Thestralskin

BY : Lomonaaeren
Category: Harry Potter > Slash - Male/Male > Harry/Draco
Dragon prints: 894
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I am not making any money from this story.

Title: Thestralskin
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Pairing: Harry/Draco, one-sided Lucius/Draco, past Lucius/Narcissa, James/Lily
Rating: PG-13
Content Notes: Incest, attempted rape, minor character death, massive AU, fairytale AU
Wordcount: This part 5100
Summary: Draco discovers his father, a powerful Lord, wishes to marry him after his mother’s death. He flees to the ruins of a castle with a forest full of shadows next to it, a small herd of thestrals roaming the ruins…and a mysterious green-eyed boy who comes to fly his broom over it. Based on the fairytale “Donkeyskin.”
Author’s Notes: This is one of my Advent fics, and pretty AU in several ways that will be revealed as the story goes on. Please don’t read this if you’re sensitive to scenes of attempted non-con.

Thestralskin

There was a boy, once, who had hair like gold and eyes like silver, and a heart like coolest jade.

He lived in a lordly manor, the boy did. He had two parents who both loved him very much. The woman had eyes like silver, too, and hair like the blaze of an icicle when the sun shines through it, very early in the morning. The man had eyes and hair both of silver.

And though they loved the boy, perhaps it would be more accurate to say they loved each other more. The woman’s wisdom and beauty were the husband’s treasures. He would spend hours in her bedroom doing nothing but brushing her hair, marveling at the silken trailing of it across his hands. She would look at him in the mirror and smile.

Nor was the woman less in love with her husband. They would walk together through the gardens, and their laughter would ring out among the roses, and the boy would look up from his studies—in numbers and letters and curses and beasts and plants—and wonder.

They never laughed like that around him.

*

Through eight summers and nine winters the boy lived in the manor, and knew his parents as smiling shadows. But then he woke one morning when the spring sunlight was pouring through the windows, and saw his father standing next to his bed with a pale face.

“Get up.”

The boy stood and moved towards his father, wondering what was wrong. He had often seen his father look like metal, but never like marble.

The father pushed down with his hands on the boy’s shoulders, and the boy winced. Perhaps the father was sorry for that later. It is not a thing that can be known.

But right then, he was not sorry. He said, “Your mother’s going, Draco.”

Draco was bewildered. Just as he himself did not leave the manor for the wild lands that lay beyond, neither did his mother. Their bargain with the fey brought them all they needed, jars of sparkling cool milk and plates of fresh biscuits and shining robes and all the rest of it, to their front stoop. The furthest Draco had ever gone from the manor was to walk around the garden brimming with white peacocks.

“Where is she going?” he asked, as was natural for a boy so young and sheltered.

For a moment, his father’s hands grew heavier. Then he said, “She’s dying.”

“But how?” Draco was young enough that he didn’t really understand death, although now and then a peacock egg failed to hatch, and sometimes a stalking wild cat leaped over the walls and killed a bird. “Did she go outside and get hurt by a cat?”

“No. She’s dying of a very dreadful and terrible thing that burned her magic up from the inside.” Father’s hands grew heavier. “And you must come and see her.”

Draco shrank at that. He was a very little boy, he was more sheltered than he knew, and he no more understood this new thing shattering his peace than the peacocks understood when they ended their lives beneath quick claws. “Do I have to? I don’t want to!”

“You must.”

That was the first time the father had ever been so harsh with his son. Draco stumbled, weeping, in front of Father, and stopped in front of the massive door that he had only seen once or twice. That had been when he visited his mother in the morning so she could give him a few lessons on braiding a woman’s hair. But Father always took over those lessons and shooed him out.

Now the massive door, carved with delicate stepping deer that had long necks and blue jewels for eyes, opened, and Father drew Draco irresistibly into the room to see what lay on the bed.

It did not look like Mother. That comforted Draco in some depth of his soul that he couldn’t speak at his age. He trod softly nearer and stared. The being on the bed wasn’t even Mother’s height. It was small, and pale, and twisted as if with age, fingers clasped around something made of stone in its hands. The hair was withered and so pale that it looked white. Draco leaned nearer to see what it was holding.

It was a pendant, he realized. A glittering sapphire sunrise in a setting of gold, with marble backing it. Mother always said that was so it was a durable sunrise, and could never be destroyed.

Mother never took it off.

Draco sobbed and stumbled back from the bed as the figure took a rattling breath. Father caught him and shoved him forwards again, but Draco wouldn’t go. It was suddenly real, and the small pale thing on the bed was Mother after all, because she would never have taken her necklace off.

“You must look. These are her final moments.”

“I’m not looking! I hate it!”

And Draco, just after he witnessed his mother’s last breath, tore free and ran out of the room, into the gardens, where the peacocks stalked back and forth, tails spread. Draco sat and watched them, trying to make out the pale blue eyes on their shining white feathers. He watched and watched, and had almost forgotten when Father came up beside him and dropped a heavy hand on his shoulder.

“We must be all in all to each other, now that your mother is gone.”

Draco said nothing. He bowed his head and let his pale hair fall around his face, while his finger picked at a stick that was lying at his feet.

Father actually let him sit there and grieve for longer than Draco had thought he would. This only proved he didn’t understand his father yet. And at last he did have to rise and go back into the house, and learn the spells that would prepare a body for burial. Father said he would someday have to bury his own spouse and perhaps even his children.

He gave Draco a hard look when he spoke about the “spouse.” Draco didn’t notice.

*

As he grew older, Draco learned. But he did not learn perhaps the most vital thing of all, how to read his father.

He only knew that Father had meant it when he said they had to be all in all to each other now that Mother was gone, and that was reassuring in an odd way. Now he was learning many more things than he ever had when they were together, his parents, and banished him to his bedroom to play or read. He learned curses and hexes, the ways of magical creatures, the proud history of the Malfoy family, the reasons that pure blood mattered.

He learned the history of the disastrous last war, when the hero Lord Voldemort had led an uprising against the crushing, stifling Light that wanted to destroy the soft, welcoming Darkness. He had confronted the epitome of that “Light” on the grounds of the greatest wizarding school to ever exist, Hogwarts. If he could take Hogwarts, then he would make it a center of Darkness and teach the others in their world the embrace of the shadows and how to overcome the poor humans who were not wizards.

But something had gone wrong. That was all Draco could find in the phrasing of it, which was straight from Father’s own lips; all of his history books were older than that and didn’t discuss the war. Dumbledore, the old Light Lord, had prepared some kind of trap, and when Lord Voldemort struck the victorious blow, that trap sprang.

“Fueled by an old man’s treachery,” Father said, staring out into the garden where the peacocks pranced. “The fool could never stand to lose.”

It was such a wondrous thing to Draco, that his Father had actually known the heroic Dark Lord and the dastardly Light Lord. It all seemed like ancient history to him, sitting there among the flowers, in the brightness.

Father looked aside and told him the rest of the tale in a hushed, horrified voice. How the magic of the Light spread out from the castle, scalding and burning all those who had followed the Dark Lord. But the Darkness itself had risen, as wild magic from the earth, and it had smothered, as it ran, those who had their allegiance to the Light. In the end, only those who could wield both kinds of magic, and those creatures who were beyond either, had survived. Many Dark wizards had died that day, and Hogwarts school and the village of Hogsmeade were in ruins. The rest of the magical world had been burned by similar fires, and had decayed quickly.

If Father and Mother hadn’t already been married, Draco would probably never have been born. They weren’t about to venture out into the burning world for anything. Their house-elves went for them when they had to have something that didn’t grow in their gardens or couldn’t be made by the clever hands of the fey they bargained with.

But then Father told Draco that he would have to have a spouse someday. Draco cowered and said the first thing that came to mind. Because there was one world of stories and that was fine, he loved stories, but he didn’t want it to intrude into the world of reality.

“Father, how can I? You couldn’t do it, and you’re an adult wizard and a lot more experienced than me!”

Father gave him a slight smile that Draco didn’t understand. His eyes were distant and bright, and for a minute Draco thought there was a fire burning in the garden and throwing red shadows on his face. Then he blinked and the moment was gone. There were never fires in the gardens except sometimes in autumn when the elves burned dead leaves and flowers.

“You will understand when the time to secure a spouse comes,” Father said, and would say no more.

Draco knew, later, that he should have questioned that silence.

*

Years passed, and Draco grew. He knew he would soon arrive at the age of seventeen, which meant that he would assume the proper mantle of Malfoy heirship that was denied him now. He already had a wand, chosen from a store of ancestors’ wands. Lucius had told him to take the one that bonded with him best.

In the end, Draco thought, he had picked the one that felt the least irritated to be chosen by someone else. But he could cast powerful curses and hexes with it, and defend himself against the opponents his father’s magic conjured, and although he didn’t at all like the thought of going into battle, he knew he could get far enough away in enough time to Apparate. Father had taught him how to Apparate when he was twelve.

Sometimes Draco sat in the gardens and looked at the towering walls of white stone. Father had shown him old diagrams of the Manor that said they used to be lower, once upon a time, but Father had raised them higher with blood magic when the fires broke out.

It occurred to Draco that he had never wondered what was beyond them. He had no desire to travel the world like the heroes in some of his favorite wizarding tales.

But Draco only shrugged when he realized that. He would have liked to see some things, but they were all in ruins. And he had no desire for battle. Why not remain in Malfoy Manor and have a pleasant rest of his life?

*

“It is time for you to take a spouse.”

Draco started and looked up. He was wearing a soft crown of woven peacock feathers on his head, hanging down from the silver circlet that Father had presented him with for his seventeenth birthday. Draco thought it an odd gift, even with all he had read about ancient customs for coming of age when the wizarding world was still intact.

He had no idea how odd. But then, he had never seen anything odd in the way Father’s gaze lingered over him, either.

“How can I do that if I can’t leave the Manor, Father?” Draco asked, and then a thought occurred to him. There were still scrying bowls that his ancestors had used, gleaming silver basins trembling with a liquid that was not water, fastened to the pedestals in the upper corridors. Draco had no gift for the Sight, but he knew Father could pass them and they would tremble. “Are you going to scry for a spouse for me, Father?”

“I did last night. And the water told me what I already knew.”

“Shall I have to go on a quest for a bride?” Draco was still young enough to be excited by the idea of quests. Young wizards and witches often are.

“You shall not.” Father’s gaze was as straight and cold as an icicle. “You shall wed me.”

And Draco paused. Because in all the cloudy romances he had read of the wonders of the wizarding world before the fallen age that they were living in, he had never once read of a father wedding a son. Mothers and fathers wedded each other. They had children. The children grew up and perhaps they lived in the same place as their parents, but they never married one of them.

“You’re joking, Father,” Draco said. He stated it experimentally. He tried a laugh. The laugh died in his throat. Still Father sat there and stared at him, and there was no sign of a joke in his cloudy, luminous eyes or otherworldly stare. Draco shook his head. “You must be joking—you can’t be—”

“I can’t be serious?” Father’s lips peeled back from his lips. Draco had never seen a werewolf, or he would have known the only other creatures in the world that smiled like that. “Whyever not? Who else is there for you to wed, Draco? Would you trust any woman you could find in the wider world to be a scion of the true, pure Dark?”

“You can’t—Mother wouldn’t have—”

“Your mother wished for nothing but that I wed someone as beautiful and pure as she was,” Father interrupted. “And in all the world, there is no one like that but you. My son.” He paused and then added, “She would have thought you honored.”

Draco found a small set of words that had been hiding at the bottom of his lungs. “I don’t want to.”

Father folded the napkin in front of him in small, precise squares, all the while looking Draco in the eye, holding that cold gaze. “I am afraid that what you want no longer matters.”

Draco stood, shaking, with his hand on the back of the chair. He wanted to say that he would run away, that he would tear into the world with nothing but the clothes on his back and the wand in his hand if he had to.

But Father’s gaze put a stop to that as well. Because Father controlled the wards around the Manor, and he would shut Draco in if he had to. He controlled the dungeons, and he would make chains snap shut around Draco’s wrists if he had to. He controlled the house-elves, and he would make them cage Draco in his room and starve him to death until he agreed to the marriage.

If he had to.

Answering his thoughts, Father said simply, “I would prefer not to have to. You are very beautiful, Draco, with a shine that you do not see, because you have never had anyone else to compare it to. I would prefer not to mar your beauty by breaking something in you.”

“You would break my spirit,” Draco whispered.

Father’s face seemed to melt a little. But only seemed. “You will be very happy once you are married, darling. To me. You will see.”

Draco backed a step away, and another. Father only sat and watched him tolerantly. “Marriage is an adult thing,” he said, “and you are shedding the last of your childhood. I will wait until you are ready. For all that, our wedding date will not be distant. You will be surprised how fast the time flies by.”

Draco turned and hurried out of the room. He knew he couldn’t run. He knew he could do nothing but feel the walls closing in around him.

He knew it must not be.

And he knew that it was.

*

Oddly, it didn’t take Draco long to decide what he was going to do. He didn’t know why he hadn’t thought of it when he was standing to confront his father in the dining room, but he was glad he hadn’t. That meant there was no chance of Lucius reading it out of his mind or noticing a change in his behavior.

Draco packed carefully. He couldn’t take many clothes, or Lucius—not Father, never again—would suspect something. He took robes that he didn’t wear as often, that needed Warming or Preservation Charms put on them because they weren’t woven into the cloth like so many of the clothes he owned. And he took small preserved jars of food that the house-elves brought him. They thought it was just ordinary food, but Draco would preserve the biscuit or the bread or the cheese and tuck it into a jar that was also enchanted to hold all contents perfectly stable and unchanging.

He would have to find some place to land and ask for food when he ran out. The thought made him want to throw up. But not as much as marrying Lucius did, so he kept on.

And he kept the one thing most vital to his plan out of sight. There was no chance that he was going to let Lucius notice it and take it away. Let Lucius think for right now that Draco was just too depressed to do anything but hide in his room.

Draco waited.

And waited.

*

But he was still taken by surprise when he woke in the darkness one night and found a hand clamped over his mouth. He tried to scream, shaking and thrashing, but it didn’t work. Lucius bore down harder, his hand as cold as the wind that blew across their Quidditch pitch in the autumn, and then he groaned and climbed into bed with Draco.

He was naked, wearing only his swinging, shining hair.

Draco convulsed. His magic bled out through his skin and hurled the room into shadowy blue light. That froze Lucius in his position, his mouth gaping slightly.

Whether he was wary of Draco’s strength or simply didn’t like seeing what he was doing didn’t matter to Draco. He convulsed and shouted again, and finally managed to shove his father off the bed. He crawled into an opposite corner of the room and stood there, trembling, naked himself, with the blue light making the room look as if they stood under a full moon on a snowfield.

He knew he would never sleep naked again.

Lucius sat up next to the bed and gave him a long, stern, disappointed look. “This is the only way,” he said. “There is nothing else for you.”

Draco’s body shook with unaccustomed fury. Lucius stared at him, lips parted. If Draco could have seen from the outside how he looked then, with beauty illuminating his face even more than the magic, he might have understood his father’s fascination.

But he could not, and that was important. “And nothing else for you,” he hissed back, “except to get out.”

In the end, Lucius inclined his head and went. Draco waited until the door shut and he couldn’t hear footsteps in the corridor anymore, until the blue magic died from his skin and left him shaking like a star cast to earth.

Then he moved.

He couldn’t stay any longer. He couldn’t wait for the best moment. He snatched up the trunk with the robes he would be taking and the preserved jars of food, shrank it all, and took out his broom from the closet. When he climbed onto it, it shuddered a little beneath him, as if it sensed his desire to fly and shared his wish to never come back.

Draco opened his window and flew out.

He had done this so many times before that for a moment, as he watched his shadow skimming over the neatly-trimmed grass beneath him, he thought he could fly in circles for a while and then come back, and everything would be as it was before Mother had died. But then he saw the white shade of her tomb, and he shuddered and aimed the broom.

Straight up.

Lucius controlled the wards around the house and grounds and wouldn’t drop them for anything, but his control of them grew weaker the further up one went. Or at least that was what Draco was hoping, based on a faint memory of a time he had chased the Snitch too high when he was seven and received a tremendous scolding for “going beyond the wards.”

Draco had never known he had been. And he had never wanted to go beyond the wards before, into the world overrun with Muggles and with no safe sanctuaries left for magical people.

But now he rose.

The air grew thinner around him. The stars seemed to shine as clearly as the blue light that had come through his body. The moonlight was a shimmer on his skin. Draco shuddered and wished it was the sun. He had to bend over and grip the broom handle with hands gone almost numb.

He wished he’d thought to bring gloves. But this wasn’t something one could exactly plan for.

Higher and higher, and then Draco couldn’t see the Manor below him anymore. He couldn’t see anything but a strange pattern of lines and circles. He had no idea what they were, and his head was spinning so much that it was hard to care.

He had to be beyond the wards. Not even Lucius’s paranoia could extend them this high.

You hope.

But, in the end, it was the only hope he had. Draco turned his broom and began to fly straight. He didn’t know where he was going. He urged the broom on with knees and hips and hands, shivering uncontrollably in the robe he’d flung over himself. He wanted to find something. Someplace safe. He would know it when he found it.

He didn’t know how long he flew. He did know that he came to earth among tangled trees and a hum that felt like magic. Draco rolled off his broom and stared up at the sky.

The sun was rising.

He was beyond the wards.

But he fell asleep before he could appreciate the fact.

*

Draco went walking through the calm, barren woods the next day, using a Warming Charm to make sure that he didn’t freeze.

The leaves that crunched underneath were years old. Draco was sure of that, even though he hadn’t been in any woods before to tell. There were no house-elves here to rake up the leaves and make neat, tended beds out of the withered flowers.

That comforted him as it never would have before.

Draco did pause when he reached what suddenly seemed to be the edge of the woods, and felt the thrumming power before him. Had Lucius tracked him down already? He put his hand on his wand and prepared to sell his freedom. Being killed was better than being taken back to—that.

But the soft, dawn-like light in front of him was only the pearly early morning it seemed, Draco finally determined as he stepped into the open. There was a curve of lakeshore before him, and Draco stared in interest. He had only seen pictures of water lapping at earth before this.

When he could manage to tear his attention away from the water, he saw the ruins.

There had been a building far grander than the Manor here at one point, Draco finally thought, in a daze, when the sheer size of the tumbled stones didn’t overwhelm his senses. He paced closer, and realized the shimmering magic came from the ruins themselves. There was a crumbled tower that felt starry, as if someone had practiced magical Astronomy there once upon a time. And there were long scorch marks that indicated powerful wards had probably broken.

Draco couldn’t imagine the strength of the wizards who had lived in these towers—because surely it must be more than one, it must be at least a family like the Malfoys—and practiced their magic.

Then another thought struck him, and he shivered, if he had only known it, like the Astronomy Tower before it fell.

What about the strength of the wizards that had felled this fortress?

Draco drew his wand and looked around himself. But nothing moved except the branches of the trees, and the lapping water of the lake—

And a shadow, right behind him.

Draco spun around, but ended up staring instead of attacking. There was a tall, thin horse behind him, looking at him with blind white eyes. Its bat-like wings arched from its back, and now and then a black bone hoof scraped the ground. Draco swallowed and slowly lowered his wand. In response, the horse—the thestral—stepped forwards and nibbled thoughtfully at his hair.

“I’m not good to eat,” Draco told it, even as he lifted his hand and stroked the thick, shining mane. “Can I see you because I saw you mother die?”

The thestral, plainly uninterested in such questions, abruptly turned away and cantered into the woods. Draco followed. Its presence comforted him, although he supposed there was no reason it had to. After all, some of the books had said that thestrals got tamed by wizards on a regular basis, and sometimes they even drew carriages or served as mounts. That meant there might still be other people around here somewhere.

People who could threaten him with—

Draco’s breath seized up, but he kept walking. The thestral certainly didn’t look as if it was about to slow down and wait for him.

He’s not here, he’s not here, Draco reminded himself again and again before he stepped into a clearing crowded with thestrals and forgot all about reassuring himself.

The thestrals were chewing on small, squirming, bloody shapes. Draco came slowly closer. None of them paid him enough attention to forsake their meal, although he got a few glances from bulging, blind-white eyes.

The wave of nausea he expected at the sight of beasts feasting on raw flesh didn’t come. Instead, it was a wave of intense hunger. Draco licked his lips and turned to walk into the forest. His trunk with the preserved food he’d brought wasn’t far away.

He didn’t get there. Instead, a small creature that looked like a weasel ran in front of him, chased by a galloping thestral foal with legs so skinny that it skidded and tumbled on the leaves to wave them helplessly in the air. Draco saw the weasel rattling towards the edge of the clearing, certain to get away.

He pointed his wand. “Avada Kedavra,” he said clearly, and didn’t think of the many lessons where Lucius had worked on teaching him this.

The jet of green light hit the weasel, and it dropped. The thestral foal popped back up with a flap of its leathery wings, and turned to stare at him with its nostrils working. Draco stepped up to it. The foal was only as tall as his shoulder, much less intimidating than the full-grown members of the herd.

“Share?” he asked calmly.

The foal obviously didn’t understand, but when Draco used a Cutting Charm to slice the weasel in half, and floated the bloody hind end towards his hunting partner, the foal dropped his head and began to chew and swallow at once. Draco carried his half off towards a more distant clearing to find dry wood with which to build a fire.

*

He didn’t understand why he wanted raw meat—well, meat that had been cooked over a fire, but he’d caught it raw—all of a sudden. What he knew was that he fit in with the thestrals in the Forest in a way he never had in Malfoy Manor.

As autumn turned into winter, that continued to be true. Draco cast Warming Charms, and built fires, and honestly was as comfortable most nights and mornings as he had been in the Manor with its frigid stone walls and floors. And he hunted. He helped the original foal he’d given the weasel to—who he called Ungainly—and others to improve their stalking and catching rate and their balance on the slick leaves, and to find alternate routes that wouldn’t take them through glades that crackled so with sound.

The adult thestrals either ignored him or began to nudge him with their noses when he appeared. None of them bit him beyond curious pulls at his hair and earlobes, and those mostly from the foals. Draco spent hours sitting among the herd, watching them, or walking after them through the forest and watching how they found other things to eat, too: hidden berries, strips of bark that Draco could also peel off and chew, fat grubs that squirmed disgustingly but were full of crunch and spark once Draco closed his eyes to eat them.

And there came one day when an adult, Ungainly’s mother, Moonshadow, came prancing up to him and lay down and stared at him until Draco hesitantly threw a leg over her back. Moonshadow promptly cantered forwards and spread her wings, then leaped as they came into one of the open areas lightning had left in the forest.

Draco gasped. He had flown so many times on his broom, but this was nothing like that. The movement of air around his face, the surge of muscles underneath him, the slightly chill feeling of Moonshadow’s skin…he sank his hands into the folds of cold around her neck, and laughed aloud as they circled over the unbroken canopy of green.

Other than the ruins and a small trailing of young trees that might have meant a road used to be there, there was no sign of human habitation in sight.

Draco hid his smile against Moonshadow’s neck.



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