[personal profile] valentine_veela
Title: Sometimes the Mirror of Erised Does Foretell the Future
Author: [personal profile] khasael
Pairing: Harry/Draco
Prompt: #129. [personal profile] goodgonegirl, I hope you like it. Thanks for the prompt!
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 13,730
Summary: It’s seventh year, and Draco has just found out he’s part Veela. Not only does he have to fend off the entire population of Hogwarts and find his mate, but he discovers he also wants someone to fall in love with him, not just his Veela allure.
Beta: The lovely [personal profile] mathnerd. Any remaining mistakes are completely mine.
Era: 7th year AU. Only canon-compliant through most of PoA, but borrows bits and pieces from later canon.
Warning(s): (highlight to read)*angst, slash, anal sex*
Disclaimer: This piece of fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offence is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.

Sometimes the Mirror of Erised Does Foretell the Future

Draco is used to turning heads. He’s done it all his life, and has always relished the attention. But this…this is something different. He isn’t sure he can take it. Nearly all eyes are on him, weighing him down and pressing against his flesh. Some tingle at the base of his spine welcomes the attention, tries to curl through him and weave its way through his body, gripping at his insides with a painfully pleasant intensity, but he fights it. It isn’t supposed to be this way.

* * *

He’s been through a lot in the past months. His mother is dead. His father is as good as dead, off following the lunatic who is trying to take over the world. Draco doesn’t have much of anyone left. So when strange things had started happening to him, dreams and physical symptoms and feelings he couldn’t explain, he’d gone to the one person he could still trust, not sure if he could even begin the new term without answers.

“You’re positive?”

“It took some researching to be sure, Mr. Malfoy, but yes, we’re sure.”


Snape raises his eyebrows at him and lets out a sigh. “I consulted with the Headmaster on the matter.”

“You—He—Why?” At least nothing had been mentioned in the Headmaster’s remarks at the end of the feast.

“Because with your…situation, certain precautions must be taken. Having a Veela—” Draco blanches at the word, but Snape goes right on “—in this school has the potential to disrupt things. Beside that, Mr. Malfoy, there is the matter of finding your mate. You only have so much time until the bonding ceremony must be completed.”

“Or I die, right?”

Snape grimaces. “Yes, you’ll die. But you’ll go mad first.”

“So…about this mate,” Draco says slowly, his mind already at work to find the most beneficial solution. “Will anyone do?”

“No. Your mate’s already set. You have no real choice in the matter. Fate decides for you, but it’s someone you’ll meet before the deadline. No one halfway around the world. Fate can be mischievous, but it isn’t that cruel.”

Draco has a sudden flash of horror. “But what if it’s someone I dislike? Millicent Bulstrode, or—or—a Weasley?” The very thought makes him feel ill.

“There is no guarantee your mate will be someone you already have pleasant feelings for. If you prefer your…sexual partners to be of one sex over the other, than your mate will be in line with your desires in that regard.” It is clear Snape is made hideously uncomfortable by having this conversation. Draco isn’t enjoying it much, either.

“Okay.” He wishes that his mother could have been the one to break all of this to him. “So let me get this all straight. I have a mate. I can’t change who it is. And if I don’t bond with hi—err, them, by a certain date, then I’ll go mad and die. How long is that, exactly?”

“You turned seventeen in June… How long ago did you have your first dream about sprouting wings?”

“Night before last.” It had been exhilarating, but absolutely terrifying at the same time. He had woken, drenched in sweat, with his shoulder blades in agony, sure the dream had come true.

“Then you have until approximately the end of February. Any longer than that, and life will become very unpleasant for you.”

February. That gives him some time. Six months, give or take. “That’s not so bad. So I find my mate, who is probably here at Hogwarts, and that will be clear, and we bond somehow, and all is well.”

Snape holds up a hand. “While you are, technically correct about most of it, there are some nuances you’ve missed. First: you’ll know when you’ve found the right person, but not by sight. You’ll know it when you touch. Second: you have no choice as to your mate, but your mate is not similarly bound. They can deny you, if it is their wish. Hence, the allure that comes with being a Veela. You must successfully enchant…him. Third: the emotional bond is quite important, but it is not finalised until you are—” he grimaces again “—intimate. And if he rejects you after the bond is complete, well… let us just say you’ll wish you had died without bonding.”

Draco just stares at the Potions master mutely. This is getting worse and worse. After a few more moments of silence, Professor Snape dismisses him and Draco makes his way to his house common room for the first time this year. He walks in and flops limply onto a plush green armchair. While Snape is likely Obliviating some of the more unsavoury details of their conversation from his memory, Draco is stuck with the reality of it all. He wants to dismiss it as some cruel joke. But a sharp-nailed hand trails its way over the back of his neck, and Draco knows it’s all real.

“Draco,” Pansy purrs, running her lacquered fingernails down his back. “Where have you been? I’ve missed you.”

He looks up at her, tired already of her pursuit. He’s been trying to make it clear for the past two years that he has no interest in her. She knows he prefers males, but that hasn’t stopped her entirely. Something in her dark eyes flashes, and he knows this isn’t the usual flirtation. There is something more sinister, more base, lurking there. She licks her lips and smiles.

Draco grins weakly. “I was just having a conversation with Professor Snape. I haven’t been feeling quite myself lately.”

“Oh, you poor baby,” she coos, now running her hand along the side of his cheek. He shudders. At least he is sure his mate isn’t Pansy. He wonders if he could somehow manage to bump into every student in school during the first week of classes, just to narrow down the list of potential mates. He would be happier if his mate was male, of course, but he could live with a female if… No exception comes immediately to mind. Snape had said Fate wasn’t cruel, but only mischievous. Draco isn’t so sure.

Apparently, Draco knowing that Pansy isn’t his mate doesn’t mean that she isn’t still interested. It doesn’t appear to go both ways. He shoves her hand away, and she looks hurt. “Don’t, Pansy.”

“What’s the matter?”

He can’t tell her. Even if he isn’t still trying to wrap his mind around these new developments, she still has that predatory look in her eye. “Look, don’t worry about it. I just need some sleep.”

“But it’s early, Draco. Come up to my room. We could find a way to make you feel better.”

That tone, which she no doubt means to be seductive, turns his stomach. He looks around the room and sees that she isn’t the only one staring at him with desire in her eyes. Daphne, Millicent, and a few of the girls in the years below him are giving him similar looks. Is this how it’s going to be all year? He might be spending a lot of time alone in his room, or locked in the dungeons with Snape for safety. “Thank you, but no. I’m going to bed. Alone,” he adds firmly, looking around and meeting the eyes of those staring his way. He retreats quickly to the solitude of his dorm, never more grateful that seventh years have their own private rooms.

* * *

Things only become more awkward as classes begin. Girls shoot him coy little looks as he passes, and a few of the bolder ones reach out to grab his hand, eager to stop him and keep him there in conversation. The only benefit he can find to this is that he is now sure of forty-six people who are not his mate.

His friends seem to notice something is not right with him, but he can’t bring himself to speak with them about it. He is surprised, really. Crabbe and Goyle aren’t generally observant, but Goyle at least seems concerned. And best of all, Goyle hasn’t made a move on him. Draco has caught Crabbe looking at him oddly at times, and the thought is worrisome. He’s been careful not to touch Crabbe, just in case; death might be preferable to being bonded to Crabbe for the rest of his life. He still wonders just how mischievous Fate can be, and he’s not sure he wants the answer, after all.

Whenever it is possible, Draco situates himself at the back of the classroom, where at least the professors can tell off the students who turn around to stare at him. To his great relief, few of the teaching staff seems affected by whatever allure he is giving off. Professor McGonagall seems less likely to take points away from Slytherin and less inclined to snap at him, and Professor Sprout smiles at him, but she’s always done that—one of the few instructors not to play house favourites. Even Professor Lupin seems awfully friendly, but Draco figures it could be worse. At least none of them are pawing at him.

Besides the obvious, there is something different about this year at Hogwarts, and it takes Draco a solid two weeks to put his finger on it. Against his better judgement, he lets Pansy drag him down to the Quidditch pitch to watch the newly assembled Slytherin team practice. Crabbe and Goyle flank either side of him, helpful for fending off some of the more persistent suitors. They quickly dispatch a Hufflepuff as Draco ducks behind them, and he knows he’ll have to tell them soon. He’s finally told Pansy, and while she still gives him that look like she’s hungry and he’s the only meal in the vicinity at times, he’s caught her at least attempting to restrain herself.

He is waiting for the Gryffindors to leave the pitch and let the Slytherins take their turn, when he figures out part of the problem. “Where’s Potter?”

“What on earth are you talking about?” Pansy asks him, her eyes now on Zabini, who has sauntered over.

“That’s the Gryffindor team. Why isn’t Potter with them, as their captain?”

Zabini looks at Draco and scoffs. “He isn’t captain anymore. He doesn’t even play. Finally figured out he’s not the prodigy he always thought he was, I suppose.”

Something about it feels wrong. He has given up his own spot on the team this year, replaced by Harper, but why would Potter stop playing? It almost pains him to admit it, but Potter actually is as good as everyone said he was. Before everything in his world had gone to hell after his birthday, Draco had been looking forward to finally showing Potter up on the pitch and proving that he was just as good. Without a spot on the Slytherin team, this isn’t a possibility this year anyway, but there has always been something exhilarating about watching Potter play and now he won’t even get that chance. “Oh.”

“Come on, Draco,” Pansy says, tugging on his arm, and he follows her up to the top row of bleachers, distracted. What could have made Potter quit? And now that he’s thinking about it, how has he not had an altercation with the Golden Boy yet this year? They’ve never gone more than a few hours of stepping onto the Hogwarts Express without firing off an insult or two, and it’s been two weeks without a word or glare exchanged between them. It’s more than the fact that Draco’s been trying to hide himself from everyone; that’s never stopped Potter before. No, something else is responsible, and Draco finds wondering about it to be a distraction from his own problems.

He thinks about this lack of interaction during classes, as he stares at the back of Potter’s untidy head. Is he being ignored? Has something rendered Potter mute? Draco racks his brain, but cannot recall even a single time this year when he’s heard that voice, so familiar he’d recognise it anywhere. He hasn’t even heard him prattle on with those friends of his. He glances across the room curiously, seeing the Weasel muttering something to Granger, who waves him away impatiently, but even Draco can see that she isn’t angry. Potter sits on the Weasel’s other side, but whereas they’ve always looked like a very definite group before, now they somehow…don’t. Potter is no longer part of the tight-knit threesome. Draco doesn’t know why he knows it, or how, but he’s sure.

As if he can hear Draco’s thoughts, Potter turns around and looks over his shoulder towards the back of the room. Draco averts his eyes, pretending to be interested on the spell Professor McGonagall has pointed to on the board, but for just a moment their eyes lock on each other, and Draco thinks that Potter’s not getting any more sleep than he is himself. The dark circles under those green eyes mirror his own. After a moment, Potter slowly turns back around. No glare, no scowl, no look of suspicion. Something is very wrong, and Draco has no idea why the lack of antagonism or instigation bothers him so, but he can’t shake it.

* * *

Draco doesn’t realise how much a part of his life Harry Potter is until he isn’t. He’s always been a distraction and if there is anything he needs right now, it is a distraction. In Potions, he waits for Potter to screw up, just so he can say something, but his Nostalgia Potion is passable and almost as warm a shade of rose as Draco’s own. It’s the same in Charms and Herbology. Potter does quiet, adequate work, and Draco can find nothing to comment on. But next is Defence Against the Dark Arts, and Draco knows it will be different. This is Potter in his element.

Only Potter’s still quiet. When Professor Lupin pairs the class up, Draco holds his breath and is rewarded. “Mr. Malfoy, you’ll work with Mr. Potter. Do try not to hurt each other too badly, hm? I doubt Madame Pomfrey wishes to have you both in the hospital wing. Yet again.”

Draco smiles. The last time they’d ended up in there together, he’d had a broken nose and Potter’d had a dislocated shoulder. They’d been put as far away from each other as possible. But that had been almost a year ago. “I’ll try,” he says, favouring their instructor with a charming smile. Maybe too charming, he realises a moment too late, but Professor Lupin just shakes his head as if he’s clearing it. Draco looks at the other boy, but Potter only glances up at their professor and nods. Highly unsatisfying.

Draco sighs. “I’ll hex first, you defend.” He thinks that will get a response at least, some crack about how of course he’d take the opportunity to be the first to hex, but there’s nothing.

Potter nods again and assumes a defensive stance, but, irritated, Draco throws a hex at him before he’s completely ready. It’s not the one they’re supposed to practice defending themselves against today, but it doesn’t matter; Potter deflects it easily, and Draco finally gets what he’s looking for—a reaction. “Watch it! That was a bit early.”

“What, do you think your enemies are going to wait until you’re properly positioned and readied before they try something?”

Potter just closes his eyes, looking weary, and his response is the last thing Draco expects. “We’re not enemies, Malfoy.”

“How do you figure th—” he manages before the other boy smiles just a little and throws the correct hex at him and Draco’s legs give out, depositing him on the ground. “Nice distraction, Potter,” he mutters. “That was nearly Slytherin of you. Maybe you were sorted incorrectly.”

Potter offers a hand up, but Draco waves him off and gets unsteadily to his feet. “I almost did end up in Slytherin, actually.”

“Hmph. Shows sometimes.”

Potter laughs, and while it isn’t the reaction he is looking for, it’s much better than nothing. It’s a genuinely warm, pleased sound and Draco finds himself smiling back. They are standing in their own corner of the classroom, and, for once, the other students are all so busy trying to hex their partners, or deflect those hexes, that no one is paying him any attention. There’s just Potter, who doesn’t seem the least bit interested in molesting him. It’s more than he can say for some of the other animals in their classes.

The class is over far too quickly, and Draco dreads being out in the hallways, having to scamper to his next class like a woodland animal afraid of becoming some predator’s next meal. “You know, I did mean what I said earlier,” Potter tells him as they gather up their things.

“What, about being sorted Slytherin?”

“Well, that too. But I meant the other thing. About us not being enemies. We’re not.” With that, Potter claps him on the back and leaves the room. Draco stands there for a moment, not sure what to make of the last two hours. In the past, they’d have each used today’s opportunity to hex the other into oblivion. Instead, they simply did what they were assigned. Potter had knocked him flat on his arse nearly a half-dozen times, actually apologising for some of them, and then eventually giving Draco some pointers on deflection. By the end of class, Draco had finally managed to give it back to the other boy, pleased with his accuracy and force, but not for the reasons he might have expected. He doesn’t apologise, but only because he’s bitten back the ‘sorry’ on his lips. Potter doesn’t seem to mind, either. He simply tells him it’s a job well-done, getting up after regaining control of his legs.

There is something else, too, Draco realises as he darts out of the room. Potter had touched him, and he’d felt nothing. He has reached the point now where he has narrowed down the student body considerably, without finding his mate. Maybe this won’t be as easy as he’s thought.

* * *

When Professor Sprout divides the class up into pairs a week later, Draco isn’t really surprised that he lands Potter again. The Weasel nudges Potter and says something Draco figures is ruder than usual, because Granger smacks him on the back of the head. Draco smirks behind his hand. Maybe she’s not quite as bad as he’s always thought. Potter doesn’t seem to be, after all. The Weasel, though… Well, there’s always a bad apple.

“The rest of this term and most of the next, you and your partner will be working together to plant, cultivate, and harvest a number of specimens. Two groups will have a bit of additional work when it comes to harvesting and, as compensation, they will have fewer written assignments. One of these pairs will be harvesting Aurora’s Bloom, while the other will be working with Midnight Blossom.” She flicks her wand and small bits of parchment rolled into scrolls make their ways to the students. “Weasley and Finnigan. Hopkins and Boot. Potter and Malfoy.” The bit of parchment flutters lightly into Draco’s hand and Potter slowly makes his way over to him, still looking tight-lipped from whatever it was that Weasley’s said.

“Stuck with each other again,” Draco says with a sigh, though it could be a lot worse. “For the rest of term and beyond.”

Potter mutters something, articulate as always, but when Draco asks him what he’s trying to say, Potter just clears his throat and shakes his head. “Nothing. What’s our assignment?” He tries to grab the scroll, but Draco holds it up out of reach. Potter may have grown significantly in the last few years, but he’s still shorter than Draco is.

“Patience, Potter. I realise that your upbringing may not have taught you this, but you must actually wait for some things.” He unrolls the paper, enjoying the frustrated look on the other boy’s face. “Milkweed, blood root, valerian…Midnight Blossom. Looks like we’ll be spending a few late nights together as well.” Upon seeing the flush creep up Potter’s neck, he smirks. “Not to worry. Nothing your girlfriend should get indignant over.”

“I don’t have a girlfriend, Malfoy.”

“Oh? Then it’s Granger’s wrath I have to face if you’re out too late? I’ll keep that in mind.” He thinks about smirking some more, but decides against it. Granger’s wrath isn’t really anything to laugh at. From what Draco remembers, she’s not above taking her anger out on someone physically. He rubs his face absently at the memory.

“Please just drop it.”

The ‘please’ is what startles Draco, making him unable to think of additional taunts. “Alright.”

Professor Sprout walks by just then, smiling at Potter, but positively beaming down at Draco. Frankly, it makes him feel a bit nervous. “Gentlemen. You’ll find your supplies, including your seeds and cuttings, awaiting you in the cupboard. As you’ve been assigned the Midnight Blossom, you’ll be required to come down here at half-past eleven three nights this term. Once to pick new leaves, once to pick some of the budding flowers, and once to harvest the full blooms. I’ll notify your Heads of House well beforehand. Unless either of you have any objections?” Both boys shake their heads. It could be worse—they could have to deal with each other before dawn. Or Draco could have been paired with Weasley. Though the plots in the greenhouse are fairly deep… but no, it’s the first place they’d look for a body that went missing during a Herbology assignment. “Excellent. I advise you to get to it.”

Draco looks up as she walks away and sees that many of their classmates have already secured spots to start their gardens. “You get the supplies. I’ll find us a spot.” Potter heads off without argument, and Draco surveys the rest of the greenhouse. He finally selects a plot off in the corner, where Longbottom and his partner have started tilling the soil. It’s as good a place as any. And of Potter’s friends, Longbottom’s the one he’ll likely get the least flack from. Longbottom hasn’t said an unkind word to him since the year before last. That’s more than he can say for a lot of their classmates. Hesitantly, Draco walks over and brushes by the other boy, shrugging internally when he feels nothing.

“Did you need something?” Longbottom asks, looking up from his bit of dirt.

“No. Sorry,” Draco adds quickly. “Just lost my balance.” It had been worth a shot. While he might have just elected to off himself at the prospect of being mated to the Gryffindor, pure-blood or not, just a few years ago, it seems that this whole Veela situation has made him a bit desperate. He looks at the Hufflepuff working alongside Longbottom. Maybe he’ll bump into her on the way out, just to be safe. It isn’t the worst fate he could be handed. As Draco toys absently with a handful of soil, waiting for Potter to return with their supplies, he thinks again about what Snape said about Fate and goes through the list of people he knows aren’t his mate, and those he has yet to test. What if it’s a professor? Lupin, or Flitwick, or Snape, or even Hagrid? He still can’t quite bear to consider those real possibilities.

“Get lost in the cupboard?” Draco asks when Potter finally returns.

Potter snorts, his hands firmly gripping a rather large tray so full of things that Draco can’t even see his face behind it all. “Could have helped, you know.” This is something close to what Draco’s been missing—the tone of irritation or exasperation in Potter’s voice, the way he knows he’s having an effect on the boy—but it’s not the same as it used to be, and Draco doesn’t know why. Just like he doesn’t know why Potter has told him they’re not enemies, or why he thinks he’s okay with that, and with being paired up with him in their classes. The world no longer makes any sense. Really, being mated to Snape at this point wouldn’t be too much of a shock.

They set to work, Draco giving occasional orders and Potter following them without question. Draco supposes the submissive attitude is a learned behaviour, a result of Potter working with Granger for so many years. Whatever the reason, it works out in his favour. When class is dismissed, Draco follows everyone else out, surprised to find that Potter isn’t walking with his friends—any of them. He makes his way to the castle in much the same way Draco does—alone.

* * *

It is mid-November when someone leaks the information about Draco’s predicament and all the touching, all the flirtatious looks and seductive smiles, intensify a hundredfold. “I don’t know who decided to inform the student body that I am part Veela and looking for a mate, but when I do find them, there is going to be a very slow and painful death involved.”

Pansy just looks at him from where she is lounging on a couch in their common room. Outside the entrance, they can both hear the sounds of fourth years pleading to come in. Draco knows it’s a pair of Ravenclaws and a Gryffindor—they’ve been trailing him halfway across the castle. “I don’t know that you’ll find a one-person source, Draco. People talk. Really, it’s not the world’s biggest riddle. You’re blond. You’re seventeen. No one can keep their eyes off you-”

“Or hands,” he puts in, shuddering.

“-no matter if they liked you before or thought you were an insufferable git.”

“Who thinks of me that way?”

“The point is, Draco, that it’s a bit obvious. That allure of yours does nothing to discourage them. They all think they’ve got a shot.”

“At being my mate?” He doesn’t relish the thought of having to stand up in front of the entire school and tell them that really, it’s only the males who have a shot, and he would kindly appreciate the girls stop pawing at him.

“No, at getting you into bed.”

“Just because I am attractive doesn’t mean I’m easy, Pansy.”

She snorts at him. “You think I, of all people, don’t know that? Are you somehow oblivious to the rumours?”

Draco sinks down wearily into another chair. “What rumours?”

“You’ve never heard how amazing sex with a Veela is supposed to be? How even just snogging one can make you feel as if nothing bad could ever happen to you again? About how much Veela enjoy it, and don’t mind sharing some of that joy? Where have you been, Draco?”

He just shakes his head. “It’s not true! I mean, maybe sex with me would be the most amazing thing ever, and in fact, that sounds quite plausible. But I most certainly don’t feel like shagging everyone in this bloody school. Isn’t there some way to control this? I can’t be attracting everyone like this. It’s ridiculous.”

“Didn’t Snape give you some literature?”

“Yes, but most of it had to do with bonding ceremonies and registering at the Ministry and other practicalities around finding my mate. There was nothing on how to keep yourself from being torn to pieces by amorous fourth years.” He shoots her a desperate look. Years of her throwing herself at him, and she’s somehow one of the few who seems able to keep her head amidst all this madness. “Help me figure this out. There’s got to be some practical information somewhere.”

She looks at him and sighs. “You look so pitiful, I can’t say no. I’ll go to the library between classes tomorrow. Snape might even let me into the Restricted Section if I grovel.”

“Pansy, you’re amazing.”

“I know, Draco, I know. Pity you only learnt this now.”

* * *

“Well, there’s good news and bad news,” Pansy tells him as Draco sits beside her in the library. “Which do you want to hear?”

“Bad news.” He doesn’t want there to be any, but if he has to hear it, better to end with the good.

“Bad news is that there’s not a hell of a lot of information along the lines you’re looking for. And almost none of it seems to be confirmed.”

“Give me an example.” His head is killing him. He hasn’t slept well in weeks, and it’s only getting worse. At night he dreams of another body underneath his; soft, warm flesh and tight muscles, but he can never see who it is. He wakes each morning with his chest aching and his heart heavy and, more often than not, his shoulders burning where something says his wings should be.

“Peppermints. There was something about how eating them makes you impervious to the allure of a Veela.”

“Peppermints? Are you serious? You couldn’t find anything more helpful than that?”

“I’m not bloody Granger, you know. Why don’t you ask her if you need help with research? Most other quick fixes are just as improbable. Bathing in absolutely vile concoctions to keep people away, though something else says that’ll just increase your allure, as it fights to bring your mate to you anyway. Standing naked on one foot during the full moon, reciting an old Druid spell, while a virgin washes your bits with her tears. As charming as you are, I don’t see that one happening. McGonagall’d have your head, and not even the Headmaster could stop her.”

“You said there was good news?” What that could possibly be, he didn’t know. But he needed something, anything, or he might just throw himself off the Astronomy tower before the madness got to him completely or he died in February.

“Yes. According to several sources, you can control the allure. It seems to be a conscious-effort or will power thing. There are no specific instructions. Unfortunately, it’s not all that easy, and long-term, it’s detrimental to your health. But it can be done. Just like you can intensify the effect, if you choose to. It’ll intensify on its own once you figure out who your mate is and stay that way until you bond, but you can boost it yourself if you want.”

“Pansy, that is the very last thing I want right now.” He sees the hurt look on her face and attempts a smile, putting his hand on top of one of hers. “But thank you for the effort.”

She smiles at him, looking dizzy and enthralled. “You’re welcome. I’d love to help some other way, if you want to-”

Draco pulls his hand away. That had been a mistake. She’s not immune to it. “Thank you, but that’s fine. I should get going. I have things to do.” He doesn’t, but he needs to get away before she does something one or both of them will regret later. He has to get this thing under control.

He darts out of the library, pausing just inside the entrance, where he can hear raised voices. One of them he recognises instantly as Potter’s. After a moment, he places the other two as belonging to the Weasel and Granger. Of course.

“Harry, you can’t be serious. You like him?” Granger sounds desperate to hear that whatever Potter’s telling them is just some poorly-conceived joke.

“I am serious. I didn’t plan it. And it’s not something new or sudden; I just didn’t want to admit it to you two, because I knew you’d react this way. It’s how I feel and nothing’s changing it.”

“Mate, I’m with Hermione on this one. How could you have a crush on him?” Weasley sounds as if he’s about to be ill and, quickly, before they can notice him there, Draco ducks back into the library and out another way. He’s surprised that he feels something like guilt for overhearing their conversation, and also a bit amused to find that Potter’s apparently attracted to men when there are plenty of girls who wouldn’t mind taking the future saviour home to meet Mother. Fate is kind of funny after all.

* * *

What is not funny is the way the rumours have taken hold of damn near every student in school. Ernie MacMillan corners him one evening outside the Great Hall, and Draco knows that look in his eyes all too well. “Doing anything tonight?”

Draco shifts his eyes and looks past the Hufflepuff’s shoulder. “Actually, I am.” It’s a lie, and probably an obvious one, but the prefect doesn’t seem to notice. He’s too busy running a finger down Draco’s robes.

“Break your plans. Come back to my room. Just for a couple of hours.”

Draco can feel the other boy’s breath against his cheek and wonders how he’s gotten so close so fast. Maybe he should start carrying peppermints in his pockets, just in case they do have an effect. As MacMillan strokes Draco’s cheek, he decides that, in the very least, he could hope his potential suitors choke on them. “No.” When MacMillan doesn’t back away, Draco grips his wand a bit harder. “Get away, or you’ll regret it,” he says through clenched teeth. The other boy doesn’t listen and Draco hexes him with the spell he and Potter had been practising in class, grateful when the Hufflepuff tumbles to his knees.

He runs outside the castle, breathing hard. Really, death is starting to look better and better. Perhaps he’ll ask Snape just to lock him away until February. He wonders how Professor Sprout will react when he tells her just how ungentlemanly her prefects are acting, accosting other students who are walking alone at night, and a ragged sound escapes his throat, something between a sob and a laugh. This is too much.

Draco stands against the wall of the castle, not even caring how the wind bites through his clothes, numbing him already. After a while, he gets hold of himself and notices his surroundings. He really should get back to his room. He’s not dressed to be outside, and it’s late.

He starts to head back, but something catches his attention and he stops. There, carried by the wind, is the sound of someone crying. Someone else might be having as bad of a night as he is, and whereas two years ago he’d have laughed and walked away, something in him has changed and he doesn’t feel right doing it. Instead, he slowly follows the sound, stepping as quietly as possible. He seems to be on top of it, as if it is only an arm’s length away, but he still doesn’t see the source. But then something flaps near his foot and disappears, and he is startled enough to lose his balance, tripping over something on his way down and landing with an ‘oomph.’ He gets up slowly, noticing that there’s a small tear in the knee of his trousers, but he doesn’t care. “Potter?”

The figure huddled on the steps makes a move to cover itself back up, and Draco now recognises the Invisibility Cloak he’d overheard the Weasel mention years ago. More than just rumour, it seems. “Potter, I know it’s you. Stop hiding underneath that damned cloak. Or move over and share, because it’s bloody freezing out here.”

A short moment later, Potter reappears. “What are you doing out here?”

“I needed some air. Why are you out here crying?” Potter looks both embarrassed and angry, and surprising himself, Draco kneels and puts a hand on Potter’s shoulder. “I’m not going to make fun of you. You seem like your night’s been about as bad as mine has.” Without waiting for an invitation, which is good because it will probably never come, Draco sits down next to the other boy. “Look, I don’t know why I’m saying this, but do you want to talk about it?”

Potter looks over his shoulder at Draco’s hand, which is still on the Gryffindor’s shoulder. Draco removes it hastily. “You promise you won’t laugh?”

“After everything I’ve experienced in the last year, I hardly find pleasure in the misery of others. I promise. Look, I know I don’t have to worry about saving the world and all the burdens that entails, but it’s not as if I feel I have control over my own life right now, either. Now. What’s wrong?”

Closing his eyes, Potter sighs. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” He takes a deep breath and looks Draco in the eyes. “I’m lonely.” He flinches as if Draco’s said something cruel, but relaxes after a moment, when there’s only silence.

Finally, Draco comes up with a response. This is not on the list of things he’s ever envisioned himself doing—sitting alone with Potter, having a heart-to-heart. “What about your friends? It’s always been the three of you. The Golden Trio.”

“We… aren’t spending much time together this year.”

“Is it because you’re gay?” That slips out, but he can’t take it back now that he’s said it, and he feels his face go red.

“What? You know about that? I mean no, it has nothing to do with that. Ron figured it out back in third year, and I told Hermione two years ago. They’re not the kind of people who would care about something like that.” Draco nods, figuring he must have misheard part of that conversation outside the library then. Or maybe Potter just has bad taste in men.

“Well then, why aren’t you spending time together?”

Harry laughs, still looking miserable, and Draco doesn’t much like the combination. It’s a bit distressing. “Because I told them to stay away. I’m afraid letting anyone get too close will only put them in harm’s way, and I’ve risked their lives too many times as it is. They argued at first, but they’re going along with it, for the moment. So now I find I’m without friends.”

“You know, Harry,” Draco says slowly, pausing once he sees Potter’s startled look, and taking a moment to realise why it’s there. “Is it okay, calling you Harry?”

“Yeah,” Potter—Harry—whispers, looking a little less miserable.

“Well, Harry, I feel the need to remind you that you yourself said we’re not enemies. If we’re not enemies, does that mean we could be friends?”

“You—you’d want to be my friend?”

“I don’t see why not. We get on alright in class now. I can think of worse things.” Like being mated forever to certain members of the faculty he thinks, and suppresses a shudder. “You can count me as a friend, if you wish. But you’d have to call me Draco. None of this ‘Malfoy’ business.”

Potter finally smiles, tear-bright eyes shining. “Alright. Friends.”

They just sit there, looking at each other for some period of time Draco can’t pin down, and for a moment, just one oddly terrifying but not awful moment, Draco thinks that Harry’s going to lean in and kiss him. This Veela thing is out of control and he doesn’t like it. But that’s over as soon as they hear a plaintive meow behind them. “Mrs. Norris,” Harry whispers, his eyes wide behind his glasses, and Draco thinks for the first time that they’re not as dreadful as he’s always thought. “Filch must be nearby.”

Draco straightens up. Sure enough, they can hear the wheezing of the caretaker, carried closer by the steady wind. Without another word, Potter envelops them both in his cloak until Filch calls Mrs. Norris away. They wait another several minutes, pressed shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip, before Potter removes his cloak and stands. “We should go. It’s after hours. Can you get back to your dorm without being caught?”

Draco nods. “Yes.” And if he can’t, he can always see if his genetically-enhanced charm can get him out of it. “Good night. I’ll see you in class tomorrow.”

Potter nods. “Good night…Draco.” A small smile appears on his mouth as he says the name, and Draco can’t help but think that it’s a very nice mouth.

And with that, he disappears again, treading lightly enough that Draco has to strain to hear him. Draco slowly heads the other direction. After tonight, he thinks he might be able to get along with Potter fairly well. It’s almost a pity he isn’t Draco’s mate, he thinks sleepily as he crawls into bed.

* * *

Herbology feels almost the same it has on any other day. Only today, Potter greets him with a small smile and a “Hello, Draco,” before kneeling down to begin their work.

Draco smiles back cautiously. A friendship with Harry Potter is something to get used to. Hadn’t he hoped for this opportunity before they’d even begun their education at Hogwarts? And now, for whatever reason, he has it. He is making a lot of changes in his life, and this one feels better than most of the others. “Harry.”

They work quietly together, listening to the low drone that is their classmates conversing. After nearly an hour, Potter sits back on his heels, wipes some sweat away from his face, and stretches. “Why are you here, Draco?”

Draco sighs. “Well, you see, many years ago, my mother and my father fell in love, and one night they had inter-”

“That’s not what I meant. And thank you for that image,” Potter says with his nose wrinkled. “I meant, why are you taking Herbology? You’re the only Slytherin in here, and I didn’t think this was a subject you’d take.”

“I just see it as a way to learn more about the potions I make. If I can understand more about the ingredients I use, then I can understand more about the potion as a whole—the nuances not everyone might understand. If you’re passionate about something, then you should see it through.”

Potter just blinks at him, then nods and gives him a slow smile. “That makes a lot of sense, actually.”

“Doubting me?” he asks, looking up with his eyebrows raised. He can’t keep the haughty attitude once he notices that Potter has a giant smudge of dirt on his cheek. He laughs, something he hasn’t done in far too long, and he is glad he stumbled upon Potter having a personal breakdown, cruel as that sounds. “Harry. You look like a street urchin. Do clean yourself up before leaving the greenhouse.”

“You’re not exactly spotless yourself. You’ve got soil—at least, I hope it’s soil and not dragon dung—on your chin.”

Draco looks at his reflection in the blades of the shears lying at his side. “Oh, hell.”

When class is over, Potter moves to collect everything, but Draco grabs an armful of supplies and leaves Potter standing there, looking surprised. “What? I didn’t think it was entirely fair of me to make you put everything away by yourself. Don’t look so shocked. I’m not as rude as you’ve always thought.”

Potter blushes and catches up to him. “I know you’re not. Thanks for the help.”

He heads over to the sink once they are done and washes up, then waits for Draco to do the same. Longbottom walks by, hands full, and bumps into Harry, causing his spectacles to fall off the sink’s ledge. Acting on instinct, Draco reaches out a dripping hand and catches them. He bites down on his tongue. If he’s going to be friends with Potter, then that means he has to make an effort to be civil towards his friends. Besides, Longbottom’s not all bad. He may be a hazard to wizard kind in the Potions classroom, but here in the greenhouse, he knows what he’s doing better than anyone else.

“Thanks,” Harry says, reaching out a hand for his glasses. “I kind of need those.” His hand brushes Draco’s and stops, the glasses apparently forgotten.

Draco’s breath hitches. It’s him. It’s Potter. He’s Draco’s mate. There is no question about it. It’s as much a truth as breathing air or needing food. Everything in Draco’s field of vision goes suddenly bright and the world around him, underneath him even, shifts as if the universe is realigning. His nerves thrum and his skin tingles and the place where Harry’s touching his hand feels amazing, lit up by the contact in a way that shouldn’t be able to happen, but Draco doesn’t want it to stop for anything. His vision slowly goes back to normal, but Harry’s still all Draco can see.

For his part, Harry just looks pleasantly dazzled, as if hit by a Stunning Spell while drinking a Draught of Delight. After what feels like minutes but is probably only one or two seconds, Harry takes his hand away and puts his glasses on, smiling nervously. Draco tries to open his mouth to say something, but before he can find words (because what on earth do you say to someone in this situation?), Harry gathers his things and moves quickly out of the greenhouse. Draco is left alone with this new revelation. All he can piece together before he gets to the Great Hall to eat, though food is the last thing on his mind, is that Snape had neglected to mention something—he’d know his mate by touch, but only by skin-to-skin contact. That would have been handy to know. Also, though Draco doesn’t know what was going through Harry’s head, he knows he felt something beyond the ordinary at Draco’s touch or he wouldn’t have looked like that.

* * *

Draco tries to catch Harry’s attention before Potions the next morning, but fails miserably. Harry hasn’t been in for breakfast and he sneaks into his seat in the dungeon only moments before Snape arrives in a flourish of heavy robes. “Harry,” he whispers, hoping for at least a smile. Now that Harry’s in the room, things seem almost right and, really, it’s pitiful the way his body’s acting and responding merely to the presence of his mate. “Potter,” he hisses, but he’s still ignored. Snape hears the noise and shoots him a dour look, but Draco doesn’t care. For the first time, Draco realises some of the truth about this bonding business—that Harry can reject him and Draco can’t do anything about it other than try to charm him into accepting the bond.

Snape stands at the front of the classroom and begins the lecture on the Comfort Potion they’ll be working on today, but Draco’s still determined to catch Harry’s attention. He needs to talk to him and his body won’t stop insisting they should be closer. It takes a surprising amount of will power to keep from walking across the classroom and putting his hands all over Potter’s body or shoving his tongue down Potter’s throat. There’s lust, and there’s this, and lust pales in comparison. Is this what he’s been making other people feel the last few months? It’s a little harder to fault his fellow students for all the touching, if so.

Frustrated, Draco gives up and sets up his cauldron as close to Harry as he can manage. He prepares his own ingredients, recognising the milkweed he and Harry had harvested last week, and watches the other boy out of the corner of his eye. Finally, finally, Harry looks over at him and Draco beams a smile at him that he can’t control, causing the Ravenclaw next to him to suck in her breath with a surprised ‘oh!’, and Potter drops his (thankfully empty) cauldron, the noise ringing throughout the dungeon.

Snape is at Potter’s elbow in a second, as if he’s been waiting for this. “Mister Potter. I’d thank you to pay a bit more attention in your work. If you hadn’t been dawdling through your preparations, that cauldron would have been hot and full and could have maimed a fellow student.” Draco notices that the look on Snape’s face doesn’t exactly suggest this would be the worst of all options. “Ten points from Gryffindor.”

“But I-” Harry starts to protest, and Draco’s startled by the irritation coming off his mate and how uncomfortable that makes Draco, a feeling almost like intense indigestion.

“It wasn’t his fault, Professor,” Draco says smoothly, smiling and trying not to use too much charm. “I bumped into his cauldron as I passed and knocked it to the floor. Gryffindor shouldn’t have points taken away.”

Harry just stares at him, dumbfounded, and the look on Snape’s face is nearly identical. “If you insist, Mr. Malfoy,” Snape says with a shake of his head, walking away to harass some other student.

“…Thanks,” Harry says slowly, regaining some semblance of normalcy. “You didn’t have to do that.”

“I know,” Draco replies. “But what are friends for?” Harry doesn’t respond, and Draco tries to let go of the disappointment. He hadn’t expected to do that, but seeing the distress and anger Snape’s reaction had caused Harry had left him with little other choice. There’s this ridiculous urge to protect him and Draco spends the rest of the class deflecting Snape, mostly without Harry even realising it. Draco’s never noticed just how determined Snape seems to make Harry miserable. It gets on his nerves, if he’s honest.

“Mister Potter-” Snape begins as he comes around to check the results of their work, and the condescension in his voice pushes Draco over the edge.

“Just leave him alone,” he snaps. His eyes go wide and he claps a hand over his mouth, but the damage has been done.

Professor Snape takes a startled step backwards, before understanding dawns on his face, and he looks from Draco to Harry and back to Draco. He suddenly looks quite ill. “Passable work,” he mutters, moving away. “And Mr. Malfoy? I’d like to see you after class. We have some developments to discuss.”

“Yes, Professor,” he mumbles. If things continue like this, Draco might welcome death in February. His mate’s ignoring him, he can’t control the allure he’s putting out, and now he’s snapping at someone you don’t do that to.

He sits through Snape’s lecture about keeping his wits about him and his responses under control and warning to control his urges. It’s all easy for Snape to say. He’s not the one going around wrestling with these feelings, and all the logic in the world doesn’t stop the way he feels.

He storms out of the dungeon, equal parts hurt and angry about what is happening to him and telling himself it’ll all be over soon, when he comes upon Harry and that prat, Finch-Fletchley. The Hufflepuff is standing much too close to Harry, smiling flirtatiously, and that’s all Draco sees before his blood goes hot and he stops being able to think. “Get away from him,” he hisses and with wide, terrified eyes, Finch-Fletchley walks quickly away. So that’s who Harry has a crush on. He really does have terrible taste in men.

Harry gapes at Draco, another look on his face that Draco can’t quite place, and all Draco registers from his mate is shock. Shock, but no anger, and that does something to calm him down.

Granger chooses that moment to pop her bushy head around the corner. “Oh, Harry, there you are! Professor Lupin’s been looking for you and needs you up in his office right away.” She notices Draco at last and instead of the disdainful look she normally gives him, she smiles instead, fluttering her eyelashes at him. “Oh. Malfoy. Hello.”

“Hello, Granger.”

“I don’t mean to interrupt, but this is important, and Professor Lupin wants Harry immediately.” She’s still giving him that look and Draco realises with a start why she’s doing it. He wills himself to stop attracting everyone, though a pain slices through his gut like a blade, and after a moment she blinks and looks at him distrustfully, pulling Harry down the passageway.

As soon as she’s gone, he stops thinking about it, and the pain and feeling of strain leave his body. So he can control it. It’s definitely unpleasant, but it’s not impossible. He’ll have to experiment with this some more.

* * *

Pansy, much as he hates it, is right once again. It appears that once he knows who his mate is, the intensity of the allure he gives off only increases.

He steps into the Great Hall for supper that night and, nearly in unison, hundreds of eyes turn his way. He can actually feel the weight of them, slowly suffocating him, but there is some pleasant undercurrent to this and, in a way, that makes it worse. The nerves in the base of his spine tingle, and something deeper and baser tries to work its way into him, pleasant and painful at once, but he fights it. It isn’t supposed to be like this. He’s supposed to be with his mate, who appears to want nothing to do with him. For the love of Merlin, even Granger’s giving him that look, and if that’s not disturbing, he doesn’t know what is.

After a moment, he turns and bolts from the room, forgetting that he’d come down for food. He catches a glimpse of Harry’s messy black hair, feeling him as much as seeing him, and he sprints after him, not caring where they’re going. He doesn’t call out, because he knows that will only scare Harry off.

Harry comes to a large brick wall and Draco stops to catch his breath, wondering where he’ll go now. So when a large door opens out of nowhere and Harry steps through, Draco moves as quickly as he can to slip through. He’s not fast enough. The door closes and is a flat wall of impenetrable brick once more, and Draco slaps at it with the palm of his hand. He just needs to talk to Harry. He has to. He has to find him.

The brick vanishes and is replaced by an arched entry way and, for a moment, Draco wonders if the madness Professor Snape warned about has finally come for him. But then he presses against where the wall should be and meets no resistance. Draco moves quietly through the arch and stops. This is incredible. Why hasn’t he seen this room before?

Part of the expansive space is filled with old furniture and suits of armour and other discarded things, but Harry is off to the side, where the only thing is an old mirror that’s taller than he is. Draco moves cautiously towards him, but Harry seems oblivious to his presence, staring raptly into the glass. As he moves to stand behind Harry, Draco can’t help but wonder what has his mate so fascinated. His face is sad and wistful, and Draco winces at the cramp in his chest, stepping closer for a better look.

At first, Draco sees nothing but Harry seated on the floor with his legs tucked underneath him. And then his own reflection moves independently and places a hand on Harry’s shoulder. Mirror-Harry reaches up and takes the hand, entwining their fingers together. After a moment, Mirror-Harry stands and leans in to speak. Draco can’t hear his words, but he can lip-read them perfectly. I don’t care what you are. I just want you for who you are, he says, leaning in to kiss Mirror-Draco.

Draco lets out a noise that is embarrassingly close to a whimper and Real-Harry finally notices him, turning away from the mirror. “What are you doing here?” He looks upset, but not exactly angry, and Draco takes that as a good sign.

“I just wanted to talk to you. You’ve been…disappearing on me the last couple of days whenever I try. I want to know what’s wrong.”

Harry’s shoulders sag and he screws up his face into something that makes Draco ache inside. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Draco wonders if he’d say that if he knew how much it hurt. “Please? We’re friends, aren’t we?” This is absurd, how much his body betrays him and forces him to do anything to remain close. If he can make Harry feel better about whatever’s bothering him, maybe this feeling will go away and he can breathe normally.

Still looking at the mirror, Harry nods just once. “Yes.”

Making a move before Harry can change his mind, Draco steps a little closer and sits across from his mate (and it’s taken no time at all to think of him this way, no matter that he’d felt odd about calling him his friend not long ago), the mirror to his right. Despite the fact that Draco’s asked him to talk, Harry doesn’t say anything. He just keeps looking into the mirror. Draco can’t help but look himself. “What is it?” he finally asks.

“It’s called the Mirror of Erised.”

“And what does it do? It’s…I don’t even have words for it.”

“It shows you what you want most.”

Draco nodded. So he’d just seen his heart’s desire. For Harry not to just want him, but to want him despite the fact that he’s part Veela. Not for what he is, as Mirror-Harry had said, but for who he is. That sounds perfectly right. Of all the silly things he’s ever thought, he’s now sure he wants a mate that isn’t just responding to the Veela charm. “What do you see in it?”

For some reason, Harry gets defensive, drawing his arms up around his knees and squeezing tightly. “What do you see?”

“Nothing I could make you understand,” Draco says softly, and Harry doesn’t press him for more information. He has a hard time keeping his hands to himself. What he wants more than anything is to touch Harry, to hold him and comfort him and tell him he’s Draco’s mate. Beyond that, gripping his gut and worming its way down into his groin, is the urge to push Harry to the floor and have his way with him. He can feel the allure that’s such a part of him now he’s almost used to it, shining brightly through his skin and singing through his blood and he can see Harry react to it. His body tells him this is right, but his traitorous brain tells him it isn’t what he really wants. Despite this, when Harry falters in whatever he’s about to say and leans in for a kiss, Draco can’t help but respond.

Draco can feel everything winding through his body, a thousand times more intense and pleasant than it was in the Great Hall with all eyes on him. Something is coiled in the pit of his stomach, sinking lower and getting hotter, and every nerve in his body comes alive when Harry’s lips touch his. Suddenly his shoulder blades are on fire, and he’s nearly sure he has finally sprouted wings. For a moment he forgets to breathe, and then Harry darts his tongue in Draco’s mouth and it’s hot, slippery bliss and he can’t contain a moan, one that he hears echoed by his mate. He lets Harry pull him forward until Draco has him pinned to the floor and Harry’s not resisting at all. But as much as his body says this is what’s supposed to happen, Draco fights it. He doesn’t want Harry to want him like this. He disentangles himself and gets up, leaving through the door that appears along the wall, unable to stop the allure that’s so strong it leaves him feeling sick and the resultant throbbing in his cock. It’s a cowardly thing to do, to run away from his mate without an explanation, and something in his chest cries out in protest, but he can’t allow himself to go back.

* * *

Harry finds him the next day in the same room, which has decided to reappear for Draco as he walks by hoping against all logic that he can get in and have some peace. He’s tired of the looks from the other students, the touching, the comments, the glittering eyes that seem too bright to be sane. He tries not to look into the mirror, but it pulls at him, and when Harry walks in, he’s busy staring at Mirror-Harry lying in bed with his arm around Mirror-Draco, stroking the hair at the back of Mirror-Draco’s neck and smiling softly, whispering things that don’t matter because the words are unimportant now.

“How did you know I was here?” Draco asks once Harry says his name.

“I have a map…” he says, trailing off. “And I had a feeling anyway. It’s been a long night,” he sighs. “I didn’t sleep much.”

“Why not?”

“I had strange dreams. Full of blond angels and wings.” Draco starts at this. His own dreams had been strange, but the writhing figure underneath him had suddenly been clear, the ecstatic face of the boy standing next to him now, and even wanking twice to the vision hadn’t slaked his lust. “I waited until after sunrise and checked, but you weren’t here. So once everyone went down to breakfast, I came back. And here you are. By the way, you’ve been pacing a lot lately.” He smiles a little, a shy grin that makes Draco sure that not only is Harry his mate, but he actually feels more than just the urgency of desire—something that might be love. And it’s mindboggling to think that of anyone on the planet, he’s in love with Harry Potter, but he can find no way to disprove it. He’d gladly take the Killing Curse for his mate, no questions asked, even if Harry doesn’t want to bond with him.

“So you’ve been looking for me? Why?”

“I wanted to talk about last night. About that kiss.” Draco braces himself for what’s to come, but Harry surprises him. “I don’t regret it at all. At first I thought it was a bad idea, because… but I don’t care. I know we’ve been growing closer, and we crossed some line and we’re no longer just friends. And that goes against everything I’ve been trying to accomplish all year with distancing myself and not letting myself get too close to anyone, but damn it, Draco, I don’t care. I can’t stop myself from having feelings for you. And I don’t want to. I just don’t understand why you ran away. If you don’t want me, to be with me, I’ll try to understand.”

Draco laughs, feeling momentous relief flood through him. “I do want to be with you. I was thinking a lot last night, especially about what you’d said about not wanting to be close to anyone because that would make them a target. What I want, Harry, is to prove to you that I can be good, that I can be worth it all. Besides, I’m as much of a target now as I’ll ever be. My father’s mad, following the orders of some lunatic he considers his lord, and he killed my mother upon that lunatic’s orders once she refused to turn me over into his service.”

“I had no idea,” Harry whispers, and the emotion in his voice nearly breaks Draco.

“I know you didn’t,” Draco says, just as softly. “It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’ll let me prove to you how good I can be to you. For you.”

Harry looks at him with such longing that for a moment, Draco doesn’t care if it’s because of the Veela charm. Draco leans in to kiss him, thrilled when Harry responds almost as eagerly as he had the night before. For now, this is good enough.

* * *

“Come on, Draco, try harder!” Pansy snaps at him, sounding as frustrated as Draco feels.

“I am trying. You think I don’t want this to work? This might not seem that important to you, just an inconvenience, but you have no idea how vital I consider getting this under control to be.”

She sighs. “I would if you’d tell me. We used to talk, when you weren’t busy rejecting me. Look, you don’t have anyone to turn to anymore. Not your parents, anyway, and you’ve distanced yourself from our classmates who have Death Eater parents. I can understand that. Why is this so important, other than not having to defend whatever virtue you have left from Hufflepuffs?”

“First of all, my virtue is still intact, thank you very much.”

“Even after that fling with Terry Boot last year?”

Draco blushes. “Yes, even after that. Second, I’ve found my mate.”

“Great! You can stop mooning about, wondering if you’re going to go mad, then.”

“Yes, except I…I can’t go through with it.”

“From what I gather, you don’t have much of a choice, Draco. It’s bond or die.”

“It’s complicated, Pansy. He can reject me, you know. I thought he had, but it appears I was wrong. And as for the bonding… I thought I wanted it, and I do, I honestly do, because it’s not just about urges and lust and finally getting laid, but I love him. It’s sappy and ridiculous, but I do. And because of that, I don’t want him to just want me because he’s responding to my allure. I want him to want me for me.”

“Well, that’s all very noble and sweet and not really you at all. The old you, anyway. It’s definitely not Slytherin of you. So, who is it?”


“Potter?” She screeches the name, and Draco wonders if the entire castle heard her, or just the people in the dungeons.

“Yes, Harry Potter. Don’t be angr—wait, why are you laughing?”

She makes an effort to get her laughter under control. “It’s just too perfect. The two of you. Slytherin and Gryffindor. Former enemies turned lovers.”

“We’re not lovers.”

“Not yet, you mean. He is your mate. That’s kind of the whole point. Is he a good kisser?”

“Yes. I mean, damn it, Pansy, we were doing something here. I’m worrying about impending madness and death and wanting something real, and you want to know if Harry’s a good kisser?”

“Well, there’s been some debate about that. Some people think he’s too pure to be any good. I’m more of a believer that underneath all that brooding and angst, there’s a red-hot passion.”

Draco grits his teeth. “Pansy, that’s my mate you’re talking about. If you were anyone else, I’d have you hexed so fast you wouldn’t know what hit you. Now, please, help me. You’re the only one I can trust with this.”

“All right. Try again.”

“You mean it was still on this whole time?”

“Do I still have the urge to jump you? Yes. You really need to try harder.”

Draco takes a deep breath and focuses. He feels the allure, or charm, or whatever it is, coming out of him like a bright light through his skin and he concentrates on darkness and shadow, on throwing water on a flame.

After a moment, he hears Pansy’s relieved sigh over the pounding in his head. “That’s it, Draco, you have it. I can’t feel it at all.”

Letting out a shout of happiness, he stops trying to control it, for once welcoming the feeling back into his body. “I did it! I can actually do it!” It’s like doing a complicated spell correctly for the first time, or the first time he rode a broom. He grabs Pansy and twirls her around, then plants a kiss on her cheek.

She shoves him away, looking hurt. “Draco, you know I love you, but you can’t do that. Not when you don’t have it turned off.” Walking quickly out of the room, she leaves him feeling ashamed. He’s only been thinking about himself and his problems, and not how he might be affecting others. Who ever would have thought that a simple kiss on the cheek could be so problematic?

* * *

The more time that goes on, the more Draco feels that what he wants to be genuine is only a result of the allure. With Pansy’s help, he’s found a way to control it, but the way she reacted as he meant to thank her has made him reluctant to ask for her help again. She had been right about him not having much support—besides her and Snape, all he really has is Harry. And that’s a matter more complicated than he ever could have foreseen.

He tries to keep from charming Harry as much as he can, but every now and then he forgets himself. They don’t get much time together: a few moments in what Harry calls the Room of Requirement, touches in between classes, glances across the classroom. And the time in Herbology, where he can watch Harry’s muscles move as he digs. Draco was able to charm Professor Sprout into letting them into the greenhouse to do their late night assignments alone. She already lets Longbottom and his partner do it for their assignments at dawn and it doesn’t take too much convincing to afford them the same privilege.

Honestly, these nights are the things that keep him sane while his world slowly dissolves. He rarely sleeps, and the effort in keeping the allure down to a minimum is taking its toll. Draco hasn’t felt well since the beginning of December. On their last night in the greenhouse, a Friday night with a full moon that bathes the plants in silvery light, Draco can feel that his time is short. When he does wake now, it’s screaming, in a panic, and it takes hours to calm himself. But tonight, a week before Valentine’s day, it’s stolen kisses at midnight and all around them the scent of Midnight Blossom and rich earth, and that makes everything almost okay.

“Can you get away to the Room of Requirement tomorrow night? Ten-thirty?” Harry asks as they part ways. “I need to talk to you, but I need to think about some things first.”

Draco nods. He can’t refuse anything Harry asks him, something his mate hasn’t seemed to realise. He isn’t magically bound to acquiesce to Harry, at least, he doesn’t think he is, but instinct and desire to keep him safe and happy push him to say yes to any request. “Of course.” He spends another sleepless night wondering what Harry could want to talk to him about. Neither of them has been talking much. Harry doesn’t seem to feel as lonely, and that’s good enough for Draco. And Draco still can’t bring himself to mention the bonding deadline.

When Harry arrives, Draco’s been sitting in front of the mirror for almost two hours. He’s missed supper, but he no longer cares about things like that. Draco hears him approach and scrubs at the tears drying on his cheeks. He’s lost track of the time.

Harry kneels beside him, and though Draco could feel Harry’s desire when he walked into the room, the sight of Draco’s tears seems to have lessened it. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine.” The lie burns like acid at the back of his throat, but he can’t worry his mate.

“You’re not. You haven’t been well for the last several weeks and I’ve been trying to ignore it. I’ve been lying to myself. About a lot of things.”

“Is this what you wanted to talk about?” The strain of keeping that visual going, of the dimmed light and shadows surrounding his skin, is giving him a headache.

“Something like that.” Harry’s silent for several moments, and Draco just wants him to finish. He doesn’t want to influence any important conversation with his charms. When Harry speaks again, his voice is strained. “Why is it, if we’re together, we haven’t…you know, been together? Is it just because I’m not your mate?” When Draco just gapes at him, Harry goes on, voice cracking. “I understand if you can’t be disloyal to him, once you find him. Hermione’s been doing some research for me. It makes sense, if that’s the case. I can understand if you don’t want to see me anymore. But I do want you, and I know you said you just wanted to prove how good you can be, and you did that, Draco. I don’t know if you can understand this, but you’ve been my—you’ve been the only thing keeping me going some days. In the big picture, you know what I’m looking at? There’s a very real possibility that I won’t live much longer. It’s only a matter of time before I have to face Voldemort again, and I’ve gotten lucky in the past, but that luck can only hold out so long. Lupin and the Order, they’ve been keeping tabs on Voldemort’s movements, and I—I may only have a few more months, maybe less. I’ve fallen for you, more than I ever expected, and I think I can let you go if I have to, to make sure you’re not hurt. But can’t I—can’t I have one night? Just…just give me one word.”

Draco has no idea what to say. He can’t believe that Harry has kept this from him. He’s always been successful against Voldemort in the past. Furthermore, how has Harry not figured out that he’s Draco’s mate? Draco has been sure Harry’s known it for months, since that first evening in the Room of Requirement. “Harry, I think you-”

Harry puts a finger up to Draco’s lips, and the touch makes Draco shiver. “One word only. Please.”

Draco weighs everything going through his head. He wants it, but Harry seems not to be aware that what he’s asking for would entail a bond. Then again, Harry is completely ignorant of the scope of the situation and Draco remembers with a little pang of nostalgia how obtuse the Golden Boy can be. Sometimes, it’s endearing. Now, however, it complicates things. Besides that, Draco does want what Harry’s asking for and his body is emphatic that he respond appropriately. And he loves him, preposterous as that is. He searches for a one word answer, and finally comes up with one. “Tomorrow.”

Harry nods, looking as if he’s just been told he can have a gift he’s always wanted, but only has one day to play with it before it’s taken away. Come to think of it, that’s probably exactly how he feels. “Thank you. I can do this, I can, but…no more talking until then.” With that, he brushes Draco’s forehead with a kiss and leaves, not looking backward. Draco stares after him. Tomorrow, then. He’ll fill Harry in when they talk tomorrow.

* * *

“Harry, I need to-” Draco begins as he steps into the room, but Harry’s lips are on his before he gets any further, and that rush, that sweet singing and fire and silver-white light, is all he can feel.

“Not now. I—I can’t take it. Just let me have this, right now, and I’ll do anything you say afterward.”

Draco’s brain tries to tell him this is wrong, that he needs to let Harry know the truth about everything, but his body doesn’t listen and right now, that wins. He returns Harry’s frantic kisses, leaning in so fast their teeth click together, feeling Harry’s hot skin underneath his fingers as Harry tugs off his own jumper and then removes Draco’s. Harry pulls Draco down on top of him, and Draco only dimly registers that there appears to be a bed in the room now, and that they are on top of it.

Harry lets out a moan and for a moment, Draco thinks it is one of desire, before he feels Harry’s tears on his cheeks and he stops abruptly. “What’s wrong?”

“I can’t. I tried, but I want too much from you, and I can’t help the way I feel.”

Draco thinks about the deadline he is facing—they both are facing—and hopes against hope that Harry means what he says. With a spectacular amount of effort, Draco turns off the allure. And it hurts, it actually hurts, but he reins it in anyway, because he has to know it’s real. “Shh,” he says softly, because talking while controlling it this way is impossible, and he leans in again to kiss Harry.

Harry hesitates for a moment, then gives in for one more kiss. When they pull apart, Harry is breathing hard, and he looks miserable. “I can’t help it. I’ve wanted you too long—since last year.”

Draco stops at that, putting a palm on Harry’s chest. “What?”

“I know that it has to be over, that you can’t go against your mate, but I—I just-”

“Quiet,” Draco says sharply, and Harry only nods. “I need to think for just a second.” He can feel Harry’s heart beat under his hand and every thud tells him that this is absolutely right. If Harry has wanted him since last year, then this isn’t just about the Veela attraction. And his response to the kiss once Draco fought it off just reinforces that. After a moment, he looks down at his mate, lying beneath him. “No, you’re right. I can’t go against my mate. I can’t possibly be with anyone other than him.” A tear slips down Harry’s cheek and he nods sadly.

When Draco leans in again to kiss him, Harry lets out a sob and tells him to stop. “I don’t want to make you do that and it’s not fair to tease me that way.”

Draco shushes him again, unable to take the pain Harry’s tears cause him. “Do you have any idea how stupid you are? You’re my mate. And so much more than that. My friend, my love, and my passion.” The words sound sappy, but they’re too true to take back, and he doesn’t really want to, anyway. “And if you’re passionate about something, you should see it through.”

Harry breaks into a large smile through the tears, as the realisation fully dawns on him. “Then see it through.”

“With pleasure,” Draco breathes, and with that, he stops trying to control everything. He’s been trying to control too much, things he shouldn’t interfere with, and it’s an exquisite relief to let it all go. Harry reaches up, undoing Draco’s trousers and pulling down his pants, releasing Draco’s erection at last, and with a seductive grin he undoes his own trousers and shimmies out of both his trousers and pants in a quick movement. The sight of Harry’s swollen cock nearly unhinges Draco, and it is only a moment before they are both fully naked and Draco can appreciate the bed Harry has made appear in this room, dark blue satin sheets and plush pillows that contrast so well against Harry’s tan skin.

Draco pauses from his place atop his mate, straddling him. “You do know what this means?”

Harry looks at him, green eyes wide and pupils dilated, glasses tossed aside for the moment. “It means I’m yours. Forever. It’s what I want, Draco. I want you for you.”

They aren’t the exact words Draco’s been wanting to hear, but the meaning is the same and that’s all that matters, and he feels his body melding into something new, and moments later his recurring dream is playing out in front of his eyes, only this is better, because this is real. This is something he can see and touch and taste and smell and feel, and the feel of Harry’s body is amazing, the scent and taste of his skin is all he needs, better than he has words for, and Draco knows as he looks down at Harry writhing underneath him and moaning for Draco to take him, to do what he wants with him, that this is what’s meant to be.

Draco reaches around and takes Harry’s erection in his hand, whispers a couple of spells to prepare him, because though he could do it manually, his body is screaming at him and demanding he not waste any more time than he already has, then enters his mate slowly, amazed when Harry moves his hips against Draco’s eagerly. For a little while, minutes that are far too short, there is nothing in Draco’s world but Harry and the feeling of being in him and stroking him as Harry thrusts his hips, slowly at first, but more frantically as they go on. It is blindingly good, and the more Harry enjoys it, the better it becomes for Draco, and he knows he won’t last long, but that’s okay, because this is only the first time. Draco grins savagely at the thought. 'First time'. There will be others, countless others, because now Harry is his. They come within seconds of each other, and when it is Draco’s name on Harry’s lips, he can’t help but cry out Harry’s name at the same time, and they collapse together in an exhausted heap.

As Harry curls up into the safety of Draco’s embrace, he lets out a soft sigh. Draco nuzzles the black hair at the nape of Harry’s neck, where it is just starting to curl. “Are you alright, Harry?” The hot, bright feeling is receding, lower than he can remember feeling it before, and he feels almost completely human again for the first time since his birthday. It’s a wonderful feeling, but not as good as the feeling of having Harry in his arms.

“I’m better than alright,” is the content-sounding reply. “I have you. And anything I have to face after this…it doesn’t matter. Because I know I have this to come back to. It’s reason enough to come back safely. I mean, I’m doing this for everyone. For my friends, for the memory of my parents, for the wizarding world as a whole. But now…now I’m doing it for me, too. I’m yours and you’re mine, and I want that forever to be a good, long time.”

Draco just smiles and holds Harry tighter. Everything he wants is here in this bed. Soft words, warm skin, contentment, passion, tenderness, and, most importantly, Harry. This is the way it’s supposed to be. This, and no other way.


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