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DRAFT SCENE TWELVE

Sean was in the middle of a panic attack by the time he got to his car. His hands shook so much, he scratched the paint on the door trying to get the key in the lock. He crawled into the stale, stuffy air of his 5 year old Honda Civic and collapsed in the driver side seat.

What the fuck did he do? Was Blake dead? Oh fuck… oh, fuck.

Sean panted for air and tried with all his might to care if Blake ended up dead. Blake wasn’t the fucking devil, not really. He just made him want to kill himself far too many times for Sean to be able to count now.

Sean cupped his face in his hands and groaned into the dark of his palms. Fuck him. Fuck him for being right outside his door again. Fuck him for making every step outside his building a fucking nightmare. Fuck him for ever being alive.

The passenger side door clicked opened and Sean jumped and scrambled blindly for the handle to his left. He had the door half way open when he finally looked to the side. He sucked in a nervous breath when he found glowing, predatory eyes framed by wicked curving horns staring at him from the level of the seat.

“Hey, Soot.” Sean closed his door and sank back against the seat. He relaxed despite his rational mind which still wasn’t sold on just how safe Soot was. He just didn’t have it in him to be afraid of the creature, not after he just saved him from Blake. Sean’s strained breathing was a loud wheeze in the enclosed space as the car tilted and Soot crawled up onto the passenger seat. Sean watched him from the corner of his eye, not sure what to say to him. He jolted when Soot’s giant head ended up propped on his lap. Sean stared down, taking in the dangerous curves of his dark horns which were really quick pretty up close. After a moment of hesitation, he let his trembling hand slide down and curl into Soot’s silky fur at his nape. Soot purred and nuzzled against his stomach like an overgrown cat.

“Thank you,” Sean whispered and meant it. “Blake is, well…” Blake was his tormentor and lover. The man Sean wanted to please and never could. The one he gave everything to until there was nothing left for himself. “Blake worked for my father. I fell for him before I even hit high school. I had the worst crush on him for the longest time. I would make such an ass of myself every time the group held a party or Blake was invited to the house. I really thought he was, well, the one. My one.”

Sean sighed dejectedly. “I was stupid. Naive and so fucking lost. Blake was older than me and just looked like he had his life together, you know? When my parents found out I was gay and kicked me out, I, well… I was really fucking dumb.” He thought Blake would take care of him. He wanted him to and Blake didn’t seem to mind. If anything, Blake was very good at making sure Sean never grew the skills needed to stand on his own. “He offered me everything. I never had to ask. He seemed so generous, so caring. And he… well, he liked me. I could tell. He was handsome, brilliant, was a junior at a lawfirm and he loved me. It all just made sense.”

Sean hadn’t realized jumping from his parents house to living with a man who acted like he was his father was so detrimental. Living on TJ’s couch made Sean wish for the easy days of having things handed to him. It wasn’t until months into the relationship with Blake that he saw how it was crippling him, making him soft and reliant. Even then, he hadn’t really cared until Blake wouldn’t let him even talk to his friends. Sean hadn’t seen Blake’s insecurities until the bitter end. He hadn’t wanted to see them.

“He only hit me once. It wasn’t an accident; that’s just the bullshit he tells himself so he can sleep at night. It was quite a hit, though. Knocked me into his antique dinning room set. Bruised me up good and sprained my wrist. Had a concussion, or so the healer said. I don’t really remember it. Funny, I was able to ignore all the other shit, all the weird calls to make sure I was alone, the texts asking me if I was out when he was at work. It got worse when TJ came back into my life. You’d have sworn I was throwing orgies every night or something. Blake was so jealous. He thought because I was younger I was going to sleep around or some shit.” Sean smiled bitterly to himself. Blake was his first and a part of him assumed his last. He just wasn’t that type of guy. He needed to trust someone to let them close physically. At least, so he thought.

He glanced down, taking in the way Soot’s eyes were closed contently as he stroked fingers through his fur from the center of his forehead down to his neck.

“I kicked him out the next day. I got the door locks changed and TJ helped me move all his stuff out of the apartment because I knew I’d never be able to get my name on a lease otherwise without any credit history. I got a new phone number, I deleted him from my life, and I put an add out for a roommate to help me cover the costs. I thought I was finally getting my shit together.” Teases fingers through Soot’s fur and sighs. “Blake was waiting for me one night three months ago. He saw the new add I put out for a roommate and he was out here waiting for me, swearing up and down he was different.” Sean shook his head, his lips twisted in a frown. “Then he told me it never even happened. That I was the crazy one—he got himself a therapist and he agrees that I’m the crazy, stupid child who can’t figure out how to live. He tried to force his way into the building. He was acting crazy, like the night he hit me. It… well, it scared me. I got inside but Blake was out there slamming on the door for hours. Literal hours. Someone called the cops, it turned into this huge thing and I got a restraining order because I was afraid if I didn’t, he’d come back and cause such an uproar that I’d be kicked out.”

“I couldn’t leave the apartment after that. I thought it would go away. I thought if I just gave it some time I’d stop feeling so petrified. I could go down to the gym but I just can’t bring myself to leave the apartment. Every time I think to step outside I know Blake is going to be there. And it’s true, isn’t it? I stepped outside today and there he was, waiting.”

“In some ways, I’m glad he hit me. It woke me the fuck up. I don’t know if anything else would have. I had this fucking ideal in my head of how we were and it didn’t matter how much of a lie it was, I just couldn’t break free of it. He isolated me, paid for everything, and belittled all my attempts to work for myself. He wanted me weak and dependent on him so I’d never leave. Everything I did was wrong in his eyes, unless it was what Blake really wanted. Even then, I still wasn’t allowed to have owned the decision. Blake would always point out how he was the reason I was there. How he taught me what I did know. How I’d be nothing if I left.”

Sean grimaced. “Looks like he was right. My place is trashed, my business is ruined, and I can’t keep my life together for more than a few months at a time. Fuck, I can’t even step out the door without being terrified he’s going to be there waiting. I feel so fucking helpless.” It was more than a feeling, it was who he was. Helpless. “It’s crazy, but I just know if he gets me alone long enough, he’s going to convince me to get back together with him. It would be so easy right now. I have no money, no business, no defenses. I’m worse off now than when I kicked him out and stole that shitty computer of his. If I don’t pay rent, where will I go? How will I survive? I have no degree, no credit history, and the only living soul who can even talk to me for five minutes is TJ. Fuck, I don’t even know when I turned into such a bastard. Was that Blake or was that always me? Am I always going to be alone just because I suck at being a person?”

Sean glanced up through the windshield but there was only the view of brick to see. He hated the part of him scared to leave the car. It didn’t fit with logic; it never did. Just once, just once Blake was outside but ever since Sean felt his presence everywhere. Blake hadn’t hurt him them, but Sean had felt the potential of it. It was bigger than reality, bigger than anything he could overcome. Blake was a man but Sean’s fears of him were of something far more dangerous and destructive. Their time together, Blake broke him down into a weak, reliant child and although Sean was free, had thought he had built himself back into something far stronger, he was still stalked by a nightmare he couldn’t escape. When Sean faced the world outside, it wasn’t as an adult but as that frightened child with no defenses, no strengths or ability to fight back. All he had were doors to keep him safe from his nightmares.

Something hot and wet curled around his hand and Sean jolted. He bit his lip when Soot sat up and went to lick his cheek. “Quit it,” Sean mumbled while his face flushed. He pushed at Soot’s over sized head, and paused when he caught a knowing smirk on the cat’s features. Sean ducked his head to hide his blush. “Weirdo.”

Sean’s breathing was finally back to order, and with it, he began to question just what the hell he was doing. Seriously, what the hell was he doing? “This is crazy. Why the hell would I help Magnolia? She’s the reason this all happened.”

He wouldn’t have lost his business if Magnolia just followed the rules. He wouldn’t have even had to worry about running into Blake. Sean spent the last three months never needing to leave his apartment but Magnolia fucked that all up.

Sean stared moodily at the inside of his car and his eyes lit up. “Fuck, why didn’t I think of it earlier? I can sell the car. I never use the damn thing. Hell, I bet I could get at least 5 grand for it. I barely put any millage on it.” This was the answer. Not running around like some hero wannabe slaying some dragon after facing off against a building full of witches. Hell, he didn’t have to leave the apartment. He just needed to sell his damn car. He could cover rent and get a new computer set up and everything. He might even be able to expand!

“Hey, Soot, I think I know how I’m…” Sean’s words stumbled and halted when there was a sudden tearing sound. The car shifted and tilted as Soot stood and dug razor sharp claws into the seat. Sean was not confused by the terribly wicked gleam in Soot’s eye this time. “Don’t you fucking dare.”

It was no use. Soot clenched his paws and pulled. The passenger seat sliced and was pulled from the car when Soot tore backward. Sean jumped out the driver’s side door, wobbling as the car rocked dangerously. By the time he turned, Soot was reaching for the roof with claws outstretched, that same gleeful smile on his features as he used his powerful form and weight to smash in the side of his Honda.

“What the fuck? Stop it!” Sean reached over the top to grab Soot’s paw and nearly smacked him on the maw when Soot vaulted up. The car crunched in protest and Sean squawked as the roof caved in.

“Damn it… Fuck!” Scowling, Sean scrambled back and glared as Soot jumped to the top of his car, his wings flapping for balance as the car crumpled beneath him. Why? Why was he like this?

As Sean fumed, Soot gave a shook. Moments later he melted down and the hulking, lumbering panther returned to his small, petite house cat form. Soot meowed beckoningly and Sean sighed. Damn it. God damn it.

He was going to have to save Magnolia. He needed the money, and by fuck, he was going to get rid of this hellion.

Intangible 30

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Harry’s face was full of white feathers and silky, platinum strands of hair when he woke. He couldn’t remember falling asleep, just a sudden wave of exhaustion and need to hold Draco which both won out at the same time. He blinked a few time and focused on the covering far above with patterns of swirling colors. Too much time couldn’t have passed but by the sounds, the entire village had fucked themselves to sleep. Either that, or Draco’s orgasm somehow knocked them all out.

Harry suspected the latter. His gaze trailed down to where Draco was curled up against him with a serene smile twisted on his lips. Beautiful. Beautiful, otherworldly, and fuck, he missed him so much. He missed his taste, his fire, and the damn outrage he could build up at a moment’s notice. There was something about Draco Malfoy minutes from cursing him dead that was far too addictive to be healthy. He was amazing, and Harry was so glad to have found him again.

Harry hadn’t had a moment to really think about what being alive again would be like. Being dead—or the next best thing—hadn’t been anything at all until Draco stumbled into him and reminded him what it was like to feel. Trapped in that other realm, he burned so hot whenever Draco was around when at any other time he felt he was drifting away. Draco really was what kept his heart beating in more ways than one. Now… Now he found him and an entire village of Vesper who Draco claimed as family. Living was going to be different from the last time he was in this realm.

There was no Voldemort to battle, no spies to avoid, no one to save or fear would be destroyed because they got too close to him. No Dursleys. Harry sighed, and his eyes fell shut and brows furrowed. He breathed deeply and opened them again to stare up at the colorful awning above. He wasn’t human. He wasn’t attached to anything but the young man in his arms. He was free and the world felt like it stretched out with possibility to immense to understand.

Maybe it would have been to infinity itself but Harry couldn’t help but remember what brought him to the woods and Vesper village. He hurt people at the school. He wanted to do worse when he was there. He was so angry and that anger hadn’t burned away even if it wasn’t at the forefront of his mind anymore. There was something wrong inside him, something bitter and angry and hurt. It didn’t matter if he was in a castle with his peers or a village in the woods; there was no escaping himself.

Harry carefully extracted his arm from beneath Draco’s softly breathing form and sat up as quietly as possible. The new vantage allowed him to see the Vesper stretched out around them like a shimmery carpet of hair and flesh. They were beautiful in their sleep, lacking any self consciousness or defensiveness. Nothing like the creatures who he saw at the castle. The Vesper looked suited for soft pillows and cushions and to be twined together at all hours of the day. With Draco in the middle, that was probably exactly what they did.

Harry stood from his crouch and stared down at where Draco was sleeping. He belonged here. Draco found a home and he didn’t want to ruin it for him. Harry wasn’t sure if this could ever be a place for him and he wasn’t sure it even mattered.

Harry examined his too large hands, now near gold in color since the char black had a chance to melt away. He died in that fight with Voldemort. Whatever came back wasn’t right; he wasn’t human and he wasn’t stable. Worse, he wasn’t safe, and he couldn’t trust himself to not fly into a rage over absolutely nothing. He hurt people. He wanted to kill people and he still wasn’t even sure why. When he saw Sirius…

Harry exhaled slowly and let his arms fall to his side. He felt hurt, betrayed even. He felt like a small, broken child and all he wanted to do was lash out so others would know how much it hurt. He wasn’t safe. He should never have come here.

“Harry?”

Harry jolted and turned his head. His eyes widened when they fell on the curly haired girl standing in the entrance of a building. He hadn’t scented her, but there she was anyways. “Hermione.”

Hermione held a finger up to her lips for him to be quiet as she waved him over. Harry hesitated when he realized he wasn’t wearing clothes. He looked around at the piles strewn over the ground among the sleeping Vesper and reached for the nearest pair of pants not shredded beyond use. No one was awake to care as he slipped them on.

He paused as his gaze fell to where Draco was sleeping. He looked beyond peaceful and at home. It only made Harry feel more out of place as he took in the sea of Vesper who were so similar as they slept contently around him. Now the crazy heat of earlier was gone and nothing was demanding he find Draco and claim him, Harry felt completely lost.

He picked his way carefully around the sleeping Vesper and climbed the stairs Hermione was at the top of. He opened his mouth to speak but Hermione grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the door. “Quiet. Their hearing is ridiculous.”

Harry wasn’t sure why Hermione didn’t want the Vesper to hear them. He allowed himself to be pulled through the door and into the building. It was a wide open floor plan with a casual, relaxed decorations. Harry tried to look around but Hermione’s grip tightened and she marched him toward a small, nondescript door.

“Hermione, what are you doing here?”

Hermione raised an eyebrow and revealed in the one expression she was spending far too much time with Draco. “Did you not demand we protect Draco at all costs? Did you really think I’d let the Vesper take him without some sort of backup?” Hermione pushed the door open and Harry stared down a set of dimly lit stone steps. There was a strange scent on the air, one of age and great power. Familiar and at the same time, it set his nerves on edge and his pulse racing.

“He’s okay, though. Draco’s okay here?” Harry asked as his eyes searched the dark below. Warning prickled through him. He loved Hermione. There was no one in his life he trusted more than her and Ron. He also knew if he truly was a danger, his friends would readily kill him to ensure he never became a monster like Voldemort. The longer Harry stared into the darkness, the more he wondered if that was what he was about to face.

“Draco’s safe here, Harry. He’s happy. He’s always going to be happy with his family.”

Harry nodded slowly as he met Hermione’s sharp gaze. It was all he cared about. No matter what happened, he wanted Draco happy. “Okay.”

Without another word, Hermione moved back from the door and Harry took a step down the steeps stairs.

This Really Is My Favorite Time of Year 🍂🌻🍂

Hey babes,

The world is on fire with so many gorgeous colors and change is burning through the air.

It’s been an interesting week. Interesting in the sense I haven’t done much of anything yet I feel like the world has opened up. My health has reached a place where the worst thing that happens to me when I’m hit by the allergies is mild congestion, a little body pain, and a flare of anxiety. That’s it. I don’t see it changing, I don’t see me ever becoming sick like I was the last 4 years, and I spent this week in a limbo as I came to understand that.

My anxiety is not based in reality but in illness. Fear is not real; it lives in the mind. It’s been a mind blowing week, peeps.

I’m trying to figure out how to live life not running from fear—PTSD, illness and never having enough. I have no idea. I’m learning to not identify with the conflict in my life or around me. Someone threw a cup of coffee into my car at my brother who was driving after they cut him off, the Republicans’ passed a budget bill destined to fuck over anyone not filthy rich, and I think I clicked together why my adoption records were sealed after some recovered memories keep popping up. Huge things that could have me cycling in my brain freaking out, arguing with imaginary people as I fight myself. That’s not where I am anymore. I’m very aware that I’m not doing that anymore, that I’m choosing to let go of things, the big ‘me’ where I go, ‘MY car, MY poor brother, MY pain, MY past, MY fear, MINE, MINE, ME!’ That’s not who I am no matter how loud and distracting those things try to be. I’m learning to not be the events and fears in my life—past, current or future—but I’m not sure what that leaves me with.

Why do we do things if we’re not running from pain or trauma? Considering I’ve had PTSD since a toddler, it’s my next journey to discover. What I know for sure is it is so much easier to breathe without that little, hurt voice sucking up all the oxygen as it relives it pain over and over again insisting it’s important. As a writer of books, I know humans define themselves by their conflict. What we ‘overcome’ we decide is who we are. It is so fucking nice to be free of that. I am not my pain or struggle; I get to be something more.

There are things I struggle with needlessly I really want to address this year. Like asking for help. It’s kinda mind boggling when I think all I have done to survive while sick and starting a business and my inability to not only ask for help but also accept it. It’s not a unique problem, either. I know plenty of people who struggle with this. I was unfortunately surrounded by those who would reinforce this idea by treating me and others like shit when we did dare ask for help because they couldn’t face the perceived weakness within they felt when they needed help. I have shed those people from my life years ago, yet the bad software still remains within. I don’t know how to allow myself to have fun. I know how to do things I perceive are ‘important’ or ‘worthy’ or ‘industrious’ or will make money, but I have no idea how to relax and have fun. There’s no one keeping me from it but myself. I am apparently very unyielding when it comes to me while my generosity knows no bounds to the people around me. It is a difficult way to live.

You know what I have been indulging in this week? Pho. There is this amazing little place in Springfield and every time I have enough cash to get a bowl, I feel full of sunshine and happy.

Speaking of Generosity

The death count for Puerto Rico looks like it could be up to 450 as a direct cause to the hurricane. Clean water is still scarce; there is a fear it’s being sourced from contaminated ground water as it is. FEMA is providing a little over 1/2 a million meals a day, meaning more than 3 million people are not eating and may not have been eating since the hurricane hit. If we leave it up to Trump, these people will die. Even if it’s a dollar a week, it’s still something for those who currently have nothing.

Price Cliffs

Totally flaked. So Demon Bonded, every episode will now be $0.99. I’m doing this for every serial episode of all my books. I’m taking a new approach to all this- part of the whole letting fear go- and we’ll see how it goes. Every book that goes wide is going to see a price drop, you know, once I get to it. XD

I think this is how I’m going to deal with the Bargain book thing I used to have on the website. Once a book is out of KU those first 3 months, I want it cheaper. I want to be looking forward and motivating myself to write the next book instead of clinging to the older stuff. I know I’ve been clinging these last months as I try to edit and erase my mold allergy from my writing. I still can’t get over that mental place–I want the books the best they can be– but I can at least make everything more affordable once I do get past my neurotic brain.

I apologize if this is difficult on those who paid full price for these books already. I want to thank you for supporting me – let’s be clear, I seriously need the money. I’m actually going to be setting up a Patreon soon. I need to be willing to let people pay for my books when they can.

Peace, darlings.

~Sadie Sins

Moving In by Karma Kingsley

Rye Winters lives life on his own terms. Even when his family disowned him for dropping out of medical school, he pushed forward for a career path that he loved. Nothing keeps Rye down…except that he’s gay and terrified to tell anyone. It’s the secret that haunts him, suffocating him to exhaustion. But it’s a secret he can’t trust with anyone. That is until Chase Evans. His RoomMatch pairing that changes his life and shows him just how gay he really is.

Chase Evans by most standards is a failure. He’s a failure at writing, a failure at socializing and a failure at love. In hopes of changing his path, he packs his bags and leaves Lexington, Virginia behind. With the help of the RoomMatch App, he finds himself a cheap apartment in Harlem, New York and a charming roommate that helps him to come out of his shell and his comfort zone. But things get wonky when he finds out his roommate may be a little friendlier than he can handle.

 

 

 

Fox Hunt by Zoe Perdita – $0.99

Edward Wilder’s life sucks. At 18, the fox shifter is homeless, trying to care for his baby sister, and since a group of hunter’s maimed him, he can’t even get a normal job. Things can’t get worse—until he witnesses a murder. Now the cops and criminals are on his ass, and he has nowhere to turn. Until Maxwell Strider shows up. Problem is, Max is a hunter, and Edward hates hunters.

Max wouldn’t take in a couple of foxes under normal circumstances. He may only hunt truly dangerous shadow folk, but that doesn’t mean he wants to open his home to a potential enemy. But he owes an old friend a favor, and Edward and the baby, Daisy, need his help.

Protecting Edward should be easy, but the fox wakes a desire Max never knew he possessed. A lust Edward seems to share—if only at night. But can he mend the hurt Edward faced in the past and earn the one thing he’s denied himself—a chance at a family—before it’s too late?

60K book contains: a sexy fox shifter and a too hot to handle hunter, enemies to lovers, graphic gay sex, sporadic violence and HEA.

 

Uncovering The Dragon by Van Cole – $0.99

Sometimes A Fresh Start Brings You Back To Who You Really Are

River Marsh is a young adult set to inherit his family’s century-old business.

But making progress is hard when River’s biggest secret – that he’s a dragon shifter – burns in his conscience. No longer welcome in his hometown, River relocates to Chicago where he works under an aloof boss who shares a similar secret as well as an intense, erotic passion that leaves the young protagonist wanting more.

Storm Woods, CEO of Woods Interior Solutions, has spent his life turning even the ugliest houses into masterpieces. His new, young assistant, River Marsh, possesses a spark that the designer hasn’t encountered in ages.

Unfortunately, professional situations make for sticky scenarios. But Storm, as his name suggests, is as daring as his designs.

 

Intangible 28

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Hermione’s face was pressed up to the side of the Kalistar’s underground tomb when her proximity alarms went off. She charmed a half dozen mines miles outside the village wall to warn if any humans were wandering around out there. She didn’t know what the Vesper would do if someone from the school trespassed while reeking of human scent, and she didn’t want to find out.

Hermione ran through the dimly lit room where torches crackled in her ear. She sprang up the stone stairs and scrambled as she took them two at a time. The midmorning light blinded her once she reached the main entrance room through the nondescript door which led to the basement. She blinked rapidly and he mind raced. They were returning to Hogwarts tomorrow; did Ron get the days wrong and send someone to break them free? Was this a party to lead them safely back? Was it even people from Hogwarts?

She didn’t know what she’d do if it was one of the rare but brutal raids the Vesper spoke in hushed whispers, where humans seemed to go mad when finding their village and attacked them. Some of the huts by the wall had scorch marks from when a group of—now very dead—humans tried to burn them down years ago.

Hermione wasn’t sure which side she’d pick if humans stumbled in here looking to kill the Vesper. She certainly wasn’t going to allow anyone to be injured, human or Vesper, but Hermione wasn’t expecting the fierce part of her ready to side with the generous village who fed, sheltered, and protected her from any predator who would think to break past the walls.

She found the Vesper outside frozen mid step and turned in the same direction as they faced the forest. Hermione weaved through and found Matten, whose distinct scar and short hair made him an easy goal among the many long haired shifters. Draco was with him, also turned toward the forest with a strange smile twisting his lips.

“There are people out there,” Hermione said as she pulled at Draco’s arm. “We need to make sure they aren’t attacked by the guards.” Draco didn’t respond, and she turned to Matten who had a hard, anxious look in his deep pale blue eyes. “Matten, will they be harmed?”

“No.” Matten’s gaze never wavered from the forest trees. “I’ve called everyone back to the village. There’s no one who could harm them out there.”

Hermione sighed in relief and her eyes strayed to the wall of trees. “Do we know who they are. Are they from the school?”

Draco, who hadn’t spoken a word since she’d arrived, suddenly pointed toward one of the trees where the leaves rustled violently in the distance. “It’s Potter.”

“What?” Hermione gaped at Draco in confusion and looked to where he was pointing. The canopy shuddered again as something large and dark moved up with a bizarre grace, hand over hand as it reached the thin branches of the top and crouched. “Holy… That can’t be Harry.” Hermione took a step back when she got a clear look at the creature. It was some sort of demon, muscle bound and skulking with twisted antlers and terrible, huge wings that ruffled in the wind. The more she looked at it, the more she felt malevolent anger. There was something in the dark face and burning eyes that warned her away.

“It is.” Matten placed a bracing hand on her shoulder. “That is the Kalistar halfling. I didn’t even know they could exist; it was always the Vesper traits halflings possess.”

“What’s wrong with him?” Even though she could tell it was Harry, Hermione still could only feel his terrible anger.

“Nothing,” Draco said as he waved his hand to Harry up in the tree. Hermione watched, wide eyed as Harry caught the movement. His head turned and white teeth flashed bright against his dark skin. He moved with a fluid grace as he stood on branches that shouldn’t be able to hold his weight.

“Back in the tomb,” Matten ordered gruffly. Zyan appeared at Hermione’s arm and lifted her up as if she were a child. He walked her quickly back to the center under the canopy and brought her into the building. He wouldn’t let her down until they were in front of the door that led to the Kalistar’s tomb.

“What’s going to happen?” Hermione asked, for the first time truly afraid.

“I don’t know,” Zyan answered honestly. “The Kalistar will protect you if something happens to us. They always protect humans. I must go out and stand by my people. Hide away in here and don’t come out unless someone returns for you.”

It was crazy; it was just Harry. Still, Hermione readily stepped down into the cool of the basement. She was grateful for the sturdy, strong walls around her as she sank to the ground and waited. She tried not to think of how she felt cruelty radiating off of Harry from afar. Was is because he looked so strange and monstrous that she thought him malevolent, or was it true and Harry was different, changed? Hermione wished she knew. She wished she took Draco with her.

Two thoughts hit Draco at once as he watched Harry plummet from the tree, unfurl his wings, and swoop down like a hawk into the middle of the village. The first was Harry was able to fly even better with wings than on a broom, and the second was he looked drop dead sexy. Impossibly so. Harry landed ten feet away in a crouch and straightened to his full, impressive height. His muscles flexed, expression was fierce, and his eyes… Damn, he missed Harry’s beautiful, glowing verdant green eyes.

Draco barely noticed Harry was a strange char black with spiraling antlers, swishing tail, and ink black wings. It was Harry and he was magnificent. He looked like a returning demon prince as he stared around haughtily, his stance full of power and command. He was healed, absolutely alive, and the longer Draco looked at him, the more drunk with joy he felt to see him again.

“Harry.” Draco’s whisper was enough to draw Harry’s gaze to him among the many shifters, and his green eyes snapped his way. Draco started in the intensity of his expression, and a wild, giddy laugh bubbled from him as he felt the full effect of Harry’s roiling dark energy crackle over him. Matten hummed to help bring Draco under control and Harry snarled.

“Fuck… Ha! Oh, shit.” Draco cackled and bent over with his hand covering his face as he fought the crazed laughter taking him over. He couldn’t stop shaking and missed when Harry raised his arm and power crashed down. An unbearable blanket of weight fell and crumpled everyone to the ground but Harry and the hysterically laughing Draco.

Draco struggled to breathe and stumbled wide eyed. He looked down and found Matten flat on the ground moaning in pain. Draco clutched his chest and looked up. His glare met Harry’s. “Leave them alone, Potter.”

“Why?” Harry took a step forward, aggression and challenge in every move he made.

Fuck, he was hot. Draco shoved the hair from his face and grinned widely while he looked Harry over. He was in nothing more than thin pajama pants that hid nothing from the imagination. His muscles were tense, puffed up, and Draco wanted to know what they felt like against him, holding him. Except, he could also hear the weak groans from the Vesper stuck to the ground and it was definitely ruining the mood.

Draco grit his teeth, pulled the warm tickle of power swirling in his stomach, and raised it up. He didn’t hesitate as he pushed his power out with all intention of breaking his beautiful Harry before he could destroy his pack. “They’re my family, Potter. No one fucks with my family.”

“Too bad!” Harry shouted and pushed into the force of Draco’s power, who laughed and raised more to compensate. Harry raised his hands, using them as a shield as he pressed back with all his strength. “Where the fuck were you, Malfoy?” Fury and hurt flashed in his eyes.

“I was here, idiot.” Draco made an exaggerated expression at that obvious. “Now leave them alone!”

“No! Why the hell were you here and not by my side? Shit, Draco, you ran off the first fucking chance you got! Didn’t you even wonder if I was alive?” Harry pushed three more steps forward. He growled and faltered back when Draco’s power radiated out and he started glowing as bright as the sun.

“For fuck sake, Potter, nothing can kill you. You’re like the fucking plague. Stop whining like a little bitch because I wasn’t there to hold your unconscious hand. You’re fine now. You found me.” Draco snarled and put more power into his attack. “Stop hurting my friends!”

Harry struggled to breathe under Draco’s onslaught with his focus split on his defense and keeping the Vesper detained. He continued to stand tall and push back until he was a foot away. Draco swayed as laughter sparked when he took a deep breath and was lost in Harry’s scent. Harry tried to reach his hand forward, but Draco was faster and vibrated power to keep a barrier between them.

“How long did it take to forget me?” Harry’s nostrils flared as he spat out accusations. “A day? Two? How long until I was a fucking memory of your dead boyfriend!”

Alright, there was something a little fucked up with Harry, and the realization was filtering through Draco’s hysterics. He furrowed his brow and stared deep into Harry’s flashing eyes. “I didn’t forget you. I was going back tomorrow to see if you were healed enough to come here.”

“Bullshit!” Harry snarled. He surged forward and clasped his hands on Draco’s upper arms. “I can smell them on you. You reek of them!” He pulled Draco close and breathed up his neck. His fingers tore at the flimsy vest he was wearing as Harry sought out something. “Where’s the ink, Draco? Did you wash it away the first day? Was it so fucking easy to hope I’d die so you could move on!”

Draco was finding it hard to focus. Harry’s hands were powerful as they pulled at him and his body gave off a cloud of heat mixed with the scent of need. He fought it the best he could, and focused on the Vesper moaning in pain. The angrier Harry got, the more his power pushed them down. “You’re hurting them, Potter. Just fucking let them up, and talk to me prop… Fuck.” Draco closed his eyes and swayed when, with a snarl, Harry got fingers into his waistband and tore his pants down.

Harry stilled when he found the blue pen lines Draco refused to wash off his lower body. His dark hand ran slowly over the swell of Draco’s bare ass, and Harry groaned as he buried his face into his bright hair. “Tell me it means something to you,” he demanded hoarsely, pain clear in his voice. “Tell me these words mean something still.”

“I’m yours,” Draco promised and put everything he felt into the simple words. It was true. He was Harry’s and he couldn’t understand why Harry was blind to how clearly he cared. Even now, the words only seemed to anger him more. Harry snarled and his fingers bit into Draco’s flesh as he sank down and possessively scented his torso.

“You’re covered in them,” Harry growled. “Don’t tell me you’re mine after you fucked the damn village!”

The bloody asshole. “Fuck you, Potter!” Draco shoved him away and bit his lips when he felt how powerful Harry’s shoulders were. Damn, that was some hot muscle and absolutely wasted. Harry kept acting shitty and he wasn’t going to put up with it. “I have a right to fuck who I want, when I want. Just because you want to write all over me like some dog trying to piss his territory doesn’t change anything.”

“I fucking knew it. The day I saw you react to them, I fucking knew you’d be a goddamn slut with these fucking creatures,” Harry spat back. He staggered to his feet and towered over Draco, who glared back not remotely intimidated by his height, strength, and power. “Did you fuck the dragons too? Let them ride you like some four-legged…”

“You can say whatever cruel shit you like, Potter. It doesn’t change the fact I can choose who I sleep with.” Draco’s voice was low in warning. “I’m a Vesper, and we fuck. A lot. If you don’t…”

“You’re mine!” Harry roared insistently. Draco gaped and his knees went weak as fire rushed up in him so strong he could barely breathe. Oh, fuck. Oh, dear fuck. Draco fell forward and gasped for air while his body tried to bend to Harry’s mating call. He couldn’t. This was not the way to deal with this. Potter had to fucking learn.

Harry watched as Draco fought him. He increased the mating call until Draco was swaying and a long moan fell from his gasping lips. “You can feel it, beautiful.” Harry roughly wrapped fingers around Draco’s chin and pulled him close. “You don’t want to be with them, not when you can have me. Tell me. Tell me I’m right. Tell me you’re mine.”

Draco glared and fought the unimaginable lust roaring through his veins. It was all he could do to remain on his feet, never mind speak properly. “I love you… you jealous, selfish jackass… but I won’t let you dictate my fucking life!”

Harry went still, his anger more palpable than when he was yelling. He lifted Draco’s hand and turned him by the chin so he could see exactly what he was about to do. “You’re mine, Draco, and I’m going to prove it.”

Draco watched with wide eyes, frozen as Harry twisted fingers around the silver dragon ring and pulled it from his finger. With a defiant glare, Harry chucked it. The ring glittered in the dawn as it soared into the forest far beyond the village wall.

Draco stared in shock, his voice lost for long moments. He just… His ring. His ring!

“You fucking son of a bitch.”

Intangible 27

Chapter Twenty-Six

“You have got to be out of your mind.” Jaz resisted Severus’s arm as the potions master tried unsuccessfully to pull him toward the door. “He’s a Kalistar! An angry, powerful… He broke my glasses. My favorite, very fashionable glasses were annihilated because he decided to squish me like a bug without even looking at me.”

“Stop being such a coward, McVicar,” Severus drawled in annoyance. “You’re the only one who has dealt with these creatures at all.”

“In a lab! In a safely warded lab, with a shifter drugged so far out of its mind it could have thought it was a flower for all I know.” Jaz grabbed the doorway and his hands wrapped around each side, claws gripped into the molding. Severus snarled and tried to push him through with brute force, but it didn’t work.

“My god, you self preserving bastard!” Severus pointed violently to the other side of the door. “There is a young man at risk out there. Two young men who need our help.” At Jaz’s unconcerned glare, Severus grew angrier and grabbed him by the back of the collar. “McVicar, there is an entire village at risk! This school is at risk if Potter loses it and comes back. Stop being such a bloody coward!”

Jaz narrowed his eyes until they gleamed and glanced over his shoulder. “No.”

“You bloody… wretched… feline!” Severus once again tried to wrestle Jaz out the door. “I will steal your notebook!”

“I don’t care. I have a backup,” Jaz said primly.

“I’ll steal that one too! And I’ll tear it up!” Severus had a dazed look to his eyes and Jaz secretly hoped he’d become so weak by his energy and give up. Unfortunately the professor was gaining a lot of control over his condition lately. Severus made a decisive attack for one of Jaz’s hands and tried to pry his fingers free.

“That’s not going to work.” Jaz growled when Severus pushed his shirtsleeve up and bit into his wrist. “Actually, that’s going to have a completely opposite effect of me wanting to leave,” he added, his glare growing as he gazed down at Severus’s flushed face.

“For the love of… You’re an infuriating man.” Severus straightened, his hair a mess and dark eyes burning as he grabbed both of Jaz’s outstretched hands and pushed his weight forward to force him through the door. That he was dug in like a tick was just obnoxious.

“I don’t wish to die. There is nothing odd about that,” Jaz said petulantly.

Severus gritted his teeth. “It’s Potter. He wouldn’t hurt a soul. He’s is so damn righteous, he was going to let Albus kill him to make sure he wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

“Right, and then he woke up and suppressed an entire castle full of wizards and witches with absolute ease!” Jaz gritted back. His heels dug into the floor and his back straightened as he fought Severus’s push. “I have dealt with countless dimensional creatures, and I have survived by not interfering when they start going on rampages!”

“Coward!” Severus shouted.

“I fucking know! Stop pushing me!”

Severus snarled and relented. He stepped back and panted for air as he glared at Jaz’s stiff shoulders. The dimensional specialist’s claws were literally stuck in the wood like a yowling cat avoiding a bath. Jaz was staring straight ahead and completely missed Severus’s calculating look as he formed a plan.

“McVicar, do you remember that thing we’ve been talking about?” Severus suddenly surged forward and wrapped his arms around Jaz’s lithe torso.

Jaz glared back silently and his fingers clutched the door tighter.

“Just last night you were trying to convince me.” Severus let his voice grow lower, and his soothing tones washed over Jaz’s pointed ear. “You’re incensed about it, absolutely dogged. Assist me in this one heroic endeavor, and I will give you what you want,” Severus purred against his skin.

Jaz’s eyes darkened for a moment. He shook his head and tried to shake Severus off his back. “If you think I’ll relent over something so trivial…”

“Oh, is it trivial, McVicar? Since the day we met you have been bristling and yowling at me like a damn alley cat. Just think how nice it would be if you had your way.” Severus’s voice was dark silk as it grew deeper, compelling and wicked. “I could do it right now. Right this instant. You just have to agree to help.”

Jaz gasped softly despite himself and his muscles relaxing slightly under his melodic voice. “You’re mad if you think…”

“Jaz,” Severus purred; he drew his name out slowly like he were sipping a glass of fine wine. Jaz’s blue eyes widened and he shuddered when his knees nearly gave out.

“Unfair,” Jaz whispered weakly. Severus pulled at the fingers of his right hand, and Jaz struggled to resist the warm, inviting touch.

“Nothing I do is fair,” Severus said smugly. He pried Jaz’s hand from the door and twined their fingers together. “Now agree to help like a proper, decent human being, and I will say it again.”

Jaz licked his lips. “I’m not…”

“I know you’re not human, you imbecile.” Severus started on his other hand. “No human would get so worked up over a damn name. Well, no sane human, anyways. Come on, relent. Give me your word.”

“I want a guarantee, Severus.” Jaz fell back against him when his other hand was pulled free.

“I can’t guarantee he won’t kill us all,” Severus said blandly. “I really hope he won’t.”

“Not that. I want a guarantee you’ll always call me by my name. No saying you will, and then switch on me. Or worse, you never say a thing to me at all.”

Severus’s lips twitched and he suppressed a chuckle. “You self serving, vain bastard.”

“Do we have a deal?” Jaz peered back and caught Severus’s calculating look. “Or you could try biting me again. I’m pretty sure if would have gotten me out the door eventually,” he added with a wicked, fanged grin.

“You’re incorrigible,” Severus muttered. A faint blush lit his cheeks as he pulled away. “We have a deal. Now gather your things and stop stalling.”

“Not until you say it again.” Jaz turned and again pressed into the door frame. He tapped claws expectantly as he looked Severus from top to bottom. Without his glasses, he looked like a predator about to spring, his features sharp and hungry.

Severus refused to be intimidated. He won and he knew it. McVicar could look however he liked at him; he still bested him. “Stop stalling, Jaz,” Severus said graciously. His eyes narrowed when Jaz gripped the door frame hard like he was struggling not to fall. “Now if we could get going…?”

Jaz summoned his things with a wave of his hand. He stepped back and paused as he caught Severus in the doorway. “Are you sure you don’t want to try biting me again?”

“I’m certain,” Severus said dryly.

“It’s just, when you say my name like that…” Jaz’s gaze raked over Severus, and he smiled lazily. “I could bite you. I think you might like that.”

“Lives are in danger,” Severus reminded bluntly, his face flushed as he glared. The man was impossible.

“Ah, right. That.” Jaz stepped into the hall and finally let Severus by. They made it down the corridor before Jaz abruptly stopped and grabbed him arm. “When they are no longer in danger? Maybe then?”

Severus refused to dignify the question with an answer. He raised an eyebrow, turned, and kept walking.

“Oh, no you don’t.” Jaz growled and pulled him back. In a quick move, he pinned Severus up against the wall. “I want a proper answer. If you’re going to insist you’re so proper, you’re going to give me a proper answer.”

“Mr. McVicar,” Severus gritted out as his pulse pounded in his ears. How the hell could this idiot of a brilliant man want to know such a thing when Potter was about to bring the castle and forest to ruin? “This is not the time.”

“That is not my name,” Jaz reminded with a dangerous grin. His claws pinched as he held Severus’s shoulders in place.

“Jaz!” Severus snapped. He rolled his eyes when Jaz groaned softly. “There is no way I would ever let such a vain, self centered, cowardly man such as yourself ever lay a tooth, or fang, or whatever…”

Jaz leaned forward, parted his lips, and ran teeth ever so lightly over his throat. Severus gasped and fell silent.

“Oh.”

“I know.” Jaz’s voice was husky as he nibbled down the side of Severus’s long neck.

“Oh, I’m beginning to see your point,” Severus mumbled. His eyes fell shut when Jaz clamped his teeth into his jaw and held. If McVicar started with this particular argument, he might have been a bit more responsive from the get go.

“We’ll try this later?” Jaz moved to Severus’s ear and tugged lightly with his fangs. “During a time when you’re not tinkering with your many potions, or snarking at your annoying students.”

Severus was certain he was winning this argument as well. He nodded carefully so he wouldn’t unwittingly pull from the teeth nipping delicious fire over his skin. “Perhaps.”

“That is hardly a decisive, proper answer.”

“Mr… Jaz.” Severus stopped with a slow exhalation of air. He tilted his head to the side and exposed his neck for better access.

Jaz’s tongue laved down and teeth nipped sharp, teasing bites. He paused to smirk against Severus’s throat. “Yes?”

Severus glared up at him through his lashes and huffed. “Very well.”

Harry found Hermione’s trail almost immediately. His new senses picked up her week old scent as if it were fresh, as did he find Draco’s. There was a glow to Draco’s path, faded but still heady. Every time Harry caught the faint scent of his mate, he felt the darkness within stir and try to rise up to overtake him completely.

Harry didn’t bother to kill the many forest creatures swarming around. From insects to miniature mammals, flighty pixies and larger, wicked creatures who thought he was worth hunting, Harry dealt with them the same way he did the humans in the castle. He knocked them to the ground; birds fell from the sky, creeping plants, predators and prey all slammed to the forest floor. Harry kept a wide circle of his influence around him, and made sure he wouldn’t be surprised as he ran through the forest, leaped over fallen trees and large rocks, and ducked around trunks while he laughed.

His lungs burned in a way he never experienced. His feet slammed into the ground as he kicked up fallen leaves, pine needles and soil. Harry couldn’t remember what it felt like to move. His body was a graceful, strong animal, unstoppable in force and unrelenting in its determination to find Draco as quickly as possible. Every smell of the forest was information to the driver of this wild body, a pilot Harry was beginning to suspect wasn’t him. His body drove forward; wings unfurled to glide when he found enough room for the massive things, and his claws dug in to climb trees to get more height and leap again. As he ran, Harry tried to think.

It was the call. Harry’s body called for Draco; his senses sought his mate out each time and waited for a response that never came. Draco was safe; he knew he was safe, but his body didn’t understand that. He tore through brush in desperate bursts as if Draco might just be around the next bend. Fuck, he needed Draco. He was his last thread of sanity, the only one who would not look at him in fear even at his worst. Harry knew he was at his worst. He couldn’t stop himself no matter how much he wanted to.

Another deer crashed down, its back legs caught in Harry’s powerful aura as he passed. A squirrel ripped from its branch to fall next. Harry wanted to stop. He needed to go back and make sure the students were alright. He needed to apologize to Dumbledore for having hurt him. He really needed to yell, which he did loudly until his vision turned red when he caught the scent of the Vesper on the wind. Hunters were in the area only a day ago.

They thought they had his mate. Those fucking dragons thought they took his mate away while he slept and healed. What arrogant, sneaky, malicious things to think they could steal from him. Draco was his.

It was wrong; somewhere within, Harry knew it was wrong, but he couldn’t hear that voice at the moment. All his senses strained to hear Draco’s call. It grew stronger with each yard Harry covered. Draco was a white hot light in his mind’s eye, and as Harry fell deeper into the forest, it was grew larger and demanded he return to his mate. Harry needed him. He needed to make sure Draco was okay. He needed to make sure he was still his and didn’t fall to the pack of hungry dragons who howled loudly for him. Harry sent out his call again full of all his twisting need, and immediately stumbled to a halt.

“Holy fuck.” Harry grabbed onto the nearest tree where bark crumpled brittle beneath his fingers. “Can you feel that, Draco? I can feel you, and you’re bright. Fucking bright.” Harry’s eyes went wide as he fell forward. Draco’s call washed over him with such intensity, he knew it was responding to his own.

He was close. Draco was close, and Harry was going to find him. He struggled to his feet, his steps unsteady all of a sudden. He needed to stop. There was so much need in him, and Harry was afraid of what he was going to do. He could feel Draco now. He was close, just a few miles away. He was perfect. He was his and he was perfect. Except…

No.

There was something wrong. Draco was perfect, but he wasn’t whole. He was trapped with his beautiful glow dulled from view.

Harry’s lips twisted as he growled. It was the ring. That damn fucking ring stole Draco away so many times already. If he could get that ring, he would never have to wonder if Draco was his. Draco would never wonder either because as a beast, he would do anything for him. Draco would crawl, beg, and plead, and never put one of those dragons ahead of Harry’s needs.

A hot white shudder of want moved through his body, and Harry moaned loudly. Draco was his, and he’d just have to fucking show him.