Draco glanced about the room. His eyes flickered from face to face while his fingers tapped out a staccato rhythm with the tip of his quill. One corner of his parchment was marked with dozens of fine ink dots, black snowflakes in an ecru sky.
He checked his watch. The meeting was running over by forty-three minutes already and the Head of the Janus Thickey Ward was whining about budget cuts. He would give it another five minutes before he had to excuse himself. It was a break of decorum, but he had no choice in the matter. He was cutting it closer than he had in years. His shoulders cramped with stress.
Healer Prue looked to be catching her second wind, pulling a stack of parchment from her robe pocket. Draco caught the outline of a graph out of the corner of his eye. There was nothing for it.
"Very admirable points, Healer Prue. We all understand that St Mungo's has limited funding from the Ministry. They are pulled tight as everyone else." Draco nodded to Shacklebolt, who raised an eyebrow in return. "I think it is high time for a donation from the private sector to lessen the burdens on your staff and patients. Can we meet Monday to go over the details?"
Healer Prue's eyes widened, stopping in mid-tirade with her mouth gaping open. The parchment in her hand dropped and no less than five colour-coded graphs spread out on the table.
The room was silent but for the shifting of numb buttocks on leather chairs.
Draco didn't make a habit of throwing his gold around. Well placed, well timed, well publicised donations had defined the Malfoy family status in the last ten years. He now sat at the Board of Governors table for nearly every major institution of the wizarding world. This was not one of those defining moments. It was barely a third-page corner article in a Wednesday Prophet. But needs must.
He caught the chairman's attention and let his eyes fall to his watch.
The chairman of the St Mungo's Board of Governors was not a stupid man. He cleared his throat and proclaimed the meeting adjourned.
Draco almost knocked over his chair as he stood. Minerva caught it in a Levitation Charm before it hit the floor.
Draco mumbled a distracted, "My apologies. Thank you," before trying to move past her.
"Draco? You're looking peaky. Are you quite all right?"
He kept his eyes on the door. Sweat trickled down the back of his neck. "Yes. Yes. Just been running about today and skipped lunch."
"Oh, yes. The discussion on the changes to King's Cross. Complicated business. I've heard those meetings are worse than this lot. Everyone sitting around talking in circles about how they should have begun renovations five years ago when it was first proposed."
He shoved his trembling hands into his pockets and forced an amused smile. "Indeed. It will be a miracle if a single thing is accomplished before spring. Now, if you'll excuse me. I have urgent matters to discuss with a sandwich while writing up the proposal for Healer Prue."
"You couldn't have bestowed your generosity on a more appreciative person." Minerva's wrinkled lips pressed together in what was becoming a familiar sign of her trying not to smile. She had never had patience for prattlers, whether in a boardroom or a classroom. "Good evening."
"Good evening." Draco nodded and darted for the door. He refused to meet the grateful gaze of Healer Prue lest he be trapped in an insipid conversation of thank yous and my pleasures.
Twilight settled upon Knockturn Alley as Draco strode through the streets, hood high and face low, racing to beat the setting sun. A cramp sliced through his stomach as he quickened his pace. He hadn’t lied to Minerva about missing lunch; adrenaline and force of will were the only things moving his limbs onward.
Draco cursed his monthly requirement, as he called it, and vowed that next month he would not cut it so close. There was nothing for it tonight. He'd make arrangements next week to ensure there was plenty of incentive to provide an early delivery. He would mark off the entire day in his schedule. He was foolish to risk everything, to risk exposure. Becoming a Registered lycanthrope meant signing over every possible right and privilege allotted to wizards.
It was only after the war ended that the extent of Fenrir Greyback's crusade had been discovered. Men, women and children, thought dead at the hands of Voldemort, were found to have been gifted to Greyback. They had been infected, traumatised, forced to endure -- and commit -- unspeakable horrors. The strong-minded, those that clung to their humanity, were killed. The others with their sanity shattered, banned together. The Pack, as they were called, held more than fifty of Greyback's victims. They rampaged through England in the years after Voldemort's demise. They tore through wards, raiding houses, slaughtering children in their beds. The majority were captured and killed by vigilante groups; a very few were imprisoned in Azkaban. The Ministry tightened its laws on all werewolves, legislating registration and stripping the rights of werewolves to less than those of a Basilisk.
Draco had never been part of The Pack, but who would believe him? Werewolves were all the same in the public's eye, and he was obsessively careful never to risk exposure. After a few years of dealings with unreliable suppliers month after month, he had found one trustworthy supplier of Wolfsbane Potion and Willy had seen him through eighty-four doses. They were delivered to an apothecary, waiting for him the morning of each full moon like clockwork.
However, he'd become too reliant on Willy and hadn't known who to turn to when the supplier's mangled body had graced the Prophet's front page. Now, he was on his own with this. The sale of Wolfsbane to Unregistered lycanthropes was a serious offence. It was not like he could put an ad in the newspaper. He had left his fate in the hands of the apothecary, and had received a simple note in response the day before: Found someone, come at 5pm.
Like an ugly gargoyle guarding the entrance, a hag stood on the front step of the apothecary. The smell of death and rats lingered about her. Some months Draco swore he could see the retched fumes floating about her. He covered his nose and pushed his way past.
The apothecary was tiny, with two small rows of ingredients on display. All proper business was handled in the back room, not that Draco had ever been invited behind the counter. Mr. Fibbs knew what Draco was. He wrinkled his nose the minute Draco entered. Without a word, Fibbs slipped a scrap of parchment onto the counter, and was careful to move his hand away before Draco approached. Draco gritted his teeth, grabbed the paper and, without looking at it, he turned to leave. He was at the door when he heard Fibbs' warning.
It was barely a whisper, but it carried across the short distance clearly. "I don't know him," the old man grunted. "I don't stand by him, you understand. Trust him if you like, there's no one else willin' to make the stuff after what happened to Willy."
It was the first time Fibbs had spoken to Draco in the ten years he'd frequented the shop. Draco thought he might as well have kept his mouth shut tonight, too. Draco was out of options. Once he was out the door and past the stinking hag, Draco looked at the paper.
Alley behind Towes and Tatters
Draco raced the few blocks to Towes and Tatters and paused to catch his breath at the mouth of the alley. He took a second to watch the long shadows of the building fading into darkness. A chill ran down his spine. Twilight was turning to evening with every breath.
"Cutting it close, aren't you?" The voice spoke from the depth of the alley, gruff and broken.
Draco took a few steps closer and his stomach rolled at the putrid smell, fermenting fruit and human waste. His foot splashed in a puddle of Merlin knew what. "Do you have it? I'm afraid you won't live long enough to enjoy the chit-chat if you don't hand it over to me in the next ten seconds." Draco was desperate, not helpless.
The phial caught the light of a nearby lamp and Draco ached with relief. He pulled a bag from his cloak and jingled it. He tossed it at the man's feet and reached for the vial the instant the bag hit the ground. He felt it secure in his fist, and he turned and Apparated away.
He rarely performed any complex magic on the days immediately before or after the full moon. The risk was always too high. His energy level and his control were erratic. He felt the pull of the Manor wards on him, deciding to open up or spit him out. It all occurred in a split second but Draco could feel the indecision as if the wards no longer recognised him as the master of the house in that moment.
Then his bedroom appeared around him, white walls and dark stained wood. He leaned against a dresser and panted from the exertion. His robe clung to his body, damp with a cold sweat. With the back of his hand, he brushed away the hair sticking to his forehead. The moment he felt calm enough, he popped the cork with his teeth and spit it onto his Persian rug.
He raised the vial and dipped the potion at his lips. His throat contracted as the disgusting concoction hit his tongue, thick and sludgy and bitter, but years of practice and necessity allowed him relax and swallow.
The relief was tangible, a weight lifted from his chest. He had done it; survived another month. Much too close this time, but he'd plan better next time. He would be better prepared from now on, no matter how many Galleons it took.
He collapsed to the floor, tugging at his tie and toeing off his shoes, while he waited for the potion's familiar calming effect: the warmth came first, and then a floating carefree tingle, like a few shots of Firewhisky heating his belly and working its way through his system until even his fingernails started to feel great.
The warmth didn't come. A rolling nausea hit him.
Draco waited with increasing dread as the seconds ticked on. There was something wrong. Something very wrong. A burning itch began behind his eyes, a thundering in his ears. He turned to look out the window and found the pale grey hue of twilight had succumbed to a dark indigo. The moon would rise all too soon. Draco scrambled for the door.
He had to warn his mother. He had to get down to the dungeons. Lock himself in. His hand knocked against the door handle, but he couldn't grasp it. Already he was losing control; his fingers were cramped and useless. Nothing was right. It was too soon, he should have another half hour at least. Something was impossibly wrong. He fumbled for the handle again and lost his balance entirely.
There was no time.
From the floor, he reached, scratching at the door. It was too late. He screamed as pain tore through him, the feel of a thousand shards of glass ripping through his skin as it stretched and morphed. The burning in his lungs devoured his screams. It was too late.
A feeble whimper slipped past Draco's lips. Mornings after a transformation were always like this, his body revolting against the unnatural abuse it had taken. The simple act of existing was unbearable. He often did not rise from the floor of his room until noon, and then it was only to crawl to his bed until he was summoned to dinner.
Something was different and it tugged at his consciousness. The stench of blood jarred him awake.
Draco's eyes fluttered open. He tried to focus on the almost indiscernible details around him in the pre-dawn light. Without raising his head, he knew the furniture was not that of a bed chamber. He could make out a claw-footed chair not far from him. The wooden talons sank into the soft carpet of his mother's sitting room.
He stared at the smear of red marring the mauve plush. Cold sweat broke out on the nape of his neck, and the tingling spasm of nausea teased at the back of his throat. An arm's length from him, chunks of matted blond hair were sticking to the congealing blood. The hair was too long to be his.
He sat up and vomited. Then he collapsed into exhaustion before he could look about the room for a mauled body.
Draco first registered the brightness behind his eyelids and then the smell of dried flowers, pungent and cloying, and beneath that, the antiseptic, sterile scent that was distinctly St Mungo's. Someone moved about the room. He could feel the faint change in the air, the scent twirling about him, and he could hear the shuffling of rubber soled shoes that sounded like the practiced movements of a mediwitch.
If he was a patient, then they knew. His life was over. The world he had built had already crumbled under the weight of his secret splattered on the front pages. All the dirty, filthy details for each adversary to lap up and proclaim how right they had been. Emotions caught so thick in his throat, he almost choked.
And then Draco remembered the carpet and the blood.
In panic, he bolted upright. His eyes snapped open as sharp pain ripped through his left shoulder and knee. He struggled as the movement was halted by bindings that cut into both wrists. A loud growl rumbled deep in his chest as his body burned with the pain of being jarred about. He twisted in rage, losing all control.
The mediwitch's shouts were drowned by the sounds of an alarm.
His ears ached and his eyes watered at the deafening, high-pitched squeal. The room filled with Healers and Aurors, an odd mix of lime green and red robes pouring into the room. They shouted at him and at each other; Draco heard nothing over the alarm and the blood thundering in his ears. He raged against the bindings. He needed to see his mother. He needed to find her, know if she was alive and if she was, to beg for forgiveness.
An Auror approached the bed. Draco bared his teeth and snapped at him. The Auror shook his head, speaking in words that were impossible to hear. Draco thrashed again, wondering if he was strong enough to rip his own hand off to get free. He felt the tear of his wrist dislocating.
The Auror raised his wand, his eyes filled with horror and disgust, and Draco's world faded to black.
There was no mediwitch, no sickly-sweet smell, no shuffling of feet when Draco gained consciousness the next time. There was only a steady heartbeat across the room, and a pleasant woodsy smell, cedar and rosemary.
Draco slowly inhaled and exhaled and allowed the breath to calm him. When he opened his eyes he would still be at St Mungo's, bound to a bed, possibly ready to be shipped off to Azkaban for murder -- dear Merlin -- but he would find out nothing, especially not the status of his mother, if he panicked again.
His head ached from the Stunner. The pain in his shoulder and knee was mildly less excruciating. He assumed he was partially tranquilised. He'd never felt half so good the day after a transformation.
"I know you’re awake."
Draco turned his head towards the voice and cracked one eye open. His tentative calm threatened to desert him. "Get out." He shut his eyes again and focused on his breathing.
"I can't do that, I'm afraid. I'm your only friend at the moment, Malfoy."
"Get out." The tranquiliser must have been potent. He felt his temper climb, clawing its way to the surface but the result was muted. A low growl of a caged animal, rumbling a futile warning, echoed in the small room. Of all people for them to send him, why Potter?
Potter stepped forward.
Draco's nostrils flared as the scent of Potter intensified. He looked up and found Potter standing over him.
In Potter's hand was a familiar glass phial, cork-less and, Draco knew, quite empty. Potter held the thin neck between his thumb and index finder and waved it before Draco's face.
Potter had been to his home, had seen the ripped clothing, the damaged furniture -- the blood. Draco flinched.
"Do you know what I'm holding, Malfoy?'
"Yes." His voice was raw, his throat aching from fighting back the emotion that simmered below the surface. Potter knew he was a werewolf. The entire Prophet reading world did, too. It made no difference, not really. There was nothing left for him anyway: he would be banned from any seat of authority, no money could buy him a place at the tables he once sat. He pulled at the bindings, focusing on the pain in his wrist and not the stinging of his eyes.
"I don't think you do."
"Fuck you and your riddles, Potter." Draco tried to turn his back to him, but the leather fastening meant he could only move his head.
"What I mean is: this phial did not contain Wolfsbane Potion -- which I assume you thought it did. I had the remnants of the bottle tested and in fact, it was some type of stimulant. We won't know more until we have further results."
"What?" Draco's mind flittered back to the alley, the gleam of light reflecting on the opaque vial. It had promised another month's reprieve, and he'd been desperate. He hadn't even smelt it first, not even held it up to the light to be sure.
Potter's voice softened, and Draco turned back to face him. "The preliminary tests show traces of Guarana Seed powder and Saw Palmetto which we think was meant to enhance your body's reaction to the transformation. It was likely intended to trigger the transformation early, maybe prolong it. It's possible that it was meant to block your return to human form."
The words were starting to buzz in Draco's ears as the implication became clear.
"At the very least, we know you were sold a potion that in no way was intended to allow you control over your mind during the full moon. What we don't know is: what the potion did to you, and whether it is still affecting you, or if you, in particular, were the target. Maybe the potion supplier simply wanted to reveal the identity of a werewolf and by luck landed a very high profile one."
Draco's lungs seemed to collapse as a burning weight pressed down on his chest. He struggled to breathe. Someone had done this to him on purpose. Maybe not to him personally, but whether a target by name or by species, it mattered little. The result was the same.
"I'm sorry." Potter leaned in. Draco could smell the tea on his breath and taste the pity in his voice.
"And my mother?"
"No one has told you?" Potter frowned.
Draco stared back at him.
"She -- she's here. St Mungo's. I -- I don't know all the details but I will find out. Her lungs were badly damaged when…"
When I mauled her, Draco's mind provided.
"She was placed in a healing stasis and hasn't been able to pull herself out of it. That's… that's all I know."
Draco breath hitched, and he managed to say, "I'd like you to go now."
Potter opened his mouth and stopped. He nodded and turned. The door swung closed behind him without a sound.
The part of his brain that was still capable of rational thought knew that he should be grateful. Instead he was numb. He lay staring at the ceiling. Tears slid silently down to his temples and tickled his ears. He cursed the indignity that his cuffed arms prevented him from the simple act of wiping his running nose.
Hours later a mediwitch came in and without a word, she Scourgified his wet face and poured a potion down his throat. Draco let her manoeuvre him about, deadened to the humiliation and lost in the dozens of question in his head.
The pain in his shoulder, which had begun to ache, once again dissipated. The potion pumped through his veins, dulling the harsh edges of the world around him.
The mediwitch waved her wand at him and a blue haze appeared over his left knee. She waved it again and the haze turned yellow and disappeared. She repeated the process on his shoulder.
Her hand shook as she reached to touch his eyelid and flicked the light of her wand in his eyes. Draco could smell the fear -- it was rich and tangy like cinnamon and mulled wine. It rose above the powdery flower scent that had polluted the room on her arrival. She was terrified to touch him.
Draco salivated at the scent, drawn to it like a starving man, but the Tranquilising Potion muddled his thoughts. His limbs felt leaden. Just as he thought he might drift off to sleep, the woman uncuffed him and led him to the toilet. He was conscious enough to perform the perfunctory actions without help and too drugged to be thankful for that small dignity.
The figure looms over his bed. Draco can feel the rush of heat from each stinking breath as it pushes down on him.
His instinct screams to run, but he is frozen and there's nowhere to go. His last safe place is his bedchamber. If Greyback has broken his wards -- or more likely, another Death Eater dismantled them -- then there is truly nowhere to run. The Manor is his prison until September.
There is a glint in the hungry yellow eyes above him that says his thoughts are laid bare. "What's wrong, little puppy? I told you I would see you tonight. The Dark Lord promised me."
Draco presses himself further into the mattress, trembling and drenched in sweat. His eyes never leave Greyback. If he looks away, if he even blinks, the monster will surely strike. "Please," he begs.
Greyback's tongue runs the length of his pointed teeth before he asks, "What is it, pretty one? What are you most afraid of?"
It's a trick question. Draco is petrified, but not stupid. He knows that any answer will be used against him. When Greyback takes a step closer, he can't stop the words from tumbling out. "Don't… Don’t kill me."
Greyback's laughter turns to a howl as the moon rises.
Draco discovers that night, and in so many ones that follow, that there are worse things than death.
Draco woke from a fitful sleep to the scent of cedar again, like waking on a dry forest floor on a summer's morning. It was so unlike the terror of his dream, a smell so different than the Manor and that time, that he wanted to lean into it somehow, draw near. It was musky as well, like Potter had just rolled out of bed and Apparated to Draco's bedside. Draco could feel the heat from the arms leaning on the bed rails and hear the ticking of a watch that wasn't his.
"Why are you back?"
"What have they told you?" The words were heavy, as though it was exhausting, painful to have to utter them.
Draco had yet to open his eyes. When he would, he knew what he would see. Above his hospital bed there was a crack in the ceiling crossing nearly half the length, branching out in spindly paths every few centimeters. The paint was darkened with water stains.
It was either look at that, or Potter. He kept his eyes closed.
"Have your own injuries been explained to you, at least?"
Draco hadn't given much thought to his own injuries. His shoulder, obviously. There was no mistaking that. He had a vague memory of pain slicing through his knee each time he walked to the toilet. The potions blurred the rest.
Potter sighed and stood. A metal clack made Draco look over. Potter had removed his medical chart from the hook at the foot of his bed.
He rhymed off the list as he flipped through the pages. "You have a broken collar bone (left side), torn ligaments in your knee (also left). Your wrist was dislocated -- though that appears to have happened since your arrival." Potter raised an eyebrow at that. "You also are on enough Calming Drafts and pain potions to knock out a Hippogriff."
"That would explain how I am finding your presence tolerable."
Potter snorted and replaced the chart. "You are mostly healed, preternatural recovery rate and all that. You also haven't been fed for three days apart from supplementary potions. I'll see what I can do about that."
"And what? Ask them to uncuff me? Spoon-feed me? I thought that mediwitch was going to pass out with fear when she led me to the loo. And that was when I was so drugged I was drooling on myself."
Potter didn't respond. He sat by the bed again, leaning his arms on the bar, almost touching Draco's cuff. It was a subtle message, but Draco understood. Potter was not afraid of him.
For what it was worth, Draco met Potter's gaze for the first time.
There was a darkness about Potter's eyes, and crows feet that spoke of a hard life before thirty and not just a few days without much sleep. Draco wondered just how bad he must look and was grateful for the lack of mirrors in the room. "What are you doing here, Potter?" Draco could guess. He always made sure to be well aware of anyone at the Ministry relevant to his situation and Harry Potter working in Werewolf Support Services could not be missed.
Potter leaned back so that his chair balanced on two legs. His lips thinned to a tight line. "I'm here as your representation. I'm sure you know I work for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Specifically, Werewolf Support Services. As per amendment 351-c of the Magical Creatures Rights Act: as an Unregistered lycanthrope you are permitted a witch or wizard to act and speak for you, should you be unwilling or unable to act or speak on your own behalf. I have been assigned to you."
Draco's stomach lurched. He'd done his research through the years and watched passively as others with tainted blood were branded and even stripped of their wands, without having committed a single crime. He was grateful for the lack of food in his system at that moment. His instinct was to wrap himself up with a cloak of bravado, screaming for Potter to get out; self preservation combined with those Calming Drafts kept him silent.
"The issue is not that you can't defend yourself -- make your own arguments, I mean -- the evidence is clear that you were attempting to take Wolfsbane. But the current climate--" Potter raked his fingers through his hair and let out a ragged breath. "--and with you being unregistered, hiding this... It feeds into their fears of a return of The Pack. The public are like an angry mob right now. All torches and pitch-forks. And the bloody Prophet is fuelling tempers. The world is a dangerous place for you at the moment."
Potter stood and paced the room. Draco wanted to shout at him to sit down.
"I'm sorry, Draco. They want you euthanised."
"Well, maybe they're right." The words were out of Draco's mouth before he could stop them. He hadn't felt this monstrous since the first weeks after Greyback's attack. The knowledge that he'd nearly killed his own mother made his stomach heave.
"What? That's the drugs talking."
Draco stared at the ceiling, his lips pinched tight.
"I'm going to see if I can get you some food and lower your potions. Just… don't do anything stupid while I'm gone."
Draco woke unexpectedly. He had become used to the routine of the last few days every few hours his shoulder would begin to ache as the drugs wore off and on cue the twitchy mediwitch would come in, check him over, pour more potions down his throat, wait for them to take effect and drag him to the loo.
This time though, his senses were still blurred with the concoction from the morning when a witch entered in the pale pink robes of a hospital volunteer. Her face was taut and severe and when she looked at Draco, her eyes burned with hatred.
She pulled her wand and he flinched.
Instantly, his bed shook and he felt the head of the bed begin to rise, forcing him into a sitting position. The sharp movement jarred his shoulder and wrist. He bit his lip to keep from making a sound. He would not give her the pleasure to see that he was in pain.
From out of her robe, she pulled a stack of newspapers and then tossed them at him. A hiss escaped as they landed on his knee. She smirked and moved to the window. With a swish of her wand, she slid the pane upwards.
Sound filled the room: a chaotic chanting of dozens of voices. People were shouting and calling for justice, their cries drifting up from the street.
"They will get their justice, werewolf." She spat on his cheek and left.
The spittle itched as it cooled.
There was a hoot from the crowd below and the chanting grew louder. They had to have received word that he could hear them.
His attention was drawn to the newspapers. With the bed raised to sitting position he couldn’t help but stare at the razor-sharp words. Far worse than the gang of mums defending their virgin daughters from a fierce beast, the newspapers were attacking him personally. The people he had once worked with, was once respected by, would read these.
Worst of all, they contained what he feared and craved the most -- more details on his mother's condition. He cursed Potter for not coming back to tell him more of her, leaving him to glean what he could form the Prophet's half truths. Draco read all that he could. His bound hands were of no use, but he could shift his legs a bit and move the papers enough to catch most of the headlines and bits of the articles.
Malfoy Heir's Deadly Secret
Sources tell us Draco Malfoy may be one of the last surviving members of The Pack ... Narcissa Malfoy near death… practically torn apart… unable to be taken out of her stasis… scars marring her once delicate features.
Werewolf attacks in Wiltshire Highest in Country
Has Draco Malfoy been rampaging through the neighbouring towns of Malfoy Manor for the last ten years? The Prophet has discovered 'livestock attacks' at an all time high during full moons in that area of the country.
Potter Still Guilt Ridden
Is Harry Potter still guilt-ridden over the death of his mentor, Remus Lupin? He has devoted his life to defending werewolves, and has now volunteered to represent a known Death Eater.
Malfoy to be Euthanised, Umbridge tells Brown
Doloris Umbridge spoke today to Violet Brown, the founder of National Cleansing, who put forth the petition to euthanize all known werewolves. During a Floo-call Umbridge assured Brown, "We simply need to cut through some red tape. There is only one way to deal with these kinds of animals."
… Lavender Brown, daughter of Violet Brown and former class-mate of Malfoy, committed suicide in the years after the war, suffering from the psychological effects of a werewolf mauling during the Battle of Hogwarts.
Shocked and Horrified, says St Mungo's Board Member
"Horrified. Yes. And shocked," said Healer Prue -- Head of the Janus Thickey Ward. "Draco was always so… normal. We should have known. Mandatory blood testing will make us all feel better. We have a right to know if someone we are sitting beside in a meeting has been infected. Then they can all be dealt with appropriately."
The hollering outside his window had settled by the time Potter arrived. Several of the papers scattered the floor from when Draco had kicked his legs and sent them flying.
Just as well; he'd read them too many times.
Potter stopped a few steps in. His boot covered a grinning picture of Draco from last year's Ministry ball. He'd been shaking hands with the Minister, receiving thanks for a donation to the Hogwarts library. His mother had congratulated him on that particular media triumph.
Potter set down the tray he was carrying and walked over and shut the window by hand. The pane trembled as it slammed closed. In a blink, Potter's wand was out and the papers Vanished from the floor and Draco's lap.
"They aren't all like that, you know. The Prophet prints what it wants, but some people are out there defending you. McGonagall, Shacklebolt, Hermione, even Ernie Crawford was tearing a strip off anyone calling for blood. Umbridge nearly had to resign after that interview she did with Lavender's mother. God, Malfoy. He's the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, not a bad bloke to have in your corner."
When Draco refused to look up, Potter sighed and picked up the tray from the side table. "It’s not much, but it's food." Potter set the tray to hover over Draco's lap.
Draco grimaced that Potter didn't need to help him to sitting.
The soup smelled of tangy beef and spices and the bread was fresh and homemade. His stomach ached and for the first time in days, he was ravenous. Draco's fist tightened as he stared at his cuffs. He wouldn't ask.
Potter didn't hesitate; the cuffs popped open.
Draco rubbed his wrists for only a second, relishing the feel of freedom. His mouth watered as he reached for his meal. He looked up to see Potter smiling like he was pleased with himself. Draco changed his mind and took a delicate sip from his spoon rather than gripping the bowl with both hands and tipping it to his mouth.
Potter chattered while Draco ate. "I had a meeting this morning with the Wizengamot."
Draco wanted to sneer about the privileges of being The Boy Who Lived, but instead he mouthed a larger than polite piece of bread.
"The Werewolf Capture Unit has agreed to allow me to take you out of here. You are almost healed and I don't think it's safe. The person who delivered those papers could have done something far worse." Potter sat down beside the bed and lowered his tone to a whisper. "You will be released tomorrow into my custody."
"What?" The full spoon hovered before his lips, forgotten.
"There is no other way. The only way they'll allow it is for me to claim responsibility for you. God, Malfoy. These new laws… you aren't even a wizarding citizen any longer. They have granted me permission to take you to my home, inside my wards. You will be safe there."
"Safe. Right." Draco set the spoon back into the soup, uneaten. The skin on the back of his neck prickled in a cold sweat. "Why not the Manor?"
Potter refused to meet his eye and the bile rose in Draco's throat. After a deep breath, Potter explained, "As a werewolf, your claim on the Manor has been dissolved. It is now officially your mother's residence only. And she is unable to grant you permission to enter it at the moment."
"Right." Draco refused to ask what would happen if his mother didn’t wake from stasis. The Manor, his home, had been stripped away, ripped from him by those who had deemed him unfit, unworthy to enter it. For ten years he had been living in fear of this moment. The Manor would be handed over to the Ministry and auctioned off to the highest bidder while Draco stood homeless, penniless and unemployable.
His only solace was that his father had been murdered before the situation had become so shameful. A fire began in his chest, burning hot and strong. It worked its way into his lungs until it was hard to breath. His vision blurred at the rage pounding in his head. His arms flew up and knocked over his tray and his food. Hot broth splattered red brown on the peeling paint of the far wall. The heavy bowl cracked on impact, then slid to the floor with a thunk.
Potter jumped out of his chair to dodge the spray. "Fuck, Malfoy!" With a blur of Potter's wand, Draco's hands were pinned to the rail and the binding slid around his wrist.
He snarled and bared his teeth to Potter, twisting in his bindings. His wrist gave a flare of pain in protest.
Potter stood above him, wand steady, pointing it between Draco's eyes. He spoke through clenched teeth. "Look, I know you are dealing with a lot of shit. And I haven't slept in too long, trying to make all this happen."
"Fuck you," Draco growled.
"I'm going to leave now." Potter took a deep breath and lowered his wand. "I'll be back in the morning to get you. But I swear to God, Malfoy, if you don't figure out how to keep yourself under control in my house, you will find yourself in a pair of manacles in my basement until you do."
Potter turned to stare at the food-covered wall. "You'd better hope they give you a food supplement tonight, or you will be good and hungry by the time I pick you up."
He turned and stalked out.
The room still smelled of the peppery broth -- even more so now than before. Draco's fury crumbled and his empty stomach cramped in protest.
Four men in sliver robes stood guard for his release: the Werewolf Capture Unit. Idly, Draco wondered just how many strings Potter had to pull to manage this arrangement.
Potter stood directly behind him, his hand hovering by Draco's lower back, but not touching. Draco could feel the heat of it through his threadbare St Mungo's pyjamas.
The door swung open and an Auror entered. Draco shivered as a draft from the hallway swept over him. He'd dropped half a stone at best guess in the last week. If his hands weren't cuffed behind his back he'd be clutching at his ill-fitting pyjama bottoms to ensure they stayed up.
It would serve the WCU right if they received an eyeful of werewolf arse for their efforts.
The newly arrived Auror held up a plastic cup to Potter -- the kind given to patients for urine samples. "Mr Potter, this will transport you and … your charge directly into your wards. From that point on, he is your responsibility." He nodded to a burly man standing to Draco's left. "Harold?"
Harold stepped forward and pointed his wand at Draco's ankles. The amount of hair on his arm was repulsive. Draco sniffed to see if he could smell any wolf on him. You never knew.
Draco cried out and collapsed to the floor as a ring of fire erupted around his left ankle. Curled in pain, he could hear Potter shouting, but couldn't make out the words. The air filled with the scent of burning flesh. As the pain subsided, Draco used his foot to lift the hem of his pyjamas. He already knew what he would find; it wasn't the first time he'd been branded. There, above his bare feet, were six lines burned into his skin, interwoven about his ankle in a Celtic braid.
Draco heard the shouting around him, only now registering the words.
"… or I will eviscerate you before your friends can blink," Potter finished shouting. His wand was out and trained on Harold, who smartly had his hairy arms in the air.
Another sliver-robed wizard moved to stand in front of Harold. He spoke slow and soft, with only a hint of sarcasm. "Relax, Mr Potter. You agreed to take responsibility for him while he was under your care. This binds the creature to your wards, a disincentive if he gets tempted by the neighbour's sheep."
Potter's face glowered with indignation, his rage making the circle of armed men appear to shrink.
The pain on Draco's skin lessened. "It's fine, Potter. Let's just get out of here."
Potter took a moment, clenching and unclenching his fists until he had settled enough to nod to Draco. "Fine. Fuck. Fine. I didn't know."
He accepted Potter's hand on his elbow, helping him stand while still cuffed. "I realise that."
With a weary eye on Potter, Harold released Draco's cuffs, and the other four from his unit raised their wands.
Potter held up the cup and Draco touched his fingers to the rim. He felt the sharp twist at his navel and braced himself. The next instant he landed face first into Potter's shoulder. Twin gasps escaped as the impact of the landing forced the air from their lungs. He opened his eyes and the room spun in a blur of colour.
Draco took a deep breath to calm the Portkey nausea. Potter had showered; fresh citrus nearly masked the natural woodsy scent. Draco buried his nose deeper, trying to find it again. Beneath him, Potter shuddered and a thin film of sweat moistened the skin, and there it was, cedar, bursting past the soapy clean non-smell. Draco whimpered and he had to pull away to fight the inexplicable urge to lick Potter, collarbone to earlobe.
Draco scrambled to his feet, righting his bottoms that had slipped in the confusion. He looked up to see Potter, red faced, and staring at the spot below Draco's waist band, where a thatch of hair had been visible seconds before.
"I'm sorry. Um, about that landing." Potter's face reddened further and he scratched the back of his neck.
"Potter, if you apologise one more time for things that you have no control over, I will hex your balls off."
"You have no wand." Potter waited a beat before adding, "Sorry," with a smirk.
"Arse," Draco sneered, but the tension was broken.
The blush of Potter's cheeks dissipated and his brow furrowed. "We should see if your ankle needs something."
"Don’t worry about it." Draco waved it off, though it burned and itched when he let himself think on it.
"Fine. I'll show you the house and then I'll see about getting us some lunch."
Potter lived in an old farmhouse, all hardwood floors with high ceilings and exposed rafters. Everything from the lights to the faucets was Muggle. Draco didn't bother to ask why, but acknowledged that it made his wandless status easier to handle.
Draco opted for a bath first then rummaged through the clothes Potter had laid out for something that didn't look handmade by a Weasley. He picked up a black jumper, lifted it to his nose and then slipped it on. Beside the bed was a jar of healing salve. Draco rolled his eyes and untwisted the cap. A few minutes later, ankle healed, he found Potter in the kitchen, stirring a pot.
Potter looked up to see Draco enter and his eyes widened. Waving the dripping spoon at him, Potter shook his head. "Of course you had to pick my favourite jumper."
Draco shrugged. "It fit." It was a lie -- the shoulders drooped and the collar hung low on Draco's slighter frame -- but Potter didn't call him on it.
He raised a doubting eyebrow and turned back to the pot. "You should have soup, I think. I'm not sure your stomach will know what to do with solid food."
The soup was excellent and they enjoyed it accompanied with well-buttered bread and in silence. Draco helped himself to a second bowl as the Floo chimed.
"Oi, Harry. Can I come through?" A ginger-haired -- not Ron -- Weasley shouted through the flames.
Potter shot Draco a look. "You will be polite."
He waved his wand and George Weasley tumbled through.
"Malfoy," Weasley greeted him without an iota of surprise.
"Weasley." Draco nodded stiffly and returned to his dinner. He'd been to enough Ministry functions, and suffered enough red-headed bubblings to build a tolerance that his father had never possessed.
"Right. Er, Harry … can I … talk to you?"
Draco stared at his spoon and could only imagine the inane head gestures that went with that inquiry.
"My office," was all Potter replied, and two sets of footsteps travelled down the hallway. Draco shoved two more spoonfuls in before he was up and out of his seat. He tiptoed soundlessly to the office door.
The Silencing Charm -- and who wouldn't have one up in their office at all times? -- was shoddy. Draco closed his eyes and focused. On the nights before the full moon sometimes it was like this -- he could hear the whisk of the house-elves' feather dusters from three floors up.
Weasley was speaking and pacing the room by the random squeak of the floor boards. "…it is meant to do. I need more tests, with Malfoy's cooperation. It's the only way to find out how his body is reacting to it. I've been through Remus's notes, Harry. He mentions this shit."
"I know, it's insane. Whoever gave this stuff to Malfoy had to have known what they were doing. This isn’t a random mixture. It’s specifically designed to enhance the wolf side of his physiology throughout the month."
"That explains… some things."
"Harry, be careful. Look, I want to talk to the Aurors about this. At least Shacklebolt. According to Remus's journal, Fenrir Greyback used a similar mixture to increase his strength and viciousness in between the full moons. His pack would call it Greyback's Special recipe. Greyback believed that one month he might not turn back."
Draco backed away from the door. His heart thudding in his chest, he raced up the stairs, not caring that the pounding on the floorboards would give him away. His thoughts were scattered and burning with hate, hate of Greyback and all he had done, hate of lycanthropy, hate of himself and the memories that haunted him to this day -- the begging and the tears as Greyback ravaged him.
He stood a moment and let the hate consume him. He stumbled around his bedroom, entirely disoriented, his mind racing too fast to form logical thought. He caught sight of himself in the mirror out of the corner of his eye. The reflection showed a pale, hollow face, and sunken blood-shot eyes that were filled with fear and fury. That feral expression belonged to someone else.
Draco didn't hear Potter enter the room. The smashing of the chair into the mirror, the tinkling of the shards raining onto the floor was distraction enough to miss the door opening.
He turned to see Potter behind him, eyes wide and wand ready, and paused just long enough to show he was aware of his audience. Then he reached for a lamp and hurled it.
It smashed against the wall to Potter's left. Potter didn't flinch. When Draco grabbed the second lamp, Potter didn't hesitate.
Draco growled as the magical bonds pulled him backwards, pinning him spread eagle against the far wall. His head hit hard and his teeth rattled with the impact.
Potter sat crouched, head in his hands, for a long while. Draco wondered if Potter was crying or gathering the self-control not to kill him.
When Potter looked up, his eyes were clear and bright with anger. "I liked that lamp," he said, standing and pacing the room. Glass ground into the hardwood floor beneath his sneakers. "This is my fucking home, Malfoy. You have been here for less than twelve hours. What here has offended you so badly that you are intent on destroying everything?"
Draco didn't mean to, and tried to stop himself but it was too late. Potter caught his glance to the shattered mirror. Judging by the knowing look and sudden silence, he understood too well.
"Let me down."
"No. I don't think so. We need to have a little talk. I had hoped we could go through this tomorrow after we'd both had a good night's sleep, but you don't waste any time making a nuisance of yourself." Potter stood before him and raised his index finger. "First rule: you don't break my shit. I don't care how much you hate yourself or the world. You don't take it out on my furniture. I have ten acres here. Go run it off. Chase rabbits, if you have to."
Draco scowled, but any retort that entered his head was self-deprecating. He remained silent and Potter raised a second finger.
"Second rule: You don't eavesdrop on private conversations. I invited you into my home; respect my privacy." Potter barely paused before extending his thumb to make three. "Third rule: people will visit here. You will act civil and if you think you cannot, go walk it off."
"So, I'm to be put outside when I've been a bad dog. Merlin, Potter if you want a pet, hand me over to Umbridge right now."
"Listen, Malfoy, not everything is about you. There's more at stake here than your life. If you want to screw yourself over by losing control and getting sent to Azkaban, then I wouldn't care, but a precedent is about to set here. If you are jailed or euthanised then everything that I've worked for trying to salvage a mediocre living for lycanthropes is for naught. Someone wanted you out of control, and organisations like National Cleansing are using it to get what they’ve wanted for years. I can't let that happen."
Draco let the words sink in. There was so much not being said. It was all there, hidden beneath the surface: Potter's motivation. Draco inhaled deeply and there it was, faint but unmistakable, now that he thought to look for it. "Who is he?" Draco sniffed again. "I can smell him on you." The thought turned the soup in his stomach rancid.
Potter's sharp intake of breath and step backwards was as good as an admission.
"Who. Is. He?" Draco growled. "A school friend? An old lover?" He gritted his teeth and waited for Potter to find his voice.
"It's my godson, Teddy Lupin, who you smell. He was --" Potter looked away and caught his breath. "He was five years old when one of The Pack broke through the wards of his grandmother's house and came for him, wanted to raise him. Some sort of justice for Remus's betrayal. He was bit, but Andromeda managed to save him from being taken. We have been hiding it since. George makes him Wolfsbane each month, and I've been working with Werewolf Support Services under the guise of mourning Teddy's father."
"And that's what's so important about me." A slow burning sparked inside his chest, an ache that felt like jealousy and self-pity. "How I affect Teddy Lupin."
Potter stared at the floor, his long lashes hiding any guilt in his eyes. "He's supposed to be off to Hogwarts next year and this… God, things have to change or they might not even let him in."
Right. Ten years old. Draco huffed out a curt breath. He would not be envious of a child. "Come here." Draco tilted his head to motion Potter forwards. "Give me your hand."
Potter's eyes narrowed, but raised his hand, palm up to Draco.
Draco leaned forward but the binding held tight. "Closer." His voice was raspy, low and dirty, strange on his tongue.
Potter's eyes flashed as he heard it, and he stepped forward as though compelled. He moved his hand so that it was a hair's breadth from Draco's nose. Draco inhaled: hand soap from the kitchen sink, cedar and rosemary and underneath that, a wolf.
Draco pressed his nose forward, nuzzling the webbing between Potter's fingers, scraping against the rough calluses. He rubbed his cheeks up and down the palm and each finger in turn. Potter let him.
The need for more was impossible to ignore. It pulsed through his body with the frantic beat of his heart. He opened his mouth and flat-tongued, he licked Potter's hand -- heel of the palm to tip of the fingers.
Potter gasped, pulled his hand away and stared at it a moment before looking back at Draco. His eyes flickered over Draco's face as if an answer might be written there.
Draco could smell the musky scent of arousal pouring off him.
"Did you just… mark me?"
Draco's cheeks burned. But the wolf's need had been undeniable and now the next time Potter saw Teddy, Teddy would know. Would understand.
Potter's neck flushed, red creeping from his collar and spreading upwards.
Draco thought he might leave him there to hang for the evening as punishment, or something else. Instead, Potter waved his wand to release Draco and stumbled out the door before Draco's feet hit the floor.
He stands above the bed, every inch of his body alive with hunger and need. He shakes in anticipation, waiting for the moment to come.
Draco laughs in delight. Such a pretty word from those trembling lips.
"Please, don't… kill me." The proud green eyes are wet with tears, wide in panic.
He will cherish this moment for the rest of his miserable days. Harry Potter paralysed with fear, helpless and weak and begging for the wrong thing.
On cue, the moon slips from behind a cloud and silver light pours through the window. Draco throws his head back and howls as his body transforms.
Potter screams and screams…
Draco's heavy footfalls pounded into the frozen earth. Dawn was breaking and a thick frost coated the forest floor. He'd been running since he woke hours before. His throat still felt raw from the scream, the images as fresh in his mind as they had been in his sweat soaked sheets.
He ran on. The wards tingled as he approached the boundary. Another step closer and a slice of pain tore across his ankle and he tumbled to the grass. Disincentive indeed.
A shiver travelled up his spine as the cool air slipped past his light cloak and found his overheated body.
He watched his breath, puffing from him in clouds. He couldn't remember when it had turned cold -- sometime in the last few weeks. His world was separated in two: Before and After. Before… he refused to think on it, snapping closed the door to the thoughts and memories of quiet breakfasts with his mother and firm, gripping handshakes from the pillars of wizarding society.
He rose, patted away the dusting of frost that sparkled on his knees. He tested his ankle and found it undamaged. A warning, then. With a grunt he began the circuit again, throwing himself into the mindless exertion.
Draco stumbled into the house a few hours later. He collapsed at the kitchen table where several plates sat under a warming charm. A note was leaning against his cup.
I will be out most of the day. George will be by today.
Listen to him (without breaking anything!!!)
It's important. HP
Draco snorted and devoured his breakfast like a starving man. Potter was more than a passable cook, and between the hospital stay and the hours of exercise, Draco had a meal or two to catch up on.
Weasley arrived late afternoon, which had given Draco time for a long shower and short nap and put him in a better mood than he had been in for days. Or perhaps Potter had slipped a Calming Draft into his morning tea.
Weasley tumbled out of the Floo with a large black bag and an unexpectedly serious look on his face.
He nodded a greeting and began rummaging through his bag, picking out various items and placing them on the table: a quill, a notebook, an empty phial. "What's Harry told you about these visits with me?"
"Not to kill you?"
Weasley sniggered. "Yeah. Snarky sense of humour still in place, I see. Besides that."
Draco shrugged. "Nothing else really. I know you're the one looking into what that potion is doing to me." He kept any reference to Greyback to himself. Potter had said not to break anything, and keeping his temper seemed like a good idea.
"Right. Okay. So yes, I've been researching the potion you were given. As you know, it was a stimulant and not in any way Wolfsbane. There was no attempt to even make it similar or use Wolfsbane as a base. They share no ingredients. The two main active agents in the stimulant were Guarana Seed powder and Saw Palmetto. They essentially spike your metabolism and intensify the more 'animalistic' parts of your behaviour."
Draco clenched his fist and concentrated on his breathing to remain calm. Weasley's tone of voice never wavered. It was simple and to the point, without delivering unwanted sympathy or turning Draco's condition into a punch line. Draco focused on the information finally being given to him.
"It's still affecting you, from what Harry's said, but I need to know the details." Weasley grabbed a notebook from the table and handed it to Draco. "Make a note of any physiological stuff that is going on, all right? It's important. Your sight, your hearing, your sleep patterns, your bathroom habits. Whatever. If it's different from last month, I need to know."
The spine cracked pleasantly as Draco opened the notebook. The pages were crisp and thick, blank and ready for his secrets. He considered all the things he would not be laying bare and wondered idly if they would prove important.
"I'll need to be back every other day to see how your body is dealing with that fucked up mix your supplier gave you. I need to see how your blood is changing."
Weasley lifted the empty phial and Draco sighed and pushed up the sleeve of his -- Potter's -- jumper. "What's your deal, anyway? Is this just a big favour to Saint Potter?"
Weasley kept his eyes on Draco's arm, pointed his wand and whispered the incantation to begin the draw of blood to the phial. "My brother, Bill, was mauled when you let Greyback into Hogwarts. I help Harry sometimes when Werewolf Support Services can't get approval for things like research or if he finds someone who needs Wolfsbane. And I like Teddy." Weasley shrugged. "I do what I can to help."
Draco watched the phial fill with blood and said nothing.
When he'd finished, Weasley stood and re-packed his bag. He'd only been there ten minutes, no more than fifteen. It felt longer.
"I'll be back in a couple of days," he said, as if history really was just water under the bridge. "And write in the notebook. I know you don't want to, but Harry and I are spending a lot of time helping you here. You can swallow a bit of attitude and write down a few points about how far you can hear, how long you can run."
The lump that had taken up residence in Draco's throat was not inclined to move, and Draco simply nodded, tight lipped.
Weasley watched him for a moment, then nodded back, and disappeared through the Floo.
Draco sat down at the breakfast table and found his now daily note from Potter.
Teddy's coming this afternoon. If you can't handle that -- go chase rabbits. HP
Teddy. Right. Draco crumpled the note, and for the first time in a week, he pushed away his breakfast. He left to shower without upturning the table. He was almost proud of himself.
Draco spent the day in his room debating what to do. Even though his body was still pleasantly aching from the morning run, he was too restless to take his after-shower nap. The exercise had served well to moderate his temper. He and Potter hadn't argued in days. But then again the sum total of interaction with Potter included nearly silent dinners and curt updates on his mother's health (no improvements), and current state of public opinion (dismal).
He talked with Weasley more than anyone else. Weasley visited as promised every other day to draw blood and discuss symptoms. His light-hearted, matter-of-fact approach to Draco's situation was far more welcome than pity. For that, Draco was grateful that it was George Weasley and not Hermione Granger who had taken on the role of sidekick in Potter's current crusade.
He picked up the now familiar black jumper and sniffed it. It no longer smelled of Potter. Draco had worn it the entire week with the exception of his runs. He threw it into a pile of his laundry and went off to search for something new to wear. Company was coming.
Draco entered the living room and Potter's eyes narrowed. Draco blinked innocently and resisted the urge to tug at the cuffs of the navy button up he'd scavenged from the floor of Potter's closet.
Teddy's head popped up immediately. His eyes widened, and he looked impossibly young. He was ten years old, Draco reminded himself. There was no threat, just a cub. And yet his instincts screamed to assert his dominance.
He held out a hand. "Teddy."
Teddy eyed him flatly as Draco moved across the room and clasped his hand. The boy did not lower his gaze. His chin was raised and defiant. Draco squeezed until the hazel eyes began to water, and the sandy brown hair turned almost black.
Teddy snarled. It sounded almost comical coming from such a young boy. "That's not your shirt. I -- I gave that to Harry for his birthday."
The humour dissipated in a heartbeat and Draco growled, soft and deep. His lips curled under to bare his teeth as he tightened his grip.
The Stinging Hex caught him just above the wrist. He released the boy's hand with a cry. Draco looked up at Potter, only to find him already kneeling at Teddy's side, examining the red marks forming on the boy's hand.
An inexplicable hurt seized him as he watched Potter tend the bruises, tenderness apparent in every touch.
He needed to leave, immediately. The embers of his temper that he'd kept such a close watch on the last week flickered to life. One look, one word from Potter might set him ablaze. He was still human enough to know no good would come of that.
Draco bounded up the stairs two at a time, entering his room and slamming the door shut behind him. The doorframe rattled.
Draco's hands shook as he fumbled with the buttons of Potter's shirt. A run would clear his head. He could exhaust himself to the point his brain no longer functioned enough to question why he'd become territorial around Potter. He slipped the shirt off and folded it with trembling hands. He raised it to his nose out of habit, before cursing and throwing it on the bed.
He reached for the wool jumper that kept out the December chill when it slipped beneath his cloak. The door banged open. Draco did not look around. He opened a drawer to find a cotton short sleeve shirt; the wool itched.
"Teddy's gone home."
Draco grabbed the T-shirt with a shaky hand and pressed the drawer closed. He turned to the bed, the hold on his control slipping.
"What do you think you're doing?" Potter's hand gripped his shoulder and tugged him around. "Look at me when I talk to you."
Something in Draco snapped. Before Potter could blink, Draco had him backed against the wall, arms pinned above his head.
Draco's advantage was speed and height. He pressed his weight into the grip and stood close, almost nose to nose with Potter. "I am about to go for a run, like a good little puppy. I might even piss on a few of your trees."
"Don't you think you did enough pissing in my living room?" Potter's breath was coming fast, like he'd sprinted up the stairs. The warm, wet air puffed against Draco. "You owe Teddy an apology."
Draco stared for a long while then leaned in so that his lips grazed Potter's ear. "No."
Potter shifted beneath his grip but didn't fight.
"Your precious Teddy may be just a little boy, but he's a wolf. Your rules don't apply."
Draco felt a tremor run through Potter's body. The skin beneath his hands flared with heat. He bent his head until his nose found the crook of Potter's neck. There. He breathed deeply and groaned.
"Malfoy, what're you doing?" Potter croaked and squirmed away from the touch, but he couldn't go far.
Draco continued his journey up Potter's neck, teasing the damp, delicious skin with the tip of his nose until he reached the tender skin just behind Potter's earlobe. He inhaled again and Potter shuddered.
Draco's face flushed and his cock began to fill. He could take Potter here, now, hard and raw against the wall. Devour him. His mind flickered to his recurring nightmare: Potter beneath him, helpless. Cold splashed down his spine. He pushed himself away and freed Potter's hands.
Without meeting Potter's eyes, he turned back to the bed and slipped on his shirt. "I'm going out."
When Potter didn't respond, Draco looked back over his shoulder. Potter hadn't moved, not a fraction. He stared blankly, pupils blown wide, empty of fear. The crotch of his tight denims showed a thickening bulge. He was waiting. Wanting.
Draco was on him again in a blink, pinning his shoulders to the wall. He closed his mouth on Potter's neck, scraping the sensitive skin between his teeth. Potter groaned and the sound shot straight to Draco's groin. He couldn't help but close the gap between them. He pressed his length against Potter's, matching hardness to hardness.
He rolled his hips. Potter's breath caught in a strangled gasp and he couldn't resist doing it again. Again. Potter squirmed beneath his hands, moving closer and begging for more. Draco's movements grew frantic. Potter was so responsive: keening at every press of their groins, whimpering at each drag of Draco's teeth.
Potter stilled and shuddered in Draco's arms. A small gasp marked his release and the smell of come danced between them. Draco pounded his hips hard, knocking Potter hard enough to bruise. Burning to a fevered pitch, he let go with a preternatural cry.
Potter gave him enough time to recover his breath before squeezing out of his grip and darting for the door. Draco caught a mumbled apology uttered from the hallway.
The next day, Draco lay in bed, his arm flung over his eyes to block the fading sunlight. His hair, still dripping from the shower, dampened the pillow. Despite the absence of nightmares, he'd woken in the hours before dawn as usual. He'd raced outdoors, not chased by haunted dreams, but to escape the memories of Potter warm and pliant beneath him.
It was impossible to imagine Potter willing, so very willing. Draco had flushed at the flurry of confusing emotions swirling inside of him and had given in to the rhythm of the exercise, relishing the ache of his straining muscles, napping against a tree when he needed to. The sun had risen and set again before he'd been ready to return to the house.
Draco heard the creak of floorboards in the hallway -- Potter shifting his weight from leg to leg -- and then the knock.
He ignored it.
Potter didn't bother to wait. He entered, his eyes on the tray of food he carried. "You missed dinner and um, breakfast," Potter mumbled.
Draco kept his arm over his face and hoped Potter would drop off the tray and be on his way. Even hesitant and inarticulate, Potter's presence was sending a rush of heat to his groin.
"I spoke with George today. He said you didn't show up for your blood tests. He was worried."
Merlin. Weasley. Draco lifted his arm and raised himself on his elbows. "I forgot," he said with sincere regret.
"I -- I also talked to him about other stuff." Potter's cheeks bloomed with colour and he set the tray down on the dresser.
"Kissing and telling, Potter?" Draco tutted and hoped neither his blush nor his tented trousers were as obvious as they felt.
Potter sat on the edge of the bed, and his scent surpassed that of the tray of food across the room. Draco tensed, making himself stop from pinning Potter to the bed.
"We didn’t exactly kiss, Malfoy." Potter's gaze flicked to the wall he'd been held against and shifted on the bed, his hand strategically placed across his lap.
A sound escaped Draco's chest; it came out a moan, low and deep with longing. The irresistible scent of Potter's arousal made Draco's nostrils flare, greedy for more.
"We need to talk about… er …" Potter squirmed again. Draco couldn't take it any longer.
The next thing he knew, Potter was beneath him again. Draco had both Potter's wrists in an iron grip above his head. Their bodies deliciously lined up so that Draco could slide a knee between Potter's spread legs.
"Oh, God." Potter keened and his entire body arched up to meet Draco's.
Draco chuckled. "Yes, let's talk." He inhaled Potter's scent, burying his nose in Potter's hair, then neck. His head spun with need and instinct as his nose travelled Potter's body, from armpit to armpit and then to his crotch.
"God." Potter pressed his denims-covered groin to Draco's face. And Draco though he might come just from that. He traced the outline of Potter's erection with his nose and mouth.
"Wait. Please. Stop. We need to talk." Potter didn't sound all that convincing but added, "It's important."
Draco opened wide over the tip of Potter's cock and breathed hot and wet onto the cloth before closing his teeth gently against the outline.
"Fuck!" Potter shouted, shuddering from head to toe.
He could smell how close Potter was. His skin tingled from the thought of making Potter come again and he flicked his tongue against the moist cotton.
"Wait, please. God. I can't even--" Potter gripped Draco's hair leading him back up. "You need to hear this," Potter said, voice stern.
Draco shut his eyes and tried to focus.
Potter must have taken that as consent and went on. "George thinks that this, you know… us… whatever, last night could be caused by the stimulant. The ingredients … well, they increase all sensory things and mess with your metabolism. Your energy level, your appetite, your sex drive. It's all… related, I guess."
Draco barked a laugh, dark and bitter, thinking on his dreams and the knife's edge difference between fighting and fucking. "Yes. Yes. That makes so much sense. Greyback had no appreciation for personal space." Draco licked a circle around Potter's bobbing Adam's apple. "And now it seems neither do I."
The scent of Potter's arousal became tinged with fear. Draco threw his head back and his laughter bordered on hysterics.
"What's the matter, Potter? Like your wolves a little more tame?" Before Potter could answer, Draco pressed his mouth on Potter's in a bruising kiss. Their teeth clacked together as Draco devoured Potter's mouth.
Potter moaned, his body strung tight as a bow. He opened up and let Draco's tongue invade his mouth, lifting his head to deepen the kiss, nipping and sucking at Draco's lips as he pulled away.
The difference, Draco knew, between fighting and fucking lay in the willingness of the partner. Draco pressed his forehead against Potter's, trying to catch his breath. Potter squirmed beneath him, apparently not ready to slow the pace. His hips rocked against Draco's dick.
Draco lifted up so that he could get a good look at Potter, dishevelled and sweaty, lips coated with spit from their messy kiss. "No, I suppose you don't, do you, Potter?"
Draco rolled his hips and Potter gasped.
"You just handed me my excuse. A potion is making me hump your leg any chance I get. What's your excuse? Werewolf kink? Really, Potter, awfully naughty of you, considering your job."
He thrust again and Potter squeezed his eyes shut. "It's not like that."
Draco bit along Potter's neck, waiting for an explanation. None came. Potter simply repeated, "It's not like that," in a breathy moan.
Draco supposed it didn’t really matter what it was like. He thrust again and Potter arched his back and presented his neck. The wolf in him couldn't get enough of Potter and that was all that mattered at the moment. "Are we done talking?" Draco breathed into Potter's ear.
Potter nodded and entwined his fingers into Draco's hair and urged him down.
Draco slid down Potter's body until his nose was at the swell of Potter's denims. He nuzzled in again and relished the needy whimper Potter made. He tore at the button and zip, and Potter tilted his hips and shimmied the trousers and pants to his thighs. Draco's mouth watered as the scent of Potter increased ten-fold.
Draco licked flat-tongued the length of Potter's cock, lapping at the glistening head and teasing the slit. Potter thrust forward, urging him faster and Draco smirked and pinned Potter's hips to the mattress.
He shifted lower and laved Potter's balls, sucking in one and then the other, licking the perineum and further back until Potter was thrashing beneath his hands.
"Please," Potter hissed. "Malfoy. Fuck."
Draco sat up and appreciated the view. A deep blush bloomed on Potter's neck. He was completely clothed but for his pants tugged down his thighs. His purple cock stood proud and impatient from a thatch of dark hair.
Draco growled and wrapped his lips tight around the head of Potter's cock.
"Yessssss." Potter exhaled, his hands falling once again to Draco's hair.
The taste of Potter tickled along his tongue as he set a steady pace, licking and sucking and working Potter's cock, memorising every delicious sound Potter uttered.
He felt the tension building, Potter's breath coming in quick desperate pants. He sank low, his nose buried in coarse hair and sweat, the tip of Potter's cock knocking the back of his throat. And finally it pulsed, bitter salt. He pulled back gently, sucking every drop.
Draco sat back on his heels and licked his lips. He waited and watched as Potter came down from the high. When Potter reached for him, he grabbed Potter's hand and kissed his wrist. As much as he wanted Potter to touch him, he needed more.
Draco struggled to find the words. "I need to -- I want to come on you."
Potter blinked up at him for a moment and Draco flushed, suddenly realising Potter might think him disgusting. Might say no.
Instead, Potter lifted his shirt, exposing his chest and pert nipples. He bit his lip and stared back at Draco, waiting.
Draco pulled out his cock and as Potter watched, pumped himself until his own orgasm tore out of him. Hot come splashed across Potter's chest and dribbled on his flaccid cock.
It looked so right -- perfect -- Potter covered in Draco's come. Something burst in Draco, a sense of gratitude he'd never felt in a sexual encounter before. Potter looked up at him, green eyes so intense that the intimacy of the moment was choking. Draco leaned down and slowly, carefully licked Potter clean, every moment thinking, mine.
Draco woke with a naked Potter in his bed every morning after that. The floor was cold on his bare feet as he slipped from the covers and fumbled in the dark for his wool jumper and Potter's scarf.
The call to be out of doors, the excess energy, and the insatiable appetite for everything had only intensified as Weasley had predicted. Potter still spent all day elsewhere, they shared quiet dinners together with stilted conversation and generally acted as if they weren't sleeping together. They certainly never talked about it. Yet every night Potter entered Draco's room without fail.
He was just at the edge of the small grouping of trees when something caught his eye, a flash of movement. Like a Seeker diving for a Snitch, he darted for his target.
The long brown ears twitched at the subtle sound change and in a blink it was off, racing towards the trees and cover. Draco was no more than a broom's length behind, adrenaline spiking at the chase.
He closed the gap by half, nearly on top of the hare. Draco cried out in frustration as the fluffy white tail disappeared into a small hole in the gnarled branches of a bramble bush. He dove to the ground to stop himself from ending up head first into the thorn covered branches.
He lay on his back, watching dawn break, and laughing. He would not be telling Weasley about this. And certainly not Potter.
After another trip around the grounds, he made his way back to the house, anxious for the hearty meal that always lay waiting for him.
Weasley was pouring himself a cup of coffee in the kitchen when he entered. Draco walked past and went directly to the food. "Morning." He nodded and grabbed a half dozen slices of bacon and a plate of scrambled eggs.
"Morning." Weasley sat across from him and watched in silence while Draco worked through his plate and refilled it. "May I have a toast, or will you gnaw off my arm?"
"Git." Draco sneered and handed him the plate of toast, though when Weasley took three, his eyes narrowed. "I assume you didn’t just decide to come here to steal my breakfast."
Weasley reached for the raspberry jam, and his eyes twinkled.
"What have you found?" Draco tried to swallow around the toast in his suddenly dry mouth. He sipped from his coffee to feigned disinterest. Damn Weasley for making it impossible not to get caught up in his enthusiasm.
"I've been working on the Guarana Seed powder and Saw Palmetto combinations, playing around to see how they react to certain elements."
"I'm afraid to ask."
"That's probably smart of you. Anyway, I found a tweaked version of Wolfsbane that completely neutralised the effect of the stimulants. At least in Pygmy Puffs."
Draco choked on his coffee.
"I need to test on something! Anyway, I think we have it. I've brought my notes, you can look them over before you decide."
"And what are my other options?"
"Well, regular Wolfsbane Potion next week and we can keep testing. But I need to be honest here. I don't know what a transformation with regular Wolfsbane will do with your current physiology."
Draco sat back and closed his eyes. He dragged his fingers through his hair and stopped as he felt something prick his finger. His eyes flew open and he plucked it out of his hair. He stared at it a moment: a thistle. In his hair. From rolling on the ground, chasing rabbits.
Wealsey raised an eyebrow, and his lip quirked.
"Fine, leave your notes. I'll look them over." He stood. He needed a long hot shower and a change of clothes. "But you need to be right about this, Weasley. I don’t fancy waking in a pool of Potter's blood, all right?"
Weasley blanched. Draco left him to his own thoughts and the remainder of Draco's breakfast. He'd lost his appetite.
Draco woke from his nap to the sound of voices. Even a floor below and two doors shut between, Draco could make out enough to know Potter was home and he had two men in his study. He'd be sure to jot that down for Weasley later.
Draco shook off his drowsiness and made his way down the stairs. As the voices grew louder, he recognised one of the men as Shacklebolt. Draco's stomach plummeted. If the Head Auror was here, it could very well be seriously bad news. He listened outside the door to prepare himself.
Harry was shouting. "Absolutely not!"
"Harry, calm down." Shacklebolt's even baritone managed to sound both soothing and threatening.
"It's too dangerous for him! God, Kingsley. How can you ask?"
"If I could only speak to him," said the third man, a voice Draco didn't recognise.
Draco was about to knock when the scent in the air changed a fraction. He thought instinctively of Teddy. But no.
He growled low in his throat.
He heard the stranger speak again. "Mr Malfoy is on the other side of the door, and I believe we can resolve this by having him join us."
Draco pushed open the door. The man was tall, heavy set and greying. His robes exuded an air of authority that spoke of good breeding and established power. Draco strode across the room to stand between the man and Potter. His eyes never left the stranger's curious stare.
His peripheral vision caught Shacklebolt shift closer, so that he stood shoulder to shoulder with the man.
"Good afternoon, Mr Malfoy. It's a pleasure to meet you." He held out his hand and Draco snarled.
"Malfoy!" Potter chided.
Shacklebolt took a step forward. "Mr Malfoy, this is Ernie Crawford, the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot." His tone of voice implied the title should answer any questions and maybe it would had Draco been in his right mind.
Draco made no move to accept the hand. Rather, he backed up, forcing Potter to move further away.
"Malfoy, what are you doing?"
"No, Mr Potter. It's quite all right. What Mr Malfoy is aware of, which you are not, is that I am a lycanthrope. I was infected in one of The Pack's raids in the years after the war and I've done an excellent job of hiding it from all but my immediate family. Until now."
He took a step closer and Draco snarled a warning. The man was taller and likely armed, and had a good two stone on Draco. Still, the stimulant in his system gave him unpredictable strength. Should Crawford attack, Draco was pretty certain he could snap the man's neck before Potter was in any danger.
"I mean no harm to either you or your pack." The man raised his arms passively, looking between him and Potter. "I am going to sit now. I would simply like the opportunity to talk to you."
Draco didn't move. Didn't blink. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he saw his own behaviour as odd but the wolf was in control now, and Draco had no idea how to simply switch it off.
"All right. Maybe if Potter wasn't present? If he and Kingsley went off and had a spot of tea? It might be easier for us to relax. I imagine you are very uncomfortable with him in the presence of another werewolf."
Draco glimpsed back at Potter who was staring back and forth between Draco and Crawford, wide-eyed.
Shacklebolt appeared at Potter's elbow. "I would love some tea. Harry?"
"You're going to be okay?" Potter whispered.
It took a minute for Draco to realise Potter was speaking to him. "Yes. Fine. Go. I won't kill him or anything," Draco added with a smirk, and Potter's tension seemed to vanish.
As soon as the door closed, Crawford handed a strip of parchment over to Draco.
Alley behind Towes and Tatters
The thud, thud, thud of his heart pounded through Draco's chest and he fell into a nearby chair. "Where did you get this?"
"An apothecary handed it to me the night of the full moon last month."
Draco felt the gorge rise in his throat. He tried to concentrate as Crawford went on.
"But there was something about the warning that old Fibbs gave me. I Apparated home and had the wife chain me up in the basement. Hadn't done that in nine years. When I read the newspaper the next morning, let's just say I lost my kippers and sausage several times over." Crawford's brown eyes had a watery shine to them as he looked at Draco. "I'm truly sorry for what happened to you."
Draco looked away, needing to focus on the present. He shook off the barrage of 'what ifs' that tangled in his mind. "So this person was really after you."
"Or both of us. I'm convinced he was the one to kill Willy. Cut off the main supplier of black market Wolfsbane Potion right before the full moon and customers get desperate enough to take risks."
Draco let the words sink in. He'd been so desperate. Hadn't thought anything through. He could have Apparated home, gone to the dungeons and locked himself in as he had in those first months after he'd been infected. But he hadn't wanted to, not when a more dignified solution was available.
"We need your help, Mr Malfoy."
"My help?" Draco sat up from his slouch.
"I understand to some extent what this stimulant has been doing to your body. For one, I have a Masking Charm on me that prevents other lycanthropes from detecting my scent. Yet you sensed me through a closed door."
Draco nodded, but let Crawford go on uninterrupted.
"Not long after your story became public I met with Kingsley and informed him of my lycanthrope status, and everything else I've told you this evening. We have a plan. I have contacted the apothecary, Mr Fibbs, told him I was desperate and needed Wolfsbane Potion at all costs for the next full moon. The National Cleansing group makes a great excuse for a werewolf to sound desperate. At least they are good for something."
"You are going to try to lure the same potion supplier out of hiding?"
Crawford's smile reminded Draco of his father's when he was being underestimated. "My instincts say he won't be able to resist trying again. I will go myself to get the Wolfsbane. Kingsley's team will be following me, but it will happen quickly. We will need to know immediately if this supplier is the same one who the sold you the tainted potion."
Draco felt a tingle of excitement dance in his stomach. "What do you need me to do?" It felt good, productive, and something positive to focus on for the first time in weeks.
"You will come with me and let me know if you recognise him. He could be using Glamours or Polyjuice. It won't matter if you've never seen his face." Crawford tapped his nose. "You will know."
A heavy sigh escaped through Draco's lips and with it, his keenness for a little retribution. "I was practically out of my mind when I saw him last and in a piss-soaked alley. I won't be able to recognise his scent."
"You will know, Mr Malfoy. I have every confidence in you." Crawford reached forward and put a hand on Draco's shoulder, the weight of it heavy and comforting.
The morning of the full moon found Draco standing in Potter's living room being fussed over by all and sundry. Potter shoved the invisibility cloak in his arms. Weasley whispered a doctored Muffliato over the cloak to cover footsteps and even his heartbeat and breathing. The fear was that the supplier was a werewolf himself. Crawford added his own Masking Charm to the medley of spells. By the end, Draco's skin was alive with the tickle of magic.
Shacklebolt temporarily lifted the Binding Charm above his ankle, whispering about the Werewolf Capture Unit having his head if this went sour.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Potter asked for the tenth time in as many minutes. He danced about the room like a small child needing to use the loo and not knowing whom to ask.
Draco scowled at him and refused to repeat himself.
"Right. Okay, I know. I just hate it."
Weasley slung an arm around Potter's shoulder and led him to a seat. "You just hate it because you need to sit at home and miss all the action. Don't worry, we'll put our eyebrows at risk playing Exploding Snap and you'll lose at wizard chess. The time will pass before you know it."
There were times when Draco thought Weasley was quite tolerable. "I will be back for lunch. There is nothing to worry about." He crossed to room to Crawford and slid under the cloak.
Crawford Apparated Draco off Knockturn Alley, and the two and a Disillusioned Shacklebolt made their way down the familiar path to the apothecary. Crawford went in and they waited by the reeking old hag. It seemed to take forever. Nerves were telling him this would all fall through. The man who ruined his life was not stupid enough to try again. And yet that niggling of excitement deep in his chest thought otherwise.
Crawford exited the apothecary, and as planned, let the scrap of parchment fall onto the cobblestone by Draco's feet.
Alley beside the Blacksmith's
The splotched black ink made Draco's insides quiver. The writing could be Fibbs', it meant nothing. And yet it left Draco almost hyperventilating with eagerness. He raced as fast as he dared through the empty streets. Draco trusted that Shacklebolt saw the note as well and was headed off to gather his team. They would hide on the adjacent rooftops and wait for the signal.
Draco sat in a corner of another fetid alley, his knees pressed to his chest, his arse numb on the frozen cobblestone. Over an hour had passed since he'd snuck into the alley under Potter's invisibility cloak. He'd been careful to stay to the shadows, silent as the night.
There was every possibility that the supplier was already hiding there, waiting for Crawford before Malfoy had arrived. Draco hoped the Muffliato Weasley had cast was working well. His heartbeat sounded loud and frantic to his own ears. It was all he could do to sit still. Before a transformation, he was always jittery and Greyback's mixture felt like it was working full force at the moment. His skin felt tight and alien, as if the wolf could burst free from its confines any moment.
He focused on the smells of the alley to try to distract himself. He dissected the differing smells. The garbage bin, the puddle to his left -- urine, the stain on the wall above his head -- blood. There was a nest of baby rats beneath an overturned pail by his feet. These were the natural smells of the alley. He acclimatised himself to them and waited for the smallest change.
Crawford should be in the alley by now. Draco half wondered if the plan had fallen through. He waited and watched the shadows lengthen.
It was well past midday when Crawford entered the alley, the picture of a man hiding an important secret, which wasn't much of a stretch on any level. His cloak hood was up, his face entirely hidden. He checked behind himself several times before entering the alley. The chief warlock appeared a well-practiced actor.
Though perhaps it was not all for show; Draco could hear the man's heart rate spike as he entered the alley. His scent was clearly distinguishable from the rest of the alley, the Masking Charm left off for the benefit of the potion supplier.
Crawford glanced up and down the alley. "Hello? Hello?" he called out in an inane voice. "I was told to meet someone here. Hello?"
The door to the Blacksmith's banged open and both Crawford and Draco startled. Crawford feigned hiding his face beneath his hood. The man was tiny, not five feet and greying in what little hair remained. The blue eyes were bright, even in the dimly lit alley.
"You must be awfully desperate, Mister. Word on the street says you'll pay triple." The voice was so different from that of Draco's memory, lower and heavily accented, that Draco thought for a split second they'd failed.
Then a frail, wrinkled arm held out a phial so that it caught the faint light of a nearby lamp.
Draco's stomach clenched as memories flooded back to him. He breathed deeply to calm himself and the man's scent filled his nostrils: a distinct, undeniable stench -- something like fermenting fruit, sour and pungent. Rage gripped him.
With a howl, Draco threw off the cloak, pounced from his hiding spot and lunged across the alley.
The old man landed hard on his back, knocking with a thud on the cobblestone. The bright eyes widened in confusion and then recognition flashed across his face. The wrinkled face morphed into a cruel sneer. "Hallo, Malfoy. And how's your mum?"
Draco lost the last vestiges of control. He pinned him, punching and clawing at anything he could hit. He was dimly aware of the present: the man struggling beneath him, Crawford shouting in the background, the pop of Apparition through the alley.
His mind was elsewhere, back to suppressed memories, bloody carpets and his mother's screams, the frantic, desperate look in her eyes as she broke a chair over his head and the sharp snap of his collar-bone. The burst of pain. Her cry out of anguish as a claw sliced her leg.
Somehow Draco pulled himself back. He looked down to see the man beneath him, aged pale face covered in blood and bruises, Draco's hand around his neck as he struggled. The wolf in him begged him to tighten and squeeze until the body stopped moving.
The man in him -- still in charge for the next few hours -- pulled away.
He stood and half a dozen wands followed the movement. The remainder stayed on the barely conscious man. Draco tried to focus on his breathing, calm his frantic pulse. He held his control with slippery fingertips.
"Hands in the air," one of the Aurors called out.
Draco squeezed his eyes shut and obeyed.
Draco opened his eyes to see Crawford lower his hood. A few gasps from around the alley showed how easily the Chief Warlock was recognised.
"Your Honour!" the Auror closest to them exclaimed. "With -- um -- all due respect, sir. What are you doing here?"
Crawford moved to stand in front of Draco and Draco lowered his arms.
Shacklebolt pushed his way forward. "Mr Crawford and Mr Malfoy were instrumental in devising a plan for the capture of an illegal potion supplier. Mr Malfoy? Are you certain?"
Draco's lip rose to a sneer as he looked down at the battered old man. "Positive."
Shacklebolt's eyes flickered to Crawford who nodded and he turned to one of his Aurors. "Clean him up and have him arrested for the attempted murder of Narcissa Malfoy and for the sale of illegal potions. We may be adding to that. You have my approval for the use of Veritaserum."
The Auror's eyes widened, "Yes, sir." He looked to Crawford, clearly hoping for the rest of the story.
Crawford chuckled and raised his voice to be well heard. "A full expose will be in the morning's Prophet." He tapped the bulging pocket of his robe. "I have the letter half written already. I just need to pop in tonight's details. The fear instilled in society by The Pack's reign of terror has lasted far longer that it had any right to. I think it's high time a few of us stop hiding and take back control of our lives."
A hushed whisper travelled through the alley. Crawford gave Draco a wink and Draco's eyebrows shot up. Tomorrow's Prophet would certainly make interesting reading, regardless of how many chose to believe it.
"You will get your witness statements another time. But both Mr Malfoy and I need to return to our respective homes and take our respective potions that render us quite tame, thank you very much. Now, if you'll excuse us."
Shacklebolt moved towards Draco. "I'm sorry to have to do this, but I do need to reactivate your Binding Charm. Once you are back inside Potter's wards you will not be able to leave again. I hope I have the honour of removing it again soon."
Draco raised his chin and nodded. "I understand." He felt a mild tingle around his ankle. He swallowed back the bitter taste of disappointment.
Crawford watched him with a small smile and offered his arm.
Potter's wards prevented Crawford from Apparating directly into his house. They landed at the end of a long lane. Crawford and he walked the distance quickly. The day was fading and they had Weasley's doses waiting for them.
Draco didn't want to think about how he'd rushed last month -- how that had all ended. As for his mother, the best he could hope for was to see her again, to be at her side and do what he could to bring her out of stasis. For the rest, he placed his hope on Weasley's potion reversing at least part of the damage that had been done to his physiology. And maybe Crawford's letter to the Prophet might do something, too. It would work no miracles, but a well respected, eloquent man like Crawford could manage quite a bit. And the Prophet was always quick to ride the changing tide.
Time would tell.
Crawford knocked briskly on the door and Potter flung it open as if he'd been waiting behind it. By the look on his face, perhaps he had. Weasley appeared directly beside him.
"What happened?" Potter demanded, ushering them in.
Teddy stood slumped against the foyer wall, chin lowered. Draco caught his gaze and the boy gave a weak smile. "I stopped by for my potion and Harry told me what was going on. I wanted to make sure it all worked out. You know, for Harry's sake."
Draco nodded his approval and Teddy shrugged, though his grin broadened a little.
"Your hands." Potter lifted Draco's hands and inspected them.
His knuckles were swollen and covered in blood. He hadn't noticed. Adrenaline was an amazing thing.
Crawford shrugged. "Mr Malfoy could probably use a Healing Charm, but otherwise everyone is fine."
Potter's wand was out in an instant. "I hope this is one of those 'you should see the other guy' stories."
Draco snorted then winced as he felt the sting of the Cleaning and Healing Charms.
"Indeed. You will get to read all about his heroics in the morning paper. Now, I'd best be off. I have an important owl to send before my hands turn to paws." Crawford wiggled his fingers in the air.
Weasley pulled a phial out of his robe and handed it over. "One Wolfsbane Potion, sir."
"Thank you, very much appreciated."
"Anytime, really. I mean that."
"Yes well, I'm only ashamed that my pride stopped me from discovering your generosity earlier." Crawford nodded to everyone and parted with an, "It’s been a pleasure."
"You're trembling." Potter stood, placing a hand on Draco's shoulders.
Shock. Adrenaline. Full moon. He hardly needed to explain. He slipped out of Potter's hold and looked to Weasley. "I'd -- I'd like to take the potion now. I'd rather not wait."
Weasley held it out. "Tweaked, as promised."
Draco gave a half-hearted smile and took the phial.
"I also left you a little present in your room." Weasley's nearly permanent mischievous grin faded as he added, "Just in case."
Draco swallowed. "Thank you."
"Come on, Teddy. It's time to get you back home for your big night." Weasley led Teddy to the fireplace, and turned to Draco. "I'll be by in the morning. Blood tests and all that."
"Right." Draco couldn't wait any longer. Potter and Weasley were staring at him, waiting for … something. The phial was burning in his palm. "Right," he repeated as he made his way to his room and shut and locked the door.
He closed his eyes and exhaled. He was trembling; the excitement of the day finally crashed down on him. But he couldn't lose it. Not yet. He looked about the room and his eyes fell to Weasley's present.
Beside the bed lay a pair of manacles chained together and bolted to the wall. Three steps and he was there, the metal smooth and heavy in his hands. They smelled of grease and sweat and strength. He tested the bolt with a sharp tug. It held tight to the wall, likely with an impressive bit of magic. The chain was long, maybe too long -- he'd be able to destroy the entire room, but the most important thing was that he wouldn't be able to get free. He set the phial on his bedside table and stripped to his pants, folding each piece of clothing neatly on his chair.
As he sat on the bed to attach the manacles, he heard a knock. A quick glance to the window showed the grey-blue hue of twilight. He ignored the door and concentrated on placing his wrist in the metal clasp. He hissed at the icy cold feel on his heated skin. He fumbled with the clasp one-handed.
The door knob rattled. He tried to keep the cuff from moving with his thigh, but it wasn't helping.
Draco rolled his eyes. "I locked it for a reason, Potter," he shouted towards the door, not looking up.
"A stupid reason."
"I'd like to be alone, Potter. It's called privacy."
Potter knelt in front of him, as he had once done to Teddy. Draco's jaw clenched as he resisted the pull of that scent, refusing to lean into the heat of Potter so close. Potter tilted forward, his chin resting on Draco's bare knee. "Let me stay?"
Draco stood, unsettling Potter's balance. The open manacles slid off Draco's wrists and clanged against the floor. "Are you insane?"
In a blur of movement, Draco grabbed Potter from behind, lifting him to standing. He pinned him tight, one arm across Potter's chest, crushing their bodies together. "I can barely control myself." He could feel his own blood pulse through his veins. This close to his transformation, he was so aware. The heat of Potter pressed against him, back to chest and arse to groin, sent his senses into orbit. He growled, low and dark.
Potter let his head fall back onto Draco's shoulder.
"You want this? The next hour it will only get worse." Draco slid his free hand down to Potter's crotch and curled his fingers around the hardening bulge and squeezed. Potter whimpered and twisted, and Draco tightened his hold enough to leave purple finger marks on Potter's shoulder and to send a sharp slice of pain through Potter's cock.
The scent of fear and arousal swam through the air, dancing about them, making his head spin. Merlin, it would be so easy to take Potter like this, at the height of his senses, with the anticipation of the moon crackling between them. He wanted to devour him now, and then again after it had risen.
Draco's teeth ached to sink down into the tender skin of Potter's exposed neck.
"Draco… stop." The words tumbled from Potter in a half whimper, thick with need. "You made your point."
Reality filtered through the fog of need clouding Draco's thoughts. He jumped back, pushing Potter away from him, lest he lose himself again. A manacle on the floor caught his foot, tripping him, and he reached out to his bedside table to regain his balance. His hand knocked over the phial. He watched, helpless, as it rolled off the edge and fell.
In a blink, Potter's hand snatched it from the air, a hair's breadth from the floor.
Draco heart hammered a frantic beat somehow both against his chest, and in his throat. He sat on the bed and squeezed his eyes shut. There was a drag of chains and an instant later, cold metal at his wrist.
With steady fingers, Potter clasped the first and then the next manacle. They felt tight, secure. Draco released a breath he hadn't known he had been holding.
Without a word, Potter uncorked the phial and handed it to Draco.
Draco's lips curled in a smile that was both a thanks and an apology. "Cheers," he muttered and chugged the contents down. His throat threatened to close up, but he focused and swallowed past the revolting taste. His sinuses began to prickle at the rush of relief that came to him.
"I'll be out of reach. I swear. But once I know it's worked, I want to stay."
Draco shook his head and tried to find the words for just how ridiculous that sounded. Then a slow trickle of heat started in his belly, low and smooth and soothing. He closed his eyes and felt the familiar, calming sensation work its way through his body. Yes. Yes, this was what it was supposed to feel like.
He opened his eyes to see Potter still watching and waiting.
Draco huffed and nodded, "But when I transform, you are nowhere near me. This isn't a freak show. Go, and come back in a couple hours. And Merlin, Potter, if I am not in control, promise me you'll leave."
Potter's face lit up then, as if he'd heard more in those words than Draco intended. "I promise."
Potter left, closing the door behind him. Draco cursed not having asked for a Silencing Charm. There was nothing for it now.
Draco lay on the floor and waited. His mattress would not survive the transformation -- something he had learned the hard way. The hardwood was unforgiving on his back and frigid on his bare skin, still flushed and hot from the encounter with Potter. At least the floor smelled earthy and natural, and made him regret sending Potter away a little less.
It felt like hours waiting for the moon to rise, impatient as he was to get it over with. When it came it tore through him like lightning -- burning and ripping him in half. His screams echoed through the house, inhumanly loud.
He lay panting on the floor, every muscle awake with the pain of the morph. He tried to stand and stumbled as his front paws were held tight in a tangle of chains. Instinct took over and he struggled, panicked at the imprisonment, howling and snarling and scrambling for purchase, his claws tearing away at the floor. He bit and gnawed at his cuffs, drawing blood.
It took a moment, but his mind cleared. He calmed. The shallow pants and whimpers sounded loud in the now quiet room.
It hit him then: he was in control. The first moments after a transformation, even with Wolfsbane were disorienting. But he felt centred again. Aware. Draco collapsed to the floor in relief. He buried his nose in his paws and let exhaustion steal away his consciousness.
He woke to find Potter sleeping beside him, curled up with a fist full of fur. Potter had dragged a pillow and a sheet off the bed. Draco nuzzled the sleep warm cheek and Potter's eyes flickered open. Potter opened his hand, releasing the clutch of fur, and stroked down Draco's back, burying his fingers into the thick grey coat.
"You are beautiful like this, too, you know."
Draco snorted and stretched. The chains rattled and clanked as they dragged along the floor. He could see the deep scratches in the wood; he shifted away from Potter.
Potter allowed the move, but kept his hand stroking just below Draco's ear.
At daybreak, Draco woke a second time. He groaned at the ache of his abused muscles. He was barely able to turn over. The chains were gone; Potter must have released him. Draco had a vague memory of his transformation back to human. It was always a blur. He could barely retain consciousness on the reversal, but he had flashes of Potter's arms tight around him, strong and comforting, whispering to him as he screamed through the agony of bone and muscle and skin reshaping.
They were still on the floor, sharing a pillow and cocooned in a thin sheet. Draco blinked at a quiet tap, tap, tap. He raised his eyes to the window to find an owl pecking at the glass. He tried to stand up but Potter pressed a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"Shh. Lie back. I'll get it." Potter's voice was rough with sleep, an octave lower than usual. He stumbled over to the window, shivering in nothing but pants, and returned a moment later, placing the missive on the bedside table.
Potter knelt behind Draco and snuck his arms beneath Draco's shoulder and knees, and with a grunt, lifted Draco -- still wrapped in the sheet -- and laid him on the bed.
"Are you ok?"
Draco nodded a fraction. "Always like this," he whispered, his stripped vocal cords protesting with each word. "Still early. Need a few more hours."
Potter nodded. "Do you want me to read it? It's from Kingsley."
Draco's gut clenched, and he winced at the cascade of pain that went with the spasm.
Potter sat on the bed. "If it was bad news, he'd have waited." His smile was reassuring and Draco must have looked to be in agreement because Potter opened the letter, and read,
We have a full confession. The accused claims to be the last surviving member of Fenrir Greyback's Pack. He was looking to force werewolves out of hiding and form a new pack, 'allowing werewolves their rightful state' during the full moon. There's still red tape to get through with the WCU, but I have informed St Mungo's to allow you visitations to see your mother, and will work on formally clearing your name in the next few days. Thank you for your help yesterday.
Draco's body trembled as Potter read. When Potter finished and looked up at him, eyes bright and face glowing, Draco released a ragged breath. He would be able to see his mother. He tried to contain his excitement; it was not over. Far from it. But it might be a sign of things to come.
Potter wiggled beneath the sheet and pulled a heavy coverlet over them both. "We'll go this afternoon, if you are up to it."
Draco smiled and with a lightness in his chest, he turned and buried his nose into the crook of Potter's neck. The scent of cedar washed over him.
Potter gave the hair behind Draco's ear a sharp tug and Draco looked up. He stared at Draco, his eyes drifting over each feature, his face unreadable. He raised his hand and swept back a lock of hair that had fallen across Draco's eyes. The simple gesture displayed such tenderness that Draco's mind was flooded with ghosts of words only half-heard the night before. A rush of emotion filled him and he looked away, cheeks flushed.
Potter's lips brushed against his brow. "It will be all right."
"Maybe," he murmured and content, drifted back to sleep.