Raider spent the first ten minutes in Michael’s office hunched forward in a leather chair hiding behind his hands. It was just easier. He could barely comprehend what the fuck he nearly did with the two feline shifters never mind face the man who stopped it.
Michael’s office was surprising. For a murderous sorcerer hellbent on killing shifters and gaining power, Michael surrounded himself with a lot of plants. Like, a crazy amount. Not just decorative plants either. No, between the large blooms of hydrangeas, roses, orchids, and an array of flowers and pretty leaves Raider couldn’t ever hope to name were vegetables, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini and others hidden in nooks like jewels among the greenery. There were even a few citrus plants in the corners of the large room which reached up to splay leaves on the ceiling. Plus one, he was fairly certain, squat pineapple plant in a huge pot. The walls and ceilings were dripping with vines. As Raider’s breath warmed his palms, he could hear insects and the ruffle of birds coming from all around.
The place was a cross between swanky and an overrun green house. It was large, the furniture beneath all the plants and pots sleek and refined with a modern flair. On the walls were a few unique displays of different cultural oddities Michael collected throughout his journeys. Behind his desk, windows took up the entire wall and looked out at the back of the Academy. The blinds were twisted to only let a small amount of the orange glow of the fading sunset in between the strands of vines which clung to the panes.
Michael’s desk fit in just as confusingly with the garden. It was chocolate sleek wood that collected piles of paperwork among to the phone, laptop and lamps. Small little colorful cacti dotted the surface in hand glazed pots. He had one of those bubbling rock garden fountains, but while Raider only knew them to be bowl sized, Michael’s spilled from his desk down to the side where there was a large stone basin with small, darting fish that glittered among the rocks and surrounding leaves.
It was surreal, beautiful and the combination of green, scents and the constant burble of water calming. At any other time, it would have been a place he’d want to explore. Instead he tried to get his breathing under control in the dark of his palms while a stray fern tickled his ankles. If Leo and Forest were impressed by Michael’s office, he couldn’t tell. Michael insisted they all sit there until they calmed down enough to be collared. The arguing had yet to stop.
“You know the rules,” Michael said calmly but the edge to his voice was clear. “Twenty-four hours. This is non-negotiable.”
Leo’s angry growl said he was more than ready to fight for as long as it took. Forest rolled his eyes and readily took the null-collar when handed to him.
“I’ll take a collar over a trip to Daiker any day,” Forest muttered as he snapped the metal band in place around his neck. He slumped moments after and exhaled heavily. “Shit… Shit, I seriously fucked up.”
Michael didn’t comment. His stern gaze was locked with Leo’s defiant glare when he refused to take the collar before him. “Leonard.”
“Stop acting like it’s some fucking crime,” Leo growled. “He was giving off the scent. Stop trying to humanize animal mating behavior.”
“Bullshit,” Forest interrupted. “You fucking know that’s bullshit. Just because our inner animals want to do shit doesn’t justify our actions. That’s the whole fucking point. Otherwise you could justify a fucking killing spree and… Fuck.” He broke off and stood from his chair agitatedly. “I am seriously sorry, Valdez. I’m not going to let it happen again.”
Forest turned to Michael and ignored Leo’s angry scowl. “Can I get a new room? I’ve been really messed up this last week and it’s only gotten worse since…” he glanced Raider’s way a moment, then ducked his head. “Please. I just can’t handle this kind of pressure on top of everything else.”
Raider tilted his head up enough so he could see Forest through his fingers. He looked defeated as he leaned on Michael’s desk and it made him wonder just what ‘everything else’ was he was talking about. For the most part, Forest seemed pretty normal outside of his excessive mating heat. Raider was even starting to get used to the idea of sharing a room with a leopard shifter if only because after all his time there, Forest hadn’t shown any signs of wanting to kill him. The idea of not having Forest as a roommate was somehow a little more terrifying than having him in his room.
Everything was a fucking mess in his head lately.
“I think it would be best if Raider had a room of his own for the time being,” Michael agreed after a pause. “I can talk to Justin and see if he’s ready for a roommate yet.”
“You’re sure as fuck not sleeping in my room,” Leo said gruffly.
“Yeah, I’m crying over it, jackass.” Forest straightened and flashed Michael a relieved, if not half hearted smile. “Thanks. Can I just…?” He jabbed his thumb toward the doorway. “I want to talk to Bear before he’s gone for the night.”
Michael nodded solemnly. “We will talk again, Forest. Just the two of us.”
Forest nodded as he gnawed at his bottom lip. He ducked away, his hands buried in his pockets. He paused when he reached Raider’s chair, his eyes lingering on him.
Raider tensed the moment he felt Forest’s close proximity. He didn’t dare look at him. He had no interest in engaging after the fucking mess in the hallway.
“I’ll get my shit tomorrow, okay? Or now, you know, while you’re not there.”
Damn it, he was going to have to actually say something. “It’s fine. I’m not angry at you.” He wasn’t. He was freaked out but it wasn’t Forest he was freaked out at.
Forest huffed, but Raider still couldn’t bring himself to look at him to read what he was thinking. “I’ll get my stuff now.” He was out the door before Raider could think of something proper to say. And really, what were you supposed to say after something like this? Sorry your sex scent made me want to fuck you? Just because he knew it was all fucked up didn’t make any of it easier to explain or comprehend.
“Fucker. This is total shit, Whiteheart!”
Raider cracked his eyes open to see if he’d have to dodge if Leo started throwing things. Michael was unphased. His gaze was level and jaw squared as he stared Leo down like the guy wasn’t capable of transforming into a huge beast who could tear his throat out.
“If you were a shifter, you would understand!” Leo insisted, frustration clear in his voice. “If you could scent him, you wouldn’t have dared interfered.”
“You know the rules,” Michael said evenly. “If you want to have an actual conversation about the ethics of me making you stop and cool off, that conversation can happen a few hours from now after we’ve all had some time to think and process. I will be happy to hear your thoughts on the situation when your lion is not so intent on his goal.”
“Damn it. You’re such a fucking hypocrite. You all let Doe do whatever the fuck he wants.” Leo’s hand slammed down on the desk when he grabbed the collar. His claws tore into the dark wood in a show of defiant aggression. Still Leo hesitated and glared at the collar as he slowly pulled it towards his body. With a scowl, he jerked it around his neck and snapped the metal shut before he could think better.
Raider watched from beneath his lashes, morbidly curious as to just what this collar was supposed to do. On the outside, Leo didn’t look any different. He was still mountain tall with his fuzzy lion ears and sinuous tail. While Leo sat and his expression turned from angry to sullen, Raider couldn’t help but notice his scent changed. Much of the lion’s unique properties faded from the air.
“You’re dismissed for the night.” Michael reached out and covered over the gouges in his desk Leo made. When his hand pulled away, the surface was repaired. “I’ll be happy to talk to you about this tomorrow, Leonard. I expect it, actually.”
“Whatever.” Leo stood with a glare.
Raider watched him warily. Leo still looked normal, his stance confidently and tall, if not just a little less tense. When he stepped his way, Raider held his breath, all his senses on high alert. He didn’t dare turn away like he did with Forest, which was why he caught the way Leo looked at him in passing. The heat was gone from his golden eyes. When his gaze did fall on him, he only tilted his head for a moment and then shrugged, disinterested.
Raider stared after him while Leo left the office, his brows scrunched as he tried to understand.
“Did you want some coffee?”
Raider jolted at the sound of Michael’s voice. He turned back quickly to find him standing. “No. Caffeine messes me up.”
“I have some herbal tea,” Michael offered after a moment. “Caffeine free.” He patted the chair Leo just vacated, indicating Raider should sit there.
Raider shrugged noncommittally as he got up from his seat and cautiously sat in the chair across from Michael’s large desk. His dark eyes were ever watching as Michael moved to the side of the room where among the many plants, was a tabletop with a coffee maker, mugs, a bottle of water and a tin of tea bags. Raider was suddenly hyper aware the two of them were alone in his office. Goosebumps prickled on his skin, and he tried not to think about his shirt shredded and left on the hallway floor. Moments ago, Forest and Leo were danger. Now Raider realized the two were perfectly fine buffers between him and the sorcerer with enough power to bluff Leo out of a mating brawl.
He heard Michael whisper under his breath followed by the scent of magic. The water he poured into the cup boiled merrily as he placed a tea bag in it. Raider stared at the mug when Michael stepped up and placed it on his side of the desk. The scent of chamomile floated in the air.
“Aren’t you going to, uh, put me in a collar?” Raider asked as he stared warily at the tea.
“Eventually.” Michael sat down on his side of the desk with a mug of his own. His movements were unhurried as he cleared a spot by moving folders and pieces of paper to the side. “We have a rule for the patients here. When either our magic or inner beast loses control, everyone involved is collared for 24 hours to give them time to cool off.” Michael twined his fingers and studied his hands for a thoughtful moment. “I think it’s important your raccoon first learns to come down from such a situation instead of just knocking it out. It’s important the two of you have a chance to understand what happened and see this isn’t a punishment but a time to observe and understand.”
Raider was pretty sure the less he thought about what happened in the hallway, the better. His gaze slid up, drawn to Michael’s unguarded face. His expression was still stern. He wasn’t sure if Michael was angry at him, or was just angry about what might have happened to him. The silence stretched on and Raider gave in and reached for the drink. The mug was hot in his hand and he breathed in the steam with a sigh. He hated the cold. Everything was so cold since moving there and he really wished he owned some long-sleeve clothes.
“What we can do to prevent this is limited,” Michael finally spoke. Raider dragged his attention from the mug reluctantly. “I can’t in good conscience have the three of you walking around in null-collars your entire time here. Chaining your inner animal can’t be a permanent solution.”
He should have left. He could still leave. Things were bad enough when Leo and Forest showed an interest in him, but to have his raccoon respond? Fuck, he didn’t want anything to do with that. He’d jump the gate and hide in the surrounding area. There wasn’t much, just a lot of open wilderness. He wasn’t sure if the Academy would look for him, seeing as he was officially an adult. If Joseph was there it would be a different story. His uncle would hunt him down out of a stupid sense of duty.
Raider glared into his cup and at his watery reflection. Would Michael find him like he did today? Was that intentional? Did he seek him out to make sure he was okay after he didn’t come back for the nightly check in? Did he fight Leo just to protect him?
Did he want that?
“Raider.” Michael leaned forward and his stern expression cracked. “Are you okay?”
Staring into Michael’s blue eyes full of concern, Raider truly had no idea. He wasn’t hurt. He wasn’t afraid like he should be. No, just being in the same room with Michael calmed him. But he was terrified of the person he turned into when Leo kissed him. When Forest touched him…
“I never felt like that before.” Raider wrapped his hands tighter around the mug and let the heat seep into his body. “It’s like something took me over. I don’t know why. I was afraid but I still…” He shook his head agitatedly when he couldn’t find the right words. “I’m not like that. I don’t like them like that. So I don’t understand why I… why I liked it.”
Admitting it made Raider blush. He tried not to squirm in his seat under Michael’s stare. It was true; he liked it.
Michael nodded slowly. “I think this particular topic is better suited for Master Theodore.”
He wasn’t in a rush to talk to a dragon shifter about any of this. He wasn’t in a rush to talk to anyone, really, but at least Michael saw it happen. It’s not like he’d have to explain shit to him. “Can’t you just? I mean, if you know.”
“I’m not a shifter,” Michael reminded. “I know far less about this. Dr. Rob would also know more.”
“Yeah, but you knew enough to get angry, right?” Raider bit his lip and glanced at Michael before down at his mug. “You masters don’t care about Doe and Black but you stepped in the second you saw this… so… yeah. You knew it wasn’t…” He shrugged. It was impossible to find the right words. As much as he might have liked how it felt, he hadn’t actually wanted to be in that situation. It didn’t matter what Leo growled about scents and protecting him. If his body listened to him, he would have walked away the moment Leo came up to him.
Silent for long moments, Michael tapped the side of his mug with his finger. The contents stirred with a touch of magic. When he did speak, it was hesitant, like he was searching for the right words. “When Dr. Rob treated you for the flu, he was able to identify certain traits in your raccoon unique to the shifter population. These traits are what most shifters refer to as a submissive. Have you heard this term before?”
Raider shook his head no. His stomach twisted as again he remembered Justin’s words his first night there.
“These traits are more likely to be found in prey shifters, but no exclusively. There’s a theory every type of shifter has some level of submissive. It’s just appears to be more pronounced in prey type shifters such as yourself.”
His throat was dry. “And that is?”
Michael paused and sipped his drink as he again sought the right words. “Submissives have a scent known to attract the strongest of a pack. Alphas, in particular. It’s a scent which helps him survive. Certain behavior traits go along with this survival instinct, many of them sexual.”
Raider hunched deeper into his chair. He wanted to disappear but was too desperate to hear just what the hell it all meant.
“Many submissives are receptive to sexual advances from alphas because of this instinct. The alpha personality can be very overwhelming in a pack, but a submissive helps alleviate the problem by giving the alpha a welcoming outlet for his aggression. Because of this, the submissive is usually protected by everyone in the pack. When interacting, the alpha personality is more likely to be drawn out when around a submissive because of his instinctual need to protect a mate. In the same way, a submissive’s traits take over to help him deal with the alpha’s personality.”
He was so fucked. Raider shakily placed his mug on the desk and folded forward so he could hug his knees. His hands flashed as he twirled the ring on his forefinger.
“Submissives are mates for alphas?”
“Some. There isn’t a law out there that if you’re attracted to someone you have to act on it.” Michael had a deeper swallow of his tea.
Raider groaned. His life was over. “I’m not attracted to them. I’m not.”
“Okay.” Michael raised an eyebrow as Raider continued to clutch at his knees. With his head ducked, the tattooed vines on his shoulders could be seen leading down his back toward more black roses tattoos. “You still don’t have to mate anyone.”
Sure, try telling that to someone like Leo. Maybe Michael could take him on in a fight, but he sure as fuck couldn’t. And it wasn’t just Leo, was it? Forest wasn’t an alpha, but it hadn’t stopped him. What if every shifter he met suddenly wanted to, well, mate with him?
“This scent only works on shifters, right?”
“It shouldn’t effect normal humans.”
Raider bit his lip and peeked his head up. “Sorcerers?”
Michael looked uncertain. “That would depend on the sorcerer. You’re not without magic, which you’d learn if you participated in Theo’s class. Your scent could potentially have magical properties.”
Raider quickly ducked his head again. He was suddenly filled with a consuming curiosity to know if Michael could be effected by his scent. Probably not. He was really strong. Probably nothing got to him.
He shook his head fiercely at his stupid thoughts. He needed to find a way out. “The collar. Will that, uh, make me stop being like this?”
“There’s nothing wrong with being a submissive,” Michael responded quickly. “Some humans lean toward certain proclivities and it’s widely accepted. With shifters it just appears more extreme because of the effect of the scent.”
“Nothing wrong? I’m a raccoon. Prey,” Raider snapped. He sat up, arms resting on thighs so his glare could reach Michael. “Do you not get how easy it is for a predator to kill me? Do you really think this will help my chances of surviving when alphas are fighting over me? I’m going to end up dead.”
First the fucking sparkle and now this. Another trap. Another lack of escape. It was like the world was working to capture him and keep him weak. He should have listened to his first instinct and run the moment the truck pulled through the gates.
Michael flexed his eyebrows and Raider narrowed in the expression. “What? Just spit it out,” he demanded.
“Well.” Michael tilted his head and a weak smile quirked at his lips. “Before I showed up, the three of you seemed to be getting along fine enough. I don’t think you have to worry about either of them killing you. I’m actually impressed those two can share.”
Raider blinked rapidly. He ducked his head to hide his face as heat flushed through him. Just how long was Michael standing there before he broke them up? What exactly did he see? Maybe he fought Leo just so he could… Raider ran fingers through his short hair and tried to stop the quick, hot spiral his thoughts were spinning toward. Michael was a sorcerer. He shouldn’t be thinking weird shit about a sorcerer.
“Raider, I want to be clear. I will not let you be pressured into something while at the Academy.”
Raider shook his head and scoffed in frustration. “And when you’re not around? What then? Are you going to stalk me all fucking day or some shit?”
Michael sighed but didn’t look away from his glare. “As I said, we have limited options when it comes to solutions. You seem to respond well to my natural magic. Your raccoon calms around me even when…”
Raider jumped to his feet with a furious yelp. “I knew it! You are spelling me!”
Michael braced himself on the desk. His hand came up to rub his temple a moment and when he spoke, he sounded tired. “Some people have unique abilities they have little control over. For Master Theo, it’s allure. Myself, I have a level of charisma. Although the both of us do our best to avoid any impropriety with these abilities, we cannot shut them off completely. They are a part of what makes us who we are.”
Michael looked up, his eyes clear in contrast to Raider’s cloudy expression. “In the same way, you have a scent. Another shifter might see your scent as a weapon you use to confuse and distract, maybe even lure into a trap. You and I both know that isn’t the case. I can’t stop you from thinking I’m trying to harm or trick you because of my natural magic. All I can do is assure you I have always been, and will continue to be, professional with everyone who attends the Academy.”
Raider’s lips pursed as Michael’s words sank in and insisted on making sense. Fuck. With a sigh, he sat back down in his seat and stared sullenly at the floor.
A weapon? Did Leo think he led him on with a scent he couldn’t even control? He kind of said as much; that as long as he was giving off the scent it meant he liked it. Fuck, not only had his scent put him in that fucked up situation, but it might have put Leo and Forest into it as well. Leo barely looked twice at him when he left and all Forest did was apologize once the collar was on. Shit. Shit, what if Forest thought he did this whole thing just to get a room of his own?
Groaning, Raider again folded forward, his arms wrapped around his head to hide him from the world. “Is there a way to, you know, stop my scent?”
“There’s nothing wrong with your scent,” Michael said determinedly. “Being a submissive isn’t something to be ashamed of.”
Raider sighed and wished he could believe him. He sat back up and ruffled his hair. “Yeah, but, I can’t even share a room with someone. It’s gotta be pretty bad, right? Will I need separate classes or some shit?”
“Or you can learn control. I’m not a hundred percent certain about the mechanism of the scent. I can find out, if you want my help. Or we can talk to Dr. Rob, Bear, Theo; all very good authorities on shifter sexuality.”
Peering up through his lashes, Raider couldn’t help but note a hint of unease coming from Michael. He looked closer, trying to read his face while the man stared at his hands. He still wasn’t sure which version was real; the charming Michael who greeted him his first day or this fierce, chiseled protector. Raider’s gaze lingered on the way a curl of golden hair was spilled across one of Michael’s stunning blue eyes.
He looked away. “It’s probably awkward for you, right?”
“No, it’s, uh…” Michael coughed and straightened in his seat. “Boundaries are important in these situations. It’s my job to offer help without having to worry you’ll become attached. We have multiple people working here to make sure patients get the help they need. I’m concerned my viewpoint is limited for the help this problem requires.”
“Oh.” Right. Attached. Raider wet his lips. “I could, um, try to talk to those other guys. The masters. I don’t really feel, well, safe around them.”
Michael nodded. “We know. You appear to have a severe anxiety disorder. Something your uncle wasn’t aware of when he contacted us.”
Raider blinked and stared back down at his hands. Anxiety. What a superficial word, so empty of the terror that gripped him every second his raccoon was awake. Raider clutched at his hand, the smooth contour of his rings barely comforting as his mind spun. Bear said he was making his raccoon more afraid than it needed to be. That somehow he was making it worse.
“So, you charisma thing… that can calm me? Er, my raccoon?” Raider’s face heated up. “Is that an option?” Michael seemed even more hesitant and he was quick to backpedal. “Or we could do the collar thing. I mean…”
“No, it’s not…” Michael stopped and tried again more carefully. “I want to help you, Angel. I want you to be able to trust me. There’s just a careful line to walk when you’re someone in my position. Touch can be powerful and it’s important to go about things in an appropriate way.”
Raider’s gaze strayed to Michael’s hand on the desk. It wasn’t just fear swirling in his stomach. There was a strange anticipation welling and he wasn’t sure if it was from him or his raccoon.
“It couldn’t hurt anything, right?” Raider swallowed. “I mean, it’s just a touch.”
“I would never intentionally hurt you.”
Again, those very careful words. Michael kept being so careful to make sure he didn’t say something he’d interpret as a lie. Raider felt a twinge of guilt. Michael had to watch every word he said because otherwise he’d accuse him of spelling him.
But he was spelling him. Sort of.
“Do you want to try?” Michael asked, pulling Raider from his thoughts.
Raider nodded with lips pursed. His stared as Michael reached his hand out, palm up on the desk.
“Just like a handshake.”
Raider glanced up, his cheeks flushed from the memory. “Why does it do that? Do the other shifters calm when you touch them?”
Michael’s lips twitched. “Leo sure doesn’t.”
Raider snorted and ducked his head to hide his smile. When he glanced up, doubt again crept in as he reached for Michael’s hand. “So maybe it’s a submissive thing?”
“Or a raccoon thing,” Michael supplied lightly. “Or maybe just your raccoon. We’re all unique in our own special ways.”
Raider didn’t fully hear him when his hand fell into Michael’s open palm. Now he knew to expect it, he wasn’t surprised when his raccoon gave an immediate sigh and settled down. Raider’s eyes fluttered shut. His breath evened out as he sank into the feeling of calm thrumming through him. Michael’s hand was warm beneath his touch. Solid, firm but yielding.
“Are you alright?”
Raider nodded and a sigh escaped his lips from the sound of Michael’s voice. He had a nice voice. Strong. Masculine. Just hearing it made him feel safe, like he would take care of everything.
“I think you’re purring.”
Raider’s lashes flickered open and his hazy gaze was immediately caught in Michael’s.
“It’s not very audible, but I can feel it.” Michael’s fingers tightened around his and Raider’s eyes drifted down to watch.
It sent a spark through him to feel Michael’s flesh slide against his. There was something about the roughness of his palm and the strength so carefully restrained in his hold. It reminded him of how fierce the master sorcerer was when facing Leo down. How Michael didn’t raise his voice or lose his temper and still proved he was superior to the alpha lion.
It really was the sexiest thing ever.
“You’re not a shifter, right?”
Michael’s head tilted at the question. “Do I smell like a shifter?”
“No.” It was one of those strange, careful answers. Raider looked at him again and tried not to get lost in his entrancing eyes. “In the hallway earlier…”
“I’ve picked up a few trick to prevent conflict among the shifters here,” Michael explained while he just as carefully read Raider’s expression. “I do have a shadow form. Sometimes certain shifters, ones with magical abilities, notice it. I really think you should give Theo’s class a try.”
Heat was a slow, honey drip through his entire body. Raider’s eyelids felt heavy as he blinked up at Michael. “You shift?”
“Of a sorts. Unlike a shifter who has an inner animal wake up, I found my spirit animal later on in life. The relationship is very different. We aren’t joined souls, but found friends.” Michael’s fingers scraped ever so lightly against his. Tingles shot all the way down to Raider’s toes. “You seem much calmer.”
Michael really did have the most beautiful eyes. And smile. Lips… he had very nice lips.
Raider’s fingers curled slightly as he tried to repeat the curiosity of their flesh sparking. It was so intense and very addictive. Like lips brushing hot on his palm. Michael’s lips…
“There’s that purr again,” Michael remarked with a small smile. “I’ve never heard a raccoon purr before.”
Raider wasn’t used to his raccoon purring or the confusing heat filling him. “What do you turn into?”
“Borrow,” Michael clarified. “It might appear like a transformation but I’m only sharing the spiritual echoes of an animal compatible with me. Depending on the sorcerer’s ability, a spirit form can be solid, even malleable.”
“But what?” Raider insisted, slightly breathless. “What is your spirit animal?”
Michael hesitated and his gaze slid away for a moment. “I don’t want to frighten your raccoon. He’s been purring. I have a feeling he doesn’t purr much.”
He didn’t. Raider’s raccoon never purred. Licking suddenly dry lips, Raider leaned forward so he could promise his raccoon would obviously still like him. There really wasn’t an animal alive or dead more scary than a sorcerer after all and Michael was already that. As he leaned on the desk, his fingers inadvertently twined with Michael’s and he stilled and stared at their joined hands.
“Is this weird?” Raider couldn’t actually bring himself to let go of Michael’s hand no matter how much he was certain it was very weird.
“Weird is subjective,” Michael said reasonably, his eyes also glued to their hands. “You do seem much calmer.”
Calm wasn’t even close to what he felt. Drugged. At peace. Impossibly curious. “What do you turn into?”
Michael glanced up and answered hesitantly. “An eagle. A large one. He’s not a vegetarian, I’m afraid to say.”
“A predator,” Raider echoed back. He wet his lips again. A killer. A defender.
It wasn’t fear that shuddered through him, although it felt just as intense as his raccoon tried to make him melt and get hard at the same time. It was almost exactly what he felt in the hallway and he had no idea how to protect against it.
“I think I need to let go of your hand,” Raider whispered hoarsely. Before he did something stupid. Leo-sized stupid. Sorcerer-sized stupid.
“I’m sorry I upset you.” Michael’s eyes scoured his face. “I would never harm you. My shadow form is controlled. I would never endanger the patients here.”
Raider couldn’t speak. How could Michael totally miss how desperate he was to have him kiss him, touch him, show him how capable he was at protecting him? What did he have to do, get down on his knees to make things more clear? If he revealed he wasn’t afraid, it would only force him to explain what he was feeling. There was no way in fuck he was doing that. Never.
“Could you just?” Raider nodded to their joined hands. “I can’t. It’s like you’re shiny,” he said shakily. “I can’t let go.”
His eyes followed and Michael blinked and straightened in his seat. His other hand covered the back of Raider’s for one long, breathless eternity before he gently pulled him free.
“A bit magnetic, hmm?” Michael joked but his voice sounded rough to Raider’s dazed senses.
Raider slowly pulled his hand to the edge of the desk. He held the side and stared at his fingers blankly. His raccoon was still purring. It was still interested Michael was in the room with them and had something deadly and powerful lurking beneath his protective surface.
It should be frightened. Hell, the damn thing was afraid of Leo even when they were making out. It should be terrified of Michael too, but it wasn’t. No, the stupid thing wouldn’t stop purring. It wouldn’t stop thinking it was safe.
“While your raccoon is still calm, I think now would be a good time to have you put the collar on.”
Raider looked up and watched as Michael pulled another metal band out from a desk drawer and placed it before him. It had a glimmer but the surface wasn’t remotely shiny enough to make him reach for the strange collar. “It won’t hurt, right?”
“It doesn’t hurt,” Michael assured. He looked at the wariness on Raider’s face and beckoned for him to stand as he got to his feet. He picked the collar up and held it before Raider’s face. “See, nothing sharp or pointy. There’s a bit of weight to it but it won’t weigh you down. Some might get a crick in their neck when they sleep in it, but as long as you sleep on your side, it should be fine.”
Raider held the edge of the desk when Michael beckoned him closer. He kept his head down but was consumed by Michael’s unique scent and the heat of his body as he leaned over to place the collar around his neck.
“When you put it on like this, you won’t have to worry about your skin being pinched,” Michael said as he clicked the metal edges together. Raider held his breath when Michael’s hold lingered for a heart beat. Fingertips brushed his throat when he pulled away. Raider watched him from beneath heavy lashes as he held onto the scent of him as long as possible.
The purring stopped. Raider frowned and clutched the center of his chest when his raccoon’s presence began to fade. “What?”
“Null-collars have a unique ability to nullify the effects of magic on the wearer,” Michael explained calmly. “This suppresses the natural magic of a shifter and forces the inner animal into a state of stasis. Think of it like a very deep sleep for your raccoon while you remain awake.”
Raider nodded, his attention focused inward as he tried to understand it all. This was why Leo scent changed. It must mean his scent was gone too. “It’s strange. I thought I’d be more afraid.”
He wasn’t unafraid, just not on the blind panic level his raccoon usually created when they lost control. No, Raider was more afraid of not having his raccoon there than anything else. What was he going to do without having its judgment? Its companionship or heightened senses to warn him when danger could strike? Not feeling afraid was somehow frightening him.
“Just sit and let it sink in for a moment. It’s always disorienting the first few times,” Michael assured as he returned to his seat and drained the rest of his tea.
Raider slowly sank into his chair. His fingers traced the edge of metal around his throat as he tried to adapt to life without his raccoon’s mind to filter. His gaze eventually strayed to Michael, whose expression was quiet, his lashes lowered and hair shining. On impulse, Raider reached forward and touched down on the back of his hand.
There was no raccoon to purr, no want to sink into the sorcerer’s magic but the feeling of safety Michael brought with him was still there. As was the heat that tingled through Raider when Michael’s eyes met his.
“I need to go.” Raider stood abruptly. He was beyond confused. Sorcerer. Michael was a sorcerer. He didn’t need his raccoon there to remind him sorcerers killed shifters. He was in a collar for the next 24 hours and was completely vulnerable to any attack, magical or fangs. How could he possibly feel safe? How could he feel anything like that for a sorcerer?
“Are you well?” Michael stood as well and Raider avoided his eye. “The collar can be disorienting. Being cut off from your inner animal is never an easy experience.”
“I just want to be alone,” Raider said without focus. He turned toward the door and crossed the room, blind to the greenery and scents of flowers. When he got to the handle, he turned and stepped out before he could change his mind. In the hallway, things felt so much worse away from Michael.
All the more reason to never see the guy again. Raider forced his legs to move down the hall. He absentmindedly hoped he was going in the right direction. Sorcerer. Sorcerer and a predator. There was nothing worse and Michael Whiteheart was both.
Raider wasn’t sure how the hell it happened, but he was lost. In his fear to not be found by any stray killer shifter or sorcerer, he ended up losing all sense of landmarks. He was still messed up, confused, and the time away did little to bring clarity to the feelings of before.
He wanted to kiss Forest. More than kiss. He wanted to strip and grind up against him until the crazy heat pounding inside stopped. He didn’t even know Forest. He didn’t even like Forest like that. Forest was a leopard shifter and scared the life out of him.
Raider swallowed hard. He would have kissed him if Forest so much as leaned over. He never had a sex scent do that to him before.
Actually, he never faced so many sex scents before. There was the occasional scent here and there but it was usually watered down in a breeze or lost in a crowd. The few times it was a shifter scent, the one in question quickly dismissed himself and it wasn’t really worth remembering.
The more he thought of it, the more Raider realized how inexperience he was when it came to this problem. It was kind of weird considering all the shifters in his life. Cat shifters weren’t the only ones to experience a type of heat. Most shifters’ heat just didn’t reach the same high intensity or frequency as the feline types. He never dealt with sex scents like these.
There was no escaping whatever the fuck the dragon shifter did to his not so quiet sorcerer mate. Doe had no interest in being subtle. No, his dragon’s kink increased depending on how many people were aware he was claiming his mate at the time. In theory, the idea of having someone fuck their boyfriend in front of him sounded messed up. In practice… well. It might be really hot.
Raider covered his face with his hands, his fingertips dark from his raccoon pattern. He didn’t like Wylie. Or Dorian. Or Forest. Fuck, what the hell was happening to him?
He groaned and stopped in front of another unfamiliar door. At least he was on the same floor. He didn’t end up in the basement with the dragon teacher. There would be no saving him if his raccoon started to fixate on hidden treasure on top of this new weirdness.
Why was his raccoon so weird? Why couldn’t it just be normal and quiet and not mess up his entire fucking life? If it was normal, Fox wouldn’t hate him over everything. If it would calm down for five seconds, maybe he could figure out how to make friends in the pack so no one would try to eat him. But it couldn’t. The stupid beast was too scared to do anything but freak out and run.
The door handle was locked and Raider sighed in defeat. There was no place to hide. He desperately needed to find the lounge and his room but he wasn’t sure he could do it without running into the shifters or sorcerers he was doing everything to avoid.
Again, he thought about running. Every time he tried with Fox, his friend found reasons to pull away even more. He couldn’t figure out how he was fucking it up. Fox wasn’t the type to hold a grudge. He was fucking up something and he wasn’t sure how much longer he could stay in this horrible Academy.
Raider thought he recognized the next hallway. There was something about the arrangement of paintings on the otherwise white walls that looked familiar. The Academy wasn’t cold and corporate even though it was easy to get lost in. The art was all different everywhere he went. Not that he had the ability to appreciate any of it. Not with the strange scents and warnings of magic all over the place. His steps slowed and he dared to stop and look at a painting of a young lady dressed in green. A chill breezed through the air right before he heard a door click down the hall.
Raider wrapped his arms around him to fend off the sudden cold. He really needed to get a jacket or something. He looked down the hall and stilled when he saw Leo standing in the doorway, highlighted by the setting sun outside. Leo didn’t seem to care about the cold, his muscles hard against his thin, long sleeve shirt. His hair was longer, a dark mess with his half shift. His lion ears did little to keep him from looking intimidating as he stepped in and let the door shut behind him. Raider’s eyes slipped down involuntarily and focused on how thick the muscles of Leo’s thighs were in his jeans.
The scent of cigarette smoke filtered in. Raider glanced back up and swallowed hard when he met Leo’s stare. He held his breath. Leo’s grin was dangerous as he took slow, measured steps to where Raider was standing. Soon all Raider could smell and see was the lion shifter. Leo’s gold eyes were full of heat as he came up and blatantly looked him over.
Raider wasn’t sure why he couldn’t move. His heart was slamming in his chest but his feet were being dumb and refused to run. Leo ignored all levels of personal space, his eyes burning as he stepped forward and backed Raider against the wall.
“Hey,” Leo rumbled, his eyes fixed on his downturned face.
“H-Hi,” Raider managed to get out. His cheeks flushed as he looked anywhere but at Leo. It was impossible to ignore him. He was inches away, his scent surrounding him, a wall of muscle and roaring heat. Raider’s blood pounded in his ears. He closed his eyes as he felt his dick swell and body tense. He wasn’t that attracted to Leo, he was pretty sure, but he was getting hard no matter how much he shook.
“I could smell you all the way outside.” Leo leaned closer and inhaled deeply. “And now. How much you want it.”
Raider breathed out unsteadily. Leo’s fingers traced lightly down his cheek to his throat, and he did his best not to tremble. “I… uh…”
Leo’s words were soft, slow as he brushed his thumb across one of Raider’s thorned vine tattoos. “I know this scent. I could do anything to you and you’ll just beg for more, won’t you?”
Raider was unbalanced by the comment, confused how a part of him responded when it didn’t even make sense. He tried to speak but his voice definitely wasn’t working. His throat was too tight and he just couldn’t seem to put two words together as long as Leo was standing so close. It was hard to notice anything else but Leo’s scent, his presence, the heat coming off his flesh and the dark purr of his voice.
Leo’s knuckles slowly stroked down his cheek and jaw. It was electric. Raider fought a whimper and his sight dimmed for a moment. Leo’s mouth brushed his hair and the edge of his ear. The heat from his breath left him dazed.
“I’m not going to hurt you.” Leo pulled Raider’s hand into his and led it to his chest. “I know what kind of shifter you are and I’d never hurt a sexy thing like you.”
Raider dared to peek up, only to quickly look away when Leo’s sharp, gold eyes caught his for a frozen moment. Leo pushed Raider’s palm against his chest and held him there. Raider stared at his hand pinned against Leo’s shirt. Beneath his fingers he could feel his heartbeat. Steady. Strong.
“You’re loyal, right, Valdez? You know your alpha.” Leo hissed as he slowly pushed Raider’s hand down the front of his body. “You want to make your alpha happy, right?”
Raider’s eyes closed and his breath came out in a rough exhale as he felt the raw strength in Leo’s rippling abs beneath the fabric of his shirt. Leo led him lower and Raider’s fingertips caught on his waistband, found the roughness of his jeans and the cool, smooth metal button of his zipper.
“You want to help me out?” Leo’s gaze slid down his heaving chest. A satisfied growl escaped him when he saw Raider’s jeans were tented. “I can protect you like you need, Valdez.”
Raider glanced up through his lashes. Leo intense glare was too much to meet for long. He wet dry lips. “What… what do you mean?”
“You’re scared.” Leo chuckled when Raider immediately denied it. “We can all smell it, Valdez. It’s okay. Some guys, they’re just not strong. They’re not fighters. Not everyone is an alpha.” He leaned down until their faces were nearly level. “It’s okay, hottie.”
Raider gasped and held himself still as Leo caged him back. The wall was cool and unyielding behind him and Leo’s muscular, heat drenched form blocked him from all sides when he raised his arms. Raider stared blankly at the floor, his lower lip caught between his teeth as Leo scented boldly up his neck.
“Fuck, you smell so hot for it.” A purr rumbled in his chest and Leo pressed forward to brush lips to Raider’s gasping mouth. “I can be your alpha. Take care of you. You won’t ever have to be afraid around me.” Leo’s lips pressed again, more solidly this time. His thumb came up to tug Raider by the chin and bring him closer. “You want that, Valdez. I can smell it on you. You want a pack and a pack leader to protect you.”
Did he want that? Raider’s head was swimming. His knees were weak and his dick throbbed for release. Did he? Hadn’t he wanted to get as far away from this dangerous lion shifter as possible? Hadn’t he wanted to jump that horrible magic fence and never see another flesh eater or magic user again?
Leo’s heavy palm found his shoulder. His fingers were strong as he moved down and rubbed Raider’s chest with sure, confident strokes. Raider’s eyes closed and the tension drained from him. He leaned his weight against the wall to keep from falling.
“That’s it, you sexy prey bitch.” Leo breathed in again, his nostrils flared as Raider submitted to his touch. “I’ll be gentle with you. Give you everything you need. Show me what you like and I’ll take care of you.” His body shifted forward. Raider breath hitched when he felt Leo’s erection, hard and long, press against his hip.
Raider had no idea what he was doing. He couldn’t figure out just why he was so hard for this or why he wasn’t telling Leo to stop. He could barely understand this strange deal Leo was offering. Protect him? Leo was the type of shifter he needed to be protected from. Right? It was hard to think with his alpha lion scent so strong in the air. Leo’s hand kept massaging the muscles of his shoulders and chest, each touch dizzying and claiming.
The door down the hall pushed open. Forest brushed snowflakes from his hair as he stepped inside, only to stop cold when he looked their way. “Leo, back the fuck off, man.”
Raider’s eyes cracked open. His head was heavy on the wall and he looked up in confusion. Leo was staring down at him, so much a predator as he drank in his dark eyes and wet lips in ownership. Raider felt a strange thrill of power to have someone like Leo look at him that way.
“Do you want me to stop?” Leo smirked when he didn’t answer. He teased fingertips over the elaborate mandala tattoo on Raider’s throat. “That’s what I thought. Your alpha knows what you want.”
“Leo, I will call the fucking masters. Leave him the fuck alone!”
Leo growled at the threat. His expression sharpened and fangs elongated when Forest stomped up and slammed his hand on the wall beside Raider. Raider knew Forest wasn’t crazy enough to actually challenge Leo. Just the flexing of the lion shifter’s muscles reinforced how large and strong he was.
“Mind your own fucking business, VanWilder,” Leo snarled warningly.
Forest’s glare increased. His claws came out and triangular ears flattened to the side of his head. “You know the line you’re crossing.”
Leo scoffed. “He likes it. Wants it. If you don’t like it, then fuck off.”
“He’s a fucking sub! You know they can’t differentiate…” Forest was cut off when Leo snarled and grabbed him by the back of the neck.
Raider watched from outside himself, unable to move. A part of him was terrified he was going to see Forest torn to pieces. But Leo didn’t take a swing at him or even bare his fangs. He shoved Forest up against Raider and pushed his face right into his armpit.
“Scent him, dumbass,” Leo growled. “Tell me he’s not fucking begging for this.”
Forest’s angry hiss transformed into a low moan. Raider shuddered at the hungry sound. Leo released Forest and when the leopard shifter looked up, his pupils were blown wide, the yellow of his eyes nearly lost in a haze of lust.
“Fuck… Holy fuck, that scent,” Forest whispered unsteadily and gripped the wall for balance.
“Scent?” Raider stared in confusion. It only got worse when Forest’s sex scent flared and hit him fully to combine with Leo’s. A wave of heat flooded him. Raider’s sight dimmed for a moment, fuzzing out the view of Forest looking him up and down with interest. He whimpered and closed his eyes when Forest ducked down and began to press a line of hungry kisses to Raider’s throat and collarbone.
Leo grinned, his teeth sharp. “Now we’re in agreement.” Another purr rumbled through his chest and he grabbed Raider by the jaw and turned his face toward him. His grip was surprisingly gentle when he leaned down and claimed him in a kiss. Raider moaned, his lips parting to the slide of Leo’s tongue. “Good… Be good for us, sexy.” Leo threaded fingers through Raider’s dark hair, massaging his scalp as he tilted his head to meet his kisses. “Show us what you like.”
Leo’s words were a buzz in the back of his mind, his focus lost in the hot, wet touch of lips moving over his skin, his mouth, hands gripping. Raider gasped when Leo’s mouth left him and Forest roughly pushed his shirt up. Cold air and then roaring heat hit him in waves as Forest pressed against him and sealed his mouth to the center of his chest.
“Watch it,” Leo said with a displeased grumble. He shoved Forest’s shoulder out of the way and claimed Raider’s lips again, his tongue stroking into his mouth. Forest was undeterred. His kissed a wandering path with wet slides of his tongue over Raider’s toned chest. He found his nipple beneath the tattoo of roses and thorns and teased the beaded nub with hot licks.
Leo’s large hand gripped Raider’s neck and moved down the front of his throat. It was possessive yet yielding as he soothed with each touch and consumed every soft cry Raider released. Raider felt half devoured. Leo’s tongue explored every plane of his mouth. His teeth nipped at his lips, sinking in and opening him up. He was lost in the scent, the heat, the pulse of the two hard bodies touching, tasting and pulling at him until he was nothing more than the wild sensations and desperate throb of need.
“Clothes, Valdez. You’re wearing too much.” Leo’s hand pushed up under Raider’s shirt when it tried to fall back down.
“Way too much,” Forest agreed hazily. He gripped the t shirt and tugged. The material shredded around his claws and Leo helped pull the remains off of Raider’s torso. Forest’s gaze lit on his face and lingered on Raider’s kiss swollen lips. He looked down, taking in his bare, caramel toned chest covered in a black ink swirl of roses and thorned vines. His hand pressed to Raider’s six-pack abs and fingers spread wide to slide up to his chest.
Raider’s gaze followed, drifting down his bare torso to Forest’s compact, toned frame tight with restrained need. He couldn’t help but wonder what he looked like under his shirt, what his bare flesh would feel like against his.
“Kiss him,” Leo said in Raider’s ear. The quiet order sent a fresh wave of desire through him. He didn’t want to think about why it got him so hard, why he knew he was going to obey. Raider’s breath came out in fast pants as he tentatively leaned forward and reached for Forest’s dark lips. Forest surged forward, pushed him hard against the wall and kissed him fiercely.
Raider exhaled heavily through his nose, his mouth yielding to Forest’s demanding kiss. His lips moved over Raider’s flesh hungrily, wetting his lips, then his chin and throat. Raider yelped softly when teeth sank into his neck for a moment. The pain went straight to his cock. His jeans were unbearably tight, and only grew more so when Leo’s hand gripped down his side and sought first his hip and then his ass. He squeezed the firm flesh and pulled Raider closer so he could claim his mouth again.
“W-What?” Raider mumbled as a terrible chill his hit bare flesh and grew colder. His lashes fluttered open and he immediately squeezed his eyes shut as impossibly bright light assaulted his senses.
“Fucker. Motherfucker!” Leo pulled away with an outraged snarl. The noise he was making could only be described as murderous.
Raider fought to see what he could through his fingers but the light was too intense. Forest was cursing softly but didn’t sound like he was about to kill them all like Leo was. Which could only mean the alpha was under attack. If Leo fell, he would surely be killed next.
“My office. The three of you. Now.”
It took Raider a moment to recognize Michael with anger distorting his voice. Raider abruptly stopped struggling and his face heated up. He didn’t want to face the master sorcerer like this. Not after he just caught him…
“Oh fuck.” Raider covered his face with his hands and fell back against the wall. Reality started to sink in as the heat faded from the air. “Oh my fuck.”
“Whiteheart!” Leo’s roar shook the wall. Raider gasped and snapped his eyes open to find torrents of icy water dripping from Leo’s furious form.
“Damn it, Leo, keep it the fuck together,” Forest muttered. He was in a similar drenched state while crouched on the floor. “Remember where you are.”
Leo was too enraged. His features twisted as his halfshift tried to turn full lion with the loss of his control. “He’s mine to claim. Mine!”
Michael didn’t say a word as Leo’s voice echoed down the hall. Raider couldn’t help but look, wondering if the sorcerer was frightened. He found Michael standing twenty feet away, his eye blazing power as he calmly stared Leo down.
“You have no right!”
“Shit.” Forest’s wet sneakers slipped across the floor as he tried to get away when Michael took one silent, deliberate step toward the three of them. Leo’s roars were more distorted and lion-like by the second but Raider knew it wasn’t him Forest was running from. No, it was Michael. The air around him was unearthly still, as if time decided to stop in show of the sorcerer’s ability.
Michael tilted his head down, his eyes full of challenge. “Leonard, must I remind you of just what you are allowed to own in this Academy?” Leo’s ears folded back at the sound of his voice. Power filled Michael’s every being. The air around them began to change and grow hotter as his magic snapped in aggression.
“You can’t interfere in my claim. It’s my right!” Leo whirled as he shouted.
Raider froze as Leo’s bulking form and razor sharp teeth consumed his vision. This was when he died, he realized fleetingly. He lost his fucking mind, got involved in some alpha bullshit, and his raccoon was absolutely right in being terrified because Leo was going to kill him.
Raider tensed, his eyes squeezed shut in preparation for the killing blow. Only to yelp when Leo’s large palm suddenly cupped his flagging erection through his jeans and held tight.
“You’re mine, Valdez. You know you’re mine.” Leo inhaled heavily and scented down Raider’s form. He deliberately used his mass to block anyone from getting to Raider.
Raider held impossibly still even as he felt his body respond. His cock hardened and muscles loosened as his raccoon tried to take over and give in to Leo. His mind was racing just as fast as his heart. He didn’t know if it was because Leo seemed more beast than man at the moment, or maybe because he was dripping wet and far from comfortable, but Raider wasn’t feeling anything like he had a minute ago. There was no drugged haze from the intense scent surrounding him. He was alert, aware, and certain Leo was seconds from getting his ass beat if he didn’t move.
Raider kept his eyes trained on the floor and tried to keep his breath even. For some reason, the idea of Michael fighting Leo was absolutely exhilarating.
“Leo, stop letting your lion’s dick take over your fucking mind!” Forest shouted from a safe distance away.
Leo looked his way with a snarl, only to turn fully and release Raider when Michael appeared behind him. The sorcerer didn’t say anything or lift his hands in attack. He didn’t have to. Normally easy going and smiling, Michael looked larger and more muscular than before. He was beyond intimidating as he towered over Leo, their eyes locked in a death match. No words were required for an alpha shifter to understand. Leo might be brawn and fighter spirit but he was no equal to the raw power Michael raised up just by standing there.
Raider saw it in Leo’s body language before he backed down. His tail gave an angry twitch and Leo’s shoulders flexed an instant before he snarled and stepped away.
“Fuck!” Leo screamed as he punched the wall. His roar echoed down the hall full of rage and defeat. Raider barely heard it, caught when he found himself suddenly face to face with Michael.
Michael was barely recognizable. There was an animalistic fierceness to his features which hadn’t been there previously. His power was magnetic as it snapped unseen around him in a hot fire. “Office. Now.” His blue eyes blazed as Michael started down the hall. He stopped feet away to make sure he was followed.
Raider didn’t know he was holding his breath until Michael turned away. Air rushed back into his lungs with a gasp. Shame and want hit him in equal proportions as the world again crashed down into startling focus.
What was wrong with him? Why was he like this?
Raider forced his shaking legs to move when Forest stepped up to where Michael was waiting. He didn’t want to be stuck alone in the hallway with Leo. Fuck, Michael had seen him… Raider couldn’t put words to what he did with Leo and Forest. His gaze strayed towards Michael’s shoes, so unable was he to face him.
He was disgusted, right? Or was he challenging Leo because…?
No, that was fucking crazy. Michael was just doing what needed to be done to get a sex crazed alpha to back the fuck down. The guy was a human using magic to act like a shifter to manipulate the situation.
Raider took a steadying breath. That was how shifters were killed by sorcerers. They were tricked, hunted, and their own strength used against them. He knew that. He fucking knew.
Sorcerer. Whiteheart was a sorcerer and far more dangerous than the most aggressive alpha at the Academy.
Tears were wet on Vincent’s face. He wasn’t sure if it was because of the memory or because he kept slipping away, trapped in a place he never wanted to return to. He couldn’t keep doing this. It was like the world disappeared from him and he didn’t know what was real anymore.
That was the problem all along, wasn’t it? He wasn’t a real person. He wasn’t really living a life, just reacting to thing. He would do whatever any master told him to because he didn’t know how to live a life of his own. He was empty. He was always empty and there was no way to be anything else.
Maybe he should have died. He was already dead inside. Why was he still moving, still breathing? Why was he like this?
“Vince, you still in there?”
Jolting, Vincent raised his gaze. Fox’s face was inches from his own and for the life of him, Vincent couldn’t remember when he got so close. He couldn’t help but notice how odd Fox’s orange eyes were. They were flecked in amber… or maybe gold. Out of all the shifters, he couldn’t remember ever seeing eyes quite like Fox’s. They were warm and all-consuming and difficult to look away from.
Fox thought he was real. Alive. He saw him as more than an echo of a person. He could see it in the way he looked at him. The longer he stared, the more Vincent felt like the ground was beneath his feet and he was there, in his body, exactly where Fox was looking.
If he was a normal person who wasn’t totally fucked up in the head, this was when he’d kiss Fox. Any proper person would like Rafael. Sometimes, when he didn’t feel like a total mess of insanity and vapor, he thought maybe he liked him too. It was like a veil was between him and his emotions and he could see the vague outline just on the other side. Right now, he liked having him this close, the scent of him, his strength. Fox was solid compared to him he couldn’t help but feel a little solid as well.
“Hey. You’re going to be okay.” Fox gently pushed his hair aside. Vincent felt strands cling to his cheek, wet from the tears he couldn’t remember crying. He never cried. It was the quickest way to upset Master Metzger.
His eyes tracked Fox’s hand, then focused on the unfamiliar wall behind him. Weren’t they in class? Was there another explosion? He stepped back from the warmth of Fox’s body, confused to find himself in the underground hallways of the Academy. “Where…?”
“You were going to Dr. Rob’s. I think you, uh, spaced out.” Fox’s gaze said so much more and Vincent was quick to look away.
He was going crazy. This was what happened to crazy people. If he hurt someone while like this? People could die and he still didn’t know how to stop it.
“I can walk you,” Fox offered, his eyes never leaving Vincent.
Pulled from his frantic thoughts, Vincent looked his way and nodded hesitantly. “Okay. Uh, thank you.”
How long was Fox standing there? Did he do something? Vincent quickly checked his magic and tried to figure out if he might have done a spell recently. It didn’t feel like it, but the harder he tried to see if he could sense it, the more it felt like his limbs were going numb. He stared at his hands while he clenched and unclenched his fingers and tried to decipher why they felt so strange.
“Vince…” Fox trailed off. He shot him a tentative side glance. “It’s going to be okay, Vince. Dr. Rob knows his stuff and… and you’re not alone here. I promise.”
The sincerity of his voice had him looking Fox’s way again. Vincent couldn’t figure out just what he was trying to say. Of course he was alone. He was alone at Master Metzger’s and before that, alone with parents who had no problem selling him to a sorcerer. He was always going to be alone.
Vincent swiped weakly at his disheveled hair and wiped the damp tears from his face with the heel of his palm. Something touched his arm and he jerked and gasped audibly. Fox immediately pulled away, his expression closing off. Vincent watched as he deliberately moved his arm until they could no longer touch by accident.
He didn’t know how to tell Fox just how difficult contact was for him. It was fire to a frozen landscape and every touch burned. Especially when it was Fox. Fox always made him feel things when feeling was just too difficult.
Except right now. This time Fox took him from a horrible place in his mind. Vincent was impossibly grateful for the oddly quiet shifter, who kept shooting him curious side-glances as they walked up the stairs. He didn’t know how to thank Fox. He didn’t even know how to put into words what he did for him. It would make it real. There was no place safe outside of Dr. Rob’s room where he could talk about these things without fear of being dragged right back to that horrible nightmare.
It probably didn’t matter. Vincent’s hand touched the railing, the cool smoothness of the wooden banister numb beneath his palm. It would only happen again. He would get lost, sucked right back in. What was the point of noticing he was free when he was just going to end up right back in Master Metzger’s power?
“Vince, about your friend.”
Vincent looked up from the tiled floor and was faced with the disorienting reality of being in the corridor that led to the hospital and Dr. Rob’s office. He couldn’t remember walking the distance. “My friend?” He asked, trying to remember Fox’s words. He had a friend?
Fox’s expression was full of concern. “Calvin, right? You said his name was…”
“Please, don’t.” The words were out before Vincent knew he was speaking and he couldn’t take them back. He was left staring at Fox wide eyes. He couldn’t talk about it. It would make it real. More real than how real it was already getting. “I can’t…” he managed to get out, but was still unable to explain just why.
“It’s okay.” Fox flashed him a fangless smile, his eyes full of something he couldn’t read. Defeat, maybe. Seeing him like this, Fox would surely give up on ever wanting to be his friend, never mind something more.
It should have filled him with relief, but it didn’t. A cold numbness squeezed at Vincent’s chest instead.
“I’ll, uh, let you go. I’m sure you want to see Dr. Rob alone.” Fox glanced over his shoulder and took a step away. The hallway suddenly filled Vincent’s view.
“Thanks.” Vincent’s throat was too tight and now he could feel tears threatening. Fuck, why? He just needed to walk the rest of the fucking way. Why was he breaking down?
Fox’s hand grabbed his wrist and Vincent jolted from the contact. He stared down at where Fox’s darker fingers were wrapped on his pale skin. Caramel, really. He looked like desert sand…
“Vince, are you…?”
“I’m fine.” His voice was so hollow, it scared him. But there was still no way to take the words back. Someone else was moving him, speaking for him. He was empty. Nothing. Even now, he could barely feel Fox’s hand. He was desperate to feel it.
“Uh, okay. I’ll let you go.” Still, Fox’s fingers held him and Vincent did nothing to move away. “You’re going to be okay, Vince.” Fox stepped closer, his fiery eyes again consuming his view. “You’re here. You won. As long as you’re alive, you get to decide how your life is.”
In some far away recess of his mind, Vincent could remember telling Fox something about Master Metzger and Calvin. The door in his mind shut immediately, stealing the memory and cutting down the overwhelming emotion that tried to well up inside him. Vincent pulled his hand away sharply and staggered towards Dr. Rob’s room. His feet didn’t feel solid on the ground. He felt like he was relearning to walk even though his steps fell like they should.
It wasn’t okay. He was never going to be okay.
Fox stayed and watched as Vincent disappeared into Dr. Rob’s office. Once he was out of sight, Fox continued to stare while his mind spun and heart hurt.
He never felt so helpless, so out of his depth and useless. Whatever Vincent needed, it seemed so big today and he was lost as to how to help.
Draco awoke late Sunday morning with yesterday just a very dull memory in the back of his mind. He could smell Harry, his scent all around him, but couldn’t feel his breath. Maybe that would be the compromise to their situation. Harry would hover, but not in a way he could obviously discern where he was.
Currently, all Draco could think about was how fucking hard he was. He had a fine dream with green eyes, tanned skin, and messy chocolate hair, likely inspired by the scent of who was lurking in his room. Draco was in his own bed, in his own room, where he could very easily, and usually did, take care of this problem. He did not want to have to kick Potter the fuck out, especially when he’d likely sneak back in anyways.
Shit, when did Potter become such a damn voyeur?
With eyes firmly closed, Draco slipped his hand down beneath the waistband of his boxers and tried to be quiet as he wrapped fingers around his erection. Another thing he resented. He never had to be quiet before, not since earning a room of his own. “Oh.”
He was also not very good at being quiet anymore.
Harry’s breath appeared, hot and scalding at the juncture where Draco’s neck met his shoulder. He did everything not to react to it, instead trying to focus on his hand and his dick and nothing about hovering Potter always watching him with those glowing green eyes he could no longer see. “Oh fuck.” He bit his lip to stifle a moan. Harry’s breath moved down his chest as if there was no material between them at all.
He could feel Harry’s body heat as he moved and floated very close above him. He had to be centimeters from touching him, maybe less. Before he could fully even process just how close Harry had to be hovering, he felt him move, the heat of his breath very much on his hand and fisted cock. Draco fought back a cry from the sudden rush of sensation. He threw his head back and bucked as he came into his hand.
Draco lay there panting on the bed, eyes resolutely closed. He waited for Harry to move the fuck away so he could get up and pretend he wasn’t there properly. Eventually he felt Harry move. His body heat disappeared and breath no longer lingered around his thighs.
Fucking Potter… fuck… Draco waited a few more minutes and spent the time wondering if Harry was touching himself, if he might come back over and try to touch him. How that might be a damn good idea.
Draco snapped his eyes open and got up. He was losing his fucking mind, needed to pee and shower and Potter better give him some fucking privacy.
Harry watched from his spot in the corner, his fingers curled on his face while he sank teeth into his hand. The prat hadn’t said a fucking word. Draco touched himself like he wasn’t there even though he damn well knew being a foot away was about the closest he could get before Draco noticed him.
What if he touched him? What would Draco have done then? Yell? Punch? Moan?
Fucking hell… just fuck.
His hand still firmly between his teeth, Harry walked to the bathroom door and peeked his head through the wood. Draco was showering. He looked nearly efficient like Draco was expecting him to be watching and didn’t want to give him any ideas. He had no idea how to deal with this.
All last night Harry decided he would talk to the prat in the morning. He’d convince Draco being gay was so much better than marrying for money, or prestige, or whatever the fuck Malfoy was throwing his life away for. Harry hadn’t prepared for this. Draco just gave him the coldest shoulder ever, pretended he wasn’t even there. He didn’t react to his presence at all to the point of jerking off right in front of him.
Hell, he might not mind too fucking much, either.
Harry stepped into the bathroom, and made sure he was far enough away so Draco wouldn’t be alerted to him. He watched as Draco washed yesterday’s match off his skin and the morning’s cum from his hand.
Was he supposed to pretend too? Ignore Draco Malfoy in the bloody room, nude with pale skin slick with soap and water. He didn’t want to ignore him. He wanted to touch him and show him how fucking good it could be if Draco just stopped fighting what he wanted. He wanted to take that soap, fill Draco’s tight hole with it, and fuck him against the shower until he wailed in delirious agony.
He settled for watching Draco shower while he stroked his cock and his mind swirled with all the many dirty, wonderful things he wanted to do with Draco. Right now they had a strange truce and he was grateful for at least that. If he pushed Draco, he might lose everything. Draco was definitely skittish enough, explosive enough to put him in his place if he pushed too far.
That wasn’t a bad thought either.
“Fuck, Malfoy. You’re such a fucking tease.” Harry grunted, his strokes slowing as he came, and his cum dribbled down. “Hell, I like it when you tease.”
There was no answer and he was left to rest against the wall, eyes trained on Draco as he finished his shower. Once he stepped back into the bedroom, Harry waited in the corner to give Draco whatever perceived sense of space and privacy he needed as he stared unceasingly at the beautiful blond.
He was late for breakfast and Draco was surprised to find Blaise and Pansy waiting for him. Chatting with his friends were Weasley and Granger who were sitting across at the Slytherin table. The Great Hall was nearly empty, but still, it was a bizarre sight.
“Are you two lost?” Draco sat down between his friends and stared pointedly at the Gryffindors.
“Nope, just wanted to say hi to Harry,” Ron replied cheerfully.
Draco glanced at Blaise and Pansy, who did not seem remotely surprised at the news. “And you just assume Potter’s following me around everywhere I go?”
“Duh. Given the chance, I can’t imagine he wouldn’t.”
Draco sighed. He was getting somewhat annoyed with everyone insinuating Harry had a thing for him. Then again, he was late because he ended up having to heal all the fucking bites Potter left on his neck from the night before, so maybe there was a damn point to it. “I haven’t eaten yet, and I would prefer to enjoy my breakfast without having to write at the same time.”
Hermione waved her hand airily. “No really, just to say hi. I doubt he wants to write all the time either. Oh, and to let you know Dumbledore’s specialist has arrived and is waiting down in Snape’s office when you’re done.”
“Okay.” Draco started eating, only to realize the Gryffindors were content to stay where they were, talking to Pansy about something. “Am I missing something here?”
“Just catching up on the feathers and scale thing.” Blaise grinned wickedly.
“Ah… crap.” Scowling, Draco began to shovel food into his mouth to prevent anyone from asking questions. Harry hovered behind him by his shoulder, not touching him for a change. Draco couldn’t tell if he was upset, or what. Harry hadn’t touched him the entire morning, except for a brief moment when Draco held his hand out to make sure the invisible boy was out the bedroom door.
Draco wasn’t oblivious to the relationship Pansy and Blaise had with Potter’s old tag-a-longs, but this was the first time it was blatantly flaunted in front of him. It was a bit odd, but then, so were his friends and he didn’t have an interest in losing them over something as trivial as lions.
“You told them to keep it hush about Potter, right?” Draco asked. “The wrong people could hurt him.”
“Yes, although I still don’t see how that can happen,” Ron said, looking around as if he expected to see Harry. “You’re the only one he can touch.”
“And magic,” Blaise added. “Magic can do a lot of things, even if it’s as simple as caging him and squashing him flat.”
Draco was momentarily stunned. He hadn’t even thought of that, fixated on his fear of someone taking over his body to attack Harry. Without thinking, he reached up behind him until hesitantly Harry touched his hand.
Seeing Draco’s distressed look, not to mention how pale Harry’s friends had gotten, Blaise added quickly, “If anyone could even see him to find him. He did defeat the Dark Lord, after all.”
“No, you’re right,” Draco muttered. “We should be testing him to see if he is effected by our magic.” Draco let go of his hand, only to have Harry wrap around his shoulders and lean on him. His hot breath ruffled Draco’s hair. Apparently he’d given the paw me and hover signal.
Pansy gave Draco a long glance and eventually pointed to his hair. “Bit clingy, huh?”
“Something like that.” He ignored her amused smirk and went back to eating. Granger and Weasely started talking to Harry as if he could answer back. They went over all the things that went on at school that year, what he missed, and how they kept his things in storage at the Burrow. It all blurred in Draco’s mind, especially when Harry shifted. Heat suddenly was on his neck as Harry leaned onto his shoulder for support.
“Potter, are you alright?” he asked quietly. Harry’s face was now pressed against his throat. Draco suddenly groaned and grabbed the idiot by his messy hair as Harry licked up the side of his neck. “Fucking ass! Last time I worry about you!” He shoved Harry backward and tried to ignore how his neck was tingling, his cheeks were flushed, and everyone was staring at him.
Ron burst out laughing and Hermione shook her head in a cross between amusement and reprimand. “Harry, that’s not very polite.”
Draco realized they must have seen his hair move. He covered his face with his hand as Pansy cackled in his ear. “You know, I don’t have to take this. I don’t have to help that stupid wanker, and I don’t have to hang around and let you lot make fun of me.”
“No—No one is making fun, I swear!” Ron choked out between laughs. “It’s him… laughing at him… He used to say something about… making you untidy.”
Draco scowled and moved his hand up to find Potter had ruffled his hair into a mess before being thrown back. “For fuck sake.” He combed his hair back into place, and met Blaise’s twinkling eye.
“I’m sure he’ll stop if you stop reacting to him. He seems like a five year old.”
As if to prove his point, Harry suddenly wrapped arms around Draco, pulled him back on the bench and held him tight against his chest as he whispered something into his ear he could not hear.
Draco twitched, the air very ticklish and skin very warm. He watched as Harry lifted his writing hand and held it out for a pen. Hermione was ready, quill and parchment placed before them. Draco was only just getting the suspicion whatever Potter was going to say would likely be just as bloody annoying as his current behavior, when Harry moved his hand across the paper.
Three year old. I’m very much in need of attention.
Pansy frowned and looked at Draco. “You sure you didn’t write that?”
Please, he’s pretty sure I’m just a dog humping his leg. Right Malfoy?
“Bitter and true.” Draco glared in the direction of Harry’s face.
“Oh Harry, what have you done?” Hermione asked woefully as she read the words upside down.
Well, you’re bloody wrong. And my friends will be happy to tell you.
“I don’t need your friends to tell me you’re a fucked up perv, Potter.”
Ron held the quill still before Harry could respond. “He’s in love with you and let’s leave it at that,” Ron said sternly. His eyes went to Draco’s very wide ones, then to where Harry was pressed into his hair again. “Harry, stop pestering him. He thought you were dead. We all thought it. Have some damn consideration.”
Draco wasn’t sure if he was more shocked the Weasel just said Harry was in love with him, or for berating Harry to protect him. He blinked down when Harry used his hand to write again.
Consideration? Try existing like a fucking ghost for nearly a year, all because some sick fuck didn’t have enough power to kill me.
It was Hermione’s turn. Her hands thumped flat on the table as she stood and glared at Draco’s shoulder as well. “You want a damn pity party? Think we’re going to all sit around and cry because you’re stuck and falling apart in that dimension? Not bloody likely, Harry. Buck the hell up and remember you’re coming back home. Start acting like it.”
Harry tightened around Draco, anger clear in his tense muscles. There was the echo of another spark, as if something jolted Harry around his back. Just as quickly, he was gone; Harry released Draco and stepped away. Draco grabbed the table in surprise to keep from falling backward.
“He’s pissed,” Draco muttered to no one in particular.
“He’ll get over it,” Ron said flatly. “He’s been alone for a long time and he needs to realize you’re a person, not just some fantasy. He probably thought you were dead, too.” He pushed himself up from the table and held his hand out to Hermione. “Come on. We have our whole Sunday still. You know he’ll sulk the day away.”
“Probably.” Hermione turned to Draco with an apologetic look. “Don’t let him bully you around. He’ll hate himself later for it. Whether he’s back and healthy or dies in that place.” She looked up and glanced around the room. “You know I’m right, Harry. Try and get your head on straight.”
Draco stared after their retreating backs. His eyes narrowed as he turned to his remaining friends. “Why would he think I was dead?”
Blaise looked away, but Pansy didn’t back down. “He heard us that night trying to convince you to keep living. Told them. They approached us around Christmas after he died. They didn’t want to talk to you about it but they were worried about you. We were all worried.” She stopped and stood as well. “They helped make it easier for us while we watched you fall apart. It’s been a damn difficult year.”
Draco didn’t say anything, studying his hands instead. He was barely passing his classes, barely eating, barely playing quidditch… barely living. Did he have to feel guilty for his friends’ suffering too?
Pansy didn’t leave right away. Her hand grazed Draco’s chin until he met her eye. “Not blaming you, just explaining how it’s been. We’re all very glad that you made it through.”
Draco nodded and let her kiss his forehead. “Sorry.” He pushed his plate away, not even remotely hungry anymore.
“Did you want me to come along with you?” Blaise was very still as he sat next to Draco.
Draco shook his head. He watched as Blaise got up and left the Great Hall to catch up with Pansy. “Shit. Don’t I feel like a fucking ass?”
He didn’t get an answer for a long time. Harry was off doing whatever it was he did to let off steam. Draco waited patiently. The rest of his day was going to be dedicated to figuring out how to get Harry back. He wasn’t resentful. A part of him wanted to be. A part of him wanted to want more than to spend time with Potter and try to save him. But he wasn’t. Draco was near happy he could help him, even with how annoying and frustrating things were between them.
Was that why Potter stared so much the end of last year? Harry discovered he was going to protect himself against Voldemort the only way he had available. By taking his life. For someone with a severe hero complex, Harry hadn’t said a goddamn word, or tried to do a damn thing. Draco appreciated it. It was his life, and his choice on what to do with it. That Harry loved him… Well, that was a lot of food for thought.
Maybe Potter wasn’t a groping, pawing dog trying to get into his pants once he realized he liked guys. Maybe Harry didn’t even think he had some right to him because he killed Voldemort. Maybe he was just fucking lonely, and lost, and very much wanted to share feeling alive with another warm body. A warm body he apparently had feelings for since last year.
Harry was again across the table, Draco noticed with a start when a hand pushed into his aura of awareness. Draco slowly ran his hand over the table and stopped when his fingertips found Harry’s. “Let me know when you’re ready to go.”
Harry’s fingers brushed over his hand but Draco resolved to stay and not react angrily like he kept doing. He wasn’t angry Harry insisted on touching him, he realized. He was more angry he wouldn’t be able to have it always. Every touch was intense, hot and wild, and it made Draco jump. It was hard enough dealing with the madness it drove him towards and it would soon be taken away. Harry would be brought back and go on with his life as the savior of everything. While Draco would continue on his path of numbness with no more wild sparks to make him feel alive.
Harry’s hand stilled and rested lightly on his. With wicked impulse Draco pulled and smacked his hand over Harry’s. “How the hell did you beat snakehead with reflexes like that, hmm? I can’t even see you.”
He felt Harry’s hand twitch as he got ready to strike. Draco pulled his hand away with a smile. “Too slow—Hey!” Harry grabbed his wrist in his surprisingly strong grip and slowly pulled his hand closer.
“Don’t be a poor loser, Potter. Ah…” His lashes lowered as breath warmed his fingers. He felt words mumbled into his hand. Draco used his other hand to push the parchment and quill towards Harry but he didn’t seem interested. Lips pressed to his fingertips next. Draco took a shaky breath. His eyes flitted around the Great Hall, which was now empty of anyone else.
When Harry started to nip at one of his fingers, Draco wasn’t too concerned with being seen gasping and hand hanging in the air like a weirdo. He wondered what Harry’s expression looked like. Was it was intent on the fingers he was gently biting, or on his face to see him react. It was frustrating not to know, not to see him at all.
“Oh… oh, okay. I don’t know if…” Draco trailed off as Harry’s tongue slipped around his fingers. Two were pulled into his hot mouth and sucked down and Harry’s tongue lapped further to reach his palm. Maybe Potter was just a fucking dog trying to hump his leg every moment. Draco could feel his teeth, the brush of the roof of his mouth and then the flat of his tongue with absolutely nothing in front of him. He was torn between the damn delicious sensation and the bizarreness of it all.
Swallowing, he closed his eyes and carefully pulling his trapped finger out of Harry’s mouth. He lingered on the warm swell of flesh when he pressed into his lips. He couldn’t see the saliva but could feel it clinging to his flesh. It was such an odd thing; to be at the cusp of a window with no way to see the other side, but still, just so close. With his eyes closed it was far more real. Harry was just on the other side of his eyelids licking his hand like some perverted deviant.
That it was turning him on was more Draco’s problem than anything to do with the continued fact that Potter was totally messed up. He slowly extracted his hand from Harry’s and let it fall to the table again. When he opened his eyes, all their information revealed he was completely alone in the room. “Come on, Potter. Let’s get you fixed up already.”
Harry didn’t know what to feel while Dumbledore sat and peered twinkly eyes at where he was standing behind Draco. The headmaster couldn’t see him at all. Harry wasn’t even sure he should be doing this. He planned to not bother Malfoy, to not reveal he was still alive because of just how short a time it might be.
Of course, once again he followed the prat, concerned with how listless Draco seemed when he landed after catching the snitch. Then Draco was yelling—and fuck, the crying. The fucking crying over him dying was a damn nightmare and Harry couldn’t help but reach out to him. Who the hell would have guessed Draco Malfoy was hiding so much depth beneath his perfect hair and creamy skin? But he was and it just poured out on the floor as he sobbed and Harry held him tight.
And well, he sounded a bit more than sad, hadn’t he? Like maybe Malfoy missed him as more than just some classmate. Like he was someone he might have a crush on. Like Draco might just say his name in the shower while touching himself.
It felt good to hold another human being again, to feel such warmth again against his skin. It was easy to sink into the smell of flesh, the feel of soft rhythm of breath and pulse of Draco’s heart. It was extra good because it was Malfoy. With his soft hair, and such smooth skin, Harry didn’t want to move. He wanted to stay there forever with Draco’s breath warming his skin and his tears drying between them.
There was a problem when it came to touching Draco, one Harry noticed the other night when he licked him. It was difficult to stop once he started. He kept wanting to touch Draco again, to press against him, run his tongue over him. It was a problem Harry was still struggling with while Draco and Dumbledore talked.
While talking, Malfoy sipped a cup of tea now his hands finally stopped their incessant shaking. The two of them were already through the preliminary stages of, ‘Yes, Harry is alive. No, I can’t hear him. Yes, I can touch him, but no, it doesn’t seem anyone else can.’ It was a lot and they were throwing around theories of why Draco could be tangible to Harry but no one else.
Draco was biting his lip and Harry couldn’t help but press his hand to the side of his pale, beautiful face. Draco’s gaze looked up and through him. “Ever since I was young, strange creatures have… I guess you could say they’re drawn to me.” Draco’s eyes were full of anxiety when he looked to Dumbledore. “They aren’t always friendly. Sometimes they’re plain frightening. I had a pet when I was young. My parents said she was imaginary but she was real. That sounds crazy, I know.” Draco stopped and smacked his hand to his forehead. Harry was quick to pry it free. Instead of releasing him, he twined their fingers together.
Draco lost his train of thought and stared at here his hand was caught. Harry wasn’t sure why he kept grabbing him so boldly but Malfoy hadn’t told him to stop. Eyes blinking, Draco continued talking. “I know it sounds crazy. But I wouldn’t be here, putting my sanity in questions, if I wasn’t certain that Potter was alive.”
“I don’t think you’re insane, Draco,” Dumbledore assured even as Draco looked doubtful. “I’ll have to speak with an old acquaintance of mine, then we can start from there. Do you know if this gift runs in your family? It would be a great help if you could give me as much information you have on it. I believe it’s the only clue we to have to what has happened to Harry.”
Harry watched as Draco’s eyes widened and his nostrils flared. Malfoy jumped to his feet and pulled from Harry’s hand. “You’re going to call my mother, aren’t you? Oh hell, she’ll kill me. Shit, don’t tell her it’s for Potter! Please, just don’t mention him.”
Harry stepped around Draco’s pacing form, and rested on Dumbledore’s magic infused desk. He wasn’t sure just why Draco was so worried. Dumbledore spoke behind him, just as confused. “Mr. Malfoy, your mother has been clear with her loyalty for you. I don’t believe she’ll be upset.”
Draco snorted. His hand pulled mindlessly at his shining locks. “Right, because the woman who married my psycho father is totally not going to finish the job once she discovers Potter’s alive.” Draco snarled it with such conviction, Harry gaped at a loss for words. Draco’s parents were clearly fucked up.
“Are you suggesting she would be a danger to Harry?” Dumbledore asked slowly, his fingers bridged as he sat forward at his desk.
Draco rolled his eyes in exasperation. “That’s a nice way to put it. I doubt she’d do anything outright, but I’m sure she’ll tell anyone who can and find a way to take him out while he’s weak.”
“I hardly think that’s a concern. You’re the only one who can even touch him,” Dumbledore pointed out.
Draco took a deep breath and slowed his pacing. He came to a stop in front of Dumbledore’s desk and right next to Harry. He looked genuinely worried at the idea of protecting Harry from another fucked up relative. It was kind of sad.
“Listen, I know this won’t make sense,” Draco said solemnly, eyes full of concern. “There’s something wrong with him. Something unstable in his life force is sparking. I sensed it earlier and I’ve seen it once, in another of those creatures… right before it died.” Draco looked around suddenly and turned back to his chair.
Harry realized he was looking for him and reached his hand out. Draco was damn jumpy, he noticed as he took in his flushed face. He stepped up and grabbed Draco’s other hand.
“Potter, stay out of the Forbidden Forest while you’re like this, okay? There are creatures out there. Dangerous. I don’t know what they want, but they’ve stalked me before. In your condition, well, I think you should be careful.”
He wanted to ask how Draco knew so much; knew it was him, knew he was sick, knew the creatures were foe and not friends. But he couldn’t. All he could do was raise Draco’s hand to his head and nod to let him know he would comply.
Draco gave a sigh of relief and relaxed. “Sir, my parents never believed me about my pet or the creatures. I seriously doubt it would be worth risking Potter to ask.”
Dumbledore seemed more interested in Draco’s hand resting in mid air on Harry’s head. “Harry, can you show me just how tangible you are with him?”
Harry smirked while Draco looked confused. “Like what—Damn it!” Draco yelped when Harry lifted him. His hands flew to his invisible shoulders for stability. “Potter, you could have warned me. Put me down.”
Harry refused, too busy staring into Draco’s stunning eyes as he blinked down in his general direction. With a smirk, Harry lifted him higher.
“Shit. When did you get so strong?” Draco asked breathlessly.
Harry couldn’t say. He knew his magic and strength were monstrous when he fought Voldemort in this realm. It was difficulty to focus when Draco’s waist was just so warm where his hands gripped. This time Harry was very careful to not press against him and wreck havoc on the both of them. He glanced over to Dumbledore, who passed his hands through him and was staring at where it appeared Draco was hovering in the air.
“Very interesting. It really does seem all he can touch is you. Your robes aren’t even bunched. Harry can you put him down and touch a spot we can see?”
Harry gently lowered Draco to the floor. He wasn’t blind to the haze in Draco’s beautiful silver eyes. He moved closer and felt Draco stiffen in response, gaze following to where his breath hit his cheek. Harry carefully ruffled his blond hair, threading fingers in and raising the strands up. He didn’t have to stand so close for this but couldn’t seem not to. It helped Draco looked ridiculously cute with his hair a mess.
“Amazing. Yes, we have something here…” Dumbledore mussed. His hands carefully touched Draco’s hair. He noted how it resisted being moved but he could still press his hand through where Harry’s hand should be. “I’ll send note to McVicar today; he has experience with other realities. I suspect it’s what we’re dealing with here, some sort of dimensional drift.”
Harry quickly moved Draco’s head in a nodding motion and Draco smacked his hand in response. “Potter seems to agree, Sir—Stop dragging me around!” Harry would have apologized but couldn’t, so instead picked the now extremely irritated Malfoy up by his arms and placed him in front of Fawkes. He moved Draco’s hand to then point at the bird.
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled again as he stepped towards his phoenix. “Yes, I think I’m beginning to understand. Can you touch Fawkes as well, Harry?”
Harry gently ruffled the sleeping bird’s feathers across it’s fluffy breast so they could all see. Draco peered very close, oblivious to where Harry was in relation. Harry felt a spark of danger again, one he was sure wouldn’t go over well at all considering the situation.
“Harry, I know that the circumstances are a bit odd but I can’t help but recall seeing a lot of your friends out watching the game today,” Dumbledore said. “If Draco would be willing, I’d like to invite them up to see you. Well, not see. But to know that you are well. Would that be okay with the two of you?”
Harry wasn’t a hundred percent sure, but Draco, reluctant as he seemed, said yes. Harry pressed Draco’s hand to his forehead and nodded as well. As Dumbledore called owls, Harry watched Draco, who sat again and looked exhausted. With Dumbledore around, Draco practically ignored Harry and he was finding it annoying. He didn’t know if it was personal, or if Malfoy just didn’t want to look like he was talking to himself.
He knelt next to Draco and peered at the side of his face. He remained until Draco scowled from the feel of his breath curling around his ear and turned toward him. “Potter, don’t you fucking dare start. I figured out it was you in class yesterday. If you can torment me, I can bloody well punch you. Got it?”
Maybe he was just tired and cranky. Harry carefully reached up and brushed fingers to his frown. Draco gasped and caught his wrist. “Seriously, you need to stop that,” Draco hissed softly, although his anger had curbed.
Maybe Draco didn’t really understand he wanted to shag him into the nearest sturdy surface. How many ways did he have to get this damn close before Malfoy figured out that he wasn’t being weird and oblivious, but intentionally seductive? “Malfoy… you’re a bit dim. Like dense even.”
Harry cupped his face in his hands. He watched Draco’s eyes blink crystal, then gaze lower when Harry’s breath teased over his mouth. “Potter…?”
“You really are fucking dense. Wow.” The mumbled words did something to Draco; his eyelids grew heavy and lips parted slightly as his breathing sped up. Draco jerked back the moment Dumbledore stepped back into the room and kept his gaze fixed anywhere but near Harry.
Harry gave an annoyed sigh and stood. He was restless but Draco’s stubbornness rarely had limits. He walked to the back of his chair and rested his hands on Draco’s shoulders while they waited.
Draco could not remember seeing so many Weasleys in one place ever. It seemed when they were together, their numbers somehow increased exponentially. Nearly all six siblings came to watch Ron play, Percy the only one off doing Ministry related things. Along with Granger, the werewolf Remus, and Draco’s cousin Sirius, it was a packed house in Dumbledore’s office. Sofas and chairs of all shapes and sizes were spelled up to house the lot of them. The Headmaster stepped out with Snape to converse by floo with the specialist he hoped could help with Harry.
An hour in, Draco was pretty sure he was going to lose his shit. It was already a difficult day, what with the quidditch match, and his breakdown and all. Now he had to deal with countless gropings. Bill noticed you could actually feel where Harry touched Draco’s skin. And of course, they all had needed to try it. Repeatedly. Not to mention fucking Potter kept touching his neck, like a god damn ass, until Draco promised he was going to curse every single one of them if they didn’t keep it to the back of his hand.
Granger came up with the bloody brilliant—and it was actually brilliant—idea to have Harry move his hand around while Draco held a quill so he could finally communicate. It would have been fine, except to do it, Harry wrapped himself up tight around Draco’s back. His head leaned on his shoulder to see while he held Draco’s chest for balance. It was a lot of skin on bare skin with things lining up in ways which made Draco remember a particular ache. It was all very maddening. Especially now Harry was permanently breathing down his neck. Much longer, and Draco was fairly certain he was going to melt into a puddle of goo.
Ha, see them try to converse with Potter then.
Everyone leaned in to focus once again on whatever Draco’s hand spewed next.
My magic doesn’t work properly here. My wand was destroyed and I’ve been having difficulty keeping in control.
They already went over the big things like making sure Voldemort was really, really dead. And Harry wasn’t actually dead. Apparently Potter was concerned about his condition and well, feeling each spark as Harry pressed up against him, Draco was getting concerned as well. There were the pleasantries. The apologies for having never found Harry or realizing what happened. Also many please don’t annoy Malfoy moments, which seemed to be increasing the longer Draco was forced to be a living quill while fighting an erection.
Thankfully, all the crying finally stopped. Ginny was just down to sniffs and Sirius ceased his loud bawling only moments before her. Draco didn’t know if Sirius gave him hope for his bloodline or more concern of insanity dwelling. Considering how the man was sprawled over the werewolf, he had to imagine Sirius wouldn’t be siring children anytime soon to find out.
Dumbledore came in and interrupted the flow of conversation for more information. He handed Draco a new roll of parchment. “Harry, I need as much information about the dimension you share with Draco as you can think of. Please, every minuscule thing. It could be the defining factor in figuring out how to bring you back.”
Draco sighed and cricked his neck to the side. “Must you? My hand is cramping up.” He shuddered as air fell in snickering bursts over his neck. “Potter! What did I tell you about tickling me? Get away from my neck,” Draco growled. He twisted his shoulders back and forth, hoping to throw Harry off as the room went silent.
Draco raised his eyes to find everyone staring at him. “What? Read the bloody paper and leave me alone already.” He huffed and rolled his eyes, then caught sight of what Harry just wrote.
You know you like it.
“Bloody—You are so dead, scarhead!” Draco snarled. He stood so he could beat the crap out of the annoying git. He was hampered by Harry’s arms when he grabbed him expectantly by the shoulders like he knew he was going to get angry. This revelation naturally made Draco angrier. “Let go, you bloody wanker!”
“Well, I’m definitely convinced now,” Sirius said with a grin. His eyebrows wagged.
“Indeed,” Bill agreed while whistling low. “I think you’ve been hiding something from us, Harry.”
Fred and Ron both shrugged. “Not really. He was kind of clear about it last year,” Fred said and threw a whizzer at his twin. “You weren’t home at the time.”
Hermione kindly reached forward and crossed the line off the page with the dropped quill. “Ignore him, Malfoy. Harry hasn’t talked to anyone in months. He’s probably feeling a bit silly. I’m sorry this has been so difficult on you but we really appreciate all your help.” She gave her most agreeable smile and Draco, damn him, found himself nodding back as his anger drained.
Glaring at everyone in the room, Draco sat. “Potter, you have half an hour, then I’m through playing quill for the day. I suggest you get writing while my hand is still attached.” He bowed his head and stared determinedly at the table. Harry once again settled behind him, far too close and hot in his strong arms. Draco swallowed hard.
I’ll make it up to you.
“Not bloody likely,” Draco grumbled. His lashes lowered as heat fanned over his neck. He stilled, his eyes closed when Harry kissed the back of his neck for a slow moment. Draco went to snap again, but thought better of it with so many people staring at him curiously. Instead he shrugged his shoulders and tried to move Harry away from his odd display.
Seriously, was Potter trying to piss him off so much he’d start kissing at him?
“So, Harry, how come you haven’t fallen through the floor yet?” Hermione stared down at the paper expectantly.
The castle is full of magic. The earth too but not as solid. I can stand and hold anything with enough magic in it.
“That could be useful,” Remus mussed. “We might be able to make you your own pen, at the very least.”
“Ah, and now I’m listening,” Draco perked. He watched his hand move across the page. Potter’s handwriting wasn’t too bad, now they’d gotten the hang of things.
I would really appreciate it. So would Malfoy.
“I am not a fan of being a puppet,” Draco agreed.
“So… is that why you can touch Malfoy, then?” Ron asked. “He’s full of magic?”
Draco raised his brows, actually wondering as well. “Do you know why, Potter? I always wondered why those strange creatures would seek me out.”
I can see why. But I don’t want to alarm you. Harry wrote hesitantly.
“Well, now you really have to say, don’t you?” Sirius said flatly. “Talk about suspense.”
Draco took his free hand and buried his face in it for a moment. He massaged his eyebrows. “Just tell me, Potter. Whatever it is, it’s not new. It’s hardly life or death.”
Okay. You might be part… something. I don’t know what. But you have a tail and claws and feathers. And you glow very bright.
Draco pursed his lips as everyone once again turned their intent gaze to him. He met Sirius’s very startled eyes and narrowed silver back at his cousin. “Potter, what about Black? Or the werewolf? If it’s just about magical creature ancestry, why can’t you touch them?”
“Hey, no one said I have…”
“Bullshit, Black, I can smell it a mile away,” Draco snapped. “If Potter is outing me, then you’re outed too. Considering you were disinherited already, hardly a damn loss.”
Sirius growled but didn’t disagree. He looked around the room, and glared at the many Weasleys watching interestedly. “No one tells a soul, understand? Especially about Malfoy. You know what this kind of information can do if leaked. He’ll lose all chance of getting a job and having a damn life. He’ll certainly lose his pretty little fiancé. I’ll spell you to secrecy if I have to.”
Draco was trying very hard to ignore just how still Harry became behind him. The arm around his chest suddenly felt more like a steel trap than anything else. Instead he looked at the words he wrote in answer to the earlier question.
Malfoy shares one specific dimension with me. No one else does. Fawkes shares three different ones, which is why I can touch him as well. It may be less about magic and more about sharing space
He ended the last word with a scratch and Draco imagined it was about when Sirius mentioned Serene. Now really wasn’t the time to talk about it and Draco did his best to divert his attention. “Cousin, you don’t have to worry. I have yet to meet a more upstanding family than the Weasleys. And Granger is, well, Granger. Hardly someone to go blabbing secrets. And Remus is a werewolf, so no one will listen to him anyways,” he added with a playful smirk.
“Geez, had me worried you were complimenting us,” Ron said with a chuckle. “You have not been well lately.”
“Guess it’s just part of having feathers and a tail on a different plane of existence.” Draco turned his head to where Harry was again resting on his shoulder. He felt calmer. “So Potter, what do you look like? Since I’m apparently feathery.”
Scales too. You have both. I look like I’m breaking apart on that plane.
It was Draco’s turn to still. His hand mindlessly went to the arm wrapped around him and held. “How so?”
Cracks of light, like my energy is breaking out of my skin.
“The energy sparks?”
Draco nodded blindly and his mouth twisted into a frown. “The specialist will be able to figure it all out.”
They started their goodbyes after that when everyone realized Harry needed to get his information to Dumbledore sooner rather than later. Ron and Hermione lingered while everyone else gave Harry farewell pats on Draco’s hand. They chatted for a while. Harry would interrupt his descriptive text to jot conversation on a different page to join in with his friends. The day caught up to Draco and he drifted in the peaceful droning of their voices and the scratching of the quill.
Draco opened his eyes and looked around from where his cheek was pressed flat against the desk. His hand was moving, the sound of the quill quiet in the room. There didn’t seem to be anyone there besides the cooing phoenix and Potter, who was currently tracing his other fingers through Draco’s hair.
“God, it’s dark out. How are you still writing?” Draco sat up slowly.
Don’t sleep. Don’t get tired.
“Ah. That must get boring.” Draco looked around blearily, only to start when Harry leaned forward and rested his body on him heavily. Breath was suddenly on Draco’s cheek and he glanced to where Harry was likely staring back. “What?”
You’re mad cute when you’re asleep.
Draco stared intently at the words but they didn’t reveal themselves to be an illusion. He tilted his head and wondered if he was just very, very tired. “Potter, I really don’t know what you’re thinking here.”
Seriously, still? You’re Hot. Sexy. Very fucking sexy. How blunt do I need to be?
Everything sort of went red. Draco blinked dumbly at the page as heat rushed to his face.
I can’t stop thinking of you. Yesterday in the shower when you
He used his free hand to slam down the quill and cut off Harry’s words. “Don’t. Not that,” he whispered hollowly.
Harry pulled the quill away and wrote quickly. Why? You were beautiful.
Draco shook his head and breathed out unsteadily. “It’s not funny, Potter. Just because I’m the only one you can talk to doesn’t mean you get to fucking tease me about this. Just stop it.”
I’m not teasing!
“Fucking are, you bloody—” Draco stopped. He quickly crumpled up the spare piece of parchment right before Dumbledore walked into the room. “Sir, if I could go already, that would be great.” He rose and pulled away from the extremely warm, and now motionless body behind him.
“Of course, Draco. I wanted to thank you for all your help today in bringing Harry back to us. And with the writing.” Dumbledore picked up the pages of text Harry wrote while Draco slept and glanced through them quickly. “Hopefully there will be something here to give us a clue on how to get Harry back.”
Draco nodded but he was distracted and irritable. All he really wanted was to get out of there already. “Not a problem. And if you would just not mention any of this to my mother?”
Dumbledore looked grave and Draco stopped his fidgeting. “What? You spoke with her?”
“No, but I have a feeling she will be owling you.” Dumbledore combed his long beard a moment, then sighed. “We made some inquiries into your ancestry once it was revealed you weren’t fully human. Nothing that could harm your standing in the society, but I’m certain your father has a network to catch these sorts of things. It was definitely from his side, Draco. As his only heir, they will want to protect you from word getting out.”
Fucking hell. What did that mean, exactly? Was he going to end up as fucking crazy as his father now? Harry’s hand touched his shoulder and Draco started from his thoughts. He ran a hand through his hair as he pulled away and edged towards the door. “Fine, whatever, it’s done. I really need to get going.”
Dumbledore held his hand up. “Draco, we’re going to need your help once McVicar gets here. We will try to work around your class schedule, but I’m sure you can understand the urgency of this. Given Harry’s condition—”
“It’s fine. I’ll do whatever I can to help,” Draco interrupted. “Just ask. But now I really need to eat, sir.”
“Of course; my apologies. I’ll have the house elves send something to your room. Harry, it is such a relief to have you back with us.” Dumbledore led them to the door and Draco was finally free. He pulled again out of Harry’s hand when he tried to hold his back while they walked down the hallway.
Harry wasn’t sure exactly why Malfoy was pissed but he was clearly angry. After about five minutes of pretending to eat, Draco gave up to stalk around his room and pace. Harry kept trying to grab him and get him to write but that only seemed to make Malfoy more upset. Instead Harry stood in a corner out of the way while he watched him fume.
He loved the flash in Draco’s eyes and the way his hair flowed around him as he whirled and muttered. He was still in his quidditch uniform, not having thought to change even now. With him pacing, snarling, and being over all hot, Harry was realizing he might have a problem when it came to the prat.
“Potter, where are you?” Draco called as he stopped in the middle of the room. Seeing the quill in hand, Harry stepped forward and brushed fingers over his arm. Draco jumped and he had to wonder why, seeing as he knew he was right there.
Draco pulled him over to the desk and threw a piece of parchment down. “Promise me, Potter. You won’t tell a goddamn soul about yesterday.”
Harry curled fingers around Draco’s and carefully moved his hand.
What about yesterday?
“Potter!” Harry stumbled back when Draco shoved him.
“Fuck, Malfoy. What the fuck is your problem?” He quickly grabbed the hand trying to punch him.
“Damn it!” Draco struggled in his grasp and Harry only held on harder. He stepped closer to look down at the annoying, beautiful prat. “I have responsibilities, you dolt. People can’t know that I… that I like that sort of thing. It… it’s not really accepted with purebloods, or, well, most normal society in general,” Draco finally muttered.
With a start, Harry realized he was talking about the shower. Malfoy actually looked distressed. Harry never had any issues with his own sexuality, but then, he was able to talk to Remus and Sirius about it. Who the hell did Malfoy have to talk to, besides his fucked up family?
Harry tugged Draco’s hand back down to the table and wrote again, the letters lopsided from the angle.
I wasn’t planning on telling anyone.
Draco visibly relaxed. He sat and slumped down in the chair. “Thanks.”
Why does it matter?
Harry watched as Draco scowled and his free hand covered half his face.
You’re fucking beautiful.
“Stop!” Draco tried to wrest his arm away. Harry used his other hand to hold him still and scrawled quickly.
Why would I joke about this? Who the fuck would find it funny?
“I don’t bloody know, but it’s all you fucking lions joke about. Everything is a fucking broom ride with you lot, and this is my god damn life!”
Draco managed to pull his arm free and tried to get past him. He nearly knocked his head right into Harry’s bowed one. Because he could, and he fucking wanted to, and he was sick of this very frustrating feeling, Harry grabbed Draco around his waist and lifted him up.
“Potter! Stop being so annoying!” Draco was hazy eyed again, face flushed across his pale cheeks and Harry really just couldn’t stop himself. He tilted his head up and pressed his lips to Draco’s.
It was very much the wrong move. Draco’s hands quickly found his hair and pulled hard until Harry placed him back on the ground.
“I’m fucking serious. I am not some fucking toy, you asshole!” Draco snarled somewhere around his shoulder since he still couldn’t seem to remember Harry was taller than him.
“You’re out of your fucking mind, Malfoy! Who the fuck kisses someone they don’t like? You’re fucking intentionally oblivious!” Harry growled loudly. The prat couldn’t hear him and the damn writing only seemed to be so easy for Draco to misinterpret. He apparently just couldn’t fucking let it go, even with Malfoy looking like he was going to murder him. Before he even knew what he was doing, Harry cupped his face and kissed him again.
Again, very much the wrong move. Draco grabbed his fingers and tried to bend them backwards. It was beyond confusing given how Draco also moaned, his lips parting to Harry’s tongue. Harry sacrificed one of his hands to Draco’s malicious retaliation, and used the other to thread through the hair at the back of his head to keep their mouth’s sealed together.
God, he really was just fucking divine. Fiery and wet and damn fucking perfect.
“Fuck, Potter… stop,” Draco gasped into his mouth. His hand finally stopped the painful finger bending and came to rest on Harry’s chest. Free, Harry wrapped his arm around Draco’s slim waist, pressed their bodies together and earned a wonderful, shaky cry. Bare hot flesh pressed against bare hot flesh. Draco started to tremble and Harry felt a strange, wild heat rise in him.
“I don’t want to stop, you prat. I don’t ever want to let you go. Why can’t you understand that?” Harry murmured between deep kisses. He pulled gasps and moans and even one very adorable squeak from Draco’s red mouth.
Just as suddenly, Draco hit him again. The little ferret went so far as to bite in a less sexy and just plain painful way until Harry finally pulled his mouth away.
“I’m getting fucking married!”
“To some fucking bird when you are clearly gay and hot for me, you idiot.” Somehow, once again his argument was lost on Draco because when Harry went to kiss him again, his ear was twisted. “Shit… shit… owww.”
“I am getting married,” Draco continued determinedly, his eyes alight with anger and a fair bit of torment. “In less than a month. It is difficult enough, without you… you fucking reminding me I very much don’t like women. You are a very good kisser, by the way, so please fucking stop it.” Draco shoved him. Harry stumbled back in surprise and crouched to keep from falling.
Fuck. Fucking Malfoy. Harry stood, and paced around Draco’s stiff form, who looked like he didn’t know whether to start yelling or hitting. “Don’t fucking marry her!”
“And you know what else, Potter? What the fuck are you kissing me for, anyways? When did seeing me in the shower make you think you could just fucking kiss me? I never said a goddamn thing about that being okay! Like you have some fucking right, just because no one can see you?”
Alright, Harry knew at this point he definitely had a problem. The prat was just too fucking gorgeous when he was angry. It was a problem a year ago. Now he really just couldn’t stop himself after having spent hours pressed up against Draco while writing, stealing long licks when he slept and kissing him repeatedly. He saw him naked, and fuck… He knew just how much Draco would enjoy getting his ass shagged. Once again Harry stalked forward, pulled Draco’s slender form toward him and kissed him deeply.
Draco must of had a similar problem. At the first press of lips to his, he grabbed Harry’s shoulders and kissed back just as hard. He readily gave in to Harry’s demanding tongue, his lips swollen and hot juice dripping from the corner of his panting mouth. Only to again push him back, silver eyes so hazy Harry was certain he would cave if he just kissed him once more.
“Potter, I can’t even fucking see you!” Draco shouted and threw his hands up in frustration. “It’s like kissing thin air. It’s weird!”
Ah, maybe not so much. “Crap. Close your eyes or something.” Harry gently pressed his hand down over Draco’s eyes. It seemed to do the trick. Draco no longer resisted when Harry pressed lips to his, the kiss softer this time. They didn’t stop until Draco was gasping and his short nails scraped at the back of Harry’s neck. With a groan, Draco pulled away and sat in a heap on his bed.
“Fuck, Potter… What the fuck are you doing to me?” Draco ran a shaky hand through his hair. “I’m getting married. Soon. There is no way around it… And you, you’re not even here, are you? You’re off in some other fucking plane of existence which just happens to have a bit of me in it. Hell, you wouldn’t even be in the building if not for the magic keeping you from falling through. What the fuck is kissing going to do except drive me mad?”
Harry wasn’t sure and didn’t really care. He really wanted to keep kissing the gorgeous prat whenever the urge hit him. He reached his hand for Draco’s right one and touched his fingertips.
“No. I don’t want to talk with you. You’ll find some fucking way to convince me and I can’t do this, Potter. I can’t.” Draco threw his arm over his face to block his eyes from the sight of absolutely nothing. “I can’t tell if you’re having me on. I can’t tell if you’re happy, or sad, or angry. I can’t tell a goddamn thing, except you seem to enjoy pissing me off and kissing me. In that order, at that.”
Harry pulled harder on his hand but Draco resisted. “Come on, Malfoy. How the fuck can I make you understand if you won’t let me?”
“We need some fucking boundaries, Potter. I need you to not go in my loo while I’m in there. And you should stop kissing me and touching me all the fucking time too. Especially… especially when I’m sleeping.”
There was no way Harry was about to agree to any of that. Fuck boundaries. He spent the last months drifting aimlessly while waiting to die. He had no interest in wasting the little time left not enjoying it with the most stunning creature on the planet, who just happened to be able to touch him back. Harry raised Draco’s hand to head and shook a clear no.
Scowling, Draco pushed him back by the forehead. “You’re a fucking pain, Potter. What, you think just because you killed You-Know-Who that you can bloody have whatever you want from me? Arrogant ass.”
Harry snorted at the very notion and sat next to Draco on his magically charmed sheets. “Malfoy, if I thought for a bloody second you didn’t want me, I would not be pawing at you. Although I would still be looking, believe you me.” Of course, Draco couldn’t hear him because he refused to get the quill. He did seem to be able to sense him though, his eyes flickering to where Harry was sitting now.
“Potter, I’m fucking tired. Today’s been shit. Let me sleep and stop bloody staring at me.”
Harry wrapped his fingers around Draco chin, leaned forward and watched his silver eyes widen as Draco’s breath sped up. “I am going to stare all I fucking like, Draco. You are beautiful and deserve to be stared at. That no one stares—Hell, that no one touches you is a goddamn crime and one I am not willing to commit.” He brushed his lips to Draco’s and listened as he gasped.
That dangerous feeling was rising in him again and with hot intent, he slid his tongue out and slowly licked up the side of Draco’s face. Draco made a noise between a shout and a moan and brought a hand up to shove him away. Harry quickly caught it and dipped his head lower to lick up Draco’s neck.
“Potter, you’re a fucking dog… Oh god… Get the fuck off me and stop licking me.” It would be easier to stop if Draco’s free hand wasn’t stuck in Harry’s thick hair, holding him down while he continue to lick and suck at his neck. For all his words of protest, Draco was enjoying himself, his head lolled to the side, eyes half closed while Harry held him up and continued marking his neck with red, mouth sized spots.
Suddenly Draco’s hand pried at his face. When Harry pulled away he could see the agony in his silver eyes. “Stop. Please. I’m getting married, and it’s not… it’s not right, Potter. Stop making things so difficult.”
Harry sighed heavily as his words sank in. He got up reluctantly and moved to the corner of the room to put space between them. Draco was exhausted, he could see that. And yes, as determined as he was, Harry could see he wasn’t helping Draco with anything at the moment, just infuriating and exasperating him.
“Malfoy, why the fuck are you getting married? You’re only seventeen. You’re clearly gay. Marrying some oblivious girl is just going to hurt her more than anything.” Just speaking the atrocity out loud was frustrating and Harry crouched with hands flat on the floor so he could feel something solid. “Shit, Malfoy, even if it wasn’t me you’re with, it sure as fuck shouldn’t be a girl. I would prefer it to be me. But don’t live the rest of your life pretending to be straight. It’s fucking stupid.”
Draco didn’t answer. He stripped the majority of his quidditch uniform off in the perceived silence and curled under the blankets and closed his eyes.
Harry stood. He didn’t approach the bed but watched from where he was. “Why the hell are you doing this?”
Naturally, he got no answer. Another spark tore through Harry’s form, this one right across his stomach and extremely painful. Cursing, he began to pace. He was in no mood to sit and drift.