Learning to Fall by idreamofdraco
Summary: When Draco Malfoy wakes up on his eighteenth birthday with wings and claws, he fears he's turned into the very thing people accuse him of being: a monster. Upon his return to Hogwarts, an inexplicable bond with a curious Ginny Weasley provokes his transformations. Together they will explore the limits of Draco's new abilities and discover that in order to fly... sometimes you have to learn how to fall. A Veela!Draco story.
Categories: Long and Completed Characters: Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley, Hermione Granger, Lucius Malfoy, Luna Lovegood, Narcissa Malfoy, Pansy Parkinson
Compliant with: All but epilogue
Era: None
Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Warnings: None
Series: None
Chapters: 9 Completed: Yes Word count: 31641 Read: 6244 Published: Nov 06, 2019 Updated: Jul 27, 2020
Story Notes:
Written for Keeperofthemoon0/noeycat07 in the DG Forum's Summer 2018 Fic Exchange. Winner of the Best Response to the Prompt and Best Supporting Characters awards. Thanks so much to keyflight790 for beta-ing the first half of this story!

1. the beast awoken by idreamofdraco

2. the return by idreamofdraco

3. chemistry by idreamofdraco

4. invitations and revelations by idreamofdraco

5. research by idreamofdraco

6. flying lessons by idreamofdraco

7. hogsmeade by idreamofdraco

8. instincts by idreamofdraco

9. falling by idreamofdraco

the beast awoken by idreamofdraco
Author's Notes:

This story is complete. There will be nine chapters total, each of which will be posted every other week-ish. Reviews appreciated!

chapter one: the beast awoken

There were few things more aggravating to Draco than when Pansy directed her hyena cackle at him. Normally he found her laughter endearing. It was the perfect background music to someone else’s humiliation.

Draco preferred his humiliation to be conducted in silence. Better yet—ignored. A good friend would not walk into Draco’s bedroom, stop in her tracks, and then point and laugh at him as if confronted with the funniest thing she’d ever seen in her life.

“This is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!” Pansy said in between obnoxious guffaws.

A good friend would have pretended not to notice the fledgling wings protruding from Draco’s shoulder blades and wished him a happy birthday instead.

Draco rushed up to her to pull her into the room and shut the door behind her. “Quiet! My parents will hear you!”

Pansy snorted. “What, all the way from the other side of the manor? Doubtful.”

Draco crossed his arms and wished other appendages—the new ones fluttering weakly at his back—could be as easily controlled. “If I’d known you’d react like this, I wouldn’t have asked you to come.”

With a roll of her eyes, Pansy said, “You should have known better. So why did you ask me to come?”

Tension restricted Draco’s lungs, making his heart pound erratically and his chest feel tight and full at the same time. He was on the verge of panic, his breathing too short, anxiety skyrocketing. Without thinking, he began to pace, his hands running through his hair over and over again, making even more of a mess of it than it had already been. Here he was at eight in the morning, shirtless but still wearing pajama bottoms, still not ready for the day even though his mother would be up to his room any minute to take him to breakfast at his favorite restaurant.

He paced faster, his breath sawing out of him in harsh heaves.

A hand on his shoulder made him jump and spin around, the wings flailing in an ungainly fashion with the movement, but it was just Pansy. Of course it was. He’d forgotten she was there for a moment.

Her brow furrowed and her lips turned down in a frown. “I’m guessing this—” She waved her hand, gesturing at his back, at the wings. “—wasn’t an attempt to take after your namesake, then?”

“No! I woke up like this!”

She grabbed both of his arms, pulling them down to his sides so he’d leave his hair alone, and then she turned him around to get a better look at Draco’s new feature.

Draco shut his eyes and concentrated on breathing. His spine tingled and a shiver wracked his frame when Pansy’s warm hands touched the base of the wings, right where they attached to his back.

Keeping his eyes closed, he said, “I don’t usually have dreams, not even during everything last year. But last night I dreamed I was dying. There was fire everywhere, and I was burning up in it. I could feel my skin baking and peeling off me. My body was aching as if someone had bludgeoned me with, well, a Bludger. Somehow I knew there was a beast lurking in the flames, and I tried to run away before it found me, but I couldn’t because all my peeled skin had fallen to my feet and melted, gluing me to the ground.”

He took a deep breath, and with it, the tension left his body. “When I woke up, my back ached. I took off my shirt because it was so hot, and there they were.”

As he told his tale, the wings—of their own accord—had folded up against his back, stilling for the first time since he’d awoken.

Pansy stroked them gently, and Draco shuddered, partially in revulsion and partially with pleasure. It was an odd sensation, like touching the inside of his belly button: somewhat ticklish and way too sensitive.

Before he could duck away from her to make her stop, his bedroom door swung open. Draco stared in horror as his mother glanced from him to the wings to Pansy in puzzlement, and then around again as she tried to decipher what she was seeing.

The moment realization hit… she screamed.

Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy sat on the parlor sofa with twin expressions of disgust as Draco recounted his morning so far. Their already fair faces had paled further, giving them a sickly pallor. While Narcissa could not stop staring just above Draco, where the folded wings loomed over his shoulders and head, Lucius coldly averted his gaze, his lips pressed tightly together.

Pansy occupied the armchair closest to the window, but Draco stood in front of the fireplace, the center of attention. He’d tried sitting in the other armchair (and the settee and the ottoman), but the tip of the wings nearly touched the ground, and Draco couldn’t find a dignified way to sit without crushing them underneath him or against the back of the furniture. That was a problem he would have to solve when he was alone.

He gulped at the thought of learning to live like this. Was he already accepting his fate?

Narcissa cleared her throat. “I—I don’t understand. If you didn’t do this to yourself, how did this happen?”

Draco had been asking himself that question all morning, and the fact that his mother didn’t have an answer for him sent a wave of simmering anger through him. He clenched his hands into fists, his fingernails biting into his palms.

“Lucius?” Narcissa said in entreaty.

Draco’s father had not looked at him once since they’d convened in the parlor, and he shook his head now, silent and displeased, his hands grasping the top of his cane so tightly, his knuckles had turned blindingly white.

His mother’s eyes were shiny as if on the verge of tears. “Have you been cursed?”

Draco shook his head. “I don’t see how. I’ve hardly left the manor since….”

Since the Ministry released his family from custody two days after the Battle of Hogwarts.

Wait. Fuck.

His heart raced as he remembered that he was supposed to report before the Wizengamot next week for his trial. He couldn’t go like this! He couldn’t go to court looking like a monster. They’d convict him and throw him in Azkaban before he could ever speak a word in his own defence.

“What should we do?” Narcissa was practically pleading now, Draco’s panic expressed in her voice.

“Draco and I will search the library, see if we can find some answers,” Pansy said.

Narcissa nodded slowly. “Yes. Yes, that’s a good idea. Should I contact our Healer?”

“No!” Lucius and Draco said at the same time.

Lucius stood and glared down at his wife. “Are you out of your mind? No one must know about this. And for Salazar’s sake, put some clothes on, boy!”

Pinpricks in Draco’s palm alerted him to his tightening fists as his father swept out of the room, never once looking at Draco. His wings opened and closed in agitation, the membranes—skin—whatever—brushing against his bare back, the backs of his arms, causing goosebumps to rise all over him.

Narcissa’s gaze narrowed at her husband’s back as he departed, her panic waylaid by irritation for just a moment. The moment was enough to calm her down, and she straightened her back, suddenly composed.

“Thank you, Pansy dear. Draco, why don’t you get dressed—the best you can—and I’ll bring breakfast up to the library for you. I’ll—I suppose I’ll make some discreet inquiries where I can.”

Draco and Pansy filed out of the parlor, and as they ascended the stairs to Draco’s room to find something suitable to wear (or to ruin in order to make wearable), a dull throb in Draco’s hand made him unclench his fists.

Blood oozed out of four pin-pricks in his palm. Almost as if his skin had been punctured by teeth.

Or claws.

After two hours in the library, Draco was in a foul mood.

This was the worst birthday in the history of birthdays. Not only had he woken up in a mutated body, but his father wasn’t talking to him, he hadn’t gone out for his birthday breakfast, and no one, neither Pansy nor his parents, had even bothered to wish him a happy birthday, let alone give him a gift.

Somehow Draco had survived the last two years to see his eighteenth birthday, but instead of celebrating all that his family had salvaged from the war, he was trapped in the dusty library searching for answers when he didn’t even understand the question.

His eyes scanned the pages in front of him, looking for keywords like “wings” and “dreams” and “fire,” but his mind kept wandering.

The heat of the fire from his dream the previous night still feverishly rushed through his veins. He could still sense the eyes of the beast lurking in the blaze staring at him, even though it wasn’t possible. Or was it? Had he pulled the beast out of the dream? The panic after waking coursed through him as urgency now, but it wasn’t an urgency to find an answer to the situation. There was something else he had to do. Something that called to him in his dream that continued to call to him outside of slumber.

He wished he knew what the beast’s eyes looked like. If he could picture it, he could also stop it.

No, that didn’t make any sense. It had just been a dream. There hadn’t been a beast at all, and there certainly wasn’t one in the Malfoy library. The only living souls in the room were Pansy and Draco. That thought had the desired effect of dousing the flame under Draco’s skin. At least a little.

He stared at the words on the page, trying to make sense of them, but he was too upset to concentrate.

Shoving the book closed, he said, “Forget it, Pansy. This is a lost cause.”

Pansy looked up from her own book, her eyes glazed with exhaustion. She stood up, the book falling to the ground. “Is it really?”

“Yes!” Draco clutched at his hair. “We’ve been reading for hours, and we haven’t found anything yet. I can’t do this anymore.”

“Hmm,” Pansy hummed as she approached Draco’s table. “So you’re saying you didn’t find a spell to hide or remove the wings?”

“Of course I didn’t! Why would you—”

Draco’s eyes widened as he realized a literal weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He stood up from the stool they’d found to accommodate the wings and twisted his arms to grapple awkwardly behind him.

Pansy ran her hand along Draco’s back, shoulder blade to shoulder blade.

The wings were gone.

“You didn’t notice?” they both said at the same time. “No!”

“If you didn’t get rid of them, and I didn’t get rid of them, then where did they go?” asked Pansy.

Draco shrugged just to luxuriate in the free range of motion. Without the wings, his whole body felt lighter. Strange how he hadn’t noticed their heaviness until they were gone.

They still didn’t have any answers, which was just as well. Maybe this had been a fluke, some random freak accident of magic.

Maybe Draco had tried to pull the beast out of his dream, and the beast had manifested as himself.

Pansy withdrew her wand and waved it through the air, sending all of their books flying back into their correct places on the shelves. “Now that that’s over, you can treat me to lunch.”

“Treat you? But it’s my birthday!”

“Oh was that today?”

“You know I don’t joke about my birthday.”

“What a child you are,” Pansy said while she smiled in affection. She tugged on the robe Draco had thrown over himself (wearing it backwards with the opening behind him to make room for the wings). “Get dressed, and I will treat you to lunch. You’ve had quite the ordeal today, haven’t you?”

“Well now you’re just mocking me,” Draco said with a pout.

“I’d never!”

Rolling his eyes, Draco left her in the library and made his way back to his room. However, the easiness that had descended upon him at the wings’ disappearance didn’t last. He knew, just as he’d known about the beast lurking within the flames of his dream, that he hadn’t seen the last of his new appendages.

He clenched his fists, the cuts he’d cleaned up earlier stinging in his grasp.

End Notes:

Noelle's Prompt 3:
Basic premise: veela!AU—Draco Malfoy is livid when he discovers he has Veela blood on his eighteenth birthday. Especially since he already agreed to go back to Hogwarts for his 'eighth' year, at his mother's insistence. And when he spots Ginny Weasley back at school, he quickly realizes who his mate is. Of course.
Must haves: curious and sympathetic!Ginny, snarky but vulnerable!Draco, a solid Ginny/Hermione friendship, a solid Draco/Pansy friendship
No-no's: Trio bashing, HP/HG
Rating range: Any
Bonus points: Ginny and Draco bond over her first year and why she hates the idea of anyone not being in control of their feelings/body; Hermione is the first person to realize why Draco is acting so strange around Ginny; smut; Harry and Ron meet everyone during a Hogsmeade trip and are surprised to see Draco is a part of the group.

the return by idreamofdraco
Author's Notes:
chapter two: the return

Ginny waved out the window as the Hogwarts Express departed.

Her mother had been especially tearful that morning, which had made it difficult for Ginny to leave her, knowing how the emptiness of the Burrow would echo louder this year than it had in years past.

Her father stood at her mother’s side, one consoling arm around her. Ginny had done her best not to notice the sparkle of tears in his eyes before she’d boarded the train. As much as she would have liked to console her parents, there was nothing she could do, nothing they could do, to stop Ginny from going back to Hogwarts.

It wasn’t her parents, however, who captured her attention as the train pulled away from the station. Harry and Ron waved from the edge of the platform, and it was the former who dominated Ginny’s thoughts.

She sighed in relief as the train went around a bend and Platform Nine and Three-Quarters sped away from sight.

“Do you think they’ll be all right?” Hermione asked across from Ginny, a worried wrinkle in her brow as she continued to peer out the window as if hoping for one more glance of the station.

“If anyone can handle Auror training, it’s those two,” Neville said from behind an herbology textbook.

“If anyone can attract trouble, it’s those two,” Luna amended. “I gave them good luck charms to help them in their crusade. I hope they remember to wear them.”

The train rocked as it continued to pick up speed and Hermione finally pulled away from the window. Like Neville, she rummaged in her beaded bag to retrieve a book, but though she opened it and her eyes moved as if consuming the information within, Ginny could tell that her mind was far away.

The thought of going back to Hogwarts, where Fred had died but Harry had defeated Voldemort, only made Ginny feel empty. Hermione worried about what she was leaving behind; Ginny worried about what lay ahead.

Would she recognize the corridor where Fred drew his last breath? Would she be plagued with memories in every class? Could she stomach eating in the same room in which Voldemort had perished?

Somehow, despite her anxiety, the uncertainty of returning to a battlefield was more inviting than facing the people she’d left at home.

Beside her, Luna looked up from a shawl she was knitting, head cocked to the side. “Do you hear that?”

Hermione, Neville, and Ginny listened. There was a sound coming from the corridor, a muffled babble and stampeding footsteps. The silhouettes of two people darted past their compartment, followed a second later by a single person, followed almost instantly by a group.

Ginny’s hand automatically reached for the waistband of her jeans, where her wand was tucked under her shirt, but Hermione stood up and poked her head into the corridor.

She stopped the next person passing by and said, “Excuse me, I’m Head Girl! What’s going on?”

“We just heard that Malfoy is on the train. We’re trying to find him.”

“Why would you want to do that?” Hermione asked with an exasperated huff.

“Well, don’t you want to know where the Death Eater is hiding? What if he does something?”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake!” she said as she closed the compartment door. She turned to her three companions. “I’m going to have to break up whatever crowd is forming where Malfoy is sitting. I’ll meet with the Prefects afterward, so don’t wait up for me.” She was gone in a righteous flurry of bushy hair a moment later.

Neville lowered his book. “They’re acting like they didn’t know he was coming back to Hogwarts.”

“They had to know,” Ginny said with a hint of irritation. “It was blasted all over the Prophet for weeks.”

“Did you go to his trial?” Luna asked.

With a shake of his head, Neville said, “My gran wouldn’t let me. You, Ginny?”

She turned her head, giving the impression of looking out the window, but she stared at her own reflection instead. The end of the war should have returned some color to her cheeks, should have rounded her face out more. Instead, Ginny looked more tired than she’d actually felt while leading a rebellion.

“I thought about it, but I decided not to go. Hermione told me about it afterward.”

Truthfully, her parents had forbidden her from going to the trial the same way they’d forbidden her from fighting at the Battle of Hogwarts. And like at the battle, Ginny had planned to disobey and sneak herself into the courtroom, but Harry had known exactly what she was going to do, and he’d begged her not to go.

She’d listened to him.

“Is it true Malfoy cried?”

“Yes,” Luna and Ginny said at the same time.

“How do you know that?” Ginny asked.

Luna’s knitting needles clicked together as she continued working on her shawl, the colors of which made Ginny’s head spin with its psychedelic design. “He cried sometimes when he came to visit me in the dungeons at his house. It doesn’t seem particularly out of character for him.”

Hermione had said the tears hadn’t been noticeable, but when Malfoy had been escorted out of the courtroom, she’d seen them running down his face while he held his head high with angry eyes and clenched fists.

Hermione didn’t return until well after lunch, which she’d eaten with the Prefects and Ernie Macmillan, the Head Boy.

While she’d been away, Neville had stretched out across the seats for a nap, but he sat up now and yawned. “Did you save Malfoy from the angry horde, then?”

“Angry! By the time I arrived they’d all turned into admirers.”

“What do you mean?” Ginny asked.

“Malfoy was sitting in the compartment at the back of the train. There were a group of people just standing around it, staring through the door into the compartment. They weren’t angry at all! They just stood there gaping at him and whoever else was in there with him.”

“You didn’t see?” Luna asked. “Maybe they were cloaked by a—”

“No!” Hermione interrupted, preventing Luna from mentioning her current favorite creature or conspiracy.

Ginny stifled a smile at the crazed look on Hermione’s face.

She continued. “I didn’t get a chance to see him. There were too many people, and I couldn’t convince any of them to return to their own compartments, not even when I flashed my Head Girl badge! They acted like I had no authority at all!”

Now Ginny pressed a hand to her mouth and tried to swallow her laughter. She was glad that Hermione was her old self again and no longer worrying about Harry and Ron. It gave her hope for the new school year, that maybe this year would feel like Hogwarts used to, back before the war.

“The nerve of them!” Luna said in solidarity.

Bolstered by Luna’s support, Hermione continued her tirade and told them about her meeting with the Prefects and her satisfaction with Ernie as Head Boy. She only paused long enough for each of them to change into their school robes minutes before pulling into Hogsmeade Station, and then she was off again to make sure the first years made it to the boats for their traditional lake crossing.

Ginny climbed into a carriage with Luna, Neville, and the Patil twins, who had not attended Hogwarts at all while it had been under Ministry and Death Eater control.

“We’re going to be so far behind,” Padma said as she wrung her hands in her lap. “How will we ever catch up?”

Parvati patted her sister’s knee. “Our parents tried to give us lessons while we were home, but they went to school in India so they perform magic differently. What if we get kicked out of Hogwarts because we can’t do magic the English way anymore?”

Ginny didn’t know Padma or Parvati very well, so she wasn’t sure how to comfort them. But Neville spoke up, preventing her from saying something bland and meaningless.

“Surely Professor McGonagall wouldn’t expel you? That doesn’t seem like a fair result of all this madness.”

“Since when has the world been fair?” Parvati snapped, eyes shimmering with tears. She bowed her head and her shoulders began to shake. Padma put her arm around her twin and glared at Neville.

Then Ginny remembered that Lavender Brown had been Parvati’s best friend. She’d been attacked by Fenrir Greyback at the Battle of Hogwarts, and though she’d lived to see the end of the battle, she succumbed to her injuries afterward while being treated at St. Mungo’s.

They conducted the rest of the carriage ride in awkward silence.

The silence only persisted when they arrived. Where the train had been lively and full of activity due to friends reuniting and students seeking out Malfoy, the castle was morbidly somber. As students passed through the great oak doors, a spell seemed to be cast over them, preventing them from making a sound.

Ginny found herself walking as lightly as possible on the flagstones, as if her footsteps alone were loud enough to rouse the spirits of the dead. The Great Hall was even worse. Not completely silent, but certainly full of muffled whispers that pressed against her ears like cotton stuffing. Even the ghosts floated above the tables in more of a depression than usual. Ginny couldn’t look too closely at them, however, because she couldn’t bear to see if any familiar faces had joined their ranks. Part of her was afraid she’d see Colin sitting transparently at the Gryffindor table, oblivious to his own demise.

Luna parted with them at the Ravenclaw table as Neville and Ginny continued on to Gryffindor. They claimed seats in the middle of the table, facing the rest of the hall. This was automatically a mistake because then Ginny was forced to confront the diminished population of students despite so many former seventh years, like Hermione, returning to retake their classes. As students continued to file into the Great Hall, she couldn’t help but notice that none of the tables filled up. Either students had chosen not to return, had been prevented from returning by their parents, or had perished in attacks from Death Eaters and their followers alike over the past year.

Malfoy walked into the hall nearly last, trickling in at the back of the crowd with Pansy Parkinson at his side. As he took his seat at the Slytherin table, the whispers ceased for a moment and then grew in volume. Heads turned toward Slytherin, fingers pointed, mouths gaped. Malfoy and Parkinson acted as though they did not notice they were the center of attention. They sat at the end of their table, as far away from the Head table as possible, and did not acknowledge anyone, not even their fellow Housemates.

Ginny nudged Neville with an elbow. “Why are they all surprised he’s here? Didn’t enough people see him on the train?”

Neville didn’t respond. He stared ahead, eyes glued to the end of the Slytherin table, a faint blush on his cheeks.

“Neville?” Ginny prompted, giving him another shove.

“Yeah, yeah, the train, right,” Neville replied, clearly not listening.

Hermione sat down across from Ginny and Neville, returning from helping the first years line up outside the Great Hall. “What on earth is going on?”

“It’s Malfoy and Parkinson. They’ve done something, I think. Half the hall is transfixed.”

Hermione began to turn her head, but Ginny reached across the table to snatch at her robes. “No! Don’t look. What if they suck you in as well?”

“Oh, please! Don’t be ridiculous. You don’t appear to be under any influences!”

Ginny released Hermione, her brow creasing in confusion. Why was that, then? Why were some people desperately ensnared by the sight of Malfoy and Parkinson but not others if not for some kind of magical interference? She leaned to the side, peering around Hermione to take another look at them.

They sat apart from the rest of their Housemates, but Ginny couldn’t tell if it was by their own design or if the ostracization was forced upon them. Not many Slytherin students had chosen to return to Hogwarts, but those who had all occupied the opposite end of the table.

Parkinson’s head turned to survey the room, her eyes rolling every now and then as though what she saw annoyed her. Ginny hadn’t seen the witch since the Battle of Hogwarts when she’d tried to convince the whole school to give up Harry to Voldemort, prompting Professor McGonagall to expel the Slytherins from the school and the battle. She seemed to have recovered from her embarrassing display quickly enough.

Malfoy had his chin in his hand, which would have suggested boredom if not for the tension in his face. He looked like he was holding himself back from something, an assumption supported by the tight fist that lay on the table. His skin was exceptionally pale and his hair was blindingly white—more so than Ginny remembered anyway—giving him an ethereal glow, but Ginny couldn’t see anything intriguing enough about Malfoy or Parkinson to warrant all the attention they were receiving. The students’ reactions seemed too exaggerated to be merely shock at their presence back at Hogwarts.

Parkinson leaned toward him to whisper something, and then both of them glanced in Ginny’s direction.

As soon as Malfoy made eye contact, a blaze went through Ginny’s body, as if his gaze had the power to incinerate her on the spot. Lava ran through her veins, running slowly, so slowly, burning her from the inside, starting at her stomach and expanding outward. She couldn’t look away, and for some reason she didn’t want to.

Malfoy’s eyes widened, his pupils dilating until all that could be seen of his eyes was gaping blackness. He shoved to his feet, the bench scraping against the flagstones and drawing even more attention to himself.

And then… he fled. Right out the door, turning not for the stairs that would take him to the dungeons or the upper levels of the castle, but toward the great oak doors that would lead him to the grounds. And maybe it was Ginny’s imagination, but he seemed to be hiding something under his robes, a hump on his back she hadn’t noticed until he’d turned away.

As soon as he was out of sight, the inferno inside Ginny died down, and the chatter in the Great Hall increased, naturally. Who wouldn’t talk about Malfoy’s strange and sudden retreat?

Neville blinked owlishly and shook his head, jolted out of his stupor. All around the Great Hall, other students were doing the same, confusion etched on their faces as if they didn’t know what had come over them.

“What was that about?” Hermione asked.

Ginny looked at Parkinson one more time, who stared back through narrowed eyes. They considered each other with mutual speculation as Ginny replied, “I have no idea.”

But she was going to find out.

The heat suffocated Draco as he raced down the drive, his back aching from the strain of his wings confined inside his robes. As he ran, he unbuttoned them and tossed them aside in the hopes that losing the garment would prevent him from overheating. Without the robe he was bare except for his underwear, but despite the lack of an extra layer, he began to convulse with the hot, hot heat raging through him.

He fell to his knees while still within sight of the castle, wings extending, luxuriating in their freedom. Draco grabbed his face and groaned in agony. He was burning, just like in the dreams that had plagued him since his birthday. Any moment now, he would feel his skin dripping off his frame, puddling underneath him grotesquely.

Under his hands, his face began to contort, and Draco’s breath came out shallow and panicked. It was happening just like the dreams, but this wasn’t real, it wasn’t, it couldn’t

Weasley’s face flashed through his mind, the catalyst of this agony.

“Would you look at Longbottom?” Pansy had said. “He looks like he’s ready to fight you or devour you.”

But when Draco had peered over at the Gryffindor table, it was Weasley who had captured his attention, not Longbottom, not even Granger with her back turned as if he didn’t interest her at all, though the rest of the school was very interested indeed.

Weasley and her flaming red hair and her heated gaze that felt so familiar and so distant at the same time. Like the beast from his dreams, the hidden creature that never revealed itself to him, though Draco could always sense its presence in the wildfire that consumed him.

The sight of Weasley had set Draco aflame, but the thought of her now cooled him. The tremors in his body began to recede. The wings calmed, flattening against his back.

When he released his face, the joints of his fingers ached from the strain and his stomach roiled to see blood on his fingertips. He realized with a hesitant touch that there were puncture marks on his forehead and temples, each gash trickling blood down his face.

His heart rate returned to an even pace, making it easier to draw breath. No one had seen the wings or the way his face had distorted. No one knew his secret.

Weasley wasn’t the monster from his dreams. Draco was.

“What the bloody—”

The gravel of the drive bit into Draco’s knees and palms as he turned to face Seamus Finnigan looming over him in the darkness, a flask dangling in his hand at his side. In an instant, the wings receded, disappearing to wherever they chose to go when they weren’t making Draco’s life difficult.

But it was too late, because Finnigan’s eyes were wide and horrified as he peered down at Draco, and Draco understood—he’d been caught.
chemistry by idreamofdraco
Author's Notes:
chapter three: chemistry

A typical September 2nd morning at Hogwarts was usually spent comparing timetables over breakfast and mentally preparing for the start of classes. This year was vastly different in the face of the dilemma of how to assign courses to students who either didn’t attend Hogwarts the previous year or attended and received a biased and incomplete education at best.

This led to the students of Hogwarts spending the morning of the first day of classes in the Great Hall sitting for placement exams to determine which courses they were best qualified to take. At lunch, the results were passed around by the Heads of Houses in the form of new timetables.

Hermione snatched Ginny and Neville’s timetables out of their hands and laid all three of them before her, comparing schedules while Ginny and Neville peered over each of her shoulders.

“We all have Charms and Defense together. That’s understandable,” Hermione said after a moment. “Neville, you and I have Transfiguration together, and, Ginny, you and I have Potions.”

Ginny eyed her timetable again and noticed a mistake in one of Hermione’s statements. “I’m not in Potions with you.” She pointed at one of the Potions periods on her schedule. “See? I was put back in the sixth year NEWT class. It looks like you were placed into seventh year Potions.”

When Hermione handed Ginny’s parchment back to her, Ginny spent the rest of breakfast poring over it, memorizing her schedule. She tried not to feel disappointment at having to retake some of her courses. Along with Potions, she would be taking sixth year Transfiguration and Herbology, but she was pleased to have been placed in seventh year Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Care of Magical Creatures.

She looked over to the Ravenclaw table to see if Luna had made it to lunch yet and received her timetable, but her gaze drifted past Ravenclaw and over to the Slytherin table instead.

Parkinson sat by herself today, still isolated from the rest of the Slytherins and with no Malfoy in sight. Ginny had spotted him that morning when everyone had come in for the exams, but she’d been sitting several rows in front of him and hadn’t been able to observe him the way she would have liked. Last night, Hermione hadn’t thought anything of Malfoy’s departure before the Sorting ceremony. He had been the talk of the common room the night before, so Ginny figured Hermione had been trying to be annoyingly contrary and subtly chastise gossipping Gryffindors for bringing attention to him.

Ginny had a strange feeling, though. There was something not right about Malfoy. Maybe she was just sensing the tension around his being forced to return to Hogwarts by the Ministry after all the horror his family had helped instigate at the school the previous year.

Or maybe after such a terrifying year, Ginny wasn’t content with peace. She tried to shove that thought away, but it only brought to the surface an argument she’d had with Harry earlier that summer when he’d decided to forgo his return to Hogwarts to begin a career as an Auror instead. She’d thrown that exact accusation at him, and it had hurt him deeply. He hadn’t looked at her the same way since that fight.

Hermione gathered her bag together and stood up. “We’d better go, Neville. I don’t want to give the new Transfiguration teacher a bad impression of us if we’re late for his class!”

Neville chugged some pumpkin juice to wash down his mouthful of sandwich. He tapped his wrist to indicate a watch he wasn’t wearing and rolled his eyes at Ginny before he rushed to catch up with Hermione. Even though there were twenty full minutes before the first lessons of the term began, Ginny decided to follow their example and depart early. She had Potions with Slughorn first thing.

The trek to the Potions classroom was eerily routine. Ginny had somewhat expected to feel a disconnect between her current life and the life she’d lived before the war. Instead, her feet carried her to the dungeons as if she did it every day. She passed familiar paintings and suits of armor; she recognized some of the students walking in a similar direction and nodded to them in greeting.

Last year, the dungeons had been a place of misery and torture. She, Neville, and Luna had been punished by the Carrows more than once in a forgotten classroom underground, but Ginny’s body didn’t seem to remember that agony. She didn’t flinch at the flickering torchlight or tremble at her proximity to a location where she was often hurt. She just… went to class. As if it was a normal thing to do. As if she didn’t need to plan her next rebellious strike with Neville and Luna after Potions and before curfew.

That thought was punctuated by the sight of Malfoy standing in front of the Potions classroom, staring at the closed door. Today there was nothing hidden under his robes, no oddly shaped bulges.

His eyes widened when he saw her and he clenched his fists, but Ginny was too preoccupied with studying him to care about his reaction to her. His paleness was practically blinding in the dark dungeons, giving him an odd glow. Streaks on the sides of his face contrasted with the glow. With a jolt, Ginny realized the streaks were thin scratches. Odd. There were still dark circles under his eyes, as if he hadn’t slept in months, and he was too thin, his robes hanging off him with a troubling frailty. Even during the height of the war he hadn’t looked this bad.

Ginny nodded to him and then turned away to lean against the wall and wait for Professor Slughorn’s arrival. Several feet of space separated them until Malfoy drew closer and copied her posture. He didn’t say anything, but she could hear him breathing through his nose, the sound consistent and measured, suggesting he was thinking deeply about each breath.

They stayed like that for the next fifteen minutes as more students began to arrive, until Slughorn came out of his office and opened the classroom door.

Ginny took a seat in the middle of the room and smiled happily when Luna joined her, taking the seat to her left. While asking Luna about her class schedule, the stool to Ginny’s right scraped against the stone floor as someone sat down. She glanced over and froze to see Malfoy, his jaw clenched, his eyes focused on his bag and the act of removing a quill and some parchment. His hands shook, and when he noticed her staring at them, he stuffed them into his lap.

“What are you doing?” she hissed at him. A quick perusal of the room verified that everyone was staring at them. Or maybe they were staring at Malfoy. Either way, it was the Great Hall pre-Sorting ceremony all over again: mouths agape, eyes widened, whispers, whispers, whispers.

Luna leaned forward to see past Ginny. “Hello there, Draco! It’s good to see you outside of your dungeons again.”

Turning his head away was his only acknowledgement that she had spoken. If he felt shame, he didn’t feel enough of it to get up and find a different seat.

Slughorn began to introduce cauldrons of Amortentia, Veritaserum, and Polyjuice Potion simmering on a table at the front of the classroom, but Ginny, who remembered the lecture from last year, could only focus on Malfoy.

“You didn’t answer my question. What are you doing here?” she hissed at him while Slughorn made a reference to his Slug Club when another student answered his question correctly.

Malfoy was either feigning attention as a respectful gesture to Slughorn or he was devoutly committed to avoiding looking at Ginny. “I must not have done well on the Potions portion of the placement exam,” he said under his breath.

“That’s not what I meant!” she replied, her hand automatically slapping his arm the same way she might have slapped Ron or Harry for being ridiculous.

His head swiveled toward her at her touch, his eyes dark and blazing. His lips were so tightly pressed together, they trembled.

Ginny found herself drawing back a little, but not necessarily out of fear. No, she wasn’t scared of him exactly. Something about Draco Malfoy had changed over the summer. He’d become more intense in his gaze, in his consideration of her (Only her? Or everyone else, too?); he’d become flighty, easily frightened, though Ginny did not recognize what triggered his unease. He nurtured a tension in his body as if constantly trying to keep control of himself, but, still, Ginny did not fear what he might do. The change she sensed in him intrigued her more than anything.

“I don’t know,” he said, his voice low. “I’m drawn to you, and I don’t understand it.”

Ginny drew back a little further, her head cocking to the side as she mused over his answer. A part of her wanted to laugh at such a ridiculous statement, but the laughter died in her throat just looking at him. He wasn’t hitting on her. He wasn’t teasing her. His knuckles were white from holding his hands in such tight fists under the table, and every line on his face expressed fury. His body shook with faint tremors from the effort of holding himself together.

She believed him. Whatever he was doing, whatever was happening to him, he couldn’t help himself, couldn’t stop it.

Ginny’s heart pounded so hard, she felt a little lightheaded. The kindest or the smartest thing for her to do (she wasn’t sure which) was to just leave Malfoy alone, so that’s what she did. She turned her focus to Professor Slughorn’s lesson, and she pretended not to notice that some of the tension eased from Malfoy’s body when she stopped looking at him.

Draco bolted from the Potions classroom as soon as he packed up his supplies at the end of the lesson, desperate to leave the stale air of the dungeons behind.

No, desperate to leave Weasley behind.

The fire that had burned through him at the feast the night before paled in comparison to the agony he felt now. To be near Weasley. To be away from her.

When he’d entered the classroom two hours ago, he had planned to sit in the back of the room. If the wings made a reappearance, there would be no one behind him to notice before he could escape the classroom. That had been his thinking at any rate.

But there was something about Weasley. He’d felt it in the Great Hall the night before when they’d looked at each other, and he’d felt it multiplied by twenty while standing so close to her in the Potions corridor. Something in him could not stand parting from her, so he’d sat down next to her in the hope of releasing the pressure that had built up inside his chest. Being near her again was almost worse. Throughout the duration of the class, half his concentration had strayed from brewing the Draught of Living Death to imagining wrapping himself around Weasley, sheltering her with his limbs, his wings, his body as a whole. The other half of his concentration had been devoted to keeping himself from acting on his urge.

Somehow he made it through both Potions and Arithmancy, but the more distance he put between himself and Weasley, the longer they stayed apart, the more he began to itch under his skin. He could feel the wings rising to the surface, and he used all the tools in his arsenal, all the ways he could think of to distract himself, to keep them from appearing.

Claws emerged from his fingertips during dinner when Weasley arrived with Longbottom and Lovegood. He kept his hands hidden under the table as much as possible to prevent anyone from seeing his deformity.

“Are you okay?” Pansy asked, scrutinizing him out of the corner of her eye.

He grit his teeth. “No.”

“Shall we go, then?”

He was torn between what his body wanted and what his brain wanted. If he left, Weasley would be out of sight, and every inch of him, every sinew, every dead skin cell, every blood particle, rebelled against that idea. But he was exhausted holding himself back, and he just needed a moment of peace, some understanding.

“Please,” he begged. The word tasted like dung on his tongue.

Pansy laid her napkin on the table and filled it with easy to transport food. Then she pulled Draco to his feet and dragged him out of the Great Hall. She began to turn toward the dungeons, but he yanked her in the opposite direction, wishing again for space and fresh air. They made their way outside, drifting toward the rose garden that had been created for the Yule Ball four years ago.

Draco almost didn’t make it to the entrance of the garden. As soon as he found himself hidden by rose bushes, he fell to his knees, moaning in misery. The wings burst through his shoulder blades, trapped by his robes, and he scratched at the ground with his claws as his face shifted, his chin shrinking, his nose elongating, his vision blurring as his eyes turned black and regenerated into tools that would enable him to see in the dark.

Pansy helped him take his robe off, and then she helped him to his feet, pulling him further into the labyrinthine garden to a corner of it that would hopefully obscure him from view. The wings flapped, kicking up dust and ruffling the bushes, and Draco hissed as they brushed against thorns.

She sat herself on a bench and opened the napkin to withdraw an apple, tossing another one to Draco as he paced in front of her, trying to cool the heat that radiated through him every time his body transformed.

“It’s been weeks since you last went full-beast,” Pansy observed.

Draco grunted, not appreciating her stating something he already knew. He put his head in his hands, and this time he was careful with the claws so as not to scratch his face. Still, the gesture was difficult when the area where his face used to reside now resembled the features of a bird of prey.

“What triggered it this time?” she asked.

The first time Draco had gone “full-beast,” as Pansy called it, had been after his trial. He didn’t know how he’d made it through the whole trial without wings bursting out of his back, but as soon as he’d arrived home, he’d crumpled to the ground, his body mutating before his parents’ very eyes. His mother had screamed and sobbed, begging his father to help him while Lucius, pale and unnerved, Flooed for Pansy immediately. She’d seen him transform more than once after that, usually when Draco was surprised or lost his temper.

They’d scoured the Malfoy library for information and had found nothing to explain what had happened to him

He told Pansy about Potions and Weasley while passing the apple from hand to hand, one way of distracting himself from his reality while he talked, and she listened intently, even when he struggled to from certain words with his new beak and tongue.

He ended with, “Finnigan saw me. Last night.”

She sat up straighter. “What did he do?”

Draco shrugged. “Cursed. A lot.”

“Did he threaten to tell anyone?”

“No. Just said he always knew my family were monsters.”

By now, Draco could feel the transformation reversing, starting with the claws—the talons—and ending with the wings shrinking away to nothing, until no sign of his transformation remained except for the sweat on his brow from the heat that consumed him. Pansy handed him his robe, and he dressed himself before finally taking a bite of the apple.

“We need to keep an eye on Finnigan. Weasley, too.”

Draco sat down on the bench. “Why her?”

“There’s got to be a reason she’s affecting you like this. Maybe she’s the one who cursed you.”

Draco didn’t see how, but he didn’t say that to her.

“We also need to get you some Muggle clothes.”

Draco’s face contorted into an expression of disgust, at which Pansy rolled her eyes.

“Don’t look at me like that. If you’re going to take your clothes off every time you sprout wings, you might as well be wearing trousers underneath them.”

He hated admitting she was right because doing so made her unbearably smug, so he refrained from giving her the satisfaction.

He chucked the apple core into the bushes when he finished with it and said, “I think we need to go further than keeping an eye on Weasley.”

Pansy waved a yeast roll at him, signalling him to go on.

“Maybe we should confront her.” At Pansy’s dubious look, he amended his statement. “Maybe we should ask her for help. Ask Granger for help.”

“You want Granger’s help with this? You want her to know what you are?”

“That’s the problem, isn’t it?” Draco snapped, annoyed that Pansy couldn’t see the sense in his idea immediately. “We don’t know what I am. But Granger is the…” He paused, the words getting stuck in his throat, hard to swallow but also hard to spit out. “Granger is the smartest person we know. If she doesn’t know what I am, she’s certain to know how to find out.”

Pansy cocked her head, seriously considering Draco’s logic.

“Do you think she would agree to help?”

“If she thought Weasley could be endangered by a connection to me? Unquestionably.” He looked down at his hands and flexed his fingers. “Maybe she can help me figure out how to control the transformations.”

Pansy swallowed the last bite of her dinner roll, and Draco knew he had convinced her when she stood up, ready to go back to the castle. “Well. There’s no way any of this could backfire,” she deadpanned.
invitations and revelations by idreamofdraco
Author's Notes:
chapter four: invitations and revelations


Her thoughts about Malfoy interrupted by the exclamation, Ginny looked over at Hermione, who stared, obviously perplexed, at a letter that a school owl had just delivered.

Hermione turned to Ginny and waved the parchment in her face. “Malfoy’s requested a private meeting with us.”

Ginny lowered her fork. Her eggs, which had already been sitting neglected on her plate, now sat abandoned. Was it the early hour that made this information difficult to process? The fact that she’d stayed up way too late writing a Transfiguration essay? Or was she simply confused about Hermione mentioning Malfoy at the same moment Ginny had been thinking about him as well?

“Us as in… the two of us? What does he want?”

“He asks for our help on a matter he can’t disclose until he sees us.”

“Fishy,” Neville said from behind a potted plant. He peeked around a leafy frond to add, “Are you going to meet him?”

Ginny felt much as Neville looked: exhausted. Less than a week into the new term, dark circles and a panicked gaze already marked him as a NEWT-level student. In fact, all around the castle, most students seemed overwhelmed, as evident by the groans of defeat and hurried paces of students making last-minute attempts to finish assignments.

She supposed they were all a bit out of practice. The last school year could hardly count as academically challenging when the Carrows made lessons in propaganda mandatory and heavily discouraged (read: forbade) the Hogwarts professors from teaching certain concepts. Now that Hogwarts was running like a school again, where classwork was deemed more important than extracurricular activities like rebellion, no one could remember how to function like a student rather than a soldier.

“I think we have to, don’t we?” Hermione said. “What do you think, Ginny?”

Ginny didn’t know what to think. The only thing she could think was that it was convenient that Malfoy had reached out to them and surprising that he had done so through Hermione.

It had been over a week since returning to Hogwarts. Not only did Malfoy continue to sit next to Ginny in Potions, he also sat beside her in Charms and Transfiguration, though he made no effort to talk to her. His demeanor was odd and dismissive. Even though Ginny wanted to ask him about what he’d said to her in their first Potions class, she couldn’t bring herself to speak.

What did he mean by “I’m drawn to you”? Why would he say something so absurd and then ignore her every day after? Ginny was starting to think he’d said it to unsettle her. If that had been his goal, then he had succeeded.

“Let’s do it. Does he say when or where?”

Hermione rummaged through her bag and pulled out a quill. “No. I’ll tell him we’ve agreed to meet and let you know the details when we work them out.”

After breakfast, Ginny made her way down to Hagrid’s hut for Care of Magical Creatures, which had already become her favorite class. She thought about what Harry would say if she told him how Hagrid had grown as an instructor over the past few years, but her smile at the thought dropped as she remembered where she had left things with Harry on Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters.

Both of them had had expectations about their relationship after the war, and the reality had not satisfied those expectations. Ginny had been disappointed with herself when she’d realized soon after the Battle of Hogwarts that she did not feel like the same girl who had rushed into Harry’s arms and kissed him after Gryffindor won the Quidditch cup a year and a half ago. The traits that younger Ginny had admired, such as Harry’s nobility and his concern for his friends’ safety, suddenly rankled her after she spent months fighting his battles at Hogwarts while he was searching for a means to defeat Voldemort.

She understood his sacrifice and concern. She truly did. But the war had changed her, and she couldn’t go back to those carefree weeks she’d enjoyed with Harry before Malfoy smuggled Death Eaters into the castle. It had been harder for Harry to accept whatever it was that had changed, hence the relief when Ginny had boarded the Hogwarts Express and left him on the platform, forcing him to leave her behind.

Ginny pulled herself out of her thoughts when she arrived at Hagrid’s hut to find Luna and Hagrid engaged in a conversation about Aquavirius Maggots. Hagrid looked up with a rather grateful expression upon her approach.

“‘Lo there, Ginny!”

“Morning, Hagrid! Have we lost the rest of the class?”

Hagrid’s cheeks grew red above his beard, but he waved his hand in a dismissal. “It’s jus’ the two o’ yeh from now on. Everyone else decided they couldn’ hack it, I s’pose! Just as well. You two’ve got enough passion for magical creatures ter rival me!”

“No, I don’t think you could accuse us of that, Professor Hagrid,” Luna said blithely.

“Er, maybe not. Well anyway! Let’s get started, why don’ we?”

Hagrid had become a better teacher over the last year or two. Or maybe he was more suited to teaching NEWT-level concepts. The students who had originally signed up to take Care of Magical Creatures had not dropped the class due to Hagrid introducing them to creatures beyond their level of experience. No, for once, his lesson plans were appropriate. However, his class required hard work, and that’s why seventh year Care of Magical Creatures had dwindled down to a class of two: Luna and Ginny.

Hagrid shouldered a large leather bag and turned away from his hut, toward the Forbidden Forest.

“Are we not finishing Witherwings’s nest today, Professor?” Luna asked as she took abnormally large strides to keep up with Hagrid.

“Not today, Miss Lovegood. I heard an Augurey cry comin’ from the forest this mornin’. Since there hasn’ been a speck o’ rain, it seems likely he’s been injured. We’re gonna try to find it.”

“Oh, I do love a quest!” Luna enthused.

As soon as they entered the forest, the sounds of nature became muffled, as if the foliage itself absorbed all hints of rustling leaves and the pitter-patter of scurrying creatures. Ginny’s heart rate amplified to fill the absence, which sent her anxiety skyrocketing and made her paranoid.

“Charlie told me an Augurey cry foretells death,” she said, voice lowered out of respect for the forest rather than to keep from sabotaging their search.

“Bah! An old wives’ tale. They’re sensitive ter changes in the atmosphere, and they say they have a different song for every type o’ weather. It’s difficult to learn them all, though, because they’re shy.”

“How will we find this one, then?” Luna asked.

Hagrid narrowed his eyes. “Keep yer eyes peeled. They build tear-shaped nests in thorny places. Lucky for us, I know a bramble patch nearby.”

They proceeded through the forest without uttering another word, following a trail deeper through the trees where the light fought to reach the ground. After over half an hour, they finally stepped into a clearing surrounded by brambles, which had the appearance of a nest of a much larger beast.

“There!” Hagrid said in a harsh whisper, pointing at the other side of the clearing, directly across from them.

The unmistakable Augurey nest was indeed tear-shaped and created out of thorny vines twisted together. However, the Augurey itself was not in the nest. It floundered on the ground below it, crowing weakly. If not for its cry, Ginny would have missed it due to its feathers blending in with the shadows cast on the grass.

“What do we do?” she asked.

Hagrid reached for his pack and pulled out a worn cotton towel. “Here,” he said, offering the towel to Ginny and Luna. “Doesn’ look like it can fly, but we don’ want to scare it too badly. One of yeh’ll have to go out there an’ pick it up. Wrap it up nice an’ tight in this towel to keep it from flappin’ about an’ injurin’ itself more. We’ll take it back to the house an’ see what can be done.”

Ginny and Luna looked at each other, but Luna gestured for Ginny to take the towel.

“Are you sure?” Ginny asked.

“Oh yes. This won’t be the last time we’re confronted with a winged creature to soothe. You can have this one.”

Hagrid gave Ginny an encouraging smile as she took the towel and crept toward the Augurey, keeping her body low to the ground to make herself appear smaller. The poor bird began to struggle upon her approach, its cries growing louder in its distress.

“Shhhh! It’s okay,” Ginny said in a calming tone. “I won’t hurt you. We just want to help.”

“That’s the spirit, Ginny!” Hagrid whisper-called from the edge of the clearing.

Despite its attempts to get itself airborne, Ginny managed to wrap the towel around the Augurey, trapping its wings. Its mournful cries pierced straight through her as she cradled it against her chest, moving her to tears. It truly sounded like an animal in the throes of death.

Ginny slowly lifted a finger to gently stroke the top of the Augurey’s head in an attempt to ease it. It blinked as if startled by the touch, and though its beak remained open, ready to release more forlorn noises, its cries died away.

“Well done, Ginny!” Luna said as Ginny returned to the edge of the clearing.

“Great job!” said Hagrid. “Let’s get outta here so we can fix this little guy up.”

Ginny continued to soothe the Augurey with soft sounds and touches as they made their way back up the trail and out of the forest. Its cries echoed in her heart long after they quieted down, and despite what Hagrid had said about the old wives’ tale being untrue, Ginny couldn’t stifle the dread that choked her.

The next night, Ginny and Hermione climbed the stairs of the Astronomy Tower with their fingers wrapped around their wands, which were concealed in their robe pockets. They’d already discussed their suspicions about this meeting prior to venturing out from the common room, and they had a plan in place in case Malfoy or Parkinson became hostile.

They waited for Ginny and Hermione on the battlement outside the tower, Malfoy leaning irreverently against a parapet while Parkinson stood closer to the tower wall, her arms crossed in impatience.

Malfoy faced outward, peering through the darkness at the grounds, and did not turn at their arrival.

“You came,” Parkinson said with a hint of disbelief.

“We came,” Hermione echoed. “What’s this about?”

Ginny’s attention was devoted to observing Malfoy. He grasped the stone of the parapet so tightly, his knuckles were conspicuously white, noticeable even in the darkness. As she had noted before, there was a glow around him, a light shimmer that shadows could not touch, as if he was made of silver that reflected and magnified the starlight.

He finally faced them, his body stiff, his hands clenched at his sides. Focusing solely on Hermione, he said, “I need your help. I have a… problem.”

“Hermione’s great at solving problems,” Ginny said, trying to make Malfoy look at her. Why invite her if he was just going to ignore her?

“Show them, Draco.” Parkinson’s voice came softly, not just in volume, but in tone as well. Ginny had never heard her speak with anything other than mockery or panic in her voice. How strange to think of Parkinson as a person capable of compassion.

Malfoy peeled off his robe and discarded it onto the ground before turning his head just slightly to finally look at Ginny. As soon as he did, he doubled over, and a groan burst from his throat as if he’d just been punched in the gut. When he fell to his knees, Ginny took a step forward and Hermione took a step back, drawing her wand.

“What’s happening?” Ginny demanded of Parkinson, who only watched with a detached gaze, her arms locked around her torso.

Ginny went to Malfoy’s side, falling to her knees next to him. Despite the glow he emitted, she had difficulty understanding what she was seeing. He hid his face in his forearms, but underneath his arms his skin stretched like taffy. His back arched, and the crack of bones fracturing pierced the night.

Then the darkness grew darker, the light of the moon obscured, and Malfoy’s groans turned into pants as he stilled.

Malfoy lifted his head to meet Ginny’s eyes, and she fell back, a gasp stuck in her throat along with a scream.

Inky blackness shrouded his eyes, erasing his natural eye color and the whites of his corneas. But the more Ginny looked, the more unsettled she became. Below his eyes, a hawk-like beak dominated his face, hooked and sharp just like a bird of prey.

Then her gaze drifted above him to where the moon’s light was bisected by expansive, diaphanous wings protruding from his back. Instead of releasing her scream, Ginny swallowed it.

Malfoy rose to his feet and then offered her a hand to help her up. She took it, unable to look away from him but too overwhelmed to look at any of his new features for longer than a few seconds at a time.

She thought of the Augurey she’d helped yesterday, its flailing wings, its helpless cries. Hagrid had taught her and Luna how to mend the broken wing, and they’d listened with relief as it emitted a new cry, one of sad happiness, while it devoured a lunch of forest mice.

Without thinking, Ginny ran her hands along Malfoy’s bare shoulders, her touch light in case he resisted. She wanted to examine the beak and wings more closely, but Malfoy wasn’t a creature she could manhandle like one of her Care of Magical Creatures assignments, and she didn’t want to cross his boundaries. But he seemed to sense her desire, because he grabbed one of her hands and moved it to his cheek. He closed his eyes as her fingers skated across the top of the beak, down to the sharp point of it, tracing the edge to see how it connected to the rest of his face, how it fit on his jaws.

Goosebumps rose up on his arms. She could see the shadows of them clearly in the bright moonlight.


Ginny turned at the sound of Parkinson clearing her throat. Parkinson’s eyebrow arched in expectation while Hermione stared, mouth open and an expression of horror frozen on her face.

Ginny suddenly realized how close she and Malfoy were to each other. She hadn’t realized that he was still grasping the wrist of the hand that examined him. She stepped away, taking a deep breath when he let her go. Disappointment filled her at not getting a chance to look at the wings, but now that she stood further away from him, she got a whole picture of what he had become.

“You’re a Veela!” Ginny said with a tone of wonder. “A male Veela!”

“Ginny!” Hermione said, shocked. She, too, was transfixed by Malfoy’s transformation and unable to look away. Or perhaps it was the trademark Veela charm that mesmerized her.

Ginny shook her head. “No, you’re right. I’m sorry, Malfoy, I shouldn’t have assumed your gender.”

“I’m male!” Malfoy’s words came out articulate enough, but there was a bit of an outraged squawk in his voice.

Hermione huffed. “That’s not—what I mean to say is—there are no male Veela!”

“Maybe I’m the first!”

“Or maybe he’s not a Veela,” Parkinson added.

“No,” Ginny replied, circling Malfoy to better inspect him. “I’ve seen Veela. You have, too, Malfoy, Hermione. At the Quidditch World Cup. This is the form they take when they’ve been angered: a beaked face, bat-like wings, talons on the tips of their fingers.”

Malfoy hid his hands behind his back, his wings flexing with the movement of his shoulder blades.

Another thought dawned on Ginny. “My sister-in-law is part-Veela. I should have known exactly what you were when I saw how everyone reacted to you at the Sorting ceremony. You’ve got the same sparkliness Fleur has.”

“Delacour?” Pansy asked dubiously at the same time Malfoy said, “Fleur Delacour married into your family?” Astonishingly, he managed to convey a sneer through mandibles.

“Have you always been this way?” Hermione asked before Ginny could respond. Distress covered her face and coated her voice in a way that concerned Ginny, and she found herself automatically moving a little closer to Malfoy.

“No. I transformed for the first time on my birthday. Just wings and claws back then. The rest—” He waved his hand, indicating all of him, the beak, the glow, the attraction. “The rest came later.”

Parkinson released her torso to let her arms hang at her sides. “That’s why we need your help. We don’t know how this happened. If there’s Veela in his blood, why is he only displaying these traits now?”

“It’s not in my blood,” Malfoy said, his beak clicking together in agitation. “This can’t be in my family. My parents have never said—”

“Would they have, though?” Hermione interrupted sharply. “Would your parents really have admitted that your bloodline—one of their bloodlines—isn’t as pure as they’ve insisted?”

Malfoy stayed silent, but he flexed his hands, his talons reflecting flashes of moonlight with each clench.

“I didn’t think so.”

Parkinson put herself directly in front of Hermione, another barrier between her and Malfoy as if she sensed the same unpredictability that Ginny did.

“Does this mean you won’t help us?” Parkinson asked.

“Of course I won’t help you!” Hermione snarled. She looked at Malfoy over Parkinson’s shoulder. “It serves you right, you know! All those years tearing down people like me for our Muggle parentage, and here you are, not fully wizard yourself. I hope you choke on your beliefs!”

Hermione turned and re-entered the tower, her stomping footsteps echoing on the stone as she descended the stairs.

The three of them watched her leave and didn’t move until well after the sounds of her departure had ceased.

Finally, Ginny looked back at Malfoy and Parkinson, a tight smile on her face.

“I bet all the Galleons in my bank vault she’ll be at the library researching Veela during lunch tomorrow.”

“I’d take you up on that bet, but I probably have more Galleons in the pocket of my robes,” Malfoy said, his voice changing, becoming clearer.

Before Ginny’s eyes, the beak and wings shrank, Malfoy’s body morphing back to its normal human shape until he was just a shirtless man in trousers standing on a battlement, the moon glimmering on his skin. He bent down to retrieve his robe and donned it again.

Ginny scowled. “Do you want our help or not?”

“So you will help?”

Without the beak, his face was much more expressive, his earnestness obvious. Ginny didn’t know when his birthday was, so she didn’t know how long he had hidden this secret, but she could imagine him agonizing while trying to figure out what had happened to him, trying to find answers without knowing where to start looking.

She wanted to know more. Not just about his Veela heritage—the love of magical creatures that Charlie had inspired within her certainly made that side of him fascinating to consider—but about him as well.

She couldn’t help herself. Drawn to the downtrodden, whether that be a sick cat, an injured bird, or a person who didn’t understand their own history, Ginny could do nothing else but step in and offer aid.

“Of course I will,” she said, and with those four words, her fate became entwined with his.
research by idreamofdraco
Author's Notes:
chapter five: research


The dripping red letters were reminiscent of the warnings about the Chamber of Secrets that had decorated the corridors in Draco’s second year of school. However, unlike his twelve-year-old self, Draco did not applaud the author of the message that met him and his classmates while departing from Charms.

The words were fresh and dripping with red paint (he refused to imagine they’d been painted in blood) and rendered the entire class speechless. Pansy’s hand brushed against his limp fingers, a brief, private gesture of support when Draco knew her instinct was to grasp his hand in hers. Flitwick shoved through the crowd to see what was holding everyone up and squeaked in surprise when he saw what had captured their attention.

As if the professor’s utterance had awoken her from a trance, Granger took action and went straight into Head Girl mode.

“Move along, everyone! You have another class to get to!” she said, ushering students down the corridor and away from the scene of the crime. She did not look at Draco, and she didn’t force Longbottom or Weasley to leave with the rest of the class.

“Professor Flitwick,” she said as the crowd began to disperse, leaving Pansy and Granger’s friends behind, “the headmistress will need to know about this.”

“Of course, yes!” said Flitwick before rushing to his office to send Professor McGonagall a message.

Draco could feel Weasley’s gaze drilling into his back, and instead of facing any of them, instead of acknowledging his too-recent past splashed up on the wall, he turned on his heel and departed down the corridor.

“Wait!” Granger called after him. “You need to speak to the headmistress!”

He ignored her in the hopes she’d see the ridiculousness of her statement. The message was directed at Draco. What could he possibly tell Professor McGonagall about it?

At the end of the corridor, he paused, uncertain where to go, which is when he became aware of Weasley following him. She stopped at his side, no hostility directed at him, her expression open and composed.

Even though those eyes still haunted him as surely as his dreams did, her proximity only produced a comfortable warmth in him, the blazing heat that crippled and transformed him absent for once. Maybe he was growing used to her. Maybe he was becoming immune to whatever enchantment tied them together.

Her ears peeked out of her hair, and they reddened under his scrutiny. She turned her head toward the window for a reprieve, which gave Draco one as well. He caught his breath while he had the chance.

She didn’t give him much time to recover because she looked at him again, a smile now spreading across her lips.

“Fancy some Quidditch?” she asked.

“Quidditch won’t solve my problems.”

“It’s fun though. Might get your mind off things.”

If she had an ulterior motive, Draco couldn’t discern it from her earnest expression, and the fact remained that Weasley coming after him kept Granger’s nagging at bay.

“You won’t stop, will you?” he asked with a resigned sigh.

She grinned cheekily. “I will not.”

Draco rolled his eyes and gave in. It seemed easier than arguing, and never mind the fact that he didn’t particularly feel like arguing anyway.

They were silent all the way to the pitch, but Weasley’s silence was a facade. Draco could tell by the way she gnawed on her lower lip that she wanted to speak. For some reason she held herself back.

She continued to show restraint as she passed him a broom from the broomshed, as they kicked off from the ground, and as they flew two warm up laps around the pitch. Draco tried not to follow Weasley’s every move, but every time he directed his broom one way, he found himself swaying back in her direction, whichever direction kept them as close together as possible.

When Weasley paused in the middle of the pitch, hovering in mid-air, he stopped next to her.

“Have you tried flying with your wings?” she asked.

Draco couldn’t bring himself to be annoyed that she was poking her nose into this subject. He could only blame himself for showing her his Veela form, and so he was resigned to her questions. Besides, her curiosity served the purpose of distracting him from the message painted on the wall, which he preferred not to think about at the moment.

“No, Weasley, I’d rather not have them at all.”

“But you do have them, so why not see what they can do?”

Draco looked over the stands of the pitch. From the air, he could see students leaving the castle to take a walk on the grounds or going to and from the greenhouses. “Here?” he said with a sardonic twist of his lips. “Do you want me to expose myself?”

“No!” Weasley said quickly. Her ears and cheeks flushed with color in a way that made Draco’s mouth curve upward in an amused grin and his heart skip with excitement. Teasing her was an unexpected pleasure.

“We could go out onto the lake. The far side of it, where students don’t typically go. The forest might provide enough coverage, and we could cast extra privacy charms to keep people away.”

Draco stared at Weasley for the first time in a very long time.

In the years just before the war poked its head in Hogwarts’s corridors, Weasley had been a popular figure around the castle. Draco wasn’t sure why. He supposed she was considered friendly and attractive; even Blaise had appreciated her good looks. Draco hadn’t been able to see anything attractive about her beneath the mud of her associations. Her family’s poverty and poor social connections, including her own extremely bad judgment in dating Potter, had tainted anything positive Draco could have found in her physical appearance.

He saw her now. The shine of her hair glinted with gold in the warm September sun. Her face still held color from her previous embarrassment, hiding some of the freckles that marred her skin. As unsightly as those blemishes were, Draco could still see the appeal of them. He found himself strangely fascinated, as if he could decipher her secrets by searching the pattern of her freckles for a message.

Weasley stared back at him with wide brown eyes, patiently waiting for him to make a decision. She didn’t push, she didn’t nag, which was more than Draco could say for his closest female friends. Pansy would have ordered Draco to do her bidding, but Weasley met him gaze for gaze and demonstrated more restraint than he’d thought a Weasley capable of.

Finally, Draco spoke. “We?”

He’d expected her to flush in embarrassment again, to backtrack and exclude herself from her own idea because she thought that was what Draco wanted. To be alone.

But she didn’t.

“You asked for my help,” she said. “I intend to give it to you.”

Draco heard the unspoken Whether you like it or not at the end of that sentence.

“Fine.” It was the right thing to say. Something inside Draco settled at his acquiescence, snapped into place. “Saturday then. Meet me in the entrance hall after breakfast. Bring your broomstick.”

She nodded with stoic agreement, but as she raced away to fly another lap, Draco did not miss the pleased smile that stretched across her face. Or the way his heart leapt at witnessing her happiness.

Meet me in the library at lunch.

The note had been delivered during breakfast the next day without a signature indicating its sender, but Draco had a good idea of the author. His deduction was confirmed when he and Pansy arrived in the library only to be immediately accosted by Weasley, who grabbed Draco’s arm and pulled him toward the stacks near the Restricted Section.

Granger shook her considerable mane and huffed in displeasure at their arrival, but she said nothing as Draco and Pansy paused behind the seats across the table from her. In fact, she hadn’t said more than ten words to Draco since the night on the Astronomy Tower, which was just fine by him. He’d thought a lot about what she’d said to him in her rage, and he hated the idea that she could have been right.

If Veela blood indeed ran through his family tree, no matter how insignificant the connection, his parents would never admit it to anyone, not even to Draco. They’d raised him to believe that purity was tantamount to royalty and that his blood was the purest because of his descendancy from the noblest of the Sacred Twenty-Eight families, the Malfoys and the Blacks. To learn that his lineage, his very identity, might be a lie was a devastating truth to face, and it called into question other values Draco had been taught in his childhood. He wasn’t ready to accept any more truths until this one was confirmed.

So Draco was just fine with Granger avoiding him.

“What is this?” Pansy asked.

“You weren’t even invited,” Granger grumbled without lifting her head from the book in which her nose was stuck.

Pansy opened her mouth to argue, but Draco interrupted her. “I don’t know what this is about, but I’ll leave. Pansy goes where I go.”

“Ha!” Granger said, the sound both a scoff and a laugh. “What is she, your little dog?”

“Hermione,” Weasley warned as she sat down next to Granger.

Draco grit his teeth. “We don’t have to explain ourselves to you.”

Pansy leaned over the table menacingly. “Oh, that’s original. Like I’ve never been called a bitch or Pugface Pansy or Draco’s lap dog before. You’ll have to try harder to insult me, Granger.”

“We don’t have to explain ourselves to them,” Draco said again, this time to Pansy.

“You don’t have to explain yourselves to me,” Weasley cut in, her brows knit in anger, “since I’m the one who invited you. It doesn’t have to be like this. We can all behave.”

Granger sniffed, her head still lowered.

“What are we doing here?” Draco asked, his teeth grinding together. He could feel needlepoints in his palms where he clenched his hands, and he tried to smother the sensation, tried to shove the talons back into his fingertips by will alone. Simmering heat circulated within him, but he breathed deeply to cool it. He sat down across from Granger and Weasley so he could hide his hands in his lap if the worst happened, Pansy reluctantly following suit.

The way Weasley eyed him told Draco that she was aware of the short tether on his control.

“I told you Hermione couldn’t resist a new research project. She found some information about Veela in the Restricted Section.”

Granger finally lifted her head, but she did not make eye contact as if Draco and Pansy were not worth her consideration.

“I just don’t see how the information is relevant. Nothing I’ve read even mentions the possibility of male Veela, so we can’t know that any of this pertains to you.”

“Leave that to us to decide,” Pansy said with a sneer as she snatched the book out of Granger’s grasp.

Granger rolled her eyes and took another tome off the top of the stack next to her.

Draco and Pansy put their heads together to read the parchment of handwritten notes Granger had left tucked inside the book, and then they looked through the pages she had bookmarked. The text was a journal of one wizard’s attempt to raise a young Veela orphan. What could have been an interesting and perhaps humorous tale turned out to be rather horrifying and sad.

“That reminds me of you,” Pansy said, pointing to a passage halfway down the current page.

The young pouts at me when I offer her food, obstinately refusing everything. She eats no fish, no beef, no veal. She sniffs at chicken and then pushes it away with a hiss and a snap of her sharp teeth. I try vegetables and fruits and breads, but the more I put in front of her, the more agitated she becomes. Her eyes darken, turning as black as the abdomen of an acromantula queen, her snout transforming into that of a hawk, razor sharp and snappish. The wings emerge and flap ominously behind her, lifting her from the chair. She lunges at me, claws extended, but I draw my wand just in time and shield myself, stunning her. Next time, if I must, I will strap her down and hold her jaws apart to make sure she eats to my satisfaction.

Draco wasn’t sure which part of the passage reminded Pansy of him. The transformation being triggered by frustration and anger? Or the guardian threatening to tie the Veela down?

Draco had spent the rest of the summer after his birthday staying out of his father’s way. Every time Lucius set eyes on him, he shuddered with disgust, and every time Draco transformed near Lucius, his father left the room in a rage. By the end of the summer, he had indeed threatened to bind Draco’s wings to keep the unsightly appendages from assaulting his vision.

After Granger’s outburst on the Astronomy Tower, Draco now understood his father’s disgust. The wings, the beak, the claws, they were proof of an impurity in Draco’s bloodline. It made sense that seeing those impurities in his son would set Lucius off. Perhaps Lucius felt betrayed by the Black family, as if realizing twenty years later that the product that had been advertised to him when he and Narcissa were betrothed was actually defective.

“What are you reading?” Draco asked Weasley.

She lifted the cover of her book to show him the title: Nature’s Nobility: A Wizarding Genealogy. Draco was familiar with the text. There was a copy of it in his family’s library as well.

“I don’t know how useful it will be, but I figured it was a good start. Even if no Veela are recorded in here as part of the Malfoy or Black family, I might be able to find a discrepancy that leads to one.”

“This book is rubbish,” Pansy said with a sneer as she slammed the journal closed. “The author treats this Veela like an animal. Worse than an animal.”

Granger stared at Pansy and said with sarcasm, “Oh no, why would someone ever mistreat a living being? How could someone other an entire population of people and do terrible things to them, like imprison or kill them or confiscate their wands?”

Pansy’s eyes narrowed. “I get it, Granger. You don’t approve of me. You think it’s a double-standard for me to be concerned about Draco while still hating people like you.”

“It’s completely a double-standard!”

“Then why are you doing this? If you hate us so much, why are you here, and why are you researching Veela?”

“Well, I’m not doing it for you!”

Pansy, Draco, and Weasley stared at Granger, waiting for an explanation. Granger looked between the three of them, anger chiseled across her forehead in a frown.

“I researched Veela several years ago, during the Triwizard Tournament when Harry told me that the core of Fleur’s wand was a hair from her Veela grandmother. I was curious about Veela, especially after seeing them at the World Cup earlier that summer, so I did more research on them to see if Fleur would have an advantage over Harry in the tournament.”

Granger scoured her bag and withdrew a book that was dwarfed by the other books littering the table, but by no means light itself.

“This is Noémie Leblanc’s memoir. She became famous as a dancer in France in the early 1900s after Fleur’s grandfather discovered her during his travels in the Balkan region. He named her, taught her French, and eventually married her when she became pregnant with Fleur’s mother.”

“What does this have to do with you begrudgingly helping me?” Draco asked.

“I told you, I’m not helping you.” Granger placed her hands on top of the book and raised her nose higher in the air, annoyingly prim and annoyingly self-important. “Noémie wrote of her human lovers prior to marrying, in particular… how she chose them. I’m not doing this research for you. I’m doing it for Ginny.”

Pansy and Draco looked at one another, both dubious and both still not catching on to Granger’s meaning.

“What about me?” Weasley asked, seemingly just as lost.

“I’ve noticed the way he looks at you,” Granger said. “The way his whole body shifts in your direction in class and in the Great Hall, even when he tries to pretend you don’t exist. It’s like he’s attuned to your presence. But you’re not affected by his Veela charm. Even I’m affected by it, though I’ve learned to work around the inconvenience of it.”

“Why isn’t she, then?” Pansy asked, and Draco could tell by her sarcasm that she was losing patience.

Granger squared her shoulders, clearly pleased to be the center of attention and spouting knowledge to her ignorant audience.

“People typically think Veela charm only works on beings of the opposite sex, but that’s not wholly correct. Veela charm is not affected by gender or sex, but rather sexual attraction.”

“But Longbottom is affected by Draco,” Pansy said. “Are you saying Longbottom is sexually attracted to Draco? Or men in general?”

Granger, who had previously looked satisfied with herself, now blushed and stuttered. “I mean, I don’t know that with any certainty because he’s never mentioned—”

Weasley interrupted her, her own face flaming with color as she said hurriedly, “I’m not attracted to Malfoy, but I am attracted to men in general. Could that be why I’m unaffected?”

Granger quickly recovered from her previous stumble. “That’s the second exception to the effectiveness of the Veela charm. The attraction is reversed for mates. The Veela is charmed by a compatible mate, lured in by an unbreakable connection, but the mate is unaffected by the Veela’s proximity, which means the Veela must put in an effort to win their mate’s affection. The mate must choose the Veela; they can’t be swayed by magic.”

Both Weasley and Draco drew back, twin expressions of disbelief on their faces.

“That makes sense,” Pansy said with a shrug.

“It does?” Granger and Weasley said at the same time, but Pansy didn’t bother to elaborate on her conclusion.

“Anyway,” Granger continued after a moment, “I remembered reading about Noémie’s experiences with her mates—”

“Mates? As in multiple?” Draco asked.

“Yes! Veela might have multiple compatible mates in their lifetime, but they can choose to be monogamous and mate for life.” Granger huffed at the interruption and narrowed her eyes at her audience in a warning not to do it again before continuing her earlier thought. “I remembered reading about Noémie’s experiences with her mates, and I wanted to see if male Veela exhibit the same behavior. That’s why I’m doing this research. If Ginny is compatible as your mate, I want to know everything about Veela mating rituals to keep her safe.”

Pansy and Draco shared a brief look at the confirmation of Draco’s theory that Granger would help them if it meant helping Weasley.

Draco still had so many questions. He didn’t doubt Granger’s knowledge, but he wanted to read about it for himself, preferably privately, without Granger’s suspicious scrutiny or Pansy’s smug looks or Weasley’s—

Well, Weasley hadn’t reacted at all.

She was withdrawn, staring down at Nature’s Nobility without reading a word of it.

“You know,” she said, “I think I am hungry after all.”

She stood up without looking anyone in the eye and stumbled when someone ran into her.

“Oh, sorry, Seamus,” she said as she steadied Finnigan, but she didn’t stay long enough for him to say anything in return.

Finnigan watched her depart for a moment before glancing over their table, eyes narrowing at Draco and Pansy sitting with Granger and, formerly, Weasley. He opened his mouth.

Draco grit his teeth and clenched his fists together in his lap, urging the Veela underneath his skin to stay there instead of coming out at the first sign of a threat. Whatever Finnigan wanted to say, he seemed to think better of it, because he shook his head and stalked away without a word.

Draco released the breath he’d been holding but the tension did not leave his body. A suspicion had just implanted itself in his brain, stoked to life at the sight of Finnigan’s retreating back. Everyone at the table knew about Draco’s transformation, but Finnigan didn’t know that. He could have easily made a scene in the quiet and busy library; he could have threatened Draco by revealing his secret to everyone around him. It didn’t make sense that he’d kept the secret to himself since their return to Hogwarts instead of using it against Draco.

Unless Finnigan was waging a silent war, intimidating Draco with painted threats instead of verbal ones. GO HOME DEATH EATER. The words floated in Draco’s mind, glistening under flickering light, still-wet paint dripping from the ends of each letter. Finnigan could have written those words, but why he had brought attention to Draco’s war allegiances instead of his beastly form, Draco didn’t know. He would find out, though.

Once Finnigan was out of sight, Draco’s tension finally eased, and he turned back to Granger.

“May I borrow that?” he asked, gesturing toward the Leblanc memoir as if nothing had happened. To Granger, who didn’t know what Finnigan knew, nothing had.

“It’s published in French.”

Pansy rolled her eyes. “We can read French, thank you.”

Granger scowled and slid the book across the table. “I neither like nor trust either of you.”

“Noted,” Draco said as he pocketed the book and stood. “Believe me, the feeling is mutual.”
flying lessons by idreamofdraco
Author's Notes:
chapter six: flying lessons

On Saturday morning, Ginny raced down the stairs with her broomstick thrown over her shoulder. She wasn’t sure if Malfoy would still be waiting for her in the entrance hall for their flying experiment or if he would stand her up, but in the event that their plans had not fallen through, she hurried to meet him.

She skidded to a halt at the bottom of the staircase in the entrance hall, her breath rushing out of her at the sight of Malfoy leaning against the wall next to the hourglasses that tallied the house points. He was fixated on the emeralds at the bottom of Slytherin’s hourglass and unaware of both the stares he received from students leaving breakfast and Ginny’s approach.

When he finally saw her, he breathed deeply. “You’re here.”

“Of course I am,” she replied. “I said I’d help, didn’t I?”

“I didn’t know a Weasley’s word was gold.”

“Now you do,” she said with good humor.

They exited through the great oak doors and descended the stairs to the grounds when Malfoy continued with, “Too bad you can’t sell your word for actual gold.”

Ginny laughed, surprised by how terrible the insult was. “Did it take you that long to come up with that?”

“Of course not,” he said, affronted.

“It wasn’t your best effort. I expect better.”

Malfoy stopped her by grabbing her arm and met her confused expression with a furrowed brow and dark eyes.

“Why are you doing this?”

Ginny shook her head. “I told you—”

“Yes, but why? After what Granger said the other day, why are you here? What do you hope to accomplish?”

Silence stretched between them as Ginny considered his question. After Hermione’s lecture in the library, she had been overwhelmed and needed space in which to think and time to process everything. That had been days ago, and the only conclusion Ginny had reached was that she wanted to know more about what was happening to Malfoy. Call it idle curiosity or blame her interest in magical creatures; the result was the same.

“I don’t know,” she finally replied. “But I meant what I said. You asked me for help. You went out of your way to ask for my help. How could I refuse?”

“I find it very easy to tell people no.”

“You don’t understand. No one ever asks me for help. Growing up, Ron always asked our brothers for help, because they were older and cooler than his stupid little sister, Ginny. At school everyone asks Hermione for help because she’s the best at everything she puts her mind to. In Quidditch, Harry was always the star. No one knew what I could do until Harry was forced to sit out matches. And during the war—no one wanted my help, not even Harry. Neville, Luna, and I did everything we did because there was no one left to help. But at the battle, everyone ordered me to stand aside. I’m not even a second thought or a last resort; I’m not thought of at all. But you, Malfoy, you came to me. How could I refuse?”

He considered her, and Ginny met his gaze, daring him to ask her again.

“Technically, I asked for both yours and Granger’s assistance.”

Ginny shoved him, not too hard, but just enough to express her annoyance. Her fingers tingled at the contact, even with the material of his sleeves separating her skin from his.

“You’re a git.”

“And you’re still here.”

Their eyes met for another brief moment before Ginny mounted her broom and took off towards the lake, Malfoy racing to catch up.

They dismounted on a secluded patch of land on the southwestern shore of the lake, hopefully far enough away to prevent being seen by anyone in the castle or on the Quidditch pitch. A cropping of rocks created a barrier on one side of them while the tall trees of the forest camouflaged their activities.

“This is perfect,” Ginny said as she inspected their location from the ground.

“Easy for you to say,” Malfoy grumbled. “You’re not the one throwing yourself into the air and hoping you don’t fall.”

“Oh, I can guarantee you’re going to fall.”

Malfoy sighed. “I know, but you don’t have to tell me that.”

“Sorry Parkinson isn’t here to reinforce your wishful thinking.”

“She would never do anything so supportive as that. Pansy is my voice of reason—and rejection.”

Malfoy turned his back on Ginny and began unbuttoning his robes. Her first instinct was to object to his undressing and insist he remain clothed, but of course that didn’t make any sense. He needed to undress to release the wings, and if he fell in the water during their trials, then at least his clothes would stay dry. Still, Ginny averted her gaze to give him more privacy.

“I don’t know Parkinson well, and I certainly don’t like her, but she seems extremely supportive to me. You two seem close.”

Malfoy folded his robe and set it down on a rock nearby along with his socks and shoes. Ginny looked up as he approached and bit back a grin at the sight of him in trousers again. A Malfoy in Muggle clothes—well, half-dressed in Muggle clothes—was an unusual sight. She almost wished she could tell Harry about it. Even if she could bring herself to speak to him, there was no way to tell Harry about Malfoy’s clothing choices without revealing his secret.

“Pansy and I have been through a lot together. We’re both major disappointments,” he said. “But we’re not here to talk about Pansy.”

“Right,” Ginny said, her follow up question dying on her lips. “How do you bring the wings out?”

“I don’t usually summon them willingly. The night on the Astronomy Tower was the first time. I tend to transform when I lose my temper or during moments of high stress—and when I’m around you. I have to constantly hold myself together around you.”

Ginny swallowed thickly. “I guess you can let go now.”

She hadn’t let herself think about Veela and mates and Ginny potentially being Malfoy’s all morning, but she couldn’t stop thinking about it now. Was this cruel of her to spend time with him, knowing that he felt a compulsion to be near her and that her proximity triggered his transformation? She couldn’t provide him any relief. She was never going to choose him the way Hermione implied a mate could choose to be with a Veela.

Why not? a voice inside her asked.

Why not? Because Malfoy suddenly turning into a Veela did not negate any of the horrible things he’d done in the past. The war only ended four months ago. Malfoy, whatever his motivations, had fought for the side that wanted to see people like Hermione dead or imprisoned. He was nasty and bigoted and unkind. Ginny was not and could never be attracted to him.

Malfoy reached out a hand, and Ginny hesitated for a moment before taking it. He grasped her lightly, his touch barely noticeable, but he shuddered as if she’d pressed herself fully against him. He closed his eyes and his jaws clenched together tightly as he inhaled in sharp gulps, as if he couldn’t catch his breath.

Ginny took a step forward, wondering what she could do to help, but Malfoy let go of her hand and stepped back, hunching over with a grunt.

Bumps formed on his shoulder blades, growing larger and darker and extending outward by the second. His skin stretched with the viscosity of taffy, until Ginny realized she was seeing his wings form. The humps and his skin began to thin, becoming long, bony structures that protruded behind him with translucent membranes connecting each bat-like finger.

The wings flared open, casting a shadow on Ginny. Malfoy straightened from his agonized crouch to reveal his transformed face, the deadly beak, the ghoulish eyes. At his sides, his arms hung still, each finger tipped with a razor-sharp talon.

Like this, it was easy to forget that it was Malfoy standing before her. There was a resemblance, of course. His hair, for instance, had not changed color or length. His sharp cheekbones were still visible around his beak, and the transformation did not erase the purple bags under his black eyes that Ginny had noticed in the Great Hall before the Sorting ceremony.

His physique was the same, as far as Ginny could tell with her limited experience of seeing him half-dressed in his human form. He was still too thin and he still towered over Ginny, but the height difference hadn’t seemed to change.

Like this he was glorious.

“Does it feel different?” Ginny asked, unable to look away.

The wings folded against his back, and whether they did so of their own accord or Malfoy controlled them, Ginny didn’t know.

“The wings are heavy,” he replied, his voice now a squawk infused with the clicks of his mandibles trying to shape human words. Maybe the mixture of his old voice and his new one should have sounded absurd—comical, even—but there was a viciousness in it that suited his new form. “Inside, I burn.”

“What does that mean?” she asked, moving closer to him once more. Maybe it was cruel of her to be anywhere near him like this, but she couldn’t stay away. She needed to see more.

She was close enough now for him to grab her hand again, but instead of holding it, he placed it in the center of his chest, flattening her fingers against his skin.

Ginny’s whole body froze, her fingers tensing. She wanted to touch him in exploration, but she didn’t want to treat him like one of her Care of Magical Creatures subjects. She shook her head, uncertain what he expected of her.

He clicked his beak in agitation. “Burning up. Like a fever, but standing in flames.”

He spoke in short, carefully constructed sentences. Ginny concluded that speech was more difficult than he made it look.

Now she understood though, and touched his skin with the back of her hand, his forehead, his cheek.

“No fever,” she said. “On the outside your temperature is normal. That’s interesting.”

“What now?”

Ginny picked up her broom. “I think the best thing to do is for you to throw yourself off those rocks. I’ll keep an eye from the air.”

“Sounds like you have the easy job,” Malfoy said, but he began climbing the rocks to their peak.

Kicking off from the ground, Ginny hovered over the water at level with Malfoy and waited as he opened and closed the wings, trying to get a feel for them and the currents of air that pushed against him.

Then he stepped back, and with a running start, he launched himself into the air. The wings flared—caught the wind—for a moment he soared and an exultant smile spread across his face. Ginny threw her hands up and cheered.

Malfoy’s attention diverted to her, but when he turned his head, his shoulders turned, too. The wind pummeled his wings at a different angle, which made them wobble and falter. With a loud gasp, Malfoy plummeted into the water feet first.

“Oh, shite!” Ginny said as she jerked her broom around to help him.

He flailed, panicking under the wait of the wings, which were taking on water and pulling him under. Ginny reached a hand toward him and he grasped it, holding on tightly as she rose up higher to keep him above water while she towed him toward the shore.

When they reached shallow water, Ginny let go and he crawled the rest of the way to land on hands and knees, soggy wings dragging through the dirt.

“Are you all right?” Ginny jumped off the broom and fell to her knees next to him, unsure where to check for damage first.

“I’m fine,” Malfoy ground out, his hair plastered against his face and dripping into his eyes.

Ginny stifled a grin and helped him to his feet. It looked like they weren’t going to be able to make a second attempt at flying because both the beak and the wings were shrinking back into Malfoy’s body, his human features returning.

“That was short-lived,” said Ginny, unable to hide her disappointment.

Malfoy rolled his neck and shoulders with a grimace formed by his own mouth. “Maybe the beast isn’t such a fan of swimming.”

“Maybe your sense of self-preservation is too strong,” Ginny said as she returned Malfoy’s wand and robe.

He grunted as he dried himself off and then dressed, but as they mounted their brooms to return to the castle, he said, “We can always try again.”

“We?” Ginny repeated, surprised by his inclusion of her. Honestly, she was shocked he was willing to try again at all. Malfoy was a demonstrated sore loser, and she had expected in the event of failure that this venture would be his only attempt.

Malfoy shrugged. The wind dried and tousled his hair, and Ginny predicted it would be a tangled mess by the time they got back to the castle.

“I need Granger to keep researching Veela, and Pansy would use any embarrassing mishaps against me later. You’re the only person available that I could possibly trust to do this with me.”

She battled the wind to rush ahead and keep him from seeing her smile at his compliment, even if he delivered it in a sardonic tone.

They landed directly on the castle steps leading up to the great oak doors. A crowd had gathered in the entrance hall, preventing them from reaching either the dungeons or the grand staircase.

Seamus and Dean were at the back of the group, craning their heads above everyone to get a glimpse of what had caused the commotion.

“What’s going on?” she asked them.

They turned to answer, but Seamus closed his mouth instantly, a scowl suddenly descending upon his face.

“Dunno,” Dean said instead. He didn’t seem to notice Seamus’s reaction to Ginny’s approach.

As Malfoy came up beside her, brushing against her arm in the press of the crowd, Seamus’s expression grew darker, and then he slunk away without a word.

“What’s gotten into him?” Dean asked. Now worried, he gave up trying to see over the throng of onlookers and took off after Seamus.

His departure drew attention to Ginny and Malfoy. Students looked back at them, their excited murmurs dimming as they parted to create a pathway for them. Though she was eager to see what the hubbub was about, Ginny tread lightly down the aisle, the hush that had fallen over the entrance hall a sinister warning of what lay ahead.

Malfoy followed her so closely, his broomstick handle poked her in the back every now and then.

At the front of the crowd, the last few students moved aside to finally reveal what had captured everyone’s attention. On the flagstone, the words I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE stared back at Ginny and Malfoy in menacing red paint. Fresh, too, by the way it glittered in the flickering light of the chandelier and sconces.

Ginny glanced carefully at Malfoy, but he wasn’t staring at the ground like she was. No, he was focused straight ahead, at the house point hourglasses against the wall. The Slytherin hourglass had been shattered, and Ginny realized belatedly that the paint on the floor wasn’t wet. It was covered in shards of glass and the contents of the hourglass, the large emeralds that represented Slytherin’s house points.

“Let me through, please! Excuse me! I said let me through, Mr. Draper, not continue dawdling uselessly in front of me.”

Professor McGonagall worked her way to the center of everyone’s attention, her gaze quickly scanning the scene before landing on Malfoy and Ginny.

“Mr. Malfoy, would you be so kind as to meet me in my office immediately? I should like to speak to you.” It was clear from the tone of her voice and the look in her eye that her request was in actuality an order.

Malfoy ducked through the remaining students who had not departed at the headmistress’s arrival. Ginny’s eyes followed his back for a moment as he climbed the stairs but returned to Professor McGonagall as she said, “Still here, Mr. Draper? Why don’t you do something useful and fetch Mr. Filch, please? The rest of you may return to your weekend activities.”

A Ravenclaw boy took off towards Filch’s office as the dwindling crowd dispersed, but as Ginny turned toward the grand staircase, the headmistress called her back.

“Miss Weasley, do you know anything about this business with Mr. Malfoy?” she asked in a firm but cajoling tone.

“No, Professor!” Ginny said. She was reasonably certain that Professor McGonagall was talking about the painted messages, but Malfoy’s flying practice was fresh on her mind. If McGonagall was fishing for information about Malfoy’s Veela form, Ginny would not be the one to confirm her suspicions.

Though, now that Ginny thought about it, someone besides Hermione, Parkinson, Malfoy, and herself might have cottoned on to Malfoy’s new identity. The first message had made reference to his association with the Death Eaters during the war, and this new message may have been making the same reference, but Ginny’s instincts told her this message meant something else.


Everyone knew about Malfoy’s leanings during the war. The I in the most recent message indicated that this person alone knew something about Malfoy, and Ginny could not imagine that he had any other terrible identities to his name. So perhaps the author assumed they were the only one privy to Malfoy’s secret, unknowing that he had already shared it with a small group of people.

Professor McGonagall sighed, bringing Ginny out of her thoughts. “Is there anything I should know about Mr. Malfoy? Anything you would like to share with me?”

Ginny clutched her broom tightly, but she did not fear giving herself away. Growing up with six older brothers had taught her how to lie sufficiently enough to save her own hide whenever Ron or Fred and George led her in an act of mischief. They used to use her as a scapegoat for their shenanigans until Ginny surprised them by developing the skill of subterfuge.

“Why would I know anything about Malfoy?” she asked with just the right amount of confusion.

“Why would you indeed?” the headmistress repeated. “Fine, Miss Weasley. You may go.”

With a quiet exhalation of relief, Ginny ascended the stairs, but she looked back one more time as Professor McGonagall repaired the hourglass with a wave of her wand and reset Slytherin’s meager points back to zero.
hogsmeade by idreamofdraco
Author's Notes:
chapter seven: hogsmeade

The next few weeks passed in a flurry of rain and activity. Draco spent most of that time in the library with Pansy, Weasley, and Weasley’s tagalong friends, either completing the numerous difficult NEWT assignments given to them by their unforgiving instructors or continuing their research on Veela.

Draco read Noémie Leblanc’s memoir three times while trying to reconcile her experience with his own. So far, it was the only piece of literature about Veela that he trusted. All of the other books the group had consulted depicted Veela as mindless, vicious, manipulative nymphs. More than once, Pansy, Weasley, and Granger had closed a book in disgust, growling about misogynistic authors projecting their many ineptitudes with women onto their research about an all-female, non-human magical being. There simply weren’t enough primary sources—in the Hogwarts library, at least—written by Veela. When they were lucky, they discovered a text that was objective enough to be reliable. Though nothing they read mentioned any possibility of there existing any male Veela, full-blooded or otherwise, with the powers and abilities of the females. They continued to slog through their research in the hopes of finding an explanation for Draco’s situation.

With Quidditch starting back up again, he and Weasley moved flying practice to Sunday mornings instead, but Draco had little success in that department. He simply could not hold his Veela form long enough to make multiple attempts at hurling himself off the rocks. Draco was beginning to believe that his Veela form had a mind of its own, and it did not appreciate Draco throwing himself into danger for no reason. Some mornings it took him over half an hour to transform at all, as if the Veela was doing whatever it could to prevent Draco from going through with his foolishness.

Every time Draco voiced this opinion—as loudly as possible so she would detect his frustration—Weasley shook her head in disagreement.

“This is your doing, Malfoy. You can’t blame anyone but yourself.”

“I’m trying!” he’d return, jaw clenched in annoyance. The more time he spent with her, the more she reminded him of Pansy, particularly her disinclination to humor his complaints.

“You’re holding yourself back. You are,” she would say.

He was beginning to feel quite foolish indeed. By the end of October, Draco didn’t know why he was continuing the flying practices when each attempt was brief and met with failure. In the last two months, the only thing he had learned how to do in his Veela form was fall.

His reluctant perseverance had nothing at all to do with Weasley and the time they shared together alone. He told himself this every time she crept into his thoughts, and then he tried to banish her from them by rereading the Leblanc memoir. Unfortunately, the more he devoured the book, the more he began to accept what he was—and what Weasley was to him. Leblanc vividly and lovingly described her connection with each of her mates, including the ones she never pursued. Draco could not deny that what he felt toward Weasley was the same inexplicable bond.

On Halloween, Draco found himself trailing behind Weasley, Granger, Longbottom, and Lovegood as they all ambled down the drive toward Hogsmeade. Pansy strolled at his side, her arm looped through his to keep warm.

Weasley had adorned herself with a knitted cap topped with a yarn poof that bounced with each step. Draco’s eyes were drawn to this phenomenon until he overhead something that put an automatic sneer on his face.

Granger was gushing at Weasley, her eyes bright with animation. “They said they’ll meet us at the Three Broomsticks for lunch! Oh, it’s been years since I’ve gone this long without seeing Ron. Or Harry!” Her cheeks reddened as she tacked on the second name as an afterthought.

“Right,” Weasley said, sounding much less enthusiastic.

Lovegood stared up at an overbearing cloud in thought. “Do you think they’ll recognize us?”

“Of course they will! It’s only been two months since we saw them at the train station!”

“Excuse me,” Draco interrupted before Granger started a useless argument. “Do you mean to tell me Potter and Weasley are going to be in Hogsmeade?”

Granger glared over her shoulder and then raised her nose in the air with haughty superiority. “Yes, and we would appreciate it if you left us alone for once so we can catch up without you antagonizing them.”

She acted as though Draco’s presence within her circle of friends was unwelcome, but that didn’t stop her from poring over books about Veela in between Ancient Chaldean Numerology and A Guide to Advanced Transfiguration, Vol. II.

He looked at Pansy in the middle of rolling his eyes, but Pansy was biting her lip to keep from smiling. Over the last several weeks, they had shared loads of pointed looks at Granger’s expense, but the expression on Pansy’s face now disturbed Draco in ways he could not articulate.

“Would I ever antagonize St. Potter and the boy wonder?” Draco asked with contempt.

Weasley turned around, walking backwards to face Draco, brow raised in censure. “You know very well that you would. But we need not worry about you misbehaving today because you and Harry and Ron are not going to see each other.”

“And how do you propose we accomplish that?” asked Pansy.

Weasley gestured between the three of them, her eyes lingering on the way Pansy clung to Draco. “Because you two and I are not going to meet Harry and Ron at the Three Broomsticks for lunch. We are going to go elsewhere.”

“What?” Granger said, drawing back in disbelief. “What do you mean you’re not meeting Harry and Ron? You’re not returning Harry’s letters, and now—”

“Leave it alone, Hermione,” Weasley interrupted, her face splotching with color.

“But you don’t even want to see your own brother? I don’t understand.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

Weasley picked up her pace to put distance between herself and the group. Before Draco could pull away, Pansy had already dropped his arm in anticipation of him following her.

“If you want to gloat about something, I suggest you turn right back around,” Weasley said over her shoulder.

Draco swallowed the words that had been on the tip of his tongue and said instead, “Gloating was the last thing on my mind.”

She slowed down enough for him to fall into step beside her and regarded him coolly. “You are an awful liar, you know?”

“It’s not a lie!”

She shook her head. “I know you heard what Hermione said about not answering Harry’s letters. You’re dying to know why I don’t want to meet him. You can’t tell me you’re not giddy about it!”

“Fine,” Draco capitulated reluctantly. “You’re right. I’m delighted to hear that you and Potter are on the outs, and I want to know everything about why.”

“An explanation—if I decide to give you one—is just going to have to wait,” she said, her frown deepening into a scowl.

“Why’s that?”

She nodded, gesturing to the road ahead of them. At the entrance to the village, a crush of people surrounded none other than Ron Weasley and Harry Potter. It seemed as if Potter and Weasley had arrived early.

“They haven’t spotted us yet. We could make a dash for the forest.”

That brought a smile to her lips, a quick quirk that she smothered almost instantly. “No. I’m afraid we’re going to have to face them.”

“Wonderful.” Draco wasn’t sure if he meant it with sincerity or sarcasm.

Ron noticed their approach first. He smiled widely as he rushed along his group of friends and admirers with a mock conspiratorial, “Sorry, mates. You know how it is with girlfriends and sisters. Can’t keep them waiting!”

Dean and Seamus, Dennis Creevey, and various other Gryffindor students scattered at Ron’s announcement with good natured smiles and promises to meet for a drink in the Three Broomsticks later.

Ginny rolled her eyes and threw her arms around her brother. “As if you aren’t the one anxious to see us. Or at least Hermione.”

Ron’s ears burned red. “Anxious? Me? I’ve got nerves of steel!”

“After what we’ve been through, he should,” Harry said.

Suddenly he was right beside Ginny as she pulled away from Ron, and she hesitated for a moment before hugging him as well.

“Are you getting my letters?” he asked quietly into her ear.

She squeezed him a little harder and nodded against his shoulder.

As he withdrew from the embrace, he continued to keep his voice low. “You’re avoiding me, then.”

His green eyes pierced straight through her. Ginny hadn’t been able to hold his gaze since the end of the war. Both of them had changed. Harry used to wear his emotions on his sleeve, openly, proudly. Now he kept them all bottled in his eyes. He looked at everyone with an intensity that stole her breath.

When they’d finally been alone again after the Battle of Hogwarts, she had seen all of his hope for their future in his eyes. Back then she’d been stunned by how strongly he felt for her. As they’d picked up where they’d left off prior to Dumbledore’s funeral, she began to realize that they couldn’t continue what they’d had in the same way. The hope she’d witnessed in the depths of his gaze began to feel like a goal she could never help him achieve. She had felt too much pressure to be his happy ending, especially when she was struggling with her own happiness.

Now, she tried never to make eye contact.

“We should talk,” she said. “Later.”

Harry nodded in understanding. Hermione, Neville, and Luna had reached them by now, so he turned to greet them.

“What are you staring at?” Ron’s voice carried over the sounds of the happy reunion as he noticed Malfoy and Parkinson lingering a few feet away.

“Not your ugly mug if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“Don’t you have someone else to torment?”

Ginny stepped in and placed a hand on Ron’s arm before he got any ideas about drawing his wand. “Ron, it’s all right. They’re with us.”

Ron stared at her hard. “What do you mean ‘they’re with us’?”

“They’re our friends!” Luna said brightly.

“Ginny….” Ron said as he reached for her, undoubtedly to pull her away for a private discussion.

But Ginny was not in the mood to explain, and she would not reveal Malfoy’s secret. Neither Luna nor Neville knew about Malfoy’s Veela form, and they had accepted Malfoy and Parkinson’s presence in their group with little more than a sage nod and a raised eyebrow. Ron would just have to do the same.

Ginny dodged Ron and Harry both by looping her arm through Malfoy’s and pulling him into the village with her, Parkinson followingly closely. Behind them, Hermione was whispering in agitated tones, no doubt providing some sort of explanation to appease Ron.

The lot of them walked down the main street, going from shop to shop to see what kinds of goods were for sale now that the end of the war had brought visitors back to the village. Ginny stayed close to Malfoy and Parkinson while the rest of the group hung back, nearby but separate from them.

Malfoy and Parkinson were surprisingly good company. Their commentary at each shop window had Ginny laughing as she hadn’t laughed in ages.

Ginny wasn’t sure if she was imagining Harry staring at her in speculation or if he was actually doing it, but several times throughout the morning the skin between her shoulder blades tingled uncomfortably.

“What do you say? Shall we have lunch at Madam Puddifoot’s?” Parkinson asked just as Ginny’s stomach grumbled in retaliation against its involuntary hunger strike.

Malfoy sneered. “Only if you like heart-shaped confetti in your tea.”

“How do you know about the confetti, Malfoy?” Harry asked with a small smile as he passed them to glance at the Honeydukes window display. “Visit Madam Puddifoot’s often, do you?”

In a reaction Ginny never expected, Malfoy’s cheeks flushed. He shot a quick look at Parkinson that captured Ginny’s notice before turning his head away.

Had Parkinson and Malfoy frequented Madam Puddifoot’s together? The image of the two of them canoodling over tea in a lurid and public location did not match the idea she had of them. Now that the thought of them behaving like a couple had entered her mind, she couldn’t dispel it. She was suddenly having flashbacks of the past couple months—of Malfoy and Parkinson going everywhere together (except Malfoy’s flying practices; he endured those with Ginny alone)—of both of them joining Ginny and Hermione’s research crusade and ingratiating themselves with Ginny and Hermione’s friends—of the casual ways they touched each other and the private looks they shared.

What if Parkinson was one of Malfoy’s mates? What if they had already chosen to be with each other?

The conclusion did not sit well with Ginny. There was something wrong about it, even though, now that she was looking at them as a pair—truly looking at them—they made complete sense as a couple.

Malfoy and Harry had continued talking while Ginny had gotten lost in her thoughts, but they were behaving so there was no need for her to worry about her sudden bout of negligence.

“I really could use some lunch,” she said, her voice sounding odd even to her own ears.

“Are you all right?” Harry asked, automatically reaching for Ginny to touch her in comfort.

She sidestepped him. “Yes. I’m just starving. Didn’t eat much for breakfast in anticipation of pub food. You know the Hogsmeade weekend excitement.”

“Sure,” Harry agreed, looking like he didn’t agree at all.

Both Malfoy and Parkinson were eyeing her. Ginny didn’t want to answer any more questions, and she needed to get out from under their stares, so she headed toward the Three Broomsticks without waiting for the rest of the group.

Unfortunately, a commotion in front of the pub prevented them from going in. Seamus and Dean stood in the road in front of the door. Dean had an exasperated look on his face, and his hands were raised defensively toward Seamus, who swerved on his feet. They were having an argument.

“Come on, you’ve had enough,” Dean said firmly.

“You don’t tell me when I’ve had enough!” Seamus shot back. Now Ginny noticed a tankard in Seamus’s fist, the contents of which spilled onto the ground as he stumbled in his attempts to avoid Dean.

“He’s drunk,” Ron said. The rest of the group had caught up with Ginny and had created a small crowd around Dean and Seamus.

“He’s always drunk,” Hermione said disdainfully. “I don’t know how many times I’ve found him passed out on the floor in the Gryffindor common room.”

This was news to Ginny. She’d never seen Seamus behave this way before.

“We should stop him,” Harry said. Before anyone could discourage him, he was already approaching the scene, his hands raised to copy Dean’s calming fashion.

It took Harry, Ron, and Neville to convince Seamus to give up the tankard and go back to the castle with Dean—after taking a long, circuitous route on foot in the hopes he’d sober up before arriving.

“What a sad man,” Luna said upon Seamus and Dean’s departure.

Ginny agreed. She didn’t have to wonder what had happened to Seamus to turn him into such a mess. The war had ended mere months ago, and they were all trapped on a battleground, forced to live and study among constant reminders of what they had endured. Where was the justice for the lives lost? For Colin Creevey and Lavender Brown? For Tonks and Remus? For the people the war had left behind to try to pick up the pieces of the devastation Voldemort and the Death Eaters had wrought?

“You know,” Ginny said, swallowing thickly, “I’m actually not that hungry. I think I’ll head back up to the castle.”

“You’re leaving?” Ron asked.

Hermione glared at her, her look an admonishment for abandoning their guests, particularly Harry.

“I’m not feeling well suddenly. Maybe I’ll pop into the infirmary.”

“I’ll walk with you,” said predictable, noble Harry. “I wanted to say hello to Professor McGonagall anyway.”

Ginny couldn’t meet Harry’s gaze. She knew what she would find there, and she couldn’t bear his disappointment, whether that disappointment was caused by her impending absence or the lie he had detected. Either way, she had let him down, and even though she did not want to be romantically involved with him anymore, he was still her friend. Hurting him was the last thing she meant to do.

“No, please, stay. Catch up with Hermione and Neville and Luna. If you come by the castle later, come find me. We can… have that talk.”

He nodded, but there was a grimace on his face. Ginny turned to avoid it and departed at once, before Hermione or anyone else could attempt to stop her.

Malfoy joined her just as she reached the road that led back to Hogwarts. She heard his footsteps first, and she clenched her fists at the thought that someone had come after her.

But when he caught up and she saw his gray eyes looking down at her with an impassive expression, her heart leapt. She looked behind him, but Parkinson had not come with him. She arched an eyebrow in question.

Malfoy shrugged. “You’re the only one I can tolerate from that lot. Did you really think I’d have lunch with Potter and your brother voluntarily?”

Ginny’s lips twitched. “Parkinson?”

“She decided to stay behind for some reason.”

Ginny couldn’t decipher a note of any particular emotion in his response, and that made her break out in a full smile.

She refused to analyze why Parkinson’s absence—and Malfoy’s indifference to it—pleased her so.
End Notes:

I'm sorry for the wait in between updates. This story is complete, so my intention was to post chapters once a week-ish until all of the chapters were up. But I go through these stages with my more serious stories, the ones that are less fluffy and humorous, where I love them while I'm writing them and then hate them when they're finished. It's hard for me to post updates when I don't want to look at the story, let alone reread the chapter for typos or spend an hour of my life copying and pasting it onto different websites. But I really enjoyed rereading this chapter, and now I remember how much I like the next one, too. I like the writing, I like the interactions, I like that I can see why I added certain things to the chapter, the decisions I made to hopefully push the plot and romance along. It's so easy to become discouraged and hate on your creative work. I wish I was better about appreciating my own effort and not letting the flaws I see blind me to the strengths of my writing.

Anyway, all this to say, I've made it a goal in 2020 to start writing an original novel. I'm trying to let my idea percolate enough to feel like a good one, especially since I don't know the characters as well as I do Draco and Ginny. But my delay in starting is also caused by my perceived commitments to my fan fic. Once those commitments have been completed, then I'll feel like I can devote all of my not-writing guilt to a novel rather than splitting it between fan fic and original fiction. ;)

This also means that I don't plan to start any new stories or finish most of my WIPs. I'll finish posting Learning to Fall; I'll post my exchange fic from last year, memento tempus vincit omnia; I'll finish writing The Dating Charade; but besides maybe the odd Tumblr drabble or one-shot, I don't intend to write any new multi-chapter fan fics.

I may very well change my mind. But knowing me and how seldom I write now, I'm honestly looking forward to freeing myself from feeling guilty about not finishing stories. And, to be honest, JKR's bad opinions has tainted my twenty-two-year love for the Harry Potter series. I wish I didn't feel this way, especially since I haven't listened to anything she's said outside of canon in 13 years. I will always love Draco and Ginny despite her, and this community will always be the most special community I've ever had the pleasure to be a part of.

Maybe this sounds like I'm leaving, haha. But I'm not going away! You can still find me on Tumblr, the DG Forum occasionally, and Twitter (ask me for my Twitter handle if you'd like; I don't use the idreamofdraco Twitter account anymore). I'm just going to stop writing and let that be okay. Maybe I'll be inspired again in the future. We'll see.

If you've read this far, thank you so much for being a part of the community I love so much. Whether you read and comment, read and don't comment, whether you've written a story I've read, or written at all. Whether you've been shipping Draco and Ginny for 15 years or just discovered it. Whether you're active or lurking. What makes the Draco and Ginny fandom such a wonderful place to exist in is all of you.

Alright. That's all the melodrama for now. See you in 7-10 days for chapter 8. Only two more chapters to go! :)

instincts by idreamofdraco
Author's Notes:

One more chapter to go!

chapter eight: instincts

One weekend in November found them sitting on top of the crop of rocks on the part of the lakeshore that they had claimed for themselves and their flying practices.

Weasley was bundled up in a scarf and gloves, a jumper and a cloak, while Draco sat next to her, shirtless and shivering. His wings were spread out behind him, trying to capture as much sun as possible in order to dry faster.

These experiments would soon be impossible as winter approached. Draco was just as susceptible to the cold weather in his Veela form as he was in his human form. Sitting next to Weasley, her thigh pressed against his, generated just enough heat within him to keep him comfortable, but the combination of the frosty air and damp skin made his wings ache. On top of that, the lake would freeze over soon, and Draco did not fancy falling feet or face first into solid ice.

“You’re getting better at staying in this form,” Weasley observed.

In the beginning, it didn’t take long after Draco crashed and fell into the water for him to involuntarily transform back into his human shape, as if the water had reversed the magic that turned him into a beast. Now, he was able to remain a Veela long enough to dry off. As soon as he was dry, however, he transformed back.

Draco was frustrated with the lack of progress, but most of his frustration could be credited to the lack of control. He still had moments when his anger got the best of him and triggered the transformation. For instance, during an argument with a classmate in a corridor or after discovering new messages calling him a monster painted on a wall. But those moments were dwindling as Draco learned to avoid confrontation and as his anger transformed into defeat.

He still had nightmares about fires and lurking beasts. He had yet to decipher their meaning, but sometimes he woke up with wings and claws and shredded sheets. He missed breakfast those mornings because it took too long to calm down enough to suppress the Veela. If this happened on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays, Weasley would meet him in Charms with some toast and a handful of bacon.

The uncertainty of when he might transform and how long it would take him to transform back nearly drove Draco mad. He felt as though he was in a constant state of anticipation and on the verge of doing something reckless.

He still didn’t understand why Weasley stuck by him, especially if she was a compatible mate. There was no compulsion on her part to be with him, not like the bond Draco felt toward her. Sure, she’d given him an explanation months ago, but she had gone above and beyond the kind of help Draco had asked for. She’d fulfilled her part of the bargain and then some. Draco could not have asked anything more of her and never had. She volunteered her time and attention without Draco requesting them.

Despite his inability to understand her obligation to him, he was relieved—no, more than that… glad—that she continued to join him for flying practice and to conduct research with him in the library. He was even grateful to Granger. No matter how much she hated him, no matter how often she insisted she helped him for Weasley’s sake, Draco was indebted to her.

“I wish I could do more,” Draco said after a long pause.


“I wish I could control it. When it happens; how long I’m like this.” He gestured to himself, which drew her gaze. The comfortable heat under his skin intensified as she eyed his bare chest before looking up at his face. She turned back to the water quickly, her hair whipping over her shoulder with the sudden movement.

“Have you tried following your instincts instead of suppressing them?”

They looked at each other again, twin expressions of confusion burrowed in their brow, for neither of them had spoken.

“Luna?” Weasley climbed to her feet to peer over the side of the rocks opposite the clearing they used as their base for flying practice.

Draco tucked his wings in close, but he couldn’t do anything to hide how they loomed over his shoulders. His face, too, was impossible to hide while his clothes were down in the clearing, sitting on a lower rock.

Lovegood stepped back far enough to be seen over the brush she’d been digging through and waved. “Hullo!”

“What are you doing here?” Weasley asked. “Did you follow us?”

“No, I’ve been searching for gurdyroots around the edges of the lake because they typically grow near water. I quite miss having an infusion of gurdyroot with my breakfast.”

“What does that ward away? Lunacy?” Draco asked with a roll of his eyes.

Weasley glared and elbowed him.

“Gurdyroots don’t have magical properties, silly! I just like the taste. An infusion a day cleanses the bowels straight away, you know!”

“I wish I didn’t,” Draco muttered.

This time Weasley snorted. “Meet us on this side, will you?”

They climbed down from the rocks while Lovegood went around them, until they were all in the clearing together. Now Draco could see the basket Lovegood was carrying, which was filled with various root vegetables of disparate size and color.

“Did you know about this?” Draco shrugged his shoulders to indicate his wings, which opened and closed tetchily and of their own accord.

Lovegood tilted her head, her bulbous eyes on Draco. “About what?”

He stared incomprehensibly at her for a moment. “The wings? The beak? The fact that I’m barely human?”

“No. I just found out about it right now.”

Draco closed his eyes, his patience already wearing thin. This was why he preferred spending time with Granger and Weasley when Lovegood wasn’t around. She also seemed to irk Granger to the same degree, and as much as Draco enjoyed watching Lovegood obliviously push Granger’s buttons, Granger became insufferable when Lovegood was being herself.

Granger wasn’t around now, of course, which meant Draco couldn’t get any enjoyment out of Lovegood’s erratic behavior.

Weasley seemed to sense Draco’s short tether on his sanity because she stepped in—physically and verbally. “Then why did you say that? About Draco’s instincts.”

Lovegood shrugged. “I find magic works best when you do what it wants instead of forcing it to your will. You should try it sometime.”

“How in Slytherin’s name am I supposed to do that?” Draco asked.

“It’s harder for people like you, people who use magic as a tool instead of letting yourself be the tool for magic to use. Once you let go of the idea that you are in charge, it’s easy. It just happens. You don’t even have to think about it. And—” Lovegood leaned in, her voice lowering. Draco and Weasley couldn’t help but move closer to her as well. “You don’t even need to use a wand.”

“But that’s what a wand is for. If we don’t channel and control the magic, it becomes unpredictable and explosive.”

Lovegood was already shaking her head before Draco finished speaking. The expression on her face said, You poor sod! Don’t you know anything?

“You don’t need the wand to channel it. You just need to trust the magic to do the right thing. I saw you fall off those rocks over there; it’s the same idea. You’re not following your instincts because you don’t trust yourself or your wings. You’ll never fly if you don’t trust yourself not to fall.”

“Luna,” Weasley said, mouth falling open in admiration. “How do you know these things?”

A frown carved itself in Lovegood’s forehead. Her brows knit together in disapproval. “Because no one pays attention to their instincts anymore. When I do it, people call me Loony. Everyone would be able to fulfill their potential if they only listened to me!”

Draco shook his head in confusion as Lovegood—clearly offended, but by what, Draco couldn’t fathom—marched back to the other side of the rocks, presumably to continue her gurdyroot hunt. He and Weasley looked at each other, matching speculative expressions on their faces.

“I’m done falling for today,” he said. He was one fall away from giving up on flying, but this—whatever this was about to be—was his last-ditch effort to accomplish something.

Weasley nodded, seemingly understanding what Draco was saying. She sat down on one of the low rocks next to his dry clothes, her chin perched on her fist as she waited for him.

Draco drew closer to the water’s edge, stopping only when his feet met icy dirt. Closing his eyes, he straightened his back and took a deep breath, concentrating on how the breath felt when he sucked it in and then expelled it. He kept his hands loose at his sides, and with each breath more of his body relaxed.

He didn’t know what he was doing; he was just following his instincts.

Inspired by his dreams, he imagined a tiny flame flickering inside himself but growing bigger with each pull of air into his lungs. He imagined his magic living inside that flame, his life, his love, everything important to him but intangible.

The flame grew. It didn’t know where to go. It brushed against his internal edges, testing its boundaries, searching for a road to follow. So he imagined one within his veins and nudged that growing inferno toward the highways of his arteries. The flame took to its new path and curiously explored it.

Draco continued to breathe in and out, steady, controlled. He no longer felt the cold pressing against his naked torso. In fact, he had stopped shivering. The water that lapped against his feet felt as balmy as bath water.

A new sensation figured into the calculation of his growing instinct: a touch on his shoulder. Weasley’s hand.

“Draco,” she said, voice awed and soft, full of wonder.

His eyes opened.

His hands were on fire, but he didn’t feel the flames. His skin didn’t bake and peel. He was whole and he was a conflagration.

The beast from his dreams—realized.

As he raised one of his hands, the fire that surrounded it concentrated into a ball. Following his instincts, he drew his arm back and threw it like Quaffle, and the fireball sailed twenty feet over the lake, only to be extinguished when it touched the water.

“Well,” Weasley said as she looked up at him with shining eyes, “I guess you do have all the same powers as a full-blooded Veela.”

Drained and distracted by her proximity, the cold began to encroach on the heat he had generated, sending goosebumps up and down his exposed skin.

Weasley led him out of the water, her hands running over his arms, his shoulders, his wings, lingering within his palms as if to check that the fire had truly gone out. He assumed her touch was meant to be soothing, and in a way it was. In another way it just ignited him again.

He brushed her cheek with his cool fingers, prompting her to stop. “Weasley, I—”

“Oh, don’t mind me! I think I dropped some gurdyroots over here earlier. I just need to get those back.”

Draco and Weasley broke apart, almost guiltily, as Lovegood clambered through the bushes into the clearing again.

“Excuse me. I think you’re standing on my gurdyroot,” she said to Draco before shoving him aside. “Oh, no, that’s just a rock.”

Weasley snorted, which escalated into a giggle, and then full-blown laughter.

Draco watched as Lovegood walked around while peering at her feet, searching for her lost root vegetables. And then he couldn’t help it either—peals of laughter spilled out of his mouth, entwining with Weasley’s and echoing across the clearing.

Lovegood looked up in outrage. “Missing gurdyroots are no laughing matter!”

And then she disappeared back into the brush with a huff.

December descended upon Hogwarts with record-breaking accumulations of snow. The Hogwarts professors took advantage of the terrible weather by over-preparing their students for the Christmas holidays and loading them down with enough homework to distract them from the outside world they were missing out on.

Draco and Weasley had not had flying practice in weeks, not since the day Draco had created the fireballs in his palms. Instead, all of their free time was spent in the library revising for midterm exams that would be held hours before departing Hogwarts for Christmas.

Draco was in the middle of trying not to think about the upcoming holiday. He had already informed his mother that he would not be returning home, and the letter she had sent him in return had indicated he had made the best choice, even if she hadn’t said such in quite so many words.

He assumed Weasley would spend Christmas at home. Pansy of course planned to stay with him at Hogwarts, but Weasley’s absence would make the holiday in some ways agonizing. He itched underneath his skin every time he thought about being away from her, and that wasn’t necessarily a reaction borne from the bond between them.

Over the last three months, they had spent an inordinate amount of time together, whether in the library or out on the lake learning how to fall. He had grown… accustomed to her. That’s all it was, all it could be: good old fashioned familiarity. Draco would never say he was fond of her, because that would be downright absurd and it wasn’t true. So what if he laughed when he was with her? So what if he forgot what he was when they were together? Ginny Weasley did not make Draco feel like a monster. Instead, the sparkle he occasionally saw in her eyes as she regarded him made him feel like a miracle.

He didn’t deserve that kind of attention, but he craved it all the same. And he would miss it while she was away for the holiday.

Granger’s head popped up from where it had been resting in her arms on the table. “I forgot the incantation, Professor!” she cried, blinking sleep away owlishly.

Almost immediately, an admonishing Shhhhhhhh! came from the stacks. A split-second later, Madam Pince poked her head around a bookshelf to glare at their party.

Granger blinked some more as her grogginess faded and she realized she had fallen asleep while revising. She pulled her textbook up in front of her and lowered her head, her bushy hair and red forehead the only part of her visible.

Pansy stifled a snicker behind her own book, which wasn’t like her at all. She was normally quite open with her mockery. Draco didn’t dwell on that thought long, because the only one at the table who didn’t laugh at Granger was Weasley, who was frowning at a letter she had received at breakfast that morning.

“Has something happened?” Draco asked, his own amusement dying at the worry that crossed her face.

She sighed and laid the letter flat on the table. “I contacted the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures to inquire about any Veela that might have associated with your family.”

Granger peeked over her book, her blush well under control now. “Did they find something?”

“They wouldn’t talk to me. I asked Fleur to see if she could get some answers for me—I didn’t tell her about you, though.”

Draco nodded. By now he trusted her to be discreet.

“They did find something.”

“A link to a Veela in the Black family?” asked Longbottom, who had been informed of Draco’s condition soon after Lovegood had found out. At that point, hiding the secret from the last member of the group had seemed more difficult than just telling him, and Draco hadn’t trusted Lovegood not to blurt out the secret to Longbottom accidentally anyway.

“No,” Weasley said uneasily.

She met his gaze and searched his face for permission to continue.

“It’s fine,” he assured her. “We’ve all come this far. Go ahead.” Despite giving his consent, Draco still felt himself defensively building walls. His Occlumency shields snapped into place, even though there was no one left in the castle proficient in Legilimency anymore. His body straightened and tensed, bracing for impact. It all happened automatically, without Draco having to think about it.

Weasley sighed again, bolstering herself for the news she was about to deliver. “There is a Veela tied to your family but not the Black side of it.”

“The Malfoys?” Pansy said. “But, Draco, your father—”

No, Lucius Malfoy’s reaction made perfect sense now. The anger, the disgust, the unwillingness to speak about Draco’s transformations. His father hadn’t been angry that he had been duped into marrying into an impure bloodline. The secret of his own bloodline being tainted was in danger of being revealed by Draco displaying the traits and powers of a Veela. The very possibility had threatened Lucius, causing him to lash out. Of course he would be disgusted by Draco.

“What’s the connection?” he asked, his voice sounding distant and strange.

Weasley only had eyes for him. Her compassion rankled, but Draco wouldn’t revoke his permission. He was right; they had all spent too much time researching this topic to let Granger and Pansy’s curiosity go unresolved. Why not let Lovegood and Longbottom in on his dark family secret, too? Why not tell the whole world at this point?

“A complaint was filed with the Being Division in 1954. An old Veela, the leader of her tribe, appeared at Malfoy Manor claiming that Abraxas Malfoy had stolen her daughter and killed her. She would not leave Malfoy property until someone from the Ministry came and took her away. But before she left, she spoke a curse over your family.”

Lovegood gasped. “What kind of curse? Veela magic is extremely powerful, especially when used for acts of vengeance!”

Ginny pushed the letter toward the center of the table, and everyone leaned in to read it.

Draco scanned through Delacour’s letter until he found the part Weasley was talking about. According to whatever information Delacour had obtained from the Ministry, the curse had been one of reclamation. The Malfoys had stolen what was most important to the Veela and her tribe, so the curse would claim that life back from them. Draco read through the rest of the letter, but it didn’t explain what the curse meant.

He looked up to find Weasley frowning at him, not in displeasure, but with sympathy. “Your father was two months old at the time. He was mentioned in the report filed at the Ministry because the nanny had been distraught by the disturbance. I don’t want to speculate about something like this, but Nature’s Nobility mentioned that your grandfather and grandmother married in 1955….”

Draco didn’t see her point. “So?”

Weasley stared at him long and hard, with resolve, before saying, “Your grandparents were brunets, according to their portraits in Nature’s Nobility.”

“Yes, I remember their hair colors,” he snapped.

“Just spit it out, Weasley,” Pansy said. Her face had lost all its color, and she, too, looked as haunted as Weasley, as if she knew where this story was going.

“I could be wrong, all right? We’d need to do more research or make some more inquiries with the Ministry…. But I think your paternal grandmother was a Veela. Then she died, maybe in childbirth, and your Veela great-grandmother laid a curse on your family that would claim a life to replace the one lost. Your grandfather then married and passed off his wife as your father’s mother. I think the curse has claimed you. Maybe instead of killing you in order to claim your life, it turned you into a Veela, claiming your humanity instead.”

Granger sat up straighter, her book shield forgotten. “That’s quite a stretch for a single letter full of second- and third-hand information.”

But Draco felt the truth of it as surely as he felt the draw towards Weasley. There was something deep in his gut, in his blood, something primal and instinctual that sang after hearing Delacour’s findings. Draco had been cursed, his whole family had. He had been chosen for a reason he didn’t understand to deliver justice for a Veela tribe’s loss. A human life taken; a Veela life gained. Replaced. Had his great-grandmother understood that the curse would activate in this way?

“Draco, you’ve gone completely pale,” Pansy said, a note of alarm in her voice as she touched Draco’s cheeks.

He ducked away from her hands and stood. “I’m fine,” he lied. “In fact, I’m superb. So superb, I’m going to go do something else now.”

As he stumbled away from the table, he heard Pansy tell someone that he needed to be alone.

Too right. Alone. That’s exactly what Draco needed to be. How did Pansy always know?
falling by idreamofdraco
Author's Notes:

Last chapter finally!
chapter nine: falling

Alone was the last thing Draco needed to be.

When he’d left the library, he had wandered the halls of Hogwarts searching for a distraction.

He’d peeked his head inside the Room of Hidden Things, but after passing in front of it three times while thinking of what he needed, he’d found only charred junk inside the room in which Crabbe had been killed. Maybe his thoughts had not been clear enough or loud enough to produce a better result. Or maybe the room was broken, the magic forever sundered by the Fiendfyre Crabbe had summoned.

He trudged through the snow using his power of heat to raise his body temperature and keep himself warm. When he’d ended up at the Quidditch pitch, he’d turned right around and gone straight back to the castle. Flying— No. For as long as Draco remained attracted to Weasley, she and the act would always be tied together. He couldn’t fly without her.

At one point he’d stopped in the middle of a corridor and considered seeking out Finnigan. He didn’t think the drunk would be willing to share his drink with a monster, so he’d gone on, continuing his search. Draco was certain that Finnigan was the one painting the messages all over the castle. If that was true, then Draco was the last person with whom Finnigan would ever share his stash of contraband booze.

After an hour or so, Draco had ended up on top of the Astronomy Tower. And lo and behold—Weasley was waiting for him on the battlement. With alcohol. Draco could have kissed her.

He shuddered, the thought too pleasant for his dour mood. Now that the idea was in his head, he couldn’t help but play it to its ultimate conclusion and imagine her lips pressing against his. What would they feel like? What would they taste like? He would never know because she would never choose him.

Between the stairs and the battlement, Draco transformed, this skin feeling more comfortable around her than the one he was born in. He didn’t remember removing his robe or dropping it carelessly on the floor. The blast of frigid air didn’t faze him as he stepped outside. Nothing mattered anymore, not his clothes or his secret. Nothing except her.

The light from the setting sun cast Weasley in hues of orange, electrifying her hair. She approached him, raising a bottle of good old Ogden’s in greeting.

“I didn’t know the kitchens stocked this,” Draco said as she poured some of the honey-golden liquid into a glass.

“They don’t." She smiled. “This was a birthday gift from Ron.”

Draco opened his beak wide and poured the alcohol down his throat, letting it warm him from the inside. He could already do that himself, but it felt better when he didn’t have to concentrate on maintaining the warmth. “Ah,” he said. “And you’ve decided to share your gift with me?”

Weasley set the bottle at her feet and leaned against the parapet, sipping her own drink lightly. She shrugged. “Why not? Who else should I share it with?”

“Potter maybe.” He hated how petulant he sounded, hated that he couldn’t suppress it or hide it underneath the squawky undertone of his voice.

“Harry and I are done. I told him on Halloween.”

He looked up, interested. “How’d he take it?”

“With relief.” She sighed and shifted her feet. “We weren’t meant to be. He knew it; I knew it. We just didn’t know how to say it to each other.”

Draco’s heart thundered in his chest, pumping the alcohol through his veins faster. Or maybe that was his doing, the heat from his powers circulating through him without thought, without any effort on his part, just like Lovegood said it could.

“I’m glad,” he said, his voice dark, much deeper than it would have been had he been human at the moment.

“Are you?” Weasley stared at him, her expression searching. “What do you care about it? You can’t even antagonize Harry over it. It was a mutual decision.”

He wanted to laugh at himself and his self-pitying thoughts concerning the loneliness of the upcoming Christmas holiday earlier. The denial was impossible to continue in the face of Weasley’s wide brown eyes and the hope he thought he saw there. Draco wasn’t fond of her. No, he had moved far beyond fond into new and terrifying territory.

Before Draco could stop himself, words spilled out of his beak, lubricated by the alcohol. “I don’t care about Potter. I care about you.”

Her cheeks reddened, and Draco knew her ears would be even darker underneath her knit hat.

Closing her eyes with a grimace that resembled pain, she said, “That’s the bond talking.”

“It’s not.” He moved closer, taking her glass out of her hand and setting it on the nearby crenel. “I’m drawn to you, and I understand why now, but the bond doesn’t dictate my heart.”

She could have stepped away from him if she really wanted to. He was close now, but not so close that she couldn’t escape. The troublesome muscle that resided within his chest pounded, the sound loud in Draco’s ears.

“I’ve been so cruel to you,” she said, her voice cracking, her eyes remaining shut. “I know exactly what it’s like to not be in control of myself, to be afraid of what I am and what I’ve done. It was pure selfishness that made me keep seeing you when I knew you couldn’t control yourself around me. I’m so sorry for making things difficult and confusing.”

“The only thing that confuses me is whether or not you feel the same way about me as I feel about you.”

She looked at him. Draco held his breath while he waited for her response, his attention split between her luminous eyes and her mouth, which he so desperately wanted to kiss.

One of her hands rose to his face, her fingers brushing his beak and then cupping his cheek.

He had been practicing since Lovegood gave him that advice by the lake. For the last few weeks, he’d spent his free moments exploring the limits of his instincts. The practice had paid off enough that it was easy for Draco to keep the wings and claws out while transforming his Veela face back into his human one.

Weasley’s brow creased. “You don’t have to do that with me.”

“I know, but I want to kiss you with my own lips,” Draco replied before he tilted her chin up with a gentle, taloned finger and placed his mouth over hers.

As soon as their lips touched, an inferno came to life inside Draco. This time he was too overwhelmed to cull it or guide it, so he let it scorch him and he relished the burn.

Weasley ran her gloved hands along his chest, reaching behind him to explore his back and pull him even closer, until they were flush against each other, he half-dressed and she bundled up in her winter clothes. A groan of frustration escaped her lips and Draco swallowed it, sending a thrill down Draco’s spine and making his wings flare open.

A high-pitched scream pierced the night, and Draco and Weasley sprang apart in alarm.

Breaths heaving, they turned to find they were not alone on the battlement any longer. Padma Patil pressed herself against the wall of the tower, eyes wide open in fright, her wand drawn.

“I knew it! I always knew you were a monster!” she cried.

“Padma, please, we can explain,” Weasley said.

“No! What is there to explain? I’ve been trying to warn everyone about him for months because they seem to have forgotten what he’s done. The proof is right in front of me, and everyone should know!”

Draco’s mouth was dry now, his hands shaking as he raised them in defense. He tried to shift back into his human form to help de-escalate the situation, but he was frozen. The power he had controlled so easily a few minutes ago was now locked up inside him. He remained stuck in this half-Veela, half-human body.

Patil was sobbing now, her wand shaking as she swung it back and forth between Weasley and Draco.

Draco’s fear ratcheted up every time the wand stopped in front of Weasley. His left wing flexed slowly, attempting to shield her from view.

“I can’t believe you would be with him, Ginny!” Patil said as tears streamed down her face. “After everything we’ve been through because of him and his family! You don’t know what it was like this summer, when Parvati found out about Lavender. You don’t know what it was like to see your sister so broken because she hadn’t been there to help her best friend.”

“I do know what that’s like!” Weasley said, her voice hitching.

Draco couldn’t look away from Patil and her wand, but Weasley’s tears were obvious in her heavy breathing and stilted words.

“I lost my brother, too!” she continued. Then she moved forward, stepping around Draco’s wing. She was trying to approach and console Patil the same way her brother, Potter, Longbottom, and Thomas had captured Finnigan in Hogsmeade.

Patil stopped swinging the wand back and forth and instead aimed it at the encroaching threat. Her hand steadied as Weasley drew closer.

“I lost Fred and Colin, and my family lost so many friends. I know what it’s like to watch my family grieve and not be able to help them.”

“Then why?” Patil asked, her voice savage as she turned her anger on Weasley. Her vicious expression and her red, swollen eyes made her look just as inhuman as Draco. “I wrote those messages so people would stay away from him, so they would punish him. Why would you ever let him touch you? Why would you kiss him?”

You wrote the messages?” Draco asked. All this time he had assumed Finnigan was behind the painted warnings and Slytherin’s shattered hourglass because of what he’d seen on the grounds during the Sorting ceremony. Patil had been the culprit all along?

“Stop!” The wand swung back to Draco. “Don’t come any closer!”

“Padma, please,” Weasley begged.

“I said STOP!”

A bolt of light shot out of Patil’s wand. It happened almost in slow motion, but too fast for Draco to tell at whom the spell had been aimed. He turned, reaching for Weasley as she stared in horror at the oncoming attack. He managed to wrap his arms and his wings around her just before he was hit in the back. The force of the blast sent them over the parapet and falling through the sky.

Everything returned to normal speed when Weasley slipped out of his grasp and screamed. As if he was dreaming, he saw the snow-laden ground coming closer, saw her body smashing into the compact snow and heard the sickening thud of it in his mind as clearly as if it had already happened. He didn’t have time to think or be afraid. He had to act now.

As if she were a Snitch in a Quidditch match, Draco drew his arms and legs together, straightening his body and angling it towards the ground so that he sliced through the air instead of plunging like a rock. He managed to pick up enough speed to close the distance between them. Weasley’s arms flailed, reaching for him, and he grabbed onto one of her hands and jerked her up against his body. She scrambled for purchase, her gasps hot against his ear as she wrapped herself around him and secured her hold on his neck.

They continued to fall… fall… fall… The ground approached at breakneck speed… Draco opened his wings and they billowed like a parachute, stopping their fall suddenly enough to give them whiplash. The force of the wind strained the muscles of his back until he pulled himself upward, shooting straight up into the sky, completing a Wronski Feint without a broom. He stopped mid-air, his wings flapping to keep him aloft as both he and Weasley gathered their breaths.

A chorus of cheers sounded from the castle, and both Draco and Weasley craned their necks to see students’ heads peeking out of various windows, pointing at them and screaming to each other from differing levels.

“Draco! You’re flying!” Weasley breathed, returning her attention to the fact that they were hovering thirty feet in the air.

“I’m aware,” he said, but he was smiling widely, in relief at protecting her and evading death and in exultation at his success.

“How are you doing this?”

Draco didn’t have a straight answer. When they’d fallen, when he’d watched her slip out of his arms, the urge to protect her had taken over. As they had never done during flying practice, Draco and the wings had worked together to accomplish that goal.

“Instinct,” he said as he turned his shoulders and let the wind and the occasional flap of his wings carry them gently back to the ground. Weasley renewed her grip around his neck, which sent another thrill through him.

As they approached the front steps of the castle, more heads gathered in the windows, the amazement in their voices clear. Draco’s stomach sank at the realization that his secret was well and truly out. There was no hiding his wings or his identity now as he flapped two more times and landed feet-first in the snow.

He put Weasley down on shaky legs that refused to hold her.

“Just leave me here,” Weasley said, her breath heaving as if she was about to be sick. “I have no intentions of ever moving again.”

A clatter from the great oak doors revealed an army racing down the steps toward them, consisting of the Head Boy and Girl and the Headmistress and her Deputy Headmaster.

“Miss Weasley, are you quite all right!” Flitwick asked in alarm just as Granger fell to her knees next to her.

McGonagall stopped and placed her hands on her hips. “What happened here? Miss Weasley? Mr. Malfoy!”

“He flew, Professor,” Weasley answered, her voice weak. Just then, the contents of her stomach were dispelled through her mouth, landing in the snow and splattering on Flitwick’s robes.

“Miss Granger, please take Miss Weasley to the hospital wing at once!” McGonagall said, her voice stern in her concern.

Granger had already been in the process of helping Weasley to her feet.

As they passed Draco, the attentions of Macmillan, McGonagall, and Flitwick were drawn to the wings protruding from Draco’s back. The sight of his appendages either distracted them from the fact that Draco was standing in the December evening air shirtless or added to the absurdity of the scene.

“You too, Mr. Malfoy.” McGonagall’s voice shook with uncertainty. “To the hospital wing with you. We will continue our discussion after Madam Pomfrey looks you over.”

The block on Draco’s powers seemed to have been removed, because he suddenly had no trouble returning to his human form.

It was probably the shock from the whole ordeal that inspired his giddiness, but Draco treasured the sick expression on McGonagall’s face as she witnessed the wings shrinking and disappearing into his retreating back.

Ginny’s shoulder had been sprained when Malfoy grabbed her from the air, but she had been equipped with a sling and given a pain reliever. She would be good as new in a couple weeks as long as she did not over-extend her arm. Madam Pomfrey released Ginny and Malfoy into McGonagall’s care as soon as she ascertained that they had received no other lasting damage from their ordeal.

Two hours later, they left the headmistress’s office only to be met by a whole party of people:

Hermione, who was wringing her hands and pacing the width of the corridor. Luna and Neville talking quietly in front of a portrait. Parkinson, who had been glaring at the entrance to McGonagall’s office. Those four Ginny had expected to see. Unexpectedly, Parvati, looking very distressed, and Seamus, looking very angry, were also among the group.

They all stood at attention upon Ginny and Malfoy’s appearance from behind the stone gargoyle that guarded the entrance to the headmistress’s office. After a couple moments of silence, they all began throwing questions at them, the babble too confusing to decipher.

“Please, please! One at a time, please!” Ginny called.

Parvati rushed forward and began speaking in the lull caused by Ginny’s interruption.

“I’m so sorry, Ginny. Padma told me what she did. Professor McGonagall’s already spoken to her, and please don’t be angry with her. She did all of it for me, and it was wrong, but she’s sorry, I know she is!”

“If she’s so sorry, why isn’t she here groveling instead?” Malfoy seethed.

Ginny glanced at him to find his expression cold, his eyes flat, his brow and nose scrunched with utter derision. If looks could kill, his would freeze a person in place first so that frostbite could consume them whole. In contrast, his body heat began to rise in significant increments to be noticeable to Ginny through their robes, through her sling. She reached over and put a hand on his arm, hoping to help calm him, even though she knew her touch never had that effect. Her gesture of support could be the very gesture to make him shift into his Veela form, but it was a risk she had to take.

Malfoy clenched his teeth as he tore his eyes away from Parvati and focused on Ginny.

“She would have killed you,” he said, the timbre of his voice changing. Transforming. His anger was getting the better of him, and soon his lips would shift into the beak that went with the voice he’d just used.

A part of Ginny wondered if this was the bond between them talking. Was he angry because the magic that connected them couldn’t bear for the bond to break? Or because he truly cared about Ginny? There was so much still to learn about Malfoy as a Veela—and Malfoy as a man.

Parvati, clearly overwhelmed with emotion, burst into tears. Malfoy’s arm trembled beneath Ginny’s hand. Any moment now the Veela would come out, and though his dual-identity would be impossible to hide after tonight’s heroics, this still wasn’t an appropriate time or place to introduce Ginny’s friends to the creature underneath his skin.

Ginny removed her hand and placed it high on Malfoy’s back, stroking reassuringly between each shoulder blade where his wings would protrude in his Veela form.

“Your father would have killed me, too, but I don’t blame you for that. And you would have killed Dumbledore, if you could have, on the very same tower. But your father didn’t succeed, and neither did you, and neither did Padma.”

She kept her voice low and soothing, like she had months ago when rescuing the injured Augurey in a Care of Magical Creatures lesson.

“What Padma did isn’t Parvati’s fault. And we can’t blame Padma for being scared or angry, can we? Can you understand how desperate she must have felt?”

Second by second, the tension in his body began to relax until Malfoy nodded at Ginny as if to say he was in control of himself again.

When she turned back to the gathered group, there were a lot of wide-eyed stares and some gazes averted in discomfort. Parvati couldn’t quell her blubbering, and it was the only sound in the corridor.

“I’m just so sorry,” she said. “I’d give anything to take back what she did.”

“You don’t have to—” Ginny began to say, but Malfoy ushered her past Parvati, but not without stopping to offer her a warning.

“Your sister only saw half of what I am. Both of you better pray you never see me at full power. You will if you ever come near me or Ginny again.”

The color drained from Parvati’s face, and she turned and fled down the corridor.

“Parvati—!” Ginny turned, torn between going after Parvati and castigating Malfoy for terrorizing her, but he wouldn’t remove his hand from her back, and she could feel the pinpricks of his burgeoning talons through her clothes. Suddenly, her energy began to flag. The events of the evening had caught up with her well over an hour ago, and the painkiller she’d taken for her shoulder was wearing off. Patching things up with Parvati would have to wait until tomorrow, after a night of much needed rest. Or maybe the day after. Possibly after Christmas hols.

“Was that necessary?” Seamus asked.

Malfoy shoved past Neville, Luna, Hermione, and Parkinson without stopping, but Seamus followed behind, his voice rising in frustration.

“Does it feel good to frighten girls with your crazy eyes and possessed voice?”

Malfoy spun on his heel to face Seamus, and Ginny, still in Malfoy’s grasp, was getting dizzy from all the movement.

“You forget, I’ve seen the full of you. No matter how much I drink, I can’t forget what I saw. You must love—”

Malfoy put a taloned hand on Seamus’s chest and shoved hard enough to send him sprawling against a wall, the breath knocked out of him.

“Malfoy, please don’t,” Ginny said. Her voice was weak with exhaustion.

Malfoy spun in a circle, meeting the eyes of each person who had waited for them outside of the headmistress’s office, waiting to judge, to interrogate, or whatever it was that had brought them to this corridor tonight.

“Let me make one thing clear,” he said, addressing the group as a whole, even Seamus, who hadn’t fled like Parvati but kept his distance. “I jumped off a tower to save Ginny, not because I’m a nice man, but because the thought of existing without her is like… like….” He shook his head, trying to find words.

Ginny swallowed compulsively to loosen her throat, which had grown so tight at the sudden appearance of despair on Malfoy’s face. The rage had receded as quickly as it had been stoked to life, replaced with utter desolation at the mere thought of a future without Ginny in it. She blinked quickly to dispel an onslaught of tears. Was this the bond? Or was this her? She had to know.

“Like sitting a little too closely to a fire, so closely you can feel your skin begin to burn. But you can’t move away because not only is that fire keeping you warm, it’s the only thing keeping you alive. A life without Ginny would be like someone dousing that fire with ice cold water, extinguishing it before you’re ready, and then feeling colder than you did before the fire came to life.”

When Malfoy looked up, he met everyone’s eyes again. Everyone’s except Ginny’s. “She’s the fire. Don’t you get it? The thought of her flame going out….” He shuddered, his entire body wracked with a tremendous shiver. “I would do anything to keep her flame alive. I’ll scare whoever I have to scare. I’ll threaten whoever I have to threaten.” He looked at Seamus. “Frightening Patil didn’t feel good. It felt necessary.”

And now—finally—he looked at Ginny. “And I will not apologize for it.”

At his declaration, Ginny could do nothing but shake her head in agreement. At least, until the niggling fear that had burrowed inside her during their last Hogsmeade visit made itself known, and she quietly said, “What about Parkinson?”

“Me?” Parkinson seemed shocked to be acknowledged.

Ginny’s face heated all the way to the tips of her ears. “I thought… well, I guess I assumed that you and Malfoy….”

Now that she’d voiced her worry aloud, it felt insecure and ridiculous. Malfoy hadn’t made any declarations about how necessary Parkinson was to him. He’d said those things about Ginny. He’d jumped off a building without knowing if he could fly... for Ginny.

As Ginny’s meaning became clear, laughter burst out of Parkinson, as raucous as hyena cackles. “You think I am Draco’s mate? Me?” She laughed some more as if she couldn’t help herself.

“You’re not affected by his charm, just like me. I thought—”

“You have nothing to fear from me, Weasley.” Parkinson’s laughter subsided, but an amused smile still lingered on her lips and in the tears of mirth that sparkled at the corners of her eyes. “Granger said it herself, didn’t she? The charm is activated by sexual attraction, and as much as I’m sure it disappoints Draco, I am not sexually attracted to him. Or men at all. In fact, I’m partial to bushy-haired know-it-alls with a penchant for research.”

You are?” Ginny, Hermione, and Malfoy said at the same time.

“But I’m with Ron!” Hermione added, her cheeks flushing with color.

Parkinson shrugged, her smile stiffening, the mirth in her eyes diminishing. “I’m aware. Luckily, I’m not a Veela. I can handle my feelings being denied.”

Everyone was staring, and Malfoy… his expression was one of faint distaste. “Granger?” he said in disbelief.

Ginny smacked him with her good arm at the same time Parkinson’s head nodded jerkily and she began to back away.

“I think I’m done here. We’ll catch up later.” She wrapped her arms around herself for just a moment before dropping them to her sides and striding off down the corridor, her head held high.

It didn’t escape Ginny’s notice that Hermione watched Parkinson’s retreat, brow furrowed in thought. Ginny was not surprised when Hermione looked back at her and said, “I just came to hear what the Headmistress had to say. But we can talk later, can’t we?”

“Of course,” Ginny replied.

Hermione left in the same direction Parkinson had gone. A moment later, Luna followed her without an explanation for her departure, only waving at Ginny and Malfoy in dismissal.

“Is that what you are, then? A Veela?” Seamus asked, eyes wide in shock.

Ginny jumped. She’d forgotten Neville and Seamus were still there.

Malfoy’s scowl grew even more severe, but Seamus kept talking. “I wondered. I told Dean what I saw that night during the Sorting Ceremony, and he said I was too shit-faced to know what I saw. I wanted to say something every time I ran into you, but I thought I’d made it all up.”

“Congratulations. You didn’t.”

Seamus squared up with Malfoy, and Ginny shifted her body, ready to put herself between the two before they could put hands on each other.

“I don’t blame Padma for trying to expose you. She was right all along. I don’t need to be drunk to see the monster you are.” He turned to Ginny, his glare making her flinch. “I drink because I can’t forget what last year was like without Dean, wondering if he was okay, if he’d even survive. Malfoy was a part of that, so I don’t understand this, Ginny. Why him?”

Malfoy tensed next to her, but he didn’t move, didn’t make a sound. She could feel the tension in him, feel the way he held himself together, not only by maintaining his human form, but by refraining from attacking Seamus for his cheek in asking such a question.

Neville watched her, too, eyes wary. He’d spent the last few weeks helping to research male Veela, ever since he’d been filled in on Malfoy’s secret after Luna found out. He knew Ginny was Malfoy’s mate, but she couldn’t blame him for being curious about why she helped him, why she accepted him.

“I don’t know,” Ginny said, voice soft. “It started out as fascination. Curiosity. Intellectual interest. It grew into something more.”

She didn’t know what this was, why she was attracted to him despite everything he’d done before and during the war. Ginny would have to come to terms with that if she wanted to pursue this with him—whatever this was.

There was something about the creature within him, something Ginny couldn’t deny appealed to her. She thought of the intensity in his eyes when he looked at her, the tightly coiled tension that he kept leashed in her presence, the way she’d felt in their first Potions class together when he’d sat down next to her, unable to sit anywhere else except the seat to her direct right. That kind of attention from Draco Malfoy might have sent another girl running, but Ginny had sensed the danger and had been intrigued by it instead.

She recalled the expression that transformed his face for a split-second every time he’d seen those messages painted on the walls of Hogwarts, the dismay and terror. Not anger. Fear. He’d never retaliated, not even when Padma revealed herself as the author of those messages. His priority had been Ginny’s safety, not revenge.

Every time he’d failed at flying, falling out of the air and into the water, he’d always returned the next day or the next weekend for another attempt. There was something admirable about him failing and trying again, never giving up even though she knew he had been tempted to on several occasions, even though she knew he would have in the past.

And then there was what she’d told him before their first flying lesson, about how no one had ever asked Ginny for help before. She had never felt needed the way Malfoy needed her, whether he needed her to help him figure out what and who he was, needed her to help him learn to fly, or needed her near him because the bond between them deemed them compatible and demanded her proximity.

But none of that explained why fascination had turned into attraction, why his Veela intensity had never frightened her, why she’d craved his kiss over common sense. Maybe that’s why she was his mate. Maybe the magic that made Ginny charming to Malfoy found something inexplicable about her that was perfect for him. Because the Veela charm didn’t work on her, it was up to Ginny to explore for herself whether he was perfect for her as well.

She’d locked gazes with Malfoy the whole time she’d been considering her response further, and she only looked away when Seamus huffed in annoyance. Maybe at her lack of an answer, maybe at the gross way she and Malfoy had been staring at each other.

Her cheeks flushed as she looked at Seamus and Neville. “Why Malfoy? Because I chose him. If that’s not a good enough answer for you, then I’m sorry, but it’s the only answer I have.”

She turned back to Malfoy, who had inhaled sharply at her words, though his expression remained blank to the untrained eye. “Until he gives me a new reason to change my mind, I choose him.”

He swayed toward her, but he maintained control. Ginny couldn’t have that, not after the declaration she’d just made. She took his hand, her heart so much lighter than it had been since the kiss on the Astronomy Tower. Tugging him closer, she lifted up on her toes to press her mouth to his—

“Gross,” Seamus said with a noticeable tone of disgust. “Can’t you wait until we’ve gone to do that?”

Ginny paid no mind to their audience once Malfoy’s mouth slanted against hers, his arms wrapping around her. The thrill that went through her as he deepened her kiss and tightened his hold felt a lot like falling.

Luckily, Malfoy was there to catch her.

Draco reread his letter one more time before folding it up and sealing it with wax. His mother deserved to know the information Fleur Weasley had obtained from the Ministry about his heritage. Ever since he’d returned to the Slytherin common room after dropping Weasley off at the Gryffindor portrait hole, he’d pored over his mother’s letters in search of some sign that she had known about his Veela grandmother. After rereading each letter twice, he was fairly certain that Narcissa Malfoy had been kept in the dark about the impure bloodline into which she had married.

Draco didn’t know what his information would do, if it would impact her relationship with his father in any way, but he could not let her continue to fret over Draco’s mysterious condition needlessly. At least that one worry could be assuaged by his news.

He planned to go to the Owlery before class the next morning to have the letter sent off. Tonight he needed rest. The last six hours had felt as long as days, and his whole body ached, particularly his arms and shoulders, from carrying himself and Weasley on wings unaccustomed to flying.

He groaned as he climbed into bed, the soft mattress and cloud-like duvet heaven on his sore body. It didn’t take long for him to fall asleep, as suddenly and violently as he and Weasley had fallen off the Astronomy Tower.

He landed amongst flames—the nightmare that had plagued him since his birthday. Automatically he flinched away from the fire that surrounded him, but he was unable to avoid the fire that consumed him. Hands rising to inspect himself, he realized that this time he wasn’t burning. The flames tickled his hands with the same sensation he’d felt by the lake when he’d conjured fireballs for the first time. There was no agony, no baking or peeling or melting skin.

Draco felt right at home.

He glanced around at his surroundings and quickly became aware of the beast he’d never seen before, still hiding within the blaze. As soon as he acknowledged its presence, all of the flames disappeared, revealing the sitting room at Malfoy Manor and a Veela standing in the middle of it, her wings tucked against her back.

She turned, and Draco gasped at the inhuman beauty, the beaked face, the black eyes. Is this how Pansy saw him when he transformed? Weasley? Without the Veela charm to compel them, how had they ever had the courage to stay with him through the many transformations they had witnessed?

The Veela suddenly shifted, her wings flaring and then disappearing as if in a flash of light. Draco blinked and in her place stood a woman—the Veela’s own human form. There was something about her face that was familiar. Perhaps the angular jaw? The pointed nose?

“Are you… my grandmother?” Draco asked, his voice raw and squawky, though he was fairly certain he was still human.

She nodded. A smile crossed her lips as she raised a hand and placed it on her heart. Holding the gesture, she bent at the waist in a shallow bow. Draco returned her greeting, understanding it as gratitude, but for what he didn’t truly comprehend.

As he straightened from his bow, a wash of sadness overcame him for the young life that had been taken, the grandmother he would never know. Would the Malfoys have been different people if this woman had raised Lucius instead of the woman Abraxas Malfoy had passed off as Lucius’s mother? There was no way to know.

Suddenly, she was standing right in front of him, smiling with sharp, vicious teeth. She touched Draco’s heart as if to say, I live in you.

Now that he could control his powers, maybe living in her memory was not such a bad way to live his life.

She nodded again and disappeared in a burst of flame, like a phoenix.

He slept peacefully through the night. When he awoke, refreshed for the first time in months—perhaps even years—the thought occurred to him that flying and falling were basically the same act. The only difference between them was the landing.

And Draco planned to land on his feet.


End Notes:

I of course meant to update this a lot sooner, and I didn't think rewriting the last chapter would take so long. But, you know, Corona didn't help. If anyone read this fic during the fic exchange in 2018, the last chapter isn't much different from the original last chapter. The only part that got a good rewrite was the section in the middle, and all I did was expand it a bit so it wouldn't feel so rushed and to better tie off some loose ends.

I've included the original prompt down below in case you want to see what I was working off of. As I mentioned during the exchange: I took a particular liberty with the prompt in the concept of Ginny being one of potentially many mates for Draco. It was important to me that Ginny have a choice in this, and that Draco have enough choice not to make Ginny feel pressured to be with him, which I think would happen if she were his ‘one’ and he could never have or want anyone else. Soulmate bonds don’t give anyone any choice, and while I do adore the trope despite the lack of choice, I had a hard time writing it myself, especially in a Hogwarts setting. And so we have Draco and Ginny choosing each other, as you’ve just read in this story. :)

I hope you enjoyed the ride! Thank you for reading!

Noelle's Prompt 3:
Basic premise: veela!AU—Draco Malfoy is livid when he discovers he has Veela blood on his eighteenth birthday. Especially since he already agreed to go back to Hogwarts for his 'eighth' year, at his mother's insistence. And when he spots Ginny Weasley back at school, he quickly realizes who his mate is. Of course.
Must haves: curious and sympathetic!Ginny, snarky but vulnerable!Draco, a solid Ginny/Hermione friendship, a solid Draco/Pansy friendship
No-no's: Trio bashing, HP/HG
Rating range: Any
Bonus points: Ginny and Draco bond over her first year and why she hates the idea of anyone not being in control of their feelings/body; Hermione is the first person to realize why Draco is acting so strange around Ginny; smut; Harry and Ron meet everyone during a Hogsmeade trip and are surprised to see Draco is a part of the group.

This story archived at http://www.dracoandginny.com/viewstory.php?sid=7620