I hope you all are staying safe and sane (and washing your hands like crazy) during this crazy time of panic and stupidity that seems to go hand-in-hand, particularly here in the US, thank god for comforting content to help get us through these tough times. Like Netflix, Yuri On Ice, fanart, and of course fanfics.
Hopefully this chapter update brings you some joy.
Massive massive shoutout to my insanely talented, talented friend, Callie, over at Tumblr known as bookstakeyoutoanotherworld who made this incredible drarry fanart for me based on the previous chapter, taking place during the steamy scene of the rose garden.
I'd leave link but sadly those don't seem to work here. So go to Tumblr and find the blog, bookstakesyoutoanotherworld. You'll insanely know the fanart when you see it. It is so damn beautiful.
Chapter 51: Aftermath of the Storm
Draco was trapped in a tornado of feathers. Hundreds of them, thousands of them, pearly-white and gleaming like knives. Covering him, sprouting from him. His shoulders, his back, his throat.
Falling on top of him like thick snowflakes. Whirling around and around and around him until he was surrounded by a blur of white that sealed him like a skin-tight tomb.
Draco tried to escape. He tried to make his way through the haze of white, but each touch left a thin, deep rake of fresh cuts that bloomed ruby red beads from the wound. Beads that ran down his hand, his wrist like dripping paint rolling through a canvas. Beads that darkened, expanded to broad designs, streaking onto the flashing white, moving closer to him.
Closer and closer until he could barely move his arms without meeting stinging resistance, then until he could barely move at all. Until he was entangled in white feathers and shrieks that sounded like a wounded bird on the brink of agony.
When he woke up, his world was summed up in one word: pain.
Draco thought he was already familiar with the meaning fourth year, feeling the thrashing ache prey upon him the morning after the disastrous Yule Ball. Payment for the mess he, his drinking, and big mouth had caused.
That was nothing compared to what he felt now. Pain that roared down his back, his hands, his legs. That weighted down on his limbs like heavy boulders of cement. Flared through his skin with each small movement, each inhale and exhale he dared to take. Flooded into his body, shot up to his head, making him feel like he was wading and drowning through waves. Pulling him this way and that, bashing him to dust.
Through the pain, images whirled through his mind. Pansy's tear-streaked face explaining what happened between Harry and McLaggen. McLaggen's face changing from fear to craze, then a mix between the two with pain mixed in. Father with no explanation. Father with no regret. No remorse. Answering the question that burnt in the back of his head, cracking something inside him.
Something frail and deep that snapped like worn thread. Icy calmness taking over, silencing that blaring buzzing that thrashed inside his head all day. Then-
Draco screamed as pain spilt through his skull neatly in one swipe. Razor-hot, like claws dipped in molten lava. Agony boomed to his back, running across it. Swelled in his hands.
Dimly, through the storm of anguish, he made out the sound of his name, barely audible and muffled as if he were drowning. All before he felt a body pressed close to him, hand cupping his face, fingers running through his hair.
Cries wedging his throat, Draco looked into the familiar emerald green eyes.
"I'm here," Harry whispered. "I'm here."
His arms barely had time to open before Draco, using the little strength he had left in him, flung himself at Harry. Harry returned his desperate embrace, clinging onto him, hooking one leg around Draco's hip.
His fingers stroked his hair, dulling the pain until it disappeared. Whimpering, Draco pressed his head against his chest. He listened to the steady beat of Harry's heart and the soft humming that filled his ears.
'Cause you'll be in my heart
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more
Draco knew it was a mistake to even attempt to wake up, still remembering and shuddering from the great detail of the first try. Still, there was a voice, small and fragile, that urged him to move, to get up. A choice he knew would bite him in the arse and one he regretted almost instantly as soon as he cracked his eyes opened, pain splintering and roaring in such vivid flares that his entire world was red.
Vivid, vivid red.
Pain. Pain. Pain.
He remembered waking up the morning after the Yule Ball and thinking he never experienced anything so badly before in his life.
He was half-tempted to find a Time-Turner to tell his naïve past self that they were would be far worse pains to come. Far, far worse.
Pain slammed at every corner in his head. It bashed up and down his spine, batting his shoulder blades, like an overly-energetic child playing at the drums. Draco groaned, shutting his eyes against the assault.
He then carefully listened to the steady heartbeat below him. Relaxed under the touch of slim fingers combing through his hair. Relaxed into the soft humming that unknotted each bolt of tension that was twisted in his body. Then he slowly sank back into the blackness.
When he woke up for the third time, it felt like ten years had passed. He wouldn't be surprised if that many years had passed, given how stiff his body felt. What did surprised him was who was beside him. Harry was still there, lying on his side, across from Draco. Ready with a soft version of his favorite smile.
"You finally awake?" he asked.
"I'm dead." Draco croaked, wincing at the taste of his mouth. It felt so dry yet somehow sickly sweet. He could still feel the thrashing pain, pulsing in time with his heartbeat, but thankfully it was manageable compared to the vicious bashing he was given earlier.
Harry chuckled and shuffled closer to him. His hand that was stroking Draco's hair drifted down to his cheek and resumed the motion. "If that's the case, you definitely are the prettiest semi-dead corpse I've seen yet."
Draco felt his lips curling up-then froze as memories crept along his head, drawing the pictures together.
The dark history of the Wizarding War written in old textbooks and newspaper clipping he found in the library, where Granger attempted that sad display of intimidation with him. McLaggen and the hateful words he spat. Father and his icy exterior. Anger seething in his veins before it chilled to an icy-calm. Father. Mather. Black. Lupin. Harry.
Good God, what had he done?
Stinging hot pressure built behind his eyes, hiccups swelling in his throat. Helplessly Draco looked up at Harry. Seeing the gentleness in his eyes slowly shift into sadness was what broke him, cracking whatever was left of him into pieces.
"Draco." Harry's voice was so soft, so sad.
A sob ripped through his throat, low and pained. Followed by another, then another, and another until he was sinking, suffocating from them.
Harry wasted no time gathering him into his arms and holding him tight, stroking his hair as Draco's tears soaked his shirt. He didn't say that it was okay. Thank Merlin, or Draco would have been half-tempted to punch him. Saying it was okay or alright or whatever rubbish would be an insult. Would be like a shower of salt raining down on fresh, gaping wounds.
But Harry didn't do that. He wouldn't do that. They knew each other too well. Saying it was alright right then would be like Draco saying it was alright the night James and Lily were killed. That it was alright during their funeral, after their funeral. Meaningless, hollow words that degraded and simplified the situation into a simple, manageable problem.
So Harry didn't say it. What he did say was the same thing Draco had said that Halloween night.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
It was better than saying it was alright. Better than saying it will be better. At the same time, it made things worse. Caused anger and shame and frustration to swell and crack through his body like a storm.
Harry was sorry. He was so sorry. As if their situations were one and the same. As if they both lost their parents. Which they had in a way, only Harry's were killed and Draco's parents- his father, he realized with a hard lurch to his stomach- may have played in a part in that.
Doubtlessly may have played a part in it, given what Father had said. Offering zero excuses, signed with no remorse.
The thought crumbled him like a hard, powerful wave upon a sandcastle, crushing everything in one swoop.
His father. His mother. Their secrets. The Malfoy ring. The Malfoy name. The weight of it all and the suffering it caused. Nothing but lies.
Harry held him tighter until Draco was crushed against him, as if he were trying to absorb him into his body. Draco was torn between pushing him away because he didn't want this comfort-he didn't deserve this comfort-and wanting to be buried so deeply, so completely into Harry's skin, so he wouldn't have to feel anything other than this undeserving but sweet warmth.
"Draco?" It was a miracle that he could hear anything with his sobbing so loud, his hiccuping and gasping so hard and frantic, while Harry's voice was so low.
His best friend. His boyfriend. His beautiful, stupid, too damn good for this world Harry. Smiling at him, oblivious to Draco's tears and snot, giving him his favorite smile.
Placing one hand to Draco's face, Harry leaned in. His nose brushed against Draco's, granting him a moment of bliss that made him forget about what happened.
And let then out a long, loud hiss that completely ruined the moment.
Draco blinked, stunned. Again. Again. And again.
"What are you-"
Harry ripped another hiss that was so loud, so obnoxious, droplets of spit flew from his mouth.
"Potter." It was by the end of the syllable of his name, that it hit Draco. Their favorite game, the serpent salute.
Harry's smile grew in half-amusement, half-exasperation like Draco was the slow one finally reaching the finish line. Slight irritation bristled Draco at the motion, considering how often the roles were reserved, but he still felt a great rush of affection for him. This stupid, cocky, beautiful boy whom Draco got to call his.
Harry hissed again for the third time. Draco hissed back, a weak laugh and stifled sob muffling the sound. By the next hiss, tears stung his eyes and his stomach ached from laughter. Next hiss, his crying mixed with his laughter.
Over and over again, they went back and forth, crafting the most outrageous faces, moving closer and closer. Until their knees and legs were entwined, their chests pressed against each other. Faces so close, that their warm breath fanned each other's cheeks and noses.
You okay? Harry's eyes asked.
Not, not really, Draco answered back with a slight head shake.
What can I do? Harry's knuckle brushed against his cheek.
Help me forget. Draco bumped his nose against Harry's knuckle before he kissed it, covering it with his own. At least for now.
Questions shimmered in Harry's eyes. What happened after they bathed and gone to bed at Hogwarts? What he had done to Snape? His father. The things he had done while being under whatever bloody spell his genetics pulled him into. Questions Harry sealed in as he looked closer into Draco's eyes.
Okay. Answering back with a slight nod. Harry kissed the hand that covered his knuckle, then his nose. He leaned in close and sucked on Draco's bottom lip.
Oh. Draco's breath and stomach came together in a frantic knot.
Kissing his bottom lip again, Harry scraped it with his teeth. In a slow, sensual dance that liquefied Draco's bones.
Oh. A small cry of frustration and pleasure crawled up his spine.
"Stop teasing me." Draco whined.
Stupid git was smiling against his lips. Draco's next complaint, words and breath were all swallowed up by Harry who captured his lips.
Oh, Draco's brain chimed as he melted into a heated puddle of mush. Oh, as Harry's tongue brushed against his tongue. Oh, as Harry sucked and nibbled on his tongue as they came apart and came together again. Oh, Harry's hand glided across Draco's sides.
As soon as things were in order and Draco's head was completely on straight, he would go straight to Gringotts and stake claim to Harry. Those hands? His. His lips? His. That tongue…oh…oh….His, his, sweet Merlin, it was completely his.
Whimpering, Draco crawled over to Harry, on top of Harry, seeking more. Harry obliged, opening more to him, drugging him with those soft touches. Then flipped them in one swift roll, him hovering on top, Draco lying underneath and trying his best to control his panting when Harry broke their lip lock.
"Distracting enough?" Harry asked with a smug smile.
Growling, Draco grabbed the back of Harry's head and yanked him down, determined to kiss away that stupid smile.
Harry fell under his ministrations for a few seconds or so before he pulled away, untangling his arms, leaving Draco cold and hot and very much bothered. He propped himself onto his elbows, wincing at the weak tingling of his arms. Harry stood beside the bed and held out his hand to him, smiling.
"I have another great idea for distraction."
Harry's distraction turned out to be a shower. He set the water at a warm temperature, so warm that within seconds steam filled the room, fogging up the wide expanse of the glass mirrors. He set up bottles of soap.
"Alright, that should do it." Harry flashed him a smile over his shoulder. "I'll leave you to your bath."
"Take it with me." A fraction lower and Draco's plea would have been as frail as the steam.
Harry's smile dropped as he straightened and looked at him. Confusion shone through his face, then heated to intent. "Alright."
Draco was the first one to undress and step into the shower, tension quickly leaving his body as heavy, hot water poured over him. By the time Harry was done and naked, Draco was soft from relaxation and waiting for him with open arms, wrapping them around Harry's waist while Harry's arms whined around Draco's neck.
"Hi." Harry whispered, flashing a small version of his favorite smile.
"Hi." Draco whispered back.
Their bath together in the Prefects bathroom was a piece of heaven, but there was something different about showering together. Where flashes of skin could be seen there or through underneath the heavy blanket of bubbles, every inch was showcased prominently while standing underneath the shower. Attention sharpened to razor-focus as they ran soap-coated sponges over each other, their touches slow yet bold as they washed certain parts. Sensitive places that hitched breaths, warmed and squeezed their chests, and ignited shameless thoughts.
"May I?" Harry asked.
Not caring for specifics, Draco nodded. Harry planted him firmly against the wall and he slowly sank down to his knees. The blood rushed back his head, making his vision swam.
Then everything in his limbs, his blood came to a halt as Harry's sponge brushed against his lower stomach, close to his cock that was throbbing. Then ablaze as Harry leaned in close, sponge dangerously close over to his spot, and looked up at him.
"Can you turn around for me?"
Heart moving in slow, thunderous beats, Draco plastered himself to the wall and braced himself.
Harry's eyes were like a set of firm, heavy hands moving languorously across every bit of skin they could see. Curling and tightening every nerve in Draco's body until they were standing needle straight.
When the touch of his eyes were replaced by the soapy, wet cloth, Draco's breathing was hard and shaky. This touch was even more achingly, crazily slow. The kind of slowness that made you all too aware of the sensitivity of your body, your skin, making each touch a thunderclap of chills.
And Draco a trembling, flustered, nearly sobbing mess.
"Stop teasing me!" A direct demanded turned breathlessly pleading, directing all the blood flow to rush to his head.
"Draco?" Under the heavy shower, Harry's voice was low. So low, he strained to hear it. "Can I try something?"
He nodded his head vigorously, not even having the capacity to scold himself for being so eager. His heart and breath and stomach all met each other in a fatal collision that clogged in the middle of Draco's throat when that first touch finally happened.
At first, it was only his hand lying on Draco's left butt cheek, then the fingers spread out and slowly glided along the skin, as if to chase away the soapy water. The other hand joined in suit, fingers spread wide, running over the wet skin.
Harry said something under his breath. Soft maybe. Possibly beautiful. Draco would like to think that, but he could barely hear anything, not even the rush of the water or the rapid beating of his heart.
All his attention was focused on those slow hands as Harry continued with his exploring. No, not exploring. Playing. He was playing with him, like Draco's arse was dough. Caressing it, kneading it, grasping it like he was shaping a perfect piece of bread. Harry tugged and rolled the fleshy bits, causing pleasure to spike up Draco's back. Harry grasped onto his skin sometimes so tightly Draco was sure- he hoped -that bruises would stick.
"H-Harry…" Draco whispered.
This time Draco definitely heard "Beautiful," murmured against his skin, sandwiched between soft kisses and lingering touches.
"Harry." There was no denying the fact that sound was definitely a whine. A near high-pitched, breathless whine. Draco clung onto the shower wall so hard, he was sure his nails were digging through it.
"I've been wanting to do this since fourth year," Harry murmured. The content drowsiness of his voice hinting that Draco wasn't the only one being lost in the moment. "Thanks to your tree incident."
Tree incident. What was he talking about-
The rest of the question faded away to insignificance as Draco felt slender fingers spreading his arse wide open. Harry's hot breathe on his skin. Inside his skin. Then a warm mouth, coupled with a warmer tongue, ran over him.
In an instant, all the air swelled up inside him, extending over his ribcage, over his body before it was snapped into one breath. In an instant, his body was so tense, so sensitive, so alive. Right before waves upon waves of searing pleasure surged through every side, every corner. Crushing him into dust as white surged through him, exploded from him. Over and over again, starting over as soon as he thought it was over.
Draco could only clenched onto the wall, biting down on his lip to keep his screams to a minimum, trying and failing to keep himself steady through the relentless sea of pleasure threatening to break into pieces.
By the time it was over, his legs were all but unless, worn-out rubber bands, ready to snap. A faint twinge of mortification chimed in the back of his head that he came fast. Embarrassingly fast, as if he were enjoying the joys of confusing puberty all over again. But he couldn't bring himself to care.
That was-that was...
Grasping to find an adequate word, Draco sucked in quiet, frantic breaths and, when he was sure he could move, looked over his shoulder for a second. At first all he saw was black hair. Felt those lips still on him, softly kissing and nibbling along his ass cheeks, wringing out whatever energy he had left that wasn't dripping down his legs.
One kiss, another kiss, and another with nibble along his left cheek, Harry pulled away and looked up at him. His pupils were dilated, eyes so wide and dazed as if he were drunk. Gaze so warm, it was a miracle Draco wasn't a heated puddle on the ground.
"Was I good?" Harry asked. Spoken so quietly, the question so innocent.
Any grasp of self-control Draco possessed snapped into two.
Snarling, Draco pounced on him. Harry's head was saved by a hard fall with Draco's arm cushioning the blow. His breath was stolen by Draco as he slammed their lips together in a harsh, desperate kiss. And continued to steal Harry's breath over and over again as his other hand went to Harry's cock, switching between teasing caresses and frantic rubbing, winding his body up like a toy.
Harry broke away, gasping in air. "D..Dr…" he stuttered, panting hard as he sucked in a sharp breath. "Draco!"
"One day soon," Draco rasped, desire sizzling in his voice. "We'll be like this again, on a bed, with silk sheets wrapped around you. I'll kiss every part of your body, every inch of skin until you're thrashing. I'll have my face buried right here," His thumb ran over the tip, making Harry jerk. "Looking right up at you, watching you watch me take everything and anything you have to give me."
Moans fluttered from Harry's throat, body arched, as his cock grew heavier in Draco's hand. "Can't… Draco… Can't… oh, god… Draco, please…too much… fuck!"
But Harry wasn't pushing him away and Draco's own body still throbbed and shuddered, his mind was still fucking blown from his own orgasmic experience. He knew Harry could do it, needed to take Harry as high as he could go.
"Or better yet, I could just follow your example and have my face buried in your arse."
Harry tensed against him, his body arching, muscles knotting with an agonized tension, his glorious eyes squeezed tightly shut.
"And play with your pretty hole until you come apart. With my hands, my mouth, my tongue…" Draco leaned forward to take Harry's earlobe into his mouth. He sucked hard before pulling away to whisper into the gently curving shell. "And my cock."
For a moment Harry stilled, eyes so wide. Suspended in a moment of perfectly painful ecstasy. In the next moment, he came violently undone, head tossed back, eyes closed, limbs spasming around Draco's body, uncoordinated and wild, as thick streams of white erupted from him more violently than before. The strings of pearly cum painted their thighs and stomach. It coated Draco's hand.
Draco captured every moment of it. Like the way Harry's body nearly curled into a ball around him before going limp and open in his arms. Didn't want to miss the unending groans and whimpers Harry tried to conceal by biting down on his bottom lip. The total, complete ease of bliss that spread across his face.
Slowly the storm of pleasure that ravaged through Harry's body eased until he was lying flat on the tub floor, face flushed, gaze and smile hazed with sated satisfaction as they caught Draco's eyes, as he sat on all fours above him, their positions reversed.
"You're such a prick," Harry complained half-heartedly, a smile gracing his swollen lips. "Always have to win."
"Of course." Draco agreed even though it was a lie. Harry's hold on him was so strong there would be no winning free.
Keeping a steady gaze on him, Draco removed his hold on Harry's now limp cock. Cum streaked his fingers. He lifted his hand and placed two filthy fingers to Harry's lips and demanded in a low voice, "Suck."
Harry's eyes widened slightly at the order. He glanced at the fingers, at Draco, then back again. His hesitation lasted for a minute or two before he slowly lifted his head and took Draco's fingers right into his mouth as deep as he could get them.
Draco's spine went tight as he gasped, a low crooning hum escaping his tight chest. Everything took on a crystalline clarity as he watched his mate feed from his cum streaked fingers. That mouth so warm and inviting and pliant. Skin shivering and tingling, dick throbbing with every suck, a low crooning hum erupted from his tight chest.
He had tasted Harry's mouth dozens of times, but there was something exotic, filthy about his own fingers being there. It was something he had dreamt about a dozen times before, hidden in the darkest depths of his mind, but the fantasy didn't even come close to the reality. Draco was lucky he was already on his knees. Seeing Harry like this made his stomach heat and tighten, and as Harry reached for Draco's wrist to push Draco's fingers in deeper, gagging but unrelenting, green eyes blazing with lust and challenge. All the heat Draco thought was dissolved flared back into life, speeding straight down to his cock.
"So incredible, Harry. Look at you. Merlin, you're so bloody gorgeous for me."
Unable to take it anymore, Draco yanked away his hand and kissed Harry so hard, he felt the impact vibrating through his teeth. His tongue darted frantically around Harry's mouth, claiming every centimeter.
A string of saliva spread between them when they pulled away from each other, dripping down their chins. Soft tenderness shone in Harry's eyes as he looked up at Draco. Draco wanted to swim in those eyes. He wanted to live in them.
"Don't ever stop looking at me like that."
"Never," Harry answered, voice soft and eyes full of promise. He reached up and pulled Draco down into another consuming kiss.
Suffice to say they had to take another shower after that
And another one after that, just to be safe.
Draco knew that company was waiting for them downstairs. An ambush if he was going to be blunt. His mother; the thought of it unfurled a tornado of anger and anxiety at seeing her face to face, knowing what he does. Black and Lupin; probably there to make sure Draco hadn't completely killed Harry during his manic Veela phase (which he prayed to Merlin they didn't witness). Severus probably with a tongue lashing sharp enough to shred his skin into ribbons after the tea. His father. Possibly. Maybe.
He hoped for both their sakes that his father wasn't sure. Draco wasn't sure what exactly he'd do, but he knew that the end results would be badly.
He did everything he could to delay his presence. Spending a few extra minutes in the shower, pulling Harry for another kiss or two or three, standing underneath the spray of water long after Harry was done. Just standing, holding himself, holding in his breath, as if the water could wash away everything that happened yesterday.
Fear and shame nipped at him from the memory of his own animalistic behavior, having a full audience there to witness it. Desire pooled in his lower belly, heated between his legs as he remembered what happened between him and Harry in the rose gardens. A beautiful portrait of him in the bed of roses, black hair mingled with the red petals, green eyes heavy and warm as they looked at Draco before he claimed him.
Merlin. Smacking his head against the back wall, Draco whimpered as one hand wandered up to his chest while the other drifted down, where the heat had broadened. Minutes later, breathless and partially-sated, he turned the water from hot to icy-cold before inner heat stirred up again.
Nuisance as it was, not to mention incredibly mortifying, the shower did help him in delaying coming down.
After his fourth shower, Draco took his time drying his hair and body. Used slow, careful movements in lathering his skin with his favorite lotion. Reused those same careful movements in brushing and combing out his hair until it was passed his standards. Spent long minutes pulling on clothes Harry laid out for him which included a navy blue sweater, black pants, and warm socks.
Harry indulged in his slowness, requesting breakfast to be brought to their room. A simple meal of eggs and bacon with a bowl of fruit. Harry didn't ask questions, Merlin bless him. He allowed Draco to lay his legs across his own lap while they ate.
"How bad?" Draco asked.
Harry chewed his bite of eggs with care. "Not good."
Closing his eyes, Draco groaned. Great. Just perfect.
"How did you know where to find me?" It was something Draco couldn't help but wonder.
Harry took his time finishing up the rest of his eggs, and chased it down with another cup of milk. "Well," Harry's lips curved into a faint, teasing smile. "You're nothing if not predictable, Malfoy."
Draco scowled at him and kicked him.
"I'm just saying," Harry teased. "Ten years together and you're bound to know things about each other." His smile faltered, eyes turning somber. "Not to mention I suspected something when I woke up and found you gone. It wasn't hard to figure out where you might have gone off."
Was he really that transparent?
"I went straight to Snape's office and found him knocked out cold. Nearly did too since he dropped his tea and the smell was so strong, I nearly dropped."
Draco grimaced. He probably added too many leaves into the tea.
"I managed to wake Snape up."
"Let's just say that no matter how strong a sleeping draught may be, nothing beats ice-water to the face."
Of all things Draco had heard and felt within the past twenty-four hours, news of his godfather getting doused in the face wasn't one of them. The image was so surreal, Draco nearly laughed.
At least until Harry continued. "Merlin help both of us when we see him again. I don't know who he wants to kill more. You for giving him that tea or me for nearly drowning him and leaving him afterwards."
"You left him?"
"Had to," Harry said. "I had no idea where you were, what you were doing, and was going crazy. I fire-called Sirius to see if he happened to know anything-and was surprised to find Aunt Cissa there with him."
Mother? With Black?
"I got through Grimmauld place, and the four of us headed to the Manor. Remus insisted I stayed back, because even at the front door it sounded like a massive warzone was happening. Then…" Harry thought for a moment or two on what he wanted to say, then gave up with a nod. "I just had to. I could feel something was wrong. And, well, you know the rest."
Draco nearly killing Father on the spot, then unleashing that fury onto Mother. Harry managing to stop him from killing Black. Then the rose gardens.
"How long was I out?"
"Thankfully just a day."
Just bloody perfect.
When the food was done, the last sip of tea drank, there was nothing left for them to do but finally made their debut.
As predicted, an audience waited for them. Mother who was playing with her pearl necklace until she heard their footsteps, head snapping towards the staircase. Black and Lupin, one wearing a sneer that could rival Severus when his eyes met with Draco, the other a thoughtful frown. Severus wasn't there, so no worry for a biting comment. Neither was Father, which made Draco both relieved and disappointed at once.
"Morning boys." Lupin gave a small smile.
"Morning." Harry answered.
Black's sneer melted away into a heavy, almost-pained sounding sigh. "You know, Malfoy, old Pureblood traditions consist of seeking approval of the intended's guardians before courtship. And most definitely." The torture in his tone slowly switched to dark amusement, matching the glint in his eyes, as he said, "Attempt decency and privacy by enforcing silencing spells." That glint morphed into a vindictive smile. "Unless you two apparently wanted an audience."
On cue, blazing fire stormed into their faces, burning skin scarlet red from hairline to neckline. Draco met Harry's eyes, damning realization and chagrin smashing onto their heads like hammers.
They were on the third room of the house, in a room within a room. They couldn't have been that loud.
Then again Draco didn't think he could come so quickly and was proven wrong.
"Sirius!" Harry squeaked.
Black shrugged easily. 'I could have easily turned into a protective, deadly guard dog ready to tear Malfoy into shreds for debasing-" He looked over at Draco, the amusement glint turning icy. "Both a threat and promise he better remember for the sake of his balls-" Looking back to Harry, he said. "But where's the fun in that?"
Draco's only scrape of relief at the memory of the tale, with an exaggerated neighbor putting the yapping dog out of everyone's misery. And Lupin. Unlike his partner, he looked just as uncomfortable being there as Draco and Harry were. And rewarded said-partner with a hard elbow to the side Draco was pleased to see turned that canary-chewing grin into a pained grimace.
"If you're quite done, Sirius," Mother stepped forward and cut the man with an icy glare, then stood before Draco, her expression shifting to concern. "We need to talk."
Yes, yes they did. Draco offered a curt nod and ready to follow her lead.
"Alone." Her eyes dropped down to his and Harry's entwined hands.
Like hell. "No."
"It wasn't a suggestion."
"It's us together," Draco bit out. "Or neither."
"Draco." He tore his eyes away from his mother's cool eyes over to Harry, who smiled at him. "It's fine."
Harry gave him a look that silenced any and all protesting he might have tried. With a grumble, Draco complied, squeezing Harry's hand before letting it go and following Mother out.
The Black Library was surprisingly bigger than the one in the Manor, at least three times its' size. Done in dark, sobering colors of gray and black. Books stacked to the ceiling, divided into three floors, in onyx-black shelves, protected by thick glass. The furniture set by the fireplace, where Mother led him to, in a rich chocolate brown color.
"This used to be one of my favorite rooms whenever I came to Sirius and Reggie." Wonder cracked through Mother's expression, stirring a faint smile. "Not that Sirius did much reading. He more so preferred our reading." A twinge of sadness touched that smile, causing it to disappear from her face altogether. "More so Reggie's."
A twinge of sympathy stuck him at the sight of the vanishing smile. Questions built in his head on the deceased younger Black sibling, who seems to be a shared thread and trigger between her and Black. However Draco made sure his lips were sealed as he took a seat in the couch, eyes fixed on the fire.
He was half-tempted to let the silence wait out, to make Mother anxious and speak first, but he knew if he was good with silence, she was a master at it. On top of that, questions stacked upon each other like bricks in his head. Not on Black's brother, but on her and Father and what other secrets were swept under the rug.
He decided to start with the basic one. "How long have you've known?"
A beat of silence, followed by another, then another. At the fifth beat, Draco was prepared to snap again until Mother finally asked, "Which part?"
Draco reeled back in his seat, his hands digging into the couch's arms. Which one? As in, there were one than just part to this? How many? Several? A hundred? Was his entire goddamn house built on bones and secrets?
The sigh that came from Mother seemed to emerge deep from within, deep from her core, loaded with so many layers and years. "About the Veela inheritance?" She sat down on the chair opposite from him. "When I was a few years younger than you. About twelve or so."
Twelve? That was around the same age thing started to change for Draco.
"One of many, many kept under very tight wraps in my family. One that must be discovered on one's own and taught by their own. For you, I tried to make things easier and drop a new hints."
Well, that explained the books she kept sending him. And the dreadful Veela camp she forced him into. And the secretive smiles, accompanied with the glittering gleam in her eyes.
"As for you and Harry?" She shook her head, the smile on her face so soft, the mist sheening her eyes heartbreaking. "Oh, Dragon," she breathed and there was something in the movement that made Draco's throat tight. "If only you could have seen the way you two looked at each other."
"You knew?" His words sounded so shallow to his own ears.
Another slow nod. "I had my suspicions. Veela blood is prominent in my genes, but I never acquired the gene. You were different though. I could sense something from the moment you were born. This thrum of power. And when you met Harry, I knew right then and there that nothing and no one would ever come between you two."
In that moment, Draco felt like that five year old boy, immediately captivated by the bright green-eyed boy. He never wanted anything more than to have the boy stay with him and keep him smiling forever.
"As for your father," She shook her head again with a weary sigh. "It's so complicated, Dragon."
"Then un-complicate it!" Draco retorted.
Ice frosted over her eyes. "I understand that you're upset. You have a right to be. I understand that you're hurt. You have a right to be. But I am still your mother and you will do well to remember that. Particularly in how you speak to me."
Outrage rushed inside him blazing hot. Draco bit down on his tongue that were sharp, knowing whatever came out if he let it loose would worsen the situation.
Trying to focus on his breathing, his eyes bounced around the room to distract him. The mantel of the fireplace with not a single album or assortment on them. The gray-tinge of the cloudy, mid-day sky he could see from the windows that perfectly matched his mood. Then his eyes went back to his mother, looking down. That was when he noticed it.
Her ring, her wedding ring. It wasn't there.
"What people fail to understand in Pureblood families is that for each new generation, the reins of control are twice as tightened and carry twice the pressure. From traditions, expectations, even marriages."
She ran a finger over the ringless one. Draco was stunned by how pale that finger looked. The faint lines on her skin made him wonder how long she had it off.
"The Second War made those reins tight to the point of strangulation. I've seen it. I've experienced it. I've lost people because of it."
"Like Black's brother, Regulus?"
Her lips thinned, neither denying nor confirming.
"Are you trying to make me feel sorry for Father? Is that it?"
"No," Mother said. "I'm trying to have you understand the situation. At the time, when he was no more than your age, your father was given a choice. And he chose wrong. At your age. I've made mistakes. Several of them. Ones I can't undo how matter how much I wish otherwise. But you," Her eyes were both grief-stricken and fury. She leaned forward and gripped his hands, her gaze so intense Draco had forgotten about his anger with her. She gave his hands a tight, firm squeeze. "You, my brilliant golden boy. You will be different. Unlike us, you will have a choice."
Draco couldn't look away from her eyes if he tried. It was like a version of the paralyzing curse.
"I've lost my cousin to this madness. My sister. My husband. My dear friend," Tigress ferocity hardened her face, chipped her face. "But I will not lose you to this. Not you or Harry. Not on my life."
For the billionth time, Draco wondered if this was a mad dream. A crazy dream. Sadly for him, he was wide awake and the madness continued on.
Who the hell could blame him for saying the following: "What are you saying?"
Mother took in a deep breath. Some of the ferocity eased to determination. "Precisely what I said to Sirius and Severus. The same thing I said to Harry after he subdued you. What I'm telling you now. War is coming and you two will be right at the front line. Over my damned dead body will I allow you boys to be pawns."
Vaguely over the roar of his shock, Draco recalled what he said to Harry when he finally confessed his feelings. He told him no matter what, if and when a war should come, he would be right by his side. Which he intended to do, no matter what. Yet there was something daunting, something nerve-wrecking about hearing Mother say it made it all too real to him.
"You and Harry are strong. Separate, you're a force to be reckoned with. Together, you two could be unstoppable. Last night was proof of that."
Last night, when he clawed his father's face. What would have happened if Harry hadn't come? At that point, he was ready to break every bone in the man's body, as if it could erase his final answer. Then Mother came in, and his fury was directed over to her.
He probably would have murdered all of them. A thought that chilled him to the bone.
"So along with your Hogwarts classes, you'll be taking additional lessons with us."
"Harry will be overseeing lessons with Severus and Sirius."
"Black?" Draco parroted. "With Severus?" Already, the two men could barely be in the same room together without exchanging acidic glares and words. Yet somehow Mother believed they would be excellent teaching partners?
As if she could read that thought, Mother said, "I made clear to them both that it would be in their best interest to put their differences aside."
Judging by the slight chilled turn of her smile, Draco had a suspicion how that conversation went. He hoped for Harry's sake, those lessons would be hold separately.
"As for you," His attention returned to Mother. "Your lessons will be overseen by Black as well. Severus too. And a new mentor who will be your primary teacher."
A groan burst from Draco's throat at the light, breezy familiar voice that triggered a headache already pulsing along his head. He shook his head, despite the flowery and sugary scent that trickled his nose, causing the headache to build up. He shook his head even as he could feel that all too-pleased smile aimed at him.
"It's been too long, mon cheri."
Not too enough, Draco thought darkly. Grumbling, he looked up and right into Delacour's deep-blue eyes that were bright in amusement.
Merlin kill him now. "No."
She cocked her head to the side, brows furrows, smile broad. "How adorable it is that you actually believe you have a choice."
"I don't need your help!" Draco snarled.
"I say otherwise," Amusement dropped from her face. "Your meeting with your father proved otherwise."
Shane, unease, and fear stuck him speechless.
Without taking her eyes off him, Delacour asked," Did his wings emerge?"
"No," Mother answered, then worry ceased her face. "But the shadows of it were revealed."
Delacour hummed a strange note that reminded him of Lovegood and her endless supply of songs and rhythms only she knew. "Still think you aren't a Veela?"
Draco opened his mouth, then closed. Opened it again, only to shut it, finding no rebuttal he could aim at her. A small part of him, a childish and petty part, wanted more than anything else to knock her down a peg. Or knock her down altogether.
His pride roared at the gleam of triumph crossing her eyes. "Thought so?"
For the sake of his mother who watched their interaction closely, Draco gritted his teeth before something foul spit out.
The triumphant in her eyes slowly morphed to curiosity as she studied his further. "Do you realize how rare that is?"
Draco arched a questioning brow.
"For most Veela, wings aren't inherited until after they come of age. But for the shadow of the wings to appear so soon? You syncing with your inner creature instead of fighting, drawing a great deal of its power?" She shook her head. "Extraordinary. Given your impressive bloodline, there's no telling what kind of Veela you may be. Although…"
"Shadowed wings emergence are usually associated with dark Veelas."
At the words, an image popped into his mind. The winged creatures he read in books came to wings, angelic-white darkening to inky-black, their weary faces ravaged by manic smiles. The dear in Father's eyes last night. Was that what he saw?
Delacour mistook Draco's silence for fear because the next thing he said was, "Dark doesn't always mean evil, darling."
"I know that!" Draco snapped.
"Draco." Mother warned.
Delacour wasn't the least bit offended. A ghost of a smile played against her lips, split between amusement and intrigue. "And what I know," she said. "Is that a fiery temper will easily be your undoing." Then as if she could sense the frail tendrils stretching dangerously thin, she decided to add pressure to them, words a dull blade slowly cutting away at them. "Yours and your mate."
Draco was up in an instant, teeth bared, fists clenched.
"Draco!" Narcissa came into between them and pushed him away.
Delacour remained her amused, unfazed self. "I see I was right about another thing as well."
Draco snarled, and this time Mother didn't bother pushing him back. She took out her wand and set him back to the chair, the bounds of her magic restraining his arms and legs like iron bars.
Delacour smiled at him. "And this is precisely why you need me."
A childish part of him wanted to snap at her. That she was annoying insect like Granger. But he forced himself to remain cool, grinding his teeth so hard, he could feel them cracking in the process.
"Good," Her smile widened. "You're learning."
It was as if Delacour wanted to bring that vicious creature from last night to come back.
"Darling," Mustering all the control he had, he looked back at his mother. "Please."
It was for her sake, Draco kept his head level-headed.
"Let's join the others." Fleur happily cried, already turning to the door.
Draco didn't realize how tightly he was holding himself, how stiff his body was, until he returned downstairs to the sitting room and the sight of Harry's face cast the tension away. It took everything he had in him not to gather him into his arms and just hide in the nape of Harry's neck, so he settled for holding his hand. He breathed a sigh of relief, warmth pooling his stomach, as Harry ran his thumb across his knuckle before they sat down together.
"So now that we're settled," Lupin called their attention over to him like this was another DADA class that he was leading. "I assume we're all on the same page."
A round of nods. Draco could hear Father bashing him for such a lowly gesture and tried to ignore it.
"Just one question though," Harry asked. "How exactly are we going to these lessons?"
Black beamed, although the tinge of amusement made Draco uneasy. "That is where dear Sniv-"
"Sirius." Lupin warned.
"I mean, Snape comes in."
"How so?" Draco asked.
Before Sirius could explain, the glass window behind him exploded in a shower of millions of pieces that flew everywhere, causing them to scatter and duck. Draco felt Harry jumping on top of him, clutching onto him, forcing them both down to the ground. He was sure he heard someone yelling-Mother? Delacour? Minutes rolled down, slow and heavy. Slowly one by one, they crouched away from their hiding spots, rose up to their feet.
To meet the big, folded up beige-colored paper folded like an oversized origami fortune-teller, floating in the center of the room, with the folds twisted into a vicious smile as the curved eye-less sockets looked at them. Looked at Harry.
"Harry James Potter," cooed a sickeningly-sweet familiar through that lips of that smile. "You have been submitted to the Ministry tomorrow at 7am sharp to stand trial for the usage of the Dark Arts. As well as the attempted murder on a fellow student."
Oh shite. Dread swelled inside Draco's chest. Shite, shite, shite.
The Howler's sick smile grew to a full malicious grin, which Draco had no doubt was the same one Umbridge wore as she conducted this message. 'Don't be late."
Umbridge's voice faded away. Her message then began to eat itself into pieces, raining onto the ground like papery flakes.
Hope you'd enjoy. Have some book recommendations y'all might enjoy:
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang