A/N – contains adult content.


Chapter 60
Hecate's Son

Simon was sprawled out on his back on the floor before the windows. Tears blurred Derik's eyes as he approached him. The drapes flapped around chaotically in the wind, but Simon looked so very still... even in the dim moonlight his skin looked ashen, though there was darkness around his eyes and lips. It looked like he'd been getting undressed. His shirt was laying discarded on the floor a few paces away, but his jeans were still on. Hopefully that meant it had at least been sudden and he hadn't suffered much.

Derik fell to his knees beside him, then reached out and rested his hand on Simon's chest. His skin was cool to the touch. Derik let out a sob of pure anguish, wrapping his arms around Simon's chest and lifting him up, hugging his limp body to him.

"Shit... this isn't going to get awkward, is it?" a soft voice muttered near his ear.

Derik pulled back, staring at the man in his arms incredulously. Simon's eyes blinked open.

"You're not dead!" Derik cried, hugging him back to him again.

"Christ! You never seen a guy get shit-faced and pass out on his bedroom floor before?" Simon muttered. "Um... this is my bedroom, right?"

"But... he said he cursed me! He said you would be dead by now!" Derik said, his mind boggling. Surely Lucius wouldn't have just been jesting!

"Oh. That." Simon said, pushing him away a bit so he could sit up, then scrubbing his fingers through his hair. "If some pathetic little Fidelity curse was enough to kill me, you'd be the last guy I'd fuck. You're crawling with curses." He muttered distractedly, looking up at the windows. "Shit..." He said, flicking his wand at them to close them. "I'm freezing my ass off! Why the Hell did I open those?"

Derik just closed his eyes and let out a shuddering sigh of relief, feeling the heaviness of his body returning as the anxiety and adrenaline ebbed away. Simon was safe. He wasn't going to die because of Derik's stupid mistake. The relief flooding through him was dizzying.

Simon groaned, rubbing his temple, then got himself rather unsteadily to his feet. He staggered over to the adjoining lavatory and flipped on the lights, quickly locating a toiletry bag and rummaging through it. After a moment he located a small vial and quickly downed the contents, then tossed the vial into the rubbish bin. He braced his arms on the edge of the sink and leaned forward, head down as he waited for it to take effect. He sighed in relief as the pain in his head leeched away.

He looked over at Derik as Derik came to the door, still staring at him, sure his mind was playing tricks on him. In the light he could see the smudges of darkness still present on Simon's face. His eyes had smudges of black, obviously eye makeup that had smeared. Derik reached up, touching his dark lips. There was a smudge of black on his finger when he pulled it away.

Simon noted it, looking at himself in the mirror. "Man, I look like shit." He muttered flicking his wand to remove the errant makeup. His lips and face took on a more natural, healthy pallor.

Derik looked up from his finger as Simon cleaned that away as well.

Simon gave him a lop-sided grin, "What? You never been clubbing?"

"Not with makeup on." Derik replied. "Never seen men wearing makeup at them either."

Simon snorted, "Then you haven't gotten into the good clubs. I'd offer to take you, but I don't really plan on being around that much longer." He said, waving his hand negligently towards his room.

Derik looked, spotting a half filled black backpack on the chest of drawers, several of the drawers hanging open and empty. "You're still planning on leaving then?" Derik asked, his heart catching in his chest.

"Of course I am. No use putting it off. I've got plenty of money, but thought I might as well pick up a bit more for the road before I left. There's some pretty easy marks around here. Besides, I needed a good binge before hitting the road. I drank three of them under the table in a row! Didn't make much off the first one, but the second one was a lot more confident. The third one was so sure he'd win he bet two hundred pounds! A big Russian guy. He insisted we drink only vodka, apparently thinking that would lean things even more in his favor. With the side bets, I made nearly five hundred pounds when that guy hit the floor. Best part is, the loser also pays for the drinks! Of course my system burns through alcohol in nothing flat, and my capacity is far beyond that of a Muggle, so the odds were stacked pretty heavily against them to begin with. It was fun, but I still wish there had been some fights. They'd scheduled some, which is the main reason why I stayed, but the cops were sniffing around, so they had to cancel. Too bad, really. I really could have used a good workout."

"Fights?" Derik asked, still lost.

Simon nodded, "Local underground circuit. You can make some serious cash doing those! I'm a bit of a regular. Need something to keep me in shape!" He said, finishing with a wolfish grin.

Well, that would certainly explain what great shape he was in. Derik had idly wondered how he could be so strong and agile after a year of just hanging about in a loft. "Where will you go?" Derik asked, unable to keep the slight ache out of his voice.

Simon's smile disappeared and he looked away. "I don't know. Wherever my feet take me I suppose. It's just time to move on, that's all."

"So it has nothing to do with us having sex." Derik said, the disbelief apparent in his tone.

Simon let out a deep sigh and scrubbed his fingers through his tousled hair once more. "Listen, I don't know what that was. You've been a really nice guy and I appreciate all you've done for me, but... I mean if you're gay, that's great for you and I have absolutely nothing against gay people, but I'm just not one of them. I can't be. It's not in my blood. To my knowledge there has never been a gay guy in my bloodline and I doubt there ever will be. It's just not how we're made. We're born, we grow up, we find a girl, settle down, fuck and have babies. It's just the way it is. I want children some day. I can't exactly get them from you, now can I?"

Derik dropped his eyes. "I can certainly understand wanting to have children... and if your desire for me was just the alcohol and seriously pent up sexual frustration I can understand that too. It doesn't mean you have to leave."

Simon sighed deeply. "Like I keep telling you, this has nothing to do with you..." He said, putting his hand on Derik's shoulder.

Derik winced, flinching away reflexively. He couldn't help it. The pain of his wounds was reasserting itself with a vengeance now that the adrenaline was starting to wear off. Before he could think to stop him, Simon had reached out and brushed back his hood, revealing his bruised and battered face. He then pulled the collar of Derik's shirt down a bit. Derik let out another pained gasp as the cloth stuck to some of his wounds, pulling at them.

"Jesus Christ!" Simon said, pulling open his robe and noting the numerous bloodstains where some of the cuts had reopened when he was making his escape from the Fortress. "What the Hell happened to you?"

"It's nothing." Derik muttered, trying to pull his robe back shut.

Simon was having none of it. He pulled the robe off, having no trouble brushing off Derik's attempts to stop him. Derik quickly gave up resisting and just closed his eyes, blushing with shame as Simon gingerly inspected him.

"Christ!" He said again, aghast as he examined him. "Your shirt is practically glued to you! Get your shoes off. We'll get you in the shower so the water can losen it up some." Simon said, starting to strip off what was left of his own clothing.

Well, it's not as if Derik was going to say no to that. Even he knew he could use some help... not to mention getting into a shower with Simon was undeniably appealing even when he wasn't up for anything sexual. Derik kicked off his shoes, though even that much was torture with as much as his legs had started aching. He undid his trousers. They weren't nearly as bad as his shirt, so he was able to work those off on his own, only reopening four or five wounds. When he got into the shower and the water first started up it hurt, but then the pain receded. He just hung his head, letting the warm water course over him. Simon removed the shirt very carefully, cutting it away piece by piece to keep it from hurting too much.

"You're one giant bruise! And are these whip marks?" Simon asked once the shirt was gone, gently examining the wounds. He carefully cut off Derik's skivvies.

Derik just ducked his head down in shame.

"Holy mother..." Simon breathed, "What did they do to you?"

"Does it matter?" Derik asked, turning and leaning back against the shower wall, trying to hide the worst of the damage. Talking about what happened was the absolute last thing he wanted to do. Whether it was the wounds, bloodloss or just an accumulation of everything he'd been through that night, a great exhaustion was settling over him, despite the amount of power he'd drawn out of Lucius.

"Of course it matters!" Simon growled. He moved closer, dropping his voice, "It was that psycho boyfriend of yours, wasn't it? He told you I was dead, so he must have found out."

Derik sighed, shifting forward and resting his head wearily against Simon's shoulder, too tired to even think anymore. "He's kind of possessive..."

"Why the Hell did you tell him if you knew he'd freak out like this?"

"I didn't. The glamour on my shoulder broke." Derik muttered wearily, leaning against him more.

He felt Simon's head shift around, then Simon tensed a bit. Lucius had lashed at that shoulder even more than the rest of him, so the mark Simon had left was almost obliterated by the whip cuts at the moment, but there was still a bit showing here and there. Simon gently touched one of the remaining traces. Derik shuddered as the pleasure of the mark raced through him once more, then darkness swallowed him.


Derik blinked his eyes open. He wasn't really sure if he was awake or dreaming still. His mind felt groggy and nothing made much sense. He looked up, seeing the waning, but still rather full moon hanging above him. He shifted his eyes over, noting the building and realized he was on a balcony. The cold wind whipped around him and he realized he was completely naked, his hair still wet from the shower. He was chilled, but not freezing too badly, so he knew he hadn't been out there long. The wind also brought the sound of soft chanting to him. He shifted his head over further and found Simon sitting cross-legged at his side, one hand resting gently on Derik's chest, the other on Derik's stomach. He was completely naked as well, his pale skin almost seeming to glow in the moonlight. He was just sitting there, his head lowered, rocking back and forth slightly, chanting too softly for Derik to quite make out over the sound of the wind and the soft sounds of the city below.

Derik watched, puzzled. Simon raised his head, opening his eyes. Despite the low light, the gray of his irises seemed to flash, like light off of polished chrome as his eyes flicked up to the moon above. Derik felt a strange warmth blossom inside him, quickly spreading through his body. Simon fell silent, dropping his gaze back down to meet Derik's.

Derik's eyes grew heavy and slid back shut as a sudden lethargy stole over him... pulling him back into his dreams before his mind could dwell much on the odd occurrence.


Giddy laughter echoed down the corridor. Blaise shushed Warrington and Pansy mirthfully as they made their way a bit less than steadily towards his bedroom. It may be a school night, but that party had been absolutely brilliant! In theory it was to celebrate Warrington's birthday, and they would have usually waited until friday to do it up right, but the Wizarding Wireless station Blaise had commissioned had just finally debuted that night and Blaise couldn't resist showing it off. Most of his Housemates had never heard the wild Muggle dance music it played before. He might not be able to switch songs at will, but it was brilliant being able to listen to some of the music anyway.

"Quiet as a church mouse, mate!" Warrington slurred in a mirthful whisper, Pansy thrown over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. "Aren't we?" He asked, giving her rump a playful swat.

Pansy burst out into wild giggles, wriggling in his grasp and kicking her legs.

Warrington chuckled and heaved her down onto her feet next to their door, then pressed her back against the stone wall and snogged her lustily. When he finally let up, he growled softly, "I'm gonna shag your arse off 'til you can't bloody well walk, love."

Pansy just giggled again, grabbing his arse and pulling his hips closer as she gave his neck a playful bite.

Warrington shuddered, then looked over at Blaise, "Can I have first go?"

Blaise was looking distractedly down the corridor. Theodore's door was open and he was sitting there in the doorway, wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts and a button up dress shirt that'd been left open in front, nursing a bottle of liquor. He sighed, then looked over at them. "Sure. In fact go along in. I'll be along in a bit. Probably."

Warrington let out a little ecstatic crow. "Pansy Parkinson, all to meself! Happy birthday to me! Let's get in there and make those bedsprings sing before he changes his mind!"

Pansy giggled and opened the door, stripping her clothes off as she hurried towards the bed.

Warrington reached over and pulled Blaise up against him. "I'm only having you on, mate." He purred softly, "Come back by in a bit and once I'm done knobbing this little crumpet I'll let you give me a go if you'd like."

Blaise let out a little groan of desire. He loved shagging mostly straight boys. Warrington was obviously well plastered. That's the only time he ever did much of anything directly with him. "I will definitely try to make it back." Blaise murmured.

Warrington gave him a wink, then let him go and hurried into the room, starting to yank his clothing off.

Blaise closed the door a bit regretfully, but as difficult as that was to resist, there was something a bit more important at the moment. He'd seen Theo watching him several times during the party, though he always looked away when he saw Blaise looking. There was something speculative about his gaze, but at the same time reluctant. Hopefully, he was finally ready to break down and talk to Blaise about something. Anything. It was painfully obvious Theo needed to open up to someone.

Of course closing that door would have been a lot easier if Warrington hadn't paused to get Blaise hard as a bloody rock with that last comment! He forced down his surging hormones, then turned towards Theo.

Theo was looking back at him, his expression unreadable. He took another strong pull from his mostly empty bottle, then struggled to his feet.

Blaise hurried over. "Theo, wait!" He said quickly, afraid the boy would disappear behind his door and close him out again like he always did.

"Been waiting." Theo muttered, "You took longer than I thought you would."

Blaise blinked in surprise. Theo had been waiting for him?

Theo shifted back a bit and dropped his eyes as an obviously inebriated fourth year passed by. When the boy was gone, he looked back up at Blaise, then gave his head a little nod towards the room before pushing off the door frame and starting into the room.

Well, Theo obviously didn't want to say anything out where other people might be watching and listening. Completely understandable. If their paranoid, Death Eater fathers had taught them anything, it was the need to keep their personal business private. He followed him in and closed the door behind him, then quickly pulled out his wand and flicked it at the door, casting a silencing spell to prevent eavesdropping.

When he turned back, Theo was setting the bottle on the bedside table. His room was rather sparsely furnished, so Blaise guessed the bed would be the only logical place to have a chat. Blaise hurried over and came to a stop beside him, watching the boy's face curiously as he turned back to him.

Theo watched him silently for a long moment, then reached forward and grabbed Blaise gently by the back of his head and drew him forward. Blaise opened his mouth to ask him what he was doing, but Theo's lips on his silenced him neatly. Blaise's eyes slid shut, all thought leaving save for the question that surfaced once more in his head, wondering at how such an inexperienced boy could do such absolutely mind boggling things with his lips and tongue alone. He felt a hand pulling loose the buttons on the front of his shirt, but he couldn't make himself think past the bliss of that amazing mouth.

When Blaise felt the tugging at the fastenings to his trousers, he forced himself to pull away, breaking the kiss. Theo tried to recapture his lips, but Blaise evaded him, trying desperately to clear his lust fogged mind. "What are you doing, Theo?" He gasped.

Theo let out a little amused breath. "You've been at this a lot longer than I have... I really doubt I need to explain it to you." He said, tugging Blaise's trousers open.

Blaise grabbed a hold of his trousers before Theo could relieve him of them. "Stop, Theo." Blaise said gently. "We both know you don't want me."

The little smile slipped away from Theo's face and he averted his gaze, his cheeks flushing.

"Why are you doing this?" Blaise asked softly.

Theo sighed sadly, "Can't you just shag me and save the questions for tomorrow?" He asked hopefully.

Blaise just shook his head.

"I just... I need something..." Theo said, obviously struggling to explain, "Someone. I need to know I still exist, even if I don't feel like I do... that I can still feel something, even without... her..."

"Why didn't you ask Pansy?" Blaise asked curiously. Theo just didn't seem the type to muck about with other boys.

Theo quickly shook his head. "I promised Latimera I'd never be with another girl, and I have no intention of ever breaking that promise. I admit I'm a bit uneasy about the idea of being with a guy... but I really think I need this. But... I don't want to hurt anyone. I don't want to lead them on. No matter what she's done or how she feels about me, I'm always going to love Latimera. It wouldn't be fair to someone to make them think I'll ever love them..."

"So you want to shag the school bike, the male one that is, because he's used to meaningless sex." Blaise concluded.

Theo grimaced. "Please don't think about it like that."

Blaise shrugged, dropping his eyes. "Hey, it's alright. I know everyone thinks I'm just a fickle bit of spare."

Theo took Blaise's face between his hands and forced eye contact. "I wanted it to be you because I know you have a good heart." He said sincerely, "I know you won't go telling everyone, and I... well I hoped you'd want to help me. And... because the thought of this... of letting someone inside me... it kind of scares me... and... I trust you."

Blaise let out a little groan. There was just something about the sincerity in his voice... and those strange green and brown eyes. When had Theo's eyes gotten those brilliant green centers? They were just so oddly beautiful... and if he didn't take his trousers off soon he was going to start popping stitches. He just gave a little nod. "Ok." He said softly, "If you feel lie you need this... like you need some kind of physical connection with someone to help you get through this... I would be honored to be the one to give it to you. But," He added quickly, "If you change your mind or it doesn't feel right, you have to promise me you'll tell me immediately. Don't worry about upsetting me or anything daft like that. Your feeling are the ones that are important here, understand?"

Theo dropped his hands and nodded, his cheeks blushing.

"You can snuff the torches if you'd like." Blaise said as he stripped off his shirt, seeing Theo's nervousness as he dropped his own shirt to the floor.

Theo flashed him a grateful smile and grabbed his wand from the bedside table, using it to snuff all the torches and candles, though he left the small fire burning in the fireplace across the room. People rarely snuffed every light in the dungeon. It would be black as pitch if they did. Not to mention it'd quickly get cold without a fire since they were underground. The fire didn't shed much light this far away, but he could see Theo's vague outline as the boy doffed his skivvies and climbed onto the bed.

He just sat there, looking nervous even in the near darkness as he waited for Blaise to join him. Blaise crawled up beside him and settled next to him, not wanting to rush him. Theo shifted over, his nose bumping against Blaise's cheek in his nervous haste. He made a little amused sound, then corrected his angle and claimed Blaise's lips once more.

Kissing Theo was bliss no matter what the situation... but kissing him while naked and on a bed, with the full realization that they were about to shag... it was a whole new level. Blaise reached down and touched him, a bit surprised to find he actually had half a stock. He stroked him a bit. He did alright in that department. Not that he'd doubted he would. In his experience, most wizards seemed to be at least decently well off in the trouser department. He was tempted to go down on him, but from the way his touch made Theo's stomach tremble he got the impression it wasn't what Theo wanted at the moment.

Blaise reluctantly broke the kiss. "Um... do you have any...?"

"Right! Ya. Hold on." Theo said quickly. He shifted over, fumbling around on the bedside table, then shifted back, placing a small bottle in Blaise's hand.

Blaise smiled. Even in the dark he could tell it was his favorite brand of lubricant. It had a distinctive raised pattern on the side which he suspected was to help you identify it in the dark. It wasn't a very well known brand. He began to wonder just how long Theo had been planning this.

Theo shifted around, getting on all fours in front of Blaise as Blaise applied some lube. Blaise had to smile. It was probably the only position straight guys imagined could be used. It wasn't his absolute favorite, but it was a good one, so he didn't contradict him. Theo seemed so nervous he didn't want to do anything to embarrass him.

He dropped the bottle next to them, then shifted closer. Theo was taller than him, but he nudged the boy's legs apart a bit and he was at the perfect height. He shifted up to him and pressed gently against him, but didn't try to hurry it. He leaned down against Theo's back and slipped his arms around him, gently kissing his back.

"Calm down. I'm not going to hurt you. I promise." Blaise murmured soothingly, stroking his hands over Theo lovingly and murmuring softly until the boy stopped trembling. He slid his hand down between Theo's legs and smiled against him, feeling he'd captured the boy's full attention. It was a relief... he'd hated the thought that Theo might not really want this, but it was pretty apparent he did.

Blaise pressed into him before Theo could even think to tense back up. The boy gasped, and his stomach tensed up again, but Blaise gently coaxed him and he relaxed again. Blaise closed his eyes in bliss as he started to thrust in earnest. Even when he wasn't tensed, he was so wonderfully tight! He leaned down and located the bottle again, then slowed some as he let go of Theo's hips to get a bit more lube on his hand. He dropped the bottle back to the side, then shifted forward, reaching around and putting his well lubricated hand to use.

Theo gasped, obviously not having been expecting it. He pushed back against Blaise and groaned as his body trembled. Blaise let out a groan of pure bliss as he tightened up still more. He started stroking him faster as he picked up the pace. From the way Theo was wriggling around, panting and groaning, Blaise knew the boy probably wasn't going to last long... but he was drunk and insanely aroused himself, so he was pretty sure that wouldn't be a problem. He managed to keep up the pace, and within a few minutes he could feel Theo going over the edge.

Theo cried out and shuddered hard, his body tightening on Blaise exquisitely, then Theo reached back and grabbed Blaise's arse, pulling him hard against him and holding him there as he shook and finished. Blaise couldn't help but finish as well, pressing himself against Theo as he rode out blindingly exquisite waves of pleasure.

Things got a bit foggy as they slowly came back down. Their bodies loosed up and they slid over to the side, still joined together as they lay there, nestled close, panting for breath.

"Was that what you wanted?" Blaise asked softly once their bodies had calmed.

Theo just nodded.

Blaise wasn't sure what the boy was thinking now. "Do you want me to leave now?" He asked tentatively, not wanting to overstay his welcome.

Theo tensed a bit and grabbed a hold of the arm that was around him. "Do you have to?"

"Of course not." Blaise said, kissing his shoulder.

"Could you... I mean would you mind if... I mean it's only a couple of hours until we have to get up, really..."

Blaise grinned and nuzzled up against him, pulling him tighter. "I would love to spend the night with you, Theo." No offense to Warrington, but he doubted the boy could ever top that! Besides, he doubted the boy would even remember the offer in the morning anyway.

They lay there in companionable silence for a while after that. Just as Blaise was starting to nod off, Theo spoke again, this voice soft and uncertain.

"Um... do you... um... have any plans for after classes?" He asked tentatively.

Blaise chuckled softly, "I do now."


When Derik woke once more he found himself laying in a nice, very soft bed. The blankets were pulled up and it was wonderfully warm and comfortable. He wasn't sure why he'd woken. He might not need much sleep, but he knew he could use at least a couple more hours, and he was so cozy he felt like drifting off again. And yet, he remained irritatingly conscious. It took him a few minutes to start to wonder why he was so comfortable.

He shifted around a bit cautiously, then sat up. He brushed the blanket off of him, staring down in shock at his body. He was still naked, but couldn't spot a single trace of damage. There were no welts or bruises... not even the pink of newly mended skin! He looked at his shoulder, easily spotting Simon's mark, despite the dim light. He ran his fingers over it and shivered as the wave of pleasure flashed through him. True, that little mark had nearly gotten him killed... and yet he felt a strange sense of relief finding it still there. He got up and moved around. Not even a twinge. It was as if he'd never been hurt! He'd expected to be sore for days at the very least, even with extensive use of healing magic, but there was simply nothing left!

He looked around for Simon, but found himself alone in the room. His eyes darted over to the chest of drawers, but then he let out a little sigh of relief, spotting Simon's bag still sitting there. There were also fresh, clean clothes stacked neatly on top of his obviously freshly laundered robe at the end of the bed. Well, that was one perk to being in his own building. He'd never woken without clean clothes waiting for him, no matter which loft he fell asleep in! He pulled his clothes on, marvelling at the ease with which he moved. Once he was done, he went off in search of Simon.

He wasn't hard to locate. The kitchen and living room were both empty, the door to the 'training room' was closed. Derik went over to the training room door and opened it. The moment he did, the sounds of a violent fray met him. He pushed the door wide, then stopped. The room was already littered with the 'remains' of two of the larger dummies and one of the smaller ones. The others were all in the process of attacking Simon.

Derik watched in dazed fascination as Simon fought with a ferocity that stunned him. His movements were quick and obviously very skilled. Derik jumped out of the way as one of the smaller dummies flew towards him, smashing into the wall head-first so hard the blow would obviously have maimed, if not killed, any flesh and blood opponent. The crunching sound it made upon impact was disconcerting. It limply struggled a bit, then went still.

By the time Derik looked back, Simon had already dispatched one of the large dummies as well. The last large dummy grabbed him by the arms from behind, heaving him up. Simon used the extra height to kick the last remaining smaller dummy hard in the chest, making a loud crunching sound. It flew back and slammed against the wall with great force, then slid lifelessly to the floor.

The large one turned, then ran at the wall to try to body slam Simon against it, but Simon somehow 'ran' up the wall as soon as he was close enough, making the dummy lose its grip on him as Simon flipped over it. Before the dummy even had a chance to turn, Simon leapt on its back and grabbed its head, giving it a vicious twist. There was a loud, very distinctive crack and the dummy fell to its knees. Simon sprang lightly off as it flopped lifelessly to the floor.

"Damn..." Derik breathed incredulously.

Simon tensed and spun, his guard automatically going up, but then he sighed and straightened when he realized who it was. "Shit! Don't sneak up on me when I'm practicing. It's not healthy!" Simon grumbled, striding over and taking a small towel from a bar next to Derik. He used it to wipe away some of the sweat that was dripping from him and the sand that was clinging to him. It was obvious he'd been at this a while.

Derik toed one of the dummies that was bleeding out sand onto the floor. It was quite heavy, most likely weighing a good deal more than a human of that size, and yet Simon had thrown it with seeming ease. "When I woke up alone I was afraid you'd left." Derik said, not really knowing what else to say.

"Not yet." Simon said briskly, "Though I'm not going to bother patching these things up again. Their stoneware skeletons are too irritating to repair, especially when I'm probably not going to use them again. I doubt anyone else here will want them either. They're too heavy and fight too hard for most people." He tired of trying to rub the sand off of his damp skin and pulled out his wand, flicking it and magically cleaning himself off, then grabbed a black t-shirt off a hook by the door and pulled it on.

"So you're still leaving." Derik said sadly, not even bothering to make it a question.

"Yes. Just as soon as I'm done." Simon said, folding his arms over his chest.

"Done?" Derik asked, furrowing his brow, "Done with what?"

"Killing your boyfriend." Simon replied evenly, his expression completely serious.

Derik sighed, "Simon..." He started in exasperation.

Simon reached over and put his hand over Derik's mouth, silencing him. "No. This isn't a discussion. He crossed a line. This will go down one of two ways: either you will tell me where he is and I'll go and kill him and be on my way... or I will have to go through the bother of hunting him down, then kill him and be on my way." He saw the look in Derik's eyes and quickly added. "And I can hunt him down, no matter where he is, don't you worry about that. There is nothing alive that I can't track. The only decision you have is determining how long this is going to take." He said firmly before releasing his hold on Derik's mouth.

"You can't go after him!" Derik said, his head filling with images of all the horrific things Voldemort and the Death Eaters would do to Simon. The Fortress was unmappable and guarded by untold numbers of curses, traps and magical creatures, but it wasn't guarded by a Fidelius charm. Voldemort didn't want to have to personally invite each and every one of his followers (not to mention captives) in before they could enter, and he certainly wasn't going to leave that kind of power in anyone else's hands! This distrustfulness along with his arrogant assurance that no one would ever be smart enough to find him may well be his downfall. Lucius would be wretchedly difficult to locate, yes... but with enough luck, skills and dedication it could be done... and something told him Simon just might be up to the task!

"You can't seriously want that asshole to live after what he just did to you!" Simon hissed furiously.

"No." Derik admitted without pause, "In fact I very nearly killed him myself after what he did to me. I had the opportunity, but after I rendered him unconscious... I... I just couldn't bring myself to do it while he was helpless. I was stupid and weak, I know... but..." Derik shook his head, blushing with shame.

"No. You just have ethics and a sense of justice." Simon said softly, "I may wish you'd lost your moral compass for the moment... but I certainly can't fault you for showing decency. Too bad your little boyfriend apparently has none."

Derik let out a little breath, not meeting his eyes and choosing not to comment further on the subject. "At any rate, he's in an impenetrable fortress. There's no way anyone could get in there... and even if they could, it would be impossible to kill him and still get out alive."

"I've been in some pretty tight spots before," Simon began, "and I doubt this..."

Derik quickly put up his hand to stop him as he had a sudden epiphany. "Whether you're capable of the task or not isn't even the issue. You can't go off on some daft quest to snuff my boyfriend because I need you here."

Simon rolled his eyes. "We've covered this. I'm not gay."

Derik shook his head, "No, I mean I need your help. I've never asked you for anything, and I swear I never intended to... but... there's something that I need help with... and it's not something just anyone can do. I didn't understand what happened between us any more than you apparently did... but now I think I know why it happened."

Simon looked him over suspiciously. "And why is that?"

"So we would come to know each other. So I would have the knowledge that would let me realize you're the only one who can help me."

"Help you with what exactly?" Simon asked, his eyes narrowing.

"Come to my loft. I'll show you." Derik quickly held his hand up again, warding off the inevitable objection, "And I swear I'm not planning on molesting you. I just need to show you what I need help with."

"Can't you just tell me?"

Derik shook his head. "No."

Simon took a deep breath and sighed it out. "This is probably just some lame trick to try to get me to stay, but fine, I'll bite. Show me this all important task you require me for."

Derik merely nodded and led the way. He didn't say a word as they made their way up to his loft. Simon's eyes were ever moving, searching the shadows of the loft for threats or clues to why he was there, but he found nothing. The loft appeared quite empty except for them, the lights dimmed almost to darkness. Derik led him silently over to the door next to his own and opened it, standing to the side, gesturing for him to enter.

Simon looked at him warily, then stepped through the door, looking around the room. It was quite obviously a child's room, though it had the feel of disuse. There was a bookshelf filled with children's book, shelves filled with stuffed toys, several toy chests, a full wardrobe, a large window... the waning moonlight was filtering in... onto the little boy curled up asleep in the small bed. Simon's eyes went round and darted over to Derik in askance.

"It's Eli." Derik whispered softly, "The boy I thought was dead. My 'boyfriend' apparently got him out before they set loose the Fiendfyre. The man may be a vindictive monster with a wicked temper... but I'd say getting Eli back was more than worth the beating."

"Just what exactly has this got to do with me?" Simon asked guardedly, obviously getting a pretty good inkling.

"I have to be at Hogwarts to teach during the week, and it's unlikely coming home every night will be possible... It would look suspicious, and I don't want anyone clueing in and finding out about Eli. I don't have legal custody of him, and I don't care to inform the Ministry's and just trust they'll do the right thing and let me keep him. So... I need someone I trust to look after him for me while I'm gone." Derik said evenly.

Simon looked at him incredulously, "Do I look like a fuckin babysitter to you?" He hissed.

"My house elf Fig can get him anything he needs, but she has other responsibilities as well. I have plenty of people who can drop in and check on him, maybe stay with him now and again..." Derik replied, "But he's been sorely neglected his whole life from what I've seen. He needs someone here with him, a consistant presence in his life. Stability."

"And what gives you the insane impression that I'm the one for that job?"

"Because I feel it." Derik said with quiet assurance, "There's no doubt in my mind that you would be the best thing for Eli right now."

Simon let out a sigh, shifting his eyes pointedly away from the boy, "And did you ever consider what that would do to me? You want me to hang out with this kid while you're away, get all attached to him, then you're back and what happens to me? I hate to sound selfish, but I've been down that road and I never want to go there again!"

"I would never take him away from you." Derik said softly.

Simon's eyes darted over, "You're giving him to me?"

"No!" Derik shot back immediately, "He's my son now, and I don't care what the Ministry, his bitch mother or anyone else says. If I can make it legal, I will... but if not, the law can go fuck itself. No one is ever taking that boy away from me again."

Simon furrowed his brow, "Then what the Hell are you suggesting?"

"I won't try to take him away from you if you don't try to take him away from me. This doesn't have to be a one or the other kind of situation."

"Jesus!" Simon said, looking at Derik as if he was completely barking, "Please tell me you aren't suggesting what I think you are! One drunken night of fucking and you want to co-parent with me?"

Derik gave him a little smile, his cheeks blushing slightly, "When you put it like that, it does sound a little nutters..."

"No shit!" Simon replied, folding his arms over his chest.

Derik sighed, "I don't see why this is such a big deal. I'm not proposing marriage or anything. Just because two people are raising one child doesn't mean there has to be anything between them. We can just be... friends. Two friends raising a child. My loft is the safest, and I'll be reinforcing the protections on it, so I'd prefer you move in here, but I can build you on your own room and everything. With an Accommodation spell it would be simple to..."

"This is ridiculous!" Simon blurted, "Now you're wanting me to move in with you?" He asked, obviously astonished by the audacity of the request. "I told you before, you're a nice guy, but I'm not gay. I will never be gay. I'm sorry."

Derik sighed deeply, "This isn't about us. It's about him."

"And you expect me to believe..." Simon began, but then suddenly went silent as Eli shifted.

They watched as the boy turned over in his sleep, making little whimpering sounds. Simon pulled his eyes away from the boy and tried to leave. Derik put his arm out, silently blocking Simon's path.

Simon cringed as Eli let out a little frightened sob. He tried to push past Derik to get away, but Derik held firm.

"Don't make me hurt you." Simon whispered.

"I'm afraid you'll have to." Derik replied evenly.

Eli tossed in his sleep, his frightened sobs redoubling as he struggled against the blankets.

"Don't do this to me." Simon whispered hoarsely, trying to blink back the tears that were threatening in his eyes.

"I have no choice." Derik replied gently.

Simon flinched as Eli let out a cry, twisting around in his blankets and struggling as if trying to escape. "Daddy!" he sobbed desperately.

"Bastard!" Simon hissed, giving Derik a rough shove.

Derik staggered back, but managed to keep his footing. He went back over to the door and looked in. Simon was taking a seat on the edge of the bed. He reached out and freed the struggling boy from the blankets, then gently gathered him up into his arms, "It's ok, no one's going to hurt you." He whispered, making little hushing sounds and stroking his hair until Eli calmed a bit.

Eli pulled his head back, blinking up at Simon in the low lighting. "Who are you?" He asked warily, his breath still panting a bit in his chest.

"It's ok." Derik said soothingly, stepping into the room, "This is Simon. I've asked him to look after you when I can't be here."

Eli sniffled, looking up at Simon, "You're gonna stay with me?"

Simon gave Derik a glare, then neatly sidestepped the question. "Were you having a bad dream?"

Eli nodded and cuddled up to Simon. "The bad men were coming for me. They took my daddy and they were gonna take me too." He let out a little whine of fear, his little hand clutching a handful of Simon's t-shirt. "Don't let them take me!"

Simon clenched his eyes shut, but pulled him tight, stroking his hair soothingly again. "They won't." He said softly. He shifted his head down, pressing his cheek against Eli's thick blond hair and taking a deep breath. "No one will ever hurt you again. I won't let them." He promised softly.

Eli took a deep, shuddering breath, then melted gratefully against him, his little grip tightening.

Simon just held him as the boy drifted back off to sleep... and for a while longer. He leaned back against the headboard, gazing out the window at the waning moon as he held the sleeping boy cradled in his arms.

Derik made his way silently out of the room, giving Simon some time to himself. He made his way into the living room and took a seat on the couch. As he sat there, the implications of what he'd just done buzzed through his head. He didn't know why he'd done it, just that it seemed like the right thing to do. This was bound to make Derik's life very complicated... not to mention dangerous! He knew he already had a dangerously strong affinity for this man. The most confusing part was the idea that he had felt such earth shattering pain and anguish at the thought of Simon's death when he wasn't even really in love with Simon. He couldn't possibly be, after all... because Simon was still alive. There's no way he would have survived if Derik was in love with him. He just couldn't comprehend how something that felt so strong could be anything other than love. Still, no matter what it was he felt, he cared for Simon a lot more than was healthy for the man... or for Derik! He wasn't sure he could handle it if something were to happen to Simon because he had asked him to stay and then got closer to him and his curse finally snuffed the man... dear God, how much worse would it feel if he cared even more than he already did? He couldn't even imagine it! The pain had nearly been enough to drive him mad as it was! And to top that off by having to explain what happened to Eli... and what if something happened to Simon and Eli found out about the curse and realised it was all Derik's fault! Derik had no doubt Eli would love Simon in no time at all... and if Derik wasn't around much, he'd probably come to love Simon even more than Derik. Derik wasn't sure he would be able to stand having Eli blame him. He'd surely be blaming himself enough already, but the possible alienation he might face if the boy held him responsible... What if Eli came to hate him for it? After the devastating blow he would have endured from Simon's death, he was certain he couldn't possibly survive Eli's rejection on top of it.

He felt like he was in a daze. Things were just going so fast... everything had a sense of unreality. His emotions and his worries and paranoia were buzzing and clashing so violently it was dizzying. He wasn't sure what he was feeling, to be honest. Nothing made sense... yet at the same time he couldn't shake that unreasoning belief that this was right... that this is how it was supposed to be. Was it one of the feelings he'd gotten all his life? One of the ones he could trust? Or was it his mind wanting this so desperately it was simply making him believe what he wanted to?

Though he'd been dreading talking to Simon, Derik almost felt relieved when the man finally emerged from the room. Derik's mind had been getting a bit carried away with its emotional turbulence and wildly creative worst case scenarios. He watched warily as Simon came over to him. He just stood there for a minute, glaring down at Derik. Derik had almost begun to worry he would attack him, but then Simon took a seat beside him.

"I cannot believe you did that to me." Simon said softly, his eyes trained straight ahead.

Derik dropped his eyes, guilt surfacing once again. "I'm sorry. I just did what I felt I had to. Eli needs you... and I have a feeling you need him, too."

"And you're absolutely sure this is just about the boy?" Simon asked.

Derik looked over at him, puzzled. "What else would it be about?"

Simon finally turned his head, gazing over at Derik. "I think we both know the answer to that one. I told you before, my kind aren't gay. It's just not how we're made. I'm not going to bother denying that being with you felt good, but it was just a fluke. We were both drunk and obviously horny. It happened, but it didn't mean what you obviously think it did... and if you'd told me I marked you, that confusing little incident in the kitchen wouldn't have happened."

"What?" Derik asked, "What does that mark have to do with anything?"

"It has to do with everything. I couldn't understand what I was feeling. If you'd told me I'd marked you..."

"You're the one who put it there." Derik said, breaking in, "Why would you need me to tell you that you put some mark on me?"

"Because I was blind drunk at the time. I certainly don't remember marking you. Logically and physically, I didn't even think it would have been possible to mark a male."

Derik sighed, "You're losing me. Why wouldn't it be possible for you to bite a man and leave a mark?"

Simon gave a little half amused snort, "I didn't just bite you. I..." He let out a little frustrated breath, "The mark I left on your skin, the scent I imprinted you with... that's what my kind do when marking their... well their mate." He admitted, his cheeks flushing with embarrassment.

"Mate?" Derik asked, his eyes wide, "Why don't I think you mean your buddies?"

Simon growled (though in a human way this time) and tossed himself back on the couch, staring at the ceiling. "I mean exactly what you know I mean. A mate in the procreative sense, which is why it shouldn't have been possible for me to mark you. I can't exactly knock you up, now can I? I've never mated before, so I didn't know what it felt like, didn't understand the urges I was getting."

Derik gave him a little smirk, "We both know you weren't a virgin."

"Of course I wasn't a fucking virgin!" Simon growled, "I've fucked quite a number of chicks, but I've never mated before. My kind don't become fertile until we're between about twenty and twenty three. Even then, we're only fertile a couple of months out of the year, starting around October or so and ending just into the new year. If that time of the year comes and we have a girl we'd like to mate with, we mark them. After that, biology takes over and we have to deal with very strong urges regarding that mate, including being very protective of them, and of course the overpowering urge to fuck them. The urges pretty much take over until the season ends. Well, the need for sex calms down once they get pregnant of course, but otherwise we're stuck for the duration. By the time I came of age I'd stopped having sex. The urge to choose a mate has never come to me before."

"Then why now? And why the Hell would you get that urge with ME?" Derik asked, dumbfounded.

Simon shrugged. "I've been giving it some thought while you slept, but I'm still not sure. My best guess is because we were talking about our mutual desire for children. Then of course there was the sex. This is right about the time of year my kind would start pairing up... so..." He shrugged again. "I'd say it was just liquor, hormones and bad timing. Still, regardless of what started it, I'm still going to have to deal with the consequences. At least now I know, and I understand what's happening to me. It had me really confused for a while, that's for sure!"

Derik sat there, staring at the coffee table before them and processing that in silence for a bit. "So..." He said at length. "Earlier in the kitchen... that overwhelming desire I felt coming from you... it was just misfiring hormones."

"Pretty much." Simon agreed.

"And in a couple of months you'll be completely over it?"

Simon nodded.

"Your kind just mate with people at random, then? I mean you'll be able to pick someone else next year?" Derik asked softly.

Simon flashed a little smile. "Of course. Don't get me wrong, we're not quite as nomadic as we used to be. Many of my kind settle with one mate for long periods of time. I doubt we're much different from humans in that respect."

"Long periods of time." Derik said, "So you don't believe in mating for life then?"

"Mating for life..." Simon said with a note of sad amusement. "You sound like my father. There's an old wive's tale among my people. They say that whenever an Alpha male is born, Hecate gifts them with an Alpha female... their perfect mate. If these two perfectly matches souls ever manage to find each other they will be mated for life, because no other would ever win their hearts. Father used to say my mother was his perfect other half... his life mate. Well, I guess he was right in a way. They were still mated when she died when I was about ten... and he never took another mate before he died, so technically they stayed mated for the rest of their lives, short though they may have been. I don't really believe in it though. Mating for life, that is. Let's be honest... who'd want to be stuck with me for the rest of their lives?" He asked with a little smirk.

Derik declined to answer that. Instead he moved the discussion back on track, "So now that you know what's causing it...?"

"I should be able to tough it out until it passes. Admittedly I had hoped I'd be able to do that far away from you."

"Sorry." Derik muttered. "If it helps, I'll try to keep my visits brief until you're over it. It's probably for the best, really. That this is just a temporary affliction, that is. It would probably be very unwise for anything else to ever happen between us again."

"Well, at least that's one thing we can agree on." Simon muttered.

"So, both of us raising Eli shouldn't be a problem then." Derik said reasonably. "Why can't two friends raise a child together?"

Simon let out an amused breath. "I think that would be considerably easier if the two 'friends' had never fucked each other. You really think we can just forget that happened and go on hanging out and living with each other for the next decade or so?"

Derik sighed and got up, wandering over to the liquor cabinet. "I don't expect us to just forget it ever happened. Short of Obliviate spells that would be a rather unreasonable expectation." He pulled out a glass and poured himself some scotch. He downed it in a single go, then closed his eyes as the liquor burned its way down and settled in his stomach. He knew it would take a whole lot more than a single glass to properly calm him, but he didn't want Simon to think he was trying to get drunk. He looked over and saw Simon eyeing the scotch with a bit of longing in his eyes. Simon caught him watching and quickly averted his eyes.

"Sorry." Derik said quickly, "Where are my manners? Would you like a drink?"

Simon just shook his head.

"Come along." Derik said, "I swear I'm not trying to get you drunk. Just thought a nice bracing drink might do us both some good."

Simon shook his head again, still keeping his eyes away from the liquor cabinet. "I'm not worried about that. Just please stop offering. I can't drink alcohol again until after the next full moon."

"Why not?" Derik asked, puzzled.

Simon sighed deeply, "Because that's what I gave up to heal you."

Derik furrowed his brow, "What do healing and alcohol have to do with each other?"

Simon rolled his eyes. "If I explain and you so much as smirk, I'll kick your ass."

"Fair enough." Derik replied as he wandered back over, resuming his seat beside Simon.

"Your injuries were deep. You had badly broken ribs and internal bleeding from where those broken bones had punctured other things, including a couple of rather important organs. If you were a Muggle you would have been dead well before you got to my apartment. As it was, it would have taken you a week or more to recover on your own, including at least a couple of days in the hospital... and when it comes right down to it, it was my fault." He held his hand up quickly when Derik started to protest that assessment. "You tried to stop me, and I should have stopped, but I didn't and then my fucked up biology kicked in and put that mark on your shoulder, which is what gave you away to your boyfriend. That makes the repercussions of what happened my fault. It was my doing, and I didn't want you to suffer for it... so I asked Hecate to heal you."

"Hecate? You mentioned that name before. Who is that?" Derik asked, puzzled. He may have been groggy and disoriented, but he was fairly certain they had been alone on that balcony.

Simon let out a deep sigh. "Hecate, Isis, Losna, Selene, Mani, Bendis or any of the hundred or so other names She goes by. Whatever you choose to call Her. I used to lean more towards Isis, but nowadays I usually use Hecate. The Goddess of the moon and the mother of my people. When one of her children asks for Her help it's traditional that we sacrifice something. Not a person or animal or anything like that... we just give up something that we enjoy for a time, something that gives us pleasure. She's not picky. She doesn't care about any monetary value of what is given up or how long. It's more about its value to us and the sincerity of the sacrifice that She wants. I don't really have much these days that gives me pleasure, so alcohol was all I could think of. It's pretty much the last pleasure left in my life at this point... but I'm the one who made the mistake, and I make up for my mistakes."

Derik was staring at him, but there was absolutely no indication that Simon was having him on. "So... you're saying God healed me?"

Simon rolled his eyes, "I don't pretend to know about whatever God you follow. Don't asked me if your God is real or not or anything like that, cause I haven't a clue. All I know is my Goddess is very real, and yes, I asked her to heal you and she quite obviously did."

"So... you talk to your Goddess?" Derik asked carefully.

"I haven't much in recent years, but obviously I have talked to her before. I just told you I asked her to heal you. What part of that was ambiguous?" Simon asked, cocking his head to the side a bit.

Derik stared at him. There was nothing but complete sincerity in his face. "What does she sound like?" He asked, no knowing what else to say.

Simon gave a derisive snort. "I never said she answered back! It's not like we're on a first name basis or something. I thought talking to your chosen deity was pretty universal. People who hear someone talking back are either delusional zealots, blind drunk or mental cases."

"But... you just said she healed me... isn't that an answer?" Derik asked, confused.

"She grants her children's requests sometimes, if she feels they are sincere and justified. Or maybe it's just on a momentary whim. She can be capricious. Healing mostly, though sometimes guidance or strength, either physical or mental. Obviously she doesn't always 'answer'. She didn't answer me the last time I spoke to her. I begged and begged, but... nothing... she wouldn't help me find him..." He averted his eyes, his jaw tightening a bit. "I haven't spoken to her since. Until tonight. It took a lot to make me ask a boon of her after all of these years. Don't make me regret it."

Derik just sat there silently, not sure what to make of this. Yes, he believed in God... or a Goddess really since he felt God was female. Matthias hadn't taught him that, it was just something he felt, and Matthias said God didn't care how you embraced Him or Her, just that (S)He had a place in your heart. Admittedly, he also felt God guided him sometimes... he just wasn't sure he believe God took quite as personal of an interest in the individual people as Simon apparently believed. He'd always thought of the guidance he'd received as more like simply feeling the proper path through God's indirect influence, being given little nudges showing him where he needed to go or what he needed to do next. He'd always imagined himself to be just one of billions of anonymous little threads being guided into his proper place to help make up the tapestry of life, something far too complex for a mere mortal to ever hope to comprehend. He'd never made a personal request of God. Well, he'd prayed on occasion of course, but he'd never had any real expectation that the prayers were heard, let alone that they would be granted. There was a considerable difference between silent guidance through intuition and healing upon request!

Simon sighed. "You know, you probably should have checked for conflicting religious beliefs and shit like that before you tossed me in that room. Have you changed your mind now?"

Derik shook his head. "I don't think our beliefs conflict that much, really. Besides, I don't expect you to be my clone. I think it would be good for him to be exposed to multiple viewpoints. People with strictly black and white upbringings can get trapped in a certain mindset. I'd prefer he be more open minded. Living here he's going to be exposed to different species and cultures. He needs to be taught to view lifestyles objectively and not to judge."

Simon nodded, "I just want to make sure you understand right from the start that if this is going to be my kid... my son... I'm going to teach him the ways of my people. I'm not a zealot, far from it... but you have to agree to let me present him to Hecate. I didn't do that with..." He shifted his gaze away and swallowed hard, obviously pained, "I'm not making the same mistake twice." He said, his voice having gone soft. "If he's going to be mine, he's going to be able to defend himself... and he's going to have Her protection. I don't want to be a glorified babysitter. I have to be allowed to make him part of my family."

Derik nodded slowly. "Ok, but only so long as it's his choice."

"Hecate wouldn't accept him any other way." Simon replied immediately.

"Ok." Derik said softly. "Um... he doesn't need to be naked for this introduction or anything, does he?" Derik asked hesitantly.

Simon rolled his eyes. "We were already naked in the shower. You weren't in any shape to be waiting around while I tried to wrestle some clothes onto you, and I didn't feel right making you wait while I dressed for mere modestly. It's not normally part of it. Well, ok, for a healing I probably would have had to open up your shirt at the very least so the moonlight could get to your skin, but not for this. Are you really just now worrying about if I'm some kind of creep?" He asked with incredulous amusement.

"No! I never for a moment thought there was anything untoward about your intentions! I just... it was really freezing out there and I was afraid he'd catch his death." Derik said with a little shrug.

"Well good, because I don't think a grown man with no children that has a fully made up little boy's room has much room to talk. I mean even you have to admit it's a bit creepy..." Simon said with a little playful smile.

Derik flashed him a smile, but it only lasted a moment before disappearing. "That's Bastion's room."

Simon's smile disappeared, his brow furrowing, "Who's Bastion?"

"That would be my son." Derik said softly, not meeting Simon's inquisitive gaze.

"You have a son already? You didn't mention him the other night! How old is he? Where is he?"

"He's about eight. I've only actually been allowed to see him a couple of times. He was about Eli's size the last time I saw him as a matter of fact. He's an incubus... His mother is a succuba of course. She just... she likes shagging humans, but she doesn't trust her children around them. She doesn't want to risk Bastion by letting him out of her sight around humans, so she never lets him stay with me for more than an hour or two. I made the room up when he was a baby... I've been updating it every year or two since. I know he'll probably never be with me long enough to need it, but..."

Simon let out a sad sigh. "That sucks." He said in a commiserating tone.

Derik took a deep breath and sighed it out. "Before you find it and ask, the pink room belongs to my daughter, Malika. She's half Veela. I met her mother, Colette, at a party. Veelas throw some very wild parties. Colette's a lesbian, and she has had a partner for years now... they wanted a kid, but didn't want to have to deal with a man... and she liked my eyes, so..." Derik just shrugged, then sighed and went on, "She didn't figure I'd even remember, but I did. I ran into her in Diagon Alley about four years ago. Malika was only a baby, but the minute I saw her I knew she was mine. She has my eyes..." Derik said, a little smile stealing over his lips. "Colette let me see her and we talked a bit... but she really doesn't want a man in Malika's life. She lets me have Malika for about three hours or so on Christmas day, but that's it. She won't even let me pay support, nothing official or easily traceable, because she doesn't want the Ministry to know it's my child. The Ministry's too fond of taking half blooded children away from their non-wizarding parents. As much as I would dearly love to have Malika living here with me, I'd never do that to Colette. At least with Malika I can send her presents and letters and Colette sends me pictures now and then. I know it's completely daft to have made up a room for her, especially since it's only a couple of hours a year, so she's never slept here and has barely even set foot in the room, but I just... I guess I hope some day her mother will come around and let her visit more."

"You really suck at picking chicks." Simon said softly.

Derik gave a little rueful laugh. "I guess I do."

"So if you've wanted a kid of your own to raise for so long, and now at long last you've finally got one free and clear, why are you so willing to give up partial custody?" Simon asked curiously.

"I have to work, and I want to give him stability..." Derik began.

Simon waved it off, "Come off it. We both know you don't need to work. One look at this building could tell me that. Besides, the pay for cops here is ridiculous. I've made more on a single good night than cops here pull down in a month or two from what I've heard!"

Derik sighed, "I don't need it financially, that's true... it just started out as something to do, something to keep me busy. Now it's just gone all sideways, and even if it weren't for all of the kids at Hogwarts that need me to teach them how to defend themselves, I just can't quit right now. It would be too dangerous. Don't ask me how. It's really far too complicated to explain. Still, that's the other reason I need you here. Eli needs a father, and if anything happens to me..."

"So now I'm the 'fallback dad' in case you get knocked off?" Simon asked, furrowing his brow, "Just what kind of shit are you into?"

Derik shook his head, then scrubbed his hands over his face before dropping them and slumping back on the couch. "It's too hard to explain. There's just too much I'd have to tell you for it to make any sense whatsoever. It barely makes sense to me! I wouldn't even know where to begin."

Simon looked thoughtful for a minute, then looked over at him again, his eyes holding an intense curiosity. "Ok, this is embarrassing to admit, but to be completely honest I really don't know all that much about being mated. I was still too young for such talk when my father died, and I've only ever been around one other of my kind... my cousin. I barely knew him growing up, but he took over as leader of my pack when I left. I mean technically I left the business and the headquarters to my friend, but the job requires one of my kind to lead the pack itself. My cousin wasn't a born Alpha, but even a Beta of my kind can lead a pack if necessary. Still, I mean I knew he was strong and trustworthy enough to be their leader, but we weren't exactly on the 'talking about mating' kind of level in our relationship, if you know what I mean. Not to mention I could never make myself ask, because it's a bit embarrassing to admit you don't know when you're in your late teens already. Still, there is one thing I remember seeing my parents doing once. It was part of being mated, but not sexual, so they explained it a little when I asked. They called it 'sharing'. They just kind of held each other and were somehow able to look into each other's memories. I'm not sure I can do it, because it's probably more complicated than it appeared, but... I really need to know what the Hell's going on with you, and it would certainly make understanding your situation easier. Would you be willing to give it a try?"

The idea of letting someone into his memories was a bit disconcerting when Derik thought about it. There are so many things that popped to mind that he had done (not to mention had been done to him!) that he was rather less than proud of. Still, if Simon was going to be a part of Derik's life (a thought that made Derik's stomach flip in an odd, somewhat disconcerting way) he really did have the right to know what he was getting himself into. If things went badly and Derik was killed, Simon had to know where the dangers to Eli were and what kind of legal blow back was possible. It wouldn't be fair to Simon to let him walk into this situation blind.

In the end, Simon's need trumped Derik's pride. Derik took a deep breath and sighed it out, then nodded, "Ok, just try to keep on subject, ok?" He said, flashing him a little smile.

Simon nodded and grinned, "Don't worry about that. I have a feeling I don't want to go wandering much in your mind. No offense."

"None taken." Derik said quickly, rubbing his hands nervously on his trouser legs. "So... um... what am I supposed to do?"

Simon ruffled his fingers through his hair, looking a bit embarrassed, "Well... I mean proximity is required. I think we've gotta be kinda... holding each other..." He said, his cheeks actually blushing a bit.

Derik nodded, not trusting his voice. Well, he had no problem with Simon holding him. They shifted closer together somewhat nervously. Simon put his arm around Derik and they tried to move a bit closer, but it was rather awkward. Derik angled himself some and Simon was able to get a hold of him adequately. He settled his chin on Derik's shoulder, his cheek pressing up against Derik's.

Derik tried to keep focused on the task at hand, but feeling Simon against him was horribly distracting. He closed his eyes, but it just amplified his awareness of Simon's body. His scent was overwhelming, the feel of Simon's hands on him, the heat radiating from his body, the feel of his warm breath across Derik's neck. The awkwardness fled as they settled more comfortably against each other. Derik felt Simon's mind brush his. Despite the strange unreadability of it, it felt warm and undeniably familiar. Comfortable.

"Let me in." Simon whispered.

Derik took a breath, instinctively drawing Simon in like air. He shivered and pulled his body closer, feeling Simon's presence filling him in an indescribably intimate way. He felt Simon shudder against him, felt his essence warm and flow around within him. It felt so strange, and yet so wonderfully amazing... new and exciting like a lover's first touch. Any worries he'd felt were instantly forgotten. He didn't fear what Simon might see. He wanted him to see. He wanted Simon to know everything about him. He wanted to share himself in a way he had never dreamed possible.

Simon flowed into the deepest, most guarded depths of Derik's being, deeper than any other had ever been able to penetrate. Derik's mind didn't try to stop him... if anything, it drew him deeper. His memories stirred, like ripples on a pond. They came forward in his mind, scenes from his past opening before them and playing out, but faster, blurring past, though he knew somehow that Simon had no trouble seeing them.

His attention drifted. He let his recent memories flicker along unhindered, but they faded from his awareness. Simon's memories were of far greater interest to him. He brushed them and they flooded towards him, as if eager to be seen. The recent glimpses filled him with sadness... years of wandering, feeling lost and alone in the world... He forged further back.

Startlingly green eyes stared up at him. A beautiful little boy in an oversized black t-shirt. He picked him up and felt the boy's arms slip around his neck, holding him tight. He felt a surge of pure love flood through him as he held that small body to his own... and yet there was a poignant surge of sadness at the same time, the happy memory tainted by the pain that would inevitably follow. His mind flashed forward, seeing a man in a uniform carrying the boy away. The boy screamed and fought to get back to him, but the man was too strong. Four other men in uniform were holding on to him as he fought to go after the boy. They struggled hard to keep him there, and yet he fought his way free... then he felt something hit his back. He went down, his sight quickly dimming. He looked for the boy... he caught one more glimpse of him, straining for freedom over the man's shoulder, one small hand extended back towards Simon desperately... then everything faded away.

Derik wrenched himself away from those memories. The pain was too raw, despite the years that had passed since they took place. He wanted to break free and get himself away from the painful memories, but it didn't feel as if Simon was finished yet. Reluctantly, he slipped further back in Simon's past. Surely there were better memories there somewhere... he skimmed past memories of the boy. He couldn't handle seeing any more, knowing how it would end. He slipped past, forging on. He didn't stop until he saw a thin youth sprinting through a meadow. He looked no more than perhaps seven, his hair was long and pale as moonlight, his face and heart full of adolescent joy.

Derik was drawn in, becoming the boy. He raced on, letting out shrieking giggles as he ran. He looked back, spotting a shorter boy of perhaps six, with messy brown hair sprinting after him. "Can't catch me!" He squealed merrily.

"We'll see about that!" the boy yelled back mirthfully. He suddenly lunged forward, his shape changing. By the time his hands hit the ground they were paws. Where once a small boy had been, a young grizzly bear loped after him, his newfound speed quickly narrowing the distance between them.

Far from scared, the young Simon just laughed, then yelled back "Cheater!". Then he lunged forward and Derik felt his body changing. He hit the ground on all fours and tore up some grass as he darted away, quickly outdistancing the bear. He darted between the trees at the edge of the meadow and into the forest beyond. His keen ears could easily pick up the sound of the bear as it crashed through the underbrush in pursuit. He slowed slightly and the sounds of his own passage seemed to disappear. His lithe form slipped through the forest in utter silence as if he were no more than a shadow, the only sounds the occasional startled squirrel or bird skittering out of the way, not having heard his approach.

He slipped around, finding the tree he was looking for. It was broken at the base, leaning against several of the other trees so the trunk angled up. He hopped up onto the trunk, then carefully scaled up it. His paws weren't exactly made for tree climbing, but at this angle his claws gave him just enough purchase. When he was in the position he wanted, he hunkered down on the trunk, pressing close to the bark. He had a hard time keeping his long tail from wagging in anticipation as he waited, but in moments he heard the bear once more, lumbering its way towards him. It was going much slower now, having lost sight of him. It sniffed around, trying to track him. He'd been careful to brush just enough of the underbrush to lead him this far, but the bear was having to search carefully to find the trail. Simon shifted around silently as the bear approached, readying himself. As soon as it passed beneath the tree he was on, he pounced!

As soon as he dropped onto its back, the battle began. He growled and the bear roared as they wrestled around. He was thrown for a moment, but then pounced back, ramming it with his shoulder. The bear had been off balance, and though Simon was a bit smaller than it at the moment, the shove knocked it over. He dove in before it could recover and latched his teeth onto its throat. The bear let out a roar, then began twitching dramatically before going suddenly limp, its long tongue lolling out of the side of its mouth.

Simon let go and sprawled on top of him, changing back into boy form as he started laughing. The bear melted back into the smaller boy and he started giggling as well, his warm brown eyes dancing with mirth.

Derik wanted to just stay in that moment, basking in the warmth and joy of it. He'd never felt the deep and ardent friendship he felt for this boy he'd never really met. In all his life, he'd never known a friendship like this. He'd always had dark secrets he had to keep, reasons why he couldn't let anyone close. Even his 'closest' friends had never truly known him. He'd loved James, but even he hadn't known Derik's secrets... what Derik's stepfather had done to him... why Derik never wanted to stay at home. Looking at these boys, he knew there were no secrets between them. What he would have given for an innocent, carefree friendship like this.

He was almost afraid of what he would find... but he couldn't help but wonder what had happened to this boy, where he'd gone. He slipped forward in time, just a few years, then looked for the boy again. Some memories were stronger, and the stronger they were, the more they seemed to beckon to him, enticing him to view them. He found the boy again in one of the stronger memories and drifted closer. There he was, right by Simon's side, as Derik felt he should be. They were much bigger now, looking perhaps ten and eleven. Simon had filled in some, but the other boy was a good several inches shorter and still had a lanky thinness about him. He didn't look unhealthy, just like he was a bit small for his age. They were sitting on a somewhat ratty couch, watching a television, giggling about something thay'd seen on it.

Derik slipped in.

The boy gave him a little playful shove. He shoved back and they started wrestling about. The rather energetic wrestling match lasted several minutes before the boy wrapped his arms around Simon's chest so he couldn't fight anymore. They stopped struggling and just lay there, panting happily and giggling.

The boy pressed his cheek against Simon's chest and closed his eyes, his expression blissful. "Love you, Simon." The boy sighed against him.

Simon's eyes went wide and darted down to his friend. He didn't know what to say.

"Oh, get off him, Jimmy!" A gruff voice growled.

The boy immediately released Simon and darted up, then hurried over, standing by the large man, his shoulders hunched, his eyes glued to the floor. Though the man was huge, his chest like a barrel, aspects of his face made it apparent this was 'Jimmy's' father.

"What did I tell you about that?" The man asked, smacking Jimmy up the backside of his head.

The boy was staggered by the blow, then ducked his head lower, muttering a quick "Sorry!"

"Let the boy be." Another man said, coming into the room. "They were just playing around. Boys will be boys."

There was no doubt in Derik's mind that this was Simon's father. He looked exactly like he expected Simon would look in another ten years or so. He smiled at the boy and Derik could see what a warm and loving man he was.

The boy's father gave a derisive snort. "If you ask me, his mother found a way around lineage spells. There's no way this effeminate little runt is mine!"

"He may be small in stature... but may I remind you that his Animagus form is already stronger than yours." Simon's father said with a little smile, "The ability to have mastered that complex of magic when he was just a small child is unprecedented. He was probably the youngest wizard ever to have accomplished it. Remember, my friend, with magic, size doesn't matter."

The man just glared at his son and gave a huff, then grabbed the boy by the arm and forcefully propelled him from the room.

Derik drifted away, repulsed by the infuriating man. He wanted to hurt him, but he knew it was just a memory. He pushed away from the memory, drifting further forward. There was a memory ahead that was frighteningly strong. It felt of darkness and pain, and it drew him inexorably closer. He didn't know what it was, but he knew without a doubt that he didn't want to see it. He tried to break free, but the pull was relentless. In a last, desperate move he lunged forward. He didn't cleared the darkness entirely, but he managed to get past the worst of it before being drawn in.

He found himself curled up on his bed in the darkness, his cheeks wet, his body feeling drained and emotionally spent. The door opened. He quickly turned to face the wall, not wanting to see anyone... or more to the point, not wanting to let anyone see him in this state.

The door closed and he heard the sound of sneakers softly squeaking on the floor as the person drew closer. Without asking, the person climbed up and settled on the bed, then spooned up against him, an arm slipping around his waist and pulling him up against the warm body behind him.

"Fuck 'em." A voice said softly. "If they want to leave, let them. They're just a bunch of self important geezers anyway."

Though the voice was a bit deeper than before, he was pretty sure it was Jimmy once again.

"Ya," Simon muttered, "But without those 'geezers', I'm fucked."

"They aren't the only hunters in the world!" Jimmy said with comforting mirth. "You'll just find new people. Better people. People who will respect you and not treat you like a stupid kid! Those guys were your father's pack. Find your own."

Simon sniffled a bit. "Ya. Right. Who'd want to join my pack? I'm only thirteen fucking years old! That doesn't exactly inspire confidence."

"You're an Alpha, Simon! Just believe in yourself and people will follow you."

"Like who?" Simon scoffed.

"Like me." He replied firmly. "I may not be much in the flesh... but in the fur I can kick some serious ass!"

Simon let out a little laugh despite himself.

"Just hang in there. This is going to be great! Just wait and see..."

Derik drifted away, then forged quickly forward, not wanting to get pulled back into the seething black memory behind him. It was obvious it was the death of Simon's father. If it was anything like when Henry died, he wanted nothing to do with it! He skimmed over the memories, seeing glimpses flowing past. Another strong one flared up unexpectedly and drew him in before he could think to avoid it.

He was in a forest. It was night, but the full moon shone above, lending more than enough light for him to see clearly. He could see the soft steam of his breath rise from his snout as he panted, his eyes darting around for his prey. He fell silent and tensed as he heard something. It was barely anything, a tiny twig snapping in the distance. He sniffed the wind intently as it blew from that direction. Glee filled him as he caught the scent. He called out to his pack silently, feeling their minds as they each acknowledge him. The others fanned out and circled wide, then they closed silently in as one.

He paused, sniffing the air as another scent came to him. It was a mixture of human and liquor. He signalled his pack and they hurried their pace. If humans had wandered into the area they didn't have much time. He tensed as they closed, searching tensely for movement. He was so intent on their prey, he didn't sense the danger until a split second before the huge steel jaws of a trap clamped onto his hind leg. He let out an involuntary yelp of pain, yanking away instinctively, but the trap was chained to a tree, so the action did nothing but make it dig deeper into his flesh.

"We got it!" A voice crowed in the darkness.

"Would you look at the size of that thing! It's a monster!" Another voice said in awe.

Simon spun around, seeing two men hurrying up, shining large flashlights at him. He scrambled for purchase with his forepaws, yanked desperately at the trap, yelping in agony and trying to free himself. He was in too much pain to transform, and it was obvious these men wouldn't wait around for an explanation.

"Shoot it, man! It's too big for that trap to hold it!" the first man said, training his flashlight on Simon.

The other man nodded and raised a large gun. It looked kind of like a shotgun, but the barrel was narrower, obviously home made. A shot rang out and Simon felt something hit him. It was a strange sensation. It didn't throw him back like he'd seen in the movies... it just felt like an odd kind of nudge. He turned his head, seeing the dark splotch forming on his pale gray fur. The pain of his leg was gone too. It was like he'd gone numb, his mind too dazed to know what to do. When he didn't fall, the man fired again. And again. Five splotches colored his fur before he finally fell, making the last bullet embed itself harmlessly in the tree trunk behind him.

He just lay there, panting for breath and trying to comprehend what was happening. He couldn't feel anything... couldn't think. His sight was dimming. A patch of moonlight was hitting the ground beside him. Instinctively, he dug his claws into the ground, using the last of his strength to try to pull himself into that light. As the moonlight fell on his head, he felt his mind start to clear. His body gained some strength and he slowly heaved himself into the moonlight, feeling it caress his fur.

"It's not dead yet!" the man who shot him said incredulously from much closer.

"Those bullets were pure silver! There's no way it could survive that!" the other replied.

"Here, finish it off quick." The other man said.

"You do it!" came the frightened response.

"Pussy!" the first man muttered irritably.

Simon craned his head around, spotting the man shoving the odd gun at his friend, then starting towards him, a large, brightly gleaming silver blade in his hand.

A loud roar of rage tore through the air as a huge shadow streaked through the night. The man swung his flashlight around just in time to see a huge grizzly bear rear up, easily a good nine feet tall! The bear swatted at him, sending the man flying backwards, then he dropped down onto all fours and let out a roar of pure fury, making the men scream in terror. The bear looked back, seeing Simon laying there and hurried over, checking him anxiously. Those gentle brown eyes that peered down at him were unmistakably Jimmy's, no matter how startlingly out of place they looked on this hulking creature. Jimmy reached over and slipped his paw into the loop of the chain, snapping the thick chain with one good yank.

"Kill it!" The man with the knife screamed at his pal, scrambling back.

"With what? We're out of bullets!"

Simon heard a meaty thunk and Jimmy let out a roar of pain. His head whipped around and then turned again, dropping a bloody knife onto the ground. The other man, who'd been rummaging desperately through his pack, came up with a canister. He cocked his arm back and hurled it as hard as he could at Jimmy. It burst open upon contact, spraying his back with some kind of powder. The powder suddenly ignited, engulfing Jimmy in brilliant green flame. Jimmy roared and thrashed, then dove to the ground, rolling and trying to put out the flames, but they refused to be extinguished. Jimmy shrank down and his roars turned into human shrieks of agony.

Simon dragged himself to his feet, staggering over and threw himself on the burning boy's back. He could feel the fire try to continue burning, but his blood soaked fur eventually squelched the flames. Jimmy stopped thrashing and went still, his cries going silent. Simon shifted back a bit, looking down at Jimmy's burned flesh in horror. Nearly half of his face was burnt horribly, much of his hair on that side having been singed off, and his back looked like he'd been barbecued. He couldn't be more than fourteen years old.

Simon's eyes darted up as he heard a human shriek of terror. One of the men was on the ground, a thin, rather feral looking wolf ripping his throat out as Simon watched. The wolf looked up at him, blood dripping from his muzzle, and their eyes met. Rather odd eyes for a wolf... this was obviously the prey they'd been hunting. It gave a little dismissive sneeze in Simon's direction, then took off in pursuit of the other man, who was fleeing into the forest in panic.

The rest of his pack came tearing out of the forest, ignoring the wolf as they headed for him. They were about half a dozen dogs, each a different breed. The large Bullmastiff reached them first, flashing into human form and falling to his knees beside Jimmy. He was a darker skinned man about in his early twenties with a short black beard and mustache. His expression was horrified as he looked them over. He carefully checked Jimmy. "We need to get him to a hospital!" He said urgently. He pulled out his wand, waving it at the trap on Simon's leg and it release.

Simon pulled his foot from the hateful trap, then with a bit of effort, he shifted back to human form. He just nodded, staggering to his feet. He looked down at himself. The bullet holes were slowly closing as the moonlight poured over him, the torn flesh of his ankle starting to knit itself back together, the redness of the seared flesh on his chest slowly beginning to fade. "Do you think you can carry him, Bull?" He asked, feeling too weak and shaky to risk it himself.

The dark skinned man nodded, then went about trying to gather Jimmy as gingerly as he could.

"What about our prey?" A girl asked worriedly, looking towards where the feral wolf had disappeared into the woods. The rest of his pack were still in their dog forms, standing between them and where the wolf had gone in case he returned.

"Leave him for now." Simon growled, "He'll be easier to catch once he's had a good meal."

"Right." She said, quickly catching him as he wavered.

Simon looked over at Jimmy, his mind filled with worry and pain. He felt weak and shaky from bloodloss, but no wound could ever hurt as much as the sight of Jimmy laying there limply, his body flayed. He looked so very still. He couldn't die. Please, Goddess, he prayed silently, don't let him die. Not like this. Not because of him. He prayed with everything he had, not even caring that his pack might see the tears streaming from his eyes. He couldn't handle someone dying for him. Not again...

Derik pulled away, struggling to free himself. The pain was too raw, too pervasive. He wanted desperately to escape it. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to handle it if Jimmy died.

Derik was jarred out of it as his back hit something, sending a little spike of pain through him. He glanced up and saw he was on the floor, the coffee table shoved back a bit when he'd obviously hit it. He didn't care. He welcomed the pain. It was far better than what he'd been feeling a moment ago. He curled up on his side and closed his eyes, trying to push the residual pain from his mind.

He felt arms slip around him and he was shifted over. He could feel Simon's comforting presence, but he was having a hard time shaking the memories.

"And I thought my life was fucked up..." Simon said softly, "I'm sorry..." he said, rocking Derik slightly and kissing his cheek soothingly. "It's alright." He murmured, then his lips found Derik's.

The pain receded as Derik pressed closer, reveling in the unexpected feel of Simon's kiss. After a moment Simon broke it, then pressed his forehead against Derik's.

"This was obviously a very bad idea. I'm sorry." Simon said sadly. "I'll stay. I watch after Eli. You have my word. It's glaringly obvious you really need a backup. I just pray you won't need one."

"Me too." Derik muttered.

"And if anyone tries to take him from us, I'll rip their fucking throats out." Simon stated evenly.

Derik swallowed hard, remembering that wolf doing just that right in front of him. "Let's hope it doesn't come to that, either." He replied.

Simon cleared his throat, "Ya, well..." He said uneasily, then he let go of Derik.

Derik took the hint and eased off of him, then got up.

"You should probably go get some more sleep." Simon said as he rose.

"Probably." Derik agreed, not meeting Simon's eyes.

"I'll just hang out in here, I guess." Simon said, indicating the living room vaguely with his hand, "In case he wakes up. I can start working on fixing his sleep schedule tomorrow."

Derik flashed him a little smile. He hadn't thought about how Simon's odd sleep schedule might conflict with watching over a child. Well, taking a more nocturnal schedule would probably be ok for the boy. Derik tended to prefer the night himself, but the necessity of keeping a regular schedule for work curtailed his ability to follow his body's natural sleep schedule. If he ever got out of his bloody job, he'd be more than happy to go nocturnal himself. "I should just..." He said, gesturing towards his bedroom.

Simon nodded, looking decidedly uncomfortable. It was obvious he hadn't meant to kiss Derik, and he was feeling rather embarrassed about the slip.

Derik went over to his bedroom door, then paused looking back. He looked Simon over for a moment, debating whether to ask or not... but in the end he knew he couldn't not ask. Not knowing would nag at him until he found out. "Did... did he live?"

Simon looked over at him in surprise. "Did who live?"

"Jimmy. The last thing I saw was... he was burnt..." Derik said, his throat tightening.

A flash of pain crossed Simon's face and he quickly turned away. He stood there for a minute in silence, then took a deep breath. "Ya. He lived."

"Then why did you turn away when I asked?" Derik asked dubiously.

Simon huffed and turned back around. His eyes were a bit glassy looking. "Because that was one of the worst nights of my life." He said, his voice sounding strained, "I made a stupid mistake and nearly got my best friend killed. Every time I looked at him after that night I was reminded of it. It was magical fire. There was nothing they could do for the burns. Most of his hair and fur grew back, but in human form his face is scarred... his whole back is a big scar! He doesn't care about the scars. He just makes light of it. That's just the way he is. He even started going by the nickname Smokey. He never blamed me... but I blamed myself. I still do."

"It wasn't your fault!" Derik said, shocked by the depths of guilt in Simon's voice. "It was those hunters!"

Simon shook his head. "You don't get it. It was the full moon! It's extremely unlikely those idiots could've killed me with those pathetic weapons they had on them. It's my fault because I let Jimmy get too close to me. He cared about me too much, and it made him forget that. He would have been just fine if he'd just stayed back and let me deal with them."

"So you would rather have a friend who would just stand by and watch you get tortured, just trusting that you'll probably be ok?" Derik said incredulously, "Because if that's what you're looking for, then you're lousy at picking friends... because I would have done the same exact thing he did, even if I knew what was coming."

Simon's expression was unreadable, but Derik didn't wait for a response. He just turned and went into his room. He stripped down to his boxers absently, then climbed into bed. He just lay there on his side, his eyes closed, waiting for sleep... but it didn't seem to want to come, despite how tired he felt. He had no doubt Simon had ended up pushing Jimmy away 'for his own good' after that. He could see it in those guarded gray eyes. The idea gave him mixed emotions. Sadness that Jimmy had lost the closeness they had shared... and Simon had lost it as well. At least Simon knew why. He also felt a bit of irritation, bordering on anger in fact, at Simon's stubbornness. He knew the experience had frightened Simon, making him face the possibility of losing Jimmy, but he doubted Simon's reaction had truly benefitted anyone.

It also made him worry. He'd been telling the truth when he said he would have done the same. It may seem ridiculous to some considering how short a time they'd known each other really... but there was no doubt in his mind, regardless. He wasn't sure why he'd told Simon that, though. If anything, Simon would most likely try to push him away as well now. Then again, perhaps that was the reason he'd said it. Maybe he was still trying to find ways to push Simon away to keep his curse from kicking in and hurting him. He let out a sigh, realizing ruefully what a hypocrite he was being. They really were a perfectly matched pair of prize idiots, weren't they?

He just lay there for a long while after that, letting his mind drift over what he'd seen in Simon's mind, Eli, what was going to happen now that Simon had agreed to stay... pretty much anything that would occupy his irritatingly awake mind. He slowed his breathing, willing himself to sleep, but to no avail.

After a time he glanced at the clock. He'd been laying there for a good hour. He rolled his eyes and shut them again, wondering if he was going to need a shot of dreamless sleep potion. He hated that stuff. It always made him sleep too long and made him feel all out of sorts the next day.

He was distracted from such thoughts suddenly. He wasn't sure what it was that had caught his attention at first. He remained still, trying to figure it out. It was a presence. Though he hadn't made a single sound, he somehow knew Simon was standing at the foot of his bed. He reached out with his mind and confirmed it, then quickly slipped back away before Simon could feel him. He wondered what the man was thinking, but knew he'd find no answers unless Simon chose to reveal them to him.

Simon just stood there, watching him for a few minutes, then Derik felt him moving around behind him. If the bed moved, it wasn't enough to be noticeable, but Derik suddenly felt Simon laying behind him. He didn't touch him, but he could feel the heat of Simon's body warming his back as Simon's scent filled his nostrils. He just lay there, feigning sleep, praying he wouldn't do anything that would give him away. He was sure Simon would leave if he knew Derik was awake.

He didn't know why Simon was there, but he didn't question it. He just enjoyed the feel of his presence. After a few minutes, Simon tentatively rested the tips of his fingers on Derik's side. It sent a brilliant tingle through Derik's whole body, making it very hard for him not to react. After another minute or two, he slid his hand forward a bit, letting his whole hand rest on Derik's side. Derik couldn't help the little involuntary shiver that went through him. He felt the hand start to ease back away and he reached out without thought, seizing the hand and pulling it around, hugging it to his chest. Simon was pulled up against him, but he couldn't easily extricate himself without 'waking' Derik. He just lay there, obviously waiting for Derik's grip to ease.

Derik's heart fluttered in his chest as he felt Simon's nose brush the back of his neck as he inhaled, taking in Derik's scent. He didn't feel anything sexual from Simon, and yet this was still wonderfully intimate. He wanted so much for Simon to stay... to spend the night with him, and yet he didn't try to induce sleep as he knew he could. That would seem like cheating... it might make Simon stay, but it would cheapen it somehow. Ok, holding his hand was kind of cheating too, but when Derik went to sleep Simon would be able to slip away if he wanted at least.

Suddenly he felt Simon tense and felt his head shift over towards the door. He heard soft little footfalls scampering across the floor, then felt the bed before him shift. The covers shifted around and a small body squirmed in beside him. He opened his eyes and looked down. Eli squirmed his way under their arms, then settled there against Derik, hugging his little dragon, a little smile on his lips as he closed his eyes. If the boy found it odd to find them together in the same bed, he gave no indicator of it. He just settled down and quickly drifted off. Slowly, the tension drained out of Simon and he settled back down as well, nuzzling up to the back of Derik's neck, his warm breath tickling Derik's skin.

Derik clenched his eyes closed, his heart feeling like it was swelling in his chest. It was just a quiet little moment of no great consequence... any yet somehow it felt like the most amazing, the most absolutely perfect moment of his entire life. He just lay there, holding Eli to him, feeling Simon pressed against his back, and prayed this moment would never end...


A/N – well, very Derik-centric, but at least not a cliffy. Necessary Derik, though. Sorry, no H/S in this chapter, but it's the same night, so I really couldn't see any real reason to add anything on that thread. Hope people weren't put off by the Theo-Blaise thing. The poor guy REALLY needed an outlet. No, I'm not turning him gay. He's still irrationally in love with Litty, don't worry. He's just venting some sexual frustration. I should probably proof read this chapter again, but my eyes are blurry and I'm feeling sick and achy all over and if I wait for another read-through it'll probably add a few days to your wait. I'll just correct any errors later and repost it if need be next time I'm putting up a chapter. Please don't forget that my muse is as fickle as Hecate, so PLEASE REVIEW!