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In His Nature

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********************

Trust Malfoy to screw everything up.

Harry grimaced, shook his head and tried to pretend that Malfoy wasn’t sitting on the other side of the restaurant glowering at him as if Harry had just walked over and spat into his food. Glaring back at him was absolutely not going to help. Ignoring him was definitely the better option.

“Are you okay, Harry?”

Damn it, now even Martin had noticed something was wrong. Harry rearranged his features into what he hoped was a winning smile.

“Yes, fine. How’s the steak?”

The question seemed to sufficiently distract Martin from Harry's temporary lapse in concentration and he tried to pay full attention as the conversation went first to the food, then onto the restaurant itself and then onto other topics.

He poked at his food and tried not to look too bored. The problem was Harry was bored. Martin was boring. Boring, boring, boring.

“Potter.”

Harry jumped and snapped his head up, only to find himself staring into the stormy grey eyes of Draco Malfoy. Automatically he scrambled to his feet. The look in Draco’s eyes was murderous and Harry had never been one to take his own death sitting down.

“What do you want, Malfoy?” he snapped, trying desperately to ignore the way people at nearby tables were starting to stare. Draco’s long, white wings were flaring in anger, seriously threatening to knock over the wine glass of the stuck up looking woman at the next table.

“Nothing Potter, just wanted to check you were having fun.”

“Well, thank you for your concern.” Harry said, trying to inject as much sarcasm as he could into his voice, because really, what the hell was Malfoy playing at? “But I’m just fine thanks. Perhaps you could leave now?”

There was an angry exclamation and Draco’s wings flared just a little more. The woman Harry had noticed earlier was too busy gawping to catch her wine.

“I am leaving Potter, I wouldn’t want to share the same airspace with you for any longer than necessary. Enjoy your date.”

The wings were drawn in and Draco turned and stormed out, leaving Harry to sink back into his seat feeling very confused. Despite the anger there had been hurt in Malfoy’s eyes as he’d turned away and Harry knew from experience that he only wrapped his wings around himself when he was feeling vulnerable.

The question was, why?

Harry shook his head to cut off Martin’s questions and tried to steer the conversation in a new direction, putting the odd behaviour down to just one more weird Veela thing that he didn’t understand.

********************

“What the hell was that all about, Malfoy?”

Harry had arrived at the Manor dead on eight o’clock, just like he had done on the first of every month for the past year. Well, a year and three months to be exact. Harry could remember the day he’d discovered that Draco Malfoy was a Veela as if it were yesterday. It was the same day that he’d discovered, much to their mutual horror, that he was Malfoy’s mate.

Things had been nothing except awkward at first, but after his outright rejection of the situation had very nearly caused Malfoy’s death, Harry had relented and they’d eventually come to this – not comfortable, but at least workable, arrangement.

If having sex with Malfoy once a month was what it took to keep Malfoy alive then Harry was willing to make that sacrifice. He hadn’t saved him from Fiendfyre just so the man could die of some pathetic longing that Hermione had convinced him Malfoy couldn’t control. It was in his blood, she said, in his very nature. He was going to want – need Harry for the rest of his life. That was how it was going to have to be.

Harry didn’t have to like it. He didn’t even have to do it particularly willingly. He just had to do it.

He just thanked his lucky stars that it had happened after he’d realised he was gay. Coming to terms with having to shag Malfoy and having to shag a man at the same time would have made an already horrific situation completely unbearable.

Yes, it was horrific, but Harry had managed to make it work. He turned up, did his duty, left and then spent the rest of his time pretending Malfoy didn’t exist. He’d got on with his life, his job, his hobbies; he’d managed to go on dates, and there had even been a relationship, which had lasted a good six months before it had fizzled out for completely unrelated reasons. Yes, it had worked. Only in all that time he’d never once seen Malfoy anywhere outside Malfoy Manor.

Now he had and for whatever reason Malfoy had acted as if it was the end of the world.

Now Draco was standing in the middle of a guest bedroom (because Harry completely refused to do this in Malfoy’s bedroom) sneering at him as if it was his fault.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Potter,” he drawled. His wings were lifted slightly, and Harry could see the agitated little tremors running through them that suggested however else the rest of him looked Malfoy was barely keeping himself under control.

“You know exactly what I’m talking about, Malfoy,” he snapped, using the opportunity to work off some of the frustration that had been building since his disastrous date three nights ago. “Why the hell did you come and talk to me?”

There was a derisive snort. “Not through choice I assure you.”

That made Harry pause for a moment and blink stupidly. “What are you on about, Malfoy?” he spat, when it became clear Malfoy was not going to elaborate. He shifted from one foot to the other, aware that this was the most conversation they’d had since they’d finally worked out that once a month was the minimum amount of sex needed for this to work. Usually they limited themselves to comments such as, let’s just get it over with (Harry), take your trousers off (Malfoy) and that’s my sock/robe/wand (usually Harry – he hadn’t quite worked out why Malfoy seemed to consistently mistake Harry’s possessions for his own; he strongly suspected it was just Malfoy being an annoying git).

“I’m a Veela, Harry.”

He said it as if it explained everything; unfortunately to Harry, it explained nothing. Malfoy seemed to realise this after a few seconds because he threw his arms in the air.

“I was jealous, Potter. You’re supposed to be my mate. You were with another man. It hurt, if you must know.”

Harry opened his mouth to make some sort of snappy retort and then closed it again. Malfoy’s wings had dropped; he didn’t quite have them wrapped protectively around himself, but they were very nearly there, just grazing his arms and they hung stiffly by his sides. He looked vulnerable – and yes, hurt. Just for a moment Harry felt sorry.

Then Malfoy ruined it.

“Of course, I don’t know what I was thinking being jealous of a boring, jumped up little prat like that. Was he really the best you could do, Potter? I’d have thought you’d get first pick of all the most eligible wizards going being the Chosen One and all.”

Harry’s anger flared immediately. “Fuck you Malfoy, I don’t need to stay here and listen to this shit.”

And he really didn’t. He wasn’t the Veela. He didn’t need to fuck Malfoy.

He turned and got as far as the top of the stairs before Malfoy’s hand closed around his wrist, effectively stopping him in his tracks. Malfoy was stronger than he looked.

“Don’t go.”

Ultimately it was the desperation in Malfoy’s voice, though it was barely louder than a whisper, which made Harry turn around. He glanced at Malfoy’s wings, drooping in a way Harry hadn’t seen ever since he’d actually bothered to start noticing what Malfoy’s wings were doing, and then he looked – really looked – at Malfoy’s face.

He didn’t usually. Eye contact was best avoided in Harry’s opinion. It made the whole thing a lot easier. But he looked now and saw the grey pallor to Malfoy’s skin and the dullness in his eyes and the way his hair hung limp and flat. Malfoy didn’t look good at the best of times in Harry’s opinion, but right now he looked dreadful.

“Are you okay?” he said, before he could think about the million and one different sarcastic replies Malfoy would probably throw back at him.

None of them came. Instead Malfoy just hung his head and his wings drooped further. Suddenly Harry felt very guilty, but then he shook himself and reminded himself of all the reasons he shouldn’t.

This wasn’t his fault. He needed to have a life outside of this… this whatever it was that he was sharing with Malfoy. He could never be the mate Malfoy needed – hell, even Malfoy didn’t want him to be the mate he needed, and he couldn’t be expected to give up his own chance at happiness just because he’d got stuck as Malfoy’s mate. He had every right to go on dates. He had every right to just walk away right now if he wanted. He could come back tomorrow. Malfoy would survive another day.

“Come on,” he said, shaking off Malfoy’s grip and starting back towards the bedroom, “Let’s just do this.”

Trying to convince himself of all the reasons he shouldn’t feel guilty was not actually making him feel any less guilty. Apart from anything else he wasn’t entirely sure it was Malfoy’s fault he’d acted like he did and he seemed to be suffering for it a lot more than Harry was. There was absolutely no need for Harry to prolong his suffering.

They went through all the usual motions. Malfoy topped because he’d said right from the start that his Veela nature would allow nothing else, and Harry’s objections had been perfunctory at best. He didn’t actually care and at least this way he could always insist that Malfoy did it from behind because Merlin knows it made the whole thing slightly more bearable if he didn’t actually have to look at Malfoy whilst he was coming. For once though Harry didn’t try quite so hard to bite back the noises he made as he came, he felt he owed Malfoy at least that much.

Afterwards he dressed quickly, whilst Malfoy lay silently on the bed curled into a foetal position with his wing draped over his body, hiding all the essential parts of his anatomy. They didn’t usually talk afterwards, except the occasional stiff goodbye on Harry’s part, but this time he had something he wanted to ask.

“Why were you at that restaurant?”

Malfoy’s whole body jerked as if he’d been hit by a stunning spell and he raised his eyes to Harry’s face with an expression Harry could only describe as wonder. He looked healthier already, Harry noted, some of the greyness had gone and there was a little more life in his eyes.

“I was eating dinner, Potter, what do you think I was doing?” he drawled after a moment’s pause.

The only reason Harry persisted was because he was more annoyed at the lack of answer to his real question than Malfoy’s irritating sarcasm.

“What I mean is, who were you with?” It was difficult to get the words out through gritted teeth, but Harry managed it in the end.

Malfoy raised an eyebrow. “Not that it’s any of your business, Potter, but I was with Theo and Blaise.”

“Why?”

The other eyebrow went up. “Because they’re my friends,” he said slowly, as if he thought Harry might have some difficulty understanding the words if he spoke any faster. “Don’t you ever go to dinner with friends? And why the sudden interest in my personal life?”

Harry shrugged. Malfoy had answered his question, he supposed he might as well do him a similar courtesy. “Just wondering if you were on a date.” It was the truth. If Malfoy had actually had the nerve to yell at him for being on a date when he was on one himself Harry had a few choice hexes that were just this side of legal he wanted to practise.

Malfoy’s reaction was not what he expected. He’s expected a sneer, or a sarcastic remark – he’d have settled for a glare. Instead what he got was a long, slow look. “You know nothing about Veela do you?”

Harry opened his mouth to say he knew plenty about Veela, but it was too much of a lie. He snapped it shut again.

“I can’t go on a date, Potter.” Malfoy’s voice was so quiet Harry had to strain to hear it; it didn’t help that he’d decided to bury his face in his hands too. “You’re it for me, Potter. I can’t be with anyone else.”

Shit.

Harry didn’t realise he’d said the word out loud until Malfoy twitched.

“Shit,” he said again and ran his hand through his hair. He hadn’t known. No one had told him and he certainly hadn’t bothered to find out. He’d always assumed Malfoy was getting on with his life just like he was. “Sorry,” he whispered, when it seemed there was little else he could say and Malfoy made no move to say anything else either.

“Yeah.” The voice was dull and contained none of Malfoy’s usual clipped aristocratic tones. It sounded defeated and crushed. Malfoy drew his wing more closely around himself so it covered his whole body and, very much fearing that he was about to witness him crying, Harry turned and walked away, closing the door quietly behind him.

He couldn’t give Malfoy what he needed, but he could give him privacy at least.

********************

As usual he was late for work the next day, and even more fractious than he normally was on the second of the month. It happened every time he had been with Malfoy. He’d go home and fall into a sleep so deep he wouldn’t wake up for the alarm, and then when he finally did wake he’d be so bone-achingly tired that he’d struggle to get through the day. It always wore off after twenty-four hours, but Harry hated that Malfoy made him feel this way.

Hermione’s only explanation was that the experience was emotionally draining him because all the literature suggested that sex between a Veela and his mate should make the mate feel better, not worse. She thought it might be something in Harry’s disposition that made him react that way. Harry thought it was probably just that Malfoy was a complete git who’d jump at any chance to make his life just a little more miserable.

Still, there was nothing he could do and he’d brushed off Kingsley’s suggestion that he should take the second of each month off. He was not going to let Malfoy interfere with his life anymore than strictly necessary.

********************

Harry glanced again at the witch behind the counter and decided that yes, she did know who he was and she was going to be one of those who tried to play it cool. The blush on her cheeks and the slight tremor in her voice definitely gave it away. Not that Harry minded, he preferred this to mindless gushing or shop assistants who tripped over themselves to be helpful. He particularly liked the fact that she wasn’t actually herding him towards the correct shelf like he was some sort of sheep, or even bringing the books to him as if he was some sort of invalid. She was just directing him to the shelf like he was an ordinary, everyday person.

He realised he wasn’t paying attention and tuned back in to her speech in time to hear her say, “And they’re on the second shelf.”

He thanked her politely, deciding that asking her to repeat it would make him appear stupid and wandered away towards the stairs, having heard the floor number accurately at least. It was a nice bookshop he thought. Hermione had recommended it, along with several suitable titles, when he’d said he needed to brush up on his healing spells. It reminded him of a little antiques shop he’d been into once with Aunt Petunia when he was younger. All rickety staircases and tiny rooms, except instead of antiques each room was lined floor to ceiling with books, both old and new.

When he reached the third floor he picked a room at random and wandered in.

“Malfoy!” He stopped short, knowing he was gaping in a stupid way, but completely unable to help it. Of all the rotten luck! Why did Malfoy have to have chosen today to come to this particular bookshop and why did he have to be in this particular room? It had been two weeks since they’d last seen each other and Harry had thought that the chances of seeing him again before their next scheduled meeting were practically zero. They’d gone a year and a quarter without meeting anywhere and now they were meeting for the second time in two months? It really was too much.

“What are you doing here?” he added when Malfoy had swung round and subjected him to a glare that suggested he thought he had a lot more right to be here than Harry.

“I’m playing Quidditch, Potter. Seriously, what does it look like I’m doing?”

“Um…” Harry stupidly hadn’t prepared for sarcasm and Malfoy obviously realised this because he rolled his eyes.

“I’m looking for a book on alchemy, if you must know.”

“Er… right.“ Harry wondered why he was struggling suddenly to come up with anything sensible to say. “I’m looking for a book on healing.”

Malfoy nodded. “Next room,” he said, one wing raised to indicate the direction Harry needed to go in and following it with a eyebrow when Harry did nothing but simply stand and gape at him.

He couldn’t help it. This conversation right here was the nicest he had ever had with Malfoy; he wasn’t even being that nice really, but Harry was still disconcerted. He felt the sudden urge to say something.

“Look, Malfoy, I’m sorry about… about what I said, you know, last time. I mean… I didn’t.” Merlin, he was rambling and Malfoy was staring at him like he’d lost his mind. He ran a hand through his hair and tried again. “I didn’t know it was like that for you okay? I’m sorry.”

The change in Malfoy was almost instant. His whole body stiffened, his wings flared and the expression on his face was one that reminded Harry of how Malfoy had looked when they’d been at school and Harry had managed to make a particularly cutting remark.

“Yes, well,” he snapped, his eyes fixed now on the shelf in front of him, “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by your complete ignorance since you’ve shown no interest at all in the entire situation.”

Anger surged through Harry at that. Why the fuck would Malfoy expect him to actually take an interest in any of this ridiculous situation? As far as he was concerned he’d much rather the whole thing would just go away. He wanted to spend as little time as possible thinking about or acknowledging it.

“Why should I take an interest?” he asked, and knew he sounded petty when he added, “It’s not like you took any interest. You never wanted me as your mate, you couldn’t even come tell me yourself.”

It was true. The news had come to Harry via Kingsley Shacklebolt; Harry wasn’t even sure whether Malfoy had told Kingsley himself. He’d had more important questions at the time like, What the fuck are you on about? and How do we undo this? All he knew was that Malfoy hadn’t approached him directly and he was pretty sure a normal Veela would have.

“Would you have listened?” Malfoy’s voice, stiff and unbending snapped Harry back to the present. He went to sneer that of course, he would and then realised it was a complete lie. More than likely, if Malfoy had come to him with talk about Veela and how Harry was his mate, he would have laughed him out the room, and possibly followed it up with a hex.

He snapped his mouth shut and glared at Malfoy instead.

“Whatever, Malfoy,” he said, when he could think of nothing more cutting, “Stay away from me.”

He turned and stormed out of the room, but he hadn’t turned quickly enough to miss Malfoy’s reaction to those words. In that one split second Malfoy’s wings had drooped and his face had crumpled and for the rest of the day Harry couldn’t shake off the feeling that he was possibly the most horrible person in the world for inducing that response.

********************

“Are you all right?”

It was two weeks since the incident at the bookshop and Harry had just arrived for their usual monthly – monthly what? Performance? Get together? Tryst? Harry had no idea what he was supposed to call this. All he knew right now was that Malfoy looked even less healthy than he had the last time he’d been here. The grey pallor seemed to have deepened and he looked as though he hadn’t actually slept in two weeks.

“I’m fine Potter,” came the snappish reply. “Now, can we please get on with this?”

So much for the concern. Harry grunted and removed his clothes, settling down on all fours as usual and offering his arse to Malfoy. He'd felt stupid doing this at first, stupid and a little bit disgusted with himself for doing it at all, but that had worn off now. This was no different to the hundreds of other things he’d had to do since the war. Things like making stupid speeches or trying to look interested whilst other people made stupid speeches or attending yet another ball or dinner or Ministry function that every said he just had to attend. Those things were all necessary in the same way that letting Malfoy fuck him was necessary.

There was a movement behind him and he felt Malfoy settle into position, then just as usual there was the feeling of Malfoy’s cool fingers, already slicked with lube, gliding over his arsehole, preparing him for what was to come. He was always careful to make sure he didn’t hurt him, Harry would give him that. He always made sure Harry came too and Harry had sometimes wondered whether that was important or not. What Malfoy didn’t always do was sigh deeply and lean down so his forehead was resting in the middle of Harry’s back.

Harry shifted a little uncomfortably when he felt Malfoy press against him. “What are you doing?” he asked, his voice tight with anxiety, because things had been too weird the past couple of months for him to be anything but anxious about another new development.

“I’m tired, Harry.”

Harry jerked in surprise, dislodging Malfoy’s head. He assumed the other man had pulled himself upright since he didn’t immediately tumble onto the bed next to him, but that really didn’t help his state of mind. Why the fuck had Malfoy just called him Harry? And why the fuck did he have to sound so vulnerable, so weak, as if he was falling apart behind him?

"Are you okay?” he asked again, despite Malfoy’s horrible reaction to the question earlier, trying to keep the tremor of anxiety out of his voice.

There was no answer, but there was a cool hand on the small of his back as if Malfoy needed to brace himself whilst he slipped one finger of his other hand into Harry’s hole. It seemed he didn’t plan to answer and Harry didn’t feel inclined to ask again. He dropped his head and concentrated on enjoying this as best he could. When they’d first started he’d tried not to, but then he’d realised that was stupid. It wasn’t the best sex he’d ever had, in fact it was pretty rubbish actually, but it was still sex and he would still orgasm from it. He might as well not make it any worse than it already was. Now he settled for keeping as quiet as possible just so Malfoy didn’t think he was enjoying it any more than he actually did.

It was when he was dressing again afterwards that he decided he really couldn’t not ask the question. It was true it had gone badly last time, but he needed some answers. Harry reckoned Malfoy owed him that much, since he was technically saving his life by doing this.

“Can I ask you a question?” he said, just to try and start things on a friendly note, even though there was no guarantee they would stay that way.

He hadn’t expected Malfoy to jerk again in the same way he had the last time Harry had spoken to him after sex. He was lying in that same position as previously and just for a fraction of a second Harry saw that expression of wonder on his face again, as if Harry’s words had poured a soothing balm over his soul.

Then his lips tightened and he simply nodded, obviously waiting for Harry to continue.

“You said you can’t go on dates. Why? It’s not like either of us want to be mated. Why can’t you just go and find someone to be happy with?”

“It doesn’t work like that, Potter.” Malfoy’s voice was stiff and emotionless, but at least that was better than outright animosity even if he hadn’t really answered the question.

Harry took a deep breath and made another effort. “I don’t understand,” he said, choosing his words carefully. “Why doesn’t it work like that?”

“I can’t be with anyone else, Potter. I can’t touch anyone else. I can’t even imagine being with someone else. I’m a Veela. We have one mate and one mate only. It’s in our nature.”

“But, we don’t want each other. Why can’t you just go and find someone else to be your mate?”

To his surprise Malfoy shuddered and passed a hand across his eyes. When he spoke next his voice sounded weak, as if he was having to force out the words. “Remember what happened when we tried that one?” he said, sounding tired, more tired than he had when he’d declared himself to be so earlier. “Believe me if I could, I would. Do you think I enjoy being a Veela stuck with a mate like you? There’s nothing I can do about it. We tried. I nearly died.”

“Right.” Harry wasn’t sure what to say to that. If Malfoy had been his friend he might have tried to make him feel better, maybe given him a hug or tried to find some comforting words to say, but Malfoy was not and never would be his friend so all Harry could do was sigh.

Malfoy pulled his wing up over his face again and Harry decided it was time to leave.

He wasn’t his friend, but he could once again give him his privacy.

********************

“Oh, bloody hell.”

It was Malfoy again and this time it was Malfoy who had breathed those words, right on the edge of hearing as Harry had reached the landing of the fourth floor of the bookshop. He’d gone back there, just three days after his meeting with Malfoy in order to try and find the answers to some of the questions that were spinning around his mind. Why couldn’t Malfoy just find another mate? He’d trusted Kingsley and Hermione when they’d told him that was the way it was, and he’d never really bothered to find out anything beyond what they’d told him. He’d accepted that Hermione had researched every possible avenue. He’d accepted it when she’d told him there was no way out. He still accepted that now. He wasn’t looking for a way out anymore, he was looking for… well answers he supposed. And information. If he was stuck with this thing he might as well at least find out more about it, especially if Malfoy was going to start turning up in random places ruining his dates and looking as if he was dying when they met in the Manor.

He didn’t actually look like he was dying now. He looked relatively healthy actually. What he was doing though was putting his hands over his eyes and turning away, his wings drawing up and over his head so they hung around him like a sort of shield, as if by blocking Harry from sight it might be possible to make it so he wasn’t there at all.

“Please go away, Potter,” he said quietly, his voice trembling as if he was under terrible strain. Harry couldn’t even begin to imagine what the problem was. “Please.”

If he hadn’t been so startled at Malfoy’s use of the word ‘please’ – twice at that – Harry might have made some sort of snappy retort about how he had as much right to be here as Malfoy. As it was the please unnerved him enough that he swept past Malfoy and into the room where the books on magical beings were kept without another word.

He relaxed once he was inside, though his mind was still spinning with that ‘please’. Malfoy had sounded broken and defeated, something which was becoming a regular occurrence in between his usual sarcastic and snarky remarks. Harry didn’t understand why he was acting so strangely, which was just one more reason he was here.

He picked up a book at random and nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt a touch on his shoulder.

“What the fuck, Malfoy!” He’d spun around, very nearly drawing his wand and only just snatching his hand back in time. Whatever else he might want to do to Malfoy, starting a duel in a bookshop was probably not helpful, nor would it be good for his reputation as a professional Auror.

“What are you looking for?” Malfoy had stepped back with a look of shock on his face when Harry had yelped, but he’d quickly smoothed his features back into cool neutrality. Harry decided to break his rule on eye contact and found himself looking into empty, cold grey eyes that seemed devoid of life and soul. He shuddered and looked away, trying to pretend he’d never looked in the first place.

“I’m looking for information on Veela, if you must know,” he said, only slightly snappishly. Those eyes had unnerved him. “And I thought you told me to go away?”

“I can’t, I need to touch you.” Malfoy whispered.

“What?” Malfoy was hanging his head as if ashamed, but Harry was too shocked by the bluntness of his statement to bother about that. “Why?”

Malfoy gave a bitter laugh and looked up. “Believe me I don’t want to, Potter, but I need to. Last time I saw you and had to wait two weeks to touch you, it nearly killed me. Merlin knows what will happen if I wait four. Please.” He held up a hand, which Harry bizarrely imagined he would put on his shoulder if he was given permission.

He sighed. “Fine, I suppose since we fuck you touching me is hardly going to kill me. If you need to, go ahead.”

He went to turn his head away, but was stopped when Malfoy’s hand met not his shoulder but his cheek. It was soft, strangely cool and Harry felt odd little tingles everywhere Malfoy’s fingertips touched. He gasped and jerked away.

“What the hell?” he snapped, rubbing his cheek and trying to tell himself that those tingles had not been enjoyable. They’d been unwelcome. They absolutely had not zapped down his spine like a bolt of pure pleasure.

“Sorry. Sorry!” Malfoy’s eyes were wide and he was looking at his hand as if he were just as shocked as Harry, which at least made Harry think he hadn’t meant whatever had just happened.

“All right, do you need to try again?” he asked, feeling a little stupid. Of course Malfoy needed to touch his face; his shoulder was covered by his clothes. Even he wasn’t so stupid that he couldn’t work out that when Malfoy said he needed to touch him, he’d meant his skin. It would just have helped if he’d worked it out before it had happened.

Malfoy nodded slightly and raised both his hands and a questioning eyebrow, waiting until Harry nodded his permission before touching his cheek again.

There was no tingling this time and after a while Malfoy gave a barely suppressed shudder and raised his other hand to Harry’s cheek, cupping his face gently.

“Better?” said Harry because he felt really really stupid just standing there whilst Malfoy practically molested him, and he’d thought speaking might make it better.

There was another sigh. “Why are you looking for books on Veela?” Malfoy asked softly, his eyes fluttering closed. Harry got the impression the answer was important to him, though he couldn’t imagine why.

“I figured I might as well read up a bit on them since I’m stuck with you.” He tried to give a casual laugh, though it sounded strained even to his ears. He doubted Malfoy had noticed though because he gave a whimper that made Harry think he really couldn’t be in his right mind and pressed their foreheads together so suddenly that Harry didn’t have time to dodge. It was only when Malfoy drew back that Harry realised his wings had been wrapped around him too, though they hadn’t touched him at all. They never did. Harry occasionally wondered what the feathers actually felt like and whether they were as soft as they looked.

Malfoy’s hands dropped from his face and he leaned past Harry to pluck a book from the shelf.

“This is a good one to start with,” he said simply. He thrust the book into Harry’s hands and then turned and left before Harry could so much as say ‘thank you’.

He stood there for a while looking at the space where Malfoy had been, then shrugged and went to pay for the book. Maybe the answer to Malfoy’s weird behaviour would be contained within its pages. The sooner he started reading, the sooner he’d know what the hell was going on.

********************

There was something very wrong. Harry knew this because he’d Floo’d to Malfoy Manor as usual and instead of being up in the room where they usually met Malfoy was sprawled out on the couch in the sitting room, his wings dangling limply around him, his skin so pale that for a moment Harry was sure he must be dead. Only the faint rise and fall of his chest tempered the panic that had shot through Harry the moment he’d seen him.

“Malfoy?”

He was across the room and kneeling by the couch in mere seconds, examining Malfoy’s face so intently that he was pretty sure the force of his gaze alone would wake him. It didn’t, but then Harry wasn’t sure what would wake Malfoy at this point. His face looked too angular, even for Malfoy, as if he hadn’t eaten in several days. The pale skin was grey and ashen, dark circles sat heavily under his eyes and Harry was almost certain that Malfoy would never want anyone to see him with hair that looked quite so lank and awful as his did right now.

That he was unconscious and not asleep was the only thing Harry was sure of.

On instinct he reached out to touch Malfoy’s hand, more to confirm that he was still alive and warm than anything else. The hand was like ice, but Malfoy twitched under his touch and Harry realised he knew what he needed to do to wake him.

Without hesitation he reached out and cupped Malfoy’s cheek with his hand. There was another twitch. Harry shifted and used his other hand to stroke to Malfoy’s hair. It felt dry and brittle under his fingers, but Malfoy twitched again and stirred, opening eyes that looked just as dull and lifeless as the rest of him.

“Harry?” The voice was as brittle as his hair. Harry ceased stroking it in order to pull out his wand and conjure a glass of water, which he pressed to Malfoy’s lips as he struggled to sit up.

“What the hell happened, Malfoy?” he asked, as the other man gulped down some of the water and then fell back on the cushions exhausted.

“Touching you,” Malfoy whispered, his voice only sounding slightly better for the water. “It wasn’t enough.”

“Oh.” Harry was floored by that. What was he supposed to do? “You should have owled me,” he tried, when nothing better came to mind.

“Would you have come?” The tone in Malfoy’s voice made Harry shoot him an evaluative gaze, even though Malfoy’s eyes were closed. He could have sworn he saw his lip was trembling slightly, though that might just have been from exhaustion.

“If I knew you were in this state, yes, of course.” The noise Malfoy made at that statement was enough to nearly break Harry’s heart. It was somewhere between a whimper and a moan and Harry knew Malfoy would be terribly embarrassed about making it when he regained his full strength. As it was Harry decided there was only one course of action to take.

He leant forwards and pressed his lips to Malfoy’s.

Malfoy made that noise again and kissed him back fiercely. So fiercely that Harry had to bite back a noise of his own and remind himself that he mustn’t pull away just yet. They’d kissed before, back when they were trying to work out what the minimum requirements to keep Malfoy alive were, but it had never been like this. Harry had been a reluctant participant in those kisses and whilst he wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about this one it was certainly a step up from any of their previous ones. This one was firm and fervent, and filled with desperate desire on Malfoy’s part that tugged at Harry’s heartstrings and made his stomach twist.

He pulled away when it became clear Malfoy couldn’t or wouldn’t do so, and decided that it was probably the former when all Malfoy did for several seconds was blink dazedly at him as if he were a dream that would disappear when he was fully awake.

“Right,” he said after a while, when he’d clearly decided Harry was real. “Thanks.”

Harry helped him sit up and then gingerly sat down next to him, trying to avoid sitting on Malfoy’s wings, which were drooped over the sofa as if he simply didn’t have the energy to hold them up.

“Right,” said Malfoy again and gestured to the door. “Shall we…?”

Harry knew what he meant, but he shook his head and Malfoy froze. “When did you last eat?” he said quickly, before Malfoy could raise any objections. That got him a shrug and a look. “I don’t want you fainting on me halfway through.” He was trying to keep his tone light and casual as if this situation were normal and not completely fucked up. “Eat something first.”

There was another shrug, but Malfoy did summon a house-elf and ask for a bowl of soup. He offered Harry some as well, which Harry declined on the basis that sharing a meal with Malfoy would be just too weird. He wasn’t hungry anyway.

“You really should have owled me,” he admonished again, when Malfoy was halfway through the soup and wolfing it down in a way Harry thought he would never normally eat his food. Since Malfoy declined to do anything other than give him a withering stare Harry didn’t push it; instead he plucked up his courage and decided that now, whilst Malfoy was still a little vulnerable and not completely himself, was probably the time to indulge his curiosity. “Can I touch your wings?”

Malfoy jerked in surprise, and it was lucky he’d eaten so much of the soup already, because if he hadn’t it would almost certainly have slopped over the side of the bowl. Harry braced himself for a sarcastic remark, but instead there was a nod and the wing behind him raised slightly in invitation.

Harry turned his body a little and raised his hand, wetting his suddenly dry lips with his tongue. He wasn’t sure what he was so nervous about. The book had mentioned in the first chapter that Veela’s wings were very sensitive and easy to hurt, but Harry wasn’t planning on pulling on the feathers or anything, just running his fingers along them. He gathered his courage and trailed his fingers lightly along the top of the wing.

Malfoy went stiff for a moment, Harry felt and saw it, but when no objection came and Malfoy simply resumed his eating Harry relaxed and repeated the gesture. The wing felt strange under his hand, hard and yet flexible. Harry trailed his hand downwards, so that now he was sliding his fingers over the feathers and stopped in amazement. They’d looked soft – he hadn’t expected them to be this soft.

Almost without thinking he repeated his movement again and then again. The next time he couldn’t help but bury his fingers just a little deeper into the feathers, his eyes following his hand so intently that he didn’t notice Malfoy’s reaction until he gasped loudly enough that he couldn’t help but notice.

His hand froze in place even as he turned. Malfoy was sitting bolt upright, his body stiff and yet somehow giving the impression that he was quivering. Certainly his wings were, and his eyes were shut and at some point he’d put down the bowl of soup and now his fingers were flexing as if trying to grab hold of something invisible.

“You need to stop that, Potter,” he whispered quietly, though there was a very definite edge to his voice that made Harry pull his hand away immediately feeling suddenly guilty.

“Sorry,” he muttered, oddly embarrassed. Malfoy opened one eye and looked at him sidelong.

“Veela’s wings are sensitive, Potter. Didn’t you read that book you bought?”

“I have other things to do you know besides read about Veela. And I didn’t realise it meant like that. I thought it meant I needed to be careful not to hurt you.”

“You’re my mate, Harry.”

“I haven’t got to that chapter yet.” It was true. He’d really intended to read the whole thing as soon as possible, but work had been particularly busy this month and he’d only managed the first few chapters, which were mostly about the anatomy of Veela and how they developed as they grew up and when their wings would appear and other such things.

There was a sigh from Malfoy. “Maybe you should read the rest soon,” he said, sounding as if he was talking to a very small child and barely holding onto his patience by a thread.

Harry huffed and shifted on the couch. “Now you’ve eaten I guess we should…” It was his turn to indicate the door this time. Malfoy sighed, passed a hand across his eyes and led the way upstairs.

It was as it always was, and Harry didn’t feel the need to ask any questions afterwards this time. He dressed and left in silence, hoping that Malfoy wouldn’t feel the need to cry and determined to finish reading the book so that embarrassing incidents like this one didn’t happen again.

********************

For the next month Harry neither saw nor heard anything of Malfoy, and though the thought nagged away in the back of his mind that he might find Malfoy in the same state as last time he couldn’t bring himself to go and check on him. He got on with his life and hoped Malfoy had been right when he’d said that it was seeing him without having sex that had led to the problem last time. Since they hadn’t bumped into each other all month there really shouldn’t be a problem.

He still worried though. He couldn’t help it. Malfoy was like an uncomfortable, constant pressure at the back of his mind, no matter how hard he tried to push him away, and Harry rather hated him for it. The only thing he hated more was the whole stupid situation.

His relief was palpable when he turned up on the first of the following month to find Malfoy waiting in the room as usual, looking pale and wan, but nowhere near as bad as he had last time. The relief was so great in fact that he’d grinned at Malfoy before he realised what he was doing and the look he’d received in return, half confused, half pure wonder, had set his nerves on edge. He stripped off and climbed onto the bed, settling on all fours and closing his eyes, hoping Malfoy would just get on with it and not indulge in a repeat of last time.

To his relief Malfoy didn’t, in fact the whole thing seemed to take even less time than usual and afterwards Harry pulled on his clothes quickly whilst Malfoy lay in his usual position, curled up on the bed, eyes closed and cheeks flushed pink.

As he dressed Harry considered how best to broach the questions his reading had stirred in his mind. There was one in particular that he wanted to talk about, even more so now than he had before. Something had been different today; the sex hadn’t hurt – Malfoy never hurt him – but it had been more uncomfortable than usual. Sometimes he’d got the impression that Malfoy was drawing things out, trying to make it last as long as possible, but today for the first time it had been entirely the opposite. Malfoy had acted as if he just wanted to get the whole thing over with as quickly as he could. He wasn’t even watching Harry redress, which was something he always did, much to Harry’s embarrassment.

“I read the book about Veela,” he said finally, when he had finished dressing and no better beginning to the conversation occurred to him.

Malfoy didn’t jerk this time, but he did open his eyes and blink slowly at Harry as if seeing him for the first time. Then his face twisted into a sneer.

“Congratulations, Potter. What do you want, a medal?”

Harry had been determined that he wouldn’t get angry, but his good intentions snapped in the face of Malfoy’s expression and the tone in his voice.

“I probably need one having to put up with you as my Veela mate,” he snapped. “Not very good at it are you?”

Malfoy snorted, “Yeah, right, because you’re such an amazing mate yourself, aren’t you? Just my luck that I get stuck with Harry sodding Potter. Let’s hear it then, what have I done that so offends The Chosen One?”

Harry bristled and gritted his teeth, resisting the urge to jump on the bed and punch the sneer right off Malfoy’s face. “The book said Veela were supposed to defend their mates. They’re supposed to want to protect them and look after them. You’re supposed to be nice to me. “ Malfoy scoffed and Harry decided that he really didn’t care anymore and threw out his trump card. “You’re supposed to be good at sex.”

Malfoy’s eyes widened. “What did you say, Potter?” The voice was practically a hiss, low and dangerous, but Harry had never been scared of Malfoy.

“You heard me.” Harry folded his arms and subjected Malfoy to a glare. “The book said Veela are supposed to be able to make sex incredible for their mates. I don’t think very much of your efforts, Malfoy.”

“I can make sex incredible, Potter, I just choose not to.”

“Oh, I see. Too much effort?”

Malfoy snorted again. “Because you put so much effort in don’t you, Potter?” he said sarcastically, “I can really see why I’d want to make the effort.”

“Oh, don’t give me that, Malfoy. I turn up here every month even though I can think of a million and one things I’d rather do. The least you could do in return is make the experience pleasant. I don’t have to do this, you know.”

“Then don’t.”

Harry blinked and rocked back on his heels. Malfoy’s voice had gone flat and emotionless, but his words seemed to hit Harry like a battering ram to the chest. He gulped in a lungful of air and tried to formulate a response.

“What?”

“You heard me.” Malfoy drew his wing around him more tightly, blocking his face from Harry’s view. “Don’t bother. Walk away. Don’t come back. Go on with your life. Forget about me.”

Harry mouthed stupidly for a few seconds before he managed to force out some more words. “You’d die, Malfoy.”

All Malfoy did was shrug, which made Harry inexplicably angry at him.

“Malfoy, I read the book. Don’t be so stupid. You’d die an agonisingly painful death if I didn’t come back.”

There was a soft sigh from Malfoy, so soft Harry barely heard it. “So, Potter? What do you care? You’d be free.” The voice was as quiet as the sigh. Harry found himself straining to hear it. “I’m in pain anyway. I’m barely alive half the time. What does it matter? Just leave and don’t come back and then we can both be free. I’ll die, you can live the life you want.”

Harry gaped at him stupidly, his mind racing. What the hell was Malfoy talking about? He couldn’t really want to die could he?

“I don’t want you to die,” was what he said in the end, when nothing better came to mind.

Malfoy snorted again, but more quietly this time and rolled onto his back. “Why, Potter? Can’t deal with the guilty conscience? Don’t worry, you’d be doing me a favour.”

“Malfoy!” Now Harry was genuinely distressed. To hear Malfoy talking like this, looking so utterly hopeless and saying that he’d rather die than carry on, wrenched at his heart in a way he would never have expected. “Don’t say that. I don’t want you to die. I don’t!” He was aware that he was babbling slightly, but at this point his brain didn’t seem to be quite connected to his mouth. “Why are you saying it? What do you mean you’re in pain? Are you ill?”

He paused when Malfoy rolled back over onto his side, pulled his wing around so it hid his face and moaned into his hands.

“Merlin, Potter, you really are thick sometimes.”

There was a stab of anger at that, because Harry thought that the comment was completely uncalled for. He was trying. He was making an effort. If Malfoy told him what was wrong, maybe he could help. He opened his mouth to say as much, but then snapped it shut when Malfoy started talking, his voice muffled and indistinct, with a wobble that suggested he might be about to cry.

“You don’t understand do you? You read the book, but you still don’t understand. This… this thing, this arrangement – it keeps me alive, but it kills me a little more each month. You leave afterwards and every time it breaks my heart, but I can function, I can get by. The pain comes back and I ignore it. I feel like I’m dying, but I carry on. It’s getting worse though. Every month it gets just a little bit worse. I’m not living, I’m just dying slowly and I can’t do it anymore, Harry. I’m done.”

There was silence. Harry could hear his own heart pounding in his chest so loudly he was sure Malfoy must be able to hear it too and he wondered how it was there at all, because it felt as if someone had reached in and ripped his heart from him. The pain was so great that he could hardly breathe and his legs propelled him towards the bed where he crawled over to sit next to Malfoy without any real sense of moving through the space in between.

“Mal... – Draco,” he began and then hesitated. What the hell could he say to such a confession? Words had never been his strong point. Instead he slid his hand along the covers until it crept under Malfoy’s wing and then groped about till he found his cheek. He felt a shudder ripple through Malfoy’s body at the touch and Malfoy’s own hands dropped from his face so that Harry could cup his cheek properly.

“I don’t want you to die, Draco,” he said softly and the words seemed to release some of his own pain because he suddenly sucked in a lungful of air he didn’t know he’d been lacking. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

There was a bitter laugh, but Harry could forgive him that in the circumstances. “What would you have done?”

“I don’t know, come over more often? Tried to find a solution? I’d have done something, Draco, I’m not a monster. I don’t want you to be in pain. You should have told me!”

“You said you’d do the minimum to keep me alive. You were very clear on that right from the start.”

The pain was back again, but this time Harry recognised it as the crushing weight of guilt. Merlin, he had said that. Hermione had mentioned something about pain and how Veela’s needed regular contact with their mates, but he’d ignored all that and demanded they find the minimum amount of contact that would keep Draco alive. He had pushed aside all thoughts that he might be causing Draco pain in favour of making sure he wasn’t too inconvenienced.

Suddenly he felt like the most selfish person in the world.

“You should have said something,” he whispered, fingers stroking absently at Draco’s cheek, though who he was attempting to soothe with the gesture he didn’t know. Draco’s skin was warm and soft under his fingers; he felt reassuringly alive. “You should have told me it wasn’t enough.”

“But it was Harry, it was the minimum you wanted. It was enough to keep me alive.” Draco stated this as if it were a simple fact that Harry too should recognise, but he didn’t.

“You shouldn’t have agreed!” His voice sounded high and frantic in the silent room, but he felt like there was an important point here he was missing. He remembered Draco’s reaction when they’d finally come up with this as a solution. He’d been as impassive and cold as he had been throughout the whole thing, nodding in all the right places and completely failing to make any arguments against it. Why had he agreed to something he knew would cause him this much pain? Enough pain that he’d want to die.

“Why didn’t you argue?” he asked more quietly this time.

“It was what you wanted.”

“Merlin, Draco, don’t tell me that this was the one time in your life you chose to be unselfish?”

The wing covering his face raised just enough for Malfoy to give him a baleful look. “I’m a Veela, you’re my mate,” he said as if this explained everything.

Harry waited for more, but Draco didn’t elaborate. Instead he said, “Didn’t you understand anything you read in the book?”

In other circumstances Harry might have been cross with that, but right now he really couldn’t have been cross with Draco if he’d tried. “It said Veela needed regular physical contact with their mates to keep them alive. It described what happened if they didn’t have it, but it didn’t say what regular contact was. I assumed this was enough for you.”

There was a sigh, which turned into a shudder when Harry curled his fingers instinctively in the hair behind Draco’s ear.

“I didn’t mean that,” Draco said, and Harry felt him pressing into his touch, “But never mind.” Harry was about to say he very much did mind, when Draco said, “Are you going to the Ministry ball next week?”

Harry was so startled by the change of topic that he said yes before he’d even thought to ask why Draco wanted to know. The ball was actually a charity benefit, being held to raise money for St Mungo’s. Harry was invited of course, along with all the other people considered rich or important enough to be noticed.

“Oh.” Draco’s voice had gone quiet again. Harry looked down at him curiously and pushed a strand of hair out of his eyes.

“Why?” he asked just as quietly.

“I was invited. Apparently I donated enough money to be considered worthy of an invitation, but if you’re going, I won’t.”

That confused Harry more than anything else they’d discussed. “I thought you just said we didn’t see each other enough?”

Draco gave him a fretful look and let his eyes dart nervously around the room before he answered. “If you’re there with someone else it’ll just make things worse.”

Ah. Harry nodded thoughtfully. He hadn’t been planning to take a date with him anyway and right now he was relieved enough that Draco had ceased talking about dying and was actually contemplating something he might do in the future to agree to anything.

“I’m not going with anyone,” he said. “You should come.”

To his surprise Draco only shook his head, a sad smile gracing his lips. At some point his wing had dropped away from his face and Harry wondered when that had happened.

“You still don’t understand, Harry,” he said, though there was no nastiness in his voice this time, only resignation, “If I’m in the same room and you dance with someone, or flirt with them, or… or touch someone I can’t be responsible for my actions.”

“What if I promise not to do any of those things?”

Draco’s body gave that jerk again and he looked up at Harry with wide eyes, brighter than Harry ever remembered seeing them before.

“Would you do that?” he whispered.

In the face of such hope Harry didn’t even need to think. He nodded and then smiled. “You know, it’s not exactly a hard promise, Draco. Don’t you remember the ball in fourth year? I’m a terrible dancer. I’m a pretty rubbish flirt too if it comes to it.”

It was worth saying it just to see the smile on Draco’s face and on instinct Harry curled his fingers in Draco’s hair again, rubbing vaguely at the back of his neck. Harry thought the noise Draco made at that was probably best described as a croon and much as he didn’t want to ruin this moment of solidarity and understanding between them Harry knew there was something he had to ask.

“Are you going to give up this crazy idea about dying?” he asked cautiously, “I’m not promising anything. I need to think first but we’ll work something out, okay?”

Draco gave a sigh that sounded almost reverent and when Harry looked at him his eyes had dropped closed. “I can’t even think about dying when you’re touching me, Harry,” he said, with such simple honesty that Harry felt his heart skip a beat. He noticed Draco’s hand had crept towards his leg and was now resting on the thigh, thankfully nearer his knee than his groin.

Harry followed the line of his arm back up to Draco’s shoulder and then let his hand drop from Draco’s face so that one of his fingers just rested under Draco’s chin. For the first time, possibly in forever, Harry reflected, he saw what Draco looked like when he was healthy, and he realised instantly in the same heartbeat that Draco was as beautiful as any Veela he’d ever seen before.

His pale skin was soft and dewy, just a hint of colour on his cheeks. His hair fell around his eyes, no longer lank and stringy, but shining with health and soft as silk. His lips… his lips…

Harry reached up and touched a finger to Draco’s lips, pale pink, yet warmer and softer than he remembered.

“Come here,” he whispered softly, tugging at Draco’s shoulder when he opened his eyes and looked at Harry in confusion. He did sit up then and Harry manoeuvred him until he was on his knees, facing Harry, his wings held out of the way behind him whilst Harry cupped his head in one hand.

Draco parted his lips, probably to say something, and Harry leaned forwards, pressing their mouths together in a gentle yet insistent kiss. There was a split second where Draco just froze and then he gave a little whimper and kissed back, pressing forwards into the kiss and looping one arm around the back of Harry’s head to hold him closer.

Harry broke the kiss when he felt it had gone on long enough. “Will you be okay?” he asked, as Draco blinked away the rather dazed expression on his face.

“Yes.” His voice was breathy and confused, but then he said, “Yes,” again with such confidence that Harry nodded in relief.

He had intended to get up then, but Draco surged forwards and kissed him again, giving pleased little moans of desire as he buried his hands in Harry’s hair. Harry let him, partly because he still felt guilty for causing Draco pain, and partly because now that they were both involved and both making an effort, kissing Draco was pretty damn good. Amazing, in fact.

Much later, once they’d stopped kissing and Harry had Floo’d home he found himself touching his tingling lips and closing his eyes to remember that kiss.

He was still doing it the next day when he turned up late for work, feeling slightly less tired than he usually would have after seeing Draco.

********************

“Harry, there you are! We’d started to think you weren’t coming!”

Hermione was hurrying towards him as he entered the ballroom, having already run the gauntlet of the press who were being kept firmly out of the main room and had therefore resorted to standing outside and ambushing everyone as they arrived.

“You’re late again,” Hermione admonished as he grinned and rubbed a hand through his hair. “Can’t you ever be on time?”

“Nope,” Harry said, grabbing a flute of champagne from the tray of a passing waiter and subjecting her to another grin that he hoped was contrite enough to get him off the hook.

“Malfoy’s here.” Hermione’s voice had lowered and her tone darkened. It took Harry a moment to realise that she thought she was warning him. He hadn’t shared any of Malfoy’s weird behaviour with his friends, mostly because until recently he’d been trying to ignore it. Now he really didn’t feel like admitting he had been selfish and horrible over the whole thing.

“It’s okay,” he said reassuringly. Hermione eyed him askance. “He told me he was coming.”

“Oh.” Hermione seemed thrown by that. “Is it going to be okay?”

“I’m under strict instructions not to dance with anyone.”

Hermione, who was well aware of his two left feet, laughed at that and started dragging him further into the room so they could find Ron.

Several hours and quite a number of Firewhiskies later Harry was feeling pleasantly tipsy, which he had long ago decided was the best way to handle these Ministry events. He’d seen Draco only at a distance, his white wings firmly drawn into his body so he took up as little space as possible as he chatted with various guests. Harry was glad for the distance and stuck to his promise, definitely not wanting to risk a confrontation in such a public place.

Now though he was at the bar, having just ordered three glasses of Firewhiskey for himself, Ron and Hermione, who had consented to have one, Harry suspected, only because she was already slightly tipsy herself.

Unfortunately, all Harry’s good intentions about not starting a confrontation with Draco were going down the drain as the man next to him was flirting so obviously and openly that even Harry couldn’t miss his intentions. Not that he was flirting back, but the bartender seemed to be taking an age with his drinks, and there was only so far he could lean backwards away from a man who seemed determined to lean in as close as possible.

To his relief the glasses were suddenly set down in front of him and the man was forced to lean back a little so that Harry could extract some money and pay for the drinks. The relief didn’t last long, before Harry could pick up the glasses and walk away the man’s hand was on his arm and he was leaning back in again. Harry turned away and tried to avoid eye contact but instead, to his dismay, met the eyes of one very annoyed looking Veela, staring at him from across the room.

Panicking, and annoyed at himself for feeling panicky, Harry brushed off the man’s arm a lot more violently than he otherwise would have done and grabbed the three glasses before hurrying across the room, weaving in and out of various people until he caught up with Draco, who was apparently heading for the gardens.

“Draco!” The word seemed to cause Draco to freeze on the spot as effectively as if Harry had cast a Body-Bind curse. Harry approached him cautiously, noting the way Draco’s wings were quivering, as if he was holding himself still only by great force of will. At least, since they were already outside on the mostly deserted decking they wouldn’t hit anyone if he did decide to unfurl them properly.

“We had an agreement, Potter,” Draco said, his voice sounding as strained as his wings appeared, “I knew this was a bad idea.”

“Oh for goodness sake, Draco,” Harry had made his way around to Draco’s front, since the man had made no attempt to turn and face him, “Did I look like I was flirting with him?”

“He had his hand on your arm.” Another tremor travelled through the wings and Harry eyed them apprehensively.

“Merlin’s beard, Draco, he wasn’t even attractive. Give me credit for some taste, please.”

Draco snorted derisively, which at least made him sound more like his old self. “Yeah right, Potter, I’ve seen the men you date. I have no opinion of your taste.”

“Oh for goodness sake, Draco,” he repeated. Harry was exasperated, but most of the panic had left him now, because sarcastic comments from Draco probably meant that the crisis had passed. “Here, drink this.”

He shoved one of the glasses of Firewhisky into Draco’s hand and, after a moment spent staring at it, Draco did actually lift it to his lips and down the contents in one go. Harry nodded in satisfaction and drank one of the remaining glasses, feeling the liquid burn down his throat and pool heat in his stomach.

“Why did you get three glasses, Potter?” Draco was eyeing the third suspiciously and shook his head when Harry held it out to him in offering.

“You drank Hermione’s, I drank mine. This is Ron’s. I guess there’s no point me taking just him a glass.” Shrugging, Harry downed the contents of that one as well and then took the opportunity to palm all three glasses off on a waiter who’d come outside to clear some of the small tables on the patio.

“You’re drunk, Potter,” Draco informed him, raising an elegant eyebrow in surprise.

“No, I’m not,” Harry argued, though in actual fact he rather thought Draco was right. Perhaps two more glasses on top of what he’d already drunk hadn’t been the best idea. “And why are you calling me Potter again?” He frowned and poked Draco in the chest. “You called me Harry the other day.”

“Fine, Harry,” Draco said, sighing heavily as if this were a great effort, “but you are drunk.”

“Am not.” Another poke.

“That’s so mature, Harry.”

Harry frowned, peering up into Draco’s face as he opened his mouth to make another retort. Then he stopped and snapped his mouth shut, swaying backwards in surprise. Draco looked… he looked… well, shiny.

His pale skin was glowing with health, his platinum blond hair shone in the moonlight, his grey eyes sparkled and his wings were practically luminescent in their whiteness. To top it off, he was wearing a set of light blue robes that seemed to compliment his colouring perfectly and showed off the lean, muscular physique that Harry knew was under there only too well.

“You look… you look…” He was aiming for nice, but somehow his mouth bypassed his brain, and what actually came out was, “beautiful.”

It was the truth. Draco’s wings flared so suddenly that Harry stumbled backwards in shock and only Draco’s firm hand, reaching out to grip his wrist, stopped him from falling over completely.

“Bloody hell, Harry,” he gasped, pulling his wings in quickly and making Harry think that he really hadn’t intended to flare them in the first place, “You really are drunk. You need to go home.”

“Only if you take me.” Merlin, he had no idea why he’d just said that, but he’d stepped closer as well and reached up with one hand to place it on Draco’s cheek. The small part of his brain that wasn’t addled with drink and whatever else was fuzzing it up, thanked his lucky stars that they were alone.

“Harry.” The word was practically a moan, and Draco gripped his hand, pulling it away from his cheek. “Don’t, Harry.”

Harry wasn’t sure he could stop himself if he tried. Draco looked so beautiful in the moonlight, so bloody alluring that he didn’t think he could resist. He didn’t see why he should resist if it came to that. Draco was his mate, wasn’t he?

Spurred on by that thought he surged forwards and kissed Draco so hard Draco was forced to flare his wings again just to ensure they didn’t fall over. There was an odd moment when Harry wasn’t sure whether Draco was kissing him back, or even what the hell was going on and then Draco’s arms locked around him and there was the recognisable crack of Apparition.

They landed, stumbling, in the hallway of Malfoy Manor and before Harry could kiss him again, which was what he really wanted to do, Draco had corrected his balance, scooped him up in his arms and taken off – actually taken flight right inside the bloody house. It was different to flying on a broomstick, Harry thought. There was the initial surge as Draco leapt and his wings beat the air and then it was more like floating. They drifted up onto the landing and Draco set him back on his feet with a quiet whimper.

“Fuck, Draco.” Harry shook his head trying to clear his thoughts, but it was hard. His brain only seemed to want to focus on one thing, and that thing was Draco. Perfect, beautiful, alluring Draco, who was looking at him as if he’d lost his mind completely. Harry hadn’t; he was pretty sure of that.

“Draco.” It was only a whisper this time, but something seemed to snap inside Draco and Harry found himself grabbed and pushed against the nearest wall as Draco assaulted his lips with a searing kiss that instantly had Harry’s body humming with arousal.

“Merlin, Harry, what are you doing?” Draco mumbled, but he’d broken the kiss and that just wasn’t acceptable right now. Harry laced his fingers into Draco’s hair and crushed their lips together again, parting his own when Draco’s tongue swiped over his lower lip and sucking greedily as it entered his mouth.

Harry wasn’t sure how long they kissed, but as far as he was concerned forever might not be long enough. His body was thrumming with need and desire and pure, untameable lust. The kiss broke again, but this time Draco’s lips latched onto his neck, sucking and nipping, lapping at the skin as if he was something to be tasted and savoured. Harry moaned and arched his neck, offering himself to those lips and pushing his hips forwards into Draco’s needfully.

“Fuck!” Their hips ground together and Harry could feel the hard length of Draco’s arousal rubbing on his own. Even through the layers of clothing it was almost too much for him to take. He was so hard it hurt; he was aching with need, his skin tingling, his blood pounding in his ears. “Fuck me, Draco,” he heard himself say, letting his hands fall to Draco’s hips and trying to grind their bodies together all the harder.

“Shit!” Draco’s lips had detached themselves from Harry’s skin and he was looking at Harry with absolute horror. “No, Harry. No.”

He’d propelled himself backwards, Harry suspected his wings had been involved in that movement and now there was a good few feet between them. Harry reached out, vaguely aware that he was making a fool of himself in front of Draco Malfoy of all people, but too drunk on alcohol and lust to really care right now.

“Stop it, Harry.”

The voice was so firm that Harry’s eyes popped open and he dropped his hand to his side in an instant. Draco looked dishevelled, no longer the flawless image of shining beauty, but instead ruffled and tousled, and, Harry thought, the perfect image of depraved lust.

He stared at Draco for long moments, until Draco passed a hand across his eyes and swore quietly under his breath.

“Merlin, I am never going to forgive myself for this,” he whispered, mostly to himself.

Harry continued to stare.

“Harry.” That voice sounded almost broken. Suddenly Harry had the irrational urge to pull Draco into his arms and soothe him. “You’re drunk. I refuse to do this when you’re drunk.”

“Is that some sort of Veela thing?” Harry asked, when he managed to locate his voice.

Draco twisted his lips in an ironic smile. “No, Harry, it’s some sort of moral thing.” Harry noticed the distance between them was suddenly a lot less, and then Draco reached for him and Harry stepped willingly into his arms.

“Merlin knows I want to,” Draco murmured in his ear, and then those lips were back on his and Harry was lost again, head swirling, body arching desperately towards Draco’s until the other man gave a groan and picked him up as if he weighed no more than a feather.

“What are you doing?” Harry gasped, when he had blinked a little and realised he was whimpering at the loss of the kisses.

“Putting you to bed,” Draco replied. “Without me,” he added after a moment, and Harry wondered who he was trying to convince.

He let Draco carry him to the bedroom without complaint, because he felt so safe and so comforted by Draco’s closeness that he could do nothing else. Draco stripped him to his underwear, pointedly ignoring Harry’s very obvious erection and then before he knew what was happening Harry found himself tucked under the blankets with Draco stroking his hair.

“Go to sleep, Harry,” he said firmly, standing up and preparing to leave.

“Stay with me.” Harry wasn’t sure what had made him say that, but he really didn’t want to be alone right now.

“No.” Draco’s voice was firm.

“Please.”

“I can’t, Harry.”

“Please, just sit with me till I go to sleep.”

There was a pause, and then he sensed, rather than saw, Draco nod and the hand returned to his hair. He nuzzled into it and heard Draco sigh before he fell into a peaceful, dreamless sleep.

********************

Oh shit.

It was the first thing Harry thought when he woke the next morning. There was no period of wondering where he was, or trying to recall what had happened the night before. He simply opened his eyes and there it was, engraved on his brain in full technicolour.

Fuck.

He had flung himself at Draco Malfoy like some sex-starved teenager, and it was only thanks to Draco’s sense of propriety that he wasn’t waking up this morning in an even more awkward situation. How ironic that Draco had been the one to do the right thing.

Harry stumbled out of bed, cast as many cleaning charms as he knew on himself and pulled on his clothes, which Draco, or possibly a house-elf, had left neatly folded over the back of a chair. Then, clutching at his pounding head, he made his way downstairs, aiming for the Floo. If he could just get out of here without seeing Draco he could probably send him an owl apologising later and they could both forget about the entire thing.

“Good morning.”

Damn it. Apparently he hadn’t been quiet enough, because Draco was looking at him from a nearby doorway, grinning and looking at him in a way Harry wasn’t altogether sure he liked.

“I have hangover potion if you want some?”

Draco didn’t wait for an answer, but ducked back into whatever room it was he had come out of. The offer was tempting. Harry knew he had none at home and his head was killing him. He made a decision and turned, heading for the room where he’d seen Draco. He could drink it and make a quick exit and really, how bad could it be?

Actually quite bad. Harry knew he was in trouble the moment he stepped through the doorway and his first thought was that Draco was devastatingly gorgeous. Where the hell had that come from? It was true that Draco looked much as he had last night, glowingly healthy, with his damp hair tousled in a way that would have looked stupid on Harry, but somehow just made Draco look even better. He was barefoot, moving around what turned out to be a kitchen, with easy grace, in spite of the wings folded neatly around his back.

“Here.” Draco interrupted his musings by handing him a goblet full of potion that Harry accepted with a slightly shaky hand. When Draco waved a hand at the nearby table Harry slipped into a seat without really thinking about it and proceeded to gulp down the potion.

“Better?” Draco asked, sliding a plate full of toast and a cup of tea across the table towards him. Harry nodded and pressed his hands to his eyes.

“Merlin, how much did I drink last night?”

“I don’t know, I only saw you drink two,” Draco pointed out, taking his own seat and arranging his own plate and cup in front of him.

“You don’t seem hungover,” Harry said enviously, “Is that some special Veela thing?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “No, I get hungover, it’s just that, unlike you, I only drank a glass of champagne and that Firewhiskey you decided to give me.”

“Oh.” He could feel the potion taking effect already and as his headache cleared he focussed on the items Draco had placed in front of him. “What’s this?” he asked suspiciously.

“Breakfast.” Draco said the word with what Harry recognised as forced casualness.

“You made me breakfast?” he asked incredulously.

“I thought it would be polite.” He shrugged and took a bite of toast. Harry knew he was gawping at him but he really couldn’t help it.

“You, Draco Malfoy, made me, Harry Potter, breakfast because you thought it would be polite?” Nope, that was definitely too unbelievable to be true.

Draco sighed and lowered his eyes and the slice of toast back to his plate. “All right, fine,” he said, his voice tight, “Veela, remember? Mate, remember? I have to take care of you. You know that, you read the stupid book. It’s in my nature.”

Harry released a long, slow breath. Well, this was certainly a new development. Draco had never shown any inclination to take care of him before, unless he counted not hurting him during sex, and Harry didn’t really. He could have put that down to basic politeness.

“Ok,” he said, and took a bite of toast. Draco looked at him askance for a second and then resumed his own eating.

“Listen, about last night…” he started after a few moments of what felt like rather awkward silence.

“You were drunk,” Draco interrupted before he could finish.

“Yeah… I…” Harry shifted nervously. “Well thanks for not… you know…”

“Taking advantage?”

“Yeah.”

Draco dipped his head down and Harry could have sworn he saw Draco’s eyes dart nervously to his face. It was that which prompted him to bring up something he already suspected.

“I was more than drunk, wasn’t I?” he said, “What the hell happened Draco?”

Merlin, it was worth asking just to see the blush rise to Draco’s cheeks. He mumbled something that Harry didn’t quite catch, and then when Harry asked him to repeat it blushed even harder.

“I um… I might have lost control a bit,” he muttered, loud enough for Harry to hear this time. Harry frowned and took another bite of toast, leaving a heavy silence, which he suspected Draco would fill out of embarrassment.

“It’s how Veela make themselves attractive to their mates,” he said eventually, “It’s what I can use to make sex amazing. I can control it usually, but you were drunk and you were flinging yourself at me, and Merlin, Harry, it was more than I could stand. I couldn’t help it, it just happened. I’m sorry.”

Harry raised an eyebrow and Draco ducked his head again, obviously expecting an outburst. Harry didn’t really feel inclined to give one, he had been drunk after all, and he actually believed Draco when he said it was something he couldn’t control. If he’d been trying to lure Harry into his bed, he wouldn’t have woken up alone this morning.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said eventually and took another bite of his toast. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Go on.” Draco was looking at him warily, but Harry pressed on anyway.

“Why do you always hold your wings away from me?”

Draco looked at him as if he’d gone quite mad. “Did you read the book? Don’t you know?”

“I do realise what happened when I felt them, yes.” He did. Later on the book had been very clear that a mate touching a Veela’s wings was almost as arousing as touching other, more intimate parts, of the body. “It’s just sometimes you wrap me in your wings but don’t let them touch me, surely that’s not the same thing?” It was true it had only happened a couple of times, but Harry wasn’t going to worry about that detail now.

“Harry, you saw what your hand could do, imagine if they came into contact with your whole body. Even with you fully clothed I’m not sure I could stand it.”

“Oh.” Harry flushed red. “I see.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Bloody hell, Harry, you can be so thick sometimes you know, I don’t know why I love you.”

Harry choked on his toast.

“Fuck!” Draco shot to his feet, wide eyed and panicked. “Fuck!” He dropped back down into the seat and buried his head in his hands as Harry groped for his cup and took a long drink of tea. The liquid scalded his throat, but at least he stopped choking.

“Fuckfuckfuck,” Draco was whispering under his breath, when Harry finally regained his composure. “I didn’t mean to say that,” he moaned, “Veela remember? Veela. I can’t help it.”

“You love me?” It was all Harry could say in the circumstances.

“No! I mean yes! I mean…” Draco dropped his head back into his hands and groaned. “I don’t know, Harry. This is so fucked up.”

He was right about that at least. Harry coughed again and gulped down some more tea, then he stood up and walked around the table, taking the seat next to Draco and tugging at his wrists.

Eventually Draco lowered his hands enough that Harry could see his eyes. If he’d thought Draco was blushing before, it was nothing compared to the flush that now covered his entire face.

“I’m a Veela, Harry,” he said desperately, “You’re my mate. I don’t have to like you in order to love you, but I do have to love you. Not loving you would be denying my very nature.”

That made no sense. How on earth could you love someone if you didn’t like them? “If you love me, why are you always so horrible to me?”

Draco looked at him as if he’d gone insane. “Harry, we never even talked until the other month and then you weren’t exactly nice to me.”

“You weren’t nice to me either! And you were a little git from the start. You kept trying to take my things!”

Draco looked at him desperately, almost helplessly. “Veela, Harry,” he whispered.

“You took my things because you’re a Veela?”

“They’re yours.” Draco’s voice was practically a wail.

“I know they’re mine, that doesn’t… oh.” Harry got it. He looked helplessly at Draco. “I’m sorry.”

Draco hung his head. “It’s okay. I know you don’t love me. I don’t expect you to. And I mean it – I didn’t really like you. In fact, I hated you. It was your fault I felt so awful all the time. Do you know what it’s like to love someone and hate them as well? It was like being torn in two, Harry, I couldn’t stand it. Every time I saw you I loved you and hated you just a little bit more.”

Harry opened his mouth, frowned, and then closed it again. He had very little idea how Draco had felt – he wasn’t a Veela, he didn’t have the same feelings as Draco did. He’d been perfectly content to hate the little git. Now though. Now… “You didn’t like me? Does that mean you do now?”

Draco smirked, looking more like himself again. “You’re improving,” he said.

Harry grinned and then leant forwards, kissing Draco hard, locking their lips together and burying one hand in Draco’s hair as he rose and completely took control, forcing Draco to tilt his head back to maintain the kiss.

Harry maintained it until he was almost dizzy with desire and then pulled away, sinking back into his seat and licking his lips thoughtfully.

“What the hell was that?” Draco had spend a good few seconds blinking rather stupidly, which made Harry feel rather smug, but now he was looking at him as if he was completely insane. Harry rather thought he was.

“Are you doing it now?” he asked suspiciously.

“Doing what?” Draco’s eyes darted wildly around the room. Harry could see his wings fluttering in agitation.

“Your thing, you know. I just kissed you, has it started happening again?”

Draco glared, seeming rather offended. “I’m in control,” he said stiffly. “It’ll take more than that to make me lose it.”

Harry thought Draco had rather missed the point, and he was quite glad really. If Draco wasn’t doing anything then he was the one who wasn’t in control. He was the one with the overwhelming desire to let Draco take him to bed and strip him naked.

“Have you finished your little experiment then?” Draco said crossly, turning back to his tea.

Harry rolled his eyes. “Honestly Draco, you can be really thick sometimes,” he said, reaching out to turn Draco’s face back towards him.

The kiss this time was soft and sweet and Draco whimpered when Harry curled his fingers into the hair at the nape of his neck.

“I have to go,” Harry said quietly when they finally broke apart again, “Are you going to be all right? I’ll come back later in the week.”

“You will?” Draco swallowed, and Harry tried to ignore the look of wonder in his eyes. He wasn’t quite sure he was ready for it.

“Of course,” he said, trying to keep his voice light, “The first is a long way off, I don’t want you dropping dead before then. I don’t think just kissing you will be enough, will it?”

“Oh.” Perhaps the wonder had been better. Anything was better than the crushing disappointment on Draco’s face, even if he did clear it away quickly and school his features into his much more familiar sneer. “Don’t put yourself out, I’m sure I can manage.”

Harry sighed and shook his head, not deigning to reply. It was his own fault anyway.

He needed to go home and do some serious thinking.

********************

It had taken four days of thinking to come to his conclusion about Draco. It was a conclusion only reached when he’d realised that he’d spent the four days thinking of nothing else but Draco.

He didn’t hate him. He didn’t love him either if it came to it. He did fancy him though.

Even Harry wasn’t sure where that had come from. Logically, he thought it was the night of the ball, but somehow he knew the feeling had been there before that, unacknowledged, dormant, waiting. Draco Malfoy was his mate. Where that thought had once filled him with horror, it now filled him with something else: lust, desire and a strange feeling of comfort. It had been nice to be looked after by Draco, he wanted to experience that again.

He also wanted to kiss him again. And more. Definitely more.

By the time he’d finished dinner on the fourth day and was considering once again whether he should deal with his problem by wanking or just having yet another cold shower, Harry realised he was being stupid. He was wanking over Draco anyway. He might as well go and claim the real thing.

Ultimately he knew there was no way Draco would reject him.

What he might very possibly do though was throw about sarcastic comments and generally be a complete arse about the whole thing.

“Fuck it.” Harry threw the Floo powder into the fire and let it whirl him away to Malfoy Manor. If Draco was a git about it he could just walk away and be none the worse off afterwards.

********************

The problem with turning up at Malfoy Manor unannounced and unexpected was that the place was huge and Harry had absolutely no idea where Draco might be. He wandered aimlessly until he found himself in some sort of study and was distracted by an ancient looking scroll lying on the desk. He peered closely at it and then nearly jumped out of his skin when the door suddenly opened and Draco appeared.

“Harry!” Draco had a sheaf of parchment in his hands, which he looked down at as if he was equally as surprised to see it as he was Harry. He thrust it onto a side table and paced into the room. “What are you doing here?”

Harry swallowed. If he’d held any hopes at all that he didn’t find Draco attractive they were certainly gone now. He didn’t look quite so healthy as he had, but even the slight dullness to his skin couldn’t undo the way the light played over his hair, or the way his eyes sparkled with delight as he looked at Harry.

“I said I’d come back.”

“Oh, yes.” Draco looked vaguely disappointed at that, though Harry couldn’t imagine why. He watched him run a hand through his hair, mussing the silky blond strands and only realised he was imagining what they must feel like when Draco gestured to the door. “Shall we?”

“No.”

Draco jerked in surprise and his wings fluttered slightly, though luckily didn’t flare in what was certainly a room too small to accommodate them. Harry was around the desk in a second, standing right in front of him and fixing Draco with a determined gaze. He waited, but Draco did nothing except blink at him in confusion until Harry gave a frustrated sigh and pulled him into a kiss.

There was a muffled cry of surprise and then Draco’s hands were sliding into his hair and his tongue was slipping into Harry’s mouth and it was very clear who was taking charge of the kiss this time. Harry didn’t mind, he sank into it, wrapping his arms around Draco’s waist and pressing their bodies together as they deepened the kiss.

They clung together, kissing fervently, until Draco gave a gasp and pulled away. “What are you doing, Harry?”

“I think…” Harry said, trying to recover the breath that seemed to have abandoned his lungs, “I think we should try this properly. Really properly, I mean.”

“Why?”

Merlin, he hadn’t been expecting that question. He pressed his hips towards Draco’s, groaning slightly as he felt his own arousal mirrored under Draco’s robes. “I want you,” he whispered, tilting his head to Draco’s ear as lust suddenly took over his brain, “You’re a Veela and I’m your mate and I want you. Isn’t that reason enough?”

“Fuck, yes,” Draco gasped and made a grab for him, grinding their hips together and kissing him so hard it nearly hurt. He licked and sucked at Harry’s lips until Harry could do nothing but whimper and arch desperately against him as he tried to get more of that delicious friction, even through layers of clothing.

“Bedroom,” he managed to pant eventually, almost stumbling when Draco released him and practically pushed him out the door to the entrance hall where he swept him into his arms and leapt for the landing above.

Harry’s feet were on the floor and they were already kissing again by the time they managed to stumble through the door behind them, then Draco’s lips were on his neck and he bit down hard enough to drag a cry of pleasure-pain from Harry’s throat.

Draco sprang away then and looked at him in horror, running a hand through his hair.

“What are we doing, Harry?” he asked, much to Harry’s frustration. He didn’t want a conversation about this now. His cock was throbbing and he was so turned on he could barely think straight, let alone answer Draco’s stupid questions.

“Shut up, Draco,” he babbled, yanking his robes over his head and throwing them onto the floor, “Just shut up. I thought Veela were supposed to be confident when they had sex? I thought that was part of the appeal?”

It was probably worth saying it just to see the expression on Draco’s face, especially when Harry kicked off his shoes and undid his trousers with a flick of his fingers, sliding them down along with his boxers and letting his erection spring free. He knew Draco had seen his cock before, but not properly, not like this. The look on Draco’s face as he took it in, hard and already leaking, was one Harry thought he would probably never get tired of seeing. He wondered why he had never wanted to see it before.

“Well?” he asked, chuckling when Draco growled in response and practically ripped his own clothes off, throwing them into a messy heap on the other side of the room and immediately stepping forwards to pull Harry back into his arms.

“So, are you going to make me feel good?” Harry asked, which earned him another growl and a sharp nip to his earlobe.

“I think you should be the one to make me feel good, don’t you?” Draco whispered, and then there was a sharp pressure on Harry’s shoulders pushing him down and he realised what Draco wanted. Merlin, he hadn’t counted on this.

All the same, now he was down here, because Veela really were a lot stronger than they looked, the idea was more thrilling than anything else. Draco’s cock was as beautiful as the rest of him, and it was glistening with pre-come that Harry longed to reach up and rub over the head with his thumb.

He hesitated only a moment and then did so when he realised that actually he could do whatever he wanted now. Draco was his. His mate. He always would be.

The gesture earned him a sharp gasp and suddenly Harry couldn’t imagine not doing this. He leant forwards and swirled his tongue around the head, lapping at the slit before running his tongue down to the base and back up again. He knew his ministrations were appreciated from the moans coming from Draco’s lips and a moment later by the fingers twisted through his hair as he wrapped his lips around Draco’s cock and sucked him into his mouth.

“Fuck, Harry.” If anything the desperation in those words made Harry more eager. His own cock was throbbing, begging for some relief and he wrapped his hand around it, jerking erratically as he worked his lips over Draco’s arousal.

“Not yet, Harry.” A wing tip knocked his hand away and Harry groaned in frustration, instead wrapping the hand around the base of Draco’s cock and using it to reach the parts he couldn’t get into his mouth as he bobbed his head up and down faster, sucking harder as he felt Draco’s muscles contract.

“Fuck, Harry. Fuck!” It was all the warning he got, but he managed to twist his hand and swallow and swallow, drinking down what felt like more ejaculate than he’d ever experienced after giving a blowjob and deciding that it tasted a lot better than usual as well. There was a vague thought that this too might be some sort of Veela thing, but then Draco’s hands were in his hair tugging him back to his feet and Harry scrambled up willingly.

“Your turn,” Draco whispered, his hot breath sending a shiver down Harry’s spine as it ghosted across his ear. Harry wasn’t sure what he was expecting, certainly not for Draco to yank his hair back so roughly it almost hurt, and attack his neck as if he were more vampire than Veela, but that was what he got. He sucked and nipped so hard that Harry was forced to clutch at Draco’s shoulders and cry out, helpless against the pleasurable pain that seared through his body. Only when Harry was sure Draco must have turned a good portion of his neck an angry red did he stop and pull away, and Harry didn’t miss the look of satisfaction in Draco’s eyes as he gazed at his neck.

“Mine,” he hissed and captured Harry’s lips in what was a surprisingly gentle kiss considering what he’d just been doing. Harry’s head spun. He felt he should probably be annoyed about what Draco had done, but there was only room in his head for lust and anyway he didn’t particularly want to object. Instead he reached up and tugged at one of Draco’s wings, trying to draw it around him.

He felt the tremor travel though the wings and then the tips hesitantly brushed across Harry’s bare shoulders, sending little prickles through his skin. He whimpered appreciatively and threaded a hand through Draco’s hair, coaxing him forwards so their bodies were pressed together once again and he could deepen the kiss.

There was another hesitation and then Harry felt the feathers of Draco’s wings sweep around him, gathering him close, sending ripples of pure pleasure racing through his entire body as they curved down his back and over his thighs until his whole body was wrapped in a cocoon of feathers and he felt like every nerve was on fire.

“Wow,” he breathed, unable to hold back any longer. Draco was the one to whimper then and he locked his arms around Harry, pressing kisses that were as soft as the feathers of his wings along Harry’s jaw until he reached his ear.

“Come for me, Harry,” he whispered, and Harry wanted to so desperately because he was so hard and his cock was pressed against Draco’s hip, throbbing and almost hurting with need, but there was no way he was going to climax without something more. Draco slid a hand to his arse and ground their hips together, causing Harry to hiss through his teeth as he felt his erection slide against Draco’s already hardened length. How the hell was he hard again already? Was it some Veela thing?

Then a moment later Harry decided he didn’t really care what it was, Draco had thrust his hips again, not hard enough to make him come, but somehow that didn’t matter. Harry felt one glorious wash of pure pleasure engulf him and he came hard, painting their stomachs with his come as his cock pulsed and twitched between them.

“Fuck!” he swore as his legs gave out and he tried to force his hands to clutch at Draco’s shoulders enough to prevent himself from tumbling to the floor. He heard Draco chuckle somewhere above him and then he was lifted and placed on the bed on all fours, still trembling from his climax, wondering how the hell there had even been a climax.

“I’m going to fuck you now.” Draco’s voice was low and reverent, and a moment later Harry felt hands trailing up his spine, rubbing across his shoulders and then down his sides to his arse where they lingered long enough that Harry gave a needy moan and thrust his hips back into the touch.

“You’re so beautiful, Harry.” The words caused another moan, one that Harry hadn’t really meant to make, but the simple honesty in those words seemed to have gone straight to his soul. He could imagine how Draco looked behind him, wings flared, eyes sparkling with pleasure, lips twisted into what was very probably a smirk of satisfaction as he cast the spell to slick his fingers with lube.

Those fingers were brushing lightly over his arse now, teasing at the tight ring of muscle until Harry relaxed and Draco was able to push inside. One finger wasn’t enough. Harry thrust his hips back, panting a little until Draco added a second finger and started twisting them inside, going straight for that spot which he seemed to be able to find so easily. White hot pleasure zipped up Harry’s spine and suddenly that wasn’t enough either.

“Please, Draco,” he babbled, not even caring that he was begging. There was the lingering thought that he’d never hear the end of this, but then he realised that thought was force of habit and he pushed it aside. Draco seemed to be enjoying this as much as he was.

A moment later he knew he was. Draco lined himself up and pushed inside in one quick, practised movement, burying himself all the way to the hilt and letting out a groan.

“Fuck, you’re tight,” he gasped, and Harry wondered vaguely why he sounded so surprised when they’d done this so many times before. Not quite like this though, he thought, and then decided thoughts were a waste of energy because Draco had started thrusting and Merlin, it felt incredible.

Harry twisted his hands into the sheets beneath him and pushed back into the thrusts, giving an appreciative groan every time Draco hit the spot that sent a jolt of pleasure through his body. Already his cock was half hard again, growing rapidly under the continued assault to his senses as Draco fell into a deep, steady rhythm.

“Harry.” The ghost of a whisper and then Draco’s wings were wrapping around him, feathers sliding over his arms and stomach, brushing against his cock and causing it to throb and fill with blood until Harry thought it couldn’t possibly get any harder.

“Fuck,” he swore and adjusted his balance, reaching up to wrap his fingers around his suddenly aching cock, eager for another orgasm to engulf him.

“Not yet.” Draco’s voice was soft and silky, almost comforting, so that when his wing once again knocked Harry’s hand aside he found that he didn’t really mind. He’d have minded less if Draco had replaced it with his own fingers, but apparently Draco had other ideas for he griped Harry’s hips again and increased the rhythm.

There was an odd moment when the world seemed to still and Harry was sure his heart had stopped beating in his chest, then pleasure flooded his senses and he cried out, almost pitching forwards as his arms threatened to give way. There was a hum of smug satisfaction from behind that Harry barely registered and then the sensation engulfed him again.

“Fuckfuckfuck.” Hands twisted, back arched, eyes squeezed shut, a hand reaching out to tug on his hair, dragging his head backwards as the wings unfurled and a pair of lips caressed his shoulder blades. Harry’s world reduced to nothing but this, nothing but Draco and the way he was making him feel.

“Turn over Harry, I want to watch you come.” Draco had pulled out, Harry whimpered at the loss, and then Draco’s hands were on him, guiding him around, arranging him on the bed and hooking Harry’s legs over his shoulders as he gazed down at him through narrowed eyes. “Oh, yes,” he hissed, and Harry wondered who that particularly comment was for.

Not that it mattered. He was aching now, his need for release so overwhelming that he kept his hands by his sides only with difficulty. He could feel the pre-come dripping onto his stomach, the cooling liquid in sharp contrast to the heat that was pooling in his groin.

“Please,” he whimpered, canting his hips as Draco lined himself up and yet didn’t push inside immediately.

“You wanted to know how good I can make sex, Harry?” he hissed, “Well let’s see, shall we?” Harry whimpered again, his hands opening and closing spasmodically until Draco surged forwards, driving himself into Harry’s body with a force that took his breath away and sent another of those sensations wracking through his body.

Then Draco was moving against him, faster and harder than before and the room was filled with grunts and moans as he pounded into Harry, pushing them both towards a much needed orgasm.

“Fuck, Harry!” Draco’s hands were clutching at his hips so hard Harry knew there would be bruises afterwards. Not that he cared. This was incredible, so incredible. The next moment there was that sensation, rippling through his body, setting every nerve on fire. It came again and again. Draco increased his rhythm, chanting Harry’s name in between half formed obscenities, and Harry wanted to say something, wanted to moan and yell and tell Draco just how fucking amazing this was, but he was so far beyond words that he could barely even think.

There was a pause just long enough that Harry managed to force his eyes open and look up at Draco, who smirked smugly, though his eyes gleamed with unmistakeable affection. Automatically, Harry reached a hand up to try and touch his face, but it fell back uselessly against the sheets and all Harry could do was gasp and pant and hope Draco knew how much he needed him from the look in his eyes.

“Fuck, Harry, you have no idea,” Draco breathed, leaning down slightly as he continued to thrust, slow and deep now, grinding against Harry’s prostate with every thrust. “You have no idea. I want to make you feel so good. So good that you’ll never want to look at anyone else ever again. I want you to be mine, Harry.”

The words struck at something deep with in Harry. Something linked to, and yet separate from the pleasure he was feeling. He whimpered, and then wished he could take the noise back when Draco looked at him speculatively before seeming to come to a decision.

“Harry,” he whispered, letting his eyes flutter closed, even as he reached out a hand to smooth along Harry’s cheek. “So beautiful, Harry.”

Then the hand was gone and it was back at Harry’s hips as Draco resumed his rhythm – brutal, frantic, his cries descending into wordless moans as Harry thrust back against him. Another ripple travelled through him, then another, and then suddenly the sensation wasn’t just passing through him, it was him. Pleasure shot through his body, expanding to fill every part of him, sending him to world of ecstasy he hadn’t known existed.

Harry screamed, and came so hard he thought he would pass out.

Every nerve sang and he was flying, spiralling upwards on wings of pure pleasure, reaching dizzying heights, pushing higher and further than he had ever thought possible, every muscle in his body contracting hard as Draco continued to thrust into him.

The tightness of Harry’s muscles sent Draco over the edge and he came too, yelling Harry’s name. The feeling of Draco climaxing inside him caused Harry’s cock to twitch and send another spurt of milky white liquid across his stomach, when Harry was sure that there was already more there than was even possible. He whimpered and Draco’s hand was suddenly on his cock, stroking gently, causing him to shudder and writhe as the last pleasure of his orgasm tingled and faded.

“Shit!” Even Veela, it seemed, could not sustain their posture after such mind-blowing sex. Draco tumbled down on top of him, his wings fluttering uselessly before they draped over the bed like a feathery quilt.

“Wow,” said Harry, not even caring that it was the second time he’d said it this evening.

“Yeah.” At least Draco agreed.

Harry gave his shoulder a push and Draco immediately rolled away, letting him lean over the side of the bed to locate his wand, which he used to vanish the mess. When he looked back Draco had curled into a foetal position and had wrapped his wing around him again, stroking at the feathers absentmindedly. He looked so depressed, which was so far from how anyone should look after such amazing sex, that Harry almost felt annoyed.

“Are you going to actually get in the bed, or are you planning on sleeping there?” he asked, pulling his legs to his chest and contriving to work himself under the blankets, ignoring the way his question had made Draco gape. A few seconds ticked by where Harry thought Draco would say something, but then instead he nodded and scrambled to get in the bed, tucking the covers around his wings.

“I’m sorry,” he said, a moment later, his eyes cast downwards so he didn’t have to look at Harry.

“What for?” Harry didn’t understand where this behaviour was coming from. They’d just had fantastic sex, they’d both been wiling participants, what on earth was there to be sorry about?

Draco’s eyes widened, as if he hadn’t expected the question and didn’t really have an answer for it. That Draco felt he needed to apologise grated on Harry’s nerves. Draco was snarky and sarcastic, not someone who issued grovelling apologies before an offence was even committed. Harry was going to be very much annoyed if he wasn’t going to be himself.

He snorted. “Go to sleep, Draco,” he said, and reached out to tug Draco’s wing over his shoulder, pushing himself across the bed so he was nearer to Draco. There was a strange noise and then Harry felt a pair of arms curve around his waist, pulling him in closer until he was wrapped in a cocoon of sheets and feathers, pressed snugly against Draco’s chest. He wriggled a little to get comfortable and then let himself drift off into a peaceful sleep.

********************

When he awoke, the bright morning light was peeping around the edges of the curtains and Harry found that he had obviously been warm and comfortable enough not to move the whole night. He was still squashed up against Draco’s chest, inhaling his scent with every breath. It was intoxicating and seemed to go straight to Harry’s groin, where he realised his morning erection was twitching in apparent interest.

It was too much. He wasn’t exactly embarrassed about waking up in Draco’s bed, but he wasn’t exactly comfortable about the entire thing. Sure, the sex had been mind-blowing, but he’d come here mostly for sex, not for an awkward morning-after conversation. He had no idea what to say, and the fact that his libido was trying to get him to do something that ultimately might only make the situation worse, only added to his uncertainty.

“I’m going for a shower,” he said quickly, pushing himself away from Draco as the other man stirred and opened his eyes. It was only when he was part way across the bed, with Draco frowning at him in confusion that he realised that this was actually Draco’s house and if they weren’t exactly in a relationship he probably shouldn’t assume rights to use his shower.

“If you don’t mind,” he said, and then thought that sounded somewhat lame so added, “I mean… unless you want to use it first?”

Draco gave him a sort of twisted half smile at that and raised the wing that was lying on top of the covers. “I’ll take a bath later,” he said, and Harry nodded, feeling foolish. Of course Draco would find it hard to shower with wings like that. Why hadn’t he thought of that?

He was only too glad to step into the shower and let the hot water take away most of his worries. He’d been certain before, when he’d been so taken up by his lust that the idea of fucking Draco had seemed like nothing short of genius, but now that he’d done it he didn’t know where to go from here.

It was a dizzying feeling really, being on the receiving end of that much helpless devotion. Part of Harry was willing to just cave in and enjoy it, but another bigger part didn’t want it. Yes, he could admit to himself that he liked Draco an awful lot more than he had a few months ago, and yes, he could now seriously consider taking this… thing to a whole new level, but he didn’t particularly like the idea that Draco was only willing because he couldn’t help it. Harry had thought his partner would be an equal, someone who liked him because he was Harry, not because they had no other choice.

Sighing and realising that in fact the hot water had brought with it only more worries, Harry stepped out the shower and grabbed a towel to dry himself.

Ten minutes later he presented himself in the kitchen, with no idea what to say and even less idea what to do. He was relieved therefore when he found Draco seated at the table with a plate of scrambled eggs on toast in front of him and another set at the seat opposite, which he pointed to with his fork.

“I made you eggs,” he said pointedly and then looked away as if he wasn’t really interested in whether Harry sat down or not.

Harry slipped into the seat with a sigh. “Is this another Veela thing?” he said, trying to keep the hint of regret out of his voice.

“No, that’s only when you're hung over.” Draco had his eyebrows raised when Harry glanced over at him. “This is just a good manners thing. I could hardly make some for myself and just let you watch me eat it could I?”

“I could go home,” Harry mumbled, but his heart wasn’t really in it. Draco subjected him to a long look, but Harry had ducked his head and was concentrating on eating as quickly as he could and trying to fight the blush that inexplicably wanted to rise to his cheeks.

Only when he had finished did he look up to see Draco watching him carefully over the top of a cup of tea.

“Good?” he asked, seeing Harry had finished and raising his wand to levitate the plates over to the sink.

Harry didn’t see any reason for denying it, so he nodded and offered his thanks, but couldn’t resist adding, “I never had you down for someone who could cook. Don’t you have house-elves for that sort of thing?”

Draco’s face twisted into that half smile he’d used this morning, an expression that Harry now thought was half affectionate, half exasperated. “I do have house-elves, but I’m not completely helpless Potter, whatever you might think.”

Harry jerked in shock. “I thought you called me Harry now?” he exclaimed, before he realised just how pathetic that sounded.

The smile turned into a smirk. “Only when you deserve it.”

And just like that Harry’s illusions were shattered.

Whatever else Draco was, he wasn’t out-of-his mind devoted to Harry. Harry found himself revising his ideas on exactly how much this whole Veela thing effected Draco’s feelings towards him and didn’t know whether to feel relieved or disappointed.

Mostly relieved, but then it had been nice to feel like he was that wanted.

“I have to go to work,” he said, standing up abruptly and trying to ignore the look of disappointment on Draco’s face. He was a little disappointed himself. They had been getting on, Harry had a feeling Draco was even flirting with him, but he was feeling confused and he really did need to get to work. Since it wasn’t the second of the month he didn’t have much excuse for being late. He certainly wasn’t going to tell them what he’d been up to last night.

“Look, Harry.” Whether it was because Draco had reverted to his first name or because he sounded suddenly so despairing Harry didn’t know, but he came to a halt in the middle of the sitting room when he’d absolutely promised himself that he was going to leave and not look back.

He turned and found Draco running his hand through his hair, a look of anguish on his face.

“Look…” he said again, and swallowed visibly, “If you want to go back to how things were, that’s fine. I’ll understand.”

Harry though he really needed to stop gawping at Draco all the time and try to control his emotions better, but he really couldn’t help it. “But you said you were in pain,” he said, so quietly it was practically a whisper. “You wanted to die. I can’t do that to you.”

“I don’t need your pity. I was managing just fine before.” Draco’s lips had drawn together in a thin line and a pang shot through Harry when he realised that the affection had vanished. He’d liked that affection. He wanted it back.

“Is that what you think this is about?” he asked, a little more sharply than he’d intended. Draco shrugged and looked slightly more helpless, which Harry thought was at least better than defiant at this stage. It meant he was listening. “Look, I would never have let last night happen if that’s all it was. It wouldn’t be fair to either of us.”

Draco frowned. “What was it then?”

It would have been hard to make up a convincing lie, but in a way it was almost harder to tell the truth. Draco wouldn’t like the truth. Harry told it anyway because it was all he had. “I don’t know.”

Draco looked deflated again.

“Did you mean it when you said you loved me?”

Draco opened his mouth, flushed, shut it, and then sighed. “That’s difficult to explain.”

“All right.” Harry was prepared to believe that. “Did you mean it when you said you’d just go back to the way it was before if I wanted?”

Draco looked even more anguished and ran his hand through his hair again. “Yes,” he said finally, after Harry got the impression he had spent some time running far more complex answers through his head.

“Is that a Veela thing?” Harry eyed him carefully, as if Draco might give away the answer to that by some movement.

Draco shrugged, which didn’t give any answer at all. “If it’s important to you to live your life away from me,” he whispered finally when Harry just stared at him.

Harry sighed. This was difficult. He’d gone from thinking Draco was helplessly devoted to him, to believing that maybe he wasn’t and now back to this in the space of less than half an hour. The fact that Draco was willing to live with the pain once again, just because Harry might want him to, suggested that he would do things for Harry even at the expense of his own health, which wasn’t what Harry wanted at all. On the other hand, he didn’t exactly seem intent on being all sweetness and light towards Harry either. He wondered if this was normal for people in love. He didn’t have much intimate knowledge of how relationships were supposed to go. He had his friends as a guide, of course, but he only saw the public side of their relationships, not the private side. He didn’t see that decision making process, he only saw the results.

Results like Ron taking extended leave to look after Rosie after she was born because Hermione was on the verge of promotion and had wanted to return to work. That had certainly hurt his career, even if it had done hers good. He’d made the sacrifice, though Harry didn’t know how willingly he’d done so, because he loved Hermione and wanted her to be happy.

Harry had no clue whether that was at all comparable to what was going on here, but it was the nearest example he could draw on. Ron wouldn’t have put up with Hermione being stupid or selfish over a petty thing, but for something so important he’d been willing to sacrifice part of himself, just like Draco was willing to sacrifice part of himself for something that was so important to Harry.

Maybe it was his Veela nature, or maybe, just maybe, this was what love was. Maybe it was worth finding out.

“Why don’t we go for dinner tonight?” he said suddenly on impulse, “I like The Yellow Broom. We could go there.”

Draco jerked in surprise, but then his face smoothed and he shook his head. “Unacceptable.”

Harry’s mouth dropped open and he could feel the blush travelling up his cheeks. So much for him wanting to make Harry happy.

“The Veela is supposed to be the one making that sort of proposal, Harry. You don’t get to arrange our dates.”

Harry gaped before he caught the sparkle in Draco eyes. Eyes that were once again full of tenderness and that were now gleaming in amusement as well. “Fine,” he said, his face softening into a smile, “Are you going to ask me out then?”

Draco grinned and reached out to caress Harry’s cheek with one hand. “Come to dinner with me Harry. Tonight.”

Harry pretended to give it some thought. “All right, but I get to pick the place.” Draco laughed and Harry found he rather liked the sound. He grinned and added, “You can pay.”

Draco laughed again and Harry decided he really really liked the sound so he leaned forwards and pressed his lips to Draco’s, making a little noise of appreciation when Draco returned the kiss and pulled him into a tighter embrace.

Neither of them seemed inclined to break the kiss now that it had started and Harry knew that inevitably Draco was going to make him very late.

After all, it was in his nature.