There were moments when Draco Malfoy wondered what he was thinking when he took up the position as Hogwarts Potions Master, moments like now when he had to oversee yet another dunderhead in detention.
Piers Morgan – he had been told – was a good kid, but as far as Draco was concerned the third year was lazy and useless. His grades in Potions were mediocre at best, and it wasn't because of any lack of innate talent as far as Draco could tell; rather it was because he just couldn't be bothered to try. Morgan's chopping was sloppy, his grinding was sub-par, and if he counted his ingredients rather than just grabbing a handful, Draco considered himself lucky. There had been more than one melted cauldron due to Piers Morgan over the last two and a half years, and Draco had no doubt there would be more to come before he could ban the boy from his dungeon after his OWLs.
Draco looked up from his grading to see the inept Hufflepuff about to add a handful of nettle flowers to his cauldron, rather than counting out the six that were called for. "Morgan!" Draco called sharply, "Fail this potion again and I will have you not only repeating it again, but scrubbing out cauldrons every night for the next three weeks."
The student scowled, but he set the handful of flowers down and begrudgingly began counting out the appropriate amount.
A short while later, as Draco was considering the fact that he would welcome even a visit from Potter to break up the monotony of grading first year essays, then who should appear to knock on his door but the specky git himself.
"Malfoy, do you have a minute?" Potter asked, and walked into the classroom uninvited. Draco resisted the urge to snap something sarcastic at him in front of a student, even if it was Morgan.
"I'm busy supervising a detention and grading assignments, if you hadn't noticed, Potter."
Potter glanced at Morgan, but as the boy appeared to be absorbed in his potion he disregarded him. "I just wanted to have a chat with you about Amelia Prewitt. She came to me about the essays you handed back today..."
"She made a foolish mistake in her premise that rendered the entire rest of her paper invalid, I stand by that grade. If she wants to improve it she can redo the assignment with an extra 8 inches, and I told her so."
"Malfoy, Potions isn't the only NEWT she's studying for. Surely you can see that's a bit excessive." Merlin, Potter sounded patronising. Draco hated being patronised.
"If she had done it right the first time, she wouldn't be in this situation. There are no re-dos for the NEWTs, Potter, and coddling the students won't help them pass their examinations. Just because they accepted you into auror training without any NEWTs doesn't mean they or anyone else will make that kind of exception for normal students," Draco sneered.
Why? Why did Potter bring this side of him out? Draco knew he was right about Prewitt and the assignment, and yet he found himself reduced to the level of a bickering school child, even if his taunt did have a point.
And then there was Potter. As usual Draco had managed a barb that hit home, and the stupid sod didn't even bother to hide how much it seemed to wound him in his expression. Potter wore his heart on his sleeve like a badge of honour, and it rankled Draco how much it made him feel guilty these days to see that wounded expression. Potter should have developed a thicker skin by now. The world wasn't a kind place, and dammit, Potter should already know that!
"That wasn't what I meant, Malfoy! Why do you always have to go and make things personal? I know I didn't finish school the conventional way, that doesn't mean I don't understand how to help my students." Potter paused and took a breath, calming himself down, and damn him again for having grown up enough to be able to be the more adult one of them in this fight. "I just feel that the extra 8 inches on the essay is excessive. Why not limit her assignment to a top possible grade of 90% instead? She still has to redo the work, she still has a consequence for having done it wrong the first time, but the amount of time it'll take her to do the work is more reasonable in light of her three other NEWT classes."
Draco opened his mouth to retort about what a stupid idea that was, only to pause because actually it wasn't all that stupid. In fact, Draco had to begrudgingly admit to himself that it was a pretty fair compromise. Admitting that to Potter though, he'd lose face and that just galled him. He was trying to figure out how to turn this blighted conversation around to his advantage when he was distracted by the scent of smoke.
Gaze turning sharply to Morgan at his potions bench, Draco was horrified to see a cloud of dark smoke billowing up out of the cauldron.
"Uh oh..." Morgan said, staring at the contents of his cauldron in horror, and that was the only warning any of them had before the contents exploded, covering the room, and Draco's perception of the world went black.
He was floating in an endless sea, nothing as far as the eye could see but water. It was comforting, the waves lapping about him, surrounding him like an enveloping blanket. Then he was diving, deeper and deeper into the depths. Some part of his mind registered that he should be desperate for air, but his lungs didn't burn and his limbs didn't tire as he cut effortlessly through the water. The depths were home, and they called to him.
Draco woke to the sound of voices and an unpleasant throbbing in his head.
"You don't have any idea why we passed out?" Potter, that was Potter's voice, Draco's tired mind informed him.
"No, Professor Potter, I do not. Young Mister Morgan was coated in as much potion as either of you, but he didn't even feel drowsy, and for the moment I am at a loss as to what the difference is between him and Professor Malfoy and yourself. So for the moment you will stay in that bed so that I can observe you further and make certain there are no lingering effects." Madam Pomfrey, they were in the hospital wing then.
He slowly opened his eyes, taking in the shadowed arches of the ceiling above them. Turning his head to the side as he looked for the room's other occupants, Draco let out a groan as the throbbing grew to a dull roar. Perhaps moving hadn't been the best idea.
"Professor Malfoy?" His groan must have been loud enough for the others to hear, because suddenly Madam Pomfrey was at his side. "Can you hear me Professor Malfoy?"
"Unfortunately with an accompanying drum corps," Draco grit out, teeth clenched and eyes tightly shut against the pain. "My head apparently wishes to split in two."
"Hmm," was Madam Pomfrey's displeased opinion.
"A headache? I didn't have a headache, are you sure I can't just head back to my rooms?" Potter asked, and that whinging cut right through his skull.
"The inconsistencies in symptoms are all the more reason you should be kept here overnight for observation, Professor Potter, as you well know." The school matron's tone was stern, her patience starting to run thin with Potter's protests, a sentiment Draco could sympathise with. "This should help, Professor Malfoy," she said in a much gentler tone as she put a hand behind his back to help him up slightly, using the other to tip a goblet to his lips.
The taste of the brew was foul, but almost immediately the throbbing in his head began to abate, so Draco offered no protest as he drank the concoction down. When he was done, Madam Pomfrey rested him back against his pillow, her brow furrowed with concern as she looked down at him.
"How do you feel now, Professor Malfoy?"
Draco sighed softly in relief, "Better, thank you Madam."
She gave his shoulder a gentle pat, a reassuring smile on her face. "Good. I've sent out a sample of that botched potion to be analysed since you're one of the ones to be affected, hopefully we'll have the results in the morning. Now just you rest."
Normally Draco would protest that he should be the one to review just what Morgan might have created, but he really was so very tired. His eyes drifted closed, and soon he'd succumbed to Morpheus' warm embrace.
The water was black in the depths, he could barely see the hands before his face as he swam, and yet he swam with certainty. He didn't need to see his destination to know how to get there; it called to him from within. The pull changed direction and he paused to regain his bearings, after a moment though he was as sure as before and struck off with renewed vigour.
Draco walked into the shower room attached to the infirmary with a sense of relief. He'd woken blissfully free of both headache and Potter, the fool having snuck off out of the hospital wing in the early hours of the morning. Madam Pomfrey had been exasperated, but clearly not surprised, and Draco expected that if the test results on the potion came back in any way serious she'd have the recalcitrant professor back in her clutches before he knew what hit him.
He turned on the shower to let the water in the old castle pipes heat, then stepped off to the side to undress from his hospital issue pyjamas. Draco couldn't describe just how much he looked forward to this shower. He knew the potion had been spelled clear from his skin the night before, but he still felt... dingy, like his skin was coated in a dry film. He stepped into the lightly steaming shower and the sense of bliss that overcame him was nearly overwhelming. He'd known this was just the thing he needed.
Hands lifted to his head to run through his hair, working the water through to every strand. After a few moments though, his fingers tingled oddly and he found that he was starting to have problems running them through his hair. Lowering his hands to examine them he couldn't help but let out a gasp, his hands were webbed! Glancing down at his feet Draco finally noticed that his toes were in a similar state.
Draco sat on his hospital bed, wrapped up in a fluffy and oversized dressing gown. He had been wrapped in it since it had appeared on the foot of his bed. It was his favourite and he'd need to find a way to thank the house elves for their unseen care in recognizing his need and sending it to him. A way that didn't actually involve words of course – all that blubbering was unseemly.
When the door to the hospital wing opened, Draco felt a strange mixture of relief and irritation bubble up conflictingly inside him. He decided the feeling was because of just who had walked through, one emotion for each, Madam Pomfrey and the idiot Potter, respectively.
"I really don't think this is necessary," Potter complained. "I haven't had any side effects since I woke up yesterday."
"Some side effects may not be present at all times," Madam Pomfrey said irritably. Clearly this was an argument they'd been having the whole way to the hospital wing.
"I don't understand why you won't just tell me what might be wrong," Harry sulked.
"Patient confidentiality," she retorted as she led Potter over to a basin of water. "Now please immerse your hands in this bowl and hold them there until I've given you leave to remove them."
Potter looked startled. "What? Why?"
"Oh, for Merlin's sake," Draco snarled and got up from his bed. He shoved up one of his sleeves as he stalked towards the basin. "Anything to shut up your incessant whinging."
Draco plunged his hand into the water and at first nothing happened, causing Potter's brow to furrow further. "Wha- Malfoy, what in the world is this about?"
"Shut. Up." Draco gave him a glare. "Just watch, it takes a few moments."
Surprisingly Potter did as he was told, and as the tingling finally started, the webbing slowly grew up between Draco's fingers.
The man's eyes grew wide as he watched and he looked between Draco and Pomfrey in disbelief. "I've washed my hands since yesterday, nothing like that's happened to me."
"Brief exposure to moisture isn't enough to prompt the reaction," Draco ground out, "or did you miss that I had my hand submerged for nearly two full minutes before it happened?" he added as he pulled his hand out and began to dry it off on a towel.
"Maybe it's just a Malfoy thing. You reacted worse to the potion yesterday than I did," Potter protested almost desperately.
"That is what we are here to find out, Professor Potter," Madam Pomfrey said in her no-nonsense tone. "Now please roll up your sleeves and put your hands in the basin."
Reluctantly, Potter did as she instructed, and for a few moments nothing happened. Just as the two minute mark was passing and Potter was relaxing, seemingly relieved, his brow furrowed once more. "What the..." and then the same change overcame his hands as had overcome Draco's.
"Well that settles that," Draco said with a sense of satisfaction and walked back over to his bed with a smirk. His hand had reverted to its normal state, so he grabbed the book he'd been reading earlier and settled back on the bed, pretending to read as he listened in on Potter's panic attack.
"But... but how?!" The man looked at Madam Pomfrey for answers.
"That is what we are trying to figure out. I've already checked Mister Morgan and as with the other symptoms you and Professor Malfoy are experiencing, he does not share it. The potions analyst from St. Mungo's should be here later this morning. Until then you will remain where I can observe you for any other possible side effects." Madam Pomfrey's tone left no room for argument.
"Could I at least get some of my marking to work on while we wait?" Potter had been cowed in light of the matron's steely resolve.
"I'll summon a house elf. You may send them to fetch what you need." Smart woman, Draco thought, best not to give Potter a chance to escape again. Who knew where he'd end up next time?
"Oh, very well," Potter pouted and threw himself on an empty bed.
Inside Draco cheered in glee. It was good to see that Potter hadn't really grown up any more than Draco himself had, even if he was better at keeping his temper in an argument like the night before. Maybe this whole fiasco wouldn't be a total loss after all.
Granger. The expert from St. Mungo's was Granger?
She gave Draco a withering glare as he expressed that sentiment aloud. "I'm in charge of the foreign substance laboratory. Would you have preferred I left it to one of my subordinates perhaps?"
"Of course not, 'Mione," Potter quickly jumped in to reassure. "Malfoy's just being his grouchy self."
Draco resented being called 'grouchy' but he wasn't going to dignify the ridiculous comment with a response.
She gave a small 'hmph' and turned her focus back on Potter and Madam Pomfrey. "Well it's lucky for both of you boys that I didn't. Not only would the analysis have been left until the morning if I had, but I doubt they would have researched things quite as far as I did after Madam Pomfrey sent her letter about your latest symptom."
At that Potter brightened up, "You know what's wrong with us?"
"Wrong might not be quite the right word for it, but yes, I have a pretty solid working theory." The witch seemed far too pleased with herself for Draco's liking.
"Are you planning to tell us any time this decade?" Draco snarked.
"I was just getting to it," Granger said, refusing to look at him. "It's rather simple actually, Harry. You and Malfoy are selkies."
"I'm sorry, we're what?" Potter said incredulously, and Draco was getting rather tired of just how much of this seemed to befuddle the other wizard. After more than 15 years in the Wizarding world, one would think he'd have grown used to hearing strange things.
"Granger, explain. I've never heard of a potion that could turn someone into a selkie, and I think I'd remember if I was one before yesterday."
"Well, to be more precise you're both part selkie. Though to exactly what degree you each are I can't be sure without having a pure sample from a selkie to compare against." Granger grew more enthusiastic the further she got into her explanation. If Draco didn't find her normal know-it-all attitude so annoying, he might actually be able to respect her as a researcher. "And the potion didn't turn you into that, it just revealed the hidden traits of your heritage that were being suppressed by your more dominant genetics."
"Revealed... Wait, you're saying Morgan did something to the revealing serum that took it from something that shows the truth behind an illusion spell to revealing hidden heritage?" Damn it galled Draco to realise now he sounded as shocked as Potter had.
"Yes, I think he doubled the amount of marjoram in the mixture, it fits with what I've found."
"And these... side effects..." Potter said, some dread in his voice, "are they permanent?"
"It's hard to say for certain at this point," Granger said, giving Potter a sympathetic look. "The potion might wear off and they might go away with time. It might be permanent. if there turns out to be more than one side effect, some might go away and others will stay. This is a reasonably unprecedented situation in modern history."
"And what about Morgan?" Potter asked, concerned, of course, for his student.
"Well, he's Muggle-born, so it's unlikely there's any hidden magical heritage there, which is why it hasn't affected him as it has you both."
"But I will be keeping him under observation for a time, just to be certain," Madam Pomfrey added.
"Right... Good..." Potter shot Draco an uncertain look. "So, I know the legends and all, but I thought selkies were quite rare to marry into Wizarding families. How did Malfoy and I just happen to both have one in our history?"
Draco rolled his eyes, "I bet I can guess that one. It's the Black side of the family, isn't it Granger?"
She nodded, looking almost disappointed for Draco having taken away her opportunity to reveal a new piece of information. "Yes, you both have a common ancestor in the Black family a few generations back, and a few generations before that one Aritus Septimus Black married a selkie known only as Astny. According to the records I consulted, they had three sons before Astny disappeared once more into the sea."
"I'd like to see a copy of those records, if I might," Draco said, doing his best to sound civil. Wouldn't do to have Granger deny him out of spite. "It might be useful to review them to determine what other side effects we might be awaiting."
"They weren't extensive," Granger said almost apologetically, "but I'll have a copy sent over for you this afternoon."
"So," Potter looked hopefully at Madam Pomfrey. "Now that we know what's going on, does that mean we can leave the hospital wing?"
She sighed and shook her head with a fondly exasperated smile. "Yes, Professor Potter, you may. However, I want both you and Professor Malfoy to check in with me every evening after dinner for at least the next few days so that I may monitor you. And if you notice any new symptoms I want them reported immediately." She gave both professors a stern look that left them feeling like little more than the school boys they once were.
"Yes, Madam Pomfrey."
"Of course, Madam Pomfrey," they said in unison.
The water swirled and churned as he fought through the currents, trying to reach home. He thought he was getting close, but somehow it always seemed just out of reach. He broke the surface of the water and roared out his frustration before taking a deep breath and diving back into the depths once more.
Draco had hoped the webbed fingers would be the end of things. He'd been doing research of his own since his release from the hospital wing, Granger had been right about there not being much in what she had, but she didn't have the Hogwarts library. The school had been around so long that there were tomes there that weren't available anywhere else in Britain. In one of them Draco had found historical accounts of a family three centuries ago into which a selkie had married. The webbed fingers were apparently the most common trait to be passed down, and it wasn't unheard of for them to be present even two or three generations down.
Unfortunately, Draco was becoming increasingly certain it wasn't the only trait the potion had imbued him with.
He'd thought perhaps the ability to transform into a seal might have been another one he'd receive. It was a magic related to the animagus transformation, but naturally endowed like the powers of a metamorphmagus. It might have been interesting to swim as a seal did, and he'd been having dreams at night lately wherein he thought he might have been one. Dreams that he could never quite recall in the morning, but he was left with a sense of swimming and searching. He'd never been much one for divination, so he wasn't going to look for a deeper meaning in them, he figured it simply made sense that his subconscious would be focused on his predicament and trying to find a way to assimilate it into his mind.
Sadly when he'd tried to call upon the transformation, nothing had happened.
A tension had begun to fill him, however, since he'd left the hospital wing on Saturday morning. He attributed it to stress and simply locked himself away from the annoyances of the school while he researched selkies, and when he'd run out of information there he'd moved on to his own potions research.
What would normally soothe him hadn't, however, and now as he stood before his class of seventh year students he knew what the tension was with certainty. It was the symptom he'd dreaded the most...
"Patterson and Morris, if you do not get your hands off each other and back on your potions, you will be serving detention every Friday until your NEWTs," Draco snapped irritably.
The pair of seventh years sprung apart, having been mere moments from locking lips right there in the middle of the classroom. The other students sniggered, but this was the third time Draco had had to break up inappropriate behaviour and the class period was only half over.
The morning had been tiring, but he'd managed it, he'd had first and second years and clearly the students had been too young to be affected, but seventeen-year-olds... Well, they were already raging bags of hormones. The last thing they needed were pheromones in the air increasing that, and that's what was causing this, pheromones from Draco himself.
He'd hoped being past the age a male half-selkie child would achieve sexual maturity would mean he'd avoid the 'first rutt' he'd read about. Apparently his hopes had been in vain.
"Zabini, up front," Draco barked out, making a decision, and the girl in Slytherin green and a prefect's badge trotted quickly up to his desk. "I have some matters to take care of in my office, you're in charge. Everyone is to finish their potions and deposit a labelled vial upon my desk before they leave, understood?"
"Yes, of course, Professor Malfoy," she said earnestly, looking at him with far too adoring eyes.
This was going to be the longest two weeks of his life. Draco was certain of it.
The water grew warmer, welcoming him onward, and the currents were with him now, rushing onward, pushing forward. He knew he was getting close, so very close. Just a little bit further and he'd be there.
Draco drew up a new schedule for himself for the next two weeks. Detentions with all but the youngest students had been reassigned to Filch's care. New assignments had been written up for the fourth through seventh years, essays which would require extensive research in the library, where he could release the students to after the first few minutes of class.
He'd also taken to eating both breakfast and dinner in his rooms, only briefly appearing at lunch. Potter's presence at meals had only made him feel edgier and Draco presumed it was because of his selkie status as well. The texts had mentioned that there was often fighting between the young selkies when they were in rutt. By only going to lunch, the longest and most informal meal served at Hogwarts, he could usually time things to avoid Potter even there.
If Potter was feeling the same things Draco was, the other wizard was infuriatingly composed about it on the rare occasions Draco didn't manage to entirely avoid him. Draco supposed if he'd gone to Pomfrey about the symptom perhaps she'd have told him if Potter was suffering as well, but the book was quite definitive in that the rutt lasted only two weeks – give or take a day – and he really didn't want to have a discussion with the elderly matron about his sexual urges.
By the time Friday rolled around, Draco was certain he'd made the right decision. The situation with his classes hadn't worsened and the tension, while it continued to thrum, hadn't grown thanks to his routine. Of course complacency was bound to be his downfall.
He was walking down a staircase to the kitchens, absently contemplating whether he might be able to escape the school the following night to find a... companion with which to relieve some of his tension, when he heard his name shouted behind him.
"Malfoy, stop!" Damn, it was Potter.
Draco got to the bottom of the stairs and turned to warily watch Potter's approach.
"I've been trying to catch you since breakfast yesterday," Potter said, sounding irritable and it only served to grate on Draco's frayed nerves.
"Then you should have sent me a missive, shouldn't you?" Draco snarked at him.
"I didn't want to send a missive," Potter scowled, "I wanted a conversation. It's something civilised people have from time to time, but I suppose you wouldn't know about that, would you?"
"Why you..." Draco was near trembling with rage already, but he took a deep breath and tried to rein himself in. "If you were so eager to talk, what in Merlin's name was it about, anyway?"
Potter looked taken aback for a moment, as though he'd forgotten his purpose in halting Draco in the first place. "Wha- oh, right. What are you playing at with these essays you've assigned, Malfoy? Three rolls of parchment is beyond excessive."
Draco couldn't help the scowl that gripped him then, Potter was criticising his teaching methods again? That was not just insulting and annoying, but downright infuriating since the last time he'd done it was indirectly responsible for them being in the selkie situation in the first place.
"I think I'm a professor, same as you, and have the right to assign my students whatever I see fit," snapped Draco.
"Within reason!" Potter said, "I've had nearly a dozen students in my office in the last two days to complain about the assignments."
"They have a full week to complete them, and I'm giving them classroom time to work on them. The assignments are perfectly reasonable! It's not my fault your precious Gryffindors are afraid of a bit of hard work. Surely as a Head of House you should be telling them to toughen up and not indulge their snivelling?"
"Why you little..." Potter couldn't seem to decide what to call Draco, but he was nearly vibrating with his urge to call him something, Draco could see that much. He also couldn't resist the urge to poke at the hornet’s nest.
"Little what, Potter? Surely you're not so inarticulate you can't even finish a simple thought." A smirk was plastered on Draco's face. "Then again, perhaps you are. We both know you're just mimicking your favourite professor when you teach your classes. Lupin would be so proud."
Suddenly Draco found himself pushed up against a wall. "Shut your hole, Malfoy," Potter ground out. "You don't know what you're talking about, and you've no right to invoke his name that way."
Draco bared his teeth, "Or you'll do what?"
Potter's expression darkened, "Or I'll shut it for you."
"I'd like to see you try," the taunt came automatically to Draco's lips.
"Don't. Tempt. Me."
On some level Draco registered that Potter must be feeling at least some of the urges of the rutt as well; this was hot-headed even for him. Rather than staying Draco's hand, however, it only spurred him on, and without any conscious thought about it he gave Potter a hard shove.
A roar of frustration was all the warning Draco got before Potter was on him. Neither man reached for their wand and suddenly it was fifth year all over again, only this time the fight was even, and Draco gave just as good as he got.
All sense of time was lost in the flurry of fists, elbows, and knees. Before Draco knew it they were rolling about on the floor grappling with each other and the satisfaction welled up within him. This was just what he needed.
When he and Potter were unexpectedly jerked apart, Draco couldn't help a keen of loss from escaping him. He struggled against the hand holding his collar and restraining him, trying to get at Potter, as the other man did the same.
"Enough!" The stern voice cut through the red haze. Draco and Potter stilled and looked up the stairs to see Headmistress McGonagall approaching them with a truly furious frown on her aged face.
"They didn' even hear me when I tried ta call them off each other, Headmistress," Hagrid said, scowling down at the two men he held apart. "I'm surprised at ye two, ye've been mostly civil these last four years."
"This behaviour is completely unacceptable for students, let alone two Heads of House." McGonagall came to a stop in front of them, studying her professors. "Does this have something to do with your recent... affliction?" she asked, trying to be patient.
Potter was able to strangle out words first, fortunately they were ones Draco agreed with. "I think so, headmistress. I'm not... thinking straight right now."
"Hagrid, please escort our errant professors into the care of Madame Pomfrey." She gave them a hard look as she began to turn away. "I have no doubt she'll have some strong words for them."
McGonagall's prediction proved all too true. The hospital matron was far from pleased to find out both of her patients had been hiding symptoms from her, and she laid down the verdict that they would both be spending the night under her supervision so that she could monitor their health.
Injuries patched up, she ensconced both men in beds at opposite ends of the wing, and dosed them with sedatives. They were both going to get a good night's rest if she had to bind them to their beds, so the potion was downed without complaint.
Draco's final thought as he drifted off to sleep was to wonder if he would dream.
He was almost there, he could feel it. But... something wasn't quite... right... Perhaps if he dove deeper? Yes, deeper felt good, felt right. And then, suddenly, the ache in his chest was loosening as he felt his goal coming quickly to meet him. He swam to meet it, his arms and legs cutting surely through the water.
Without warning arms encircled him from behind, pulling him towards the surface. No! Home was the depths, but the other sense, it was there now, surrounding him, what was he to do? He struggled against the embrace in his indecision, but it wasn't enough and suddenly he was breaking the surface, drawing in deep and gasping breaths.
"Malfoy!" a voice called from beside his ear. "Malfoy, wake up!"
That voice... he began to still.
"Merlin, damn it... Malfoy, wake up. We need to get to shore."
Draco opened his eyes to see himself surrounded by black water. "Potter... what the... Are we in the lake?" he asked incredulously.
"Yes, and I'd like to get out of here before we both die of hypothermia," Potter said irritably.
"Well then, let go of me," Draco nearly shouted, and as Draco did so he realised something that only disturbed him further. "Am I naked?" He turned to face Potter and saw that what was visible of the man was without clothing as well. "Are you naked?"
A flush rose to Potter's face, "I'm still wearing my boxers, I didn't want to get everything else wet. That's more than I can say for you, you left all of your clothes on the shore. You are the strangest sleep-walker ever."
Draco didn't even bother to retort to that because frankly? The whole situation was just bizarre. Instead he struck out for the shore with an unfamiliar ease, and heard Potter start after him a moment later.
They got to the shore and Draco walked out upon it to start looking for his clothes.
"You're going the wrong way," Potter said as he stepped out of the lake as well.
Without a word Draco spun on his heal and started walking the other way around the shore.
"Geez, what a way to show gratitude," Potter muttered under his breath, but Draco heard him anyway.
That was it, the surreality of the situation and Potter's grumbling were all just too much for Draco to cope with. He stopped in his tracks and spun around to face Potter, heedless of his undressed state as he all but growled at the other man. "Gratitude? You want me to show you gratitude?"
Potter stopped walking a few feet away and frowned, "Well... yes. I did just save your life, probably."
"Yes, perhaps, but who's fault was it that my life was in danger in the first place, hmm? I wouldn't be dreaming of swimming in the sea if this whole..." Draco flailed about with a hand as he searched for the right words, so wound up with anger was he. "Selkie debacle," he finally settled upon, "had never occurred. Oh, and that's right, if it wasn't for you invading my classroom when I was in the middle of a detention, it wouldn't have."
"It was an accident, Malfoy. Maybe I should have waited until the following morning to talk to you, but what's done is done," Potter said, caught between anger and shame. "I'm more concerned with immediate matters now."
"Oh yes, and let's consider those shall we? You 'rescued' me from the lake, but if you knew I was headed down here, why'd you even let me get as far as the water's edge, let alone halfway out?"
"It wasn't like I did it on purpose!" Potter defended vehemently. "I only woke up just as you were leaving the hospital wing. I figured you were trying to escape back to your rooms, which wouldn't have exactly been an urgent matter. It was only when I got out to the stairs to call you back so that Pomfrey wouldn't need to go hunt you down in the morning that I noticed you were headed down to the Entrance Hall rather than up to your rooms. By the time I made it to the lake, you'd already stripped and dove in!"
While the pair had been arguing they'd unconsciously closed the gap between themselves and Draco was right up in Potter's face as he said, "A likely story!"
"Why you ungrateful sod!" and suddenly Potter was shoving him hard.
The action caught Draco off-guard and he stumbled back, but before he could fully get his feet under him again, Potter had tackled him and they tumbled together to the muddy ground.
Just like in the corridor they quickly fell into a flurry of wrestling and punching, knees and elbows jamming into uncomfortable places, flipping each other over in the mud as they both struggled for dominance. This time though, there were no heavy robes between them, just a single layer of water-soaked cotton, and it did nothing to disguise the state the fight was leaving them both in.
It registered on some level and their wrestling took on a different tone, still a fight for dominance, but not a fight won with broken bones or bloodshed. Draco's teeth nipped at Potter's throat, but the hiss that followed was one of pleasure rather than pain. Potter got him flipped over onto his back once more, but this time a leg was thrust between his and when Potter ground down against him, Draco arched up to meet him.
Their movements grew even more frantic after that, each man filled with nearly a week's worth of pent up frustration looking for an outlet. Draco gripped Potter's hips in a hold certain to leave bruises come morning, but neither cared as it gave him better leverage, and they both groaned at the increased friction.
There was nothing of finesse or skill as they drove each other towards completion. It was primal, visceral, as teeth and nails scraped along skin.
Draco could feel his stomach clenching, on the verge of coming, but he tried to hold on a bit longer, tried to outlast Potter. The tension was too much, however, and with a cry muffled as his teeth sunk into Potter's shoulder he came, drowning in a wave of sensation.
The sting of teeth on skin and seeing Draco come undone beneath him was Potter's own undoing, and with a few final thrusts of his hips his climax washed over him as well.
It was only as they were lying side-by-side in the mud that it occurred to Draco he felt better than he had in days. The tension that had held him tight wasn't entirely gone, but it had receded to a level he could easily ignore.
"Merlin, I needed that," Draco said, and he couldn't help the hint of a laugh that infused his words.
Potter's face turned towards his and the other man smiled wryly, "I know what you mean. I wonder if this means I'll be able to get through a class without students spending the whole time mooning at me."
Draco chuckled wryly, "And now you know why I assigned those essays."
"What?" Potter was thrown off at first by the abrupt change in topic, but as he thought back over their earlier conversation it suddenly all made sense. "Oh... Yeah, I suppose I get that now."
"If they're busy writing essays in the library, they don't have time to snog in my classroom."
"Did someone actually do that?" Potter asked incredulously.
"No, but it was a close call more than once."
"Man...this is insane," Potter said, and fell into the grips of laughter.
It was such a light and carefree sound, and Draco found himself drawn in to it. When they both finally stopped, Draco gave Potter a wry smile and said, "Well, at least it's only for about another week."
"A week? Oh good, I was afraid this might be permanent," and Potter's relief was clear in his voice.
"Permanent, where would you get an idea like that?"
"My mind was left to make up whatever worst-case-scenarios it saw fit to regale me with, seeing as someone had already checked out every book the library had that even made mention of selkies." He gave Draco a pointed look.
"Heh, yes, well..." Draco supposed that wasn't particularly fair of him, but then again when had he ever played fair? "According to the book all young male selkies go through about a two week period of increased sexual appetite and aggression when they achieve physical maturity. The activating of the heritage in full-grown men must be what's prompted it to happen to both of us now."
"Makes sense I guess." They laid there silently for a few moments before Potter, looking up at the stars said, "So...I don't really fancy a repeat of the last few days. So do you wanna...?"
"I could be amenable," Draco said, keeping his eyes on the sky as well. "This doesn't mean I don't still think you're a specky git, Potter," he added, though the words didn't hold much bite.
Potter laughed, "And you're still a wanker, Malfoy."
"Well as long as we have that settled," Draco said with a grin.
He got to his feet and held out a hand to Potter, and it was only after the gesture had been made that it occurred to both men the moment it mirrored so many years ago. This time though, Harry reached out and clasped that offered hand.
Without another word, the two men walked side-by-side to collect their forgotten clothing. They'd head back to their own rooms to shower and sleep, and in the morning they'd inform Madam Pomfrey their symptoms were under control.