Search Results for: "twink"

Magical Reflection 14

SCENE 14

Stuck in the Headmaster’s office, facing Dumbledore, Elder Hollands, and Madame Pomfrey, Draco was doing his best to keep his temper in check. It was about Potter, of course. The boy had disappeared days ago, no one seeing hide nor hair of him. He assumed it was another of Harry’s passive aggressive ways to avoid him and the many things they needed to talk about. Draco hadn’t deluded himself in thinking Harry would make it easy. Harry was erratic and stubborn and had spent months thinking he had sent veela to rape him. There was no way that was going to fix itself over night.

Draco had first thought Elder Hollands, the veela spokesman, had come there to reprimand him for his actions against Terrence. No, his reason had managed to be far more annoying than that.

“Mr. Malfoy, if you might just have some insight into his whereabouts?” Dumbledore asked. “It’s imperative that we find Harry as soon as possible. If what Elder Hollands says is correct, he could be in a lot of danger.”

“He’s fine,” Draco grunted out, glaring at the veela. “And even if I did know where Potter is, I’m sure as hell not telling him.”

“I understand that you’re upset right now,” Holland said, his handsome face stern, back straight and tight with perfect posture. “I don’t even understand how you’ve coped this long, Draco. You should have told us immediately when we took you into our care. We could have avoided what is undoubtedly unbearable pain for the both of you.”

“Like fuck,” Draco snarled, standing and pushing into the man’s personal space. For the Elder’s credit, he didn’t flinch or step away. “You would have broken it somehow. Would have torn us both apart so you could chain him to some full-blooded veela. I never would have let you in this castle if I had known you were interested in him. Would have killed every fucking last one of you—”

“Mr. Malfoy! Calm yourself,” Poppy admonished. “I have brought the needed draughts with me if you cannot handle this conversation without losing your control.”

“I am in perfect fucking control,” Draco gritted out, never taking his eyes from the veela Elder. “Ask him. I found out that every goddamn veela out there is fighting over who gets to win Potter—That’s how they see humans, if you didn’t know. Things. They think Potter is some fucking thing that they can just give away to another. Like they own him. I have killed no one; I am in control.”

“It’s more complicated than that, Draco,” Elder Holland said stiffly. “You have gotten your information from an adolescent, one still in the throes of his aggressive mating cycle.”

“What, you want to tell me he was lying?” Draco kept his voice low, knowing if he started shouting it would all go to shit soon after. “The council isn’t trying to win Potter?”

“That is not…” Holland fell silent, flicking a loose strand of silver hair over his shoulder. “No one is authorized to approach Harry Potter until he has come of age next summer. And when that time comes, adolescents are discouraged from participating because of the dangerous nature of the boy’s power. It is important that we remedy this situation as soon as possible. That Terrence has aggressively—”

“Twice,” Draco growled, the first of his feather’s sprouting, fangs already tipping, claws quickly following. “The first time I wasn’t there to stop him. Did Terrence tell you that as well, Elder? That when my supposed brethren entered this castle at the beginning of the year, all five of them hunted Potter down with the intent to rape him?”

By the surprised looks all around, that information had not reached veela or professor ears alike. For some reason it only made Draco angrier to realize Harry had managed to suffer so much alone, not only blocking him out, but his teachers as well.

He stepped back, the rest of his feathers rippling through him along with his anger. But he wasn’t here to fight with the Elder, he was here to keep the man from making things worse. “I invited my brethren into my territory because they had shown signs of wanting to get to know my other people better. They lied to my face, wished me well in my endeavors and then tried to rape my beautiful mate. Do you seriously think anything you say is going to remedy this?”

The Elder was silent as he thought, eyes straying to Dumbledore, who had lost all twinkle in his blue gaze.

“This doesn’t change the fact that he’s in danger,” Elder Holland finally said, directed at the Headmaster. “If anything, he’ll be more unstable and in need of guidance.”

“That may be the case, but I can hardly trust you to protect him. These revelations are beyond grievous,” Dumbledore replied sternly.

“The boy could be lying,” Elder Holland pointed out, ignoring Draco’s growl. “Potter looking for attention to feed his self destructive spiral. The halfling desperate to have Potter to himself. You really don’t know just how strong these instincts can go.”

Dumbledore sat taller at his desk, his fingers bridging in front of him. “Oh, I’m getting a clear picture, Elder. All the more reason for me to believe that five adolescent veelas with full instincts would cross a line that their kind have been known to cross before. I might be willing to offer lodgings for a veela that would help Harry with his new instincts, but I do not believe I will be granting him leave of these grounds during the school year.”

Pensive, the Elder eventually nodded. “Very well. I will need to confirm that he is indeed a Gilt before anything else is determined. Mr. Malfoy, if you would happen to have the names of those adolescents that accompanied you to your school, I require them for further investigation.”

Draco wrote them down with an angry scrawl, hating the man even more. Nothing would be done. Veela didn’t give a fuck about humans—He had figured that out very damn quick. If anything was done, it would be just for show, to set Harry’s mind at ease. It wouldn’t be enough, whatever it was. Nothing would ever be enough to fix what those fuckers had done to his Harry.

Reading the parchment, Holland folded it up and slipped it into his long, grey robes. “Alright. Now, if you will lead me to Mr. Potter, I can get on with the point of my visit.”

Draco just stared at him, disbelieving. “And why, exactly, would I do that?”

“Because if you care a thing for the boy, you will see that he is in need of help,” Elder Holland said evenly, without any animosity or smugness. “From what your professors have revealed, his health has been degrading along with his mental stability since returning to school. You must feel it. The boy will be poisoning you soon enough with his toxic energy, if he isn’t already.”

Draco looked away, glowering.

“It is not a betrayal to get him help. That he turns from you as well only shows how ill he truly is.” The man’s hand was cool on Draco’s arm, jolting him. “Gilt veela are emotionally erratic under good circumstances. His circumstances have been anything but.”

A war was waging in Draco, one with too many sides to fully comprehend. He wanted Harry well and safe and happy. He wanted Harry for himself. He wanted to be the only one that could help the boy even though he knew he had been failing miserably at the task since the very beginning.

“I don’t know what to do,” Draco finally admitted, his heart feeling painfully tight in his chest. “You’re… you’re going to try to take him away from me.”

Hands cupped Draco’s face, raising his head to meet the Elder’s gaze. “He was never truly yours.”

Draco winced, shutting his eyes.

“He couldn’t have known what it meant to you,” Holland continued gently. “His type wake up slowly. Genetic memory kicks in much later for the Gilt. That he survived his first weave was accomplishment enough for one just waking up. Call him, Draco.”

Draco wrenched himself away from the man’s hands, his body trembling. “Fuck you.”

“Call your love to you and see if he bothers to answer.” By the Elder’s tone, he didn’t expect it. Neither did Draco. Harry never answered him. Not once had the boy come to him when he called.

Intangible 19

Chapter Eighteen

The spell wasn’t going well. Jaz strained over the words the same moment a strange weight descended on the room. Harry was so focused on Fawkes and the bird’s presence it took him too long to deduce the problem. They weren’t alone.

He only caught the flicker of light, his vision focused on the three dimensions he shared with the phoenix. As more power built to try to disrupt Jaz and stop the spell, Harry turned his focus outside the room. He opened all his senses and swore loudly when he caught sight of the silent Vesper.

Nearly half the pack surrounded his dungeon room and filled the sides where empty classrooms flanked the warded space. As long as the spell was being cast, the dragons couldn’t get inside. Harry was certain the moment Jaz finished his part and it was his turn to reach for Fawkes, the damn beasts would attack.

Harry considered his options only to realize how few he had. If he moved it would ruin the spell, and interrupting things now would set them back for days. Harry didn’t have days to wait while Jaz resupplied the needed elements. If he did nothing, it would leave him an injured, sitting target, along with every person who stepped into the room once the spell was done. Nothing looked hopeful.

Harry focused on the closest dragon and pushed his mind at it. He hoped to get a dialogue going that could result in the creatures backing off. He flinched from the scalding, hateful thoughts swirling in the beast’s mind. It was surrounded by humans and although could not smell them in its invisible state, it was full of hate for people and very much agitated as it wished for open space. The dragon was ordered to be where it was and as Harry pushed at its thoughts again, he gave a relieved sigh to see those orders also included not to harm any humans.

At least those outside the room would be safe; Harry didn’t know if the Vesper considered Jaz to be human. Hopefully they would leave the specialist be and just focus their attack on him.

Harry had little thought for anything else soon after. The spell changed and silence echoed in the air. Magic rose up, coiled, and funneled toward the center where Harry stood across from Fawkes.

It was time. Harry’s attention remained steady as he focused on connecting with Fawkes and making it home alive.

Every step felt surreal as Draco moved through the castle surrounded by Vesper. He was leaving, possibly forever, and no one but Blaise even knew. There was no one in the hallways, no one to ask where he was going, or why, or to even care. A permanent shiver tingled up his spine and flared brighter when Matten’s hand brushed his arm, or feathers tickled his knees and waist as the creatures pushed close. Draco felt almost safe among them, almost comfortable and protected as the dragons clicked nails, breathed, and their body heat radiated warmth he could feel.

Away from Blaise, the Vesper no longer growled. They still felt angry in Draco’s head, full of agitation with their surroundings and ill at ease. Matten softly rumbled to sooth the creatures and quench the bubbling laugh that had threatened Draco for days.

Draco reached the castle door when Blaise ran up after him with Pansy, Ron and Hermione panting at his side. The odd spell was broken and the atmosphere less dreamlike with people in the normal realm to remind Draco he appeared alone. Draco blinked a few moments in confusion of the change, then fixed on Blaise as he remembered why he left him behind.

“I told you to tell Dumbledore,” Draco hissed. He glare at the worried faces pointed at him. “So he doesn’t kill Potter once the spell is done. Harry won’t react to the scent and Dumbledore needs to know!” It was hard enough to get out the bedroom door with Blaise shouting the Vesper were tricking him and Harry would never agree to Draco sacrificing himself to save the reckless Gryffindor. Two thirds of the stubborn Golden Trio would only make things extra difficult when all Draco wanted was to save Harry.

“I will, right now. But they need to say their peace, Draco,” Blaise insisted as he stared worriedly at the Vesper surrounding Draco’s legs. Draco could hear the pack as they scratched impatiently and growled at the sight of humans. Matten was by his shoulder and ever so lightly touched his arm. He had touched Draco once when he stepped outside the barrier around his bedroom and couldn’t seem to resist since. His fingers brushed his flesh lightly every other moment or so.

Hermione plucked the glasses from Blaise’s face, slipped them on and looked around. “Hmm. This is quite the extended family you have there, Malfoy. Too bad they all look like they want to murder you. Blaise, we’ll deal with this. Maybe you should take Pansy?” Pansy looked close to tears in worry and Hermione really had enough of crying for the day.

They would never hurt you, Matten assured as he pressed his palm flat to Draco’s arm. It sent a hot shiver through Draco he couldn’t hide. As long as I am here to control them, no hunter will harm a human.

“The shifter is controlling them,” Draco said to Hermione while he watched his friends run off to save Harry. Not waiting for a reply, he opened the castle door.

“Malfoy, wait.” Ron strode forward quickly, held the door open and towered over Draco. “Harry wouldn’t want this. He’s been doing everything he can to protect you just in case he doesn’t make it and you’re on your own. You going with them is going to negate all of that.”

Draco sighed and glared up at him. “Weasel, Harry isn’t the fucking boss of my life. No one is. I appreciate your concern but I hardly owe you anything for it. It might seem dumb to you, but walking out this door is the only thing I can do to protect him. I need to do this.”

“Who’s to say they’ll keep their word?” Hermione stepped up and mindfully avoided the dragons Ron was obliviously standing in the middle of. “They’re still in there surrounding his room. There are people in that hallway. Lots of people. Nearly half the staff of teachers is in the other room, plus Madame Pomfrey’s people.”

“Matten?” Draco didn’t bother to turn and see what couldn’t be seen.

I will withdraw them now, if you insist. You have given your word. I will keep mine.

“He’s calling them off. Anything else?” Draco asked agitatedly as he raised his hand to his forehead. The two Gryffindors exchanged looks. Ron finally pointed at Hermione and then the door. Hermione gave a shrug, but her eyes were sharp behind the magical glasses.

“I’m going with you.” Hermione abruptly pulled her wand out and summoned her notebook and pen from her room, along with a cloak.

“Like hell you are,” Draco snapped. “You’re human. Without a Kalistar the Vesper will kill you the moment you approach their village border.”

“That is a possibility,” Hermione mused as she flipped through the book she called. She stopped at a spell written in her precise handwriting. “But I’m also a witch. A brilliant one, at that. I also just learned this spiffy new spell to remove my scent.”

Draco growled and felt a headache coming on. Matten gave a soft purr and he snarled and whirled toward the annoying creature who kept trying to control him. “Stop it. I don’t need to be serenaded every time I have a bloody emotion. Tell me; will they kill her? Can you promise me she’ll be protected?”

I can’t. You are at least our kin and dwell with us in the other realm. She is not.

“Granger, I can’t guarantee you’ll live,” Draco cried, exasperation clear on his face. “Do you understand the pressure you’re putting on me right now?”

Hermione sighed uninterestedly and idly twirled her wand. “Malfoy, I’d prefer to have you bitching at me, than Harry throwing a fit because I let you go wandering off in the Forbidden Forest alone with a pack of vicious Vesper. That boy has a temper and it usually involves ripping up my beautiful books. I never find all the pages. I’m going with you and it’s not negotiable. If I die, I take full responsibility.”

That was hardly a comfort for Draco and he let the pushy witch know. “Granger, I’m leaving to prevent deaths. Not cause them.”

“I’m not in a rush to die. They’re still vulnerable to magic; Harry made sure we tested it on him.” She fixed the shifter with a piercing gaze from behind the enchanted frames. “Can your friend talk to me, Malfoy? Or do they only communicate with halflings?”

Draco sighed as he realized he lost a battle he was never going to win. It was very much like dealing with a female Potter, but less fire, more logic, and still absolutely infuriating. “Matten, do you want to talk to her?”

I do not believe she will take no for an answer.

Draco realized Hermione was allowed into the conversation when she snorted. “No, she is determinedly stubborn,” he said with a frown.

“Matten, was it? I have no intention of hurting anyone or getting underfoot,” Hermione assured. “Just think of me as a chaperon, here to make sure my friend doesn’t end up mauled or deflowered.”
Draco placed his hand over his eyes and silently wished he could disappear. He hated Gryffindors, especially the chuckling Weasel who’s face was turning red from holding in his laughter. “I’m leaving now.”

I cannot vouch for your safety, human. The entire pack resides at the village and the younger ones are not used to the scent of human. They have been known to lose control. I do not believe Draco would want to see you killed.

“I should hope not, but it’s hard to say with that one.” Hermione waved her wand around and intoned slowly until she was surrounded in a bright, hot-pink light. Moments later it pulsed and faded. She sniffed her hand where nothing came to scent she could tell. She stared up at the being standing to the right of Draco’s glowing magical form, and carefully raised her hand with a question in her eyes. “Will you harm me even if I don’t smell human?”

Would you give me reason to harm you? Matten asked just as warily, his head tilted to the side.

“It’s not just the scent. You don’t trust humans,” Hermione observed. She hesitantly placed her hand next to the shifter’s face. Matten gave her a precursory sniff as he shifted through the dimensions. His white eyebrows rose in surprise when he found Hermione didn’t register at all by his nose.

That is surprising and very useful. Just another reason why we don’t trust your kind. We were not always so violent to human scent. Humans gave us reason to be over the years. Why breed out such a useful trait when humans still threaten us?

Hermione didn’t seem interested in arguing as she glanced down at the dragons who came up to her waist. “I have my own issues with some particular humans, mostly the ones who hate my heritage. Wanting to kill them will hardly solve those problems. They want to kill me and well, I won’t let them, now will I?”

“She is surprisingly resilient for a muggleborn,” Draco agreed quietly while they stepped out into the nearing twilight. The sun was just disappearing over the horizon and they would be walking through the forest in the dark.

“When will you be back?” Ron asked from behind.

That is up to the halfling. She is, of course, free to leave whenever she chooses.

“I have a test next week, so let’s shoot for then.” Hermione and Ron exchanged what Draco was beginning to suspect was a code between the two. He wouldn’t put it past friends of Potter to learn some sort of telepathy just to get around his notorious moods.

“I’ll expect you in a week, at the latest.” Ron held the door for Hermione and stood still when she smiled crookedly and gave a small wave. That they weren’t dating after all these years was odd to Draco, but then again, the two were odd in general and it was none of his business. Ron was clearly head over heals and Hermione was, as usual, blind to anything not a book.

Draco didn’t snap this time when Matten gave a soft purr. The sound floated around his left ear as the shifter brushed his arm. It was a strange sensation reminiscent of Harry, but Draco never heard his boyfriend purr. The Vesper pack took up residency around his legs and slowly herded him toward the trees. Hermione silently walked beside them and not on top of the creatures. Draco felt when the rest of the Vesper who were waiting around the castle joined them. The pack’s aura grew in strength and two more humanoid shifters brushed Draco’s shoulders with low purrs.

He’d see what the village held. Hopefully it would replace the mental image of Harry lying on the classroom floor dead from the wounds Voldemort had inflicted months ago. The breeze was cool and the night dark. Draco gave himself to the sensation of walking beneath the rising moon surrounded by his pack and tried to block everything else from his thoughts. His heart ached. In the silence, he prayed Harry was alive.

Blaise and Pansy reached the hallway only moments before the headmaster was supposed to step into Harry’s room. Dumbledore’s hand was on the door, fingers clenched and face grim. In his other hand was his wand held at the ready. Snape stood beside him and stared at the door like he could see through it. His expression was just as grim. The hallway was still, and the hushed sounds of breathing made everything seem ominous.

“Sir, please, before you go in there!” Pansy called before she collapsed and gasped for air.

Blaise reached her and then passed. He leaned on the door to block Dumbledore from entering. “He’s not susceptible to scent!”

“Not now, Mr. Zabini,” Severus said sharply. He pulled Blaise away from the door by the arm and winced in pain. “McVicar has collapsed. The status spells will not say why but it suggests outside interference.”

Blaise nodded furiously, his hand held up as he caught his breath. “The Vesper. They were here. Could still be here.”

“Where?” Dumbledore eyes grew sharp as he looked around them.

“Here around Harry, and in Draco’s room.” Blaise took a deep breath, and caught Pansy’s warning expression. Blaise didn’t feel any need to hide Draco’s situation even as a friend. No good would come of Draco running off into the woods with the Vesper. “They’ve taken Draco. The Vesper threatened to kill Harry if he didn’t go.”

Severus said a word that made Pansy giggle in shock when heard from her reserved head of house. “Potter must be taken care of first. It’s the last stage of the spell and it can’t be interrupted.” Both men turned back to the door and their eyes again bored through as if everything within was revealed.

“But he won’t react to scent. Just tell me you understand. The Vesper told Draco personally.”

Dumbledore glanced over his shoulder and nodded. “I understand, Mr. Zabini. Now please, we need silence to hear.”

Blaise and Pansy quietly moved to the other side of the hall and watched anxiously as the minutes ticked by. The oppressive silence fell again and Pansy reached for Blaise’s hand after a moment so she wouldn’t have to deal with the terrible feeling alone. Draco was disappearing into the night and Harry was soon to reappear. It wasn’t a fair trade.

The stillness of the hallway was broken the instant Dumbledore tightened his grip on the door handle and pushed it open. Everyone jumped to action. Snape and Dumbledore slipped silently into the room and all the medical personnel followed after in hushed mutters, blocking Blaise and Pansy’s view. They all disappeared inside, leaving the doorway was clear and wide open. Pansy exchanged a meaningful look with Blaise and the two slowly edged across the hall to peer inside.

Behind them the potions classroom door clicked open and Remus and Sirius stepped free while other worried faces leaned out to see. Blaise turned back to the scene inside, his dread a fist in his stomach.

The dimensional specialist was on the ground by the door. Blood pooled from a wound on Jaz’s head and his dark glasses were cracked on the stone floor. A medi-wizard hovered over him to take his pulse and read his status with a spell. Dumbledore, Snape, and everyone else huddle, crouched over what Blaise could only assume was Harry. The press of bodies hid most from view, but through a set of ankles Pansy could see a bloodied hand blacker than even Blaise’s skin and long wicked talons with broken, jagged tips.

Severus stood shakily and moved to see if Jaz was dead or just injured. As he moved he revealed the fallen phoenix. Fawkes looked nothing more than a pile of dull, grimy feathers on the dusty floor.

“The bird is dead,” Sirius whispered hoarsely. He clutched the door frame at the implications and leaned over Pansy to see clearer. The medical personnel still blocked Harry from view of the door. Spells began to ring out as hushed voices raised and called for healing actions beyond simple student comprehension. It went on for long minutes with one particular witch snapping orders louder than the rest. She told them to stop and silence fell.

“Hold,” Dumbledore demanded as he straightened. He glanced once at those waiting in the doorway, his eyes hard. Dumbledore walked to Fawkes where the bird huddled motionless. He crouched and shifted his long beard aside, and reached his hand out to touch the broken phoenix. Flames began to lick from his fingers as he murmured softly to his old friend in a soothing coo.

Fawkes didn’t respond, his feathers still and lifeless. Dumbledore shimmered more flame and hot red fire danced on his fingers and palm. He heated the bird until it glowed fireside red. “Come now, little one. We need your help.” He passed his hand over repeatedly, stroking from head to tail feathers.

Fawkes burst into flames with a roar. He twisted into a golden glow, crackled and trilled as fire rose up and nearly singed Dumbledore’s eyebrows off. Dumbledore fell back and sat hard with a look of surprise on his face. Pansy glanced at Blaise with furrowed eyebrows, but he was staring intently at the phoenix. Dumbledore looked different. Twinkly.

Behind Dumbledore there was a cough followed by a moan of quiet agony. The sound slowly raised in volume until it bounced off the walls and deafened everyone in the room. Spells started flying again and voices shouted over Harry’s screams of pain as they tried to stabilize him.

Pansy stumbled back from the noise. Remus gently held her shoulders and helped her away from the door and the terrible sounds within. Blaise didn’t follow. He watched, thumb stuck between his teeth, as Dumbledore joined the fray of medical casters. The noise was better; it meant Harry was alive. Surely the dead didn’t scream.

There was a sudden change in fervor to the medics as wands dropped and hands grabbed at Harry when he tried to sit up. Blaise gaped and quickly turning away. Vomit seared his throat. Harry was a giant scab, bloodied and torn, his arms barely attached, knees twisted horribly. Voldemort’s revenge hadn’t been gentle. It was a wonder Harry managed to live long enough to kill the dark wizard. If the two weren’t blown into the other realm, Harry never would have won.

After a few dizzying breaths, Blaise turned back. He was relieved to find Harry stunned and streams of bandages being wrapped around him as he was tied to a stretcher. The medics still yelled, slightly lower in volume but not intensity. Harry needed to get to the waiting infirmary if they were going to save any of his destroyed beast body.

Everyone cleared from the hallway and watched as the group of medics hoisted Harry up and rushed him out the door and down the hall. It was bizarre to see so much black and red on him; the white of the sterile bandages made Harry look more startling dark.

“Right,” Sirius muttered as he tore his gaze from the sight of Harry disappearing around the corner. He fixed wild eyes on Blaise and grabbed him roughly by the collar. “Now where the hell is my cousin?”

Intangible 18

Chapter Seventeen

Harry was certain Sirius was going to break down again. Life had been eventful for his godfather since his escape from Azkaban, what with Voldemort and Harry dying, Wormtail captured and Sirius finally pardoned after all these years. Except now Harry was back and likely not going to survive. After learning his cousin was beast tainted, Sirius felt responsible for Draco. Harry almost regretted asking for his help, except he knew his godfather would eventually pull through, and if not, Remus would. The werewolf was about as strong as it got when it came to helping others.

Harry was happy to see Sirius and Remus looked much stronger and healthier than the last time he he’d seen them before Voldemort attacked. Sirius was no longer gaunt and had color to his skin. Remus’s scruffy appearance was more smooth, as if just being around Sirius tamed all of his rough edges.

“Sorry, Harry,” Sirius muttered as he wiped at his eyes again. “It, ah, well, it reminds me of my own parents, that’s all. Not something anyone should have to deal with. Especially a young guy like him.”

He’ll be fine, Siri. Draco’s a strong sort, he just doesn’t know there are options out there. Harry’s scrawl was more a scraggy tremor at this point but the two men seemed able to read it.

“Yes, well we can definitely help in that,” Remus said evenly. He placed his hand on Sirius’s shoulder. “I know all about packs trying to pick up strays. There are plenty of defenses against it.”

Sirius gave such a teary, beaming smile, Harry wondered if his godfather was once such a stray. Sirius never revealed what sort of beast awakening he went through and it seemed too late to ask now. There was still the will Harry wrote out last night to get into legal condition, and it was nearly time for the spell.

You know I would never put you two out. I was just hoping you might consider.

“It’s fine. I can’t guarantee he’ll be interested in living with us, but we’re more than willing to give him a home. Now stop worrying about it and deal with your own preparations.”

Harry sighed and stared at Remus’s strange, golden eyes. “I love you guys and I’m damn lucky to have you.”

“Harry, you do your best,” Sirius said gruffly. He pushed up from his seat and stood beside Remus. “We’ve got enough room for you, too. I’ve fixed up some property, and…” He was tearing again and unable to continue speaking. “Damn it, Remi.”

Remus wrapped his arm around Sirius’s shoulder and continued. “We have a room for you, Harry. He cleaned it up this week. When you’re back you’re going to want enough room.”

“Aw, hell,” Harry sighed and wiped at his own eyes. That was the danger of being around Sirius when he was in this mood; everyone started crying.

That would be the best damn thing ever. Thank you, guys. I love you and I need you to get out of here because there is no crying during the spell!

“Can’t even hug the kid goodbye.” Sirius shook his head and growled lowly as he let Remus lead him from the room. Jaz, who was tapping his foot impatiently from the doorway for the last five minutes, held a roll of parchment in his grasp. As they left he walked around and placed the roll on the desk. Blotts Esquire seal was crisp in gold wax.

It’s settled?

“It’s as official as it can get. You’re a very generous young man, Mr. Potter, and if you don’t survive this spell, your many friends will certainly have something to remember you by.”

Harry nodded. He didn’t want to go into his so called generous nature. It was his parents’ money; he never earned any of it. Still, it seemed wasteful to let it sit in a vault for all eternity. It could definitely help people, people he cared about. Especially one particular Malfoy who was facing disinheritance.

Harry wasn’t going to tell Draco about it. He would figure it out the hard way if he didn’t survive. If he learned of it early, Draco would probably fight him tooth and nail about it, like it was even fucking important.

“You look as if you need to scream,” Jaz said as he took in the way Harry was hunched with soft magic glowing over his skin.

Just a bit of pain.

Harry was in a lot more than a bit of pain but he wasn’t looking for sympathy. As long as he sat still he could sort of numb out a lot of it.

“We’re starting soon. Dumbledore is bringing down the phoenix now. It will be you and me through most of it, Harry. Severus will be outside the door with the scent nullifying potion if needed. All your loved ones who could make it will be waiting in the potions classroom across the way. Madame Pomfrey has a small team with her, which will get you up to the hospital ward if you aren’t conscious and attacking people. After that, it’s up to the healers. Did you have any questions or concerns you want to go over?”

Harry didn’t want to admit how worrisome it felt to have Jaz drop his playful attitude for one of compassion. How did the barrier spells go on Malfoy’s room?

“Better than I thought they would. I went over them again this morning. I don’t believe even you would be able to get through. Although, those in this dimension can, so if the Vesper are visible, they will likely be able to cross.”

But they won’t do that, will they? Being visible among a castle full of wizards and witches would just ask for a beating.

“Likely.” Jaz turned away as Dumbledore pushed into the prepared room with Fawkes on his arm. Harry took in the height of his headmaster along with his squared shoulders and tight jaw. Today Dumbledore was ready for battle.

Harry straightening to his own full height even as his body protested painfully. This spell required all of him. Not the reality of what he was, waiting on the other side of this echo of a world, but his will to be the ideal of what he wanted. He wished to be alive, sane, not maddened by the sight and scent of humans. There was no way to ensure these things, but Harry was a wizard, and he understood will was power.

Harry would will as hard as he could. Reality would just have to bend to him.

Jaz began spelling away all the unnecessary furniture and ran through the room a final time to wipe it of scents. Dumbledore pulled a small vial from his robes full of a soft blue liquid and gently fed it to the phoenix. The bird cooed softly and glowed a bright, golden orange as its body opened and became susceptible to the bonding spell to come.

“We will see you shortly, Harry.” It was all Dumbledore said. He gave Harry a piercing, twinkle-free look before he placed Fawkes on the perch in the middle of the room and strode out the door.

“Drop the glow, Potter. We don’t want anything to interfere,” Jaz ordered from the corner as he went around the room with wand in hand and activated the wards on the walls. Beneath Harry’s feet a large glyph started to glow. It spread out and lit up more ancient writing until the room was ablaze in colorless light.

Harry pulled the magic from his skin until he was invisible again, and focused on the phoenix who went quiet. He stepped up to the bird and gently ruffled Fawkes’s feathery breast. He didn’t want the creature to die. It was a sweet bird and Harry’s only company for many months when he was intangible to everyone else until he stumbled across Draco. It would be cruel to have the bird die with him if he didn’t survive.

Harry closed his eyes and imagined the world he wanted to wake up to. He didn’t see himself in it but he never did. He took his appearance for granted the same way he took his life for granted. He never expected there to ever be anything different. But now, when Harry imagined the future, he saw Draco. When he saw the crystal-eyed, smiling boy, Harry could see himself with hand outstretched and clasped in his.

“No matter how much it hurts, I need you to stay conscious long enough to reach your power to the bird. Remember. Your power must connect at the right time or this has been a waste.”

Harry nodded. He opened his eyes and stepped to the spot opposite Fawkes’s perch. The phoenix roused as well, and sat up straighter as if he knew his part was to begin. With his eyes locked on the bird, Harry listened as Jaz began the incantation.

Draco was running late. He spent a good half hour standing before the shower trying to figure out if he wanted to wash the pen off his skin. It was really too offensive to leave. If anyone saw the words it would be absolutely mortifying. At the same time, Draco didn’t want them to be gone. It felt like there would be nothing left of Harry otherwise. He eventually compromised and washed his face, neck, hands and lower arms. He left the rest while feeling superstitious. He refused to wash Harry from the earth with soap and water.

He slept in and skipped all his classes and no one said a word about it. Draco had a feeling Snape might have a lot to do with it. His head of house was probably protecting him after his very public breakdown yesterday. Draco was lucky no one was there to see besides Snape, Dumbledore, and his terrible mother. Well, and Harry, but he wasn’t going to be spreading rumors anytime soon.

Harry would be coming home today. Hopefully alive. Certainly if he started out alive, Draco wanted to be there to ensure Harry remained as such. Maybe he was crazy and paranoid to think his headmaster would destroy Harry if he found him to be dangerous. Draco would rather be paranoid and wrong, then naïve with a dead boyfriend.

Draco bit his lip and fought the laugher that kept popping up at the most inopportune times. Harry was his boyfriend. He said no to his mother and he had a boyfriend. Even if invisible, it totally counted. Seriously, why couldn’t he just have anything bloody normal in his life? Invisible boyfriends; it was so damn pathetic. But also exciting, like the best kept secret ever. Certainly better than stupid beast awakenings.

Draco was buttoning up his shirt when there was a knock on the door. He glanced in the mirror just to make sure no pen marks were peeking out from beneath his collar. He reached for the door and paused with eyelashes lowered. A hot shiver slid down his spine.

“Come on, Draco. You’d be late for your own funeral. Err, forget I said that.”

Draco rolled his eyes and threw the door open. “Blaise, could you kindly get your foot out of your mouth for five…” He snapped his mouth shut as his nostrils flared.

Blaise looked sheepish as he patted his dark hair down. “Sorry. I’m nervous and you know how I get. If something happens to Potter, well, you know.” He gave Draco a confused look when he went unearthly still. “Um, you all ready to go?”

Draco didn’t say anything. He tilted his head and his eyes slipped across the empty corridor while he sniffed the air.

“Draco?”

Draco put his finger to his lips and glared at his friend. The barrier Jaz insisted on installing was flaring strong. Too strong. Below its magical hum Draco was certain he could hear the sound of breathing. From more than one mouth.

There was a growl, low and menacing. Draco’s eyes widened. He grabbed Blaise by the shirt, pulled him into the room and slammed and locked the door behind them.

“What? Shit, what did I do?” Blaise yelped. He pulled from Draco’s grasp and backpedaled away.

Draco huffed at his friend’s stupidity, went to his dresser and pulled the magical glasses from the soft case he made for them. He fingered the lenses gently, then turned his gaze to his confused friend. “Blaise, I need you to put these on and tell me what’s out there.”

Blaise looked at him like he lost his mind. “Out where? Out…?” He noticed what Draco was holding and his voice trailing off as he went as pale as his dark skin would allow. “Oh shit! Tell me you’re joking.”

Draco took a steadying breath. He loved Blaise dearly, but he was going to have to beat him into something calm and not freaking out if he didn’t get a hold of himself. “I’m just asking you to look, that’s all. You won’t even have to open the door. I’d do it myself but it fucks me up in the head to see them. Stop,” Draco growled when he realized admitting the last part only made Blaise more upset.

Draco considered his options. He could send a note out through the school’s floo network. The prefects fireplaces didn’t allow for travel, but did allow for notes to teachers. Likely every teacher in the building was at Harry’s bonding to watch and wait to see if the boy-who-lived managed to survive again.

Draco could wait in the room until the ceremony was over and then see if someone could exterminate the pack of Vesper waiting outside his door. At least the barrier worked; the Vesper weren’t blowing down the door just yet. Draco glanced at Blaise’s terrified face and had to wonder how many students were in danger. Too many would walk past his room to get to the Slytherin common room. The creatures hadn’t attacked Blaise but maybe it was only because they hoped he would draw Draco out of his warded room.

“Blaise, I understand you’re afraid but I need your help. It’s almost time for dinner. After that every Slytherin we know will be walking down this hallway to get to bed. I need to know what’s out there.”

Blaise’s eyes hardened at the implication. He got his breathing under control and held his hand out silently. Draco gave him the glasses and studied his friend’s face as he slipped them on.

“Shit, Draco. If I wasn’t as straight as they come…”

Draco blushed at the realization he was absolutely nude and feathery under those glasses. He turned away, only to have Blaise laugh. “You have a tail. And wings! You’re fucking adorable!”

“Blaise, there are monsters at the door!” Draco snapped back. He glared over his shoulder at his smirking friend.

“Right, right. Well if they look anything like you.” Blaise hummed, his fear suddenly all but forgotten. “Gah, they don’t. Well, not all of them.”

Draco turned. His eyes jumped from Blaise’s face to the wall he was staring intently at. “How many?”

“Oh, I count five of the dragons. Fucking vicious looking things, by the way. There’s also one who looks somewhat like you. Humanoid, but I wouldn’t be calling it human. He’s looking back at me like he can see me. Bizarre.”

“It must be a shifter,” Draco mused. He paced around the small room.

“They’re watching you. While you’re walking, they’re staring,” Blaise muttered as his voice got lower. “Draco, these things are fucked when they look at you. Like they’re entranced or some shit. They’re just standing there staring.”

Draco shivered as heat rose on his skin he tried to shake off. “Tell me about the shifter. Does it seem intelligent?”

Blaise nodded only to realize Draco wasn’t looking at him. He spoke up. “It’s smart; definitely someone home in his pretty head. Looks a lot like you, but without the wings and long feathers. Older, maybe thirty with long white hair and skin covered in small bright scales. He has a tail, too. The dragons seem to be waiting for him; they keep looking at him.”

“Have they rushed the door at all? Do they look as if they’re about to attack anyone?”

“Nope, they seem pretty chill. Fangs and all.” Blaise blinked and his eyes unfocused and moved to the left of them. “There’s something else further back. Another group. Much bigger.”

“The rest outside?” The dread in Draco’s stomach said otherwise.

Blaise was grim with eyes squinting as he counted. “What did you say Potter looked like? Black and bloodied? There are at least a dozen in a circle around him.”

Rage bubbled up in Draco, white hot as it tickled his stomach with power. He stalked to the door, threw it wide open and stood in the doorway. He glared out at the empty hallway where the buzz of the magical barrier was apparent once outside his room. “What the hell do you want?”

“Shouldn’t they be here by now?” Ron muttered. He stared at the classroom door where Pansy just walked through without Draco and Blaise. Hermione shrugged, her nose buried in a book on magical creatures. “Pansy, did you see them?” he asked when Hermione showed no interest in joining the conversation.

Pansy shook her head and moved over to the duo. “Blaise said he’d be right back with Draco, but that was over ten minutes ago.”

“He’s probably just having one of his ‘moments’ and doesn’t want to be seen crying,” Hermione said as she peeked up from her book. “After yesterday with his mother dropping in like that, and his near jump out the front door into the pack, I’m sure he’s a damn mess.”

Ron quietly agreed. Harry caught them up a little on what happened yesterday. He jotted down what he knew while Draco was talking to Madame Pomfrey about Snape’s condition. Everything was cleaned up before the students were let out of class. Ron and Hermione left the library during their free period and caught Draco as he was walking toward the infirmary. Draco only disclosed a little bit of what his mother told him to Harry and hadn’t wanted to talk about anything afterwards. Ron really couldn’t blame him. Waking up to find you had an unhealthy pull toward invisible, and very much not human, animals would freak anyone out. Learning your entire male ancestral line all gave in to the pull, well, was likely even more horrifying.

Harry was determined to make sure Draco’s friends knew what was going on with him, even if it was embarrassing. If Harry died, Draco might not ask for help and Harry needed to make sure Draco got help. It seemed to be all that was keeping Harry going; his body was bent with pain and his writing so sloppy Ron could barely make it out.

Ron didn’t want to think about Harry dying. Not again and not in such a slow and agonizing way. “I’m going to go check on the prat. Crying or not, he’ll hate himself for missing this.”

Hermione sighed. She pulled her nose from her book and placed a bookmark within the pages. “You’re right. I just really can’t handle anymore crying today.” She glanced toward the corner where Remus was blocking Sirius from view. Harry’s godfather was a mess of nerves and stray tears. She liked Sirius, she truly did, but it was hard to keep herself in check when he was so emotional in his manly way. Girls crying had much less of an effect on Hermione compared to grown men crying.

Pansy smiled in relief and grabbed the two of their hands for strength as they headed for the door. She was having a difficult time and was barely able to talk to Draco since Harry returned. Pansy was definitely one of those overly emotional girls who hid behind so many layers of masks and walls even she couldn’t break free when she needed to. To talk to Draco while worried over him would tumble everything down, so she instead spent superficial time with her friend while her worry built beneath the surface. Hermione was glad she’d never been afraid to talk to Harry about anything. Especially considering how short life seemed to be for wizards.

“Knowing Draco, he’s looking for the right hex to cast on Dumbledore,” Ron whispered as they passed their headmaster who was standing outside the closed door where Harry’s spell was taking place. Dumbledore was rigid, his hands clasped tight as he stared intently at the door. Snape stood beside him, slumped halfway with his face twisted in a grimace of pain. He refused to take any potions for the pain for fear it would slow his response if he needed to rush in.

They edged around the team of seven emergency witches and wizards Madame Pomfrey called in just for Harry’s return and admitted a growing amount of dread as they caught sight of the grim faces. The narrow hallway was full of people. Hermione pulled the three of them through and led the way until the press of bodies thinned.

“Hell, well at least they’re prepared,” Pansy muttered. She was able to relax now they weren’t surround by so many people. “Look at all those healers and just one Dumbledore. Wonder who’s going to win the deciding call.” She was bitter and Draco’s fears were now her own. It wasn’t that Ron and Hermione wanted Harry to die. They just didn’t want him to live the rest of his life as a monster either. Harry would be tormented to know he might hurt others, never mind kill students he spent many years trying to protect.

Ron sighed and shuffled his feet as he met Hermione’s ever attentive eye. “Come on. Before Blaise drives the prat to murder.”

Draco was hyper-aware of the unseen barrier dividing him from the Vesper. He made sure he didn’t sway too close to it and unexpectedly cross through. He could feel a magical aura as one of the creatures approached closer but they made no move to reach out in a way Draco could tell. He didn’t know if they tested the barrier just yet. Draco hoped the fact it existed was enough to keep them fearful.

“It’s the shifter,” Blaise whispered from behind him as he took on the job of being Draco’s eyes. “He’s staring at you. The others backed away when he stepped forward. Pretty sure they take orders from him.”

Draco nodded to show he heard. His nostrils flared as a new scent filled his senses. It was different but very familiar, like he knew it once a long time ago. “Are you going to speak? Thought speak? I know your kind can.”

A strange, guttural noise bounced off his ears. Draco gasped from the sound as it purred around him.

“What is it?” Blaise placed his hand on Draco’s shoulder to keep him from stepping forward.

“Just nonsense. Nothing I can understand,” Draco muttered. His cheeks flushed as he tried to ignore how his body responded even if his mind was confused.

But you can hear me?

Draco glared when the shifter finally started communicating through thought speak. “I can hear you. Through my ears and in my head.”

Good. That makes things easier. It is so difficult when your kind cannot see.

“Funny, I think that would be the opposite. Seeing tends to have a very bad effect,” Draco snapped. “What the hell do you want? Why are you in my school and why are you surrounding my boyfriend?”

“Careful, Draco. He seems to like it when you’re angry,” Blaise whispered lowly. “He keeps pulsing some sort of glow. It gets brighter when you’re emotional.”

Your friend is very correct; I am responding to you, Draco. I am called Matten. That is such an appropriate name you have, young one. It is as if your mother must have known you were to belong to us.

Draco stiffened. He tried and failing to stop his anger. “Can’t you see the ring I wear? They all fucking knew what I am and hid it from me. Now answer my questions!”

The growl came again, louder and caressing as it pulled fire over Draco’s skin and made his knees weak. Oh, you are ardent. So playful. What do you wish to know?

“Why are you here?” Draco gritted out. He shook his head to clear the red fog trying to steal his mind.

To take you home, of course. Why else would we invade human territory? You have been calling so loudly, Draco. We could not ignore it any longer. We try; the halflings are so difficult. But no, you were just impossible to resist.

Draco shivered at the words. He took a step back and nearly bumped into Blaise. “And Potter? Why are you surrounding him? If you hurt him I will fucking kill all of you!”

“Stop yelling,” Blaise hissed and grabbed Draco’s shoulders firmly. “He’s got his claws out and his eyes are fucking glowing. He apparently does have feathers hidden under his hair and they’re rising like some messed up bird looking to fight or mate. You need to calm the fuck down.”

Draco could barely hear his friend. The purr thrummed up again and wrapped all around him. It make him feel tired and hot all at once.

If you mean the Kalistar, we are just taking the necessary precautions.

Draco struggled to keep his eyes open. The strange sound tried to pull him from the doorway and far away from Harry. “You’re threatening him.”

We will kill him. He is injured and laid claim to you. With him dead you will come with us.

Draco shook his head and bared his teeth angrily. “If you harm him, I’ll never go with you. I’d rather destroy myself than see him harmed.”

Oh, little one, that will not do.

Matten clucked in his head. He seemed so arrogant Draco found his strength again. “Stop fucking purring at me!” Draco snarled and pushed back another step.

It took a moment, but the noise lowered in intensity. Eventually it was just an echo in Draco’s ears.

You are very strong willed. I cannot remember if that is common with your kind. It has been a long time since we have pursued one like you.

Draco ignored the voice and gasped for air now the roar stopped. He didn’t realize how strong it was until it was gone.

“Draco, we should shut the door and get help. I don’t like this,” Blaise whispered as he helped Draco stand upright while he swayed. “The way they’re all looking at you… The dragons look like they want to kill you.”

You smell like human. We do not like humans.

Draco pushed Blaise away and put his fully human friend further behind him in the room. “I’m human. You called me a halfling; you must know half of me is at least human. Go away. I can never be what you want so just go away and stop bothering me.”

You are everything we want. Once your beast form is awakened, the human scent will go and you will be completely one of us. We will keep you in the center of our village, Draco. You will be revered, loved, pampered and adored. Your strength will give our village strength. Your power will give us power. Your sex… You are beautiful, young one. We will be the happiest, most productive tribe there could ever be with you as our hearth.

It wasn’t just words this time that flowed into Draco’s head but pictures and emotions. The creatures truly meant well in their own fucked up way, Draco realized. To be a hearth was a place of honor among the Vesper. When a halfling didn’t smell so human it was a very enjoyable existence.

Draco shook his head again, and growled lowly. “I don’t want to go with you.”

You do. I can smell it; we all can. Even now you are calling for us to take you home. You are one of us.

Draco swallowed hard, unable to deny it. His body was fighting him every day since he caught Harry’s scent again. It demanded things from him he didn’t fully understand. Now he scented these creatures so close, even though they still seemed to have malice toward him, Draco could feel his want to be with them. They were familiar, like a recurring dream he couldn’t recall but remembered with fondness every time he woke. He didn’t want to feel this way but it didn’t make it any less true.

“Draco, I think you need to shut the door now.” Blaise half held Draco up as his knees gave out.

“No! They’re going to kill Harry! Fuck.” Draco grabbed his head and stepped forward. He leaned against the doorway with his eyes closed as he tried to keep from falling. “Please, don’t kill him. He’s already sick. Why do you want to hurt him? Just leave him the fuck alone.”

The purr was low and yet close. Draco raised his eyelids, certain the shifter Matten was just inches from him. The Kalistar do not react to humans as we do. They used to protect the foolish things when we still allowed humans near our borders.

“They became sick,” Draco whispered. He felt the barrier hum louder as someone pressed close.

Yes. We decided we did not need to speak with humans anymore. All the mortals wanted was our power and our land. Even now, they encroach on us, steal our territory, kill our young.

More thoughts and emotions flickered through Draco’s head. They weren’t from his own mind but the one hidden before him.

You could help us, young one. You could speak to them when we cannot stand to even smell them.

“An ambassador?” Draco let the idea sink in, then scoffed it away. “Matten, you wouldn’t let me out of your village center. You showed me. You’re too afraid I’d want to escape.”

Come now, we can negotiate such things. Most shifters stay at home, unable to handle the forest wilds. But ones like me still venture out and lead our young packs to keep them from harming stray humans.

“I’ll become like you. I’ll hate the smell of humans and want to kill them. That’s hardly a compromise.”

You are a halfling. That instinct is not with your kind. The Kalistar sired the manlings all those centuries ago. It is why they are so protective and so damn impossible to share with. The arrogant things would strut around the village border letting friends and family safely converse with the halflings instead of going out to hunt and provide like they should have.

Draco shook his head; Matten’s jealousy was stronger than his anger. “You only feel that way because you don’t like humans. It must get lonely for your halflings. They’re taken away from everyone they know and love. Having friends die because they came to visit would be horrible.”

Perhaps. Our pack does not have a halfling. Not while I’ve lived. The magic here warns us away.

“Draco, he’s getting too close,” Blaise warned. His eyes were fixed somewhere in front of Draco’s face. Draco didn’t need Blaise to tell him; he felt the hot breath on his cheek and was still unable to pull away.

You are very attractive, Draco. My shifters would like you. I like you. We can more than replace your one young Kalistar lover. You would not even miss him.

Draco released a breath he didn’t realize he was holding. “Matten, what can you read from me when it comes to him? You’re not blind. Certainly, you’re not dumb. You lure me with a sense of duty, community and even sex. Surely you must know I’ll never forgive you if you harm him. Take your pack away from him.”

Matten didn’t answer for a long time. Draco stared out into the empty hall and waited. Blaise was unsteady behind him as he moved from foot to foot in anxiety.

And what, my beautiful halfling, will I get in return for such generosity?

Draco knew what the damn things wanted now, but it didn’t mean he was interested in walking in to the dragons’ den if he didn’t have to. “You seem to be a reasonable leader, Matten. What do you think would be fair in exchange?”

Ah, perhaps you would grace us with your presence for a tour? You could see my village, meet your new family and learn about the people you are half of.

His eyes closed, Draco took a moment to answer. It was unlikely he’d ever return from such a tour. “Will I be safe?”

We shifters have much better control around the scent of human than the dragons alone. We are adept at keeping the beasts from injuring others.

“You must give me your word. The Kalistar, Potter, will never be harmed by your kind.”

Never? Draco, that is hardly equivalent to just a tour.

“I’m not a fool, Matten. I feel the pull, as have all my ancestors.”

Yes, but you are very strong willed. I am not even sure this ruse will give me what I want from you.

Draco laughed at his bluntness and straightened. “Those are my terms.”

Oh, that is a nice sound. You’re full of such nice noises, young one. Very well. This tribe will never harm your Kalistar. Not that it seems much concern; he is quite injured.

Draco licked his lips and nodded slowly.

He couldn’t be certain it wasn’t the soft hum even now purring so lightly from Matten’s lips as the creature breathed so close, or if he truly decided for himself. Did he make the choice to protect the school and protect his love? Or was it the pull, even now addling him until Draco only felt like he made the right decision? Either way, the Vesper were getting what they wanted and Draco was… Draco felt the pull.

“Remove the Vesper and I’ll go with you,” Draco said. He wished he knew the answer.

Intangible 12

Chapter Eleven

Jaz had two new instruments waiting for them when Draco and Harry returned a week later. The potion master was off doing other things. Harry begrudgingly came into Snape’s office while warily watching Draco the entire time. Draco was quiet in a way that unsettled him. He wasn’t sure if Draco was plotting, or if he gave up. Neither option was gratifying. Harry wavered many a time as he followed Draco around and watched while trying to understand.

Something was changed in Draco. It was an odd stillness that quieted every level of him until Harry wondered if Draco wasn’t the one out of phase with the world. Blaise had nearly broken down on seeing him the first morning in the Great Hall. Pansy, normally restrained, started swearing up a storm. They both haunted Draco along with Harry now and followed him class to class. They tried to get him to talk late into the night with games or whatnot; Harry never saw what they did. He refused to stay in the same room as Draco as much as possible.

Draco being fucked up did nothing to stop the fire inside Harry and that was probably the worst of it all. He wanted Draco even when he was broken. Harry didn’t know if coming back to reality was the answer no it was clear he was completely deranged and would fuck the walking dead just so long as they looked and smelled as good as Malfoy did. Draco seemed dead, his eyes empty, muscles loose with body refusing to eat.

“Mr. Potter, let’s start with the pen.” Jaz picked up a muggle style ballpoint pen and held it out to where Harry was standing. Draco was between them. Harry chose to walk around the edge of the room and come around the other side of Jaz to pluck the pen from his clawed fingers.

It felt like a regular pen, solid to his hand and lacking all the blushes and quick breaths he grew to love from his favorite quill. “Alright, a pen. And now you can know where I am.” Harry watched Draco’s eyes slide away from where the pen was floating in mid air to his perspective.

“And the second instrument. This one still needs a little tweaking.” Jaz pulled out a pair of gold rimmed round glasses. “With the help of Mr. Malfoy’s ring and his blood, I’ve determined where you are. Hopefully. The glasses are keyed to the potential dimension and now it’s just up to us to see if you’re there.” Jaz took off his own dark frames, his face oddly predatory without the rectangles to obscure his sharp, cat-like eyes. He slipped on the new glasses and hummed as he turned in Harry’s direction.

Jaz’s expression stilled and grew serious. He snapped his fingers and his notebook flew into his hands. He quickly turned through the pages and sometimes scribbled in the margins all while he kept glancing up at Harry. “You’re in a lot of trouble here, Mr. Potter. I assumed you were just ungrounded but seeing you now, it’s clear this situation has occurred from your battle with the Dark Lord. You’re wounded and unraveling. The results of the attack are slowed by the nature of being outside of the normal flow of time. You are reaching the end of your life and there isn’t much time left.”

Harry wanted to be surprised but he wasn’t. The sparks had increased in intensity and frequency until he felt more a walking electric socket than anything else. He moved to Snape’s desk, clicked the pen and wrote out his questions on a waiting piece of blank paper.

Will you bury me, even if you can’t bring me back?

“I’ll do it,” Draco whispered. They were his first words to Harry since they argued days ago.

Thank you. There really didn’t seem much else to say about it. Harry walked back to the wall to put as much space as he could between him and Draco’s scent.

“Mr. Potter, normally in a situation like this I would find the dimension, key a portal in and physically reach in and get you. But that spell will take too long,” Jaz said evenly. He turned to follow as Harry leaned on the wall. “I’m going to speak with Dumbledore about lending the phoenix to help. If the beast is willing, we can bond the two of you and it should be enough to tip you into reality once again. Once here, you’re wounds will be extensive and require immediate healing. I cannot guarantee you will survive.”

Harry shrugged and waved his hand in an assenting manner just to end the conversation. Jaz didn’t take offense. He switched his glasses and left the new frames on the desk. “I’ll be back shortly. We’ll know soon if we have a working plan or not.” Jaz left with long strides that revealed the urgency his tone of voice refused to show.

Harry watched, his dread building as Draco inched fingers toward the discarded glasses on the desk. The idiot just fucking loved to punish himself. Harry regretted it all; when he touched Draco’s hand in the Great Hall, followed him, kissed him, wanted him. Made Draco want him back. Whatever happened to him, Draco shouldn’t have to see it.

Draco slipped the glasses on and settled them on his face before he slowly turned to where Harry was standing. He inhaled sharply as his eyes widened. “Shit, Harry. You’re not black, you’re fucking burned.” He stepped closer and ignored how Harry flinched away. “The glowing light is your normal color.” He reached a hand up and probed the top of Harry’s head where his hair was tousled. “You had some sort of horns once but they’ve snapped off. And your energy keeps fluctuating like mini explosions.”

Harry turned his face away, unable to meet the intensity of Draco’s stare. Draco pulled him back. He wrenched Harry’s hair and glared up at him challengingly. “They’re the same… the same damn green.”

“Just take the fucking things off and go away, Malfoy,” Harry growled. He put his hand on Draco’s shoulder to keep him from moving closer. “I’m dead. Burned, like you said. What the fuck is the point of doing this to yourself?”

Draco’s eyes strayed to where Harry’s lips moved like he was trying to read them. Moment later, he pulled Harry down and kissed him hard, desperate. He held him by the hair when Harry tried to pull away.

“Idiot. Malfoy!” Harry grabbed both of Draco’s shoulders and pushed him away to arms length.

“What? Am I supposed to bury you now, Potter?” Draco scowled, his cheeks flushed. “Now that I can fucking see you, and know where the fuck you are, and what it looks like when you look at me? Why the fuck should I?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Because I’m a goddamn dying monster on this plane, apparently. I don’t want you to see me like this.”

Draco ignored him, not able to understand what Harry was saying anyways. “You’re likely dead. Fine. I’m getting married. Fine. Do you need to hurt me more by pulling away as well?”

“You ass, it’s to keep you from hurting more!” Harry was frustrated and consumed with the need to kiss Draco again. Instead he pulled from his hands and crossed to Snape’s desk so there would be a barrier between them. He used his new pen to write out his thoughts while Draco glared.

It hurts. Seeing you hurting, hurts me.

Draco huffed. He crossed his arms over his chest and bowed his head. “Who the fuck cares? You’re dead anyways. Suck it up and hurt. It’s going to be worse for me anyways and you don’t hear me bitching about it.

Harry shook his head in exasperation. You’re out of your fucking mind. Rational people don’t think like that.

“So?” Draco scoffed. “Who the fuck are you to judge? You’ve never been rational a fucking day in your life. You’re walking around in a lost dimension for months, hanging on to life while half dead and you want to judge me for being irrational?” Draco slammed his hands down on the desk and glared into the wild green eyes he missed so much. “Com on, you hotheaded, Gryffindor imbecile. Where the hell did your love for doing the impossible go? Be impossible with me.”

Harry swallowed hard, lost in the glaring silver eyes behind round glasses. He slowly reached across and touched the side of Draco’s face. Draco’s gaze stayed on him instead of straying like he used to. He was fucking beautiful.

They were interrupted by the door opening. Dumbledore, Severus and Jaz stepped in. Fawkes was on Dumbledore’s shoulder, the phoenix resting with ease while while Dumbledore stood next to Draco. Draco flinched when Severus walked right through Harry to sit at his desk but Harry didn’t seem effected by it at all.

“May I, Draco?” Dumbeldore held his hand outstretched. With a sigh, Draco relinquished the glasses but only after a final glance at Harry. Dumbledore slipped the golden framed on. His expression grew grim and a frown deepened his normally cheerful expression. “Hello, Harry.”

Harry met the twinkle free gaze and nodded. Sir, he wrote out on the paper before him.

“Jaz has caught us up on your condition. Unfortunately, nothing can be done for you while you’re split between dimensions. I’ve asked Fawkes to help and he has agreed.” Dumbledore didn’t look happy about it and instead his frown grew. “Harry, whether it was right after the attack or now, how you appear once back will be the same. You will be injured. Possibly dead. There may be little we can do to help you. We might be killing Fawkes by making the attempt.”

Then it’s not worth it. I don’t want anyone else to die.

“Bullshit!” Draco snarled, uncaring to the fact he was swearing in front of his professors. “The bird wants to do it. They come back to life, anyways. At least try!”

“I have to agree with Malfoy, Potter,” Severus spoke up, his long fingers arched on his desk. “You’ve given up enough. Let us at least attempt to help you.”

Harry me Albus’s ever watching gaze. He couldn’t remember ever seeing him this serious. What aren’t you telling me?

“We’ve figure out what you are. McVicar recognized you immediately even with the damage to your body.”

Is it bad?

“It is difficult,” Dumbledore answered tentatively as his fingers fell into his beard. “Creatures like you don’t exist, Harry. They can’t handle the modern world, and the world can’t handle them.”

“You’re a Kalistar, Mr. Potter. It’s a demon with antlers and large wings. They’re aggressive, dangerous and down right murderous toward humans.” Jaz turned to Draco with a raised eyebrow. “That means you are most likely their kin, the Vesper.”

Draco shook his head, his eyes narrowed. “He’s burnt, not black.”

“He’s damaged. The black pigment comes up with the excessive blood flow. They turn color when enraged, in love, in hot temperature and injured,” Jaz explained as he ignored the anger in Draco’s voice. “That it is patchy suggest it’s from damage more than anything else. Likely Voldemort knew what Harry was and made to attack him on his own plane to make sure he was destroyed. His wings are torn off, along with his horns. His body is a bruise of wounds and if the removal of his wings doesn’t drain him of all his blood, it has likely put him into shock.”

“They’ve died out. My father told me,” Draco insisted. He couldn’t seem to handle hearing about Harry’s condition and instead fixated on what he was supposed to be. “They were good, kind creatures who kept the others safe and in line.”

Dumbledore held his hand up while still looking at Harry. “All we know of the Kalistar is they exist with the Vesper, they are gone, and any time one has been sighted a human was torn to pieces. Sometimes many humans.”

Draco scoffed. “It’s fucking Potter! If they were so hateful, no human would have survived to mate with the damn things. If my father is a Vesper then he would bloody well know more about it.”

“Your father is beyond communication.” Dumbledore finally turned his piercing gaze from Harry. He blinked and removed the glasses when Draco’s glowing form came into view. “Lucius has been separated from the rest and put into isolation. His transformation left him maddened and violent among humans. He’s already killed two of the other prisoners.”

Draco bit his lip and exhaled slowly from the news. “It doesn’t mean Harry is going to start killing people if you bring him back. You’re assuming because you don’t know enough about his kind. You’re going to let him die because you’re scared of what he is. I’m telling you, he’s not how you think.”

Jaz took the offered glasses from Dumbledore and exchanged them for his own. “Mr. Potter, you have been extremely aggressive concerning Mr. Malfoy.”

“You’re fucking shitting me,” Draco muttered and glared at the man. “You can’t compare the mating urge to…”

“Please, this is something I need to present to Harry,” Jaz said sternly. “Harry, your reaction to scent has been uncontrollable, wouldn’t you say? Have you smelled any humans since being in that realm?”

Harry slowly shook his head once he understood what Jaz was getting at. If I can’t control my reaction to Draco’s scent, who is to say I won’t go into a murderous rage around human scent. Right?

“That is our concern,” Dumbledore said tighly.

“Their concern,” Severus broke in. “I have no question you will be anything but yourself if you survive the return, Potter.”

Harry looked down at Snape’s bowed head in surprise. Severus was not one for defending him, seeing as they were hardly friends. Sighing, Harry reached past his potions professor to write.

It is your decision. The risk is all on your shoulders, from the other students to Fawkes. I will not ask you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with.

“Damn it, stop being so fucking selfless!” Draco snarled and threw his hands up in exasperation. “He killed Voldemort—You all have no right to not even try!”

Draco, it’s more than that and you know it. Surviving doesn’t justify putting others in danger.

“Bloody bullshit. You didn’t just survive. You saved.”

It doesn’t matter.

Severus spoke up before Draco could start shouting. “As I have already told Albus and McVicar, I’m willing to create a space free of all scents for your potential return, Mr. Potter. We could even go so far as to eliminate your ability to smell altogether, if we find that you are as driven as they fear. I would need your consent, with you understanding if the madness does take you I will administer the potion against your will.”

Harry considered long minutes while he watched Draco twitch in irritation. A lifetime without smell. Would it effect his sense of his beast body when it came to Draco? Did it matter in the long run when he considered Dumbledore wouldn’t allow him to return if he refused? He saw it in his headmaster’s eye, the steel determination to ensure the students of Hogwarts were protected from monsters. One monster had been Tom Riddle. Today it was him.

I give you my consent.

“And if it doesn’t work?” Draco asked, already knowing the answer given his glower. “Are you going to let them kill you, Potter?”

Harry shrugged and met Jaz’s gaze. They have my consent for that as well. Although, if I am as they say, I likely will not make it easy for them.

“Thank you, Harry,” Dumbledore said and bowed his head. “I will leave Fawkes in the hands of these good gentlemen. We will do the best we can to return you safe and sound.”

Draco hissed and glared at everyone. “Right, until they bloody stab you in the back.”

Harry didn’t have anything to say. Draco would never understand and he didn’t really care. Draco was Draco, and he was Harry. Draco would have to accept his decision the same way he accepted when Draco decided to kill himself.

Dumbledore left quietly. Jaz and Snape started going over the spell that would be done and the preparation needed.

Harry would need to practice controlling his magic so that he could affect the normal realm. The last part of the spell would require his focus to reach to Fawkes since it was unlikely the phoenix would have enough power to connect to him alone. He had three days. Hopefully all the necessary preparations and instruments would be taken care of by then.

Draco waited for a bit while pacing agitatedly. Finally he gave a great sigh and sought out the pen Harry was using to get an idea of where he was. “Potter, you don’t need me for this anymore. I’m going back.”

“He says goodbye,” Jaz said. Draco shrugging unconcernedly as he left. Harry stared at the closed door and his frown grew.

“Potter, you’re a bloody idiot when it comes to that boy,” Severus drawled while he shook his head slowly. “He’s the only one really fighting for you. He’s asking for nothing in return except you stand up for yourself as well.”

He’s wrong.

Severus snorted. He held his hands out for the glasses Jaz was stubbornly wearing. Severus placed them on his nose and took a long look at Harry’s form. “You look like some wild, terrible beast, broken and scarred. Your back is an absolute mess, the skin torn to shreds. You do look burnt, every wound a damn ripple on the char black skin. But to see the way Draco looks at you, I thought you must be some damn Adonis hero.”

Severus stood and folded his arms over his chest. He looked oddly owl like in the round glasses. “Life is not given, Potter, it’s fought for. Every day we battle; predators, the elements, other human beings and our own twisted nature. Here, at the cusp of death, you should be screaming a warrior’s call for life. You shouldn’t be letting someone already as broken as Draco have to raise the energy for you. That he does it at all is amazing enough.”

Harry’s nostrils flared and hands tightened into fists as anger slowly curled around him. Severus noticed, the energy visible with the glasses.

It is not his battle, nor is it yours. I will do what I must, because that is how the situation has made me. I don’t want to hurt anyone.

Severus wasn’t impressed. “Sometimes you have to hurt to survive. You did it with Voldemort. You do it every day when you kill to eat, whether it is ever by your own hands or not. The natural order demands lesser beings fall to stronger ones. Like it or not, you are the stronger, Potter. Not acting it will kill off what is left of your bloodline.”

Harry didn’t care about his bloodline. His parents were dead, as were the Dursleys. If another Potter existed out there, he didn’t know about it. He didn’t owe anyone for the life he struggled with his short years and he wasn’t going to start now.

It’s better if this creature doesn’t continue on. Clearly the Kalistar aren’t good.

“McVicar, I blame you for this,” Severus growled and turned on Jaz who was flipping through notes. “Demonizing him. You of all people should be more accepting.”

Jaz’s tongue twitched over his sharp fang as he nodded thoughtfully. “I accept Mr. Potter for how he is; a potentially dangerous, berserker creature with more power than he will ever know what to do with. I don’t hold it against him but I certainly don’t want to be the one carrying him back into this realm either.”

Snape glared and turned back to Harry. “They’re cowards, Potter. Selfish cowards who fear power they can’t control. You should not let them sway you. If someone like Draco can see, surely you must know it’s true.”

Harry sighed and looked away from his professor’s stinging gaze. What the hell do you want from me, Snape? I’m tired of all this. What say do I have? My life is in their hands.

“That doesn’t mean you don’t speak up for yourself. It’s not an excuse to let Draco think you’re not fighting to stay. He’s falling apart. He needs you to be strong right now.” Severus was quiet in his plea, intent and soft spoken. It very much reminded Harry Draco cared for him.

Harry grumbled to himself and then nodded at Snape. He turned on his heel and out the door to find Draco.

He didn’t pass many in the hall. The hour was late and Harry nothing more than a floating pen to most. He clicked it unconsciously as he twitched with pent up energy.

There was no good news today, just layer after layer of shit problems to pile on his shoulders. He survived Voldemort but apparently not by much and god knew for how much longer. He didn’t remember being injured while battling the stain of a man, but then, Harry didn’t feel much of anything beyond the roar of power singing in his ears as he destroyed Voldemort. There was nothing else but power and light and victory.

Somehow, Voldemort still took his revenge. Harry was on the precipice of death, waiting to see if he would fall in this echo of life or be brought back to his own realm where the pain would be felt. He wasn’t really rushing for either.
Except, he had to, didn’t he? Time was ticking down and Draco, the glorious bastard, was waiting for him. It didn’t matter he was tired, drained and powerless in the face of so much he had no control over. Draco was depending on him to be strong.

Harry stopped in the hallway. He tapped his hand on the wall to remind himself he was real as power shot through him in painful bursts. It was a chain reaction lately, not one spark but many.

Somehow Draco found a way to control him. He took the wild mating call and wrapped it around his elegant pale fingers to turn it into something bearable. Harry had no excuse in it anymore, no way to justify giving in to the urges without the drive pounding in him to push him forward.

Stupid Malfoy, wanting him to be impossible with him. Right now that would mean to be back in their realm, alive and not a wild beast. Somehow it seemed a damn fucking lot to ask for, even for Draco’s standards.

Harry stared at the pen. He began to click it repeatedly again as he continued walking to Draco’s room.

Intangible 9

Chapter Eight

Draco didn’t say a word when he woke up. He dragged himself from bed, collected his school things and got ready for class. He ignored Harry at the door by holding it open long enough but without reaching his hand out to make sure he followed. He didn’t acknowledge him in the Great Hall no matter how curious glances Blaise and Pansy cast. It was a full table and it wasn’t safe to talk about him anyways.

Harry was relieved. He almost stayed behind in the room. To see Malfoy was to want him every fucking moment. Harry had fought with himself repeatedly while Draco slept. He went so far as to hide in the bathroom so he wouldn’t be constantly faced with his beautiful, sleep filled face and long, pale limbs… hard, tight torso…

He couldn’t remember wanting anything so badly in his life than to touch Draco Malfoy. It was insane to think he once thought he could sit back and look and just breathe hot air. He once stood mere feet away while Draco shoved fingers deep inside, cried his release with his name on his lips and he hadn’t taken him. Pure madness.

He hadn’t planned on touching him last night. He was just checking up on him. Draco looked so tired when he stumbled into the bathroom, he just wanted to make sure he didn’t fall asleep. Draco was just standing there, staring at the shower with his slender, nearly nude body shivering in the cool air. All Harry could think about was the first time he saw him shower. It played out vividly in his mind until he was left shaking, staring at Draco and needing.

The dangerous feeling was all around him when he slipped hands on Draco’s bare back. Draco’s sleepy sigh only made it worse. He was going to need to find somewhere else to stay at night. He nearly had him twice. Twice he could have been buried deep inside him that very night. Fuck, even a third when Draco’s cries rang out as he masturbated. Harry forced himself to stay in the bedroom to keep from taking what he so readily wanted. He almost went back in. He knew if he did, Draco’s wouldn’t have resisted and he wouldn’t have been able to stop.

It was the worst part, what stole the last of his damn restraint. He felt Draco give in and it broke something inside him. His self control crumbled when Draco pushed back and tried to get his unstretched hole against Harry’s hard cock while at the very same fucking time begged him to stop. Harry wanted to scream. He had screamed in the bedroom when he finally gained some control. When he finally pried his hands from the gorgeous guy who fucking wanted him, needed him, and still refused to have him. After Harry shouted and yelled the unfairness of it all into the ether and Draco went to bed, he hid in the bathroom. He jerked off where he wouldn’t have a sleeping Draco to look at and imagine covering with his hot, claiming fluids like a deranged pervert.

He never thought he was a pervert until Draco Malfoy. He never wanted to dirty someone so thoroughly until he saw the immaculate prat. After watching Draco fight his own very human needs for a lie of breeding and family, Harry wanted to do fucking terrible, degenerate things. A part of Harry hoped if he soiled him dark and deep enough, it would make Malfoy realize there was no going back.

The beast inheritance would let him do exactly that. He could wake up Draco’s beast with enough filthy, dirty sex until he was nothing more than a panting, begging animal. That version of Malfoy would never choose a fake marriage over him. No, he would bend to him whenever he wanted, stay at his heel, under his thumb, and ride his cock whenever he demanded it. Fuck, and he would demand it.

A shift happened in Harry as he paced the Great Hall. His thoughts grew darker and his body and energy changed to reflect his very needy, possessive thoughts. He felt strong again even with the bursts of energy warning him he wasn’t stable. He felt like he was facing down Voldemort again and he was powerful and unmatched against his enemy. But it wasn’t an enemy, it was Draco. It wasn’t fighting but fucking his body was consumed with.

Harry wasn’t certain if he did fuck Draco the feeling would disappear this time.

Draco got up from the breakfast table to go to class. Harry hung back and followed far behind. He waited outside the classroom door. He didn’t want to see Malfoy, didn’t want to be tempted with his glowing pallor and crystal clear gaze that looked right through him. Harry knew he couldn’t stop himself. The same way he couldn’t stop himself from kissing Draco the other night, he couldn’t stop now. And this time he wanted far more than kisses.

Draco was called to Dumbledore’s office after a tasteless lunch. His morning was a blur of slow, mundane classes and wild, tilting thoughts of sex, Potter and his farce of a future. Almost as if his state of mind beckoned her, Narcissa Malfoy was waiting for him, elegant and stiff in Dumbledore’s office.

His mother was not alone. Snape, Jaz McVicar and Dumbledore stood across from her like they were facing off in a duel Draco interrupted with his presence. With sinking dread, he realized she must know about Potter. Otherwise why include the men working on the solution? He could be wrong and he made sure to not make any movements which could attract Harry to his side. Although he hadn’t spoken with Harry all morning, he was certain he was still there, even though he could not scent or sense him at the moment.

“Hello, Mother. Is everything all right?” Draco asked blandly as he stepped into the room and watched all eyes turn to him. His head of house was looking murderous, Dumbledore’s twinkle was lost from his eyes and Jaz was showing his teeth. The sharp fangs peeked out in quiet threat to the woman before them. Narcissa was still, her face a perfect mask of docility and properness. It was very much her battle mask and Draco braced himself.

“I’ve arranged for you to come home, Draco,” Narcissa said softly, her hands stiff before her. “I have hired a tutor to help you with the NEWT finals and catch you up with the rest of your classes. It’s all been organized. We’re just in need of you and your things.”

“I see.” Draco stepped further into the room and walked up to his mother. In a practiced move, they embraced briefly; Narcissa managed to be hugged without actual contact. It was a skill Draco never quite learned or wanted for himself. “Mother, may I ask why you feel such drastic measures are needed? I’m only months away from the end of my school term.”

Narcissa pulled away and glanced at the men on the other side of the room. “It’s come to my attention your grades have been slipping. I am concerned, Draco. Your wedding is coming up and I want you to be focused.”

Draco could sense the lie and decided to unwind it. “Mother, removing me from school would only make things more difficult right now. I have goals here and connections to forge for my career at the Ministry. Skipping out on my graduation will undermine that, as I’m sure you’re aware. I cannot accept leaving early. I can always retake the NEWTs at a later time, if needed.”

Narcissa’s eyes flashed, a small crack in her well worn mask. Lucius being away had made her tired, troubled. Her own short time in prison didn’t do well for her either. “Draco, I will not allow you to participate in what is happening here.”

“I don’t see how you can think to stop me.” Draco stepped around her and joined his teachers on the other side of his mother. “I’ll do as I please in this.”

“You are jeopardizing everything,” she said louder as she turned to face the four of them. “For—for that boy. It will be safe at home and without such distractions. You don’t want to be known as the one who saved him.”

Draco raised a brow, inwardly shocked she would be so outright. “Mother, that is exactly what I want. Nothing has been jeopardized. I will marry Miss Vellamorn in a few weeks time. I will return home from school after graduating. When I join the Ministry to start my apprenticeship, I will be known as the man who helped bring Harry Potter back.”

“Madness, Draco!”

“No, Mother. Madness would be to try and stop me. Or would you prefer I rot in jail with father. You would be left alone to run a failing household with no male heir and no political power. You cannot remarry unless Father is dead, and who would have you with our name so disgraced?” He squared his shoulders and let his anger reach his voice to match her flashing eyes. “Voldemort lost. He will never rise again. You picked the losing side and I did not. You won’t sway me now, the same as you could not sway me when the Dark Lord still lived.”

Narcissa put a hand to her face, a lace handkerchief in her grasp to appear to dab dry eyes. Slowly, she gave a small curtsy, assenting to Draco’s stance. “My son, I am in need of you and your strong will even more with your father away. Forgive me for assuming you would have need of my counsel when still you are strong in your beliefs. I have a gift for you to help keep our name pure as you pursue this endeavor. If you will accept?”

Draco was suspicious. He didn’t expect his mother to cave so readily. It could be because of their audience, Dumbledore specifically. Or Mother was even more tired than she first let on. Azkaban might have drained the fight out of her. He approached warily, and watched as Narcissa took out a small box.

“What is it? Jewelry?”

Narcissa nodded and opened the box to reveal a silver ring. “Your father’s ring. We didn’t think you would need it, Draco. You showed no signs of the spoiled blood. This will contain the beast and keep it from awakening.”

Draco reached for the silver circle; a feathered dragon stared back at him. “Then father has one as well? Still asleep?”

Narcissa lowered her head and took a moment to speak. “The ring kept him from disgracing his name, as it has for all the Malfoy heirs. He will not be returning from that place. Better now to be a beast, than a man among beasts.”

Draco glared, his anger rising at her words. “You have both disgraced us far more than any beast could. I’ll wear it because that is what I must do. Not because I fear to be known for what I am.”

“I know that well of you. Thank you, my son, for ensuring the name and safety of your family even now.” Narcissa reached her hand forward and Draco kissed it stiffl. His mother refused to meet his eye.

This would have gone much differently if Potter was dead and Voldemort alive. His father would have come to him to chain his beast and there would be no question who was the disgrace. It was a gamble to choose Potter, one not made out of cunning and plotting, but desperate, foolish hope a life without Voldemort could one day exist. No one, not even Draco, actually thought it to ever be possible. It didn’t mean he was above exploiting it now.

“It was good to see you, Mother. I expect you before next month to finalize the rest of the wedding plans.”

“Yes, Draco. Very little is left and Serene is enraptured in anticipation. She will be relieved to know you wear the ring.”

Draco sighed inwardly and slipped the bloody thing on. It didn’t seem to hold much magic but now on his finger he could feel the power of it stealing his senses away. All of a sudden Snape was there. His hands held Draco’s shoulders to keep him upright.

Narcissa held her hand up soothingly. “It was the same with your father, and with his. The sensation passes and then it is as if it never was. I will see you shortly, Draco. I hope to see an improvement in your focus.”

Draco ignored her departure and scowled as the world continued to spin around him. He tore the ring from his finger and threw it to the ground. “Pureblood nonsense,” he muttered angrily. He turned unsteadily to his silent companions. “She knew everything, not just the blood inheritance. How has Potter’s condition gotten out?”

Dumbledore stepped to his desk. He summoned tea and chairs, the closest of which Draco dizzily sank into. “I have to assume it was a breach off the floo network. It was the only transport of questionable information and we’ve been having problems with it lately. It makes the most sense. That your mother has connections to whoever is spying is concerning.”

“Oh, you think?” Draco continued to scowl as he took the offered tea. He nearly scalded himself as he drank it down. Jaz was holding the ring he threw and was studying it carefully. “I will eventually need that. If you wish to look it over you may.”

“I would. This has been crafted specifically for your family’s beast inheritance. This, with your blood, could pinpoint exactly what we need.”

Draco shook his head wearily. Of course it could. Of course his mother would give him a chain to bind his power instead of using it as a gift to save.

“Mr. Malfoy, I would ask that you reconsider this plan of yours,” Severus drawled cautiously, pulling Draco from his thoughts.

“Plan?”

“The wedding. There is some truth to what your mother has said. You lack focus. Your grades are failing, as is your health. Postponing until after school has ended would be more than understanding given the situation.”

Draco waved his hand dismissively. “It’s a ceremony, that’s all. A day away and then back to school. I haven’t had to lift a finger, never mind spare it a thought.”

“Yes, but a day away while you hold the key to Mr. Potter’s safe return could be far more insidious than first thought. If you are kidnapped or ensnared to hurt Mr. Potter while outside the safety of the school’s wards, there can be little to stop it.”

Draco paused and placed his empty tea cup and saucer down onto Dumbledore’s desk. He stood. “I’ll consider it. Hopefully he’ll be back before then and it won’t be an issue.”

“Mr. Malfoy, before you go. I’d like to experiment with the ring, if you would be so willing?” Draco pursed his lips and stared warily at the ring in Jaz’s hand. He eventually nodded.

“I will need Mr. Potter’s insight as well.” Jaz turned to his right and faced the corner of the office. “I want to see how it effects the beast on the dimension it dwells on.”

Draco nostril’s flared in warning but he took the quill handed to him. He was in a fighting mood since facing his mother down and wasn’t sure being close to Harry was the best idea. Especially after last night’s heated encounter and now Harry knew his wedding was so soon. Draco sat back down in his chair with hand poised over the parchment Dumbledore unfurled.

Harry didn’t approach him or, if he did, not close enough for Draco to sense. Draco kept his gaze lowered with his brow’s furrowed. He would be damned before he actually called Harry over in invitation.

“Mr. Potter, I just need to know what you saw when he placed the ring on. That’s all.” Jaz looked toward the center of the room, then exchanged glances with Severus and Dumbledore.

“Harry, are you feeling well?” Dumbledore called, concern clear in his expression.

Draco felt him then. Harry hovered at the edge of his awareness, hot energy curling toward him. Harry’s scent was different… heady and dark. It was full of lust and power and still, very much him. Dizzy… so hot and dizzy…

Draco shot to his feet and turned to sit on Dumbledore’s desk to give himself space. “The ring. Now,” he gasped. Jaz tossed it to him. Draco placed it on immediately after he caught it and the world spun again. It was a relief even as nausea threatened from the rocking tilting of it all.

“What’s happened?” Dumbledore asked as he steadied Draco from behind.

Draco couldn’t answer immediately as he tried to gain his bearings. “I think… No, I’m certain. He’s transformed.”

There was a collective sharp intake of breath in the room. Harry was not only intangible, but he was also no longer fully human. Jaz broke the silence. “His awakening hasn’t repaired the problem. That theory is out. Mr. Potter, I would ask you give Mr. Malfoy and I space to study the ring. We don’t want to trigger the same state in Mr. Malfoy. Can you agree to that?”

Again Draco felt Harry hover at the edge of his awareness. Draco hesitantly reached his hand out and brushed fingertips to Harry’s. The spark of contact was intense. Draco’s eyes widened from the feel of power and heat and reacted. A shiver started in the pit of his stomach and traveled simultaneously to his head and toes to fill Draco with heat and addle his senses even more.

“This… this is going to be a problem,” Draco whispered roughly. He pulled his hand away and stared at it unseeing. He forced himself back to reality with a shake of his head. He grabbed the quill and turned to the desk so Harry could write out a response to Jaz. The moment he did, his senses warned how dangerous it was to turn his back to Harry in that moment with his scent hot around him.

Harry didn’t touch his back. His body heat was extremely close but didn’t connect. Strong fingers wrapped around Draco’s hand. Draco couldn’t stop the way he gasped from the touch. Harry wrote with quick, jerking movements.

I’ll stay outside the room, all rooms, from now on.

“Potter, is your magic working again?” Draco asked. He tried to ignore the confusing disappointment in his stomach to know Harry would no longer be lurking in his room watching him.

Yes. It’s changed. I’m relearning it.

“I can feel it now,” Draco murmured. The energy was so enticing and powerful around him. “I can feel how you destroyed Voldemort.”

Harry’s free hand pressed to the back of his neck. He wrapped long fingers and gripped firmly. Breath puffed over his cheek, and drew Draco’s eyes. This time when he felt Harry’s stare, it was as if a predator was looking back. He knew green eyes were drinking him in, waiting for him to slip and signal the end of the hunt.

“Shit.” Draco closed his eyes but it was no good. The unsettling feeling grew in the vulnerable darkness behind his eyelids.

Anymore questions? Harry wrote. Draco felt the tremor in the hand holding his.

“Quickly,” Draco rasped when Jaz hummed thoughtfully over Harry’s magic returning.

“I want to know how the ring has effected Mr. Malfoy’s creature on its plane. Just to ensure it’s not harming him.”

I’ll look.

Harry pulled away. Draco slumped and sat in the seat again with a heavy sigh. It was a long time before Harry returned. Draco wondered if he saw something terrible or maybe Harry couldn’t bear to be so close to him. Draco wasn’t sure how long he could be near Harry like this.

At his approach, Draco poised the quill again. Harry was swift to grab his hand. This time he pushed forward and pressed his wide shoulders to Draco’s back. His head hovered at the crook of his sensitive neck and Harry shakily breathed fire over him.

Draco didn’t bother looking at the words scratched out messily. He was fixated on every hot spot where his body touched Harry’s. He liked his new scent, a lot. He liked the way Harry’s energy was licking at him and trembling over his skin in hot caresses. He very much liked the way Harry kept shaking, as if at any moment he would lose it, his self control would break and he’d just have to take him. Draco didn’t know what it was like to be wanted in such a way but he was finding he really enjoyed it.

Harry’s hand stopped writing and started to move up his arm. His palm contoured to his form, fingers dragged heavily up to his forearm, bicep, shoulder, and then landed again on the back of his neck. Harry continued to hover. He pushed his body away from Draco’s but left his hand. His fingers kneading into the muscles of his neck while Draco read.

The ring has changed his color. The glow is weaker like his magic in that form is bound and has no outlet. He doesn’t look ill. No wounds or physical deformities. Just quieter. He’s still solid to me, and he seems to sense me just as well. Whatever the ring does, it’s happening on the other dimensions and is keeping his glow from reaching through the other planes.

“You’re right,” Jaz said as he blinked at Draco. “It’s cut his glow from my eyes. Interesting… I would like to test the ring right away.”

“I, uh, have class still,” Draco pointed out. Harry’s hand slipped down. It kneaded at his shoulders and broke up the tension there, only to replace it with a fiery tension of a different kind.

“Would you permit me to borrow it until this evening, when I can then return it?”

Draco bit his lip and glanced in Harry’s direction. In understanding, Harry pulled away and his presence disappeared from Draco’s senses. “Alright. For now.” Draco pulled the ring from his finger. He blinked repeatedly as the world roared back into focus. It didn’t seem different once he got used to the dizziness. Without the ring, everything was somehow a bit brighter, color more vibrant, smells and sensations more intense.

Harry had spent the entire morning not touching him. Draco was fairly certain he could go the rest of the day the same way.