Title: Swirl Stick Thingies and Other Magical Oddities, 1/2
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, implied past Draco/Blaise and Draco/Justin
Summary: A potions mishap, a family secret, and one very confused Boy Who Lived all add up to a good ol’ romp in the Room of Requirement...eventually.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): *Veela!fic, sort-of forced bonding*
Word Count: 11,896
Author's Notes: Alexis, it is my fondest desire that you enjoy this fic. I freely admit that I’ve never written anything like this before, but I had so much fun with your prompts!! It got a bit out of hand and ended up quite a bit longer than I had planned, but that’s because Draco and Harry tended to get carried away with each other. *g* I hope you don’t mind. Also, I must bow to the greatness that is my beta, as well as the gang of people that stayed up with me night after night as I tried to settle on JUST ONE bunny, and then encouraged me when the final bunny bit hard and left me beat up at the side of the road.
"Class, you have five minutes to complete your potions and have your finished product on my desk." Snape’s voice, though pitched low and menacing, carried throughout the classroom, making Harry stiffen with ire. He couldn’t help it. He hated the bastard, especially after all that had happened the previous year. Of course, it didn’t help that Snape seemed determined to slap him with a detention every time Gryffindor had a scheduled Quidditch practice.
Harry swirled his stirring rod, which he’d finally managed to stop calling a ‘swirl stick thingy’ after Snape had set him to writing My stirring rod is a stirring rod, not a swirl stick thingy. one thousand times over the course of three consecutive detentions—anticlockwise in his potion thirteen times and doused the flame. Counting to fifteen and a half, he swiftly dipped his phial into the steaming liquid, collecting a sample and capping it before handing it to Malfoy, with whom he’d been partnered yet again, so that the boy might bring it to Snape’s desk.
They’d come to the conclusion after their third joint potion had managed to "fall" from Snape’s desk, thus earning them zero points for their efforts, that it greatly behoved them to have Malfoy hand in the potions. Snape’s blatant favouritism wouldn’t allow him to harm anything of Malfoy’s, after all.
But apparently, fate was against them getting passing marks today, because as Malfoy was passing Ernie Macmillan, the other boy tripped over the step, grabbing onto Malfoy and pulling him off balance. Malfoy stumbled down the steps and landed, hard, against Snape’s desk, the tell-tale sound of breaking glass reaching Harry’s ears and making him groan in disbelief.
Draco watched lazily as Potter finished their potion and collected a sample, a small smirk twisting his lips as he noticed how Potter’s fingers turned red from the heat of the potion before he took the phial from the other boy with a roll of his eyes. Why he should have to put forth effort just because Potter couldn’t seem to locate the flat surface of Snape’s desk, he didn’t know, but he simply couldn’t abide the smug looks Zabini directed toward him when Snape would issue Potter—and, by extension, him—zero points for the days that Potter handed in their work.
As if it was his fault that Potter was a blind idiot.
Draco sighed heavily and started down the few steps toward Snape’s desk, barely paying attention as Macmillan from Hufflepuff came up them. He was, in fact, planning strategies for next weekend’s trip to Hogsmeade when the clumsy buffoon stumbled into him, great greasy paws clutching at Draco and pulling him off-balance.
He gasped as he was pushed forcefully down the stairs, trying frantically to stop his forward momentum even as gravity propelled him into Snape’s desk. He landed against it hard and, as his hands had been braced in front of him to break his fall, the phial—forgotten for the moment in his left hand—was crushed between the unforgiving wood of the desk and the soft skin of his hand, the glass cutting a gash in his palm.
He pulled his hand back with a sharp hiss. The tingle of the potion entering his bloodstream went unnoticed when Draco spied his blood bubbling up from the jagged skin. The sight of it was enough to make him feel light-headed and, even as his stomach began to churn, his knees went weak. As he dropped to the floor, his temple connected with the corner of Snape’s desk, completing his descent into unconsciousness.
Harry let out a shout and ran out from around his workstation, wand out, calling out desperate Reparo’s as he went, hoping against hope that he’d be able to salvage something of their potion. Since he’d done all the work on it, it would be galling in the extreme if Malfoy managed to destroy it all now.
As he reached Malfoy, he dropped to his knees and wrestled the other boy’s limp form over, rolling his eyes in disgust at the fact that the berk seemed to have fainted at the sight of his own blood. He’d always known Malfoy was a poncy bugger, he just hadn’t thought it would ever affect him.
"Dammit, Malfoy," he grumbled, discovering that not even a drop of the potion had survived the accident.
He was still scowling down at the pale boy when Malfoy’s eyelids popped open wide, his nearly colourless eyes locking immediately on Harry’s and his mouth stretching open as a short, breathless cry escaped him. Harry frowned, backing away when Malfoy’s hands came up and gripped his shoulders cruelly, pulling Harry down until his face was a breath away from Malfoy’s.
A short, weird sound came out of Malfoy’s mouth, then. It sounded sort of like a plea, but Harry had no idea what he wanted. Harry sucked in a breath, though, when Malfoy’s irises began to expand, the light grey colour swallowing up the white.
"Buggering hell," Harry whispered, trying to pull back. He’d seen people’s pupils change size before—who hadn’t—but he’d never seen anyone’s irises expand, and it was rather a bit more than freaky.
"Professor!" he called, head twisting to locate Snape, who was taking his sweet time coming to the aid of his supposedly favourite student. Snape was two tables away, checking the contents of a cauldron, and sent an irritated look Harry’s way. "Something’s wrong with Malfoy." When Snape still didn’t move, Harry rolled his eyes and tacked on, "Sir."
Snape merely sneered at him and said, "Potter, you are responsible for the safety of yourself and your partner while completing the brewing process. If injury comes to either of you, you are, of course, responsible. And you will, of course, lose your House points."
Harry ground his teeth and turned back to Malfoy, hissing, "Get up, you great git! Stop being a fucking drama queen, for pity’s sake!"
As he glared down at Malfoy, the other boy’s right hand transferred from his shoulder to the back of his head, long fingers clutching Harry’s hair before he applied force at the same time as he lifted his head.
Draco came awake with a start, eyes flying open as the most alluring smell filled his senses with a hunger that seemed to originate from somewhere much lower than his stomach. It curled in his gut and spread through his body as he fought to bring the thing that smelled so delicious down to him.
For a moment, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to eat or fuck, and was caught, staring into green eyes that widened with surprise and… something so close to fear it merely fed the craving inside him. Some part of Draco knew he was acting strangely, knew that the person he was clutching to him so desperately was Potter, but the hunger was so sharp, so all-encompassing, that the voice that screamed at him to stop was swiftly and mercilessly overridden.
As he pulled Potter closer and closer to him, all he could focus on, besides the need, was the brilliant, alive green of his eyes, which seemed to nearly fill up his vision. But there were other things he could see, the rest of the room, the students standing stiff with variations of horror, humour, and—oddly—entrancement. Some of the girls, in fact, seemed to know what was coming, and he could literally feel the breath they held in their lungs.
Some part of him, a part he’d never felt before, drew their excitement into himself, fed on it, even as the confusion that rolled off Potter in waves tried to drown him. He pulled again and felt the brush of skin against his mouth. With a groan, he allowed his tongue out, let it play as it wanted, let it lick lightly along the full lips just above his own, taste the uncertainty on the other boy.
Pure. So pure.
His whole body rose up then, from shoulders to hips, pressing into Potter, transferring his weight to the other boy, who grunted and fell against him, allowing him more control. Draco rolled them over then, needing this, needing to dominate, to hold Potter down, to take with his mouth and hands, to taste with tongue and teeth. He tilted his head slightly to the side even as his legs wound with Potter’s, his cut and bleeding hand sliding down Potter’s chest to press confidently over the bulge of flesh in his trousers, talented fingers caressing, drawing forth a reluctant response.
The last thing he felt before unconsciousness overwhelmed him again was the way Potter’s body arched against him, grinding his arousal into Draco’s hand.
Draco came awake with an aborted groan, his head literally throbbing with pain. Wherever he was, there was an overabundance of light, far too bright for his lovely room in the Slytherin dorm. To add to his discomfort, several voices were raised in what appeared to be a heated argument. He groaned again as he recognised one as his father’s.
"Why was my son allowed to participate in this lesson?"
"Why, Lucius, the only reason to fear allowing your offspring to brew that particular potion would be because you weren’t quite certain of his… purity. Was there some reason he shouldn’t have been working in class today?"
Lucius’ growl cut off whatever else Snape might have said, but even his father was no match for Poppy Pomfrey when she wanted attention.
"Regardless, there is nothing to fear any longer, gentlemen." Draco nearly smiled at her tone, but the dull ache in the side of his head wasn’t diminishing.
"Ah, so there were no… side-effects?" Lucius sounded… oddly relieved. Draco’s forehead wrinkled as he tried to remember which potion they’d been working on. As he had fallen into the habit of letting Potter do all the work, he really couldn’t recall it.
"Side-effects? No. It did precisely what it was supposed to do."
Twin gasps of horror seemed to suck the air from the room. Draco was nearly certain that one had been his mother’s. The other… well, his father was certainly full of surprises today.
"Malfoy." The hissed whisper made him grimace and crack open his eyes.
Potter was sitting there, ugly glasses—the light reflecting off them in such a way that they hid his eyes completely—sliding down his nose, hair in clumps around his head. Really, did the prat have no concept of self-grooming spells? His dirty, scuffed trainers dug into the pristine floor tiles of the infirmary as his hands twisted together between his spread knees. His clothing defied description, all but for the dark reddish-brown smear of blood that started mid-chest and ended in a large patch over Potter’s groin, causing Draco to immediately discontinue his mental cataloguing.
He had known where he was within moments of waking, but the cloth walls around his small hospital bed confirmed his suspicions. Potter jerked a thumb at the small table next to him, upon which sat one of the pain potions Pomfrey was best loved for. Draco nearly sighed with relief, but caught himself in time and merely reached lazily for the bottle. Holding it up, he rolled his eyes and said, "If I must," before drinking it down slowly. Though it tasted horrid, he didn’t allow his reaction to show on his face and merely summoned the glass of water which was slightly out of his reach.
It wasn’t until he had the first sip in his mouth that he realised he’d done so without the aid of his wand. The water backed up over a lump in his throat before the need for oxygen forced Draco to swallow.
Something was very, very wrong.
Harry was so busy listening to the conversation going on outside Malfoy’s curtained-off bed that he didn’t notice at first that the other boy was awake. It wasn’t ‘til he glanced over and caught a grimace on Malfoy’s face, in fact, that he realised the other boy must have returned to consciousness. He hissed, "Malfoy," and watched as the blue-veined eyelids crinkled a bit in a flinch before they parted, the pale lashes framing once-again normal looking eyes as the other boy gave him a half-hearted glare.
The edge of pain in those grey eyes sent a frisson of pity through Harry, and he motioned toward the pain potion sitting within Malfoy’s reach. The pinched, pointy face softened with a hint of relief before Malfoy’s mask slammed down again and he reached slowly for the potion. Harry turned away to hide the rolling of his eyes, not wanting to provoke an argument now. The adults might stop talking then, and he really didn’t want that.
"What’s going on?" Malfoy asked finally in a near-whisper, drawing Harry’s gaze back to him. He frowned slightly when he noticed that Malfoy’s hand was trembling the slightest bit and those grey eyes were looking at the water in his hand as if it held the key to the gates of hell.
Harry shrugged, pushing off the vague sense of unease he felt at Malfoy’s uncharacteristic show of vulnerability. "I don’t know. They’ve been talking around the issue ever since you were brought in."
"Why are you here?"
Harry shrugged again. "Pomfrey wouldn’t let me leave. Something about… oh, yeah, that reminds me…" Harry stood up from his chair, moving toward the bed. Malfoy pushed himself up into a sitting position, eyeing Harry warily. Harry grinned and lifted his left hand, hiding the fact that his right was curling into a fist. "I need to give you something."
Malfoy’s query was cut off abruptly as Harry’s fist rammed into his mouth, splitting open his lips, both top and bottom. Harry let loose a feral smirk as he said, "Don’t ever fucking touch me like that again, you fucking poof."
Malfoy cringed back onto the bed, holding his mouth, eyes squeezed shut. For an instant, the thrill of victory coursed through Harry’s veins before Draco’s eyes snapped open, once again that all-over grey with the tiny dots of black where his pupils had narrowed down. Harry backed up a step, filled with a sense of foreboding as the normally pale and pointy features on the other boy paled even further and narrowed down so much that he no longer resembled anything remotely human. Harry backed away further, calling for Madam Pomfrey just as Malfoy came off the bed for him.
Malfoy’s normally long, elegant fingers were tipped with wicked-looking fingernails, his skin had taken on a pearlescent hue, and his hair flowed down his back. His mouth opened and a scream of rage echoed off the walls just before he came down on top of Harry. Harry, having pulled his wand, found it knocked ruthlessly from his grasp, even as Malfoy—or rather, not really Malfoy anymore, but whatever thing it was he’d turned into—kicked his legs out from under him, forcing him to his hands and knees on the hard tile floor.
Harry cried out in relief when the curtains around their little closed-off space disappeared to show Madam Pomfrey standing there.
She continued forward, wand out, words forming on her lips that Harry couldn’t hear. A bolt of red shot from the end of her wand…
…And ricocheted off the air around Harry and Draco, rebounding to hit Madam Pomfrey before she could move. Harry watched as she crumpled to the ground under the force of her own Stunner.
Harry struggled harder than ever, then, realising swiftly that if he was going to get out of this situation he would only be able to rely on himself and his own strength and magic. Of course, when in his life had it ever proven otherwise?
Strong hands gripped Harry's shoulders and flipped him over, pressing him painfully against the hard tiles of the infirmary's floor. He grit his teeth and fought against those hands, kicking out at the creature on top of him, the creature that his mind was having difficulty labelling as "Draco Malfoy."
No matter their past, this thing was not Malfoy.
He looked into the green eyes, using his talon-tipped hands to hold that head still even as his elbows dug into the shoulders under him, keeping the body pinned to the floor. He tilted his head and screamed again, letting his rage transmit itself into the very air around them.
As he looked into the eyes, those wide eyes that seemed to call to him of life and innocence, he detected a darkness. An Other. There was an Other inside His. His boy, his mate, his enemy, his mate, his partner. His mate. An Other was touching his mate's mind, touching it in a way that left a darkness, a link that was unacceptable. His mate. His and no other's.
Baring his teeth in animosity at the intrusion of the Other on his mate's mind—his very psyche—he pushed forward, sliding effortlessly through the sea of green, targeting that darkness with the animal awareness that marked him as one of his kind. He attacked the thread of purest black, slashing it with the force of his animosity, his possessiveness.
He heard his mate scream, saw the pain that rippled through his mind, and felt his body go first stiff then limp as his mind fled into unconsciousness to avoid the pain of the severed connection with darkness. He pulled back then, allowing his mate this time to heal the new wound, the rip in the fabric of his mind.
As he calmed—a natural product of his satisfaction—he felt the personality of his host begin once again to reassert himself. With a mental snarl, he retreated.
Harry woke up, much as Draco had done earlier, to the sound of adult voices.
"Narcissa, this is the only way."
"No, it’s not. It can’t be! I won’t lose my only son—"
"We’ll have more children. I’ll even ensure that Draco…" Harry sat up straighter as Lucius Malfoy’s voice paused a moment before continuing, slightly gruff. "I’ll ensure that he is provided for. It is the least we can do. However, if we do not disown him and divorce ourselves from everything that has happened today, we—" Lucius went silent then, and Harry soon realised why. The clipping footsteps walking down the main stretch between beds in the infirmary could only belong to one person.
"Mister Malfoy! What is the meaning of this?" The sound of parchment being rattled was enough to bring to Harry’s mind a fairly good re-enactment of what was going on outside of his curtained-off area. McGonagall was giving Mr Malfoy absolute hell. Harry couldn’t help the small, rather evil smile that spread across his face.
"That, my dear Minerva, is a Notice of Intent to Disinherit."
Harry sat there a moment, allowing the puzzle pieces to come together and felt a cold wave of anger blast through him. That fucking bastard was going to disown his own son because of something he had no control over. Harry didn’t realise, in his fury, that he had become so enraged on behalf of the boy who had been the bane of his existence for the past six and a half years.
Standing from his bed, he walked forward on shaky legs and pushed aside the curtains, stepping free and drawing the attention of the adults in the room. "Have you submitted it yet, Mr Malfoy?"
Lucius glanced at him with a look of complete disgust on his cold features. He actually tilted his head up slightly—the better to look down his nose, probably—as he sniffed disapprovingly and adjusted the fit of his gloves. "I have begun the process. If you knew anything of the wizarding world, Mr Potter, you would realise that, as guardians of my son during nine months of the year, it is considered proper form to advise Hogwarts of any such proceedings before I file with the Ministry. A Notice of Intent is sent to the Headmaster and within forty eight hours, a formal Letter of Disinheritance is issued at the proper channels within the Ministry."
"Well, that’s rather stupid of you, if you don’t mind me saying."
"Why, you little—"
"After all, you wouldn’t want tales of the true nature of your blood purity—or, in this case, the lack thereof—to reach certain ears, now would you?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Oh, you don’t have to beg, Mr Malfoy," Harry said sweetly, and noticed that Mrs Malfoy’s lips twitched the slightest before she coughed rather discreetly into a very fine-looking handkerchief. He hardened is tone and features as he said, "Only a complete idiot would think that Voldemort will forgive you for lying to him about the purity of your blood. And unless the news has been contained, it is very likely that he knows already. Disinheriting Draco will do you no good now. I would think, having been raised in the house of Slytherin, you would know when the time to cut your losses has passed."
A gentle hand settling on Harry's shoulder made him spin to see that the Headmaster had entered the Infirmary via the Floo.
"Harry, perhaps you would care to invite the Malfoys to a spot of conversation over tea? My office is, as always, at your disposal."
Harry looked into the faded blue eyes and noticed that, behind the twinkle, there lay a magnitude of gravity. Harry didn't have to think too long to understand that they had come to a turning point. Perhaps, even, one that could turn the tide of the war.
Harry watched as the door closed behind the Malfoys as they stepped onto the revolving staircase outside the Headmaster's office. He released a long breath and looked at Dumbledore, waiting for some hint of reaction.
"Very well done, my boy. Very well done, indeed."
Harry's lips quirked into a small smile. He felt oddly accomplished.
"Do you think they'll do it, sir?"
"I believe that Lucius Malfoy is as determined to advance his cause as any man I've met, including Tom Riddle. What works for us, in this situation, is that his 'cause' is survival. Survival first of himself, then of his family. You've offered him a solution that will bring both about, with the possibility of progressing beyond merely surviving into thriving. Harry, if you don't mind, I've invited some of the regular crowd to join us."
Harry blinked at the swift change of subject but nodded. The regular crowd? Did that mean Hermione and Ron were coming? He turned as he heard a sound in the doorway to see Snape standing there with McGonagall. Ah…. that crowd. The Order. Of course Dumbledore would want them involved in this latest development.
"Headmaster," Snape said, eyes flicking over Harry even as he sneered his disgust. "Do you really think the boy need be here?"
"Considering I will be the one briefing you on the current situation, it's probably best," Harry said, his voice saccharine in its sweetness.
Dumbledore merely smiled and offered everyone a sherbet lemon. McGonagall took one, but Snape and Harry both declined, which ironically made Harry want to change his mind and accept one. He pushed that bit of childishness aside for now, though, and concentrated on what he needed to tell the others.
"Lucius Malfoy has been convinced that abandoning his previously dark path is in his best interests, as well as the interests of his family." Turning to McGonagall, he said, "Please burn that copy of the Notice of Intent to Disinherit that you were given. It isn't needed any longer and I can think that it would only hurt our efforts from here if Draco Malfoy were to learn about it."
Snape snorted out a snide laugh. "Aww, isn't that simply precious. You're concerned for the feelings of your bond-mate."
Harry was about to snap something back at the man when he realised that what Snape had just said made absolutely no sense.
"Oh, delicious. You don't know?" Snape asked, a malicious gleam in his eyes. "Well, allow me to elucidate. Mr Malfoy—Draco—is a member of a family that carries the recessive gene for Veelism. Said family has been actively helping that gene remain in recession through the judicious use of a certain potion. Very few potions makers are capable of producing said potion."
"Severus!" McGonagall exclaimed, spilling her tea on her tartan robes. "You can't mean—"
"Of course I can, however… I'm sure I have no idea what you mean." Snape's smile was so false, Harry watched closely for his face to crack. Snape continued, "When Mr Malfoy had his unfortunate accident in my class yesterday, the potion the students were brewing was a gene stimulant. Imagine my dismay when the normally graceful young man fell onto his sample and managed to get some of the potion into his bloodstream." Snape tsked. "Truly, a sequence of events that not even Trelawny could have foreseen."
"Severus," Dumbledore said, his voice heavy with disappointment.
"But all's well that ends well, as the Bard wrote. Because now, we have the unutterable joy of having a bonded couple in residence for the first time in the school's history. Truly, Mr Potter is an exemplary model for all future generations. Is there anything he can't do?"
"What do you mean, bonded?" Harry asked, ignoring everything else. His palms turned clammy and he could feel his heart trying to break free from his chest.
"Why, just that, Mr Potter. Draco Malfoy's Veela instincts, once woken, chose you to be his mate. You are, with no other recourse available to anyone, bonded with each other. Before you search for a way out, rest assured that nothing can break a magical bond short of death." Snape's voice was entirely too smug as he literally relished the words as they flowed off his tongue.
"I’m bonded to Draco fucking Malfoy. Bonded."
Harry started to laugh, and he couldn’t stop himself. Oh god, everything inside him was crumbling, and all he could do was laugh. If he stopped laughing, he’d start screaming, and then… Then, he’d never stop.
He didn’t notice the calculated smirk that spread over Snape’s face before the other man stood up and calmly walked across Dumbledore’s office to stand before him. Not wasting a single moment, his arm came up and across, a blur of black on white just before his hand impacted with the side of Harry’s face, shocking him into silence.
"Professor Snape!" McGonagall shouted, leaping to her feet and running to Harry’s side, turning his face to survey the damage.
Snape shrugged and sneered. "He was clearly hysterical, Minerva. Something had to be done."
"You’ve never heard of a Cheering Charm, you bastard?" Harry asked, spitting a small amount of blood onto the floor at Snape’s feet, satisfied when flecks of the red-tinged spittle hit Snape’s shoes and the hem of his robes.
When Snape took a step toward him, Dumbledore shouted, "Severus!"
Snape did a little half-turn to show Dumbledore the cold smile on his face before he said to Harry, "Really, Potter, the fact of the bonding itself isn't nearly as important as the fact that you will need to fulfil the bond with Mr Malfoy before ten o'clock tomorrow morning. Give or take a few minutes, of course."
Harry's glance bounced around the room, from Snape to McGonagall—who had nearly sucked her lips fully into her mouth—to Dumbledore. Dumbledore appeared calm, until Harry noticed that the elderly wizard was running his hand down his beard over and over. It was a gesture Harry had noticed in the past when situations became tense.
"Sir?" Harry asked, directing this toward Dumbledore.
The Headmaster coughed gently and said, "Sherbet lemon?"
Harry clenched his jaw and had to swallow down a shout before he was able to grit out, "No, thank you. What does Snape mean about fulfilling the bond? And what does ten o'clock tomorrow have to do with anything?"
Dumbledore took a candy and popped it in his mouth, switching the candy from side to side before he attempted to explain. "Well, you see Harry, it's… Hmm. Minerva?"
McGonagall coughed, making Harry contemplate offering to run down to the Infirmary for a bit of Pepper Up. She was able to gather herself together enough to turn to Harry with a no-nonsense air and say, clearly, "In order to fulfil a magical bond of the sort you have with Mr Malfoy, you will need to have intercourse."
"With each other?" Harry screeched, pulling his feet up onto the chair and pressing his arse as deeply into it as it was possible to get.
McGonagall pursed her lips and sighed impatiently. "Yes, Harry, with each other."
"But… but we're both…"
"Regardless of your orientation, this is necessary. There is, as Professor Snape kindly pointed out, no way to circumvent nature. It is the power of nature that you are up against, Harry. If you do not fulfil the bond, Draco's Veela nature will break free, much as it did earlier, and what is now pure lust will turn to blood lust. It will see your unwillingness to fulfil the bond as a rejection of it as a mate and attack you. No one has ever survived an attack by a rampaging Veela, Harry, so really there is nothing else to be done but gather your courage and …"
"Think of England," Dumbledore supplied cheerily. The little joke fell completely flat, however, as three sets of disbelieving eyes were instantly trained on him. "Ah, yes, well. This certainly isn't the worst thing you've done to survive, Harry. Just keep that thought in mind, and you'll be fine. Now, as I'm sure you have much you'd like to do to prepare yourself for your bonding, you're excused."
The only thing that made Harry feel marginally better--and really, it didn't even do that—was that Dumbledore's voice turned soft and steely as he said, "Severus, I'd like you to stay. There is much we must discuss…"
Harry paced back and forth in the common room, occasionally finding it necessary to glare at other members of his House when they had the bad taste to want to actually use the common room themselves. Finally, after what seemed like hours, the portrait opened and Hermione and Ron stepped through.
"Thank god you’re here!" Harry said, rushing toward them.
"Harry, I didn’t know you were religious," Hermione said, brows arching in surprise.
"I wasn’t before this morning. Now I’m thinking of taking it up."
"What’s wrong, mate?" Ron asked, looking at Harry rather strangely. "Does this have to do with the… fight… I heard you had with Malfoy in Potions yesterday?"
"You told him?" Harry asked Hermione. When she bit her lip and nodded, he sighed in relief. "Good, then I won’t have to explain all of it, just… just most of it. God, where to start?"
Hermione wrapped an arm around his waist and led him over to the battered old sofa, forcing him down onto it. "Just… start at the beginning and tell us everything. Specifically, tell us why Draco Malfoy was snogging you like he’d die if he didn’t get to lick your tonsils."
"Well… that’s sort of the end of my story. It doesn’t make sense if you don’t know everything else. So, let’s see. Well, you know the potion we were brewing yesterday, right?"
"The Manifesto Lateo. Yes. Go on."
"Do you know what it does?"
"Of course. It is a recessive gene activator."
Harry blinked and nodded. "Well, apparently the Malfoys have some recessive genes in their family that they’ve been suppressing for quite some time now."
Hermione’s eyes went wide before she burst out in raucous laughter. Harry’s lips twitched. It wasn’t as if he couldn’t see the absolutely brilliant beauty in the fact that the staunchest supporters of pureblood supremacy were less than pureblooded, it was simply that he was entirely too close to the situation—too affected by it—to feel the urge to laugh. Yet. Once this was all over, he fully planned to not only have a good belly-laugh, but he also intended to take out a full-page advert in every wizarding paper in Europe. Sirius would have loved that.
When Hermione was able to bring herself under control again, Harry went on to explain all that he'd learned from Snape. Finally, with a heaving sigh, he concluded, "All I know is, I’ve managed, yet again, to stumble onto a path that I never in a million years considered I’d be walking."
Hermione scooted closer to him, wrapping one arm around him as his shoulders sagged in despair. She didn’t have even a trace of humour on her face now, and Harry was grateful beyond belief. He didn’t think he could deal with that right now.
"Tell us what happened, Harry. We’ll find a way out of this, together. We always do, don’t we?"
Ron nodded and leaned forward, clapping Harry on the back in a purely heterosexual fashion. "Right, mate. We’re with you."
Harry’s face screwed up in disgust for a moment at the image those words brought to his mind before he forcefully shook it out. "Well, actually, there’s really nothing else to be done. You see, when Draco had the accident, some of the potion got into his bloodstream. It didn’t just bring out his Veela traits, it… well, remember what we saw at the World Cup?"
Ron glanced down at his shoes, face scrunched in thought. "I’m sorry, Harry, but… well, Draco isn’t exactly pretty."
Harry rolled his eyes. "I don’t mean when they were dancing. Do you remember when they were all… ugly and stuff?"
Hermione’s eyes went wide with shock. "He transformed? But… I didn’t see that!"
Harry shook his head. "It wasn’t while we were in class. This came about… I dunno, two or three o’clock this morning? I haven’t really slept, but it was before dawn, when they thought we’d be sleeping. Snape and Dumbledore and Pomfrey and the Malfoys and… I think McGonagall may have been there as well, but anyway… yeah, they were talking about it, and I was trying to listen, and Malfoy finally woke up. It took him that long." Harry stopped speaking, once again reliving those moments in the infirmary. "Anyway, he woke up, we tried to eavesdrop on the adults, and I punched him—"
"Yeah, well, not really. He went all… beastly on me. Attacked me, forced me down on all fours, and… err…" Harry gulped and looked down.
"Harry?" Hermione’s voice sounded strange, slightly off.
Harry looked up and raised an eyebrow in question.
"Sweetheart, you are still… what I mean is, well… Harry, are you a virgin still?"
Ron coughed, choked, and otherwise flapped about while Harry turned about six different shades of red. "Hermione! What are you…? You can’t mean… How did you…?"
"Oh, Harry, we all know you haven’t had sex, yet. And really, no one thinks anything of it! You’ve been… well, quite busy, haven’t you? What with saving the world and all that." Hermione waved in an off-hand manner, but Harry could see the slight calculation in her gaze.
After stuttering for a few moments, he finally managed to calm down enough to realise that Hermione had advanced the conversation to the point where he’d needed it to go anyway, so he may as well take advantage of that. Taking a deep breath, he held it for a few moments before expelling it all in a rush of words. "That’s the problem. I, erm, havetosleepwithDracoMalfoyordie."
Ron just blinked at him while Hermione nodded along, eyes locked on his lips as if trying to force what he’d just said to translate itself into one of the three languages she spoke fluently. Possibly even one of the languages she didn’t speak fluently, but still had a strong working knowledge of.
"Erm, come again?"
For some reason known only to pubescent, hormonal teenaged boys, Harry found that particular bit of phrasing absolutely hilarious and began to laugh, not stopping until he had tears running down his face and his stomach muscles were on fire. "S-s-sorry," he said, wiping the moisture from his cheeks. "It’s just… the way you said that…"
Ron tilted his head to the side, reviewing what he’d said before a huge, slightly perverted grin twisted his lips. "Heh, yeah."
Hermione rolled her eyes at them and fought to direct the conversation back on track. "So, then, what was it you were trying to say?" she asked, much in the manner one would speak to a toddler or beloved pet.
Harry gripped his hands tightly together and studied them harder than any textbook he’d ever owned. "When Draco attacked me, it was because his Veela-part had recognised me as its mate. Apparently, that little snogging session he subjected me to in Potions was because I was the first person he saw when his Veela came out, and it decided it liked me. And, erm, wanted to keep me," he said, bending down to pick at his shoelaces so that he could avoid looking at either of his two closest friends.
The prolonged silence that followed, though, was too much for Harry to handle, and he finally looked up and said, "Well?"
"Well, perhaps you’d better explain the rest of it," Hermione suggested gently.
Harry blew out a breath and shrugged, his neck and shoulders stiff with tension. "So, because his Veela-thing has been rather forcefully pulled from him, he’s going through the… umm, whatever it is? The Veela mating season or whatever? Anyway, he’s doing that rather suddenly. Apparently, by the time a Veela is our age, they’ve already… ah, mated. Leaving it ‘til now has just made his Veela angry or over-stimulated or something. If we don’t… that is, if I don’t… I mean. Fuck! We have to have sex, or he’ll kill me."
"Sex?" Ron looked like he was about to be physically ill. "With Draco Malfoy? Ahh, mate, I’m sorry. I’ll—" He choked up there, eyes blinking furiously as grief overwhelmed him. "I’ll say good things at your funeral, mate." He leaned down and engulfed Harry in a rather emotional hug.
"Oh, Ron, for pity’s sake! Of course Harry’s going to have sex, if it means that or death!"
Harry and Ron pulled apart to shoot twin looks of doubt at her. "Hermione, we’re talking about Draco Malfoy, here. I mean, I have nothing against blokes or anything, but… well, if Harry’s going to go all poncy on us, I rather think Draco Malfoy is literally the last person he’d do that with."
Harry pulled back from Ron, trying to decide if he was offended or not.
"No offence, mate."
Harry narrowed his eyes, but let it pass.
"Harry, seriously now! Think about this! You’d rather die than have sex?"
"Hermione, did you hear the rest of that?! I’m already bonded to the berk! BONDED! It’s like… like… like marriage or something!"
Hermione puffed out a breath and said, "Oh, it is not! Goodness, you haven’t been reading those trashy novels that Lavender reads, have you? No, the bonding is just a way for the Veela to mate. To guarantee a… partner, so to speak. You won’t be obligated to any sort of commitment, unless you want one."
Harry literally sagged into the sofa. "Really?" he asked, voice small with relief.
"Yes, really. Now, don’t you feel rather silly for contemplating death as the preferred option?"
Harry still looked a bit doubtful at that, until Hermione said, "After all, if you’re going to have sex, I hear that Draco Malfoy is rather… ah, good at it."
Ron and Harry’s faces expressed the same level of disgust at that. Ron did get stuck on one point, though. "You heard that Draco was good at it? Who did you hear that from?"
"Justin. And Lavender overheard Blaise talking about him, too, so…"
"Justin Finch-Fletchly?! How would he… Oh, my god. I think I might be sick."
Harry looked at Ron. "I thought you didn’t have a problem with blokes, Ron."
"I don’t! What I have a problem with is blokes with poor taste! Draco fucking Malfoy?! Come on, Harry."
Harry looked at the ground again, remembering that kiss from the previous day. "Just, umm… how good is good?"
Ron’s shocked gasp actually sucked some of Harry’s hair toward him. "You can’t seriously be considering…"
Harry rolled his eyes and scowled at Ron. "It’s sex, Ron. Of course I’m considering it!"
Ron closed his mouth and sat back with a weird expression on his face. "Well, when you put it like that…"
Hermione jumped up and ran out of the room, leaving Harry and Ron to stare after her in bemusement. Shrugging—this was Hermione, after all—Harry turned to Ron with a concerned look. "So, really, mate. Are we going to be okay if I do this?"
Ron shrugged and scratched at the back of his head, avoiding Harry’s eyes. "Well, I mean, sure. It’ll be… strange, I suppose, but yeah. We’ll be okay."
Harry let out a relieved breath.
"So, you’re uh… going to do it, then?"
Harry shrugged. "I guess so. I mean, it’s not like I have any other real options, right?"
"And really, it’s not like you haven’t been through worse, right?"
They looked at each other, both still wearing slightly dubious looks, but managed to sound perfectly certain as they simultaneously said, "Right."
That settled, Ron sat back and Summoned a deck of cards for a game of Exploding Snap. They were well into their second game, with singe-marks all around, when Hermione tumbled back through the portrait-hole, arms loaded down with books. Swaying toward them under her heavy load, she dumped the lot on Harry just as Ron exploded two cards at once. She jumped and glared at him, reaching one hand up to extinguish the strand of hair that had gotten too close to the explosion.
After dropping her load of books into Harry's lap--books with such titles as "A Wizard's Guide to Smoking Hot Gay Sex" and "Finding Your Prostate--A Road Map to The Love Button"--Hermione sat down and had a very frank talk with Harry about the kind of sex he'd never contemplated having.
Smart girl that she was, she also supplied a Pensieve and directions on how to use it.
In between bouts of supreme embarrassment, Harry was able to spare a moment of concern for Ron, whose brain, it appeared, had finally managed to explode.
Draco took the phial of potion from Severus, turning it this way and that to study the colour of the potion. Finally, slightly convinced that it didn't hold any sort of poison, he accepted it with a haughty sniff and a cool, "Thank you."
Snape sneered at him—a rather cautious sort of sneer, all things considered—and said, "You may thank me by learning to control that beast inside you."
Draco drank the potion down and returned the phial to Snape. When the other man tried to take it, however, Draco held on and said, softly, "Be careful, Professor, how much you meddle in the lives of those around you. While there is no real proof that you intentionally twisted events so that you could prove my family tainted with Veela blood, I think we both know exactly what happened." Draco drew a deep breath and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, the grey filled the white completely and his voice was a low rumble as he said, "Your petty jealousies will no longer be tolerated. Not of my family, nor of my mate. And if you ever think to harm him again, my vengeance will be swift."
Draco's hand fell away from the phial and he stepped back with a gasp, blinking his eyes fiercely. Looking appalled, he glanced up at Snape and said, "I can't believe I just attempted to defend Potter. Excuse me, sir, while I go regurgitate the food I consumed earlier."
Snape backed away a step and said, appearing slightly shaken, "Yes, well, there is obviously no accounting for taste among animals."