now looking directly at him.
“Do you feel anything?”
“A bit anxious,” Kirk answered, grinning back at him. The butterbeer was clearly starting to affect him. “I'd like to have a phaser, and maybe some proper clothes.”
He glanced back at the table. Both men had gotten up; one headed towards the door as the other walked towards the fireplace transporter.
“But nothing sinister.”
“Fascinating.” Spock reached for his face, and again the scenes flew by.
This time they came to a halt in a small clearing in the middle of a forest. Kirk stepped on a pinecone with his bare feet, cursed, hopped sideways, tripped, fell directly onto Spock, who grabbed him around the middle as they both hit the ground together.
Kirk levered himself up on the Vulcan's chest, adjusted his glasses, and snickered. “You've got something in your hair.” He pulled the bit of plant material out for closer examination.
“Viscum album,” Spock said, cocking an eyebrow. Kirk looked blank. “European mistletoe.”
“Really.” Kirk gave a naughty smile, then leaned over and gave Spock a quick kiss on the lips. The other man's hands tightened around his waist.
“If you like, I can blame that on the butterbeer you gave me.”
The Vulcan stared back up at him, eyes wide. “Captain, I...” Then they both froze.
The dark-haired man from the pub dropped into the center of the clearing, and hopped off a floating broom. Kirk watched as he jogged across the clearing, broom under his arm, muttering to himself, and rummaged through a bit of shrubbery just beside them. The man pulled a small red ball out with a pleased noise, but just as he threw one leg over the broom a small dark shadow darted out and bit him in the ankle.
Kirk barely heard the man's muttered curse or Spock's question through his own screams of terror. He yelled through a blistered throat, flailing his arms as he fell into a bottomless pit of liquid despair.
“Get out of my way.”
“What's the report?”
“I don't have time.”
“But the narrative...”
“Is getting reset. Now. I'm going back in.”
It had to be another cold-induced hallucination. He was lost in the storm – there was no way any of the search planes could go out in this kind of weather. He was cold, so cold, and would never be warm again.
But Han's concerned gray eyes swam back into focus above him again, and he felt a tug at his waist and heard his lightsaber.
“And I thought they smelled bad on the outside.”
Suddenly his body was shielded from the cold wind, and everything was warm and moist and safe. His eyes drifted shut.
“Stay with me, kid.” Everything went silent.
Luke opened his eyes, and looked around. The snow tent was small but warm; he wriggled his fingers experimentally, and was pleased when they responded immediately and without pain.
He was curled up into a ball, and suddenly became conscious of the fact that he was naked under the heavy blankets, and pressed up against another warm, naked body.
“Welcome back to the land of the living.” Han's voice was husky in his ear. “Sorry about the close quarters, but it's the best way to share body heat, and your gear is covered in frozen tauntaun innards.”
“How did you find me?”
“I've got my ways,” the other man murmured into his hair. “Call it luck.”
“But you risked your life to find me.” Luke was still trying to wrap his head around the idea.
Han snorted. “Least I could do.” He paused. “You'd do the same.”
Luke turned in Han's arms, pushed a lock of the other man's blond hair aside, and looked into his eyes.
“I hope so,” he said. “And thank you.” He leaned in, and pressed his lips against Han's.
Han growled, a deep-throated almost Wookie-like noise. He opened his mouth against Luke's tongue, and reached down to haul their hips into closer contact.
Luke's body had obviously been alert long before his brain had, because his cock was already at full attention, and he gasped at the friction Han was generating between their pricks. He worked a knee in between Han's legs, and reached down to grab the other man's arse with one hand.
“You're welcome,” Han murmured, nibbling his way down Luke's throat. “But are you sure you're up for this?”
“Yeah.” Luke ran his other hand along Han's shoulder. “I thought I'd need time in the bacta tank, but I feel surprisingly good.”
Han paused, mouth still on Luke's collarbone. “That's not what I meant.”
He cuffed Han in the back of the head. “Don't question your luck.”
Han grinned back and rolled over, pinning Luke underneath his body. “Hold still,” he ordered.
Luke looked down, fascinated, as the other man licked his way down Luke's torso. Han's white-blond hair was almost the same color as the white fur of the blanket, and glowed under the low blueish light of the tent. He fisted his hands in the blankets and stared at the top of the tent, trying not to move.
There was a sudden, sharp pain in his hip, and he looked down to see Han grinning back at him, bite-mark reddening on the rise of bone.
“Pay attention, kid.”
Luke could only moan as he watched Han slowly massage the base of his cock, and he arched up towards Han's teasing mouth. After a few more strokes Han finally relented, leaning forward to take Luke's cock half-way into his warm mouth. He sucked gently, riding Luke's frantic thrusts, and working slowly deeper with each stroke.
Luke closed his eyes. It was almost too much – he could feel his body building rapidly towards a climax. Suddenly that delicious mouth was gone, and he could feel chill air on his naked prick. His eyes snapped open.
Han levered himself up, and straddled Luke's thighs so their cocks were just touching. He smiled, slow and easy, as he wrapped his hand around his cock and began to stroke. His knuckles bumped against Luke's prick with every movement, and Luke watched for a few moments, panting in the cold.
Then he lunged forward, topping Han onto his back where the blond man lay in a laughing heap as Luke tumbled against him. Luke raised up on one elbow, rolled slightly to the side, reached between them, and grabbed both their dicks in the other hand, stroking vigorously.
Han laughed again, and dragged the blankets back over them even as he moved in sync with Luke.
“Way to show some initiative, kid,” he gasped.
Luke held down the manic laughter trying to make its way to the surface, and smiled fiercely as he leaned down to cover Han's mouth with his own. Their breathing and moans mixed together, almost drowning out the noises of the storm still ranging outside the tent.
I'm not alone, Luke thought. We're going to survive this.
Then he felt the staccato warmth of Han's come on his stomach, and screamed a name he didn't recognize as his own orgasm claimed him.
“He's out of immediate danger.”
“What did you find?”
“Amyloid plaques. Lots of them.”
“How much do you know about prions?”
“Enough. There's no treatment.”
“What if I can induce a replicative conformational change?”
“Then we could manufacture a potion. But how - ”
“If I can do it, will your team be ready?”
Paul heard the tinkle of water rings, and looked up from the pool.
He hugged her, feeling the hard angular planes of her body beneath the stillsuit. She smiled up at him and shook her head, laughing, to make the water rings dance again in her platinum hair.
“My Usul.” She stretched up and kissed him on the lips. “I have brought you something.”
The bag she had placed at his feet jerked violently as the sandworm within it writhed, attempting to get away from the water it sensed in the air.
“You must make the water of life,” she said, still holding him tight. “It's the only way to save our people.”
“Many men have tried the agony,” he said, staring down into her gray eyes. “All have died.”
“The prophecies say you will succeed,” she answered. “And you do not fear death.”
Chani moved away and carried the twisting bag to the water's edge, then swiftly knelt to submerge the Little Maker beneath the water's surface
“No,” he admitted, watching her work. “But I fear losing you, so soon after I have found you.”
She returned to him, bearing a cup.
“Wherever you go, my love, there I will follow.” Chani wrapped one arm around him, and offered the cup.
“This is a stable alternate conformation.”
“How can you be sure?”
“Confirm it in the laboratory while you scale up.”
“But he's still comatose!”
“I'll stay with him. The other patients need this potion.”
Harry opened his eyes to a bright, hazy blur. He reached instinctively for his face, but soft hands moved his hands away and settled his glasses on his nose and the spare, white room slid into focus.
He turned his head, wincing slightly at the unfamiliar movement, and took in the familiar figure in Healer's robes.
The other man nodded, and picked up a quill and clipboard. “How do you feel?”
Harry tested his extremities. “Like I haven't moved in a month,” he said with a grimace. “But still, surprisingly good.”
Malfoy's quill paused briefly, then continued scratching across the parchment.
“Did I fall off my broom?”
“No.” Malfoy didn't look up, but he stopped writing.
“What happened to me?”
“You were very sick,” Malfoy replied, setting the clipboard on his lap and tucking the quill alongside. “In fact, you were patient zero of an unprecedented Dementor-derived encephalopathy.”
“Remember Mad Cow?” Malfoy stood up and placed the clipboard on the table. “It's a similar style of brain disease, wherein the Dementor proteins infect your body, and forcibly change the structure of proteins in your brain. It propagates rapidly.”
“I don't remember eating any Dementor brains,” Harry said, cocking an eyebrow. “And I thought there was no cure for Mad Cow.”
“There's not, and you didn't,” Malfoy said, fixing him with a level stare. “The disease was spreading like a standard virus, which shouldn't be possible with a prion vector. That's why I was called in. You received an experimental treatment.” There was a long, awkward silence.
“I dreamed,” Harry said finally. “Lots of strange things.”
“My research involves guided narrative treatments for brain disorders.”
Harry flushed. “So you hijacked my dreams.”
“Not exactly,” Malfoy answered. “I helped your subconscious mind draw out useful information from among your preexisting dream narratives.”
“You hijacked my dreams!”
Malfoy's cheeks began to pink, but he continued speaking in a Healer's soothing tones. “I am more of an observer,” he said softly. “You maintain control over your dreams; I can only suggest.”
“But you... I... we...” Harry ran out of words, and gestured vaguely.
“Did nothing except of our own volition,” Malfoy answered, flushing to the tips of his ears. “The base storyline can predispose behavior, but your dreams diverged significantly from the reference narratives.”
“Harry, you're awake!” Ron dumped a tray of vials on the table, and ran over to give Harry a hug.
“Hermione and the rest of the test group are responding to the potion well,” he continued. “I'm on my way to the lab to make up more. I can't believe you did it.”
“Er, what did I do?” Harry glanced at Malfoy, who was leaning against the wall. He and Ron both looked ridiculously tired.
“I don't know how you did it,” Ron said, patting him on the leg. “But you created a prion variant that can convert the Dementor protein back to a functional form.”
“Chosen one,” Malfoy told him, shrugging.
Ron laughed, and clapped Malfoy on the back.
“I'm just happy it's done.” Ron headed back to the door and scooped up the vials. “And that both of you have learned to be civil! I'm not sure which is more amazing.”
He ducked out the door, his happy chuckles slowly fading out as he traveled down the hall.
Malfoy had gone pink again.
“So how did I do it?” Harry asked, bemused.
“You shouldn't have been able to,” Malfoy replied. “It's only because we stumbled into the perfect narrative that it was even possible.”
“But I thought you could pick the story yourself?”
“Only from the set of narratives with a preexisting niche to match everyone involved,” Malfoy answered, recovering himself somewhat.
“Though for someone who professes to hate all the attention,” Malfoy continued, “You cast yourself as the Chosen One quite effectively.”
Harry frowned. “You seemed happy enough as sidekick.”
“I prefer to think of myself as a wise and trusted advisor,” Malfoy said primly. “Or possibly a debonaire scoundrel.”
“You were also a convincing girl, Malfoy.”
“Don't go there, Potter.”
“But I think I like scoundrels,” Harry said, meeting Malfoy's eyes squarely again. “We... seemed to get on pretty well.”
“Indeed.” Malfoy snorted. “And as Weasley noticed, we've had an entire conversation without coming to blows.”
“Want to be friends?” Harry stuck his hand over the side of the bed.
Malfoy eyed Harry's hand for a moment, then stepped up and grasped with his own, and gave a firm shake. “I'm willing to give it a try.”
Harry gave a sharp tug, pulling Malfoy across him onto the bed.
“Sod friendship,” he whispered into Malfoy's ear, his voice husky. “I want more than that.”
Malfoy turned his head, still resting on Harry's chest, and kissed him soundly on the lips.
“Me too,” he said, smiling down at Harry. “I'm willing to give it a try.”