“He did what?”
Sadie, Draco’s assistant, did not look up as she repeated her statement: “He took a leave of absence.”
“But…why? Is he sick?” Harry wracked his brain to try and remember if anything had been off about Draco the last few days.
Sadie cast him a baleful look before returning her gaze to her papers.
“I don’t know, Harry. He owled me this morning and said he was taking a leave of absence. I don’t get paid to ask questions.”
Harry ran a hand through his already messy hair.
“Erm, okay then. See you around, I guess.” Sadie waved him away, no fuss, no bother, no repeated requests for an autograph or a photo, and Harry smiled to himself despite his confusion. Coming down to the Department of Magical Games and Sports was refreshing for him, as Draco had a knack for hiring people who were thoroughly unimpressed by the Chosen One, and that was the way Harry liked it.
As he came to the Atrium, he cast a Notice-Me-Not Charm on himself and hurried to the closest open Floo.
‘I should go back to school and get started grading those essays’ He thought, rubbing some of the Floo powder between his fingers, considering.
As the longest-reigning Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in the last decade (he’d been there two years, which was one more than all the rest), he had quite a workload. Yet, it was work he thoroughly enjoyed, as there was nothing more rewarding than the proud looks on the faces of his students when they accomplished their goals.
Now, when he wasn’t at Hogwarts, he divided his time between the Weasleys, his godson Teddy, Ron and Hermione, and, more recently, getting Indian takeaway and watching Muggle telly with Draco Malfoy of all people.
Their friendship had started to form two and a half years ago when Harry was deciding whether or not he wanted to leave the Aurors. Draco had, in his usual way, given him advice and a healthy dose of sarcasm…
“Maybe it’ll stop now that all the Death Eaters are in prison…” Harry had mused. Draco grunted noncommittally and scratched his left arm at the mention of Voldemort’s followers.
“Problem, Malfoy?” Harry’d demanded, though it lacked heat.
“No, Potter.” Malfoy had said, his voice also strained. “But you ought to make a decision soon – wouldn’t want Weasley to make you his deputy and trap you in a job you hate.”
“I don’t hate it.”
“Sure, you don’t.” Draco had drawled, and for an instant, Harry remembered, he had almost wanted to draw his wand. “You just want to quit because your boss is an arsehole, the paperwork is dreadful, and you are feeling overall drastically unfulfilled.”
“You’re more observant than I gave you credit for,” Harry replied. “Have you been spying on me?”
Draco smirked and stood, glancing at Harry with teasing mirth lighting up his eyes.
“No, I believe that was your department, Golden Boy.”
But now, Draco had taken a “leave of absence”, and Harry felt...bereft without him. He’d started looking forward to their regular nights in and had come to enjoy the give and take of their relationship. Not even Ron, who Harry loved like a brother, could banter with him the way Draco did.
Needless to say, getting a Firewhiskey at the Leaky wasn’t nearly as fun by himself, and he got some weird looks from the people around him (at least from those who weren’t openly staring). Harry sighed and signaled to Hannah for another pint.
Hannah Abbott and Neville Longbottom had been another odd pair, but once you got to know them, they made sense. They balanced each other out, and Hannah was kind and patient with Neville in a way that very few people were, even the grandmother that had raised him.
As Harry watched, Hannah walked into Neville in that clumsy way of hers. Neville’s eyes were full of tenderness as she flushed and knelt to help him pick up the Herbology books he’d been carrying. Hannah’s face glowed with embarrassment, but also happiness – the kind that Hermione had when she was with Fred, or Ron had with Pansy.
‘Fuck. I miss him.’
Why did seeing Hannah and Neville, or thinking of his other paired-off friends, make him miss Draco? When had he started referring to him as Draco anyway? The blond still called him Potter, much to the latter’s annoyance, which was undoubtedly why Draco kept doing it. He was a pain in the arse, but, dammit, Harry missed him.
He took a long pull from the Firewhiskey, wincing as the drink burned down his esophagus and settled warmly in his stomach.
“Heya Harry, you feeling all right? You’re looking a bit bleak.”
Neville’s not-as-pudgy-as-before face smiled at him, and Harry felt himself smiling back, even if it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Where’s Malfoy? Don’t you and he usually get a few drinks to kick off the weekend?”
“He uh…he wasn’t at work today.”
“Weird. Yours was a friendship I never expected.” Neville commented, almost as though he was continuing Harry’s train of thought. “You two despised each other at Hogwarts, so much that it kind of scared me.” he chuckled nervously. “But, time heals all wounds and all that.” he finished brightly, and Harry managed to make his smile more genuine.
Indeed, in the years since the Battle of Hogwarts, many things had changed. Not even in the romantic pursuits of his friends, but life in the Wizarding World as a whole. Hermione had fought hard to get House Elves protection from abusive owners, Ron had risen to the top ranks at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and Harry had finally figured out his sexuality.
Not that it had been a particularly shocking revelation to those closest to him. Hermione said something along the lines of “we knew all along”, and even Ginny, Harry’s first love, teased him about being a pouf. Ron, despite his initial irrational fear of suddenly being attractive to Harry when he never had been before (and frankly never would be), had come to accept that this was just another part of Harry, and he was as supportive as ever.
So, yes. Many things had changed since the war, most of which Harry was grateful for…
So why did he feel so empty?
Neville wandered back over to his fiancé, who looked at him as though he hung the moon and stars – that was it.
He was lonely.
He hadn’t been in a relationship since that disastrous farce with Isaac two years prior, and he’d gotten the Defense Against the Dark Arts job at Hogwarts not long after that, so he hadn’t had time to think about trying again with someone else.
Homosexuality was not a new concept to wizards they were much more open about it than most Muggles, but there was still a layer of scandal still attached to the idea. Add Harry Potter into the mix, and the potential for embarrassment increased tenfold.
Not for the first time, Harry resented his hero status. He’d never wanted this fame or destiny, they’d been thrust upon him because of events out of his control, but now he continually had to deal with the fallout. Unfortunately, said fallout usually left him single and unwilling to mingle.
Christ, alcohol made him so melancholy.
“Oh, quit whining you tosser. Have another drink or get your arse off the stool. Someone else might like to sit down.”
Harry smiled – Draco consistently called him out on his shit, and apparently, it was no different when the blond was gone.
“Hey, Harry. Don’t smile like that, you look drunk. I don’t want to cut you off, it’s only 8.” Hannah came over and carefully slid the empty mug away from him. “What’re you thinking about?”
Suddenly, something clicked in Harry’s head. It was almost like someone had cast Alohomora on a locked door inside his mind, opening him up to new possibilities. He honestly wasn’t sure why he’d never considered it before.
“Hannah, can I ask you a personal question?” At her nod, he continued, “How did you know that Neville was the one for you?” Hannah sighed in relief.
“Oh, that’s an easy one.” She leaned against the bar and cupped her chin in her hands, staring dreamily into the distance. “It was in his eyes – so much passion and life – he just made me want to be a part of it, you know? Even if I don’t want to study plants like he does, I’m happy to support him, just like he’s happy to support me.” Her eyes drifted over to the other Gryffindor, who had set himself up in the corner of the Leaky by the fire, lost in his books. “One day, we’re going to open a restaurant of our very own.”
“Tell you what – I’ll be your first customer when you do open it up.”
Hannah smiled back.
“Sounds like a plan.”
Harry Apparated back to his flat, feeling lighter than he had in a long while.
“I fancy Draco Malfoy,” he said to no one, but that was fine because saying it aloud made it real. His heart fluttered as another memory flew to the front of his mind.
“Christ, Draco, did you transfigure your feet into icebergs?” Harry’d demanded.
“You’re warm.” Draco had replied. He wiggled his toes against the warm flesh of Harry’s thighs. Harry glared at him, but Draco just smirked.
They had gotten into many a debate over the Muggle movies they watched, and at one point, Draco had run out of ideas for an argument, so he flung curry at Harry and began a food fight. Harry had been cleaning it up for days afterward, but he hadn’t minded.
Harry had a sudden urge to lay on Draco’s side of the couch to see if any of his scent remained. So, knowing no one was there to judge him, he flounced onto the couch and hugged Draco’s favorite pillow.
To his delight, it smelled like cinnamon and vanilla, two of the things that Harry associated with Draco. He inhaled until he felt full of Draco’s scent, and even more than before, Harry missed him.
Something occurred to Harry then that hadn’t before – a leave of absence was indefinite. It wasn’t like a vacation, and Sadie hadn’t said anything about when – or if – Draco would be coming back. What if Draco was sick? Or Narcissa? (In becoming friends with Draco, he’d gotten close to his mother, who was quite lovely underneath it all).
It was at that moment that Harry decided – he had to know if Draco was okay. Not even because of the newly discovered feelings – he had already decided he was taking those to the grave – but because he cared about the bastard, as strange as it seemed.
Harry sat up – he could Firecall Draco. See if the prat was even taking calls.
He walked over to his fireplace and took a handful of Firecall powder – similar to Floo powder but intended for communication rather than transport – and threw it into the smoldering embers.
“Draco Malfoy,” he said clearly, and the flame roared to life, the magic of the fireplace reaching out to Malfoy Manor.
A few tense seconds passed before a groggy but very Draco voice answered: “Potter?”
“Malfoy?” Harry quipped, and Draco’s disheveled face appeared in the fire.
“What do you want?” Draco asked, getting right to the point as he always did.
“Oh! I, uh. I stopped by your office today and Sadie said you took a leave. Ummm…” he floundered, doing his best not to sound like a nosy girlfriend.
“I needed a vacation,” Draco replied gruffly, answering Harry’s unasked question. “I’ve been stressed lately,” he added, almost as an afterthought.
“Then why not take a holiday?” Harry asked. “A leave of absence doesn’t have a set date of return…” he hedged.
“Aw, Potter, are you trying to tell me you miss me?” teased Draco, and Harry flushed, grateful that Draco couldn’t see his embarrassment in the Firecall. “That’s adorable.”
“Shut up, you prick,” Harry mumbled, and Draco laughed, a rich, beautiful sound that turned Harry’s insides to butter. “We still need to finish watching Star Wars.”
“If I recall correctly, you were the one that fell asleep halfway through Empire Strikes Back.”
“Oh, like you’ve never fallen asleep during one of our movie nights before!” Harry snapped, more irritated than he had any right to be. All of the giggly feelings he’d been having whooshed out of him, and without them, he was exhausted.
“I never said I was innocent, did I?” Draco said, his voice soothing in a way nobody’s voice ought to be, ever. “Was there a more urgent reason for your call, or did you wake me up to tell me you missed me?” Harry could hear the barely concealed snicker and scowled.
“Forget it,” he grumbled. “Finite Incantantem.”
The next morning, Harry Flooed to Hogwarts and tried to get some work done. He had papers to grade and lessons to prepare, after all – Draco’s leave of absence was irrelevant and should have been an afterthought for a busy professor.
All day, memories assaulted Harry from every direction, ghosts from his past (not the literal ones) accosting him at every turn. Most of them starred Draco in some way, which was unsettling because he hadn’t realized just how much influence the blond boy had had on his life both as a student and as an instructor.
By the end of it, Hogwarts felt as foreign to him as it had on the night of his Sorting. He was confused and sad and no amount of distractions were going to change that.
He had to talk to Draco – face to face, in person. There was no way around it, and what was worse, he knew Draco was going to be
He just couldn’t bring himself to care.
“So, you’ve resorted to stalking me at my home now?” asked Draco once he took in Harry’s appearance.
“I need to talk to you.”
“Gods, Potter, no wonder the Weaslette broke up with you, you’re so needy.”
“I broke up with her, and if she says otherwise she’s lying--that’s not the point, you asshole. Let me in.”
“Say the magic word?”
Harry rolled his eyes.
“Please let me in.”
Draco opened the door wider and allowed Harry to enter.
“Good. With your deplorable manners, one would think you were raised by wolves.”
“Wolves probably would have treated me better,” Harry muttered.
“You still haven’t told me…” Draco began, his voice uncharacteristically soft. It made Harry’s insides do strange, tingly things to hear the concern and morbid curiosity in the other man’s voice. He forced the feeling down and, acting like the prat Draco had always believed him to be, walked right in and sprawled himself out on the couch.
All at once, Harry was consumed by the sweet scents of cinnamon and vanilla, and something else. Something much muskier and masculine that made warm desire pool in his stomach. He didn’t realize he’d closed his eyes until he opened them and took in the bewildering sight before him.
Draco – who had been wearing black pants and a white button-up shirt when Harry came in – was now shirtless, but that wasn’t the part that had Harry staring. The tattered remains of his shirt scattered across the floor and flared behind him in a dramatic show that only Draco could pull off – were wings.
Gorgeous gold-tipped white wings that were spread out as though Draco was planning on taking flight right that minute. His face was flushed and his eyes were dilated…oh.
Harry wasn’t sure how long they stared at each other, it could have been minutes, hours, weeks, or years as far as he was concerned, but once the realization sank in, Draco bolted.
“Wait!” Harry cried out, his voice cracking as the door at the end of the hall – the one leading to Draco’s bedroom no doubt slammed shut.
“Get out! Get out and don’t come back!”
Harry ran for the door and tried fruitlessly to turn it, knowing Draco had cast locking charms and wards to keep him out. “What part of get out don’t you understand?” the blond asked from the other side of the door.
“The leaving part,” replied Harry, turning around and sliding down with his spine to the cold wood. “Is that why you took the leave of absence?”
“Partly,” Draco said after a pause, and Harry nodded to himself, confirming what he already knew. “It is stressful to run an entire department; I think I’m allowed a vacation every once in a while.”
“But not without telling your best mate.”
A shocked gasp forced its way out of Draco.
“Is that what we are?”
“Open the door and I’ll tell you.”
Truthfully, Harry didn’t think it was going to work, but when he fell backward and was staring up at a winged Draco Malfoy, he was so happy it did.
So happy in fact, that when he got to his feet and stepped toward Draco, he wasn’t completely sure what made him kiss his former rival, but he knew in that instant that he never wanted it to stop.
Draco’s lips were incredibly soft, so much so that Harry wanted to bite them raw and claim-
A too-strong grip on his bicep had him pulling away, albeit reluctantly, and Harry’s heart shattered at the utter despair on Draco’s face. “Friends don’t do that, Potter.”
“Oh no?” Harry’s mouth tilted upward in a teasing smirk. “Is that why you look like you want to eat me up?”
Indeed, Draco looked like he was barely able to restrain himself – his wings had snapped out and were painfully taut.
Harry’s eyes drifted to Draco’s wings, and he noticed that the gold had spread from the tips to the tips of the outermost feathers. “Can I touch them?”
“No!” Draco squawked, stumbling back a few steps as if he’d broken himself out of a spell. “I think I recall telling you to leave.”
“And I ignored you,” Harry said, closing the gap between them. “Tell me why you left.”
“I can’t exactly run a department with wings,” Draco answered, moving away as Harry moved closer. “It was difficult enough when they were growing, but now…gods Potter, some personal space would be nice!”
Harry tilted his head and reached forward to brush a stray hair from Draco’s face. Draco’s face flushed even darker, and Harry grinned.
“Something tells me you don’t want me to go anywhere.”
“How presumptuous of you.”
Harry leaned even closer, and the scent from earlier hit him again, even harder than before because its source was so near.
Draco was aroused.
As much as he tried to deny it, to make Harry leave, to act unaffected…he couldn’t mask his scent. At least not now, not with Harry so close and willing…
“You want me.” marveled Harry, the cloying scent overwhelming in its intensity. It was like Amortentia, but about a thousand times more potent. “I want you,” Harry continued. “I don’t see the problem here.”
“The problem is, Potter,” Draco panted, and Harry noted with glee that the other man was close to his breaking point, and Harry had barely done anything…yet. “That I’m a part-Veela, you’re my Mate, and you’re…under my spell.”
“So, that explains the wings,” Harry said after a few heartbeats. “Fleur was lucky with that, she only inherited the characteristics of a Veela, not the body parts.”
Draco laughed brokenly.
“That’s your first reaction?” Draco’s wings shuttered inward, closing against his back like a shield. “I must say, Potter, you never fail to surprise me.” Draco shook bemusedly. “Now that you know, will you please leave?”
“Unlike you, I’m not persuaded by magic words,” Harry replied. “I’m not leaving, because if I do, you’ll change the wards and the locks, and I’ll never get back in.”
“You stubborn fool. Don’t you understand? I can’t – I won’t – let you be the hero here. I’ve already accepted my fate.”
“Your fate to what? Become a hermit and die alone out of sheer stupidity?”
“Yes, I do. I once had to cover for Hagrid when he was sick – I taught a whole lesson on Veelas.”
Harry brushed his nose along the quivering skin of Draco’s neck, the scent of sweat and arousal a tantalizing tease to his senses. “Veelas are a melting pot of races – Germanic fairies, Greek Sirens, Muggle author J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about you lot as elves in his early drafts…”
“Fascinating.” Draco gurgled, and then cleared his throat when Harry smiled against his collarbone. “Gods, Potter, you have no idea what you’re doing to me right now.”
“Good of you to finally admit it. Male Veelas are extremely rare, typically only born of a line wherein there was a Pureblood Veela within the last three generations.”
“My paternal grandmother,” said Draco. “It was a secret my grandfather kept until he was on his deathbed. Being Mated to a creature was shameful and not at all what the Malfoys were supposed to represent.”
“Good thing I’ve never given a rat’s arse about my reputation,” Harry replied, pulling back from Draco’s neck to meet his eyes, which had turned molten silver. “I realized something today.”
“I fancy the hell out of you.”
Draco made a strange noise and suddenly had a talonlike grip on Harry’s shoulders, pushing him an arm’s length away.
“Don’t lie to me.” growled the blond, the silver turning black in an instant. “Don’t…don’t…get my hopes up.”
“They should be up.” Harry hardly winced at the pain in his back. “I love you. I claim you.”
“I know what I’m doing. I claim you as my destined Mate. I am yours and you are mine, forever and for all time.”
Thunder crashed outside, rain slamming against the windows as the air between the two men shimmered, their magics waltzing together in a dance only they knew.
Draco fell to his knees, and Harry pulled him into his arms, careful not to touch his wings. Draco hadn’t given him consent for that, and he’d be damned if he ever took advantage of something the other man had no control over.
“How…could you…shackle yourself to me? I’m nothing! An abomination!”
“Sure, but now you’re my abomination.” Harry grinned dorkily, and Draco laughed shakily. “Do you want to get something to eat?”
They ordered from their favorite Indian takeaway and went back to Harry’s flat. As they sat down to eat, Draco nudged Harry’s arm, but not with his hand or elbow. Draco, to Harry’s astonishment, was reaching out with his wing.
Now fully golden – “A claimed Veela has golden wings, Potter.” – they were more beautiful than ever.
With the gentlest touch he could manage, Harry ran his fingers along the rim of Draco’s wing. Draco took a particularly loud swallow of his takeaway but said nothing as the movie unfolded before them.
“Is this okay?” Harry whispered, and Draco shuddered, nodding. Harry caressed the inside of Draco’s wing, and the blond whimpered. Experimentally, Harry moved his hand down, toward the bottom of the wing, and Draco seemed to relax.
Well, we can’t have that…Harry thought. His hand drifted upward, closer to Draco’s spine, and the other man’s breath hitched. Harry buried his fingers into the feathers and Draco cried out, making a birdlike squawk that would have made Harry laugh if he wasn’t the one causing it.
“Don’t hold back,” Harry whispered throatily. “I want to hear you.”
Draco bit his bottom lip, and Harry pressed his fingers in harder, making Draco gasp for air like he’d been underwater for hours. “Draco…”
Before he knew it, Harry was in Draco’s lap, and his right hand was carefully massaging the feathers of Draco’s right-wing. The part-Veela shuddered violently, and then Harry kissed him.
This time, Draco gave as much as he took, and Harry’s cock hardened against his denims.
“You smell…you smell divine.” Draco murmured between kisses. “Like broom polish and…treacle tart.”
“Treacle tart’s my favorite,” Harry said softly.
“You know…you know that copulating will…will cement the bond.”
“Well then, what are we waiting for?”