The crescent moon cast the forest in shadows. The leaves were black, fluttering in the autumn wind. Harry squinted into the darkness as he charged forward. Something glinted off the light of his Lumos, a gold reflection deep in the forest.
“Malfoy?” he called out.
Harry heard the rustle of leaves, the scattering of some birds above. He spun. A tall, lanky silhouette popped in and out of sight between the trees.
“Potter,” came a voice from behind him, “how interesting.”
Harry spun again, the voice coming not from where he’d expected and it was setting him on edge. “I just wanted to talk to you, Malfoy.”
Malfoy stepped into a strip of moonlight. His smile was slow and seductive, nothing like the stoic frown he’d worn since school began again. “Talking is the last thing I’m interested in.”
Harry felt his insides melt and a hazy warmth filled his head. “I know what’s happening.” Harry’s voice came out shaky and uncertain. He cleared his throat. “We need to talk.”
“If you know what I am, then you know better than to be around me.” The light caught the flash of hunger in Malfoy’s eyes. “Run,” Malfoy said, his voice a low growl. “Run fast.”
Harry stumbled backwards, almost tripping on the twisted roots between his feet. He shook off the fog and realised he’d not thought this through properly. Talking had been a very bad idea. He sprinted as far and as fast as he could, trying to remember which way was out of the forest.
Not for the first time that day, he chose wrong.
The sun had barely risen as Harry made his way across the grounds that morning. His trainers were sodden from the dew clinging to the long grass. At the pathway to Hagrid’s hut, he stopped to cast a Drying Charm and something at the edge of the Forbidden Forest caught his attention.
He stepped closer.
A naked body lay on the grass.
The familiar blond hair was sweat-soaked and matted with mud. Harry’s heart hammered in his chest as he approached, knowing who it was even without seeing his face.
The crack of a twig beneath Harry’s foot broke the silence of the morning and Malfoy’s head jerked at the sound, his eyes snapping open. He looked at Harry, his eyes wild, inhuman in the golden glow cast by the sunrise. Malfoy’s nostrils flared and Harry froze on instinct.
Malfoy’s chest was covered in scratches and a ragged shirt cuff hung at his wrist like it was all that remained of the clothing shredded from Malfoy’s body by razor sharp claws. It was impossible not to notice the thick cock resting against Malfoy’s thigh, or the odd bulbous ring at the base of the shaft. Harry had worked with Hagrid enough this past year to recognise that distinctly non-human trait. A mix of fear, lust and curiosity curled in his belly, but he forced himself to look away and back at Malfoy’s face. Malfoy's stare pierced Harry and a strange weight pressed at Harry’s lower back. Not looking away, Harry rubbed at the spot above his tailbone as though he’d find a hand resting there. Something prickled his memory but was chased away as shouts rang across the edge of the forest.
“Harry!” The cry came at him from what seemed an impossible distance, barely an echo.
Malfoy stood, unashamed. He was pale and drawn, swaying slightly; blood seeped from a deep scratch across his torso. Harry stepped forward as though he could catch him should he stumble, though he was too far away for that.
“No, Harry,” Hagrid said, calling out again. “Stay where you are.”
Malfoy hadn’t taken his eyes off Harry.
There was more shouting. Harry was vaguely aware of it over the thundering of his pulse and the silent call to move closer, the phantom hand at his back urging him on. A massive hand closed over his shoulder and he jumped. The next second Madam Pomfrey came running past, straight for Malfoy. Her wand fired red and Malfoy collapsed.
“What are you doing?” Harry struggled against Hagrid’s hold. “Let go.” He needed to get closer, needed to know what was happening.
Malfoy lay on the grass, his arms and legs at awkward angles. Madam Pomfrey rushed over to him, tilting Malfoy’s head and pulling a phial from her robe to empty it into his mouth.
“Let go!” Harry cursed Hagrid’s ironclad grip. “I need to see that he’s all right.”
“’S not your concern, Harry,” Hagrid said, drawing Harry away and practically carrying him back to the hut. “Poppy will have Malfoy right as rain as soon as she gets that potion into him. Just never mind what you saw today.”
Harry fidgeted in his seat while Hagrid made them tea. He watched Hagrid fumble through the motions, noticing how Hagrid’s eyes flickered suspiciously to the door every few minutes like he expected Malfoy to burst through.
“Hagrid, tell me what --”
“No!” Hagrid shoved a massive biscuit in his mouth and kept talking. “That’s none of anyone’s business but Malfoy’s and McGonagall’s.” He looked at the door again. “Look, Harry, I think it best you get yourself back to the castle today. Nothin’ going on around here.”
Harry questioned Hagrid’s definition of nothing but kept his mouth shut.
“Promise me, Harry, you’ll not go looking for trouble.”
Harry just snorted. It wasn’t his fault trouble went looking for him.
He eyed the edge of the forest as he made his way back, but neither Malfoy nor Pomfrey were anywhere to be found. It appeared calm and serene as though nothing had ever happened. But the thoughts of Malfoy itched at Harry’s brain, made him restless to see him again.
Now, Harry questioned the wisdom of finding him again. He raced through the forest, branches and twigs scratching at his cheeks, tugging at his robe. His heart thundered in his chest as he stared out into the blackness before him, not daring to check if he was being followed. He already knew he was. He could feel the pressure at his lower back as he had that morning.
It felt familiar both from this morning and from before that, too. The memory of the first time was faint; there had been too many other things happening when he’d felt it months ago with Draco’s arms around him, clinging for dear life as the flames licked their heels. The hot flash at his back, pricking his skin, had been easy to dismiss as the Fiendfyre drawing too close. Only he’d felt it again this morning, an imprint being reawakened. It called out to him now to stop, to let himself be caught. It was enough to make him stumble, slow his pace.
His face hit the forest floor before he could make another step. Heat flared in his palms, and his knee stung from the sudden impact that he’d had no time to brace for. A weight pressed against his back, pinning him breathless. His control slipped into panic.
“You couldn’t leave it alone, could you, Potter?” The usual smug drawl was raspy-quiet and with more true threat than Harry had ever heard from Malfoy.
A long talon-like finger brushed his cheek and Harry felt the flare of pain as it broke skin. Harry gasped, understanding just how dangerous the situation had become.
“Malfoy, I just want to help,” he choked out.
Malfoy laughed darkly; Harry felt the heavy rumble of it pass through Malfoy’s chest and seep into Harry’s spine until it trickled down to his groin.
He was acutely aware of every place they touched, the press of Malfoy’s hips against his arse, the heat of his breath against Harry’s nape. Malfoy felt impossibly strong as his claws circled Harry’s wrists and squeezed.
“You can certainly help me, Potter.”
Malfoy’s hips jutted forward, making images flash in Harry’s mind, of sketches he’d seen in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He knew what that ring on the base of Malfoy’s cock was for and his cheeks burned at the implications.
“You can definitely help me.”
Helping had seemed like an innocent offer hours before as, beneath his Invisibility Cloak, Harry waited outside the hospital wing for Pomfrey to leave long enough so that he could slip in and see how Malfoy was doing.
He hadn’t been able to get the sight of Malfoy’s scratched and bloody chest out of his head. When he’d asked Pansy if Malfoy had returned to the dorms, Blaise had stepped forward, blocking her reply. “Stay away from him, Potter.”
Harry had scoffed at the idea that he was a threat, though Harry supposed that the last time Malfoy had been in the hospital it had indeed been Harry’s fault. Seeing for himself that Malfoy was all right felt important now, more so because he hadn’t last time when Malfoy’s chest had been slashed open by Harry’s curse. And more than that, if he were being honest. There’d been a prickle beneath his skin since this morning, a thrum in his blood that made him impatient to see Malfoy again.
Finally, the door opened and Pomfrey exited the hospital wing. Harry darted for the open door, thinking this was his best chance to slip in unnoticed. He nearly tripped over his own feet as McGonagall stepped out in front of him. He caught himself in time, holding his breath to avoid detection; he was within arm’s reach from the headmistress. The women shut the door tight and checked the hallway to ensure it was empty.
“He’s at full maturity, Minerva,” Pomfrey whispered, shooting a glance back at the door. She held up a phial of dark red liquid, shaking her head. “The potions I can give him suppress the burning for only a few minutes, a half an hour at most. Last week it was enough for six hours. We need a better solution.”
McGonagall’s lips pursed into a tight, wrinkled bow. “There is nothing else, Poppy,” she said, her tone resigned. “He’ll have to be removed from Hogwarts. I will Floo St Mungo’s in the morning and see if they will take him.”
Harry felt unexplained panic well up in his chest. He focused on breathing quietly, using all his strength to listen; he needed answers. And more than that, he needed Malfoy to stay at Hogwarts, to stay close.
“Is there nothing else we can do?” Pomfrey shook her head, brow furrowed.
“Well, he can’t go running off into the Forbidden Forest to tame the burning. If any parent found out there was an unmated Veela allowed in this school...”
The words began to blur after that. Harry bit his lip not to react; his entire body froze. Veela. Draco was a Veela. It clicked in his mind surprisingly easily, fitting in with the events of his day like a missing puzzle piece. He’d been feeling something all morning and now that Harry knew, he was aware of the distinct warmth of Veela magic surrounding him. It filled the hall and he felt the pull even through the door. Yet it was nothing like the happy fog at the World Cup or sitting next to Fleur’s family at dinner.
He had no desire to impress Malfoy, or anything so superficial. This was a much baser need than that.
His palms itched to push McGonagall out of the way to go to Malfoy. He didn’t dare risk being discovered now. If they suspected for a moment that Harry was under a Veela’s thrall, he’d be whisked far away. He’d be patient.
“We’ll keep looking at Mr Malfoy’s options,” McGonagall was saying, “Tonight, we’ll have to bind him, I’m afraid.”
Harry watched them return to the room, likely to ensure Malfoy was safely tied for the night. Harry’s temper flared at the thought, but he recognised it for what it was. Mind reeling, Harry tiptoed out of the hallway, ignoring the desire to stay and enter the room. If it was indeed a thrall he felt, it was weak enough he was still clear-headed. He’d be back in a few hours, after Pomfrey and McGonagall had retired for the night. Then he’d be able to see Malfoy alone. They’d figure this out.
Figuring it out seemed pretty simple with Malfoy pressed along his back.
“You can definitely help me.” Malfoy rutted up against him, crushing Harry into the underbrush. Harry’s head filled with the scent of wet leaves and moss. “Is this what you came out here for, Potter? I’m a bit disappointed the Saviour of the Wizarding World has so little self-control in the thrall of a Veela.”
Malfoy was mocking Harry, but himself too. Harry could hear the self-loathing, could feel it now that they were so close the connection between them burned with Malfoy’s conflict. The feral instinct, the mindless focus of the Veela warred with Malfoy’s desire to remain in control as though he refused to give up the freedom he’d won himself during the post-war trials.
“Look, Malfoy, I understand what you are feeling... more than you can possibly know.”
Harry couldn’t put it into words but he did know. He’d had a beast living inside him, even if he had no name for it at the time. He’d felt it always, and growing worse as Voldemort’s power increased, wondering who was in charge of his body as he woke in a cold sweat from yet another dream that wasn’t a dream at all. He and Malfoy were somehow inverted images of each other; they made some sort of crazy sense. This didn’t feel wrong.
“I want this.”
“Do you even understand what you’re offering?”
“I do.” Harry exhaled, his body relaxed beneath Malfoy, and after a moment’s pause he shifted backward, rocking his arse against Malfoy to make himself clear.
A rumbling sound reverberated in Malfoy’s chest and he lifted Harry, spun him with inhuman strength until they were nose to nose. Malfoy was looking at him, eyes half closed, head cocked, predatory.
Harry squirmed, embarrassed at the hardness of his cock poking Malfoy’s thigh.
Malfoy growled, pinning his wrist above his head. “We’ll be mated.”
Harry gritted his teeth at the rocks and twigs poking at his back, unable to move with Malfoy’s weight pressing down on him. He tried to think through the fog that Malfoy’s magic was making in his thoughts. He tried to find words beyond “yes, please” and “why are you arguing?”
He pressed his eyes closed and focused. “I’m not-- This isn’t self-sacrificing.” Harry rocked his hips upwards and shivered through the resulting friction. Malfoy’s head bent, his nose buried in Harry's nape, inhaling sharply. Harry thrust up again and the angle was even better.
Face hot, he breathed, “Draco, please.”
Suddenly Malfoy’s mouth was on his and Harry’s eyes snapped open in surprise. A moment later, when the heat began to grow in his belly and his skin tingled with Veela magic pouring over him, they fluttered shut again.
Sometime past midnight Harry snuck back to the hospital wing, hoping Pomfrey was finally asleep. He found the corridor empty and the lights dim, but as he stopped at the door and pressed his hand to the wood, he knew what he’d find in the room. Or rather, what he wouldn’t find. He pushed the door and cursed. The room was empty. By the hospital bed where torn bits of leather, shredded into long strips.
Harry tightened his cloak around himself and closed his eyes against the panic of Malfoy being gone. It only took a moment for him to feel the pull.
The kiss was violent and messy with a shocking thrill of danger. Draco dragged his claws down Harry’s sides, tearing at his robes. Harry’s mouth tingled raw with the scrape of Draco’s teeth as he sucked Harry’s bottom lip. His cheeks itched from Draco’s stubble, stinging still as they pulled back. They panted, breathless, into each other’s shoulders.
As much as Harry wanted to pretend he was in control, that he had the ability to choose here, Malfoy’s touch made it harder to believe. But he had wanted this before -- clear-headed, he had wanted this. Now though, the pull was undeniable, all consuming.
Malfoy rocked his hips urgently against Harry thigh. “I need to tie with you,” Malfoy blurted out, his eyes wide and unsure, like Harry might stop now and break him apart.
As Malfoy spoke, Harry’s skin heated, Veela magic washing over him. “Oh God,” he gasped. The magic swirled around his body, curling at his lower back, the same possessive touch he’d felt the night he’d raced the flames with the broomstick between his legs and Malfoy’s arms wrapped around him so tightly he could barely breathe.
He clenched and felt his arse tighten and relax in the way it did after he’d worked in a couple fingers during a really good wank session. He was loose, wet. “Did you just...”
The strangled, “Fuck,” seemed to confirm Malfoy knew what had just happened. Whether Malfoy had willed the magic to ready him or not, Harry no longer cared because he was burning for it. There was no turning back.
Malfoy began to claw at Harry’s clothes. When Harry’s shirt took too long, there was a loud tear and it fell away. Harry joined in, alternating between stripping himself and Malfoy in the least efficient way possible. They continued to get distracted with bites and kisses, and the grind of their rocking hips.
The cold night air hit him the moment Draco stepped back to yank off the last of his clothes. He shivered and Malfoy was on him again, surrounding him in skin on skin heat.
Ducking his head to peek at the cocks pressed between their bodies, Harry could make out the beginnings of the fat bulb at the base of Draco’s cock and felt the strangeness of it as it pressed against his own. Harry clenched his arse cheeks knowing soon it would be slipping inside and growing, stretching him more than his fingers ever could. He wanted this. Whatever might happen to him and Malfoy in the coming months, years, right now he needed this.
Draco flipped him and once again Harry’s face was plastered to the ground. He struggled to rise but Draco growled a warning and the sting of sharp claws at Harry’s shoulders stilled him.
The claws trailed lower, inching a slow-burning trail that Harry knew would mark him for days. He imagined tomorrow, standing under the shower-spray still feeling the sting, how he’d be remembering this moment. The thought made his hips jerk. At the curve of his back the pain morphed into a gentle scratch of blunt human nails but he didn’t dare look back. It didn’t matter because in another second his arse cheeks were being pried apart, exposing him, and Harry was more than happy to keep his face buried in the dirt while he was being inspected.
Harry felt a small nudge against his entrance and in the next breath Draco’s finger slipped in easily. A trill of pleasure came from Draco but sounded nothing like human. Harry twisted to look, but Draco shoved him back down with a steady grip at his nape. Harry swallowed hard, grateful the fingers curling at his Adam’s apple were no longer talons. Two more fingers thrust in his slippery arse and Harry gasped, shifting toward and away, erratic and impatient.
Draco cursed into the curve of Harry’s spine as he pushed his fingers in and out, testing, even though it was obvious that the magic had done its job and Harry was more than ready. But Draco hesitated. Harry could feel the tremble of his body and a broken, choked whine vibrated against Harry’s skin.
Harry loved the sound, vulnerable and wanton, like it was Harry that held the power here, not Draco. He was pretty sure right now he’d do anything to hear that sound again. He pushed back onto the fingers, but they disappeared.
The next instant the wide tip of Draco’s cock was there, easing its way in. Harry choked at the stretch, his fingers digging into the dirt, eyes stinging. He’d barely caught his breath again when Draco started to fuck him in quick, piercing juts of his hips. Harry could feel the press of the knot against his entrance with each thrust. His heart hammered in his chest; he knew what was to come.
One snap of Draco’s hips and it popped in, pushing past the tight ring to fill him. Harry gasped, mouth opening against the damp leaves pressed to his cheek. The pain was searing. He blinked back the wetness in his eyes and tried to breathe. Instinct told him to scramble away but he was pinned. He was stuffed so full moving felt impossible. Dangerous.
Then suddenly there was a shift and Draco’s breath was hot at his shoulder, whispering something Harry couldn’t make out. Draco began to rock in shallow thrusts that stole Harry’s sanity. It hit deep and just right, each pull back blocked as Harry’s arse clung tight to the knot. He was aching hard, despite the pain. Already, he was so close to coming, but the thought of clenching tight when he was stretched to his limit made him tremble with need and fear, holding fast to his control. He clenched, tentative, and they both groaned.
“Can’t-- have to--” Draco lifted himself to kneeling, taking Harry with him.
Harry wasn’t sure if it was Veela magic creating a bond between them or just the intensity of the tying, but he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move. He couldn’t stop clenching around Draco’s cock.
Draco just kept going. It was too much, but Draco wasn’t stopping and Harry wasn’t telling him to. He couldn’t even if had breath enough for words.
He curled his fingers deep into the wet earth beneath him and cried out. His body tensed and he squeezed around the unforgiving knot as he rode out his orgasm. Trembling through the aftershocks, his body clung to Draco’s cock in almost painful contractions until he collapsed, wrung out.
Above him, Draco made another sharp, panicked trill and he pressed himself deep. Harry felt him shatter silently as he came. Draco’s entire body shaking, he held Harry, biting, licking, kissing whatever skin he could find. The forest crackled with magic, the air thin and used like a spent incantation.
Once they’d caught their breaths, they shifted as much as the tie allowed, resting on their sides. Harry was still so full, oddly so in the calm of the afterglow. The intensity of it made it impossible to relax. Harry lay there both trapped and safe, his arse twitching around Draco’s cock. It felt uncomfortably intimate without the urgency of lust driving him on.
He squirmed until Draco shushed him quiet, petting his hair, kissing his shoulder as the magic swirled around them. And that was both strange and undeniably wonderful. Harry let it steal away the tension, and he dozed in and out of sleep until the knot shrank enough for Draco to slip free.
At some point Draco wrapped them in a cloak and they remained nestled at the base of an ancient oak, a cocoon of magic protecting them until morning.
Harry woke to the faint sound of people shouting in the distance. They were looking for someone, he realised, calling out a name.
He cracked an eye open. It took a few seconds staring at the sun filtering through the canopy of leaves for Harry to realise he’d spent the night in the Forbidden Forest. It took the shift of a warm arm around his waist to remember why. Draco looked angelic in the morning light, his hair shiny golden and his lips turned up at the edges like Harry wasn’t the only one who’d found a bit of peace for his bruised and battered soul.
They needed to return to school, meet with McGonagall, tell everyone. They wouldn’t be able to hide this, even if they’d wanted to. They needed to figure out their lives now and deal with the consequences.
Harry sighed, finding it impossible to care much about anything other than the way Draco’s soft breath against his shoulder made him feel whole for the first time since the Battle, since the funerals and trials. He turned and adjusted the cloak to ensure they were well covered, and settled in for a few more hours sleep.
As he drifted off, the voices calling out in the forest faded, meaningless.