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Harry couldn’t remember ever feeling so much pain. He couldn’t fully remember pain at all. Somehow drifting in the echo of life for so long confused -his mind, his nerves, and perception of things. This burning, excruciating agony shook every cell of his body; this was a pain like no other. He was reborn back into the full world again, screaming, bleeding and in pain.
His body was different. His tense, twitching muscles were larger and fit proportionally to his taller frame. There was a strange weight on his back. It pushed him down into the cot he found himself in while he snarled around the burning sensation throbbing through his being. He was lost in the sheets where dark feathers suffocated him, sweat dripped red, and skin flushed unimaginably black. The bed wasn’t fairing well, the mattress torn by his claws and soaked in rust black splatters.
His bed was pushed from the wall and practically in the center of the hospital room. Harry understood why whenever he tried to lift his head. There was a new weight, and his eyes caught out of the edges of his vision twists of bone. Horn? No, antlers like some dark stag. With each clench of pain something whipped behind him, thready and slashing. A tail, long and narrow with scales and feathers. Harry stared at his hands and wicked talons where he could see the dragon scales. They were so thin and delicate, glass clear coated with rainbow color over his dark flesh. He was different. Changed. Pained.
“You're awake.” It was a statement, less a question. Harry didn't notice there was anyone else there, so consumed by the fire racing through him.
“Hurts,” he hissed. He tried to turn his head toward the voice, only to have his antlers tear into the bed and snag. “Damn!”
“It's better if you don't move.”
It was Dumbledore. Harry could smell him now and recognized the familiar dusty voice, and the weight of power in the air. Harry wrenched his head to the side, and growled at the pain when the sheets refused to release him. He panted in frustration as he glanced as far to the side as his vision would allow. Half a chair. Long, aged fingers on the armrest. Pale fingernails.
“Hello, Sir,” he greeted hoarsely. “Still alive, I see.”
“Yes. We're all still alive, Harry.”
When Dumbledore didn't continue, Harry went back to trying to free his antler. He reached up with his hand and struggled to get his shaking fingers to pry it loose. “God damn pain in the ass!”
“I have a question for you.”
There was something in Dumbledore’s voice that gave him pause. Harry waved his hand airily. “Ask.”
“I have it on good authority you have taken a mate.”
Harry furrowed his brows in thought. He pulled himself down the bed as he tried to free the blasted horn. “Right.” His hands were sweaty in the sheets from the exertion and he groaned when it still did no good. He body was burning. “So?”
“I can only assume it is Mr. Malfoy, given your inability to have contact with anyone else.” Dumbledore sounded stern, perhaps. Terse.
Harry didn't like the tone of his voice. He also didn't like how his horn was caught, that he was in pain, and seemed to have little control of anything at the moment. “Malfoy is mine. What of it?” Harry snapped. He snarled again and wrenched his head back and forth. Somehow he managed to get his other antler caught in the sheets. “For fuck sake!”
“Be still, and I will fix it,” Dumbledore ordered but didn’t move from his seat. Harry huffed in annoyance and tried to relax his body. It was harder than he expected; the pain made him too tense and unwilling to soften. Harry panted and waited until his body finally sank painfully into the mattress as much as his caught antlers would allow. There was a creaking and Dumbledore stood, his deep blue robes coming into view. Harry watched him raise his wand and direct it where the mattress and sheets swallowed the sharp protrusions of his antlers.
“It's best if you stay still. You're too weak to move and there is no bed that will prevent this,” Dumbledore said as he indicated his antlers. Harry resisted the temptation to look up at him. There was something again heavy in Dumbledore's gaze. “How do you feel?”
“Terrible,” Harry said through gritted teeth as another wave of pain shook his body.
“It's to be expected. They healed nearly all of you, but your nerves are apparently highly sensitive since rejoining our realm. It will be some time before the pain fades.”
Harry grunted noncommittally. Eventually Dumbledore would get to the reason he was here already. Harry doubted Albus was sitting around to tell him he would feel some pain.
“You have a mate, Harry.”
It was an accusation. Harry couldn't help but grin viciously against the pain. “The most beautiful, willful mate I could ever fucking hope for. He's damn magnificent in all ways.”
Dumbledore sighed. He slipped his wand back into his robes, but not before a final spell tingled over Harry's form. “What does it mean?” he finally asked, sounding weary.
Harry blinked, eyebrows furrowing in confusion. “What?”
“What does having a mate mean for you?” Dumbledore moved back to sit in the chair.
“I don't know. He's my mate.” Harry groaned when pain lashed over him like a waterfall of stinging bees. There was a sudden wash of cooling over the burning sensation and darkness settled in around him in a soothing blanket. The pain was numbing, slipping away. Without the fire he was tired. Very tired.
“Harry, I need to know the answer.”
“I don't know,” Harry mumbled as his eyes drifted closed. “He's mine.”
“Think about it.” Dumbledore’s voice was full of exhaustion. “You will not be leaving here until I have the answer.”
Harry snorted weakly as sleep pulled him down into its comforting oblivion. Dumbledore couldn't hold him there. No one could.
Hermione found what she presumed was the resting place of the sleeping kalistar. The vesper didn't guard the room the way she thought they would, but she was right in her guess of they did keep the creature safe. The kalistar rested in the center of the village in the unique building set up to house their new halfling. Deep in a hand carved underground basement was a tomb. Hermione could only guess what dwelled in this tomb because she couldn’t find a way to get inside.
“I just want to see the creature,” Hermione said reasonably. She was downstairs in the large entrance chamber which led out into the village. The afternoon air was warm as it flowed in on the breeze. Haille's expression didn't agree with her tone. Hermione rolled her eyes but she knew she wouldn’t seek any of the other shifters out. Haille was the most agreeable to her. He barely even referred to her as human anymore. Haille was her best bet to get what she wanted; she just needed to wear him down a bit. Hopefully with help from Malfoy.
“It is dangerous.” Haille huffed when Hermione snorted derisively. “The kalistar is a powerful force and has been known to respond to human energy. I do not feel it is wise.”
“Have you woken it up before, then? Or has it woken up on its own?” Hermione asked, her curiosity peaked. Maybe if she just hung out enough in the basement, the kalistar would wake up from her presence.
“Not in our village, no,” Haille said gruffly. He glared at Hermione as if he could read her thoughts. “Incidences have happened, usually when humans have encroached on a village. The kalistar are so intent on protecting the foolish mortals.”
“Foolish?” Hermione scoffed. “You do realize you all look like a bunch of beautiful, if not scarred, men, right?”
“Yes, and we hold our tribes in the middle of extremely dangerous, monster riddled magical forests,” Haille shot back. “Any human who would approach our village is either here to attack us, or they are complete imbeciles who deserve the painful deaths they receive.”
Hermione sighed. She raised her eyebrows and shrugged. She could hardly disagree with the logic of it. “Your kalistar doesn't seem to agree.”
“Yes, well there was an entire village who did and we won.” Done with the conversation, Haille stepped out into said village where the canopy of sheets above turned the center into a carnival of color. Hermione followed, not even remotely ready to give up. She would see the kalistar. She had grown to like the vesper these last few days and the more the dragons returned home, freshly wounded, the more she knew something needed to be done. They couldn’t continue on like this.
Malfoy agreed but in a distracted manner. He didn't want to tell the vesper what to do; he was just happy to be there. Hermione had a sinking suspicion Draco wouldn’t want to return to Hogwarts once the tour was over. She’d do her best to persuade him, but seeing Draco among the vesper each day, Hermione knew he found a home. Even now as she approached while Kore taught him how to balance a spear, Draco looked more relaxed and happy than she could ever remember seeing him. He'd have to be; Hermione was fairly certain Malfoys didn't hunt with spears.
“Malfoy, I need your help with something,” Hermione said before Haille could even open his mouth. The shifter narrowed his pretty violet eyes at her but that was it. He was a damn pussy cat, scars and all.
Draco brightened at her arrival. He pointed down the way where a target was set up and two spears already pierced the cloth covered blocks of hay. “Not quite the side of a barn, but I did manage to hit it. Twice.”
Hermione shook her head at another show of manly display that only seemed to get worse the more the vesper insisted on hugging Draco. Draco was even dressing like them, in a pair of loose fitting pants and a light vest to cover his chest. His feet were bare; it had to be nudity for someone of his station to not wear shoes everywhere. Draco also managed to get himself a nice gash on his stomach. Probably not to match the vesper, so much as Draco kept getting distracted by pawing shifters. As if to prove her point, Haille swooped down and wrapped him tight in his embrace. Draco only made the slightest of squawks in protest as he nearly dropped the spear on his foot.
“You're learning very fast, lovely halfling. Soon you will be skilled enough to travel the forest with us. There is so much to see out here.”
Draco nodded, a blush staining his cheek where Haille kissed. “Yes, well, I don't want to be stuck in the village all the time.” He lifted his head, his questioning look turned to Hermione. “What did you need help with?”
Hermione watched Haille settle behind Draco with his arms wrapped around his waist. If he thought that was going to keep her from getting Draco to help, he had another thing coming. “I found the kalistar, the sleeping one. It's actually right under the halfling house.”
“Oh,” Draco blinked as his mind turned. “I'd like to meet it.”
Hermione grinned triumphant, but Haille only dismissively shrugged when Draco looked back imploringly. “Sorry, little one. None of us have the power alone to wake the creature. It must be a unified decision, the same as it took to put it to sleep. Since you have gotten your call under control, there is little reason for it.”
“Even if it would stop all the fighting?” Hermione asked in frustration. “How can you just sit back and let your dragons keep getting injured?”
“We’re not letting them,” Kore broke in. He was extremely tall and broad shouldered. “We fight back as good as we get.”
“Yes, because that's helping things,” Hermione muttered. “If I have kids and they start getting brutally wounded, I'm totally going to care that at least they managed to equally maim their attackers. You need to talk to these people. Negotiate. Let them see you're, well, people. Reasonable people—except when it comes to humans, yes, I've gathered that,” Hermione added with a frustrated sigh.
“You need to give them some time,” Draco said after a moment. “You can't expect them to change everything overnight. They're just getting used to me. They know I want to interact with humans and have promised to make that possible.”
“Eventually,” Haille agreed. “We will need to set up defenses to protect us all, humans and vesper.”
“Wouldn't it be easier to let the kalistar do that?” Hermione asked. “Isn't that part of its job?”
Kore and Haille exchanged uneasy glances. “The kalistar aren't forgiving creatures, human,” Kore explained. “They are dominant, aggressive, and difficult to control. There is a reason each village only has one. They will war with each other, and sometimes divide entire villages while fighting for control. Most young kalistar are cast out by their own when they are born just to prevent this. They are difficult.”
Draco inhaled sharply. He pulled away from Haille to stare at the two shifters in disbelief. “You exile them? You throw them away like something less than garbage?”
“The kalistar used to, yes,” Haille said with a pained expression on his face. “Now we have them sleep. It has been the kindest compromise we could make.”
“I don't understand,” Hermione broke in. “I was told the kalistar protected humans. That they protected the halflings and helped control them. How could the same creature—the one who supposedly tried to get humans and vesper to stop fighting—be so dangerous and terrible? It doesn't make sense.”
“We are creatures of duality,” Kore said flatly. “We fight our beast nature when it suits us. The kalistar, when that creature loses to the beast, its power is too great to fight. It can pull us so much we become nothing more than raving, howling madness.”
Haille nodded and gently grabbed Draco's hand. “You have seen it, halfling, with your own call. Think if you had done that intentionally to Matten and the young ones because you wanted something so great you didn't care who had to bend. Without someone to balance the kalistar, the creature is too powerful to be trusted.”
Draco nodded, but he didn’t fully understand. Matten had told him the halflings balanced the kalistar, so him being in the village should be enough. The shifters didn't want to wake the creature even with him there. Maybe they didn't think he was staying.
Draco wanted to finish school; it was only a few more months. After that he'd figure out what he was going to do with the vesper. Matten mentioned again about Draco being an ambassador. He didn't know if that's what he wanted… He just knew he was tired of worrying about the vesper being hurt. His week was nearly over and twice the dragons returned bloody and crying in pain. At least Draco and Hermione were able to heal them so the scars weren’t permanent. He preferred they were never hurt in the first place.
“With Malfoy here, wouldn't it be safe to wake up the kalistar?” Hermione was thinking the same thing as him.
Again the shifters exchanged unreadable looks. Kore finally spoke, his voice a low growl. “They aren't forgiving.”
Hermione was not one for theatrics. “Can you at least let me in the tomb? Just to see it?”
Haille snorted; her persistence was amusing, if not appealing. “Take her to Matten, halfling. He can let her in the chamber.”
Triumphant, Hermione quickly dragged a grumpy Draco down toward the huts where she last saw Matten heading.
Hermione brimmed with desire to get back down to the tomb of the kalistar. Draco watched her out of the corner of his eye as they all sat on the dais; Hermione’s leg twitched as she shoveled dinner and wrote scratchy notes into her notebook. She lost all fear of the vesper and he was grateful the villagers only had goodwill toward her. It gave him hope things could change for the pack with a little work.
He went down to the chamber to see the kalistar and refused to go back since. The creature was a larger version of Karia, his pet when he was young. Draco never saw her, but with his eyes closed and fingers hovered over the golden dragon with wide antlers and long legs, he knew the truth. Karia was one of the exiled vesper who was thrown away by her pack because there was already a kalistar ruling. She sought Draco out because she didn't wanted to be alone and he was a halfling. She protected him even before he knew he needed protecting. Then she grew ill from the sparking and without a pack to help her, she died while Draco was at school. Alone.
Things had to change. Draco didn't know how, but he knew it couldn't stay this way. Karia was sweet, gentle and kind. The vesper said the kalistar grew fierce once puberty hit, especially the males, but Draco couldn't believe it. There had to be a better solution than having the creatures sleep their entire lives away.
“You are sad, Draco,” Matten observed. Draco nodded silently in reply. He had finished eating ages ago and was staring into the flames instead as he hoped to make sense of it all. Karia was this faint, special memory in his mind. She was his one true companion as a child. He never knew she suffered so much in such a short lifetime. He truly understood so little back then.
Matten shifted closer, pulled Draco into his embrace and held him in his lap. Draco closed his eyes as Matten hummed to him. A few of the shifters on the dais joined in while they lounged in the spring night air on pillows and furs. Nights were easier now Draco's call was under control. It was even safe for him to visit the others under the canopy and listen to their stories. With a lot of farmers in the village, Draco heard the best tales. There was something about rooting in the dirt all day that gave you time to think of fanciful things, or at least that was how Seles explained it.
“Hmm. You are glowing again, sweet halfling. Is it already so late in the evening?” Matten teased as his fingers caressed up and down Draco's arms.
“I'm not the moon, Matten,” Draco grumbled. His head fell back against his chest. “For all I know, I'm actually quite ugly and tanned in my other form. No glow at all.”
“For all you know, perhaps, but certainly not the case. You are glowing because you are content.” He brushed his lips to Draco's ear. “You are comfortable with us and happy for touch. When you are happy, we cannot help but be happy too.”
Draco nodded lightly in agreement and stared up at Matten's chin. He had the faintest nick right where his chin turned toward his throat, just visible in the low lighting. Draco let his eyes flicker to the side where the shifters on the dais slid smooth skinned to the ground, their silvery hair shimmering waterfalls of silk. Draco glowing meant shifters touching. Something he was growing used to, even anticipating.
“Do you wish to retreat inside?” Matten rested his chin on the top of Draco's head.
Draco shrugged. He was comfortable enough. “Only if you want. I'm sure you must feel left out, babysitting me every night.”
“It is an honor.”
“It's a chore. I'm not a fool, Matten,” Draco muttered with a huff. He was sick and tired of everyone trying to act like everything he did was so bloody brilliant. Matten purred softly, and Draco's irritation faded as quickly as it came. He closed his eyes again and felt Matten’s chest rumble ever so lightly beneath him. He could hear the others, their soft, heated moans in the darkness of his eyelids. Draco smiled as more warm, tingling tendrils flowed over his skin.
“It is an honor to watch you, Draco.” Matten brushed strands of Draco’s hair from his face. “It is a gift to be able to touch you, even just to hold you.”
“Stop flattering me,” Draco murmured. He smiled wider when fingers touched tentatively down his neck. “Haille, I have warned you of what I will do if you insist on touching me there.”
Haille snorted softly from the right of him and touched Draco's neck more boldly. “Sink your little dull teeth into me, halfling. See if I care. You make the nicest noises when I touch here, and that is what I want.”
“You say that now, but wait until Granger hears,” Draco warned weakly as fire slowly rose up his skin. God, he missed sex. He missed Harry, he missed hard, wild touch, and he missed being fucked.
“Oh, lovely one, the little witch ran off to see our sleeping friend. There is no one to protect you from the big, bad vesper.” Voices snickered at Haille’s taunting words, and Draco opened his eyes to look around the firelight. Hermione had left, likely to study the kalistar deep in the basement, the ditzy Gryffindor. Staring back at him were a dozen hungry shifters, many who twisted on the dais as they chuckled at Draco's expression. Three very familiar, wickedly smiling faces leaned right beside him. Draco glanced from Matten, Haille and Zyan, and his smile faded.
“Well, crap,” he whispered hoarsely. He peered up where Matten was smiling down, his hands holding Draco lightly but firmly in place. “I thought hugging was all this was about. Didn't we decide?”
“We decided you needed to have the things that made you call, so that you would not drive us all mad,” Matten said carefully. “You have been getting very bright these last few nights. It has been difficult. Very difficult.”
Draco closed his eyes again, wishing he could deny it. He hadn't dared touch himself after the fiasco of last time. His body was near aching with want, and it got worse at night with the vesper's scent strong in the air. Ever since Harry returned, Draco became this strange, sexual being who just couldn't get enough. He allowed himself to linger outside with the vesper and indulge in as much of the noises and scents he liked, sometimes even in the sights when he was feeling brave. It was the most he thought he was willing to go with this particular theme.
“Will it get as bad as the last time?” Draco asked, although he already knew the answer if they felt the need to swarm him so.
“It is just a touch. Just skin touching skin.” Matten soothed fingers over Draco's arms again. “No one will have you. I give you my word.”
Draco sighed internally; even with him near dead, the vesper were terrified of Harry and his claim on him. It was a wonder they hadn't killed Potter, now he understood how dangerous halflings were to the vesper if not properly contained. Draco was lucky Matten was so upstanding. Even in this, he knew he could trust the shifter.
Draco held his eyes shut and didn't flinch the next time Haille touched his neck. Fingers lighted over him in soft strokes. Draco allowed himself to sink back. Matten relaxed around him, pulled him close while gently humming in his ear. Zyan, hands firm and sure, pressed into his sides and dragged down slowly. Draco’s hips rose up to meet the touch.
“Oh god. Okay, just… ha. Oh, hell,” Draco mumbled and whimpered as he lost track of just who was touching where. It was a lot of hands, and now, oh, mouths. Harry was not the only one with a tongue like that, and— “Fuck. Fucking hell,” Draco groaned as sharp teeth nipped into his hip and made him jerk.
Matten renewed his purr. His lips brushed gently to Draco's neck while he gasped for air. Draco could feel Matten's erection nuzzled against his ass cheek, but he seemed content to merely hold his squirming form. Zyan and Haille moved down his body, a steamy wave of heat and wet lips. Draco laughed weakly when his pants were suddenly pulled from him. He kept his eyes resolutely closed so he couldn’t guess just whose tongue was dipping lower to…
“My, he howls so,” Haille chuckled against his nipple, and Draco was forced to accept it was Zyan's lips wrapped so unbelievably tight around his cock. Draco opened his eyes, and his hands sought out the shifter's silky tangle of hair. Stormy gray eyes blinked up at him briefly. Zyan smiled wickedly around his prize before he pulled Draco’s length deeper into his hot mouth. Moaning, Draco rocked in pleasure.
“He is very good at that,” Matten whispered in his ear and smirked when Draco nodded mutely. “He enjoys giving pleasure. We all want you to have pleasure.”
Draco found himself very glad the vesper were terrified of Harry. He apparently wasn’t terrified enough. Draco was quickly realizing he didn't give a crap what Harry thought about him in the arms of another man—or many, in this case. It was probably a bad thing.
The vesper weren't people, or students, or even competition; they were beings half like Draco who understood the world a little different. Part of that understanding was when you were being suffocated by silvery hair and strong pale bodies, you enjoyed it. Draco watched Haille lick over his body and Zyan bob his head and he tried to remember why he was so afraid of this. It was good. Very good. Very right. Moans rose up around him, and in the distance Draco could hear a howl from one of the dragons, which was quickly answered by more.
Haille gasped. “Matten, he's…”
“I feel it,” Matten muttered, and his hum rose louder. Draco blinked back at him, and his eyes slid across the scar on his face and rested on his pale blue eyes. Matten looked strained, his expression intense as he glared back at him. Draco wanted to smile, to reassure him everything was fine, but he couldn't. He was hungry. Draco’s body ached for relief, and there were a hundred plus bodies there to help.
“halfling, lovely, you need to calm.” Haille pleaded as he turned Draco's face. Confused, Draco couldn't help but notice Zyan was lying on the ground, panting madly and moaning. Haille looked ready to fall with him; sweat dripped down his body and he kept swaying. Draco watched, motionless. Haille's breath quickened as he stared back, and his long hair shimmered when his body shuddered again.
“Draco, please,” Matten tried, his voice a low, guttural growl. “Your call is too strong.” Haille fell to his hands and gasped on the ground. Zyan's arm slipped over and pulled him close. Haille didn't resist; he seemed relieved to not suffer alone as he tore the taller shifter’s clothes off. Draco watched and wondered who was going to win the struggle. They could have been fighting except they were pulling close, not pushing away. Each frantic bite was for pleasure, not to hurt no matter how wild the noises they made sounded.
Draco groaned; Haille was the victor. He pushed Zyan down onto his stomach and draped over him like a glittering curtain of silk and flesh. Zyan's cries where muffled as more howls rang out closer this time. Draco sat up to watch, Matten's hands keeping him from going too far. Draco pulled against them in his want to see more. He felt dizzy to see Zyan's face as he gasped so desperately beneath Haille. Matten pulled him back forcefully, and Draco exhaled sharply as he felt his erection again, hard and demanding through his pants.
Draco eyes half closed as he reached a hand up and tangled his fingers into Matten's shoulder length hair. Matten didn’t slow as he kissed down his neck with hard, needy motions. His tongue came next and Draco whimpered at the sensation. He loved when his neck was touched, bit, and sucked. “Yes. Oh, hell,” Draco moaned when Matten's hands moved down his bare torso and he could feeling the absolute strength in his powerful arms.
“What do you want, Draco?” Matten growled. He sank his teeth into Draco's neck, who hissed and rocked back for more.
“You know. You can't not know,” Draco gasped out. Matten’s large hands were on his thighs, grasped under his legs and raised his knees.
“I need you to say it. I need to know it is true.” Matten ran his hands back down Draco's long legs, caressed his inner thighs and spread them wide. “I am on the brink and do not wish to take.”
Draco laughed and howls rose up with the sound. “Fuck me, Matten. Before I lose my fucking mind and take you all with me.” He was with his pack, he wanted sex, and he was going to have some fucking amazing sex.
“Will be very upset he missed it,” Draco said with another sharp chuckle. Shit, they were all so afraid of Potter. Draco pressed back against Matten and rubbed against his body. He loved the hard muscles and each small, barely contained gasp. Matten gave a final, breaking groan. His questing fingers slid down between Draco's cheeks, pushed in, and stretched deep.
Draco gaped as his head slammed back against Matten's chest, his entire body tense and fiery. “Oh fuck. Fuck yes. Fucking need it.” Draco knew the shifters did wandless magic, he just didn’t realized it involved lubing and stretching like a pro. He should have; they were very sexual. Draco was glad for because it explained why he readily pulled away and got to his knees like a desperate animal begging for it.
Matten curled around him and his mouth ran over his ear. Anticipation built in Draco, his body dripping in need. He could feel his wings and tail, the feathers crushed by the larger shifter. Draco spread his legs wider and whimpered at the first hot touch of Matten's cock. It pushed against his entrance, unrelenting as it drove forward and sheathed deep inside his clenching flesh. Draco sobbed in agonizing joy. The howls were all around them now the dragons reached the center on the other side of the fire.
Draco lost track of things shortly after that, the heat and scent and madness too great to fight any longer. When Matten grew tired, Zyan wasn't, and then Kore, and eventually Haille, who was covered in sharp bites and shallow wounds by the time he fucked Draco. Draco didn't grow tired, not for hours, and he knew it was the way of what he was. Even with the ring on.
At some point the red haze of lust finally let up and they were all able to sleep. They curled up on the furs and pillows where Draco sprawled between a dozen long, hard bodies and soft hair. When he woke up, he wasn’t lost. No, he knew exactly where he was. Home, with his pack, in the middle of a terrible forest that would never be able to harm him. He was home, and he was content.
Fawkes cooed softly to the rising dawn when Harry woke again. His awareness drew to the phoenix, Fawkes a warm shining flame glowing in his mind's eye. He could feel the bird, a presence now within him sharing everything without fear or hesitation. Harry was extended, a piece of his soul contained within the magical bird. It was intense. Bizarre.
Harry wondered where Draco was seeing as Fawkes didn't know. The pain was gone. Harry remained still with eyes closed, his focus consumed by the new awareness of his body. He was strong. He was very strong. What he thought were heavy, weighted wings were light and easily controlled with the right muscles. He flexed; in his mind Fawkes offered intelligence on how wings worked, even as Harry found something innate inside that already knew.
He was whole. Harry could feel his body from the tips of every ruffling feather, to his tail, to the antlers crowning his head would no longer fear ever tangling. He could feel; air brushed his flesh and his scales shifted with every movement of hand and talon. He was hyper sensitive. The pain was gone but he didn’t feel exactly as he should be. How he would be right, he wasn't sure. All he knew was something was off.
Dumbledore was nowhere to be found but Harry had little doubt he’d return. He carefully stretched, feeling the weight of his body, the grace of his muscles as he unfurled, rose and sat with ease. The bed was clean and lacked any slashes, and his clothes replaced with thin pajama bottoms. His large wings prevented him from wearing a shirt. Harry pressed his fingers to the bed, amazed with the feel of it. He could feel again. He could smell, and things were solid. Real. He was real. When his ears heard sound, it wasn’t far away in an echo. The world was crisp and overly sharp; it was like looking through the world in new glasses, but for all his senses.
Harry was golden skinned. The black was faded from his flesh including his feathers, which look pure gold and metallic. He looked around the room and spotted a mirror by Madame Pomfrey's office door but held himself back. He’d wait for Dumbledore. He had a feeling walking around near exits would be an issue for his headmaster at the moment.
Fawkes burred in his mind, a fluttery call. Harry turned and for a moment saw the bird how he used to, divided on different planes. He focused and the fire faded from the phoenix and feathers and details came into view. Yes, he was changed. He was back, different, and really hoped Draco would be allowed to visit soon.
“Awake, I see,” Dumbledore's voice rang out. Harry turned to find Madame Pomfrey's office door open and the headmaster standing just inside the doorway. Harry tilted his head, and his vision swam for a moment with all the different versions of Dumbledore to be seen. Colorful magic swirled around him; the fifth plane was so strong Harry had to blink and stare blankly at his bed for a while.
“How do you feel?” Dumbledore stepped into the room and closed the door behind him.
“Fine. A little disoriented.” Harry’s voice sounded low to him and his teeth were sharp against his lips. He ran his tongue between teeth and lips and frowned at the odd sensation. A smile quickly stretched his lips. He could feel! He hadn’t realized how dull touch was before until it was returned to him.
“Do you think I can have visitors soon?” Harry asked around his new teeth. He really wanted to see Draco. Touching would be different now. Better, somehow.
“Not yet. I’d like to establish how you're feeling first.” Dumbledore spelled up a chair and sat across from Harry.
“I feel fine,” Harry repeated as he touched his lips. Would kissing Draco feel the same? Maybe better. Fingertips on his lips felt damn amazing. Everything felt amazing. His skin was nearly tingling, all fuzzy and warm.
“Are you hungry?” Dumbledore didn’t seem ready to argue with Harry on how he felt just yet. “It's been months since you've had an actual meal.
His head cocked as Harry’s ears picked up the sounds of students far in the distance. It took him a moment to focus back on Dumbledore. “Sure, I guess. Whatever.” He blinked as magic fizzled in the air to the right of him. A visual burst of small fireworks appeared moments before a house elf popped in with a plate of food. Harry stared contemplatively where the creature popped away; he could feel the trail of magic lead down to the kitchens. This was going to take some getting used to.
Harry poked distracted at a chunk of chicken with his fork; the metal felt strange in his hands. It was like metal was half alive with an energy vibrating inside its hard form. He could feel Dumbledore staring at him, so he lifted his head and pasted a smile on his face. The more normal he looked, the faster he’d be allowed to get the out of there. “Smells intense,” Harry said as he indicated the food. “Like, the most food smelling food I’ve ever smelled. If a scent could glow, that’s how food smells.”
“Perhaps it's a sign of hunger.” Dumbledore waved his hand encouragingly.
Harry nodded absentmindedly and brought the fork full of chicken closer to sniff. He licked his tongue out and jolted as his taste buds flared to life. Saliva immediately flooded his mouth. “Hell.” He bit down too quickly and flinched as he managed to bite the fork and his bottom lip at the same time with his strange fangs. Harry kept his head ducked to keep Dumbledore from seeing. He carefully removed the fork from his mouth and chewed slowly.
“Can you tell me what you remember?”
Harry stared at his plate as he carefully chewed around his tongue. He tried the mashed potatoes next,his nose picking up the scents of butter, salt and not enough pepper. “Pain. Voldemort tearing me to pieces.” Harry’s body flared at the words; his wings, antlers, tail, arms and legs all twinged in terrible memory. “Power. Awful power.” He bit down cautiously around the fork. The potatoes melted on his tongue while he metal extracted the instrument from between his teeth.
“You remember his power?” Dumbledore asked with brows furrowed.
“Not his.” Harry managed to swallow and not choke; another problem he didn’t expect. His body felt like it half belonged to someone else.
“The vesper?” Dumbledore pressed. “When they interrupted the spell?”
Harry glanced up at the wizened man and his teeth clinked on the fork. vesper. There were vesper in the castle. “How's Jaz?” Harry’s mind strayed back to a faded memory of the specialist falling to the ground when he finished his spell. Blood was haloed around his head.
“He's perfectly well,” Dumbledore assured. “You remember them, then? How about before?”
Harry’s eyes flickered to Dumbledore and then to door behind the headmaster's seated form. “I remember before.”
Dumbledore looked like he wanted to sigh; Harry wasn’t making things easy. “Tell me a story, Harry. Start the day you left here ready to go back to your relatives for the summer.”
Harry reached for his juice. He was forced to lick with the flat of his tongue once he realized his teeth were only going to continue to clink against the glass. “I finished sixth year. McGonagall was upset with my grades; she said I was distracted and disruptive,” Harry intoned without any heat. There was a bird outside the infirmary window. Except it wasn't right outside, it was a mile away, in a tree, pecking on the bark in search of insects.
“You returned to your relatives. By train,” Dumbledore prodded when Harry turned silent and distracted again.
“Right. I didn't want to go. I was worried about Malfoy.” Harry put his glass down and turned Dumbledore, who continued to stare at him. “Where is Malfoy?”
Dumbledore sat back and folded his hands. His body language created a wall between them Harry couldn't help but discern with his new senses. “Would you like to see Mr. Malfoy?”
“Yeah. Definitely.” Harry smiled, then flinched again when he bit his lower lip on a sharp fang.
“Do you think Mr. Malfoy would like to see you?” Dumbledore’s gaze was oddly stern. Harry blinked at the odd question and rubbed his bleeding lip.
“Er, of course.” Harry tilted his head as he tried to think back on any reason Draco wouldn't want to see him. “Did someone tell him about the will? Is he being pissy?” He licked his tongue out and blood filled his senses in a cacophony of tangy sweet metal. Harry gasped and stared at the tips of his fingers where he touched his lip. He tentatively licked the most red streaked one and tried to suppress a moan from the overwhelm of flavor.
“Harry, can you hear me?”
Harry snapped his gaze up, his fingers wet from his tongue. Everything thrummed around him; the air, the magic in the castle, Dumbledore across the room. It was hot… hazy. “Where is he?” Harry asked, his voice hoarse to his ears.
Sharp blue eyes met his and Dumbledore shimmered for a moment. He was fortifying. Defending. “Who, Harry?”
He was hiding something.
Harry turned from Dumbledore and switched his vision until the room was dark and magic swirled around him. He kept turning in his seat on the bed while he swept his gaze deep into the castle. He looked down toward the dungeons, up to the towers, and out onto the grounds. Nothing. No glow, no white, no Draco.
Harry took a steadying breath and forced his eyes to look at his hands. They fluctuated. His oddly gold skin charred at the edges around his fingertips as long black nails sprouted free. “Where's Draco?”
“Do you think he wishes to see you?” Dumbledore asked again. The words were like prickling wounds to Harry's skin.
“I don't fucking care if he wants to see me. Where the hell is he?” Harry watched his fingers burn. Char rose up and splotched over his hands.
“Shouldn't you care?” The only sign Dumbledore showed he noticed his line of questioning was enraging Harry was more shimmering as he increased his magical fortification. “Mr. Malfoy is an intelligent, willful young man. I believe he enjoys say in who he spends his time with. Now he can see you, he may not be so accessible to you. Isn't that his right, Harry? Don't we all, as individuals, have a right to decide who we wish to spend our time with?”
Harry stood abruptly. His tray clattered to the floor in a glitter of shattered glass and the dull crack of the plate. He glared at Dumbledore briefly before striding to the mirror on the opposite wall. “Aw, crap,” he hissed when he caught sight of his reflection. He was broad shouldered, his neck thicker, face fierce with wild green eyes beneath heavy brows. His lip was bleeding, which didn’t helping things much, nor did the massive antlers. Thankfully they flowed more up than out, or Harry would be taking out people left and right just by walking. Did Draco see him? Had he visited while he slept and saw how fierce he now looked? Was he repulsed? Afraid? Did he fucking hide himself away like a frightened mouse?
Harry snorted and rolled his eyes at his unfamiliar reflection. Not bloody likely.
So what the hell was Dumbledore on about? Harry turned and found Dumbledore was standing with his wand discreetly in his hand. “Sir, is there something you want to say to me?” Harry’s patience was worn thin by this very confusing, annoying conversation.
“You seem upset,” Dumbledore remarked carefully.
Harry narrowed his eyes as his power licked ever so subtly in the pit of his stomach. If he didn't get a straight answer soon, he was going to demand one.
“Tell me about your mate.” Dumbledore’s eyes stayed tight on Harry's twitching, black charred fingers.
Harry started at the question; something inside him twisted and called at the word ‘mate.’ He looked around the castle again, seeking Draco's glowing form. “He's missing.”
“No,” Dumbledore said swiftly. His hands moved wide and drew Harry's attention. “Draco is fine. Tell me about him. Tell me a story about your mate.”
Harry’s eyes didn’t stray from Dumbledore's strange motions. He nodded as his tongue flicked over his bleeding lip. “Uh, he's my mate. I take care of him, protect him. I really want to find him so I can protect him, Sir.”
Dumbledore bowed his head in understanding. “How do you protect him?”
Harry shrug was uncertain. His gaze again drifted down to the right of Dumbledore to where Draco's room was. “Kill things, I suppose.” He smirked, his fangs touching but not biting this time. “Killed Voldemort.”
“It was good you killed Voldemort, but there is no one else like him, Harry. No one you need to kill.”
Harry glanced up and noticed just how stiff Dumbledore was all of a sudden. “Sure, killing people is just a bit mad. I don't have to kill people to protect Draco.” He would though. Lots of people. Soon, if someone didn’t tell him where Draco was already.
Dumbledore edged a half step toward the door. “You look tired, Harry. Would you like to sit?” His hand waved and pulled Harry's gaze again.
“I'm good.” Harry eyed the windows. There was no way his new horns were going to fit out those little slitted windows, never mind his wings. He walked to them anyways just to see what Dumbledore would do. Nothing, at the moment. Harry knew he had him on the retreat. One little step toward the door revealed everything. Once that door was open…
“Harry, I can't help but notice your skin is changing color,” Dumbledore said tersely. “Has anyone told you why that might be?”
“I'm upset,” Harry snapped as he glared out the window. “I woke up locked in a fucking room, and I can't find Malfoy. And you—you keep asking inane questions!” He whirled and his wings unfurled wide and filled the space around him with smoothly charring feathers. “Why are you turning black, Harry? Will Malfoy want to see you, Harry? Here's a fucking question for you, Sir. What the hell am I going to do to you if you don't let me out of here!”
Dumbledore’s chin tilted and his eyes blazed in challenge as he stared Harry down. “That does seem to be the question we both want to know the answer to.”
The man was infuriating. Harry glared as the minutes ticked by, watching every shimmer of power, every drop of sweat on Dumbledore’s brow. Harry scowled and folded his wings tight against his bare back. “I'm not going to—”
The door leading to the hall suddenly slammed open, and Dumbledore and Harry jumped at the sound. Harry gaped when Narcissa Malfoy in all her petite, pristine fury pointed her wand straight at his chest. Behind her, two guards slumped on the ground at her feet. “Potter, what have you done with my son!”
Dawn streaked red across the sky. Draco blinked up, his lips parted in a long yawn. He carefully extracted his arm from the shifter next to him and stretched it over his head. The pelts were soft beneath him on the ground as he leaned back. The early spring air was chill but the bodies surrounding him kept him toasty. It ended up being hotter than sleeping in the bed inside.
Tomorrow he was expected to go back, to Hogwarts, to class, to numbness. To loneliness. How could he explain to Harry he was lonely there? Would he come back with him, or would Harry rather live with all his friends? Harry had a family in ways Draco never did. Sure, Harry never had parents, but Sirius and Remus were definitely his family. Draco's parents were never a family but these vesper… This was home. It was gloriously dysfunctional, hardly traditional, and innately right.
He was home.
Draco wondered how his ancestors dealt with it. They all fought so hard to remain human and battled the half of them who was yearning for more. Everyone eventually gave in to their nightmare and end up coming home. Many only found the vesper after they had a family and children of their own. They had to give up their old life. They had to give the ring to the next generation of halfling. Once awakened, there was no going back. Draco, on the other hand, still had a choice.
He glanced up and found Hermione, notebook in hand blinking down at him from the doorway. Was she just getting back from the tomb?
“They finally got you in the pile, I see.” Hermione tiptoed over limbs and slippery hair to sit down next to Draco. He rolled his eyes and wrapped himself around a pillow for some protection from her amused gaze. “I’m not too surprised. I had to stop wearing the glasses days ago; you were glowing like the sun.”
“Yes, well, I like sex,” Draco grumbled. He peered through one eye at her while he tried not to blush. He didn't want to blush. He didn't want to be embarrassed even if a small part of him still was. He liked strong men, enjoyed anal sex, and apparently from more than one man at a time. He was a halfling, and that was who he was. Now if he could just get some very demanding green eyes into the mix, everything would be perfect.
“I imagine you have to, considering how much these guys do. They talk about you like you're their queen bee. Er, king bee, in this case,” Hermione corrected with a smirk. “You have the most colorful plumage and glow the brightest, plus you have a mating call that can reach across miles. It would be very confusing if you didn't enjoy sex. Definitely awkward.”
Draco nodded distractedly. His eyes frosted as he looked off in the distance. “I think I fucked something up last night. With the call. I need to figure out how to control it.” It was still this detached part of him, while his beast form was locked away in the other dimension. Even though that form kept demanding things and pulling with its call, Draco couldn't fully reach it to gain power over it. Hell, sometimes the beast form was pulling him and he hardly noticed it enough to fight. He could have hurt people last night, and the thought was alarming.
Hermione hummed thoughtfully as she flipped through her notebook. She sat back to catch the morning light on the pages. “Do you think you'll be coming back to Hogwarts tomorrow?” She asked nonchalantly. “Because if you don't, I'd like you to do some more research on that kalistar for me.”
Draco pulled from his worried thoughts to raise a brow at her. “Will you be visiting much?”
“Oh god, yes, and not just because of the view I get at night from the window either.” Hermione beamed. “The way the vesper control magic through the dimensions is fascinating. I never even thought of dimensional studies as a calling, but the more I see it in play, the more fascinated I am by it. Plus the anthropological level to the whole place. They’re a nearly undiscovered species. Three, really. I'm an academic at heart, and there is a treasure trove of information and power in this one village. And, like I said, the view is fantastic,” she added as she glanced over at the silvery pale men sleeping around Draco.
Draco gaped at her, at a loss for words; she just kept surprising him. He couldn’t help but wonder if his friends would ever want to visit him. Blaise was totally terrified of the dragons, but then again, Draco was too, starting out. Pansy would definitely love the pretty men, especially if they were beat up a bit. He scrunched his nose as he thought of any one of them looking out the window at him with the vesper at night. Maybe visitors could be just a day thing.
“If I go back, it's just going to be to check up on Potter,” Draco said after a long moment. “I just don't think I fit anymore.”
Hermione snorted as she underlined something in her book. “Who the hell does? We're all so different; it's really the only thing that's alike. We have the ability to do magic. At least here you're definitely among those who understand you.”
Draco didn't completely disagree, but he still didn't want to go back. “Do you think Harry will like it here?” He was almost afraid to ask, afraid the answer would be the wrong one.
Hermione closed her notebook with a sigh and gave him her full attention. “You really want my opinion? I clearly remember you telling me I don't understand people.”
Draco huffed as his stomach clenching nervously. “You've been his friend for six years. You have to have some sort of clue.” He snapped his mouth shut; Hermione still couldn't figure out Weasley liked her.
“I think Harry will like to be where you are.” Hermione gnawed on her lip as she thought about it. “I'm not sure how he's going to feel about you being around a bunch of very attractive men who want to have sex with you all the time. Actually, I'm pretty certain that's going to piss him off.”
Draco's stomach twisted a little more and he groaned, stretched out and buried his face into a pillow. “Jealous. Jaz said his type were jealous.”
“But I'm a vesper; we're all like this,” Draco growled. “You said it yourself with my glowing plumage crap. He's not allowed to get angry over my basic nature.”
Hermione tilted her head and observed Draco outright. “You're as calm and happy as I have ever seen you, Malfoy. It's like someone finally turned the lights on. You were such a terrible mess this last year. I really didn't know if you were going to make it. Whatever Harry feels about you being here, that's his issue, not yours. I might lose my library by saying this, but you shouldn't come back. Why sacrifice a paradise with your own kind just to be, well, whatever it was you were pretending to be?”
“Straight,” Draco hissed bitterly. “It's exhausting pretending to be something I'm not. I was fooling myself trying to be what my parents wanted.”
“Well, that’s at least one thing you're never going to have to worry about,” Hermione said brightly while she returned to her notebook. “There is no way in hell your parents would ever come here.”
Narcissa was terrified of the vesper. Something unclenched in Draco’s chest and he breathed a little easier. No, that was one thing he never had to worry about. Harry leaving him for sleeping with a pack of vesper, maybe. His mother showing up? Never.
Draco’s thoughts drifted and he turned his gaze to the colorful canopy above, enthralled with its uniqueness. He felt so safe here, but he missed Harry. He didn't even fully know if he was alive. His instincts said as much but Draco didn’t actually know. Harry suffered extensive damage from Voldemort's attack; how long would it take to heal? If he returned to Hogwarts tomorrow, would Harry be able to walk yet? Was he awake and would he be willing to come to the village and meet the vesper properly?
Draco really wanted Harry to like the vesper. He really wanted the pack to like Harry. These were good people who lived here. They had gotten themselves in a mess with the humans, and kidnapping him didn’t help on that level, but Draco was ready to go back and settle that quick enough. He’d find a way for the tribe to live peacefully with the humans, even if the two groups might have to be completely separated and oblivious of each other.
His eyes slid over Haille's smooth shoulder as Draco wondered how he would feel if Harry wanted to be with the shifters the way he was last night. Harry was probably as tall as the majority of them. Oh, but with a much rougher grip at times; Harry was definitely not afraid to have a wild, hard touch. Draco smiled, and his tongue lighted over his teeth as he fought back a hysterical laugh. Ah, he would manage. Extremely well.
Draco rolled to his knees, stood up and ignored Hermione's curious stare. He padded nude around his pack of very pretty men, ready to shower and dress inside his new house. Tomorrow he’d see Harry, and hopefully he’d be awake. Draco smiled again and another laugh bubbled up he was barely able to squash down. God, it would be good. Seeing Harry like this—whole, alive, and with a home to return to—was going to be so fucking good.
“Where is my son!”
Harry stilled. Narcissa Malfoy’s expression promised death, as did the wand she pointed at him, but that wasn’t what made him Harry freeze. Maybe it should have been, or the fact the door was wide open and freedom was waiting just on the other side. It wasn’t Dumbledore, who had his wand raised to face Narcissa down that gave him pause. It was something else. There was something through that door, far off and calling.
“Answer me, you half-blooded, foul beast! Where is Draco? He’s getting married today and no one will tell me where he is! I know you’re hiding him. You’ve ruined him!”
Harry turned away from Narcissa to face the windows. It was far away, deep in the forest. There was no question; it was Malfoy. Draco was out there, and he was calling.
Harry closed his eyes and missed how Dumbledore responded. His new senses strained and focused miles away. The distance didn’t dull the feeling of Draco’s magic as it washed over him. Harry shuddered and his lips stretched to reveal sharp fangs. Draco. Long limbs, lithe torso… Fucking tight, Draco.
He was calling. Draco was calling him. What was once a dangerous spark was now Harry’s entire being. Dark power curled complete around him and fire rushed over his skin. Draco was looking for him. Waiting. Wanting.
Dumbledore’s voice stole into Harry’s consciousness as Draco’s name was mentioned. “We had to do what was in his best interest at the time, Mrs. Malfoy. Informing you could have set in motion an explosion, instead of a calculated attack. We were waiting to give the creatures a chance to abide by their own word before trying to get your son back.”
Narcissa wasn’t interested in Dumbledore’s excuses, but Harry was. He stopped mid step as he caught the last of what was said. “Where’s Draco?”
Dumbledore stiffened as his gaze turned to Harry’s bristling form. “Harry, it’s not what…”
“You let them take him!” Narcissa wailed, tears in her eyes. “How could you? He had a future, a life, and you just…”
“Shut up!” Harry boomed. Narcissa sat abruptly as Harry’s power flooded down on top of her. “Dumbledore, where is my mate!” Harry whirled with wings outstretched and arms wide. He raised more power and in moments filled the room with wind and unbearable gravity.
Dumbledore struggled to stay on his feet as his body bowed forward and arm was too heavy to lift his wand. “He’s safe. Guarded,” he choked out, his voice breathless as he struggled to breathe.
“Lies!” Harry roared. “You keep fucking lying to me!” He was so sick of the fucking games Dumbledore played. Hadn’t he done enough? Wasn’t killing Voldemort enough? Couldn’t he just have one goddamn straight answer from anyone? Harry pushed his power out in a cascade of force. Through the stone walls, he could hear the echo of cries as students fell and Harry’s magic descended on the castle in a crackling curtain of energy.
“Harry… they’re just children.” Dumbledore gasped for air as he tried to keep his arms between the floor and his face. Narcissa fell flat on the ground, her eyes wide in panic as she stared at Harry. His skin charred black with his absolute anger, leaving him a terrifying demonic shadow of horns and wings as he pushed everything down and demanded compliance with his power.
“Tell me what I want to know.” Harry stalked over to Dumbledore and crouched down where he was struggling. He grabbed his jaw and painfully wrenched his head up to meet his gaze. “Where is Draco?”
Sirius bent over in the hallway outside the Great Hall. He only just managed to shut the door the last final inch to allow it to latch against the power pushing everything down. Sirius’s senses told him the familiar energy was Harry’s, but different. He was changed, twisted and impossibly strong.
Sirius struggled to draw air into his struggling lungs as he heard the sounds on the other side of the door. Remus was in the Great Hall with the majority of the Hogwarts’s staff. The students were only just trickling in at the early hour for breakfast, and could be heard whimpering in fear. Sirius clutched at the stone wall and debated whether to seek help or the source, when another wave of power hit and struck him to his knees. Sirius growled as he fought to stay upright. Harry was coming.
The pressure grew worse the closer Harry stepped. From where he collapsed on the floor, Sirius could only see Harry’s charred black feet. He grit his teeth as Harry stopped in front of him; the weight was unbearable and the students cried out from the other side of the Great Hall door. Sirius could barely drag air into his lungs, and held another beast form which reinforced his strength. He could only hope Harry wouldn’t enter the Great Hall and crush everyone within.
“Siri!” Harry’s voice was alarming cheerful as he stooped and picked Sirius up by the scruff of his shirt. “I can finally hug you, you big lout!”
Sirius, who was suddenly light and able to breathe again, was pulled into an enthusiastic bear hug. Harry now reached his height, and then surpassed it by a few feet with his new horns. He was a solid slab of muscle and his week of resting in the hospital ward restored his strength. Sirius wasn’t sure how proud the emergency witches and wizards would feel of their work considering they were in the Great Hall being crushed by Harry’s power.
“Harry, you need to stop,” Sirius rasped out. He nearly went sprawling once he was released and quickly grabbed Harry for balance.
“Nope, I gotta go find Draco. Did you know he’s in the damn forest? Literally in the forest.” Harry turned his head, his eyes unfocused as if he were looking across a great distance. “He spent the whole fucking time telling me to stay out of the Forbidden Forest and then he just goes traipsing in there with a pack of vesper and Hermione. It’s fucking ridiculous.”
“Harry, please. You’re hurting people.” Sirius wavered on his feet. He grasped behind him and fell against the door when Harry turned toward him.
“I tried so fucking hard to keep him safe, Siri. Why would he do that? Why would he just fucking leave me like that?” Tears sparkled in Harry’s startling green eyes.
Sirius swallowed hard. He had no idea if this insanity was a temporary or permanent side effect of Harry returning. “I was told he did it to keep the creatures from hurting you.” Sirius kept his tone even as he watched a tidal wave of emotions swirl over Harry’s familiar, yet changed face. “They were in the castle. They could have hurt the children. You know Draco doesn’t want the children harmed; he’s a prefect. He’s responsible for the well being of the students.” Sirius licked dry lips and added cautiously, “Harry, he really like you to let everyone up off the floor.”
Harry, who was looking again to the side and far away, snapped his gaze back to Sirius. His fangs flashed. “If Malfoy cares so fucking much about the welfare of the students, he wouldn’t have fucking left them here all alone, now would he?” With a growl, Harry pushed away from the wall.
Sirius reached a hand toward him. “You’re not well, Harry. You have to see that.”
“Shut up!” Harry’s voice cracked as he yelled and fixed burning eyes on Sirius. “Are you goddamn Dumbledore now? Are you going to tell me all the irrelevant shit instead of answering the one fucking thing I want to know? Are you going to betray me too?”
Dread twisted in Sirius’s stomach. He tried again, softer. “Harry, no one has betrayed…”
“He left me!” Harry whirled and slammed a fist down on the Great Hall door. The thick wood splintered from the impact and the wall shook.
Sirius’s heart raced faster as he tried his best not to flinch. “Harry, where is Dumbledore.” The headmaster was the one to insist Harry be kept from visitors and free of information. Dumbledore was supposed to be guarding him just in case his suspicions were true and Harry returned unstable. Harry was very fucking unstable and now there was no Dumbledore. “Harry, have you done something?”
Harry snorted and wrenched his claws down the door. Deep, heavy gouges were left in his wake. “Where the fuck else would he be, Siri? He’s on the fucking floor with the rest of the weak, pathetic humans.”
Sirius winced at the cutting edge of how Harry said humans. At least he was talking; Harry almost sounded reasonable. “Is he okay?”
“Do I look like a fucking doctor?” Harry’s annoyed huff twisted as his lips stretched and he smiled fiercely. “Draco’s calling me. Did you know he was so strong?” Harry peered over to Sirius. As his head turned his antler rested on the door and scraped a deep dent into the wood. “I can’t even see him from this distance, but Draco is whispering in my ear telling me to get my ass to him.”
Sirius really hoped Harry wasn’t hearing actual voices and Draco was just really connected to his mate. “Does he sound afraid?”
Harry blinked and his brows furrowed. “He’s not afraid.”
Sirius nodded and carefully straightened as he pushed away from the wall. “It’s because he’s safe. We’ve been keeping status spells on him. Draco hasn’t been injured and neither has Hermione. Believe me, I wanted to go after him when I found out he left, but it would have put everyone at risk.”
Harry snarled, the sound starting as a rumble in his chest and curdling as it hit the air. “You’re all cowards; I know. You were going to let Dumbledore kill me enough though I’m your godson!”
Sirius tried to keep up with Harry’s extreme mood swings. “You know it’s not as simple as that,” he pleaded as power again pushed at his shoulders. “You were there, Harry. We had to think of everyone, not just you. You agreed to it; I never would have let Dumbledore touch you if you hadn’t agreed!”
“Don’t you fucking cry at me, Black!” Harry scowled as Sirius roughly rubbed his palm over his eyes. “Don’t you dare stand there and pretend you give a fuck when… Fuck!” Harry wrenched away as tears again filled his own. He shook his head briskly and growled at Sirius. “Draco’s calling me. I’m wasting fucking time talking to you. I thought I missed you; fucking pathetic.”
Sirius held still as his dark wings gave a mighty flex when Harry turned toward the main exit of the castle. “Harry, please, the students. They can’t handle this kind of pressure.”
Harry snarled as he glared back over his shoulder. “Stop whining at me, Siri. Like I give a fuck about them? You all picked them over me. It was the wrong fucking choice.”
“Harry!” Harry strode angrily down the hall, ignoring his call. His wings ruffled as he slammed around the corner and down the next. Sirius knew the instant Harry left the protection of the castle for the wards helped to repel some of his power. The air immediately lightened around him. Sirius quickly turned back to the Great Hall and tore the doors open.
“Oh, thank god.” Most of the students were struggling to their knees while they gasped for the returned air. Sirius went down to where the first years sat to make sure their smaller forms were intact. A few were passed out but there were no broken bones. With the students accounted for, he stumbled to the head table. Remus was halfway under the bench, snarling as he struggled to get up from beneath Hagrid’s mammoth arm which landed on his back.
“Go after him,” Remus demanded in lieu of greeting. “We heard you. Harry’s sick in the head. He’s confused, Siri. He needs you.”
“Aye, he’ll be fine for a few bloody minutes.” Sirius grunted as he heaved Hagrid’s arm up. The half-giant was dazed with so much weight keeping him down. “I can’t stop him; he’s too powerful. Pulling a wand on him right now is the equivalent of asking to be killed. We need to find Dumbledore and make sure he’s alright.”
Remus dragged himself up to his feet with Sirius’s help and his back cracked as he straightened. “Crap, I think that was my rib he broke.”
“Pomfrey’s,” Severus Snape snapped from the left. His hair was askew as he pushed up off the ground and leaned heavily on the table. “Dumbledore will be there.”
“Where’s McVicar?” Remus asked as he scanned the room. “He might know something about what Harry is changing into.”
“I’ll find him.” Severus reached a hand down to help haul Minerva off the floor. No one dared help Hagrid as he wheezed; he was far too heavy to move without magic. “We’ll need the prefects to organize and search the common rooms and dorms for anyone injured.”
Minerva nodded in agreement. She straightened her hat as she looked around the room at the recovering students. “Mr. Potter cannot come back here.”
“What?” Sirius nearly dropped Remus as he rounded on her.
Severus stepped between them and waved to the side. “Look around you, Black. Potter signed his fate. We can only pray he hasn’t killed anyone. Give it a day and every parent will be screaming for his blood after this, savior or not.”
“He’s confused! He doesn’t know what he’s doing. You can’t just throw him out…”
“It’s irrelevant right now,” Remus interrupted sharply while Sirius stared murderously at the professors. “We need to make sure Albus is safe. The students all need to be accounted for and the wounded healed. Severus, find McVicar and whatever relevant notes he insists on rattling at us. We need to find a way to stop Harry before he gets to that village. God only knows what he’ll do to Malfoy once he finds him.”
Sirius winced as he remembered how sad and tormented Harry sounded when he spoke of Draco leaving. He took it personally, like a small child who lost his best friend. Except, Harry wasn’t a small child; he was a powerful, dangerous force and he wasn’t thinking clearly enough to be reasoned with.
“You have got to be out of your mind.” Jaz resisted Severus's arm as the potions master tried unsuccessfully to pull him toward the door. “He's a kalistar! An angry, powerful—he broke my glasses. My favorite, very fashionable glasses were annihilated because he decided to squish me like a bug without even looking at me.”
“Stop being such a coward, McVicar,” Severus drawled in annoyance. “You're the only one who has dealt with these creatures at all.”
“In a lab! In a safely warded lab, with a shifter drugged so far out of its mind it could have thought it was a flower for all I know.” Jaz grabbed the doorway and his hands wrapped around each side, claws gripped into the molding. Severus snarled and tried to push him through with brute force, but it didn't work.
“My god, you self preserving bastard!” Severus pointed violently to the other side of the door. “There is a young man at risk out there. Two young men who need our help.” At Jaz's unconcerned glare, Severus grew angrier and grabbed him by the back of the collar. “McVicar, there is an entire village at risk! This school is at risk if Potter loses it and comes back. Stop being such a bloody coward!”
Jaz narrowed his eyes until they gleamed and glanced over his shoulder. “No.”
“You bloody… wretched… feline!” Severus once again tried to wrestle Jaz out the door. “I will steal your notebook!”
“I don't care. I have a backup,” Jaz said primly.
“I'll steal that one too! And I'll tear it up!” Severus had a dazed look to his eyes and Jaz secretly hoped he’d become so weak by his energy and give up. Unfortunately, the professor was gaining a lot of control over his condition lately. Severus made a decisive attack for one of Jaz's hands and tried to pry his fingers free.
“That's not going to work.” Jaz growled when Severus pushed his shirtsleeve up and bit into his wrist. “Actually, that's going to have a completely opposite effect of me wanting to leave,” he added, his glare growing as he gazed down at Severus’s flushed face.
“For the love of… You're an infuriating man.” Severus straightened, his hair a mess and dark eyes burning as he grabbed both of Jaz's outstretched hands and pushed his weight forward to force him through the door. That he was dug in like a tick was just obnoxious.
“I don't wish to die. There is nothing odd about that,” Jaz said petulantly.
Severus gritted his teeth. “It's Potter. He wouldn't hurt a soul. He's is so damn righteous, he was going to let Albus kill him to make sure he wouldn't hurt anyone.”
“Right, and then he woke up and suppressed an entire castle full of wizards and witches with absolute ease!” Jaz gritted back. His heels dug into the floor and his back straightened as he fought Severus’s push. “I have dealt with countless dimensional creatures, and I have survived by not interfering when they start going on rampages!”
“Coward!” Severus shouted.
“I fucking know! Stop pushing me!”
Severus snarled and relented. He stepped back and panted for air as he glared at Jaz’s stiff shoulders. The dimensional specialist's claws were literally stuck in the wood like a yowling cat avoiding a bath. Jaz was staring straight ahead and completely missed Severus's calculating look as he formed a plan.
“McVicar, do you remember that thing we've been talking about?” Severus suddenly surged forward and wrapped his arms around Jaz’s lithe torso.
Jaz glared back silently and his fingers clutched the door tighter.
“Just last night you were trying to convince me.” Severus let his voice grow lower, and his soothing tones washed over Jaz’s pointed ear. “You’re incensed about it, absolutely dogged. Assist me in this one heroic endeavor, and I will give you what you want,” Severus purred against his skin.
Jaz’s eyes darkened for a moment. He shook his head and tried to shake Severus off his back. “If you think I’ll relent over something so trivial…”
“Oh, is it trivial, McVicar? Since the day we met you have been bristling and yowling at me like a damn alley cat. Just think how nice it would be if you had your way.” Severus's voice was dark silk as it grew deeper, compelling and wicked. “I could do it right now. Right this instant. You just have to agree to help.”
Jaz gasped softly despite himself, and his muscles relaxed slightly under the melodic voice. “You're mad if you think…”
“Jaz,” Severus purred. He drew his name out slowly like he were sipping a glass of fine wine. Jaz’s blue eyes widened and he shuddered when his knees nearly gave out.
“Unfair,” Jaz whispered weakly. Severus pulled at the fingers of his right hand, and Jaz struggled to resist the warm, inviting touch.
“Nothing I do is fair,” Severus said smugly. He pried Jaz’s hand from the door and twined their fingers together. “Now agree to help like a proper, decent human being, and I will say it again.”
Jaz licked his lips. “I'm not…”
“I know you're not human, you imbecile.” Severus started on his other hand. “No human would get so worked up over a damn name. Well, no sane human, anyways. Come on, relent. Give me your word.”
“I want a guarantee, Severus.” Jaz fell back against him when his other hand was pulled free.
“I can't guarantee he won't kill us all,” Severus said blandly. “I really hope he won't.”
“Not that. I want a guarantee you'll always call me by my name. No saying you will, and then switch on me. Or worse, you never say a thing to me at all.”
Severus’s lips twitched and he suppressed a chuckle. “You self serving, vain bastard.”
“Do we have a deal?” Jaz peered back and caught Severus's calculating look. “Or you could try biting me again. I'm pretty sure it would have gotten me out the door eventually,” he added with a wicked, fanged grin.
“You're incorrigible,” Severus muttered. A faint blush lit his cheeks as he pulled away. “We have a deal. Now gather your things and stop stalling.”
“Not until you say it again.” Jaz turned and again pressed into the door frame. He tapped claws expectantly as he looked Severus from top to bottom. Without his glasses, he looked like a predator about to spring, his features sharp and hungry.
Severus refused to be intimidated. He won and he knew it. McVicar could look however he liked at him; he still bested him. “Stop stalling, Jaz,” Severus said graciously. His eyes narrowed when Jaz gripped the door frame hard like he was struggling not to fall. “Now if we could get going…?”
Jaz summoned his things with a wave of his hand. He stepped back and paused as he caught Severus in the doorway. “Are you sure you don’t want to try biting me again?”
“I'm certain,” Severus said dryly.
“It's just, when you say my name like that…” Jaz’s gaze raked over Severus, and he smiled lazily. “I could bite you. I think you might like that.”
“Lives are in danger,” Severus reminded bluntly, his face flushed as he glared. The man was impossible.
“Ah, right. That.” Jaz stepped into the hall and finally let Severus pass. They made it down the corridor before Jaz abruptly stopped and grabbed him arm. “When they are no longer in danger? Maybe then?”
Severus refused to dignify the question with an answer. He raised an eyebrow, turned, and kept walking.
“Oh, no you don't.” Jaz growled and pulled him back. In a quick move, he pinned Severus up against the wall. “I want a proper answer. If you're going to insist you're so proper, you're going to give me a proper answer.”
“Mr. McVicar,” Severus gritted out as his pulse pounded in his ears. How the hell could this idiot of a brilliant man want to know such a thing when Potter was about to bring the castle and forest to ruin? “This is not the time.”
“That is not my name,” Jaz reminded with a dangerous grin. His claws pinched as he held Severus's shoulders in place.
“Jaz!” Severus snapped. He rolled his eyes when Jaz groaned softly. “There is no way I would ever let such a vain, self centered, cowardly man such as yourself ever lay a tooth, or fang, or whatever…”
Jaz leaned forward, parted his lips, and ran teeth ever so lightly over his throat. Severus gasped and fell silent.
“I know.” Jaz’s voice was husky as he nibbled down the side of Severus's long neck.
“Oh, I'm beginning to see your point,” Severus mumbled. His eyes fell shut when Jaz clamped his teeth into his jaw and held. If McVicar started with this particular argument, he might have been a bit more responsive from the get go.
“We’ll try this later?” Jaz moved to Severus's ear and tugged lightly with his fangs. “During a time when you're not tinkering with your many potions, or snarking at your annoying students.”
Severus was certain he was winning this argument as well. He nodded carefully so he wouldn’t unwittingly pull from the teeth nipping delicious fire over his skin. “Perhaps.”
“That is hardly a decisive, proper answer.”
“Mr… Jaz.” Severus stopped with a slow exhalation of air. He tilted his head to the side and exposed his neck for better access.
Jaz’s tongue laved down and teeth nipped sharp, teasing bites. He paused to smirk against Severus's throat. “Yes?”
Severus glared up at him through his lashes and huffed. “Very well.”
Harry found Hermione's trail almost immediately. His new senses picked up her week old scent as if it were fresh, as did he find Draco's. There was a glow to Draco's path, faded but still heady. Every time Harry caught the faint scent of his mate, he felt the darkness within stir and try to rise up to overtake him completely.
Harry didn't bother to kill the many forest creatures swarming around. From insects to miniature mammals, flighty pixies and larger, wicked creatures who thought he was worth hunting, Harry dealt with them the same way he did the humans in the castle. He knocked them to the ground; birds fell from the sky, creeping plants, predators and prey all slammed to the forest floor. Harry kept a wide circle of his influence around him, and made sure he wouldn’t be surprised as he ran through the forest, leapt over fallen trees and large rocks, and ducked around trunks while he laughed.
His lungs burned in a way he never experienced. His feet slammed into the ground as he kicked up fallen leaves, pine needles and soil. Harry couldn’t remember what it felt like to move. His body was a graceful, strong animal, unstoppable in force and unrelenting in its determination to find Draco as quickly as possible. Every smell of the forest was information to the driver of this wild body, a pilot Harry was beginning to suspect wasn’t him. His body drove forward; wings unfurled to glide when he found enough room for the massive things, and his claws dug in to climb trees to get more height and leap again. As he ran, Harry tried to think.
It was the call. Harry's body called for Draco; his senses sought his mate out each time and waited for a response that never came. Draco was safe; he knew he was safe, but his body didn't understand that. He tore through brush in desperate bursts as if Draco might just be around the next bend. Fuck, he needed Draco. He was his last thread of sanity, the only one who wouldn’t look at him in fear even at his worst. Harry knew he was at his worst. He couldn’t stop himself no matter how much he wanted to.
Another deer crashed down, its back legs caught in Harry's powerful aura as he passed. A squirrel ripped from its branch to fall next. Harry wanted to stop. He needed to go back and make sure the students were alright. He needed to apologize to Dumbledore for having hurt him. He really needed to yell, which he did loudly until his vision turned red when he caught the scent of the vesper on the wind. Hunters were in the area only a day ago.
They thought they had his mate. Those fucking dragons thought they took his mate away while he slept and healed. What arrogant, sneaky, malicious things to think they could steal from him. Draco was his.
It was wrong; somewhere within, Harry knew it was wrong, but he couldn’t hear that voice at the moment. All his senses strained to hear Draco's call. It grew stronger with each yard Harry covered. Draco was a white hot light in his mind's eye, and as Harry fell deeper into the forest, it was grew larger and demanded he return to his mate. Harry needed him. He needed to make sure Draco was okay. He needed to make sure he was still his and didn’t fall to the pack of hungry dragons who howled loudly for him. Harry sent out his call again full of all his twisting need, and immediately stumbled to a halt.
“Holy fuck.” Harry grabbed onto the nearest tree where bark crumpled brittle beneath his fingers. “Can you feel that, Draco? I can feel you, and you're bright. Fucking bright.” Harry’s eyes went wide as he fell forward. Draco's call washed over him with such intensity, he knew it was responding to his own.
He was close. Draco was close, and Harry was going to find him. He struggled to his feet, his steps unsteady all of a sudden. He needed to stop. There was so much need in him, and Harry was afraid of what he was going to do. He could feel Draco now. He was close, just a few miles away. He was perfect. He was his and he was perfect. Except…
There was something wrong. Draco was perfect, but he wasn't whole. He was trapped with his beautiful glow dulled from view.
Harry’s lips twisted as he growled. It was the ring. That damn fucking ring stole Draco away so many times already. If he could get that ring, he would never have to wonder if Draco was his. Draco would never wonder either because as a beast, he would do anything for him. Draco would crawl, beg, and plead, and never put one of those dragons ahead of Harry's needs.
A hot white shudder of want moved through his body, and Harry moaned loudly. Draco was his, and he’d just have to fucking show him.
Hermione's face was pressed up to the side of the kalistar's underground tomb when her proximity alarms went off. She charmed a half dozen mines miles outside the village wall to have forewarning if any humans were wandering around out there. She didn't know what the vesper would do if someone from the school trespassed while reeking of human scent, and she didn't want to find out.
Hermione ran through the dimly lit room where torches crackled in her ear. She sprang up the stone stairs and scrambled as she took them two at a time. The midmorning light blinded her once she reached the main entrance room through the nondescript door which led to the basement. She blinked rapidly as her mind raced. They were returning to Hogwarts tomorrow; did Ron get the days wrong and send someone to break them free? Was this a party to lead them safely back? Was it even people from Hogwarts?
She didn’t know what she’d do if it was one of the rare but brutal raids the vesper spoke in hushed whispers, where humans seemed to go mad when finding their village and attacked them. Some of the huts by the wall had scorch marks from when a group of—now very dead—humans tried to burn them down years ago.
Hermione wasn’t sure which side she’d pick if humans stumbled in here looking to kill the vesper. She certainly wasn't going to allow anyone to be injured, human or vesper, but Hermione wasn’t expecting the fierce part of her ready to side with the generous village who fed, sheltered, and protected her from any predator who would think to break past the walls.
She found the vesper outside frozen mid step and turned in the same direction as they faced the forest. Hermione weaved through and found Matten, who's distinct scar and short hair made him an easy goal among the many long haired shifters. Draco was with him, also turned toward the forest with a strange smile twisting his lips.
“There are people out there,” Hermione said as she pulled at Draco's arm. “We need to make sure they aren't attacked by the guards.” Draco didn’t respond, and she turned to Matten who had a hard, anxious look in his deep pale blue eyes. “Matten, will they be harmed?”
“No.” Matten’s gaze never wavered from the forest trees. “I've called everyone back to the village. There’s no one who could harm them out there.”
Hermione sighed in relief and her eyes strayed to the wall of trees. “Do we know who they are. Are they from the school?”
Draco, who hadn't spoken a word since she'd arrived, suddenly pointed toward one of the trees where the leaves rustled violently in the distance. “It's Potter.”
“What?” Hermione gaped at Draco in confusion and looked to where he was pointing. The canopy shuddered again as something large and dark moved up with a bizarre grace, hand over hand as it reached the thin branches of the top and crouched. “Holy… That can't be Harry.” Hermione took a step back when she got a clear look at the creature. It was some sort of demon, muscle bound and skulking with twisted antlers and terrible, huge wings that ruffled in the wind. The more she looked at it, the more she felt malevolent anger. There was something in the dark face and burning eyes that warned her away.
“It is.” Matten placed a bracing hand on her shoulder. “That is the kalistar halfling. I didn't even know they could exist; it was always the vesper traits halflings possess.”
“What's wrong with him?” Even though she could tell it was Harry, Hermione still could only feel his terrible anger.
“Nothing,” Draco said as he waved his hand to Harry up in the tree. Hermione watched, wide eyed as Harry caught the movement. His head turned and white teeth flashed bright against his dark skin. He moved with a fluid grace as he stood on branches that shouldn’t be able to hold his weight.
“Back in the tomb,” Matten ordered gruffly. Zyan appeared at Hermione's arm and lifted her up as if she were a child. He walked her quickly back to the center under the canopy and brought her into the building. He wouldn’t let her down until they were in front of the door that led to the kalistar's tomb.
“What's going to happen?” Hermione asked, for the first time truly afraid.
“I don't know,” Zyan answered honestly. “The kalistar will protect you if something happens to us. They always protect humans. I must go out and stand by my people. Hide away in here and don't come out unless someone returns for you.”
It was crazy; it was just Harry. Still, Hermione readily stepped down into the cool of the basement. She was grateful for the sturdy, strong walls around her as she sank to the ground and waited. She tried not to think of how she felt cruelty radiating off of Harry from afar. Was is because he looked so strange and monstrous that she thought him malevolent, or was it true and Harry was different, changed? Hermione wished she knew. She wished she took Draco with her.
Two thoughts hit Draco at once as he watched Harry plummet from the tree, unfurl his wings, and swoop down like a hawk into the middle of the village. The first was Harry was able to fly even better with wings than on a broom, and the second was he looked drop dead sexy. Impossibly so. Harry landed ten feet away in a crouch and straightened to his full, impressive height. His muscles flexed, expression was fierce, and his eyes… Damn, he missed Harry’s beautiful, glowing verdant green eyes.
Draco barely noticed Harry was a strange char black with spiraling antlers, swishing tail, and ink black wings. It was Harry and he was magnificent. He looked like a returning demon prince as he stared around haughtily, his stance full of power and command. He was healed, absolutely alive, and the longer Draco looked at him, the more drunk with joy he felt to see him again.
“Harry.” Draco’s whisper was enough to draw Harry’s gaze to him among the many shifters, and his green eyes snapped his way. Draco started in the intensity of his expression, and a wild, giddy laugh bubbled from him as he felt the full effect of Harry’s roiling dark energy crackle over him. Matten hummed to help bring Draco under control and Harry snarled.
“Fuck… Ha! Oh, shit.” Draco cackled and bent over with his hand covering his face as he fought the crazed laughter taking him over. He couldn’t stop shaking and missed when Harry raised his arm and power crashed down. An unbearable blanket of weight fell and crumpled everyone to the ground but Harry and the hysterically laughing Draco.
Draco struggled to breathe and stumbled wide eyed. He looked down and found Matten flat on the ground moaning in pain. Draco clutched his chest and looked up. His glare met Harry’s. “Leave them alone, Potter.”
“Why?” Harry took a step forward, aggression and challenge in every move he made.
Fuck, he was hot. Draco shoved the hair from his face and grinned widely while he looked Harry over. He was in nothing more than thin pajama pants that hid nothing from the imagination. His muscles were tense, puffed up, and Draco wanted to know what they felt like against him, holding him. Except, he could also hear the weak groans from the vesper stuck to the ground and it was definitely ruining the mood.
Draco grit his teeth, pulled the warm tickle of power swirling in his stomach, and raised it up. He didn’t hesitate as he pushed his power out with all intention of breaking his beautiful Harry before he could destroy his pack. “They’re my family, Potter. No one fucks with my family.”
“Too bad!” Harry shouted and pushed into the force of Draco's power, who laughed and raised more to compensate. Harry raised his hands to use as a shield as he pressed back with all his strength. “Where the fuck were you, Malfoy?” Fury and hurt flashed in his eyes.
“I was here, idiot.” Draco made an exaggerated expression at that obvious. “Now leave them alone!”
“No! Why the hell were you here and not by my side? Shit, Draco, you ran off the first fucking chance you got! Didn't you even wonder if I was alive?” Harry pushed three more steps forward. He growled and faltered back when Draco’s power radiated out and he started glowing as bright as the sun.
“For fuck sake, Potter, nothing can kill you. You're like the fucking plague. Stop whining like a little bitch because I wasn't there to hold your unconscious hand. You're fine now. You found me.” Draco snarled and put more power into his attack. “Stop hurting my friends!”
Harry struggled to breathe under Draco's onslaught with his focus split on his defense and keeping the vesper detained. He continued to stand tall and push back until he was a foot away. Draco swayed as laughter sparked when he took a deep breath and was lost in Harry's scent. Harry tried to reach his hand forward, but Draco was faster and vibrated power to keep a barrier between them.
“How long did it take to forget me?” Harry’s nostrils flared as he spat out accusations. “A day? Two? How long until I was a fucking memory of your dead boyfriend!”
Alright, there was something a little fucked up with Harry, and the realization was filtering through Draco’s hysterics. He furrowed his brow and stared deep into Harry’s flashing eyes. “I didn't forget you. I was going back tomorrow to see if you were healed enough to come here.”
“Bullshit!” Harry snarled. He surged forward and clasped his hands on Draco's upper arms. “I can smell them on you. You reek of them!” He pulled Draco close and breathed up his neck. His fingers tore at the flimsy vest he was wearing as Harry sought out something. “Where's the ink, Draco? Did you wash it away the first day? Was it so fucking easy to hope I'd die so you could move on!”
Draco was finding it hard to focus. Harry’s hands were powerful as they pulled at him and his body gave off a cloud of heat mixed with the scent of need. He fought it the best he could, and focused on the vesper moaning in pain. The angrier Harry got, the more his power pushed them down. “You're hurting them, Potter. Just fucking let them up, and talk to me prop… Fuck.” Draco closed his eyes and swayed when, with a snarl, Harry got fingers into his waistband and tore his pants down.
Harry stilled when he found the blue pen lines Draco refused to wash off his lower body. His dark hand ran slowly over the swell of Draco’s bare ass, and Harry groaned as he buried his face into his bright hair. “Tell me it means something to you,” Harry demanded hoarsely, pain clear in his voice. “Tell me these words mean something still.”
“I'm yours,” Draco promised and put everything he felt into the simple words. He meant it. He always meant it and couldn’t understand why Harry was so blind to how clearly he cared. Even now, the words only seemed to anger him more. Harry snarled and his fingers bit into Draco’s flesh as he sank down and possessively scented his torso.
“You're covered in them,” Harry growled. “Don't tell me you're mine after you fucked the damn village!”
The bloody asshole. “Fuck you, Potter!” Draco shoved him away and bit his lips when he felt just how powerful Harry's shoulders were. Damn, that was some hot muscle and absolutely wasted. Harry kept acting shitty and he wasn’t going to put up with it. “I have a right to fuck who I want, when I want. Just because you want to write all over me like some dog trying to piss his territory doesn't change that fact.”
“I fucking knew it. The day I saw you react to them, I fucking knew you'd be a goddamn slut with these fucking creatures,” Harry spat back. He staggered to his feet and towered over Draco, who glared back not remotely intimidated by his height, strength, and power. “Did you fuck the dragons too? Let them ride you like some four-legged…”
“You can say whatever cruel shit you like, Potter. It doesn't change the fact that I can choose who I sleep with.” Draco’s voice was low in warning. “I'm a vesper, and we fuck. A lot. If you don't…”
“You're mine!” Harry roared insistently. Draco gaped and his knees went weak as fire rushed up in him so strong he could barely breathe. Oh, fuck. Oh, dear fuck. Draco fell forward and gasped for air while his body tried to bend to Harry’s mating call. He couldn't. This was not the way to deal with this. Potter had to fucking learn.
Harry watched as Draco fought him. He increased the mating call until Draco was swaying and a long moan fell from his gasping lips. “You can feel it, beautiful.” Harry roughly wrapped fingers around Draco's chin and pulled him close. “You don't want to be with them, not when you can have me. Tell me. Tell me I'm right. Tell me you're mine.”
Draco glared and fought the unimaginable lust roaring through his veins. It was all he could do to remain on his feet, never mind speak. “I love you, you jealous, selfish jackass, but I won't let you dictate my fucking life!”
Harry went still, his anger more palpable than when he was yelling. He lifted Draco’s hand and turned him by the chin so he could see exactly what he was about to do. “You’re mine, Draco, and I’m going to prove it.”
Draco watched with wide eyes, frozen as Harry twisted fingers around the silver dragon ring and pulled it from his finger. With a defiant glare, Harry chucked it and the ring glittered in the dawn as it soared into the forest far beyond the village wall.
Draco stared in shock, his voice lost for long moments. He just… His ring. His ring!
“You fucking son of a bitch.”
He could have had a place here. This could have been his home. He could have been more than a rutting, sex crazed animal who stepped into the forest a man and never returned again. Except Harry took the ring and Draco was forced to face the fact he was a vesper halfling. Just like his uncle and all the others who came before who howled in the night lost in a sea of lust. He could have been so much more but only with the ring.
Anger surged through Draco greater than his comprehension. It was a roaring fire that boiled his blood and incinerated the mating call Harry was still twisting inside him. Everyone was trying to rule him from his parents, to Voldemort, to his professors, to the oppressive rules of the wizarding world and now this man—this beautiful, maddening, fucked in the head Harry Potter who thought he could decide his life for him. He thought he could steal his ring, touch him, and pull him with the mating call with wave after crashing wave until he bent to his will? No way in hell.
Draco snarled and reached for his power. He smiled savagely when uncertainty flashed in Harry’s eyes. “Draco…” Light beamed from Draco’s form and Harry was sent crashing back head over heels.
“You fucking dick!” Draco stalked after Harry’s muscular form as he skidded over dirt and fallen vesper. “You’ve been unconscious for the last goddamn week, you don’t know shit about anything, and you just barge in here, stomp my family flat, and steal my fucking ring? Who the fuck do you think you are, Potter? Have you lost your goddamn mind? Did your scar finally split your skull open and release whatever brains you had left? I’m not your fucking toy! I’m nobody’s toy!”
“Draco, shit, hold on,” Harry gasped. He pushed himself to his feet and stumbled back when Draco surged after him.
Draco grabbed him by the hair and growled as he continued to yell. “I came here to save your miserable life, Potter! I faced my biggest, most terrifying fears to make sure no one killed you. They wanted to; they were going to take you out just at the possibility you might turn into a crazy asshole. And you—you go and prove them right by doing something so irresponsible, so selfish!” Draco twisted his hair hard. “I should have killed you myself!”
“Just calm down. I’m sorry!” Harry yelped and held his hands up in surrender as he tried to crouch away from Draco’s hold. “Draco, you’re getting feathery and it has to hurt with all those scales sprouting and… Shit. Breathe, Draco.”
“Stop telling me what to do!” Draco hollered even as he gasped for air. The world spun. Draco groaned loudly, shoved Harry away, and covered his face with newly taloned hands. Fucking Potter. Fucking Potter, he was turning into a dragon slut. Draco shuddered as his back roared fire moments before his tail pushed free and wings shook loose. What remained of his clothing fell around him in a confetti of fabric.
Fuck. Fucking hell, he wasn’t going down like this!
Draco whirled and turned his piercing glare back to Harry. “You let them up right this fucking instant,” he ordered. “Now! And you better not have hurt them, or so help me, I’ll beat you senseless. These are good people. Good!”
He wasn’t sure why Harry was smiling at him. The pain in the ass bastard looked like he was ready to burst out laughing. Still, the pressure lifted with Harry’s nod and the vesper were free to move. Draco searched the ground and found Matten. He grabbed him by the arm and pulled him up to his feet.
“Are you okay? I’m sorry he did… Why the fuck is everyone smiling at me?” Draco snarled. He pushed the grinning Matten away and took in the multitude of idiotic, sappy smiles the vesper were directing at him now they were no longer groaning in pain.
Draco’s breath hitched and he bit his lower lip; they looked different. Matten was free of scars and clothes and there was a soft glow to his skin. Scales shimmered over his flesh and feathers peeked free behind sharp ears. He couldn’t help but notice even though he could see Matten’s true form, he wasn’t jumping him and begging to be fucked. Hell, he wasn’t even laughing crazily anymore.
Draco licked dry lips. Maybe the crazy was from the moments before the transformation and not the final change? Did they get this wrong the same way they misjudged everything else when it came to the vesper?
“halfling, you are stunning.” Matten’s voice was full of awe as he stared at Draco. “Even more so in this dimension. Your glow is bright, compelling. You truly are made for us.” There was a daze to his eyes and sheen to his skin which only grew more intense the longer he stared at Draco.
“Matten?” Draco took a step back when Matten was grabbed from behind, spun, and kissed fiercely. Matten growled against Haille’s lips and threaded fingers into his long hair as he grappled him closer. Moans rose up all around them as the vesper’s fear and pain was replaced by a maddening pulse of need. A worried expression painted Draco’s face as he watched the vesper become lost in his glow, the men nearly frantic in their need to touch. It was the worst possible time; Harry was still a bastard and he was newly transformed.
“Draco, I’m really, truly sorry.”
Draco snapped his gaze back to his imbecile of a boyfriend and scowled. The stupid fuck. He stalked over to Harry, his hands clenched into fists. “If I have antlers, so help me, Potter, I will run you through with them.”
“I swear you look good.” Harry stumbled back when Draco took a swing at him. “I’m sorry! I lost my shit. I’m still not…”
“You’re not talking your way out of this one, scarhead.” Draco smacked his hands down on Harry’s shoulders. “I’ve been loyal to you. I’ve done everything in my power to protect you. Just because I have sex with others doesn’t mean I feel any different about you. You said it yourself; you knew how I would be around them. It’s who I am, Harry, and you need to… Stop fucking smiling!” Draco yelled and threw his hands up in exasperation.
Harry’s grin grew and he sank to his knees, his eyes never leaving Draco’s angry expression. “You look really good.” He swallowed hard when Draco snarled. “Really, really good. Gorgeous. Fuckable.”
“Are you listening to me?” Draco growled and rolled his eyes when Harry licked his lips and continued to stare up at him. It was ridiculous. He wasn’t even pulling him; Harry was just out of his fucking mind. The entire village had lost it and somehow he was the last sane person alive.
Draco’s tail tapped against his leg for a few silent moments as he contemplated. He planted his hands on his hips and glanced to his nude body to where his platinum silver hair now reached to his waist. He was covered from head to toe in thin, transparent scales and looked more white than anything proper should. He looked bizarre and wasn’t sure if he’d be able to transform back. Bizarre and, well, maybe a little gorgeous and fuckable if he were to go by Harry.
Draco’s nostrils flared when he glanced back and found Harry staring; his green eyes were dazed and that stupid grin was planted on his face. Fucking Potter.
“You want to touch me, Potter?” Draco smirked at the way Harry’s eyes lit up and slid over his nude, scaled body.
“I missed you so much, Draco. I just want to…”
“Too fucking bad,” Draco interrupted flatly, his fangs sharp in response to Harry’s dejected groan. Let the bastard suffer. He had a fucking tail because of his temper tantrum.
“I didn’t mean to do all of this,” Harry insisted. “There’s something fucked up in me and I just… I did a lot of fucked up shit, actually.” Harry sighed as his expression turned thoughtful. He scratched the back of his head and slowly got to his feet. “I just kind of lost it. I couldn’t find you anywhere. Dumbledore was being fucking obnoxious and…” Harry’s gaze trailed up Draco’s body and his breath caught. He took a step forward. “Shit, let me just…”
“No.” Draco raised his chin defiantly even as he twisted the power within him and pulled Harry with his call. He smiled internally as he watched the war move across Harry’s fierce features. Damn, the prat was gorgeous; erratic as a bull and fucking beautiful. “You’re too mean looking and puffy with all that muscle. I don’t like it.”
Harry scowled and glared at his dark hands. His expression softened as he looked up and met Draco’s eyes. “It’s still me. It’s always been me.” He unconsciously rubbed his chest as his gaze slid down Draco’s taut torso and settled on his jutting erection. “Damn it, Draco, it’ll be good. I’ll make it good until you’re begging for me. I want you so bad.”
“Don’t you dare come any closer.” Draco pressed his palm to Harry’s bare chest and fanned his fingers wide. Harry hissed when he scratched talons down his flesh. “I’ll make you regret it if you touch me.”
Harry groaned huskily and pushed into his hand. “You want me to touch you.”
“Idiot.” Draco dug his claws in deeper and Harry jerked and hissed. He seemed half drunk from the pain and licked his lips when their eyes met. Draco flushed; he felt wild the longer Harry’s green gaze tore through him. “You don’t know a fucking thing about me.”
“I know when you’re fucking with me, you damn tease,” Harry growled. Draco gasped when he was pulled against his chest, but turned his head before he could be kissed. Harry studied his face a silent moment, leaned down, and licked up Draco’s neck.
Draco bit back a moan as his knees went weak. Harry was hard muscle and roaring heat against him. “Seriously, I can’t stand all this puffy, mean looking… Oh. You have nice teeth.” Draco lolled his head back with a sigh as Harry nipped his neck possessively. “Really nice.”
“You’re mine.” Harry’s hands moved around Draco’s petite wings, slid down his back, and cupped his ass tightly. “You know you’re mine.” He rubbed Draco’s outer thigh, his grip rough as he pulled his leg up around his hip. Harry exhaled unsteadily as their erections ground together. “You are, Draco. I’ll show you.” He sucked open mouth kisses to throat as he retracted his claws and pressed two thick fingertips to his hole.
“You’re out of your mind if you think I’m going to just… Oh. Fuck, yes.” Draco threw his head back as lube slick fingers pushed inside him. His lashes fluttered shut and he moaned. Harry dipped down to nip and lick up his sensitive throat as he pumped fingers in and out of Draco’s clenching passage in slow strokes. It was too much and not enough all at once. Draco grasped blindly for Harry’s hair and pulled him up into a kiss. Their lips crushed and fangs scraped desperately.
“That’s it. You taste so good, so right.” Harry groaned as his tongue delved into Draco’s moaning mouth. He couldn’t get enough as he suffocated, tasted and swallowed down every cry Draco made while he scissored fingers into his channel. “I’m going to fuck you hard and make you mine again.”
“I’m still yours. Always yours,” Draco mumbled. The world spun when Harry’s fingers rubbed his prostate with every confident thrust. Harry’s pants were shred in Draco’s claws as he climbed up his powerful form, wrapped arms around Harry’s neck, and hooked his legs around his hips. His mouth again descended to Harry’s, their lips wet as they nipped and sucked and met. “Missed you. Thought I lost you. Thought you died,” Draco gasped between kisses.
“I have you, beautiful.” Harry found Draco’s mouth again and kissed him desperately. “I’m never going to leave you again. Tell me you love me,” he whispered hoarsely.
“I love you, you giant, muscle-bound idiot.” Draco kissed along Harry’s nose, over his eyebrow and teased his tongue into the short hairs. “I’m always going to love you.” He broke off with a groan when a third finger joined Harry’s two and he breached him with maddeningly slow, relentless strokes. “Harry, please. I can’t wait.” Sweat dripped from Draco’s feathery hair as he gasped and bit the soft skin below Harry’s ear.
“Yeah. Yeah, just…” Harry knelt unsteadily and groaned as his erection rocked against Draco’s thigh. “Fuck, I need you to promise me.”
“What?” Draco exhaled heavily as he trailed slick wet over Harry’s throat. He licked down to his broad shoulders and nipped the tight flesh sharply.
“You’re mine.” A new edge crept into Harry’s voice. “Promise me you’re only mine.”
Draco ran claws down his back between his large, dark wings and Harry’s breath came out in a hiss. “I’m only going to say this once, Potter, so you better fucking listen. You’re my mate, my love, my goddamn heart, but unless you can go a marathon with me every night, I’m going to be fucking these silver-haired men. Even if you can manage a marathon every night for me, I’m still going to be spreading for my pack because that’s what we do to bond. It is fucking amazing.”
Harry growled and pulled his head back so he could glare into Draco’s silver eyes. “You think I’m just going to stand back and let you be fucked by a village of gorgeous, battle-strong men?”
Draco snorted. “You think you have a right to ‘allow’ me anything? I’m not a toy who exists to entertain you. If you want to join in, you can, but only if you’re not a selfish, possessive prick about it.”
Harry scowled and narrowed his eyes. “Why the hell would I want to join in? Why the hell would I ever want to touch anyone but you? I love you; I’m always going to love you.”
Draco rolled his eyes, hardly impressed. “Look around you, Potter, or are you completely oblivious to all the people fucking because of my glow?”
Harry wasn’t completely oblivious but was trying very hard to block out the noises as he kept his eyes tight on Draco. It felt wrong to look at someone else when he was supposed to be with his mate. Draco had that damn challenging glint in his eye he could never back down from no matter what form it came in, and Harry forced himself to look. He flushed and his skin shaded darker as he let his eyes wander to the writhing joining of beautiful men.
It didn’t hurt that many of them looked like Draco, and made it damn hot to have them on the ground groping. The idea of one actually being his Draco disturbed him. Harry swallowed hard as his gaze fixed on a couple near by. A slender hipped young man shamelessly twisted on the ground while a larger man pushed thumbs deep into his hole. He bent down and tongue fucked the gasping shifter while he stretched him. “Hell.”
Okay, it might be really hot.
“You’ll get used to it,” Draco whispered in his ear as he tightened his thighs around Harry’s hips. “This is in our blood. Their scent, their magic and sex; we’re meant to respond. Share.”
Harry dragged his gaze back to Draco. He lowered him to the ground and hovered over his pale, sleek body. “I’m not sure,” he finally said as he stared into his eyes. “I can’t honestly say I won’t get upset.”
Draco sighed as he pulled Harry closer and ruffled fingers through his dark feathers. Damn, it felt good to have Harry’s hard body move with his, and their cocks rock together in growing rhythm. “We’ll talk about it. Each time, if that’s what it takes. I want you here, Harry. I want you with me, with my pack. I want you to love these people the way I do and I want you to help me protect them.”
Harry couldn’t remember Draco ever talking about anyone the way he was the vesper. “What happened to you out here?” Harry asked as he read what looked like tears of desperation and hope in Draco’s gleaming eyes.
Draco smiled crookedly as he kissed the corner of Harry’s mouth. “I found my home, our home. These people are my family, and as long as you don’t go squishing them when you’re in a mood, they can be your family too.”
Harry bit his lower lip as his eyes roamed to the strange buildings, odd, colorful awning high above, and again the shimmering vesper shifters as they moaned on the ground. Draco grabbed his chin and forced his gaze to the side where two handsome men were working together to make another beg to come.
“You should do that to me.” Draco rolled beneath Harry's weight and pushed back against his large erection. “But don't be so nice about it, hmm?”
Harry’s gaze slid to the way Draco’s waist dipped and then swelled to his firm ass; his slender tail made the curve look even sexier. He’d try his best. He wasn’t sure how he was going to feel about Draco being with others when it actually happened, but it clearly meant something to him. He’d have to figure it out.
“Oh, Harry,” Draco gasped when Harry completely ignored his suggestion to instead thrust his tongue deep inside his entrance. His lips sucked his hole and the sensitive flesh around as he soaked him with his juices. “Fuck, don’t tease.” Draco needed so much more than just Harry’s obscene, tormenting tongue. He hadn’t seen him in a week, and he needed to feel him inside. He needed to know he was real and just as wildly in love as before.
“Beg me,” Harry demanded. A hint of a smile was in his voice even as he teased his tongue along Draco’s rim and his hand moved between his thighs to spread him wide and squeeze the firm flesh.
Draco snorted and grinned fiercely. “Potter, fuck me, or I’ll have someone else…” He didn’t get to finish the threat. Harry growled, pulled him down to the ground, and the head of his cock pressed tight to Draco’s hole. Fuck, he was easy to wind up. If only Harry realized how much he preferred his hands, his tongue, his cock, and his amazing love to all the other vesper. Draco wouldn’t give up his new home for Harry, but he’d cry a river if he lost him.
“Oh… Oh, fuck. Harry… uhn.”
“Listen to yourself,” Harry groaned. He slowly pushed inside, wanting to draw it out and make Draco remember just how good it was to have him inside. “You moan like a whore. A loud, totally horny porn star.”
Draco wasn’t too surprised; Harry was hung like a huge dicked porn star and there was really only one way to take something that big. Loudly. “Fuck. Oh, fuck, that’s it, Harry.” Draco cried out in surprise when Harry grabbed his hips, pulled him up to his knees, and speared him onto his cock. His senses reeled as his body opened to Harry’s thickness and he was stretched wide and unbearably full with each small thrust sinking into him.
“I forgot.” Harry’s eyes widened in surprise as Draco’s passage clenched tight around him. “The last time…”
“Yes.” Draco trembled as he pushed back and urged Harry deeper. It hadn't been like this with the vesper, this need to bury Harry impossibly deep and keep him inside.
“You keep—oh, fuck—holding me in,” Harry whispered. He surged forward with a hard thrust and slammed in as far as he could go.
Draco moaned at the words. It felt too good, too fucking perfect. His entire body roared fire when Harry hit something deep inside. It was almost like he grew a second prostate just for him. “Again,” he choked out. Draco’s fingers clawed into the dirt, arms strained, and sweat slid down his skin to drip dark drops into the dusty ground. “Oh, fuck. Fuck,” he mumbled weakly. Harry thrust shallowly but forcefully, and his large hands pulled Draco back with each relentless shove forward.
“You’re tight. Glowing and tight.” Harry growled fiercely and barely avoided a face full of feathers when he pushed Draco’s shoulders down to the ground. Draco moaned, ecstatic Harry didn’t hold back as he crashed into him and took him how he needed to be taken. Harry didn’t hesitate to fill him the way they both loved with hard, long strokes of his thick length.
Cry after cry fell from Draco’s gasping mouth, his chin resting on his arms with ass high in the air. Harry was relentless as he drove into him demandingly, determined to brand himself deep into Draco until there would never be a question of who he belonged to. He would do it as many times as he needed to, every night to remind Draco why he wanted him and show just how damn good they were together.
“Draco!” Harry gasped as his silvery tail wrapped around his waist and pulled him forward and he jarred face first into Draco’s wings. “What are you…? Oh, fuck. Fuck.” Harry closed his eyes and groaned. His arms shook as he wrapped them tight around Draco’s chest. He pushed forward into the passage clutching him, lost in every grasping, suffocating, desperate pull around his cock. “Yes. Fuck that’s it. Fucking it.”
Draco was lost. He was sensation and bright light as he moved with Harry’s shallow, grinding, and completely maddening thrusts. Their rhythm disappeared long minutes ago and left them to tremble and slam erratically. They didn’t care, too caught up in the feel, the sounds and the scent of each other. Draco came with a shout, his fingers clenched tight and hole even tighter. His cum pearled in long streams on the dusty ground beneath him. Silky strands of his hair were caught on Harry’s lips as he sank teeth into Draco’s throat. Harry groaned as his fangs drew blood and he filled Draco’s channel with his hot seed.
Draco sobbed and jerked from the teeth clamped into his flesh. He arched back and his passage milked every long spurt of cum Harry was willing to claim him with. Even though Harry was again growling about how he was his, Draco knew the truth. Harry was his. He was absolutely, completely consumed with him and Draco would never have to say a word or wave a wand to compel those feelings from him. Harry came home to him and he would stay.
Harry’s face was full of white feathers and silky, platinum strands of hair when he woke. He couldn’t remember falling asleep, just a sudden wave of exhaustion and need to hold Draco which both won out at the same time. He blinked a few time and focused on the covering far above with patterns of swirling colors. Too much time couldn’t have passed but by the sounds, the entire village had fucked themselves to sleep. Either that, or Draco’s orgasm somehow knocked them all out.
Harry suspected the latter. His gaze trailed down to where Draco was curled up against him with a serene smile twisted on his lips. Beautiful. Beautiful, otherworldly, and fuck, he missed him so much. He missed his taste, his fire, and the damn outrage he could build up at a moment’s notice. There was something about Draco Malfoy minutes from cursing him dead that was far too addictive to be healthy. He was amazing, and Harry was so glad to have found him again.
Harry hadn’t had a moment to really think about what being alive again would be like. Being dead—or the next best thing—hadn’t been anything at all until Draco stumbled into him and reminded him what it was like to feel. Trapped in that other realm, he burned so hot whenever Draco was around when at any other time he felt he was drifting away. Draco really was what kept his heart beating in more ways than one. Now… Now he found him and an entire village of vesper who Draco claimed as family. Living was going to be different from the last time he was in this realm.
There was no Voldemort to battle, no spies to avoid, no one to save or fear would be destroyed because they got too close to him. No Dursleys. Harry sighed, and his eyes fell shut and brows furrowed. He breathed deeply and opened them again to stare up at the colorful awning above. He wasn’t human. He wasn’t attached to anything but the young man in his arms. He was free and the world felt like it stretched out with possibility too immense to understand.
Maybe it would have been to infinity itself but Harry couldn’t help but remember what brought him to the woods and vesper village. He hurt people at the school. He wanted to do worse when he was there. He was so angry and that anger hadn’t burned away even if it wasn’t at the forefront of his mind anymore. There was something wrong inside him, something bitter and angry and hurt. It didn’t matter if he was in a castle with his peers or a village in the woods; there was no escaping himself.
Harry carefully extracted his arm from beneath Draco’s softly breathing form and sat up as quietly as possible. The new vantage allowed him to see the vesper stretched out around them like a shimmery carpet of hair and flesh. They were beautiful in their sleep, lacking any self consciousness or defensiveness. Nothing like the creatures who he saw at the castle. The vesper looked suited for soft pillows and cushions and to be twined together at all hours of the day. With Draco in the middle, that was probably exactly what they did.
Harry stood from his crouch and stared down at where Draco was sleeping. He belonged here. Draco found a home and he didn’t want to ruin it for him. Harry wasn’t sure if this could ever be a place for him, and he wasn’t sure it even mattered.
Harry examined his too large hands, now near gold in color since the char black had a chance to melt away. He died in that fight with Voldemort. Whatever came back wasn’t right; he wasn’t human and he wasn’t stable. Worse, he wasn’t safe, and he couldn’t trust himself to not fly into a rage over absolutely nothing. He hurt people. He wanted to kill people and he still wasn’t even sure why. When he saw Sirius…
Harry exhaled slowly and let his arms fall to his side. He felt hurt, betrayed even. He felt like a small, broken child, and all he wanted to do was lash out so others would know how much it hurt. He wasn’t safe. He should never have come here.
Harry jolted and turned his head. His eyes widened when they fell on the curly haired girl standing in the entrance of a building. He hadn’t scented her, but there she was anyways. “Hermione.”
Hermione held a finger up to her lips for him to be quiet as she waved him over. Harry hesitated when he realized he wasn’t wearing clothes. He looked around at the piles strewn over the ground among the sleeping vesper and reached for the nearest pair of pants not shredded beyond use. No one was awake to care as he slipped them on.
He paused as his gaze fell to where Draco was sleeping. He looked beyond peaceful and at home. It only made Harry feel more out of place as he took in the sea of vesper who were so similar as they slept contently around him. Now the crazy heat of earlier was gone and nothing was demanding he find Draco and claim him, Harry felt completely lost.
He picked his way carefully around the sleeping vesper and climbed the stairs to where Hermione was waiting at the top. He opened his mouth to speak, but Hermione grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the door. “Quiet. Their hearing is ridiculous.”
Harry wasn’t sure why Hermione didn’t want the vesper to hear them. He allowed himself to be pulled through the door and into the building. It was a wide open floor plan with casual, relaxed decorations. Harry tried to look around, but Hermione’s grip only tightened and she marched him toward a small, nondescript door.
“Hermione, what are you doing here?”
Hermione raised an eyebrow and revealed in the one expression how much time she was spending with Draco. “Did you not demand we protect Draco at all costs? Did you really think I’d let the vesper take him without some sort of backup?” Hermione pushed the door open and Harry stared down a set of dimly lit stone steps. There was a strange scent on the air, one of age and great power. Familiar and at the same time, it set his nerves on edge and his pulse racing.
“He’s okay, though. Draco’s okay here?” Harry asked as his eyes searched the dark below. Warning prickled through him. He loved Hermione. There was no one in his life he trusted more than her and Ron. He also knew if he truly was a danger, his friends would readily kill him to ensure he never became a monster like Voldemort. The longer Harry stared into the darkness, the more he wondered if that was what he was about to face.
“Draco’s safe here, Harry. He’s happy. He’s always going to be happy with his family.”
Harry nodded slowly as he met Hermione’s sharp gaze. It was all he cared about. No matter what happened, he wanted Draco happy. “Okay.”
Without another word, Hermione moved back from the door and Harry took a step down the steeps stairs.
Harry moved cautiously down the dark steps and descended into a room that smelled of earth and dust. His pupils expanded in the dark, and he used the small light behind him to help see the little there was to see. Behind him, Hermione uttered a spell, and torches flared to life on the walls. Harry’s feet reached the main floor and he walked slowly around the space, taking it all in.
The walls were made of clay or dirt, and looked to have been dug into by hand, then packed down tight to keep them stable. Beneath his feet, fire-glazed tile had been laid down over packed dirt, creating an elaborate design in mosaic. Harry’s eyes were drawn to the furthest side of the room where the torch lights were dim. The darkness called to him, and he stepped further into the underground room, pulled by the strange pulse of power.
He stopped in front of a giant slab where intricate drawings were carved into the surface and painted with gold. “What is this place?”
“A tomb,” Hermione whispered as she stepped up beside him.
The room seemed to swallow their words, and the dust in the air closed in around them. Harry reached out and ran his fingers along the side of the heavy, stone slab, seeing the way darkness surrounded each edge. It was a door, a massive one, meant to keep people out and the contents within.
“Here.” Hermione pressed her hands to two parts of the stone and held still as power danced on her fingertips. They both stepped back when the slab shifted and moved to the side.
Harry’s eyes pierced the darkness inside the tomb and he stepped forward. Hermione lit the torches within with a wave of her hand, and gold dazzled their senses as firelight glinted off every surface. Harry blinked dazedly, taking in the gold tiles lining every surface of the tomb including the floor and ceiling. But that wasn’t the source of the pure brilliance of the display. In the center, raised up on a dais was a statue of gold. It pulsed with an inner light, or maybe it was from the magical symbols that surrounded the altar it was standing on.
Harry didn’t know the symbols but he recognized the power they radiated. It was a containment spell, a powerful one. Harry peered up at the creature, his gaze roaming the deer like being’s long, intricate antlers. It had wings curved on its back, the edges sharp like a bat’s, and a crown of feathers around its face in a wild mane. It’s tail looked like it belonged to dragon, feathers following down the sleek length while scales coated the underside like gold armor.
Hermione stared at Harry’s face, watching his every expression. “Is it familiar?”
“I don’t…” Harry tore his gaze away from the frozen creature and its tangle of gold antlers. “Hermione, what is it?”
Footsteps padded in the chamber behind them, and Matten’s voice broke the silence. “Someone who must remain dead.”
Harry stiffened and his eyes narrowed. “The dead don’t need to be contained.” He turned to glare at the vesper, taking in Matten’s rumpled hair and harried expression. He recognized him vaguely, the humming one who had been at Draco’s side. “Why is this creature confined here?”
“Can you not see for yourself!” Matten shot back in exasperation. “One of you is already too much. Will you doom us all by waking it?” Matten’s posture and expression were full of anxiety as he crept closer. “Get away from it. Get away from here before you ruin everything, manling. Draco is among his kind now, and we have no need for kalistar.”
“Kalistar?” Harry’s eyebrows drew down sharply and he turned back to the frozen creature. He saw it then, the antlers, the golden fur, the powerful yet elegant muscles. He had been blind—the tail and wings alone. “This creature is like me.” Harry stepped forward, his palm out wide to touch the containment barrier. The symbols on the altar flared with his presence.
“No!” Matten shouted and rushed forward. “You must not breach the altar or—!”
Harry didn’t hear Matten’s warning. A blinding light filled the small tomb and blazed out into the underground chamber, swallowing them all in white.
The Kalistar recognizes Matten, addressing him in a fond manner. The man does not respond in kind, full of anger and guilt. He explains what the vesper had done to the creatures and why. They were tired of being slaughtered by the humans. Had wanted to be allowed to fight back, but the leaders would not allow it. The Kalistar transforms while he talks, revealing a beautiful woman. It is Draco's old pet from when he is young, but not revealed to be just yet. She asks how he has enjoyed the halflings, her halfling, for she senses one here. Points out how together humans can make wonderful additions to their lives. It is unusual for a Kalistar halfling, but the vesper type more so. Together, these two could revitalize not just their village, but all of the vesper people. If Matten and the others can put aside their jealousy long enough, their old hate, their fear and hurt. They're interrupted, a bell ringing in the village to alert the coming of intruders.
Jaz suddenly arrives at the village, Sirius, Remus, Snape and Narcissa together at the gates. They're demanding to see Draco, to make sure he is unharmed. They are all spelled to not smell human. Narcissa (and to a lesser extent Sirius) is a loose cannon, causing trouble while Jaz, the authority, is trying to keep them all from getting killed by her actions. The arguing escalates, especially when Harry gets there, Narcissa again flipping out on him and Harry being crude in response, loving how it annoys the woman to no end.
Draco, awoken by all the commotion, comes out to see what's going on. He's nude, unashamed, or caring that there are humans. His mother keeps yelling at him, but he doesn't care. He asks Matten for the ring, and hands it over to his mother. Lucius can have it if he wants. There are few halflings left, and they serve a purpose of peace in the village. If he is willing to acquiesce, Draco thinks his father could serve the vesper as the rest of the Malfoys have. He was filling the role in his own way for Voldemort—Seeing his brother wake up likely partially woke Lucius up as well, his darker nature taking over to seek out and serve power. Narcissa is shocked at the idea, staring at the ring blankly. Draco is not sure she'll ever tell his father. Draco is far more interested in Harry, his body slowly transforming as he calls his love to him. Harry, who has been apologizing profusely to the men he had flattened at the castle, is having difficulty focusing, his skin slowly turning black with his arousal. Draco starts taunting him, drawing him away, eyes bright with terribly naughty things. He starts running, howling in laughter as Harry shakes himself and flies after, tackling the boy against one of the buildings.
The Hogwarts' group is amused but a little disturb, especially as the vesper start responding to the energy rising up. Jaz and Hermione suggest they all just take a stroll, both knowing what is going to come next. Severus is overwhelmed by the energy, Jaz grinning wickedly as he intends to exploit the situation. Sirius and Remus have already run off together. Hermione is left with Narcissa, neither of them pleased about it seeing as the woman is still blood hateful. But Hermione figures it's as good as time as any to try and convince her otherwise. It wasn't like they had anything better to do.
Blurb of influx of visitors into the village, studying and living with the vesper. Hermione and Jaz the most so, Severus visiting his lover, Remus and Sirius always stopping by to check on Harry and Draco. There are some new relationships forming, humans and vesper getting a feel for each other.
Harry and Draco are learning roles in the village, but also in the real world, connecting with the landowners surrounding other vesper villages and negotiating treaties. Mention and awkwardness in Lucius starting in a pack, and the trials the man has been through. They've met Draco's uncle, the man a very carefree, kind person that's been helping them change things. Kalistars have been slowly woken up, carefully, once the right atmospheres are set up in the villages. Harry still struggles, but as long as Draco is there for him, he can manage.
A night around the fire with the vesper, Harry's jealousy showing, his reluctance to share Draco unless he's distracted well enough. But he's learning, learning to like it, and Draco is definitely happy to watch his love become corrupted. Draco remembers when he had been certain Harry was such a total perv, but now he knows he's far worse. He's shameless about it.