"Draco, mate, you need to relax. No, no, mate. Stop! Oh, for fuck's sake, Draco!"
Blaise ducked and cast a shield around himself as Draco hurled yet another crystal carafe at the wall, taking the total up to eight. Merlin knew where he was getting them, since there were only four in the house that Blaise could recall. It shattered like the rest into thousands upon thousands of tiny shards, adding to the glittering blanket of glass and varying sizes and textures of glossy, black feathers that covered the cream, plush pile carpets.
The large wings protruding from his best friend's back were something of a novelty, and Blaise wasn't sure he would ever be able to look at Draco again without seeing the phantom image of them behind him. He never would have believed they were real if he hadn't seen first-hand the blood pouring from the tears in Draco's back. Blaise could only assume they had burst out from under his skin, as though they had always been there.
He'd been granted the opportunity to closely observe them, though. Like he was some sort of dutiful girlfriend, Blaise had earlier taken a damp rag to Draco's back to lightly sponge away the blood that was tracking unsightly marks all over his carpets. He'd taken the moment to covertly prod and pull at the wings as much as a snarling Draco would allow him. They were truly fascinating, ranging from tiny, downy-soft feathers that fluttered through the air when Draco so much as twitched, to stiffly-spined flight feathers that were nearly two feet long. They would make perfect quills, if one was in the trade of being a gothic author or an evil genius.
A mental image of Draco flapping through the sky came to the forefront of his thoughts, and Blaise had to bite back the grin that was fighting for position on his lips. Could Draco fly? Because that would be bloody awesome if he could. He had the wings for it, certainly, but were they completely functional or simply decorative? He'd have to try and find out another time when he wasn't so high-strung… Not that Blaise could blame him in the least. Merlin knew how he'd react in the face of such a seismic life-change.
It was both shocking and not shocking at all to learn that his best mate was of the Veela persuasion. The whole Malfoy family were like something out a Veela textbook, all with characteristics you could check off like items on a shopping list: all silky blond hair, unfairly attractive even when wearing dingy, Azkaban-soiled robes (as demonstrated to perfect effect by Lucius in the days prior to his release), their complete inability to just be normal (always had to be bloody something, Draco did), and that apparently ever-important French lineage, like that pretty bird from Beauxbatons in fourth year.
She went on to marry a Weasley, from what Blaise could recall. If that didn't prove there was hope for the absolute least of them, he didn't know what did.
Scowling, Blaise removed the shield and moved to throw the closest item to him – a fist-sized, skull-shaped glass paperweight; his last tether to Stepfather-Number-Four, sodding prick that he was – at Draco's head.
"Seriously, mate, calm the fuck down! It can't be that bad!"
With the reflexes of a cat (or an irate male Veela – Blaise wasn't sure what comparisons could be drawn between the two), Draco caught the glass skull out of the air and crushed it between his fingers until little more than a sparkling, fine powder fell between his grip. "Can't be that bad," Draco repeated through shallow, panted breaths. His cheeks were flushed, his eyes burned a bright, dangerous shade of amber, and his wings, for lack of any better term, ruffled. "Can't be that bad?" he screeched. It was both a heinous and an almost alluring sound, like Draco's regular baritone voice had overlapped with those of a harpy and a siren and all of them were vying to be heard first.
"You haven't even told me what the bloody hell the problem is yet! You call in on me, start throwing my shit around without so much as a by your leave, bleeding and with sodding wings flapping about, and you expect me to have all the answers? Come on, mate; you might be pretty, but you sure as hell aren't that stupid."
Draco stalked up and down the room like a dragon bent on defending his hoard. "I'm a Veela," he hissed.
Blaise snorted. "No shit."
"I'm being serious, you prick!"
"So am I, you wanker. Care to tell me why you never shared this little tid-bit about yourself? I'm hurt, Draco. I thought we told each other everything."
Draco let out a breath and a chuckle, and Blaise was relieved to see his eyes were fading back to his usual silvery grey. "It was a secret. Seriously, Blaise, do you have any idea how many people in England would have wanted my arse if they had known? Male Veela – even half Veela like me! – are about as unheard of as Potter's sense of self-preservation! I'm bloody lucky this didn't present itself before now!"
"So why did it present itself? What in your mundane, boring little life changed to trigger such a massive event?"
"Why should I tell you?"
"Because you burst into my house and started smashing all my crystal. I think I'm entitled to an explanation."
"It's a long story," Draco muttered.
Blaise Vanished the shards from his wing-backed (ha!) chair and sat down, gesturing for Draco to do the same with the sofa opposite. "I'm all ears."
Draco glared at the sofa for nearly a full minute before scowling and plunking himself down on it, spreading his wings out high and wide around him. He neglected to remove the glass, but Blaise wasn't concerned; it seemed like Draco had lived the majority of his life with a figurative shard of glass lodged up his arse. "You know how sometimes I liaise with the Auror department? Primarily with" – he broke off with a shudder that looked very nearly orgasmic and clamped his eyes shut – "Granger?"
Blaise quirked a perfectly groomed brow. "Yes. You might have mentioned it before."
'Mentioned it' meaning Draco rarely deigned to talk of anything else on days where he had interacted on some level – any level, really – with Granger, and even on days where he didn't. Really, the guy was in so bloody deep with the woman it was a wonder he could see the morning light. Same with Granger; she made the same moony eyes and looked as though she would like nothing more than to just bloody hold hands with him. It was pathetic, really, to see two of the smartest people Blaise had ever known reduced to such an unbelievably stupid pair of firsties who couldn't even see that what they both wanted was right fucking there.
"Well, I tried to see her this morning," Draco went on, his tone and demeanour glum and entirely too sad to look at. "I'm prosecuting some tosser she booked, and I needed one of her files."
Blaise nodded, crossing one leg over the other and tenting his fingers together. "Go on."
"She wasn't there."
"Ah. So where was she?"
Draco lips twitched as he clenched his hands into tight fists that rested upon his knees. "In Bulgaria, according to Potter. Has been for the past few days, which explains why I wasn't able to see her yesterday, or the day before that."
"What's she up to?"
"Fucked if I know. Top secret, apparently, and very dangerous."
"And that was when…?" Blaise gestured with an idle wave of his hands to Draco's wings.
Draco's wings did that weird ruffling thing again, and his eyes flashed back to that strange amber. "Nearly, but not quite," he muttered darkly. "Potter said 'dangerous' and I broke his desk and then his nose, but the wings didn't erupt until…"
Blaise sighed. "Until what, Draco?"
"She's working with Krum," he hissed in that strange, layered voice.
"Viktor Krum?" Blaise sought clarification. "Like, Quidditch player and Tri-Wizard Tournament Viktor Krum?"
Draco snarled and his wings quivered. "No. Viktor Krum, like Hermione Granger's ex-boyfriend, sodding pen-pal and all-round touchy-feely cunt, Viktor Krum." He burst from his seat with another otherworldly screech and overturned the sofa, splitting it down the middle with a sound crack.
"You're paying for all of this, I hope you know," Blaise informed him calmly as he crossed one leg over the other. "So, Potter tells you Granger is currently maybe in danger and that she's with Krum, and then…?"
"And then," Draco confirmed through ragged breaths. "The bastard is going to steal her, I just know it." He made another wail, sounding positively tortured. "He… he can't take her from me!"
"He can't steal from you when you never had her to begin with," Blaise reasoned as he stood from his chair and made his way to Draco's side. He ignored Draco's positively murderous glare and set a hand on his shoulder, carefully minding his wings. "So, Granger's your mate, I take it?"
Draco let out a sigh and clutched his head in his hands, his only response a dismal sort of nod.
"And she has no clue?"
He shook his head again.
"Can you wait for her to come back?"
He shook his head again. "Hurts," he whispered hoarsely. "Like something's been ripped out of me." He looked up from his hands, and his eyes were rimmed red with tears. Blaise had to fight the urge to slap the whiny wanker. "She's too far away, Blaise! I need her back!"
Blaise stifled a laugh. "You sound so incredibly fucking girly."
"Pardon me for having absolutely no control over any of this!" Draco snapped. He made a sudden turn, and his wings clipped a series of framed photos and prints on the wall, knocking them to the floor.
"Bloody hell, Draco. Relax. We'll work through this."
"Telling me to relax is extremely pitiful advice."
"I don't think you came to me for my bedside manner, Draco."
"You're right. I came to you because I didn't want to break my own crystal."
"Nice to know I can be counted on in a pinch."
"What am I going to do, Blaise?" Draco whined. "I need her now!"
"I have an idea, but I'm not sure yet. I suppose all this Veela nonsense explains why you nearly broke Pansy's wrist at the Yule Ball," Blaise mused. "Your inner Veela… wait, do you have an inner Veela?"
Draco stared at him as though he was stupid. "Not when I was fourteen, no. Could you imagine what kind of randy bastard I would have been back then if I'd had some fully mature, highly sexual creature bent on finding its mate whispering in my ear all the time? I'd have fucked my way through the entire school before the year was out! What the hell kind of nonsense have you been reading?"
Blaise tipped his head back and let out a hearty laugh. "Have you seen the romance section at Flourish and Blotts? People like to romanticise Veela. You'd not believe the wealth of literature on the subject. The whole mating for life and marking and the together forever until death do us part bits really get some witches all hot and bothered."
"And you as well, apparently."
Blaise raised one shoulder in an indolent shrug. "Erotic literature is a medium I do like to occasionally peruse, yes. Some of the authors are… imaginative."
Draco let out a pained little snort as he dug the heels of his hands into his eyes. Blaise hadn't really noticed before, but Draco's nails had elongated, too, turning to sharpened, blackened points that looked as though they could gouge an eye out.
"Always knew you'd be weak as piss between the sheets," Draco dryly observed. "You clearly need all the help you can get."
"Wonderful to know you've put so much thought into my bedroom prowess," Blaise said with a lecherous wink. "Though I think you'll be pleased to learn that I've had no complaints thus far. However, I think we've established that I'm not the one for you."
"Not even close," Draco muttered. "Merlin help me, Blaise. What do I do now?"
"Well, there's only one thing for it, I suppose."
"We're taking you to Bulgaria. If Granger's not coming back any time soon and you're just going to get all snarky and expire waiting for her, then we have to go find her. Merlin knows my tolerance for your shit only goes so far."
"And exactly how do you propose we do that?"
Blaise made a big show of observing his wand. "I thought we might use these handy magic sticks. Right useful, they are. Can you believe there are actually spells to help me locate a person? And there's these doowackys I can get that'll take us literally anywhere we want to go!"
"Blaise, I am in no way exaggerating when I say I'm going to rip off your head and piss down your neck if you talk to me like that again."
"Duly noted. But you seem to have forgotten that I actually work in the Department of International Magical Cooperation, and am currently in what could pass as a relationship with the little filly in charge of the Portkeys."
"You're going to use your relationship with this poor girl to wrangle a last-minute, sketchy, and probably not all that legal Portkey for me?"
"Yes. Do you have a problem with that?"
Draco snorted before folding himself into the armchair, his wings spread out around him. "Fuck no. I don't even care if you have to tell the girl you'll marry her."
"She might be shagging me, but she isn't that stupid." Blaise sauntered across the room to his fireplace, and took a pinch of Floo-powder from the pouch that hung from the ledge above it. "Sit tight, Draco. If I'm not back in five minutes, assume I had to pull in a few favours of my own."
He disappeared into the swirling flames only seconds before the ninth crystal carafe could make contact with his head.
Six days later, in a fucked forest somewhere in Bulgaria…
Blaise muttered filthy obscenities under his breath as he followed Draco – who had barely let up his frantic pace to sleep or even eat since they arrived – through some piece of shit forest in the north of Bulgaria. Hermione Granger was in there somewhere, according to Potter, whom they had roughly accosted in the midst of installing a new desk just before they had left. Salazar knew where, though – good little Auror that Granger was, he assumed her true location and magical signature had been masked.
His feet had long since gone numb after nearly six days out in the frosty elements, and his legs weren't faring any better. Scratches covered his face, marring his impeccable features, from where straggly branches had caught him, and he'd hate to consider the absolute fright his hair must be. Draco's continued assertions of, "I can smell her, Blaise. She's nearby," were beginning to wear thin, too, and Blaise decided he wouldn't be wholly shocked if it turned out his best mate was full of shit and couldn't smell a damn thing at all.
"I can smell her, Blaise. She's nearby," Draco called back to him. Blaise rolled his eyes and very nearly chuckled; every hour, on the hour, like clockwork.
"That's great, mate," he called back, his rote response every time. So fucking find her already! He tamped on in his mind, also rote by now.
Aside from their hourly exchange, and Blaise's nightly interrogation into his best friend's wellbeing, their journey was conducted mostly in silence. Draco had claimed the quiet would help him track Hermione more effectively and Blaise, who had been up for chatting from the outset of their little journey, was in no state to argue anymore. He hadn't had a stiff drink or eaten something that wasn't from a plastic packet in nearly a week. He was so hard up for a shag that even some strangely provocatively-shaped trees were beginning to look appealing to just rut against, and fuck it all if he wouldn't kill for just one bloody smoke.
What the fuck sort of good was a damn wand when it couldn't even bring the essentials?
He supposed this was what going mad felt like.
Merlin, he needed water.
He paused by one such provocatively-shaped tree and slung his pack off his shoulder to retrieve his bottle. The crinkling plastic bottle was poised at his lips when he heard Draco's eerie, otherworldly screech echoing about him with no clear origin.
"Who the fuck are you?"
Blaise swore to himself; he had no idea Draco had gone so far ahead.
"What the fuck are you doing here?"
Ah. The paranoia. Blaise had had much experience in assuaging that particular little quirk over the past few days. He took a deep drink from his bottle and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. More often than not, Draco had been yelling at various forest critters and overhead Muggle planes.
"You will not fucking touch her!"
There was a rustle of leaves and the unmistakeable smack of skin on skin. Blaise swore again, loudly this time, and dropped his bottle to sprint and catch up. He found Draco in a clearing, his wings erupted and quivering through his torn, blood-stained shirt, and his eyes burning that bright, dangerous amber, standing over the prone forms of three burly men.
"Draco?" Blaise quirked a brow and crossed his arms over his chest to disguise the heavy rise and fall. His life of indolence and decadence was coming back to haunt him now, it seemed. "What did you do?"
"She's close, Blaise," Draco told him as he ducked off again down a path worn into the ground. "So close I can feel her."
"Are you sure?" he asked tentatively. He had to jog to keep up, and let out a growl when he stumbled on a risen root from a large tree. "You've been saying that for a while now."
"Certain." Draco stopped and let out a groan, cradling his head in his hands. "Oh, fucking hell, Blaise, where is she?"
"Look, Draco. Now, I know you want to find her" – he held his hands in a gesture of peace at the look of fury on Draco's face – "but first, you really need to tell me what the hell's going on here! What did you do to those blokes back there?"
"They were going to hurt her," he stated, as though it was the plainest fact in the world.
Blaise rubbed at his straining eyes and sent out a prayer to whichever deity was listening for a pain relieving potion and a tall bottle of Ogden's Finest, as he most certainly deserved both, and in liberal quantities, after this fucking wild goose chase. "You cannot possibly know that."
"I could smell it on them!"
Blaise sighed and dropped his gaze to the ground. "Fine. Did you kill them?"
"They were going to hurt her," Draco repeated.
"Are they dead?"
"It doesn't matter. She's safe now."
"But you don't even know where she is!" Blaise bellowed. At Draco's thunderous expression, he sighed. "I'm sorry, mate, but we might have to face the fact that she isn't here, and with you off killing people... mate, I can't defend you forever."
"I never asked you to." Draco turned on his heel, jumped, and flew – fucking flew! – down the path, disappearing from sight within seconds as the force from his beating wings blew a gust of leaves, sand, and small twigs at Blaise's face.
"Merlin's tit, Draco!" Blaise spat the dirt from his mouth and yelled after him, "Where the fuck are you going?"
Blaise let out pained, tortured groan as he broke into a jog, and made a mental note to possibly join a gym when he got back to London. Clearly multiple sessions a week of marathon shagging did nothing for his stamina in the real world.
Draco wasn't difficult to track (unlike a certain Auror he would have to have a good, stern talking to when this was all said and done); Blaise followed the carnage that Draco had laid in his wake. The path he had taken looked as though a small cyclone had blown through.
He eventually came upon a small, log cabin – complete with white smoke billowing from the chimney and icicles hanging precariously from the veranda – that looked ridiculously out of place in the wild setting. Draco stood with his fist poised over the doorknob, his wings lying neatly folded against his back.
"She's here," Draco whispered as Blaise came up alongside him.
"Are you going to go in any time soon or would you rather stay out in the frigid cold?" he asked.
"What if she says no?" Draco looked positively petrified, as though he had never considered the possibility that anyone would say no to him, his perfectly coiffed hair and the millions in his Gringotts vault, let alone his mate. "What if she doesn't want me? Veela get sick and bloody die when their mates reject them!"
Blaise nearly laughed. "Trust me, mate: she wants you, too."
Draco regarded him with a suspicious glare. "How do you know that?"
"Because I'm not an idiot. Now, trust me and open the door."
Draco took a deep breath and slowly twisted the knob. The door was barely open an inch before they were greeted by screams and the brightly coloured light of wand fire.
Blaise felt his body freeze as an invisible force tugged him into the air by his foot. If he could have laughed, he would have. How could he and Draco have been so bloody stupid as to forget that Granger was in the bloody cabin to begin with because she was working undercover?
"Draco?" He heard Hermione blurt out as she leapt from her hiding place, looking quite adorable, if he did say so himself, dressed in a pale blue coat and a pink and white striped knit hat. "Zabini? What are you…?" She muttered the counter charms, and they fell to the wooden floor with a muffled thump. "What's going on?" Her gaze fell on Draco's exposed back, and her eyes widened. "Draco? You're… you're Veela?"
"I need to talk to you," Draco said, breathless, as he propped himself up on his elbows and hauled himself back to his feet. He was staring at her as though he had never seen anything quite so lovely in all his life. Blaise felt sickened. "In private."
"But we are waiting," Viktor Krum cut in, his thick, dark brows furrowed in confusion as he emerged from behind a bookshelf. "We are on mission. You need to leave."
"I think Draco killed them." At the twin expressions of shock Granger and Krum were shooting him, Blaise elaborated, "Three guys, big? All with dark hair?"
"Yes," Krum answered slowly as he fixed Draco with an accusing stare. "The Dragomirov Brothers. They do business here, trafficking dragon eggs. But they did not deserve death."
"You killed them?" Hermione repeated dumbly. "Killed them?" she screeched, not sounding wholly unlike a Veela herself. She thumped Draco's chest with balled, mitten-covered fists. "Draco! What the hell were you thinking? You killed them? You stupid, irresponsible –"
"I didn't bloody kill them!" Draco took her hands in his and pulled her to his chest. He wrapped his arms around her, and Blaise could swear he heard Draco purr when he buried his nose in Granger's hair. "They'll be knocked out for a few hours, that's all. I sensed a threat and dealt with it, but they aren't dead."
"Are you certain?" she asked, tentative.
"I can show you, if you like?"
She shook her head. "Viktor? Would you go check, please?"
Krum nodded and beckoned for Blaise to follow him with a short jerk of his head. He paused at the door and looked back at Hermione, an unidentifiable glint of something flashing over his dark eyes. "You will be okay?" Krum asked her.
Hermione didn't answer for a long moment, too enthralled with the glossy, black feathers of Draco's wings. Blaise didn't blame her; they were quite mesmerising. "I'll be fine."
Krum nodded again, his jaw set tightly as he pulled a furry hat over his ears and pulled the door open. "You come with me."
Blaise nodded, having absolutely no desire to watch what was about to come if Draco and Granger's hushed, whispered conversation and bold touches were anything to go by. "Sure," he hurriedly replied as he followed Krum out the door and back onto that worn path that had led him to the cabin in the first place.
"So, how's it going?" Blaise asked as they walked.
"The Malfoy boy…" Viktor began, his English better than the little Blaise could remember the older man stuttering out, but still heavily accented, "he is Veela?"
Blaise nodded. "That he is."
"And Hermione is his mate, yes?"
Blaise let out a snicker and nodded again. "She certainly is."
"I had wondered why."
"Hermione, she was… it was like a repulsion charm. I think her magic knew he was Veela, and he was hers. I could not touch her without being overwhelmed with sickness."
"Best not let Draco hear you say that, mate," Blaise replied with a chuckle. "He was coming unhinged and the thought of you and her together."
Viktor's lips quirked in a wry smirk. "I have that, at least." He dug a hand into one of the many intricate folds of his official robes and retrieved an envelope made of thick, heavy parchment. "Please give this to Hermione. It is all the notes I took. She might find them handy."
Blaise took the envelope and tucked it into his coat pocket. "I'll make sure she gets it," he said, patting it through his cloak. "Once Draco deigns to let her go, anyway."
They came to a stop in front of the three men, still lying spread-eagled on the ground. "This is them," Viktor commented. He ducked down to the side of the one closest to him and held two fingers over his pulse, then moved over the other two. "They are alive."
Viktor bound the trio with a Bulgarian spell Blaise had never heard before. Invisible binds caught the men by the wrists and ankles and pulled them into seated positions against the closest tree before Krum aimed his wand to the sky and set out a jet of bright blue light.
"There," he said, with a tone of finality. "It is done. Bulgarian Aurors will find them. We must go back to Hermione."
"Were they problematic?" Blaise questioned. "The brothers, I mean."
"They sell dragon eggs to the unlicensed and stupid," Krum replied, his voice quaking with anger. "The dragons grow and kill and break, then need to be caught and put down because they cannot be handled any longer."
"Ah." Blaise nodded. Dragons had never been of particular interest to him, but he supposed he could appreciate the majesty of them.
Krum held out his arm. "I will Apparate us back to the cabin," he said by way of explanation when Blaise did little more than stare at him.
"Oh, thank fucking Merlin," Blaise breathed, chuckling with relief, as he set a hand down on Krum's forearm. "You're a good bloke, Krum."
A tiny smirk pulled at the other man's lips just as they Apparated back. Blaise was unaccustomed to being the second party in side-along Apparition; he felt like he was going to lose his foul, processed, pathetic-excuse-for-a-lunch all over the floor when they landed on the veranda again, knocking some of the icicles down with the force of their fall.
Blaise braced his hands on the sill of the window to haul himself back to his feet, and immediately froze at the scene playing out through the window. "Oh, for fuck's sake, Draco!" he exclaimed, a grin pulling at his lips.
"He knew we were coming back, yes?" Viktor questioned as he came up behind him, one eyebrow raised even as he scowled at where a very naked Draco was kissing a very naked Granger as though his life depended on the contact – which, in all fairness, Blaise supposed, might very well have been true.
"I'm not certain he even cares anymore. He's waited long enough." He clapped Viktor's shoulder and steered him away from the door. "Any idea where we can get a pint, mate? I'm absolutely parched."
The sound of ruffling feathers and gasps Blaise had only ever heard when in the throes reached their ears, and they silently committed to getting out of their way as quickly as humanly possible. Comradery came from the strangest of sources, he observed.
"There is pub I can Apparate us to," Viktor spoke hurriedly. "They only serve Bulgarian brews that are much stronger than English kinds, though."
Blaise cringed as the sound of Granger's loud, pleasured moans and breathy sighs reached his ears. At least he could assume Draco was very, very good at what he was doing. "Right now, mate? I don't think I'd give less of a fuck if they only served sewer water."