Title: As Proud As Love
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Pairing: Harry/Lucius, background Draco/Astoria and Ginny/OMC, past Harry/Ginny and Lucius/Narcissa
Content Notes: Veela-fic, ignores the epilogue, unrequited love, angst, drama
Wordcount: This part 3900
Summary: Some idiot invented a potion after the war that gives whoever consumes it the characteristics of a Veela—and people keep taking it to find their mates or impress their lovers. A shame that the transformed people are violent and leak allure until they find their true mates. Harry Potter, immune to the Veela allure because of his unrequited love for his ex-girlfriend, provides guardianship for transformed Veela against other people and their own impulses until they can find their mates. Guarding Lucius Malfoy should have just been another such duty. But Malfoy is taking an unusually long time to find his mate.
Author's Notes: This is one of my "From Samhain to the Solstice" fics being posted between Halloween and the winter solstice. This should have four parts.
As Proud As Love
"Auror Potter, another one for you."
Harry nodded and laid down his quill as he walked out from behind the desk in his office, smoothing the soot from his robes. He hadn't had time to change after the dragon attack, but at least no one could see the claw marks on his chest, and he'd already been treated by a Healer and had the robes repaired. "What kind?"
Harry rolled his eyes and gestured for Healer Eric Arcanus to pull his head out of the way so he could use the Floo to reach St. Mungo's. Arcanus had barely moved when Harry spun through the fire, muttering imprecations on the Veela potion and its inventor all the way.
He rushed through the fireplace and managed to land in a less-than-awkward heap on the other side. Arcanus quirked his lip in a small smile. "At least I don't need to heal a concussion this time."
Harry pointed a finger at him as he straightened and rid his robes of the soot. "Hey, I haven't hit my head on the hearth in at least a year."
Arcanus sighed as he turned and gestured Harry down the corridor that led away from the Floo and towards the ward for victims of stupid potions. "Too bad. That means that you won't forget yourself long enough to date me."
Harry rolled his eyes. Arcanus was a tall dark-haired man, handsome enough, a fit Quidditch player the way Harry liked them, but Harry's heart was given. "Someday you'll tell me that I'm needed for a magical creature complication, and I'll get here, and it'll just be you attempting to seduce me."
"I have a goblin ancestor. I could count as a magical creature in distress."
Harry raised an eyebrow and ran an eye up and down Arcanus's lanky, striding height.
"A very distant goblin ancestor."
Harry laughed and shook his head. In a way, it was too bad that he wasn't attracted to Arcanus. They got along well, he had a sense of humor, and he wasn't starstruck like some of the other people who tried to get into Harry's pants.
But Harry only thought of one person who made his breath stutter, and she was in true love with someone else. He couldn't wish her any ill, and he couldn't wish to move on. There was always the chance that Ginny, who had fallen in love as suddenly and violently as she did everything else, would fall out of love one day, and come back to him.
And, at least right now, it made him useful. They rounded the corner and came into the middle of a room full of drooling, shrieking, fainting, heart-clutching men and women. Even Arcanus paused, hovering near the door, although he was a Legilimens and usually had better control over himself.
"Who is it?" Harry felt the allure, but it washed over him with no more effect than moonlight.
Arcanus cleared his throat. "Lucius Malfoy."
Harry's mouth tumbled open. "You're kidding. A blood purist decided to sully himself as a creature?"
"It might have been forced on him," Arcanus pointed out. "Um. The shields might not hold against his adoring fans for much longer."
Harry sighed and stepped into the hospital room, walking through the swooning crowd of people and the uncontrolled Veela allure. When he came to the shield, a seam of nearly invisible blue light that stretched down the middle of the room like a curtain hung from nothing, he stepped through. The shield was meant to keep out only the people who wished to ravish Malfoy, and Harry didn't fit that category.
The woman he wished to ravish had chosen someone else.
In the small portion of the room beyond, the noise of the crowd abruptly dimmed. Harry looked around. The only furniture in sight was a small chair and Malfoy's bed, converted into essentially a canopied one by the presence of more curtains around him. Magical ones, Harry thought as he stepped forwards and they, too, dissipated into nothing.
He caught his breath. He'd never seen a victim of the Veela potion in such bad shape. Malfoy thrashed on the bed, his mouth opening and closing, his eyes tightly shut and with silver feathers growing out of the corners. In fact, silver feathers were bursting in and out of his skin in random places, then shrinking and withering and sinking back in, and his shoulders looked hunched and swollen with wings that couldn't come out.
"Poor bastard," Harry said under his breath. He didn't like Malfoy, but he didn't have to like someone to feel compassion. He reached out and touched Malfoy's face gently with the edge of his palm.
The change was instantaneous. Malfoy arched deeply, and the feathers growing through his skin molted in a fall of silver. The swollen bumps on his shoulders disappeared. He fell back, and into sleep.
Arcanus's voice was tentative. Harry turned around to smile at him. The room beyond had already cleared, and the slight wave of heat that had told Harry Malfoy was projecting Veela allure had vanished. Arcanus parted the shield with ease, this time, and stepped in, shaking his head.
"I wish I knew how you do it."
"Lose your heart, and you can do it, too," Harry quipped lightly.
For once, Arcanus didn't smile. "No, I'm not just talking about resisting the allure. I'm talking about soothing them like that." He nodded to where Harry's hand was resting against Malfoy's cheek. Harry didn't want to move it just yet, in case it made Malfoy wake up. This had been a pretty bad case.
Harry shrugged. "I didn't do so well when I was younger with the allure, either. I think it's because—well, this is going to sound offensive, but because I didn't grow up in the magical world."
"I know you don't mean that blood purist bollocks."
"Of course not. I mean that I didn't get exposed to prejudice about various creatures, or people with creature blood. When I met them, they were just more people to me. Strange ones, but people. My best friend's sister-in-law is a part-Veela, and I never thought of her as a creature. Just a bloody annoying person, sometimes."
"Maybe you're right." Arcanus's face was still tense, his eyes flicking between Harry and Malfoy. "Do you—do you need anything?"
"I don't want to leave him yet. I've never seen someone sprouting feathers in random places like that." Harry rolled his eyes and ignored the speculative look on Arcanus's face. No, he wasn't interested in seeing underneath Malfoy's clothes and the other places feathers might have sprouted, thank you very much. "So maybe a couple cushions and some food? Something to drink?"
"Of course." Arcanus eyed the way Harry was still holding his hand against Malfoy's cheek, and the way Malfoy was nuzzling into him. "Do you need me to tell your department that you won't be back tonight?"
"Please. They'll be wondering where the hell my report is."
"Ran into a dragon today."
Arcanus blinked a few times, then said, "Ah. One not impressed with your compassion for all magical creatures."
Harry grinned. "No. And can you bring the cushions first? I'm getting a bit of a crook in my shoulder standing here."
It was hours later, after he'd eaten scones and tea and a corned beef sandwich one-handed, that Harry finally dared to take his hand away from Malfoy's cheek.
Malfoy shivered and gathered his body in the bed, and Harry found himself tensing. He would Stun Malfoy unconscious if he had to, if he woke up screaming and sprouting feathers again the way he had earlier.
But Malfoy slowly rolled on his back and opened his eyes. They were more silvery than grey, causing Harry to frown. The changes from the Veela potion really had gone much deeper than he usually saw. Most of the people who drank the potion didn't grow wings, either.
Malfoy licked his lips and coughed. Harry held up the second glass of water that Arcanus had left and asked, "Do you want something to drink, Mr. Malfoy?"
Malfoy leaped in the bed without rolling from his back. He did roll his head and stared at Harry with eyes that looked like flat pools of water, the pupils almost lost. "Mr. Potter?"
Harry nodded. "Yes, they brought me in to soothe you when your changes were getting out of control. Water? You sound like you need it."
"I want to know where my wife and son are."
"They haven't been able to visit yet," Harry said gently. He continued to hold out the glass, and after a moment Malfoy nodded. Harry conjured a straw and let him sip slowly. Malfoy managed to sit up a little to do it, which was an encouraging sign, although Harry didn't like the way his breath rasped in and out of his lungs. Another symptom that not that many people with transformed Veela features had.
Harry set the glass aside. "You were projecting allure in such quantities that half the hospital staff were swooning for you. They couldn't try to get through. And you were transforming in random spurts, feathers appearing around your eyes and in your hair and on your hands. You half-manifested your wings, then reabsorbed them. I think Mrs. Malfoy and Draco probably stayed away because they wouldn't have wanted to see you in that state."
Harry nodded. "It's not very common, but it does come along with the potion."
"The potion was only supposed to give me the beauty and the seductive skills of a Veela. Not the physical features."
Harry bit his tongue to avoid saying what he thought of people who took potions without researching them thoroughly. It wasn't like he had reason to talk about Potions skills, but, well, this was common knowledge now, and Harry thought the inventor of the Veela potion would have deserved being sent to Azkaban. "It didn't work that way."
"Obviously." Mr. Malfoy stared at him again. "And why did they summon you?"
"I'm immune to Veela allure. And sometimes my touch can soothe the worst excesses of the potion."
"You have touched me?"
"Only on the cheek," Harry said calmly, meeting the man's eyes and ignoring the way his hand was twitching on the blankets as if groping for his wand. "That was necessary to get the feathers and the wings to melt back into your skin."
Malfoy shut his eyes tightly. "Why did it have to be you?"
"I'm the only one who can."
The man went back to his hoarse breathing, and Harry frowned, wondering if he should call Arcanus. The Veela potion caused bouts of transformation, allure, and mate-seeking, but Malfoy was in between them now. It shouldn't harm anything to have a Healer in the room.
He'd just about decided to do it when Malfoy whispered, "I took it to impress Narcissa."
What the hell? Harry managed to refrain from saying. He just nodded and said, "Well, I think your wife will probably be your true mate, Mr. Malfoy, and she and your son will visit as soon as it's safe."
"But what if she's not?"
Why do I have to reassure idiots who took the potion in the first place? Harry thought, but he smiled a little and said, "It's very rare that that doesn't happen, Mr. Malfoy. Unless someone takes the potion and doesn't have any idea who their mate might be, of course. But for someone already married or seriously involved with someone else—"
Arcanus was standing in front of the bed, and Harry frowned at him a little. He shouldn't have come back without some word from Harry that it was safe. Had the allure still been striking out in waves, he could have succumbed, and then Harry would have had to subdue him without hurting him, which his magic wasn't great at when it came to pure humans.
But he nodded and stood back since it was all right, and said, "I think Mr. Malfoy is ready for his first dose of magic-stabilizing potions, Healer Arcanus."
He spoke deliberately loudly, and Malfoy did relax a little when Arcanus stepped forwards and put the first load of green potions down on the table next to his bed. But both of them looked up when Harry took a step further back.
"You are not leaving yet, Mr. Potter?"
Arcanus's voice was a little louder, as if he wanted to correct Malfoy on the title, but Harry only shook his head. "Just have to go to the loo and to cast a few Refreshing Charms on myself. I've been here since four this afternoon, and it's after midnight now."
"I didn't realize you hadn't taken a break," Arcanus said, his face turning a little red. "You could have, Harry, you know that."
Malfoy made a small sound and turned away as if he thought that Harry had been here that long just to add to his humiliation when he woke up. Harry shrugged and said, "I don't like letting newly-turned Veela wake up alone, you know that, Healer Arcanus." Remind the man of the distance, and from the slightly redder tint to his cheeks a moment later, he'd got the message. "I'll be just a moment."
He left the room and sighed as he walked down the corridor towards the loo. With any luck, since Malfoy was already married, this would be a short one, and Harry could go home soon.
But remembering how bizarre and twisted the feathers had looked coming through Malfoy's skin, part of him doubted it.
"I didn't know you were going to permit the Malfoys to visit him this early."
Arcanus frowned at Harry. "They insisted, the moment they heard that he was past the worst of the potion's effects. And you don't have the final say anyway. Why are you acting as if you do?"
Harry opened his mouth, then snapped it shut again as he watched Malfoy touch his wife's hand. Narcissa Malfoy had her eyes closed and her mouth moving in soft words, probably speaking about her relief at seeing Lucius well. He and Arcanus were standing far enough back that they couldn't hear what the words were, on the other side of the ward.
Why was he acting this way?
It was true that he didn't want his hard work in…staying by Malfoy's bedside…to be for nothing, but the man seemed to be fine now. And he hadn't done that much hard work, had he? Just sat in one place with his hand on Malfoy's cheek, that was all. It had been uncomfortable, but hardly difficult.
Harry sighed and shook his head. "Ignore me. I just keep thinking of the way he looked when he was brought in, and I reckon that I made the decision that his family shouldn't see that without reasoning it through." He deliberately turned his back on the Malfoy family gathering around the bed, Draco giving his father a worried frown. "So, what's the diagnosis? Why did the Veela potion react that way to him?"
Arcanus hesitated. Then he said, "He was fighting the effects."
"Well, of course he was. I never thought a blood purist like Malfoy would relish what the potion turned him into."
"I don't mean that. I mean that the potion apparently didn't bond him to his wife the way it should have."
Harry stared, but Arcanus's expression didn't change. Harry swore softly. "So she isn't his mate?"
"No. It's someone else."
Harry sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "And he took the potion to impress his wife. Wonderful."
"He told you that? He wouldn't tell any of the Healers on duty why he'd taken it."
"Well, he probably didn't have much chance before the allure he was spewing overtook them."
Arcanus rolled his eyes. "Only that you're the only one who would ever describe it that way. The allure is a gift that can bind a Veela and his or her mate together forever, and—"
"It's a will-stealing compulsion," Harry said flatly. "I know that immature Veela and some who have mixed blood can't always help it, but people who take the potion are inducing it because they want to be more special than they are. They absolutely can help it. They don't have to take the potion."
It was too bad that the inventor of the potion, Reginald Selwyn, had ended up having an allergic reaction when he took it himself and died of it. Harry would have liked to have a long, long conversation with him about why the fuck he'd invented it in the first damn place.
Arcanus was studying him with an extremely odd look on his face. Harry raised his eyebrows. "What? I know that you're probably going to say I have a skewed perspective on what it's like to be someone special, but—"
"No. I was just going to say that you're not a very romantic person."
Harry shrugged. "I don't think love has anything to do with taking away someone else's chance to say no." For a moment, his chest pulsed with warmth as he remembered Ginny coming to him and telling him that she'd fallen in love with Ernest Wallman, a Muggleborn who had been at Hogwarts in the year behind her. She had been honest with him, and that was one of the many things Harry admired about her. She hadn't broken his heart. It was intact and waiting for her if she ever felt like coming back to claim it.
A loud screech announced that the Malfoy visit was probably coming to a natural end. Harry hurried over and ignored the way that Draco glared at him as if he had injured Lucius personally. Harry leaned his hand on Malfoy's cheek.
The feathers that were trying to sprout through the palms of his hands immediately smoothed back down under the skin. Malfoy's hair lost its unnatural silvery sheen, and he closed his eyes and dropped into what looked like flat unconsciousness.
Harry sighed and took his hand away, standing back to let Arcanus examine his patient. Draco immediately said tightly, "Potter, a word?"
Harry glanced around for Mrs. Malfoy, but it seemed she'd already left. Well, it couldn't be easy to see someone you loved in that kind of pain, whether or not they were your "destined mate." He nodded. "Sure, Malfoy."
Draco led him towards the opposite corner of the room, and erected a privacy ward that was similar to the one that had separated Malfoy from the bedazzled people earlier with a few slashes of his wand. Then he faced Harry with a sharp look on his face. "Why does he calm down when you're near?"
"Because I have a heart that's already spoken for. I'm not affected by the Veela allure, and I've used it to soothe patients in the thrall of the potion before."
Draco paused. Evidently that wasn't the answer he'd expected. Finally, he frowned and shook his head. "Why is his attack so bad?"
"That's hopefully something the Healers are going to find out. I actually haven't someone have an attack this bad before."
Draco immediately sneered. "Oh, you're full of reassurance."
"I'm sorry, I didn't know that was my role here."
Draco glanced away from him, his hands curling into agonized fists for a second. Harry sighed. He did pity the man. It couldn't be easy to see the father you loved suffering so badly. But he didn't have any different information for him. Harry only knew as much as he did because he'd helped treat transformed Veela before.
And if Malfoy's mate wasn't his wife, then that was a bigger concern than whether Draco was upset. Most of the other transformed Veela without immediately-available mates had drawn them to themselves within a few hours of being dosed with the potion. But it must have been close to twelve hours since Malfoy had had his dose, and there was no one here for him yet.
"Your father should probably be fine," Harry said as gently as he could. "Healer Arcanus said that your mother isn't his mate, which is unfortunate, and I'm sure it'll cause several adjustments for him. But his true mate shouldn't be that far away, or able to resist the call for much longer."
"Mother and Father have been divorced for six months."
Harry blinked. He hadn't seen a hint of that in the papers. Then again, he went out of his way to avoid reading the Prophet. "I'm sorry to hear that."
"What will his mate be like? How can we tell?"
Harry shook his head. "In the couple of years I've been helping people who've been transformed by the potion, there was no commonality. At least some of them were strangers the transformed person had never met before in their lives. Some of them were people they'd worked with or old ex-lovers."
"And the new mate partnerships went…well?"
"As far as I can tell. I don't keep up with the new relationships after they form."
"So why are you here, Potter? Just helping out of the goodness of your heart?"
"Yes. I can help, so why shouldn't I?"
Draco turned abruptly away, muttering something about, "So full of sickly sweet goodness I can't stand it." Harry shrugged at his back and glanced over his shoulder. Malfoy was sleeping, it appeared, and Arcanus, who had one hand hovering above Malfoy's chest in a sheet of blue light, glanced at Harry and gave him a reassuring nod.
"Your father should be fine," Harry repeated, as gently as he could. "Why don't you go home and get some rest? You must be tired."
"The Healer said you've been here most of the night."
Harry shrugged. "And I probably won't be needed again, at least if your father's mate is here by morning. I'm going home, too. Come on, Malfoy."
Draco hesitated, glancing back at his father once, but in the end, accompanied Harry silently to the nearest Floo. He did clear his throat when Harry was reaching for the Floo powder, and Harry nodded at him.
"Thank you, Potter." Draco mumbled that while looking away from him, as if he needed to be able to deny this later if it came up in a court case or something similar. "You probably saved his life."
Harry smiled at him. "You're welcome."
And then came the welcome toss of the Floo powder into the fire, and the sight of his own cozy flat. Harry sent a quick owl to the Ministry to tell them that he wouldn't be in today due to having attended a Veela case in St. Mungo's last night, and bundled himself into bed.
One good thing about having irregular hours during his work since the war: it had taught him to get his sleep where he could. And he usually slept without dreams. Harry vanished into sweet and humming darkness.