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Title: The Malfoy Family Silver
Author/Artist: ???
Prompt: After the War, the Ministry enforced a law that decreed the extermination of all Dark Creatures. In retaliation, the Creatures launched a war on Humans and the next thing the world knows, people are "Turning" into mutated versions of Dark Creatures left, right and center. Humans are now at the bottom of the food chain. The right order of things is further turned upside down when it is Human!Draco Malfoy who starts an underground resistance force fighting to prevent the extinction of mankind while Harry Potter disappeared. Until one day, Potter was sighted among a pack of werewolves as their leader and the Alpha Wolf.
Pairing: Harry/Draco, Draco/OMC, Hermione/Ron
Creature: Werewolf
Word Count/Art Medium: 19,400ish
Rating: NC-17 – for safety’s sake...
Warnings: (highlight to read) *Dub-Con*
Disclaimer: This creation is based on characters and situations created and owned by J. K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offense is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.
Notes: ef – thank you very much! This one got away from me – just a tad.... To the prompter – I hope I covered everything you wanted.
Summary: In his dreams Draco sees horrors and when he wakes, he remembers that each and every one of them is real. And when he wakes, he straps on his dragon-hide armour and goes out to stop what he can.






i.

There is screaming in the basement.

Draco closes his eyes and tips his head back, rubbing at his temples with two long, pale fingers. They were manicured once upon a time, polished and buffed, but now his fingernails are ripped to the quick, red raw from days on end of brewing and hunting, and even the slightest pressure on his head causes them to throb. But the sharp stinging is nothing compared to the pressure building like a thunderstorm in his head. There is a moment of blessed silence, and then the screaming begins again, loud and high enough to make his teeth hurt. Draco breaths deep and opens his eyes.

The study is dimly lit, long shadows spilling over every surface, and it is not because of Draco's headache. His books are old, some ancient, and some are crumbling away into nothing; much like the rest of the once glorious Manor.

"It didn't work," Granger says, barging into the room without ceremony or civility, tossing the potion vial on to the Draco's - once highly polished - desk. The dragon-tempered glass doesn't break; the phial merely rolls to the edge, singing with each turn.

Draco stops it with a finger, and the potion flares under his touch. "These are expensive. Not to mention, increasingly rare. Do you think you can control your little Mudblood paws and stop throwing things around?"

She doesn't apologise, nor does she react; it really doesn’t matter what he says. Nothing seems to breach the iron shell the once passionate and verbose Hermione Granger is now entrenched in. She simply takes the seat on the other side of the desk and pulls Draco's notes towards herself.

"Another Hunt?" she asks, staring blankly at the maps and the annotations made in Draco's distinctive script.

Draco takes them back. The only-child in him is still strong, even if he is twenty-seven, and it still doesn’t like to share.

"Five people found on Salisbury Plain this morning. All over the Muggle news." Draco doesn't have to say any more.

By "people", Granger knows he means wizarding folk and by "found" she has to understand that their bodies were in no fit state to be seen by anyone other than morticians. Even then they would have to have strong stomachs.

It’s a language that is very familiar these days.

“Vampires?” she asks, her brows furrowed as though she is actually concerned.

“No. Eli’s report makes seem like blood rained down on the Plain last night. Has to be wolves.”

“Pity,” Granger says non-comittally, and then she is lost to him; hunching over the list she has pulled from her pocket. She’s scratched Veela off now and werewolf was tested months ago. Only vampire is left to test and then she’ll start asking for samples that even Draco’s morals will quail at retrieving.

Draco remembers when that list was first written, a tear stained act of desperation that had been her only solace. It had been neat: the parchment crisp and clean and each word was careful and precise. Now it has been folded so many times that there are holes appearing where the parchment has worn thin and soft, and lines and odd notes and tear-made smudges mar the surface.

Her fingers are smudged with ink, and Draco hates that she insists on using such a vital commodity. Ink has been in short supply for so long that even Muggles are struggling to get hold of the stuff. They don’t know why things have become so hard, why prices and crimes have risen so fast, but Draco has learned that Muggles are simple creatures, willing to be blinded by their slim knowledge of what is possible.

They would be horrified to see what was twisting beneath the thin veneer of reality; if they could see the creatures that have crawled their way out of the black storybooks and snapped the binding chains of the Ministry as though they were mere cobwebs. They would quake in their red-brick houses, hiding behind their wicked guns and glowing rockets.

And they would hate Granger and the bleeding heart beating in her breast that had brought them all to this.

A soft crack snaps Draco’s glare away from Granger’s profile, and he turns to the bowing House Elf that proffers a tea tray and stale sandwiches.

“Master must eat,” Twilly says, delicately setting the tray down.

The china is chipped in places, the silver tarnished, and Mother would have turned her delicate nose at such an offering, but Draco hasn’t eaten in days and Mother has been dead for years. He bites into the sandwich, swallowing down the heavily salted meat, and waves Twilly away.

Granger doesn’t reproach him for his manners. She would not dare. She waits though, until Twilly has vanished from the room, before taking her own small selection. Her hand rattles the tray, and, as if on cue, the screaming starts again.

“The spells don’t hold him long do they,” Draco observes, not entirely derisively. He can’t be flippant, not when he’d been there that horrible night.

Granger shakes her head, and if Draco tilts his just right he can see the unshed tears glimmering softly; just like her forlorn engagement ring.

It hasn’t been on her hand for over a year now. Instead, it’s on a thick silver chain that Draco had found in the attic and that no creature they’ve come across so far has dared to touch. Not even her fiancé.

Or what’s left of him.

The screaming reaches a blood-churning level, and all the hairs on Draco’s body are quivering at the pitch. It’s lucky that the glass in the windows is also dragon-tempered; they wouldn’t have lasted out the first night otherwise.

“I need to go,” Granger says her sandwiches unfinished.

She’s going back to the basement, and the small cot she’s been sleeping on for eighteen months. She’ll use spells and tonics to soothe him back to sleep, and only when they don’t work will she bring out the silver chains, delicately wrought and threaded with hemlock.

Draco doesn’t say anything, not when she stands, or when she folds her list, infinitely careful of the tears. He does sigh though and put down his own sandwich, his appetite gone, when her fingers hover over the small wooden panel by the door. She doesn’t touch, but Draco knows it’s only his spells that are holding her back.

She leaves, the door slamming shut behind her, and Draco tips his head back and refuses to feel anything.


ii.

Draco dreams.

Every night he dreams dreams that he desperately tries to forget in the daylight. The only problem is that he cannot forget them. They are not night-time flights of fancy, macabre illusions painted because of the gruesome nature of his day-to-day activities; they are memories, real soul-crushing memories.

In his dreams Draco sees the twisted face of Aunt Andromeda, dead on her kitchen floor and hears his mother’s screams as he tries to clean up all the split flour.

In his dreams Draco sees the slight widening of Longbottom’s eyes as the Valkyrie’s fist punches through his chest and rips out his heart.

In his dreams Draco sees the mad, fervent gleam light in Granger’s eyes as she finds the manuscript and reads about the blood of the first creature.

In his dreams Draco sees Weasley pulled down by the hag, and the pendulous moment her saliva drips into his wounds.

In his dreams Draco sees the hollow shell of his father’s corpse, flung on the rocks outside Azkaban like a broken puppet and the Dementors circling overhead.

In his dreams Draco sees his mother, a whirling dervish of forgotten magic and grief, as she rips the Ministry apart.

In his dreams Draco sees horrors and when he wakes, he remembers that each and every one of them is real. And when he wakes, he straps on his dragon-hide armour and goes out to stop what he can.


iii.

Eli is not the type of boy Draco’s parents would have approved of.

He is brawny and crude; thick muscles and tawny skin that speak of hard labour. His fingers are covered in calluses that catch on Draco’s skin, still smooth even if he no longer has the time to brew his tonics and balms. Eli is never groomed, his fingernails are often caught with dirt, his hair is a tangle of dark strands, and his cheeks are smattered with stubble that scratches Draco’s cheek every time they kiss and his clothes are so old that there is no season to apply them to.

Eli’s coarseness would horrify his parents, especially the way he loves to splay wide hands over Draco’s hips and bite into the flesh of this throat, but they would have learned to tolerate it.

They would, however, have killed him for touching their precious pureblood heir had they known he was a squib.

Draco doesn’t care though; Eli is a warm, safe weight at Draco’s side, comforting in his consistency. He doesn’t care about Draco’s past, he doesn’t judge when Draco comes home covered in blood and gore, eyes hollow from yet another death. He merely wraps himself around Draco and holds him, and sometimes he is the only thing that is keeping Draco from flying apart.

But Draco can’t think of that now, even though they are pressed close, thigh to shoulder, because the moon is high and Draco knows that there are wolves around.

Eli’s teeth are bright in the moonlight and Draco doesn’t ask why he’s smiling. He has that same madness that all of Draco’s hunters have. And they are Draco’s. He’s gathered them from the tattered remnants of the Ministry’s Aurors and Hit Wizards, selecting each and every one of them based on his own specific criteria.

There is no mistake that they are all – even the squibs – from Old Families. Families that never supported Granger’s ideal of equality. There were reasons – no matter how inhumane they may have seemed in the post-war euphoria – that the Dark Creatures were kept out in the cold.

He shifts, carefully, but the vials that Granger had pressed into his hand as he was leaving chime gently in his pocket. Eli narrows his eyes, his fingers flex around the hilt of his knife, and Draco grimaces. They’ve been waiting since just before sunset and the moon has been high for nearly three hours. He cannot help that his muscles have started to seize, even if he has spent more nights like this than he’d care to remember.

“I thought you were flexible,” Eli murmurs. “Or is it only under the right circumstances.”

“What can I say? My talents are limited to eider mattresses and silk ropes.”

“Teasing? Really?”

“You know how the hunt gets my blood pumping.”

“I thought I did that,” Eli says, watching Draco from the corner of his eye.

Their words are soft, barely there over the wind, but they warm Draco’s belly and this is why he keeps Eli so very close.

It happens slowly, the first wolf, smaller than the ones that eventually follow, emerges from the undergrowth and pads slowly to the pile of cattle carcasses that Draco had paid a handsome sum for earlier. It lowers its muzzle and whuffs at the meat, whining low. That seems to be signal that all the others are waiting for, and one by one they emerge from the undergrowth and Draco wonders how any of them stay hidden.

They are huge masses of muscle and thick wiry hair and not at all easily confused with normal wolves. They don’t have that slender slyness or lean aggression but they make up for it with vicious blood-thirsty rage. They walk on all fours, wide paws spreading the weighty load, and their thick canines protrude slightly from their heavy jowls. Twigs snap under their paws and Draco can hear the tearing of brambles as the thorns snag on their coats and the plants are ripped from the ground.

It is their eyes though that Draco has always found terrifying. They gleam, silver slits of intelligence, whenever the moon catches them. They don’t have the wild gazes of wolves, or the soul-filled gaze of a person, they are a strange hybrid that always leaves Draco unnerved. It leaves him feeling stripped to the bone and weak and it reminds him too much of the look in Nagini’s eyes whenever she swallowed someone.

Eli is tense beside him and Draco cannot look at him because all the wolves have dropped back, just a little, and a giant black beast has entered the clearing. Draco doesn’t have to be an expert in werewolf behaviour to know that this is the alpha. The power just rolls off him in waves and Draco can feel it crashing against his own magic, tiny electrical shocks that make his pulse race and his fingers itch for a wand he hasn’t had for years.

Instead, he grips the hilt of the silver sword he found in one of the many Manor torture chambers, and flexes his fingers.

The fire, Fiendfyre because nothing else will contain werewolves, leaps from his fingers and races around the clearing burning everything it touches. Draco’s hunters though, all clad in dragon scales and acromantula silk, stride through the fire like it’s an early morning mist.

They have their targets, planned and re-planned in meticulous detail, and Draco makes for the alpha, not because he’s brave – he’s an unmitigated coward of unimaginable scale – but he is the leader, the alpha of his own little pack, and the symmetry of it pleases him. Eli and a small, vicious wizard that reminds him of Crabbe, flank him perfectly and his fire, controlled and lethal, spins around them like macabre horses on a carousel. Draco can hear the screams of the wolves as his team cut into them with silver and hellebore and the astringent tang of burning hair and flesh is thick in the air.

One werewolf gets in the way of Draco’s sword and howls when the blade bites into its flesh but Draco doesn’t pause, he can’t. In this arena he is as he always must be, devoid of emotion and feeling, quick and sharp like a blade. He is the perfect Slytherin out here, cold and cunning, and wonders why people always thought that Gryffindors were more suited to battle.

It no longer matters really, Hogwarts is long gone, a crumbled and empty tomb on the Scottish Highlands, and bitter house battles have been cast aside in the desperate scramble for survival.

A green, so very familiar, bolt of magic scours the air to his right and a wolf drops dead a Draco’s feet, its jaws rent wide and eyes rolled back in its head. Foam drips into the ground and Draco doesn’t pause as he vaults over the corpse, leaving it for the Fiendfyre.

The alpha hasn’t moved at all, waiting for its prey to come to it, and Draco doesn’t even heed Eli’s warning, he just heads straight for the beast. Maybe today is the day that he dies, but Draco has little left to live for and, if he manages to take an alpha werewolf with him, it’s an acceptable deal to him.

He gets close, close enough to see the pale aurora around its pupils before he hears Eli scream and pain, unimaginable pain, lances up his arm.

A wolf, tawny and tall, has its jaws clamped around his wrist and Draco can feel the blood drain from his face. He raises his sword, preparing to kill, preparing to hack his own arm off rather than turn, but the wolf’s bite tightens further, digs deeper, and sets his nerves on fire.

Eli is screaming, pushing his way towards Draco, and the Fiendfyre is failing but all Draco can hear is the frantic beating of his heart, pumping the venom through his system and Draco cannot even scream. It hurts, so much, more than any Crucio Draco has had the pleasure of experiencing – Aunt Bella’s had had a certain flavour that could never really be forgotten – but he cannot scream and his teeth feel as though they are going to snap under the pressure of his locked jaw.

His knees are buckling, and his vision is blackening but Draco refuses to let go of the tenuous control he has on the Fiendfyre. He can hear the cracking of Apparition and he hopes that if he hangs on just that little bit longer, keeps the spell going for just a few more precious seconds, his team will get out.

Because, he will hate it – oh how he will hate every torturous second of it, but Draco thinks he can live with being turned. He cannot live with getting even more people killed.

There is one more crack, one more life saved, and Draco goes under.


iv.

When Draco wakes he’s only mildly surprised that he’s alive. It’s more surprising that he’s human, the white glow of the moon is saturating the room and Draco knows that he was bitten. His hand is a throbbing mess of flesh and pain and he daren’t look at it for fear that seeing the puncture wounds will make everything real.

His right hand, the uninjured one, pushes him up off the damp bed he’s been dumped on and Draco wrinkles his nose in disgust. The room smells of mildew, and he isn’t surprised to see watermarks spread over the ceiling. His feet hit the floor, stepping quickly onto one of the threadbare rugs.

It is only mildly disconcerting to find that he has been stripped of all weapons and potions – even the empty vials Granger had given him for samples are gone. It’s more worrying to realise that he has been stripped of his clothes; his jerkin and bracers are gone, as are his boots, belt and the thick leather collar he wore to protect his throat. He’s only been left with the silk undershirt and his skin-tight trousers and he feels naked.

There is nothing in the room that would help him apart from the heavy candlesticks on either side of the bed and he’s not sure that he’s fast enough to use them effectively. On the wall hangs a tapestry, moulding and sun-stripped, and Draco wonders whether it used to contain a family tree. For there is no doubt that he is in some ancestral home, he can feel the magic tickling at him, trying to cling to him.

It’s obviously been a long time since a Pure Blood Wizard entered the house and that makes Draco infinitely sad. There are hundreds of homes now, falling to ruin, with the magic slowly leaking away to the wild. It isn’t how it should be, the war, the end, it should have been glorious – even for him.

Thoroughly disheartened, Draco sits back on the bed, curling in on himself, and watches as the moon rises higher and higher. He doesn’t bother to try the door, there is nowhere for him to go.

Outside, a wolf howls.


v.

The sun is peaking over the horizon when Draco is jolted from his sleep. The door opens with a creaking whine and a boy slips through the gap, disappearing into the twilight shadows that still flood the room and Draco sits up in the bed, weary but watchful.

“They are talking about you,” says a quiet voice. It’s high, obviously not yet broken, and despite its childish softness, Draco can hear the burring edges of a growl.

“Really,” he drawls, sprawling back and trying to exude the air of privilege that was so natural to him once upon a time. Now, it’s like putting on a skin that is a few sizes too small. “And what’s so special about little old me?”

The boy moves, not quite out into the room, but enough so that Draco can see the outline of his body and the white of his teeth. He’s small, scrawny almost, and Draco wonders whether he’s only ever given the scraps from whatever unfortunate creature falls prey to his pack.

“They’ve all come, all the packs. Alpha called and they’re all here,” he sounds a little breathless, almost excited.

Draco is not.

Werewolves are horrifically territorial, even in human form. Draco’s come across the carnage of border disputes before, corpses so brutally treated that it is hard to distinguish which part belongs where. Sometimes it’s even hard to tell how many bodies there actually are. So, the idea that they are all coming together – willingly – leaves a sour taste in Draco’s mouth.

“Why?” he asks, doing everything he can to sound disinterested.

“Because of you,” the boy says, as if it’s obvious. “Tobais says he bit you but you were here, all night, and you didn’t turn. Alpha waited for you, but you didn’t come.”

He steps out of the shadows then, his eyes bright, and Draco is right: he is a scrawny little thing. He can’t be any older than eight but he is smaller than Draco was at that age. His limbs are thin, almost birdlike, and his features are delicate, pretty almost. His eyes are almond-shaped and blue, Ravenclaw blue, with that distinctive gold halo around the iris, and they stand out against his pale skin.

Draco stands, uncomfortable now, and the boy edges back towards the shadows. “I didn’t realise my presence was required. I wouldn’t have spent the night in this little piece of heaven otherwise.”

“You couldn’t come, you were human. You were meant to be a wolf.”

His hand throbs, vicious and biting, at the boy’s words and Draco knows that they are true, he’s known since he awoke on the spoiled bed and felt the moon tugging softly at him. It is something Draco has suspected for a long time, that he is different. He’s walked away from skirmishes with creatures that other wizards, better wizards, have fallen in.

“Why aren’t you a wolf?” the boy asks, his voice careful. It’s almost as though he expects Draco to snap at him, and perhaps Draco should.

Instead, he sits back on the bed and stares at his wrist.


vi.

The house is still as the sun climbs higher, bathing the room in the soft gold of summer. The wallpaper, faded though it is, shimmers softly, pearlescent despite its age and Draco can finally see the room in more than starlight colour.

The drapes are heavy brocade of rich ruby red, just like the bedspread he is upon, and the bed frame was once a highly polished mahogany. Now silver-strings of spider silk hang where curtains should be and dust has gathered in the intricate woodwork.

The boy hasn’t left him, even though Draco isn’t speaking to him and all the other monsters have slunk off to their lairs. He’s crouched, low and feral, by the door, either preventing Draco’s escape or barring entry, Draco isn’t sure. But it doesn’t really matter, he isn’t going anywhere and the sound of another’s breathing though is comforting and makes up for the lamentable lack of birdsong.

“Are you a wizard?” the boy asks, cocking his head to one side.

When Draco was a child, his father had kept mastiffs. Giant slobbering beasts that could have killed a man in an instant but were docile under his father’s subtle dominance. One, Bran, was old when Draco was a child, and spent the winter of his life curled in the corner of his father’s study, always watching a tiny Draco toddle around near books too dangerous for childish hands. Draco has one memory of him though, clear as fresh water, cocking his head and growling when Draco spilt ink on the floor.

It was the only time someone, other than his father, dared to discipline him before Hogwarts.

The boy seems almost as disapproving as Bran had been.

“I don’t have a wand.”

“So you are? I’ve never met a wizard before,” he explains in a rush. “Alpha says that they are dangerous, that we should avoid them.”

“I think you have it the wrong way round.”

“Don’t you know the story?” the boy asks, moving to his hands and knees. There is a bemused expression on his face, and Draco bites back the vicious retort that is sitting on the tip of his tongue.

“What story,” he asks, crossing his legs and settling back further against the headboard.

“Alpha told me a story, about how the creatures took back the night.” He climbs on to the bed and folds his legs up, staring up at Draco like he’s the moon. “Once upon a time there was a wicked Ministry that ruled the magical world. The Ministry was run by bad men who liked power and were greedy and didn’t do the right thing. They made stupid rules about who could use magic and when they could use it and they punished people who didn’t deserve it.”

He’s still staring at Draco, as if trying to force his words into Draco’s head by the sheer weight of his stare. His fingers toy with the ratty bed-spread, sharp little nails pulling at the loose threads. Draco doesn’t say anything though; he lets the boy go at his own pace because, even if the boy is half his height and weight, he’s still a werewolf.

In a way, the tale the boy has been told is true. The Ministry was as corrupt as a poisoned apple, but sometimes, just sometimes, it was right.

“They came to take me you know,” he says, his voice almost shy. “One night, before the Good Witches beat them, Ministry men came to my house and tried to take me away. I was really little, I don’t remember, but Alpha says that they almost succeeded and we were really lucky. It’s why we like the Good Witches.”

“The Good Witches?” Draco asks, unable to help himself.

“Yup,” the boy says, nodding his head like a puppy. “The first was a girl with a heart of gold, but I don’t think she really had a gold heart because I don’t think hearts work like that. Or, well, I’ve never seen a gold heart. She stood up to the Ministry and said the magic words that freed the creatures.”

Draco’s stomach lurches at the innocently chosen words and so it takes him a moment, a moment of his stomach rolling and the bile climbing in his throat, before he realises that the little boy is talking about Hermione. And he’s talking about her as though she is some sort of mythical hero.

Idly he wonders what the boy would say if he learned that her golden heart was now as wretched as ice and she was trying desperately to re-forge the bonds she’d naively broken.

He’s almost tempted to tell the boy, if only to see how long it takes those sharp little nails to kill him.

“And the second?”

“The second Good Witch was the big sister of the third. They were stars Alpha said; stars that had fallen to earth.”

“How did they help?”

The boy shrugs. “The second witch helped Alpha get me out and protected me from the bad men. She died.”

He sounds sad. Or, rather, he sounds as if he should be sad and that he’s been told the tale by a sympathetic narrator who was sad during this part of the telling and he’s trying to mimic it. It’s the only way he knows the story.

“Then the third witch, the flower star Alpha said, destroyed the Ministry. She ripped them apart with her black magic and sent the stones tumbling down. She set us all free.”

Draco laughs then, high and brittle and tinged with madness that isn’t entirely unwarranted. His mother’s final act on this earth is being told to him by a boy who thinks it’s a fairy tale.

“Why are you laughing?” the boy asks, his voice cold and more animal than human. His eyes have narrowed into silvered slits, and, despite his skinny frame and delicate features, he looks dangerous.

“I’m not laughing,” Draco said, gasping for air. “Not at you.”

The boy snarls though, displeased with Draco’s feeble excuse and rolls off the bed. “I’m telling.”

“Wait,” Draco says his laughter evaporating at the thought of more werewolves. “What’s your name?”

“They call me Bear,” the boy says, his hand on the ornate door handle. He’s holding it, as though he doesn’t quite want to leave the room – leave Draco – and Draco wonders whether he is lonely.

Draco remembers what it was like, growing up in house that was more museum than home, and something tells him that Bear’s existence is very similar – and wildly different.

“Your pack call you Bear? That’s a strange name for a wolf,” he teases, offering up the humour like a treat.

Bear giggles, and Draco wonders just how old he is.

“It’s like my name, but not my name. Alpha says it’s a plum.”

Draco frowns, “A plum?”

“Uhuh, Alpha says that’s a play on words.”

“Oh,” Draco laughs softly, “a pun. So Bear is a pun of your real name?”

Bear nods, drawing closer to the bed. His hands are clasped behind his back and his head is dipped demurely, but he’s peeking up at Draco from under a messy fringe. “Bet you can’t guess.”

“I’m good at guessing games,” Draco says. And he is, he has to be, he was a Slytherin after all.

Even if he isn’t good at guessing games, Draco is very skilled at cold reading and Bear isn’t all that hard to read. He’s a child craving human affection – a smile or a warm clap on the shoulder – rather than the more animal affection that his pack must show him. Alpha, whoever he is, obviously spends time with him, talking to him and teaching him, but Draco can hear the longing in Bear’s voice and he can remember his own childhood, and Draco wonders how much love Alpha shows him.

“Come here,” he says, holding his arm out to the boy, and Bear all but flies too him, curling up against on his right. Bear tucks his head in tight, his nose in Draco’s ribs, just like a pup would. He’s warm, his small body a furnace of heat, and Draco realises just how cold he is and squeezes Bear tighter

“Now, what goes with Bear?” he muses, running his fingers through Bear’s messy hair. “Let me guess... I don’t think your parents would name you Grizzly.”

Bear shakes his head, wriggling closer.

“Hmm, it would be cruel to call you Polar, wouldn’t it?”

Bear giggles softly and Draco huffs out his own laugh.

“I know,” he says, pausing for effect. “You’re a cuddly little Teddy Bear,” he teases tickling the boy with one hand and the boy laughs wildly, squirming and kicking and crying for Draco to stop.

And the world just stops spinning and Draco’s throat closes up. “Teddy? Your name is Teddy?”

Bear, no Teddy, he’s Teddy, nods.

“You’re really good at guessing games,” he whispers, winding a thin arm around Draco’s waist.

And Draco can’t stop himself from blurting out, “You’re my cousin.”


vii.

He has an hour, maybe two with Teddy, telling him about Aunt Andromeda and the little he knows of Teddy’s parents before they come for him. Two burly men, bigger than Eli, push their way into the room, and from the way he stiffens and small snarl that slips from Teddy’s lips, Draco knows that they are not friendly.

He runs a soft hand over Teddy’s head and the boy stills. It’s heartening to know though that even though they’ve only had an hour together, the familial bond is there. He reckons that it is probably stronger for Teddy, animal instinct and all, but he’s still willing to go with the men just to make sure that nothing happens to Teddy.

So he stands and slowly moves towards the door and the two werewolves. Teddy is still rumbling like an angry puppy on the bed, his teeth bared and eyes more gold than the soft blue they’d been earlier. Draco waves at him, tries to shush him, and Teddy quiets, gripping the eiderdown in frustration and that’s how Draco leaves him.

There are close to one hundred werewolves waiting for them in what was – Draco presumes – once the ballroom of the manor and all of their eyes are on him. They gleam in the low light, and thousands of them peer out at him from the shattered mirrors.

It isn’t hard to imagine this place as it, glowing with brilliant fairylight, couples swirling round the floor like butterflies. There are faded murals on the ceiling, swirling dragons and phoenixes, once brilliant and majestic. Gold leaf is peeling from the cornices, and the parquet floor is scuffed beyond repair but Draco knows that once upon a time they gleamed like stars.

Now all that haunts the dance floor are ghosts and monsters and Draco holds his head high, back straight, and wades into the thick of it. Glass crunches under his feet and Draco tries not to wince as a piece digs through his thick socks.

There is a chandelier collapsed in the corner, downed like a bird with broken wings. The crystals have been ripped from it, probably sold for food, and cobwebs have taken their place.

“This is him?” one wolf, bigger than the two holding him asks, swaggering forward as Draco is dragged to the very centre of the room.

They fall in around him, a series of circles, not neat enough to be concentric, but tight enough for Draco to feel the stares through his shirt. He feels like a fatted calf paraded before the slaughter.

“Yes,” a voice, soft but sure, calls from behind Draco.

The big wolf moves closer, swaying into Draco’s space and his breath reeks of meat and blood, sour and metallic and Draco shrinks away. He’s killed tonight, last night, the night before – he’s killed humans and wizards and animals – and he’ll kill Draco given the chance. And Draco is suddenly afraid.

For the first time in years he isn’t ambivalent about death. He has family again – he has Teddy – and he’s going to fight tooth and nail to stay around for the boy, no matter how weak that makes him.

“You sure you bit him,” the alpha – he has to be an alpha given the size of him – snarls circling Draco slowly. His teeth, yellow and crooked, are bared and Draco bristles.

“Yes, on the wrist.”

A thick hand snatches at his limp wrist and it’s all Draco can do not to cry out. His sleeve is pushed back and the bite, still a masticated mass of bloody flesh, is exposed for all to see.

There are murmurs, soft and insidious, rippling through the crowd – he’s been bitten but not turned, it’s unheard of.

“Kill him,” hisses one wolf, a female with long legs and flowing ebony hair. “Kill the little bitch.”

Her anger is palpable and it stirs all the wolves like a hornet nest. The hand on his wrist moves to his neck and Draco can’t find that vicious tongue that had flayed men alive. Nails bite into the soft flesh of his throat and his heart speeds up. Tears well in his eyes and he wants, for the first time, to beg for his life.

There are catcalls and whistles as he bats, futile against the strength of a healthy male wolf, at the hand holding him, slowly stopping his oxygen.

“Stop it,” screams a voice and Draco thrashes in earnest. Teddy cannot see him die, not like Draco saw Charity Burbage die.

Teddy though, obviously taking after his father and all his Gryffindor ideals of honour, launches himself at the big wolf, scaling his body like a tree and digging his tiny nails into every piece of vulnerable flesh.

One wolf howls and launches at Teddy, but Draco, from some unknown reserve, pulls at his magic and lets it lash out at the wolf. Sectumsempra flows like water from his fingertips and Draco wonders why it is only the dark magic he can use without a wand.

The alpha lets go of him, throwing him like a rag-doll into the wall, and turns on Teddy. His rage at being challenged by a pup makes Draco immaterial.

“You little shit,” he snarls, plucking Teddy off him. Draco can see the violence in the man’s eyes and he tries to summon something more, something disastrous, but he’s too winded to think straight and Teddy is going to die because of some misplaced family honour.

“Enough,” a voice says. Whoever he is, the man doesn’t need to shout to be heard over the cacophony, and the wolf drops Teddy like he’s a burning match.

Teddy scrambles away from angry man, and over towards Draco. His hands are small and flittery as they check for injuries. When his sharp eyes are sure that Draco isn’t anything more than winded, he turns to the new comer.

Draco can only see his back, broad shoulders tapering down to a narrow waist. He’s bigger than Draco is, but that might just be an illusion though, power seems to be leaking from his every pore. Dressed head to toe in supple black leather and fingers hanging loose at his sides, the man reminds Draco of who he could have been, who he should have been.

Teddy tangles their fingers together and Draco knows that this is his ‘Alpha’.

“Marcus, please tell me you didn’t have your hands on my cub,” he says, and his voice is as silky as Draco remembers his father’s could be when he was at his angriest.

Marcus pulls himself up to his full, massive height, and sneers at the interloper.

“Alpha, he hurt Draco. He hurt my cousin.”

“Did he? Did he hurt you?”

Teddy shakes his head and Draco lets out a relieved sigh.

“The human didn’t turn,” says another wolf, older than any Draco has ever seen. He’s got a head of snow white hair and his face is as weathered as the cliffs of Dover. But his eyes, black and beady, are as sharp as a newly whetted knife. “We must do something about this.”

“If word gets out,” another wolf says – female this time and brawnier than the first female and more like Madame Olympe than any non-giant has the right to be – “about him, we may face an uprising.”

The wolf in black chuckles, a genuinely humorous sound, and shakes his head. “Malfoy has always been contrary. But never anything I couldn’t handle.”

He turns then, tilts his face to the side and Draco snarls, baring his own teeth to the world.

Potter has been missing since the day Andromeda was found dead on her kitchen floor. It was assumed, wrongly so, that Teddy had been kidnapped and Potter had gone after them; after the bad witches and wizards that had been terrified enough to attack a half-breed child. But he had never returned, and even though she had never said it, Draco had always seen that glimmer of grief in Granger’s eyes whenever Potter was mentioned. She’d thought, accepted, he was dead.

Somehow, the reality was worse.

Winded or not, Draco’s anger has always been a powerful thing, enough to make him do stupid things, and launching himself at Potter is not smart. But it is familiar, and Draco can almost smell the liniment of his Quidditch leathers.

Potter catches him easily, his hands wrapping around Draco’s wrists and he hauls him in close. “Hello Draco.”

Draco’s anger is a brilliant, white hot and clouding his vision, robbing him of words. It doesn’t help that Potter smells warm and male and his effortless grip on Draco is disturbingly comforting.

“Not going to say hello? It’s been what, eight years?”

“Nine,” Draco grits out. “It’s been nine years since Andromeda died and you vanished.”

Potter’s face settles into a placid mask at the mention of Andromeda, and his hands drop from Draco’s. It doesn’t take long for the thought to form and before Draco can even think, he’s hauling back his arm and punching at Potter’s face.

He doesn’t manage to hit him, Potter catches him again with catlike reflexes, but the follow-up to Potter’s solar plexus connects easily and Potter stumbles back.

Around them the wolves murmur uneasily but Draco is too angry to be afraid. Potter waves a hand despite being doubled over, quieting the crowd, and somehow all the hate, all the soul numbing hate that had burdened Draco’s school years comes back. The difference is this time: Draco isn’t the one who ran.

He steps back and straightens, the Malfoy posture he’d scrabbled so desperately for earlier, settles upon him easily and Draco isn’t surprised. He always was at his most arrogant around Potter. “Well, if I’d have known all it would take to get you out of a fight was to let the dogs off their leads, I’d have told Voldemort about it sooner.”

Potter’s looking up at him, slowly straightening, and actually looking angry.

“I didn’t realise you were such a little,” he wants to say coward, but he remembers the female werewolf from earlier and the words just flow like poisoned honey, “bitch. One little bite and you’re running away, tail between your legs like the coward you really are.”

He laughs as some of the wolves growl – Potter’s pack most probably – and does not look at Teddy.

“Oh stop it, you whiny little mongrel,” he snaps at the wolf that bit him. “I lived with Greyback for years; do you really think you scare me?”

“Draco,” Potter growls in warning.

“Don’t you ‘Draco’ me Potter, you don’t have the right. You lost that the minute you ran. Do you know that Granger looked for you for months, and that the Weasley girl called your name when the centaurs took her to be their brood mare? She didn’t last. She screamed for you though, it was all she could say when we found her, little wet gasps for the husband she’d never have.”

He doesn’t tell Potter how she died, how Weasley hadn’t been able to put his sister out of her misery and had turned the wand over to Draco. But, it doesn’t really matter because Potter is snarling now, but Draco is on a roll and years of horrors are clamouring to roll off his tongue.

“Where the hell were you when Hogwarts fell? Or when Diagon Alley became a nesting site?” Draco laughs then, bitter and brittle, and glares at Potter. “Where were you when they put me on a pedestal because I was the only one who didn’t lie down and die? Because I schemed and planned and fought when it should have been you! I was meant to run, not you!”

Potter grabs him then, his eyes bright gold and his lips pulled back to reveal canines that Draco is sure were smaller when they were at school, and slams him against back. The mirror shatters when his head hits it and the world spins a little as Draco slumps. Potter hauls him back up, slamming him back again, and Draco knows that he is bleeding.

“Do you want to know what happened to the Weasleys?” he asks, hissing in Potter’s face like the snake he once was. “How the old woman was killed by a swarm of doxies, bitten and pinched to death? Her body was so full of poison when they found her, bloated and purpled with it, that no one knew who she was. Or what about good old Arthur and the twin that lived? Both of them dead too. William is alive, perks of fucking a Veela but he has trouble around the full moon. Hey, perhaps you should look him up and – ”

Potter almost breaks him in half this time, forcing him back so hard that Draco hears his bones grind up against the remaining glass. He can smell blood on the air and the silk of his shirt is sticking to his back in places but he doesn’t cry out. He’s cried enough because of Potter, and Potter is not worth his tears or pain.

So he laughs, bright and maddening, and feels his mind slipping away from his grasp.

And he misses the moment Potter’s eyes darken and his nostrils flare, and his snarling shifts into something more terrifying.


viii.

The room Potter leaves him in is as barren as the one he awoke in, though it is saturated in a heavy musk that makes Draco’s nose twitch and something warm flare in his belly. He doesn’t know what happened; one minute Potter was ready to snuff him out and the next he had an iron grip on Draco’s wrist and was dragging him out of the room. So he lies on the bed he was dumped on, pondering over the intense gaze Potter had levelled at him before he all but fled the room.

Draco is certain, even if he were able, that he would have trouble getting off the bed. His back hurts, a patchwork of pain spread across him like a straightjacket. His head is foggy and throbbing in counter measure to his pulse, and each time he moves his stomach lurches violently. He’s been hurt enough times to know the signs of concussion and though it’s very tempting to drift off into the sleep that tugs at him, he lies there, insensate, and waits to learn his fate.

He has no doubt that Eli and Granger are looking for him, and not out of any sense of loyalty or honour. They have mere hours, another day at the most, before the Manor turns on every hunter inside its walls and some of the curses his ancestors wove into the walls are more terrifying than the creatures.

Gently he reaches out, brushing across the house’s magic with his own and feeling the old magic push back, trying to wrap round him like ivy. It’s brittle, weak, and Draco cannot tell if any of the family still lives but there is still a spark there and it may just be enough. Magic is a strange, wondrous thing that has a will of its own and he wonders if this single strain can be bent to his will. If it can, there is every chance that all of them can come out of this alive.

He’s still feeling it out, carefully and respectfully, when Teddy slips into the room, glancing round anxiously as if he shouldn’t be here. He hurries over quickly; pausing as he takes in the thick iron manacle attached tying Draco to the bed. Uncomfortable under the scrutiny, his leg twitches and the chain clanks, loud in the still room. Teddy’s eyes widen, but after a second, he pulls himself together and climbs on the bed by Draco.

“You’re hurt,” he whispers, touching the side of Draco’s head.

He snatches it back though when Draco winces, his fingers dripping red. For a moment Draco thinks he’s going to lick his fingers clean his expression is that hungry, but eventually he wipes them on the bedspread and Draco lets out a breath.

“I’m sorry,” Teddy says, curling up beside Draco, wary of his bruises. His head fits comfortably onto Draco’s shoulder, like they were meant to curl up together on Potter’s bed. “I didn’t know Alpha would hurt you.”

Draco chuckles, but doesn’t break Teddy’s picture perfect ideal of his Alpha. He doesn’t want the child to know that their history is painted in lines made from Draco’s blood. So they lie there in silence, whilst Teddy gently runs his fingers over Draco’s tummy.

The room is warm, which is strange as July in England is usually more wet than warm, but the heat is building steadily, and dust drifts through the sunlit air. But the serenity doesn’t last long, as Potter returns, kicking the door shut the moment he is over the threshold.

His eyes narrow as he takes in the sight of the two on the bed, and a snarl slips through his curled lips and Teddy is off the bed, tucking himself under the window at the far end of the room before Draco can comment.

The action, Teddy’s action, appeases Potter and he sets the washbasin down on the nightstand, and all of his attention is on Draco. Gentle fingers push Draco’s hair back off his face and Potter quickly dips a cloth in the water before wiping it over Draco’s brow.

He’s careful, soft almost, and a tense peace settles over the room, the only sounds being the gentle slosh of water and the rasp of cloth. It is serene, lulling, and Draco hates it. He bats at Potter’s hand but Potter is relentless, catching Draco by the wrist and pressing it gently back into the mattress. And that’s the unnerving thing, Potter is so gentle now, all the violence and aggression has bled out of him.

“What are you doing?” he asks, hoping his voice isn’t slurring as much as he thinks it is. His lips and tongue are lazy as they curl around the words.

“You’re bleeding.”

“Not the first time,” he says, remembering the cold, wet bathroom floor.

“I’m sorry.”

Potter’s face is painted with concern and concentration, a study of care, and Draco takes his time examining the new creases around his eyes and the smattering of stubble over his cheeks. Potter, before he left them and fled in the night, was a boy lean and clean. He’s a man now, a dangerous one, and so very different from the boy Draco thought he knew.

“What are you doing?” he asks again, watching the muscles in Potter’s face as the pull into a frown.

“I told you, you’re bleeding,” Potter repeats, patient and soft.

Draco huffs, turning his head away to look out the window. Potter carries on his gentle ministrations, soothing strokes across Draco’s forehead and down his neck and from the corner of his eye Draco can see that the cloth is slowly turning red.

“Turn over,” Potter insists, gently tipping Draco onto his stomach and pushing up his shirt. Draco can’t quite hold back the hiss that escapes him as the silk slides like sandpaper over the cuts that litter his back.

It isn’t his reaction though that captures Potter’s attention.

Teddy is staring at the marred skin of Draco’s back his eyes filled with horror, but his little pink tongue is darting out, licking his lips like he wants nothing more than to gnaw on the ripped flesh.

“Get out,” Potter growls, and Teddy’s eyes snap to him so fast Draco is surprised that his head doesn’t whip to the side.

When Teddy doesn’t move, Potter snarls again and the hairs on the back of Draco’s neck rise, and Teddy scrambles to his feet, tripping over the ratty rug as he races for the door. Draco gets one last glimpse of his face, white with terror, as he slams the door behind him and the anger that had subsided funnels through his system.

His foot kicks out, slamming into the side of Potter’s thigh and the man grunts, falling forward on to the bed.

“What was that for?” Potter asks, pushing himself up. He looks genuinely bewildered, his eyes wide and his brows furrowed, and it is perhaps the first time in their history that Draco has left the once golden, now horribly tarnished hero of the wizarding world speechless.

“Your superlative parenting skills,” Draco sneers, trying to wriggle his way onto his back.

Potter stops him with a firm hand between his shoulder blades. “He was looking at you.”

“If you didn’t want him to be traumatised – which I suggest might be better avoided if you don’t smash someone into a glass wall right in front of him - you should have asked him to leave before you start getting me out of my clothes.”

“He shouldn’t have been in here. He shouldn’t have been anywhere near you.”

“Worried I’m going to steal your mantle of ‘Father of the Year’? Wouldn’t be hard, I probably just have to hug him once in a blue fucking moon and the boy would be singing my praises.” He bites back as scream as Potter pulls a shard of glass from his lower back. “Will you stop that?”

“No.”

“Heal them then, if it’s that important to you. Or, wait,” he turns to look at Potter, “you can still do magic can’t you?”

“I can. I prefer this way.”

“I don’t,” Draco sulks, turning back to look out the window.

The glass is smeared with years of grime making the sky a dull grey and Draco has the uncontrollable urge to write words between the lead lattices. Beyond that are rolling hills of green and Draco knows that the house could be anywhere in Britain.

Potter chuckles, not at all deterred by Draco’s petulance, and continues the rhythmic swipes of the cloth on Draco’s back.


ix.

“What happened to you?” Draco asks when Potter has finally finished with his back and has let him roll over.

He asks because he is curious and not a little perturbed by the intent way Potter is watching him do up the tiny pearlescent buttons on his borrowed shirt. It smells like the room, like Potter, but it’s clean and cool against his torn skin. He doesn’t miss the way Potter’s eyes narrow, and his fingers flex in Draco’s bloody shirt.

“Why do you want to know?”

“Well, it could be because we were such close friends and it feels wrong that we let that slide. Or, perhaps, it’s because I am tied to a bed – yours I presume – and am bored out of my mind. Your choice.”

“What makes you think that it’s my bed?”

Why Potter focuses on that part of Draco’s sarcastic little diatribe is beyond him. The withering look on his face says as much.

“The stale smell of righteousness and the abhorrent use of red and gold perhaps?”

Potter smiles and stretches out so he’s a searing span of muscle at Draco’s side. He watches Draco, propped up on his elbows, chin cradled in his hands. “I didn’t decorate the room, we only moved in here the night before Tobias bit you.” He grins then, utterly pleased with himself, “But it is nice to know that you recognise my scent already.”

“Don’t flatter yourself. So it was your pack we hunted?”

Potter’s good mood evaporates at that, and Draco grins savagely. “Yes.”

“Do you want me to apologise?”

“Not unless you mean it. Innocent people died Draco.”

Draco laughs, scooting down the bed so he is lying next to Potter. “We’re at war Potter; of course innocent people are going to die.”

“They shouldn’t have,” Potter growls and Draco feels supremely content. This righteousness wafting off Potter is familiar.

“They wouldn’t have been, if they hadn’t been out hunting.”

“We weren’t the only ones,” Potter snarls, and Draco can feel the growl rumbling in his own chest. Oddly though, doesn’t feel threatened. “You put close to a tonne of bloody meat downwind of our den, how exactly were we meant to ignore that?”

“Willpower and a strict vegetarian diet?”

“Technically, your little offering was a vegetarian diet.”

“Well, I imagine that after a night killing and eating wizards, even raw cow is palatable.”

Potter smirks at Draco’s snotty tone, shrugging indolently. “Wasn’t us.”

The way he says it, so very dismissive, makes Draco suspicious. “We set a trap for a group of werewolves and a pack turns up, but it’s the wrong pack? You honestly expect that I’ll believe that?”

“Why not? It’s the truth.” He rolls then, on to his side, so he’s propped up above Draco. “What you believe Draco doesn’t really matter. My pack doesn’t hunt people, I haven’t changed all that much.”

“Oh,” Draco drawls lazily, rolling the words around his tongue, “you have changed.”

There’s an edge to his words, curved like the sharp blade of a sickle and Potter’s looking at him with intense green eyes, and Draco recognises the aurora around his eyes. He’s seen it before, raised a sword to it before.

This time, it’s words.

“Perhaps. But so have you.”

“No, I haven’t.”

And he hasn’t. He’s still the same Draco Malfoy, coward and bully. The only difference is that now he’s too afraid to die and he when he bullies people, it’s into providing him with swords or dragon hide armour or old, valuable spell books.

“The Draco Malfoy I knew wouldn’t be out hunting anything at all. I remember the way you ran from Voldemort that night in first year.” He laughs then, bright and clear, and his neck goes taught as his head tips back. “You know, I laughed myself sick when I heard that you were the one leading the wizards.”

“So did I,” Draco admits, and he imagines so too did most of the other people who knew him as a child. Only Granger hadn’t seemed that surprised when he’d stepped up, denouncing all her ideas, and toppling her from her newly acquired throne. “We aren’t talking about me.”

Potter sighs, flopping back on the bed, tangling his feet with Draco’s. It’s comfortable and warm and even though Draco is still angry at Potter, Potter is right: he has changed. He lets the anger burn now, slow smouldering coals in his belly, and waits for it to be useful. And above all other things, he ignores that tickling sensation that is trying, so very desperately, to push it all away as if it’s the recollection of a half-forgotten dream.

“Fine, it started the night Andromeda was killed. We were making dinner - ”

“I know what happened the night Andromeda died,” Draco interrupts. It hadn’t been all that pleasant flooing in the next morning and finding her on the kitchen floor. It had been more distressing to roll her over and have a Black family quirk rear its ugly head.

Watching your aunt’s death at the hands of six terrified wizards through her eyes, feeling her fear and pain and utter fury at her fate, is something Draco never wants to repeat. Or recollect.

Potter seems to sense Draco’s discomfort as a gentle hand wraps around Draco’s and a calloused thumb brushes over the inside of his wrist. Draco shakes it off, but Potter quickly replaces it, determined and stubborn as ever.

“Well,” he says, search for the lost threads of his story, “I took Teddy and went looking for a pack. I thought that werewolves would be able to look after him and that he’d at least fit in with them. We were worried – Andromeda and me that is, not Teddy and I – about how Teddy would grow up. Neither of us knew that much about werewolf children and there were no books. So I found him to a pack.”

“I’m surprised they didn’t kill you the moment they saw you.”

“So was I, but they saw Teddy and, well I didn’t know Andromeda was dead then but they took Teddy and I left.”

“Wait – what?” Draco asks, sitting you straight and staring down at Potter. His old Gryffindor t-shirt has rucked up, showing a warm stripe of sun-kissed skin and a thick trail of soft dark hair leading down to the button on his jeans.

“I left Teddy with them, thought he’d be better off. The alpha bitch at the time wanted a pup and it was an ideal solution. They’d look after him, keep him safe and away from the wizards that wanted him dead, and they’d help him handle being a werewolf if he ever turned. I couldn’t do that, so I left him with them. But, by the time I got back, Andromeda was dead and your mother had brought the Ministry down.”

“Why didn’t you stay?”

Draco ignores the way Potter tries to tug him back down. “Teddy was more important than being in another war. I am his godfather; I never intended to walk away for good. I couldn’t do that, he is Remus’ son. I naively hoped that everything would cool down after a couple of months, and I’d bring Teddy home, but it was worse when I came back and I was all Teddy had left.”

“So you left?” Draco asks trying not to sound as supremely disappointed as he is.

He doesn’t know why. What Potter did, running to keep Teddy safe is sound, Merlin knows his mother would have taken that route when Voldemort rose the second time had it been an option. But still, Draco feels let down.

He doesn’t tell Potter this though, doesn’t tell Potter that even Draco had started seeing him as a hero, doesn’t give Potter that power over him.

“So, what happened to make you...” he trails off, gesturing with his hand rather than say the words on the tip of his tongue. Because, even if Potter is being particularly jocular and tolerant with him, there is no doubt that Draco asking him why he offered himself up to becoming a blood thirsty monster will not go over well. “Was it an accident?”

Potter shakes his head, and splays a warm palm over Draco’s stomach.

“No. I asked. The old Alpha, a squib called Rex, was ill. He was dying and I wanted to be there for Teddy, but the rest of the pack didn’t trust me and keeping up with wolves is hard, even for a wizard. He had no children, his mate had never been able to have pups of her own, and he took me up on my offer.”

“You asked for it?”

“Yeah,” he says, gently lifting Draco’s damaged hand. “It hurt like nothing I’ve ever felt, that first bite, that first Moon.”

“You don’t say,” Draco mutter’s bitterly, trying to tug his hand out of Potter’s relentless grip.

“You didn’t turn Draco, you didn’t feel your bones snap and reset and your skin grow or teeth burst from your gums.”

He pats Potter on the head. “And I feel bad about it, really. But, as someone who has had their flesh cut and cut away at itself like it’s made of hundreds of vicious little teeth, I think I can safely say I get pain Potter. What I don’t understand, what I can never quite comprehend is how – once again – you manage to fall on your feet. From Golden Boy to Alpha, how did you manage that?”

“The same way I do everything Malfoy, a lot of fighting and a lot of coming through by the skin of my teeth.”

It’s the first time, the first time since he’s seen Potter again, that he’s heard even the faintest hint of bitterness in his tone. And it doesn’t escape his notice that he’s started calling him Malfoy again.

“Do you think,” Draco asks after a long moment of silence, “that we’re going to be fighting on different sides in every war?”

He doesn’t know why he asks, his not prone to melancholy introspection. Or, at least, he’s not prone to sharing his melancholy introspection.

Potter turns to him them, his eyes bright with some kind of secret, and says, “Not anymore.”


x.

Eventually, Potter brings him some breakfast on a tray. He hasn’t undone the chain but he has provided Draco with some soft linen trousers that are more comfortable than his hide hunting pants. The food is plain but fresh, thick slabs of bread, heaped with butter, and a bowl of berries that were probably picked from the gardens. Potter lays the tray carefully on the bed, as if spreading out a picnic basket, before sitting down himself. He tucks one foot under himself, looking at Draco as though he’s hung the moon.

That Draco doesn’t kick him is more a testament to his gnawing hunger than his acceptance of Potter’s presence.

The bread is already cut, torn roughly as if for a child, and Draco has no choice but to eat with his fingers. It’s still warm, and the butter drips of the side, coating his fingers and forcing him to lick his fingers. Potter watches him carefully as he does so, tracking each piece as it moves from Draco’s plate to his mouth.

“Can I see Teddy?” Draco asks, popping a berry into his mouth. It’s tart on his tongue, but its sweet enough after the salt-sharpness of the buttery bread.

Potter shakes his head.

“Why?”

Potter doesn’t answer. Instead he picks up a fat jewel like berry and holds it to Draco’s lips. He’s tempted, sorely tempted, to bite Potter’s fingers but he hasn’t eaten for at least two days. Potter offers him another.

“I can feed myself,” he snaps, snatching the bowl away from Potter and stuffing the rest of berries in his mouth in a fit of pique.

He can feel the tart juice flow over his lips, tiny rivulets of blood red that trickle to his chin. He swipes his tongue through the juice, lapping it up and trying not to notice the way Potter’s predatory eyes track his every movement.

“You know, that’s meant for a tea service, not food,” he says, tipping tray off the bed, and watching Potter flinch as the china smashes against the metal.

Potter ignores him, ignores the smashed plate and bowl and the martial glint in Draco’s eye.

“What do you know about werewolves Draco?” Potter asks, watching him carefully. It feels strangely like being watched by the Proctor of his potion’s NEWT. Potter’s gaze is heavy; the emerald sharp eyes never straying from Draco’s face, no matter that Draco can’t stop twisting the Malfoy signet ring around on his finger.

“Not much,” he admits reluctantly.

It’s true. They spent six years of school studying everything so-called experts had claimed to know about the Dark Creatures that lurked at the corners of their world; pushed into the shadows like poor, disfigured relations. But so many of the long held assumptions were wrong and more are proved so every day. No one knew that it was possible for vampires and veela to breed until the Valkyries had ripped through the world, silver shining hair and golden talons curled and stained with blood.

So, Draco doesn’t believe he knows anything anymore, and he isn’t ashamed to admit it. His willingness to embrace his ignorance has kept him alive.

Potter snorts, amused obviously by this humble version of the vain, prideful boy he once knew. “You must know something,” he goads, his taunting tone familiar.

“What I know,” Draco drawls, supremely irritated by the innate skill with which Potter still manages to get under his skin, “is that silver is lethal. Aconite and hellebore make wolves very ill, and you only transform in the three nights of the Full Moon. Other than that, you are big and fast and deadly.” He pushes himself closer to Potter, somehow wanting the next part to hit home. “More infectious than syphilis, but, given the choice, I’ll take syphilis: lesions, tumours and all.”

Potter is not offended, obviously a victim of one too many crucios to be thinking straight, and he throws his head back, howling out a laugh that echoes in the barren room.

“Perhaps though, lycanthrope has the same degenerative effects on the mental acumen of its sufferers though. I’ll be sure to let Granger know. She still likes being thrown the odd scrap of knowledge.”

“If you are trying to spite me with taunts about my friends, be my guest. Do you honestly think I haven’t kept an eye on them over the years?”

“So you know the Weasel is a slobbering mass of ghoul then? It’s not pretty. Although, now I think about it, apart from the increase in drool and the faint green tinge to his skin, there isn’t that much of a difference.”

“Why did you invite him to move in then?”

“Practicality,” Draco answers after a pause that’s far too long. Potter smiles, knowing and annoying, and Draco shrugs. “Really, it made sense to keep as many hunters in the Manor as I could. Safety in numbers, isn’t that what the Muggles say?”

It’s a lie, Potter knows it and so does Draco. Putting them all in one place, even with the Manor’s overwhelming wards, they are sitting ducks if something makes it through, and Draco is a better tactician than that.

Potter doesn’t push him though, like a dog with a bone he returns to his original question, pushing Draco for all he knows on werewolves. There’s something behind it, something driving him, more than a need to know what the enemy knows. Potter is cocky, he always has been. He’s a typical Gryffindor, as brash as their house colours, and bullishly determined when he wants to be and he’s prodding at Draco, searching out the weak point.

The one thing Draco doesn’t know though is what Potter is planning to do when he finds it.

“I’ve told you,” he huffs, kicking his foot out at Potter.

“What about werewolf mates?” Potter asks, catching his foot and wrapping a large hand around his ankle, his thumb pressing into the joints in his ankle.

“They don’t have them, veela are the only creatures cursed with a mate.”

“Oh,” Potter smiles slightly, his thumb moving in maddeningly slow movements, “that’s not quite true.”


xi.

Potter allows him out of his room several hours later, when the sun is starting to dip towards the horizon, leading him through the house like a show dog on an ever tightening leash.

There are other wolves around, living and existing as though nothing is unusual. Children, small and feral, race through the wide halls; tackling, tumbling and snarling at one another like cubs in a den. The older wolves watch them and smile when they see Draco, their grins savage and their eyes tooth-sharp. They know something: Draco isn’t a fool, something is going on and they know what it is.

They look away though the minute Potter catches their eye, their heads snapping round like he’s struck them, and Draco wonders just how much power Potter has. Even the other alphas are slinking out of his way, ducking into nearby rooms, or turning their heads, baring the long line of their throats.

Potter ignores it all, tugging Draco after him with a sure grip on his wrist, as if they are off on some wild Harry Potter adventure, and all the while Teddy follows them like a loyal shadow.

The more Draco sees of the house, the more it becomes like a den: winding corridors and cavernous rooms that are no longer homely or human.

Portraits have been torn from the walls, pale shadows where they once hung, and priceless ornaments are shattered and sad on the floor. The curtains, those that are left, are tattered and drawn across some of the wider windows, creating shaded corners for wolves to curl in. Furniture has been stripped; the wood broken up and piled high for firewood whilst the pillows and cushions are scattered on the floor like little nests.

Obviously each pack has colonised a space of their own, some taking massive rooms, some small pantries and the musky scent of wolf hangs in the air, staining it brightly and it’s all Draco can do not to curl his nose as they pass.

The only room that isn’t been ruined is the solarium, though time has certainly taken its toll. A few of the panes of glass are cracked and broken, and plants, once cultivated and confined to beautiful vases, have spread across the stone floor and twined themselves around the wrought iron furniture. It is a contained jungle, blooming and wild, and Potter leads him to the small table, holding out a chair for him.

Draco sits gingerly, careful not to damage any of the delicate jasmine flowers that are curled over the chair, and takes a deep breath. The air isn’t fresh, it’s heavy with pollen and sweet floral perfumes and the thick smell of soil, but after the stench of wolf, it is as sweet as a crisp winter morning. The soft leaves cushion the chair, and Draco sinks into it, letting the petals stroke his hands and neck and some of the more adventurous vines wrap about his feet. In the corner a SnapDragon basks in the sunlight and waves a lazy frond in his direction, and for the first time since his capture, Draco relaxes.

On the table there is a steaming pot of tea and a small tray of biscuits.

Before Draco can ask, Potter offers him a plate of buttery biscuits sprinkled with shining sugar. “I have it on very good authority that these were your favourite once upon a time.”

The biscuits are still warm, crumbling between Draco’s fingers and the scent of cinnamon tickles his nose; he can already taste the warm sunshine of lemon, tart and fresh and his mouth starts water. “How did you know about these?”

The biscuits are an old Black family recipe, served after church every Sunday with Earl Grey and Auntie Walburga’s finest china. Draco can actually feel the starch of his shirt collar as he bites delicately into the cookie.

“Kreacher,” Potter admits, a slight stain of red on his cheeks. “He remembers you, it’s amazing really. He can paint a picture of a tiny Draco Malfoy in a sailor suit, stealing biscuits the minute his mum’s back is turned.”

“You have a House Elf?” Draco asks, his voice sharper than he means. There is something absurd about Potter, paragon of all the non-traditional wizarding virtues, owning a House Elf; especially a Black Elf.

“Yes.” Potter takes his own biscuit, stuffing it in his mouth with no care for the subtle flavour of the biscuit. “Surprised.”

“Yes,” Draco admits, pouring the tea. “You are an uncouth barbarian; no elf in its right mind would find pride in serving you.”

Potter shakes his head, smiling slightly. Draco hands him a cup of tea, black with lemon. He’s poured the milk over the small, now purring, cactus.

“This is nice,” Draco says, stirring his tea.

“I thought you’d like it.”

He taps the spoon lightly on the side, watching as the final few drops slide back into the small china well. “Do I get any last requests?”

Potter’s tea rattles in its saucer. “What?”

“Well,” he says softly, staring at the table top. “As last meals go, a childhood favourite is a stellar choice. And, whilst I am thankful – really, I am, it’s rather poetic that at the end of everything it’s you – I would like one favour.”

Potter’s eyes are wide and wild, and his skin is pale. “Draco, I-”

“Don’t worry Potter, it’s nothing difficult. I just want to be buried in the Malfoy crypt.” He doesn’t want to beg, but he doesn’t want to rot in an unmarked grave either. He wants to lie between his parents, on the stone berth that was made when he was born.

Potter is horribly silent, quiet enough for Draco to hear the gentle whispering of the plants, and then he laughs. His tea sloshes over the edges of the cup, dripping over his hand, and his eyes glow with mirth. Tears spill down his cheeks and his mouth is stretched so wide that his jaw must ache, but he doesn’t stop laughing.

“I’m glad you find my impending demise amusing Potter,” Draco says, frosty like a January morning, picking up his tea and taking a healthy swallow. It’s sour, the lemon left too long, and suits the twisted feeling in his stomach.

Potter’s laughter slows, little hiccupping giggles that taper off as he tries to breath. “I’d forgotten,” he says, putting his half-empty cup down. His hand snakes out and grabs Draco’s wrist, fingers sure against the butterfly-wing fluttering of Draco’s pulse. “What a drama queen you can be.”

“Excuse me?”

He tries to stand, but Potter’s grip is firm and binding and all he can do is rock back in his chair.

“You aren’t going to die, Draco. No one here is going to kill you.”

“Tell that to the wolves I met earlier, they seemed charmed to have me around.”

“Things have changed.”

Draco narrows his eyes. “What’s changed?”

Potter smiles and shakes his head.

“Tell me Potter.”

“It doesn’t matter. No one here will touch you.”

“Why?” Draco asks, trusting the niggling feeling in his stomach more than Potter’s words.

“Finish your tea Draco,” he insists as though Draco’s is his to order around and Draco gets it, he does. Potter is an Alpha, used to other wolves deferring to him without thought. It must be second nature to him now, conditioned as a boy to have the wizarding world at his feet, enforced as an adult with powerful predators at his call, so there is no reason for him not to command Draco.

And there is no reason for Draco to disobey.

The tea cup is in his hand for barely a second before he’s thrown the hot liquid in Potter’s face, watching with a sick satisfaction as the skin flushes brilliantly.

“I’m sorry Potter, you were saying?”

Potter snarls, a soft dangerous sound that makes the hair on Draco’s neck stand on edge, and Draco’s running towards the gaping door and the wild gardens beyond. He doesn’t have to turn to know that Potter is chasing him: he can feel the thud of the wolf’s footsteps in his heartbeat.

The weeds are thick, snaring and tangling around his ankles, and it’s all Draco can do not to trip. But he’s fast and sure footed and this isn’t the first time he’s run blind from an angry werewolf. He keeps low, ducking under the sprawling trees and hedges and avoiding the crunching gravel. Stone angels, cracked and mournful, peek out from behind their hands, as if they are afraid for him but Draco runs past them, not stopping for the Dog Roses that snap as he passes.

He’s on the floor before he’s even realised that Potter has caught him.

“Now that wasn’t very nice Draco,” Potter growls in his ear, flipping Draco over before he can grab a stone or stick or something to use.

“Let me go,” he begs, his voice low and desperate. He can feel the tears in his eyes, in his voice, and he’s tired of the war and the fear and he just wants Potter to do the right thing once more. “Please Potter, please. I won’t tell anyone you’re here. I won’t tell them you’re a wolf – or that Teddy’s with you. You can just vanish, disappear into the night, no one will know.”

Potter’s eyes soften and his grip loosens. No longer is he pinning Draco to the ground, he’s merely resting upon him, a warm solid weight. “I can’t Draco,” he says, as though it is enough.

“Why?” he asks, incredulous.

He is no threat to them, not really. He’s a good hunter, organised and dangerous, but they are beyond him. He’s known it for a while, but seeing all the packs together has confirmed it. Wizards are the hunted now; the lesser, lower species, and no matter how good a hunter Draco is, he’s still the prey.

“Because you have to stay here.”

“You can’t keep me in this house Potter,” he warns, slightly hysterical at the prospect. Potter could, he could keep him chained to the musty bed until Draco is nothing more than bones covered by tissue-frail skin.

“Not the house Draco,” Potter says, shifting slightly so that Draco is completely covered by his body. Broad and tall, he blankets Draco in warm flesh that’s as familiar as it is alien. “Here. Right here.”

Potter doesn’t wait for Draco to say anything; he just kisses him, opening Draco’s mouth with lips and tongue. He tastes of meat and blood and the lemon biscuits of Draco’s childhood. It’s heady and horrifying and in that moment, it’s all he has.


xii.

A small wolf, female and slight, brings him a basin of warm water to wash in before bed. She lights the candles, one by one, letting them spill soft, warm light over the room.

She doesn’t look at him, not when she enters, nor when she leaves and her careful aversion makes Draco sick.

It’s easy to ignore the damp sheets as he crawls beneath the eiderdown. It’s nothing in compared to the cold sweat breaking out over his skin or the tears dripping down his face or the strange heat building in his belly.


xiii.

When Draco wakes in the night, there is one heartbreaking moment where he thinks that the warm body stretched out in the bed with him is Eli. Dark hair fans across the pillow, and Draco reaches, sleep-blind, to run his fingers through the hair but the light catches on the faint scar and the illusion shatters.

Potter has an arm draped over his waist, heavy and unyielding, as if the chain isn’t enough to keep Draco in the bed. His chest is bare and well defined, a searing brand of heat pressed so tight to his back that Draco can feel the thick trail of hair leading from Potter’s belly-button down. His breath is warm on Draco’s neck, soft puffs that breeze gently over his ear and cause a shudder to worm down his spine.

Potter mumbles, incoherent sleepy sounds and Draco shuts his eyes.

They are tangled in an uncomfortably cosy nest of warm, drowsy limbs, and Draco’s teeth itch. It’s terrifying and Draco hates lying there, curled up with the man holding him hostage, but he has no choice. He cannot appaparate without a wand and Potter is too close for him to try. His skin prickles, and his chest feels tight and he feels so very trapped that is all he can do not to scream.

“When did you learn Fiendfyre?” Potter murmurs into Draco’s neck, his lips kissing over the soft skin at Draco’s pulse point.

Draco lies still, barely breathing, hoping that Potter will think him asleep and refrain from any further pillow talk.

“You breathe deeper when you’re asleep Draco. Trust me, I watched you sleep.”

Draco rolls over to face the other man rather than dwell on his comment. The chain clanks as he moves, and it might be his imagination, but Draco thinks Potter looks guilty.

“The minute the Ministry lifted my parole,” he says.

Draco had walked out of the Ministry, wand in hand, and gone straight back to the Manor and its vast library of dark and dangerous resources. He’d spent months learning every horrific spell he’d seen during the war, becoming so very intimate with them that he could call them to his fingertips on a whim. Then he’d learned the counter curses.

“Did you know that the only way to destroy a Fiendfyre, without taking away its fuel, is to set another Fiendfyre?”

Potter shakes his head. “Did you know that only a true Alpha werewolf has a mate?”


xiv.

It is days of Potter’s strange flirtation, because Draco can hardly deny that’s what it is no matter how hard he tries, and his increasing claustrophobia before aid arrives. For a man his size, Eli is shockingly light on his feet, slipping through the window to Draco’s room rather like the Prince crawling into Rapunzel’s tower. And he’s very lucky that Draco’s guard dog has been missing since supper.

“What are you doing here?” Draco hisses, though the question is utterly inane.

Obviously, Eli shares the sentiment and rolls his eyes as he goes to work with nimble fingers on the pin lock holding the manacle on Draco’s leg shut.

“You know,” he whispers as the pins clink in the metal, “I think I like you chained to a bed.”

Draco sniffs in distain. “We’ve discussed this before, its silk scarves or nothing.”

“You’d think, given my daring rescue, I’d be allowed to choose.”

“Oh darling, really? It’s sweet that you think you’d have a choice in these things.”

The lock clicks open and Eli lays the chain gently down on the bed, before stretching over to give Draco a soft kiss. Draco ignores the guilty twist of his heart as he greedily accepts.

“You’re a bitch Malfoy,” he says, carding his fingers through Draco’s hair.

“And yet, here you are.”

“Well, your house was about to eat us and Hermione was getting snippy. What’s a boy supposed to do?” His mouth twists into a smirk as he stares down at Draco. “Are you hurt?”

“Just the usual: bite marks, bruises and a bitch of a headache.”

Eli’s grin widens. “Good.”

Draco wastes no time in kicking the blankets off him and reaching for the shirt that he discarded earlier. Eli offers him a hand, always the gentleman, but Draco slaps it away. He may have needed rescuing but he isn’t a weak damsel and doesn’t need pulling to his feet.

“What’s the plan?” he asks, watching as Eli draws a small silk bag from his pocket.

His hand, then his arm, disappears inside the bag and eventually he draws out a coiled rope. “Hermione leant me one of her bags,” Eli explains, blushing slightly as the moonlight catches the sequins on one side. “Just in case you were getting any ideas.”

He wraps one end of the rope around the bedpost, knotting it tightly and tugging hard, before crossing to Draco and looping the other end around his waist.

“It’s three floors down, use the honeysuckle if you get stuck.”

“Anyone would think that this was my first time climbing out of a window,” Draco says, moving to the open window.

“Some of the others are waiting just past the first line of hedges, the rest beyond the gate. They’ll cover you.”

Moonlight spills over the vast, once manicured gardens and ripples on the surface of the small boating lake. Shadows stain the long walks between the privet hedges and tall marble fountain, no longer running, masking and warping their proportions.

It’s a long way down, and an even longer way to the gates, but Draco has no choice.

Draco has one leg over the window sill when the door opens and they both turn to see Teddy staring at them with wide eyes. He’s dressed in pyjamas that are too big for him, falling over his hands and feet and gaping at the collar and he’s obviously just crawled out of bed, because there are creases on the soft skin of his cheek.

He blinks, once, twice and then Eli has him wrapped in his thick arms with one hand clamped over Teddy’s mouth and a silver knife at his throat. Teddy twists like a live-wire, and Draco swings himself back into the room and hurries over to the pair.

“Don’t hurt him,” Draco urges, tugging the knife away from Teddy’s neck.

“What are you doing?” Eli asks, wide-eyed and Draco understands.

He has never shown mercy before, child or adult, once they were a creature Draco hasn’t discriminated. As long as the kill was clean, Draco had not really cared. “He’s harmless, just leave him alone.”

“He’s a wolf, Draco, we can’t just leave him.”

Draco isn’t surprised when Eli wrestles the silver knife from him; Draco’s back still isn’t quite healed and Eli has more than enough motivation. But Draco’s always been better at blackmail, emotional or physical, than violence, “He just a child.”

“So was Ariadne.”

Eli was, once upon a time, the eldest of five siblings. Now, he’s an orphan and all alone, and only because he had the supreme good fortune of being out of the house the night the werewolf attacked. He’d been the one to find them all though, bloody carcasses of meat strewn about the house. Ariadne had just turned eleven, and should have been waiting for her Hogwarts letter.

Draco’s always wondered, ever since Eli turned up at his door offering what little he could, whether Greyback had been the one to massacre the family.

“I know,” Draco says, curling his fingers lightly around Eli’s wrist, “but he is a child. He’s not a wolf now. We can’t cross that line Eli.”

Teddy’s eyes are wide and scared, but Draco knows he doesn’t imagine the trust that he sees there. And that hurts, because he’s going to leave the moment he gets Eli to let Teddy go.

“He’s a monster Draco.”

“Please Eli,” Draco begs; he’s learned that there are some things even Malfoys beg for. “He’s my cousin.”

“And my pup; but, I think that’s the least of your problems.”

Potter’s broad form is silhouetted in the doorway, leaning up against the doorjamb as if he’s been watching them for a while. It’s all the distraction Teddy needs, and he sinks his blunt human teeth into the soft flesh between Eli’s thumb and fingers.

Eli drops him immediately, scrabbling in his bag for aconite which he throws over his hand. The bite from a wolf in human form is not fully contagious but there are always side-effects, even if treated in time.

“Teddy, what are you doing up?” Potter asks, silky smooth, and Draco watches as a small ripple works its way through the boy’s body.

He edges closer to Draco, his steps almost non-existent. Potter snarls at the movement, displeased, and Eli’s hand whips up, the knife gleaming white in the moonlight.

“I know you,” Eli says sounding bemused.

“Do you?” Potter asks, pushing off the door and moving into the room. The moonlight illuminates the famous scar, still visible on Potter’s forehead, and Eli gasps and steps towards Potter as though he’s just seen a ghost.

Potter regards Eli’s approach warily, his nose twitching slightly, almost as though he’s sniffing, and his lip pulls back to reveal sharp white teeth and Draco pities him. Potter is no longer truly human, it’s in his every action and the more time Draco spends with him the more apparent it becomes.

“You’re the Boy Who Lived,” Eli says, as though he can’t quite believe it and the tip of the knife dips. “What are you doing here?”

“I think,” Potter says slowly, each word weighted and careful, “that the better question is: what are you doing here?”

Eli glances as Draco, and Potter’s predatory gaze follows it. Draco wonders how Potter sees this; whether he can read Eli’s body as a canvas of information like Draco can, or if he sees the way Eli turns unerringly towards Draco as though he is the sun.

“He came to take Cousin Draco away,” Teddy says, wrapping a tiny hand around Draco’s own. He isn’t seeking comfort, not if the challenging glint in his eye is any indication, but Draco twines their fingers together anyway.

“Is that right?”

“Yes,” Eli admits easily. He turns his attention to Teddy. “Draco doesn’t belong here. He has a home, and people that need him and miss him.”

“Like you?” Potter asks.

“Yes. We’re,” he trails off, glancing nervously at Draco.

They’ve never put a name to what they are. Friends, certainly, but Draco doesn’t have any other adjectives or nouns that are appropriate. Friends-with-benefits is too casual, lovers too Hufflepuff. The closest Draco can come is shield-brothers, but he is still unwilling to voice it. Potter though has never been discreet.

“Fuck-buddies? How,” his face is twisted into something ugly and his voice drips with distain, “romantic.”

“It’s not like that.”

“Not anymore. Draco isn’t going anywhere I’m afraid.”

“You can’t keep him here!”

“I can. I will. The only choice you have here is how you leave – through the front door or in pieces.”

Draco remembers listening as Potter challenged Voldemort, his voice was full of tremulous bravado that shone like a beacon for all those opposing the Death Eaters, but this voice is as cold and final as death. Potter is serious about not letting him go, and somehow it comes as no surprise to Draco. If he’s willing to look closer, there is a niggling feeling of relief dripping through his veins.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Eli growls in a low voice.

“Neither is Draco,” Potter says flippantly. “He’s mine. He’s staying here.”

Draco wants to protest that he isn’t a thing to be controlled or owned, but Teddy squeezes his hand in warning and Draco looks down at him. He looks tired and slightly afraid and his eyes are following every move the other two men make.

“You are insane! You can’t keep someone like they’re chattel.”

“Draco isn’t a slave, and I’m not insane,” Potter explains patiently. “It’s really quite simple. I’ve told Draco and the other packs and now I’m telling you – Draco stays.”

Eli looks utterly bewildered for a moment before he gives a wordless cry of sheer frustration and launches himself at Potter, knife outstretched.

He slams into the wall before he’s within arm’s reach of the werewolf and Draco looks down at his hands in horror. They tingle with spent magic and the old magic of the house shimmers in the air.

“Are you ok?” Potter asks, cupping Draco’s face in his broad palms. “You aren’t hurt?”

Draco can’t answer. He’s staring at Eli’s crumpled form, watching the blood ooze down his forehead, and doesn’t understand anything anymore.


xv.

Potter leads them through the halls, like lambs to the slaughter, ignoring the blatant stares of the other wolves. Eli’s hands, bound behind his back, are balled into tight fists, knuckles as white as Draco imagines his own face is. Teddy had been the one to gleefully conjure the ropes and wrap them around Eli’s wrists, tugging the rope tight enough to burn.

They are led to the same ballroom wolves had awaited Draco in, but the hostility this time is carefully directed away from him and towards the small group of armoured wizards in the belly of the room.

Granger is the only one of Draco’s hunters not trussed up, and her face pales when they enter. “Harry?” she whispers, her voice hoarse with hurt. Her hand clutches at her throat, pulling at the chain as though it were her missing fiancé.

“Hello, ‘Mione,” Potter says, all bashful charm and more like the schoolboy Draco knew, and his hand slips from around Draco’s.

“You’re alive?”

She edges towards him, as though he might vanish if she’s too rushed or too fast, and Potter lets her come. He lets her wrap her arms around his neck and bury her face the hollow of his throat. It takes him a few moments too long before he winds his own around her shaking body.

Her eyes, brimming with tears, catch Draco’s as he shifts from foot to foot, and she smiles weakly before breaking away from Potter and slapping him across the face. Draco knows, from personal experience, how much it stings and is impressed when Potter barely turns his head.

“I take it you missed me then?”

“Harry James Potter,” Granger says, a pitch-perfect impression of McGonnagal, “where the hell have you been?”

Potter laughs, as though Granger has said something amusing. “You haven’t changed.”

She turns her nose up, prim and proper and not at all unlike the scruffy, recluse she has been of late. In Potter’s presence she blossoms into the know-it-all Mudblood she had been in school and Draco almost welcomes the change. “Don’t be ridiculous Harry, of course I have. We all have.”

Potter drops her gaze then, guilt clouding his features. “I’m sorry about Ron.”

Granger visibly shudders, as though Potter has raked his nails over an exposed nerve, and Draco knows it’s because no one has dared to mention Weasley’s name in her presence since he turned.

“No you’re not. If you were, you’d have come back.”

“I couldn’t ‘Mione, I had to stay here. For Teddy.”

“Don’t lie to me Harry,” she snaps. “I’ve known you since you were a child and I can spot the signs of a werewolf a mile off. Remember third year?”

Potter rolls his eyes fondly. “Brightest witch of our generation.”

“No. I wasn’t.”

He reaches for her then, showing affection that isn’t forced. It’s the first time Potter’s shown any physical kindness to someone other than Draco in all the time he’s been locked in the house. “You did what you thought was right,” he says, as though his benediction will take away the bloodshed of the last few years.

“No, I did what I always did, thought I knew best. Thought that because I’d read all the books and understood the history, that I could make the wizarding world like the Muggle one: that I could get rid of slavery and segregation and make the world a better place. That I could change the world by freeing all the creatures from the laws that bound them.”

Draco has never heard her admit that she was wrong before, and it is dizzying. He’s known it, of course, they all have, but to hear her say it is something else.

“I was an idiot Harry.”

Potter tucks a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “You were – and probably still are – a good person and you acted only with good intentions.”

“Don’t patronise me. I was arrogant and refused to listen. I should have realised when the House Elves rejected the Bill of Clothes that things weren’t as black and white as I thought. It’s so easy reading books Harry, but the world is full of colours and pictures and I missed it all.”

There is nothing to say to that so Potter stays silent for a moment. Then he laughs. “At least you changed the world.”
Granger hits him and a few wolves snarl.

They look at each other for a long moment and Draco almost sees the moment it happens, the moment their friendship breaks.

“Draco was bitten,” she says.

Of course she knows, Eli saw everything and would have reported back before mobilising the troops. They have a strict procedure for things like this, turned team members have a choice – to stay in the wild or come home to a cage.

Or grave.

“Yes.”

“Are you keeping him?”

Potter smiles brilliantly, like a child on Christmas morning. “Of course.”

“I am here you know. And for your information, Granger, I didn’t turn.”

She looks at him then, as though he has suddenly appeared before her. “What? Eli said-”

“I’m sure he did,” Draco says, railroading over her words as he has done so many times before. “I was bitten, but I didn’t turn into a wolf.”

The wolves mutter at this, obviously it is still a bone of contention, but they don’t bay for his blood as they did at first. His hunters watch him carefully, shocked and a little wary of his revelation; none more so than Granger.

Granger turns back to Potter, still trusting his truth above Draco’s. “Is this true.”

For the first time since they’ve spoken, something dark unfurls in Potter’s gaze. “Yes. Draco didn’t shift – nor will he.”

“How do you know?”

“Trust me Hermione, I know more about wolves, than you ever will.”

“Then he has to come with us, Harry. If Draco can survive a werewolf bite, he might be able to help people! You have to let him go.”

Harry shakes his head and there is a subtly, barely there twitch of his fingers. Wolves slide into place behind the hunters and Hermione. “I am sorry Hermione, but Draco has to stay.”

The wolf behind her wraps a meaty hand around her arm, and she tries to shake him off, barely glancing at him as she does so. She looks supremely disappointed with Potter, and somehow, exceedingly indignant. “Harry -”

“No Hermione, this matter is not open for discussion. Draco is staying here.”

Potter’s voice rings with finality and he prowls slowly towards Draco, wrapping a proprietary arm around him. It’s like a velvet vice around his waist, soothing and entrapping all at once and Draco tries to shy away.

“Why Harry?” Granger asks plaintively, and when Potter responds, all his attention is on Draco.

“Because he’s my mate.”


xvi.

That Draco is terrified when Potter drags him back to their – Potter’s – room is not too far from the truth. Somewhere between watching his friends be dragged out of the ballroom and ascending the stairs with Potter, his teeth have started to chatter and his limbs are becoming weak.

They are barely through the door before Potter winds constricting arms around him, and presses soft kisses into skin of Draco’s throat.

“You can feel it can’t you?” he asks, his voice a low purring rumble that Draco can feel at his back. “The pull?”

Draco shakes his head, not trusting his mouth or minds to form words.

“You can, if you want to. I bet you’ve been ignoring it, pushing it away. Every little niggle, every time your anger fizzled out for no reason, you’ve just let it go and forgotten about it. It’s how it works.”

Harry’s trying to explain as he grips Draco’s hip with a firm hand and lets the fingers of the other splay possessively over Draco’s stomach, petting softly. His words are not making things easier. They are reminding him of what he has overlooked and forcing him to confront what he is so desperately trying to shy from.

He is Potter’s Mate.

“I felt it in the ballroom, when you were hanging in my arms like a broken doll, and, Merlin Draco,” he says, pressing his face into Draco’s hair and inhaling deeply. “I need you.”

Potter crowds in further, refusing to allow the slightest gap between their bodies, letting his hands ruck up Draco’s shirt. “I need you in my life Draco. You were made to be everything I’m not, everything I can’t be – you were made for me.”

Slowly, Potter turns him and Draco can’t look him in the eye. His head hangs heavy on his neck and, even if he wanted to, he couldn’t lift it for the world. Potter doesn’t seem to notice though, cupping Draco’s chin in one palm and tilting his face up.

Potter’s eyes are glowing with something that is so very close to love that it hurts to see. He smiles softly, his lips parting to reveal perfectly white teeth and Draco watches as his lips form words. “I promise Draco, I promise that I’ll look after you, keep you safe, keep you happy. I’ll be everything you need – because you’re everything I need and, oh God, Draco.”

Draco’s name spills from Potter’s lips like a fervent prayer, and Draco can’t deny the thrill that gives him.

Potter kisses him then, softly pressing his lips to Draco’s and at that hesitant touch the world bursts into flames. The heat spirals up from his belly, a Fiendfyre of want and need and a clawing urge to give himself over to Potter. Draco presses into the kiss like he’s starved for it, tangling his hands up into Potter’s hair and scratching the scalp, loving the way Potter hisses and kisses just that bit harder.

Potter’s arms are round him now, pulling him tight to his body and when Potter tumbles them to the bed, his arms brace Draco’s fall. He goes to work almost immediately, slowly stripping each piece of cloth from Draco, unveiling the snow white skin beneath. He gets out of his own clothes faster, shredding and shedding them as though they were made of silver thread.

His mouth works over every mark; pressing soft kisses to each scar making them glow a soft silver and laving at the open wounds until the skin softly knits itself back together. He traces each dip and valley of Draco’s body, with fingers curious and maddeningly gentle and then with teeth and tongue, and Draco burns under every touch.

“Harry,” he gasps as Potter’s teeth sink into his hip.

Draco wants to reciprocate, he does, he wants to drag his tongue over Potter’s collar bone and between the muscles of his arm. He wants to sink his teeth into Potter’s throat and worry at the skin until Potter snarls at him to stop. He wants his fingers to tangle through Potter’s hair, the soft raven mop on the top of his head and the sparse coarse curls beneath his arms. He wants to know the man pressing him into the bed with his warm, sure body but every time he moves, something saps his will and leaves him a pliant toy for Potter.

“It’s the bond,” Potter whispers, tracing his fingers over the arch of Draco’s foot. “It’s like a drug for the mate, the more you fight it, the more it’ll drag you under. Just let go Draco, trust me. I could never hurt you.”

He kisses Draco’s toes, each one, before running his tongue up Draco’s leg and dipping into the hollow of his knee, tasting everything Draco has to offer, and Draco tries to surrender to the seductive lassitude. But he isn’t that man.

“Please, let me touch you.”

Potter pauses, his lips pressed into the vee of Draco’s hips, and then sits back on his heels. Slowly, as though dealing with a spooked animal, he moves himself to the top of the bed, resting against the headboard and digs his fingers into the eiderdown.

Hesitantly, unsure of what he can and cannot do, Draco starts by tracing the veins in Potter’s forearms, raising himself off the bed as he follows them from fingertip to neck. Potter’s arms are strong and thick and Draco can only just wind a hand around them. There are freckles smattered across his skin, hidden by the coarse body hair and Draco kisses each one, certain that no one has done so before.

He doesn’t dare sit on Potter, not yet, but he is willing to press himself to Potter’s side and let his hand wander over Potter’s firm stomach and up, watching as the muscles twitch and ripple. Potter’s skin is the colour of butterscotch and it reminds Draco of his childhood summers and lazy days spread out under the sun. He laps at the softer flesh around Potter’s belly, not missing the little intake of breath as he worries at the rim with gentle teeth, before kissing his way back up, slowly sliding his body over Potter’s.

In the firm flesh where Potter’s shoulder and neck marry, is a jagged scar and Draco doesn’t have to ask to know what it is. It’s his new scar, the second one that changed his life forever, and a tiny part of Draco wants to thank it with the softest kiss he’s ever bestowed.

His lips brush the ragged edges, tasting the raised skin, and they tingle and Potter’s control snaps like over stretched elastic. He tips Draco onto his back, covering every inch of skin with his own. His cock lies like a brand against Draco’s thigh and Draco can’t help the way his legs fall apart, welcoming Potter between them.

“Draco,” he says, in that same reverent tone, as he slips down Draco’s body, lips and hands moving constantly.

He doesn’t use any oil to ease his way inside Draco’s body, his tongue and fingers are more than enough to coax Draco into accepting him and Draco opens like a flower under the sun, his hole grasping for anything Potter wishes to bestow and when Potter finally slides inside him, Draco screams.

His body is on fire, throbbing everywhere Potter touches and Draco knows there will be marks in the mornings, searing prints of where Potter’s fingers have traced and his tongue has laved or where the glimmering trails of pre-come are staining his thighs. There have to be marks, because each touch is white hot, and the more Potter touches the hotter it all feels until Draco thinks that his body is going to fly apart in some kind of supernova.

Whether Potter notices this or not, notices the fever Draco has fallen into, is irrelevant as his hips move with purpose, rocking forward until each thrust becomes the current of Draco’s world. His heart beats in time with Potter’s hips and his pulse flutters with each snarl that falls from Potter’s lips and the fire in his belly races through his body leaving each muscle shining with sweat and trembling.

Potter’s kisses him then, staining his mouth in flame and Draco tastes that same wonderfully awful combination of blood and meat on Potter’s tongue, and beneath all of that is his own flavour, sharp and bright just like the lemon biscuits. It doesn’t matter that Potter is still thrusting into him, his hips a strange staccato beat that Draco’s heart matches effortlessly, because Draco is lost to everything and when he comes, it isn’t an orgasm that rips through him, it’s a rebirth.


xvii.

It doesn’t take Granger long, merely weeks, before she works out what Draco suspects. He’s a creature, descended from the first, and it’s his blood she’s been so desperately searching for.

It doesn’t take Potter long to realise that Draco is in more danger than he ever imagined. That damned manuscript had saved her from despair and driven her mad in equal measure and now Hermione is out for his blood and it won’t be long before the rest of the wizarding world catch up. Draco is no fool, of course there were people in his hunting party that still held fast to the old Ministry, but they hadn’t had the luxury of turning anyone away.

It won’t be long before one of them works out why Granger is dogging them so very determinedly, and when they do, there will be hell to pay.

Granger is persistent.

She follows them to every town, every village, and every abandoned manor. Sometimes she’s a day behind, sometimes more so, but she haunts their footsteps like a shadow and eventually it is Draco that begs to help her.

Harry can’t let him go, so he sends Tobias to fetch her and bring her to their new den, an old Roman fort, just south of Hadrian’s Wall. It is a hard life, but Draco finds it fits him well and the more time he spends with Potter, the tighter their bond is.

Potter is only banished from their bedroom every other week now.

And sometimes, he calls him Harry.

When she arrives she is no longer the girl they knew. Gaunt to the point of emaciated, her cheek bones are razor sharp and she looks as though she could cut glass with her collar bones. Her clothes hang off her tiny frame and her eyes are bruised from hunger and lack of sleep. Her hair is matted with leaves and sweat and tears, and Draco knows she is Despair.

“Please,” she begs, in a voice hoarse from the maladies wracking her body. “I need it.”

“Hermione,” Harry gasps, stumbling forwards in an effort to catch her before she folds to the floor. “What have you done to yourself?”

Draco can barely look at her, the guilt claws at him and he knows, no matter what Harry says, that she will leave this place with his blood. Next to him, Teddy watches on as the Good Witch crumbles before their eyes.

She refuses to sit, or eat, until they have heard her and she sways from exhaustion as she speaks. “Please, I only need a vial – just like all the others Draco. Please,” she says, tears running down her cheeks. “Please, you gave me every other sample I needed, you got them for me. Please Draco. I know, I’ve no right – I know I brought this on myself, but please. Please.”

He turns from her, though it takes more effort that anyone would suspect, and looks at Harry, who is shaking his head. There is no way that Harry can condone his Mate being hurt, it goes against the very core of their bond, but there are many ways to hurt a man.

“Please,” is all Draco has to say before Harry gives in and throws a young wolf across the room in his fury.

He can barely watch as Draco slides the knife over his wrist, allowing the crimson liquid to trickle slowly into the dragon-tempered vial her shaking hand holds, but he’s there to lap the wound closed the minute the vial is stopped.

Tobias is the one to catch Hermione as she finally collapses to the floor.

A few weeks later they receive a letter. It’s not Owl Post but a small origami butterfly that has floated to them on the wind, its flaps hiding words of gratitude and true joy. Weasley is cured. Apparently it took

The second letter arrives weeks after that, a beautiful flower and Draco can’t resist stroking along each tight fold and he imagines that he can feel the lingering warmth of Eli’s fingers. But that doesn’t really matter anymore. Every day he draws closer to Harry, like iron to a loadstone, and everyday the memory of what he once had fogs and fades like the ebbing tide.

He reads the letter carefully before handing it to Harry.

Granger wants more blood.

Harry’s response is horrific.


xviii.

Draco finds out, years later, that the first creature was actually a wizard. He was a boy when he first called magic to his fingertips and divorced himself from the rest of humanity. The Muggles called him names, said he couldn’t be trusted, that they had no faith in him.

But eventually, a woman loved him for the spells he wove and the impossibilities he made real, and he had children. And they too carried the stigma of being of bad faith, of being cast out, and they wove magic the way others wove linen. And they had children.

For some, the magic turned inwards, warping and twisting until the children were unrecognisable behind their fangs or fur or bloody talons, pushing them away from humanity. The Wizards, as they were then called, could move through society without notice and kept their gifts shrouded in secrecy, but the Creatures withdrew into the darkness lost to the wild magic eating them from the inside out.

When he reads about it, about the evolution from man, to wizard, to creature, roughly etched on to a small blue stone tomb in the wilds of Ireland, he laughs himself sick.

And Harry is there to kiss him quiet.


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